Joan Chittister: Questions that shape our lives

Received this today (8/4/14) in the Vision and Viewpoint e-newsletter from Benetvision. You can find more Ideas in Passing from Joan Chittister here. Joan will give you much to think about. What are the questions that have shaped, are shaping, your life?

Quote . . .The ability—the commitment—to question, to examine, every aspect of the human journey is the only form of fidelity worth the price of admission to this sojourn called life. Otherwise, no sector of the social anatomy to which we swear emotional allegiance can trust us to serve it well. It is the questions we ask that move us from stage to stage of our growing, that take us from level to level of our thoughts, however simple the questions may seem. I have just realized, in fact, how boring my own questions have been over the years: Do non-Catholics go to heaven? Is sin the center of life? Or to put it another way, What is a “good” life? Does what we give up in life make for more holiness than what we do? Is religious life incarnational or transcendent? Don’t we really need to be violent sometimes? What is a woman? Can a woman be Catholic? (No mention, you notice, of birth control, which also had a lot to do with radicalizing me, or divorce, which I have always believed in, even when it was a sin, and “the role of women in the home” which I knew was wrong by the time I was five.) And yet, without those questions there was no coming beyond the naive simplicity of all the early answers to them: Only Catholics go to heaven. Sins are the things against the law, and the purpose of life is to avoid them. Good things are bad for you. Or—the second version—really good people give up good things. Religious life requires separation from “the world.” The Crusades and Vietnam were noble ventures fought to make the world safe for Christianity. Woman is man’s helpmate. The reason women can’t minister to the people of God sacramentally is because God wants it that way.

We each have our own personal set of questions. For those of us who lived the greater part of the twentieth century—during the wars, before and after Vatican II, in the midst of the second wave of the woman’s movement—maybe the questions I find so mundane today were common ones. Maybe they were quite different from the ones asked by the people around me. But whatever the ilk of them, the process of writing them out is a humbling experience. It exposes the level of inquiry with which a life has been consumed. It also unmasks the questions behind the questions that agitate the very pilings of the world around me.

At the same time, it is a worthwhile excursion into the soul to look at the questions that have shaped our lives and ask what it was about them that intrigued us in the first place, that changed us as we dealt with them, that brought me, as a result of them, to be the person that I am today. After all, it is only in the light of our past that we understand the present with which we grapple as well the future toward which we strive.

–from Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, selected by Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis).

O Antiphons (Dec 17-23)

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. Read more: What are the O Antiphons from Catholic Education Resource Center

Sr. Joan Chittister has provided an entire page to help you pray the O Antiphons (from December 17th through December 23rd). Each meditation is accompanied by a women’s choir chanting the Antiphon in English. Use this online meditation to deepen your prayers as Advent comes to a close and the Nativity arrives.

A matter of emphasis

The perspective of age

A new eCourse is being offered by Spirituality and Practice. The course (which begins October 7) will offer us opportunities to explore ‘the view’ as we pause in our ascent and look out.

About the course:

Aging is a great adventure, an opportunity to deepen and enrich our spirituality. In this e-course in Spirituality & Practice’s Elder Spirituality Project, Joan Chittister discovers blessings behind every aspect of growing older. There is a difference, she notes, between age, aging, aged, ag’ed, and ripened. Through this month-long program, she reframes aging and encourages us to discover through reflection and practice what new perceptions and attitudes about growing older can mean for our own lives.

More information about The Blessings of Aging with Joan Chittister

Wind Chimes: 1 Apr 2013

Sister Joan Chittister is one of my favorite authors. Here is her “Easter Prayer.” You can find an index to all of her “Ideas in Passing” here. I encourage you to subscribe to her weekly email.

To say “I believe in Jesus Christ . . . who rose from the dead,” is to say I believe that the Resurrection goes on and on and on forever. Every time Jesus rises in our own hearts in new ways, the Resurrection happens again. Every time we see Jesus where we did not recognize him before—in the faces of the poor, in the love of the unloved, in the revelatory moments of life, Jesus rises anew. The real proof of the Resurrection lies not in the transformation of Jesus alone but in the transformation awaiting us who accept it.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ . . . who rose from the dead,” is to say something about myself at the same time. It says that I myself am ready to be transformed. Once the Christ-life rises in me, I rise to new life as well. “Christ is risen, we are risen,” we sing at Easter. But it has a great deal more to do with life than with death. If I know that Jesus has been transformed, then I am transformed myself, and as a result, everything around me.

Until we find ourselves with new hearts, more penetrating insights, fewer compulsions, less need for the transient, greater awareness of the spiritual pulse of life, resurrection has not really happened for us. Jesus has risen but we have not. Resurrection is change at the root of the soul. It marks a whole new way of being in life.

