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Weekly Pause &  Ponder

Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope. 

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Palm  Sunday



A Donkey’s Tale

 Are you enamoured by my cousins, Eeyore, that loveable donkey from the tales of Winnie the Pooh or is your style more a moviegoer’s favourite, tough guy, Donkey, Shrek’s talkative sidekick? Do you sometimes find yourself humming that delightful Donkey Serenade, keeping company with a mule? Such light hearted fun; but let’s put aside talk of my fictitious cousins. Since truth is often stranger than fiction, let me tell you a little about myself, my humble self whom Chesterton once described in his humourous little poem as one:

 With monstrous head and sickening cry,

 And ears like errant wings,

 The devil’s walking parody

 Of all four-footed things.

But let me backtrack a little. About thirty three years ago, as legend has it, a humble little burro was chosen to carry pregnant Mary to Bethlehem to give birth to her Child. Did this not foreshadow the day I would be chosen to carry her Son into Jerusalem? I will never forget that day! How could I forget our humble God enthroned upon my back? I carried him that day, cautiously weaving through the cheering crowds, when all at once ‘There was a shout about my ears, and palms before my feet.’

His mission almost finished, I heard him warn his disciples that He would soon be put to death. Put to death, how could that be? Surely, I had gotten it all wrong!

I’m just a donkey, just the ‘devil’s walking-parody on all four footed things.’ Perhaps that’s all you think I am. However, when a distant rumble, ‘Crucify him’, pierced my ears, I stood and shuddered. In the distance I saw a cross upon a hill and wished I could have carried it for him.

No ludicrous buffoon am I. No donkey ever was. You see, because I carried the King, donkeys, generations after me, bear a cross upon their backs. May you, my friend, I beg you, think twice before you call someone an ass – for she or he, too, bears the divine.

 Sr. Magdalena Vogt, CPS


The Donkey

 When fishes flew and forests walked,

 And figs grew upon thorn,

 Some moment when the moon was blood,

 Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry,

And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

Of all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,

Of ancient, crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.

C. K. Chesterton


Passion  Sunday

I am taking my reflection from the Passion narrative of Luke’s gospel just at the end of it which states “All Jesus acquaintances, including the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”

Hopefully as you read this reflection the weather will be more inviting and welcoming but today I want to reflect on the terrible cold weather of just a few months ago. I was driving down Main Street in Hamilton on the absolute coldest day I have ever experienced.  My car was delightfully warm.  I was so spoiled as to even have the seat warmers on.  However there I passed a younger man holding onto a pole without the proper clothing, no boots, no hat, no gloves.  This intersection is possibly one of the busiest in Hamilton.  While I was distressed to see this individual and annoyed that it had interrupted my comfort, I was sure somebody else would help him.  I continued on my way for a substantial distance when I came to my senses and realized I had to make sure he was ok.  I turned around and there he was in the same place with nobody there with him.  I felt I was doing my civic duty asking if I could call an ambulance for him but could get no response.  I went on a little way further and did call 911 but the dispatcher said that an ambulance could not be sent only if he had given permission for it and that the police would not come to check on somebody like him because they were too busy. I tried to tell her that this man must have some psychiatric issues but it became an argument as to how I could assess this?  Once again I drove around the block and there he was but this time somebody was trying to put some gloves on him.  He agreed to get into the car and I tried again to phone for an ambulance.  Thank God this other man did get through and an ambulance was coming…

From the back seat of my car I could hear the man repeating over and over again how troubled he was.  Finally the ambulance arrived and the woman attendant could not have been more attentive and compassionate to him. 

I, too, was troubled as I drove away, wondering what we as a city have come to?  Do you have to be rich, or influential in order to be treated fairly?  The very next day I wrote a letter to the police chief, outlining how I was treated and ultimately what poor attention this man received.  One of the police chief’s assistant’s contacted me and assured me that they would look into the matter.  Her response was that her father has Alzheimer’s and it could have been him out in the cold.  The good news is that a week later the woman contacted me again to say that all of the people involved were spoken to and that action had been taken.  She was most appreciative of the feedback and felt that in her words “this was the best resolution of a case that she has handled in her twenty-two years of service".

Today I am questioning myself - how often do I simply watch from a distance, not choosing to get involved? Is my relationship with Jesus from a distance or is it so intimately alive that I will put myself out there for the poor? Then at Mass shortly after this episode our Deacon quoted from Mother Theresa who said, "How can I truly recognize the poor among us if I am too poor to pray?"   My prayer is that I (we) continue to see with our eyes wide open!    

- Sister Ann Marshall


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

Nature gives to every time and season unique beauty; from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, its just a succession of changes so soft and comfortable that we hardly notice the progress.

- Charles Dickens.  


Fifth Sunday of  Lent

Up to now the Lenten Liturgies have nourished us with invitation after invitation to conversion. Each Lent seems to encourage us to the “more” in deepening our relations with our God, Jesus, the universe and all that lives.

Todays Scriptural messages are particularly poignant and pointing – pointing to expand our hearts and horizons to the new, the more, the deeper, “No need to recall the past… see I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it?” (Is. 43:18, 19) As we read these words, I’m sure each of us taps into what they could mean in our lives here and now.

In John’s eighth chapter, we see Jesus being challenged by the authorities. With the woman caught in adultery standing in the open for all to condemn, the Pharisees wanted to know what spin Jesus would have on this situation. They knew him to value each person, even women and children. This situation would surely catch him off guard, so much so that they slunk away without a response.

Rather than throw stones, we are called to love our neighbour, to help restore their dignity and leave them with hope in the mercy of Christ. We know that the capacity to forgive is one of the infallible signs of Christian maturity or holiness, the proof that we are growing in wisdom. Like St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians we “strain ahead for what is still to come” … “racing for the finish”. (Phil. 31:13)

Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain. Let us ask God to help us continue on a path to true conversion, leaving behind our selfishness and self-absorption, so as to stand firmly beside our sisters and brothers in need and hopefully radiate God’s powerful grace and transforming power to all creation.

- Sister Betty Berrigan, CSJ

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