This past Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) lured me into thinking about being deaf to certain sounds, select voices and deeper versus higher-pitched tones. Granted the person Jesus met in the Gospel story was physically deaf, but many of us practice a kind of deafness in our everyday lives. Some people name it “selective hearing,” i.e. hearing certain things and being deaf to others.
Moms and dads apply selective hearing when they are tuned in to the slightest noises coming from a newborn baby sleeping in another room or when they catch the sound of coughing from a sick child during the night. Students often hear what they need to do to pass a test and don’t hear what to do for homework that night. In the busy-ness of everyday lives and with all the noise of the world around us, we almost have to have selective hearing in order to survive in it.
The same listening qualities that alert parents to possible danger for their children are true for our selective hearing when it comes to hearing God’s voice. You might rightly say, “God’s voice isn’t a human voice one would hear in a normal way.” That’s true. God’s “voice” makes a unique “sound,” an echo that resonates in our hearts, is heard by our inner ears, if you will. This is why our listening and paying close attention is so key. May we quiet ourselves enough today to hear God’s voice within us. May we allow its message to move us.
Blessings as we listen,
There is a famous question, “If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” In other words, does the way you live your life really reflect what you claim you believe and value? Most of us fall short, but in general, we can recognize if we are muddling along in the direction toward what we hold sacred and true or away from it.
For Dominicans, we view it in a slightly different way. How does your life preach? How does the way you live proclaim to the world? We are members of the Order of Preachers, after all. Dominican houses were and are called “Houses of the Holy Preaching.” That doesn’t mean we sit around listening to homilies and reflections. It means we strive to recognize that what we do – how we treat each other, how we live together, how we reach out to others – is a way of preaching Christ’s Gospel.
How do I preach with my life? What do I preach with my life? Does my life say what I want it to be saying? Does my life align with God’s desires for me? Asking these questions can help us figure out if we are on the right path and can help us discern the forks in the road.
Ultimately God’s desire for our lives and our deepest desires are united. But it takes a while to understand and accept those deepest desires within us.
Take some time this week to ask God to show you how you already preach with your life and, perhaps, show you new ways you may be called!
Fears and worry can prevent us from proclaiming the Good News in word and action to our world. Dominican Sister of Peace, Beata Tiboldi, OP, created this inspirational video about preaching with courage, faith, and joy – what she calls preaching with an Alleluia heart.
In this Easter season, may we catch the Spirit of the early church, and spread the joy of the Gospel for our time!
Alleluia! It’s True!
(Inspired by the Easter Gospel readings)
Could it be?
Dare I trust?
Dare we risk?
We had hoped for so long
Have felt betrayed and
done our share of betraying
it could be true
They say they saw him
And they are glowing
They are different somehow
not cowering like the rest of us
They don’t just believe
I can see it
They know in their bones
He is alive
Angels spoke to them
She saw him at the tomb
and he sent her to us
They actually broke bread with him
Could it be?
It is all coming together
Everything he said that sounded so crazy
now is falling into place
And, wait, who is that coming into our room?
How did he get in here –
the door is closed
He looks so familiar
and yet I cannot place him
Those terrible, awful nail marks
It is him
He is eating, drinking
smiling at us
He is alive as they said
O God of our ancestors
You have raised him
It is true
Now I know
And now that I know
I have to leave this safe room
No, I want to leave this safe, closed room
I want to share this news
The nails didn’t do it
The shameful crucifixion didn’t destroy him
And all that is death dealing
in our world
cannot destroy us
We are on the side of
the one who was raised from the dead
And he has called us to go forth
And has given us a Word of life to preach
to a hurting world
Death does not have the final power
Hope and life remain
I know it now
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
In order to make life decisions with God’s help, we need to learn to dialogue with God about the things in life that matter most to us. By developing intimacy with God through prayer, our ability to share life with God grows slowly and steadily. Praying with Scripture is foundational to this growth in intimacy with God.
In my own journey of developing an intimacy with God, I benefited greatly from a book by two Jesuit priests, Dennis and Matthew Lynn, called Healing Life’s Hurts. Using St. Ignatius of Loyola’s prayer of imagination with Scripture, I learned how to identify imaginatively with different figures in Scripture who might be feeling the same negative emotions I was feeling. I then learned how to encounter Jesus in this prayer and experience his response to me.
So in my anger and resentment, as though with stone in hand ready to punish the one who hurt me, I hear Jesus saying, “You who are without sin may cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). Or to overcome with my fear of failing, as if I am about to go overboard in the storm at sea, I hear Jesus saying, “Get hold of yourself. It is I. Do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27). Or in my guilt and remorse, I find myself as the penitent woman washing Jesus’ feet with my tears and drying them with my hair, and I hear Jesus saying, “Your sins are forgiven …Your faith has been your salvation. Now go in peace” (Lk 7:48-50).
Through such encounters with the living Word, I began to realize that the Bible included me. The biblical story and our story become one story that mediates God’s unconditional love for us! As St. John of the Cross so beautifully states it, “The gospel has eyes – the eyes I so long for. The gospel has eyes; they reach to the heart and change it.”
