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Hope

We recognize Advent as a time of promise and hope. We visualize our Jewish ancestors awaiting the Messiah and we anticipate the fullness of the Kingdom of God. In the Advent readings from Isaiah, we envision beautiful descriptions of a recreated Earth, the healing of all people, and the end of violence and war.

Four characteristics of the Kingdom of God are that we wait in hope for a time when peace is the alternative to violence, inclusion is the alternative to elitism, the sharing of goods is the alternative to amassing of wealth, and a God of the powerless is the alternative to power and strength. Psalm 85 also speaks of a time when:

Justice and Peace Shall Kiss

 

Don’t we long for these days? During Advent, we are called to notice the glimpses of this future already present in our world and pray and wait in hope for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to be realized.

During Advent, as Sisters and Associates of Peace, we are called. Called to BE HOPE for one another. It’s just one little word but it represents everything. Hope might be one little action like saying yes to “both/and” instead of “there’s only one way”. Hope might be sharing time with one another in a new way of understanding each other without judgement.

To BE HOPE is to be a whisper of light reaching through the darkness for one another. It is being encouraging in times of uncertainty.  It is bringing comfort to the grieving in times of loss. It is giving nourishment to the poor in their time of hunger.  It is caring for the sick in their time of illness. It is teaching the marginalized in times of inequity. It is giving reassurance to the dying as the Lord calls them to his kingdom. To GIVE HOPE, we must first HAVE HOPE in our hearts so we may BE HOPE.

As Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace, we pray and wait IN HOPE together, clearing a path for the passage of our savior. Together, we are a thousand whispers of light for one another as we anticipate the fullness of the kingdom of God.

Sister Diane Kozlowski, OP              Carol Moss, OPA                  Michelle Castle, OPA

Posted in Associate Blog

Anticipation in Advent

What always comes to my mind are the lyrics to Carly Simon’s 1971 song, Anticipation.

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasin’ after some finer day

Anticipation
Anticipation is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

To anticipate something is to be expectant of that thing, occasion, gift, or person.  To anticipate is to also have hope that something wonderful is coming. Sometimes, anticipation ends in disappointment because we build up the coming event to be something greater than it could ever be.  During this Advent season, like so many other Advents, we anticipate many things – hopes, dreams, and a better way.  As Christians we anticipate celebrating Christmas – the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and all that is promised in the Second Coming.

2020 has no doubt been a year of anticipating – What it will be like when the pandemic restrictions are lifted and we can touch, hug and kiss our loved ones again?  What will it be like once the corona virus vaccine is made available to all, the kids are back in school, we’re back to work and things return to “normal”?  What will it be like when 2020 is finally over?  We don’t need to anticipate Christ. We trust in God’s promise – that God is with us already and remains in us, in our lateness, and in our waiting with anticipation.

What can we be doing while waiting, with emotions percolating through our hearts and minds?  Pray. Retreating with God through prayer helps us listen for and attend to God’s voice, if only for a few moments. God urges us to be still in this Season of Advent in the midst of our anxieties and fears. God urges us to delight in anticipation of the gift of Jesus Christ.

 

Blog by Associates Michelle Castle, Jaime Berry and Bev Orazen

Posted in Associate Blog

Preparing for Advent – Week One

In preparation for Advent, the Associates and Sisters of Mentor Team 24, the central Ohio team for ongoing formation, will choose a theme each week of Advent for reflection. Multiple members of the team will work together to write the blogs so please tune in each Monday. This week we are preparing for Christmas. We are always the stable into which the Christ is born anew. All we need to do is keep our stable honest, humble and open and the Christ child will surely be born in us. Let’s explore the ways we can prepare….

Blog by Carol Moss, OPA
Blog by Bev Orazen, OPA
Blog by Associate April Queener

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation for an event requires hard work. If I am expecting a guest, there is a lot of work to be done in advance. I must remove the clutter that somehow always finds its way all over my home. After I declutter, I can begin the cleaning process which is more in-depth when company is coming. As I look at my home through a visitor’s eye, I may see the need to shop for fresh throw pillows, flowers or other items that will make my home appear and feel more inviting. Once the house is sparkling, I plan for the refreshments, this is another process of shopping, preparing, and displaying. Finally, I shower, dress, and wait patiently for my guest’s arrival.

This is an Advent season like no other in our lifetime. The stress of a national pandemic has weighed heavily on each of us. Any other year we may find ourselves busy with all the preparations of the holiday season and focusing on how we can not only prepare for Christ but for our family and friends, however, this year is different. For many, this is a year that they have lost loved ones and have not had the opportunity to properly grieve or celebrate their life. Many are grieving the loss of a job or even a workplace that was a familiar safe space to go to every day. Many are physically distancing themselves from friends and family to protect one another but long for their physical presence and touch. These losses and feelings of isolation, although difficult, give us an opportunity to focus undistracted on truly preparing our hearts this Advent season.

