FSC Associate Articles
A Pregnant Pause: A Reflection on Our Time of Confinement Father Michael Jennrich, OFM - December 10, 2022
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate
The Meeting of Zechariah and Elizabeth by Francesco Guarino
Fr. Michael explained that Advent can be seen as a time of confinement. During Advent, we prepare for the birth of Jesus. We make time in our schedule to reflect upon Jesus’ birth at Christmas, our relationship with God and our relationship with the people around us.
In Luke’s Gospel, we see an example of a time of confinement in the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Angel Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would have a son and they would name him John. Their son would prepare the way for the Messiah. Zechariah questioned the angel because he was an old man, and his wife Elizabeth was barren. Because Zechariah did not believe the angel, he was silenced. Elizabeth did not understand how she could have a baby, but she trusted in the angel’s words.
When the baby was born, Elizabeth told the people that his name was John. People questioned why this child was receiving a name not connected to Zechariah’s ancestry. The people asked Zechariah what the baby would be called so Zechariah wrote on a tablet “John is his name”, and he was able to speak again. Zechariah’s time of confinement ended. He had done his part in the history of salvation.
In ancient times, someone who had an illness was faced with a different type of confinement. Illness was looked upon as a curse from God on the person themself or on their ancestors. People didn’t want to get too close to the person who was ill because they didn’t want the curse to jump to them.
During Jesus’ time of active ministry, He healed many people who were ill. After Jesus healed someone, they were released from their time of confinement and reintroduced back into society as a daughter or son of Abraham. Fr. Michael compared this type of confinement to our own lives. After someone has hurt us and made amends, it’s not always easy to re-incorporate that person back into our lives. This was a timely reminder of how one can embody Jesus’ treatment of others in our own life.
During Advent, we wait for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. We are also waiting for Jesus to come at the end of our lives. Our time of confinement during Advent can be a time of reflection on our relationship with God and on our purpose here on earth. Everyone’s life has a purpose. To understand one’s purpose, sometimes, we need to be reminded of God’s presence within us.
To become aware of God’s presence within us, we can follow the example of Jesus who often went to a quiet place away from the crowds to pray. We too can quiet ourselves, breathe, savor, listen and recognize God’s presence within us.
Once we are aware that we have the breath of God within us, we can look outward towards the people around us, especially those who are suffering. Jesus showed us how to have compassion and how to feel the suffering of others to a point where we are inspired to do something to help alleviate their suffering.
As part of the liturgical calendar, we celebrate Advent and Christmas every year. It’s easy to breeze though Advent on our journey to Christmas without giving much thought to this time of waiting. Fr. Michael’s presentation was a good reminder for me to slow down during the Advent season and include some quiet time for reflection.
What is Our YES? - Father Brian Walker, OP - November 19, 2022
By Mary Mosser, FSC Associate
To introduce the topic of his presentation, Fr. Brian read from Luke Chapter 1: 26-38. This part of Luke’s Gospel recounts the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary. Angel Gabriel told Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of His Son. When Mary said, “yes” to God’s request, she had no idea what challenges she would face.
When I think of Mary’s challenges, the Seven Sorrows of Mary come to mind. Shortly after He was born, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord and Simeon predicted that Mary’s heart would be pierced by sorrow. This prediction came true in many ways, one of which was Mary witnessing her Son being crucified. Mary continued saying “yes” to her commitment as Jesus’ mother despite the challenges, pain, and great sorrow this commitment brought to her life.
Our lady of Sorrows by Cristóbal de Villalpando (1680 - 1689)
Our commitments are not a one-time “yes” either. Our “yes” is continuous. When we struggle, we find the strength and courage to say “yes” again and overcome the difficulties. Not everyone is able to overcome the difficulties they face. We’re not here to pat ourselves on the back because we succeeded in our struggle or to judge others because they didn’t.
We may have been able to overcome our difficulties because of the help we’ve received. This help could have been in the form of support or prayers from family, friends, or co-workers. Another possible aid allowing us to stay faithful to our commitment is advice given to us by our parents or other role models. Lessons learned from these people who influenced us may help guide us long after they are gone from our lives.
Our commitment as Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago is also continuous. We pray daily for the Sisters and the Sisters pray for us. As Associates, we are called to share our time, talent, and treasure to assist with the Sisters’ missions and ministries. One example of this is our twice a year collection for St. Jude House in Crown Point, Indiana. St. Jude House is a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Fr. Brian gave us two reflection questions and some time to write our thoughts. He walked around the room with a basket of words and each person selected a word to use in answering the second question. The word I selected was “celebrating”. The two questions and my answers are below.
Why did I say “yes” to this community? Two Sisters who were my former grade school teachers suggested that I might enjoy the Associate program, but I didn’t follow up on their suggestions. As time went on, I visited the Sisters in Lemont more often and wanted a stronger connection with them. After a third Sister suggested that I might enjoy the Associate program, I decided to look into the program. I was nervous after my initial interview with Sr. M. Bernadette, our Associate Director, but I was determined to continue the process to become an Associate.
What do I hope for, in light of the word I selected, for this community? I always enjoy gathering with the Sisters and Associates to celebrate special occasions. My hope is that the Associates and Sisters will continue to celebrate and find joy in each other’s company even as the number of Sisters dwindles.
St. Francis of Assisi chose poverty. Real poverty isn’t a choice. Francis wanted people to understand voluntary poverty and how to share their gifts with others. Every Franciscan Order has a different way of following St. Francis because of the charism of their founder/foundress and the missions and ministries the Order is involved in. Our “yes” needs to reflect St. Francis and his teachings, but it also needs to embody the charism of Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik and the ministries of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.
Reflecting on our commitment to this community will help strengthen us now and in the future. We are not alone in our commitment. Before Fr. Brian’s presentation, we celebrated Mass and the devotional renewal of the Associates. As part of the devotional renewal ceremony, the Sisters expressed their support to the Associates. As Associates of this community, we are here to strengthen one another’s “yes” and to support the mission and ministries of the Sisters.
At our Associate Reflection Day in August, we contemplated about our journey to becoming an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago and why we continue as Associates. Fr. Brian’s presentation was a deeper dive into the commitment we make as Associates. Keeping our commitment will not always be easy. When we said “yes” to becoming an Associate, it wasn’t a one-time commitment. We continually say “yes” to supporting each other and the mission and ministries of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.
St. Francis of Assisi