The Dominican Sisters of Peace 2015 Chapter began on Monday with Sr. Margaret’s invitation to dance and follow these A,B,C's in the days to come: be adaptable, balanced, confident, courageous and civil. She introduced the story of "doubting Thomas," who needed to see Jesus' wounds himself, but then was transformed by his act of faith. Associate Ginger Kroos reflected on the Chapter experience as one which "invited Sisters and Associates out of our comfort zones." (Click here)
The fact that our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was founded on Easter, has always held special significance to me. By our very name we are called to preach peace, build peace, and be peace--Easter Peace! It's not a peace that ignores or turns a blind eye to injustices and wrongdoing. It's a peace that is born of an understanding unconditional love, and fueled by forgiveness as modeled by Christ in the Resurrection stories proclaimed during Eastertime. His disciples who had been his close companions, heard his teachings, seen his miracles, and witnessed his undiscriminating love and compassion--had even so abandoned him as he faced the ordeal of his crucifixion. Surprisingly, after these disappointing events the first words Jesus spoke to them were "Peace be to you." No words of accusation or recrimination that you might expect from someone so badly treated by friends.
Happy Easter! Christians around the world have gladlymoved from the penitential days of Lent and the solemn celebrations of the Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil - to the joyful wonder of the Resurrection. Easter bunnies, chicks and ducks, baskets filled with colorful Easter eggs, and beautiful spring flowers proclaim new life and the end of winter. Snow is melting, grass is greening, crocus burst out, and buds push upwards. Good bye, Winter, and Welcome, Spring!
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week when we remember with stark detail the love of Christ poured out in the sufferings and humiliations He endured for us. In today's first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes God's "servant whom I uphold, my chosen with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my Spirit; who shall bring forth justice to the nations..." Believers and disciples of Christ receive Christ's Spirit - as God's servants called like Christ for the victory of justice, grasped by God's hand, formed and set as a light for the nations.
There are many ways that this light shines in our world:
"Behold! I make all things new. Can you perceive it?" - Is 43:19
This past week Sr. Pat Kozak, CSJ, was a guest speaker for the Hear & Proclaim Program at the Akron Motherhouse. Her presentation was "Women in the New Testament and Their Invitation to Us." Sr. Pat focused her theme on Scripture readings in which women encountered Jesus and a transformation happened, a new consciousness began to unfold in the Gospel message. After a few examples of these encounters, she moved to the broader message that there is a difference between 'change' and 'transformation.' "Change involves a strategy or behavior, but post–change awareness remains at the same level as life before the change. Transformation arises from a power or influence outside myself and moves me to an awareness beyond earlier life."
We are just past the midpoint of Lent, Laetare Sunday is just behind us, St. Patrick's Day with the wearin' of the green is upon us, the air is warming, snow is melting - SPRING is almost here, and EASTER is fast approaching. Let hearts and feet dance with joy!
Sr. Amy McFrederick and I visit with Dominican Associates of Peace in person at regional gatherings, on conference calls with Mentor Teams and Associates Committees, and individually through emaiI or phone. We are continually amazed when we hear Associate voices describing their spiritual journey, personal and community ministries and dedication to preaching the Gospel. I often wonder what Dominic and Catherine think of the Associates presence with the Sisters today? Could they have imagined that their call to preaching centuries ago has resulted in inspirational lives chosen by over 600 Dominican Associates of Peace?
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.
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.