Monday, December 19, 2016

God's Christmas Dream

The Divine Word became Flesh of our flesh and Bone of our bone.

The stars sang when you were born.            All creation leaned in close to listen                       to the song that is you.

God’s dream has always included you…. This is nothing new… All life is a dance… inviting you to take a chance … So come, walk with me … and let us discover the ONE that is WE.
Mary, Elizabeth and Joseph, were invited into thresholds, where they would meet the One who called them into life… and then cross over with God, into the world we would come to know. They leaned into an encounter with God … which opened them to encounters with the mystery of one another.
When Jesus was born, God became Flesh of our flesh and Bone of our bone. God in Jesus, walked among us, encountering each person, calling each to know and sing and dance their songs into community.
When Jesus died, WE , in our common humanity, were called to our own thresholds, where we would become God’s Flesh and God’s Bones.

Lean into your Life … the one God has put in motion … Lean into God… Lean into one another…
Leaving the known behind, we cross the threshold to the surprise and expectation of mystery…trusting the strength and agility of one another.

Who do I lean into and recognize the Face of God?  Who accompanies me so I can sing my song?
Where am I the Body of Christ on Earth….the hands … the feet… the eyes?

Bless you body this Christmas and thank Jesus for the gift of Incarnation.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Season of Waiting

O Come All Ye Faithful

ADVENT ---   We wait.  We wait.

        ADVENT ---  We search.   We search.

                ADVENT --- O come.  O come.

                       ADVENT --- Lead us to you, God. Show us your face.

We have heard O God, that you dwell among us. Sometimes you are silent. Often you are hidden.
Advent moments arrive as invitations for us to come and find you now.
We look for You and we find you looking for us.
Often You are looking at us, right through us, moving us to compassion and love.

This young child of Haiti, survived Hurricane Matthew. In late October Sister Eunice, Holly and Nancy travelled to the mountain villages of Haiti to see how the families they work with were doing.
They brought seeds to replant the crops that were washed away and medicine for those they could reach. As they searched and found those who were waiting, they saw the Face of God.

May each of us find in the neighborhoods around us this Advent, at least one Face of God. May we allow that Face to penetrate our heart. May we come to know anew the mystery of Incarnation.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beyond the Closing Door

St. Francis Church  North Adams, MA     September 2016
Please be present with me as I reflect upon the meaning of this sacred door of Saint Francis Church in North Adams.

This is a significant doorway of entrance into the mystery of God.
Through this door I was carried to received the sacrament of  Baptism. Through this door I processed with many schoolmates, as Sisters of St. Joseph prepared us for Penance, First Communion and Confirmation. This is the place where many became graduates of St. Joseph's Grammar and High Schools.

Daily Mass, October and May devotions, Novenas, Holy Hours, Stations of the Cross, and choir rehearsals, in this sacred space, nurtured the faith life of so many. Weddings, funerals, special services to pray for peace and offer solace united us as a community of faith.  I recall especially gathering to pray for the victims of the plane crash over Lockerbie, Scotland where our Wendy Lincoln was among the students from Syracuse University on board.

The steeple, that for years was part of an amazing skyline among the hills of North Adams, and whose bells rang out the angelus as a call to prayer, now lies in rubble among the bricks to the side.

A lamp post stands as a sentry, honoring the memory of each individual who ever passed by this holy place, some crossing their foreheads, others tipping their hats.

Flowering plants and greenery remind us that life continues to go on.

The open blue sky frames the memory and an era that is passing.  It speaks to me of Life Beyond the Door. The faith in our living God is part of us forever. We carry it wherever we go. Our faith was never meant to be tied to a building. We are asked to arise and move on to a beautiful new horizon.

I am prompted to pray with the words of Dag Hammarskjold:
 "For all that has been - Thanks. For all that shall be - Yes.
I thank my friend, Elaine Mattern of North Adams, for posting this photo on her Face Book page with the caption, "No, this is not the Alamo.". 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Final Day of UISG

 Sisters from India prepare for the beautiful liturgical dance at the doxology of the Mass. 

