Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider

Let’s Not Lose Our Chance

November 9th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

          In 1776 we took a big chance and won our independence. Not long after we took another big risk. We wrote a Constitution assuring every citizen freedom and rights the world had never seen. In the 1880s and early 1900s our nation abolished slavery and gave everyone the right to vote. In the first half of this past century we took a chance on making the world safe for democracy, and we won. Now in 2018 we face another big chance—the chance to do the right, continue our greatness, and live up to our values.

            A caravan from Central America, 2300 of whom are children, are laboriously traipsing hundreds of miles with hope in their hearts but little on their backs. Meanwhile border patrol agents in riot gear are undergoing exercise drills to do what? Scare kids? Don’t let prejudice and fear take the place of American values. If we love our country, we’ll let in the migrants and refugees. Their presence will improve our economy by creating jobs, as well as taking the jobs no one else wants. And these migrants will work with enthusiasm, pride, gratitude, and expertise. We need these migrants as medical personnel, teachers, and persons in service areas.

            Migrants and refugees are not a problem; they are our chance to do what we’ve done for over two centuries. We the people of the United States are the most generous people on the globe. How did that happen? Because once upon a time, except for Native Americans, everyone was an immigrant. Everyone was grateful to be a citizen, where freedom and justice were new phenomena, where everyone could dream the same American dream. And we prospered. We the People of the United States once again have a chance to form a more perfect union by welcoming the refugee. Let’s not miss our chance.

 

Let’s Grow Up

November 8th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

            Are our national policies based on the WIIFM principle—What’s in it for me? Maturity is determined by how much we grow out of self-centeredness and how far we can attend to the other. Though the most powerful nation on earth, we are childish in practice. Does it always have to be “my way”? To the rest of the world do we sound like spoiled children never sharing our toys? Just a few examples:

            Nearly 700 million people lack safe drinking water causing 800 children to die every day. Drilling a well costs under $5000 and will give a thousand people clean water for the rest of their and the lives of their progeny. With all the money spent on sending troops to the border—for what purpose?—we could make friends around the globe with just buckets of clean water.

            The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts environmental catastrophe by 2040. We could afford sustainable energy if we weren’t wasting talent and resources on nuclear weapons that sit in storage and campaign ads that say nothing.

            We protect ourselves from potential attack and imagined enemies while ignoring Syrian Christians who escaped from ISIS in 2014 only to spend the last four years without hope in camps.

            How many meals could an assault rifle buy? How many diseases could be eradicated with the cost of refurbishing an old warhead? How many young lives could be rehabilitated for the cost of incarceration?

            What our nation fails to realize that what’s in it for me is the opportunity to assure our citizens and the citizens of the globe the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that we profess. Let’s grow up.

Toxic Puzzle

November 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I recently watched the video made by Bo Landin titled “Toxic Puzzle.” Toxins are everywhere: in the air, in water, in the ground. The movie showed that toxins are causing ALS, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and other neurological disorders. The culprit is BMAA, which is present in every algae bloom. Only very specialized equipment can detect BMAA, so rarely is it tested or talked about. Many don’t believe in cyanobacteria, but tests have proven its presence. Tests on beached dolphins, for example, show they had the equivalent of Alzheimer’s with BMAA in their cells, which corrupt body-building proteins. Bo Landin predicts that 50% of the population will have Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, our nation backs out of global environmental efforts.

Isn’t this social sin?

 

Clothed in Dignity

October 29th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Baptism is replete with symbols: candle, water, oil of catechumens, chrism, new name. But the one that speaks most to me is the white garment. Although white may symbolize purity of soul, the adjective “white” is less significant that the noun “garment.” For we are clothed with Christ. We put on, coat-like, a new person, a new member of Christ’s Body and Church. Teilhard de Chardin uses similar imagery. At the Omega Point Christ will wrap himself with the garment of humanity. Jesus, the Christos, will not only be clothed in his humanity but in all humanity. May we enwrap Christ in glory.

