Weekly Word

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


 

Black History Bootcamp

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

Recently, I registered for an online class entitled Black History Bootcamp. It comes in daily and is geared primarily to women and even more so to Black women in an attempt to give them more background on their worldview and also to provide Black female role models and heroines. For me, it allows me to gain more insights and understandings of the world in which I live and relate to and connect with Black women. The story below was part of one of the lessons one week, and it seemed fitting to share:

On the night that Gwendolyn Brooks learned that she would become the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, she was sitting in her living room on the Southside of Chicago with her nine-year old son in the dark because the light bill had not been paid. By morning word had spread. A 32-year-old Black girl genius had secured the highest literary award in the land. Reporters descended on Gwendolyn’s home and as they came, she sat petrified, not wanting to reveal to the journalist and cameraman that they would have no place to plug in their equipment.

But when one of them came into the house and flipped on the switch without her knowing, the lights came on! Someone had gone down to the light company and paid the bill in full.

Somebody in this world right now needs to hear this story. Somebody needs to be reminded that it is darkest before dawn. Somebody needs to be reminded that there is hope all around.

“We are each other’s harvest;
we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s magnitude and bond!”

Many of our blogs these days have reminded us of the need to have hope. We are quick to say our hope comes from God, but how does God show us that hope? Through other people? This month we celebrated the feast of Teresa of Avila who wrote that Christ has no body, no feet, no hands, no voice but ours. From thence shall come our hope!

Posted in Weekly Word

How to Heal the World

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I heard a story the other day that gives me hope that the world can be healed of its illnesses. And I am looking for hope and hoping for hope. I hope that we will have another occupant in the White House come January.  I hope that a vaccine for Covid-19 comes soon and is effective and people will not be afraid to use it.  I hope that every country can come to the same healing place.

But more importantly than that, I am of the mind to thank God for the healing ahead of time. To thank God for a new moment in our country, to thank God that healing is coming to all of us, not just those who are sick with coronavirus. The world needs healing. It’s a big job, bigger than you or me. The world is ill, and we need to find a way to heal it.

So I’m offering this story that shows us how to put the world back together again.

The World Is A Puzzle

There was a man who had a little boy that he loved very much. Every day after work the man would come home and play with the little boy. He would always spend all his extra time playing with the little boy.

One night, while the man was at work, he realized that he had extra work to do for the evening, and that he wouldn’t be able to play with his little boy. But, he wanted to be able to give the boy something to keep him busy. So, looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover. He got an idea. He removed the map, and then patiently tore it up into small pieces. Then he put all the pieces in his coat pocket.

When he got home, the little boy came running to him and was ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn’t play just now, but he led the little boy into the dining room, and taking out all the pieces of the map, he spread them on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished, and they could both play. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought.

About half an hour later the boy came to the man and said, “Okay, it’s finished. Can we play now?”
The man was surprised, saying, “That’s impossible. Let’s go see.” And sure enough, there was the picture of the world, all put together, every piece in its place.

The man said, “That’s amazing! How did you do that?” The boy said, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place.”  (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

If we can help to heal one another the whole world will be healed.

Dear God,

We need healing and it’s a big job, bigger than any one of us. We need your help. But we also know that you depend on us to do our part to bring wholeness and healing to each other. Confident that the world can be healed, we thank you for the wholeness you are bringing to us and we thank you for giving us the courage and compassion needed to be part of your healed world.

Amen.

Posted in Weekly Word

Lessons from the Garden

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Riots, rampages. Disorder. Undisciplined behaviors. Right-leaners. Left-leaner…Lacking in control, The perky. The faded. The spent, chins on the ground. Deeply rooted. Weakly committed. The early and the late. The large and small. The tenacious. The stubborn. The overachievers. The strong. The weak. The intruders. The raucous crowds.

The always unpredictable.

Do you think I’ve been describing a political gathering? The state of our cities and institutions? Our nation in the present tense and tension?

No. I’m describing our garden as summer slips away.

It started innocently enough, with a plan.…

Top tier: creeping phlox, some bushes of no particular interest. Second tier down:  Dutch Iris, black-eyed susans. Coneflowers. Daisies. Zinnias. More dutch iris. Everything in its place—though the creeping flox had somehow snuck into the iris below. The bottom layer, larger, curved edges. Back: more perennials not all of which we could name, planted last fall (half-price!): asters, lavender, lobelia, maybe bee balm, anemones? In front of them, a carpet of wave petunias in purple, pink and white.  And no border yet where the daffodils had bloomed.

It was ordered and promising—but there’s a huge difference between planting and its results:

A criss-crossy every which way gangly tangly enthusiastic explosion glorifying God, coming from the front “border” into which we sowed a native-plant mix. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting. They didn’t have names and pictures on the seed packet. And every seed pluckily showed up.

