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.

 


Easter Sunday
Preaching by Sister Elise D. García, OP

April 4, 2021

Scripture Readings:
Acts 10: 34a, 37-43
Corinthians 5: 6b-8
John 20: 1-10

Here we are on this glorious Easter morning! And yet the Gospel passage the Church gives us for reflection today is, well, not quite so glorious. 

It is not one of the scenes of the risen Christ, like the passage that immediately follows where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalen as a gardener whom she recognizes as soon as he calls her by name. Or the passage after that when Jesus appears that evening to the disciples, entering the locked house where they hide in fear, showing them his wounds and breathing the Holy Spirit on them. Or the passage after that when, a week later, Jesus appears to the doubting Thomas and blesses those who have not seen yet come to believe. 

No, this passage holds no such beloved familiar scenes, no such epiphanies. This passage leaves us suspended – perplexed, in confusion, not knowing. 

Something significant has happened: The stone on the tomb has been rolled away. The linen cloths that were wrapped around Jesus’ body, with a mixture of myrrh and aloes that weighed about a hundred pounds, are lying in one pile. The cloth that had been wrapped around his head was rolled up in a place by itself. The new unused tomb was once again empty. The body gone.

The disciples did not understand and returned home. And we know from the next passage that Mary Magdalene remained standing outside the tomb, weeping.

Is this not where we so often find ourselves? Knowing that something significant has happened but not yet able to make sense of it? Not yet knowing what it means or what comes next?

Is this not where we are right now with the coronavirus pandemic? It feels like we have reached a threshold moment, with so many of us vaccinated. Yet rising cases with new fast-spreading variants are keeping us suspended, still apart from one another. No fullness of new life just yet. There is still great weeping in the land. 

As I reflect on this passage, I realize that one of the things it does allow is for us to linger a bit longer in the reality, the crushing reality of the immense suffering that our ancestors in the faith – Mary, Peter, John and other very real women and men – were experiencing on this day, some 2000 years ago. As a people living under the yoke of a terrible oppression, with its daily indignities and constant threat of violence, one of their own was hung from a tree.  

And this one among them, Jesus, had given them hope for a new order where hatred, deception and fear would give way to a radical freedom and love that he himself preached and lived. This one among them, Jesus, preached a powerful liberating spirituality, as Black mystic Howard Thurman, PhD, wrote in his prophetic book, Jesus and the Disinherited.1

What do you preach to a people in a world where you are despised – as the occupying Romans despised the Jews, as white segregationists and supremacists despised Black people and other people of color – to this day? In Jesus, Dr. Thurman writes, we discover someone who issues a profound call to each and every one of us to live out of our “inward center” – out of the depths of our heart and soul – as he himself did. This profound liberation of heart and soul leads to an inner freedom, the kind the world witnessed in Nelson Mandela, when he walked out of prison “in graceful triumph”2 after 27 years of incarceration.

As we rightly celebrate the great joy of this day of new life, let us also accept the invitation to linger long enough by the tomb to remember how Jesus lived this new life, during his life, as one among the disinherited. Jesus calls us all to fulfill our own high destiny through a liberating spirituality of dedication and discipline, practiced daily in our current reality, living out of the inward center of our hearts and souls where we are all one in the Spirit.3

And for the gift of this new life, we give great thanks and sing, alleluia, alleluia!

 

1 See Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996).
2 Vincent Harding, Foreword, Jesus and the Disinherited, xvi.
3 Thurman, 99.


Easter Vigil
Preaching by Prioress Sister Patricia Siemen, OP

April 3, 2021

As we hear the words from Mark’s Gospel, we find ourselves walking along with Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, as they approach the tomb where Jesus is buried. It is dawn, with the new day’s light breaking around them. They have just spent the Sabbath in darkness and anguish. They were present at the foot of the cross and witnessed the soldiers putting the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet, crucifying him, their loved one. They saw his side sliced open with a sword and witnessed the taking of his body off the cross and being laid in the tomb they were approaching now. They had to wait until the Sabbath was over before they could come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with the aromatic spices they carefully carried with them, as was the Jewish custom.

We can hear them discussing their concern about how they will get into the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for they know it was sealed closed by a huge stone set in front of it. With heavy hearts they discuss, “Who will roll the stone away for us?” Their hearts are heavy with grief and powerlessness at not being able to stop the brutal crucifixion of their loved one. No doubt, they worry about what will become of their vulnerable, remnant community without the Teacher being with them. However, they cannot speak of that right now. Instead, they worry about who will roll away the stone for them so they can lovingly anoint the body of their loved one. 

