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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.
Friday, April 28, 2023
Excerpt from The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
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?
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:
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 - April 9, 2023
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 - April 8, 2023
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 - April 7, 2023
John 18:1 - 19:42
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 Mass of the Lord's Supper - April 6, 2023
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.”
“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.
Palm Sunday - April 2, 2023
Matthew 26:14 - 27:66
Good morning, everyone! Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week. Jesus, as a devoted Jew, went up to Jerusalem for the Passover, greeted by the Jews waving palm branches, spreading their cloaks, and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Ps. 118:26). Palm branches in Jewish tradition signify a celebration of triumph or victory. Obviously, on that entry into Jerusalem, they were expecting Jesus to be a political leader, with power and dominion over the Romans, Israelites’ foreign adversaries.
For Christians however, the palm branch is a symbol of martyrdom, just as Jesus had foretold his pending death, when he and his disciples were going up to Jerusalem for the Passover “The hour is coming when the Son of man will be handed over to his enemies” (Mark 11:8-10).
The gospel today from St. Matthew (26:14-27:66) has a parallel Gospel narrative, from St. John (18:1-19:42), that we will hear on Good Friday. It is the narrative of the Passion and Death of Jesus which mystery will come to fulfillment on Easter Sunday.
This gospel narrative captures the reality of suffering. In today’s time, suffering seems a “fit all” dictum that may affect the most innocent one.
When faced with challenges in life, we tend to question God on why do we or others need to suffer?
Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, a Filipino theologian offered an answer to these questions as he said, “God’s response to the deepest question of the human on the meaning and value of human suffering is the silence of the cross.” However, it is not easy to understand why so many people suffer today. Fr. Arevalo continued by saying that “While it is true that Jesus talks about the cross, about his suffering, he does not offer us a systematic theology of the cross, of human suffering, in the gospels. However, we find something new, something beautiful, in the gospels: Jesus’ attitude towards the cross, towards his own suffering, which teaches us about the meaning of the cross as love, thereby giving new meaning and significance to our daily crosses and sufferings in life.”
Yes, Jesus teaches us the meaning of human suffering, and its redemptive dimension. He just did not stretch out his arms on the cross on that first Good Friday as a show of courage but an expression of his deep love for us. We may not fully understand the depth of that love, but that is the way it is.
Paul Claudel (1868–1955) a French poet, dramatist, essayist, convert to Roman Catholicism and a six-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, said as quoted by Fr. Arevalo: “God came in Jesus not to take away our pain. God came in Jesus not even to explain it. God came in Jesus simply to feel our pain, and to feel it with his presence.”
In 2011 when typhoon Haiyan, also locally called Yolanda, hit the central part of the Philippines leaving the affected areas to ground zero and causing the death of thousands of people, Pope Francis visited the affected areas. One of his appearances was at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila where the youth gathered to meet the pope. A girl of 12 years old, an orphan, asked the Pope, why is there suffering and why her family had to suffer? The pope said, to quote, “I do not know the answer.” But he hugged the girl tightly as a response to her question. It was the same question asked to the Pope when he visited Leyte on the aftermath of the typhoon. The Pope did not answer in words, but his head turned to the cross that gave his answer to thousands and thousands of people present during the Eucharistic celebration.
Is there a way to go beyond suffering? Yes! All of us have the capacity to translate our difficulties into a positive experience of life and see the meaning of the redemptive value of our own difficulties, and the suffering of our people at the peripheries. Suffering is real! It is not an imaginary concept that we see with magical eyes so that we can sugar coat our unpleasant experiences in life. Viktor E. Frankl, the theorist of Logotherapy, experienced the most horrible conditions in life when in 1942 to 1945 while at a Nazi death camp, he witnessed the death of his parents, a brother, and his pregnant wife. Frankl argues that “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.”
In the gospel, Jesus experienced abandonment by his own disciples. Though sinless, he endured the most painful way of dying, crucifixion on the cross. Extraordinarily, while dying on the cross, he expressed a profound expression of his love to the criminal hanging beside him, telling him “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). And again, when he implored his father: “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). What a love to remember! Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, and a psychotherapist reminded us that, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, 1990)
This is our calling too, to forgive and love people beyond human borders. Hence, the palm branches that the Jewish people raised and waved, the cloaks that they spread on the street to welcome Jesus with the conscious expectation of Him as a political leader. During that sensational triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus challenged us to make these symbols our oneness with the sufferings of those who are at the peripheries of human societies, across cultures, race and traditions, socio-political conditions, gender, and economic status. Amen.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8, 2022
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Unlike Mary Catherine Nolan, I did not have great devotion to Mary for my first 50 years. Yes, we had a May altar at home, prayed the rosary every night in May and October, and had the Pilgrim Virgin in our house for every home visit – who needed to bring a companion?