So these later-planted whatever-they-ares, now moving into September in great blooming fervor, have largely brought a meadow into our planned garden. Those bright little petunias crumple, waving goodbye as the meadow drinks their water and blocks the sunlight. The perennials too dry and fade as  they bequeath their dark seedy centers to the breeze and the birds. But so much rejoicing is yet to be as the natives thrive! The the oddest, sloppiest, tallest most enthusiastic sun-drunk array of blossoms and greenery! We can name some: the tall trembling cosmos leaning into the sturdier zinnias, leaning over the parking lot as they twist to gather the sunlight, both such a prize for the bees; other poke-ups  of  small white ones and greenery not yet flowering, the small surprise of orange poppies, the blue bachelor’s buttons, four  kinds of gold and brown varieties growing through each other, (Rudbeckia? Coreopsis?) and the yet-flowering anemone, from garden plan One, peaceful and composed in rose-pink.

If my introductory description had raised in you a vision of today’s fraught human world, you weren’t far off the mark. These worlds intertwine, actually. But all versions of gardens and meadows wherever they are to be found echo that  never-to-be-suppressed song of grace and hope and delight as God gardens the living community of Earth.  If we but stop, look, smell, and listen.

Our sun-smitten blooms bring us a simple but bright harmony in contrast to the shouts and clashes and cries that sound in our world:  a sweet and lilting “consider the lilies” to remind us that the breeze of the Spirit is and will be always moving among us, and with and in Her we are Oh so frightfully contagious.

From the poet GM Hopkins: There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things….for the Holy Ghost o’er the bent world broods/ with warm breath and with ah! Bright wings.

And a prayer from the Mystic and Doctor Teresa of Avila: Teach me Lord to sing of your mercies. Turn my soul into a watered garden, where the flowers dance in the gentle breeze, praying with their beauty.”

Posted in Weekly Word

TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Preaching by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Two parables about vineyards and the people who tend them. Neither story has a happy ending. Isaiah tells of a fertile hillside that receives wonderful care. But in the end it produces rotten grapes. In the Gospel it is the tenants who care for the vineyard that prove to be selfish and do evil things.

These two reading are separated by a lovely reading from the letter to the Philippians.  In this reading Paul tell us not to be anxious but to continue to do good. Where is our message for this Sunday? If we take the reading from Philippians as our base, it can guide us through the other readings.

If we are truly examine our actions and find them trustworthy, God is and will be with us. If we rely on God to guide even though the way may be dark and unknown, then “the God of peace will be with us”.

But we so often go about our usual way of doing things. We receive wonderful care like the vineyard in the first reading. But we don’t tend to our inner life with as much care. We let superficial or material matters take precedence. We sometimes let our prayer simply be words without letting the mystery of God sink deep in our hearts.  We look good one the outside but are superficial on the inside. So the real product we produce is like the rotten grapes in the reading from Isaiah.

Or sometimes, like the Gospel, we get so possessive of our corner of the vineyard that we don’t listen to the suggestions others may have. We have to do things our way and don’t want anyone to interfere or criticize or give helpful suggestions. In always doing things our way, we drive away people and/or ideas that can help us become more authentic persons.

When we don’t really tend to our inner life or when we insist that my way is the only way and don’t heed the advice of the wise persons among us, then it is impossible to really have that inner peace that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Philippians.

Let us examine our lives – our motives, the depth of our relationship with God, our relationships with others. Then as Paul says, “if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise…keep on doing what you have learned and received and heart…Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Posted in Weekly Word

We Have a Voice and a Vote

 

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

I have been reading John Lewis’s memoir Walking with the Wind and could probably copy into this blog almost every passage. But this one caught my attention in light of the current situation in our country:

When I care about something, when I commit to it, I am prepared to take the long hard road, knowing it may not happen today or tomorrow, but ultimately, eventually, it will happen. That’s what faith is all about…. Some battles are long and hard, and you have to have staying power. Firecrackers go off in a flash and leave nothing but ashes. I prefer a pilot light—the flame is nothing flashy, but once it is lit, it doesn’t go out. It burns steadily, and it burns forever.

This need to stay with it, to hold tight, must grow stronger in all of us, I think. Right now with the “quiet” health crisis of COVID 19 when we are not rushing out to buy essential items and finding empty shelves, and we do not see so many lines of people waiting to get into the store themselves; when we can find lots of hand sanitizers, digital thermometers, disinfectant wipes, and TOILET PAPER; these days make us relax, make us think it’s not so bad anymore. We have seen what thinking that way has gotten us. Who needs to wear a mask, right?

We apply some of that “quiet” to the issues of the protests and Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and we speak about how it will all be over soon and we can stop talking about racism. Then there is another police shooting, of a Black suspect or a police officer, and we are smacked right back into the chaos.

Many of the books I am reading now, written in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, could have been written today in 2020. Very little has changed and very few white minds have conceded how much evil exists because of the systems in which we live, get educated, make a living, raise a family, pray and socialize.

Over the next couple of months we are going to have to dig deep inside ourselves and find out just what it is that makes living in a democracy a good thing for everyone, not just a few. It will sometimes be painful, sometimes hurtful, but if we do it for the best reasons it can only be helpful and life giving.

Posted in Weekly Word