Prayer

Jesus, help me to understand that in every life, something good fails, something great ends, something righteous is taken unjustly away, something looms like an abandonment by God. Give me the wisdom to know that You rose from the dead as a sign to us that every one of these “little deaths” is life become new all over again. Be with me in living Your Resurrection over and over again.

Joan Chittister in: Vision and Viewpoint e-newsletter dated 1 April 2013

DivLine360x12The chimes are fairly shouting praises as they sound today. What do you hear?

Wind Chimes: 18 Feb 2013

Once again the chimes are sounding a song of change. I know you hear it too. What are we to make of this song?

Resignation: “The most powerful gift of [Benedict’s] papacy.”

Here are “sounds from the chimes” offered by Joan Chittister. These words came in an email today (2/18/13) and are also posted on The Huffington Post in the Religion Section. I encourage you to read her entire essay, “On the Pope’s Resignation” and consider what she says. I find her insights powerful. ALL of Christianity, that is, the “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” of the creed, will be strengthened or weakened by what happens in its ‘Roman Catholic’ household. What do you hear?

The Church whose identity has been forever Western and European is less Western every day and barely European thanks to its declining numbers everywhere. …

Issues of collegiality are simmering everywhere, the voice of the laity is clear, the integrity of the church itself is suspect. Its total disregard for the contribution of women to it, either as an institution or as a spiritual system, has rent the cloth right down the middle. …

The attitude of the church toward gays has done as much to distance their families from the church as it has the GLBT community itself. …

These are not business-as-usual organizational questions in a changing world. These are issues that touch the very core of what it means to be human, to be holy, to be Christian, to be church. They are not going to disappear when this pontificate disappears. They have not been addressed by this pontificate in any way that gives hope for their resolution. But they have been exposed.

The fact that Benedict XVI has very humbly admitted the immensity of the present moment for the Church and decided to step out of it in favor of someone whose energies are fresher and, hopefully, more in touch with the pastoral problems of this transition from one era to another is, perhaps, the most powerful gift of this papacy.

The entire post: Benedict’s XVI’s Most Powerful Gift to the Church in “Religion” on The Huffington Post by Joan Chittister, 2/15/2013.

Image: Jarekt on WikimediaCommons

Wind Chimes: 23 Dec 2012

The wind in the chimes creates the sound of a plea: ‘O come, o come, Emmanuel.’ What do you hear?

O Emmanuel

“Pray the O Antiphons” one final day

The “O Antiphons,” one of the oldest liturgical rituals in the church, are prayed around the world during the final days of Advent. For the seven days before Christmas, we recall in these prayers a quality of Christ that must be realized before the presence of Christ can consume the world.

(December 23) O Emmanuel

Jesus Emmanuel has already come. It is not a matter now of Christ’s being where we are; it is a matter of our being in the consciousness of where Christ is in life and where He is not as well. Where is Christ for you? Is there a place in your life that you know down deep is not in the spirit of Christ at all? — Joan D. Chittister, OSB

Prayer: O Emmanuel, leader and desire of all the nations, you set captives free, comfort the lonely; you feed the poor and the hungry. Come be born in us, God of Life.

Pray the O Antiphons with Sister Joan and others
(it’s not too late ~dan)
O Antiphons

Links to online Advent Calendars

Even in tragedy, Advent continues. Perhaps this event will demand that we better incorporate the Advent spirituality into our daily lives. ~dan

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

Image: Benetvision

Wind Chimes: 21 Dec 2012

Sometime today, pause, listen, pray.

26 Bells a YouTube TributeClick the image for the video tribute, a response to the request of the Governor of Connecticut to ring “church bells” 26 times today (12/21/12)

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“Pray the O Antiphons” an invitation from Joan Chittister

The “O Antiphons,” one of the oldest liturgical rituals in the church, are prayed around the world during the final days of Advent. For the seven days before Christmas, we recall in these prayers a quality of Christ that must be realized before the presence of Christ can consume the world.

(December 21) O Radiant Dawn

The celebration of the God of Growth in our lives—those moments of insight in which life comes newly alive in me—helps us to recognize those moments of insight in which life comes newly alive and I begin to see differently, to live differently, to function differently. A new friend, a new work, a new idea are all “radiant dawns” in life that can enable me to become more than I ever dreamed I could. — Joan D. Chittister, OSB

Prayer: O Dayspring, Sun of Justice, bright eternal light, one who shows the way, the one who sets us free even in darkness and death. Come, disperse the gloomy clouds of night.

Pray the O Antiphons with Sister Joan and others
(it’s not too late ~dan)
O Antiphons

Links to online Advent Calendars

Even in tragedy, Advent continues. Perhaps the horrific event of one week ago will demand that we better incorporate the Advent spirituality into our daily lives. ~dan

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar