Hearts and Mardi Gras!

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | February 13, 2024 |

This is not your year to give up candy and sweets for Lent, because Lent began on Valentine’s Day.  I hope your box of candy had already arrived. But a Valentine heart provides a good theme for Lent. Every week we will look at one type of heart, such as repentant heart, clean heart, humble heart. The first blog in the week will focus on such a heart and what it might mean for Lenten practices. In between there will be other blogs but check out your heart early in the week. From the bottom of my heart, I pray that you will set your heart on a close following of Jesus Christ.

Lent Helps the Environment

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | February 13, 2024 |

During Lent we abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays. Whether you find this a penance or a pleasure, the practice of abstinence from meat has an impact beyond yourself. Literature on the environment advocates refraining from meat consumption once or twice a week. Sticking with fruits, vegetables, cheese, and nuts minimizes water usage, fuel dependence, and greenhouse gases. This is a great way to help the environment and something to consider as a practice throughout the whole year.

Christ is the Union of All Created Reality

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | February 9, 2024 |

Once I dreamt that everyone in the world was climbing a big grassy hill. Smiling and chuckling and waving to one another, Earth’s citizens reached their goal. Although the goal looked like a big sun with a smiling face (like a cartoon), it was alive and welcoming. I knew it represented God welcoming us at the end of time. Everyone, happy and excited, was streaming toward Christ. With one last glance up the hill, I saw the Sun wink at me. As my dream ended I felt all creatures had become one with the “Sun” named Christ. I believe one day all creation will become the Christ. I imagine the sounds of laughter, the delight in reunion, the feeling of completion. I pray that theologians, scientists, scholars, and people’s dreams further our understanding of Christ as the union of all created reality.

Creation and Incarnation are ONE

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | February 4, 2024 |

The mystery of Christ as written by Saint Paul is “Christ in you.” The mystery “hidden throughout the ages” is now being revealed in a new way in our century, although we are only scratching the surface. Saint Bonaventure (13th century) was an early discoverer. More recently Teilhard de Chardin broke up the mystery for our century. And many like Ilia Delio, Judy Cannato, Louis Savory, and others have added an abundance of research and personal intuition. The magazines and books I read have content stemming from these writers. Working together, scientists and theologians are conveying the wisdom needed to make all creation complete in Christ. We are now seeing that Creation and Incarnation are one.

Not making a claim that I understand the mystery of Christ, I firmly believe that I am a mystery-bearer. I cannot shed a bright light on the God Ahead who draws us evolving and complexifying and uniting in love-energy. But I know it’s true, and it’s my responsibility to share this truth. I wonder if our stammering vocabulary will be better able to explain the mystery in another fifty years.

FOG!

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 29, 2024 | Comments Off on FOG!

Carl Sandburg wrote that fog “comes on little cat feet.” The incessant fog of the past week was menacing, not mewing; chilling, not cuddly. It didn’t “move on.” It stayed, stuck in its mysterious depths, its dangerous limitations, dulling yet engaging the imagination. Its hesitant, unobtrusive entrance portended danger and whitening and weakening reality. Vulnerable before sunlight’s power, it fought to assert its confused self-protective ignorance waiting for an answer to the question “Is anybody out there?”

Christian Unity Week

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 29, 2024 |

In my experience, it seems that Christian Unity Week, generally scheduled between the Feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, has lessened in importance. In past years in other parishes there were many events, such as weekly pulpit exchanges, prayers, dinners with other churches. Yet the need for unity remains great in our churches, even within our own Roman Catholic Church. The news conveys nonstop reports of national and international disunity from politics to wars. Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that all may be one. Let that be our prayer in 2024.

Flipping Through 2023

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 23, 2024 |

It’s been three weeks since we opened the calendar to 2024. We’ve looked ahead, perhaps adding more events that we wished for in our busy lives. Or maybe we looked with eager anticipation to days of fun, birthdays, reunions, vacations. Newscasts remind us that it will be an eventful year in politics. For those of us in Ohio, it’s been a frigid year so far.

Looking back on the year, paging through my planner, 2023 has been a year that I would never have imagined or desired. Hard days, sad days, days of doubt and uncertainty predominated. Yet I made it through. You did, too, readers. Despite my sister’s funeral and several events that stretched me beyond my comfort zone and abilities, God kept me in God’s provident care, as always.

Every morning I imagine a basket sitting on God’s lap. The weaved basket contains the day. I ask God to bless whatever is there and help me deal with the day’s events in the way God wants. And then the hours pass with success and failure, happiness and discomfort, my faults and my prayers. Then at night I lay my head on my pillow reflecting on the day held on the divine lap. Another day in 2024 will come soon enough.

If You Can Read This

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 13, 2024 | Comments Off on If You Can Read This

You’ve probably seen signs like this one: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Take a moment to consider the teachers (living and deceased) for whom you are so grateful. They inspired you. They put you on a better path. They built up your confidence. They saw in you qualities you never knew were there.

In January the Church honors some saintly educators and those who inspired youth; namely Elizabeth Seton, John Neumann, Francis de Sales, Angela Merici, and John Bosco. (Although not canonized, I will add the two founding Sisters of the Sisters of Notre Dame whose birthdays fall in January.)

Consider thanking them in some way—a prayer, a note, a text or phone call. If they are in heaven, do something for teachers in a nearby school. Offer to assist in the multiple tasks that teachers face each day. Support scholarship programs. Or just stop by with a tray of goodies.

Birthdays of Our Founding Sisters

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 9, 2024 |

January 9 is the birthday of our foundress, Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring. The very next day, January 10, is the birthday of our co-foundress, Sister Maria Ignatia Kühling, six years the senior of Sister Maria Aloysia. In God’s plan they became teachers in the same school. They both perceived the needs of children beyond formal education; the students first needed food, shelter, a stable family life. In the process of educating and caring, they discerned another call—to that of religious life. In 1850 on October 1 Hillegonda Wolbring and Lisette Kühling became the first Sisters of Notre Dame. Through times of trial and suffering with the help of each other, our two founding sisters gave direction to the congregation that now covers the globe. They passed on the charism of trust in God’s provident goodness. For nearly 175 years the Sisters have carried the torch. May our loved Congregation continue the spirit, trusting that “The dear God has always taken care and will certainly continue to do so” (Letter of Sister Maria Aloysia, 1881).

Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross

By Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider | January 6, 2024 | Comments Off on Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross

Have you ever noticed how much of Good Friday enters into the Christmas carols? One of my favorite songs is “Wood of the Cradle” by Francis Patrick O”Brien.  The lyrics bring together the wood of the cradle and the wood of the cross. It’s important that we realize every feast and season is a celebration of the Paschal Mystery—the whole life of Christ with emphasis on the dying and rising. One of my professors loved to remind us that “Every day is Christmas. Every day is Easter. Every day is everything.” As an experiment, pick up a hymnal or a carol book, and challenge yourself to find the death of Christ (Good Friday) and the resurrection of Christ (Easter) embedded in the Christmas hymns. If you can’t find specific references, you can also look for themes of death, suffering, heaven’s door opening, hope in our fear, freeing the bound, yoke of despair and bondage, rule of compassion, casting out sin, and so on.