Does your spirituality include praying with Scripture? Have you experienced God relating to you through the biblical story? What are some of the different ways in which you have grown in your intimacy with God?
By Sister Corinne Sanders, OP
The Gospels portray Jesus as a great teacher. He teaches and suddenly things happen. Jesus not only carries authority in his teaching but he carries power to heal and bring freedom. His presence, his authority, and power will continue to amaze and astonish as he speaks of the presence of God among us. His teaching will also frighten some and threaten others.
We know the world is longing for hearts and souls whose voices carry authority; strong voices that cause us to sit up, to take notice and to respond. My life has been shaped by these voices as I have heard those who speak of the rights of nature and I find myself taking delight in listening to Earth with a new heart.
I have been shaped and inspired by those who speak with passion and urgency on behalf of immigrants. And I have been freed over the years by women who teach and speak from a feminist perspective releasing my spirit to new ways of knowing and expressing faith in my God.
I am sure you can name those who have taught with authority and have shaped your lives, calling you deeper and deeper into mystery. As disciples, each of us has this responsibility to step out in whatever ways we can and to speak of God’s presence among us. In what ways are you being called to spread God’s truth in our world? How do you teach with your life?
Yes, the Risen Jesus appeared to his followers in a unique way two thousand years ago. Yet the resurrection of Jesus is also a present-day event happening in our daily lives bringing new energies for life and love in our world today. Listen to one of our novices, Sister Katherine Frazier, share her reflection on John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to the Disciples on the sea of Tiberias.
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to view it on YouTube.
By Sister Kathy Nolan, OP
Recently the Oxford Dictionaries announced that their 2016 word of the year is “Post-Truth”. Oxford defines post-truth as “an adjective relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” As one writer suggests, the key here is “post” as it refers to a “time in which the specified concept has become unimportant and irrelevant.” Perhaps another way of saying this is that post-truth describes a condition in which truth is no longer really important at all.
I find this quite alarming and frightening. The recent presidential election campaign was, in fact, a vivid example of how truth has lost and ‘fake news’ and distortion of truth has won the day. George Orwell described such a time as we live in in the following way: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.”
As a Christian and a Dominican, seeking truth is a life-long pursuit. It is impossible to think that as an individual or as a society we would abandon truth telling and embrace deceit and obfuscation as the norm. For Christians, Gospel values provide us with the norms for living and the Gospel is revolutionary. Jesus says of himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). Following Jesus requires a wholehearted pursuit of truth in our personal and public lives.
Take some time and reflect on the place of truth in your life: Does personal or group bias cloud your vision causing you to see only your own advantage in a situation while blinding you to the needs of others who are different from you? Do you avoid truth through denial, suppression of painful emotions, busyness, and overconsumption? Or are you emotionally honest and willing to acknowledge the truth of a situation, even when it is painful? Are you willing to act on the truth and live with integrity? As Jesus states, “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).
That famous question, “Who do you say that I am?” occurs in this Sunday’s Gospel. It can be a very important discernment question because how we answer it affects everything. If you say Jesus was a good man who set a good example, that may be nice, but it doesn’t necessarily call a person to any radical change. If you say Jesus is the one who will judge us in the end, then it might just make you anxious and act out of guilt. If you say Jesus is the creator of the universe manifesting in human form to teach us how to live and love, you might feel more drawn to respond with your life.
At a very personal level, we probably answer this question differently from others, and even for ourselves at different points in our lives. Because Jesus is also a ‘person,’ we are in a relationship, and relationships change over time. Jesus may not change, but our understanding of him and way of relating to him will. Some of the different answers I have had to this question: Jesus you are… my partner… my hope… a caress… a challenger… the one I take time with each night and morning… the core relationship in my life.
Discernment involves other people. But the strongest voice in becoming who I am, and discerning what I am called to do, is the voice of Jesus.
Who do you say Jesus is?
The blog for this week comes from Sara Fairbanks, OP. Originally from Vermont, Sister Sara is a professor of theology at Barry University, an Adrian Dominican Institution in Miami, Florida. Here is her story:
As a college student I had stopped going to church. I did, however, want a relationship with God. I was a history major. In my junior year my advisor wanted me to take a religion course on the Reformation because that particular split in Christendom had powerful political ramifications for all of Europe.
In taking the course, I learned that one of the great themes of the Reformation was the right of every Christian to read the Bible in his/her own language. At the time, the bible was mostly available in Latin, which most people could not read. At the end of the discussion, our professor, who was also a Presbyterian minister, challenged each one of you to pick up the Bible and read one of the gospels all the way through.
I did not even own a Bible! So I borrowed a Bible, and began to read the gospel of Matthew. When I got to the passage in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you,” for the first time I sensed the presence of God with me, speaking these words directly to my heart, awakening me to a divine love that I had never known before, a love unsurpassed. I was in tears. This experience was totally unexpected. God’s love was real!
This awakening to God’s unconditional love was the foundation of my religious vocation. With the help of other faithful Christians, I gradually learned how to share my life with God through praying with scripture. In time, I began to see God everywhere in my life and to find God at the core of my very self.
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Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a new video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!