Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What’s a “Cornerstone”?

These February days in Wisconsin are pretty cold!  I imagine it was just as cold during February nearly 170 years ago when a small group of young women made a decision with significant implications.  They decided to remain together in their small, fledgling community. They were all novices: Sisters who had not yet made vows. They were young: the oldest was 32 years of age; the youngest, 17 years.  Seven months after their fateful decision, four of this group remained to make their first vows together.

These four young women, Margaret, Mary, Judith and Ellen, took new names and became our “cornerstone” Sisters: Clara, Ignatia, Josephine and Rachel. The word, “cornerstone”, means a feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.  Together with the Dominican priest who founded our Sinsinawa Congregation, Samuel Mazzuchelli OP, these women launched a project that continues today.  

The qualities that we recognize in these Cornerstones are these: an abundance of hope; courage in adversity; commitment to a shared mission; deep faith in the Providence of God.  Do you see these qualities today in people in your life?  In what circumstances do you recognize them in yourself?

Toni Harris OP
Madison, WI

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Pain and Grace of No

Saying “yes” has been pretty easy for me, (although the call to religious life later in life mystified and puzzled me. For a while, no response made sense…until ‘making sense’ didn’t matter.)

I’ve been reflecting on my ‘yeses’ lately, wondering if some were offered too easily; spoken sincerely but without depth of thought; offered with good intentions but with a failing memory of how the proverbial Road to Hell is paved.

There are so many urgent needs in the world today that require a compassionate response – by someone, by anyone, by everyone. Saying ‘no’ seems implausible, cold, unkind, the antithesis of an authentic call to religious life; to any authentic life, really.

Yet I am discovering that within every ‘yes’ is often an unspoken ‘no’.  Every ‘yes’ proclaimed contains a benefit, but also a cost; one that can dilute the impact of the ‘yes’.  It might be burnout, frenzied living, a sense of superficiality - of spreading oneself too thin. We simply cannot do everything we want to do, no matter how badly we want to do it, no matter how desperately our ‘yes’ is needed.  Perhaps in these moments of anxiety God is hushing us to stillness, asking us to pay attention, to listen, and to trust.

Grace is revealed in the pain of our ‘no’s...grace that liberates us to do the work God is calling us to.

Kathy Flynn, OP
Sinsinawa, WI

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