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. 


Feast of St. Dominic Preaching by Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress

Sister Patricia Siemen, OPCelebrated on August 9, 2020

Continued Happy Feast Day, Sisters and all who are joining in with us today. We celebrate with all who live the Dominican charism: our Dominican Sisters and Brothers, friars, nuns, apostolic sisters, associates and laity across the world, all our co-workers, partners, family and benefactors. Dominic’s genius lay in bringing together women and men to preach joyfully the Good News of the Gospel within their multiple cultural contexts. Today we are particularly mindful of our own Sisters in the Philippines, in the Dominican Republic – and of our special relationship with our Sisters in Iraq.

On this feast day, I want to remember the lineage of Dominican women who are our foremothers. From the valley of Prouilhe, France where the first Dominican women gathered in 1206; from the women of Holy Cross Convent in Ratisbon/Regensburg, Germany in 1233; from the women of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary, founded on Second Street, New York in 1859 - we became Edmonds and Adrian Dominicans and later Our Lady of Remedies Dominicans. May their lineage live on in us into the future.

It seems likely that Dominic never dreamed of the Order’s resiliency over the centuries. Like Elijah in the first reading today, Dominic learned how to listen for God’s voice, discerning God’s presence in the wind, the earthquake, the fire – and finally - finding God in a quiet whispering sound. Over the years, Dominic learned the lessons of discernment. He learned to recognize the pattern and movement of an inner energy moving within him. He gifts us today with a legacy of trusting our own inner voice and knowing it as the voice of the Holy One.

It is probable that like most of us, Dominic did not immediately know his purpose in life. With his mother, Joan of Aza’s, insistence he studied at Palencia, Spain; he was an avid learner yet early on, he sold his precious books to give the money to the poor who were starving. He became a diocesan priest, a “canon-regular” and lived in a community life of sorts for a few years at the Cathedral of Osma, Spain. He accompanied his bishop, Diego, on a diplomatic marriage mission of the King of Spain to Germany and back, several times. It was during those long journeys that Diego, not Dominic, first had the inspiration of forming an itinerant group of preachers because he saw the need for authentic preaching of the gospel.

Then just as Diego’s idea was taking shape, he died, leaving Dominic on his own. Dominic could not abandon this idea of itinerant preachers as he served as pastor of a rural parish in Fanjeaux, southern France.

Fanjeaux is located in the heartland of Carthar country. The Cathars were a sect of people who believed that all material matter was evil, including the human body. They lived very austerely. Dominic longed to show them a God who loved all of Creation; a God who incarnated God’s Spirit into matter; a God for whom all matter and spirit was sacred. Dominic believed in what we would today call the sacramental and incarnational goodness of creation. He knew that God could reside within the hidden crevices of the natural world and that it was possible to find God in a small whisper - and in the searching hearts and minds of others. He would believe in a God who could walk on waters as he heard in today’s Gospel as well as remove fear from peoples’ lives.

We know that Dominic did not leave much in writing for his sons and daughters: rather he was a preacher. He preached foremost by his life of authentic simplicity and humility. He was a gifted preacher in being able to explain the gospels to others. Dominic’s lifestyle and values are our greatest inheritance. He desired his followers to know the freedom that simplicity and humility offers. His experience of the Holy One, the Divine Whisperer in his life, directed all his life choices. He longed for all people to know the mercy and compassion of God. Today he would no doubt be praying - IS praying - for all the wounded ones of today’s world. He would bring to prayer those suffering from Covid -19 and their loved ones, those who are on the frontlines as health care providers and first responders and all essential workers. He would also be praying for all those who refuse to wear facemasks in the midst of the pandemic. He would be praying a conversion of heart for those who insist their individual “rights” take precedence over the common good. He would be praying for all those whose hearts are hardened and will not listen to the voice of the Divine within themselves – or listen to others.