After entrance, I prayed the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, recited the rosary – even with outstretched arms – and sang the Salve nightly. But it always seemed to me that, if Jesus were God, why not go straight to the top with my concerns?
This gradually began to shift when I was Prioress. I found an old copy of the prayer we used to say to Our Lady of This House and prayed it, not every night, but often. After finishing my term, I went on the Fanjeaux retreat and then spent a week in Paris, also visiting Chartres. I was struck there by the image of Mary as a queen sitting on a throne, with her son seated on her lap facing forward. She is Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Her strength and personality made a far deeper impression on me than all the sweet Madonnas with swirling clothes and the rather stiff figures in icons.
During that sabbatical, I stayed with Dominicans in Rome, intending to read and to visit museums. By chance, I extended my time there to teach a course on Mary at the Angelicum, subbing in for Mary O’Driscoll. Rome on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was a revelatory experience.
December 8 is a national and religious holiday. Despite the Roman Ordo and all liturgical theology, it is the REAL beginning of preparation for Christmas. Homes, towns, and cities are decorated, trees and bonfires lit, families gather for a festive meal with special foods, all businesses and offices are closed, except for stores and Christmas markets, so shopping for gifts begins in earnest.
The highlight of the day comes at 4 p.m., when the pope, mayor of Rome, and assorted civil and religious dignitaries assemble at the 40-foot-tall Column of the Immaculate Conception near the Spanish steps. The head of the fire department climbs a ladder on a fire engine and places a wreath on Mary’s arm. The pope places flowers at the base, along with tributes from city and nation. He then prays for the needs of the world.
As I watched all this on television, I suddenly came to a new appreciation of Marian dogma in general and the Immaculate Conception in particular. In traditional Italian culture, the family is the most important of all relationships. Within the family, traditionally the bond between mother and son has been extremely strong. It makes sense, then, that in Italy the conception of Jesus’ mother begins the celebration of Christmas. The abstract typology of Eve and Mary, the long story of salvation history – all of this takes a distant second place to the concrete, primal relationship of this mother and this son. This relationship is key; this is the reason for celebration.
Mary is Jesus’ mother. So, of course, the Italian church celebrates her own conception in St. Ann’s womb as the concrete, real prelude to Jesus’ own birth, and chooses as the Gospel the story of Jesus’ own conception.
Jesus had only one mother. Mary’s vocation was unique. Yet Karl Rahner often emphasized that Mary is the Mother of the Church and, at the same time, her destiny as the first believer, the first to place her hope in Christ, reveals our own call and destiny as members of the Body of Christ. The Marian doctrines, he said, are just as much about our faith and hope in the Word of God, about our origin and future.
Although Paul’s letter does not mention Mary, Paul seems to make the same point. He makes no mention of "original sin." Listen to what Paul tells us:
We, too, are blessed – in Christ – with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
We, too, are thus “full of grace.”
We, too, are chosen in Christ – to be holy and spotless.
We, too, are loved into being by Love, to be God’s sons and daughters, God’s own family, through our relationship with Jesus the Christ.
We, too, have the favor of God’s will, we, too, live in God’s grace – which is simply God’s gift of Godself to us. We, too, have been chosen by God and, like Mary, place our hope in Christ and live for the praise of God’s glory.
So we, too sing Magnificat with Mary.
Perhaps today we might take time to sit with the annunciation and with this passage from Ephesians, to hear the Word of God spoken to Mary by the angel and by Paul to us:
to let that Word take hold of us and quicken in us,
to know ourselves profoundly as loved into being and highly favored – full of grace.
And then we might, with Mary, burst into that song of joy, the Magnificat.
We, too, can begin celebrating Jesus’ birth by celebrating his mother.
For as the Italian saying goes, “A good mother is worth a hundred teachers.”
