Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017
In the weeks ahead, Senator Rob Portman (OH) will be introducing legislation called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. This bill will amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to help hold those who run sites that facilitate sex trafficking (such as Backpage.com) civilly and criminally accountable for their crimes. Click here for a one-page summary of the bill.
From Interfaith Power and Light
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to delay and rewrite methane pollution standards that protect our children and our planet from dangerous methane pollution. For more information, click here. ACT NOW: Tell EPA Administrator Pruitt that weakening the methane pollution standard is unacceptable.
From World Beyond War Sign the Declaration of Peace which states “I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.”
From Catholic Climate Movement
Pope Francis just endorsed the Laudato Si Pledge! Have you signed the pledge yet to commit to pray for and with creation, live more simply, and advocate to protect our common home? Click here to sign the pledge.
From USCCB Justice for Immigration
Call on your Senators to support DACA and DREAMERS by sending this letter.
“Now what?” I thought to myself as I crossed the street to find my car in the parking garage. After standing with Ohioans to Stop Executions and community members to call on Ohio Governor Kasich to end executions, I politely handed back the “thou shall not kill” sign I held and dispersed with the rest of the small crowd that had gathered just outside the Ohio Statehouse on a hot afternoon.
Rallies and demonstrations can be powerful. They bring us together with others who are passionate and committed to similar justice issues. They draw courage out of us in order to stand up for our values, for our faith, and for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Yet perhaps the courage we need most is for the quiet after the demonstration.
How do we take energy from vigils and demonstrations and carry that with us throughout our daily lives when schedules get filled and days get hectic?
On July 26th executions are scheduled to resume in Ohio. There are still 31 states with the death penalty and we have Sisters and Associates living in 22 of those states. As individuals of faith, we understand that the death penalty steals away an individual’s dignity and disregards respect for all life. Sister Helen Prejean, the Sister portrayed in the movie Dead Man Walking, gave an explanation against the death penalty that is direct and poignant. She said, “Execution is the opposite of baptism into a community. Baptism into a community means “We are all connected, we are all one family and you are part of us.” And execution is removing a person from the human family, step by step, saying, “You are no longer part of us. You are not human, like we are, and so we can terminate you.”
As we continue to search for ways to unify our communities, our nation, and our world, we must embrace those on the outskirts of society and give them an opportunity for conversion. Let us begin by embracing them with prayer and seeking a baptism of love and peace in our communities.
For more information about the death penalty, see this fact sheet. Please pray for those scheduled to be executed in July:
July 26 – Ronald R. Phillips, OH
July 27 – Taichin Preyor, TX
Our faith and Catholic teaching offer a moral framework for choices about the use of the death penalty. A principled Catholic response to crime and punishment is rooted in our convictions about good and evil, sin and redemption, justice and mercy. It is also shaped by our commitment to the life and dignity of every human person, and the common good. The opening chapters of the Book of Genesis teach that every life is a precious gift from God (see Genesis 2:7, 21-23). This gift must be respected and protected.
—USCCB, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death
Hidden within the invitation to become the Dominican Sisters of Peace was a fulfillment of Christ’s promise: “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands…” (Mark 10:29-30)
In April, 2009, seven congregations of Dominican Sisters gave up their separate identities to become a new community—the Dominican Sisters of Peace—and were joined by one more in 2012. The Associates who were in a committed relationship with each of these congregations were invited to participate in a year of study and discernment, then join in mission with this new unfolding reality. They made a 2 year commitment as Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, thereafter renewing their commitment at 4 year intervals. Whether they experienced it at that time or later, both Sisters’ and Associates’ lives expanded to include “a hundred times more houses, sisters, brothers, mothers, children and lands…”
Our mission of preaching the Good News of Christ from the pulpits of our lives–of being, building and preaching peace–continues to call us to new horizons, new cultures, new life. Being itinerant active contemplatives who are sent on mission is an important characteristic of disciples of Christ and followers of St. Dominic.
Diana Culbertson, O.P. said in a recent preaching: “It would be wrong, I believe, to assume that in our later years we are not being sent anymore. We are all—or most of us, home—or so it seems. That assumption, I suggest, would be manifestly un-Dominican. We can never cease being preachers, missionaries, healers, contemplatives.”
“The greatest missionaries have been contemplatives. They have reflected on the situation in which they find themselves and struggled to understand—and then respond to the needs around them.”
“When I read the texts of great Dominicans, I do not see much preoccupation with their own private needs. They are always looking around: Catherine is preoccupied with the state of the Church; Las Casas with the plight of the Indians. Even Meister Eckhart—the great mystical writer—taught his disciples: ‘All that God asks of you is to go out of yourself and let God be God in you.’ That injunction ‘Go out of yourself’ is the only real missionary mandate.”
“It is not only our ancestors in the faith that were sent. We were not sent just in our youth or midlife. We are still being sent.”
“When God calls to us—as God does everyday…we can answer: “Here I Am.” That willingness opens our heart. We may have to respond by going out of whatever personal space we call ‘home.’”
