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Sr. Susan, over at Musings, has posted a lovely post election prayer which includes the following:

. . . . .

Watch over our new president-elect–
keep him safe and sound.
Watch over our proud and diverse citizenry,
heal our divisions and
grant us whatever it is that we need to
truly become
that more perfect union long promised
and often wished for.

May peace prevail
in our homes, our nation, our world.
May all your children grow in awareness
that we are one.
May neighbor watch over neighbor.
May your kindom come.
Amen.

And I join my voice to hers in praying for our nation, our world.  Amen.

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Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Readings Nm 21:4b-9; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17

 

    In our first reading tonight from the Hebrew Scriptures, we hear one
of the many tales of our ancestors.  In a
nut shell, the people, unhappy with their circumstances,  complained, then some died, and then the
people asked Moses to ask God to take the serpents away; and God heeded Mose’s
request and those who had been bitten, who surely would have died, were
healed.  Lots of people focus on is how
when the people turned from God, God punished them.  But, we are to look beyond the literal –
after all, that’s just how the people interpreted what was happening.  It’s not necessarily a cause and effect
relationship here.  What seems true to
me, about human nature, anyway, is that complaining doesn’t do anyone a whole
lot of good. 

    So, the people didn’t like the food, they didn’t like where
they were, they didn’t like the people they were with or their leader… (Sound
familiar?)  So they complained and moaned
and threw hissy fits.  And then they
died.  Complaining is a death-dealing
activity. 

    When people ask me how I’m doing… I often say, “I can’t
complain”, which I quickly follow up with “but I do, anyway.”  Complain that is.  I complain that the leaders of my country are
driving it into the ground; I complain that we aren’t listening to each other;
that our political process is so messed up; that we aren’t doing enough to help
others; that there’s nothing on TV. 

    
I complain that I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want or
feel like I need to do…. You get the picture. 
You may even be living in a similar picture….Well without the banana in
the cereal box! (I hope).

    But, the truth is there is nothing in my life worthy of
complaint.  I’m fed, sheltered, have
friends, good health, a fantastic job, sisters who love and support me,
transportation, enough yarn to knit a dozen sweaters and blankets, not to
mention clean water, electricity, and indoor plumbing.     Complaining is death-dealing; because while
I’m focused on what I don’t have; what I “should” have, I am not celebrating
what I do have and I miss the gifts that are right in front of me. 

    Also, I’m not working to make life better for those around
me who have way less than I do.  One
would think Jesus would be really disappointed in me; disappointed that I don’t
always “get it”, that I sometimes refuse to “get it”. But the scripture says
something quite different. . .

    God didn’t send Jesus in to the world to condemn it.  Did you hear that?  When I first read the Gospel in preparation
for tonight, I saw that it contained John 3:16… surely the most street-signed passage
in the Christian scriptures.  But that
line (that God loved us so much he sent Jesus) doesn’t really make sense to me
without the next line.  That Jesus came
into the world to save it, not to condemn it. 
So if God didn’t condemn the world; and we see that repeated over and
over in scripture, but loved it. . . . then how is it that we, in our limited,
human selves, think we have the right to condemn and, indeed, complain about it?  Especially when most of what we complain
about is of our own creation in one way or another.

    There’s this song that keeps going through my mind.  It’s a new tune by Steve Earle, sung by Joan
Baez.  The song is called God is God, and
the point of the song, like the point of our readings tonight is that God ain’t
me; God ain’t us; and God is God. 

    When the Israelites were complaining that they weren’t being
treated right, they were claiming to know better than God.  Not so much. 
 When we in any of our groups, be
they personal, religious, political, claim to know God’s will for others, we are
saying we know the mind of God…. But even Jesus, we are told in the Scriptures
tonight, didn’t regard equality with God something to be grasped at.  Jesus, who actually was God, didn’t claim any
special treatment or special rights.  He
went about making the lives of others better. 

    I am not God; we are not God; God is not us, and thank
Goodness God is God.

Our ancestors, I noticed, asked God to remove the serpents
from their midst.  But, did you note that
that’s not what God did?  God used the
serpents, in fact, an image of the serpent, to heal them.  They looked on that which was death dealing,
and they were healed.

