Holiness: A Way of Seeing

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting, OP

Today I’m reflecting on the interplay of two scripture readings from last week:

Hebrews 12: 15-16:  “Strive for peace with everyone/ and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord…See to it that no one will be deprived of the grace of God.”

Mark 6:1-6: ”Where did this man get all this…and they took offense at him.”

Holiness is a word which eludes precise definition.  It’s definitely an attribute of God. “Be holy as the Lord your God is holy,” and it is about awe. (“Take off your shoes”) and Otherness, what we think might be unattainable perfection. As applied to human beings it could be wholehearted commitment to living the Christ-Life, sanctity or blessedness as in the Beatitudes. I like the translation of the word Shaman: “God-invaded person.” We are called and chosen to be a holy people.

The association of these two passages suggests that holy people are “SEE-ers.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews insists that seeing is and will be the result of holiness.  And that Christians are to “see to it.”

Jesus is the one whom the people think they know, to the point of disdain, the local boy from Nazareth. He is UNSEEN by the townspeople he grew up among. The people he preaches to won’t see him as anything but ordinary, and find his speaking and acting “uppity.” “Can anything good…?”

It’s a question of imagination, with its simplest definition “seeing as.”  There is the conventional imagination, in which the present is seen through the lens of the past, the time-tested, what we’ve always done and who we’ve always been. (Keep the peace. And don’t rock the boat.)

But there is a broader and deeper way of seeing-as, the inSpirited imagination, which is able to go beyond the surfaces and the predictable, to view things in the present moment with God’s eyes, God’s tender care, and God’s dream of what might be possible for any human being;    that call coming from the future, the call from the One who makes everything new.

Holiness is eye-opening…

…Seeing each other and oneself and the whole of creation groaning in coming to birth as good, as held in God, as treasured by God, as suffused by God–

…and then “Seeing to it” by identifying grace at work in one another, by having hope in and for each other, by staying open to surprise and to change and to ongoing conversion. And to never say or sigh, “It’s not gonna happen; it’s way over the top, impossible,  she’s chasing rainbows, he’ll never amount to anything, there’s no use pursuing something or someone any further.”                                 

So here we are, today’s Christians as the Holiness of God incarnate, defined in and by that holy mystery of Jesus, the Passion-Death-Resurrection, formed by the Saving Word, living in the Spirit’s power, imagining with God’s Sight the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of love. So, our call? See, and see to it. 

Posted in Wednesday's Word

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

In last week’s Gospel Jesus spoke to the people of Nazareth of his mission – “to proclaim liberty to captives…to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” The people of Nazareth were awe struck at what he said. They had known him as he grew up, being a typical boy with all the other children in the village. They were amazed and thought he would do wonderful things in their village. But then when Jesus started talking about people being healed in other places – and not just Jewish people – their story changed. They were outraged. They wanted him to make them and their village great. So in their anger they decided to get rid of him. The last sentence reads; “But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

This reading makes me think of the way we often are. We knew someone in the past. Maybe we lived with them 20 or 30 years ago. We figured we knew them and what they were capable of doing. Now years later, we meet them or hear of things they are doing today. Sometimes the feelings of the past surface and we become indignant and think that that person doesn’t have the ability to do those things. We say, “Who does she think she is, putting herself out like that?”

Or we become jealous. Why have I been overlooked? Why was she picked when I have some those same skills?

That’s where today’s second reading comes in. Paul tells us to strive for a more excellent way. He says that “love is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests”.

Can we not rejoice with the accomplishments of others? Jesus was not looking for praise or recognition. He simply wanted God’s Word to be known to all. His mission was to “bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” His word was open to all who wished to follow. He didn’t give special treatment to others just because they knew him. He came to serve and not to be served and taught his followers to do the same.

Jesus didn’t let their anger and their envy get to him. Like Jesus let us pass over the self-centered feelings that arise and rejoice in the gifts and goodness of others.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Raising the Body of Christ

Sr. Nadine Buchanan, OP, addresses Columbus Catholic High School and Ohio Dominican University students.

The Gospel reading for Sunday, January 27 was perfect for the first day of Catholic Schools Week 2019.

From First Corinthians 12, the first verse was: For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts — all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body — so it is with Christ.

We all have a part to play in the continuation and the strength of our Catholic schools. Whether parents or teachers, students or volunteers, each of us contribute to the strength of each school, and to the value that each school’s education provides to our precious young people.

This past weekend I was blessed to see the body of the Church and of our Catholic Schools in action, as Columbus diocesan schools and our congregation’s sponsored University, Ohio Dominican University, came together to minister to the marginalized and share Christ’s peace.

It all started in spring 2018 when Ohio Dominican University hosted Catholic Schools Day. Students from the local high schools toured the university, then accepted a special challenge – to create a social justice project that would make a positive impact in the Central Ohio community.

Human Trafficking survivor April Thacker.

Students from Fisher Catholic in Lancaster, OH, created a plan to provide much-needed clothing, food, and personal items to trafficked women in Columbus, OH. Andy White, Director for the Center for Student Involvement at Ohio Dominican and Sharon Reed, Dean of Student Life & Associate Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success, offered $1000 in seed money and the “Not For Sale: Coming Together to End Human Trafficking”  community service event became a reality on January 27, 2019.