 

 

Unity Is the Only Way

October 27th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

For months our country has known only division seemingly for no other reason than red vs. blue. Gregory Boyle is in his book Barking to the Choir writes:  “How do we tame this status quo that lulls us into blindly accepting the things that divide us and keep us from our own holy longing for the mutuality of kinship—a sure and certain sense that we belong to each other?” Whatever happened to “United we stand, divided we fall”? Coming together in unity is the only positive, creative response to the needs of our times. Energy is wasted and finances lost in shouting matches, polls, negative ads. If the same energy and finances were directed toward ending hunger, conquering disease, cleaning our environment, the effort would not only make a better world but also increase our sense of belonging to one another. Let’s change direction. Let’s direct our efforts to a future full of life. And oneness is at the heart of all life.

 

 

Wear God Out — in Prayer!!!

October 6th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I have just finished reading Walter Brueggemann’s book Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out. In the first three chapters of this small volume Brueggemann guides the reader through the Hebrew Scriptures demonstrating how YHWH hears the groans of the people and commands prophets and psalmists to speak. The remainder of the book focuses on figures in the New Testament who refuse to keep silent. In chapter 4 titled “Jesus Rudely Interrupted” we read about the Syro-Phoenician woman who wouldn’t allow her ethnicity, gender, or religion prevent her from speaking up on behalf of her daughter. The author shows how the importuning of this mother actually changes Jesus’ mind. Jesus tells the woman that he had come only for his Jewish race. But the woman persists, breaking the consensus that God’s food was only for Jews. Jesus did not defend privilege, he did not defend Jewish chosenness, and he did not insist that he was right the first time. “Because she broke the silence in a daring, insistent way that reeducated him, her daughter is set free, just as she had asked” (p. 52). Was it the mother’s courage and passion that pushed Jesus’ ministry beyond Galilee? Yes, Jesus moved into the “region of Decapolis” and began healing in Greek territory among Gentiles.  Similarly, the crowd tries to silence blind Bartimaeus, but he cries out “more loudly” not for alms but for complete restoration. Again Jesus hears.

What I appreciate most about this book is the emphasis on how silence protects privilege and why the privileged are often silencers. Written in 2018, this book is apropos to our political, social, economic and religious systems. The reader reflects: How are governments, churches, and laws silencing persons on the margins? How would Jesus respond today? We need to ask

“What would Jesus do?”

“How Do You Know??”

October 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Sr. Mary Dean Pfahler SND
Parish Ministry Director / Spiritual Director
St. Bartholomew Catholic Church
Long Beach CA

The low-tire-pressure icon appeared on the dashboard – again.  The first time that happened to me in Long Beach, I was informed that – by California law – air is free at gas stations.  However, it turns out I paid a self-service pump $1.50 with a major credit card for enough air to get the icon to go away.

So this time I was going to get professional help.  The Goodyear tire store on the way home from St. Bartholomew’s looked promising; service persons were working on cars in 6 bays.  The gentleman at the desk pointed out an empty bay where I should pull in.  Then he asked, “You’re a nun, right?”  That question  intrigues me, so I had to ask, “How did you know?”  He said he could always tell but didn’t explain how.

The fact that I was wearing a white blouse, black pants and the congregational cross probably helped.  But I was wearing “normal” clothes on Monday night when I accompanied a friend to A Place for Kids in Orange County.  She had been volunteering with this bereavement group for years, and I was sitting in for the first time.  While children meet with their age cohort, the parent or guardian meets with other adults for mutual support.  The grandmother who sat on the far side of the table told my friend afterwards that she knew I was a sister even though I introduced myself as “Mary.”

After 50 years, apparently, the long black habit and veil I used to wear becomes extraneous.

 

Autumn, Sand, and Nature

October 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Traipsing through Oak Openings Metropark

On this first day of autumn, a day suddenly 20 degrees cooler than yesterday’s last day of summer, I took the red trail in the metropark. Every step put a few more grains of sand into my tennis shoes, as I ascended to a sand dune. I thought of the glacier that receded eons ago leaving us this dune. I felt grateful for the glacier and God’s creative plan that has evolved into everything we enjoy today—plants, animals, trees, rocks, birds. Although after two miles, I was aware of my physical body, I was more aware of my spirit. The feeling reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin’s writing: “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” My soul grew stronger, as my feet grew heavier. Having enriched my spirit, I felt a little more human. My spirit jogged along.

Divisors, Dividends, and Quotients

September 17th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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.

Mary in Late Summer

September 12th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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.