This weekend I will have the opportunity to participate with all those who come for the Come and See weekend in Columbus, Ohio. I have been asked to give a personal witness on prayer, especially Dominican prayer as a vehicle for communion with God and neighbor. As I prayed about this talk and worked through the flow of what I hope to share, I also went back to a presentation I had in one of my ForMission (Religious Formation Conference program for persons working in formation ministry in religious congregations) sessions in January of this year. Sr. Colleen Mallon, OP, Ph.D, from Mission San Jose, presented on the topic of Communion/Communal life: Perspectives from Theology and Ecclesiology.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 61—62 The Gospel of Mark begins with a challenge: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news (1:15). A new policy is being implemented, a policy that ends all coercion. The battle raged, and it was by no means clear how it would turn out. Decisively on the cross, the gospel of Mark presents the coercive, chaotic powers having their day. And, indeed, it seemed on Friday night that they had won, The voice of freedom was silence in the land. But the gospel has the right word at the right place. Jesus, dead on the cross, clearly defeated, was abandoned by all, by all except one Roman soldier, a man under authority, who was used to determining who was in charge. From his mouth comes this incredible conclusion: "Truly this man was God’s Son!" (Mark 15-39).
"I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth." - Sonia Sotomayer
They are scientists, professors, astronauts, civil rights leaders, engineers, aviators. They are women. March 2015 is the 35th anniversary of the Women's History Movement. Women have made great contributions in all the professions listed above, but few would know that from reading mainstream history. "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives," the theme of this year's Women’s History Month, provides an opportunity "to weave women's stories, individually and collectively, into the fabric of our nations' history." Knowing women's achievements challenges stereotypes and discards assumptions.
It was just a year ago that Associate Conni Dubick and I visited the Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace in New Orleans and Houma, LA. At that time several Louisianans were discerning a call to Dominican Associate Life, and a dream of a Peace Center in the Marleyville neighborhood was still in the planning stage. Sisters and Associates gathered one evening at our house on Bancroft for a social, and Sr. Suzanne Brauer OP shared with the group that she was also discerning a call to be part of the team to serve at the Peace Center. The excitement and interest among both Sisters and Associates was palpable as several Associates spoke of how they might help by offering themselves, their time and gifts in various ways.
With the end of February 2015 upon us, the celebration of National Black History Month for 2015 is also drawing to a close. The celebration of Black History Month this year provided me with opportunities to discuss with others the difficult topic of "race" in peaceful dialogue. While undeniable progress has been made in the decades since the civil rights movement, regrettably, the racial divide in America is still quite real. Having open and meaningful dialogue around this concern is essential to understanding each perspective and moving toward peaceful unity. Dialogue is a bridge that can lead to peace and unity.
Brueggemann, Peace: Understanding Biblical Themes: pp. 59-61 — What does it mean that the Lord of Freedom controls the brickyards? Of course it says something about this Lord. It says that "Let-my-people-go" is powerful and for us. It says to us: "Get out from under the load of oppression and coercion." The Lord's intention is that we should not have to lead that kind of life, no matter how much the technological, bureaucratic propaganda of the regime lays on us. The Lord is for freedom and is powerful enough to introduce freedom into the grimmest brickyard there could be. That is the odd faith of the children of Israel to which we are heirs. It says the Lord has not abandoned the world.But what it says about us!
Recently sports fans mourned the death of Dean Smith, legendary coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team. He was a Hall of Fame coach, but more important, a Hall of Fame human being. As tributes poured in, one stood out, pointing to his living a life of justice and integrity. He began his career in segregated North Carolina and was determined to challenge the system of segregation by inviting an African American friend to dinner at a local restaurant. After a delay, both were finally served. He knew keeping integrity intact was more important than success on the basketball court.
At our house, we often get calls that are meant for someone at the nearby Akron Motherhouse or Elms High School or Grade School. So my first thought as I answer answer the house phone is "Did you mean to call me or someone else?" And sometimes when I get a sneaky feeling that God is calling me to do something that makes me uncomfortable, or seems to move me in a new and unknown direction, I prefer to think "Surely that call is for someone else, not for me..." so I can go my merry way.
Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of Lent. As a cross of ash was traced on our forehead we heard the sobering words, "Remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return."
Lent invites us to turn towards God again - taking stock of our lives - checking the coordinates on our life's GPS. Are we blindly following Siri or the voice of Google Maps? Now is the time to get out the "real map" and double check our direction in light of our ultimate end.
Today Jesus asks his disciples if they still haven't "gotten" it yet: are they still hard of heart, whether they have eyes but cannot see; or ears but they do not hear. Scripture scholars who have studied the culture of the time call this the "eye-ear-heart" triangle. When these are mentioned together they refer to the totality of one's being, one's "all", one's personhood. We hear it similarly in "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength." Or as we will hear tomorrow, "Return to the Lord with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping and mourning." Our hearts, our eyes, our ears, ourselves. Jesus questions not just the disciples' figuring him out, but their commitment, the quality of their relationship, which they discover, as we do, is all about giving ourselves over to God, and opening our hearts in God's love, to others.