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Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

I love Gospel Music.  The songs are so down to earth and so joyously in love with God that they lift your heart and your spirit.  My favorite is one called Can He, Could He, Would He?  This is the first line:

Can he save me, Could he love me, Would he take me, Did he really?

On Easter Sunday Jesus saved us, He showed his love for us, He took us to his heart. He really, really did.

It’s difficult to find the words that express what Easter really means to us believing Christians. What it doesn’t mean is the Easter Bunny. Sorry.

The life of Jesus has been called The Greatest Story Ever Told and it surely is that. At the moment he set foot on the banks of the Jordan to be baptized, the drama began to unfold.

He wrestled with the temptation to use the power he had to fix everything in one fell swoop, but he couldn’t. That was not the plan.

He chose his disciples the way Samuel chose David; he trusted that God would reveal them to him. Just like we do when trying to make a big decision.

The healing miracles took a lot out of him. They required total, absolute trust in God, no hesitation and no fear. He must have known disappointment when so many came for that and only that, caring nothing for his message.

The anger and resentment of the official leaders of the people resulted in one confrontation after another, each one adding to the pile of so-called evidence against him. He was fully aware of the dangers, but he persevered.

Flaunting all the rules that bound his people and gathering to himself those who had felt worthless, were the paving stones on the road to his death.

Still, he kept on.

Finally, he told people that unless they ate his body and drank his blood they could not have life. That was the last straw. Then at the Last Supper he explained what he meant when he raised the bread and wine. That is our legacy.

Then came the arrest, the beatings, the hypocrisy and betrayal of the crowd, which probably was the worst part. His death was as if the sun itself was dying. All the reason for hope was bleeding to death on a cross.

Those feelings are not unfamiliar to most of us. That is what makes Easter Sunday what it is: the resurrection of Hope and Faith and unceasing Love.

This story is so powerful it overshadows everything else and for many it is frightening. It seems to demand something from us, something we aren’t  willing to give. That is too much.

But celebrating Christ in the Easter mystery transforms all who will not diminish or limit Easter to the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

As the second line of the song says: Yes, He can, He could, He would and He did!

[Click here to listen to this song on YouTube.]

Happy Easter

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Purpose, Passion and Moving Forward

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose lately.

Here’s the thing: I am at a place in my life where I believe my ministry is allowing me to follow my passions while living out my purpose – to make a positive difference in the world by impacting others through service. But I still find myself wondering if there is a way to live out a deeper expression of my purpose.

My contemplation has reminded me that I have spent years going through a process of discovery to find and understand my purpose – the deep reason for my existence.

It has reminded me that my purpose has been expressed differently over the years — sometimes depending on what I was doing to at the time; sometimes depending on whom I was serving at the time; sometimes depending on what was needed at the time, etc.

It has reminded me that some of my passions have evolved, shifted or changed over the years.

It has reminded me that I have one purpose, but many passions.

It has reminded me not to confuse my passions with my purpose.

I believe that passion and purpose go hand-in-hand and that the ideal is to follow my passions while living out my purpose. I also believe that it is important to understand that passion fuels and energizes, while purpose is the meaning behind it all.

During the process of my reflection, I began to discover that my pondering was triggered by the need to know that I am fulfilling my purpose and, perhaps more importantly, the need to know that the expression of my purpose is not lessening.

In my estimation, it is not enough to find your purpose. You must be committed to growing it and sharing it with the world.

Our lives truly become more meaningful through the impact we make on others.

As we grow our purpose, it is important not to lose sight of the need to inspire the passions of others and the need to encourage others to discover and live out their life’s purpose.

We each have a purpose to fulfill in life. Living purposefully inevitably generates happiness.

Even when we are in a place where purpose and passion connect, it is important to embrace the ongoing process of self-clarity and purpose. It is through the process that we discover what pushes us forward.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

The Coming of New Life

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Amazing! The March 1 storm had sent two heavy branches crashing down on our house causing extensive damage. Already the next day, when Sr. Barbara and I returned home after supper, we were surprised to see the place cleaned up—the fallen branches and a close-by live pine tree were reduced to a pile of sawdust, the pierced window boarded up, and protective plastic covered broken places where persistent rain might leak into the house.

The insurance adjusters along with our maintenance men thoroughly assessed the damage both exterior and interior. A few days later they presented us with a plan to repair and restore the house to its former glory or make it even better. Several improvements are planned: better drainage to prevent basement water seepage, new landscaping including adding some colorful trees, a redesigned front porch, the removal of old wiring or hiding them in encasing before re-siding and painting both interior and exterior as needed. It will be like a ‘resurrection’ and new life! But that won’t happen overnight…

Life, death, resurrection. It is a recurring pattern in nature. We can see it everywhere—after every destructive storm, in the coming of Spring, in live seeds and bulbs dying to burst forth in colorful new life, plus countless other ways.

