Feast Day Letters
Greetings, Peace and Goodwill!
This season, we are invited to take a moment and look at the story of the nativity of Christ that opens in our hearts a great mystery of the miracle of the Holy Night.
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem as required by Caesar Augustus.
Mary is due to give birth at any moment but the inns are full.
In the stillness of the night, the Saviour is born in a stable.
She wraps her baby in swaddling clothes and lays Him in a manger.
We hear the angels sing praises through the air: Glory to God in the highest and peace to all people.
In an unspeakable way, every fear, every anguish, every uncertainty is overcome by an inexpressible love, joy and peace of the Holy Night.
Through this dramatic scene, we are amazed and thrilled that the Lord chooses to be born in the stable where there is no security, and it is not conducive to human habitation. An indication that the Lord embraces humanity by not “counting equality with God… but taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men.” (cf. Phil2:6, 7) Consequently, this aspect of divine-human relationship in the mystery of Christ is at the core of our Christian life, and the nature is undivided in our lives.
Through the Lord’s divine nature, Christmas calls us to a state of grace and holiness, to prayer and reconciliation, a call leading us to contemplation.
In the Lord’s human nature, we strive to bring new tidings of social change in the different situations of people.
As long as there is one poor child in the world, I have no right to think of myself.” Fr Theodosius Florentini
What do we see in our community, Province, or in our local society that need change during this time of the year?
Where do we think the Lord can be born today, is it still in the stable?
As we look to the stable, seeing the Lord in his littleness, weakness and humility, and as we celebrate the mystery of the incarnation, we cannot forget the realities around us.
Wishing you a fruitful and grace filled Christmas
Sr Immaculata Sililo
For the General Leadership Team, Lucerne, Christmas 2018
Pope St John Paul II said: “Where the cross is raised, there is the sign that, this place has now been reached by the Good News of man’s salvation through love, a sign that evangelisation has begun.” ‘It is a commitment of a new evangelisation, new in its ardour, methods and expression. Therefore, the new evangelisation is not a matter of re-doing something that has been inadequately done. Nor does it mean taking up the first evangelisation again. It is the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today’. (Van Nam Kim)
The art by Christian Marin-‘Inside the Cross’ depicts that Jesus Christ on the Cross continues to suffer even today. The humanity created in His image and likeness suffer immensely in the world in many ways. The world, which God created for the benefit of humanity is being exploited by the greediness of humankind. Jesus continues to suffer in the cry of the children subjected to poverty, hunger, torture and manipulation by the powerful. The young who are misguided and led into trafficking and drugs only to ruin their very lives. The gender inequality, the greediness of the rich to accumulate more wealth, the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, the physical torture in the detention centres, the frantic search of migrants for better living conditions and even giving up their lives in the process… all these continue to haunt us. Here is a call for us to evangelise anew. Today’s challenge is to be able to connect to the thirsty people afresh. That in itself is a great Mission.
Let our pride not block our sight; Let our prejudice not blinker our vision; Let our worldly passions not blur our perspective;
To be able to connect we need to build bridges of reconciliation. This demands letting go of something inside of us. We are born with the ability to make choices. We make these choices every day of our lives. Sometimes these choices may not be healthy for us physically and spiritually. Do the choices we make bring us closer to God or do they create a void in our relationship to God and neighbor?
Let us reflect for a moment: How many bridges of reconciliation have we built or how many walls have we erected in the past year? Building bridges takes courageous engagement. – It is asking the kind of questions that most people are afraid to face. Courageous questions open the possibility of your truths… Your courageous answers… Once those truths are revealed, action becomes a clearer path of choice.As we celebrate the feast of our Congregation, we pray for the grace so that Jesus can reveal to us the great mystery of the Cross, through the pains of another.
Jesus continues to live inside the Cross, how do we encounter him?
Happy Feast of the holy Cross 2018
Sr Immaculate Joseph
For the Congregational leadership team
Again we are celebrating Easter and the liturgy enlightens us with this beautiful and challenging biblical scene. Mary Magdalene, a courageous and determined woman, at dawn, when it is still dark, goes to the tomb and reaching it, is alarmed to see the stone removed and the tomb empty, but Jesus not being there.
