Women and Imago Dei? Yes.

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

On Monday, February 19th, 110 girls were kidnapped from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria. Four years earlier 276 girls were abducted from Chibok, Nigeria.  The girls are abused, killed, or sold into slavery. This is only the latest incident of violence against women that have been prevalent in a world that still holds women as inferior to men.

Since the beginning of time, violence against women, especially rape, has been used as a weapon of war.  Not only does it impact the victims but it erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can. Rape’s damage can be devastating because of the strong communal reaction to the violation and pain stamped on entire families.   The World War Two Nuremberg trials condemned rape as a crime against humanity.

National attention was drawn to this issue of rape with the trial of Dr. Larry Nassar, the U.S. Gymnastics doctor, as victim after victim described her pain.    He was allowed to continue his criminal actions because many girls were afraid to tell their stories and because adults including parents refused to listen to their daughters when they had the courage to share what was happening.  The stigma of being abused or rape is strong in many cultures including ours.

Recently many women have come forward in the #MeToo movement; women who have been raped or molested by individuals with power over them and their careers.  For years women did not come forward to report these incidences because of the ridicule or accusation of bringing it on themselves.  It can become a he said/she said event and often, if the power figure says it just didn’t happened, the woman’s accusation is dismissed.

Why have women been subject to this kind of treatment for so many hundreds (thousands) of years?  Because women are often considered less than men, subject to men, or the property of men.  While the Scriptures say that all humans are made imago Dei, in the image of God, too often that image is only masculine.  Women are somehow an afterthought.

Current media has brought into the forefront the treatment of women in war, in sports, and in the entertainment, government and business worlds.   But there are subtle ways that continue to keep women below the level of men. Religions that refuse to let women in the sanctuary or the pulpit, businesses that pay women less than men, and women who refuse to hold men accountable for their actions all contribute.  Slowly, very slowly women are making progress but we must continue to fight for the dignity we deserve.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Ready or Not!

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Matthew 24:44  “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Before computer games and virtual reality combats, when I was young my sis and I would often join the neighborhood kids in the game of hide and seek. The one who was the seeker would start by closing his/her eyes and count to 100, while all the others would scatter and hide.

As the seeker approached 100, they would count the last few numbers louder: “…96, 97, 98. 99, 100!” Then shout: “HERE I COME, READY OR NOT!” The seeker then opened his/her eyes and tried to find the hiders; the first one found became the next seeker, and the last was winner of the round.

Nobody liked being caught off guard—before finding a good hiding place, or when not ready or feeling unprepared.

Last Thursday around 8:45 p.m. a 50 mph wind whipped around our house and snapped off two huge branches of a two-pronged tree just a few feet from our house. Both of them came tumbling down onto our house with sudden thunderous crashes.

Shocked and alarmed at the suddenness of the noise, and not knowing exactly what was happening, I leapt up from the couch near a window and instinctively moved to the middle of the room. I could feel the house shake from the impact as one of the great falling branches hit the southwest corner of the attic, then land on the roof of our screened in porch. At the same time, the other dragged down gutters and molding on the north front rim and destroyed the roof of our front porch before landing on the ground just off the step.

It all happened quickly without warning. But thank God, no one was hurt.

After assessing the damage and doing what we could to keep water, wind and critters from coming in through one window pushed in by an intrusive branch, and satisfied we could do no more, our Clarissa House community went off to bed. But sleep? Well, that was an individual matter.

This scary incident reminded me that at any moment, whether we’re READY OR NOT, God may come seeking us. In the child’s game of hide and seek, those  listening to the countdown have a fair warning when the seeker is coming. But in the game of life, there usually is no clear indication that one’s time is up.

Am I ready to go with God now or at anytime? Are you? What would you/I need to do to be ready?

Taking God as our Hiding Place, walking with the Divine Seeker moment by moment, and sharing with a faith companion and/or community day by day seems to me the best ways to stay alert and ready. What do you think?


Posted in Associate Blog, News

Centering Prayer – Sacred Time

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

Seeing the news with all the violence in the lives of so many people in our world today, or perhaps experiencing violence in our own lives or in the lives of those we love can be overwhelming.  And while we may be working hard for justice and peace in our world to help reduce this violence, we can sometimes lose hope and get discouraged.  I know I need times of silence and solitude to ground me in hope in the goodness of God and of people.  Centering prayer helps me to grow in trust of God and to manage my emotions, especially anger and sadness when things get tough.

Many of our Sisters and Associates practice centering prayer.  The focus is the desire to be in relationship with God and being present to God’s Spirit.  I first learned this practice from a book by John Main back in my first experience of religious life.  As an introvert who processes my life’s experiences within, I discovered that I love times in prayer when I am invited to let go of all my thoughts, to sit quietly, and to return to my meditative word, Jesus or mercy or whatever word brings me back to my center.  There are no shoulds or oughts, and if I find that I am distracted, I return to my word.  The intention of my prayer is to be fully present to the One who loves me and all.

Contemplative practices, such as centering prayer, are essential for us as Christians to ground us as we reach beyond ourselves in works of justice and mercy and to carry the pain of the people and Earth.  If you are interested in learning about this method of prayer, check out Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FWvxwfN_CE).  He is a Trappist monk and priest, known as one of the architects of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of Christian contemplative prayer.

Also, if you are interested in some time of prayer and reflection and are discerning your direction in life as a single woman 18-45, please consider coming to the Come and See weekend in Columbus March 9-11, 2018.  https://oppeace.org/blog/2018/02/09/come-see-retreat/

Posted in God Calling?, News