Preaching


The OP after our names stands for “Order of Preachers,” the formal name of the religious order founded in 1216 by St. Dominic. As Dominicans, we preach with our lives—in both word and deed—guided by a search for truth (veritas) and a commitment to contemplate and share the fruits of our contemplation (contemplate et aliis tradere). 

Our Dominican lives are shaped by the interconnecting movements of study, prayer, communal life, and ministry. 

Dominic so firmly believed in the importance of study to the preaching mission that he provided a rule of “dispensation” from other responsibilities in the event they interfered with study. We are women committed to study. Through prayer and contemplation we interiorize our learnings and enter into communion with the Source of all truth. Our communal life orients us to the common good of the whole Earth community. And in ministry, our preaching takes effect.

As women of the Gospel, our preaching is also expressed in word. Read reflections on the Word of God posted by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates on the Praedicare Blog below.

 


2023 Morning Prayer for the Feast of St. Dominic
Preaching by Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP

Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Ephesians 3:7-9, 11-12

Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP

When I was asked to share a brief reflection on St. Dominic today, I was tasked with introducing Dominic, telling stories for the Co-workers and the Sisters. So here is Dominic, the CliffsNotes Edition. I’ll ask the Sisters to think about a question, and I’ll share a few of the legends about Dominic which reveal a bit of the essence of his life.

Even as a young child, Dominic preached to his friends. As a young man in service to the Church, he was a companion to a bishop, and in their travels they saw many effects of heretical teachings from what today we might call a cult.

In time, Dominic visited the town of Prouille, France, and saw a town in devastation after a war. The people had abandoned their faith. They were led astray by cults that were against the Church. There was indifference, immorality, discord, violence, greed, and civil anarchy. Sound familiar? And Dominic thought, "This is where I’ll establish a base."

A religious sect that had taken hold attracted and recruited women, even young girls. It taught that eating, drinking, and procreation were evil and that renouncing all worldly pleasures would make them perfect. The sect believed in reincarnation, suggesting that after many lifetimes the person could become perfect, in their estimation.

Some women who had left this group were impoverished because their families had rejected them. Dominic arranged a place of refuge for the women. That was the beginning. Today, his story would be a 60 Minutes episode!

At the same time, Dominic also saw that only the bishop was preaching to the church members and not regularly. The people were deprived of the Word of God. An idea was emerging. Aha! He would ask the rescued women to teach the faith to children. He would begin a group of preachers and call it an "Order of Preachers," abbreviated OP – and now you know!

And now to my Sisters, I ask, "Even though many of us chose the Dominican Order because we knew a Dominican Sister, as you learned more about the man Dominic, what did you grow to appreciate about him?" Perhaps you could share your answer with someone today.

Here are a few snapshots from stories about Dominic. When I participated in a "Lands of Dominic" pilgrimage in the year 2000, our guide, Sister Mary Ellen Green of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, told us as we traveled from town to town and heard stories of events from those towns, "All of it is true, and some of it really happened." These "memories" represent a glimpse into the man, Dominic.

  • Dominic didn’t preach at, he dialogued with. It was said that he spent a whole night in dialogue with an innkeeper, and by dawn the man was ready to return to the Church, abandoning the heresy he had embraced. Here we see Dominic’s ability to listen.
  • When a famine ensued, Dominic sold all his books to buy food for the starving, thereby revealing Dominic’s compassion.
  • In a standoff against heretics, when challenged to throw his rationale into a fire three times, he did, and three times it did not burn. Dominic’s commitment to truth was tested like gold in a furnace.
  • Although historians cannot find sources for this, it has been said that because the Dominican Order had a democratic form of government, Thomas Jefferson was inspired by the Order when he fashioned our government. Unique, at that time, the Dominican order has always had participatory governance.
  • Dominic was called “the joyful friar” apparently because when heretics attempted to kill him, he just laughed at their threats, saying he’d join his sufferings with those of Jesus. This story reveals Dominic’s serenity under stress.

And finally, one for which I found two Dominican sources, Marie-Humbert Vicaire, OP, and Simon Tugwell, OP: On his deathbed, Dominic said to a gathering of friars and novices who were keeping vigil, “I’ve been a virgin all my life, but I have enjoyed talking to younger women more than listening to older women.”

