News and Information

News and Information for members of and people interested in the North American Conference of Associates and Religious.

Isaac! I'm not referring to Abraham's son, but the potential hurricane heading our way as I draft this reflection. Indeed the fact that he is scheduled to arrive—to the day—on the anniversary of that sassy Katrina, stirs up a tornado of memories within me—and most of the People of God who live on the Gulf Coast.

PietaThe pounding of a hammer brings me to the window in my office. I can see our neighbor putting ply board to protect the glass panes in his home. Radio and TV news and Accuweather reports are eye-catching with colorful radar pictures of projected direction, rain, wind gusts, etc. Possible mandatory evacuation orders will be given by city officials… and I sit here pondering and remembering, with sincere gratitude, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "Your own soul a sword shall pierce." Luke 2:33-35

So many blessings followed the destruction of our coastal cities: southern citizens pulled together in near-by, land-locked cities, people came from all parts of the U.S. and all walks of life to lend their hearts and hands to the recovery efforts. Locally individuals recognized personal strengths within themselves that may have been lying dormant. The Amazing Grace List goes on and on offering life-long lessons. In The Prophet, Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese Poet, wrote that the deeper sorrow hollows us out, the more joy we can contain.

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Holy SpiritI've heard the tongue in cheek comment from menopausal women, "It's not a hot flash, it's a power surge!" Really? But anyone who has been there knows the importance of attitude in dealing with such issues that effect body, mind and spirit.

Our vision controls our perception and our perception becomes our reality. Consider this, whether you are a member of a religious congregation or a lay associate affiliated with that congregation, regardless of your age or whether you are female or male, faith informs vision and enhances our perception.

The Holy Spirit—first received in Baptism, affirmed in Confirmation and celebrated at Pentecost—is the ever-ready power surge to enable us to handle those prickly life issues that can wear us down and knock us out. Galatians 5:22 speaks of the energizing Fruits of the Spirit:

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The Award Goes to...

You know them! Listen to the names: Emmy, Oscar, Grammy… not persons but awards conferred by various segments of the entertainment community during these first months of 2012. And it is common to hear the emcee say something like, "Let's give up for the producers of ______." Of course, the meaning is "give a round of applause" in recognition of their good work.

Lenten symbol of cross, palms, eucharist and plate Holy Mother Church asks us something similar as we begin this season of the Liturgical Cycle: "What are you giving up for Lent?" Fasting, one full meal supplemented by two smaller meals, obliges us to reduce our intake of food on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Abstinence from meat (mammals and fowl) is a part of Church discipline not only on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday but also for all Fridays of Lent.

The faithful are encouraged to perform other acts of penance in union with the suffering of Christ. A custom has developed where some people make a sacrifice and "give up" something they enjoy for the duration of Lent: playing cards, chocolate, favorite TV shows, pre-dinner cocktails. Others do a positive act of penance: avoid complaining and criticizing, participate in daily Mass and/or the parish mission, do a random act of kindness for another ("…do not let your left hand know what your right is doing…") Matt. 6: 3

You know them! Listen to the names: prayer, fasting and almsgiving… each spiritual practice can draw us closer to Jesus and our personal call to holiness this season of Lent. And the award conferred… a life-time achievement that's out of this world!

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Easter HeartA pediatric nurse, before listening to the children's chests, would plug the stethoscope into their ears and let them listen to their own hearts. Their eyes would always light up in amazement. But she never got a response to equal that of six-year-old Molly's.

She tucked the sleek stethoscope in her ears and placed the smooth disk over her heart. "Listen," she said, "What do you suppose that is?" Molly drew her eyebrows together in a puzzled line and looked up as if lost in the drum beat of the strange lub-dub, lub-dub deep within her chest. Then her freckled face broke out in a marvelous, gap tooth smile. "Is that Jesus?"

This Easter season, having just celebrated the Holiest of Weeks with its beautiful images and faith rituals: waving palms, recalling institution of the Eucharist, washing feet, Way of the Cross, kissing the crucifix, lighting new fire, blessing the water, Baptisms, renewing the promises, and more...we embrace Paschal Mystery. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…" John 3:16

Easter faith offers us the experiences of Magdalene in the garden, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the apostles out fishing. Make time this Easter Season to listen, figuratively speaking, to the rhythm of your own heartbeat. With springtime freshness, sing out Alleluia in praise and thanksgiving for the miracle of Easter Resurrection and be prepared to see and hear Jesus everywhere in a living, personal presence.


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Aaah! A New Year is upon us! Some of us were creatively inspired, scribbling down our heart-felt resolutions for physical, emotional, financial or spiritual improvement. Others among us are already changing our minds and x-ing out those fervent plans for 2012 because they are just not working. The stick-to-it-iveness of self-discipline can be as slippery as black ice.

Flying Pig"If" can be a calculation that indicates the outcome of a situation or determines the choices that we make. "If pigs could fly..." is a way of saying that something will never happen! "What if...?," "If only...", and the rest of the "iffy" family translate into words like supposing, even though, whether, when or whenever. Periodically, I like to prayerfully mull over the British Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling's poem,"IF," written in 1909. It reminds me of our common call as followers of Christ even as it depicts the complexities of human existence.

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