July 21, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue our reflection on community.

Friendship in community is a wonderful blessing and gift. It is something that develops over time. Although everyone in community is “sister”, not everyone is friend on the same level. When deep friendships are formed in community it is a real gift. There are some things that we can do to contribute to the life of the community and to make it a place of hospitality and warmth – extending friendship – to the members. One way that we do this is by taking responsibility for the life of the community – to help make it a place that people want to come home to. It means being able to celebrate people and events, and being willing to share that spirit and those experiences with others.

One does not come to community to make friends – if one does not already have them. But in community we work at being a community of equals – sisters to one another.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God
Sr. Debbie Drago

July 16, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

This month we are going take a look at “community.”  Community living is one of the richest blessings of religious life and it is also a very challenging aspect of religious life – calling for some skills and the ability to be self-reflective, humble and open. One skill that is important for community life is the skill of “other-centerdness:

It is no small challenge to be able to enter into the reality of another, to be generous, to listen. It means taking time for others and for situations that may not always be your first choice. It is about how you use your time and energy.

One small example of the invitation to be generous and to practice other-centerdness in my own experience – was when one of our older sisters started to experience difficulty with her memory and organization. During our morning and evening prayer she was having difficulty finding the pages and keeping up with the pace of the prayer. This was an invitation to all of us to practice patience, kindness and compassion. It was not always easy – but that is what community living is about – making room for others.

It is also important that you practice self-care. This is what enables us to give to others. By practicing self-care we have the emotional and physical energy to reach out and accept others as they are, not as we would like them to be.

Some questions that might be helpful to reflect on are:

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago

June  30 , 2008

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We  finish  this month’s reflections on the topic of “zeal”.

A thought on zeal - Zeal, the untiring commitment to the one person......the commitment to stay with the one person, not to give up even when she/he has given up on her/himself..........to celebrate through mission the loving kindness of our Faithful Shepherd God.   
Sr. Kathleen 

NY Vocation Office

June 23, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue this month’s reflections on the topic of “zeal”.

“On an individual level, zeal means never giving up on a person, it means unconditional love and acceptance,: a commitment to leave no stone unturned to assist each person to come to her/his full potential, no matter what the cost to me.  On an advocacy level, it means creatively and faithfully working to overturn the unjust systems which impact negatively on each person's dignity and humanity and innate right to live and work in freedom”.
~Sr. Paulette LoMonaco

NY Vocation Office

June 4, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

This month’s reflections will be on the topic of “zeal”.

We also Vow Zeal

". . .and I also vow zeal...."  Those words spoken years ago have been a dynamic movement in my heart taking different shapes at various times in my life--sometimes urging me toward and sustaining me in a difficult ministry, sometimes enabling me to embrace suffering, sometimes drawing me toward greater union with God, but always, always leading me and others toward the Kingdom--". . .your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Sr. Joan Kopf, RGS

NY Vocation Office

March 28, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue our reflection on “Home.” 

Home is growing in freedom toward our deepest, truest self. This is not always easy to discern when we are confronted with so many “shoulds” that we or others put on us. 

We grow toward true self (being at home within ourselves) in a space where our growth is not driven by external demands but drawn forward, by love, into our own best possibilities.” Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life p. 60 


 “Ask anything,”
My Lord said to me.
And my mind and heart thought deeply
for a second,
then replied with just one word,
God’s arms then opened up and I entered Myself.
I entered Myself when I entered Christ.
And having learned compassion I
allowed my soul
to stay. 

Trust that your heart knows what is best for you! 

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,

Sr. Debbie ~ [email protected]

March 14 , 2008

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

What has struck me this Lenten Season is the common desire that every person has to know and to be welcomed “home.” Below is a reflection on my idea of home. I hope you enjoy it.

If I Could Go Anywhere

If I could go anywhere, I’d go to a place where every life is cherished and differences are appreciated. It would not necessarily be a place where the sun shines all the time, but when the clouds roll in and thunder rocks the skies and darkness covers the earth, there is someone or someones to give support and to strike a candle of light and warmth.

This place might be called a learning community, where silence is valued and where each voice is listened to. The skies would be colored in pinks, yellows, whites, blues, hopes, dreams, equality and wonder.  There are mountains, streams, birds, flowers, tress, oceans and stars in this place. And every once in a while ~ a moonbow.

If I could go anywhere, I’d choose to be in a place that honors the human soul, that place deep within each person, where light goodness and grace abide. A place where the human heart is given space, time, permission and the affirmation to grow. This is a place where conflict is not feared but explored and brought into the light and non-violent and respectful resolutions are sought together through open and honest conversations with one another.

