The following words were delivered by Sr. Mary Otho Ballard at the funeral for Sr. Mary Della Quinn on November 8, 2013, in St. Catharine, Kentucky.
In our congregation, as the Sisters know, we are invited to choose the readings for our funeral. I understand that Mary Della chose today's readings……..don't you think she had us in mind when she pondered what she wanted us to also ponder today? This is the thought I have as I invite you to listen once again to key phrases, and to allow the words to settle within you and then to hold one or two of them in silence before the Lord. After I share the phrases, I will be silent for a moment for your pondering.
All Saints Day… What do I think about on all Saints Day? Well of course, living in the city of New Orleans, I think of no other than our amazing New Orleans Saints football team! I think of the mighty Drew Brees leading our team to victory and the loyal fans who cheer who him on! Black and Gold to the Superbowl, right? But unfortunately, today is not set aside for those saints. Today is set aside for the saints up above and the saints here on Earth. Many people, and I too, often think of the famous saints known for their ordinary deeds and extraordinary faith when it comes to All Saints Day. I think of Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who found love at the heart of everything she did; St. Thomas Aquinas, the Dumb Ox, who is one of the greatest theologians of all time known for his great work, Summa Theologia; and St.
Lately, our liturgical readings have given us quite a few scenes from the story of Joseph. To the popular mind, this brings images of that delightful musical about Joseph and his many-colored coat where merchants on their way to Egypt are singing about buying shares in pyramids.
We're attuned to the more serious side of the story where Joseph is being sold to those same merchants as a slave on his way to Egypt to be in a strange land with a strange language. I have to ask, "What must Joseph have been thinking?" He, Joseph, the most favored son of his father Jacob, the grandson of Isaac, the great-grandson of Father Abraham, suddenly thrown into a cistern! And then sold by his jealous brothers as a slave! He must have been thinking, "Where is the God of his fathers? The God who PROMISED Abraham so many blessings.... Where is that God now?"
Good morning and Happy St. Patrick's day. Half of me says "Top o' the morning" and the other half says "guten morgen!" I am thrilled to be here to pray and worship among you once again. I want to thank Revs. Tim Ahrens and Jeannine Wilson and all of you for this focus on the beatitudes. There is a great need for us to revisit them in the world that is happening around us today. A good friend of mine from First Community Church sent me a quote by a Jesuit, Greg Boyle of Creighton University which says, "Scripture scholars say that the more exact translation (of the word beatitude) if you were to be really precise (if a little awkward) - wouldn't be 'blessed' or 'happy,' it would be, 'You're in the right place.' You are in the right place if you are merciful. You are in the right place if you struggle for justice.
Have you ever tried to explain Rally Day to a non-Dominican student? How many times have you tried to explain to your parents why you have to show them your cheer? Only to explain after that you are not just spastically sticking your hands up and pleading with them to believe that it looks so much cooler as a grade? Or sometimes, our friends try to classify Rally. "So it's like a Field Day?" "A Pep Rally?" And it's none of the above. Rally Day is Rally Day. And what about our friends at other schools with their own versions of Rally? They always think they understand; but, unless you are right here, in this very gym, you'll never understand it. Rally Day cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.
I invite you just for a minute to imagine the event we just heard described in the Gospel. Peter, James, and John were overcome with sleep, when all of a sudden they awoke and saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes. They saw the glory of God, shining on the face of Jesus. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzlingly white. The disciples were able to glimpse the divinity of Jesus. Imagine how you would have felt if you were Peter, James, or John.
We have listened to Wisdom described - an affluence of adjectives! And we are here to honor a brother who also listened to Wisdom. And we celebrate in a family that has been taught by Thomas and Dominic (and …) that Wisdom is to be sought, looked for, listened for, prayed for - and shown that she - always and everywhere - is not to be caught, captured or caged.
"Thanks in Unlikely Places." That was the subtitle that caught my eye as I was reading an article in a spiritual magazine a few weeks ago. "Thanks in Unlikely Places." As Christians, as people of faith, as people of good will, our daily lives reflect many times of thanksgiving. We hear the phrase "Thank God" used frequently. Usually we hear it in the context of something good that happens or when the outcome of some project is to our liking. We can name many likely events and people for which we are thankful. So when I came across this phrase "Thanks in Unlikely Places," it seemed that would be a good topic to reflect on?
I am by birth and disposition a creature of the North Woods, having been born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and having found significant at-homeness in places like New England, Upstate New York and central Minnesota. But for most of my life I have dwelt around the 38th-40th latitude as I am now; precisely 38.356125 in the northern hemisphere. I am living at the juncture of the Arkansas River lowlands to the south and the arid Smoky Hills sandstone plains to the north. This is Kansas.