The question, “Who will roll away the stone for us so we can enter into the space where Jesus is present?” resonates within each of us. Who will roll away the stones that allow us to be reunited with our loved ones in the midst of a year-long pandemic? Who will roll away the stones of grief and isolation at not being able to have been present and at the side of loved ones as they died – and were buried without us and other family and friends to grieve them properly during this past year?  

Our hearts ache at the stones that continue to block our doors to receiving dear friends, family and favored guests. We anticipate the days when we can once again enter the doorways of our friends and loved ones freely, without any stones blocking our ability to eat together and touch those we love. 

Mark’s Gospel does not tell us who removed the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb; that is no longer important because the stone is no longer blocking contact with the Beloved. Stunned, the women enter the tomb, and are astonished, as they no longer encounter death. Rather, an angel sitting there tells them that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. In addition, he tells them, “Do not be amazed.” Really? Don’t be amazed at Jesus not being dead and lying in the tomb? One can almost hear the small glimmer of hope awakening in them. The words of the angel are strong and clear: “He has been raised; he is not here. Go and tell his disciples that he is going ahead of you on his way to Galilee.” 

Dare they believe this? Dare they believe that suffering, rejection, even death are not the last word? Dare they believe in the transformative power of God to raise up new life even out of death? Dare they believe in a new trajectory, a new pathway in the mystery of evolutionary time, that life transforms and continues, even after death?

So the women set forth in amazement – and puzzlement – to tell the others that they have just experienced a new awakening, a new surge of hope. Their joy and belief deepens as they tell the other disciples of their experience, “the teacher now lives and goes before us into Galilee. We can catch up with him there."

The Risen One goes before us too. We can travel with the Resurrected One as we go into the many Galilees of our daily lives. The Risen One stirs our imaginations and awakens us to the transformative changes lying before us, individually and as a community. 

In our beautifully resilient, yet fractured and broken world, we are drawn towards becoming women and men awakened to resilient hope, compassionate truth telling and transformative action. Called to join with all our sisters and brothers of good will who are also awakening to a new consciousness, we commit to remove the stones and boulders that block access God’s ways within our church and society. We particularly commit to removing the stones that block the fullness of life for all, especially the stones of racism and white privilege that are deeply buried within our institutions.

We go forth filled with hope and joy, and perhaps a little trepidation, as did Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome. May Easter joy ignite our creative fires of love and inclusion and burn through any stones that block our joy in the experience of abundant life of divine presence – and spring – rising in our midst!


Good Friday
Preaching by Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP

April 2, 2021

Good Friday is the best love story we can ever imagine.

Love is total self-giving. 

And Jesus showed us the perfect example. 

He gave himself up for us: “There is no greater love than for one to lay down their life for another.”

Pope Francis, during his very first general audience said, "Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross, which is not first of all that of pain and death, but of love and of self-giving that brings life. This is love extravagant.”

Ronald Rolheiser, in his book The Passion and the Cross, uses the image of a prism as he reflects on Jesus’ death on the cross. “If light is shone through a prism, the prism refracts the light, literally breaking it up so that we see inside it. And the result is exquisite.” 

The cross we adore today is a prism that refracts the breadth and depth of God’s love. We see right into the heart of God, and what we see, like the colors in a rainbow, is stunning and spectacularly beautiful. We see and learn who God really is, a God of unconditional love.

The mystery of the Passion of Christ is the mystery of God’s power and love transforming evil to good; darkness to light; despair and disbelief to hope and faith; and hatred to love.

May the the cross we reflect on today be a prism that sees right into our very being, that helps us refract the spectacularly beautiful and unconditional love of God to those who suffer from racism, discrimination of any kind, poverty, climate change, COVID-19, despair, and political divisions.

We are a living prisms of God’s love. Through our words, actions, and our very being, God’s love is made visible in our world.

Through our lives may we reflect the colors of the rainbow of God’s love and color the world beautiful.

Good Friday is truly the best love story we can ever imagine.


