The Mystery of “In”

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

In all the richness of these after-Easter scriptures—the bold witness of Paul, the growth of new Christian communities, the poignancy of Paul’s departure and his words of encouragement to those he is leaving; and in the wonderful circuitous word-play that the Gospel of John presents to us in the last discourses of Jesus (chapters 14-17) heard again and new throughout this late Easter Season, there appears a tiny part of speech, a little word which occurs repeatedly in the farewell prayers of Jesus and in the letters of Paul—It is the word IN.

  • The gospel IN which you stand.
  • Do you not believe that I am IN the Father and the Father is in me? The Father who dwells IN me?
  • Remain in me.
  • And whatever you ask IN my Name
  • Consecrate them IN the truth
  • That they may be one as you Father are IN me and I IN you and they also will be IN us

In.  A functional word, a preposition indicating inclusion or location or position.

  1. So much more. During this Paschal time, and certainly for Christian faith and tradition, a word conveying the mystery of unity: God’s Being and Ours. A transformative sharing of divine love.   A deep, deep word that holds God and humanity together, and is and will be the first and final and only Reality—as we put it:  When God is all in all.

We believe IN God: not “we believe that there is a God.” We believe in Jesus Christ, in the holy Spirit” not as objects, not about their existence–that is , “we live and move and have our being” in a profound mystery of connectedness, of precious closeness—“Closer to us than we are to ourselves”  we say. Or as Julian of Norwich so delightfully puts it, “Betwixt us and God there is no between.”

A closer-ness than even the phrase “being with” God can conveya condition of utter entanglement where we are, by which we are, lost and found in God.

IN—a word saints and mystics (remember Catherine: “I shall say Ahahhhhhh “) have to fall back on, a word that defies the precision of theologians (remember Thomas Aquinas speaking of his monumental work—“it’s all straw”?)  because no language can adequately express the Christian experience of the mystery and its transformative power.  Perhaps Julian of Norwich comes closest: “betwixt us and God there is no between.”

Jesus in the Father, the Father in Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  And we believers, here today,  stand in the Gospel,  in Christ, in the Spirit, and in the heart of the world—in suffering and death and resurrection,  in the body and the blood,  in communion.

Celebrating Eucharist, we put out our hands and say Amen.  Think of it this way: “I’m IN.”

Posted in Weekly Word

Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Elizabeth Thompson

Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Elizabeth Thompson

Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Elizabeth Thompson, OP, (77), a native of Medford, Massachusetts, died on March 18, 2021, at Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, KY.

Born to F. Ruth Condon and Edward H. Thompson in 1943, Sr. Mary Elizabeth grew up in a household of five siblings. She worked for a year after graduating from Mount Trinity Academy, and entered the community in 1962, making her final vows in 1970.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Education from Siena College (Memphis, TN) and a Master of Arts in Administration from Boston State College (Boston, MA). She continued her studies by taking courses at St. Stephen’s Priory, an extension of Providence College, to stay current with Church teaching.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth ministered as a teacher and administrator for almost forty years in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. She also earned a Certificate in Special Education; she was passionate about helping students who, she believed, were “a neglected segment as far as the educational apostolate.” In her reflection at Sr. Mary Elizabeth’s funeral Mass, Sr. Teresa Tuite said that she was not a person that sought the spotlight. “As a principal,” Sr. Teresa said, “It was more important for the teachers and the students to shine, and Liz was happy to be the one shining the light on them; she was their cheerleader, their booster-club.”

As Coordinator at Rosary Manor, a ministry she entered in 2002, she wrote: “We are known as a welcoming community in the East. We enjoy having company, and we have lots of it.”

In 2012, Sr. Mary Elizabeth moved to Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY), where she began a ministry of prayer and presence. Even as she suffered from Parkinson’s for the final years of her life, she ministered through prayer and consolation to her Sisters, family, and friends.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth is survived by three brothers Dennis (Ivette) of Bradenton, FL, Mark (Jean) of Arlington, MA, and Paul Thompson (Patty) of Nashua, NH, as well as several nieces and nephews.

A private funeral for Sr. Mary Elizabeth Thompson was held on Saturday, March 20, at Sansbury Care Center Chapel.  She was interred at the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

To donate in Sr. Mary Elizabeth Thompson’s memory, please click here.

To view and download a PDF of Sr. Mary Elizabeth’s memorial, please click here.



Posted in Obituaries

Seven Years to Sustainability – Examining the Program Goals, Number 2

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller

Sr. Roberta Miller of the Eco-Justice Committee looks at Goal 2 and provides some suggestions about how to address this portion of our commitment to sustainability.

Goal 2: Response to the Cry of the Poor (defense of human life from conception to death and all forms of life on Earth, with special attention to vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, migrants, children at risk through slavery, etc.)