So, my Sisters (and all women of a certain vintage), let us be young at heart, giving joy to the joyful friar.

 


2023 Founder's Day Mass
Preaching by Sister Elise García, OP

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Ruth 1:8, 14-18
Ephesians 2:19-22
Matthew 7:24-27

Sister Elise García, OP

Happy Founder’s Day!

What a joyous occasion it is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our foundation as an independent Congregation – the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary.

And how appropriate that it should come on the heels of our annual Jubilee celebration! Many Sisters, over the years, entered on June 27, marking this as their entrance day – without having any idea of its significance!

Years ago, Rosemary Ferguson, OP, shared with me her regret that we didn’t have a Founder’s Day to honor Mother Camilla Madden, OP. So, Rosemary, I ask you on the other side of the veil to please take Camilla’s hand and join us now in celebrating the gift of her extraordinary leadership and that of all the pioneer women who risked this venture amid the alien corn.

Some, like Camilla, came by boat from as far away as Ireland, landing in New York and then joining other pioneer Sisters sent by train halfway across the country to this in-land peninsula – with a number going way beyond to a western peninsula.

In time, drawn by her visionary leadership and generous spirit, many more women began to come to Adrian from other parts of Michigan and neighboring states. Like Ruth following Naomi, they lodged where she lodged; her people became their people; her God, their God.

Over these 100 years, women have come from all over the United States, Canada, Latin American and the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia. And now, many of those women are buried with Camilla in the same sacred ground where she is buried – as most of us will be one day.

As I was reflecting on this joyful celebration, I was struck by the fact that we are now about the same size as we were in 1923 when we became independent. There were more than 400 of us Sisters in the St. Joseph Province when we separated from Newburgh. We are now 412 Sisters in our Congregation.

I invite us to think about this mirror image. It offers a profound way for us to reflect on this Founder’s Day.

This kind of mirroring is a powerful literary form in storytelling that scholars find in Bible stories, biblical passages and psalms. It’s called a "chiasm" – c-h-i-a-s-m. A chiasm is a literary form that "consists of paired events arranged symmetrically around a center core,"1 as modern-day mystic Cynthia Bourgeault writes.

A chiastic structure usually reveals a larger story at work – one that operates beyond linear time and space. It is a structure that reveals a deep pattern with echoes of its core resonating at mirror ends.

We can see the mirror ends – the 400 Sisters at one end of the story with us 400 Sisters at the other end. What might be the center core that resonates throughout the pattern?

Our readings today illuminate that center core beautifully.

In the story of Ruth and Naomi, we hear the powerful call of a loving and devoted sisterhood – "Where you go, I will go" – in service to God and God’s people. In the letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, we hear the call to be one with Christ Jesus in whom we are "built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God." In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear the call to be "like the wise ones who built their house on a rock," by listening to and acting on the words of Jesus.

The resonance of that center core – as the readings reveal – is felt in the lives of the first 400 pioneer women, the 412 of us alive today, and the more than 2,000 other Sisters who in the other mirroring times between then and now fully gave their lives to this radical purpose and are now watching over us (joyfully, no doubt).

Today we are celebrating a larger story whose pattern is less about going backward or forward in linear time than it is about reflecting, as Cynthia Bourgeault would say, the "balanced parts of a unified whole"2 whose purposiveness is beyond time and "whose fullness of meaning can be found only by reading the entire pattern."3

This pattern will continue to resonate in the next mirroring movements of our beautiful Dominican religious life. We will see it reflected in coming years in the women who will continue to cast their lots with one another, risking an uncertain future that is already supported by beautiful chiastic patterns that show a crisscrossing of congregations, a crisscrossing of languages, a crisscrossing of ethnic, racial and national boundaries – all building together spiritually a dwelling place for God in our beautiful Earth home.

------

1 Cynthia Bourgeault, Eye of the Heart (Boulder: Shambhala, 2020), 69.
2 Ibid., 90.
3 Ibid., 75-76.

 


2023 Jubilee Mass
Preaching by Sister Elise García, OP

Saturday, June 24, 2023
Isaiah 61:1-3, 10a
Ephesians 1:3-6
John 15: 5, 14-17

Sister Elise García, OP

Happy Jubilee, dear Sisters!

