Weekly Word

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


 

Hope Happens

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Last week, from October 12-15, 2021, we hosted the annual meeting of elected leaders of the Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC). For most members it was a virtual experience, technically facilitated by our excellent Communication Department led by Alice Black.

What I want to share with you about that meeting is not the decisions we made or the things that took place, but its theme: Hope Happens.  So what follows are part of my opening remarks adapted to suit a wider audience of readers. The topic of hope is so important and needed, I thought you might be encouraged by a few words about hope. And how it happens.

Sr. Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, (Sinsinawa), Executive Director of the Dominican Sisters Conference.

It seems too obvious to say that a lot has happened for all of us this past year in our families, parishes, communities.  All of us have known unexpected circumstances that challenged us and have might even made us question our path sometimes. Personal circumstances like COVID illnesses, changes in economic conditions, or other life-changing events, call to mind that life is fragile for everyone, not only those who are advanced in age or frailty or are vulnerable to COVID.

Change happens at a moment’s notice.  Hope happens when we notice it. This time is an invitation to be in a season of hope. And I dare say that all of us have been searching for sources of hope.

In many ways, our country is more divided than ever, more segregated, and more tribal than ever. And sometimes it feels like hope eludes our grasp. As I was reflecting on these realities, I came to realize how important it is for us to notice hope. To be women of the Gospel is to preach a word of hope, to be a word of hope. It is the sure and certain conviction that God provides –that God works within the choices that we make– that hope happens.

Think for a moment in your own way when you noticed hope. It can come as a surprise sometimes, doesn’t it?  Isn’t it a small miracle, that someone says something to you —the right thing to you —and hope erupts? It breaks open in you.  Isn’t it a small miracle that hope comes around an unexpected corner?  Hope happens because you are paying attention to the possibility that life can be brighter. You are open to noticing it. You lean in toward hope.

I am struck by the gesture that happens when we want to listen more carefully to another person.

Do you find yourself leaning in?  Not just to hear more clearly, but to hear more of the heart, to lean into the moment. I invite you to lean in to hope. Pay attention to what might be just around the corner, or as close as the person sitting across the dinner table. Hope happens when we notice it.

We all have been adapting to new ways of thinking and acting this year. We all have had to become more nimble, ready to act at a moment’s notice sometimes.  And yet we hold the long view in our sights.  God’s view in which we remember that all things work together for good.

And you practice the art of leaning in to hope may you know the truth of the prophet Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

 

Posted in Weekly Word

Saving the world—One Gourd plant at a time?

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

We’ve been hearing the story of Jonah, the pouty prophet, having accomplished a great work for God, yet complaining about a withered gourd plant, sounding like a 4-year-old, “angry enough to die.”

We also have heard the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Jesus calls God “Father.” It is a name for the love they have for each other, and for the unity they share. It is about God’s daily care, Gods everyday attentiveness to the needs of human beings and God’s goodness on and in the earth. It is about mercy, forgiveness. It is about protection, and hope.

Interestingly, Jonah knows more about God than we initially think. He doesn’t want to deal with God, or be God’s messenger—and why?  Because Jonah already knows–not at the depth of Jesus, exactly– that God (not Father, but Big Boss) is merciful and forgiving, and cares about Nineveh enough to offer a warning to its people  and a chance to repent.

 But Jonah does not want to save Nineveh.  He would like to see Nineveh, that pagan den of vice, be crushed. And he wants that more than God does. So why should he be the prophet to save them? So he runs away—sort of a triathlon of avoidance, running, sailing, swimming–causing all manner of trouble for others, and goes overboard so that God will quell that storm. An even more extreme form of draft-dodging. And then there’s the huge fish, and his three day stay in its guest-room.

Finally unable to run or swim or hide, Jonah becomes the prophet he does not want to be, and travels to and through that city. And much to hs disgust, in one day of walking  and proclaiming destruction, the ruler and the people ( and the cattle) put on sackcloth and observe a fast, and thereby call down God’s mercy..

Jonah is peeved. He pouts. He tells God he’s angry enough to die. Why? Because he’s done God’s work !?  Yes, he’s done God’s work—a mammoth conversion–and it is he who is unconverted. Probably Job’s name for God is “The Big Boss.”

But for Jesus, God is Father, Abba, deeply in love, dwelling as One, working together in bringing the holiness, the bounty, the daily bread of life, forgiveness and hope for a world reborn.  .

My guess is that you and I are somewhere between. God we say, is gracious and merciful, sweet energy, beauty, goodness, Truth. We’re half-converted, anyway. Our,  naming and our imaging have evolved over time, as we grow deeper into Gospel understanding, though on occasion we’re not entirely sure God should expend so much effort in saving the world through our labors.There are plenty of Ninevehs out there we hardly approve of, although maybe we’d settle for being assigned a gourd plant. We  butt heads with what we suspect God is asking, and we often follow our own wills and desires, sure that they are God’s, in agreement with us.

Hearing and responding to God’s voice, God’s Spirit,  often involves a name-change, an image-adjustment, a surrender. We are quite aware that saving the world is much more than God is asking us in our weakness and our hesitancy.   It’s all so enormous. So God asks from us our todays, our small acts of faithfulness, our belief in a mercy far greater than ours.And maybe a name-change or an image-alteration. Of God and of ourselves.

