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

God is Watching Us…From a Distance?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Bette Midler sings the song “From a Distance”, seeking to make the point that the world and God’s view of it are much larger than our differences, disagreements, and divides “here below” look to us; that we are one with a shared humanity in a world community, and if only we could see ourselves as part of that  bigger harmonious reality, as God does, we would stop the hating and the warring.

There’s one problem in the refrain, one which we who have been celebrating the Incarnation and the Manifestations of Jesus can notice right away: God is not distant. God is not distant. God is ineffably “beyond”– so much larger than our hearts and our limited relationships, and far surpassing our capacity to grasp—but God is also ineffably near. The consoling and challenging truth for Christians is the “hereness” of God, a reality that permeates the world and our most intimate selves.

St. Nick and Santa Claus have had their season of seeing our good and bad behavior and judging our worthiness for presents. So we return to ordinary time, when parents and teachers and various moral authorities warn people that God sees and knows all and is tallying our vices and virtues for the day of our final reckoning. This may be momentarily effective in curbing bad behavior, but as we all know, this particular version of God has only limited successes and for the most part, very little to do with the conversion and ownership of our hearts.

We are in the midst the mystery we celebrate at Christmas, the free choice of God to enter the heart of the world and the stuff of humanity, in mercy and love beyond our ken.  We are also in the midst of a pervasive darkness that spans homes and schoolyards and city streets and brutal prisons and the rubble remaining where towns once bustled with human activity, their inhabitants now refugees in camps where as the psalmist put it, “My tears are my food day and night.” And that is only human cost, also borne by the rivers and forests and innumerable and precious species threatened and poisoned through human ignorance and greed.

“The Word became flesh and made a home among us.” This is not past tense. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Present tense. Future tense. These are the lines we are given to speak, the words of witness we not only give voice to, but invite to grow in us, welcome in our own flesh. What good is it, asked Meister Eckhart, for Mary to give birth to Jesus if we do not bring him to birth in our lives?

God is not distant. And God is not just watching. There are times we might prefer a bit of Divine disinterest, when daily we’re bumping into or tripping over Jesus who calls to us in human need, slight as a mere bother, or vast as a starving nation.  As the story goes, he began his journey in poverty, bore his own and others’ humanity, lived in trust, responded to the needs of those around him, preached fearlessly, and gave his entire being over for love. That Love carried him and lifted him up, and abounds and multiplies, invades and possesses, impels and energizes us in a thousand ways for the needs of our brothers and sisters. And sometimes we notice, and are amazed, so small and needy and distant we seem to ourselves. But God—distant? No, God—Emmanuel!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (BFF’s)

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Today is the feast of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, both from Cappadocia in Turkey.  Basil and Gregory were best friends from the time of their initial studies in their early 20’s.  In their later lives they were pivotal in defending the Church against the Arian heresy.  I would suggest in honor of their feast today it might be a good time to thank God for our best friends.

Thank you, God, for my best friend in life…
Who has helped me believe in myself and accept myself as I am,
Who has helped boost my self-confidence.
Who has been unswervingly encouraging
And has fostered my personal growth.

Thank you, God, for my best friend in life…
Who has taught me how to respect differences
And to honor still my own beliefs.
Who has been my best sounding board and listener
And a place where honest opinions about anything can be shared.

Thank you, God, for my best friend in life…
Who has been a shoulder to cry on, providing comfort,
Yet open to being needed in a mutual way.
Who is understanding
To the point where many words need not always be spoken.

Thank you, God, for my best friend in life…
Who connects me to a world wider than of my own devices
And who has taught me to live more intentionally,
To laugh more deeply,
And to love more profoundly.

Thank you, God, for my best friend in life…
Who is always loyal and protective,
And yet who has taught me new things by a challenge of my status quo.
Who always has been, is, and always will be available,
For unconditional love and support, which reveals to me the face of God.

I pray I have been a best friend to you too!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word