A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians Chapter 5 V. 17-20
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation, Behold the old order has passed away, now all is new! All this has been done by God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. I mean that God in Christ, was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their transgressions against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God. The word of the Lord.
On April 17, 2010, here in Rosary Chapel, I made my initial commitment to be a Dominican Associate of Peace. I have my signed commitment form, my passport to preach, right here. I made a commitment to be an Associate of Peace for two years on April 17, 2010, so technically I'm three month past my expiration date. If I were a carton of milk in the refrigerator, Sr. Maureen would have thrown me out by now. Today, I am preaching with an expired passport. It is a good thing we are not in Arizona.
Now, as Paul tells us in our reading and as Timothy Radcliffe reminded Sisters and Associates at the 2011 Assembly, the old order passes away and now all is new! In a few minutes, I will make my Commitment to be an Associate of Peace for four YEARS, the Sisters will affirm this and all is new, again and joyfully. This is the Fourth Associate Commitment Ceremony that has been held here in Rosary Chapel. In April 2010, joined by former Ohio Associates, then in October 2010 Terry Urekew renewed, on August 7, 2011, Dan Ha, Hoa, Pat and Donna, who is not able to be with us today became Associates of Peace. We are always grateful to the Sisters for sharing this holy ground for this sacred time.
On holy ground in Kansas, Alaska, Columbus, Akron, Louisville, St. Catherine, KY, in Guam, New Orleans, Florida, Colorado, and in a multitude of other towns, cities, states, and nations around the globe men and women, most whom we will never meet, are making their initial two year or four year renewal commitment as Associates of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The number of Dominican Associates of Peace continues to grow, and the Associate community continues evolve into the new...and into the unknown....
One thing we as Associates of Peace have in common is that we been presented with a seemingly endless supply of forms, surveys, reviews, questionnaires, and even today, those of us who are renewing had to fill out a two page document and we have our Commitment Form on the altar to have signed and witnessed. These surveys ask us: what calls you to be an Associate, what do you do as an Associate, how do you minister as an Associate, what makes you a community, and so on and so forth. And there are as many answers to these questions as there are Associates. But I think in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he gives us common ground on what we are called to be. We are called to be Ambassadors. We are called to be Ambassadors for the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
As Ambassadors for the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, we would be entrusted with a message of reconciliation. Webster's defines reconciliation as, "the action of reconciling, to reconcile is to adjust or settle, to bring acceptance." And isn't the result of reconciliation, peace? To be good Ambassadors of the Congregation whose mission is peace, isn't Paul, in the reading, imploring us to first be reconciled with God? As we know the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the peaceful resolution of our relationship with God-Creator. Throughout the journey of our lives, this Sacrament asks us to examine our conscience, confess our sins, make an offering and amend our lives. And doing this does give you a feeling of peace. That process is similar to the process we have as Associates before we make or renew our commitment.
As Associates, we are asked to discern, to have a conversation with God-Creator examining how we are living out our commitment to be an Associate. In that conversation, each Associate, first has to acknowledge the time, talent, and treasures that God-Creator has given to them. Then examine carefully that the time, talent, and treasure are being used, that they are fully engaged as we respond to the call to be a Dominican Associate. If we are to be good Ambassadors, our lives and actions need to live out the words we preach.
For if we are called to be Dominican, are we not called to search for the truth? And if we find the truth, be open to it? And if open to it, shouldn't it change us? As Dominicans, in search of the truth...is it ever possible that we would be satisfied with our response to God's call? In other words, if the answer is easy or comfortable it's probably not a Dominican response.
The process of examination does lead to ruefully admitting our application of our time, talent and treasure can be improved and we pray for God's grace and strength. For the peaceful reconciliation of all Dominican Associates of Peace, at this time of commitment renewal, we Associates offer up the gift we were given for renewal, the four roses representing the four Dominican Pillars. We leave these roses behind today in Chapel, asking again, gratefully, that Sisters here pray for us and for all the Associates at this Commitment time as well, but Sisters, please pray especially for the Associates who are not as fortunate as we are, to have each of you and all of you so joyfully present in our lives. In our reconciliation with God-Creator regarding our response to the call to be an Associate of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, we are humble and grateful. To be humble and grateful is to be like St. Dominic.