What a joy it is to be celebrating all our Jubilarians together this year – that’s a first – in person and without masks!

For 25, 50, 60, 70, and 75 years you have lived that Gospel message – “to go and bear fruit that will remain” for years to come, long past your time on this Earth home.

It is my honor to extend the deep gratitude that all of your Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, friends and family hold in our hearts for the extraordinary years of service you have given throughout your 2,545 collective years of vowed life.

Decades ago, each of you received a call. “It was not you who chose me but I who chose you.”

I invite you to take a moment to close your eyes and reflect on when it was that you first heard the call to enter religious life.

  • Where were you?
  • How old were you?
  • How surprised were you?
  • How long did it take for you to say “yes”?

Most of you heard that call somewhere in the United States and were drawn to enter the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary here in Adrian, Michigan. Some of you were already Dominicans, born and raised in the Dominican Republic, when you heard the call to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Another among you came from Canada.

Yet another heard the call to religious life in the Philippines, traveling 8,000 miles across the globe for formation here in Adrian, and then entering through a portal that became the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies in the Philippines.

Some of you Jubilarians were called to enter the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Cross in Edmonds, Washington. And another one among you was called to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci in Pennsylvania.

All of you are together in this Congregation now, reflecting the rich diversity of our Dominican life and the awesome power of the call, which has a way of taking us to places we never imagined.

And that’s true for all of you. Each of you possesses an incredible openness and a fidelity to follow God’s call, no matter when, where or how often you heard it.

Most of you knew when you entered that you might be called to teaching – even if you knew nothing about teaching at that time. And what extraordinary educators you became and have been to students around the globe, in kindergarten through high school, in colleges and universities, and to adults in literacy centers, seeking GEDs or English proficiency. Some of you were also called to be school superintendents, principals, guidance counselors, librarians, secretaries, and campus ministers.

How many of you thought you would be called to serve as therapists, counselors, or spiritual directors? Or to serve in multiple roles in parishes and dioceses, offering expertise in canon law, liturgical ministry, religious education, as vicars, musicians, and in adult and youth ministries and pastoral care?

And after finally making it through Formation, relieved that you never were sent home despite the multiple threats, who among you thought you would ever serve in Formation? And what about those of you who, perhaps like others might have had a few challenges with leadership, and then ended up being called to serve as Congregation Prioresses, General Councilors, Vicaresses, Provincials and Chapter Prioresses?

Who among you thought your vocation would find expression through your giftedness as an artist? Or as a communicator in public relations? Or through healing ministries in nursing, pharmacy and healthcare, or as a convent administrator?

Did any of you imagine that your passion for justice, peace, and making our world a better place might be given voice in corporate boardrooms, prison ministry, liberation theology, justice and ecology centers, community organizing or retreat and conference centers?

These are among the many beautiful and surprising pathways you 25, 50, 60, 70 and 75-year Jubilarians have taken in your faithful years of religious life.

Each of today’s readings speaks of how God has chosen us or how we were chosen by Jesus. The prophet Isaiah says “God has anointed me, and sent me into the world to bring good news.” Saint Paul tells the Ephesians that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” And in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”

We have been chosen – all of us, beloved by our God. That insight is a gift of our Christian faith.

It is another – and rarer – gift of our faith tradition to be called, as you were, to give your entire lives in radical service to the Mission of Jesus.

It is a call that only takes effect if given a response. The call could not bear fruit without your “yes.”

As I look around this chapel, bringing into our circle the Jubilarians who were not able to be here in person, I see the light of the Gospel shining in each of you, a sign of the rich fruit you have brought to bear through your “yes.” Each of you heard the call, responded, and were then, in the Mission of Jesus, “sent into our world to be with others bearers and recipients of his love, co-creators of his justice and peace.”

Thank you for your astonishing “yes” so many years ago. And for all the other “yesses” you have given over the years when you were called to let go of one ministry for another, one place and way of living for another, one congregation for another, one way of being in service for another, and so many other letting go’s up to this very moment – each time opening a new doorway revealing God’s abundant love.

