Weekly Word

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


 

Can Nature heal a Broken Heart?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, shown in her pottery studio

Recently, my sister experienced one of the most devastating losses a mother could know, when her 40-something daughter, Chris, died of a drug overdose. Anyone who has experienced the same horrendous loss knows this pain. It’s not possible to describe it adequately and my sister has been almost inconsolable. This is difficult on so many levels: emotionally, spiritually, psychically, and physically.

Addiction is a hideous, cunning, mean, and pernicious disease that impacts everyone around it — well beyond the person trapped in its clutches. I have struggled to find ways to comfort and support my sister who lives quite a distance away —it’s not like I can stop over for a cup a tea.

A few days ago, we talked on the phone. “I just can’t stop crying,” she said. “I think about Chris all the time.”

“I know, I just want to hold your hand. Tears are like medicine, it’s okay, I just want to hold your hand.”

We talked about when our brother, Paul died at 36, and when our sister, Chris died at 55. We thought there would be no end to our grief – those were impossible times then. Nothing helped. No one helped soothe the pain. But these — like other deaths that were expected — we could see their deaths coming after long illnesses and we could somehow prepare ourselves for loss. But this was sudden, like a crack of thunder. Even after years of struggle and darkness and the long-lasting ache of helplessness, the lightning strike came out of nowhere. Despite my thinking that someday we would get that phone call, it still stunned.

Marge sat on the back porch of her house while we talked. She noticed that the weather outside was beautiful: blue sky, cool breeze, the trees were blowing in the wind. Here too, it was a beautiful day: clear skies, dry and breezy. It was as if we shared the same space and time even though we were miles apart. The birds, the sun and sway of trees opened a portal so that we could sit on the same porch, smell the same air. We talked about how amazing the birds are as hundreds of them swarm in the sky all together. How is it that these tiny speedy creatures don’t crash into one another? We sat amazed at the mystery of nature. We saw the same trees swaying, the same blue sky with clouds floating by.

And for one silent, precious instance, there was peace.

Can nature heal a broken heart? I think so, I hope so. I pray for more moments when my sister can simply see God in the sway of trees and the sound of birds. I pray that what is most fearful and broken in her can rest and come to peace.

I Go Among trees, Wendell Berry

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their place
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes.
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflection by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Reading 1 – Is 66:10-14c

Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.

Reading 2 – Gal 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Gospel – Lk 10:1-12, 17-20 

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him;
but if not,   it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME -JULY 3, 2022
LUKE 10:1-10, 17-20, GAL 6:14-18

Years ago my parents took my sister and I to visit my brother who lived in Colombia. At the time he worked for the United States government in the AID program. While we were there the US ambassador’s wife had a luncheon at the ambassador’s residence for the wives of the US workers. Lisa took us to this luncheon. It was a lovely affair with good food, live music, gracious service and lots of women. One thing that impressed me was that the china that we used had the seal of the United States on them.

This story came to mind as I was reflecting on today’s readings. Two things struck me – being an ambassador and the seal of our country. An ambassador is someone who has the special mission of representing another – whether that be a nation, a cause or a person. The other thing was the seal of the United States on the china. The seal has no purpose in itself. Its purpose is to call attention to all the United States stands for.

Today we heard that Jesus sent the disciples – not just the twelve – but 72 of them to be ambassadors for him. Go and prepare the way for me. These are the towns I intend to visit. Tell them about me so they will be ready to receive me when I come. Paul in the second reading focuses on the seal of Christ. He wrote “may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As Christians, the cross is our seal. It calls attention to the person we stand for.

Jesus sends us as his ambassadors and directs us to carry his seal with us. Jesus instructed his disciples – his ambassadors – and he instructs us. Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this household.

As we celebrate the birth of our nation this coming weekend and more especially as we live our daily lives, may we always remember that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and that we carry the cross as the seal that calls us Christian.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Can we talk?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, shown in her pottery studio

“Real dialogue is where two or more people become willing to suspend their certainty in each other’s presence.”

I wish I knew the source of this quote. But it has been hanging around my mind lately and it reached into the front of my focus today.  It so happened, that I recently attended an LCWR meeting about the future of religious life and a little flareup happened at my table when some of us disagreed with the notion of being “ecclesial women”. Sometimes all you have to do is mention THE CHURCH and sparks fly, tempers flare, and dialogue shuts down.