Second Sunday of Advent - December 4, 2022
Janet Schaeffler, in her book Let This Be the Time, quotes Maya Angelou: “If you must look to the past, do so forgivingly. If you must look to the future, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing that you can do is to be present to the present gratefully.”
So, last Tuesday, as a Community we looked to this past COVID year with its sometimes darkness within and without, and received God’s forgiveness for where we have missed the mark. As to the future, Isaiah and the psalmist present a poetic and remarkable picture of peace and harmony, where justice shall flourish for the lands afflicted, and the afflicted land. “There shall be no harm or ruin, for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord.” Seem too good to be true? When one knows Jesus and his Word, however, we have to admit, it is too good not to be true. And in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, it is a truth, we believe, that will come to fruition at the end time.
“The wisest thing that you can do is to be present to the present gratefully.” When we put the picture of the vision of the future next to the reality of the present, we recognize our call as Christ’s Body to be open to the challenge of being part of bringing about the change being called for. Perhaps now we can understand Paul’s words at another level: “Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Yes. We dealt for two years of our Awakening Sessions with the what and how and why of our part in this risky transformation. We realize that we are in the early Acts of this Divine/Human Drama, but we each have an important and unique role to play. Although we are in it for a short time of the long haul, it will call for endurance in the struggle to birth a new creation, rather than assurance of quick fixes. All of this is possible by deep faith in Christ’s promise in the Scriptures: “I will be with you.” We remember, we celebrate, we believe!
We were loved into being at this Anticipatory Age of Evolution, as John Haught would name it, to know the joy of playing a part in bringing about God’s vision of peace and love and community. Haught emphasized that in our human experience, it is in the anticipation of something wonderful, exciting, and meaningful that can actually be as joyful, if not more joyful, than even the fulfillment of the longed for event: Anticipation of Santa for little ones these days; or for adults, looking forward to family reunions. weddings, jubilees, trips, etc. True for you?
Alice Camille, in her Advent reflection, tells of the man in the grocery store pushing a cart with a rambunctious toddler in the seat. As they went down the aisle, the child reached out and grabbed items off the shelf, throwing them to the ground. Each time, the man stooped down and gently put the item back. Each time he said, "It’s OK, Jimmy, we’re almost done. Only a few more minutes and we’ll be going home."
When they arrived at the checkout line, a shopper who had seen this whole episode told the man how impressed she was by his kind patience with the willful Jimmy. The man looked confused for a moment, and then told her: "I’m Jimmy. That little monster in the cart is George."
As the author points out, controlling a two-year-old may be tough, but controlling our grown-up selves is the real challenge. Instead of blaming the "monsters" for our sad state of affairs nationally, internationally, or even in our Community or Church, we need to focus on what needs to be changed in one’s personal behavior, one’s personal response to others. Dorothy Day said: "The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us."
John the Baptist cried: "Repent!" Most commentators today, however, agree that the Greek word metanoia is better translated as change of mind and heart and attitude. That understanding is a little more challenging that just saying “I’m sorry,” especially when that change involves moving from I to We in all we say and do.
After much discussion and discernment, our Enactments name how we are committed for the next six years to bring the Isaiah vision closer to reality. This will, of course, cost a lot of letting go, probably more change than we realize, but we’re in this together. Endurance is possible with encouragement of the Scriptures.
Thomas Merton said, "Advent is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not of Christ." Perhaps we can take a few minutes of silence today and search the depths of our deepest longings. What within me is not of Christ? What do I want from God this 2022 Christmas? What does God want from me? God is not the One who has everything. There is something God does not have unless I choose to give it. What might that be?
Saturday, October 8, 2022
Wisdom 7:21-23, 27-28, 8-1
1 Corinthians 12:4-12
John 15: 12-17
It is my joy to add my warm welcome to Pat Siemen’s to each and every one of you gathered here or tuning in from your rooms on campus or from your homes around the United States, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Norway, Canada – or wherever else you might be.
Lorraine, Corinne, Janice, Bless and I are honored to have you join us in this celebration of transferring leadership – an intrepid step we have taken as a community of vowed Dominicans every six years for nearly the entire 99 years we have been an independent congregation. I say "nearly" because for a short while, we did this every four years – as Carol Johannes, especially, will recount. And I say "intrepid" because we dare to risk electing and installing a new leadership team after we’ve had what, by all measures, could be said to be an outstanding one.
