God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit. That Jesus of Nazareth really was the Anointed One of God was the earliest profession of faith. To be a Christian, one had to believe that Jesus was the Messiah or the Christ (both terms meaning “anointed one”).  The earliest believers in Jesus of Nazareth as Lord, Messiah, the Anointed of God took on the same name—Christian. Ever since, Christians are the Anointed People.

Anointing was the way to show one had authority and power from God. So when Jesus began his public ministry, he read aloud this text from Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore, he has anointed me.”

We, too, have been anointed at baptism and Confirmation. Like Jesus, we are marked with power and authority. We have received the same gifts of the Holy Spirit that were bestowed upon Jesus of Nazareth: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, courage, and more. What did Jesus do with the gifts of the Holy Spirit? “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” What are you doing with the Spirit’s gifts? Are you rejoicing in them? Are you living the life of Christ as you were meant to live it, or are you living the life that others want you to be?

Sister Maria Ignatia (Lisette Kühling) is the co-foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the faithful friend and co-teacher of Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring. It is interesting that their birth dates are only one day apart.

Of Sister Maria Ignatia it is written “Everything reminded her of God and spoke to her of God’s goodness.”  In honor of Sister Maria Ignatia, let everything today remind you of God and God’s goodness.  Challenge yourself today to say “God is so good!”  Wouldn’t that make a great birthday present for Lisette?

On January 9, 1828 Hilligonde Wolbring was born. As her parents held the newborn, they wondered, “What will this child be?” Both parents died before Hillligonde was eight years old. It was only from their heavenly vantage point that they discovered Hilligonde became the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, along with her co-sister Lisette Kühling.

Perhaps we’ve held a newborn and wondered “What will this child be?” Many other times we’ve held a “newborn”—a new thought, an incipient plan, a heart’s desire that calls for action. Hilligonde and Lisette held a newborn thought: “We need to do something more for the poor children.” Within two years their concern became an orphanage that was also the convent for the first two Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia (Hilligonde) and Sister Mary Ignatia (Lisette).

Now we Sisters of Notre Dame hold a newborn: What shall our congregation become? Where is the Spirit leading us?  Our recent general chapter in Coesfeld, Germany points to commitment to living incarnational spirituality, growth in life-giving relationships, and oneness in diversity. Although the direction may start with our own religious communities, the thrust is outward to all cultures and creation.  Happy birthday to us, too!

Badges and identification speak volumes. They shout, “Official!” and “I’m representing something/someone bigger than both of us.”

Let’s imagine that each of us wears under our jacket or on our vest a badge that claims “Agent of God’s Reign.” What power we’d feel! How official we’d become! Imagine yourself walking into a situation of conflict. “Stop the violence in the name of the Lawgiver!” Imagine meeting someone in great sorrow. “I’m an agent of God’s reign. Let me introduce you to the Prince of Peace.” Perhaps someone is careless with the environment. “Excuse me. I’m an Agent of God’s Reign. Do you know Earth is an extension of God? Are you aware of what you are doing? Remember ‘All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be’ (Jn. 1:3).”

Be a badge-wearing Christian today. Identify yourself with all that is right and good. Don’t worry.  You’re official—sworn in by baptismal promises.

summerSummer is coming to an end. With some sadness do we count our losses? No more picnics, no more swimming, no more trips to the beach. Or do we look back over June, July, and August and count our gains? What have the bits of extra leisure gained for us or for others?  Did we have more opportunity to put service to others over our own personal desires? Could we afford the time to prepare some delightful surprises for children? Did we include in our vacation space for God? The coming short winter days may make us greedy with our daylight time. The cold may keep us sitting by a fire or in front of a TV. But for now El Nino promises a pleasant autumn, a couple more months to focus on our gains. What will we do with the hours of daylight savings time?

sunraysWhen you miss an important message, when the toilet overflows, when the pork chops burn, when all your hard work seems futile, when the lawn mower doesn’t start, when you break a fingernail or glass, when you can’t find a parking space, when you’ve lost your date book, and when you wonder why you even got up in the morning and whether anything at all has been achieved on your bad day, there is a cure for your day-long frustration. Just take a moment to think of God, how much God loves you—even delights in you. Anthony de Mello wrote, “Behold the One beholding you, and smiling.” Does anything matter compared to God’s smile?

