Are we ready?

November 12th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Yesterday was the feast of St. Martin of Tours and it got me thinking.  Had we lived in another century, this would have been the first day of Advent.  It took a few centuries to get Christmas and Advent on the Church calendar, because the focus was on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When people became interested in history and genealogy, Christmas became a feast and along with it Advent. Priests wore white vestments in Advent; it was not a  penitential period then. Rather it was a period of anticipation.

But down through history people began to think, “If Easter has a forty-day penitential period, then shouldn’t Christmas have the same?”  Thus Advent became more penitential, and the priests began to wear violet, a penitential color. We are now back into a four-week preparation. Just as it’s never too early to begin Christmas shopping, it’s never too early to make Advent plans.  How will you anticipate Christmas?

Wild turkeys

Two families of wild turkeys make the woods at Lial Renewal Center their home. Every night around 6:30 pm the parents fly into the tree, and the children—Are young turkeys called “goblets”?—nestle side by side.  If God’s creative energy makes wild turkeys so affectionately protective of their young, then how much more infinite affection does God lavish upon me?

Prayers for our country

November 5th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As we approach election day tomorrow, I’m aware that many have already cast their votes.  Hopefully, the rest of us will take the time tomorrow to make our way to the polls and exercise our privileged right to vote.

I invite you to join me in a special 48 hours of prayer and fasting beginning now – prayer and fasting that our country will live the principle of responsible freedom on which our country was founded. Yes, it’s important who is elected to office tomorrow, but that doesn’t allow the rest of us to take a back seat for the next four years.  What happens between election days is what really counts.

May we as a country witness our gratitude for all that we’ve been given and do everything in our power to share those gifts with everyone in our one world.

All Saints Day

November 1st, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

At times when we speak of our community life as Sisters, we describe one of the blessings of community as the grace of being present wherever one of our Sisters is present.  In a very real way, I am in Florida and New Mexico, India and Nicaragua, because there is a Sister of Notre Dame present there.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. One of the great mysteries and blessings of our Catholic faith is our belief in the Communion of Saints, that we are one in our striving to grow in likeness to God.  Just as in our religious community, I rejoice that wherever one of the Communion of Saints is present, I am there.  I am in heaven, and the Saints are present here on earth with us!

Today we celebrate our oneness with one another and with God.  Happy All Saints day!

October 26th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As I walked our neighborhood yesterday morning and shuffled through the leaves that seem to be everywhere these days, I couldn’t help being struck by a few things. 

The many types of leaves that have fallen were a good reminder to me of the many “little deaths” each of us goes through each day.  The sufferings and trials we encounter are as different and varied as the circumstances of our lives.  I really don’t know what each person is facing and what they are being called to give up in their lives. This helps me to cut them some slack just as I hope they do for me.

It’s also interesting to me how people in the neighborhood deal with their leaves.  Some are very careful to clear them from their yards frequently, raking a few at a time.  Some prefer to wait until the very end of the season and do one clean sweep.  Some are highly motivated by publication of the leaf pick up dates, and some simply seem to rely on the wind to carry them away.  Everyone has their own way of dealing with surrender in their lives as well.  It’s good for me to remember there isn’t one right way.

What are you being called to let go of at this point in your life?  What do you find helpful in this process of surrender?


Be Here Now

October 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (7 Comments)

Perhaps you also know what it’s like to have one of those “you don’t want to miss this” messages from God.  As I was driving in for an early morning meeting this morning, I stopped at a stoplight on Secor Road.  My mind, of course, was racing through the day’s agenda, what I didn’t have finished yet, and what would need to happen today. I glanced up at one of the electronic billboards to see, in large red letters, “BE HERE NOW.”  I had just come from reflecting on today’s Gospel reading in which Jesus advises the apostles to be prepared at all times for the Master’s return. 

In a world in which we pride ourselves on multi-tasking, I needed a reminder to slow down, breathe, and live in the present moment. On my arrival, I took the time to stop and talk with our receptionist instead of running by, I’m enjoying the flavored creamer in my coffee, I noticed the new buds on my cactus plant. God knew I needed a gentle obvious reminder!

Enjoy each minute of your day today!

 S words: Sugar, salt, starches, and second helpings. Not good—at least for some people. Other S words: simplicity, sacredness, serenity, sincerity. Good—at least for most people.

S: the letter that multiplies and makes abundant through plurals. What words characterize your life? How can you let your good qualities multiply their effects? What spiritual qualities would you like to make plural? Do you seek the more?

Mystics in our Midst

October 15th, 2012 | Posted by Sr. Marilyn Marie in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

As we celebrate the Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) today, I can’t help but wonder what a mystic’s life is like.  Mysticism often seems beyond reach, after all it involves a direct encounter with God!  I’m reminded of various places in the Old Testament where we’re told that no one can see God and live.

Our Church celebrates the lives of various individuals whom we name “mystics.”  Among others, Teresa of Avila seemed to have a special connection with God in prayer, moments when she was deeply united with God, prayer experiences that profoundly impacted the way she lived in the world.

The reality is this is not something beyond our reach.  I know mystics, people who live their prayer and pray their life.  I believe our Sister Mary Joseleen Hemker is one of these.  Back in Toledo now after many years as an Adoration Sister at our Motherhouse in Rome, Sister’s life gives evidence of her intimate relationship with God.  She, and many of our Sisters, spend many hours daily praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Her gentle and loving manner reflects Teresa’s words: “Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. He who has God finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”

God certainly wants to reveal Himself to us in prayer and life.  Who are the mystics you know? What “mystical” experiences have you had?


The United Nations has declared October 11 the International Day of the Girl, establishing a day to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The action follows a multi-year campaign by activists in Canada and the United States. In reserving a day for advocacy and action by and for girls, the UN has signaled its commitment to end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls.  This day is especially significant considering yesterday’s attack by the Taliban on Malala Yousufzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl who spoke out for the right girls have to equal educational opportunities.

I’m very grateful for the ministry Sister Mary Jo Toll does at the United Nations as an advocate for girls all over the world.  I’m also proud of our girls at Notre Dame Academy who have educated themselves and provided information to others that will help make the world a better place for girls.  Raising our own awareness is the first step in promoting changes in such important areas as illiteracy, child marriages, domestic abuse and harmful media images.

The NDA girls are posting flowers this week with phrases of why they are proud to be girls.  Today, they will wear a simple piece of yellow yarn tied around their wrists to show their solidarity with girls all over the world.

Why are you proud to be girls/women?  What will you do today to protect the image of girls and women throughout the world?

Look around today and enjoy the beauty of fall.

As I sat here looking out the window at the night sky, just still light enough to see cloud formations, I noticed a giant footprint in the sky, but before I could type this sentence, it disappeared. What if I hadn’t looked out at that precise moment?  I would have missed an opportunity to smile at creation—actually in union with creation, because everything in the universe is interrelated. I had so many opportunities today to smile with creation.

As I got into the car this morning I saw five deer running through the meadow. Going out the driveway, I was stopped by three huge wild turkeys. A half mile down the road strutted eight “teenage” wild turkeys, perhaps of the same fowl family. Then I saw what I thought were flares. Instead they were ordinary road signs on which the red sun was beaming.  Awareness of the present moment opens up delight.