We – your Sisters, family, friends and Associates – love you, admire you, honor and respect you. We are so grateful for the radical witness you have given to God’s immeasurable love with the beauty of your lives and your joyful Dominican spirit.

Thank you. Gracias. Salamat po.

 


Mass for Deceased 2023 Jubilarians
Preaching by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Friday, June 23, 2023
Song of Songs 2:10-14
John 15:15b-17

Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Can you feel it? Can you feel their presence?

These 69 women who’ve gone before us, who are joining us here, now, at this sacred moment, this thin time – thin places as the Irish call them – where life as we know it and life in the world beyond connect. They are here to celebrate our shared lives and commitment that are bigger than time and space as we experience them. Our foresisters are here and they rejoice with us. They know directly the voice of God who calls them, “my love, my fair one.” We all knew that voice at some point, and responded, “Yes, here I am.”

Sometimes we can forget the power of the love that first called us on this path, that continues to call us. Perhaps you even chuckled when you heard, “your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” We might not always feel very sweet and lovely. But in the eyes of the Divine we all are simply beautiful. Our foresisters who’ve gone before us know that fully now as they bask in the divine gaze of the fullness of eternal Love.

And isn’t that the spirit of love we have tried, at our better times, to reflect to those we encounter, to those we want to serve? We want to reflect to others their dignity and beauty in the eyes of God – we want to love. That’s why we said yes to this call.

Sometimes we may have lost this inspiration, or have had ministries in which the act of love wasn’t always clear, or had inner struggles that turned us in on ourselves. And that is a part of any life that aims to love fully.

Yet, Christ still calls us friends. No one gives up on a friend because they don’t love perfectly or consistently. Just as Jesus trusts the disciples in John’s Gospel and sends them forth, even knowing their many limitations, so God trusts us, even now, to love one another in whatever way we can.

Last Sunday I was very touched as I watched a sister during Mass. There was another sister sitting near her who was having trouble finding her place in the hymnal. The first sister went over and gently opened the book to the correct page. Later, she noticed that the sister wanted to stand for the Gospel, but was having trouble, so she went over and helped her up. Now the first sister herself is unable to stand for long and actually sat down after helping the other sister up. She was mindful, kind, and loving and I could see the gratitude in the sister who received her care. That was an example of compassion and love right here in this chapel. We see it all the time.

I want to end by sharing something I experienced on my retreat last summer. Perhaps this happened to give me some encouragement in the new role I was about to take on General Council. I wasn’t even in a moment of prayer or reflection, I was just rummaging around my bedroom at the retreat center, and suddenly I became aware of the presence of my foresisters. It was a gentle presence, a comforting presence. After I sat with them, I wrote the following:

“Our sisters go before us and are with us. We are not alone. They have the bigger picture. They aren’t expecting the impossible from us. They just want to help us carry it. They are full of kindness and compassion.”

We are united today in our love, our commitment, and our fidelity. In the great timeless force of Love that carries us all, we celebrate our foresisters and know they still share the journey with us. And we respond, encouraged, full of kindness and compassion and love.

 


St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day 2023
Eucharistic Liturgy
Preaching by Sister Janice Brown, OP

Friday, April 28, 2023
1 Cor 2:10b-16
John 7:14-18, 37-39

Sister Janice Brown, OP

Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena’s Feast Day. This is an excellent day to celebrate St. Catherine, our Dominican Heritage, and the gift of the Spirit.

In John’s gospel, we find Jesus and his followers in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles, a seven-day festival celebrating the harvest. The Jews were amazed at how well Jesus knew the scripture. Where did he get this knowledge?

Jesus was the master teacher. He knew the Word of God because he became the Word of God. He spent hours in prayer, nurturing his relationship with the one he called Abba. Jesus knew himself; he knew from whom he came, and to whom he would return.

At the end of today’s Gospel, the Spirit is mentioned, as the one to be sent to believers after he has been glorified. The one who could work through the believers to bring Good News, the living water. Jesus quotes Isaiah when he says:

"Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water."

This takes us to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul is explaining that the Spirit "searches everything, even the depths of God." Paul goes on to say that our human spirit knows our human spirit. In the same vein, the Spirit knows God. We know Christ, and through Christ we know the Spirit.

Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena's feast day. Catherine carried on Jesus' legacy as an influencer in her time. Like Jesus and Dominic before her, Catherine cultivated her relationship with God. Even as a child, she negotiated with her parents to have the space that allowed her to enter her "inner cell of self-knowledge." Catherine came to see herself through the loving eyes of God. Her true self. She drew closer to Jesus and let the Spirit lead her into a closer relationship with the Divine, developing the certainty she would later take to the world.

Like Jesus and Dominic, Catherine loved the world. She lived during the 14th century, a wretched time of the bubonic plague and the church schism. The world seemed bleak, yet there was hope. Catherine moved into public life, responding to the needs she saw right before her. First as a nurse and eventually writing letters to patriarchal rulers, including the pope. She was determined and believed that she needed to speak as if she were a million voices, so sure that if you didn’t speak out, the world would die.

It wasn’t easy for Catherine. She was ridiculed and ignored. Catherine’s spiritual director, Raymond of Capua, wrote that God spoke the following to Catherine:

I have no intention whatever of parting you from myself, but rather of making sure to bind you to me all the closer by the bond of your love and your neighbor.

God never left her; the Spirit continually guided her.

Do you see us in this story?

We are at a unique time in our history. As a congregation, we are changing rapidly. Religious life is transforming. The world still needs to know there is hope. Yet, in our Dominican tradition, how do we respond?

Earlier at the prayer service, Nancy Mason Bordley talked about the Dominican Charism, the Dominican Mantle, being taken on by coworkers and associates. How are we changing? How do we do what is ours to do, and speak out as if we have a million voices? Recently I have been working with a few coworkers on our history. Coupling that with the grace of sending our sisters home to God has been amazing, I have had the privilege of hearing the sister’s individual legacy through the eyes of the Congregation, and their family and their friends. I have never been so affirmed in this life. Clearly the Sprit has been with us through these times. The Spirit remains with us today and will be there into the future. What is our next adventure? Where is Spirit leading us now?

So today a fine day to celebrate. We celebrate St. Catherine of Siena, our Dominican Heritage, the gift of the Spirit and each other.

In closing, I want to share one of St. Catherine's prayers with you. May it touch your heart as we, together, enter the inner cell of self-knowledge and let the Spirit lead us into a deeper knowledge of God.

"Eternal God, you are a mystery as deep as the ocean. The more I search, the more I find; the more I find, the more I search for you."

Amen, Alleluia!


St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day 2023

Morning Prayer Service
Preaching by Associate Nancy Mason Bordley, Director of the Office of Dominican Charism

Friday, April 28, 2023
Excerpt from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

Associate Nancy Mason Bordley

In her Dialogues, Catherine prayed to God for reform of the Church. Her prayer was granted when God worked through her and others to reform the church. There was much work to be done.

In Catherine’s time, the Black Death had killed almost a third of Europe. The Hundred Years War between France and England was raging as well as smaller wars between cities like Rome and Florence. The Pope was living in exile in France which would eventually lead to a great schism with one Pope in France and another Pope in Rome. The morality of the clergy was at an all-time low.

Catherine realized she couldn’t solve the Black Death or stop the Hundred Years War. So she concentrated on what she could do: mediating peace between Rome and Florence, getting the Pope to return to Rome, and writing letters exposing and condemning immorality among the clergy. It was unheard of for a woman to do these things. But by working with a sense of urgency, she succeeded.

The plagues, wars and clerical corruption in Catherine’s time remind us of How the covid pandemic killed millions of people, how climate change is destroying parts of the planet, how Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens the world and how the church’s sexual abuse scandals betrayed the trust of our children and their parents

Pope Francis’s Vatican II leadership has been bitterly challenged, with some calling for a schism. Catholic schools and churches are closing. And our country, like our church, is bitterly divided.

So, what are we doing about it? We are doing what Catherine did. We start with prayer, the first key value of Dominican life. Then we need to work with God to answer our own prayer, or at least part of it.

To understand how the world should change and what we can do to help, we turn to study, the second value of Dominican life. But in a world filled with fake news, what should we study? 

  • Those of you in Archives preserve our great tradition. 
  • Those of you in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion help us to correctly understand our history. 
  • And those of you in IT and Communications keep us in touch with both the problems as well as the opportunities of the present.