Thank you, Pat, Mary Margaret, Fran, and Patty for the incredible love you have poured out in service to our Congregation and to the whole Earth community during these past six and a half years. Bless, Janice, Corinne, Lorraine and I are deeply indebted to you as we step into the offices you have blessed with your presence and assume the awesome responsibilities you have so faithfully carried on your shoulders through one of the most difficult times in our history.
As I reflect on the beautiful reading from Wisdom, I see that her spirit, "intelligent, holy, unique…never harmful, loving the good…firm, secure, tranquil" has passed into your holy souls and those of so many of our predecessors, producing "friends of God and prophets." Among them are our Mothers Camilla, Augustine, Gerald, Genevieve and Laurence Edward who became Sister Rosemary; and Sisters Carol, Nadine, Pat, Janet, Donna, Attracta, and Pat. We are so grateful for your faithful leadership as Prioress. And thank you to each and every one of the nearly five dozen women who have so generously served as General Councilors, Secretaries and Treasurers from 1923 to the present day, and the many more Sisters who have served as Provincials and Chapter and Mission Prioresses.
You have helped shape us into who we are today, in communion with the more than 3,900 women who at one time or another during these past 99 years have given their lives and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in service to the world as Dominicans of Adrian – and a number of you, prior to merger, as Dominicans of Edmonds and Our Lady of Remedies. Our community has been extraordinarily blessed by all these women and by the hundreds of companions in Dominican life we call Associates, Co-Workers, Partners in Mission in our sponsored institutions, and bold seekers on the spiritual journey. Each of these, parts of our body, offering different kinds of spiritual gifts – with Wisdom, the artisan of all, renewing everything.
We make this transition in leadership at a hinge moment in the life of our Congregation – and of our Earth community. As most of us know, religious life in the United States and most parts of the world, is undergoing an epochal change. The kind of change religious life has undergone every 400 or 500 years.
It is a painful gift to be living through it now, as we are witnessing the end of one life form – even as we give birth to a new one. We witness the end in losses that are hard to bear: We buried 240 of our Sisters these past six years, each one an "ordinary woman gifted with extraordinary courage and radiant faith," as our Sister Noreen McKeough put it so eloquently. And many of us here present in this chapel, or viewing from afar, have suffered profound personal losses in recent days, months, or years that weigh heavily on our hearts.
We cannot embrace the new life that we know is emerging without acknowledging, holding, and honoring the grief we have so deeply felt. Without acknowledging and accepting all the ways our lives have changed these past two and half years through an historic global pandemic; through physical or mental challenges and diminishment; through the social and political divisions that have riven our nation and world; and through the record fires, floods, droughts and other devastating disasters of climate chaos.
But we come to this table as people of faith – in God or in each other. In the goodness of life and its miraculous unfolding over billions of years to this very moment. In the power of finding purpose and meaning during our brief sojourn on our common Earth home.
Our beloved Sister Rosemary Ferguson, reflecting on the extraordinary time of renewal that she courageously led us through in the late 1960s and ‘70s, wrote: "A new life was being breathed forth for us to bring into being." And so it is for us now, as a Congregation and as a human species in our evolutionary unfolding: A new life is being breathed forth for us to bring into being. And that call to new life is the ever-ancient, ever-new call we heard in today’s Gospel: love one another.
It could not be simpler – nor more challenging and profound.
We see it in the call of our 2022 General Chapter Enactments where we challenge ourselves to address the evils of racism and white supremacy and systems that oppress and fracture the beloved community. Where we challenge the injustice of patriarchy that maintains the subordinate status of women and girls in Church and society around the world. Where we call ourselves to respond to the cry of Earth and those who are poor in the few years we have remaining to veer off the catastrophic path our world is on that will imperil life for generations to come.
Each of those commitments, supported by our 2004 Vision to live in right relationship with the whole Earth community, is nothing less than a call to undergo a profound transformation of consciousness, personally and communally. It is a spiritual call into the depths of the Gospel call to love one another.
It is a call we can live into whether ministering with the indigenous Aeta people in the mountains of the Philippines; the students in our sponsored institutions and Escuela Fe y Alegría in the Dominican Republic; the immigrants we accompany here, in Chicago, and in the Arctic Circle of Norway; or with the global corporations we engage as shareholders and the community organizations we invest in.