This place is colored by green hues of newness ~ new life, new ideas, new dreams ~ and deep shadows of maroon embracing the histories, cultures and traditions of diverse peoples. If I could go anywhere I’d like to go to a place, or perhaps create a place where all are welcome and made to feel at home. This place is not bound by geography, walls, limitations or boundaries but exists everywhere and anywhere the inherent goodness of every person is celebrated.

This place is named “home” to all who inhabit it. It is a kingdom place enlightened by wisdom.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]

February 12, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

As we celebrate the liturgical time of Lent I invite you to reflect on Love in a different way as is presented to us by the commercials during this month of February.

Here is a good example that I found in a book of John H. Hampsch, C.M.F. “The Awesome Mercy of God”. If you take a fresh sponge–not a plastic sponge but a regular ocean sponge, which is actually a living entity, like coral—and cut into hundreds of pieces. Then scatter all the pieces in a tank of water and leave them untouched overnight. The next morning you will find that the pieces have reassembled themselves into the exact shape of the original intact sponge—like a spontaneously reassembled jigsaw puzzle.

This phenomenon is call “reintegrative restoration” and can be used as an image of the immeasurable love of God that not only heals but restore our being.

God’s love is given to us through our family, friends, people that we don’t know, in nature and in different circumstances. But the love that restore comes to us through a deep relationship with our God in solitude and prayer. During this Lenten season let us take some minutes a day to quite ourselves and experience the restoring love of God.

Sr. Claudia Palacio, RGS
[email protected]

February 1 , 2008

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We conclude this month’s reflection on “Spiritual Direction.”

In our personal prayer as well as in our sharing with a spiritual director, “We can only pray from our actual feelings, coming to prayer from that honest fundamental desire, which leaves us open to an unpredictable outcome. Praying with this kind of emotional congruence gives us freedom. We can pray out of our anger, our weariness, our discouragement, our fear, our loss, our joy, etc. We express those feelings in prayer to their conclusion until we’re tired of them however long that may take. When we’re finished, we wait for a response. Gradually, we discover changes in us. A Gospel passage discloses a new possibility. God touches us through another. A long walk by the ocean crying or shouting calms us and we are now open to influence.”

Spiritual Direction, Beyond the Beginnings, by Sr. Janet Ruffing, RSM, © 2000, Paulist Press, Mahway, New Jersey

The process of spiritual direction is always to help us discover God’s presence in our lives in our everyday experiences and feelings.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie ~ [email protected]

January 23, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue our reflection on Spiritual Direction:

“Seek to have that faith which will make you love more and walk with courage in the ways of God.” ~ St. Mary Euphrasia

Walking in faith with God is what spiritual direction is about. The focus of spiritual direction is one’s relationship with God and experience of God and how one might be called to respond to God’s love.

Sr. Maureen Conroy, RSM writes about the dimensions of one’s experience of God.

“The pervasive, heartfelt experience of God has various dimensions. It is comprised of the Giver – a self-communicating God – and the receiver – ourselves.”

She outlines seven consequences of experiencing God:

  1. An experience of God increases our desire for God. “As a deer longs for running waters, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.” ( Ps 42:1,2)
  2. As we allow ourselves to experience God’s loving presence, our relationship with God deepens and becomes more real. We spontaneously share with God the concerns and burdens of our heart.
  3. Our knowledge of God changes from a head knowledge to a heart knowledge, an ‘intimate understanding’ of the truth.
  4. Conversion of heart, mind, attitude and behavior takes place. As we come to know and enter into the mind and heart of God, we change both interiorly and exteriorly. We begin to see the world from God’s point of view not just from our limited perspective.
  5. Experience of God enables us to develop a discerning heart, that is, to notice more readily those realities that are drawing us closer to God and those that are moving us away from God.
  6. Experiencing God results in life-giving choices. We make decisions that are growth-producing and beneficial to others and ourselves. We look at the broad picture of God’s desires, our deeper desires and the needs of others.
  7. Experiencing God often inspires us to celebrate God’s tremendous love in some concrete way, whether that be through a Eucharistic liturgy, other sacraments or some creative expression… The love we have experienced deep within we desire to express in a visible, concrete way.

Sr. Maureen sums these dimensions up by stating, “As our experience of God unfolds, we realize how God’s presence permeates our personality, life circumstances and culture. We find God in all things. We become a living expression, as St. Irenaeus, writes, ‘The glory of God is a person fully alive.’”

