Advent: Seeing Promise in the Meanwhile

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

An amazingly long time ago, in high school, I began learning guitar. For us starry-eyed “boomers”  there were a number of folk songs that were relatively simple chord-wise so could be learned quickly—and had social messages: “ Where have all the flowers gone,” “Blowing in the wind.” One I loved playing (three easy chords) was ”I can see a new day, a new day soon to be/where the storm clouds are all past/ and the sun shines on a world that is free…”

It was, like our Advent scriptures, a presentation of a vision. And the Hebrew scriptures, especially the prophets and the psalms, are replete with hopes rendered in concrete images. The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb—or as the painter Rousseau rendered the Peaceable Kingdom—a host of God’s creatures, predator and prey,  lying serenely together, surrounded by verdant jungle. More images: valleys made high and mountains made low, the crooked ways straight. The people streaming from East and West to God’s holy mountain, the shining city and the bountiful feast of rich foods and choice wines.

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see….many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:24)

Sometimes, in the increasing toxicity of the world we inhabit today, we’re tempted to close our eyes to all but the small safe havens we’ve built for ourselves, or to surrender to the endless battering from a world of troubles, and view the future as threatening darkness and use the present for simmering in resentment;  abandon our capacity for envisioning  peace and reconciliation, or the coming together of enemies—sheep and wolves, Palestinians and Israelis, Saudis and Yemenis, Republicans and Democrats….

But the truth is, we can and must see.  Our widening, deepening vision is a gift and task of our Baptism and our Dominican profession.  We see the weapons, the rubble, the starvation, the pollution and ruination of earth. But our Christian vision allows us the perspective of hope, that capacity to see beyond, to see more deeply, and recognize that even now, as we wait, Christ comes to us, among us, through us, in simple shimmerings of Incarnation and Redemption—small graces in words and actions of love and mercy, everyday kindnesses, contrition and forgiveness, a bandaid, a kleenex.  We view life with “gospel-tinted lenses.”  And we announce the Good News.

Advent is longing and yearning, hunger and thirst, darkness expecting sunrise, the mystery of “already and not yet.”  A Holy Interim between the First Pentecost and Last Advent, the dawning of creation and the dawning of New Creation. Advent bids us to preach God’s promised future, and to bring hope and joy to voice, even as we contemplate our own weak faith and eroding patience. Advent bids us not to turn away from the world but to trust that light can be found there, and to stand firm in our common human struggle for truth, take it to heart, and preach it from the housetops.

 Come Lord Jesus, come Compassionate Lover, come, Spirit who makes all things new. Come, be incarnate in us, among us and through us, stir up our hearts, prepare the feast, sing the song of salvation, and  shine through our expectant faces as we wait the day when “kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace will kiss.”  When sorrow’s chains are broken, and the sun shines on a world that is free.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

This past Sunday began the new Church year!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In Advent, we do the dance between waiting and activity, between what has been & what will be, between tradition and innovation.  How to know which will take the lead and for how long?

Wisdom and openness—we pause, we ponder, we pray, we proceed.

I would suggest during this time of Advent, we pause this first week: just slow down a bit. I know this will feel like going upstream in our Christmas-present-buying-crazed culture, but maybe it’s time simply to step out of the stream, at least a little bit each day!

Next week when we’ve slowed ourselves down a bit, perhaps we can take in the view of ourselves and of our world around us.  You know, just like when you walk somewhere instead of driving.  I know I notice much more when I stroll then when I drive….

In the third week, then, we will have paused and pondered enough to know what is in our hearts.  Then we can offer it in prayer to God…all of it, the joys and sorrows, the triumphs and the defeats, the love and the loss, the unexpected surprises and the great disappointments.

And then, eventually we’ll know how to proceed, but we will not be alone.  We will have caught up not only with God but with ourselves!

 

HAPPY ADVENT!

 

O come O wisdom, from on high,               PAUSE

Who orders all things mightily,                   PONDER

To us the path of knowledge show,          PRAY

and teach us in her ways to go.                  PROCEED

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

How often have you said to someone or has someone said to
you: “I cannot thank you enough”? Why not? What’s stopping you? Usually we say
it when someone has gone above and beyond in doing us a favor or a donation. So
our humble thanks seems lacking somehow but we say thank you anyway.

But who are the people in your neck of the woods who need to
hear thank you again and again and again for the simplest of reasons? I am
thinking of our garbage collectors…does anyone ever just say thank you for
doing a job that needs to be done? How about the people who clean up the
highways, those folks out there with garbage bags and picks picking up our
trash…I know some times they are inmates from the local hoosegow but does that
make them less useful?