Dominic would be praying long into the night for the “sinners” of today who are self-righteous and causing horrific harm to innocent ones – as well as for all the healthcare providers and first responders. Dominic would be praying for us – sinners and saints alike. He would be preaching through example and from church and public square alike of the need for humility, repentance, the common good, and the mercy of God for all of us.

May we have the same inner conviction that God is working in and through us, despite setbacks and disappointments. Dominic knew about prolonged disappointments; he experienced years of failure while pastoring in Fanjeaux where after 10 years of preaching there were a mere six Albigensian – Cathar women who converted. These women remained under Dominic’s protection in Prouilhe and became the foundation of the Order over 800 years ago – and remain so today.

May we have similar trust in God’s working in and among us in the world today. May we too come to know the world as both sacramental and incarnational, recognizing God’s presence infused in all of creation.

So while Dominic left no written directions for us he did leave us:

  • a love of learning and exploration
  • a joyful spirit,
  • an inner freedom and
  • a trust in God’s work in and through us into the future.

Dominic left us the desire to pursue and lift up the truths embedded within today’s realities some of which are hidden within scientific and technology advancements. He left us the capacity to reveal corruption and suffering; he left us the desire to set people free.

As we do these works – and as we pray in support of those who are able to do this actively – (not unlike the first women of Prouilhe) then we too become the joyful preachers living out the promise of an unfolding future filled with hope.

Father Dominic, pray for us.



Jubilee Mass Preaching by Patricia Siemen, OP

Sister Patricia Siemen, OPJune 28, 2020

Dear Jubilarians,

In the name of all your Sisters and Associates from across the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and the United States, we joyfully wish you, our Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilarians, abundant blessings and creative ways of celebrating in this extraordinary year of 2020! The Gospel today concludes with a promise of “never losing your (Godly) reward.” Well, these exceptional days of a global pandemic might not feel like a reward!! But we do rejoice because not one of you, our dear Jubilarians, have contracted the coronavirus. You have remained safe and healthy these 100 + days of Covid-19. Therefore, there is additional cause to rejoice with each of you.

Today we offer festive prayer and honoring of our Silver Jubilarian, Eneida Santiago who celebrates her Silver Jubilee in Bani, Dominican Republic, and our Golden Jubilarian, Zenaida Nacpil, who continues to celebrate her Jubilee in Bodo, Norway. They both had planned to be here with us today, as did each of you, our dear Diamond Jubilarians. It’s not the same, but we are Indeed anticipating celebrating with you in person in 2021.

In today’s gospel, Jesus promises, “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Losing one’s life is seldom easy for our egos love to carve out the pathways we think are best for us. Yet God often writes straight with crooked lines. “Finding our lives” coincides with discovering our authentic Self and the fullness of God’s life within us. Finding our lives is not just at the end of our lives; rather it is the promise of the hundredfold right here among us, now.

Given the combined 1,995 years of service our Jubilarians have offered, (without including the years of service of our deceased Jubilarians) that’s a lot of grace that’s been flowing through you to all those you love, serve and are neighbors to. You have given over the years the proverbial, actual “cup of water” to those who thirst: to those who thirst for social, racial and economic justice; to those who thirst for spiritual and physical healing; to those who thirst for solid theological foundations and spiritual depth in life; to those who thirst for quality education and agency in their lives; to those who thirst for mercy - and for Earth’s healing; and most especially for those who thirst for truth. You have been offering the hundredfold, God’s fullness and grace, to others all these years.

Jubilee is a special time of giving thanks and for remembering your first response to your call as a Dominican Sister: a Dominican Sister of Edmonds, a Dominican Sister of Our Lady of Remedies, and a Dominican Sister of Adrian. This response, in trust and faith, has led each of you to giving 25, 50 and 60 years to God in living your call as a Dominican woman within our widened and richly blessed Adrian Dominican Community.

Each of you have blessed – and been blessed by  so many people, cultures and places with your individual and communal “yes” these past 25, 50 and 60 years. You have ministered among many peoples and in many countries. In addition to urban and rural ministries in the United States you have let God work in you among peoples in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Kenya, Norway, and Mexico, among others.