We can live into it serving patients in our legacy hospitals, people in need of spiritual direction and pastoral care, and in our response to urgent calls for justice with wonderful partners like the National Black Sisters’ Conference, AHLMA (Asociación de Hermanas Latinas Misioneras en América), the LGBTQ community, indigenous allies, and through our global sisterhood with our IHM neighbors down the River Raisin and our Dominican Sisters in Iraq and around the world.
It is a call we can live into with powerful effect from our rooms in Maria, Regina, Weber, Assumption and our new convent in Mining – through our enduring practice of contemplative prayer and daily acts of loving kindness.
Our Carmelite Sister Constance Fitzgerald, OCD, describes the evolutionary movement we are called to enter a "deeper movement into the within-ness of the universe." That "within-ness" is the heart of the universe – the vast and deep space where the Spirit of Wisdom and Divine Love abide, always and everywhere accessible to us.
A new life is being breathed forth for us to bring into being.
Let us tap into the depths of our contemplative Dominican roots to broaden the path of radical relationality that the Jewish Nazarene we follow first carved into evolution with his call to "love one another as I have loved you." It is an evolutionary path that the great mystics further deepened, providing us guidance that we are now summoned to follow in these urgent times to bring into being the new life that is being breathed forth.
It is about nothing less than turning the world in a new direction – from and towards the depths of the Love that gave it birth and sustains us. It is the gift of being alive at this transformative time when how we are and what we do can make all the difference.
Let us go forth into our new chapter. ¡Adelante!
Friday, October 7, 2022
Happy Feast Day! What a week, right? A Jubilee celebration of the joyful mystery of God’s faithfulness for 30 of our Sisters, and their faith-full response for so many years. Then the sorrowful mystery yesterday of the funeral of our dear Betty; yet trust in the glorious mystery of her entrance into eternal life. And tomorrow, the opening of a new chapter in the life story of the Adrian Dominican Sisters with the installation of new Leadership.
Our Dominican brother, Edward Schillebeeckx, said, “For the most part, people live by stories… Without stories we should lose our memories, fail to find our own place in the present, and remain without hope or expectation for the future.” From its beginning, the Order of Preachers has shown special honor and devotion to Mary. Reflecting on the sacred story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, with the holy mantra of “Hail Mary, Hail Mary,” has been one of the ways of expressing that devotion. With profound faith and deep love, Mary pondered these mysteries in her heart; and, as Elizabeth proclaimed, she is blessed because she believed and trusted in God.
A short time ago, a friend and I were talking about good stories. We spoke of the excitement and anticipation as we drew close to the last chapter of a good novel, wondering how all the pieces were going to come together. We also acknowledged how often we were almost sad to see it end. The characters had become like dear friends.
We’ve been using the identification of co-creators for a few years now, but I think it is also true to claim co-authors of our unique story of our gift of life. I imagine God, when we were able to begin making choices, saying to each of us: “OK, dear heart, these are your givens: here are your parents, family, genes, strengths/limitations, country, times – all of which you had nothing to say. Now, however, with my hand upon yours, let’s write a beautiful and unique story that will give me glory, and you, happiness.” And even as many of us realize that we may have only one or two chapters left to write, I perceive that the autumn of one’s life can also be as rich, colorful, and awesome as the nature arounds us today exhibits. As believers, we trust that our life story has a glorious epilogue.
I must admit that for years I have wondered why our creed moved from birth of Jesus to death and resurrection, saying nothing of his showing the way, telling the truth, and living the fullness of life every day. Recently, however, the institutional Church finally inserted the reflection on the Luminous Mysteries to our praying the Rosary. The prayer that is ordinarily said at the conclusion of the five decades is also crucially significant: “May we imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise!” How Dominican: from contemplation to action.
Today is a pivotal moment as we transition tomorrow to the beginning of a new chapter as the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary. Our servant leadership of the last six and a half years will now turn the page of their personal story and begin a new chapter in their lives. Our new servant leadership, and each of us in the Congregation, will also begin the writing of a new chapter for our Congregation as we strive to take the words of our Enactments off the page and put them into action.
We pray in thanksgiving for Pat, Fran, Mary Margaret, Patty, and Elise; and ask God’s continued blessings on your graced, gifted and generous selves. We pray in solidarity and prayerful, loving support for Elise, Lorraine, Corinne, Janice, and Bless. And for our Congregation we pray: Grant we beseech thee, O God, that meditating on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, “we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
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