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.
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
Yesterday as I was rereading some of our alternate readings in our Dominican Praise book, I was surprised by an insight that jumped out at me from the 13th reading, by Rene Girard. He said, "The Resurrection is not only a miracle, a prodigious transgression of natural laws. It is the spectacular sign of the entrance into the world of a power superior to violent contagion."
The announcement that Associate Colette Jenkins, a Religion Writer for the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper, was the featured speaker at the April 1, 2014 annual dinner of the Akron Area Interfaith Council sparked an immediate interest for many Associates and Sisters in Northeast Ohio. Her topic "Them and Us-The Mentality that Violates Human Rights" is a theme that Dominican Associates in the local area think is important to discuss in an interfaith forum. Jenkins brings a wealth of wisdom and experience from working with and representing in the news the many faith-based/religious groups in the Akron/Canton and surrounding areas for the past 12 or more years. Fifteen Associates who have participated in other interfaith opportunities will join members from fifteen religious congregations and groups at the dinner.
"Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are." – Hafsat Abiola