March 16th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

God Lives Where God Loves       [March 16]

The enemies of Jesus can’t believe that Jesus is the Christ. After all, they know where Jesus is from, and no one will know where the Messiah comes from. How wrong they were in limiting Jesus Christ to a geographical location.

God has many attributes:  mercy, healing, omnipotence, omniscience, creativity, and infinitely more qualities than we can imagine. But one of them is not love.  God does not have love; God is Love. God’s love is the energy that is existence. God’s love is at the core of evolution, expanding the universe in playful activity every moment. God’s love just can’t stop gushing and spilling over, for Love is who God is.

And since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are love. Unfortunately for us it can be difficult to let our love gush and spill over and create and energize, but when we do we are most fully ourselves.  Saint Bonaventure said, “You truly exist where you love, not merely where you live.” Where does God live?  God lives where God loves. Let God love you today so that you and God can become one in the bond of love.

March 14th, 2018 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

“So I Am At Work”       [Wednesday, March 14]

Jesus said, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work. . . . the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also.” When I look at the work of Jesus, it is always demanding—more demanding than the physical labor of a carpenter’s shop—but the demanding work of discerning what work the Father wants done and having the courage to do it. As Jesus speaks these words, he faces angry religious leaders, incensed that Jesus broke the Sabbath and called God his own father. Spiritual work, such as the teaching Jesus did, is demanding. No wonder Jesus could sleep in the boat during a monstrous life-threatening storm! He spent his days leading people to a deep religious consciousness—no easy feat in his day among people who believed in either in monotheism of a pantheon of gods and goddesses.

As a follower of Jesus, I too must say “So I am at work”—and do the work of God.  It’s the great need of our time in a secular society. To all those who are reading this and spend your day doing the work of God in whatever your role, thank you for your commitment.

As we approach Holy Week, the day’s work for the priest, the liturgist, the church musician, those responsible for the art and environment for the holy days ramps up. If you can, say a word of thanks to them or lend a hand.

Flanner O’Connor claimed: “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

Many New Testament stories show persons eager for change: a parent eager for a child’s cure, an official begging for his servant’s healing, three apostles ready to stay up on Tabor, a crowd anticipating more miraculous bread, ten lepers going home after years of forced isolation. One story, however, sticks out for a possible reluctance to accept the grace-given change. It’s the story of the man who had been lame for 38 years. Jesus asked him, ‘”Do you want to be healed?” All the lame man ever knew was his inability to walk. His pallet, like a security blanket, meant he did not have to make his own way in the world. What would life be like if he walked? Did he have any skill other than begging?

Lent is a time for personal conversion, changing our ways—maybe even throwing away our security blankets. Change demands courage. In the remaining weeks of Lent, let’s look seriously at our need to change and beg God to give us the grace.
Who knows? Maybe our lame and limping will change to dancing.


This week let’s focus on our heart’s oxygen supply. Our penance this week is probably one you’ve never thought of:
Be a
breath of fresh air
Be a “breath of fresh air” in your workplace, your neighborhood, your school, your home.  Fill the week with good deeds and delightful surprises. If your church has special Lenten services, attend one this week. Don’t forget to pray for those preparing for the Easter Sacraments at the Vigil. Consider writing them a note to say you’re praying for them.
This is just one way to be a breath of fresh air.


 

Sadness and grief have been saturating the days of January and February, more incessantly than the rain swelling the rivers. A terrible accident left a young family without husband and father. Fire forced neighbors into the cold in early morning hours. A family matriarch wavers between life and death. Daily news reports tell of shootings, floods, war, starvation, threat of nuclear war, and culture eroded through dishonesty, vulgarity, and little value placed on life. How do we remain sane?

Dick Ryan gives this answer: “Whatever happens to me in life, I must believe that somewhere, in the mess or madness of it all, there is a sacred potential–a possibility for wondrous redemption in the embracing of all that is.” How does one embrace all that is when so much is hurtful and inhuman?  Jesus has shown the way in his passion and death. He accepted all the hate directed toward him. He received the blows as gentle as a lamb led to slaughter. He forgave the friends who betrayed him and denied knowing him. Jesus Christ’s self-emptying allowed room for the suffering to enter, become transformed into grace, and sent out as salvation. The sacred potential buried in the tomb was redemption and glorious Resurrection.


On this Third Sunday of Lent those preparing for Baptism undergo the “scrutinies.” With them, let us examine our own lives to see what we need to change to be more like Christ. This week let us  improve our hearts by focusing on giving up food. Our motto this week: Let us eat simply so that the poor may simply live.  Here are some ways: Give a contribution to an organization that feeds the impoverished. Make a meal for half the usual cost and give away what you saved. Lessen your intake of sweets, soda, or caffeine. (These things will help your ventricle (a word meaning “little belly.”))


 

Clutter!

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

Clutter:  it adds up so fast.  I just cleared off my desk…well, last month. I’m really a very neat person. . Just don’t look in my closet. Just look at all this stuff accumulated over winter. Well, spring is coming.  Then I’ll be ready for spring clearing. Accumulation: it happens in our interior lives, too. Our minds bustle with so much undergrowth that has to be raked out. That’s an aim of Lent: to clear the mind so we can set our thoughts on things above.

Referring to having a “quiet hour,” Etty Hillesum in her autobiography An Interrupted Life writes: “A lot of unimportant inner litter and bits and pieces have to be swept out first. Even a small head can be piled high inside with irrelevant distractions. . . . the clutter is ever present.” Etty recommends meditation “to turn one’s innermost being into a vast empty plain, with none of that treacherous undergrowth to impede the view so that something of ‘God’ can enter you, and something of ‘love,’ too.”  She admits the clearing is not simple, but has to be learned.

Etty is right.  I need a “quiet hour” with focused meditation. Now where is my meditation book?  It’s somewhere under this pile.


 

 



This past weekend did you hear the story of the Transfiguration? Did you hear Jesus invite you to go up the mountain with Him? Did you enjoy the view, and spend time with Jesus as he let his divinity shine through? What can you do for your hearts this week to change them from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh? Just as God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son,” hear God say to you, “This is my beloved son” or “This is my beloved daughter.”  When you come down the mountain, be ready to take up your cross, as you continue your extra prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

This week remember to take time to feel God’s love for you. Then radiate that love to others.
Visit a lonely person, write a complimentary note, let someone ahead of you in line, surprise someone and spread joy.

Many of the Scripture readings throughout Lent speak of turning our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We will often pray “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” On Ash Wednesday the parishioners in my church received a wooden heart to carry with them throughout the holy season. We are embarking on a series of “spiritual cardiovascular exercises” to change our hearts of stone.

Our motto for the first full week of Lent is Let Jesus be your Pacemaker.

How do you think Jesus will set the pace? This weekend make an extra effort to listen to the readings and homily at Mass. Start your work week with a smile. Do something unnecessary like reading to children or giving a caregiver or overworked parent a respite.

                           Let Jesus set the pace of your good deeds.

Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, was born January 8, 1828, 190 years ago. In another decade we Sisters will celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth. For now the celebration is rather quiet: a special meal, a birthday remembrance, an extra prayer on a day that marks the last day of the Christmas Season and the Baptism of the Lord. Many reasons to celebrate, but all part of the One Mystery. Jesus came as the reign of God in our midst, He was anointed by his Father and the Spirit to take on the mission of salvation—a mission that continued in the hearts of Christ’s close followers like Sister Maria Aloysia. May the birthday candles on Sister Maria Aloysia’s cake light the path that God marked out for the Sisters of Notre Dame. May her spirit live in our hearts. May her trust in God’s goodness and provident care be our own.