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December 7, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In their November 2021 Spirituality live stream presentation, Now and at the Hour of our Death, Associate Nancy Mason Bordley and Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP, explored different ways that people of faith can come to terms with loss, grief, and death through the paschal mystery.
The monthly spirituality presentations are coordinated through the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee.
Nancy described five components of the paschal mystery: Jesus’ death on Good Friday; his resurrection on Easter Sunday; the 40 days after Easter, which was a “time of adjustment” to Jesus’ new life and grieving of the loss of his former life; Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, a time for the early disciples to let go of Jesus as they knew him; and Pentecost, “the reception of new spirit for the new life we are already living.”
Focusing on the period of adjustment between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Nancy spoke of grief and the sense of loss that all human beings experience. “We can paper over the loss with pious platitudes,” Nancy said. “We can numb the pain of suffering and loss. But we need to grieve, and we need to grieve well.”
She added, “Like Jesus, we, too will die and because of him we’re able to pray that our life will be transformed” after death. But Nancy emphasized that loss does not only refer to the death of a loved one but to the diminishment of our own physical powers as we grow older, the loss of a job, or the end of a dream. “Good grieving allows me to experience the sorrow of my losses but also the joy in what I have,” she said.
Sister Mary Ann reiterated the importance of grieving well and the notion that death is only one of many losses we suffer. “We have rehearsals for death – illness, loss of a ministry or job, prestige, independence, and control,” she said. These experiences invite us to let go of security and our need to control, she said.
Sister Mary Ann also pointed to the benefits of experiencing loss in our lives. “When we enter into a loss, we can expect to unearth a surprising new life,” she said. “We can emerge … with new insights, new revelations of God’s faithfulness, new revelations that we might not be able to discover in any other way.”
Watch the entire video below.
September 30, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – “Our life is a process of awakening. Each of us is precious to God. The wonderful thing that I have witnessed over years of spiritual direction is that God knows each of us intimately and will lead us in ways that we can follow.”
That was the introduction that Sister Patricia Benson, OP, made as she opened her September 23, 2021, spirituality talk, “Awakening Journey with God.” Her presentation was the latest in a series of live streamed talks sponsored by the Spirituality Committee of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Throughout her talk, Sister Pat spoke of how God led her through various stages of her life. After each stage, she paused and posed a question, giving her audience a few minutes to reflect on their answer. “Please look at your relationship with God and Jesus and know that God will work within your personal circumstances and gifts – but sometimes in surprising and maybe challenging ways,” she said.
Sister Pat spoke of her young life and how her views of the world were shaped by those of her family and neighbors – and how her world “got bigger” when she attended Catholic school. Her teen years were marked by the “usual adolescent struggles,” but her view of God was growing, too. “I chose to enter religious life specifically to have time for God in my life,” she said.
She went on to speak of her formation years and the “breath of fresh air and a deeper freedom to think and explore” that came through Vatican II and the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s three-year Chapter of Renewal, which set the stage for sweeping changes in response to Vatican II.
After her undergraduate study, Sister Pat said, she was invited to work towards a master’s degree in either mathematics or theology. “Although since high school I thought I would be a math and science teacher for the rest of my life, this provoked a serious discernment,” leading to her decision to study theology, she said. “Being introduced to the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition with its various schools of thought opened my mind to the reality of theology as faith seeking understanding.”
Sister Pat went on to discuss her developing understanding that humanity is “trashing Earth, God’s beautiful creation,” and that her American lifestyle made her complicit in this destruction. But she concluded with her deeper understanding of God’s forgiveness and unconditional love – and how our understanding of the universe has led to an expanded view of God.
“The Infinite Mystery has had to include a loving, compassionate mystery,” Sister Pat said. “The God who created everything in the universe – perhaps multiverse – loves it and continues to hold it. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ has had to grow to include kinship with all of creation and cosmic dimensions.”
Watch the recording of Sister Pat’s presentation below.