Wednesday’s Word

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


 

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

Elusive?

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

The photo accompanying this blog shows our mascot at the Peace Center. She looks so peaceful right now, sleeping with her head on her paws, lost to the world. But let a noisy car drive by or a car door slam or a small rock skitter across the sidewalk and she will leap into the air, tail fluffed out and body ready to strike.

That is what peace can be like, too. It is elusive. It looks calming, feels good, but too soon it is destroyed in the rambunctious earthly shakeups we call isms: racism, heterosexism, genderism, ageism, et al. We seek the peace that will be forever; we pray for it almost daily, but it is in the day to day that we will find it if we take a breath before we speak, if we see the face of God in someone else before we reject them, if we don’t look down on the ones we deem different but raise them up as we raise our own selves and give praise to God.

“Peace is flowing like a river”, “Make me an instrument of your peace”, “Give peace a chance”—these don’t have to be just words from a song. We can make them words to live by each and every day.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

A Message from my Brother

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I’m a twin, in case you did not know. My sister Marge is married with two grown daughters and lives with her husband Mike in New Jersey. So hold that thought for a minute.

Last weekend, I visited my girlfriends for our semi-annual tradition of coming together for friendship and fun and just being together. We went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, a very small town about an hour west of Madison. It was so small we drove right through it without realizing that we should’ve made a turn in order to find this small arts community we were looking to visit. There were some interesting galleries, one of which was holding an exhibit of quilts from the AIDS Names Project. You might remember it.

I was immediately struck by them. Twelve feet square assemblages of six quilts handmade by the friends and family of those who died of HIV-AIDS. The gallery held some quilts of people from the local area. The whole Names Project holds 48,000 quilts and is the largest community folk arts project in the world.  It was on display on the Washington Mall beginning in 1987. My brother Paul’s quilt is among them and today is the 30th anniversary of his death. So when I saw the exhibit, I felt that he was reaching out to me.

I found a photo of his quilt on the Names Project Foundation’s website.

Now about my sister Marge. Unbeknownst to me, she found Paul’s quilt and ordered a framed photo of it from the Names Project. It arrived on Monday. She remembers going to Washington to see his quilt and signing the back of it. I think Paul was sending a message to her as well. The twins were channeling his spirit. Maybe it took two of us.

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, on exhibition at the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Today, so many memories are with me of Paul, how funny and playful he was.  Of my family, who was so supportive in the face of a society who, at the time, was openly hostile and hateful toward gay people. And even more despicable toward those who suffered from the disease to the point of funeral homes refusing to bury the dead. Really. Refused to bury them. For many, a distant memory now.

Today, I know a kind of breaking through, a connection across the veil, that is as real as a pinprick on my skin. Paul poked through and let us know that he is here. His smile, his inventiveness with electronics, his hopes of having his own business, his place in our family. I think he just wanted to let us know that all is well, he’s fine and happy and feeling loved.

As you might recall those you have lost, those who you remember as precious, know that there is only a thin veil that separates you. I hope you feel the pinprick, the way they sometimes poke through to us, just to say we are loved.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word