Transfiguration of the Lord- Sister Patricia Butler, SNDdeN

Aug 2, 2023 | Gospel Reflections

August 6, 2023

Matthew 17: 1-9

The story of the Transfiguration helps us to understand the possibility of transformation to which we are all called. Jesus is transformed into a bright light and we are told that God is well pleased with Jesus and we are to listen to him. Jesus’ brightness is evident in many and varied ways through our life experiences and we have many opportunities to hear His voice and see His brightness in our daily lives.

The simple reflections that follow, flow from experiences of living in a poor barrio on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua in the late 1980’s. A war intent on wearing away the very psyche of the people plagued the country bringing about many lacks in basic necessities of life. These experiences come from a people who could see the transfigured presence of Jesus in their everyday realities. One of these realities was not having enough food to make it from day to day. Donia Angela, a member of our Scripture Reflection group, shared the experience of borrowing a cup of rice from a neighbor to get through a given day. The neighbor obliged her request and Donia Angela, the beneficiary of this kindness, described that she actually could see in this event the face of Christ in her neighbor and in other neighbors who truly reached out to help people get along within their lives of survival.

On another occasion, our barrio community was deluged with the torrential rain that signaled the beginning of winter. Unbeknown to us, our house was on a slight incline and the water ran down the incline all night and right through our home, some water getting stuck in our main all-purpose room. This left a small lake in our major living space. As usual the next morning being Sunday, the children came to borrow the baseball equipment, as it was their only time for play all week. At 6:00AM (of course the rain had stopped- but a muddy mess was left) the kids knocked at our back door. They were nine-deep, just waiting to run in and get going, and they did run in, grab the bats, baseballs and gloves and began to run out – but something stopped them. It did seem quite impossible to play in such conditions, but that is not what stopped them. What stopped them was the recognition that Patri (their friend) was being left to clean and straighten up the mess made by the rains. Almost immediately they turned, returned the equipment, said that Patri was in big trouble, and began the all-day project of clean up and repair. Without a word the inner light of the goodness of God shone through these children. One cannot help but hear God saying, “These are my beloved children with whom I am well pleased.”

Of all the memorable encounters with our neighbors of barrio Oswaldo Manzanares was the meeting with a woman named Serita whose face shone not with light, but with the hardness of years of suffering, making her look very old. Over a cup of coffee, late one evening she shared the importance of our community to the barrio. Serita told us that the things we did or helped provide for the community were not the most important. Her light revealed to us what the people saw in us that was most important. “Please remember what is most important is that you chose to live among us and share in our lives. You chose to really love us by sharing in every aspect of our lives. This love will remain with us even when you have gone from this place.

In a very real way Serita was telling us that we had pitched our tents among the people and accepted the request from God who spoke from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Matthew 17: 1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Patricia Butler, SNDdeN

Patricia Butler entered Notre Dame on August 1, 1963. She is a graduate of Cardinal Cushing High School in South Boston MA. She has a BA in English and Teacher Education from Emmanuel College. While teaching at St. Mary’s High School, Lynn, Sr. Patricia was accepted into an experimental Interdisciplinary program which included Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology. In 1977, she received a degree of Masters of Arts in Teaching the Behavioral Sciences from Bridgewater State College. From 1979 to 1984 she was a member of the Administrative Team at Cardinal Cushing High School in South Boston, MA. After 17 years of teaching/administration in the Archdiocese of Boston Schools, Sr. Patricia ministered for the next 22 years in Congregational Service. First, she was a member of Project Nicaragua for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), in Nicaragua. Subsequently, in the early 1990s, she became the SNDdeN Director of the International Office for Africa and Latin America and then served as SNDdeN Director for the Congregational Office of Mission Support, until 2006. From 2006-2018 she ministered with the Holy Union Sisters, a small congregation founded in Douai, France, as their US Province-Mission Advancement Director.