I am the Vine and You are the Branches

Reflection and original Mandala artwork by Henrita Frost, SSND

Recently I finished this mandala.  For it, I had chosen the theme from Scripture, John 15:5.  Why I chose it, I don’t remember except the words of Jesus came to me “I am the vine and you are the branches”.  Since I finished the mandala, I have often repeated these words “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

At this time, what are these words saying to me as my being is often invaded by the violence that is a daily, even a minute by minute occurrence in our nation and the entire Global Community.

I remember that in his January 1st, World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis called us to “prayerfully and actively banish violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to become nonviolent people and build nonviolent communities that care for our common home.”  I wonder if it is not foolish of me to think that I can help with banishing violence, even in my own life.

As I glance at the mandala the message returns “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  The center of it bids me – come to the vine, Jesus, and then I remember more of the verse “As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit: but apart from me you can do nothing.”  Suddenly, I realize it is a New Year and a new revelation, for I hear this message with urgency, I am bound to the vine and we are bound to the vine and together vine and branches are one.

As one, we are called to respond to the suffering within the Global Community.  We are bound to the vine, Jesus, the all compassionate one who is the source of our compassion.  With Jesus, we can bear fruit, release compassion and dispel violence wherever we are.

Omran, Angels Are Here!

Omran, Angels Are Here!  Painting By Judith Mehr

By Henrita Frost, SSND

Many of us know this five year old child, Omran Daqneesh.  In September 2016, he was pulled from the rubble of his bombed-out home in Aleppo.  We visited him when he was sitting in an ambulance covered with dust and his face blood covered waiting to be helped.  He has become an image of Aleppo’s suffering.  The image of this homeless child has stayed with us.

Beginning Christmas Eve, we have visited another child, the Christ child, whose mother “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn” for he too was homeless.

Angels sang at his birth, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests”. It has been 2016 years since the Christ child’s birth and there is still no peace on earth.  Everyday our heart’s become heavier and we ask what are we to do?  The Christ child has shown us the path to peace.

Pope Francis’s message for January 1, 2017, the fiftieth World Day of Peace dedicated to Nonviolence calls us to be Peacemakers.  The following are Pope Francis’ closing words to his message:    

“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.  In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.

Please note: January 1 is World Peace Day. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During January let us send Compassion to those who are victims of slavery and human trafficking.

Compassionate Pause, Frozen by Chaotic Times, Melted by Advent

img_2844_4Advent 2016

by Henrita Frost, SSND

As I begin to write – my mind returns to its concerns to be a passionate voice for compassionate care for our insecure times.  It fluctuates between being stuck in chaos and reaching out for the arrival of Advent.

For consolation I rest in our Mary of the Angels Chapel.  My eyes move from one window to another and my heart rests on the green compassion window whose center seems resplendent with bubbles of compassion. I hope for their eruption to heal the chaos I feel.

Yet, there is a sense of hopelessness that extends from feelings about our national perplexity to the global violence situations.  Yet, I know hope is possible, for Advent initiates the waiting for Jesus, whose presence and arrival enables the overflowing of compassion into my life with strength and hope.

Suddenly, once again, fear and doubt enter and I ask, “Is anything possible that can change our times?

Once more I hear hope – surely the slow and faithful message of Advent.”  My heart continues to urge me to embrace the chaos of our times with compassion and hope.


One passionate voice
United with others brings hope
Ignites compassion

Message from a Stranger; a Meeting of Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

“You are beautiful”
Message from a stranger
Meeting compassion

One Saturday morning, after having the oil changed in my car I decided to stop for lunch.  As I was sitting there a woman stood before me and said, “You are beautiful” and walked away.  Having been absorbed in my thoughts with a problem, I wondered what she perceived that I couldn’t feel.

Then there she was again greeting me with “you are beautiful.”   She sat down to wait for a cab.  Kerry began to share about her life, the difficulties and changes.  After 20 years she had just returned to the area where she has family.