    In the fall of 2001, my mom was diagnosed with metastatic
breast cancer.  Over the next six years,
I often prayed for a cure.  Mom underwent
surgery, chemo and radiation; the common lot of cancer patients and she rarely
complained.  I don’t know if my Mom ever
prayed to have the cancer removed.  I do
know she wanted to and chose to live every single day she had. 

    I believe that cancer is a horrible thing and it is
death-dealing.  I also know that
death-dealing thing gave us a great opportunity to spend really precious time
with each other.  My sisters and
brothers, my mom and each of us and her friends, we found healing in the time
we had to be together. 

I wanted to complain, okay, I did complain, to God about
Mom’s illness.  But I also thanked God
for helping us to see past the illness to each other – to the opportunity to be
there for one another – I continue to thank God for the healing of
relationships and the healing of our hearts which happened through the
experience we walked together. 

    I was
blessed with the opportunity to live with and care for her during the last year
she lived here on earth.  My mom was not
cured of cancer, but living with it, living through it, and seeing beyond it
healed her, healed the relationships with some of her children who were
distant; healed her relationship with God and also, in real ways, healed each
of us who loved and walked with her.  She
died 18 months ago, but the healing remains.

    Our ancestors were told to look at the death-dealing serpent
and be healed; My family looked at and through Mom’s death-dealing cancer and
we were healed.  We, Christians,
Catholics, believers, we look to the Cross, a death-dealing instrument, and we,
too, are healed.  We are not
condemned.  We are saved, we are
healed.  And the healing continues.

    Tonight we are going to celebrate the healing power of our
faith in a special way.  We are going to anoint
one of our members as she seeks ongoing healing.  While we won’t be putting a serpent on a
stick, we will, like our ancestors before us, like communities who believe in a
healing God do, we will pray.  And we
will have faith that healing, in whatever form God chooses will emerge.  Not just for Cynthia; but for each of
us.  Will we have the eyes and the heart
to recognize it?

Sr. Christine Wilcox, OP
Dominican University Chapel
Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
9-14-08

risking my heart (because I believe that’s what it’s for.)

Dominic34_2

Blessings on the Feast of St. Dominic.

from Timothy Radcliffe:

From the beginning Dominic gathered together a family of preachers, men and
women, lay and religious, contemplatives and preachers who took to the road. We
can see inscriptions in S Sabina which talk of the Dominican Family which go
back to the beginning. It has always been part of who we are. But now we claim
that something new is happening. All over the world, sisters and lay Dominicans
are claiming their identity as preachers.

. . . .

The friendship that Jesus offers is wide and open. He welcomes in everyone. He
gets impatient when the disciples try to stop someone preaching because they do
not belong to the group of the disciples. He does not shut doors but bursts
through them. Let us embody that big hearted friendship. Let us be a sign of
that welcome, so that we may all be at ease in Dominic’s Family and know that we
belong. May Dominic liberate us from the fear that locks the doors.


God of Truth you gave your church a new light in the life and preaching of our Father Dominic.
Give us the help we need to support our preaching by holy and simple
lives. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

From my family to yours, whoever you are.  Peace and Friendship.

