While reading the first reading for today’s liturgy (2 Peter 1: 2-7), I was struck once again by the generosity and extravagant love of God.  Peter begins his letter saying, “May you have more and more grace and peace as you come to know our Lord more and more. By his divine power, he has given us all the things that we need for life…”

I find this message particularly encouraging as I embark on a new week.  As I look at my calendar and note the various meetings, events and travel, I am reassured that I will have all that I need. Even more reassuring is knowing that I will have all I need for the many encounters I don’t know about yet!  It’s almost as though God is saying “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back!”

Mary knew the peace that comes from this promise as well.  It was this that enabled her to pray “God has done great things for me. Holy is his name!”

What lies ahead of you this week that God will be taking care of?

I love today’s feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.  It highlights for me the beginning of a long line of friendships that have marked the history of our congregation over the years.  The presence of Jesus was the central focus in the friendship between these two women. They were united because of Him and it was in Him that together they glorified God.

This history of friendship continued for us as St. Julie, our spiritual mother, worked closely with a friend, Francoise, to found the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  Some years later, it was in the sharing of a dream between Hilligonde and Elizabeth that our own congregation in Coesfeld was born. We continue to live today the words in our Constitutions: “We appreciate true friendship which has its center in Jesus Christ and unites us in him.”

One of the many ways we are better together is by inviting our Associates to join us in living our Notre Dame charism and spirit.  These 100+ women and men in our Toledo province, as well as many others throughout the world, are friends and companions with us as we proclaim God’s goodness wherever we are. For more information about our Associate program, visit www.toledosnd.org and click on the Make a Difference tab at the top.  Today’s feast of the Visitation is our Associates’ patronal feast and we join them in grateful prayer today.

Who are the friends in your life who recognize Jesus living within you and support you in proclaiming the goodness of God?

We Remember

May 28th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As we celebrate this Memorial Day, I’m mindful of the many women and men who have more than generously given their lives as the price for our freedom.  Whether these individuals died while serving or continued to live fully the Gospel mandate of laying down their lives for another, I am grateful for their service.  I thank God for my Dad who fought and was wounded in World War II as well as my two nephews who more recently served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

I’m taking time today to also say a prayer for those family members who have sacrificed and supported these individuals.  Spouses, parents, children and siblings have also given generously to support our basic rights and freedoms.  Perhaps Mary knew this well as she witnessed Jesus leaving home to speak out for justice and freedom in the lives of those he encountered.  How well she must have known anxiety and concern as news trickled back to Nazareth.

Who are the individuals in your life who have served our country?  How will you remember them in prayer today?

It is such a great joy for us to welcome our Sisters participating in the SND International Health Care Conference as they visit our province!  After finishing their meetings in Covington, KY, they have visited our Sisters in Chardon and are now spending a couple of days here in Toledo.  It is at times like this that we are made especially aware of the blessing of our internationality.  Welcome, Sisters!

I have to smile when I hear the words from today’s Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  It always seems to bring to mind the song:  “Don’t worry. Be happy.”  While I doubt that Jesus sang this particular message, I do believe He wants us to be happy.

As Sisters of Notre Dame, we strive to live the spirit of a deep experience of God’s goodness and provident care.  We are challenged each day to trust in God’s incredible love for us.  While a certain amount of concern about people and situations is appropriate, God invites us to trust Him enough to believe that He can handle whatever is before us.

Mary is our model for this daily loving surrender in trust. May she intercede for each of us the grace of true joy that results from entrusting our lives to Jesus.

Undue worry only wastes energy.  I once read that conserving our inner energy by not worrying is an important expression of stewardship.  How will I steward my energy today?

Yesterday was our house’s “road trip” day as we took two of our Sisters to Covington, KY, for the SND International Health Care Conference.  Sisters from our provinces all over the world are meeting these next two weeks to share the many ways our Sisters engage in health care.  It was quite exciting to see Sisters from India, Indonesia, Korea, Europe and the U.S. already gathered.  The Sisters from Brazil were still on their way.

I’m grateful that Sister Mary Ralph Gerdeman, our province pharmacist, and Sister Mary Jo Toll whose ministry is with our UN NGO are at the meeting to represent our province.  Already yesterday as the Sisters gathered, there was talk of new and innovative ways our Sisters might collaborate with health care initiatives.

