Untangled

Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

I was in a small store not too long ago and as I was waiting to be cashed out, I noticed a basket of bracelets and necklaces on the counter. I saw one I thought I would like, so I picked up one strand and the entire bunch came with it!  The clerk apologized and said they had been so busy they had not had time to untangle them. I asked if they would mind if I tried and she said they would be thrilled. It only took about 5 minutes and I had them all straightened out. As I worked, I was thinking about how much fun that is for me to figure out what goes where, what’s twisted here, what should go the other way.

That led me to thinking about our personal relationships and how twisted up they can get. How one day of misunderstanding can ruin an entire relationship. The worst part is we tend to leave the mess in the basket and not try to sort it out.  In fact, sometimes we actually nurse that kind of grudge. As we age and look back, we realize that one twist, one effort, one word, or gesture could have untangled the whole mess, but we didn’t do it. It’s not nice to look back on that. Fixing it now is often impossible.

The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, had a little contretemps over preparing dinner.  Jesus took Mary’s side and that had to hurt, but these women were disciples of Jesus and if they learned anything, they learned to love one another.  Chances are good that they solved their issue quickly because of His influence.

What about us?  Does Jesus influence our behavior?  The dictate to love one another includes forgiving one another. We speak of skeletons in closets.   That doesn’t always mean crimes; it can mean grudges.  It means those big grudges, lifetime grudges that we take out and pet and feed and keep alive.  I might go so far as to say that this is a disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. We have to have it. In a sick kind of way, we enjoy it.  No one can truly love and follow Christ and still carry something like this around. Everyone knows that the person holding the grudge is more burdened than the object of his or her anger. What’s worse, and, frankly ridiculous, is that the object often has no idea about the grudge against them.

When we carry a grudge, we shut Jesus out.  The sad thing is, Jesus is the only answer to ending this.  Jesus is God, and God is love and there is no room for grudges. Prayer will help in finding the strand that will untangle the whole thing.

I know whereof I speak. I carried a grudge for years.  I prayed constantly for Jesus to relieve me of it, until the day I realized it was up to me to find the strand that would unravel the whole thing.  Once I did, the peace promised by Christ was mine.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Come and See Weekend Retreat

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Have you ever seen a flyer about a “Come and See” retreat posted in a church bulletin or received an invitation for a “Come and See” retreat weekend?  What has been your first thought or reaction?

“It is not my call!” or

“What does it mean? Which group is it?” or

“Should I go to have some immersion experience?”

No matter what your first response is, two important questions to ask are: “How willing are you to give God a chance to speak to you?  Are you willing to give yourself a chance to explore the real life of a religious community?”  Attending a Come and See retreat is a memorable experience. If your schedule does not fit the date posted on the Come and See flyer, you can contact a sister and ask for the date of the next upcoming Come and See retreat weekend.

That kind of situation happened to one retreatant recently. In February 2018, I sent an invitation to her for the Come and See retreat weekend in March 2018. After reflection, she wrote back to me: “Thank you for your thoughts & invitation on Come and See….But this time just happens to fall on my bad week. I have Finals that coming week and already have been scheduled for work on that same weekend. If you do have future dates that I can know ahead of time, then I can definitely rearrange. I hope to at least attend a Come & See event one time in my life so I don’t regret it and not using it as an excuse for not hearing God’s call. Please keep me posted.”

This time, she was one of nine retreatants who attended the “Come and See” retreat last weekend at St. Catharine, Kentucky. Before she came, she did not know whether or not religious life was what she wanted to pursue in her life, but she was open to the experience. Then, during the retreat, she shared with me: “It opens my mind and my view of religious life, about which I had a lot of mistaken ideas. There was much for me to learn.”

In this retreat, she had many chances to interact with sisters and retreatants. She went to the hay ride with us and visited the historical St. Rose church and the original place where the first Dominican Sisters in the USA were called, lived, and began ministries almost 200 years ago. She also played games and ate with the retreatants and Sisters, laughed through jokes, and listened to the sharing of stories from both the Sisters who are in different stages of religious life as well as the sisters who live at the Motherhouse.

She experienced different kinds of prayers, had time for personal reflection and more. At the end, when I asked her how the retreat was and how she felt, she stated “Great! Awesome! Inspired!” to me in front of the video camera with her big smile.  I can tell her real inspiration through her eyes and her conversation with Sisters. I don’t know what her vocational choice will be, but at least she was open to exploring this opportunity and the journey still continues. How about you?

For more news and pictures about our September retreat in Kentucky, visit our Vocations Facebook page.  And, be sure to mark your calendar now for our March 2019 Come and See weekend retreat. The specific date and location for this retreat will be posted soon on our Facebook page.  In the meantime, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to talk about a religious call and to learn more about our community.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Preaching Truth in Parlous Times

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

“Sisters, we live in parlous times.”*  Those times were the later 1960s, and the speaker was Mother Eileen of  the  Akron Dominican congregation.   Her pronouncement endures.

