Showing posts from December, 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

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 .


image from: 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

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

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

image from:  (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


image from 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


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

(image from 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

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