  • Take an Easter Walk
    Sometime
    during the week after Easter Sunday, take a walk around your
    neighborhood, in your garden, at the park, or even at the local
    shopping center. Look for signs of new life all around you. Remember
    the neophytes—those who were baptized this Easter—who are “new plants”
    in the household of God.
  • Do a Baptism search
    Search
    for photos and other mementos of your own baptism, for example, your
    baptismal gown or certificate. Place these in a prominent spot in your
    home during the season. Bring home some holy water from the parish
    baptismal font, and use it to make the sign of the cross each morning
    on your forehead.
  • Wear white and dress up
    On
    Sundays during the season, try to wear lots of white or something more
    “Easter-y,” for example, a flower corsage on your wrist or lapel. If
    you don’t usually dress up for Sunday Mass, wear dressier clothes each
    Sunday of Easter. Each time you dress, remember that you have been
    “clothed in Christ.”
  • Light candles  Buy
    some nice candles for your home. Place them in your living room and on
    your dinner table. Light them at night and whenever you sit down to eat
    at home. Use a match to light them, and as you strike the match, say
    “Christ, our Light.”
  • Dress up your dinner table
    Throughout
    the season, use a table cloth on your kitchen or dinner table if you
    don’t already. Use the nicer plates, utensils, and glasses that you
    save for special occasions. Commit to eating at least one meal at home
    on Sundays. Light candles, turn off the TV, and put on some nice music
    for these meals. Every time you eat, begin by saying, “Jesus, Lamb of
    God.”
  • Make bathing a time of renewal  Whenever
    you shower or bathe, remember your own baptism. Recall how the
    neophytes were bathed in the font. Make it a special time of prayer by
    saying, “Christ, the Water of Life” when you begin. Pamper yourself
    with soothing oils or lotions. Remember how you have been anointed with
    the Spirit of Christ.
  • Let each day be a little Easter  As
    you wake up each day, consecrate that day to God by saying, “This is
    the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This
    comes from the traditional psalm for Easter (Psalm 118). If you can,
    give yourself some quiet time before the busyness of the day. Sit in
    silence with your morning coffee, light a candle, and let God speak to
    you in that moment.
  • Write a thank-you note, just because
    “Eucharist”
    means “thank you” in Greek. Each week of Easter (there are seven),
    write a
    thank-you note to someone you appreciate but don’t often get to
    thank. Send it to them, and say a prayer for them as you seal the
    envelope or click the “send” button.

Dscn0747_2

 

Gregmadonna
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Let not your heart be disturbed.  Do not fear any sickness
or anguish.
Am I not here, who is your Mother?  Are you not under my protection?
Am I not your health?  Are you not happily within my fold?  What else
do you wish?  Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
(Words
of Our Lady to Juan Diego)

Prayer to Our Lady of
Guadalupe

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and
Mother of the Church, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to
all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you
with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, Mother of Mercy, Teacher
of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we
dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you
our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace,
justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we
have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother.

Grant to our homes the grace
of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which
you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary,
protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the
upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus
and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the
confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives
peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as
it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our
hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and
true peace, which come to us from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God
the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.


Excerpted from the prayer of Pope John Paul II

Basilica of Mexico City, January 1979

special thanks to this fabulous new bloggy friend.

Star-Silver

by Carl Sandburg

Youngbvm
The silver of one star

plays cross-lights against pine-green
And the play of this silver cross-wise against the green is an old story.
Thousands of years.

And sheep grazers on the hills by night
watching the woolly four-footed ramblers
watching a single silver star.
Why does this story never wear out?

And a baby, slung in a feed box back in a barn in a Bethlehem slum
A baby’s first cry,
mixing with the crunch of a mule’s teeth on Bethlehem Christmas corn
Baby fists, softer than snowflakes of Norway

The vagabond mother of Christ
and the vagabond men of wisdom
all in a barn on a winter night
and a baby there in swaddling clothes on hay
Why does this story never wear out?

The sheen of it all–is a star, silver and a pine, green
For the heart of a child asking a story
The red and hungry, red and hankering heart
Calling for cross-lights of silver and green

In the comments, Songbird raises a question
related to the use of blue or purple candles for the Advent wreath.  Why,
she wonders, has there been some shifts toward blue rather than purple.
Because I wanted to be as accurate as I can in my response, I did a
little research.  And I intend to do a little more, but here’s what I
found out so far.

Purple, in the Catholic Church, is
the prescribed color for the vestments used during both Advent and Lent.
There is no mention of blue in the documents which are intended to help us, as
a communion, celebrate the liturgical seasonsin communion with one another and
the whole church.

Protestant churches and
communities, however, experience more freedom in their choices of celebratory
vestment colors.  And so, for many protestant communities, the shift
indicates, among other things, a desire to differentiate the penitential nature
of the Lenten season (and the purple color used to express it) with a
"spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of     preparation, of
longing." (Dennis Bratcher)
And so using a deeper purple, an indigo or more "blue-ish" purple may
sometimes be chosen.

