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God is an artist with a plan, speakers tell women at Lenten Reflection

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This has been a bruising year, and many of us feel “black and blue inside,” said Scripture Professor Mary Healy.

But we cannot let difficult times sow distrust in God’s plan, she said. She quoted the book of Esther in the Hebrew Scriptures: “ ‘Who knows whether you have not come into the kingdom for such a time as this?’

Each and every life is a work of art, not made by paint-by-number coloring books. Depending on how well I cooperate with God, it can be a masterpiece. God is the greatest artist ever.” Sr. Gaudia Skass

“Sisters in Christ, God has chosen you for exactly this time, in the exact circle of influence that you’re in,” said Healy, a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Healy spoke to about 200 women March 13 at the diocesan Mass and Lenten reflection for women at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria.

She retold the story of Esther, a Jewish orphan raised by her uncle during the exile of the Jewish people in Persia in the fifth century B.C. Her uncle refused to bow down to Haman, an adviser to the king who “put himself higher than God.”

She pointed to many parallels today, especially related to abortion, and said women must resist the temptation to “go along” with secular values or causes that are “contrary to the Gospel.”

But this requires prayer. “We will not be able to stand without a life of prayer,” she said. It used to be possible for Catholics to coast, but cultural values have changed: “If you coast now, you’re going to coast right downhill,” she said.

The second speaker was Sister Gaudia Skass, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, the religious order St. Faustina Kowalska joined. Born and raised in Poland, Sister Gaudia studied painting in Warsaw before entering the congregation. Her current assignment is to spread the message of Divine Mercy at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington.

She said many women wonder how they will know God’s plan for them. “We want a crystal clear outline of what exactly it is and what to do, but usually it’s not revealed to us step by step,” she said. She thinks of it more from an artist’s perspective.

“Each and every life is a work of art, not made by paint-by-number coloring books. Depending on how well I cooperate with God, it can be a masterpiece. God is the greatest artist ever.”

She said it’s necessary to “prepare the ground for discernment of God’s will,” by striving for silence in your life so you can listen to God’s voice. “Enter your heart, where God dwells, don’t leave him there waiting,” she said.  

In his homily, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge quoted Pope St. John XXIII, who said, “Human beings are like wine. Some turn to vinegar and others get better with age.” Bishop Burbidge said that “in the spiritual life ‘getting better with age’ is what we call conversion, and it must be “rooted in the firm belief of the power of Jesus to transform us.”

He said, “Lent is not merely about me telling God what I will do, what I will give up, what I will change in my life.” It is a time to “return to the Lord with a humble heart.”

Lulu Jocz of St. Louis Church in Alexandria said she was struck by the message that “you were made for such a time as this,” and the idea that God will help people to do the right thing.

Joanne Seale, a parishioner of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, said she grew up in the 1950s and agreed with Healy that “it was easy to be Catholic then. Our culture was geared that way and we could coast.” She also appreciated Healy’s acknowledgement of how difficult the past year has been. “But we are in this time for a purpose; we have to be reminded of that.”




© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021