So from all eternity God is not the Boss, or the Judge.  He  is Love and Mercy and is calling our name. :Jesus repeats it to us in human flesh, Beloved; and the Spirit is busy bringing it from our heart to our lips. Beloved.  And we learn—over time– that our name is the same.

Posted in Weekly Word

FEAST OF SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL, RAPHAEL               

Preaching by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Today’s feast is about three archangels – Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – who the church calls saints.

Michael means “who is like God” and this angel is seen as a protector. Michael is named in the Book of Revelation. Here Michael defeats Satan with the other fallen angels. We often think of Michael as fighting the devil and winning.

Gabriel means “hero of God” and this angel is known as one who announces. We usually associate Gabriel as the angel who appeared to Mary and to Zechariah foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.

Raphael means “God has healed” and this angel is depicted as a guide. In the Book of Tobit Raphael is the guide on Tobias’ journey and eventually instructs Tobias what to do to heal Tobit’s blindness.

Which of these appeals or touches you in your life? Which angel should we call upon to guide us in our world today? I propose all three.

Raphael is needed in our world to help us heal the ills we confront daily. Yes, we need to heal the physical disease of the Covid virus. There are also so many other ills in our world, – racism, discrimination, care for the poor and so many other evils.

We can use the good news that Gabriel can announce. We certainly can use some good news today. Sometimes the good news can seem perplexing like the way Mary felt as a young unmarried pregnant teen. Like Mary it takes courage to be faithful and trusting in the Word, the good news, that God sends us.

Michael is the least attractive to me. It makes me think of war and violence. Yet we do need to wage war against the violence in our cities and towns. Sometimes waging war can happen by standing tall for peace; other times it can mean to step out of the crowd to confront the situation right in front of us.

The gospel for the feast of the Angels is about the call of Nathanael. Jesus tells Nathanael: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”. May we call upon God to send Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael to our world to help us find ways to bring about more peaceful, life-giving good news to heal our bodies, spirits, and our earth.

 

Posted in Weekly Word

FEAST OF SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL, RAPHAEL

Reflection by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Today’s feast is about three archangels – Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – who the church calls saints.

Michael means “who is like God” and this angel is seen as a protector. Michael is named in the Book of Revelation. Here Michael defeats Satan with the other fallen angels. We often think of Michael as fighting the devil and winning.

Gabriel means “hero of God” and this angel is known as one who announces. We usually associate Gabriel as the angel who appeared to Mary and to Zechariah foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.

Raphael means “God has healed” and this angel is depicted as a guide. In the Book of Tobit Raphael is the guide on Tobias’ journey and eventually instructs Tobias what to do to heal Tobit’s blindness.

Which of these appeals or touches you in your life? Which angel should we call upon to guide us in our world today? I propose all three.

Raphael is needed in our world to help us heal the ills we confront daily. Yes, we need to heal the physical disease of the Coronavirus. There are also so many other ills in our world, – racism, discrimination, care for the poor and so many other evils.

We can use the good news that Gabriel can announce. We certainly can use some good news today. Sometimes the good news can seem perplexing like the way Mary felt as a young unmarried pregnant teen. Like Mary it takes courage to be faithful and trusting in the Word, the good news, that God sends us.

Michael is the least attractive to me. It makes me think of war and violence. Yet we do need to wage war against the violence in our cities and towns. Sometimes waging war can happen by standing tall for peace; other times it can mean to step out of the crowd to confront the situation right in front of us.

The gospel for the feast of the Angels is about the call of Nathanael. Jesus tells Nathanael: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”. May we call upon God to send Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael to our world to help us find ways bring about more peaceful, life giving good news to heal our bodies, spirits and our earth.

Posted in Weekly Word

One Sunday Morning

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

Sunday morning, August 29, the storm really was coming; not a direct hit but worse than we wanted it to be. Just as we thought we really should leave, the mayor makes the announcement that “if you are gone, stay away; if you are still here, do not leave your house.” Thus we stayed. About 1:00 PM or so, we were watching TV to get the latest updates, and then we weren’t. All power went out and stayed out for four days.

The curses? No air conditioning with a heat index sometimes around 108 degrees; charging the phones in the car and hoping there was enough gas; seeing lines for a good mile around the one gas station that could open; lines, lines and more lines, at the few grocery stores  and the ice machine stores open; cleaning out refrigerators and freezers into garbage bags which then sat for almost three weeks before any trucks came into the neighborhood to take them away, and in some areas still have not been picked up at all; seeing the debris, not just tree limbs and roof shingles but refrigerators and furniture.

The blessings? Being with people who cared and wanted all of us to be safe; wandering around the neighborhood to check on neighbors who did not evacuate; receiving a phone call from the 97 year old matriarch in the neighborhood who had evacuated with her daughter and just wanted to check on us; having a car with gas in it so the phones could be charged; being physically able to stand in lines to wait for grocery stores to open and enjoy the air conditioned interior while shopping; waiting in lines for boxes of food that we would deliver to the neighbors still here.

In the midst of it all, we all felt the hand of God each time some church or organization was able to reach out in any way with food or gift cards or donations of cleaning items. But we also felt the hand of God in the mere fact that we saw each other and could share stories and know that we were so blessed! Did not see an actual rainbow in the sky, didn’t have to. They were all around us.

Posted in Weekly Word