In the Catholic Church, which as I mentioned is more regulated in its worship, the Advent Wreath is not a strictly liturgical element.  It is "a pious practice that is not regulated by the Church as the liturgy is.  However, if it is thought that the candle colors should be that of the sacred vestments, purple or violet, not blue, should be selected." (Eric Stoutz)

According
to some Catholics, the desire to have the wreath match the vestments, overrides
the desire to represent a spirit during Advent that is different from the
spirit with which we celebrate Lent.  And to other Catholics, the use of a
deeper purple for Advent (and purple as a secondary color is almost always
rooted in blue), is chosen to represent that spirit of expectation,
anticipation and longing.  It’s a time to prepare ourselves, which does
indeed invoke a personal and communal practice of penance, for the next coming
of Christ.  (I like to think the next coming of Christ is not only the
Second coming, but also the next time I, in wisdom and humility, actually
welcome Christ into my heart and life: a process that is repeated daily,
weekly, sometimes hourly…)

Personally, I prefer the blue-ish
candles; the deep rich purple, the indigo, reminds and evokes for me the night
into which Jesus was born.  The night of the world, the night of the
stable, the night of my heart.  I adore the Lenten violet as well; but it
does hold a different spirit.  Maybe because I came back to the Catholic
faith in a community that used indigo in the candles and some of the
environment cloths, maybe that is why it holds the spirit of Advent so clearly
for me.  Maybe I just like more color, any way I can get it.  I was
on the liturgy planning team for a few years at that former Catholic community
and we had many discussions around this.  We were interested in providing
the deepest, most personal, most communal, most significant, most holy
experience for the members of our local community and for the many guests who
would visit us during the holidays.  And we, at least at that time,
thought using a distinguishing color for the candles and decor was
appropriate.  It stuck with me.

All that being said, I need to go
set up my Advent wreath for tomorrow!  Blessings on you and yours!

We live always during Advent. We are
always waiting for the messiah to come. The messiah has come, but is not
yet fully manifest. The messiah is not fully manifest in each of our
souls, not fully manifest in humankind as a whole: that is to say, that just as
Christ was born according to the flesh in Bethlehem
of Judah,
so must he be born according to the spirit in each of our souls.
– Jean Danielou

Christine_and_rita
Last Thursday I received word that Sister Rita died.  Sr. Rita and I lived in the same community (convent) for the past seven years.  We were friends and sisters.  When I moved out of the convent to come live and minister with my mother, Sr. Rita was in discernment about her own living situation too.  Shortly thereafter she moved to Lourdes, our retirement/assisted living community.  Rita had a wicked sense of humor, a delightful wit, a keen intellect and a generous spirit.  She loved beauty wherever she saw it and was a true "lady."  Also she was a 1 on the enneagram.  A perfectionist and an idealist. 

Once she commented to me that she would like to talk to me about a comment I had made at dinner one evening.  Because I almost always assume that when someone wants to talk to me about something I’ve said it means that I’ve said something wrong or inappropriate, I told her that sure, I’d be happy to have that conversation and proceeded to avoid it like the plague.  Not her, so much, but the conversation.  About two weeks went by until one day I came home and she was stranded in the elevator of our convent.  She’d been in there for a couple of minutes, had called the emergency folks to get her out and I told her I’d sit outside the elevator until they came and got her out.  As I was sitting on the outside and she on the inside, a large metal door between us, she dryly commented, "Is this a good time for the conversation, Christine?"  Oh, my!   We chuckled about that for weeks. 

We did eventually talk about the comment – it had to do with me saying that when I made my profession of obedience, I meant obedience to the whole community.  She wondered about that as in her understanding our vow of obedience was to the prioress (and her successors).  Since I understand the root of obedience to be in listening… to God, to one another, to God speaking through one another, I said that it was the whole community who elected the prioress general, so it’s the whole community to whom I owe obedience.  We had several discussions along these lines and I always enjoyed her perspective and I think she enjoyed mine.  We were two different generations, separated by two other generations.  We didn’t always agree on the semantics, but we always agreed to love one another. 

I’m going to miss her.   May God grant that we meet again on the other side. 

Surreal

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