Holy Thursday
Preaching by Sister Patricia Harvat, OP

April 1, 2021

The Gospels and letters of St. Paul are narratives of the life of Jesus and the life of disciples accompanying Jesus, learning what commitment to Him and his mission meant. This evening we enter into the narrative of the Last Supper as written by John. We remember how Jesus poured water over the disciple’s feet — pours water over our feet. Today that water has changed into tears. Today we look to our world asking us to embrace its pain, a pain of loss and suffering.

In the play Hamilton written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miranda sings, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” This evening let us enter a contemporary story of the Last Supper written by Madeline to her friend Taylor while at the border in 2021 with thousands of immigrant children. It is a story of love and friendship that has no boundaries nor borders. It is our faith in the Eucharist.

Dear Taylor,

This is my last day of volunteering at the border. There’s always a last time isn’t there? You and I never were good at saying good-bye, were we? Especially our last year in college. Our calendars were filled with a lot of last times! The day I left for the border I remember you saying, “Here you go again… your idealistic self, part delusional and part a fool for Christ’s sake. You always wanted to do more with your life, restless adventurer that you are. While I am quite content to live my uneventful rather limited life.”

I suppose you are right Taylor, but our friendship has been strong and true all these years. So let me tell you the story of my days here with the immigrant children.

Most of my days were filled with welcoming hundreds upon hundreds of children and washing their rough yet sweet touch of blistered, sweaty feet having walked the terrain of this earth for many miles. The faces of those children have left their imprint on my heart. Activities can vary day to day as we comfort some, play games with others, and help the social workers do an intake on each child. At night we bend over cot after cot tucking each child into their small space. This is my last night to do that and I wonder, how will I remember the life lessons I learned as I walked, worked, laughed, and cried with God’s little ones.

Now we sit at a very long wooden table waiting to eat what is my Last Supper with the children as I leave tomorrow. I cannot take my eyes off of these young faces… 

Some staring into space and silent, a few have tears running down their faces, others have eyes wide open but are sightless, lost in their own thoughts. Some are so tired their heads nod up and down. One child leans forward hands cupped under his chin staring at me. Their expressions are all variations of despair.

Our meals are simple. Tonight, we are having bread with butter before the volunteers bring the main plate of food to our table. Juan sitting next to me takes the bread out of the basket, breaks in in two and says, “Here Madeline, take and eat.” Dearest Taylor, the Eucharist, the gift of Christ’s body and blood to us will never be the same for me in the years to come. This is the celebration of the Last Supper. 

John Keats wrote, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections.” Jesus’ affection for the disciples, for you, for me, for these children is made real as I begin to understand those words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me.” I now understand what the “this” means. 

I have learned much from the children. They have shown me what it means to be humble in weakness, to be confident in difficulties, and to accept hardships with love and in a mysterious way they have revealed the face of Jesus to me. I have been able to cross the language barrier, but we know that love and kindness need no language. However, I have been able to use my halting Spanish which has brought peals of laughter at times. So, Taylor, let me end this letter and say,

“Todos tenemos alguien por quien llorar. Todos tenemos alguien que recorder”
“Everyone has someone for whom they cry. Everyone has someone who they remember.”

These children, Clari, Yomaris, Joselito, Juan and the many other children are my someone.

Sending you warm greetings and wishing you peace Taylor.

Your friend forever, 
Madeline


Palm Sunday

Preaching by Sister Frances Nadolny, OP

March 28, 2021

Good morning. Today begins a week rich in liturgical significance. Participating in the re-enactment of Jesus processing into Jerusalem reminded me of recent pictures of Pope Francis entering into the holy cities of Iraq. People were so happy to see him, as they were so happy to see Jesus. But for Jesus, sentiments changed quickly.

In this long and complete passion narrative, Mark introduces, or reintroduces, us to a number of people: the woman anointing Jesus, the guests at the Passover celebration, the Garden of Gethsemane and those who fell asleep or the one who betrayed Jesus, or the young man who ran away without his clothes, Peter’s denial, Simon the Cyrene, the trial with Pilate and the Sanhedrin members, the crowds who chose Barabbas, the soldiers under the cross, Jesus seemingly abandoned on the cross, Jesus’ mother, the faithful women and Joseph of Aramathea.

In this strange year, at this beginning of Holy Week, with which of these people do you identify? May your answer be an opportunity for graced reflection during these next few days. 


St. Patrick's Day Homily, March 17, 2021

Sister Attracta Kelly, OPWritten by Sister Attracta Kelly, OP
Proclaimed by Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh go léir! Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!

