When Jesus ascended into heaven, he left his Church in a fragile state. Although all power in heaven and earth had been given to Jesus Christ, who in turn handed that power to his first disciples, the situation was far from what a CEO would want for a corporation. Fortunately Jesus’ mother Mary knew the heart and mind of her Son and could guide the fledgling Church. Within ten days the Spirit of Jesus descended upon Mary and the apostles, and the Church was off and running! How many months or years elapsed before Mary was taken into heaven, no one knows. As the angels and saints in heaven rejoiced to receive their Queen, the young Church must have felt a great loss, yet found a maternal intercessor who would never abandon her children, her Church.

Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us, your children, your Church. Share with us the mind and heart of your Son as we continue the mission of Jesus. And one day receive us into the heavenly Kingdom where you reign as Queen and Mother.

I’m starting a work week, and I hope there will be something special about the week. “Special” could happen unexpectedly, but often enough it means I have to create “special.” One way is to change my vision. An experiment I participated in recently proves this point. The audience was asked to introduce themselves to someone nearby. We spoke in rather quiet tones about our names, jobs, residence. Next we were asked to pretend this same person was a very good friend not seen for ten years. The volume dramatically increased, handshakes became hugs, smiles and laughter abounded. The difference? Our vision. We first viewed the person as an acquaintance and then as a friend. I can take this same change in vision into my work week. I can envision the day as ho-hum and boring, or I can anticipate surprise and newness. I can plan to make it special with little shocks of happiness: a treat for coworkers, a note of gratitude, an act of kindness, a display of concern. Set your sights on beauty and goodness. Create a day that doesn’t disappoint.

To some today, especially youth, many things have a one-year shelf life. Some need a new phone every year, for example, and the weekly “Business” section of the newspaper touts new brands and styles that suggest any former model is obsolete. Clothes hang idly in closets for fear someone saw us in the outfit last year. Apparently stability has become a relic from a past age.

Freedom, civil rights, debate, compromise, equality, pursuit of happiness, honesty seem to have had their shelf-life. Today’s style tends toward –isms that divide, cheap talk, off-the-cuff remarks, divisions. Are we developing a culture based on a lack commitment, because there’s no foundation in stability?

Shelf-life seems to be a by-product of secularization that forgets the spiritual dimension and historical meaning. Our shelf-life mentality is a form of amnesia. We forget the most important things in life have longevity and history. We fail to cultivate the memories, and in the process we lose our identity.

How can we respond to this phenomenon? First, keep community a priority. Give your ego and individual preferences a rest. As you pray, gather humanity into one Spirit, and remember you are part of the Body of Christ. Second, remember important traditions, as well as our Church’s Tradition and our nation’s tradition. Don’t let our Church’s and our nation’s best memories fade. Third, consciously make daily decisions that promote the best in yourself and in others. Don’t wait. You, too, have a shelf-life.

The morning after a nighttime rain each leaf of a pin oak tree held a teardrop at its tip. The tree had become a chandelier of droplets. Often we think of rain in negative terms, such as “It’s raining on our picnic.” But there can be beauty after the rain. If today has “rain on your picnic,” look for the crystal chandelier.

Cheers!

July 1st, 2017 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

During my annual retreat I started each day by taking a cup of coffee with me to the edge of a lake where I would sit for a while in reflective silence. One morning without any previous thought I lifted my cup and said “Cheers!” to God. Simultaneously I sensed God saying “Cheers!” to me. We both laughed. I then sipped my coffee imagining God sitting with me, both of us enjoying the morning and our daily brew. Many prayers, especially psalms, give praise to God. They are like offering a toast to God. That morning God also toasted me.

Just six months until Christmas Eve! Have you started your shopping? Today’s feast on the Church calendar is a solemnity—the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. John was the precursor of Jesus, the Messiah, so today looks toward the birth of Jesus. Today’s feast and Christmas were selected for their proximity to the solstice—summer and winter, times when we note the amount of light. John was the light illuminating the path to Jesus, and Jesus is the Light of the world. Be a light today shining on the path to Jesus.

In 1969 the three branches of the Sisters of Notre Dame celebrated the canonization of Julie Billiart. Some attended the ceremony in Rome, while the majority had celebrations at home. Our Toledo province gave a concert that day, singing the biography of Julie and the history of Notre Dame. Even though Julie suffered much from paralysis and persecution, she is called the “smiling saint.” Honor St. Julie today by extra smiles and a prayer asking God for Julie’s deep experience of God’s unconditional love.

The window in the Lial Renewal Center chapel allows the worshipers to see the outdoors though not distinctly. Much of the window is a large yellow circle that seems to embrace the outdoors, signaling “Come in! Come in!” And at the very center of the yellow circle is the tabernacle, miraculously containing the Lord of the Universe. The chapel window is a visual image of what our fidelity to our life of chastity calls us to realize; namely, that we love all creation in God–the heron flying over the lake, peonies and violets, grapes on the vine, leaves rustling in the breeze. In his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, Paul tells us that God is in everything. Ever since the Ascension of Jesus into heaven we live in a God-filled world. God and Nature: inseparable Beauty. In Christ we love all creation in God.

Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of youth. On this day we also remember the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring, who took Saint Aloysius as her patron. His patronage was a good choice, because Sister Maria Aloysia spent her religious life teaching children and taking care of orphans. Let us pray today for youth that they may be kept safe through the summer months, that they grow in virtue, spend time in service and good deeds, and remember their friendship with God. May each day fill our children with joyous wonder!

 

In early morning the row of trees along the lake stood in their habitual greenery. Unexpectedly the sun shone a spotlight on a small section of trees, illuminating the foliage in bright splendor. As the sun rose higher in the sky – my apologies to all you scientists who know better — a longer line of trees was touched by the sun’s rays. Eventually the whole lakeside greenery became lustrous. Gloomy to gleaming, shadowy to shimmering took a matter of minutes. If only the day’s bad news, our own faults, and the dark side of life could be so easily transformed. Perhaps it can, for Psalm 139 tells us that when God rests his hand upon us, our darkness shines like the day. O God, shine upon us. Make us glitter with your radiance.