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz (Brazil), prefect of CICLSAL, speaks with some sisters prior to the concluding liturgy. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Papal Audience

Sister Maxyne Schneider is in Rome attending a conference of the International Union of Superiors General--a worldwide, canonically approved organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious.

At the start of the hour and a half audience UISG President, Carmen Sammut, MSOLA brought the greetings of the group to the Pope.

Questions from the membership were given to Pope Francis in advance and also were read aloud by a Sister. The first four questions,  all had to do with the role of women in the church - decision making, preaching, participation at all levels. Questions had been solicited from across the world by the UISG to be given to the Pope. Receiving questions was his request. From among the submitted questions those that were similar were combined and sent to the Pope by Easter.

Pope Francis seemed utterly at ease, committing himself to the inclusion of women in the dicasteries, for example, but not going beyond current official boundaries in other cases. He made frequent references to pastoral circumstances from his years in Argentina and made a few very lighthearted and humorous remarks.

There is much more to be said. I have been told that theZenit website might have full accounts of the audience.


More on the UISG

Carmen Sammut, MSOLA (Malta, I believe)
is President of the IUSG. Sisters of her congregation,
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa,
lived with our Sisters in our D Building
at one time, and now are at Providence Place.
Our Sisters in Kenya also knew some of their Sisters. 
Sister Maxyne Schneider is in Rome attending a conference of the International Union of Superiors General--a worldwide, canonically approved organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious.

There is a new energy in the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). It was apparent last August at the meeting of the American constellation after the LCWR National Assembly in August, and it is very apparent at the triennial Plenary Assembly. The IUSG  is under the leadership of Executive Secretary Sr. Pat Murray, IBVM (Ireland), who had brought similar energy to leadership of Solidarity with South Sudan, and  Carmen Sammut, MSOLA (Malta) as President. Now with a strong board and a strategic plan in the face of compelling world needs, the body representing more than a half million Sisters worldwide is far more than a forum for exchange of information.

The UISG was established 50 years ago on the final day of the second Vatican Council.  It was intended to be the counterpart to the corresponding organization for men religious which had existed for some time, the USG. As such, it would be the organization for the leaders of apostolic religious institutes of women. This is its golden Jubilee.

Last fall at the Synod on the family the IUSG took an important step in advocacy. While the USG, the men's organization, had always been considered equivalent to bishops and therefore would be given 10 seats at a synod, the women's organization, the IUSG, never had any ability to attend. This year the men offered the women one half of their positions. They presented that to the appropriate Vatican official and it was refused. However, the women were then given three positions at the Synod and were allowed as with all positions to have their three minutes of speaking time. While there is still much to be done in regard to the presence of women at the Vatican, this is one small step. One of the future concerns is that there are 30 people who form the commission for the dicastery on religious life, CICLSAL, but there is not even one woman, though women make up most of the religious  of the world. 

Sr. Monica Cavanaugh, center, is a Sister of St. Joseph from Australia, 
Mary McKillop's congregation. They were founded 150 years ago 
with direct inspiration from the Sisters in Le Puy.

Last evening the Chambery Sisters invited all the Sisters of St. Joseph at the UISG  for an evening of conversation (multilingual) and supper at their generalate house in Rome. 

Talking to Sr. Rosemary Brennan from Boston and Sr. Monica Cavanaugh from Australia is Sr. Mary McKay of Carondelet, a close cousin of Sr. Judy Levins.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

UISG Meeting in Rome

Sister Maxyne Schneider is in Rome attending a conference of the International Union of Superiors General--a worldwide, canonically approved organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious.

I will write with more depth of content later, but I wanted to get some material to you before too much of the week has passed. The conference has significant depth of content and feeling in its formal presentations and conversations informally. There is a noticeable change from three years ago both in seriousness of intent and in a number of external factors that signal that change as well as the simple internationality of the conference.

Three years ago there was simultaneous translation in six languages, while this time there are eleven with Polish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese. At my English-speaking table there are Sisters from Ireland, Australia, Nigeria, India, Tanzania and the US. One leads a congregation of 7000 and another is from a community of 36.

