Weekly Word

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


 

Noisy Disquiet

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

At this writing, I am in the midst of a second week of quarantine after some minor sinus surgery that needed to be done for a long time. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed until now and the 14 days is just what is being required. I’m fine — recuperating more slowly than I thought, but no complaints really.

I’ve been sequestered at home, like so many other people who can work from home these days, who are plugged in with WiFi or cable. Many people I talk to say their sense of time is off, unsure of what day of the week it is, for example — a function of this disorientation we are experiencing. Working from home is not a retreat, and certainly not vacation, but a kind of twilight zone, a limbo of working in a disconnected way but tethered to tasks that need doing at the same time.  My attention span is short and I’m looking for distraction half of the time. I ate the last of the Easter jellybeans today. I hope I don’t panic.  Panic over candy? Now there’s a very privileged place.

Although the house is quiet, for some reason I am so aware of how noisy it is outside. I’m conscious of the droning lawnmowers and the loud sirens from the fire station around the corner.  I don’t think I noticed those sounds so much before.  My office in the Motherhouse is quieter, and I guess, now that people are beginning to emerge from their seclusion, it seems like everybody in this town who owns a motorcycle is coming down my street like a volcanic eruption.  It doesn’t help with the windows wide open.

I’m just so very struck by the sounds that I am engaging with as I sit here working at my desk, getting ready for another zoom call.

Besides the traffic, I can also hear lots of birds and the rain on the windows and out on the street. Some sounds are welcome. Others not so much. At lunchtime, I make a salad and catch some of the noontime news. Not a good idea. I forget how much news is streaming into my space and how little of it seems useful. Reports of one government official or agency complaining about another, rising numbers of cases and deaths, the ongoing debate between scientists and economists on what should happen when in order to regain some equilibrium.

I miss the beautiful interruption of someone stopping by the office to say hello, the friendly banter of our staff members in the kitchen. I miss eating lunch in the dining room, catching up with the sisters and eating with the staff. I miss saying hello to Howard on his daily rounds of collecting recycling.

The danger of my safe and lovely cocoon is that I get too comfortable in it. I’m easily sheltered from the harsh reality of people who face permanently losing their jobs, or who are not sure if they can continue to live in their homes. And how are parents going to provide for their children when the government assistance isn’t so friendly anymore?  I fear this darkness will grow deeper for those who are poor, the immigrant, and the millions of American families who live from paycheck to paycheck.

This is all an invitation to ask: what am I listening for? Who am I listening to? Can I listen with more compassion to those who are deeply anxious? Can I hear the impatient calls to go back to a” normal” with some understanding and a desire for stability?

Amidst this noisy disquiet, I pray that I can hear the sound of hope — louder and more clearly than the squawking geese of blaming voices.

Amidst this noisy disquiet, I pray that I can hear the sound of innovation and invention, of new ways to connect one human soul to another.

Amidst this noisy disquiet, I pray that I can hear the voice of compassion within myself and a sense of communion, of belonging — more penetrating than the empty promises of quick cures.

Amidst this noisy disquiet, I pray I just keep listening.

Amen.

 

Posted in Weekly Word

PREACHING: FEAST OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA

Preaching by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

St. Catherine of Siena was born in Siena, in 1347, shortly after the Black Death began to ravage Europe. Over the next 5 years it killed more than 20 million people in Europe – almost 1/3 of the continent’s population. Apparently, Catherine and her family were not directly affected by this plague, but it must have affected them indirectly.

Today we are battling a similar crisis. Covid-19 is affecting millions of people all over the world and killing thousands just in our own country.

It was after the Black Death had subsided, when Catherine was still a teen, that she spent 3 years cloistered in a room. She went out only to go to daily Mass. She didn’t choose to live in a cloistered room because of some plague. It was because from the age of about five Catherine had a deep relationship with God. She had vowed to give her whole life to God. She stayed in this cloistered room to deepen that relationship with God. It was only after three years living a cloistered life that God then called her to step out to minister to people in need.

Today we are told to “stay in place”. We sometimes complain about having to stay in place. We are told that it is for our physical safety and the safety of others.  Maybe we are looking at this quarantine time wrongly. Can this be a time to deepen our relationship with God? That is what Catherine did. Maybe this is the time God is calling us to move into a more contemplative mode. Only then will we really be ready to give to step out to minister to people in need – to offer the fruits of our contemplation.

Prayer from Evening Prayer of Dominican Praise; Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

O Eternal Trinity, Wisdom of the saints,
Catherine was in her time a holy model,
a courageous woman, a wise and faithful counselor.
Help us in our time to discover our mission to church and world,
and enable us to speak with conviction and clarity
the truth we have encounter in Jesus, Gentle First Truth,
now and forever.

Amen.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

The Prayer

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

The flames of anxiety and frustration, resentment and insecurity are blazing more brightly these days, fueled predominantly by fear. What can I say? It was inevitable.

So I want to offer this. It is a song sometimes sung as a duet by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli; look it up on YouTube.

The Prayer

I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know.
Let this be our prayer; when we lose our way
Lead us to the place; guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light; and hold it in our hearts.
When stars go out each night; remind us where we are.
Let this be our prayer; when shadows fill our day,
Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace;
Give us faith so we’ll be safe.

