Hail Mary, full of grace
At a Lenten overnight retreat with 65 adolescent girls.
The Lord is with thee
Yoga pants, push up bras, still trying to make sense of their bodies and their souls, clear skinned and broken complexioned, immature and seeking- all seen and heard and embraced by a higher power.
Blessed are you among women
You are precious and perfect in God’s eyes, a temple of the Holy Spirit, hope for the world.Â Don’t ever underestimate what lies yet dormant within you.Â You are destined for goodness and prosperity.
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus
Co-creators with God, the capacity to bring forth life both literally and figuratively.Â Nurturer, dreamer, lover, sanctuary.Â You have so much to give.Â I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.
Holy Mary, mother of God
Look within yourself for inspiration and strength.Â Look outside yourself and see your journey unfold.Â Reach out and make a holy connection with all of human kind.Â Â You are never alone in this world.
Pray for us sinners
Let Mary be your spiritual mother.Â Let her life and her sacrifice inform your every decision.Â You are loved and forgiven.Â Again and again and again.
Now and at the hour of our death
Live like there is no tomorrow.Â Take joy in this day.Â Be the woman you are destined to be.Â Start now.Â Don’t dilly dally.Â Your life is precious and you are already on the path.Â Be kind.Â Be in solidarity with the poor and the poor in spirit.Â Be the womb that gives forth life.
Be a woman of God.
Yesterday’s Ash Wednesday Liturgy at Presentation High School was a beautiful thing.Â Eight hundred young women in formal dress uniform exuberantly singing an old Protestant hymn, Amazing Grace.Â The gym was filled to capacity- standing room only.Â Â The homily was delivered by a woman- our own resident bible scholar, Claire Foley.Â Peer ministers doused their fellow students with ashes.Â A slide show highlighted one of our Sisters of Presentation, Sr. Rachel Pinal, who works as a missionary in Somotillo, Nicaragua.Â The liturgy kicked off our Mission Drive month, raising money to support our Sisters of Presentation working for peace and justice in South America.
No wonder Pope Benedict is resigning.Â This old church ain’t what it used to be!
However, in the faculty room over lunch one would never have known that we have progressed this far as Catholics.Â People were still talking about “giving something up” for Lent.Â I assumed we were a more enlightened and progressive Catholic faculty.Â Is it really that simple?
During Lent, the forty days and forty nights culminating in the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we are called to conversion, reconciliation, mercy, grace, self reflection and humility.Â How do you get there by giving up candy?
I’m just sayin’….
But the most amusing thing for me as the Senior Class Counselor was one of my naughtiest students carefully tracing a cross of ashes on my forehead and advising me to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.
My life is plaid.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this one would certainly qualify. I remember this moment as though it happened yesterday.Â This particular permutation of the daily squabbles among my three munchkins was not the norm.Â Patrick (my peace maker) was rarely the villain on the scene.
My two bookends, Rob and Peter, maybe..Â :)
But I can assure you that minutes after this photo frame the three of them were playing nicely and had forgotten about the theft of the baby doll. Why would they continue to fight when they have one another to play with?Â Forgive and forget.Â So easy at this age.
This same scene in 20 years could potentially have a different outcome.Â You betray me or take something that belongs to me and it may be very difficult for me to forgive you.
Because I am stubborn.Â Because I have this thing called pride.Â Because I don’t respect the history we have had together and am not willing to put aside my “rightness” in order to mend the relationship and find a way to move on from here.Â Or perhaps I just don’t know how to do it.
How do we seek forgiveness?
Have a contrite heart.Â Be vulnerable.Â Put pride aside.Â Admit to being wrong, or stubborn, or cross, or oversensitive.Â Then ask for forgiveness.
Allow God’s grace and mercy to work their magic.Â And begin anew.
Madeleine and Isabella
These are my two beautiful great nieces at our annual Shaheen family Christmas party.Â Can you see the anticipation in their eyes as they wait for one of the grown ups to holler “Time to open presents!”
Do you remember those days?Â Â You know… when Christmas was all done for you and all you had to do was wake up and be surprised?Â And you knew that your mom and dad would get you dressed and make sure you had good healthy food to eat.Â They protected you and nurtured you and if life rolled out the way it was supposed to and you were very lucky you developed this thing called TRUST.
We trust the mailman to come.Â We trust that Nob Hill will have fresh turkeys the day before Christmas.Â We trust that a good friend will be there for us.
But sometimes things don’t go the way we plan and our trust wavers.Â We worry about our kids having jobs after we’ve paid for the exorbitant cost of their college.Â We worry about how long an aging parent will be able to live alone in their own home.Â We worry about our health care or whether the plumber is going to overcharge us or if that mole on our back is going to pass inspection with the dermatologist.
As we get older we find more things to not trust and then we become mistrustful.
Try taking a break from worry today.
Rest in the Grace of the World
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I celebrated my birthday on Thursday and am now another year older and a wee bit wiser.Â Several years ago I received a birthday card from a wonderful friend that had a similar picture to this one on the outside and on the inside it said “Diva to the World”.Â I loved that card and practically tore my bedroom apart last night looking for it but to no avail.
When a woman gets to a certain age birthdays take on a whole new meaning.Â I am in no way a “Diva to the World” but I can appreciate that it is a goal to strive for when outward beauty wanes and inside wisdom takes precedence. There is certainly a profound moment when a woman realizes that this transition has occurred.
There is much responsibility that comes with being this kind of woman.Â We have so much to share and teach through the manner in which we live our lives.Â Do we whine about every wrinkle and emerging gray hair?Â Or do we walk with confidence, knowing that we have discovered many of the secrets of life- having traversed our own personal paths through dark alleys and into unknown caves- across high scary platforms that have build within us character and strength.
As women of a certain age we have a responsibility to mentor, to refrain from destructive gossip and to uplift other women in our lives.Â We also have the ability to love fully and unconditionally arising from the perspective we have gained in our years of chasing our own inner demons and knowing that none of us is without flaw or weakness.
I found this beautiful quote in one of my journals as I looked and looked for that Diva to the World birthday card.
“A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.” ~Jacqueline Bisset
To all my “Diva” sisters…
Live with integrity and grace.