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shemaThere is much in our Judeo-Christian heritage that remains as core to our faith. Today’s passage from the Book of Deuteronomy (6:4-13) is one of the most powerful in all of Scripture as it summarizes the basic lesson and practice for our everyday life. Moses is spirit-filled indeed when he calls out to the people: Shema Yisrael… 

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates…

I can picture families teaching the Shema to their children, just as mine taught us our prayers so that before I went to school the most important of them (Our Father, who art in heaven…) was second nature. Speaking the name of God at every hour of the day was a practice in the novitiate as the clock struck to remind us. (Sisters, please let us remember the holy presence of God…) Jewelry that we wear and icons in our houses are modern reminders of God. All of these outward signs and practices are calls to us of the deeper message that Moses knew unequivocally in his heart and which all of our striving in this life ought to be about. Coming to believe in the unity that exists among us because we all exist in the impulse of Love that created our universe is the goal. It is from that belief that all right living proceeds. Everything shouts God’s name to us; we need only to be awake enough to hear.