Since no single individual can solve these problems. we turn to community, the third Dominican value. Those of you in administration, at Weber Center and working in food services, help us join as community. In community, we divide the problem into many small pieces and each one of us takes a different piece.

To address our piece of the problem, we turn to service, the fourth value of Dominican life:

  • Those of you in health care work tirelessly to protect our aging population. 
  • Those of you in advocacy help climate refugees immigrate to safer countries. 
  • Those of you in earth care show the world how climate change can be slowed. 
  • Those of you in justice and peace help the victims of war, while condemning violence.

But there is a looming existential threat to our Dominican values. Because of the decline in vocations, there will be fewer and fewer vowed religious in the world. Our vowed religious and clergy have faithfully kept Dominican values alive for centuries. But now it is time for non-vowed Dominicans, like Catherine of Siena, myself, and many of you, to assume responsibility for keeping those values and traditions alive. That is the challenge of the Office of the Dominican Charism.

Like Catherine, we all must live with a sense of urgency for our church, and our world, are at stake.

 


Easter Sunday 2023
Preaching by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Easter Sunday - April 9, 2023
John 20:1-18

Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Happy Easter! Some of you may know the response – which is part of our tradition but is more common in the Orthodox Church – on Easter, when one person says "Christ is risen," the response is "Christ is risen indeed!"

Let’s try it: "Christ is risen!"

"Christ is risen indeed!"

Another tradition from the Orthodox Church is that it has always honored Mary Magdalene. You may have noticed our Gospel was a bit longer than the one in your missalettes which ends with the disciples not quite understanding what’s going on. The Canadian lectionary adds the passage about Mary Magdalene’s beautiful encounter with the Risen Christ. Being Canadian, I took the liberty of going with that version.

But there are more important reasons for including this passage on such an important day. Mary Magdalene is Patroness of the Order of Preachers. She is a key figure for us.

Also, such an important woman present at the death and resurrection of Christ, and in all four Gospels, certainly warrants a prominent place on Easter Sunday, and should not be relegated to Easter Tuesday morning. The people of God need to know her story.

Even more significantly, she best models a faithful disciple’s response: she stays, she pays attention, and she is open to transformation and to being sent forth.

After encountering the empty tomb and seeing the linens and cloths laid to the side, Peter and James returned to their homes. The ideal response of a disciple, especially at such a momentous event, is generally not to go home.

What did Mary Magdalene do? She stayed! She remained! She was outside the tomb weeping. That’s not a comfortable place to be. She was confused. She didn’t know what was going on. But she did not walk away. She remained faithful, hoping still to offer an act of love for her beloved.

Staying is not easy – being faithful to what is actually happening within and around us can be very challenging.

But the only way to the other side of suffering – physical, emotional, or spiritual – is through. To drink the cup, whatever it may be. To stay present to myself as I grieve loss of health and experience more limitations. To stay faithful to religious life even though we don’t know what it will look like in the near future. To stay engaged in our world, even as we see time-honored institutions in crisis and collapse. To stay committed to caring for Earth even as we are aware of the magnitude of its fragility.

Stay, remain, abide.

And then pay attention – something is happening – there are unexpected voices, calling our name, calling each of us individually and as a Congregation and beyond.

At first, we might not notice or understand those voices. For Mary Magdalene, a seemingly random gardener appears. She notices him and engages. She may not yet understand but she’s on her way. She has turned away from the tomb. She is seeking to serve, to love. In this interaction, everything changes when she hears her name spoken by her beloved!

In a book on grief, CS Lewis wrote, "Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear." At some point in our staying and our weeping, we stop and listen so we can hear that voice, the voice of the Risen Christ, however each of us experiences that. A voice that honors our mourning and calls us from it when we are ready, a voice that engages us and helps us understand, a voice that sends us out to proclaim good news wherever we are.

Mary initially wants to encounter this Risen Christ as her Rabbouni, her teacher as he was while on earth. But he’s not the same and she needs to learn to relate to him in a new way. She can’t hold on to what was.