 

stones-jpgYou have probably heard of Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart. The title comes from a situation in which Boyle catches Sharkey doing the right thing and telling him that his courage made him a “giant among men.” Sharkey responded, “I’m gonna tattoo that on my heart.”

When I read Scripture, I am sometimes struck with a phrase I don’t want to forget. “O God, don’t let me forget.  I need this. Tattoo it on my heart. Imprint it on my mind.” Here are some lines I hope are tattooed onto my heart:

            Yet not my will but yours be done.

            Of his fullness we have all had a share—love following upon love.

            Live on in my love.

            I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me.

            As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.

What lines do you want tattooed on your heart? If you had an external tattoo, what word would you want it to be?

 

microbeRecently I read an article about the millions of microbes in and around me—how in some way they’ve been around since the Big Bang and will continue in existence, how they are all necessary in the plan of creation. I’ve been making myself more conscious of the interdependence of all things. Maybe I achieved a bit more consciousness when I found myself apologizing to the microbes as I cleaned the sinks with disinfectant.

Today give an apology to Planet Earth and think of ways to preserve her.

Throughout the past two weeks I have marinated in the spirit of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Well, since I am a Sister of Notre, I am surrounded by the Notre Dame spirit all the time, but I mean the events of the past two weeks have left me supersaturated, drenched. First on July 3 we celebrated our sisters’ jubilees with prayer, photo ops, meal, and program. The spirit of ND is celebratory of one another. (“You aren’t going to put our Mardi Gras Haynesparade on Facebook, are you?”) Then on the next day we gathered for our annual Fourth of July picnic. The spirit of ND is loud. (“Bingo!” “Put a few more burgers on the grill!” “Last one to the pool!”) Following quickly was our annual province assembly, a time to look over the past year and look to the future, a time to val_Schneidershare wisdom. The ND spirit was reflective, open, unifying. (“Thank you for sharing that.” “Let’s look at it another way.”) Then I was one of 20 participating in a Notre Dame spirituality retreat of six full days prepared by our own sisters. It was a time to look at our  founding and our charism. It was a time to examine under a microscope our DNA. And what did we see?  Whether 1850 or 2016 we saw these characteristics in our day to day living: obedience, humility, charity. We saw courage during the time of war and economic depression. We noted how the Cross of Christ has inspired us and been with us in every decade and continent. We proclaimed anew “How good is our good God!” And we deepened our trust in God’s provident care.

Many people frantically run through the day, although students on summer break might be exempt from the hurry-hurry, “got-no-time.” While summer may afford a bit more leisure, leisure is still a commodity hard to come by.  Who has time for leisure?

BrentM    David Steindl-Rast has said that leisure is not the privilege of those who have time. Rather leisure is the virtue lived by persons who give to each instant of life the time it deserves. When you think about it, wasn’t Jesus a man of leisure? Certainly he was always on the move—that long journey to Jerusalem that covers much of Luke’s Gospe? But note the ways Jesus gives each instant the time it deserves, as he walks along the way. The apostles wanted to shoo children away when Jesus had a hard day of preaching, but Jesus took the time to bless them and maybe listen to their stories or play a little game with them. While Jesus was heading to the home of Jairus to heal his twelve-year-old daughter, he took time with the woman who touched the tassel of his cloak. Jesus could have kept on walking knowing someone was healed, but he took the time to see who it was, perhaps asking, “What else can I do for you?”

Time belongs to God, and we are responsible for the use of such a great gift. Do we choose to be our best selves in the midst of time pressures? Are we letting ourselves grow in self-discipline by giving to each situation the time it deserves? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Spend your summer in leisure—even if it means being busy.