She hurries to alert the disciples with the message “they have taken the Lord and we do not know where they have put him" and they all hasten to the burial place.
The Risen Jesus is the one who removes the stone and reveals ourselves to us within the empty tomb: a wounded and broken world by violence, abandonment, injustice, disbelief, loss of meaning, superficial relationships, persecutions, wars for no reason, indifference, etc...
We can choose
- To run away, because we fear to be touched by these harsh realities, which invite us to get involved, to leave our safe zone for a deeper commitment that implies sacrifice, renunciation, and creativity. It seems easier to stay at home, because we do not find clear answers, we are afraid to take risks, we do not know where they have taken the Lord and our heart does not vibrate enough to the warmth of his word.
- Let us return, to look again at the removed stone and with the grace of God, contemplate in the empty tomb, the strength of the Risen Lord, which impels us to look where we also have to remove the stones that block love and faith, in order to live our relationship with Him in a new way.
Jesus, who has risen from the tomb, can remove all the stones in our life to release new energies that impel us to heal the wounds of those who are with us on the way.
Let's reflect together:
· Which stones must I remove with the help of Jesus?
· What could be blocking my relationship with the Lord, preventing me from going out to meet others?
· Do I dare to leave early in the morning in search of the Lord, to meet Him and be transformed by Him?
It is time to go out announcing that Christ is Alive. Let us live with joy in the presence of the Risen Lord!
We wish you a happy and blessed Feast!
Sr Gloria Poblete
For the Congregational Leadership Team
Lucerne, Easter 2018
I discovered the cover picture of the Divine Infant in the big hospital of our Sisters in Kottiyam, South India. In a building, where people come with their illnesses and infirmities, is a trustingly sleeping Divine Child in the Chapel window. I was fascinated by this Child.
With reference to it, I would like to share with you two thoughts:
1.The extraordinary qualities children have! They show great Spontaneity and tremendous Energy. A small Child does not as yet know any system or norms and therefore does not judge in advance what it says or does. It is not trapped in the constant consideration of: what do others think or expect of me! Children can be very enthusiastic and they believe trustfully what they are told.
A child lives mainly in the Present, not in the past nor the future. Its eyes are still full of tears and yet its mouth already laughs again. A child has time for aimless Play.Children are Inquisitive and therefore break taboos again and again. Children can be intent and stubborn about their Wishes. A child is everywhere a Beginner. Because of that, it is still able to wonder and question: Why? Why? Why? Admittedly, that occasionally gets on one’s nerves. Children Trust. They confidently approach people. With a child everything is fluid, in the making – because of its power to revitalise, it can move and change the world. A child, in fact, is a Symbol of Life and Creativity.
All this applies to the Divine Child in particular. He invites us to develop all these qualities of a child. This Divine Child lives in each one of us. He is the image of what I am supposed to become. This is the seed of my being and wholeness and in particular when I am sick or challenged by some other type of distress.
2. In Mark 9: 30ff Jesus presents a child when predicting, for a second time, his death and resurrection. His disciples do not understand His suffering thus announced. They are discussing who of them is the greatest! How does Jesus react? He places a child in their midst and says: “whoever receives one such child as this in my name, receives me.” To accept a child presupposes affirmation of the qualities mentioned above and my being receptive to them. Hence my provocative question: could fellowship of the Crucified Lord just mean to re-awaken the qualities of a child in myself and others; to be child-like in this sense? Like children we may trust that in our being and acting – Hope, Truth, Love, Freedom and Trust – cannot be wiped out by any power in the world in whatever guise of a ‘Herod’ it may appear. No, the Divine Life conquers all.
The Divine Child promises a new, indestructible life. It cannot be harmed. The most vicious ‘Herod’ cannot kill it. It is therefore the symbol of the renewal of life. By faith, as evidenced by our founders, we, as Sisters of the Holy Cross in the twenty-first century, live this attitude of hope. The Divine Child, alive in us, is our never exhausted source of life and hope.
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!
