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Showing posts from 2009

Dinner for Fifteen

We had a lovely evening last night, with many visitors, both Sisters and "extended family."  Two crockpots, one full of chili and one of stew, bread, cornbread, salad, wine, and brownies!  I was the cook, and I have to admit I was anxious about cooking for so many.  But all was lovely, and the food was good and filling.  The evening was a beautiful continuation of the Christmas celebration, plus a little New Years mixed in. 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!

A Vulnerable God

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Merry Christmas, All! I heard a wise woman speak last week about the Incarnation and the idea of vulnerability.  On Christmas, we celebrate the fact that God became a tiny baby.  God, out of love for all of us, became human.  Think of how vulnerable an infant is -- totally dependent on parents for food, shelter, safety, love...  and yet our God chose to become that incredibly vulnerable, just for us. The speaker went on to talk of our divinization.  God became human that we might become godly.  And we become more like God by opening our hearts and being vulnerable.  Love makes us vulnerable, because when we love another, we suffer with and for them, feel what they feel, and risk the pain of loss ourselves.  Our love, our vulnerability, is necessary if we are to follow Christ. I've been thinking a lot about that idea, and also about the connection to the cross.  Really, the vulnerability of the God-human is shown in its extreme in the events we celebrate during Holy Week. 

Advent Beauty

PEACE LIGHT JUSTICE SAFETY TRUTH SALVATION 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. John asks the question: "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look to another?" and Jesus answers by curing illnesses, making the blind see, and healing all sorts of sufferings.  (Isaiah answers, too, with "I am the LORD, and there is no other!") Let us seek healing from God, for all that ails ourselves and the world we live in--injustice, lack of peace, depression, poverty, illness, grief, any of those things that wound us.   Our needs will be met by the Creator God who sets the world back on track for us. Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!

Receiving Love

Do you ever have those days when you think God is trying to send you a message?  When ideas keep returning to you, from all different sources?  My "message" this week is something that I mentioned in the last post--being open to receive the love that is offered to us .  I've been pondering this, and then it returned in the meditation I read yesterday, with a slight twist.  The meditation says this: "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 ." So the variation is that the love spoken of here is God's love, not human love, but the idea is the same--being open to receiving the love offered, having an open heart .

Gaudete!!

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image from:  http://www.clynnponderings.com It's been a busy weekend, full of Advent celebrations.  My community met yesterday for a morning of reflection, prayer, and calendar coordinating, and then in the afternoon we put up and decorated our Christmas tree!  Baby Jesus made a brief debut in the creche (oops!) before being put back in the incubator (i.e. drawer) until Christmas.  The house is lovely and festive. Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.  I love this feast -- the sense of anticipation and joy at the coming of the Christ Child.  Many of my Sisters went to mass together this morning (we often go our own ways), and we had nearly two pews full!  I truly love that communal experience of liturgy and prayer together. I was privileged to hear a talk this morning by Paul Coutinho, S.J., about Advent and darkness.  His spirituality is such an interesting blend of Catholic Christianity and Eastern traditions.  There are many things that resonated with

Learning the Right Path

I suppose being a teacher (and also always a learner), my ears perk up when I hear readings about teaching.  Today's first reading, from Isaiah, speaks of Yahweh as a teacher: 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. God wants our happiness, our good, and so God leads us in that direction.  And if we listen (learn!), God will give us great things. 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. I'm enjoying the readings lately speak about the end of time, about the final coming of Christ.  But they speak to us today too, that we must listen to the goodness God teaches us, and then we've got to follow it!  My attention

Prayer of Silence

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I had a little talk with one of my classes last week about spirituality, and about the importance of silence in the growth of relationship with God. It's fascinating to me to hear some of the responses.  Some of my students are simply afraid of silence.  I'm not entirely sure where that comes from, but I think it's partly that noise allows them to avoid thinking about difficult things.  And they have plenty of noise--television, ipods, phones, etc etc etc.  Plus most of them live in dorms--I'm sure it's hard to find quiet at all in the dorms. Advent seems like a good time to spend silence with Jesus.  To just be .  Not to think about what's happening today, or who needs prayers, or anything at all.  Just to be with Jesus.  We might even hear something we like.  At the very least, I think silence gives me a better sense of who I am, a reminder of what's deepest in my heart.  It's hard to be silent--my mind wanders into words, and I have to conscious

Mysterious Feast

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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: "Nothing will be impossible for God." and "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 se

Through the ceiling

Today's gospel reading is one of my favorites -- the paralytic's friends can't get him in to see Jesus, so they climb up on the roof and lower him down.  Can you imagine how important it was for them to see Jesus, that they would do such a thing? 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!