Sr. Maureen Conroy’s article appeared in Human Development Magazine, Fall, 2003 the Twenty Fourth Volume, Number Three.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie ~ [email protected]

January 11, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue our reflection on Spiritual Direction…

Spiritual Direction is concerned with one’s relationship and experience of God. This is the focus and purpose of seeking spiritual direction. It is about being, and continuing to become a “discerning person.”

Spiritual direction is a conversation between two adults in which one is seeking some guidance on the path to God and the meaning of life. A spiritual guide or director helps the person to become aware of God’s presence and action in her life by learning to notice – paying particular attention to one’s freedom and one’s resistances - those things that get in the way of being truly free and making free and life-giving choices.

“Life is a journey, and the most engrossing part is the interior journey of our soul. As we touch and live through the seasons of Jesus’ life, never boring nor repetitious, we live through the seasons of our life, a kind of spiral journeying, touching the same places inside us, but never really the same, as we go deeper, ever trying to find the answers to those two great questions of all life: What does it all mean? And what shall I do with my love?”

This reflection is taken from “On Becoming a Discerning Person Through Spiritual Direction”, Review For Religious, February 1992 by Br. Charles Reutemann,FSC

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago – [email protected]

January 2, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends, 

We wish each of you a very Happy, Healthy and Holy New Year! This month’s reflections will be on the topic of “spiritual direction.” 

What is spiritual direction?

“Spiritual direction is concerned with helping a person directly with her relationship with God, to explore the questions, ‘Who is God for me, and who am I for God?’” 

“The ministering person (the spiritual director) helps the directee to address God directly and to listen to what God has to communicate. The focus of this kind of spiritual direction is the relationship itself between God and the person. The person is helped not so much to understand that relationship better, but to engage in it, to enter into a conversation with God. Spiritual direction of this kind focuses on what happens when a person listens to and responds to a self-communicating God.” 

Excerpts taken from ~ The Practice of Spiritual Direction by William A Barry & William J Connolly, Harper Collins Publishers. 

For those who take their relationship with God seriously, regular spiritual direction, usually on a monthly basis, is a wonderful way to deepen and grow in one’s relationship with God. For those who are in the process of discerning a change in ministry, or making a major commitment in life – spiritual direction can serve as a wonderful aid to the discernment process. Most religious men and women are involved in spiritual direction for a life-time. We always desire to grow in our relationship with God and to respond to God’s daily calls to each of us. 

In the heart of our Shepherd, God
Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]   

December 19, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friends:

May the Peace of the Infant Jesus reign in your hearts.

This week I invite you to continue to reflect and meditate on the gift of HopeHope in its truest sense reposes in the secure expectation of its desired object, and the stronger the expectation, the more restful the hope.  In Holy Writ, hope is called the anchor of the soul.  St. Paul bids us “to hold fast to interior behind the veil.” – (Heb.6:18, 19).  As the anchor steadies the ship amid wind and wave by trying it fast, so hope keeps the soul safe and secure, buffeted though she be by the winds and waves of life’s violent storms, by fastening her to the shore of eternity.  Deeply conscious of its everlasting reward, and sated with the satisfaction of its burning desire, hope is never impatient but always absolutely calm in its sublime trustfulness.

In this state, hope gives to all objects the tone of its environment, feasting as it does on the happiness which it will eventually possess through the deepening of its desires that render all the more beautiful the eternal inheritance of which it is so enamored.

In the fullness of this virtue the soul, finding the yoke of the Lord sweet and His burned light, overcomes obstacles which those without hope do not even try to surmount.

Prayer:  God of hope, come!  Be the Morning Star in our midst, the Light that can never go out, the Beacon of Hope guiding our way to you.  Come into our midst and make of our lives a hope, where your everlasting goodness resonates with assuring love and vigorous hope.

Sister Frances Marie Ellul, CGS
[email protected]

December 12, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends:

We continue our reflection on hope.


Imagine God’s gentle gift of encouragement, Mary Bearing Hope (Jesus) to the world!!
From Iraq to Chile, from Dafur to China, and Iran, we are overwhelmed with daily chronicles of unending human suffering announced by radio, television and the internet. As a culture we endure immediate reports of torture, greed, hatred and human trafficking. I find myself questioning our sense of morality. Have we forgotten our humanity?