The theme, "Weaving Global Solidarity for Life," is meant as a recipe for effective action and not just a suggestion for pleasant pondering. There is much reference to the "charism of religious life" as an emerging reality in lives increasingly lived with global influence and global challenge.

Carol Zinn, SSJ (Philadelphia) delivered a powerful address on Monday regarding our crossing a threshold for global solidarity for the life of the earth. Mary Sujita, SND yesterday, echoing Pope Francis, called us to the peripheries where our Sisters serve across the globe. Our hearts were at once gladdened and deeply moved with the poignancy of human suffering in the afternoon panel on the UISG efforts against human trafficking, overwhelming migration of refugees, solidarity with South Sudan and the profound tragedies being played out in the Middle East. These brief words hardly begin to touch the realities spoken of in sessions or privately as Sisters told of the lives of their congregations.

Tonight Sr. Sally Hodgon, CSJ (W. Hartford), Vice President of the UISG, has invited all the Sisters of St. Joseph at the conference to the Chambery residence for supper. I look forward to it. I am sorry that the superior from the Institute that includes Le Puy is not at the conference. Sr. Catherine Barange from Lyons will convey our greetings to her, however.

I had the opportunity for "une petite conversation en francais" with Sr. Carmen Vergara,
the superior general of the"filles du Coeur de Marie" to greet her and express thanks for the hospitality of the DHMs.

Last evening when the conference ended just before 6:00,
Srs. Rosemary Brennan, CSJ (Boston), Anne Myers, SSJ (Philadelphia),
Kathy Dougherty, OSF (Philadelphia) and I stopped by Trevi Fountain
on the way to supper. Yes, wishes were made by all and mine included the Congregation!

More later...


Friday, April 8, 2016

Hello Yellow Daffodil

Here to show that we survived the April snow and the windy blow. Alleluia

The survival of the daffodils, buried beneath the snow for two days and blowing in the wind for two more has much to teach.
Daffodils symbolize rebirth and new beginnings, How appropriate that this common flower has appeared as such a strong symbol this second week of Easter.
May each of us find the blessing of beauty, new life and new perspectives. Be the one to say hello and watch the glow come to a neighbor's face.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April Showers?

Down in Adoration Falling
Perspective is everything.
It's early April. Spring came early following a very mild New England winter. Easter came early too, the last week in March.
Here it is the first week in April and the daffodils are bent low as they gaze in wonder at the snow. I took this picture yesterday. Most of those I showed it to commented on how sad they looked. My friend, Martha returned an e-mail with the above response.

Yesterday as we prayed with Mary at the Annunciation, we wondered with her "How can this be?"
Today we prayed with Nicodemus as he was invited to be born anew and enter life within the Spirit of God. "How can this be?"

I suspect these newly born daffodils, in their own way are pondering the same question.

Each of is invited anew this Easter season to live from the place of resurrection. It is a call to see what we think is apparent, to a possible different perspective. What is offering itself to us that might be an invitation to move from "How can this be?" to "Let it be"?

So many years ago in Bethlehem a baby came like a violet in the snow.

From this perspective we open ourselves to something new emerging. What is it for you?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Taste of Mercy

Delectable Johnny-Jump-Ups: Taste and See 
Mercy has a humble way of being. It is as natural as these little Johnny-jump-ups that showed themselves to me last Saturday. My friend Winnie and I went out for a breath of fresh air. As we walked in the enclosed courtyard at Mont Marie Health Center, we looked in the planters where seeds of last year's flowers lay sleeping through the winter.
"Surprise! We jump up and show ourselves to let you know Spring is on the way." 
I was surprised to discover that these little beauties are edible. Such is mercy as well. She offers herself to be enjoyed, tasted and nourishing.

With gratitude I thank three more of my Sisters who offer a bit(e) of what mercy means for them. Taste and See.

Sister Mary Kate sees mercy as God's justice.
Sister Simone treasures her experience of God's  mercy
Sister Carol expresses the interchange of mercy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

New Life is Coming

Beneath winter's darkness, new life emerges!

Hope does spring eternal!

