Monday, July 22, 2013

Sad news

We are saddened by the loss of the blog's author, Sister Ruth Ann Nistler, 81, who died on July 20, 2013, at the Grand Itasca Hospital in Grand Rapids, Minn.

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Francis Convent on Wednesday, July 24, at 11 a.m. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent on Tuesday, July 23, from 4-8:30 p.m., with a Franciscan Prayer Service at 7 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until the time of the funeral on July 24. Arrangements are by Emblom Brenny Funeral Service, Little Falls.

Sister Ruth was born on March 9, 1932, in St. Cloud. She was the sixth of eight children born to the late George and Anna (Mahowald) Nistler. She was accepted as a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, on July 31, 1951. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1953, and final vows on August 12, 1956. She was a Franciscan Sister for 61 years.

Sister Ruth was a person who loved to share her life and talents with other people. She had a deep love and admiration for the people she ministered to in South America and said that she received more from them than she was able to give to them. She had a great desire to reach the total self-giving, wholeness and holiness to which God called her. When she celebrated her golden jubilee she said, “In a way I feel that I have just begun. I look forward to the coming years as a continuing effort toward the life-long goal of becoming conformed to Christ.”

Sister Ruth received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minn. and a master’s degree in religious education/pastoral ministry from Fordham University, New York. She also studied at the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth; the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Sister Ruth ministered as an elementary teacher, foreign missionary, library assistant, pastoral minister, director of religious education, receptionist, music and liturgy coordinator, pastoral associate and Hispanic minister. She served in Waite Park, St. Cloud, Osakis, Little Falls and Princeton; Yunguyo, Peru; Maracay, Venezuela; Diboll, Tex.; Huntingdon, Tenn.

Sister Ruth was preceded in death by her siblings: Mary Daigle, Reverend Edward, Andrew and Sister Florence, OSF. Survivors include siblings: Catherine Radermacher, Wadena; Lucille Dockendorf, Hines; Theresa (Dale) Brummer, The Villages, Fla.; sister-in-law, Anna Nistler, Northome; nieces, nephews and her Franciscan Community.

Donations to Franciscan Sisters Ministries preferred.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review - The God of Peace, - Toward a Theology of Nonviolence, by John Dear.

This author is a Jesuit priest and a peace activist. Born in North Carolina in 1959, he believes firmly in the possibility of world peace, and has devoted his life to this conviction. For his efforts he has been arrested more than seventy-five times, has spent nearly half his life in jail, and was threatened and mocked by an angry mob, the U.S. National Guard, the U.S. National Guard, outside his parish house in New Mexico, and he speaks of peace to large audiences throughout the country. On reading his projected Theology of Non-Violence, I am tempted to think that there is no one who could possibly live what he proclaims. --But from what I have and heard of this man, I believes he does!

He tells of speaking with a fellow-Jesuit, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, who with five of his fellow Jesuits, all of them highly educated and working for Peace and Justice in El Salvador, were receiving death threats from the military regime. He showed John bullet holes in the side of their house, to validate their fears. -- They continued to speak out for the cause of peace -- and just four months later, all six of them, along with their Salvadoran cook and housekeeper, were murdered outside their house near the university.

He and everyone else in the country were shocked and horrified by this brutality and for the killing of Archbishop Romero and four American Church women, also working for peace in El Salvador. These killings must have strengthened his resolve to offer his life for the cause of peace -- as did other martyrs in our day, including Martin Luther King. Incredibly, the U.S. government was favoring the military regime, and gave no help to the peace-keepers. The justice for the murders and violence was slow in coming. Violence and injustice still exists in El Salvador, and John Dear is continuing his mission of peace. Read of his efforts in his autobiography and other books. You can't help but be inspired by what one man can do.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review - Walking on Water, by Anthony de Mello

De Mello was born in Bombay in 1931 and died in New York in 1987. He was a much sought-after spiritual guide and was director of the Pastoral and Formation Center in Lonalva, India. He has written many books on Christian wisdom blended with Eastern methods of meditation to help us experience the peace of God. His books have been translated into many languages, and are based on stories of monks and rabbis, legends, and Zen sayings.

De Mello is a man of few words. His first chapter is all of two pages! And all thirteen chapters in this book have titles of only a single word or at least of very few words:-- Sin - Peace - Happiness - Life - Freedom - Love - Prayer - Liberation - Spirituality - The Silence That Leads to God - Leave Your Boat on the Beach - Healing the Sufferings Created By the Mind - and Stated Feelings. He does add two longer sections, entitled "Exercises and Points For Consideration" and "Ideas For Meditation and Spiritual Growth." His writing style is conversational, consisting mainly of brief questions and answers between a seeker and a wise man. He often changes rapidly from one theme to another, and at times makes puzzling statements.

The conversations often include touches of humor, common sense, deep spirituality and wisdom. You will find his writings both delightful and full of insight. And you can easily see why he became so well known and popular. His photos show him with a broad smile, as a man who enjoyed life and his place in it. Walking on Water contains a rare treasure, all within 142 pages. You will find this book and others he has written to be delightfully refreshing and deeply spiritual. (Sister Ruth Nistler, OSF).

Fresh Bread, and Other Gifts of Spiritual Nourishment, by Joyce Rupp

Joyce Rupp, a member of the Servants of Mary Community (Servites), a well-known speaker, retreat director, and author of spiritual books, has written this handbook for spiritual growth which began as a monthly newsletter for those who are caught up with their busy schedules and have little time to devote to Scripture reading or personal prayer; but still they have a hunger for nourishing their inner spirit.