For the Congregational Leadership Team
Sr. Franziska Mitterer
Lucerne, Christmas 2017
Today we celebrate our Congregational Feast,
Exaltation of the Cross. What in your personal room has an honoured or prominent space? What is it that has a focus position for you?
In many countries, we find a Cross in or on the church and in the cemetery. In Switzerland, we find it also along the road, on the top of the mountains, or even in classrooms, hospital rooms or courtrooms. Have we grown accustomed to this sign? Do we still be startled or stunned? Are we still sensitive to the compassion of God, seen in the Cross?
We do not live in an ideal world and so the Cross is present in our painful experiences. Time and again the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ clearly shows us the abyss in ourselves and the im measurable suffering caused by the cruelty of human beings.
Today, when we celebrate our Congregational Feast, it is because the Cross proclaims to us a redeeming message into the hard realities of our everyday life:
In cruce salus. Death does not have the last word, and all injustice of this world will come to an end. Through Jesus' suffering and death, life is given to us, salvation and redemption is promised. His Cross is not only a sign of suffering and pain, but also and above all a sign of life and hope.
In cruce salus. From this hope we live, that He transforms life with the Cross and through the Cross - every day anew, with us and through us. The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross does not remind us only of the past. It calls us to prepare the way of Easter, the Resurrection and the new life, and to serve God and the people with this
In cruce salus. The Cross is a sign of hope and a mission given to us! As Sisters of the Holy Cross, we identify our deepest vocation to commit ourselves and to collaborate with God’s transforming power, so that, in the midst of needs and limitations His Kingdom might dawn here and now.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses
all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours. (Teresa of Avila)
I wish you a blessed Feast day.
Sr Ursula Wyss, For the Congregational Leadership Team, Lucerne 14 September 2017
The encounter between Mary Magdalene and the Resurrected Jesus is an invitation to reflect on our own daily encounters. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the resurrection so that all might reflect more deeply on the dignity of women and the call to new evangelisation. Jn.20; 1-18
The event in fact poses the question of every disciple today as of 2000 years ago. If it is true that Jesus Christ arose and He is alive, how can we see him, touch him and find him even today in the midst of uncertainties and brokenness?
The outstretched hand of Jesus remind us that the risen Lord breaches time and space and enters our world, in response invites us to seek him out. Christ could be encountered everywhere--- in the struggle of a youth, a trafficked woman, a homeless refugee, a polluted environment, a malnourished child the list goes on… in every place where hopes and expectations are dashed.
‘Woman why are you weeping?’ Her answer reveals that everything is at a standstill in Mary’s life. She is still shut up in the tomb. Her difficulties are as heavy as the stone that closed the entrance of the tomb. But her encounter with the risen Christ was something deeper about to be revealed in her life.
As Mary Magdalene continues to search for her missing Lord in the tomb/garden, she encounters the Lord when he calls her by name-‘Mary’. Then a flood gate of beautiful memories gushes forth. A new world opens up and a spiritual relationship is established-a deep encounter.
MARY REACHES OUT IN LOVE ---‘Rabboni’. Jesus replies ‘Do not cling to me’. This is a passage for Mary to pass from Non-faith to faith. We go through the same passage when we abandon the desire to cling, to touch to hold. Faith begins with a renunciation of the immediate and with an assent to something beyond. Only then we could begin to encounter Jesus.
The encounter also comes when we recognise the fear in us to read, to respond to the ‘signs of the times’ and make a conscious choice to let go of that fear. Realising that fear is not only the truth, is a great moment of GRACE.
The passionate love between Mary Magdalene and Jesus continues even after Resurrection. But now the love is a transformed love. ‘Do not touch me….’ To be filled with this love is one thing that must always be given away continually. The more one gives the more one gets. Never let the ball to stop with us. Stop giving and it turns sour. ‘Love is what life is all about. I pray really to live from love, to be the light of Divine love in my actions, words and thoughts.’ (Colette Lafia)
With Mary we are called by name. The encounter shows the divine and human, grace and nature meet at that point. Let our encounters take us to places where we love, where we witness to that ‘GRACE’.
