Tag Archives: Online Retreat

Cultivating the Wisdom of Vatican II

31 Jul

Sister Joan has written five two-page summaries of the teaching of this extraordinary council. Click here to read and download this free online retreat. Find a friend to talk with. Or put a notice in your parish bulletin calling people together around this topic.

Tiny Retreat #2: Hildegard of Bingen

9 Jul

Hildegard of Bingen: Patron saint of green and growing

Hildegard was only five years old in 1098 when her parents brought her, their tenth child, to the monastery of St. Disibode. A holy woman named Jutta took the little girl in and taught her Latin and music so she could sing the psalms with the monks and nuns. Jutta also taught Hildegard everything she knew about herbal medicine. At age 15, Hildegard decided to follow the Benedictine way and become a nun. When Jutta died, Hildegard became the prioress of the community.

Hildegard was a mystic, a person who experiences extraordinary communion with God. Hildegard wrote down her understandings of God in vivid pictures. Many women were attracted to her teaching about God and came to join her monastery, which grew so large that Hildegard started another monastery near Bingen, a nearby city. She continued to write and teach. Here is one of her poems.

Again I am in turmoil.

Should I speak, or must I be silent?

I feel like a gnarled old tree, withered and crooked and flaky.

All the stories of the years are written on my branches.

The sap is gone, the voice is dead.
 


But I long to make again a sacred sound.

I want to sound out God

I want to be a young juicy, sap-running tree

So that I can sing God as God knows how.
 


O God, you gentle viridity

O Mary, honeycomb of life

O Jesus, hidden in sweetness as flowing honey,

Release my voice again.
 


I have sweetness to share.
I have stories to tell.

I have God to announce.

I have green life to celebrate.

I have rivers of fire to ignite.

Hildegard make up the word viridity. It means greening, the life power of God that is in everything. For Hildegard the Word of God is greening; it has the power to create Christians. A tree growing and branching out is greenness in motion. Love is green. Jesus is greenness incarnate. Sin is not green. Sin is drying up, losing one’s ability to create.

• Read the first two verses of the poem again. When have you felt your sap is gone, your voice dead? What or who helped you know you could sing again?

• Does Hildegard’s way of calling on God, on Mary, on Jesus resonate with you? Can you read the last verse of the poem as your own song?

If Hildegard were alive today, she would sing about God’s work in the unfolding of creation in evolution. “O Holy Spirit” she writes, “you make life alive, you move in all things, you are the root of all created being, you waken and reawaken everything that is.”
 
For her teaching, Pope Benedict named Hildegard a Doctor of the Church. This means she is one of the Catholic Church’s greatest teachers. There are four women Doctors—St. Hildegard, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux.

• Make a resolution to see the Holy Spirit greening the earth around you. Pray a thanksgiving prayer each day for one beautiful thing you see.

 

 

“I am a feather on the breath of God.”

 

 


 

 

Each of the Cosmos Cards has a fact about one of God’s creative moves and a blessing. These cards are ready to mail as a postcard for someone who needs a regular reminder that God is with him or her. $15 for all 25 cards.

 

 

An Amazing Journey is a discussion guide on the Universe Story. The book features 50 articles by leaders in this field. Click here to view the Table of Contents. Only $20!

Order online at goodgroundpress.com or call 800-232-5533.

New Online Retreat!

9 Nov

Pray with the women of the gospel.

We have a new retreat for you, based on Sister Joan’s new book, Holy Women, Full of Grace. We hope these four sessions with gospel women will be an occasion for you to bless your own life in Christ and unite you in prayer with women and girls around the world. You can view the whole table of contents for Holy Women at goodgroundpress.com. Please feel free to share this retreat with others. Click here to begin.

Visit goodgroundpress.com to see more of our Advent Resources.

Retreat: “… Advent is a time of darkness, of faith.”

7 Dec

The Advent Retreat invites you into the Sunday scripture readings that take us back in time before Jesus’ birth into the centuries of longing for the messiah, the prince of peace. Jump into any of the four reflections. Pause. Take time for a little solitude in the midst of the rush of December. Look for the light in the rich seed time of our world in its winter sleep, its long evenings when it is good to be home.

