The Holy Spirit, and All that Jazz

 

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting, OP

“What makes the lady of eighty go out on the loose? What makes the gander meander in search of the goose? What puts the kick in the chicken, the magic in June?”  That’s Elmer’s tune!

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing (doo wab-di wah-doo-wab-di-wah…)” That’s Duke Ellington, speaking in tongues?

I never know, when I begin putting thoughts together, where the scriptures and the Spirit might lead. Today, it seems to be jazz! We’ve just celebrated the Big Flare of Pentecost Sunday, ending a liturgical season of great rejoicing. The wind, the flame, the fire. The punch, the spark, the drenching, the preaching of Jesus Risen to all the nations. And then it’s Monday, and the daily office returns us to week one, ordinary time. Does it feel a bit flat to you? Time again to settle in for the long haul?

God’s truth is that Ordinary does not mean “Humdrum.” We have entered into the season of the Spirit, the time after Pentecost, when all  Christian disciples get our marching orders. “Go forth.” And the Spirit goes to work. The Word of grace becomes flesh in and through us. In the Spirit’s domain, we are taught—again—the effort and the delight of discipleship, the power that blossoms from our powerlessness.

The Spirit labors in our dailyness, a source of strength for the long haul, hope when optimism can carry us no farther, the joy in community. And there is the unexpected moment, a new lightness, a bit of a kick, the surprising turn when any conversation can become a revelation, where any road can suddenly become a dance floor, where any ordinary you or me can become a Word or Work of mercy and compassion. A whisper, a breeze, a spark—there is the untamed Spirit who keeps the tune going, who tickles our toes, who tends the fire and enlivens the air we breathe.

Listen, listen, there’s a lot you’re liable to be missin’…Sing it, swing it…”

The Spirit comes to continue the explosion of Christ-energy, the never-ending Easter event—both in the yearly rhythm of the liturgy and for all of time stretching between the First Pentecost and the Last Advent. Breezing, flowing, glowing among us to ensure that we Christians never let Ordinary Time get too predictable, too heavy, to let the message grow stale, to let the tunes go flat….to collapse in frustration, to be overwhelmed by the weight, the enormity, the complexity of human woe.

“Don’t hold back the work of the Holy Spirit,” Paul writes to the Thessalonians. He knew. At any given moment, we will be yanked to our feet, shaken awake, swung around, fired up, and taught to whistle. The only thing to be taken for granted is the surprise of grace.

Is it any wonder that there are Dominican “ladies of eighty”, or seventy, or sixty, out on the loose? That they are preaching the Gospel in all manner of ways and places to all manner of folk? That the tunes and the lyrics of Dominic, our joyful brother, our preacher of grace, continue to soar and swing through the ages and into our midst?

Ordinary time? It “don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”….so catch the Spirit, the kick, the magic in June, and let loose (“doo-wab-di-wah”) a bit of Divine Jazz for the life of the world.

 

Posted in News, Weekly Word

What Breaks Your Heart?

Blog by Justice Promoter Kelly Litt

About a year ago, I purchased a newer vehicle. Shortly after I got used to driving my new car, I began recognizing other vehicles which were the same make and model driving on the road. It seemed as if everyone has suddenly purchased the same vehicle as I did. Yet, it wasn’t that there was an increase in the demand for this vehicle, it was simply that I began noticing the car because I was more familiar with it and had a personal experience with it.

Can you relate?

What does this have to do with social justice? Perhaps this is why we hear over and over again that personal stories are what change policies and that our elected officials need to hear from the ‘people on the ground.’ But perhaps a deeper takeaway is that it can be difficult for us to relate to someone’s circumstance if we don’t have experience of it ourselves just as I never noticed the other cars on the road until I was driving one myself.

Recently, I had the privilege to spend time with the Ministry of Welcome Team as they hosted three women for their Service Immersion Retreat Weekend. I spent part of the weekend with the group as we broke bread together and engaged in discussions about service work and systemic change work. I was invited to give a presentation to the group about my experience with justice work and the path that brought me to listen to this call and follow the path to this vocation.

