Wednesday, December 30, 2009
And this morning: Snow, in big fluffy flakes. Best of all, it's supposed to stop soon, which means the roads won't be too horrible!
Blessings! And drive carefully!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Once again, the readings today are full of hopefulness and beauty. Isaiah reminds us of creation, of God's role in setting the world aright, designing it with beauty and for our benefit.
I am the LORD, there is no other.
Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"Scripture is very clear that God knows everything about you. Do you believe it? That can be a scary thought, because we all have 'stuff' lurking in the shadowy corners of our hearts. But God loves you unconditionally, regardless of what you have done or failed to do. God loves you in spite of your judgments and biases. God loves you through your weaknesses and infirmities."
Sunday, December 13, 2009
image from: http://www.clynnponderings.com
Gracious God, on this day of rejoicing in anticipation of the coming of Christ, help us to receive the love you offer with open hearts. May we recognize our own worthiness of love. Allow your love to flow through us, that we might share it with all we meet. Amen.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I grew up in a household that was not particularly devoted to Mary. In fact, I don't remember ever saying the rosary, except one week at Catholic summer camp, and then I really learned how to say it in college. It's still not a big part of my prayer life.
So, Marian beliefs were a mystery to me for a long time. The Immaculate Conception is perhaps still a mystery to a lot of people (particularly those who mistakenly think it refers to the conception of Jesus... no, it's about the conception of Mary herself, in her mother Anne's womb).
There are two lines from today's readings that stick with me:
and"Nothing will be impossible for God."
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
I know, that second one is just not so favored lately. But it speaks to me: that I am striving to be attentive to the will of God, and that I hope to be pliable so that God's will might be done through me. It seems this sort of phrase is sometimes used to justify that women should be submissive in general--but that's not what it says to me. It says that I need to be obedient to God. Sometimes that means obedience to other human beings, but sometimes it also means standing up to authority figures to defend the truth.
A book that helps me see the humanity of Mary in such a way that I relate to her better is Elizabeth Johnson's Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints. Johnson beautifully establishes Mary in her ancient Middle Eastern context. I can see her as a little, strong, dark-skinned woman, one who works her fingers to the bone to take care of her family. It helps to get away from the blond beauty who holds a book in Renaissance paintings. Johnson speaks of the trials that her life probably entailed, being Jewish in the Roman Empire, living in a tiny town where all had to work together in order to survive.
It's helpful to me to recognize that the Mother of God faced the same struggles of everyday life that we all face, with only the exception of sin. Being free of sin did not free her from worry, from hard work, from sorrow and loss, from sickness... Mary is truly our companion in that she can relate to our struggles.
And, don't forget, Nothing will be impossible for God.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The thought brings up community as well--the paralytic couldn't do this by himself, but he depended on his friends to help out. And they did, probably to their own discomfort and trouble.
Today was our last day of classes, and on we move to exams and the Christmas break. I'm looking forward to the time off school, time to do other things!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.
I love the image of God binding up our wounds and healing our bruises. We all have those emotional wounds and bruised psyches that need healing, and God can be trusted to bring peace to those places. But what does it mean that they are "left by his blows"?
No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.
Does God hide from us? I don't think so, but we sometimes hide from God. I've been reading Paul Coutinho's How Big Is Your God, and he speaks of God's non-interference. God will not force us to see the work God does in our lives--we can choose to ignore it if we wish. I have a hard time believing that God would hide from us, but I have no doubt that I hide from God sometimes, even sometimes when I know I'm better off not to do so.
Friday, December 4, 2009
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Many spiritual writers speak of entering that little room where we are alone with God, but the image of the "santuary of our hearts" tops them all. There, alone with God, nothing else matters but that relationship, that love that flows between God's heart and our human heart. What a beautiful image.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Last night, I was privileged to hear Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, speak. He was fantastic. He had the audience captivated by his gentleness and his stories of human life.
The part of Wiesel's message that spoke most clearly to me was his sense of human ethics: we are all part of the same human family, and we are, not one of us, alone. Only God is alone, he says. We know who we are by seeing through the eyes of another looking at us, and thus as we are looking at them. We must value and care for others because they are human, and in their humanity they are just like us.
For one who lived through the profoundly horrific experience of the Holocaust, his message is remarkably life-giving and beautiful. Perhaps it's because of his suffering that he has such wisdom to share with the world.
I've been thinking about suffering a lot lately, too. If given the option of an easy life instead of any sort of suffering, I think most would desire the easy life. But, in a life without trials, would we really grow as human beings? Would we be able to become deep-thinking people, compassionate people without some suffering?
On the other side of those questions is the reality that each of us experiences suffering, and we seek to find meaning in that experience of hardship. How have my trials, little as they are compared to those of others, shaped my own life, my own ability to be compassionate toward those around me?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Monday, November 30, 2009
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Advent is one of my favorite seasons. It might just be that we've been in "Ordinary Time" for so long that I'm ready for a change from green vestments to purple. But it's also a time of anticipation and preparation.
Preparation...a little like formation to become a religious sister, really. I'm being "formed" or prepared to (eventually) take vows, to devote my entire being to Jesus Christ and God's work. Quite a big task.
But back to Advent. We all know that it's about getting ready for Jesus, but it's more than that. Traditionally, and we see this in the readings, Advent is also about preparing for the final judgment and the coming of Christ at the end of all time. There's a third element to the preparation: opening our hearts to receive Jesus each and every day.
This is another of those great Christian paradoxes--that we are preparing to receive Jesus, and yet we know that Jesus is already with us. So what is the preparation about?
