Here’s a comforting thought. When we think of the word “saint” we often expect to read about people who were almost, if not totally, perfectly holy. Today is the feast of St. Jerome, the great scholar and Doctor of the Church who translated most of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin but was known also for his bad temper! Think of that on the days when you feel as if you’ll never make it into the community of saints. Then smile and relax into God’s loving heart.
There are a lot of words in the USCCB readings for this Sunday. I suppose it would be only fair to choose a balance of difficult – if there be such – and joyful words, but today I am filled with happy gratitude. I am a guest at a lovely, large, friendly house of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Wilton, Connecticut and feel only the warmth of hospitality that fits Psalm 146 where I read: Praise the Lord, my soul! or an alternative response of Alleluia!
What prompted me initially to consider the words was the beginning of the reading from Paul’s first letter to Timothy which held the following advice. Brothers, (but of course he meant “and sisters,”) pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. (1 TM 6:11) That’s a pretty big order but in this house I am certain that the effort Sisters make toward those virtues is all wrapped up in perseverance which is, I believe, all that God desires from all of us.
Today seems a good day to reflect on those six words, saying them aloud looking in a mirror to see how I find each looking back at me and which, if any, appear in shadow today. Perhaps I might then bring the “shadowy” ones into the sunlight that is already shining brightly outside my window. (Remember patience and gentleness are both in the list and God asks only for our best!)
Every Thursday, the Sisters in our Province receive weekly updates of events, issues of concern and news about province members and our Associates. Each time there is an introductory quote that makes us think. I thought yesterday’s offering was helpful in allowing some hope even in the midst of our concerns about the future of our planet. I share it not so that you and I can sit back and breathe relief, but in order to regroup our hope and willingness to participate in solutions.
The same way to look at the future on a warming planet — and the best way to survive it — is…to see what’s coming not as an inevitability, but as a work in progress: moldable reality affected by the choices we make today and tomorrow, and next year. Engaged optimism of this kind has been a critical ingredient of historical progress…The New Deal, forged amid the despair of the Great Depression, was not only an urgent response to the woes of the urban jobless and the displaced Dust Bowl farmers but also an act of optimism boldly spending resources not just to alleviate immediate pain but for the sake of the radically different future that FDR and others envisioned for American society. (Bina Venkataraman, “Why We Still Need Climate Optimism” The Washington Post, Sept. 16, 2019)
Just a brief thought this morning that I woke up with and may have recently posted. If I have, I don’t apologize because I’ve seen it on t-shirts and heard it in conversation quite frequently. I think it is appropriate every day, so here goes:
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
It’s interesting how things show up on the internet when I am in need of a “jump-start” for my brain. I’m presenting a day on mindfulness in a time of transition this coming Sunday. The first thing I saw when scrolling for early news this morning was a message from Melli O’Brien (Mrs. Mindfulness) on her website called The Mindfulness Summit that always calls readers to “change your world from the inside out.” Today she has a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn that got me thinking. It said the following.
Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future, and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be.
Simple, right? Well, maybe not so much. What I like, however, is that the idea does not tell us to give up our capacity for mindfulness altogether but rather to suspend judgment for a time – likely just enough time to get clear and then forge ahead. I can live with that. Can you?
Finally, the leaves are beginning to show some colors of autumn! It’s not that I long too much for this miracle of beauty; it means the approach of cold and often inclement weather, after all. It is, however, one of God’s great gifts to those of us who live in the Northeast of the United States. One could spend a lot of time thinking of autumn as metaphor. (Going out “in a blaze of glory” comes to mind as an image.)
I wonder sometimes if all of life is not meant to be that kind of alternation of beauty and dissolution so we don’t hold on to anything too long. I wait for the autumn colors and would love to see them for months, but that would hold back the wonder of snowfall and interrupt the natural order of things…Some of you are already saying, “Fine with me – if I never saw snow again it would be okay!”
I could go on but I don’t know how I even got this far. It doesn’t take much sometimes to set my mind to wandering. I guess my point today would only be one of gratitude for God being in charge of the workings of the world and a wish that we would stop interrupting the flow…of global warming, for example…but there I go again with a new topic!
Enough! Blessings on your Tuesday!
Today Christians everywhere celebrate Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, who died on this date in 1968. We know him as Padre Pio. There is much to say about this humble servant of God, which you can find on http://www.franciscanmedia.org or in any number of books, documentaries and internet sites or perhaps from people, still alive, who have had experience of his life. It was not easy; he suffered spiritually and physically, and, perhaps most of all, psychologically from the words and actions of those who did not believe the movements of God in his life.
The verse before the gospel in today’s lectionary could be called “difficult grace” in the life of Padre Pio. It calls us all to humility and truth in recognition of our gifts, and reads as follows: Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Clearly, Padre Pio did not take credit for his extraordinary gift of healing or complain about the trials of his suffering, especially when he received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ in his physical form). It was his willingness to serve God in whatever way was asked of him that we honor today.
May we be willing each day to do the same.
I am not accustomed to posting in the afternoon but being off schedule today got me to play catch-up and I found the second-in-a-row message that comes from the monks of St. John the Evangelist. (See yesterday’s post). I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it as we all need encouragement once in awhile and I thought this a good reminder. (I especially liked the first line about being “rescued by love.”)
We are rescued by love when someone bequeaths dignity, worth, recognition, gratitude upon us, encouragement for us because of who we are and what we do. We simply cannot grasp this alone: that we are precious, and amazing, and of inestimable value, unless this truth is mirrored into our being by another person. We need to give and receive support and encouragement for one another as “daily bread.” (Br. Curtis Almquist.)
As we struggle toward unity in our homes, our communities and our world, we are also charged with the responsibility to embrace diversity. From our families to the members of the United Nations (meeting this week in New York City) the task is acceptance and understanding. I was reminded of this today by a post from the Society of St. John the Evangelist that called for appreciation of our uniqueness as a way to celebrate the unity of humanity. Here is the post.
Although we may have plenty of differences, it remains true that the Holy One created human beings as perfectly beautiful and in God’s image, shining like stars with the light of Christ. It’s a light reflected through the prism of this world as a diverse offering pouring forth from within each unique human heart. We pray with God’s help we will bear witness to that light, and instead of creating separation from difference, see diversity as a cause for celebration. (Br. Nicholas Bartoli, SSJE)
Life sometimes seems to be offering us little choice. When we’re young we have to go to school, we eat what our parents put before us, we do what we’re told, etc. When older, sometimes it feels the same when our patterns are established and we go to work, we spend our money on necessities (or not) and sometimes life seems to winnow the list of choices we have to fit into how much time we have in our busy schedules (but who makes the schedule?).
I am considering the topic of choice today not because I feel constrained by the number of hours in the day (although as I get older that sometimes rankles) but because of Margaret Wheatley’s book, Perseverance, that I chose for my morning reflection. Here’s a little of what she said – which you might choose to consider as I did, whether you are making judgments about time constraints, other people or anything in your life.
We need first to notice that we’ve made choices about everything in our lives. How we react and respond, every single feeling, is a choice. Every situation has infinite possibilities for interpretation and reaction. But we collapse all those possibilities the second we assign a feeling or judgment to the situation. (Page 103)
So, really, it’s more about how we feel about our choices and/or how we judge them that makes the difference in our acceptance of them. I will be spending some time with this thought today. Will you?