Wednesday’s Word

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


 

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

Are There Better Ways?

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

A week ago at Mass in the Cathedral, Archbishop Hughes began his homily with “The world is a mess”. As he proceeded, he brought it into the historical context of that day’s Gospel passage, but I had drifted off with this opening statement. Why is the world a mess, I reflected. I know you all just laughed and answered that question a thousand different ways. But, here’s where I went.

There was once a comic strip called POGO, and one of the most well remembered lines from it is “We have met the enemy, and they is us”. And that just may be why the world is a mess. We may scoff and call it our human condition or human nature at its worst, but we just can’t stop getting in our own way. The world is a mess, and so it goes; it is what it is.

An awful lot of us just complain, but to those who act with a peaceful response, in a just manner, in a way that shouts the Gospel, I salute you and ask that we all try harder to learn the better ways to handle our messy world.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Sometimes Resurrection Doesn’t Happen Right Away. But It Will.

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Two major events happened in recent days. One seems like a resurrection and another seems like a death, but they are both aspects of the Pascal Mystery we live throughout our lives.

On August 26, 2019, 13 years after the last retreat at the Dominican Retreat House in Elkins Park, PA, the 42-acre property was finally sold to a new owner who will bring it back to life. Plans include a boutique hotel, restaurant, gardens, micro-distillery, spa and other features. It will be a new economic engine for Cheltenham Township, provide jobs, and a new sense of life in the area. Here is a link to a news story that might help you appreciate the beauty and historic significance of its architecture. It cannot begin to describe the people whose lives were changed by their experience of retreat there.

Over its lifetime, beginning in 1932, over 875,000 people came through its doors. Some came every year to the same weekend retreat: mothers, daughters, and granddaughters. Our sisters, associates, promoters, and staff provided a place of welcome, of spiritual nourishment, a door to God’s forgiveness and compassion. God’s Word was spoken and heard there in a powerful way. Truly, a long-awaited resurrection is at hand. Countless prayers, and a tenacious belief that someday new life would emerge, have borne fruit.

Over the weekend of September 7, 2019, members of the Leadership Team visited the sisters at the Oxford Motherhouse to share with them the decision to close the motherhouse and St. Mary’s Retreat House.  Truly, this feels like a death. For most, it is an ending that is sad, painful, and requires great courage and trust.  Many of our sisters and associates have recognized there are fewer sisters, an increasing need for care, and higher costs at the Motherhouse. The retreat house is dependent on the Motherhouse for some of its internal operations. For many, the decision to close was not unexpected — rather it has been known and sadly anticipated.  Plans will begin to unfold and sisters there are in the process of considering where God might be calling them along the journey. Retreatants will plan for their last retreat.

This is not an unfamiliar experience for some of us, but for those who are experiencing it as new, it is most acute. Death hurts. And promises of future new life sometimes ring hollow, when in the midst of grasping the present reality.

The important word in all of this is mystery.  Pascal Mystery. We only see God’s hand in a veiled way, like trying to see through frosted glass. We know God is there on the other side of our understanding, and we naturally wish to know and see more clearly what the future holds. I can imagine Jesus felt the same way from time to time as His journey unfolded. Our journey mirrors his death and resurrection.

Sometimes resurrection doesn’t happen right away. But it will. It has. New life is emerging where once we could only see as if through frosted glass. The prayers of those who surround us give us the hope we need to wait for the next resurrection. We can bear witness to it today.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

The happenings of the past few weeks, multiple layers of wars and weather tragedies and political  machinations, find me with a cramp in the load-bearing muscles of body and spirit. How does a Christian, a Dominican, possibly live with and respond to the heavy clouds that bear down on us individually and corporately; how do we pray, how do we lift our voices in a Holy Preaching that brings truth and hope, how do we live and proclaim the Gospel of Peace?

Some of us have devised escape strategies, trying to ease our frustrations and anger and their contagion—we cut back on our daily dose of news and commentaries, and try to keep our conversations from “going there.” Some of us follow it all with that impulse for finding and telling the truth, though contending with the temptation to freeze into a particular focus and its blind spots, or the trap of over-righteousness. Some try to channel our energies to what action we can take, donating, writing letters or calling politicians, volunteering to drive,  to collect, to distribute flyers. We are brought to prayer, all of us, all the time, because a million voices call out for help and solace, for the basics of human life taken from them by weather, by war, by dehumanizing treatment. And as Dominic showed us, we pray as we weep and mourn in sympathy and solidarity: Have mercy on us, open our hearts, hear our prayer, save your people, forgive and transform us.

Decades, centuries, millennia of history have told us that ridding the world of “problem people” has proved to be horrifying and disastrous. And we know in and through Christ that God loves and holds precious each and every person. We hear today that  Jesus in Luke’s version of the “sermon on the mount” actually stood on the plain, stood level with them and among them and us (he said “You” ) and told the poor and beaten down and mourning and persecuted that God chose them and blessed them, even the very worst of them.  No wars—no horses and chariots, no arrows, no guns, bombs, or missiles—no walls or barriers or ghettoes or prisons or concentration camps—are part of God’s ardent arsenal of love.

There is a story that comes from the tales and sayings of the Rabbis. The Hebrews have passed through the Red Sea. The horses and chariots of Pharoah have gotten mired in the mud and drowned in the returning waters. On the other side, there is elation, singing and dancing: ”God, Our God, has saved us from our enemies!”  And as the festivity goes on  God comes to the one who is to lead them into the Promised Land, Joshua, and asks him, ”Why are you so merry? Why do you celebrate the deaths of the Egyptians? Don’t you know that they are also my children, beloved to me?”

In Christ there is neither Jew, nor Greek, nor national nor ethnic boundaries, nor political parties, nor skin color. No caste or class. In this time of division and destruction, we respond most authentically as we try to fathom the largeness of the Heart of God, the vast breadth and depth of God’s embrace. And that we are part of it.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Guided Tour of Creation (Cont.)

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Please click here for a continuation of Sr. Pat Connick’s guided tour of creation as a reflection of our Blessed Trinity.

Please click each link below to reference her previous blogs:

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word