Sub-zero temperatures have frosted my bedroom window with an exquisite collage. With little imagination I see a cactus, mountain, waterfall, leaves. “Imagination is more important than knowledge” claims Albert Einstein. Could a scientist explain how the ice picture was formed—I mean, really? Or would it take a poet? Who could explain better the truth of frost on a window? I think the poet would make the truth of ice more real to me. But each explanation would be a wonder.
Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider
Throughout this week of Christian Unity we pray that all denominations will be one. But unity is needed within the Church, too. In particular, let us pray for and reach out to the “nones.” Perhaps those who identify themselves as “no religion” could have their interest piqued. Take a chance on inviting someone to Liturgy of the Hours or Benediction or a Marian devotion. You might find openness to the faith, once people (especially youth) hear about things they never experienced.
Some people see the Church as behind the times, because they don’t hear a lot about cosmology, evolution, or issues like immigration, capital punishment, racism, and sexism. Share with them the truths the Church teaches about these issues.
Everyone wants to belong. During this week of Christian Unity, emphasize that we are all the Body of Christ. We are united by the One Bread of Life that makes us all one Body in Christ. Everyone is united to the Lord.
And one final thought: Bring someone with you as you perform some service at church. As they follow you around, they just might say, “Well, I could do that, too.”
William McNamara, OCD wrote: “To be unique is not a matter of peculiar differences but of outstanding fidelity . . . fidelity to myself and the God who calls me to become more and more gracefully myself, my very best self, not in isolation but in communion with the whole human race.” McNamara adds that we must continue until we are “so faithful that God will look on me with pleasure and say: ‘This is my beloved son.’” What a beautiful way to think of uniqueness! Enneagrams, Myers-Briggs tests, fingerprints, and just plain living can prove our unique qualities; however, to think in terms of deepening fidelity puts us in direct line with the moment of our creation and our faithfulness to that moment.
January 9 is the birthday of our foundress Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring. The birthday of our co-foundress Sister Maria Ignatia is the following day. Their charism that began the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1850 is one of trust in God’s provident love and goodness
Consecrated religious life is in a time of transition for many reasons: decreased number of sisters and brothers, aging members, the placing of institutions in the hands of the laity. Accompanying these reasons and more importantly are the needs of the world and our response to those needs.
Historically, religious communities have filled the needs of the times primarily in schools and hospitals. Now is the time to consider new opportunities that fit our charism. New ventures will definitely call us to trust God’s providence. As all of us take a contemplative look at the future, we share our thoughts. As I wish Sister Maria Aloysia “Happy birthday” I share one of mine.
Sister Maria Aloysia, along with Sister Maria Ignatia, did the next thing that needed to be done. Orphans needing a home? Sister Maria Aloysia provided a home. A teacher needed in another town? Sister Maria Aloysia filled the position. Elderly persons not being cared for? Sister Maria Aloysia brought some elderly individuals into the convent. What is the next thing that needs to be done? While the future has not come into full focus, we Sisters are ready and eager, trusting in God’s provident love and goodness.
Popular yard signs and hash tags tell us that Black Lives Matter, Women Matter, You Matter. I’ve never seen a yard sign “God-matter.” Yet the outdoor Christmas decorations that are starting to disappear are signs of “God-matter.” The Logos, the Word of God, took on a body. God and matter united, and in that process all matter is spiritualized. God became Jesus of Nazareth, the Christogenesis that makes God the heart of all matter, the Christogenesis by which human energy is integrated with divine energy throughout the cosmos.
Soon stable scenes will disappear, the Holy Family statues wrapped and stored. Perhaps we will not reflect on the pregnant Mary until Advent 2019. Meanwhile we have twelve months to reflect on the world, a divine milieu pregnant with God (Chardin).
Magi on the Move
Among my favorite Christmas cards to give and receive are those with the Magi. The silhouettes of camels and riders crossing the desert in the twilight stirs me to join the trek. “Come on! Come let us adore!” the pictures call. This year I received a Magi card from a charitable organization, and its message was perfect: “Called to see the face of Christ in ‘the least of these,’ you responded with amazing love and generosity.” How “least” must have Mary, Joseph, and the Child seemed to these learned seers whose wealth could bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Wiser for this visit and richer in soul, the three departed by another way—warned in a dream and invited by the Child to follow the Way.
Edith Stein wrote: “A new year at the hand of the Lord—we do not know whether we shall experience the end of this year. . . . The Divine Child offers us his hand to renew our [commitment]. Let us hurry to clasp this hand.” Is Edith Stein’s thought yours as we begin a new year? Although I wonder what the year will hold, I rarely wonder whether I will be alive at its end. But perhaps I should. The year stretches ahead, and my calendar is already marked with major events, some that may hold a huge impact on my religious community and my parish.
The future can be daunting, but my incipient fears are allayed as I look at the manger scene. The expressions on Mary’s and Joseph’s faces mix wonder and fear. Looking at the scene, I remember the Biblical reasons why Joseph and Mary rightfully felt afraid. Mary and Joseph seem to whisper to each other, “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.” Looking down at the Infant, they see the One whom the Angel named Jesus and Son of the Most High. His little hand is raised in blessing to renew my commitment. I clasp his fragile fingers. He is my Peace.
We know that in the process of evolution new entities rise up as old elements become more complex and converge. Evolution is a holy thing directed toward the future fullness of life. How? God is the core of evolution, and God is “the unstoppable urge of cosmic reality for more life.” And so we sing “And wonders of his love, and wonders of his love. . .”
Almost 14 billion years ago God knew what God would give the world as a Christmas present. God’s creative genius began fashioning the universe. (God was the first to make Christmas presents and fill them with love.) In his infinite loving plan, the incarnation of Christ became one seamless process of God’s self-giving and communication in love with creation. In this grandiose plan the completion of creation will be the fullness of God: “When, finally, all has been subjected to the Son, he will then subject himself to the One who made all things subject to him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). At the end of the ages Jesus will give back the gift now complete and whole, “the fullness of Christ [that is] the creative diversity of all that exists held together by the Spirit of luminous love.” (The Emergent Christ, Ilia Delio)
We sing Christmas carols, attend midnight Mass, and exchange gifts, because Mary gave birth to Jesus. Because of her, God Almighty appeared on earth—and Christ will come again in all his glory when we participate in birthing the Christ. How do we do this? The universe is heading toward its fulfillment when it will become the fullness of Christ. We are part of the progression. Every time we grow in love, reach out in service, and in any other way make the world a better place, we are part of the evolution toward the Omega Point. We are part of the web forming Christ in his fullness. We are letting the God in us increase his dynamism within us and around us. What a privilege! So let our “praises sing to God the king, and peace to all on earth.”