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Out Of Our Minds For Good

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Recent Scripture readings have alluded to Jesus’ intensity and how he excited and sometimes rankled people. His notoriety had a worrisome effect on his family. Recall last Saturday’s gospel:    “Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ “(Mark 2:20-21)   This kind of effect on one’s family is not foreign to us. We know the topics that are likely to raise the temperature in the room when someone brings up a political or religious opinion that is not universally shared. We have experienced how it sets teeth on edge and changes the mood. With a little luck, someone redirects the conversation and normalcy returns. But we learn the perils of being the perpetrator of such a scene.   How can we have meaningful conversations with our families and others without causing a meltdown? We have just lived through an intensely dif

Let Peace Begin With Me

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Very angry feelings welled up inside of me when I heard and saw news of the insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. two Wednesdays ago.     I asked myself why?  Why are a few people allowed to flaunt downright inhuman, evil, selfish, rude, cruel, violent behavior in the face of goodness, beauty, truth, innocence, decency and the common good?  This led me to reflect on how I respond in the face of similar atrocities in my sphere of influence.  I confess that sometimes, too often, I choose silence.     Catherine of Siena had something to say about this: “Speak up! It’s silence that kills the world.”  This year, I want to have the courage to seek out truth and to speak truth in the face of lies, to defend  innocence in the face of corruption, to laud beauty where there is ugliness, to acclaim goodness where there is evil and to fight for the common good where-ever I see selfishness and greed.  This has got to stop! Let it begin with me Lord.  Let peace begin with me.   “ I

2020 Vision

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Since I was seven years old I’ve worn glasses to correct a severe myopic condition.  I still remember my astonishment when I put on my first pair of glasses.  It was a whole new world! A few years ago I had cataract surgery and again I was astounded at the miracle of sight. For the first time in my life I could wake up and see what time it was without help from my glasses.  At that time I was told that I had “2020 vision.” What a miracle! Now the miracle is that with the past year behind us, ALL of us have 2020 vision! That means we can see things we had never seen before, such as a worldwide human family suffering together the horrors of a pandemic .Now we can see more clearly than ever the dreadfulness of racism and the vileness of a broken political system. On the other hand, we can now see more clearly the generous response of people helping people in need, sharing their resources and comforting the afflicted. Now we can see not only the potential depravity of humankind, but more i

COVID Confusion

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Well, hello. It’s Monday, January 4 and I was just very gently reminded that my blog post is due today!   There is a real ‘thing’ called pandemic cognitive ‘slippage’. It’s been documented by psychologists across the country who themselves have suffered from it. In my particular case, I am finding that days run together and melt into weeks, even months. I lose track of time.   When I made my perpetual profession two short years ago, I placed my hands in the hands of our prioress and asked, “for the mercy of God and yours.” Never has that been more true than now.   One gift of this unusual time is the opportunity to become more self-reflective, more self-forgiving, more merciful to ourselves and to each other.    My wish for you is to be gentle with yourself, to practice compassion and empathy toward others, and to breathe mercy into a world so desperately in need of it.   Kathy Flynn OP Madison, WI

Longing

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I learned to value and appreciate the liturgical year when I first entered the convent.     Those early days of training focused a lot on the liturgical seasons. We steeped ourselves in the Scriptural readings of the day   and seasonal music.     It was there I identified the grace of longing.     Ahh, I thought. I am an Advent woman.     Longing and waiting have been a key faith identifier within me to this day. Whatever does that have to do with this Christmastide?  Again, in the Novitiate years, I came across a great spiritual writer:  Rainer Maria Rilke and his ‘Letter to a Young Man.’  I have leaned into this quote of his for decades now.   “. .   celebrate Christmas  in this  devout  feeling, that perhaps God  needs  this very anguish of yours in order to begin, . . .  It has not always been ‘anguish’.  Though this year there has been plenty of that in the world.  I often substitute the word ‘longing’ in there.  Each day as I set out anew, I ponder how am I longing, what am I lon

How do we measure courage?

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By now we are used to signs outside of hospitals and skilled care facilities that state “Heroes Work Here” (and they do).  But as these weeks of Advent have gone by and we have experienced losses, deeper worries, greater anxiety about an unknown future, I think we need to put that sign on our own hearts, on our front doors, on our bathroom mirrors.  To me a hero is a person who exhibits courage without first weighing the cost.  A hero takes a leap of faith and turns it into a tumbling routine of courage plus faith plus love.  Isn’t that what we are all trying to do every day so that the Word of God can be born anew into our world?  So that the Word of God can be born within each of us, and so dwell within us, and help our ordinary lives always proclaim the extraordinary mercy of God?  Let us pray for the courage to give life to that Word, to be midwives of hope and deep peace. Priscilla Wood, OP Dubuque, IA 

What do you really want this Christmas?

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When I was a child I loved the song that began “All I want for Christmas,” and the answer was “my two front teeth…so I could wish you merry Christmas.” This got me to thinking, what do I really want for Christmas this year, this year that has been so challenging for everybody, a year that has called for patience, for reconciliation, for hope, for new ways of imagining being together.    I guess what I really want is what is on the front of the cards I am sending:  Peace—inner peace, peace in families, in our country and in our world.   May God’s peace surround all of us, despite the difficulties. LouAnne Willette, OP Austin, TX