You have poured out your love and artistry among children and adults in schools, literacy centers, and universities helping them to grow not only intellectually but also emotionally and spiritually.

You have poured out your love on parishioners and youth seeking to deepen their faith life.

You have poured out your love among those who are suffering physically, emotionally or psychologically.  

You have poured out your love on those who are materially poor, without secure homes, employment and are in search of inner freedom as well.

You have poured out your love among migrants and refugees; among those hungering for God’s justice, welcome, and acceptance.

You have poured out your love in expanding environmental care and deepening a spirituality of creation.

You have poured out your love among your very Sisters, caring for them as a Congregational servant leader and providing administrative support to them.

Let us remember that God is never outdone in generosity and continues to pour out God’s love and presence upon you; whether you are aware of it or not!

Jesus’ reminds us in the Gospel today that whoever welcomes him into their lives, are welcomed by the One who sent him. Therefore we know that God welcomes each of you with open and loving arms – and share the hundredfold with you now and through the year until we can hopefully meet to celebrate together next year.

I want to close with a paraphrase of St. Paul’s prayer to the Philippians:

We give thanks to God every time we think of you: Eneida, Zenaida, Maurine, Pat, Mary, Anita, Maryetta, and June Mary.

We rejoice at the way you have continually promoted the Gospel from the very first day of profession: Mary Ann, Mary Kay, Kathy, Pat, Juliann, Janet, Pat and Betty.

We know that God who began this good work in you will carry it through to completion: Grace, Mary Kay, Helene, Jean Marie, Carleen, Annice and Cathy.

May your love more and more abound in your understanding and experience of God: Joanne, Jamie, Diane, Joann, Ann Rena, Mary Helen and Joan.

May you be found rich in the harvest of justice: Joan, Kathleen, Joanne and Kathleen.

So as we celebrate you today – we remember not only you but all those who have companioned and befriended you along your journey. Whether living or dead, these dear friends still accompany you.

During your Jubilee may you experience God to be as close as your breath. The words from our Adrian Dominican Constitution remind us of the heritage we bear as Dominican women in carrying forth the mission of Jesus to all peoples – and to Earth herself. This we can do joyfully when we are the breath of God.

May your hearts and breath be filled and overflowing with the grace, blessings – and surprises – of living the hundredfold this Jubilee year!


 


Easter Sunday Preaching by Patricia Harvat, OP

Sister Patty Harvat, OPApril 12, 2020

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9

It was Easter 2023 – three years had passed since the devasting coronavirus ravaged this world leaving behind children with no parents, friends without friends, spouses and significant others, alone on this planet. Such was the case of Tanya, an aunt to Elizabeth, 7 years old, Charlie, 8 years old and Ruby, 10 years old. Their mother had been a nurse at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, NY, and worked 12-hour shifts with the coronavirus patients when she herself contracted the virus and died. She was a single mom and her sister Tanya had taken in the three children to raise them in the post coronavirus era. Though they were not infected they remained afflicted by the virus. This was their third Easter together and as usual Tanya gathered Elizabeth, Charlie and Ruby on the couch to tell them the Resurrection story. The children so liked hearing it as their mother would read the story from the Bible. But Tanya would make the narrative a real story reading it through the eyes of Mary of Magdala. And so Tanya began…..

It was some 20 years since Mary of Magdala went to the tomb to discover the stone was removed from where her Beloved was laid to rest after a brutal crucifixion. Each year as the spring flowers would begin to nudge their colorful crown heads from the darkened earth, Mary would gather the women in her village to tell them the story of how their God/Jesus was risen from the dead. “I can still see the rough yet sweet touch of a blood-stained sweaty face, leaving its imprint on my heart,” she says. Those distant memories of people, places and life lessons learned in the years I walked, laughed and cried with Jesus and the disciples.

As I arrived at the tomb early in the morning, I said to myself, “Maybe death is not the end. Maybe love goes on and on. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when he said he would rise on the third day. However, it was just a fleeting thought.” I arrived at the tomb weeping, feeling something deep inside of me was shattered. Longing to hear his voice and experience what once was in my life.

