God doesn’t call us “Hey, you!” God calls each of us by name. To know the name God calls us is the greatest thing you can discover. Assured that there’s a glimpse of God in each of us, let’s start figuring out that name.

            One way to talk about God’s name for us is “personal vocation.” My personal vocation means how I am being a facet of God, how I’m living very particularly an aspect of Christ’s life. It’s a more individual vocation, deeper than Christian vocation or vocation as a married, single, or religious person. Yet my personal vocation animates these other vocations. Your personal vocation (whether you were aware or not) was working in you before, during, and after your vocation as married, single, or religious. It’s what made you discern that state of life as good for you; it’s how you live out that state of life day to day.

            Personal vocation is our motivation; it’s when we feel “all there” and most ourselves. Perhaps it’s when we feel closest to God. Personal vocation means that God calls each of us to be an unrepeatable reflection of God. Mother Teresa’s personal vocation was “Jesus to Jesus.” And we know she was Jesus to others, and she considered everyone to be Jesus. One man named William found his vocation in his name: Will I am, meaning he always aimed to do God’s will.  Jesus’ personal vocation was wrapped up in “Abba,” His Father, as he was continually in communion with his Father.

            In these remaining days of Lent take some significant time in solitude to get in touch with yourself and God’s vocation for you. Who or what am I when I am not producing, pretending, or filling up my day with noise? Might you discover the unique gift you can bestow on the world? You will become a more ardent disciple of Christ. You will encounter the very source of your being. 

Harold Ivan Smith wrote: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words . . . may get stuck in the corridors of my memory.” I bet every reader can recall words that challenged them to greatness. Maybe a coach or teacher said, “You’ll be great!”—just four words inspiring extra hours of practice or study resulting in future accomplishments. I can also bet that you remember hurtful words that still pain you to this day.

Whether you text, phone, email, or speak face-to-face today, choose your words wisely. Let their positive effects ripple out.  We are all extensions of the Risen Lord, members of his Body, followers of the Word of God, the Logos. What would Jesus Christ want us to say?

As we watch television, read news or hear from our friends and relatives, we know of persons who have recently died. The number of sick who have died from the virus without the comfort of family is staggering. Multiplied exponentially is the number of persons grieving the death of their loved ones. Multiply again, and we are aware of thousands of more persons for whom grief never completely leaves.

To all in grief, be aware that grief is not predictable. Grief may be a chronic pain, or it may occur unexpectedly. It has no beginning and no end date. Nor should we feel pressured to “get over it.”

Let us pray for those who have died in this pandemic, as well as their mourners. Let us offer the sacrifices of our isolation or inconvenience, as well as our own grief, for them. May the Sorrowful Mother intercede for all of us. She understands.

Joan Rivers said, “No matter how trapped in the Krazy Glue of life you may be feeling, you can get unstuck. My favorite way is to make a list of all that I have to be thankful for.”

Every night when I turn off the light I lay my head on the pillow and begin thinking about the happenings of the day for which I am grateful. I try to remember the one for which I am most grateful, a trick that reminds me of several other things. The list gets longer as I fall asleep in the process. I trust that gratitude is the Goo-Gone that wipes out the problems of the day.

    If you have read today’s Gospel for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent, you saw Jesus’ life-saving forgiveness and kindness toward the woman caught in adultery. Her horror of facing death by stoning was transformed into grateful relief, as the accusers slunk away and Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.”

     Have you noticed that during his journey to the cross, the only people whom Jesus addresses are women? Traditional stations suggest Jesus met his blessed Mother and Veronica. Although we have no recorded words, it’s easy to imagine the gazes of compassion between Jesus and his mother and with Veronica. As he meets the women of Jerusalem, Jesus feels the pain that will be theirs when Jerusalem is destroyed.

     Another story about a woman occurred two days before Passover when the chief priests were plotting to arrest Jesus. Jesus was at a meal at a house of Simon the leper. A woman poured an alabaster jar of nard on Jesus’ head. Though onlookers scolded the woman for the waste, Jesus appreciated her kindness. He said, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (Mk. 14:8-9) Three paragraphs later in Mark’s gospel we read of the institution of the Eucharist. Unlike the institution of the Eucharist in Luke that includes “Do this in remembrance of me” there is no request about remembering Jesus in Mark’s gospel. Instead the reader is asked to remember the deed of the woman. Service and Eucharist are inseparable, as seen again in John’s gospel when there is no record of the institution of the Eucharist; instead we read about humble service in washing feet.

