Wednesday’s Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


 

SPIRIT MOVE WHEN YOU WILL….BUT CAREFULLY!

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

“Racial Disparity” is the new way to describe the treatment of people of color by white people. Well, it is really not new but it is becoming more prevalent. What is happening in this country of ours?

Sunday, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Pentecost. A remembrance of a moment in human time when the Holy Spirit was so present that people began to speak in all kinds of languages and perform all kinds of healing acts to the astonishment of the crowds and no one was left out. What has happened to us since that moment?

I don’t think we have to look far at all to see answers to that. Most recently, consider Philadelphia, PA, and Starbucks; Warsaw, NC, and Waffle House; Saraland, AL, and Waffle House; New Haven, CT, and Yale University. People of color may not loiter, may not nap and, most certainly, may not talk back to authority figures under any circumstances in public places. We tell their white counterparts the same thing, but the responses to their actions are almost always far different.

The Holy Spirit is seeking ways to break through the barriers we keep putting up to protect ourselves from those who are different, from ideas that make us uncomfortable, from solutions that take us far out of the boxes we put ourselves into and call personal space. We say we want the Holy Spirit to come, but what does that mean? When we know that accepting the Spirit will mean new life and probably change, do we still want it? I think we do. We just have to pray harder to know what to do when we feel the presence of the Spirit.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Don’t Keep Us Waiting Too Long

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I write this in the time between Ascension and Pentecost, an awkward moment in the Liturgical Year, when Easter is beginning to feel like a distant memory, and Pentecost, when we await a great birthing of the Spirit.  There are other in-between moments in our faith, Holy Saturday is an obvious good example.

A friend of mine shared with me a little book called Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, winner of the PEN/Hemmingway Award. Although I have not started it yet, the piece I want to share with you from the book is a pensive and beautifully written description of the life of Jesus. It is a wonderful pondering of this very in-between moment. A pondering of what it must have been like to have Jesus be with us in the flesh and then feel his “lack”.

Read this slowly and with care for the words.

“And while He was on earth He mended families. He gave Lazarus back to his mother, and to the centurion he gave his daughter again. He even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him—a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail. Yet this was no more than tinkering. Being man [Jesus] felt the pull of death, and being God He must have wondered more than we do what it would be like. He is known to have walked upon water, but He was not born to drown. And when He did die it was sad—such a young man, so full of promise, and His mother wept and His friends could not believe the loss, and the story spread everywhere and [those who were] mourning would not be comforted, until He was so sharply lacked and so powerfully remembered that his friends felt Him beside them as they walked along the road, and saw someone cooking fish on the shore and knew it to be Him, and sat down to supper with Him, all wounded as He was. There is so little to remember of anyone—an anecdote, a conversation at table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.”

I hope Pentecost does not keep us waiting too long.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

In Spirit and in Truth

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Dominicans have three mottoes. One is “Veritas,” another is “to Praise, to Bless, to Preach,” and another, “To share the fruits of contemplation.”  As Sisters of Peace, we share also in the hopes of being, building, and preaching peace, as we lean into the future, voices for Truth. But in this season of primary elections and the threats and miseries of the world, the instant news, and a cacophony of assertions, denials, insults and hate-speech, have us wearied and confused. I keep pondering “Veritas.” Truth.  God’s truth. Is it so humanly compromised, so twisted by the spin masters and the plots of the power brokers that we’re never sure enough of it to witness to it?

Our Easter scriptures offer us such contrast. We hear Jesus promising his disciples the Spirit who will lead them in speaking God’s truth and life with boldness. In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear again of the Spirit’s coming as Activator of Jesus’ Resurrection and Transformer of hearts. We witness the joys and struggles of a Spirit-empowered group of believers trying to work out the ways they will live together and practice this new life, this radical energy, which is forming them as the church expands. The Spirit of Pentecost is palpably at work. And we are participants in that Grace, no less consecrated in Divine truth–but how shall we bear witness in today’s “too-muchness?”

T.S. Eliot has written that “humans cannot bear much reality.” Our coping with life seems to require some distancing, some small relief from Truth’s demands. Christians know that on our own we don’t have much space for the “All” of God’s fullness. We don’t live easily in close proximity to the God who we fear will overcome us, transform us and send us out before we can get it all together. Individually and collectively humans put up defenses by which we actually deny ourselves access to our deeper truth and God’s patient ways, and with time we have established “religion”–boundaries, hard-edged doctrines and set words and rituals, snares for the free-flow of Spirit, and defense against the possibility of  transformation.

The ongoing remedy for our fears and tongue-tiedness are the “Pillars” of Dominican life: Study, Prayer, Common life, Preaching/mission. Together, we study the human situation and its workings, with the conviction that there is such a thing as truth, God’s truth and in our education of each other we have access to something larger than ourselves. We give ourselves to Contemplation, where we open what we can of ourselves to give God space and time to loosen some of our chains, and overcome our fears with love. Community life is the place where we gather and summon the Spirit to work its power and energy among us, bringing life and hope to each other in our shared knowledge and vulnerability, celebrating a new time of Pentecost. Thus fortified, with Christ and Dominic, we send each other again, renewed and empowered by the Word shared, for the life of the world.

On a poster I saw some years ago, a Raggedy Ann was being put through a mangle, and the caption read: “The truth will set you free…but first, it will make you miserable.” Our humanity guarantees our falling short in our grasp of Holy Reality, but there is a wonderful invitation there—a reason to listen to each other with care, to try to tame our defensiveness, to live at peace even without clarity, and to happily surrender to the nature our creator has granted us: a  blessed humanness, shared and redeemed by Christ. Truth abounds. It cannot be conquered and it will not be tamed. Go and Tell.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Can you feel the Fire?

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

The Acts of the Apostles are exactly the Scripture passages we need to be reading these days. They are filled with the stories of the new communities being formed after the Resurrection. They convey that enthusiasm generated by the Holy Spirit. The words of the apostles and their activities are proof positive that Jesus is alive and well in their hearts and minds and must be talked about wherever they travel.

So why now is this so important? Look around, my friends. Most of our world is in pain in some way. We could all make lists of the ailments in our areas, I am sure. But listen, we are the apostles of today! Have we lost some of that enthusiasm that we see and hear in the apostles actions and words? They do not seem to be afraid of anyone or anything so long as they are speaking with the fire of the Spirit and using the words that Jesus gave them

For me, I turn to a Gospel song called “Fire”. The refrain tells it all:
Fire, shut up in my bones…it won’t leave me alone;
Gonna sing ‘til the Almighty power comes around;
SPIRIT’S got me so I can’t sit down.

Am I on fire with the Gospel? Does it matter to me anymore? Of course it does, but how is it shown in my life? That is the 21st century question.

 

 

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Seeing is Believing

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, the Sunday Gospel reading told the post-resurrection story of Thomas, who has the very unfortunate reputation as somebody who did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Most of us are familiar with the phrase Doubting Thomas. This is the guy. For some unknown reason, he did not show up for that first gathering when the disciples were visited by Jesus in his resurrected state.

A week later, Thomas is there at the gathering when Jesus appears and he invites Thomas to touch his wounds as proof he is alive. Thomas, of course, proclaims his belief saying, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is what condemns Thomas’ reputation — that he needed to see in order to believe.  Thus, for 2000 years his fate is sealed by a moment when he actually asked a legitimate question. How many times have you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?

Most of us are like Thomas I would wager. We need to see lots of things before we can believe. There are some things in life that are so fantastical, so dream-like, and so unreal to us that seeing is believing. Like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. (Oh right, I forgot they did win after waiting 108 years.)  We are all doubters, too bad Thomas gets the bad reputation we all could claim.

Seeing is believing is not a bad thing when it comes to God. Sometimes we believe God is acting in our lives because we see it – in a life that is changed for the good, a sickness that is unexpectedly healed. We can see God all over the place if we really look. Just go to the nearest window and marvel at what you see.  After all, John describes the believers as we who have seen His glory. (John 1:14)

When we believe because we have seen, we have experienced something marvelous, some unexpectedly wonderful. How can you not believe after seeing a sunset or the moon rise? (If you need a little inspiration watch this 4 minute video of the moon rising in New Zealand).

Belief is a gift, a gift that comes after being blind to God in some way. But we can come to belief either way, by the sheer gift of God in a moment of awakening to faith, or by seeing something, being a witness to something in life that awakens us to faith.  Start with faith. Start with needing to see. Same thing in the end. What God desires for us is that we come to belief.  Does it matter to God one way or the other how we come to faith? I don’t think so, just as long as we can get there in the end.

Thomas, you did us all a favor by being absent that day and coming to faith by naming what most of us hold in secret.  We can turn: “I’ll believe it when I see it,” into “I see because I believe.”

 

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word