How do I encounter Lord in my daily life?
How are we open to His grace to receive this transformed love?
Let this transformed love help me reach into the folds and creases of my being and to live in the fabric of my everyday life. This helps me to experience the sacredness in the depth of our hearts.
Wishing you a grace filled Easter!
Sr. Immaculate Joseph, For the Congregational leadership Team, Easter 2017
Christmas, a call to peace
The celebration of the mystery of Christ’s incarnation invites us to consider our life and that of our neighbour.
Through the season of Advent right up to Christmas as the commercial world takes over the theme with bright lights and captivating commercial advertisements that shadow the reality of the world, all of us are invited to find a space within ourselves and reflect on the mystery of the incarnation and what it means for us today.
The incarnation of our Lord signals peace! Peace which is deeply threatened in our world today. Undoubtedly, we live in a consumer culture where we desire more material things and where we ignore simple life style, the abuse of power, war and crime, the sensational stories from media about the migrants crossing oceans, the inequalities that widen the gap between the rich and the poor, the loss of many unborn babies deprived of life, religious and ethnic conflicts…The list seems to be endless. How are we going to build and be part of a truly human world?
Since we continue to fail because of our own human frailty, we therefore, need to strive to search for true peace which is based on true justice (Isaiah 32:17). It is also important to note however, that love is the source of peace and in the absence of love there is human instability.
“And on earth peace” (Luke 2 :8-20). The question naturally arises: Why shepherds? And these were from a low class, who spend most of their time not with people but the flocks of sheep. But these are indeed the ones who received the announcement that would cause an outburst of joy and peace. The good news literally catapulted the shepherds out of their old self and they spread the message that had been told to them. Certainly, God wants us to experience life to its fullness regardless of where we come from, to reconcile everyone, to bring unity and solidarity in people’s lives, to see people free and people who love and cherish each other. And for that, God became as one of us - the word made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
Given, the current high profile debate with regard to acts of terrorism, it is quite encouraging that many people from different religions are striving to search for inner peace and many peace loving people are working towards peace. However, we thank God, as believers of the new covenant, that Christ ‘the prince of peace’ is continuously reconciling the world and restoring the unity of all people, the mystery that can only be understood with the eyes of faith.
As Holy Cross Sisters we are also challenged to embrace humanity and the whole of creation with intimate love, mercy and compassion. We are called to protect and promote life, to care and be among the poor, a call that is not new to us. We are again challenged to ardently dare and to create new ministries that answer the needs of today.
Let peace reign in our communities, the place we call home. If there is someone aggrieved, everyone is affected. Peace has to start with me, to my neighbour, to the nation, to the world.
How can each of us create a better and more peaceful environment?
Indeed, Christ chose to be born in the stable (Luke 2:7) to show us that he is part of the world and has overcome human pride and egoism. Furthermore, the stable represents God’s whole creation, meaning mother earth is our common home and we should strive to live in harmony with all living things so that the true peace prevails in each and every creation of the almighty God.
In conclusion, “the word became flesh”, is fully alive in our lives. We can experience the joy, love and peace that Christmas gives, and the experience we receive can be contagious for the people we meet everywhere.
Let there be peace in our hearts!
Peace in our Communities!
Peace in our world today!
Happy Christmas and loving greetings
Sr Immaculata Sililo
For the General Leadership Team, Lucerne
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross 2016
We are celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, our Congregational Feast. How shall we thank God for His tremendous love! (cf. Jn 3, 16). We rejoice and we are full of hope when we experience the merciful love of God who sends his son to the earth to save us and at what price! The Son of God made Himself vulnerable, assuming the condition of a servant, obedient unto death and a death on the cross. (cf. Phil 2:8).
Let us pause a moment and reflect on the deeper meaning of our name "Sisters of the Holy Cross", a legacy from our founders, expressed by the words “I need sisters who understand the cross (Father Theodosius) and “Let us carry the cross joyfully” (Mother Bernarda). What is the meaning of the constant presence of the sign of the cross in our lives, in our communities, in society? We who embrace the Holy Cross of Christ have a special calling during this Holy Year of Mercy.
