Expect a Miracle!

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

When was the last time you witnessed what you considered a miracle – within and/or around you?

Recently, in the Akron Motherhouse, we hosted a prayer service with a focus on increasing awareness of racial injustice and praying for greater racial harmony in our city, nation, and world.  Six members of the Choir of the House of the Lord Congregation led us in praise and worship.  One song that touched me was “I’m Looking for a Miracle.”  I had to stop and ask myself, do I look for miracles each and every day?  Am I looking for a miracle this Christmas?  Am I open to the abundant graces of God’s love flowing in and around me at all times?

I have to confess that sometimes during Advent I get stuck on the fact that in our world today, lions do not lay down with lambs, and swords in the shape of bombs are a far cry from plowshares.  In essence I can forget to look for and accept the grace that surrounds me.  I forget to express gratitude and to look for signs of hope.  I forget to note that God’s kingdom is here, even as I feel the pain of not yet.

So, with a greater sense of hope I left the prayer service, eager to see the miracles all around me – love and care of sisters for each other; beauty in the trees, the snow, the faces of those I meet; goodness and compassion in those who walk with me as friends, family, community; and courage in those who are treated by our societal systems as inferior or outcasts.

My most favorite miracles are the ones when I see someone show compassion to another, when someone stops to truly encounter another – to look, see, touch, and serve.  These miracles make me cry.  My other favorites are the Earth and sky and all of nature.  As snow is falling in Akron these days, I marvel at the beauty and sustenance of life which surrounds us.  God is good!

Today I pray we may each receive all the love, beauty, compassion, and courage God in Christ Jesus wants to give us.  Then, may we share these gifts with those around us.

On this coming third Sunday of Advent, we are reminded to ‘Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.’  While this may sound impossible, I think giving thanks and looking for miracles might be the way to go.

Click here to contact our Sisters who know a lot about discerning one’s life’s call.

https://oppeace.org/become-a-sister/

Click here to listen to a version of the song, “I’m Looking for a Miracle.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qxC18kKswg

Posted in God Calling??, News

The Earthy Home of Jesus

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

This year, we experienced historical natural disasters: hurricanes causing many people to die or relocate; earthquakes in Mexico and at the border region between Iran and Iraq killing hundreds of people and destroying houses; and the giant wild fires in California adding to another level of suffering for all of God’s creatures. In addition, these climate change issues forced many people to become homeless involuntarily or to live under the poverty level.

We used to think baby Jesus stayed in a cave as the result of superstitious beliefs. However, with what has happened this year because of the climate change issues, I realize that being born and staying in a cave, Jesus claimed the earth, our planet, as his FIRST HOME.  Yet, this first home suffered greatly, resulting in the homelessness and poverty of Jesus’ family.

Promoting the dignity of the earth and working for a healthy environment are ways of promoting, justice, peace, and the quality of life.  We must listen to how the earth is calling us to live and practice what the earth teaches us about changing our way of living so we can prepare a “home” for Jesus.

Our community of Dominican Sisters of Peace strives to make the world a place that is more welcoming, more respectful and sustainable for our planet, less violent and less consuming of Earth’s resources. We serve God in many ways including spiritual direction, justice promotion, education, healthcare, and care for creation. We live a life of peace-making wherever we are and in whatever we do.

If you feel called to live a life of praising and serving God in a wide spectrum of ministries, or if you know someone who wants to live our life as a religious Sister, please contact us vocation@oppeace.org. We also have “Come and See” weekend on March 9-11, 2018 in Columbus, OH.  We can listen and walk with you as you discern the movement of God’s Spirit within you.

 

Posted in God Calling??, News

Today I am going to the Vatican

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

By the time you read this blog, Sr. Pat Dual and I will have landed in Rome and will be on our way to Convento Santa Sabina, the Motherhouse of the Dominican Order, where we will stay while attending a Congress on Vocational Discernment at the Vatican.

I am so excited!

I’ve been to Rome once before – as a pilgrim following in the footsteps of Dominic, where we traveled from his place of birth to where he ministered throughout France, Italy and to Rome where he founded the convent in which we will be staying.

Our Pope really stirs things up.

Santa Sabina

Our Pope can really get people moving.  Since he was elected he has been creating new ways of being and doing his ministry as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  The meeting we will be attending came about when Francis called a Synod (meeting) of Bishops to focus on “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”  In this meeting, those of us in Vocation Ministry will share our reality, hopes and efforts to invite young people to seriously consider what God’s call is in their lives.  The results of our meeting will be shared with the Synod next fall.

He wants to smell like the sheep.

Pope Francis really wants to know what youth and young adults experience in the church, how they desire to be more active in it and how together we can grow our church into the future.   He wants to get to know them personally and as a group.  Thus, youth and young adults will be gathering in Rome early next spring to share their experiences, hopes and dreams.  I can imagine Francis anticipating that meeting with much joy and perhaps he is even saying, “I am so excited.”