What our police and fire personnel? Teachers? Mail carriers?
The grocery baggers at the store—I know that at Kroger’s in Gahanna they
usually want to take your cart out for you and load your cars if you wish;
don’t think they get extra pay for this but how about “I can’t thank you
enough”s?

Of course, all of these thoughts are surrounding Thanksgiving Day, but “thank you” never takes a holiday!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

What does God See?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Lately
I have been asking this question: What does God see? When we were growing up we
learned that God sees EVERYTHING. But think about the question, what does
God see?

God
sees us as whole human beings, our past, our present, our hopes, our fears, our
struggles and our faith, but most of all God sees in us, all of that ALL AT THE
SAME TIME. It is all one for God. God does not see your good parts one day and
your failings another day. We might see that– but God just sees you and God just
sees me. God sees your youth, your middle years, your old age. God sees you now
whole and holy, somewhat incomplete, but on the way to being a fully realized
person.

No
moment in time, no slip up, no sin, no failure or defect can separate us from
God.  Even if there still remains in us
some lack of forgiveness perhaps or an unfinished “something”.

This
is the message of Paul in Roman 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I
would add, not even our past.

When
we remember family and friends that have gone home to God, it is all love now.  God now sees those we have lost in a most
complete and fully realized way.  God
sees those we love with the eyes of love. God sees each of us as whole, that
is, God cannot see just one part, God sees every part of each of us as one
life: one precious, beautiful, exquisite son or daughter.  Nothing now, in the past, or in the future, can
separate us or our loved one from the love of God.

What
does God see when God looks at us, when we fail or when something we did hurts
another person? God sees people of faith, people of hope, even if on some days
we only see a small slice of what God sees. 
If we can look at each other the way God looks at us, would there be
anyone hungry among us? Would there be anyone a stranger among us? Would there
be any room for hate? Could we do anything less than feel compassion and offer
forgiveness?

When we look at each other the way God sees us, there is no hate, there is no fear, nor judgment, no disappointment – only forgiveness and joy.

This is what it might be like in heaven. God’s gaze is on those who have gone before us and God looks at them and is smiling, God is satisfied, is happy that our mother, our father, our brother or sister, friend or family member is now home. When we look at our own lives and the lives of others the way God sees us, freedom is born anew. We are free from regret, we gain a capacity for forgiveness, and compassion is planted in our souls.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

The Golden Rule

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

“Not like the brazen giant
of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs
astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed,
sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a
torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned
lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her
beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that
twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your
storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me
your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your
teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,

I lift my
lamp beside the golden door!”

                                            –“The
New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus

When I was in public high school, we learned
about the waves of immigration that took place in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries here in America.  We learned about ports of entry, in
particular, Ellis Island in New York City, not far from the Statue of Liberty,
that “mighty woman with a torch.”  I
found out through conversation with my parents that, indeed, my father’s parents
had come through that very port in 1893 from Ireland. (My mother’s parents had
already come from Germany in the 1840’s.)  
We also were encouraged to memorize the second half of this poem by Emma
Lazarus, which was written to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for
the Statue of Liberty.  

We need to screen properly, and with dignity, the
people who seek to come to our country. 

We do not need to fear them simply for coming,
for being displaced from their original countries by circumstances none of us
would want to life through!

We need to think about what to do once they come
to us. How can we prepare a welcome?

We do not need to call them an “invasion” or
immediate cast suspicion upon their motivations without hearing what they have
to say.

The myth is that we do not have enough to go
around.

The truth is that together we will always have
an abundance because of our synergy.

That where historically our strength as a nation
has come forth…

I’m
asking is that perhaps we all could try to follow more closely the “Golden
Rule”, found in some closely related version in every religion:  “Do unto others what you would have them do
unto you.” I find myself asking, “How would I want to be treated, if God
forbid, I found myself in circumstances like…?”  

Indeed,
my case, I need to do what has already been done for my family over 100 years
ago:  I want “to lift a lamp beside the
golden door” for those now 100 years later are experiencing the same thing that
my ancestors already did. 

Can we
not find a civilized way to discuss this issue for the sake of our brothers and
sisters who still are fleeing oppression? 
Will we not find that by opening our country to those who wish to live
safe and productive lives, we will find new creative energy as a nation, just
as we have in the past?

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word