Around the world there are hundreds of languages: Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Swahili, and more. There are also the languages of ideas, science, medicine, philosophy, psychology, just to name a few. Where I live, in our motherhouse, our version of English is from Boston, China, New Orleans, Zambia, Brooklyn, Kentucky, Zimbabwe, Ohio, Philadelphia, and more. On top of all these we could add nonverbal facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. When I look at all this hodgepodge of how we speak, I find myself astounded that any effective communication occurs at all. Continue reading →
Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.
I just read a Facebook post from a former student who shared the story of a cab driver in NYC whose name was Mohammed. Mohammed called her firm because he had found a wallet in his cab, and her business card was inside it. Turns out the wallet was left behind by one of her clients. She was able to contact the client who was so relieved to know someone had found the wallet. Mohammed brought the wallet to the office so the client could retrieve it there. My former student wanted to tell this story as an example of a good Muslim. Continue reading →
“He was a man who wept” (Simon Tugwell, OP)
It’s a difficult time. The politicians are riling the voters. Terrorist attacks, overflowing refugee camps, gun deaths, the threat of an unstable Middle East. As the daily news floods over us, we can’t begin to number the evils that beset our world. Humanity’s sins are enormous and growing; what we have thought to be progress has hurt and exploited countless human beings and God’s beloved earth in ways we never considered. We pray as Dominic prayed,”O Mercy! What will become of sinners?”
We try to be good servants of the Gospel. We are good citizens. We read. We listen. We have a call to seek and preach the truth, to bear the Gospel of Peace. But in this seething and starving world we are so small, so sinful and needy ourselves. We are vowed as Preachers of Grace, living Gospels. We pray urgently with Dominic, the man who preached by day and wept by night: What will become of a sinful world? What would you have us, me, do, to show your Mercy?
Even at its best, humanity has never been able to erase human error, cruelty and suffering—it all keeps coming back. We never have been able to reach far enough for long enough with energy enough. All our lives, dedicated as they are, are circumscribed in time and place and the limits of our bodies, minds and spirits. All people, including Jesus himself lived, as we do, the scandal of particularity.
God knows we daughters and sons of Dominic have tried: study, prayer, common life, preaching. We have served as we can, gone where we were sent. We have written, spoken out, rallied. Successes? Failures? There is no way to tally. The apostle Paul, Preacher Dominic, our saints, our foundresses were– as Mother Teresa has been quoted– not asked by God to be successful, only faithful. And this is why Dominic stayed up nights pleading with God.
In the long view, in God’s time, what we have accomplished will be
revealed. But in the mystery of God’s grace, our accomplishment is beside the point. The work is God’s, the energy is the Spirit’s, the victory is Christ’s. Such a mercy! Such a freedom! So every day we can claim the call to praise, to bless, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as best we can to the small worlds we are given, in the days we are allotted, with the ambiguities that bedevil us. And we continue, with the groaning of creation, and the Spirit groaning with us, Dominic’s vigil of prayer for the world.
When we pray, the aim is not (as popularly presented), to center ourselves into some private peace, but to break our hearts open—as did Christ Jesus– to share the agony of God’s people, the unspeakable, the unbearable, the seemingly relentless. Prayer is the worldwide web in which we are driven to dwell as was Dominic, an immediacy of presence to God and neighbor and a ravaged earth.
Prayer is the silent word in the vows we pronounce, our life’s work, witness to an ever-so-much-more relentless presence: God’s power and promise, a Word of hope for a future where there will be “no death, no mourning, no crying or pain….” Holy Father Dominic, pray for your sons and daughters, pray. Be with us in our tears, our vigils, our labors for the Gospel in a broken world; your voice, your weeping, your steadfast confidence loud over time as your sons and daughters plead and witness, “Champions of faith and true lights for the world.”
Well, look around. What DO you take for granted? I’m just back from a mission trip to Kingston, Jamaica. It was a very eye opening, challenging and amazing experience. Here are three things that I took for granted before going on this trip.
Sharp pencils. In the Whitewing neighborhood, we volunteered at the summer school program of St. Pius Parish. I worked in the Learning Center where we did a math or English project each day. We used pencils for our work but the pencils kept breaking. Every time we would just get them sharp enough to use (with a small manual sharpener), they broke. It was so frustrating! I will never take a good sharpened pencil for granted again. And one with a good eraser is definitely a blessing!
Remember “The Talk”? You know the one when our parents got all fidgety and cleared their throats a lot; or the one in school when they used to separate the boys from the girls, and we giggled a lot? Maybe you’ve had to have “the Talk” with your own kids in recent years. Sometimes parents don’t even bother ’cause they figure the info is all over the internet so no big deal; they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it. Continue reading →