top of page

Reflections from our Spiritual Directors


Lent and Loss

By Sylvia Harrison (SDI 2018)


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.  Many of us will go and receive the cross of ash on our foreheads. We will be blessed by all it symbolizes and all it calls us to. However, those of us have who have experienced loss may not. To us the past year feels as if  it has been strewn with ashes of grief and loss that may feel closer to Job’s experience than we care to admit.  We are sitting in a great pile of ash, as pile of destruction that we feel we cannot recover from. 


That would describe my life in 2010 and 2011.  Loss just rolled like waves over me. It started with the long waited for surgery, number 28 if I remember correctly, that was supposed to correct the scar tissue in my daughter’s nose that had kept her from breathing through her nostrils for two years.  It failed, and actually made things worse. Loss of hope runs deep when it is your child who struggles the most. The stress of finding a new surgeon and the cost of having surgery in Chicago were overwhelming.  A few weeks later I broke out in Shingles. The outbreaks lasted 2 years. By December my mother who was living with us was showing signs of something stoke like.  She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January.  She was given 6 months to live. My mother-in-law’s health started failing. She passed away in early May of 2011. The F-5 tornado hit Joplin, our home town where we had just been for Lora’s funeral, May 22nd.  Maryann’s 8-hour surgery in Chicago was May 23rd. We were required to return to Chicago for checkups weekly for many months. My mother’s decline lasted longer than 6 months. She passed away just after Thanksgiving 2011. I was done. I was never so glad to see a year end.


When Lent 2012 rolled around I had no energy to enter in in any kind of conventional way.  I had no tears left to cry. I didn’t have the strength to confess.  I had no appetite for food so fasting was my norm. The best I could do was sit on the couch and stare.  And that was good enough. That was my prayer.


If you find yourself in a heap of ashes this year I invite you to sit.  Christ will meet you there. “In our aching he is breathing and in our breathing he is there.”  Even if you don’t have the strength to call or cry for help, he will answer. Is. 58:9 


 Receive this blessing:  May you know the presence of the Lord who created you out of dust and breathes life into you again.  May you be blessed with time that it takes to grieve. May you be gifted with at least one person who can weep with you as you weep.


Sr. Antoinette Purcell, OSB (SDI 1997)


The winter storm didn’t live up

to expectations.  Deep snow

warnings didn’t materialize.


In anticipation some schools closed.

Others announced E-learning.

Whatever happened to snow days?


Only a few inches of white,

leaving some disappointed,

turned quickly to slush on roads


I rejoiced to see beauty as

trees and ground of white

covered drab brown and gray.


On our spiritual journey

we sometimes anticipate dread

rather than trusting in LOVE.


Disappointment or joy?

It all depends on

Expectations and openness.

Slowing Down

By Sylvia Harrison (SDI 2018)

Each year on March 17th we celebrate the death day of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. Patrick was kidnapped at the age of 16 from Roman Britain and sold in Ireland as a slave.  It was during that time that he became a Christian.  Six years later he escaped and went back to his parents.  After returning home he had a dream.  In that dream he heard and saw a figure calling him back to Ireland.  He spent the next 35 years preaching, teaching and bring the Celtic peoples to Christ.  In Ephesians 6 Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God.  Verse 14 says our breastplate is to be righteousness.

It is thought by many that this prayer was written by St. Patrick.  The version below was translated from Gaelic to English by Irish hymn writer Mrs. Cecil Francis Alexander who was known for writing over 400 hymns, as well as, loving the children and the poor of Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate (Lorica) Prayer

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

bottom of page