Sr. Melannie Svodoba

29 February 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Spirituality

rain-book.jpgSr. Melannie Svoboda, author of Traits of a Healthy Spirituality, has just penned a new book: When the Rain Speaks: Celebrating God’s Presence in Nature.” Each of her meditations offers a unique perspective on things we often take for granted. In “The Art of Beholding,” she says that beholding lies at the heart of spiritual life and that it is the first step toward contemplation, which is the prayerful attentiveness to something–a word in scripture, the blueness of an iris, a movement of one’s spirit, the song of a chickadee, the sound of rain on a porch roof.

“As a child growing up on a small farm, I experienced a deep love for nature,” she said.  This love has carried over to her vocation as a teacher, author and spiritual director. Formerly the provincial of her congregation, the Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio, Sr. Melannie Svoboda currently writes and gives talks and retreats nationally.srmsvoboda.jpg

Conscious Living

27 February 08 | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, Stewardship, U.S. Catholic

environment_01.jpgSisters across North America are conducting energy audits of their buildings and renovating them using earth-friendly standards, purchasing recycled paper products and nontoxic cleaning products, chosing hybrid cars for their fleets, sod-busting their land to restore native wetland or prairie, and supporting sustainable agriculture by choosing organic or locally sourced food over standard grocery fare.

“As Al Gore would say, it is a moral issue to reduce our carbon footprint today,” said Sr. Corinne Wright, environmental initatives  manager for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, whose Aston, PA, complex including a 150-year-old motherhouse and Red Hill Farm, runs on clean energy. “It is a choice that is somewhat more expensive. We are sacrificing in other ways so we make less of a footprint..I guess it boils down to conscious living.”

Trinity

24 February 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters

trinity.jpg“Trinity” is an icon that reminds me daily of God’s presence in nature. Trinity was painted by James Napoleon.

The North Fork of Long Island is blessed by a very special light. The sunlight shining on Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay combines to illuminate the fields, vineyards and sky of the land inbetween.  Napoleon captures the softness and joy found in the light as it touches and illuminates within and without.

Walk on Water

23 February 08 | Posted in Bible

The miracles of Jesus can be categorized into four types: healings, exorcisms, the ability to bring people back from the dead, and power over nature.

Miracles involving power over nature are attested to by several of the gospels, most notably Mark, Matthew and John.  Some of these include the withering of a fig tree outside the gates of Jerusalem, the calming of a storm, turning water into wine, and probably the most famous, walking on water.

In a miracle described by Mark, Matthew and John, Jesus walks out onto a lake in order to greet a boat containing the disciples. According to Matthew, following Jesus’ example Peter is also able to walk on water. walk-on-water.jpg

Outdoor Labyrinths

21 February 08 | Posted in Global Catholic, Spirituality

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There was a delightful article in the December 20, 2007 New York Times on labyrinths. Written by Ann Raver, it chronicles the experience of Pamela White, a garden designer, who built a labyrinth in the woods in Maryland.

This ancient form has been used for walking meditations in which those who enter shed their emotional burdens, fears, sorrow, and even evil spirits. According to Robert Ferre, a labyrinth builder and teacher in St. Louis, fishermen had a great belief in labyrinths. “They would walk the labyrinth before going to sea, to shed the evil spirits that sank their ships or made the weather bad.”

Labyrinths are easy to draw, find and research, as shown on the Labyrinth Society’s website, a good source of historical and practical information.

“The design of a labyrinth echoes spirals in nature, from a snail’s shell to the inner ear to the winding of a bean vine as it springs from the earth. Evidence of labyrinths has been found in Minoan Crete as well as Europe, India and the American Southwest, according toe Hermann Kern’s “Through the Labyrinth: Designs and Meanings over 5,000 Years.”

A famous church labyrinth in the United States is Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.