2021 Advent Devotions

Psalm 113 | December 22, 2021

Continuous Praise
by Shawn Ryan

My great aunt, Sister Mary Michael Ryan, OSU, passed away in 1997 at one of her order’s convents and schools in Wilmington, Delaware. My father and I took the road trip to the memorial service and burial together. This special father-son experience was punctuated by unique lodging—we were invited to stay in the guest apartment attached to the convent chapel and residence.

Arriving at our destination in the early afternoon, we passed through the dimly lit chapel on our way to the office to meet Mother Superior and be shown to our rooms. In the chapel that afternoon were several nuns, spaced throughout, kneeling in silent and individual prayer. I recalled this moment as I read Psalm 113, Verse 3, “From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised.” Among the gifts our hosts shared with us that visit was a life dedicated to Christ and a devotion to continuous praise.

This memory led me to Google it—the Ursuline order she belonged to, which led to more memories and recollections and stories of my aunt’s life. I learned anew about their willingness to pray for you, or me, or any or all of us. Their website has a form. I imagine the nuns being assigned a handful of petitions as they begin their daily shift in that continuous ritual. I recall their passion and belief and feel comfort.

I recalled my aunt’s spiritual vocation, high school math teacher at the Ursuline Academy—in both Washington, DC and Delaware. I know she taught senators’ children and scholarship students. I know, though she and all her sisters considered themselves to be married to Christ Jesus, through her teaching, prayer, and support for the needy she was the “joyous mother of [many] children.”

I think of her life and the life of so many of the faithful as a living statement, “Praise the Lord!”

Prayer: LORD hear me sing your praises in my thoughts, words, and actions. LORD hear me sing your praises above all earthly things. Help me care for the poor and the needy in your name, help me include everyone at your banquet, help me fill the empty spaces in my heart and the heart of others. Amen.