Through my presentation, conversations emerged about experiences with service work and we saw the importance of connecting systemic change work to the service we do. Just as my newfound familiarity with my newer car allows me to see similar cars all around me, it is important to build relationships with those we are trying to serve and with the Earth so that we can better understand their stories, their struggles, their successes and then help advocate with them and on their behalf to change the unjust systems in our world today.

As our conversations were coming to a close at the Service Immersion Retreat, one of the participants shared two questions that have challenged and inspired her, and after hearing them, they have begun to challenge and inspire me as well: What breaks your heart? What are you good at?

Let us continue to serve, to build relationships, to better understand what breaks our hearts so that we can then use our strengths and talents to change systems and structures for the better.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Love Conquers Hate Every Time

Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA – Co-Director

The headlines are daunting:

  • “Man Yelling Hate Speech on Portland Train Kills Two Men Who Try to Intervene, Police Say”
  • “College Student Beaten and Robbed By Masked Men Shouting Racial Slurs”
  • “Noose found in National Museum of African American History and Culture”
  • “Ethnic Intimidation Charge for Ohio Man Who Threatened Father and Son, Used Racial Slurs”
  • “New York Man Turns Himself in After Anti-Gay Tirade and Cane Attack”
  • “Police Investigate Anti-Mexican Vandalism at New Jersey Business”
  • “Former New York Substitute Teacher Charged with Hate Crime for Removing Second-Grader’s Hijab”
  • “Still No Leads in Vandalism of Jewish Cemetery in St. Louis”
  • “Woman Goes on Racial Tirade in Arkansas Walmart”
  • “LeBron James’ Los Angeles Home Vandalized With ‘N-Word’ Graffiti”

 

I am distressed each time I hear about an act of hate, like those listed above.

Then, I remember that love conquers hate, evil, sorrow and worry.

And I remember that there are people in the world who refuse to yield to hatred and who rise to a level of love that has within it a redemptive and transformative power.

People like Jennifer Pennington, an Akron, Ohio teacher, who countered the act of hate at LeBron James’ Los Angeles home by placing signs that read “Hero,” Role Model,” “Mentor,” “Humanitarian,” “Leader,” and “Good Samaritan” near James’ driveway at his Ohio home.

People like Ariana Grande, who spread her message of “One Love” during a recent benefit concert for the 22 people who lost their lives and the 119 people who were injured during a suicide bombing at her May concert in Manchester, England. The singer/actress has also spent time with survivors of the terror attack and their families.

People like the group of British Muslims who handed out 3,000 roses on London Bridge as a symbol of love and solidarity in the wake of the terror attack at Borough Market.

People like the diverse group of citizens who united to help clean up and raise money for Jewish cemeteries vandalized in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

People like the more than 28,000 blood donors who gave more than 28,000 pints of blood in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

People like those involved in the Islamic Networks Group and the 70 interfaith organizations who have partnered to launch a “Know Your Neighbor” campaign, which encourages individuals and groups to encounter people of faith traditions different from their own.

People who share messages of hope, engage in acts of kindness, and give without expectation model for us how to defeat evil, how to overcome hate – by responding with a strong and powerful element of love.

As Christians, we are commanded to love one another. It is not an option. It should be a natural expression of who we are.

The love we are commanded to have for one another is something inward which shows itself in actions – like the “Know Your Neighbor” campaign; the blood donations; the cemetery cleanups; the sharing of roses; the time spent with people in distress; and the display of positive, encouraging signs.

The teacher who planted those signs near LeBron James’ driveway summed it up nicely when she said “It just seemed like the right thing to do to combat the evil, combat the hate in the world.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of us would allow God’s love to flow through us to others as we yield to be vessels and channels of God’s unconditional love?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Sr. Mary Martin Weaver

Sister Mary Martin Weaver, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Martin (Genevieve) Weaver, 92, died at the Great Bend, KS, Motherhouse infirmary on May 28, 2017. She was born in 1925 in Grainfield, KS, the daughter of the late Jacob and Christina Stremel Weaver. In 1942, she entered the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace. She celebrated 70 years of vowed religious life in 2014.

Sr. Mary Martin earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Marymount College in Salina, KS. She received a LPN from St. Anthony Hospital, and an RN degree from North Community College in Denver, CO.