It appears that the people of Israel were asking themselves the same questions. They too were conflicted as we are today. Jewish life was not of any particular value – they were burdened and endured every kind of affliction under the Romans, facing many atrocities.

Their only hope was in the Word of God, foretold by the prophets that there would be a Messiah who would free them from oppression and domination. “I will send you a Messiah. I will rescue you my people. I’m God, I will do as I have promised.” Mary, a young girl had to have heard these whispers of hope. When was he to come? How would he come? Who would give birth to the Messiah? Surely, every Jewish maiden wished that it would be here! Each wanted freedom for her people. Hope in the Word of God is what the People of Israel had to hold on to. It was their strength. It gave them purpose, a reason to continue on.

Hope for the Future
Hope is that virtue while gentle and non-assuming is strong and sturdy bringing light to a darkened world. We hope always for good things. A safe delivery of a child – for good health – for someone to love – to succeed in school – to follow Jesus – to do the Father will and to love and care for ourselves and others. We hope when all else fails. “ Hope Springs Eternal.” So within the synagogues and homes of the people, a certain urgency was felt – many were hopeful – anxious – curious – encouraged. The whispers about the Messiah were beginning to become more intense, louder, frequent. Could the Messiah come during my lifetime? The time was fast approaching and so a sense of expectancy existed among the people and then it happened!!

Connect with Every Living Thing
Imagine Mary’s shock to be asked by God to be the Bearer of Hope and Encouragement not only to her people but to the world! Imagine God coming to us. How can this be comprehended? The Incarnation – Emmanuel – God with us? The very idea is overwhelming – awesome – and can only be expressed with tears of Joy! How humbled Mary must have felt. What could she say to God, but YES. YES to hope and not despair. YES for the salvation of the world. YES to the deep love and encouragement that God so wanted for his people and the world. No, to the disorder, sin, and the evil surrounding her. And we have the same option. Ask yourself what part you play in bearing Jesus our hope and encouragement to our hurting world? How will you let your zeal, shine from within you and inspire you to great love, action and commitment to JESUS OUR HOPE TO EMMANUEL – GOD WITH US AND IN US?!!!

 Sister Adrienne Baker

December 7, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

This month we will focus our reflections on “HOPE.”

In this Advent time of waiting and anticipation, what do you say is the difference between the concept of  “expectation” and that of  “Hope”?     At times, our expectations are disappointed.  What we expected didn’t really match our anticipation.  And then too, sometimes what we expected is exceeded or surpassed.   The Dictionary definition of expectation talks about looking forward; the act of expecting or anticipating.   Hope, the Dictionary says, is expectation and desire combined; promise. 

 Hope, in the Christian context has to do with God.  It has to do with God’s expectations.  Hope has to do with trusting that God will be true to the Promises that have been made; promises that concern the salvation of our world and everyone in it.  Our challenge is to place our trust, our hope, our faith in God’s Promise.  And as it happens, the PROMISE is God-become-a-human, Jesus Christ. Our hope is founded in, grounded in, the God of Jesus Christ, the God who looks upon the world and sees the affliction of the people, hears their cry, knows their sufferings and sends, out of utter love, Jesus to free them.  God is always inviting us to Hope in God’s goodness, trustworthiness and the reality that God will always save us; is always sending Jesus to us and always loving us.   

Sr. Barbara Beasley

November 28, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

We continue our reflection on reconciliation.

One important step towards reconciliation is to name and honor our feelings. If we fail to do so we will never be able to enter into the transformative and healing process and reality of reconciliation – integration and wholeness. “Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk, teaches that the body is the “warehouse” of our past emotions (as well as present emotions). Every emotion (feeling) that we have, if not fully experienced, tended to and resolved, affects the body which also affects our spirits, our well-being and our relationships. 

When we ignore our feelings, which we store in our bodies, we neglect our spirituality.

When our mind becomes quieter, the body can begin to accomplish the healing that it needs. St. John of the Cross taught that the Spirit can heal our deepest wounds when we have interior silence.

What is your body telling you about your emotions and areas in your life that are in need of healing and reconciliation? Take some time today to be quiet. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you about your spiritual health. Begin the process of reconciliation.

Peace be to you!

Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]

“The Good Shepherd does not want even one of God’s children to be lost in the chaos of the times.”
“One person is of more value than a world.” St. Mary Euphrasia 

November 21, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

Although in the two quotes above by St. Mary Euphrasia  the word, “reconciliation” is never mentioned, reconciliation is in fact what they are about. Reconciliation is what all Christian people are called to in relationship. Our Good Shepherd does not even one of us to be lost, separated, disconnected from God, ourselves or one another because of the chaos of the times, whether the chaos is caused by situations or the internal chaos of darkness, confusion, or a feeling of hopelessness. One person is of more value than a world. Each person is of more value. God desires our wholeness. God desires that we be reconciled to God, ourselves and one another.

