Friday, October 18, 2013

...nor shall they train for war again.

... they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another, 
nor shall they train for war again.
Isaiah 2: 4b-c

Would you believe me if I wrote that I've started several blog posts in the past month... but never had the time/took the time to finish them? It's a little ridiculous, really. I'm not sure I can name why I seem to put off blogging. Maybe it's because I treat my Facebook account as a blog. I suppose it serves the same purpose on some levels. However, as long as those posts can be (and those that follow me know that I am quite verbose!) they can't really take the place of a longer blog.

To say that there has been a lot going on in life, ministry, community, etc. would be an understatement of major proportions. What's been occupying my time? Glad you asked... Some of this may be a recap for you, but bear with me.

Some of you may be aware that I moved into a new community a little over 7 months ago. This community, Annunciation House, is a house of discernment - a place where women who are discerning the possibility of Marianist religious life can live for several weeks up to a year. And while this is our main ministry as a community, we also have our fair share of short term (2 or 3 days) visitors - most of whom are discerning with our community. This has been a graced development in the life of our Province. We currently have a discerning woman living with us and will soon have a second... plus several short term discerners. Our community life is rich - with shared meals and conversations about many things (poverty in the US, the call of the Gospel, faith, prayer, the news, ministry, work etc), prayer, Mass, and many community outings (AppleFest anyone?). We do live a grace-filled life.

Also, I am now working at 2 part time ministries. And in case you were not aware, this is a case where 1/2 plus 1/2 actually equals 1-3/4. It's crazy math, I know, but it's true! I currently teach 3 classes of 10th grade religion... which I love! I so enjoy teaching Scripture. I wouldn't consider myself a Scripture scholar, but I am a lover of Scripture and therefore have studied and prayed with Scripture a lot. My students do not always share my love of Scripture, but that's okay. At least many of them find some things in class interesting or challenging or even inspiring (although, that doesn't happen as often as I would like!). My other part time ministry is serving as vocations director for our Sisters and vocations coordinator for the Marianists in Dayton (both for the Sisters and for the Brothers/Priests). That's been really good, too, I think. I enjoy it and it's been fulfilling.

So, that's a brief update on life these days. Mix that in with traveling for conferences, vocation discernment events, getting together with friends, grading papers, going for morning walks (or the occasional run), and trying to motivate myself to finish writing thank you notes (I will be done by Christmas) you can see it's a full life. But it is a rich and blessed life. I wouldn't have it any other way.

And in the midst of everything, there is peace - a sure sign that God is part of this life I live.

Now, finally, I come to the quote at the top of this blog. This quote has been playing in my mind over and over again since yesterday. Allow me to explain...

Our community typically goes to a 7 AM Mass Monday - Friday with a community of Marianist Brothers/Priests at the University of Dayton (a Catholic Marianist university). Yesterday morning, just like everyone morning, I was chatting with someone on the way out of the chapel. As we walked towards the parking lot we saw a line of about 10 ROTC guys in their BDUs (camouflage uniforms) with automatic weapons. They were doing an exercise whereby they stealthily cross an area, then drop to the ground and practice firing by raising their weapons and yelling, "bang, bang, bang-bang-bang." It was a very disturbing post-Mass site. As we crossed the parking lot, one of our Sisters was standing in the parking lot - very still - and watching the men. I asked if she was waiting to talk to someone. Her response, "I'm praying for those guys."

Leaving campus on my way to the high school, I passed another Marianist community. The Brothers were gathered in their chapel praying morning prayer together. As I drove by I thought that at that moment they might be praying the Benedictus. One line of the Benedictus states, "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Peace. God will guide us into the way of peace. When, O Lord?

As I continued my short morning commute, it struck me that what I saw on my way out of Mass may have been disturbing, but what about people who see this everyday - and the weapons are not empty? It reminded me of being in El Salvador a few years ago and how common it is to see military men with loaded automatic weapons standing around on street corners as if it's no big deal. It reminded me of all the places in our world that face violence and war constantly. They live in fear - constantly. Again, I thought of the line from the Benedictus and asked, "When?"

Last night I finished reading a novel set in World War II Germany. The novel is written from the perspective of death personified. Death was the narrator. And while the book was very well written and a good read, I couldn't help but think of the fact that for so many people in our world, death is a daily part of living. And that fact does not sit well with me.

There is now a peace pole on the campus of UD. It seems odd that the peace pole and the ROTC guys share the same campus. My prayer is that peace will prevail... and we will train for war no longer.

Photo courtesy of the University of Dayton

Many blessings to all who read this,
Sr. N

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