Being the loving mother she was, I’m sure Mary knew much about caring for the physical and mental well-being of others.  It seems likely that Jesus’ healing ministry had its foundation in the love and care He experienced in His early years.  As in all of our ministries, our Sisters in health care look to Jesus and Mary to know how to best meet the needs of others.

Have you experienced the healing care (physical, mental, spiritual) of one of our Sisters?  Have you been a source of healing ministry for someone?

Mary, Guiding Light

April 27th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I had the privilege this morning of taking part in the 108-year tradition of May Crowning at Notre Dame Academy. “Notre Dame Day” is decidedly one of the most significant days of the academic year at the Academy.  As a ’75 alum, it certainly brings back memories of our annual celebration, especially in my senior year.

It’s so good to know that Mary continues to be a strong influence in the lives of these young women. As we prayed the rosary together, I joined the students, faculty, senior parents and alums in asking that Mary be a guiding light for each of them as they follow in her way of bringing Jesus to the world.

What memories do you have of May Crowning, either at NDA or in your parish/school? What is Mary’s role in your life?

I couldn’t help but smile as we tried to make our way from Mass at the Cathedral to the Provincial Center this morning.  What is usually a 7 minute drive ended up taking closer to 25 minutes.  Our first delay was a tiny dog that wandered out into the street and hid under a truck that had stopped for a school bus. Fortunately, the driver of the truck had seen the dog.  Traffic stopped as everyone waited to see if the dog would run out, but it was too frightened to move.  It wasn’t until the driver climbed out of his truck, got down on the ground and coaxed the dog out that it finally made its way across the street.  And all this on a city street at a fairly busy time of the morning!

After that, we entered the construction zone and single lane traffic. Yes, the world of orange barrels!  We slowly wound our way through.  Upon reaching our property, it became clear that we wouldn’t be making the usual left hand turn into the property because of the backed up traffic. A detour around the block solved the issue, and here we are!

It seems I find ourselves facing detours, road blocks and interruptions of many kinds during my days.  Each one presents me with the choice of becoming irritated or taking in the present moment.  Mary knew how to make the best of the unexpected twists and turns in her life. I do well to take to heart her advice, “Do whatever He tells you.”

How will I respond to the detours I encounter today?

Now that almost two weeks have passed since Easter, it’s obvious that our society has moved on.  The only Easter decorations that one sees in stores are in the discount bins.  Greeting card displays now include Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. Store themes are focused on summer and Fourth of July celebrations.  It makes me stop and wonder if the transformation of my Lenten and Easter celebration is already stored away and forgotten for another year?

Sister Mary Regeen Ulrich, one of our Sister artists, decorates Easter eggs in some pretty amazing ways.  I know the final products reflect hours of loving labor, and it’s sad to see these works of art disappear for another year. The eggs are so fragile and the decorations are so intricate.  I’m reminded of the energy and commitment I put into my Lenten resolutions. Were they more than a seasonal decoration?  The transformation that occurs in our lives can be somewhat fragile, requiring ongoing nurturing and attention in order for it to last.

Mary knew the importance of faithfully tending her inner spirit throughout all of the seasons of life. Her love was consistent and true, helping her to weather the hard times and rejoice in the good times.

Are Lent/Easter 2012 anything more than a decoration?

Unity of all Creation

April 11th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the death of Teilhard de Chardin, (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955), a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. Chardin stands in the ranks of those individuals who have contributed greatly to the Church’s understanding of the close relationship of faith and science.  While not always understood or accepted, his teachings have strongly influenced the Church’s appreciation of science in its deepening understanding of creation and truth.

Our Sister Julia Marie Hutchison and Sister Janet Doyle, OP are helping to lead a group of individuals who seek to explore and more fully grasp Chardin’s understanding of consciousness, evolution, and the unity of all creation. With their backgrounds as teachers, principals and superintendents, they are especially interested in how Evolutionary Spirituality impacts education today.

I suspect that Mary understood in a profound way the unity of all life and creation as she nurtured the life of the very God who had given her life and brought this life to a world drenched in hope of fulfillment. May we learn from her the dignity of all creation in the transforming process that will bring us to the fullness of life in God.