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. It is a time when we consciously remember all for which we are grateful. Is there a situation or person in your life that is in need of reconciliation and forgiveness? Perhaps today is the day to begin to let go of past hurts and resentments – to free up your loving.

Let us invite our Good Shepherd into our hearts and pray for the grace to be reconciled. It is never too late. We may not be in a position to speak with the person directly. Perhaps the person has gone home to God or is not willing to forgive us. Although that is extremely painful – it need not get in the way of the gift of reconciliation within our own hearts. The question is, “Are we open?”

In the heart of our Shepherd, God

Sr. Debbie Drago [email protected]

November 8, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

This month we will focus our reflections on “Reconciliation.”

St. Mary Euphrasia had an early experience of the reconciling aspect of her religious life and of her mission. She recounted this experience to her sisters in Angers, France many years later.

At her entrance ceremony, the celebrant developed the theme of reconciliation as a triple peace – peace with God, peace with inner self, and peace with others. He recalled that the religious order that Rose Virginie Pelletier (later known as St. Mary Euphrasia) was joining was called to fulfill this peace by a special vocation to help realize the gift of reconciliation in the hearts of others.

How might God be inviting you to experience reconciliation with God, within yourself, with others? Is there a situation in your own life that is in need of healing and reconciliation? Perhaps there is an aspect of yourself that is in need of forgiveness or acceptance. What first step might you take to facilitate this process?

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]

November 2, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friends,

Blessing to each of you on this feast of all souls. Below is our final reflection on “Spirituality.”

Simply stated, “Spirituality is what we do with the spirit that is within us.” Ronald Rolheiser.

One way to nurture and begin to pay attention to the spirit that is within, is to listen carefully. Listening carefully helps us cultivate the kind of emotional, spiritual and moral intelligence we need to make life choices that are suited to who we are and who we are called to become. In an essay entitled, “Learning to Live,” Thomas Merton writes:

Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own – be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.

To learn about the spiritual – you must go out alone into the wild places.
(John A Sanford, Healing and Wholeness, © 1977, Paulist Press)

“Behold, a sacred voice is calling you: All over the sky a sacred voice is calling.”
(Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, © 1932, University of Nebraska Press)

A sacred voice is calling – listen, so that you may live.
(John Neafsey, A Sacred Voice is Calling, ©2006, Orbis Books - Maryknoll, NY) This is a great book.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago – [email protected]

October 26, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friend,

We continue our reflection on Spirituality.

The following is an excerpt from “The Holy Longing: The Search for A Christian Spirituality” by Ronald Rolheiser.

“For many people the term spirituality conjures up images of something paranormal, mystical, churchy, holy, pious, and otherworldly. Rarely is spirituality understood as referring to something vital and nonnegotiable, lying at the heart of our lives that issues forth from the bread and butter of ordinary life.

This is a tragic misunderstanding. None of us has a choice. Everyone has to have a spirituality and everyone does have one, either a life-giving one or a destructive one. No one has the luxury of choosing here because all of us are precisely fired into life with a certain madness that comes from the gods and we have to do something with that. We do not wake up in this world calm and serene, having the luxury of choosing to act or not act. We wake up crying, on fire with desire, with madness. What we do with that madness is our spirituality.

Hence, spirituality is not about serenely picking or rationally choosing certain spiritual activities like going to church, praying or meditating, reading spiritual books, or setting off on some explicit spiritual quest. It is far more basic than that. Long before we do anything explicitly religious at all, we have to do something about the fire that burns within us. What we do with that fire, how we channel it, is our spirituality. Thus, we all have a spirituality whether we want one or not, whether we are religious or not. Spirituality is more about whether or not we can sleep at night than about whether or not we go to church. It is about being integrated or falling apart, about being within community or being lonely, about being in harmony with Mother Earth or being alienated from her. Irrespective of whether or not we let ourselves be consciously shaped by any explicit religious idea, we act in ways that leave us either healthy or unhealthy, loving or bitter. What shapes our actions is our spirituality.”

“We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” ~ St. Mary Euphrasia

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]

October 17, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friend,

This month of October we will reflect on Spirituality.

Below are two wonderful insights and deep articulations and experiences of spirituality by Parker Palmer, the Quaker Educator and Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk.