Personally addressing this goal:

  • Each and every person—you and me—is personally connected to Earth.
    • What kind of Earth have we brought about?
    • How do I see myself as connected to Earth—in body, in mind, and in spirit?
    • Can I connect my blood and flesh and breath to the gifts of Earth in its soil, water, air, as well as in its plants, mineral and mammals and marine life?
  • Consider your role in this truth: Earth is dying of a Cancer—created through our chemicals, buildings and enslavement to greed and selfishness.
  • Reread Laudato Si, #148, about restoring community to areas blighted by poverty, illness, and a sense of failure where people both urban and rural have been caught in the ecological poverty trap.
  • Download and read the Letters of the Appalachian bishops—This Land Is Home to Me, 1975, and At Home in the Web of Life, 1995, which call for the transformation of attitudes and behaviors about God and God’s gift of Earth to us. Let us move from a Culture of Death, by which deposits of resources, animate and inanimate, including human, in all their diversity, are measured only in terms of money, to a Culture of Life, where God’s Creation is treated with dignity, wholeness, and respect.
    • Human dignity and community are linked with the wider dignity and community of nature in the single web of life. [In Web of Life]

In our May 24 blog, you will be invited to offer other suggestions for addressing Goal 2.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Accepting Jesus’s Mission in the Eucharist

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Each time you receive the Eucharist, what do you feel or what is your experience?

At the Last Supper, after giving thanks, Jesus passed the consecrated bread and wine into the hands of his disciples. This act of Jesus giving bread and wine to the disciples has been known as the time that Jesus established the Eucharist, so that the disciples could receive Jesus’ body and blood for their spiritual nourishment. Jesus also told his disciples “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and in saying this, he entrusted his mission to all who followed him. For me, this invitation along with the command “take it” signifies Jesus’ desire for the disciples to claim his mission as their own mission and to see their essential roles in God’s missionary plan. From the moment the disciples took the bread and the chalice from Jesus’ hands, God’s earthly mission became both Jesus’ and disciples’ mission. This mission has been passed from generation to generation and continues with us — with you and me.

Every time I prepare myself to receive Communion, I reflect on these two questions: “Am I willing to accept Jesus’ invitation” and “What is Jesus inviting me to?” Sometimes, Jesus’ invitation is not what we expect.

What invitation might Jesus be offering to you?  Could Jesus be inviting you to a life as a religious sister or inviting you to a change in ministry or to a way of living that allows you to respond to the needs of our times? We may feel that we are not ready or well equipped for this invitation. Yet, if we trust in Jesus, we will have the courage to embrace his invitation with deep gratitude. We will also find ourselves becoming closer to Jesus with a generous spirit and with confidence to follow God’s will and God’s plan for us.

When I receive the Eucharist in my hands, it allows me to briefly look at the host and feel touched by Jesus. Then, with great gratitude, knowing that Jesus loves and trusts me, I humbly respond “Amen!” and accept Jesus in the Eucharist as well as the mission of Jesus and his will for me. When using my own hands to put the host into my mouth, I say to God and to myself that “With my full freedom, under your love and trust, I am willing to accept your Body/Blood along with your will and mission to proclaim the Good News on earth. Help me to find you in every step of my life.” This ritual keeps me reflecting on the needs and the signs of our time for the mission of serving God’s people.

Jesus is looking for people who are open to his call and willing to carry on his mission. Are you willing to be one of these people? If you hear or feel some echo of this invitation inside you, inviting you to do Jesus’ mission through your consecrated life, visit our vocation website, or contact us. And if you are already in the discernment process with us, what invitation do you hear from God at this time?

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Catching Center

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Every week on Fridays at 10:00am, my Study From Afar Program mentor and clay instructor, Sarah Wells Rolland, is on Facebook demonstrating a throwing technique by making a teapot, a pitcher or other clay forms.  It’s a wonderful 30 minutes and I try to catch it live. Otherwise, I watch the saved version.

She has the most wonderful way with clay, great command of the clay and can make it do just about anything. I love watching her throw and talk about technique, the little tips, and small details that capture what it means to “throw with excellence,” in her words. (Here is a link to an 8-minute YouTube video of Sarah making a pot) It’s part of a Vessels of Hope series, but that’s a topic for another blog.

Potter Sarah Wells Roland

There is a particular aspect of throwing clay on the wheel that is brand new to me and it has a great practical connection with spiritual life. Sarah talks about catching center. This means that in the process of centering clay on the wheel, and lifting the clay into a tall cylinder, you continually make sure that the clay remains centered. There is no wobble or swim, the walls are even in their thickness, there are no thin spots or bulges. In shaping the clay and stretching it to its limits, a well-thrown pot remains centered. Sarah can catch the center at the top of the pot or in the middle or anywhere it needs to return to its invisible axis. She coaxes the clay into its natural place of rest while it spins.

So too in the spiritual life, I sometimes need to sharpen the skill of catching center, of being able to return to my own invisible axis, on which my world turns, the interior space where I can sense God’s presence within. A still space amidst the turning world around me. Being centered is a contemplative practice, an awareness of who I am and who I am before God. It might happen purposefully in a time set aside for prayer or reflection. It might happen as I finish making my bed, when I sit down to gather my energy and focus for the day.

Catching center might occur when I look out the office window and watch the trees blow in the wind. It’s a private moment, all it takes is breathing and listening.  And being aware that being centered is an active and engaged way to become internally quiet. Catching center is when my day is over and I come to rest, I return to the quiet with gratitude.


Dear God,

Help me to hear your invitation to catch center, to not miss the moments of the day that invite stillness even as my world spins around me.    Amen.

Posted in Weekly Word