- “To make the experience of opening our hearts to all those who live on the fringes of society: fringes which modern society itself creates. How many uncertain and painful situations are there in the world today! How many are the wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is silenced and ignored by indifference!
- To heal these wounds, to soothe them with the oil of consolation, to bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care. Let us not fall into humiliating indifference, or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism!
- Let us open our eyes to see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied of their dignity! May we reach out to them and support them so that they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!” (Misericordiae Vultus,nº15)
The cross of Christ is the hallmark of our Holy Cross Spirituality, the essence of discipleship. The Cross illuminates our lives, gives us hope, and teaches us the way.
The song "Footsteps of Jesus" can tell us how to take up the cross of Christ:
“Lose your life, take up the cross, follow the steps of Jesus, and love in the same way as he did; lose your life to be light:
1. Surrendering to the one whom nobody loved, the abandoned, who wants to experience a new day; listening to their cry, loving as a lover the person that nobody wants to see.
2. Shouting out that God is not asleep and He is giving us his strength that he is sowing liberty; yelling that hatred has not won and hope is not dead and God invites us to walk.
3. Walking paths not yet trodden, jumping chasms and boundaries, go where nobody wants to go. Shake hands with one who is alone and has lost everything, give them the strength to live.”
May we be able to deeply live this mystery of love! Let us contemplate Jesus on the cross and let Him speak to us and touch our hearts.
Let us walk in the footsteps of the Crucified and Risen Lord!
May the love of Christ exalted on the Cross renew us from within, and inspire us to live our identity as "Sisters of the Holy Cross" in an authentic way.
I wish you a blessed Congregational Feast.
Sr Gloria Poblete Muñoz
For the Congregational Leadership Team
Lucerne, September 2016
I am There for You
As Holy Cross Sisters we are together on the Journey.
Let us be open to a special ‘journey’ in the Bible during this Easter season.
In John 16:4 Jesus says ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’.
By speaking this ‘I-am’ word, Jesus manifests the God, who revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush: I am the ‘I-am-there’, ‘I-am-there-for-you’.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Ex 3:4) enters into a relationship with humanity and opens the dialogue. He is the God, who faithfully guides his people out with the Exodus. The God, who liberates the people of Israel from all adversities and slavery. A God, who is on the side of the unfortunate and forgotten.
This God is calling us, to be together on the journey, to leave all kinds of enslavement behind us, to go out in search of the freedom that rewards us with a deeply satisfying truth-filled life. We are invited to take others with us into this journey to the ‘promised land’- a place, where all hunger and thirst for life is finally and totally satisfied.
This invites us to leave behind our own selfishness and all those habits and rules which obstruct us or which prevent us from truly being who we are.
To this day, believing Jews celebrate Passover in the same way as if they had left Egypt themselves.
This salvation event culminates for us Christians in the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Hunger for love, meaning for life in abundance can only be satisfied by Jesus.
That is why Pope Francis calls us religious to a new exodus: ‘Following Christ in consecrated life means continuously making an ‘exodus’ from yourselves in order to centre your life on Christ and on his Gospel’. (May 2013)
The Exodus is continually interpreted in new ways. We Sisters of the Holy Cross are invited, to continuously re-interpret the exodus of our congregation, our founding experience and the God experience of our founders. To continuously re-formulate it within the respective cultural contexts. This is not comfortable and easy. But it is warm and spirited, and it is paschal.
Let us have open hearts and minds for the journey that the ‘I-am-there-for-you’ wants to lead us on as an international Community of Sisters.
Let us search with our hearts:
* What do I need, what should I do more of or do less of in order to lead a life that goes into the future with the ‘I-am-there-for-you’? * What way has the ‘I-am-there-for-you’ been leading us on, as a community, a province and a congregation?
* On what Journey does HE want to lead us into the future? Where could we experience and where can we experience abundance, wholeness and being connected?
* How can we stay open to be surprised by God for new exodus?
A Happy and Blessed Easter
For the Congregational Leadership Team
Sr Franziska Mitterer
Lucerne, Easter 2016