In this instance, the CHURCH meant the hierarchy, and the whole ball of wax around authority, moral failures, the chauvinistic, superior, clerical picture that is painted sometimes about the Catholic Church in the universal sense. As opposed to the beautiful, glorious, all-embracing, familiar, tradition that is also the Catholic Church in the universal sense.

Of course, Dominicans subscribe to the idea of “disputatio.” That is, the willingness of two people to listen carefully enough to each other that they can suspend their own judgment of each other. Both parties agree to engage in the pursuit of truth together.  Both are willing to recognize that pursuing the truth— by acknowledging the value in the other person’s thinking— can lead to a better understanding and acceptance of the other. Thus, both gain new insight and perhaps, a moment of peace.

But be warned, talking to one another in this way is not easy. There are costs and obligations of true dialogue.  It takes practice to become willing to suspend certainty in each other’s presence. It takes conscience effort to suspend your own judgment of each other. There is a burden in knowing the truth, in being open to the Spirit, who will tell you what you need to know.

And talking to each other in this way could cause a revolution. It might result in a more thoughtful approach to hundreds of things, like dinner table conversation, public hearings on social problems, not to mention a church where everyone can find a home and be respected for who they are.

Imagine our world when talking to each other actually results in action. If we can’t even talk to each other then how in heck are we to solve the serious social problems we face?  Can we talk? I’m not so sure today.

Dear God, grant me the courage to suspend my own certainty long enough to hear what another person is saying. Help me not see it as holding my breath until the other stops talking.  But that I would breathe through the conversation, inhaling their ideas and allowing my own to exhale in a gentle letting go. Help me to be patient, and willing to listen openly to others, especially the people with whom I disagree.

Amen

Posted in News, Weekly Word

How do we End White Supremacy?

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP, of the Peace Center in New Orleans

White supremacy is a sin. Period.

We have become accustomed to seeing the signs saying “Racism is a Sin. Period.” So we face that, but what about the rest of the problem?

“Racism is a Sin” was a statement made by the American Bishops in their 1979 pastoral letter “Brothers and Sisters to Us”.  The Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates have made it a very public statement posted on signs in front yards, on windows and other places. Is this enough to counteract the sin of White Supremacy?

More and more acts of violence are perpetrated in the name of white supremacy. After all, we are the master race, correct? White folks need to get over this in a big way but how?

Did you know you can Google “how to prevent white supremacy?” What you will find is amazing. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream company has created 12 ways; the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators has given us 5 ways; CivilRights.org shows us 10 ways and Green Peace also gives us 5. There are so many more groups that are trying to help us and suggest practical every day ways we can create a world that is safe for everyone.

Someone already gave us the Way to destroy White Supremacy. You might remember this. “Love one another, as I have loved you” Jn 15:12; and, “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself” Mark 12:31, LK 10:27; and “Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me” MT 25:40. Seems obvious yet so hard to accomplish.

Let us pray together that we can be true Gospel people, and realize that all the ideas from all of those other groups pretty much stem from ONE WAY.

Posted in Weekly Word

John 10:22–30

Reflection by Pat Schnee, OPA

“My sheep hear my voice…They shall never perish… No one can take them out of my hand. “There is a great deal to unpack in today’s gospel but I would like to focus on these few words at the end. What does it mean to be in God’s hands?

A very good woman, hurting from a great loss in her life, once said to me, “Why is this happening to me? I’ve tried to live a good life.” And she had.  So maybe it’s good to begin with what does being in God’s hands not mean.

It does not mean that we will be protected from the losses that come with living: Family members and friends die. Work we love comes to an end. Our bodies becomes less and less reliable.

But I suggest that there is a difference between safety and security. A seatbelt is a safety feature; it is an attempt to protect us from harm. Covid vaccinations and face masks are safety features designed to protect us from a serious illness. And all those safety features are good things. But I don’t think that is what being in God’s hands is about.

It is security that God’s hands provide for us…the security of knowing that no matter what happens to us we are not alone…that God is with us, holding us closely, and will never let go.

Julian of Norwich is quoted as writing:  He [Jesus] did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable,’ but he did say, ‘You will never be overcome.”

This of course is the long view. In the short run, things can be pretty rocky. And we can help each other with that. We can, and should lend a listening ear, the comforting embrace.  We can help each other over those rough passages that inevitably come. We can be part of a safety net for each other.

But for real security, nothing beats knowing that we are in God’s hands,
…that nothing can take us out of God’s hands,
…and that in the end, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”

Pat Schnee, OPA

Posted in News, Weekly Word