Kerry offered to treat me to desert which I had ordered.  Instantly I offered to buy her lunch saying I have plenty of money.  Then I caught myself – a gift is being offered – this isn’t about you, it is about Kerry.  I said to myself, “free yourself to receive.”  The check had come and she placed a $20 bill on it.  I felt uncomfortable as I handed the $20 and my credit card to the server.  The hostess came to tell Kerry that her cab had come and in an instant she was gone.

I wondered if Kerry needed the money.  Again I had to remind myself – this isn’t about you, it is about someone who has offered you compassion.  Surely, it was a welcomed offering as I reflected on how I felt when I was absorbed in my own thoughts about a problem.

After my encounter with Kerry life was lighter and brighter!  If I could always remember, that the power of pausing for simple encounters with others is uplifting.  I also wonder if you are beautiful was about inner or outer beauty or both, but it really doesn’t matter, for whatever it was the encounter was beautiful, profound, mysterious and a simple experience of compassion.

A brief encounter
Time for the spirit to soar
Grateful for Strangers


Remember the Victims of Trafficking


adfasdfU.N. World Day Against Human Trafficking

Every country must join together to overcome this transnational threat by supporting and protecting victims while pursuing and prosecuting the criminals. On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, let us resolve to act as one in the name of justice and dignity for all.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Creator God, you have lovingly made us and have gifted each of us with freedom in knowing that we are your children.

May we respond with mercy and compassion to our sisters and brothers who have lost this freedom through human trafficking.

May our compassion move us to give voice to the voiceless and to work towards changing systems and structures that allow trafficking to exist.

We are thankful for your call to justice, so that all may ‘have life and have it to the full.’(John 10:10) Amen.

(Prepared by SSND Shalom Club, Institute of Notre Dame, Baltimore, MD )

Offered by Henrita Frost, SSND

Trust and Dare

indigo (708x1024)By Henrita Frost, SSND

Sometimes when I am meditating in our Mary of the Angels Chapel I take some time with our seven impressive stained glass windows.  Each window holds the shape of the cross with a distinctive center and they follow the chakra colors.  Overtime I have developed stories about the centers.

This time my attention focused on the indigo window and its center that I describe as a swirling universe – spinning to where?

With trepidation I wonder, is it for the sake of a culture of life, or for a culture of death – or a culture of compassion, or a culture of violence.  Or perhaps it is simultaneously doing both, the intermingling of life and death, compassion and violence.

Continue reading Trust and Dare

Response to Sad Times

By Marie Stratford

Fear.  When we are consumed with it we REACT.  Reactions are filled with emotions and actions that we are often sorry for later.

Please Calm.  Become informed.  Sit.

RESPOND with both your heart and mind.

Rage….anger…..hurt……fear as motivators = REACTIONS.  Love……compassion….understanding = RESPONSES.

It’s easy to say this from a small midwest rural community…….harder to say in cities rocked by tragedy.

I pray someone in a large city where hearts are hurting and emotions are bare will hear me……feel my prayers……get comfort from my energy.  I send my RESPONSE with love and focused intention.  May someone hurting hear my prayer…..feel my prayer……feel your prayer…….hear your prayer.

St Teresa of Avila wrote

Christ has no body but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world,
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, YOU ARE HIS BODY.

Today June 20 is World Refugee Day

by Henrita Frost, SSND

“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me.

They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced,

and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again.

On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity,

celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”

       – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations’ World Refugee Day commemorates the millions of refugees throughout the world, honoring their strength, courage, and resilience. Let us each reflect on how I can honor refugees.  Follow your heart’s desire. . .

Visit UN Refugee Agency

In Memoriam-Refugees and Migrants Fled-Hoping for New Life!

By Henrita Frost, SSND

The Mandala by Sister Henrita is in honor of all refugees and migrants who lost their lives at sea.

In Memoriam

Refugees and migrants fled

Hoping for new life!

The contemplation of the waters of our Global Community as vessels of drowning for refugees and migrants is indeed heart wrenching.  Yet, it is undeniably our global reality and may even sometimes go unnoticed.  This week the United Nations’ refugee agency released a report stating that more than 2,500 people, women, children and men, have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in rubber dinghies and rusting fishing boats so far this year, as of May 2016.

Continue reading In Memoriam-Refugees and Migrants Fled-Hoping for New Life!