And happy feast to all the Patrick(s), Patricia(s), the Patty(s), the Pat(s), the Patrice(s) among us.

I cannot think of any other national patron saint whose day is celebrated so widely or might I even say so wildly as that of St. Patrick. 

As you are probably aware Patrick, at about age 16, was kidnapped – today we would say trafficked – into slavery by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland where he lived as a slave, by himself, on a mountain, in County Antrim looking after sheep – no one to talk to, no one to care about him, far away from home.
 
During this past year as I’ve reflected on the effect COVID has had on all of us, some more confined, more isolated than others. I’ve thought quite a bit about Patrick, except for Patrick there was no Task Force, no secret Santas, no letters, no parodies, no visiting, no TV, no phone calls, no entertainment, no Fireside Chat! And his isolation lasted six years! 

So how did Patrick survive? Patrick, I believe, survived after a great period of alone-ness by finding God in creation around him. It took some time. Maybe it was in the sheep or the lambs or the sheep dog, or the bright starry night, or the morning sun, or eventually in the barren mountains, or the awesome beauty of the coastline, or the turning of the seasons. For whatever reason, Patrick learned to treasure the beauty of the land and all its creatures, and realize that God was very near. And then for Patrick, nature became the sacrament of God’s presence.

After six years, Patrick was able to escape back to his home in Britain. In his writings he tells us that a voice he believed to be from God, told him to leave Ireland. After his return to Britain another revelation told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

Patrick tries his best to plead his way out of that call just like Peter in today’s reading pleads: “Depart from me for I am a sinner.” Patrick pleads: “I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful.” And just as Jesus assures Peter that he will indeed be able to respond to God’s call, Patrick is assured in a similar way. After some years of training, Patrick returns to Ireland to, as we prayed in our Responsorial Psalm, “Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds” to the Irish people.

So we might wonder how was Patrick able to proclaim the good news so successfully? Ireland, as Patrick had learned from his time as a slave, had a strong belief in many kinds of gods. Celtic peoples worshipped the sun with shrines. In the Celtic religion wells and rivers were associated with goddesses.

Patrick tapped into these beliefs and, using those Celtic symbols, taught the people about God. Patrick’s great shrine at Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, which is a great place of pilgrimage to this day, had previously been a shrine to Lugh, the god of the sun. 

The Celtic lighting of the Spring-fire on the Hill of Tara always performed by the Ard-Ri (the High King), became with Patrick the lighting of the Easter fire of Holy Saturday.  (Easter was always celebrated in Ireland on the first day of Spring from the time of Patrick until the Synod of Whitby in 665 decided Ireland needed to be more Roman). 

Patrick honored the culture of the people, and helped them to see God in all people, in all creatures, in all Creation. 

The shamrock was the sacred plant of the Celts and legend (some say it is true) tells us Patrick used it to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. Patrick baptized people in the holy wells, and there are many holy wells named after Patrick in Ireland today. Patrick superimposed a sun, a very important symbol in Celtic culture, on the Christian cross, creating what we now know as the Celtic cross.

In our reading today, Peter tells us: “Let your love for one another be intense … Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another.” 

Clearly Patrick’s love for the people of Ireland was intense. How else could he have the courage to return to the land where he had been a slave to bring the Mission of Christ to a people who had enslaved him? 

From the moment Patrick arose in the morning, he dedicated himself to the Holy One. And from that place of energy and belief he prayed that Christ would be his identity throughout the day: Christ above me, Christ below me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left.

Patrick also clearly shows us that not only is God known through people, but God is also known through all of Creation. Patrick delights in all Creation around him: The starlit sky, the sun’s brightness, the moon, the power of lightening, the massive sea, the rocks, the singing of the birds and bleating of the sheep …  

Patrick prays that God’s voice is there in all: in the heart of everyone who thinks of us, the voice of everyone who speaks of us, in every eye that sees us, in every ear that hears us. 

So for all of us, on this feast of St. Patrick, no matter our ancestry, let us pray for each other so that, like Patrick, we may recognize in our lives the presence, the power and the light of Christ. May we realize we are never alone, for Christ is always with us.

“And so for all of us, until we meet again, may our God hold each one of us in the palm of God’s hand!” 


2nd Sunday in Lent - February 28, 2021
Preaching by Elise D. García, OP

Elise D. García, OP

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

In this Second Sunday in Lent as we make our journey toward the Passion of Christ, we, along with three of the disciples, climb Mount Tabor and are given a glimpse, a foreshadowing, of the Resurrected Christ – a dazzling vision of Jesus transfigured. 

