27/3=9   or    27/3 could = 8 remainder 3

I hated third-grade math, especially division. My teacher insisted that 3 into 27 is 9—always, immutable, indisputable. But what if I have two friends with whom I want to share 27 pieces of candy? We wouldn’t eat them all at once.  We could each eat 8 and have 3 left over. Thus 3 into 27 is 8 remainder 3. Isn’t that logical? And doesn’t that leave me with 3 extra pieces of candy I could hoard for myself when my friends leave?

Why divide the human race
unless the distribution is equal
and the remainder is abundance…

I still have antipathy against division. It’s the thing I most hate about our country, our Church, and any other group. Division seems so abnormal when we’re all part of the same human race. We have so many divisors:  discrimination, racism, political views, religious backgrounds. And the dividends are so monstrously important:  peace, clean environment, acceptance, and much more! What will be our quotient? Whatever the quotient is I pray that there is always an equal distribution between rich and poor, the gifted and less talented, the healthy and disabled, those living in the West and those living in the East, Democrat and Republican, believer and atheist. And may the world’s resources be an abundant remainder.

The Church honors Mary, the Mother of God, four times within four weeks from mid-August to mid-September: the Assumption (August 15), the Queenship (August 22), the Birth of Mary (September 8), and the Sorrowful Mother (September 15).  My two favorite feasts are the first and last. Belief in the Assumption goes back to the ancient Church of the first century; however, it was never declared a dogma until 1950. Perhaps that is the reason why many girl babies were baptized Madonna or Donna that year. The Sorrowful Mother is dear to me, because I grew up in Bellevue, Ohio, six miles from the Sorrowful Mother Shrine.  My family would often attend Mass and join in rosary processions there. I was in awe of the crutches left behind after miraculous healings.


I appreciate learning new things about Mary. I read that the government of Guatemala banned the recitation of the Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Praise uttered at the time of her visit to Elizabeth. The civil leaders determined that its language of raising up the lowly and casting down the powerful was just too subversive.  Not bad for a humble maiden living 2000 years ago!

Mary, Sorrowful Mother
and glorious Queen of Heaven,
bless all who read this blog.
Make them powerful like you.

Be On the Lookout

Stories and movies of suspense often have a scene in which someone is on the lookout. In times of fear being on the lookout comes quite naturally. Should being on the lookout ever come “unnaturally”? Gregory Boyle in his book Barking to the Choir writes: …be constantly on the lookout for the holy in each moment. With 86,400 seconds in each day, that’s a lot of opportunity! Let’s try to find the holy a dozen times today. Listen to the wisdom of an elder or a small child. Notice the shape of clouds, the song of birds, the noise of traffic. Pay attention to lyrics, facial expressions, the unexpected, the under-appreciated. If holiness is seeing God in all things, as the Jesuits claim, then locate the God-element in everyone today. Latch on to the myriad of God-expressions, for everything can be a reminder of the holy. Be on the lookout. With practice, being on the lookout for the holy may even come naturally.

The life—and death–of Senator John McCain proved there is always a larger view and a larger love. You’ve probably read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. His books begins by asking the reader to look at the lens through which he or she sees the world. How does that lens shape one’s interpretation of the world? Maybe our country needs a new lens; maybe we need to change our perception. Having viewed much of Senator McCain’s funeral, I wonder how many Americans will change our perceptions of what the United States is.
Will we have the same lens as John McCain and see the good and the bad, the true and the false, for what they are—realities that continually challenge us to work together in unity? Can we become a united United States? Can we widen our views to see across the Senate Chamber aisle and the Atlantic? From our colonial days Americans have loved freedom—political, religious. We formed our country on respect for life and pursuit of happiness. Has our country’s paradigm shifted? Once upon a time we imagined democracy, and a whole new way of governing was born. Once upon a time we imagined a world without slavery, and amendments were added to our Constitution abolishing this evil. Once upon a time we imagined forgiving our enemies and rebuilt Germany. Will all the “once upon a time” values become mere fairy tales? I can only hope that today’s speeches at John McCain’s funeral will bring people of good will to our founding fathers’ large view and large love.

Faith with Coffee

September 4th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The saints knew how to evangelize. It seems they had one rule: go to the people; don’t wait for them to come to you. Missionary saints like St. Paul, St. Patrick, St. Francis Xavier, and countless others traveled the globe to tell others about Jesus Christ. Other saints, like St. Therese of Lisieux, shared the gospel with letters and prayers without leaving their monastery or convent. Still others like St. Maximilian Kolbe evangelized by the witness of their heroic virtue and self-sacrifice. Every place on earth is a field ready for the seeds of evangelization.

In our parishes are there groups who are hungry for spiritual awakening or religious deepening? Are there groups that are underserved? Perhaps parents with small children?  Maybe the octogenarians who ponder how to live their remaining years well? Those with disabilities? The homebound or those who don’t drive at night? Care-takers?

One of my goals this new academic year is to increase opportunities for those who may be underserved. One way I call “Faith with Coffee.” When parents or drivers drop off children at school, they can stop by for a cup of coffee and 30 minutes of adult religious education. (They may bring their pre-schoolers, and anyone else is the parish is invited, too. The time was chosen designedly for the space of time between dropping off students and the next thing that needs to be done.) This Tuesday presentation will also include something Gospel-oriented to take home for themselves and the rest of the family. Similarly, those who bring children for religious education classes on Wednesday evenings will have the same opportunity.

Please pray that these Catholic Coffee Klatches truly evangelize. And let me know how you or your parish goes to the people to evangelize. Like all good vocation directors, let’s not wait for people to come to us.