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!
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.
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."
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:
Each year for the past 50-60 years, as hunters head to Kansas for the opening of Pheasant Season on the second Saturday of November, other cars head to the Great Bend Dominican Motherhouse for our Annual Mission Bazaar. Throughout the year across the country Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace, many of their family members, and friends work on colorful and creative handmade items to be sold there to benefit our Daughter Congregation--the Nigerian Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, and their missions, as well as to assist persons in need among us here at home.
Recently, when cleaning out some of my overstuffed files, I ran across a pamphlet that caught my attention with its subtitle: "How to end war one person at a time." The flyer, condensed and distributed by Lydia G. Polley, suggests that if enough people in the world transformed themselves into peace makers, war could end. The leading idea here is "critical mass." When enough people participate, a critical mass can change the world (as when a critical mass of humans embraced electricity or fossil fuels).
Seven practices for peace are were offered that could be taken a day at a time:
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."
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.