The disciples are awestruck, terrified and confused. Probably as each one of us would be in the face of such a startling vision. 

On either side of Jesus are two significant figures in God’s journey with the Jewish people: Moses, who led his enslaved people to freedom and received the Commandments; and Elijah, a revered prophet whose return foretold the coming of the Messiah. As Peter speaks of constructing a tent for each of them, a cloud descends, obscuring the dazzling vision and a voice declares, “This is my beloved son, listen to him!”

Only Jesus emerges when the cloud lifts. The mystical moment gone. 

As they climb down the mountain, the disciples know that something extraordinary has just happened but Jesus orders them to say nothing about it, until “the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” And that language, about rising from the dead, only confuses them further.

Two images come to me as I have been sitting with this passage. 

The first is an image of Teilhard de Chardin, writing poignantly in the last year of his life, about having been dazzled by insights on what he came to call Christogenesis and the Divine Milieu and the radiance of love drawing us forward in evolutionary time – toward the Omega. 

Teilhard wrote of this “wonderful ‘Diaphany’ [a diaphanous epiphany] that transfigured everything for me.” And he expressed his hope that a “re-born” Christianity would provide the driving force in evolution “through the double power, at last fully understood, of its Cross and Resurrection.” 1

The double power – at last fully understood – of the Cross and Resurrection.

I got a glimpse of that double power through a second image that has been with me. It comes from an old video interview I recently watched of Dr. Howard Thurman. In the interview, Dr. Thurman, a leading 20th century African-American religious leader and mystic who inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others, tells the story of being invited to meet with Mohandas Gandhi in the mid-1930s when he and his wife and two other African-American couples from his church were visiting India. This was at the height of Jim Crow in the United States. 2

When the car in which Dr. Thurman was driven pulled up to Gandhi’s abode – a bungalow tent in a large open field – the Mahatma came out to greet Dr. Thurman. Gandhi’s secretary was astonished. The Mahatma never came out to greet visitors; he waited for them to come greet him. 

The next unusual thing was that Gandhi spent the three hours of their meeting asking Dr. Thurman questions. Usually, it was the visitors who asked the Mahatma all the questions. Finally, as the time was drawing to an end, Gandhi apologized for being the one to ask all the questions and invited Dr. Thurman to ask any he might have. Dr. Thurman inquired about nonviolence and nonviolent resistance and they spoke of that for a while. 

As the conversation drew to an end, Gandhi said, “Before you go, I want to ask you to do me a favor.” Dr. Thurman said, “Oh, anything.” 

“Will you sing a song?” Gandhi said. Dr. Thurman confessed that he didn’t sing, but he would try if he knew the song. He then turned to one of his companions saying she was a musician and could probably do it.  

Gandhi said, “It’s one of your own songs.” 

Dr. Thurman said, “Which one is it?” 

Gandhi said, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” 

That song, Gandhi said to Thurman, “in essence provides the meeting place where all of human suffering and misery is touched by something that lifts it and redeems it and makes it whole.” 

 “So, we stood in this bungalow tent in a large field,” Dr. Thurman said, “and we sang this song while Gandhiji and his little group sat in prayer like this [bowing his head with palms in prayer].”  

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

“When it was over,” Dr. Thurman said, “there was a long silence, seemed like a thousand years. And then he gave a prayer in his own language and we were readied to go.” 

The double power – at last fully understood – of the Cross and Resurrection. 

On our Lenten journey toward the Passion of Christ, we are given a glimpse today of the radiance of divine love, ever-present, ever-near, lifting us up out of the deepest anguish, making us whole. 

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1 https://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~alfar2/Christic.htm
2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvJVxsezAwc at 43:00. 
 


Fran Nadolny, OPMartin Luther King, Jr. Day
Preaching by Fran Nadolny, OP

January 18, 2021

This is such a rich day to preach. This is the first day of the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is the federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., which is designated as a national day of service for the betterment of our communities. It is the beginning of the congregation’s honoring and learning about influential black Catholic leaders—our first being Fr. Augustus Tolton, the first black American priest who was never accepted into a U.S. seminary, so he had to study in Rome. Today begins a week of Inauguration events and a national acknowledgement of our sufferings caused by the coronavirus. So where do I begin, where do we conclude?