We ask that life be kind and watch us from above.
We hope each soul will find another soul to love.
Let this be our prayer, just like every child,
Need to find a place, guide us with your grace,
give us faith so we’ll be safe.

AMEN

 

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Blue Skies: The Exuberance of Easter

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Well here we are in Easter Week, the time when I always think the world, and everything in it is right, and good, and happy.  We celebrate this sacred and liberating truth that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, has conquered evil and deflected the conspiracy of the self-protecting powerful. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the epitome of God’s promise to love us no matter what, is now resurrected and engaged with us in a new and mysterious way. “Peace be with you,” is his greeting to us.

For us, in the Northern Hemisphere, who are experiencing the opening of the earth in Spring, we can simply look out the window and see the promise of God fulfilled in budding trees, greening forsythia, popping snow drops, crocus and jonquils.

Blue skies above us, even when the clouds are grey, when we are held captive by a global pandemic. Blue skies even in the midst of shortages, anxiety about our jobs, our savings, our health. Blue skies even when we wear a mask to protect others from ourselves. Even then, the sky is blue, it is always blue above the storm, above rain, and wind and yes, even above death all around us.

I have been so aware of how blue the sky is, on sunny days, when all around us is news of Covid-19, when we worry about loved ones, friends and family.  The entire way in which we move through life is changed. As if we are in a warp in the universe, a communal nightmare from which we cannot awaken.

Blue skies above us even then, even now.

Do not let the power of this pandemic keep you from seeing blue skies. Do not let this pandemic rob you of the exuberance of Easter, of the joy and yes, conviction that Jesus Christ is in fact Risen. And in the same way, WE are risen, we are a risen people who carry within us the presence of Jesus, Risen from the dead.  Death has no victory — all you need do is look for the blue skies that are there, even when clouds are grey.

This is no Pollyanna thinking. Watch for blue skies to lift you, to return you to the exuberance of Easter as you have always known it. Easter is in you. You only need a simple sign that God is with you. You only need to spend more than a minute looking at blue skies. Then you will know, as you have always known, that God is smiling at you.

To show you what I mean, watch this YouTube of Frank Sinatra singing Blue Skies, by Irving Berlin. If you can’t do that, just read the lyrics. I dare you not to be lifted up.

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

I never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going oh-so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you’re in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Weaving Through the Mysteries

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

At no other time in the church year does Eucharist reveal its meaning so clearly and compellingly.

This day, we gather with the disciples (including the holy women) to celebrate with Jesus the Passover meal.  With our backdrop a Hebrew meal of sacred remembrance already deeply rich in meaning and practice, we can ask the question of the oldest child,”Why is this night different from every other night?”  And around the table the story begins—again.

This night, Holy Thursday, we remember Jesus’ saving actions:

The washing of the feet, the breaking of the bread, the dying on the cross.

Here Jesus sums up his life and gives to us a lifetime task of discipleship: the washing of one another’s feet, the breaking of ourselves as bread for others, and the dying to ourselves, in love, which proclaims his life–giving death,

And invests the other actions with its ultimate meaning. Each of the three actions describes and enriches the other two—as we are fed, we are food, as we wash, we bring the waters of life,  as we make memorial of Jesus’ death we offer our own poor-pouring out in gratitude for God’s abundant mercies.

In all three the stance  of the heart is the same:  as T.S. Eliot put it: A CONDITION OF COMPLETE SIMPLICITY COSTING NOT LESS THAN EVERYTHING.

This is what he gave us—a lifetime’s death in love and this is what we try to return—a lifetime of becoming what we receive, a lifetime of putting on the Lord Jesus Christ—like an apron.

I have an image of a garment, woven, which each of us receives in Baptism and along with it, the task of continuing the weaving.  Jesus provides the warp threads, endlessly repeated, what he does for us eternally:  wash feet, break bread, pour out his life on the cross.

These are the core of our garment—the golden warp threads of his life mingling with ours, structuring ours. All our lives we weave our garment, in and out, over and under, the washing and breaking , and death-resurrection  of Christ Jesus.

What is it we weave? Our growing and becoming. Of learning to share, to give. Our many ways of serving God’s people and showing ourselves as Living Words. Portress duty, driving, offering a greeting and a smile, reading and studying, volunteering to help those in need. Showing up. And this year, we pray with fervor and hope for the easing of the pandemic.

Day by day, year after year, we weave the ordinary:  the way we live together, rub up against each other, forgive each other. Our joys and wonderments, memories, hard times.

Our threads are of countless colors and textures, thin, or lumpy, perhaps more often sisal-rough than white angora—our weft threads and yarns which are held together by those golden warp-threads, strong and shining, holding a grace-pattern that will never unravel—

We weave with Jesus our savior and brother, our garment of life. We put it on, so small and new and promising at our Baptism. We will wear it again someday, clothed in glory, a wedding garment at the Great banquet, The Feast of the Lamb—

The fulfillment of God’s promises in the wonders that await us as we join in the General Resurrection (or the general dance!).

And for now, in these interim, these middling days, we wear it as we are weaving it, in and out, over and under—

We wear it, wrapped around our waist like a towel—

And like Jesus, we kneel and wash feet.

Posted in News, Weekly Word