• FROM THE ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

    January 15-21, 2017

    The Gospel of John 1:29-34 is certainly worthy of a second reading, because it is full of all manner of revelation.

                John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who

                    takes away the sin of the world.  He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me

                    who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason

                    why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel. …I saw the

                    Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.  I did not know him, but

                    the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come

                    down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen

                    and testified that he is the Son of God.”

     

    What a wonderful testimony to who Jesus is in a few words right at the beginning of his public ministry.

    He was the lamb that was slaughtered as a sin offering.  He takes away the “sin” of the world – the rejection by the world down through the ages. John announces strongly the existence of the Holy Spirit.  The final testimony is that Jesus is the Son of God. You wonder if anyone was really listening to John. Perhaps, it was too much for them to comprehend.  Sometimes we act that way, too.  We take it all for granted, rather than being in awe of this surprising and awesome reality.  This Jesus is so special, but he somehow gets pushed aside for worldly concerns and activities.

    This week we honor a man, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was willing to publicly fight for justice and die

    For his Christian beliefs. There are many unsung heroes and heroines who have fought for justice. Let us remember all of them this day.

    Though St. Anthony, Abbot and an Egyptian Desert Father, wished and tried to live the life of a hermit, many gathered around him to benefit from his holiness.  Hence, he is considered the father and founder of organized Christian monasticism in the third century.

    St. Fabian was a Pope of the third century.  Though he was of noble Roman birth, he served the people of the countryside.  When it came time for the election of a new pope, none considered Fabian.  However, as the story goes a dove appeared above his head.  All took this as a sign of choice of Fabian, as pope, by the Holy Spirit, as they recalled Jesus’ baptism.

    Another third century saint, Sebastian joined the Roman army and became a captain.  He ministered to those condemned by Diocletian, the Roman Emperor.  When it became known that he was a Christian, he was sentenced to death by becoming the target of arrow practice.  He is pictured in art with many arrows sticking in his body.  When his body was claimed, it was found that he was not dead.  He was nursed back to health.  He immediately went to admonish the emperor and was martyred by being beaten to death. 

    St. Agnes, the little Lamb of God, is one of seven women mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.    She was about twelve years old, when one of her suitors, supposedly turned her in to Emperor Diocletian in the third century.  Many stories are associated with her being dragged through the city naked.  Some say her hair grew long and covered her; others say that anyone who tried to rape her was blinded or struck dead.  She was beheaded or pierced in the throat by the sword. She is patron of rape victims and virgins.

    “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 1: 3

    Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

  • THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

    FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

    January 8-14, 2017

    In the story of the birth of Jesus much is revealed about this special child.  The Messiah was to come from the royal house of David, the King and would be born in the City of David, Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”  Joseph and Mary were both descendants of David and had to go to Bethlehem for the Roman census. Luke 2: 1-5 Thus, the child fulfills two prophecies – he is born in Bethlehem and of the house of David.  If only the Jewish leaders would have dug a little deeper into Jesus’ background, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome of Jesus’ “trial.” People can be very stubborn when they feel threatened by someone. They look no deeper than the surface. Today’s world testifies to this reality.

    The two groups of people who visit the new born King, were not picked at random by God, the Father.  The shepherds represent the Jewish people, the poor, the outcast, the forgotten and the marginalized.The

    three kings represent the non-Jews.  This is why the Feast of the Epiphany, meaning “to reveal or manifest,” is so important. A whole new concept about the Messiah was revealed in the presence of these foreigners.

    As St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6, “…the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Thus God, the Father proclaims that his Son, Jesus, has come for all people, not just for one nation.

    One further point that is relevant for today.  The Holy Family had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod who wanted to kill the child.  He was well aware that this child threatened his throne.  Thus Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees.  The area from which they fled was known as Greater Syria and encompassed many areas and nations. This ancient Syria is the “cradle of civilization” and the land of
     “prophets and apostles.”
    Catholic Encyclopedia   It is in Antioch, Syria that Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians.” So, Jesus was a refugee from Syria.  One wonders if his family would have been accepted into the United States.

    The gifts that the Magi presented to Jesus have various meaning, but the most popular is as follows: Gold represents his kingship, frankincense his priesthood and myrrh his death and burial.  These were normal gifts of that time to present to a king.  Biblical Archeology Society

    As we go about our daily lives, perhaps we can take some time to reflect on what gifts we bring to our God – an encouraging word to a child, a visit to a lonely person, a smile to a grumpy colleague, a prayer of gratitude, a hug and kiss to a spouse and a helping hand to the less fortunate.  Little non-violent actions are the signs of a Christian life.    

    On Monday the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated.  Jesus did not need to undergo the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist, but submitted in order to usher in the baptism of water and the Holy Spirit.  “The clouds opened and Holy Spirit descended upon him.  A voice was heard to say, “You are my beloved Son.  On you my favor rests.” Luke 3: 21-22 Each baptized person receives the Holy Spirit and finds favor with God. 

