This Palm Sunday as I listened to the African American Spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” being sung in Chinese at Holy Family Church in Taipei, Taiwan, I began reflecting on other Holy Week observances in which I had participated over the years.
Never make an important decision in November or February!" So said the novice director, decades ago. Perhaps the cold grey days of a Michigan November, introducing winter, and the still grey days of February, delaying spring, prompted that warning to young novices.
Recently Sisters Carol Zinn, Sharon Holland, Janet Mock and I had a team building and planning session at the Jersey Shore. The final morning I took an invigorating walk along the beach, watching the sun streak across the waves for the first time since we arrived. I had been trying to coordinate breaks in our meeting with breaks from the drizzle and fog, and was finally successful!
Last month I did an internet search to see how much media interest there was in LCWR’s 2013 assembly in Florida. While a Catholic News Service article was reprinted in several diocesan papers, there was much less interest in the secular press than last year. However I noticed that in a group of images of LCWR leadership, some photos were repeated several times. When I clicked on one I was taken to an article on LCWR headlined...
In the midwest spring has been slow in coming this year, so most of us are more than ready for it. Nature’s dramatic flowering and greening always seem to be suddenly upon us, abrupt and surprising, even as we suffer through the drabness of March anticipating it. Spring so aptly coincides with the Easter season in the northern hemisphere, surrounding us with symbols of new life! We have much to celebrate. Hopeful signs in Rome seemed to appear as abruptly and surprisingly as the spring, lifting spirits in as global a way as the change of season. (Download issue to read in its entirety)
What roller coaster ride we have been on the past few weeks as we learned of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and reflected on what this might mean for the church at large and LCWR in particular. During this 50th anniversary year of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, what is the Spirit asking of us today? What does the church need at this point in history? Benedict’s action invited us to take stock of where we are as the people of God, what of Vatican II is still undone, and how to use this new beginning to apply the gospel message faithfully in our day. Many media outlets invited us to give a woman’s perspective or that of Catholic sisters on these questions. We accepted some of the invitations to widen the discussion, and included the insights of other people in our reflections.
As LCWR continues to respond to the process of the doctrinal assessment, I have frequently callled to mind Einstein’s assertion that it is impossible to solve any problem with the same mindset that created it. That thought carries a challenge. First of all, our own mindsets are usually quite invisible to us. How do we personally and collectively touch into and live from a new consciousness capable of transcending our blind spots?
'Blessed are the Peacemakers' Message of Pope Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace
For over 45 years the pope has issued a message calling for world peace at the beginning of each New Year, traditionally released on December 8th. However, this year Pope Benedict’s message was delayed until December 14th, the day America was consumed with grief over the murder of 20 innocent first graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. Seen through the eyes of this tragedy, Benedict’s open paragraph takes on poignant meaning:
As the days grow shorter and colder and nature calls attention to itself in the change of seasons, I am reminded of the story of a little girl who learned to swim in the winter. She took swimming lessons during the summer, determined to learn, but summer was soon over and she was still straining to get her breathing coordinated with her arm movements. Frustrated, she saw the swimming pool close for the season and she returned to school. The following spring the pool re-openned and she eagerly went to practice again, hoping to eventually get it right. She jumped in the pool and, to her surprise, effortlessly swam from one side to the other, arms and breath easily coordinated. Somehow she had learned to swim in the winter. When she was no longer even thinking about swimming, the learning continued within her on some other level and showed itself in the spring. (Read more by going to the attachement)
Many people report having recurring dreams. I have a biblical theme or two that recurs in my prayer, consciousness, and wonderings. It may recede for a bit, but somehow, that theme finds its way to the forefront of my heart, and I pray with it again and again. The authority of Jesus is a theme that continually rises up in me. Recent LCWR activities have invited me to deeper but as yet unfinished reflection. However unfinished, I offer it to you.
As the LCWR presidency met with various Vatican councils and congregations shortly after Easter, our experiences paralleled those of the liturgical season recalling death and resurrection, persecution and a faith community committed to the Gospel, and Jesus’ greeting to his dispirited disciples, “fear not, I bring you peace.” We appreciate your prayers, words of wisdom, and encouragement as we continue to discern both “what is the new emerging?” and our response to the mandate given to LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Perhaps you have experienced what I just have. I recently returned from several days on the road to a pile of messages and unfinished tasks on my desk. I began to sort, asking myself, "What needs most immediate attention here? What do I do first? What’s most essential?" As I set about prioritizing, those questions repeated within me and I began to hear them on multiple levels. I realized that "What’s most essential?" is the ultimate Lenten question. It might just be the ultimate leadership question, as well.
Walking Together in Service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
A few weeks ago I attended the opening of the final stop of the Women & Spirit traveling museum exhibit in Sacramento. It was a glorious occasion, a bittersweet celebration, knowing that this excellent exhibit would not continue past June, but that more than a million people have learned about the contributions women religious have made to the growth of the United States.