To experience his love again. But the emptiness inside of me matched the emptiness of the tomb. The huge stone was rolled away. Someone took my Beloved’s body. I traveled the hidden and secret passageways of my heart, climbed the rocks and cliffs of my memory. I stood before the dark and empty cave of my own life. That’s when I realized that in looking for my Beloved, my Beloved found me…. Found me in the place I was least likely to look – within myself.

It was the realization of being human, of being alive and being loved. The tomb that once smelled of death and destruction now was a witness to the surprising restoration life, of sweetness, of hope. This was the way the women of the village remembered to remember.

And is this not what we do now? Just like Tanya and the children, who needed to remember what it was like when their mother read them the Easter story.

We today gather to tell the story to one another.

  • It doesn’t take away the pain or vulnerability we experience in this life.
  • It doesn’t take away the loss of a young mother.
  • But it does let us say I love you while still walking through the vale of tears and valley of death.

Because we believe. We believe in a God who tells us, “We need to love bigger and care bigger,” as the one of the caretakers said as she took a break between her shifts as the hospital.

We believe in a God who, as Martin Sheen, the actor, once said, “God dwells where we would least likely look, within the depths of our own being, our own shallowness, our own darkness, our own humanity.”

The shadows of terror in this life will break forth into beauty. The awful beauty of so many stories…stories like that of Laura whose mother died on one floor of the hospital and her father died on the floor above her mother within hours of each other. “I want to remember their love story,” she said.

Today, we need to remember our love story with our resurrected God and with one another.
Because we do believe 
and we place all our hope each day
that the burial cloths are laid aside
knowing that love does go on and on.



Easter Vigil Preaching by Patricia Siemen, OP April 11, 2020

Sister Patricia Siemen, OPApril 11, 2020

Genesis 1:1-5
Baruch 3:14-15; 38-14:1-2
Dialogues of St. Catherine, Chapter 11 
Jeremiah 29:11-15
Romans 6:3-4
Matthew 28:1-30
The Fawn by Mary Oliver

My dear Sisters, friends and loved ones, on behalf of the members of the Leadership Council gathered here tonight, I wish you a blessed Easter during this most unusual and transformative time!

The readings from our prayer service tonight remind us to “Awake; be not afraid. The One you seek is not here. Go and tell the other disciples, that Jesus goes before you into Galilee. It is there that you will find him.”

Despite Matthew’s directive, we cannot actually “go” to Galilee these days. Indeed, we cannot go anywhere. Instead, we remain in place as an Easter people. Our going to “Galilee” is one of being confined to our rooms, apartments, houses. We find Jesus in our closest neighbor; the persons bringing meals and mail to our rooms; the technology folks who help us connect via livestream with others. Our going into Galilee is our staying in place, distancing ourselves for the sake of protecting ourselves, and others, and not burdening an already overstretched health care system. Our witnessing to the good news is expressed through our prayer and experience of community; our connection to the wider world comes through the amazing gifts of internet and web streaming. This year we go into Galilee through technology rather than on foot or by car.

Matthew’s Gospel this Easter vigil tells us that Jesus is not here. He is not where we expected: he is no longer in the tomb, nor in our emptied chapels and churches. The Risen One goes before us disguised in many forms and faces. We find him in the Galilees where health care workers, who are severely stressed and endangered, are found. He is among those bringing comfort, care and supplies to those suffering from the Covid-19 virus. He is found among the scientific researchers and those who are coordinating medical and financial relief for those in dire need. He is found in the fields where farmworkers are picking tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce so grocery stores can provide healthy food. He is found among the truck drivers bringing needed food and medical supplies to population centers around the world.

The Risen One is found in the Galilees of our homes, apartments, hospitals, and nursing homes where people are caring for one another. The Risen One is found among the artists, poets and musicians who find ways to soothe our hearts and feed our souls. And, the Risen One is found in the quiet simplicity of our hearts; hearts that long to know and cling to Holy Mystery, to Eternal Truth.