     You are probably missing the reception of the Eucharist, along with your parish family. As you pray a spiritual communion, consider ways to be of service today. Those acts are inseparable from the Eucharist, for you and the recipient are an extension of Jesus Chris the Lord. We are all the Body of Christ. Amen.

I live in a house with three other Sisters of Notre Dame. One is a teacher who right now is meeting a math group on line. Two other Sisters are making protective masks. I am sitting here hoping to send a blog that will keep up spirits in a time of isolation and buoy hope in a scary time.

In Tuesdays with Morrie Morrie Schwartz writes: “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you meaning and purpose.” This is the kind of devotion that surrounds me: dedicated teaching, protecting first-responders, and writing blogs that give me purpose. In addition, our small community meets daily for prayer and fun. 

In a book by Harold Ivan Smith titled A B C’s of Healthy Grieving one gentleman writes “I want, at least, to be in places where joy is happening. Then, if there are any extras, I can take a ‘doggybag’ full of joy home with me for tomorrow.” 

Give someone some joy today, so that they will have a doggy bag for tomorrow.

We’ve all heard “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Dick Ryan uses a different image: “Suffering can be like a grain of sand in an oyster; it can create a magnificent pearl.”

I can’t hear the word “pearl” without thinking of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Even teaching the novel for the twelfth time, I am continually fascinated by the many layers of the word “pearl” with all its lovely and ugly connotations.

     The pandemic has caused a tsunami of suffering. Yet it is my hope that the pandemic can create a magnificent pearl. With prayer and good will our global village can learn that our present modes of living are not sustainable. We need to reverse global warming. We need to flatten the curve not only of COVID19 but of economic inequality. The extra care given to the elderly may lessen the ageism that creeps into our culture. The news has heightened the plight of the homeless, making us more aware of all their needs, starting with a roof over their heads.

     It is my hope that goodness, systemic change, care for our planet and one another will be more contagious than the virus. How terrible it would be if we let our present suffering not be transformed into pearls.

The O Antiphons

December 17th, 2019 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

We hear the O Antiphons on the remaining days of Advent. Each day the Gospel Acclamation at Mass and the Evening Prayer antiphon before the Magnificat begin with O and include a Messianic title, such as O Wisdom or O King of All the Nations. These O antiphons probably began with monks in centuries past. The monks did something special on the days of December 17 through December 24. Maybe Advent had been a little too penitential, and they had to lighten up before the Christmas feast. Anyway, it’s said that they had treats made from peanuts on the day when the Messiah was addressed as Root of Jesse. They ate an orange on the day when the Messiah was named “O Dawn.” My favorite is the day of “O Key of David” when the monk in charge of the wine cellar used his key to bring out a fine wine for the monks’ dinner. 

One time the superior in the convent in which I was living did the same thing; that is, she provided some little treat every day during the O Antiphons. Just something to look forward to during the last days of teaching before Christmas vacation. Try it!  It’s sort of fun!  

Did you ever look in a puddle and see treetops and clouds? Looking down you see the heavens. Looking down you see what is above. When Mary and Joseph looked down into the face of Baby Jesus, did they see God in his heaven?

There’s movement in Advent. We seem to be on a journey. Forward and deeper. Forward in crossing off the days until Christmas. Forward in opening windows of Advent calendars. Deeper into the mystery. Come, all ye! Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord! Let Advent be a pilgrimage. “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain” (Is. 2). Join the parade with Jesus of Nazareth. See him with the centurion entreating Jesus’ cure for his paralyzed servant. Walk by the Sea of Galilee and experience Jesus’ compassion for the sick and hungry. Pass by the two blind men. (Was Jesus playing a game of faith with them?) Go around to all the towns and villages, proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. Stand upon the heights. Wherever you are catch the joy, for God is coming to dwell among you.