Friday, March 29, 2013

Would you mind being borrowed?

Holy Saturday has always been one of my favorite days of the Easter Triduum.  For me, it is more silent than Good Friday.  Good Friday is a noisy day.  As I walk with Jesus on the journey to the cross I can hardly bear it.  I feel so  crowded, all the jostling and the pushing, the cruelty, the cries of hate, the tears of sorrow.  Violence is always difficult and when a good person is being condemned unjustly it is more heartbreaking than I know how to describe.  I am relieved when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus come for his body and lay it in the tomb.  It was a borrowed tomb, one in which no one had yet been laid.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting.  Not much is happening.The Beloved is in the tomb.  Sorrow has taken away our words and we are very silent, so silent. The silence is deep.  Every Holy Saturday I go to my Holy Week file and take out a meditation.  I read it again and again. This reflection is from Living Faith (Creative Communications for the Parish)  and it was written by James Adams.  Because I find it so moving I take the liberty of sharing it with you here.

I had no grave of my own.  My body was laid in somebody else's tomb.  Was it fitting that I be buried in a borrowed tomb?  Yes!  I was always borrowing things.  I borrowed a crib in Bethlehem to be born.  I borrowed Peter's boat to preach from.  I borrowed a donkey to ride on when I came to Jerusalem.  I borrowed bread and wine to make my body move and my blood to flow in history.  I borrowed thorns, wood and nails to redeem the universe.  Why should my burial be any different?

I will go on borrowing things until the end of time, until I have borrowed them all and made them holy.

I will also borrow you.  You will be my tongue and my throat, parched.  You will be my hands and feet, nailed.  You will be my head, thorned.  You will be my side lanced.  You will be my body stripped.  You will be my corpse, buried.  And when the borrowing is over, you will be my sisters and my brothers, risen and unspeakably happy.         -James E. Adams

So let's allow the Holy One, Source of our Life, Source of all Life
to borrow us.  Remember, we are being borrowed together.  We'll all be there!  

On the eve of Good Friday I always go to our empty chapel
and just sit before all that is gone. Holy Thursday adornments have been taken away.
No altar cloth.  Not a candle in sight.
The tabernacle door is empty and open resembling an empty tomb.
In spite of the tremendous absence that I feel
there is also an incredible presence.
Now I know why; it is because I've been borrowed.
Now I am the temple of Christ's presence
You are too!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

What More Can I Say?


"I had found living so dear I wanted to do it full time." 

quote taken from THE BARN AT THE END OF THE WORLD 
by Mary Rose O’Reilly       

What more can I say,  indeed!  You are a temple of God; the Spirit of God dwells in you!  Pray with your whole being.  Use your hands and arms and feet and knees, mind and heart.  Your entire body can be a living prayer.  I know that everything in the world is not perfect.  I know about the pain, the violence, the wars, the scandals.  I know about death. Still, in the midst of our wounds we are invited to celebrate life.  In the midst of everything that is wrong with our world, let's celebrate what is right.

The Glory of God is a person fully alive, St. Irenaeus writes.  If he had that figured out in the 2nd century maybe we should give it our best.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hands that Bless and Anoint

I love to be in our monastic chapel in the early morning hours when it is still dark. I watch the saints in our stained-glass windows as they slowly return to us with the first rays of  morning light.  This appearance and disappearance of the saints has intrigued me since my days as a novice.  At dusk they melt into the night.  When dawn arrives, slowly they reappear: this wonderful cloud of witnesses that surround us through the hours of our prayer day!

Unfortunately, their faces are somewhat saccharine and entirely too Caucasian for my taste.    Even so I have chosen to allow these saints to anoint me through the hours of the day.  It is their HANDS that bless me.  There are times I pray the windows much like I would journey through the stations of the cross.  I fix my gaze upon their hands and reflect upon the potential of my own hands.

I see hands raised in blessing, clasped in prayer, hands holding sacred books,  writing quills, olive branches and lilies, hands holding musical instruments, lamps and flasks of oil, hands held out in petition or raised in joy.  HERE IS MY CLOUD OF WITNESSES WHOSE HANDS HELD OUT IN BLESSING ANOINT ME THROUGH THE HOURS OF THE DAY!

However, I have another Cloud of Witnesses that bless me throughout the day.  These are my Sisters, my praying community, who meet me in chapel, in the dining room, in the recreation room, in the garden, in various places of work, Ora et Labora -- work and pray!  (and PLAY)  Our hands are sacramental; they are extensions of our hearts.

I have begun to watch the hands of my Sisters and sometimes I imagine their faces and hands in the stained-glass windows.  Here is my flesh and blood CLOUD OF WITNESSES whose fidelity to the monastic way of life inspire me, as together we listen with the ear of the heart.  We listen each day to the call that won't go away: the call to seek God in ordinary life.

You may wish to go back to my last week's post and bless your own hands as you continue this day of service to your family and to humankind. Remember: your hands are an extension of your heart. Everything you touch can blossom with love.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The word I have chosen for March is HANDS

My first post for March is taken from my book, Seven Sacred Pauses.  It is a blessing of your hands for the mid-morning pause that I call THE BLESSING HOUR.  We take so much for granted.  A good morning prayer before you go out to meet the day and be obedient to the invitations of the day could be a simple blessing.  Use the one below or create your own. 

Sit in your favorite chair, stand by a window or choose some soulful place for this blessing prayer.  Hold out your hands in gratitude for their many uses.  Reach out and touch the things that are near you.  Feel the texture of the things you touch.   Think of some of the tasks you have done and  will do this day.   How important are your hands for these tasks?  Now bring your hands  to a comfortable resting place on your lap or held up in a gesture of praise.

O Source of  Life,  you lifted me out of the earth,  From your hands I have come.  I place my hands in the welcoming  hands of your heart and pray for a sweet anointing in this mid-morning hour.  Anoint my hands with tender awareness.   Anoint my hands with compassionate touch.   Anoint my hands with sacred energy.  Give success to the work of my hands this day.  Help me remember  my potential to reach out and touch things to life.   Give me spirit hands.  Fill my hands with insightful consciousness.  Let me see with my hands the way those who are blind see.   May all that I touch be transformed into an instrument of grace.  O Holy One, anoint these hands and use them for healing all through the day. May it come to pass.
        -taken from Seven Sacred Pauses:  Living mindfully through the Hours of the Day  
         Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana