Wednesday’s Word

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


 

Reprise: Is Grace a State? Does the Holy Spirit Sit for Portraits?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

In March of this past year, I shared with you my fretting over my art project—the collages of the 6 peace doves–tied to my theological musings about  the movement of grace and the unhindered surprise of the Spirit. I wanted the peace doves to be the Holy Spirit but they sat pretty, too static to express the “flowing, shimmering, gusting, blazing, cascading” sense I had of the spirit.   I proceeded to write about both grace and the Holy Spirit as “an ever-recurring mystery. It is mobility, not stability, that underlies and supports the matter-ing that we are and which surrounds us.”  My next piece would be an attempt to make visual the dynamism of the Spirit, that ever-moving and transforming force that we liken to wind, water and fire.

I’ve finished it.  Of course my efforts have fallen short but when I finally got some long-awaited inspiration, it became a collage of prayer and play, and eventually I had to stop somewhere.  I include a cellphone photo here, at a second remove from the project. And with it, a reflection based on the scriptural charge in  Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians ( I Thess 5) “Do not stifle the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit and the Invitation to the dance.

She is among us, Sophia, Shekina—
She plays here in our midst,
elbowing spaciousness into our crowded fears.
Will you deny her the delight?
Always be joyful, pray continually,
Give thanks whatever happens.
The dance of union, of new creation goes on
And we are awhirl in it, carried in it, borne up on it—
The singing wind, the lilting song
that led Dominic, Joyful Friar,
Along the Gospel path.
Will you join in the song? Will you try a new step?
Are you fearful, are you dreary, dragging, benumbed?
Sure it has all been said, nothing new under the sun?
Ah, do not stifle the Spirit—she burns and she sizzles
With Divine dreams, she comes to light in us a new fire,
To strengthen the weak, to encourage the weary,
To shake us awake! To limber us up!
To kindle our hearts! To lead us in laughter!
To twinkle in our eyes, to be hope for a new day.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Blog by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Reading 1 Rom 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Gospel Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.’
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

PREACHING

ROMANS 6:8:26-30                LUKE 13:33-30

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for I many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

What is keeping each of us from entering through the narrow gate? Is it the stuff we have? Yes, we have given our lives to God. But if we look around us, we do have a lot of material goods. Some of them may be pictures of family, memories of past ministries, mementoes that we cherish. For example, I have a small statue of Mary that my Dominican aunt gave me when I was a child. At some point it will be time to let go of it. I can pass it on to a family member with its story. Or else someone who doesn’t know its history will discard it. There are other things we have that don’t have a lot of meaning. My guess is that we don’t use many of them. They just take up space in our room and offices.

Maybe the stuff we carry isn’t material. What about our attitudes? It is so easy to continue to let ourselves fall into the same old patterns of reacting to situations. What about that person I am still holding a grudge against? Maybe that grudge is that taking up a lot of space in my heart.

Then there are my good intentions – the ones I never seem to be able to carry through. They take hold me back from being challenged to grow.

When we do muster the courage to let go of those things – material or not – we believe that the Spirit will guide us. Then we won’t need to worry about whether the gate is narrow or wide. We will be living as God, who loves us intimately and without hesitation, has called us to live.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Watching and Waiting

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

Most of us down here in New Orleans have been watching and waiting for the last week or more. A building’s partial collapse resulted in closure of main downtown streets impacting tourism and regular business hours and people’s livelihood. How long before things would return to normal? We know now that it will be longer than we hoped.

Our eyes have been on the skies as dire weather forecasts for everything from tropical storms to tornadoes to flooding rains kept scrolling across the TV screens. We know now that most of those predictions passed us by for the most part, but for how long?.

The Gospels for these days have had significant reminders that we do not know the hour nor the day when the “Master” will come. We watch and we wait. How much longer?

Some days are more trying than others in family life, work situations, day to day decision making, and we often wonder how much longer before….before we have peace; before we have success; before we have whatever it is that will mean our waiting is over? The Gospels tell us we know not that hour or the day, and we must be vigilant. In the end our true hopes will be realized, and in God’s time all will be well. Keep watching and waiting!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Sisterhood is Powerful

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Last week, the Leadership Team hosted the annual gathering of the Dominican Sisters Conference Leaders Meeting.  Each year, leaders from across the country come together to sharpen their vision of Dominican mission and life and share the companionship and sisterhood of those in service to the Gospel.

I love it. I could almost taste the energy and creativity in the room as we looked to the future. Of course, the shrinking number of sisters in the USA is sobering and we are facing a future that is smaller and leaner. But this group possesses the key skills and openness to grace that gives me confidence that God is working within us on the journey.

So many moments during this gathering were electric with the power of sisterhood. Sr. Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) was introduced as our new NGO Representative at the United Nations, and when that happened, Sr. Margaret Mayce, OP, (Amityville) her predecessor — and the newly elected International Coordinator of Dominican Sisters International — spontaneously leaped up and embraced Dusty in a moment of tremendous affection and sisterly connection. They were surrounded by our approving applause. I loved that too.

The best part of the meeting was the conversations we had with younger Dominican women who were invited to join us in imagining what the future might hold.  Clearly, our younger members need to build their relationship across congregational boundaries, since they will be more connected to their own age cohorts as time goes by.  In fact, many already have meaningful sisterly connections with Dominican sisters their own age in other congregations.  So there was much talk and speculation and indeed serious consideration of just what Dominican sisters might look like 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

The primary symbol of the DSC Leaders Meeting was the Visitation: the beautiful strength of family ties, of Mary and Elizabeth, women who love each other because they shared a common bond, a common mission, a shared hope for the world.

What struck me the most about our meeting, was the courage of the women there to face the future in faith and in hope.  Where does that courage come from? I ask myself that on days when I am not feeling so courageous and want to keep my head down and just do the work. Courage comes from the power of our sisterhood, the energy that women have together.  Courage is what helped women gain the right to vote and fueled the development of Catholic education and Catholic healthcare in the United States. Courage is what animated the development of retreat ministry and spiritual formation for women. Courage put women in outer space, in corporate board rooms, and public office. Courage makes immigration reform and human trafficking advocacy visible to the public at a time when many people would simply turn their heads and look away. And there are so many other spheres where the courage of women has shifted the arc of history toward justice.

Our sisterhood is powerful.  If you are feeling wimpy today, take your courage from your sisters. We have your back.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word