For me, it's about remembering. Recalling how much God loves us, that God would become human, to be with us, to know what it really means to be human. To experience our own humanity and all the challenges, sorrows, and joys that come with being human.
God loves us beyond our capacity to understand. That alone is good enough reason to spend time in preparation to receive Jesus.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It has been beautiful, challenging, amazing...a great time of growth. I'm adjusting still to the new environment--both the new city and the life in community.
Many things have been great graces:
- Living with other people! Sharing meals, lives, hopes, sorrows...
- Communal prayer.
- God is good to me--and I am spending more time in personal prayer, too.
- My students are (mostly) fun and generally well-behaved. They at least feign interest in theology.
- And I love teaching--it's good to be in the classroom.
There are challenges, too. Moving is always a challenge, and this move was big--a move to a "new" city (I have lived here before, but things have changed in my absence), a new job, and a completely new way of living. I'm glad to report that I rarely get lost, I can find the grocery store and the gas station without difficulty, the mysteries of the kitchen and where it keeps things are being revealed, and I'm getting used to the commute.
Perhaps this is the beginning of what Jesus tells us in today's gospel, that "everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." Many of my material possessions are gone, but I have gained a whole beautiful world.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Paul is talking to all of us here, giving us advice about what it means to be Christian. From the beginning, the passage tells us about the Body of Christ--our connection to each other. We are so united to each other, that each of us suffers when one person is suffering, and all of us rejoice together in the triumphs of one.
The more people I deal with on a daily basis, the more deeply I understand how intimately connected we are. Most of us grow up thinking that we can become completely independent of each other, but what kind of life would that be? I would much rather know that others need me as much as I need them.
So, let's choose to listen to St. Paul:
"Let love be sincere ... love one another with mutual affection ... Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(From today's first reading, Romans 8.37-39)
The last few weeks have been filled with sad stories -- students with tragic experiences, friends who are sick (some very sick), and friends who've lost close friends or family.
I'm saddened by all these things, especially this week, but the reading this morning gives me great hope, and comfort that God's love is always with each one of us. None of these sorrowful events can separate us from the love of Jesus. I hold onto that knowledge in my own sorrow. I hope that all who are touched by sadness can know and be comforted by Christ's love for each of them.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm very grateful for this time in community. I loved living alone, but it's wonderful to come home to people, generous people who care about how my day was and what's on my mind. And I care about them, too!
On another note, one of my students asked me today, out of the blue, "So, can you ever leave the convent and get married?" I could help laughing (it was really random), but then it sparked a brief discussion about what this life is about, and what this commitment means. I think it's easiest to compare to a marriage: I am committed to it, but sometimes people do walk away. (As one of my friends responded, it's not like the pope has a gun to my back demanding that I stay!) And then I also was able to explain that I'm in the "engagement" stage--that I haven't yet made those vows, but that I am committed to the relationship nonetheless.
If only I had thought to mention that I'm marrying Jesus.....I wonder how that non-Catholic student would have reacted....
Good Night to all!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
"Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?"
Yikes. I love this song, and it really expresses for me a lot about the call to religious life--that I am trying to follow Jesus as he calls my name, but that I don't have a clue what is in store. I do know that my life will never be the same. And that's good--I've grown and learned so much, even at this early stage.
And the recessional:
"I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back, no turning back."
"Though no one join me, still I will follow, No turning back, no turning back."
"The world behind me, the cross before me, No turning back, no turning back."
Yep. That says it all. The second line is really speaking to me--knowing that so few understand what religious life is about, and yet some of us are called to it anyway. I can't imagine not following this call at this point.
I'm too tired for any more. Blessings to all this week!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
shine forth in a world
wounded by sin."
Our world is wounded by sin--we need only to look at the paper or watch the evening news to see the sinfulness of the world and the harm that it causes.
Yet, the story doesn't end there. I always wish that the news media would tell us more of the goodness, the stories that show the mercy and compassion of human beings toward each other.
The Constitutions go on to talk of God's great Gift of Love to us--the gift of the Son. Our world is wounded, yes, but God is still here with us, loving us, showing us kindness and mercy. I have to hold on to that mercy, or I can easily be swept away in the woundedness of our world.
I love that it uses the word "shine forth." What a beautiful image! In my mind, I can see the darkness of the world being lit upon by God's shining mercy! It's like the brilliant hope of a new dawn, full of grace and peace!
Blessings on the week ahead!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
My whole world has changed in the last two months, so I'll try to summarize a few things here.
At the end of June, I gave away / sold / threw out nearly all of my possessions, keeping only what fit in the car. Now, I filled every nook and cranny in the car, but still, it's a lot less than what there was.
So I left behind my own apartment, and moved into a community of nuns 600 miles away.
But that's not the end of my summer adventures. I moved my stuff into my new room, and then took off on a road trip to the east coast, ultimately to visit my brother and leave the car with him. My road trip took me through 13 states! It was great fun, and I was very ready to arrive "home" again with my new community.
We then had a nun meeting at the end of July, with all of the sisters in the United States who could come gathering in Chicago. It was an amazing experience, if a little overwhelming to meet so many new faces all at once (there were about 240 present). We discussed direction for the coming years, and committed ourselves anew to ministry with youth (an integral part of our charism) and issues of justice and creation (which are all bound up together).
And here we are. Another school year has begun, and it is good to be in the classroom again. I'm teaching college freshman and sophomores, mostly, and having a great time!
Blessings to all who come upon this page!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
What a great way to begin living in community. As I prayed over this text, I drew out all the characteristics that Paul asserts:
I pray that these will be my guides throughout the next year, and indeed, throughout the rest of my life.