As we have witnessed after the many wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquake disasters in the US, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other places, we know the “resurrection” does not always happen within a week!  Restoration to a former state may not come at all, but new life does surely come; and often its only when looking back that we can see it best.

Next week is Hoy Week, when Christians around the world will be focusing on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and Savior. We reverence the retelling of how the Son of God willingly let himself and his precious life be ‘handed over’ into the hands of others. He accepted death by crucifixion, and as he promised, rose to new life.  His going before us through this living mystery encourages us not to lose faith as we each undergo our own daily dyings and risings to new life. May we take heart when our ‘resurrections’ are long in coming.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Something That Makes Me Go “Hmmm”

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

My daughter texted me recently on a cold Saturday morning: “Be Careful! BLACK ICE!” accompanied by the crying-laughing emoji.

I laughed out loud.

She knew that her text would get me going because I get a little miffed when people talk about “black” ice.

I remember the first time I heard a meteorologist mention “black” ice. I thought: what the heck is black ice? – ice is transparent.

As I listened to that weather forecaster’s warning about “black” ice, my speculation was immediately confirmed: black ice is more dangerous than any other form of ice.

Ridiculous, I thought, ice is ice. You can slip and fall on any kind of ice and your car can spin out on any kind of ice.

After doing a little research, I discovered that black ice, according to science, is almost perfectly clear and is only black because we can see the pavement surface underneath. It has no air bubbles or swirls (called occlusions) trapped inside.

White ice, on the other hand, has occlusions (or imperfections).

Since black ice has no imperfections and is perfectly clear, why don’t we call it clear ice or just plain ice?

For me, the warnings from weather forecasters can easily be translated into: “Watch out! ‘Black’ ice will sneak up on you and injure or kill you!” I can’t help but laugh out loud because it’s almost comical, except that it continues the historic association of white with good and black with bad.

I understand that it is called “black” ice because we can see the (black) pavement through the transparent ice; but my research turned up an interesting fact: before there were paved roads, motorists were never concerned about black ice. There was certainly ice without imperfections, but it would have been the color of dirt or whatever surface was underneath it. It seems the term “dirt ice” or “macadam ice” never really caught on. “Black” ice, however, has become a phenomenon.

Hmmm … I wonder why.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Ready or Not!

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Matthew 24:44  “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Before computer games and virtual reality combats, when I was young my sis and I would often join the neighborhood kids in the game of hide and seek. The one who was the seeker would start by closing his/her eyes and count to 100, while all the others would scatter and hide.

As the seeker approached 100, they would count the last few numbers louder: “…96, 97, 98. 99, 100!” Then shout: “HERE I COME, READY OR NOT!” The seeker then opened his/her eyes and tried to find the hiders; the first one found became the next seeker, and the last was winner of the round.

Nobody liked being caught off guard—before finding a good hiding place, or when not ready or feeling unprepared.

Last Thursday around 8:45 p.m. a 50 mph wind whipped around our house and snapped off two huge branches of a two-pronged tree just a few feet from our house. Both of them came tumbling down onto our house with sudden thunderous crashes.

Shocked and alarmed at the suddenness of the noise, and not knowing exactly what was happening, I leapt up from the couch near a window and instinctively moved to the middle of the room. I could feel the house shake from the impact as one of the great falling branches hit the southwest corner of the attic, then land on the roof of our screened in porch. At the same time, the other dragged down gutters and molding on the north front rim and destroyed the roof of our front porch before landing on the ground just off the step.

It all happened quickly without warning. But thank God, no one was hurt.

After assessing the damage and doing what we could to keep water, wind and critters from coming in through one window pushed in by an intrusive branch, and satisfied we could do no more, our Clarissa House community went off to bed. But sleep? Well, that was an individual matter.

This scary incident reminded me that at any moment, whether we’re READY OR NOT, God may come seeking us. In the child’s game of hide and seek, those  listening to the countdown have a fair warning when the seeker is coming. But in the game of life, there usually is no clear indication that one’s time is up.

Am I ready to go with God now or at anytime? Are you? What would you/I need to do to be ready?

Taking God as our Hiding Place, walking with the Divine Seeker moment by moment, and sharing with a faith companion and/or community day by day seems to me the best ways to stay alert and ready. What do you think?


Posted in Associate Blog, News