For us to pay attention, we need to realize that we may be called to new ways of understanding, that our image of Christ or God may change, that our understanding of our role or purpose might need updating, that how we perceive and care for the world and Earth may need expanding. The Risen Christ invites us to listen with new ears and see with new eyes so we can see the signs and hear God’s call to life at this moment.

Along with remaining and attending, Mary Magdalene is open to transformation. She lets her new awareness open her to a new way of being. She moves from weeping to turning to announcing that Christ is risen – there is hope and life! The text says she turns again. Now Mary is not turning in circles. This is an inner turning, a true transformation. It reminds me of the old Shaker hymn, "To turn, turn will be our delight/ Till by turning, turning we come round right."

Resurrection is something new we never could have imagined or thought possible. It won’t look like the past. It won’t look like what we thought it might. There will be something remarkable and unexpected.

As disciples we stay faithfully, waiting for the new life and understanding even in our confusion, or sadness or grief.

We are attentive to signs around us – even when we aren’t sure what they mean. We engage them to discover more. We listen for the Divine calling our name.

And we let the God of surprises, of life, of new hope, of resurrection, transform us to fullness of life and hope even now – to be people who have the courage to proclaim Christ is risen and to witness that resurrection can be real in our world!

Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed!

 


Easter Vigil 2023
Preaching by Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress

Easter Vigil - April 8, 2023
Matthew 28:1-12

Sister Elise D. García, OP

We gather this evening after having journeyed through 40 days and nights of Lenten prayer and preparation, the celebration of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his radical reversal of master-servant roles with foot washing on Holy Thursday, the grief and horror of his excruciating death by crucifixion on Good Friday – and, now, we come to this astonishing moment of revelation. A revelation that is made all the more astonishing by the fact that Matthew and the other Gospel writers all say it was given to women – a class of persons whose testimony by virtue of gender was untrustworthy, according to the laws and cultures of the times. These were the same women, the authors confess, who were there “when they crucified my Lord.”

The striking detail of who God chose to give the astonishing revelation of the resurrection to is another remarkable and transformative reversal so characteristic of the Way of Jesus. It has the power to further awaken us today to the transformation of consciousness it ignited 2,000 years ago.

As we just heard, this evening’s readings stretch back to Genesis, beginning with the story our Judeo-Christian ancestors understood as the way God brought everything into being, including ourselves and our Earth home. The stories move forward in time to the revelation of God to the people of Israel, their journey into and out of captivity, and on to God’s revelation through the coming of Christ. In Paul’s letter to the Romans we learn how our first Christian ancestors began to understand that they were One with Christ through baptism, death and now the astounding promise of new life.

These readings and so many others in our tradition tell stories about the way we humans have experienced God through God’s word, deed, and presence in our world over the centuries – and the profound transformation of consciousness it has provoked. Although nearly 2,000 have passed since the last of those readings was written, the power of the stories and their call to transformative change is still alive and at work within us.

We are just beginning to understand the profound social and spiritual implications of what it means to be created – all of us, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, ethnicity – in the image of God, as our ancestors first heard some 3,000 years ago.

We are just beginning to understand what it means that God chose to reveal the astounding reality that there is life after death to a group of humble, powerless women. That Mary of Magdala, according to Matthew, is the one called by God to spread the good news of the resurrection of Jesus. What reversals would it mean for our Church if she were truly, and not just symbolically, recognized as “the Apostle to the Apostles?” And what might it mean in our Dominican order if we too went beyond symbolism in recognizing her as the Patron of the Order of Preachers, along with Catherine of Alexandria?

As we once again celebrate the transformative good news of the resurrection and its astonishing promise of new life, let us accept the invitation to grow more deeply as followers of the Way of Jesus into the magnificent expansion of consciousness he is calling us into as women, as people of color, and as a Beloved whole Earth community that from its very beginning was blessed by God as “very good.”

 


Good Friday 2023
Preaching by Sister Corinne Sanders, OP

Good Friday - April 7, 2023
John 18:1 - 19:42

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP

In my home, like many of you, I have a crucifix.

My daily practice is to pause by the cross/crucifix offering a thought, or a prayer, sometimes seeking a blessing from an ancestor. At times, I might gently touch the cross for strength and courage for whatever may lie ahead that day.

I would guess that in some way each of your crosses provide some special meaning and significance as well.

