“I do not understand the mystery of grace…

Letter of Sr. Margaret Mayce, O.P.

“I do not understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it finds us.”

Dear Sisters,

Like myself, I suspect you awake each morning wondering how many more souls have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic; how much longer will we be in quarantine; when will we be able to resume our “normal” schedules; when will science find a cure? There is just so much uncertainty and tragedy surrounding us. It is staggering, to say the least, and it seems that we just cannot take it all in. And yet, something almost imperceptible nudges us now and then to look deeper; to be aware of the untold simple, as well as extraordinary acts of kindness which give stunning witness to our connectedness in the human family; to be aware of the gift of Creation and of nature as we move gently into another spring in the Northern Hemisphere; to be more aware of our need for one another, and for God. This period of uninvited silence and darkness may seem deafening and unproductive to us. But it is always within silence… within the dark…that things have a way of germinating; of growing and coming to full maturity. 

The Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent invites us into the darkness of the man born blind; and what a terrible darkness that must have been. Nonetheless, sight unseen, the man leaned into this unexpected encounter with grace in the person of Jesus, and his blindness was healed.  The Gospel also invites us into the blindness of the Pharisees; those who contend “to see,” but are blinded to the presence of grace in their midst. Perhaps like us, they just could not take it all in. For the man born blind, the encounter with Jesus was an encounter with grace. For the Pharisees, the same encounter was an intrusion on their well-programmed way of life. Receptivity to the moment, made all the difference in the life of the one born blind.

And here we are, in the midst of a pandemic. None of us asked to be on this journey, and we feel so unprepared; almost blind-sided by what’s happening. And yet, grace surrounds us in a form, not of our own choosing. What seems to the naked eye as utter darkness, is shimmering with sparks of light just beneath the surface. Dare we look deeper? Our receptivity to this moment will make all the difference.

The words of wisdom at the beginning of this message are from the US author Annie Lamott. They are a source of inspiration to me, which is why I would like to share them with you, in the hope that they might help guide us through these difficult times. She says: “I do not understand the mystery of graceonly that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it finds us.”  None of us can fully comprehend what is happening right now. We grope for answers, and, I dare say, we even grope for some sign of God’s presence. But the question for us is really very simple; will we lean into what is, and let grace meet us?

St. Paul reminds us that “we were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord.” This current crisis has thrust us into a period of uninvited silence and darkness, which carries with it an invitation to pay attention to what we might normally ignore. It is always within silence…within the dark…that things have a way of germinating; of growing; of coming to full maturity. What is it within you; within your Congregations; within us as Dominican Sisters International, that yearns to come to full maturity as we live through these very disruptive times? Only time will tell. But as the author notes, grace meets us where we are, and does not leave us where it finds us. And as we wait, our receptivity to this moment will make all the difference. 

It would be helpful to me to know if any of our Sisters are experiencing particular difficulties during this time of quarantine; and if any of our Sisters are ill with the coronavirus. Any information you might be able to pass on to me would be greatly appreciated.

Let us continue to pray for and with one another, in a spirit of deep solidarity,

Sending you love from Rome,


Margaret Mayce, OP

International Coordinator

Dominican Sisters International Confederation

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