A Grammatical Perspective on Life Right Now

This past weekend was a great one full of love, laughter
and sharing life in the best sense of the term! 

On Saturday I was at an event and my brothers and sisters in the United Church of Christ had on these matching shirts with a huge punctuation on the front. I was not sure which one it was or why they were wearing it on the front of their shirts. Finally, I went up and asked someone what the meaning of their shirts were. The lady I asked looked at me with all seriousness and said it is a comma, because we want to let you know that God is not finished with you yet. It symbolizes the unfinished piece of artwork each of us are. I immediately knew that was the perfect message for me and it was Providential to be hearing it at that moment.

On Sunday, I renewed my vows of temporary profession of poverty, chastity, and obedience for two years. And when I heard the message from the U.C.C congregation I thought it was congruent to what it means to renew vows for me. In practical terms it means formation is not over yet. In a heartfelt manner it means I want to keep learning, growing, and living into being my most authentic self and being a Sister of St. Joseph. The unfinished business is in my life right now is pulling me forward as I evaluate and work through those things I need to change in my life. My comma which is now right after my renewal of vows is pulling me forward to that exclamation point of making final vows! If you take it a little further and think about it perhaps life is a little fuller of commas and semicolons then end punctuation marks. The end punctuation marks would then only signify those moments that you consider the most major turns or changes in your life and you want to signify the end of them.

No matter what punctuation mark you use to symbolize your time in life, the message as long as we’re living I think is the same: God’s not finished with us yet! Let your life stay dynamic! We can each do this by staying aware and alert of what my true motivations are in life. If we lose focus then life gets out of control and can become stagnant. Staying in touch with God, our source of love, is a factor in being able to stay focused and mindful.

Blessings on your journey fellow pilgrim, Sister Clare

The Celebration of Our Unity

By Mary Flick, CSJ

The Sundays which follow the close of the Easter season invite us to linger in the unity experienced on that first Pentecost. Two weeks ago, we heard, “They all were together in one place” when the Spirit descended, and the large, diverse crowd of visitors to Jerusalem “each heard them speaking in his own language.” Unity defines our origin as Church. On Trinity Sunday, we reflected on the unity of the Godhead – the oneness of relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit. Today, we see the Eucharist as a celebration of our unity with God and with one another.

In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses demands of the people, “Do not forget the Lord your God” who guided and delivered them from Egypt, who gave them drink and fed them with manna in the desert. Manna, a previously unknown food, became their food for the journey. The people, together sustained by what God had provided, moved forward together, supporting each other, discovering their identity as God’s chosen people.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of the cup and bread shared at Eucharist, not as sustenance, but as the source of oneness. We are one body, Paul tells us – the Body of Christ. It requires eyes of faith to recognize Christ in the Eucharist. So, too, we must look with the eyes of faith to recognize Christ in our neighbors. Yes, our oneness, our unity, is what defines us as Church. In the Creed we profess our belief in “one, holy catholic, apostolic church.” We are meant to be one.

The source of this oneness is Jesus’ very self. In today’s gospel. Jesus does not give those who believe in him a perishable manna in the desert, but himself, a “living bread” from heaven. That “living bread” must be received with living faith to have its effect. That “living bread” is the source of eternal life, the source of a unity that is timeless. It is, quite intimately, Christ in me, and I in Christ. The cup and bread we share is our gateway to this intimacy of oneness: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” The body and blood of Christ is true communion – union with God. And Jesus’ gift of his very flesh and blood offers us a solidarity greater than our differences. It is the food and drink that nourishes us again and again, on The Way.

Vow of Poverty – explained to wealth managers

I was recently asked to discuss the vow of poverty with a journalist working for a wealth management magazine. “Are you sure you want to talk to me?” I asked. Yes, we’re looking for different attitudes and perspectives. Well, yes, mine is different…

Here’s the article – some of the details aren’t quite right, but I think she did a good job of pulling parts of it together:

A Nun Tells Us What It’s Like to Live With a Vow of Poverty

As a Sister of St. Joseph, Amy Hereford lives a financial life that’s a lot different from most of us. But she thinks the lessons from it apply to us all.  Read more…

Emotions and Humanity

So often in life we are told it is the mature or professional or right thing to do to control our emotions.  And too often some emotions are given a negative connotation, or are seen or felt as “bad.”  Emotions are simply information.  They tell me how I feel about a situation or person.  And I know that to act out of an emotion without control can have consequences.  However, I wonder if we are denying others the opportunity to see us and thus treat us as fully human if we never express the anger, sadness, excitement, or joy that we sometimes struggle to contain.

I serve as the principal at an all-girls middle school.  Most days I love what I do.  And some days it is difficult.  This past week I was angry when a parent did something at minimum inconsiderate.  I didn’t say anything in the moment because I was responsible for the safety of too many students to be distracted and because I wasn’t sure I would respond in the super-professional way that might be expected.  I will probably follow up with this parent later on in what will be a very measured conversation.  But, does that measured conversation get across the hurt and fear and disappointment and anger that categorized the moment?  I can explain how I feel and felt, but it’s not the same.  I wonder if people feel it’s okay to treat “the principal” differently than they might treat “Sarah”, treat someone they see first as a role differently than they would treat a person?

Our brains are wired to be wary of those who are different.  Years and years and years ago when humans wandered in tribes, someone who looked different was very likely a threat.  Our brains still react accordingly.  Could we/would we recognize each other as the same through emotions to which we can relate?

It probably wouldn’t have been good to share with that parent all of the things running through my mind in that moment.  But, if I had it to do over again, I think I would have shared some of the emotion that she might have recognized in hopes that we could see and treat each other as people.  I’m sure there will be a next time.

–S. Sarah