Preparing for the birth of Christ requires more preparation than any special guest. Preparation includes assessing my activities, my reading materials, my thoughts and determining what is valuable and what is clutter? Asking myself if my busy movement is necessary or should I be spending more time in contemplation so my actions can be more focused? What needs to be cleaned up in my interior to be a welcoming place for Christ? I may need to reevaluate my impatience with someone or a grudge I have been harboring to be prepared. I may need to set aside my pleasure reading novels for a later time to seek books to study that will enlighten my understanding and deepen my faith.

Preparing for the ever-renewing birth of Christ may require some detachment. Detaching from our worries, anxieties and frantic holiday preparations requires discipline. Detaching from our vision of what the result will be and leaving that in our Savior’s hands will surely yield better outcomes than any we could make by hand. Spending time meditating on the gift called Jesus, in expectation, will certainly help me to prepare! This Advent season make a list as you would for any event you prepare for and list all the activities that need to occur before your most precious guest. After this preparation, I am ready to wait patiently for Christ’s arrival.

Posted in Associate Blog

A Quiet Starry Night

Blog by Associate Linda Goff

Recently, I was reminded about a turn of the century experience which occurred on January 1, 2000.  During a New Year’s Eve weekend retreat, the attendees journeyed outside at 12:00 AM and prayed for peace in the east, west, north, and south.  That quiet starry night brought us hope for the future as we spoke in faith with the Lord.

I thought about Abraham.  As we hear in Genesis 15:5-6, “The Lord brought Abraham outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to count them.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And Abraham believed him; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.”  In Galatians 3:6-9, Paul uses this passage as a basis for his understanding of the importance of faith.

Just as all their ancestors before them, on that starry night in January the retreatants had faith in the Lord.

During this time of the year, I cannot help but think of the Wise Men who were called to follow the star which led to the Christ Child.  When they arrived at the manger, they paid homage and their hope for the future must have been revived.

There have been many rocky roads to walk during this century.  I know that my faith has wavered, and my foot has slipped on many a rock.  Yet faith has carried me onward and my hope for the future revives every time I encounter a kind act, a loving smile, an encouraging word.

During the Advent and Christmas seasons I invite you to experience a quiet starry night.  May the peace and love of the Lord flow over you, faith enliven your journey and revive your hope for a peace-filled future.

Posted in Associate Blog

Speech! A Missed Opportunity or Being Wise?

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

How many times in our lifetime have we said something to somebody and regretted it.

Not that what we said was wrong, but we could have phrased it a better way. Perhaps we could have been kinder in our words or been more considerate. Words have different meanings. Words take an entirely different meaning by the tone of voice used or our facial and eye expressions.

What we say and how we say it is important, so that the person or people we are talking to understands what we are saying. Sarcasm is an example: When someone tells you that you are the smartest person in the world are they complimenting you or are they mocking or criticizing you for thinking you are the smartest person.

The answer lies solely in the relationship of the two people, the context of the conversation and the facial expression of the speaker.

Email and texting gives one no indication how words are to be perceived. Enter the emoji! Emojis are pictures which provide the context of what the speaker is trying to say. A picture of a smiley face, a frown, a face with a mouth and a heart. Until the use of the emoji one seldom knew the meaning of written words. Thankfully emojis have removed many doubts about words that have been written in texts or emails.

Political correctness is another term that has crept into our language these past decades. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “the principle of avoiding language and behavior that may offend particular groups of people. At one time or another we can all be accused of being politically correct or PC. Most people by nature do not want to intentionally offend others.

Kindness and consideration of our differences means that we are usually prudent in our choice of words. When Jesus is confronted by those that oppose him is he being honest with them in his words or is he just being politically correct? We can wonder why Jesus seemed to try to appease his opponents. Did he fear them? Was he being polite? Was he being sarcastic in his responses.

We know from the parables that Jesus’ language was kind and consoling but direct. He was never rude, crude or demeaning to any of his opponents. He showed the same kindness and respect to all, even those with whom he differed. Jesus showed the wisdom to respect the opinion of others while still making sure his true feelings were made known. His respect for others never diminished his sense that the truth needed to be expressed in some way.

Words matter! How we express them takes on a whole new meaning in this 21st Century of social media and social distancing. Jesus understood better than anyone right from wrong. He also understood that everyone he met was his brother and sister created by the Father. In this complex world the truth is still the truth and it matters.

People read and hear things differently and draw conclusions from what they hear and read. Jesus understood this in the 1st Century when communication was simpler.

In the 21st Century we need to look to Jesus’ example of respect and kindness for others in how we express our thoughts and opinions. Some would say it is being politically correct, others would agree that wisdom in our speech is Christian.

In the words of that once famous TV show the X Files, “The Truth is Out There”. We need to hold fast to the truth and live it in the example of Christ. We can still express our opinions but respect and kindness must rule the day. HATE speech is never OK.

Posted in Associate Blog