Spiritual Reflections by Brother Bob

Spiritual Reflections, August 31, 2019 by Br. Bob Roddy, OFM Conv., Director, Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, a day set aside to celebrate the American worker. Interestingly enough, this year is the 125th Anniversary of Labor Day becoming a National Holiday.

The dignity of work and workers themselves was articulated by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 in his groundbreaking encyclical, Rerum et Novarum. The title, Rerum et Novarum, roughly translates: “on new things.” The subtitle of the encyclical, “The Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor,” provides a greater understanding of the scope and message of the Pope’s encyclical. A papal encyclical is a pastoral letter that is addressed to the whole Church. In this letter, Pope Leo recognized that workers had a right to collectively organize into unions; that workers had a right to work in humane conditions and that they had a right to a fair wage….

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Br. Bob’s Spiritual Reflections

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The Woman at the Well: A Story of Conversion by Debbie Koop, MAT, Spiritual Director

The story of the woman at the well is essentially a story of conversion. Jesus meets a woman and directly engages her in a conversation in order to proclaim to her the Good News. The writer of John’s Gospel reveals how Jesus simply evangelizes – how he proclaims the good news of redemption to one sinner at a time. This week in our Lenten Day of reflection, we will see how Jesus does this and what the implications are for us, both as sinners ourselves encountering Jesus and as Christians who are called to spread the Gospel to others.

We begin by discovering what the kerygma is – a Greek word meaning to proclaim, to cry out. It refers to the initial and essential proclamation of the gospel message. (See CatholicAnswers.com) This is what Jesus is doing with the Samaritan woman. As a Samaritan, she worships in a different way and with different beliefs than the Jews. They do not associate together, yet Jesus initiates the conversation with a Samaritan, a woman, and an outcast to proclaim the Good News.

Jesus then invites her to ask for “Living Water,” which represents the life-giving grace of the Holy Spirit (John 4:10).Though he knows that she’s been living an immoral life, there is no condemnation, no prior request that she change her life.Jesus comes to us, too, where we are weakest and most ashamed and offers us grace. He wants to meet us right where we are the most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Jesus’ offer of “Living Water” is an invitation to a life of hope and communion, the very things the woman doesn’t have but is seeking. Where am I most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks? What’s the sin I confess over and over and need God’s grace to overcome?

The well represents the world. The water jar that the woman carries, St. Augustine said, is symbolic of our fallen desire thatdraws pleasure from the dark wells of the world, but is never satisfied (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Scott Hahn). “Our desire for happiness, joy and human fulfillment can never be quenched by worldly things” (New Collegeville Commentary). Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). What do we seek when we go to the well? With what do we attempt to slake our thirst? It might be one of the four P’s: power, prestige, possessions and pleasure. How would you describe your own thirst and hunger for God or spiritual things?

St. John shows us how the woman at the well progresses in her belief by the ways she addresses Jesus. Jesus is a Jew, then she calls him Sir or Lord, then she calls him a prophet, and finally she believes him when Jesus reveals he is the Messiah. “I am he” (John 4:26). I imagine that she just fell down and worshipped on the spot. Then, she leaves her jar and runs to tell the whole town. What does Jesus want us to leave behind at the well?

Unable to contain her joy and belief, the woman goes out to spread the Good News. “Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John 4:29). As a result, many Samaritans came to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed one, the prophet which Moses had foretold. So, too, must we go out and share the Good News that God loves each one of us, offers us mercy and grace and desires to be intimately involved in our lives. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The lay faithful, precisely as members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel: they are prepared for this work by the sacraments of Christian initiation and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit”(Ecclesia in American 66). The woman at the well was so changed by her encounter with Jesus that she ran to tell others about it. It’s safe to say that this encounter changed her life.

How has meeting Jesus changed us? Let us pray for the zeal to share that with others.  Read the previous reflections

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” is inspired in part by St. Francis’ poem “Canticle of the Sun.”

“Laudato si, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.” In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.”

— Read the encyclical …

Homilies of Pope Francis                            News from the Vatican
Pope Francis on Twitter                              The Holy See

My children don’t go to Mass – what can I do??

At our parishes and retreat centers, and even in more casual conversations, we hear this question frequently. In the letters and email we receive asking for prayers, this is the number one request. And it isn’t just about high school kids – people are worried about their adult children as well.

Friar Jude Winkler has some advice for parents (and grandparents) whose kids have drifted away from the Catholic faith. Read more

Daily Scripture Readings for the Liturgical Year

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Making Space for God and Yourself in a Busy World

– by Fr. Jim Van Dorn

Salvation means to ‘make space.’

Love makes space. Real Love gives one room to grow. We make space for each others growth today so that God’s tomorrow will not happen without us.  We need to make room to experience God. We need to make space to take care of ourselves because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  If you make appointments for everybody else but don’t write in appointments for your own self-care, you’re missing out. Make space for yourself so you can make high quality space for others.  Coming on retreat is creating space to love and worship God. And creating space to let your creator look at his creation and love you.  Through Jesus, God created space for us. God created space where we could know him through the humanity of Jesus.

What’s it Like to go on a Retreat? Who goes on Retreats?

Curious to know more about our retreats? Here are some testimonies of what you can expect on a retreat, who comes, and why they do.

What’s it like… Who goes…

‘Audio Recordings on Topics of Spirituality’

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Find the Missing Peace video

Fr. Howard’s Homily Archives offers seven years of insightful wisdom from our late Fr. Howard Hansen.


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