Today we come as a community of believers to continue in our celebration of the Triduum and on this day to behold the cross.

We are called to dwell fully in this holy mystery, centered in the One who lived fully in and into the love of God and who was silenced by those whose power was threatened by this man’s love.

On this day of crucifixion, with open hearts, open eyes, and open ears, we behold the cross.

We behold Jesus crucified and we hear the cries of mothers throughout the world and across the ages who have lost their children to suffering, violence, poverty, rejection and hatred.

We behold the crucified Jesus. The Jesus who in John’s gospel embraces his full being, proclaiming “I AM” and staying true to his course — living with integrity, challenging oppression, and extending love and healing to all, knowing full well it would end in his death.

We behold this crucified Jesus and remember those who are persecuted and killed for the sake of justice, fully aware of the cost of their discipleship.

We embrace our own discipleship on this day as we stand at the foot of the cross. We lean into the cross to receive courage as we live out our discipleship, embracing one another in our own losses and suffering, committed to confronting together systems of domination and exploitation in whatever ways we are able.

In the cross, we are held and strengthened in God’s love. From the cross we receive Jesus’ Spirit.

And so today we reverence the cross. We embrace it as a sign of faith and love. We reach out to it, seeking strength and courage for whatever may lie ahead in these days.

 


Holy Thursday 2023
Preaching by Sister Janice Brown, OP

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper - April 6, 2023
John 13:1-15

Sister Janice Brown, OP

Jesus knows that he is facing death. He knows that he will be leaving those whom he loves and returning to his origins. These final hours are hard, and he can only imagine how horrible Friday will be. Despite knowing this, Jesus turns his energy towards the disciples and begins to wash their feet. Jesus models love once again, through this simple, yet profound act. He is still teaching them… and he is still teaching us.

The washing of the feet is a metaphor for how we, too, are there for each other’s weariness.

In Debie Thomas’s reflection on today’s scripture, she states:

“When Jesus washes feet, he shows us that love doesn’t have to look glamorous to be revolutionary. In fact, it’s often the humblest acts of love which speak the loudest.”

I wonder if Jesus needed to do this for himself as well. Let me tell you a story about a special woman named Emily. Emily was a good friend of my daughter Kathy. They met as counselors at Special Days Camp, which is a camp for kids with cancer that provides not only a summer camp experience but also includes a medical team. Both Emily and Kathy were survivors of childhood cancer. They had a strong bond, an understanding. Emily became close to both of us. Unfortunately, Emily’s cancer came back. Kathy and I would visit her in the hospital. We did simple things, talked about the treatment, the funny and the challenging things of the day, and we would pray together. Emily asked us to pray for her. The last time we visited Emily, I remember how she laughed and how her eyes sparkled… She died just a few days later. I was so glad that we were with her for a while. It was meaningful for Kathy and me, and I think very meaningful for Emily. Such a simple thing, yet so profound.

This is why I wonder if Jesus was finding some consolation as he was able to be with his followers in a simple, yet profound way. He knew Judas was selling him for a few silver coins. Peter would deny him three times…on the worst day of his life. Did he wonder if this rag tag team of believers would be able to spread the Good News? Did they understand? All these questions are left hanging in the background, yet Jesus, fully human, let his love burst through those struggles, and he lovingly washed their feet.

This is Eucharist, isn’t it?

Tonight is about Eucharist. It is about celebrating and sharing God’s love with one another in simple yet profound ways. It is about letting that love breakthrough, giving of ourselves, even when it is difficult. Giving away that love in whatever way is possible.

Tonight, as we sit and contemplate, feel the fullness of God’s love surround us. Take it in, then let it out. Take a deep breath, and then breathe that love out.

Let us continue to pray as we, too, wash feet:

God, we are in a hurting world that needs so much healing. May we love anyways. We are but human beings with limitations, may we share your love, which has no limits. God of all that is and all that will be, may we be courageous enough to embrace our vulnerability, and transform our fears into love.

Amen.

 



 

LINKS

word.op.org - International Dominican Preaching Page

Catholic Women Preach - Featuring deep spirituality and insights from women

Preach With Your Life - Video series by Adrian Dominican Sisters

 


 

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