We are excited and honored to participate in this program and we will be keeping all those who are discerning God’s call in their lives close in our hearts and prayers this week.  We’ll be back soon, so if you’d like to start a conversation about a call to religious life, just drop us a line and we’ll be happy to walk with you on this amazing journey of discernment.

Posted in God Calling??, News

The Power of Words

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I was growing up, many of us kids would say to each other the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  How wrong this adage is because words can hurt.  Our words matter.  Let’s muse a little on how words affect us and what effect our words have on others.

Words have such power.  Our words can foster love or our words can foster hate.  A simple greeting card with uplifting words can bolster our spirits and make us feel special.  A poster board sign that spews messages of hate can inflict pain and incite violence.  Words are everywhere and can carry messages of hope and despair, laughter and tears, or understanding and bewilderment.

In the beginning of a child’s life, we often express words of love, comfort, and joy.  At the end of a person’s life, we can express words of comfort, peace, and forgiveness.  Words can be endearing and heartbreaking.

Poets and writers delight us with their words of inspiration, with stories that speak to the human spirit and of the human condition.  They use words that invite us to think critically, to feel tenderly, to imagine possibilities, and to understand phenomenon.  Politicians use words to influence and persuade us to vote for or against a person or issue. Historians use words to reveal facts, lies, and information about the past, to chronicle events, people, and issues confronting individuals and societies.  Words can be used for many different purposes.

Words have the power to affect positive change or ignite negative actions.  Words can engender hope or tear down dreams.  We have seen the power of words by individuals who have confronted injustice and challenged or inspired us with statements, such as:

  • “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” (Rosa Parks)
  • “With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism.” (Malala Yousafzai)
  • “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” (Dorothy Day)
  • “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” (Mother Teresa)
  • “The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!” (Pope Francis)

We have seen how words can change the world by what world leaders say.  One example is Ronald Reagan’s  words, “Tear down this wall” to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, referring to the barrier that divided West and East Berlin.  Or, these two memorable quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. had the power of shining a light on the plight of racism in America—“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Here are other noteworthy quotes that had an impact on world affairs.

Words make a difference and we can choose to use words either to affirm or harm others.  What words will you use today to build a kingdom of love?

If you’re eager to use your words to be peace, preach peace, and build peace as a religious sister, we invite you to contact one of our Vocation Ministers to start a conversation.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Why do you look for the living among the dead? The dead are among the living…

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

I remember as a child during the days before the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, my mother would take us to three cemeteries to decorate the graves of my dad, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members.  We would go to cemeteries in Churchtown, Lowell, and Rainbow, Ohio, and place the chrysanthemum flower tops in the shape of a cross on each of the graves.  After decorating each one, we would pause to pray silently, each praying and remembering the person to the extent each knew them.  I always had a sense of wondering – what  would it have been like to have known my ancestors who had died long before I was around, and what might it be like to meet them again in eternal life?  While I had a sense of sadness, I also had a deep sense of gratitude for the gifts my ancestors had passed to us.

At a recent gathering of Sisters and Associates, we listened to a video of Dr. Christopher Pramuk “Will the Circle be Unbroken?  Leaning into the Mystery of Resurrection Faith.”  He reminded us that it is in the remembering of our loved one that they remain alive and present to us.  It is the remembering of those who have been disappeared as they struggled for human rights, that they remain alive and present to their families and to all of us.  Dr. Pramuk has much more to say about resurrection faith in relation to racial justice issues.  You can see the full text of his talk in the link below.  But his words also resonated with me in relation to this feast day as we remember all souls and especially our loved ones.

‘“They are not here” insists the voice of reason.  “They aren’t anywhere.”  Yet the heart that has known the touch of the beloved persists: “They are here.  I can neither see nor touch their body, it is true.  But I can feel their presence.”

To say in one breath that the dead are not here, in the earth, this place of burial, may be to suggest in the very next breath that they are here: we simply need to know where to look, and how to listen.  Close your eyes, lean into the silence, and listen: the earth itself remembers, the ancient woods reverberate with their songs, touching our highest joy, revealing our deepest sadness.’  (Dr. Christopher Pramuk)

We have so much to celebrate as we lean into the mystery of the resurrection.  Today I invite you to spend some time remembering loved ones who have gone before you.  We can also take assurance from the reading from 1 Thes 4:13-14 in our morning prayer today, “We want you to be assured, sisters and brothers, about those who have died, so that you do not grieve as do others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too we believe that God, through Jesus, will bring forth with him those who have died.”

If you would like our Sisters and Associates to pray with you and with them, please feel free to submit a prayer request by clicking here.

If you would like more information about discerning with one of our vocation ministers, please click here.

If you would like to read the full text of Dr. Pramuk’s talk, please click here.

Posted in God Calling??, News