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Susan Quaintance, OSB

Catherine Martinez, OSB, has been a Benedictine Sister at St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa, OK, since 1985. She is currently the Treasurer/Business Manager of her monastic community. She is a member of the planning committee for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Federation of St. Scholastica.


3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 23, 2022
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Cor 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Last week the gospel acclamation was another piece of scripture used to interpret or “unlock” the readings given for the Sunday. Today we have words taken straight from today’s gospel, Luke 4:18: “The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, and proclaim liberty to captives.”

Luke constructs this verse in an interesting way as he paints the picture of Jesus returning to Galilee, after his forty days in the desert, and inaugurating his ministry in his hometown. Jesus opens the scroll to the prophecy of Isaiah in order to read the weekly Haftarah (the selection from the prophets in a weekly synagogue service) portion. What Luke puts in Jesus’s mouth, though, isn’t exactly what I find when I go to Isaiah.

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 16, 2022
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

Is 62:1-5; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Jn 2:1-11

Do you every pay attention to the scripture verse there between the Alleluias in the gospel acclamation? Me neither. For the next seven Sundays, though, I’m going to try. (And let me say that I am in debt to Sister Irene Nowell, OSB, of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS, for the idea for this exercise. She was the one, in a long-ago Biblical Theology class, who taught me to reflect on the responsorial psalm. If you don’t know her book Sing a New Song: The Psalms in the Sunday Lectionary, published in 1993 by Liturgical Press, find yourself a copy.

So, today, back in Ordinary Time, the chanters will sing 2 Thessalonians 2:14: “God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians is a letter encouraging perseverance and fidelity.

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Baptism of Jesus

Baptism of Jesus
January 9, 2022
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL


Though the Advent Sunday liturgies didn’t give us any Isaiah, there has been plenty in the Christmas season. Today, as we come to the close of the extended feast with the Baptism of the Lord, we hear the words of Isaiah’s first Suffering Servant Song in the first reading.

Like all four of these songs (and, really, just about anything in scripture), there are layers of meanings and a multiplicity of questions. Even when these words were first written, there was uncertainty about to whom they were addressed. A single king? Every king? The nation of Israel? On this feast, clearly, we are meant to apply them to Jesus; after all, we hear them echoed in the gospel story of his baptism in the Jordan. But if we are the body of Christ, pulled into his story through our own baptisms, then they also pertain to us....

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Epiphany

Epiphany
January 2, 2022,
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

Epiphany could be called “The Feast of Changing One’s Mind.”

OK, it’s not a moniker that’s likely to catch on anytime soon, but for someone like me, who hates to upset the ordered and tidy mental apple cart by changing my mind, it’s a powerful reminder about today’s call to be open to some divinely inspired chaos.

Remember two weeks ago, on the 4th Sunday of Advent, when the first reading was Micah 5:1-5a? In today’s gospel, there it is again, tinkered with and reframed. Two weeks ago: “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah.” Today: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah.” Matthew is clearly using Micah’s words but shifting them so that his readers can easily see the prophecy fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

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Feast of the Holy Family

Feast of the Holy Family
December 26, 2021
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

I grew up in a family that went to church together every Sunday. There was no going to whatever mass worked for my schedule nor was there the option of being like the cool families who came into church together but then the kids scattered to sit with their friends. We were there, in the third pew on the right side of church, with me (the youngest) usually wedged in between Mom and Dad.

This is a feast that looms large in my memories of that part of my childhood. My dad, especially, liked it: so much father talk! Every year – and I mean, every year from when I could sit up until well into adulthood – he would poke me in the ribs when the Sirach reading began: “For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children.”

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2021,
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

Mi 5:1-4a, Heb 10:5-10, Lk 1:38

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, our prophet is Micah. Though he was a contemporary of Isaiah’s, they are different in context and concern. While Isaiah was a prophet of the royal court, interested in Jerusalem and its relationship to God and the world, Micah was from the country, tuned in to what life was like for the poor.

I understand, of course, why this passage appears in today’s liturgy with its talk of a ruler who shall come from Bethlehem, a Davidic figure who will shepherd the people in the name of God, who “shall be peace.” As a Christian preparing to celebrate the birth of the historical Jesus in less than a week, I hear these words and think, “Oh, I know what this is about.”

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Third Sunday of Advent

December 12, 2021
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL
Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18

How appropriate to hear from the prophet Zephaniah on this third Sunday of Advent, coinciding as it does with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Oxford Biblical Commentary calls Zephaniah “a thoroughly radical prophetic book – a charter for the ‘little people’ of all corrupt societies.”

Today’s prophecy is all about presence. Even as I await the coming Incarnation, I am reminded that the Holy One is already with me, with us, rejoicing and renewing, and singing. Imagine!

I have a distinct memory of hearing, really hearing, this reading proclaimed when I was a college freshman. The idea of God “singing joyfully because of [me] was miraculous and unlikely, hard-to-understand and transforming. It was one of those times when I understood the deep and mysterious love of God differently. As a young adult, growing in self-knowledge, I was coming to new awareness of my own littleness, seeing that I had a long way to go before I was anywhere near the woman I wanted to be. And yet . . . here God was, here was where God wanted to be.

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Second Sunday of Advent

December 5, 2021
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL
Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6

Today’s prophet is Baruch. Though that was the name of Jeremiah’s secretary, the author here is probably someone writing after the Babylonian Exile, using Baruch’s name to encourage the kind of repentance and humility that Jeremiah had called for and Baruch had promulgated.

What precedes today’s first reading, Chapter 4, is written in the voice of Mother Jerusalem, recounting the children of Israel being led away in captivity. She is speaking directly to them with words of sadness and an honest appraisal of their sinfulness but also encouragement and reminders to trust in God. In 4:20 Jerusalem says, “I have taken off the garment of peace, have put on sackcloth for my prayer of supplication.”

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First Sunday of Advent

November 28, 2021,
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL

Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

If you’re anything like me, you probably think of Isaiah as the prophet of Advent: valleys being filled in and mountains being made low, streams bursting forth in the desert, a virgin bearing a son and naming him Immanuel. All Isaiah.

Not this year.

Year C gives us four different prophets. Our first readings on the four Sundays of Advent come from Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah, and Micah. Though Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah’s, the others came about 100 years later, much closer to the impending disaster of the defeat of Judah and the Babylonian Exile.

Today we hear from Jeremiah, or at least someone inspired by him. Scholars believe that this author wrote after the Exile; this is a person growing up knowing that the Davidic dynasty had collapsed, and that rebuilding was long, hard, tricky work. Nothing was a given. Past glory was a distant memory, and future security must have seemed a long way away.

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