Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Next week I will be speaking to all the students at SGHS. Each class comes for chapel once a week and I've been asked to do the reflection. This year we, like the universal Church, are focusing on the writings of Saint Paul. The passage for my reflection is Romans 8:22-28.
“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance. In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will. \We know that all things work for good for those who love God, 6 who are called according to his purpose. “

Hope. I chose the reading and the theme and now, today, I am wondering what I could possibly say to these young women about such an intangible virtue. I can talk for an hour about most things theological, if invited. For some reason, I can’t get my head around this one. Faith and love seem so much easier to talk about. The gospels are full of faith-based miracles and Paul’s hymn in 1 Corinthians spells out love quite clearly. But hope…hmm. Some things in our faith are so hard to explain. I feel the limitation of words, and of my own understanding. Maybe, like Saint Paul, I should just write a “hymn” with what I know of hope in my own life. Maybe, something of my journey might touch their adolescent hearts.

Hope… is walking on frost-covered earth and seeing the tiny bud of a crocus peeking up through the snow.
Hope… is a woman with child caressing the baby yet unborn. a ten-year-old girl praying for GOD to cure her mother's cancer.
Hope… is going to Mass every Sunday even though the mystery of the Eucharist often feels too much for the mind to hold.
Hope… is saying the words, “I love you” first.
Hope… is getting out of bed and going to work when you feel empty of blessings to give.
Hope… is praying when you have no words left in you and all you can do is just be with GOD.
Hope… is the thing that gets you from a loved-one’s grave back into the limousine.
Hope… is the fuel that gets a dying body to move into one more day because that day is pure gift.
Hope… is the hand of a real friend on yours when words are useless.
Hope… is the memory of love kept alive in the heart – a memory that makes loving again possible.
Hope… is a GOD who loved us enough to become one of us – absorbing all the joy and pain of being human.
Hope… is knowing the GOD for whom nothing is impossible. an empty tomb.

Blessings and love to you all,
- Sister Vicki

Monday, February 2, 2009

Presentation of the LORD...

Today the Church celebrates the meeting of the Holy Family with Anna and Simeon. Jewish law mandated that a woman return to the temple 40 days after giving birth to be ritually cleansed. In keeping with that tradition, Mary and Joseph brought JESUS to the temple so that they could make an offering t0 GOD. The two elders who see the Christ child represent the waiting and watching of Israel for the coming of the messiah. When they behold Him, they are filled with joy because the promise has been fulfilled. Simeon, who was given the grace to see this day, prays: "Lord, let your servant now die in peace for you kept your promise. With my own eyes I have seen the salvation you prepared for all people. A light of revelation for the Gentiles and glory for your people, Israel."

Not until the 11th century did the practice of blesing candles begin. "Candlemas" has become an honored ritual in churches and monasteries all over the world. (Our liturgy at the monastery is exceptionally beautiful. I miss being home on days like this - more than usual.)

February 2nd is also set aside as a day to celebrate consecrated life. The Church, here in Richmond, planned a retreat day for all the sisters, brothers and religious priests serving in the diocese. The three of us joined about forty others at St. Joseph's Home, the mother house of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The hospitality was over-the-top, and from a Benedictine, that is high praise. The sisters were so happy to welcome us to their home. The day began with a Eucharist of Thanksgiving in which we all renewed our vows. (I monkeyed with the words a bit to reflect our monastic profession of stability, obedience and fidelity to the monastic way of life. Had to be done.) Our presider was Rev. Msgr. Thomas Shreve, PA. Then, after lunch, Adoration and Reconciliation. Two conferences followed. Fr. James Kauffmann, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at VCU, spoke on St. Paul's hymn to love. Rev. Msgr. Mark Lane, Vicar for Clergy & Religious, gave a wonderful conference on the life, conversion and ministry of Paul. All in all, a grace-filled day. (Special thanks to Liz Primich and Ann Niermeyer - the women who organized the event.)

I guess I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the other event on February 2nd. Did he see his shadow?

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki