Man of prayer,

Man of prayer-filled expectation,

Man of prayer filled with expectant longing

Man of prayer filled with expectant longing for birth

Man of prayer filled

with expectant longing for birthplace in Bethlehem

Man of prayer filled with expectant longing for birthplace in Bethlehem

of no room

Of no room for a God who instills dreams

Dreams to go and take Mary

Take Mary’s place in suffering labor

Suffering labor in a carpenter’s shop

Suffering labor in a stable

Suffering labor in a stable betrothal with Mary

With Mary who is contracting

Who is contracting with God’s covenant

Covenant of “yes”

Covenant of “yes” at marriage

Covenant of “yes” at marriage between God and humanity

In Jesus their son

In Jesus, Son of God.


March 10th, 2017 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

The story of Moses approaching the burning bush is a favorite story. Like Moses, we learn to be alert and curious to discover God’s presence in unlikely places. A thorn bush in a desert? And we learn to listen wherever God calls us, there where our hearts begin to burn in a place where we never expect to hear from God.

During Lent we may visit prayerful places often as we follow our Lenten practices—the confessional, a Bible study group, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross. God will be there. Yet we need to be alert to the unlikely places: pizza parlor, barber shop, grocery store, car, basketball court, backyard….


Lent is a time to deepen our spirituality, but what really is spirituality? Patricia Livingston says “Spirituality is meeting God in all that life is.” Similarly Gerard Broccolo claims, “Spirituality is how I cope with life.” Richard Rohr writes, “Spirituality is always about letting go.” Perhaps you have your own definition of spirituality. I think for everyone the key to spirituality lies in Galatians 2:20. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Our Lenten’s journey has a destination:  Christ in us!

“For our sakes God made him who did not know sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the very holiness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

We call Jesus Christ by many names: Lord, Messiah, Prince of Peace, Good Shepherd, Bread of Life, King, Brother, and the list goes on. Today’s Second Reading calls him “sin.” Jesus Christ emptied himself of his divinity and took upon himself sin. Why? So that “in him we might become the very holiness of God.”

Lent is a time to free ourselves from sin, which often is a form of self-centeredness. We are reminded to change our hearts. We’re told to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves. All these Lenten reminders speak of Lent’s ultimate penance; namely, changing ourselves into Christ. If we can truly say, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who lives, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20), then we will have found our true selves. We will become “the very holiness of God.”

So let’s pick up the cross of becoming transformed into Christ. Let us die during Lent to become the living Christ at Easter and always.

What kind of prayer, penance, and almsgiving will allow you to live the life of Christ, to become Christ?

As I write my blogs I am sitting in a carpeted basement and facing a long gray wall. But I never lose a chance to see the outdoors or take an extra moment to see something beautiful in book or on internet. When I clean at Lial Renewal Center I always take a look outside between tasks, never tiring of the same scene, which never is the same scene. Ralph Waldo Emerson had this same “gotta see it” spirit. He wrote: “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting—a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” Today challenge yourself to take five-second breaks to look outside or notice the beautiful. Then say, “Thank you, God.”

What do you long for? More time?  More money? A change in habits or attitudes? Whatever you long for, “If we go down into ourselves we find that we possess exactly what we desire” (Simone Weil). God puts into our hearts the desires that will help us become the person we are meant to be, while simultaneously aiding the world in becoming what it’s supposed to be—a place of peace, justice, and unity. Reflect today on your desires. How can they surface? What could be put aside so that you have the time and energy to fulfill that desire? Of course, this isn’t easy. e. e. cummings wrote: “To be nobody-but-myself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.  Am I really myself? Or am I a conglomeration of all the false selves other people wanted me to be?” Be yourself today by attending to your desire.

Digging for Good

February 10th, 2017 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Our unusually warm and wet winter may set our sights on spring much earlier this year. Gardeners are becoming impatient to clear the ground. George B. Shaw claimed “The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” So maybe those who are saying “Isn’t it Lent yet?” are longing for that yearly season of extra prayer, reflection, and penance. Their souls are saying, “It’s about time.” Though the fields and gardens are still fallow, our souls don’t have to be.  Let the longing for Lent’s conversion be the prayerful attitude of your heart. And no one says you can’t start early to dig for God.

“Who shall I be today? The answer is more obvious than the question. Of course I’m going to be me. Me yesterday, me today, me forever. But if I were to start my day with the question “Who shall I be today?” I’d have to start with a decision bigger than Honey Nut Cheerios or Rice Chex. Actually the choice would be a commitment, which is a lot to expect in the first moments of consciousness. A momentous moment to be sure. How about this? Today I will be a person who pays as much attention to the interests and concerns of others as to my own. Would I push the unity-of-humanity gauge a little higher? Or maybe this. Today I will never lose patience. And nobody gets hurt. Or this. Today I will take the first steps to meet others. Would there be one more warm smile in the world? While brushing my teeth, I decide to make it a gargantuan day despite its paltry twenty-four hours.


Subtle Disguise

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Ronald Rolheiser’s book Sacred Fire is written for “mature disciples.” In one section he discusses “the religious faults of mature disciples.” Rolheiser claims that mature disciples find the seven capital sins disappearing from their lives; however, these “seven deadly sins” may just be in a subtler guise. He writes that pride in a mature disciple may take the form of refusing to be small before God, of being proud that we take the last place and give generously. Envy may take the form of nitpicking, looking for flaws, or omitting compliments. Sloth may involve settling for second-best when better is possible. Greed might not include the desire for money and possessions at all; instead we may wish to accumulate a good name. Capital sins come in small-case letters, I guess.


Today is the feast of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursuline Sisters. We Sisters of Notre Dame have close connections with the Ursuline Sisters here in Toledo. These sisters and their employees have taken care of our older Sisters with much love for several years. Some Ursuline Sisters, such as Sister Stephanie and Sister Ellen, have been spiritual directors for us. Although each religious community has its own charism and its own way to contribute to the Church in the building up of the Kingdom, we are really all on the same page. Like Angela Merici and the Ursuline Sisters of today, we Notre Dame Sisters—and all religious sisters—do whatever needs to be done for God’s People. That has been our history. For the Ursulines, the need they saw was helping girls to lead a Christian life in the 1400s. For the Notre Dames it was teaching immigrant children in the 1800s. Really it’s all the same—doing God’s work of the present need. Happy feastday, Ursuline Sisters!