I want to introduce you to one of the most inspiring people I have ever met (and I've gotten to meet quite a few in the past 26 years!): Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM. She has been serving in the area for the past five decades, and she is the person I have leaned on to help lead the women's discernment group here at Loyola. Sister Jean is the epitome of a consecrated woman who has given her life totally to God and for others. Today Sister Jean was part of a "This I Believe"-inspired (as on NPR) panel for Homecoming Week. I asked her permission to share her profound words. This is worth the read! Enjoy!
|Sister Jean, BVM, from http://blogs.luc.edu|
I believe that friends are gifts of love from God. I need to put both words--friends and love--together. Friends beget love and love begets friends thus making friends gifts of love and I believe these gifts are from God.
To begin with we know that God creates human beings in his own image for friendship with himself and one another. One definition states that “perfect friendship is mutual relationship based on the facts that we are humans who are attracted to a good character with a desire to improve oneself.”
I would like you to ask yourself these questions : who are my friends? Why are these persons my friends? When you give it some thought you may come up with answers similar to mine. Something in them must have attracted me to them so that I could improve myself and something in me must have attracted them to me for the same reason. As we think more about our answers we begin to realize that we have friends on different levels; and, some people we like may not even know we consider them our friends. Our beginning conversations may have been full of our job and other every day topics before we opened our heart space.
From my earliest days my mother and dad told me that God made me because he loved me; and, in turn I should love God. They also told me that they loved me and as soon as I learned how to talk I was able to say, “ love you, Mommy; love you Daddy.” Your parents most likely did the same. These early childhood lessons have pervaded my life. And, the older I grew the more I considered my mother and dad, not only my parents but also as my friends whom I truly loved and considered as gifts of love from God.
From my earliest years I learned to make friends with the boys and girls in the neighborhood and with my schoolmates. Sometimes I don’t think I realized why some were my friends and others I just took for granted or maybe thought they were not attractive; but I surely knew I liked some boys and girls better than I liked other boys and girls. I suppose this was some form of loving, rather than just liking.
I want to share with you a story of one level of friendship. On February 14, when I was in second grade, we had a highly decorated box into which we put our Valentines to be distributed to our classmates whose names we printed on the card. When our teacher pulled out one written to Charles D. with my name signed to it, and we did not have a Charles D in our room, she asked me who he was. So, I confidently stood up and said, “O, Charles is not in our room; he is in the sixth grade room and he is my friend.” Our teacher said, “I think it would be nice if you delivered the Valentine to him yourself.” So, off I went upstairs to the sixth grade room, knocked at the door and walked to Sister’s desk, stood my full second grade height and told her I had a Valentine for Charles Dullea. She asked him to come to the front of the room and accept it from me. As I looked back in later years I thought how I must have embarrassed him before his classmates; how he probably did not even know I liked him. Did I ever talk to him or see him again; perhaps I saw him when we were playing in the schoolyard—he on the boy’s side and I on the girl’s with a chain fence between us. What happened to Charles? He went to St. Ignatius High School and then entered the Jesuits, and later became the President of the University of San Francisco. Charles died several years ago. I always considered him my friend and I liked him. His brother was in my class, but I did not pay any attention to Ed.
In speaking of friends, I believe that God places into our lives people we need at that particular time; people with whom we are compatible, who understand us, people in whom we can confide and talk over situations we would not discuss with a stranger, or even an acquaintance, people whom we trust and love, people who are gifts of love to us and who will love us in return; people who will stick with us through thick and thin even though they know some less savory things about us.
I ask you, “Have you had the experience of feeling the chemistry between you and another person clicking upon first being introduced to him or her?” Yes, I have had that experience also. We “hit if off immediately”; I knew I wanted to be his friend and I hoped he would want to be mine. Did we become friends; yes, and we still are. Do we understand each other? I believe we do. We enjoy spending time together; we communicate frequently. We share ideas, frustrations and mutual feelings. He has many other friends and so do I. I believe that part of having a good friend is being able to love and to share that friend with others,
Friends are a gift of love from God who is our friend. I always feel that it is a miracle when a man and woman, regardless of age, know that they are made for each other and love each other enough to spend their lives together.
Many of you in our audience today are examples of this statement.
I always appreciate hearing a man say, “This is my wife and my best friend” or a woman introduce her spouse as “This is my husband and my best friend”. To me, these are expressions of what I believe—Friends are gifts of love from God. Think about your friends; pray for them; treasure their friendship; consider them true gifts of love; tell them that you appreciate their being your friend.
Before closing I would you like each of you to reflect with me as I say
what I call the LOVE PRAYER of Fr. Pedro Arrupe who was at one time the Father General of the Jesuits:
Nothing is more special that finding God;
That is, falling in love in a quite absolute and final way.
Who you fall in love with, what seizes your imagination
will affect everything.
It will decide what gets you out of bed in the morning;
what you do with your evenings; how you spend your weekends;
what you read; who you know; what breaks your heart;
what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love; stay in love; and it will decide everything.
In conclusion I make my personal statement: I am Sr. Jean and I believe that friends are gifts of love from God.