The One whom the two Marys seek at the tomb is not there. The stone in front of the tomb is pushed aside; the tomb is empty. As they leave dismayed and confused, Jesus appears to them. He tells them “Do not be afraid. Tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee where they will find me.”

It is in the many Galilees of today’s world, not hiding in a tomb, that we will meet the disgraced one; the one who overcomes death. The Risen One, through the friendship and accompaniment of others, rolls back the boulders that keep us hidden in the tombs of our lives. The stones that once weighed us down and blocked us from inner freedom are removed. The stones that blind us to the sea-change in consciousness needed in order for us to love each other and to heal Earth – these stones are being been rolled away. Covid-19 has helped us to see anew what is important. Becoming a beloved community, a global community united in one mind and heart, as Jesus prayed during his final supper with his friends, is what is important as we go towards the Galilees in our lives.

Today we move as an Easter people into the midst of a pandemic that is causing global suffering, death and grieving. We place our hope in the Risen One, in the deep sea of Eternal Truth. As we heard tonight, Catherine of Siena prays, “You, oh eternal Truth, are a deep Sea, into which the deeper I enter the more I find, and the more I find the more I seek; …the Soul continually hungers after You. Clothe me with You, Oh Eternal Truth.”

As a beloved community we swim and live in the deep sea of God who embraces and sustains us. We head towards Galilee with hope and expectation, showing everyone along the way, by our acts of compassion and mercy, that the Spirit of God indeed lives among us. Indeed, the whole Earth is our Galilee; all of creation is the Body of Christ; this is where we find the Risen One.

Ilia Delio tells us, “Every act done in love gives glory to God: a pause of thanksgiving, a laugh, a gaze at the sun, or just raising a toast to your friends on your Zoom screen. The Good news? He is not here! Christ is everywhere and Love will make us whole." Let us head towards Galilee.

 


Good Friday Preaching by Elise D. García, OP 

Sister Elise Garcia, OPApril 10, 2020

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1 – 19:42


And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

We have reached the barren hour in the Passion of Christ. The cross – a crucible of suffering and love – is laid bare. Like the three Marys, we stand at its foot, barely able to absorb the horror of its brutality – and seeming finality.

As we enter our fourth week of sheltering in place, our entire world has become a crucible of suffering and love. More than a million people around the globe have contracted the coronavirus, roughly half of those in the United States. The death toll has reached 100,000 worldwide, including many women and men who contracted the virus as they provided loving care to sick patients.

While the numbers are numbing, the anguish is intimate:

A beloved grandfather dying alone in a hospital. A nurse staying away from home to protect her children. An undocumented migrant fearful of seeking needed medical attention. A Latina with diabetes and her African-American friend who suffers from hypertension, among the many people of color disproportionately impacted by the virus – as the pandemic exploits the vulnerabilities wrought by epidemics of racism.

This barren hour will extend for days to come. Bodies are being piled in freezer trucks, too many to lay in a tomb.

Like the three Marys, we stand at the foot of the cross, barely able to absorb the horror of this global crucible of suffering and love.

Like the three Marys, we remain, accompanying in our hearts and prayer the crucified ones and all those who daily risk their lives, providing healthcare, food, sanitation and other essential services to us all.

And like the three Marys, may we rise in the fullness of time to anoint the bodies and tend to the new life that will emerge. A new life where we are able – perhaps as never before – to preach that ancient truth: We are all One body, held in Divine Love.

“We are caught…” Dr. Martin Luther King wrote years ago from a jail in Birmingham: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

In this epic crucible of suffering and loss, may we each enter into a new depth dimension, feeling ourselves cloaked in the single garment of the whole Earth community – and held in the saving embrace of Love incarnate.

 



 

LINKS

word.op.org - International Dominican Preaching Page

Preach With Your Life - Video series by Adrian Dominican Sisters



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