Last Saturday, July 12, Dominican Sisters of Peace Juanita Henley, Barbara Catalano, Amy McFrederick and Alicia Alvarado joined Associates Dora Harper and Lydia Gonzales and some 3 to 500 others who participated in a Walk for Justice organized in Cleveland, OH, by Sr. Rita Mary Harwood, SND, Secretariat for Parish Life and Development, and the Walk Committee. Those who joined in this prayer and demonstration publicly identified themselves as "those who stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, using our voices calling for revision to our broken immigration system, calling for humane and just laws which respond to the needs of today, remembering where we have come from and why, and recognizing our story repeated in the lives of the immigrants of today."
Michael Hurley, OP, stated that "Prayer is simply talking to God. Just as there are many ways of conversing with a friend, so too there are various ways in which we pray." (The Four Pillars of Dominican Life, 2005) And Henri Nouwen insisted that "Prayer is living. It is eating and drinking, action and rest, teaching and learning, playing and working. God is wherever we are, always reaching out, always drawing us near, ever revealing an unending love for us." (With Open Hands, 1975)
It's a noisy world out there. The microwave and the dryer keep us posted on their progress. Siri answers our questions. And the lady in the GPS tells us where to go. And those are the just noises we ask to hear. Add to those sounds, the noises of traffic, our televisions and radios and, of course, other people and you have a very noisy world, indeed.
While it is true that God is always speaking to our hearts, it takes a special effort to quiet ourselves enough to hear that "still small voice" ( 1 Kings 19: 13).
Every one of us has a story to tell, a book that tells our personalized story of grace. It is a unique first edition story. It is also incomplete, with, hopefully, many blank pages yet to fill. We may think our story is dull and ordinary, that we are ones who just plod along quietly and unknown; NO ONE would ever publish our story and it is not destined to be a best seller or movie.
Have we ever considered that our personal "text" is DIVINELY and lovingly co-authored? Will we then look back over the previous chapters of our life with new eyes and a newfound interest? Do we realize that our Ghost-writer is GOD and then really take a look at how He has fashioned us?
Our story line is unique and incredibly rich with the Spirit of God flowing through the very fibers of our being.
Nobody who knows Associate Deloris Adams believes that she's 85, and there's good reason for that! She'd tell you that she's worked hard to keep herself young in every way, and it hasn't always been easy. But she makes it look like it is. Deloris has been an Associate since 2002, is an active member of the Magnificat Associate Group in Columbus and volunteers in the gift shop at Mohun Health Care Center. In her parish (Corpus Christi) she sings in the choir, is a member of Rosary Altar Society and attends just about everything that happens there. Besides all of that, she is also THE most faithful and dependable volunteer at Corpus Christi Center of Peace, the spirituality and community outreach center of which I am the coordinator. It doesn't matter what kind of work I have on my list, Deloris is willing to take it on.
Yesterday was the great feast of Pentecost, celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples and on the world, and marking the beginning of Ordinary time once again. In Akron, Ohio, it rained steadily most of the day. As I write these words I remember a moment when a small group of the leaders of our prayer group were asking God to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us and help us with some difficult issues. I rejoiced when the image of a deluge of rain pouring down on us came to my imagination. Then I noticed several cups turned down instead of up so that no matter how hard it rained, the cups remained empty. The message was clear: God has never stopped pouring out the Holy Spirit upon our world and on us; we have only to turn toward Christ with expectant faith and hope to be filled.
The Dominican Associates of Peace make a public statement during commitment ceremonies which states: "We, the Associates, in relationship with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, commit to the preaching mission and to a life rooted in prayer, study, community and ministry." With these words, each of us pauses to think about the implication of this commitment statement in our own lives. What does it mean to commit to preaching with our lives through prayer, study, community and ministry? Associates of Peace participate in a continuing discernment process through their Associate groups and/or individual witness in order to consciously live these Dominican values. There are more than 500 Associates and more than 500 ways of preaching with our lives.
Traditionally Memorial Day is the day to remember and pray for all those who gave their lives in military service for our country. It is also a good day to remember and pray for all those who lost a loved one in wars or violence both in foreign countries and on our own soil in local feuds, domestic violence, gangs, riots, natural disasters, sickness and accidents. Remembering them can be a somber time of feeling again the loss, cherishing the memories, and also a time of thankfulness for their presence and their gift in our life journey.
"the thing about remembering is that you don't forget." - Tim O'Brien
"If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it." - Jesus of Nazareth
The washing of feet. It was the work of slaves. Everybody knew that. But Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, then he tried to explain why he did it and he concluded by saying: "If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it."
(John 13:17) In other words, as Richard Rohr says: "Jesus has given service to others a dignity which is totally independent of status. Jesus' whole raison d'etre for being among us was to serve. It is not a humbling of Jesus, it is love actualized by service."