Parlous times indeed. The connection of these times and troubles with the times and troubles of the early Christian believers couldn’t be clearer than in the gospel story we heard recently about the beheading of John the Baptist. He was a clarion voice for the truth, unafraid to speak to the corruption and power of his day. He paid with his life.

Truth in a Tangle

Today we live in a knotty tangled world where truth and lies, good and evil, service and selfishness are so intertwined that we can barely separate the fibers. There is great difficulty in truth-finding, and there is great peril in truth-telling.

Pick any point on the globe on any day. Evils and terrors, rebellions, barbed wire and refugees from persecution, so many forgotten ones. There is the vast gap between the “justice” accorded to the privileged and the “justice” meted out to the disadvantaged. (A recent Time Magazine reported that  a study of the top 350 corporations in the U.S. revealed  a CEO-to-worker ratio of compensation  as 312 to 1.)  There is false news and “alternative truth,” and at our doorsteps, indefensible poverty and racism. Truth and falsehood tangle together in every newscast, every soundbite, every “tweet.”

Truth: Noble and Naked

Two weeks ago, in an ironic political drama, we heard the tributes to Senator John McCain, the ornery maverick, the worthy opponent, who spoke his truth,  a civil servant  who reached “across the aisles” to achieve not what he personally wanted, but what he thought was best for the country. Tributes to him contained a critique of present government, along with our palpable yearning for more public figures like him. Two days later, back to political deadlock.

Then there is our church, open now to public view of the protective treachery of leaders who have been entrusted with the shepherding  of God’s people.  They have failed us. No wonder they walk away, the wounded and broken-hearted, and their children see faith and/or religious practice as irrelevant to their lives. What a disappointment to Vatican II Catholics, still hanging on, still wanting to believe in their call to a holy priesthood with a full share of the Spirit by their Baptism; and how sad for the faithful women who do 80% of the ministry.

Why?  Because…

So of course we are asked: How can you stay? Your church has betrayed you–how can you remain faithful to Roman Catholicism?

First, I stay because I am not alone, but always a part of “We.” God’s Holy  Church  is not “It” or “They.” So WE stay believing that the “parlous times” of today are still actively addressed by the Gospel, because we still stand in the courts of Herod and Pilate, and under the cross, and before the empty tomb, and we mourn the malignancy of evil, and our own poor witness. Because we are God’s church by God’s choice and God’s faithfulness–not our own. Because Jesus is Risen and his Spirit never leaves us.

Because by our daily dose of the Scriptures, we are formed by the Word into Living Words of  Christ who, as Catherine of Siena reminded God, is “Your Truth.” Because the Trinity in love overflowing serves us a banquet overflowing, and with it, the energy for loving service and prophetic hope and stubborn perseverance and mercy and forgiveness. Because held and entwined in such grace, how can we keep from searching for and speaking out Gospel Truth—even in these tangled “parlous times?”

* Sister Eileen Pentecost had family roots in the South.

 

Posted in News, Weekly Word

The Peace Wave…Get On Board!

Blog by Associate Marybeth Auletto

As part of the country prepares for a hurricane, I think of the power that the waves hold.  I spent a lot of time at the lake this summer. The gentle, rhythmic rolling of the water is soothing, especially at night.  And while admittedly I prefer a calm lake, I know the wind and the waves bring change, and their presence cannot be ignored.

On September 21, at 12:00pm, we have a special opportunity to be, build, and preach peace.  In celebration of International Peace Day, People around the world from all faiths and cultures are joining together to pray, meditate, and act for peace.  We can be peace as we take part of our prayer time to calm ourselves; we build and preach peace in the power of not only the strength of the many of us gathered, but the effects of this gathering in our communities.  And so whether you are at home, school, or work…dive in and encourage those around you to build the peace wave! #flashmobforpeace (no I don’t tweet but if I did this is what I would use)

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Each of Us Is God’s Gift to the World

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

While stirring around the house on Sunday morning, I received a very uplifting text message from my sister-friend:

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too.

I replied: I know, right? And that same God knew the world needed you! Have a great day!

It was a great reminder that we all have something to offer to the world and that each of us is God’s gift to the world. Each of us has value and each of us is important.

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world, if we all saw each other as God’s gift to the world, if we all acknowledged and accepted that each human being was born to make a positive contribution?

Everyone has something special to offer, no matter who they are – female or male, poor or rich, old or young, etc. Each person – whether you consider her/him to be like you or different from you – is God’s gift to the world.

I am grateful to my sister for inspiring me to start each day thanking God for the gift of life that I have been given; to present myself daily as a living gift from God; and to embrace and appreciate each living gift from God whom I encounter daily.

I hope you are encouraged to do the same. After all, how cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too?

Posted in Associate Blog, News