Every Sunday, I look forward to receiving an e-newsletter from Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper in my email account. I enjoy these weekly positive perspectives and reflections on life. Maria’s messages focus on providing “hope for the path ahead” and features news stories about individuals who are doing their part to make a difference in people’s lives. I find these stories uplifting, engaging, and sometimes challenging nudges to consider other viewpoints and one story that gave me pause for thought was entitled “This Is the Time to Rethink What We Know.”
In this reflection, Maria challenges her readers “to rethink how we are working, how we are learning, how we are consuming our food, our energy, and our time. It’s a great time to rethink our lives and how we are living.” As Dominicans, we value taking time “to contemplate the truth and to share the fruits of this contemplation with others.” It’s always good to step back from any life moment to look anew at where we are so we can gain new insights and perspectives on what to do in any given circumstance. As Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, we are committed to being “radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ,” and to making changes in ourselves and in our world in many ways, three of which are stated in the congregation’s Chapter commitments:
Create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, and reconciliation among ourselves, in the Church and throughout the world.
Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.
Foster God’s web of life personally, communally and ministerially by advocating and supporting just policies and decisions to reduce the impact of global climate change.
We have many societal issues that beg us to rethink how we are responding to the needs of others, from healthcare to our political and economic systems, to name just a few. In her story, Maria challenges us to rethink many personal ideas and public systems. She asks some tough questions, such as “Are we passive bystanders who watch videos while laughing? Do we know more about Rob Kardashian than we do about our state reps? Are we part of the problem, or are we offering up solutions to help us move forward in a more unified and united way?”
So if you need a prescription for hope or inspiration for the journey, you may find Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper just what your soul needs. And, many times you will be challenged to rethink what’s important or what to do to become a change agent for the common good.
Do you know a Sister whose life has spoken to you of God’s grace and love for you, calling you to explore a life worth fully living as a religious sister? Then, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to discern God’s call in your life.
Recently, I happen to be shopping in a Kohl’s Department Store and was standing within ear shot of a woman whose cell phone was ringing. She rummaged through her purse, found the phone, and said: “I’m in the doctor’s office.”
George W. Bush lied when he claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bill Clinton lied when he said he did not have “sexual relations with that woman”. Then there was Bernie Madoff who hoodwinked billions of dollars from innocent believers in a Ponzi scheme. (Come to think of it —Ponzi was a liar too.)
The 1919 Chicago White Sox deliberately threw the World Series for money. If you ever watched the TV series “House”, you know that “everybody lies” is the protagonist’s modus operandi. The apostle Peter lied when he told the woman in the courtyard he did not know Jesus. So lying goes way back.
The June 2017 issue of National Geographic did a cover story on “Why We Lie.” Although I wondered why National Geographic would write this kind of story, I found the research fascinating. It explored the landscape of human motivations for lying.
We lie for many reasons: to cover up a personal transgression, to avoid people, to gain financially or for personal advantage, to give someone a positive impression, to make people laugh. But there is nothing funny about our lying —we get good at it by the time we are eight years old. It’s a complicated aspect of being human.
Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, said, “People are not expecting lies, people are not searching for lies and a lot of the time people want to hear what they are hearing.” We tend to accept lies that affirm our world view. Until something strong enough comes around to convince you otherwise, it’s really hard to change your mind once it’s made up.
According to the National Geographic story, we do not recognize lies when we hear them for the simple reason that we expect people to tell the truth.For example, the article notes, if someone claiming to be from the IRS called you on the phone, you would likely believe that the person on the phone was from the IRS if your Caller ID said it was the IRS. This is true, even though Caller ID can be manipulated.
If information does not fit your worldview you tend to ignore it or avoid exploring it. Add social media to the mix and we arrive at the notion of alternative facts, fake news. This is what makes today’s world so challenging. Much of the reason for alternative facts and fake news is money. People may not realize it, but if you click on that sensational headline, someone out there is getting paid.
So what are we to do? We Dominicans, who profess to pursue the Truth, preach the Truth, are particularly sensitive to this issue of what is Truth. Ahh, that’s the kicker, big Truth and little truth, big Lies and little lies. The Truth, the absolutes we all depend on, are being buried under an avalanche of fake facts, schemes and ulterior motives.
Matthew 7:20 “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” This text seems to offer some light to me. Does the story or statement you hear lead you to a greater good? Or are you left confused by the information? We should be able to trust our instinctive judgments about the truth or falsehood of an idea. But today, that’s getting harder to do. I did feel quite confident that I was not in the doctor’s office when that woman in Kohl’s answered the phone.
Sometimes a lie is obvious. At other times, we have to work harder to distinguish a lie from a falsehood. This makes all the more necessary our pursuit of the truth on so many levels.
(Please note: On the July 27, 2017 Leadership Webcast we will use zoom technology to interact with each other on the topic of fake news. Be sure to tune in at 7:00pm and read the suggested “Seven Tips to Spot Fake News”.)
Here’s a prayer that might help:
Dear God, Source of Truth, help me to be discerning in all that I read and hear and please remind me to listen for the deeper truth, one that elevates the common good, the greater good. Remind me to ask questions of my sources, and not simply accept ideas that confirm what I already believe. Stretch my willingness to evaluate what I read and recognize when it leads to deeper truth in me and a greater good for the world. Amen.