Blessings of Community

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image from: emailajoke.com  (and picture links to more Christmas cartoons...) Today has been one of those days... It started off great, and then life got confusing and hectic.  It was slated to be a busy day anyhow--with finals approaching, there's really no way to avoid it.  But then: my car got a flat. But here's the sweetness of living in community.  One of my sisters noticed the flat before I drove off on it.  Another loaned me "her" car to get to mass.  A third called AAA and got the tire changed while I was at mass.  And all (including fourth and fifth members of my community) have been helpful in getting me to and from the tire place and the meetings that we all had today. I'm stressed out and busy, but I'm so fortunate to have others to help me take care of these disruptive things that happen to everyone.  If I didn't live in community, I probably would have missed mass, I would have had to change the tire myself (I've never had AAA), a

Confusing readings

I've been thinking about this line, from the end of the first reading today (Is 30:26): 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"? I think I have to pair it with another phrase from the same passage to make sense of it: 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

Miracles

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image from sundayschoollessons.com One of my students this morning asked a question that fits appropriately with the gospel reading from today.  She asked why the Church doesn't talk more about miraculous happenings, like statues weeping or the apparitions of Mary. The gospel today was the healing of the blind men, Matthew 9:27-31: 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. Jesus, like the church today, wants his followers to focus on FAITH, not on miraculous actions or events.  The blind men are healed by their faith, he

Sanctuary

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A little quote from St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart: "We should meditate often in the sanctuary of our hearts on the wonderful intimacy which our Lord desires to have with us and which he allows us to have with him." 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.

Human Compassion

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(image from www.slu.edu) 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 suffer

Many Blessings

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There are days when I simply realize how blessed I am--to have all the basic necessities of life (food, shelter), to have a job that I love, a family and friends who love me, and an amazing community of sisters.  Most of all, I'm humbled and thankful to be called by God -- to be a Christian, to be a Catholic, to be a teacher and a theologian, and to be a sister. from today's Gospel (Luke 10:21-24): “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 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.” I know that the world is full of people who think that living as a religious is abnormal or unnatural, or just plain weird, but it has already (in 4 short months!) brought me more blessings than I dreamed.  That's not to say that all is easy, but I have the love of Jesus and of my community to support me through the harder things.  It's so different from living alone and believing th

Drop everything to follow Jesus

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, 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. --Matthew 4:18-22 Today's gospel always blows me away.  Not only do Andrew, Peter, James and John immediately recognize Jesus as a worthy guide for their lives, but without any hesitation they drop what they are doing and follow him.  Are you listening well enough to hear Jesus call to you, inviting you to follow him? I wonder how many times I missed his voice among the cacophony in my head, before I started to pay attentio

Advent and the Joy of Jesus' Coming

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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 pr

Three Month Anniversary

So, officially today, I've been in the Society of the Sacred Heart for three months! 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. More than anything else, my sisters are amazing, so welcoming, loving and compassionate.  I am grateful for their support, and for their companionship on this strange journey.  I have been welcomed into their lives in ways that I never expected. There are challenges, too.  Moving is always a challenge, and this move was big--a move to a "new" city (I have lived here bef

Sharing our burdens

In my mind all day has been one line from the end of today's first reading, Romans 12:  "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." 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." AMEN!

The Faithful Comfort of God's Love

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[I]n all these things we conquer overwhelmingly 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.

Community!

We just had a lovely evening of community -- all 7 of us together for prayer, then a leisurely dinner, and then games!  We celebrated a birthday, and it was so lovely to spend time together without having to rush off to other responsibilities. 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 exp

Comments activated!

I finally figured out what was wrong with the comment function....so I think it works now!

Life's meaning in music

This morning at mass, I found myself relating a little too much to the music--it felt as if it was picked just for me!  Such a strange experience.... First:  "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, n

A New Look

I love the previous template for this blog, but comments were not functioning...so we'll try this for a bit, and then I might try a nicer one later!  I hope it works!

Mercy Shines

"God's mercy and faithfulness shine forth in a world wounded by sin." These words have been in my mind and heart this week. They come from the beginning of our Constitutions, and they seem to provide us with a real reason for living. 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 darkn

Settling in!

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Well, it's been far too long since I first posted here. Sorry for the delay! 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 ov

Community living and Paul

From today's lectionary: Ephesians 4:1-6 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: Humility Gentleness Patience Love Unity Peace Hope Faith I pray that these will be my guides throughout the next year, and indeed, throughout the rest of my life.