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.
"To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel that I may share with them in its blessings." - 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
The season of Lent begins this week and with it yet another opportunity to reflect on Scripture and the essential messages we can take into our hearts and minds. Recent Sunday readings from Job 7 and 1 Corinthians 9 reminded me of several realities of my spirituality.
Last Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Leonard Desroches, Allow the Water was quoted in the PACE e BENE e-mail I receive as a daily inspiration to keep me on track with my personal choice to live nonviolence:
"The time is ripe for discovering how 'real' is the alternative culture of nonviolence. As a way to begin, we need to ask if on a daily basis we can nurture a spirituality which can survive a traffic jam without getting sucked into disrespect for the anonymous driver in the car in front of us; or lose a job without sliding into despair; or encounter others' sexual, racial and class differences without prejudice; or be shoved and pulled by seductive ads and yet freely decide what we need and don't need."
"My good friends, we never try to tell the tale to make people weep. It is too easy. We do not want pity. If we decide to tell the tale, it is because we want the world to be a better world – just a better world and learn and remember. There is a frightening character in Kafka's stories. It is always the messenger who tried to deliver the message and is unable to do so. We feel sorry for the poor messenger – but there is something more tragic than that. When the messenger has delivered the message and nothing has changed. The messenger has delivered the message. What is our role? We must become the messengers. Messengers." - Elie Wiesel, Yad Vashem, March 2005
"Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them 'What are you looking for?'" - John 1:38
When we are asked the question in John's Gospel, there are many ways to answer it. We can google it, check for an app, send a Facebook message or sit in the solitude of a quiet moment alone and ask the question to ourselves. What am I looking for?
The Winter 2014-15 issue of the Notre Dame Magazine built a clever theme on "we like it when things come in numbers." The Editor, Kerry Temple, began by describing the fact that professors can wax eloquent on topics and students will listen politely without lifting a pen or a click on an iPad. But just say "there are really 10 things you should know about__________" and they instantly prepare to take notes on those 10 things. Temple says "we like it when things come in numbers. Definite, concise, nailed down."
The Church opens her arms to welcome all people, without distinction or limits in order to proclaim that God is love. (Jn 4: 8,16) - Pope Francis, September 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees
The Pope's New Year's Eve message “"invited believers to a personal 'examination of conscience' about sins both personal and communal during the past year, especially whether the poor, weak and marginalized are the center of our thoughts and daily actions." (John Allen, Covering All Things Catholic, 12.31.14)
How significant and essential it is that the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates claim two corporate stances, i.e. comprehensive immigration reform and ending human trafficking which state without equivocation that we want the poor, weak and marginalized to be at the center of our thoughts and daily actions.
As 2014 ends and the world prepares to say 'happy new year,' what is it within us that challenges us to optimism and hope and the conviction that 2015 will be a 'happy new year?' With the unresolved horrors of this current year, how can the hope of a new year emerge within us and within our world?
I recently read Jim Wallis' online blog entitled "Campfires of Hope." He began by saying that "Hope is not a feeling. It is a decision and that decision to hope is what always has changed the world." He then used a Garrison Keillor image of "campfires of gentle people" which burn in our workplaces, congregations and communities. Campfires of hope are people who make decisions to bring hope to hopeless situations. (Jim Wallis, Sojourners, God's Politics Blog, 12.24.14)
This morning at our Clarissa House Community Morning Prayer we listened and watched Francesca Bettisteli's song "Be Born in Me" on YouTube. It was a powerful reflection on what she imagined to be Mary of Nazareth's feelings and prayer as she realized the impact of saying "Yes" to be mother to the Son of God, the Divine Word Made Flesh through her. In her prayer Mary expresses being both terrified and full of wonder and awe, yet still willing to offer herself to do God's will.
This song brought to my mind Sr. Diana Culbertson's preaching a few weeks ago, which struck a deep chord in me. As I reflected on her words it seemed a very good immediate preparation of our minds and hearts for Christmas. So with her permission I share it with you here:
Spiritually Nourished by Associate Marybeth Auletto, OPA Forty-seven Sisters and Associates attended this year's Advent service in Columbus, OH, prepared by new Associates Kathy Kehnast and Rose Deffet. In keeping with the liturgical theme, we prayed, sang, and reflected on readings that spoke of Jesus' coming...and coming again. Each time I attend one of these events, I come away more relaxed and spiritually nourished. I also enjoy meeting and reconnecting with Associates and Sisters. We are blessed to be in a community that values spirituality through small group study and reflection. Thank you again to all who planned and participated in this peaceful event.