There is a growing group of individuals who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR). Though the phrase can have different meaning for each individual, it generally means that the person sees themselves as spiritual people, but they do not subscribe to organized religious traditions. With its own Facebook page and website, the SBNR phrase seems to resonate with a good number of people, especially in the younger generation who are seeking deeper meaning and spirituality in their lives, but have become disillusioned with traditional religion for a variety of reasons.
"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Recently I was able to take some precious time away for retreat in the great state of Maine. One day, with another of our Sisters, I had an opportunity to walk along a very special path there called "The Marginal Way." This narrow path winds and stretches for a mile high up along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean where the views of the sea are pretty spectacular. There are some shaded spots along the path too with benches nestled between trees, trees that seem barely connected to the craggy rocks. These invite walkers—perhaps pilgrims—to pause and drink deeply of the beauty and majesty of God's creation.
The candlelight procession around the Garden of Our Lady of Peace reminded me of those held each evening at the Grotto in Lourdes, France. Candles were carefully shielded with paper lanterns, rosaries swung from the hands of old and young alike and the voices of more than 40,000 pilgrims rose like incense before God. This Procession and Opening Mass marked the beginning of the 37th Annual Marian Days Festival.
I was unprepared for the swell of emotion I felt as I watched the people walk, sing, and pray with such joy and deep faith. I could feel God's presence with us as we walked along with them. In the background the crickets and tree frogs sang along on this muggy August night in Carthage, MO. It was as if all of creation was singing along.
At evening prayer today Dominicans (the Order of Preachers) all over the world will begin this year’s celebration of St. Dominic de Guzman founder of the order. Happy Feast Day
Two aspects of Dominic’s life stand out for me. First, he engaged the Word of God in the Scriptures with all that was happening in the lives of the people of his time. His willingness to leave the cathedral where he lived a more monastic life as a canon gave him the opportunities to see the struggles of the people of his time and to take direct actions to make a difference.
When I first moved to Columbus, OH, it might have been assumed that I would become a "Buckeye" fan. However, friends quickly learned that my usual way of picking a team (if I watched the game at all) was to cheer for the underdog. You see, I was neither a "fan" nor a "follower" of football. Recently, I read an interesting article about a retreat in Denver given by Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D., of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee. Bishop Steib asked the participants to consider if they were "fans" or "followers" of Jesus. The distinction, of course, lies in the level of action, connection and personal commitment.
As I listened to Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM, talk about how Jesus had invited some of his disciples to drop everything and follow Him (like Matthew the tax collector) and other disciples to change how they treated people in the places where they lived (like Zacchaeus), I realized this might be a good way to begin a vocation talk. Jesus needs both itinerant disciples and householder disciples. He himself had no place to call his own. He traveled with his band of followers, both men and women, but they relied on his householder disciples for places to lodge and likely, for food to eat.
I will never forget a bulletin board that one of my teachers put up when I was in high school. I remember walking into the classroom and seeing that there was a new saying on the wall that read, "Not to decide is to decide." At first I didn't know what the sentence meant, and then all at once it hit me! I doubt I heard much of what took place during the rest of the class, because my mind stayed focused on that sentence along with whatever my 'pending decisions' were which promptly flooded into my conscious mind. What was I was putting off? Had I in fact already made some decisions, because I hadn’t actually said “yes” or "no?"
July 4, 2014, will mark the 238th anniversary of the birth of America as an independent nation. Its founding document proclaims the principle that all people are endowed with certain rights that include, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," as written in the document which declared our independence 238 years ago. And whether people came to this country by choice or other circumstances—they were, none the less, immigrants and laborers—who built this nation that became a symbol within the global community as a "land of golden opportunity." But as we prepare to once again celebrate the blessings that we enjoy as Americans, who are a "melting pot" of cultures and ethnicities, I find myself reflecting on our current national immigration crisis.
From Rome, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, and New Haven, CT to Niskayuna, NY an ancient yet ever new ritual stopped traffic and gathered the faithful in Eucharistic Processions for the Feast of Corpus Christi last Sunday. Were you there?
I was in Niskayuna, NY, at our Dominican Retreat and Conference Center as we watched the procession of men and women walking slowly onto the property with Father carrying a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. Attendants with candles walked in front and behind him. Singing and praying they had walked the mile from our parish, St. Kateri to the Retreat House.