Sr. Mary Martin’s ministries were focused on caring for God’s people at the beginning and the close of their lives. Her first ministry, which lasted more than 20 years, took her across Kansas and Colorado teaching elementary school children.  After observing that, in her opinion, some nurses didn’t “care enough for their patients,” Sr. Mary Martin decided to enter the field herself. She returned to school to obtain her RN degree and began a ministry in senior care.  She found much satisfaction in her work with patients at the Castle Garden Nursing Home and as a Kindred Care Nurse Consultant in Northglenn. “It’s a joy to be with these people at the nursing home,” she told the Denver Catholic Register.

She expanded her personal ministry to her community by playing the organ, working with parishioners going through the annulment process and by helping the seniors in the parish. Her prayer and presence in the Motherhouse infirmary was much appreciated by her Sisters and the nursing staff.

More than strong in spirit, Sr. Mary Martin was fit and strong in body. Sr. Mary Martin enjoyed basketball, technical walking, horseshoes and speed skating, winning more than 85 medals in local and national senior competitions. She won a number of medals at the National Senior Olympiad, leading to the nickname, “The Speed Skating Nun.” She always competed in her veil and habit, and considered that to be a part of her ministry. “People get to know me because I always wear my veil,” Sister Mary Martin said in an interview with the Denver Catholic Register. “It gives me a perfect chance to talk to many people about God.”

In 2007, while living in Denver, CO, she was struck by a car walking home from church, and moved to the Great Bend Motherhouse.  She lived in the Motherhouse infirmary until the end of her life, where her always-sunny disposition made her much loved by Sisters and nurses alike.

Sr. Mary Martin is survived by one brother, Edward, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A Vigil of Remembrance and the Mass of Christian Burial was held on May 31 and June 1 at the Dominican Chapel of the Plains in Great Bend, KS.  Sister Mary Martin was interred at the Sisters’ Resurrection Cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Mary Martin Weaver’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH 43219.

Posted in News, Obituaries

Read God’s Word, Live God’s Way

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

What’s your story?   Are you seeking life and love?

Recently in a conversation with some friends we were talking about our vocational paths and how we came to choose marriage, priesthood, or vowed life as Sisters.  The conversation brought back memories for me of how I chose the congregation I entered as a 25 year old.  At the time I was very shy and just wanted to serve God and others using my hands and feet.  Sure, I would be willing to teach, but I didn’t want to have to study theology or engage in what I thought were very challenging questions in our Church and world, questions of which I had very little understanding and which scared me.  Wouldn’t loving and following Jesus be enough, like some of the saints of old?  Couldn’t I just remain as a child, like Jesus is quoted in Matthew 18?

But once I met Dominicans, I learned the importance and the need to study theology, especially in relation to the needs of the people of our time.  I remember one of our intercommunity novitiate speakers, Paul Philibert, OP, who reminded us that theological study is necessary for those in vowed life in order to grow up and to grow in faith.  Yes, we will learn things that might upset our current understanding; we may even have times when we doubt our faith, but in the end, our faith grows stronger through deeper understanding, raising questions, and struggling with responses to questions.  We study so we can learn better how to love and show compassion to each and every person, and to all of creation.

Now I am eager to study everything which relates to living and loving as Jesus did – how we can grow as individuals, as communities, as humans in our world.  Recently our newer members came together for a discussion on a chapter of a book by Edward Schillebeeckx, OP.  The book is God Among Us: The Gospel Proclaimed, the chapter, “Dominican Spirituality”.  One of the ideas that touched me from the chapter is the way these educated Dominicans could provide insight on significant issues and concerns of the time within the Church, sometimes bringing about justice and good, but sometimes causing pain and leading others astray, behaviors not really Dominican or Christian.  Through it all, though, the Dominicans kept and keep studying and searching for what brings life and love in and through Christ.  I have a sense that we may not know in our own life times all the blindness we have, nor all the light we have.  In my mind, we pray to stay faithful and open to the process of discovery and to the grounding in Christ.  It’s challenging and yet at the same time, enjoyable and life giving.  Check us out if you like a good search!

What’s your story?  What brings you life and energy?  Give us a call, if you are pondering your vocational path.  Our vocation ministers are happy to provide resources and accompany you as you discern.

Posted in God Calling?, News