The author begins with the theme of a handful of dough, which mixed with other ingredients becomes bread to nourish us and help us to grow. So in the spiritual realm, we take what we know of God and the god-life within us and the love that God reveals to us through the beauties of Creation, other persons and God's Word in Scripture --and mix it with the events of our everyday lives--to nourish our spirit and transform our lives in God and to be a blessing for others.

For each month Joyce gives a theme related to the season of the year, such as the freshness of new snow, growing through the hardships of life, searching for what is missing in our life (Lent), the joyful moments of Spring and new growth, Autumn leaves and sorrow, and preparing a dwelling place for the Lord. These themes are reinforced by brief daily Scripture readings, personal reflection, prayers in prose and poetry, questions at the end of each chapter, with suggestions for journaling and integrating daily life and prayer. You will find this small book delightfully refreshing and spiritually nourishing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review - Immortal Diamond, The Search for Our True Self, By Richard Rohr

In this book, and also in his best-seller, Falling Upward and some of his other books, Richard Rohr speaks often of the ego as part of the False Self, and how it gets in the way of spiritual maturity. Throughout the book he gives many examples of the False Self and also of the True Self, which he likens to a diamond, buried deep within us. Like a diamond, it is formed under deep pressure, the pressure of our lives. It must be searched for and uncovered, and separated from the ego that surrounds it.

In the spiritual journey, our False Self must be resurrected, like Jesus, with this resurrection to be accomplished (or at least well begun) during the first half of our life. The process is of transformation, not resuscitation. The term "Immortal Diamond" reflects a line from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Richard Rohr in his unique style brings clarification to the mysteries of grace, death and resurrection. The author ends with several appendices to amplify and clarify his message. He also offers notes for each of the nine chapters. One of the praises for "Immortal Diamond" by Paul D'Arcy, another noted author states:
"The power of Immortal Diamond is impossible to exaggerate. Each word is a rare gift from a true elder and a worthy guide." 
You will find it inspirational.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review, Storms of My Grandchildren, The Truth About The Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, by James Hansen

An Urgent and Provocative Call to Action from the World's Leading Climate Scientist.

The two sub-titles of this powerful book will be, I think, enough to make you sit up and take notice. If you don't have time to read all the 300+pages, I suggest you read at least the preface and the first two chapters, then skim the next several parts, which are loaded with graphs and scientific data that give the rationale and prove the truth of the claims and warnings that the author gives us. Then read the last half carefully, returning to the parts skimmed if you doubt any of Hansen's assertions or think his urgent warnings and predictions are unfounded.

Hansen's including the names and photos of his own grandchildren gives the book a personal touch, and surely most of the readers have grandchildren or know children of that age. Now is a good time to think of the future and to take seriously the predictions and warnings given by scientists such as James Hansen and others throughout the world. What they say is often prefaced by "when" and not "if." In our day the number of people is growing who are finally waking up to the reality of global warming and climate change, especially as reports of vicious storms, deaths and destruction fill the media. But the slowness to take action is motivated by the lack of "political will", with politics and governments listening more to large corporations such as those dealing with oil, coal, or other fossil fuels than to world scientists whose assertions are based on fact. These corporations devote a large portion of their wealth on employing armies of highly paid lobbyists whose "mission" is to convince government leaders, (who have the power to change present practices), to continue "business as usual, " than to scientific facts. The principal motivation is money.

Hansen gives a devastating view of what will happen in the near future, mere decades and years from now, if we follow the course we're on. For the readers who are not directly involved in government, the best action we can do is threefold: to decrease our own "carbon imprint" and to demand our government leaders to be instrumental in radically influencing (even forcing) our large corporations to conform to the norms that will necessarily be forthcoming. Offer support to President Obama's attempts to follow world scientists' recommendations, rather than to Republican opposition. Our votes do count.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review - Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Colbert.

It seems to me that the earth situation isn't quite a catastrophe yet, but it very well could be, and soon, if we don't correct the problems we've caused. The author claims that already since the late '70's we've been warned of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, and of the melting of polar ice and the drastic changes in our climate that will result. But despite the warnings, those dire effects are well underway…and she says that by the end of the 21st century the earth will likely be hotter than at any time in the last two million years!  And that the consequences of this will determine the course of life on earth for generations to come! We must learn the causes and how to correct them.

In fact, Kolbert says that already in the 1850's an Irish physicist named John Tyndall, in studying the gases in the atmosphere and their effects on the heat of the sun, came across what is now called the "natural greenhouse effect", which today is considered the cause of global warming and climate change.

Years ago, the author accompanied climate scientists to a resource station in Greenland, where scientists use a thermal auger to drill deep down through the ice sheet and extract "bores" of ice, that were compresses from the original snow, and that they discover snow that fell during the Civil War; even during the Pelonnesian Wars, (2,500 feet down) when cave painters painted,( 5,350 feet), and at the deepest, (10,000 feet), snow that fell on Greenland more than 100,000 years ago. When the fluffy snow melts it turn to ice, which when discovered in this fashion, reveals many ancient secrets.

Now in our age the ice of the Alaskan therma frost, and further south in the Greenland and South Pole's glaciers, is melting at a prodigious rate, and climate scientists having learned from the past, can predict into the future and warn us of future dangers, including fierce storms and even droughts, if we do not curb the growing carbon dioxide in our present and near future. Among all these ice discussion, this book has a chapter entitled "The Butterfly and the Toad," telling us of the effects of climate change on even the tiniest of our creation family's creatures. You would enjoy the book.