Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider

Pre-dawn sky

September 24th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

predawnIn her book Dakota Kathleen Norris describes an antelope whose neck is “like a message in unbreakable code.”  Autumn night skies also possess a message in unbreakable code. In pre-dawn I walk across the road toward the mailbox, my head tilted back, my feet knowing the way by memory.  The stars seem closer, more brilliant. Those with telescopes have told me autumn is the best time to gaze above. The wonder is that light travels at 186,000 miles per second, and the same constellations I’m delighting in were seen by my ancestors. They gave mythological names to the skies as they de-coded the heavenly messages. Present-day scientists have named the elements, breaking much of the code. Yet the full code is unbreakable, keeping us in mysterious wonder. If I could rearrange the stars, I’d have them spell G-O-D.

Take the time to wonder. See the message in the unbreakable code called “life.”

Depending on Silence

September 16th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

A curved line on the edge of the lake attracted my attention. It was the neck of a heron. The bird stood stock-still, a dark line painted against the water. Its livelihood depended upon silence, but was its heart pounding in its ears with stirring hope for a tasty fish? heron

Does my life depend upon silence? That is a definite yes. Silence puts room in my life. Naturally efficient, I don’t let minutes slip idly by. But I work in silence. Quiet undergirds what I do: prepare church music, clean the retreat center, make dinner, pull weeds. Silence makes room for the mystery behind activity. Silence coaxes meaning from the mundane and raises all to a fully-human level, which is as close to the divine as we can be.

Today add silence to your activity. Turn off the radio, cell phone, TV. If possible, turn off the inner chatter that fills our brains. Fully engage in what you are doing, and discover the mystery behind the work. Find meaning in the mundane. And become a little more fully human.

How close are we?

September 11th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

beeMy youngest sister and I are the same age, although she was born five years after me. You and I are the same age, too, even though I don’t know who’s reading this blog.  We both began at the Big Bang, or the Grand Radiance, or whatever you wish to call the first instant of creation when everything that exists today had its origin. Cosmology has shown to us that everyone and everything has the same birthday. Every member of the human race has been a womb mate to everyone else. We’re all quite close to each other. Did you know that there’s one species of bee that evolved so that its specific vibration would stimulate the tomato flower to release its pollen?  They co-evolved; one can’t exist without the other. If only we humans realized how closely we are united to the 12.5 million species on Planet Earth—only one sixth of which have been named with genus and species.

If creation seems awesome, then how infinitely more awesome creation’s purpose—to manifest divine goodness in the Incarnation.

Stepping Out in Faith and Landing in God

September 6th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

faith_peopleWhen we hear that someone has cancer, the news is a call to faith. A neighbor has cancer, and three of us sisters visited him. With his children and grandchildren present, we talked about our founding sister, Sister Maria Aloysia. Then we prayed for a complete cure through her intercession. We also invited him to come to LialRenewalCenter to pray before the crucifix before which our founding sisters prayed. We will continue to pray with confidence, and our faith will continually be tested.

Did we make fools of ourselves? Are we imposing our Catholic belief on someone of another Christian denomination? What is faith? Is it acknowledging every moment as miracle? If so, does faith lead to taking miracles for granted? Or is it leaping into a realm beyond our imagining? If so, faith lands us in God.


Prosaic Life, Holy Life

September 4th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

websI got up, unlocked LialRenewalCenter, prayed Morning Prayer and meditation, helped prepare three meals for 27 retreatants, prepared liturgies for St. Richard Church, played a card game with the sisters with whom I live after praying Evening Prayer with them, phoned and wrote e-mails, and went to bed. Although the particulars change, this sounds like everyone else’s day. Work, play, pray, rest. Rather prosaic, I’d say, until I remember that God has been with me through it all in what Elizabeth Johnson calls “unspeakable nearness.” God’s energy flowed through me as I sat at the computer. The beauty of creation smacked me in the face when I brushed entrances free of webs. The relatedness between the living God and me took form when I peeled the carrots. O most holy and prosaic life!

The Many Images of God

August 27th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

reachSometimes best-sellers portray unusual, even unnerving pictures of God. Could Shay Bourne in Jodi Piccoult’s Change of Heart be Jesus? Is the Holy Spirit Saraya, Keeper of the gardens, in William Young’s The Shack? Does the main character in the Joshua books depict Jesus?  Even the gospels give us four different portraits of Jesus, while  professing that Jesus is the full revelation of God.  Whether gospel or novel, words grope to reveal God.

We struggle with the question “Who is God?” Yet God wants to be known. God even made it easy for us by becoming human. But when we put everything we know about humanity together, we don’t come up with God. On the other hand, when we put everything we know about divinity together, we come up with the human Jesus Christ. The very first creed said it all: “Jesus is Lord.” Jesus is God’s self-communication. Jesus is God saying, “Here I am.”

Living a life of grace

August 20th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Today (August 20) is the anniversary of my baptism. I have no idea whether my baptismal candle and garment are still around, but I do know that the grace of my baptism is still with me.  What have I been doing all these years with my baptismal grace? What am I doing with this precious gift called Christian life?  My life is God is a great gift requiring a great response.  Am I up to the task of living my life of grace? valerie_s

Are we in the chapel?

August 16th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

A group of us used to pray in a friend’s home once a week for five years.  Then some moved out of town, and it has been seven years since we all had met.  As it happened, we all were able to get to St. Rita’s Hospital in Lima on the same Sunday afternoon. Our friend at whose home we met was lying in the bed following a knee replacement. We followed our familiar routine: talk a while, then sing religious songs, then pray spontaneously or read from Scripture. As usual, the praying and singing lasted an hour.

Upon leaving, we commented that this reunion of prayer-friends was truly a miracle. We were saying this as we passed the hospital chapel. As lovely as the chapel was, we had just left a more beautiful chapel back in the hospital room. For where eight friends meet in Christ’s name, there God is in their midst (Mt. 18:20).

Do you pray with your friends?  Do you set aside a regular prayer time? Try it. The commitment is powerful, aiding each friend in ministry.


August 13th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

A crayfish walked me back from the mailbox this morning. A woodchuck comes out from under the deck to chomp on roses, as I snack on pretzels lathered in peanut butter. Chipmunks cavort over the stone wall. These were things I noticed. How much more goes unobserved? If only a big voice would come out of the sky yelling, “Attention!” Then maybe I would become aware. Or maybe I just need to think less of myself to notice everything that is not me.

Pay attention today.

In union with creation

August 8th, 2013 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

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.