Based on the richness of today, our Liturgical Ministries department selected the readings and paralleled Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Dr. King’s last speech entitled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” Jesus’ presentation on a little hill was at the beginning of his public ministry. In reality, he was laying out the plan, informing those who were inclined to follow him that these are the guidelines; if you cannot follow them, then this is not the way for you. And we all continue to do our best to follow this way.

Dr. King’s speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” was given the day before he was assassinated and was in support of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike that highlighted the abuse and disregard of black employees. Dr. King encouraged unity and non-violent protests of the injustices. Fifty-three years later the goal continues to lie before us:  unity and non-violence.

So, on this day, in this historic week, I propose this Sermon in St. Catherine Chapel:

  • Blessed are you who have been ignored and degraded because of the color of your skin; may you experience our acceptance.
  • Blessed are you who mourn loved ones taken or affected by COVID; may you experience our cooperation with difficult protocols. 
  • Blessed are you who patiently wait in lines for healthcare, for food supplies, for unemployment checks, for access to good schools; may you experience our advocacy for true equity.
  • Blessed are you who engage in theological dialogue and disputatio; may you experience our appreciation of the richness and fullness of your beliefs.
  • Blessed are you who proclaim and practice non-violence; may you experience our own practice of it as the norm and not the exception.
  • Blessed are you who have not been welcomed in our neighborhoods, in our gatherings, at our borders; may you experience our deep desire to be open and accepting. 
  • Blessed are you who seek truth, make peace, reverence life; may you experience transformation within yourselves through your prayer and/or your actions.

As St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just…keep on doing what you have learned and received.”

 


Reflection by Sister Marg Heinz, OP

Jubilee Mass for Holy Rosary Chapter
November 4, 2020

Sister Marg Heinz, OP

You are the salt of the earth
You are light of the world

These gospel words we just heard have truly been lived out in the lives of our Jubilarians.

They offer much for our reflection today, but as I prepared this homily the only words that filled my mind were

We’ll get through this together
do not be afraid

The pandemic has changed everything.

Just look at our celebration. Here I am behind the plexiglas speaking to a few masked people in Chapel and you are listening to me from your rooms or apartments. 

Yes, the pandemic has changed everything but deep down and in our hearts, we know we will get through this together.

And haven’t our Jubilarians made these same words the mantra of their life journey? Just think about some of their challenges and how they met every one. They met every challenge! They got through it together!

Most of our Jubilarians were born in the mid-1920’s and early 30’s, the children of the Great Depression. They grew up when bread was 9 cents a loaf, eggs 14 cents a dozen, and gasoline 12 cents a gallon. The monthly rent for an apartment was $20.00 and many couldn’t afford even that. They remember farm foreclosures, cardboard in your shoes, soup lines and sometimes want around their own kitchen table, but they sang along when the radio played “The Best Things In Life Are Free!” They hoped it was true and got through it together.

Jubilarians remember the attack on Pearl Harbor that sucked the U.S. into World War II. They remember the men and boys leaving home to fight and the women taking their places in the factories of the nation. They remember ration books, Victory gardens, war bonds, USO’s and long lines at the butcher shop hoping there’d be something left when it was your turn. They remember a gold star in a neighbor’s window meant a soldier would never be coming home. They got through it together.

Jubilarians remember the joy of their call to religious life even though it came with tears and goodbyes to home and family. They came by train, bus and car to the doors of the Adrian novitiate where after months of study, discipline and prayer they knelt in the quiet beauty of Holy Rosary Chapel and pronounced their first vows. To this day they cherish the friendships forged there and the laughter that got them through the ups and downs of formation days. They got through it together. 

Jubilarians were sent out across the country and beyond. With youthful vigor they staffed crowded classrooms, taught catechism, took the census, served as school administrators and along the way earned advanced degrees in the midst of summer school heat.

These were the days of starched head bands and long white habits that needed scrubbing with felsnapha soap on Friday nights. They rose at dawn to chant the office in Latin and were in bed by 9:00pm when the lights went out. They balanced a medieval life style against the growing needs of the time and got through it together.

When Vatican II threw open the church windows calling for Renewal, Jubilarians responded with courage and faith. They studied the documents, read the contemporary theologians and examined every aspect of vowed life in the light of the times and the needs of God’s people. They expanded their horizons beyond the classroom to embrace the marginalized and underserved all around them. When this required a change in life style and dress they were willing to pay the price. Change was not easy – harder for some- and when sister-friends discovered in the freedom of change that vowed life was no longer their chosen path, Jubilarians grieved their leaving but got through it together. 

