Wednesday’s Word

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


Stand in Awe

Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

In this world of chaos brought to us by leaders all over, not just our own, I found a quiet place that called me back to the reality that is possible in the believing community. I am borrowing very heavily from the talk given at Notre Dame’s commencement 2017. Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., author of Tattoos on the Heart was awarded this year’s Laetare Medal and was one of the major speakers. I am paraphrasing his thoughts but felt they could apply to all of us building peace in the kingdom on earth.

Imagine with God a circle of compassion and then imagine nobody standing outside that circle. We must leave our comfort zones and dismantle the barriers that exclude anyone. Matthew 25 speaks to this thinking and the believing community is called to be Gospel people.

We must stand with those whose dignity has been denied. We must go to the margins and we need to brace ourselves because people will accuse us of wasting our time. Members of the believing community struggle because some of their friends and family members continue to negate the humanity of those who are the beggars standing on the street corner, the ones who are different in some way. “Get a job”; “If you’d give up the drugs, your life would be great”; “Well we all know how her Mother lived”; there is much more hateful language around about the one who just never measured up, no way, no how. Can the believing community make more of an effort to stop it?

Do we stand in awe of what the poor have to carry or stand in judgment at how they carry it?

Father Boyle concludes: “The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but only in our willingness to be in kinship with them.”



Posted in Wednesday's Word

The Grace of Naming: Making Peace with the Past, Part 2

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Last June, I wrote a blog called Making Peace with the Past. Many comments and nods of affirmation happened after it was published, so I guess it hit a nerve. In it, I referenced comedian Lily Tomlin who is attributed with saying: Forgiveness is “letting go of every hope for a better past.”  

I said then that wanting the past to be better is what keeps us tied to past pain and hurt.  How do I let go of every hope for a better past, or let go of better behavior on my part or on the part of another person?  This is a big question for most of us.  Part of the problem is that sometimes the past still does damage today. This is what leads me to revisit the subject. Continue reading →

Posted in Wednesday's Word

We are part of Divine Insanity

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting, OP

The grave could not hold him. No one people could possess him. No one sect or religion or culture could claim the Christ as theirs alone. The Spirit of God, of Jesus the Risen One, continued to surprise and shock and amaze and scandalize—not just in Galilean synagogues, or Samaritan towns, or Centurions’ households, or the courts of the Temple in Jerusalem– but in a blessed rampage from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The Spirit prodded them and preceded them, beyond their boundaries, their ideas of clean and unclean, rich and poor, man and woman, slave or free, Jew and Gentile. This is the story we are following in the Acts of the Apostles.

But the Gospel we have been hearing along with Acts, prompts the question. What about the sheepfold? What of the safety in containment, the expectation of a voice they knew to guide them and guard them? What of their trust in the faithful presence of the one who called and named them? Jesus reiterates his abiding care, the comfort and clarity of a familiar call, his naming us with love. But now– the Risen Jesus has penetrated the walls, the Voice has dispersed into a hundred languages, the gates of the sheepfold have blown open in a mighty wind. Anyone can go out. Anyone can come in. The sheep to be gathered roam all over the earth.

The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of apostles and disciples dealing with surprise after surprise. The fearful preach boldly. Boundaries are crossed. Arguments ensue. The unacceptable becomes acceptable and then the norm.  But even as their souls were seared and strengthened, their hearts opened in joy beyond any known dimension, they had lost the Jesus they thought they knew, as the Risen One sent forth the Spirit.

Through the Christian centuries two realities grate against one another: the comfort of boundaries and protective fences, the strength in a particular community and its norms, versus the disturbances of the Spirit (the rattling of our cages). We cover our ears against intruding voices, even as the Gospel demands new hearing and new languages. We retreat into the fold of the familiar, the peace of restful waters even as wars and hatred ravage the landscapes of our earth and demand our presence as active lovers and peacemakers.

Jesus is risen. His glory pervades the universe. His Word cannot be chained; his Spirit cannot be tamed. This is our faith. His promise is to be with us always, and that we will be brought together, one flock and one shepherd. The catch is, that on any given day, he hands the staff over to you or me or any number of sheepish humans, and tells us to carry it. Shall we open or shut the gate, shall we gather or scatter? It’s Divine Insanity, as Catherine of Siena told God, to love us enough to trust us as partners, so to speak, in the work of salvation. But that’s what we’ve been carrying on about this Easter Season. Earth unites with heaven, and humankind is bonded to God. It doesn’t demand human clarity. An Alleluia will be just fine. Yes, Alleluia!

Posted in Wednesday's Word

Watching and waiting…

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

It seems like I’ve been doing a lot of watching and waiting over the past few months.  Watching and waiting for dear, dear friends to return to their loving God…. for April the giraffe to bring her beautiful little (yes, 129 pounds is little in the giraffe world!) son into the world ….for Lent to be over and Easter to arrive.  I’ve even spent some time waiting for paint to dry… on some gorgeous alcohol ink Easter eggs.  Watching and waiting …. very much like Mary Magdalene did before the Resurrection.

These opportunities to watch and wait have given me a chance to reflect on the idea of kenosis… emptying our own will so that we can receive God’s divine will.  We know that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and that he “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death.” (Philippians 2: 6-8)  St. Paul reminds us to take on that same attitude. So we empty our expectations of time… like how long it takes for paint to dry.  We empty our expectations of effort… like how much work it takes for a giraffe to have a baby.  We empty our expectations of control… like how little we can control the loss of a loved one.   We empty our expectations of our own importance and, like Jesus, humble ourselves.

These watching and waiting opportunities have also reminded me of the need for more contemplative time.  Time to gently let my thoughts go. to slow down and empty the myriad of thoughts in my crowded brain.  When I’m faithful to my meditation, I find that I’m more patient… more calm…. more open…. more accepting.

Easter season is a good time to celebrate and continue our kenosis- our watching and waiting.  We remember that after the dying, even dying on a cross, came the Resurrection.  We know our friends are in God’s loving embrace.  We applaud that an adorable little giraffe is standing on his own.  We enjoy brilliantly colored eggs.  With just a month until Pentecost, I hope you’ll join me as I continue my kenosis so that we can be ready to receive the Holy Spirit and open to allow our generous God to fill us with love.

Posted in Wednesday's Word

We Have Seen the Apostles and They Is Us

Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Don’t know if any of you remember the comic strip “Pogo,” but the title of this blog is a paraphrase of one of the lines from the strip. I will leave it for all you trivia buffs to play with later.

The Easter season readings tell our stories. In the Acts of the Apostles, we are hearing about the apostles remaining after the Resurrection ( people like “us”) and all of the things they were doing. There is lots of confusion because some of the apostles heard different things and told different stories (just like “us”), but the Word was still getting out there.

Today we hear that the apostles were no longer afraid and could speak the truth of Jesus’ life without concern for their safety; although they were not all that safe in reality. But the gift of the Spirit is so present in them that they are compelled to speak, to teach and to preach the truth.

Are we compelled? Are we prepared? Is our faith stronger than ever? This world is poised to hear the truth. We must be ready to speak it, so we have to do our homework; make sure our facts are clear and true. The Twenty-first century needs apostles, and they is us!

Posted in Wednesday's Word