    Spread the Good News – Emmanuel – God is with us.

    Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

    Director 

  • THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

    FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

    January 1-7, 2017

    Happy and a Blessed New Year.  May Mary, the Holy Mother of God grant you the grace to reflect in your heart on all the events of the past year and weave them into a garland of mercy and thanksgiving. On Tuesday we can honor the Most Holy Name of her Son, Jesus.

    We begin this year of 2017 with remembrance of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and in praise of her “yes” to this great mystery of God becoming a human. We say our own “yes” in the belief we express in this mystery and blessing of salvation. We cannot explain God’s generosity in creating this marvelous gift.  We, like Mary, can only say, “Thy will be done.”  It was not easy for her to accept this announcement, but she bowed her head and believed.  We, too, face events that challenge us, but we move forward with determination to bring about surprising results.

    If anyone or anything should unite us with the Muslims, the Islamic religion, it is Mary.  She is mentioned some 34 times in the Quran and is considered the most righteous and holy woman in history.  She is greatly honored as the mother of the great prophet, Jesus. Of course, they don’t believe that Jesus was divine, but they respect him.  Here is where a mother’s life and love encompasses two great religions.  Why are we fighting and fearing each other?

    St. Francis of Assisi is respected by the Muslims as a man of peace. He came to their leader, the Sultan of Egypt, al-Malik-al-Kamil, nephew of Saladin, in the 12th century and spent some three weeks, sharing about the mystery of God and life. Perhaps we can take a page from Francis’ life and wade into the battle, armed with love, mercy and generosity.

    On this World Day of Peace Pope Francis is beseeching all to act with non-violence.  This does not mean that we stand around as doormats and hide in our hovels. No!  We take definite actions to bring about reconciliation, dialogue, understanding, positive change and respect.  We become involved in movements and organizations that challenge us to show the face of just resolutions and a friendly hand in sharing the world’s goods and prosperity. We teach our children to be disciples of non-violence.  When we enter the arena of non-violence we may face death and rejection, as our brothers and sisters in Syria and elsewhere.

    However, Jesus on the Cross and his subsequent Resurrection is our bond of courage and success of non-violent behavior and choice.

    We honor many saints this week, but St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann are American citizens who are responsible for the Catholic School system in the United States.

    So, as we enter this New Year of 2017, may the recognition of being a Christian, a child of Mary and the sons and daughters of God bring us into greater unity with all people.

    Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

    Director

  • FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
    December 4-10, 2016

    The unusual image of the lion lying down with lamb appears in this week’s readings. Is 11: 1-10 Again, the reference to the end of time is vivid. Rather then, being afraid, we can see the presence of an all loving and compassionate God, who will judge with justice. In this end time picture we see peace entering into the world forever.

    The lion and lamb image moves on to the child and the cobra in Isaiah’s reading. This is moving closer to profound meaning of these images. Images or symbols always have a deeper meaning, and these are shoving us to look deeply at reconciliation. This is the ultimate resolution of conflict and violence. However, the motive for this reconciliation is love and respect, not fear, power, pressure or economic gain. A wish for the good of the other and future healthy relationships moves the process to the coming of the Kingdom of God. This Second Week of Advent provides us with reflection on the true meaning of Jesus’ coming.

    Little Christmas, December 6, gives us an opportunity to enter into a quick celebration of Christmas. A sharing of a small gift, whether that be a hug, a “thank you” or present, will make the anticipation of the “big” day more fun. St. Nicholas, a bishop of the fourth century, who was born in present day Turkey is the basis for the person we call Santa Claus. He was the giver of secret gifts to help the poor. Reading the whole story of his life would be a treat.

    St. Ambrose has special meaning for St. Augustine School, because he is responsible for the conversion of St. Augustine, aside from the fact that his mother, Monica prayed for him incessantly. Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan and a staunch supporter of the two natures of Jesus, human and divine – a basic dogma of the Church. He is a Doctor of the Church, who was one of the most influential ecclesiastical person of the 4th century. He is honored on December 7th.

    The first great Feast of Mary in December is the 8th – The Immaculate Conception. This feast speaks of the preparation of the cradle in which Jesus, the Son of God, would rest and develop for nine months. St. Ann conceived Mary without the consequences of the first sin. Ann must have been a very holy woman, as well as, her husband, Joachim. Little did they know, that their gifted child, Mary, would become the mother of the Messiah.

    On the 9th we celebrate St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzn, a young indigenous man, to whom Mary appeared in Mexico. His cloak became the background on to which Mary imprinted her image to convince the bishop of the truth of her appearances to Juan and her message.

    This week provides so many wonderful stories, that it will take time to reflect upon the meaning and application of these lives to our own. May you be inspired by these stories of salvation history and get busy and write your own story with the goodness of your life. Jesus is your companion.

    Sister Rosemarie Goins
    Director

  • St. Augustine HS gathered for the first week of Advent prayer at noon today.

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