In this Random Nun Clip, a listener who's angry with God wonders if she should hold off on prayer until things cool down. Hear the full Ask Sister podcast at AS199. Hosts: Sister Maxine and guest Sister Shannon Schrein, OSF, a Sylvania Franciscan and a theologian.
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Sister Shannon Schrein is a Sylvania Franciscan and currently serves on the Leadership Team. She has a PhD in Systematic Theology and is president of the College Theology Society.
She is the author of Quilting and Braiding: The Feminist Christologies of Sallie McFague and Elizabeth A. Johnson in Conversation, published by the Liturgical Press, 1998. Sister Shannon is also the editor of God Has Begun a Great Work in Us: Embodied Love in Consecrated Life and Ecclesial Movements, The 2014 Annual Volume of the College Theology Society. She is a contributor to The Saint Mary’s College Study Bible, 2007.
Sister Shannon is the 2012 recipient of the Franciscan Federation Award. She has shared her Franciscan way of life and her love of Jesus and the Scriptures with her students for more than forty years.
SISTER MAXINE: I am Sister Maxine with today’s guest, Sister Shannon Schrein, an awesome theologian and a Sister of St. Francis from Sylvania, Ohio. One of the comments in the chatroom was about being okay to pray even if you’re feeling angry with God. You had talked about Job before.
SISTER SHANNON: I think that is some of the best time, because when we love another person and we trust them completely, we trust them to love us through our difficult times. We trust them to understand us even when things are hard. We might say things to a dear friend. We might expect them to understand our anger, even though it comes across as strong, because we know that they love us and they care for us. I think that’s the way it is with God. God knows us intimately. Psalm 137, read that some time if you haven’t read it for a while. “You’ve known me from when I was knitted together in my mother’s womb.” You know me so intimately that I am even allowed to say I am kind of mad at you today. The prophet Isaiah, Chapter 20, someday when you have a minute, read the opening of that particular chapter. Jeremiah is thrown into a pit. He’s really unhappy with God and he says to him—this is from the New American translation—“You’ve duped me, Lord, and I’ve allowed myself to be duped.” He just feels like God is taking advantage of him. And then he says “I am never going to speak your name again. I am done with you,” which is—prophets are supposed to be speaking God’s word to people! Then he says almost right away afterwards, “But your word is like a fire burning within me. I get exhausted trying to hold it in and I have to speak.” Out it comes. (laughter) I think we have a trusting relationship with God when we can not only express our gratitude and our praise and our joy, but also when we can express our hurt and our pain and our need for God.
SISTER MAXINE: Kay Bard in the chatroom said, “My prayers don’t always say like ‘God help me,’ or anything, maybe it’s something else, maybe it’s going outside." It’s beautiful that prayers don’t have to be words.
SISTER SHANNON: That’s right. Saint Francis is known as saying “Preach the gospel with your life and if necessary, use words.” (laughter) There is something rich about recognizing God’s presence in all elements of our life.
To hear full episodes of A Nun’s Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.