Posts from the ‘preaching’ Category
Preaching doesn’t always require many words. In fact, as St. Francis of Assisi once put it, “Preach always. When necessary use words.” And poets perhaps demonstrate this beauty and simplicity of preaching with words so well!
You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait,
be quiet, still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
- Franz Kafka
Today is the Feast of our Dominican Brother, Saint Martin de Porres (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639). He is known for his care for the poor and vulnerable, and care of the sick. Many are the reports of his gift of healing, and he was skilled in the art of healing herbs. Animals loved Martin, and he they; they were comfortable in one another’s presence.
Though the priests of the Order were far more educated then he, Martin continually taught his brothers through example how Jesus taught us to value one another.
It was recalled by his prior that once when Martin was punished for picking up a destitute elderly beggar and placing him in his own bed at the monastery, Saint Martin went humbly to his superior and asked for forgiveness. He said that he didn’t know that obedience took precedence over charity.
He said, “Compassion is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”
Saint Martin is one whose life was a preaching, and when necessary, he could add the right words.
This watercolor painting of Mount Shasta was created by Sister Joanne Cullimore, OP. Mt. Shasta is a majestic snow covered mountain that is part of the Cascades in California. It is one of the state’s 14ers, and stands 14,161 feet high.
Truly, this painting of Sister Joanne Cullimore does all the preaching that is necessary.
God is revealed in creation.
The theme is forgiveness. We know that Jesus taught us to forgive, but when the rubber hits the road, we end up feeling like the sentiment on these bumper stickers that I saw this summer at Descanso Gardens in Southern California.
So, I ask you
- Did the driver and the passenger agree with the sentiments reflected on the side of the car they were sitting?
- If so, would you want to be a rider in that car?
- Is this what we are experiencing as we travel through life today?
- How is it riding in that car?
- Are these the competing voices inside of the heart and mind of the driver?
- How is it living inside my own skin listening to the competing voices?
Right now I’m reading the book Amish Grace, by Donald Kraybill. It’s all about forgiveness. “In the Amish view . . . people receive forgiveness from God only if they extend forgiveness to others.” In other words, they put the words given to us in The Lord’s Prayer into action. The lives of the Amish are a preaching on forgiveness.
Many wondered, following the tragic events of October 2, 2006, if the families of the West Nickel Mines School were merely putting on a show of forgiveness. But no, it is clear that this was something they practiced.So that when they found themselves between a rock and a hard place, their practice of the virtue of forgiveness won out. Thomas Aquinas, that great Dominican theologian from the 13th century would agree that if we practice the virtues, we will be able to exhibit them when it is difficult.
I wonder which virtues I’m cultivating . . .
There’s a wonderful Cherokee story called, “Which Wolf Will You Feed?”* I need to choose one or the other, or they may devour one another. It would be like sitting between those two bumper stickers!
*It can be found many places on the internet; here’s one link.
This Sunday’s first reading is from Isaiah 25:6-10. I’ll let the photo do the preaching.
On this mountain the Lord will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain God will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; God will destroy death forever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of the people God will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that God has saved us!” For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.
I encourage anyone reading this to read Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life. Her amazing spirit amidst the horrors of the Holocaust is inspiring.
“A desire to kneel down sometimes pulses through my body, or rather it is as if my body has been meant and made for the act of kneeling. Sometimes, in moments of deep gratitude, kneeling down becomes an overwhelming urge, head deeply bowed, hands before my face.” – Etty Hillesum
May the Holy Spirit grant us the same capacity for forgiveness and gratitude.
Sunday’s second reading from Philippians tells us:
“Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
In Sister Adele’s words (some forty years ago):
“My fifty years of life fall into nearly equal parts: a quarter of a century at Dominican college in the ministry of teaching, and a second quarter of a century at the same location in a ministry of preaching -”preaching” that is via the visual arts.
While awed by the world’s natural beauty, a real reflection of the Divine, I feel my kind of art must present more than a straight picture of nature. For this reason, I fracture my original image with another, carefully chosen one, enabling me to utilize the counterpoint capability of the montage technique, to create my Counterpoint Imagery.”
To fulfill the preaching component of this art ministry, the art must be made available for public viewing, hence it is available at this link:
Dominicans have a long history of understanding preaching as being more than standing in a pulpit and delivering a homily or a sermon. The early Dominicans saw their lives – as a community focused on the mission of sharing Christ’s message with the world – as the Holy Preaching. The nuns who prayed in the monastery for the safety and success of their brothers, shared with them equally in the charism of preaching. St. Catherine of Siena traveled, prayed, exhorted, visited the sick and those in prison, wrote letters, dictated The Dialogue. Her life was the holy preaching.
We have a history, from Fra Angelico in the 15th century, to the present time of recognizing that our artists preach through their art. Our sisters have taught in schools and ministered in hospitals. Their lives are the Holy Preaching. Our sisters are involved in parish ministry and serve the poor. Their lives are the Holy Preaching. Many work at effecting changes in systems that are unjust and create poverty. This is the Holy Preaching.
I begin with “Sometimes Photography is Preaching.” Sister Adele Rowland was the first in our community to use that medium in the Holy Preaching, and you can view a few of her photo montages on our congregational website.
This photo, Morning Glimpse, reflects a passage from today’s Psalm 43 is:
“Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.”