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Homily for Vespers

Blog by Sr. Jeanne Moore, OP

As you passed through Fern Hall and came into the chapel for Vespers you have every reason to wonder what we’re praying about this evening.

The poinsettias are still blooming, long after the 12th Day of Christmas.

Mardi Gras Season actually began on the 12th Night with king cakes honoring the newborn King of the Jews, and a couple of very low key parades. There are beaucoup parades this weekend, Monday night/Lundi Gras, and all day and evening Tuesday . . . until the police amble down Bourbon Street mounted on formidable horses, thereby signaling that Mardi Gras is officially over.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Most of the nation will be glued to their screens for the big game in Las Vegas. Some folks are more interested in the commercials and half-time show, or perhaps a glimpse of Taylor Swift

The décor in our chapel and dining room, and happy memories of yesterday’s lovely Eucharist, meal, and games, extend our celebration of Tet, the Lunar New Year.

Today’s feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is ignored when it falls on a Sunday. But I’m sure there are pilgrims gathered in southern France for the observance.

Pat Connick’s birthday is tomorrow. It’s also Abraham Lincoln’s, born in nearby Hodgenville.

We’re celebrating Black History Month throughout all 29 days of February.

Some of you wined and Valentined last week since that can’t happen on Ash Wednesday.

Oh yes, today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Archdiocesan Observance of Jubilees for those in Consecrated Life was observed in St. Gregory’s Church in Bardstown this morning. Mary Lou and I received a wrist corsage in recognition of our 60th anniversary of first vows. However, our light was eclipsed by a Sister of Charity of Nazareth who was there in person to celebrate her 90th anniversary of profession. (She’ll be 109 next month.)

Our sisters Charlene Vogel and Barbara Ann Fava left us just a few days ago without our having an opportunity to express our blessing and love. Are we disrespecting the beauty of their lives poured out with integrity and generosity by this avalanche of parties, special food and drink, etc? I don’t think so.

I was ready to leave within the first month of my arrival in Louisiana on my 18th birthday. Homesickness, strange convent customs, and bologna almost every evening, made me wonder why I should stay. Our novice director, Sr. Fara Impastato, put no pressure on me to stick it out. However, I didn’t want to miss her next class. Or her introducing us to books like Karl Rahner’s The Eternal Year which featured his meditations on key feasts, including Mardi Gras. His reflection began with the verse from Ecclesiastes about there being “. . . a time to weep and a time to laugh.”

His concluded with, “Laughter is praise of God because it foretells the eternal praise of God at the end of time when those who must weep here on earth shall laugh.”

About 50 years ago, while I was working towards a religious studies degree at Loyola, I read Peter Berger’s Rumor of Angels. He presented five ways ordinary people, whether church goers or not, profess their belief in God’s presence.

One of his examples is appropriate today. He questioned:

How do soldiers physically and mentally survive wartime?

How do military medical personnel stationed near a battlefield cope?

Of course you remember M*A*S*H! Hawkeye, BJ, Klinger, and Margaret told jokes, cut up, and laughed. The absurdity of war, or even death itself, cannot negate the goodness and joy of life.

We’re signaling our faith and hope that “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” by having fun. Laughing. By dressing up for Tet and with our Mardi Gras beads. By eating special foods until Tuesday night. And playing games.

We will present ourselves for ashes on Wednesday. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Thursday we will welcome Charlene’s body and tell sacred stories that testify to the woman of God she was, and is. Friday we’ll entrust her remains to the grounds of St. Catharine she loved and tended so faithfully. The following Monday and Tuesday we’ll offer the same respect and love to Barbara Ann.

We are so blessed. Had we not become Dominican Sisters of Peace, would we be celebrating Tet or Mardi Gras in our original congregation? Some of us would not have known the goodness and beauty of Charlene and Barbara Ann.

“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.” So let’s dance!

12 thoughts on “Homily for Vespers

  1. Thank you, Jeanne, for this beautiful and inspiring reflection! Blessings on all who celebrate, who mourn, who praise God for wondrous works!

  2. AMEN Sister! So much to mourn, but thank God for been blessed with so much love around us, and so we CAN praise and give Thanks!! Went to distribute Ashes at prison infirmary today, talk about “grateful joy”! Blessed Lent!

  3. Jeanne you always were a preacher par excellace! I so appreciated to receive your blog today You say things well and know how to bring lots of diverse events together I have not seen you since you went to Louisiana I was happy to hear you would once again bless Kentucky Keep your star light high in the sky We need you Sr Diane Traffas

  4. Thanks, Jeanne, for this needed reminder that we do not have to feel guilty for celebrating and taking time for fun and games, for singing and dancing while so much suffering persists across our the world and at our very doorsteps, because our wondrous God is in the midst of it all.

  5. Congratulations on your 60th anniversary! And thank you for sharing such a beautiful homily! God’s peace to you.

  6. Thank you for your beautiful reflection, Jeanne. I appreciate what you said about laughter and celebrating.
    I once heard a quote that I try to live by: “She who learns to laugh at herself is forever entertained.”
    Happy 60th!

  7. Thank you Jeanne for such an inspiring reflection. I have always loved the line “ All will be well” and the importance of laughter! Margie

  8. Catherine Mahady
    I have just read your blog for the second time, with some days in between, and it brought me joy again… So many important themes threaded together : changing seasons and feasts, serious reflections on life and death, and the benefits of community life and friends, but also straight up humor, joy, gratitude and importance of Dance…. Thank you…

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