As we enter into Holy Week, may we recognize God waiting for us in the new life springing forth.
May we hear God's whisper in all that is coming up new.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Embracing Mercy

 As I continue to ask people to share what Mercy means to them, I am blessed over and over again. Hearing these  insights during National Sisters' Week opens for me a deep appreciation for the way the grace of our vocation connects us with God's Mercy in so many dimensions.
Today we hear from Edie, Carol and Melinda.
Sister Edie recognizes Mercy as one of  God's names. .

Carol Wren experiences Mercy as the core of our deepest humanity.

Sister Melinda finds mercy in her ministry of listening.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Shooting for Mercy

With camera in hand I roamed the offices at 577 Carew Street asking my sisters to share what mercy means to them. The individual responses give us all points to ponder.
Sister Roberta experiences Mercy as a call to profound love.

Sister Lillian reflects on the gift and the virtue of Mercy in her life.

Sister Betsy recognizes the grace that comes through Mercy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

EspeciallyThose Most in Need of Your Mercy

For National Sisters Week we invited members of the Community of Joseph to share a reflection on Mercy.

Denise Granger in her simple office
Denise Granger,ssj, coordinates the Office of Justice and Peace for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield. She shares with us her reflection on Mercy.

Some things in life are exquisitely simple – love is better than hate, sharing is better than hoarding, generosity is better than selfishness, kindness is better than meanness – you can fill in a lot more.  Yet, we complicate even these seemingly simple things, often to justify behavior we know is not worthy of us.  Hanging on to small (or big) hurts, letting our insecurities get the best of us, allowing our “we’re number one,” materialistic, consumer driven culture entice us to satisfy our every little whim clouds our judgment and impedes the day when “all will be one.”
Living our lives believing that there is a God who knows us and loves us allows us to reveal God’s face and heart to the people we share life with and all of our brothers and sisters whose lives are affected by every decision we make. Living from a grounded set of beliefs gives us a frame of reference to live by. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes to mind - and is this not “mercy?”

Everyone guided by mercy and even a few of its synonyms – compassion, charity, tenderness, forgiveness – cannot but help to make life better all around – and isn’t that why we are here?

In this year of mercy, let us, like God, hear the cry of the poor.  We pray to be alert, eyes and ears open, sleeves rolled up, to the encounter with Jesus offered to us every day in the disguise of those most in need of mercy.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mercy Droppeth as Gentle Rain

Mercy droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.
The quality of mercy is not strained...It droppeth as gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath….  It is twice blest ….. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.                 Shakespeare                  The Merchant of Venice
In his wisdom, Pope Francis invites every one of us to take a good long loving look at the quality of mercy.  As a matter of fact, he has called forth a whole year for us to wrestle with this notion of mercy. What does mercy invoke in us? What are other names for mercy? What faces come to us when we take the time to reflect on occasions in our own lives when mercy made a difference?
Wrestle best describes my recent experience in coming to a fresh new place within me where I can befriend mercy. First I sat with the Kyrie, “Lord have Mercy”, that we pray at every Mass. It is never comforting for me to have to ask for mercy. It brings up feelings of messing up and falling short of being my better self. Opening up to qualities such as loving kindness, forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, courage, patience and reaching out have allowed space for mercy to come closer. How many times have I received mercy from so many people in such a variety of circumstances!  To count them would be like counting the stars or the grains of salt in a salt shaker.
One revelation is that the response to “Lord Have Mercy” has come through the agency of a multitude of people in my life. Every act of mercy has a face. Mercy received leaves an impression one never forgets even if it cannot named or acknowledged.
Another insight is that we are all agents of mercy time and time again. Mercy is as, Shakespeare well knew, a blessing to the one who gives as well as the one who receives. When asked what mercy means to me, I recalled a time when without realizing it, I was an agent of mercy. Here I share the story.
I invite you to please share what mercy means to you and a story with a face.
I expect that as we all  continue to wrestle with the place mercy is calling us to this year, that we will have many surprises.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Epiphany in the Sun

Epiphany Visit Somewhere New England 2016

               Announcing (a)
                  May the blessing of search
and the blessing of find
impel you
and surprise you
this new year.
May you have epiphanies
 in all of your seeking,
and may you find
through your days and
in each of your nights.