“Authentic spirituality wants to open us to truth – whatever truth may be, wherever truth may take us. Such a spirituality does not dictate where we must go, but trusts that any path walked with integrity will take us to a place of deep knowing.” ~ Parker J. Palmer, To Know As We Are Known, 1983.

“Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in God’s creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth.

To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity.  We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy; it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run the identity in God, which the Bible calls “working out our salvation,” is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as God reveals God’s self, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.” ~ edited by Kathleen Deignan, Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, 2007.

In the heart of our Shepherd, God,
Sr. Debbie Drago
[email protected]

September 28, 2007

Dear Good Shepherd Friend,

We continue our monthly reflection theme on “The Cross of Christ”.

The cross has many meanings. We all have varied and differing concepts of the Cross. When young, I thought only about the Cross as it pertained to something to be dreaded since at that time it called to mind the violent death of Christ. Often times it was difficult to look at the Cross knowing how much Jesus must have suffered. Although, I understood what happened more than two thousand years ago as a historical and religious event, I have always been somewhat dumbfounded by the Cross of Christ. I would say to God, “Why?” Yes, I knew and believed that Christ died for our sins, but couldn’t accept the circumstances under which he had to accomplish this deed.

Upon entering Good shepherd Sisters, I was made aware that St. Mary Euphrasia left to us her daughters the Cross as our legacy! At first I did not understand this gift – what was its meaning? I though what can one do with the Cross as a legacy? – Is she leaving us suffering and pain? How strange! Try as I might, I could not accept the Cross as a gift. Another experience that gave me cause to pause was when a friend was visiting me and I took her to the Cathedral in St. Paul, MN. I admired the Cross over the altar as an artistic creation and said to her, “Isn’t it beautiful?” She responded by saying, “Why do you Catholics make so much over the Cross? Why do you dwell upon pain and suffering and not the joy of Resurrection?"

At first I was hurt and a bit defensive. How I viewed the Cross was being called into question. But this got me to thinking about the Cross of Christ, as well as the meaning of the Cross in my life. For me the Cross has been an evolving concept that has progressed from Christ dying a violent death on the Cross (which he did), to Christ giving his life in love, and out of love to save me. It has grown to be a sign of his overwhelming need and wanting to forgive me and others; as well as becoming the means of reconciliation between humanity and God. As we live in the shadow of the Cross of Christ, often a sign of contradiction for many, I see the Cross above all as a sign of interrelatedness and connectedness, and no forgiveness. It is indeed a contradiction for our time. For who can be this unselfish? Only God.

I realize that to be able to embrace the Cross, I must understand that the Cross of Christ calls me to a total self giving. It is then that I realize that like Christ, my life is not and cannot be a place of case protected by the love of God, but a wilderness in which the Spirit leads me to follow Christ. Here Christ sweats blood in an agony beyond our comprehension as we continue to struggle to fulfill his call. Maybe this is why the cross is such a conundrum to so many of us. The Cross of Christ was Jesus’ total surrender to the Father, and I have come to believe that the Cross calls me also to surrender in love. For the Cross is about love, that is, God’s love and mercy for humanity. It is also about reconciliation at any cost between God and us. It is priceless. This is the gift that St. Mary Euphrasia bequeathed to us her daughters.

Not only is it a gift, but a privilege, because God continues to call and embrace us in His mission of reconciliation through the Cross of Christ. I cannot look at the cross anymore and just see suffering. I have learned that what is necessary for the eye to see is the gift of love – mercy – compassion and tenderness of a God who cares for each and every one of us. Mary Euphrasia’s precious gift is Jesus, the incarnation of the Divine Compassion, shown above all in his death and resurrection.

Sr. Adrienne Baker
September 19, 2020

Dear Good Shepherd Friend,

St. Mary Euphrasia, Foundress of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, is a woman who, even though she died over a century ago, is much beloved, spoken of, quoted and is a model for every aspect of the lives of her daughters.

She now has many sons as well, since so many of the Good Shepherd agencies are staffed and operated by “Good Shepherd people” who claim St. Mary Euphrasia as mother, guide and mentor. The point is that St. Mary Euphrasia had a good deal to say about the Cross.  In her great love relationship with Jesus, she wanted to imitate the loving obedience of Jesus to His “Abba.”  She desired to embrace difficulties and adversities as a sign of her love and willingness to be a loving disciple of Her Shepherd.  Those of us, who know her life, are much aware of the tremendous difficulti