Tap into your own spiritual energy. Remember all you are about and value. Fit God into the picture again. Breath.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Notice in this photo how the winter sun has risen a little more than the sun in last week's photo.

Before beginning this week’s retreat read the scripture selections for the second Sunday of Advent:

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Isaiah’s words, “Comfort, give comfort to my people,” which begin the passage in Sunday’s reading, are also the opening words of Handel’s great “Messiah.”  If you are familiar with that moving melody, let it resound in your mind as you celebrate Advent.

These next words from Isaiah also provide the text for the next part of the “Messiah”:

In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in.
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all the people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

These words announce the role of John the Baptist who will come later to prepare the way for the Christ.  John the Baptist, who is the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New Testament prophets, saw his mission as preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah.

We hear the voices of Isaiah and John the Baptist throughout Advent.  John takes his role seriously, pointing always to Jesus.  Always humble, he says he is not worthy to stoop and loosen the sandals of the Christ.  However, he did not hesitate to speak the truth courageously to those in authority like Herod the great.

Light two candles and place yourself in God’s presence.  Ask yourself what valleys in your life need to be filled and what mountain needs to be made low.  In walking your path this Advent are you aware of your need for the repentance and forgiveness which John the Baptist preached?

In your life who has been a John the Baptist for you, pointing you toward a closer following of Christ?  How have you pointed someone else to a deeper relationship with Christ?

John appears a number of times in the readings for Advent.  His annunciation and birth parallel that of Jesus.  You remember the stories of Mary going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, when she was expecting the birth of her son.  All were amazed at the birth of the son of Zachary and Elizabeth and at the name the angel told his father to give him. The name “John” means “beloved of God.”

Isaiah, John, and Mary are traditionally considered the major figures, and our guides, as we move through Advent.  They all point to and present Jesus to the world.

The angel’s announcement to Mary expresses all the hopes of the people of the Old Testament and their longing for the Messiah.  Messages from God are always something extraordinary but come within the ordinariness of life.  Most likely Mary is not kneeling at a prie-dieu, as later paintings suggested, but doing the ordinary tasks of a first-century Palestinian woman.

At the time the angel says, “You have found favor with God,” Mary has already been living in God’s grace but has yet to accept it more fully.  The angel’s message is the Good News or “gospel” of all time.

Mary’s question, “How can this be?”  shows that she was practical and matter-of-fact.  The answer to this question comes when the angel tells her that her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant.  This news reassures Mary that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary’s response is the first and greatest proclamation of Christian faith.  Calling herself “handmaid” or “servant of the Lord” foreshadow the Acts of the Apostles where Christians are called servants and “handmaids” of the Lord.

On no other authority than her own does Mary say “yes.”  This response reveals a great deal about Mary’s sense of self and about her trust in God.  Because Mary is so completely receptive to God’s word, she is a disciple of Jesus even before his birth.

Reflect for a moment on the angel’s words to Mary, so familiar to Catholics: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

At the Annunciation Mary has heard “nothing will be impossible for God.”  And the impossible has already happened to each woman.  For both Mary and Elizabeth God has raised up the lowly in a surprise action and allows something beyond ordinary human experience.

As Mary enters the house of Zachary and Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s joy is marvelous.  She greets Mary with three breathless statements, each beginning with the word, “blessed.”  “Blessed are you among women … blessed is the fruit of your womb … blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

This burst of beatitude is prompted, of course, by the leaping of child (John the Baptist) in Elizabeth’s womb and by her being filled with the Holy Spirit just as Mary has been at the Annunciation.  Elizabeth, the older woman, to whom God has also done great things, is overwhelmed.  She cries out, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord has come to me?”

PRAY:
Picture these two women embracing one another.  How is Mary’s relationship with Elizabeth like your relationship with a close friend or relative?  Advent is a time to pray for and care for women who are pregnant.  May they be blessed.

Visit again on Sunday, December 11th for Living in Hope:  Advent Reflections

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