More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections



Sr. Maria Rose Kelly, IHM
March 12, 2008


Hi everyone!

I said a very quick YES to doing this talk about community – and as I think about it and the elements of our life together -- prayer/community and service I think it's true that I feel most comfortable in community.

I want to start by "raising a glass" to the IHM Sisters who taught at St. Rose grade school and High School from 1950 – 1960. Of course I knew almost nothing about community life from those Sisters. Never got invited to Mass and supper ...never went on a live-in... but somehow instinctively I knew those Sisters were happy, they were friends of one another, they helped one another, they worked together with us kids, they traveled with us to French tournaments and debates, they put in long hours with the choir, and the plays. They went to Mass together. They rode in the station wagon from the new school to the old convent morning and evening morning and evening, morning and evening.

This touched a chord within me - and even at the tender age of 17 I thought this common life with these uncommon women could be where I would be happy.

It has been so... to this hour. Community is the touchstone for me – and what I have learned about prayer/ rootedness in God and continuing the mission of Jesus I have learned in and through my Sisters in community life. Prayer and mission have often been a stretch --- community life is home.

There are many scriptures that I thought of that could support some reflection on COMMUNITY tonight-- If you were giving the talk on community what would you pick?

  • community as "washing one another's feet"? the Acts of the Apostles description of the early church
  • community "united heart and soul, holding everything in common..."
  • or Paul's magnificent description of the Body with Christ as head and all the parts working together as one.


I'd like to know what you'd pick as the community scripture that works best for you... but...

I didn't pick any of these splendid community scriptures.

My few reflections tonight are from the opening of the Gospel of John

"In the beginning was the WORD:

The Word was with God and the Word was God

The Word was with God in the beginning...through the Word all things came to be.. not one thing had its being except through the Word.

And the Word was made flesh and lived among us. The Word was made flesh and pitched God's tent with us."

I am deeply struck by the fact that when the writer of John wanted to say something about God entering into community with us in Jesus, he called Jesus the WORD he talked about talking!. The Word was made flesh and made his dwelling place with us. God built community with us by talking with us in Jesus – talking and listening.

It seems incredibly simple but true that God came into community with us by speaking – and of course listening to us and in our own community building words are the mortar / the glue / the bonds of our own connection.

Who we speak to – we are connected to. Who we listen to and who listens to us we are bonded to. This simple, intimate, daily, very ordinary process of listening and speaking I believe is our most rudimentary, most Godly tool to build community

In family, there are those we speak to – and those we don't – whether because of geography or dispute. Those we speak to pretty regularly – by phone, in person, today by e-mail we are in community with. This works for community building in our workplaces, community with our closest friends, community with the wider world that so often calls to us.

Where there is no communication, there is no community. Jesus is the Word.

In family and in our local community gatherings, let us just notice that our words and our ears are the instruments that draw us together. How's this for a great saying by Mary Lou Casey: 'What people really need is a good listening to." Talking and listening, talking /listening seem to be the mortar in every relationship we build.

And we've found many ways to deepen community through creative listening and speaking –sharing words with one another.

Through our wonderful Advent and Lenten/Easter books we treat one another to our prayer – and even though we are miles from one another – those reflective words bond us. Thank you today, Rita! On Feb. 13 – the day this talk was scheduled for – thank you Eleanor!

Some of us are in Conversation circles and we commit to going deeper with one another simply – though probably not always easily – by talking and listening ... working through misunderstandings - coming to know one another much more than superficially through the shared word.

How are those who are discerning about being IHM Associates brought to clarity? In Circles of Grace – in time and conversation – we slowly build community together.

In South Side these days at Nativity, some Spanish speaking/some English speaking get together and help one another one-on-one to make some beginnings in community building through learning the other's language. Baby steps to community... but sure steps by embracing one another's words.

I want to end this reflection with the call to community that is the most difficult for me – and maybe for many of you -- this is the call to build community with the people of Darfur, Haiti, with strangers to the United States who rush to us and our cities. Community with those who call us to help close the school of the Americas..... Community with those who work to defeat the death penalty....

Almost every day we are called to build community far beyond our own tables.... It is very demanding and often - I find myself - we find ourselves -- shutting our ears and being mute. So many e-mails calling to us to build community. Listen to me. Listen to me. Listen to us!

Could I pick to listen to / talk with ONE cause? Sort out the pleas for help/community building and focus my ears on one voice?

Instead of throwing up our hands at all the calls to community... Instead of deleting every invitation ... I want to pick one voice to listen and speak to. This is how I'm trying to open myself to broader community building – one cause, one word, one focus for my listening at a time.

God showed us how to build community:

In the beginning was the Word... and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling place with us.