Reconciled, humble, and grateful again for our gift of call to be Dominican Associates, we must respond anew with a deeper and broader commitment of our time, talent, and treasure. We can do this simply by being more attentive to one another. Open to giving to the community more of our talents and skills we commit to a deeper discernment and processing of the Congregation and spiritual information we receive. We commit to sharing the information. Those of us with computers have a responsibility to go the OPPEACE.org website to see, to hear, and to share what touches us with those Associates who do not have computers. Associates who do not have computers commit to sharing the old fashioned but reliable methods of communication - telephone and US MAIL. Buy your stamps through St. Catherine, KY, Post Office and keep it thriving. All Associates can commit to come, to see, to hear a Congregational Webcast. The Congregational Leadership does talk about Associates on these webcast they talk about us...Well... Let's give them something to talk about.
As well informed, attentive, reconciled, humble, grateful Associates, we are better Ambassadors for the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates. We can commit to ever more radical living out the four pillars and The Chapter Commitments. We commit to lives of ever more simple sustainability, ever deeping our awareness of all of Creation as gift and preaching that news to those who don't want to believe. What great Ambassadors we can be by recycling, stop buying bottled water, have a garden or even just start with one plant. Jump into the shower, get wet quickly, shut off the water, lather up, rinse off quickly and towel dry, use the same towel you used yesterday. None of us collects that much dirt on us...well except Barbara, Carole, and Chris and other gardeners among us, already doing their part. Save water in your local community and save the life of babies in Africa who need water just to stay alive. Do a rain dance, while you pray for rain in our Midwest. For years to come, each and every person in the world is going to feel the impact this year's draught will cause. Let your life as well as well as your words testify to the truth that climate change, our global environment is cause and effect of how we live.
We commit anew to prayer, study, and action that promotes social justice. Human Trafficking issue, Immigration issue, the bullying, mutilation, the murder of women yes, that "final solution" that those in power in some countries and even here, think - domestic violence, are implementing against women who dare to want an education, women who date to speak out. Speaking of women who dare to speak out, our reading today, Paul to the Corinthians Chapter 5 Verses 17-20 is used in the preaching by Sr. Laurie Brink, OP, in her now infamous document: A Marginal Life, Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century. Commit time and an open mind to read her words about reconciliation in the church, reconciliation between those with power and those without power. Can we not become better Ambassadors by committing to involvement in civil protest of all these abuses of power. Can we commit to letter writing campaigns? To volunteer time to work with victims of abuse?
We commit not out of abundance but out of the scarcity of our time. We commit acknowledging that God has given each of us talents and respecting the diversity of our talents. And we commit from our treasure whatever and wherever we can. Something as simple as ordering a Feast with Peace cookbook.
Committed anew, well informed, attentive, reconciled, humble, grateful, we are ready to evolve forward. Ready to become anew, Associates, authorized Ambassadors, of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates. Ready to be Associates who preach not with a new fire but with a BONFIRE - Preaching Peace, Building Peace, and Being Peace.
We know from our prior commitment times, that this is a sacred moment. Associate Commitment is our symbolic communion with Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Like Bread and Cup, our Commitment and Affirmation, our Signature and Witness bind us, Associates and Sisters.
When Associates Proclaim Commitment and the Sisters Affirm that Commitment, together we say AMEN to God's call to be present and participate in this community. We commit and are affirmed to be daughters of Dominic and Catherine. We commit and are affirmed to be the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates.
This symbolic communion is always a beginning, never an ending. Behold, now all is new. It is so, so be it. Come forth holy women, Pat Daly, Carol Freidholm, Marie Russo, and Patricia Lyons.