I had the opportunity to introduce the Catholic high school and Ohio Dominican students to my dear friend April Thacker, a brave survivor of human trafficking. April’s presentation put the work of the day into context, as students packaged newly purchased hoodies, food, and personal items to be distributed to homeless and trafficked women on the streets of west Columbus.

Among the students was Allie Sarff from St. Francis DeSales High School. She recently donated many beautiful handmade blankets for the homeless women here in Columbus. When she heard about the “Not for Sale” event, she collected more than $2000 from students and teachers at the Columbus High School to buy hoodies and other items to donate to the event.

In total, the event brought in 150 new hoodies, 50 $5 McDonald gift cards donated by Andy White and the ODU Center for Student Involvement, hundreds of hygiene items collected by ODU staff, and nearly $1500 for the Dominican Sisters of Peace’s ministry with homeless and trafficked women.  In addition, 50 packages of hygiene and food items were packaged into bags to be distributed to women living in abandoned homes and on the street.

All of the Dominican Sisters of Peace are proud of the students and teachers at our sponsored schools, but this week, my heart is full of gratitude as Ohio Dominican students and staff helped our high school students begin a life of preaching peace and serving the people of God.

150 bags of food and personal hygiene items were packed at the “Not for Sale” event.
Columbus-area Catholic High School and Ohio Dominican students pack items for to distributed to trafficked women in Columbus, OH.
Students from St. Francis DeSales collected money to buy hoodies.
Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Hardly Ordinary Times

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

According to the liturgical calendar, this is the second week in ordinary time. As I read more news items and watch more TV news or listen to the radio news, I do not believe these are ordinary times at all. But many things in our country, if not the world, have gone from OMG moments to it-happened-once-again moments.

It has become normal to wake up and see that there has been some kind of random shooting in a public place. It has become normal to hear about homeless veterans dying without anyone to provide funeral or burial services. It has become normal that politicians do not do the work we elected them to do, and that means it is normal that only a few people are being served by these elected officials. And now it is becoming normal that government workers are not working, not getting paid and not being allowed to work anywhere else by virtue of the current jobs they can’t do. That all seems pretty extraordinary to me, somehow, and those are just examples in the USA.

So, where does that leave us? Some folks shrug and say “it is what it is”, or “whatever”. We have called, emailed, snail mailed, tweeted , instagrammed, done it all to our congress people, governors, mayors and we see little change.

Don’t stop. The Gospels compel us to show folks there is a better way no matter how hard. Be a pebble in some leader’s shoe or a splinter in someone’s finger; make them groan when they see your return address or your name on a message; be like a dog with a bone, be determined to change these norms ‘cause they are really not normal at all. Be Peace. Preach Peace. Build Peace.

 

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Starting Over

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Have you ever baked cookies or a pie and realized that after all your preparations and work — that the delectably sweet thing you created burned to a crisp in an overly hot oven? Cookies are susceptible to overbaking, so I suspect that most of you have eaten an extra crispy cookie or they came out of your own oven, making you ready to pitch them in the trash.

Then you start over. Sooner or later, you find yourself back in the kitchen, ready to start again and pay attention in a different way.

I love cookies and I never met a pie I did not like. But I do not bake – I throw clay. Recently, over the Christmas break, my kiln load of four months’ work overfired. By a lot. So my beautiful large serving bowl — my favorite of the whole group – looked like a cake whose icing had melted and the flowers and swirls of color dripped down like rain on sidewalk chalk art, into an unredeemable mess. Other pieces that were supposed to be a bright and cheerful aqua celadon were dull greyish green. I was devastated and felt like I wasted a precious week in the studio, a time for renewal of spirit, mind and body. Like I said, it took me four months to create enough work to fill the kiln and most of it was a disappointment. To say I was grumpy is to put it mildly. I was baffled and obsessed and found myself talking about it way too much.

The problem was I did not know why the kiln fired so extremely hot since there was no evidence of anything wrong until after it had cooled. It takes about ten hours for the kiln to get to the desired 2228 degrees and then another 12 hours to cool, so we are not talking about an afternoon. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to get a kiln technician to examine my equipment and help me find a way out of this enormous funk.

Enter Chris Powell, a former production potter, teacher and genius kiln fixer. He saw the problem right away and with a few adjustments to the digital readout on the control box, all was well. This avoided my worst nightmare — that I would need to replace essential parts to the kiln.

After an hour of stimulating conversation about the technical aspect of our common craft, Chris left and I had a new leaser on my potter’s life, as well as a plan to make some corrections in my studio practice.  A new start, another chapter was about to begin.

Starting over can happen any time under any circumstances: baking cookies, making pots, in our spiritual life, in our relationships. Starting over is the beautiful thing about being a human being. Mistakes do not have to define us, they help us become more of who we are meant to be. Starting over is a gift we give ourselves, and a gift we can give each other. Starting over says that what I made is not really all that bad, it’s not the end of the world. Just do it again, better the next time and don’t torture yourself over small things. Encourage each other.

Starting over gives everyone another chance to get it right, whether it be in cookies, clay or people. So the next time you bite into an overly crispy cookie, tell the baker, “It’s delicious.”

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word