March 25: Our Chapel Garden (Palm Sunday B)

“The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue,” Isaiah, the prophet says, “that I might know how to speak to the weary – a word that will rouse them.” (Isaiah 50:4-7)


Holy Week is time for rousing us – to pay more considerable attention to God’s word, his own Son’s love for us on the Cross.

At the outset of Mark’s Passion, there is included the story of a woman from Bethany who anoints Jesus with precious ointment from an alabaster jar. This is an act of esteem and kindness, given the dangers ahead for Jesus and his followers.

Someone in the group says: “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?” To which Jesus responds: “She has done a good thing for me. She has done what she could”…. “Wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done, will be told in memory of her.”

This anointing of Christ on his journey to Jerusalem is an act of great kindness. The woman’s name is unknown to us, yet her gesture of service to the Lord is remembered eternally.

We too are capable of great kindness:

Kindness to those who are sick or in prison;

Kindness to friends and neighbors in need;

Kindness to our youth – in school or on the playing fields.

All of us are capable of great acts of kindness, but for the Cross, these actions of ours and their effects have little meaning.

With the Cross of Christ, every act of kindness – even actions unknown or however slight — are moments of grace that live eternally.

Jesus tells us: “Wherever the gospel is proclaimed… what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

A Blessing for the newly restored garden of the Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA

Today, Palm Sunday, we welcome our alumnae who are celebrating your reunions with us, and we welcome you all to the blessing of the newly designed Rosary Chapel Garden. We all remember the former chapel lawn (for so many of you the “please don’t walk on it” location), and we felt it would be very fitting to have this blessing on your Alumnae Reunion Weekend.

The “Chapel Garden” as we are choosing to name it (not a “plaza” but a more gentle place to pause or to reflect) has allowed us to provide a dignified, environmentally respectful and sustainable area around the chapel, the center of our campus. It addresses the area’s ongoing water issues (and the constant battles with gophers). Most of all, it will serve as a comfortable welcome to the chapel and as a gathering place before and after the celebrations of Mass, weddings, first holy communions, and many more.

We are most grateful to have received the support of several donors whose love of school and a particular fondness for the chapel have made this area possible. Nonie Ramsay and Kit Bedford, master gardeners and alumnae of Santa Catalina, gave their time and expertise to Sister Claire and Sister Christine, who inspired the original concept.

We give thanks today for the Chapel Garden and for all who have contributed to its completion. Thank you, Sister Claire and Sister Christine, for these kind words of appreciation and welcome.

My blessing comes from one of my favorite contemporary spiritual writers Shane Claiborne, and his co-author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

For you, O God, planted humanity in a garden – and began our resurrection in a garden.

Our blessed memory and hope lie in a garden.

Upon this garden of the Rosary Chapel –

May your stars rain down their blessed dust.

May you send rain and sunshine upon our garden and us.

Grant us the humility to touch this soil, this humus:

  • that we might become more human
  • that we might mend our rift from your Creation
  • that we might then know the sacredness of the gift of life
  • that we might truly experience life from the hand of God
  • and that in each season, we see your glory and new growth — reflected in your flowers of every kind and beauty.

For you, O God, planted humanity in a garden – and began our resurrection in a garden.

Our blessed memory and hope lie in a garden.

Adapted from “Common Prayer – Pocket Edition: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Press, 2012).

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.


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