As the years passed, the nation’s growing division filled the nightly news. Jubilarians remember the protests against the Viet Nam war and the violence that spread across our college campuses. They remember the increasing cries for racial equality that led to “sit ins” in the south and voting rights rally’s across the country. They remember the police brutality on the bridge and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and they remember exactly where they were when Walter Cronkite told us that President Kennedy was dead. They got through it together.

Midst turmoil and grief, Jubilarians continued their efforts to achieve peaceful school integration and to stem the ride of “white flight” to the suburbs. They remained an oasis of calm in the face of the riots that scarred the nation after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and when the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center and 9/11 plunged the country into fear and grief, they stood ready to comfort and calm the people of God.

But even as they reached out to others, they struggled with their own anger, pain and disillusionment over the scandal of pedophile priests and the Church’s cover up at the highest levels of leadership. Jubilarians grieved, they prayed and they got through it together.

Today their steps may have slowed and time and illness taken their toll but our Jubilarians continue to raise their voices in defense of women’s rights, racial equality, economic justice and care of the earth. Long before the virus claimed it first victim they had been living into the 21st Century with the same courage and faith that had always marked their life journey.

As we celebrate these women today we cannot help but feel wonder at such steadfast faith. I think, long ago, when they heard the first whisper of God’s call, they also heard the word we find in Isaiah – they not only heard – they believed.

    Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you,
        I have called you by your name, you are mine.
    Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you,
       Or through rivers, they will not swallow you up,    
    Should you walk through fire, you will not be 
        Scorched, and the flames will not burn you
    For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel
        Your Savior
    Because you are honored and I love you, because
        You are precious in my eyes,
    Do not be afraid for I am with you

One day, down the road, we know not the day or the hour, our Jubilarians will hear those words again “Do not be afraid, I have called you by your name, you are mine” and like all Depression kids who played in the streets after supper, they will remember that it’s time to go Home when the street lights come on and they will not be afraid. 
 

 


Homiletic Reflection by Jamie T. Phelps, OP

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings:
1 Corinthians 8:1B-7, 11-13
Psalm 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 23-24
Luke 6:27-38

 

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OPOur Context: Raging fires in the U.S. and in migrant camps in Greece and weather on the West Coast; the coronavirus pandemic, which according to Harvard University research is fatally impacting Black and Latino citizens and immigrants in Northern Virginia, Washington DC and other states; the rise of Black deaths at the hands of policemen; the hopeful response of the multi-racial Black Lives Matter marches challenging racial and class domination and mistreatment of  Blacks and other oppressed groups (poor whites, Hispanics, Asians) duplicated contextually across the world.

 

I must recognize every person I meet as my sister and brother created by God. When I sin against my brothers and sisters and wound their consciences, weak as they are, I am sinning against Christ.

 

I must love my enemies and do good to them and lend expecting nothing back; I will be a child of the Most High. God is merciful and is kind to me even when I am ungrateful. God just asks that I stop judging and condemning. God asks that I be merciful. God asks that I recognize myself and my enemy as children of God. God will continue to help me and all who love our neighbors as ourselves to faithfully embody divine, universal, merciful, and forgiving love to each person without exception.

 

God, my Father and Mother, by your indwelling presence empower me to love those who see or treat me as enemy. Help me to love them with the forgiving love that you show me. Help me be merciful to those who show me no mercy. Help me to recognize that I have no enemies, but only estranged sisters and brothers who fail to recognize the existential truth that all human beings are sisters and brothers created by your loving will. Help me cease judging and condemning those who judge and condemn me. Help me love and forgive all my sisters and brothers and enable all my sisters and brothers to forgive me.   

 

LET US PRAY: (a paraphrase of Psalm 139)

O LORD, you have probed me and you know me;

you know when I sit and when I stand;

you understand my thoughts from afar.

My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,

with all my ways you are familiar.

Truly you have formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works…

Probe me, O God, and know my heart;

try me, and know my thoughts.

See if my way is crooked,

and lead me in the way of old.


 



 

LINKS

word.op.org - International Dominican Preaching Page

Preach With Your Life - Video series by Adrian Dominican Sisters



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