Dr. King and the March for Our Lives

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Today we remember the death of Dr. Martin Luther King which occurred fifty years ago in Memphis. Dr. King became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement using the nonviolent teaching of Gandhi.  Five years earlier, Dr. King, in jail in Birmingham, Alabama, wrote a letter to Christian ministers who had criticized the nonviolent but confrontational tactics used in the Birmingham.  As I read this letter, I could hear him speaking to the students of the March for Our Lives Movement and to all those involved in working for justice.

King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  Is it just for an individual to walk into a school and shoot 20 first graders?  Or how about shooting fourteen high school students?  Is it just for a child to be afraid to walk to school? Where is there justice when these killings go on and on? When we deny life to innocent school children, isn’t it easy to deny justice to Dreamers, the unborn, and creation?

“We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”  King quotes British Statesman and Prime Minister William E. Gladstone for a concept that has become a cornerstone of our legal system.  The Columbine shooting occurred on April 20, 1999, the first of many such mass shootings.  Almost twenty years and what progress has been made in stopping these horrific shootings? Every child killed in a school has had justice denied to him or her.

King expresses frustration with “white moderates who constantly advise the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”  When is it appropriate to fight for one’s civil rights … or convenient to protest school shootings?  Some politicians argue that there is never a good time.  Is it really a timing or a lack of political courage?

By all accounts, Dr. King was a brilliant and precocious student.  He skipped ninth and twelfth grades and entered Morehouse College at the age of 15.  He was an excellent orator.  His courage to stand up to injustices is a model for the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for our Dreamers, and all young people with a budding desire for justice.  Thank you, Dr. King, for your inspiration, your courage, and your words.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Beyond a Throwaway Culture

Blog by Sr. Terry Wassinger, OP

From the beginning, the idea of a “throwaway culture” has been one of the signature phrases of Francis’s papacy. In 2013 he said “I would therefore like us all to make the serious commitment to respect and care for creation, to pay attention to every person, to combat the culture of waste and of throwing out so as to foster a culture of solidarity and encounter.”

In Laudato Si, paragraph 22 he writes: “Our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products.  These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish.”

Francis generally contrasts the “throwaway” culture with what he calls a “culture of encounter,” or “welcome,” meaning a culture in which people are treated with dignity and the earth with respect.

To move beyond this throwaway culture and join with others in a culture of encounter, we must become aware of our impact on creation.  Our celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22 gives us the opportunity to do that.  Reduction of waste is critical to our survival and the logo Reduce, Reuse, Recycle was created to help us address this issue.  This is a familiar phrase to most, but where did it originate?

There tends to be a bit of debate about the creation of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan, but the practice of working towards reducing our waste output, reusing what we can and then recycling what we can’t has been around for many years. The economic boom in the 1950’s led to an increase in the amount of trash – and litter – being produced by Americans due to the growing popularity of single use plastic items. It was not long until people began to realize the environmental impact humans were having on the Earth’s eco-system.

Inspired by the “teach-ins” held across the country to educate citizens on the Vietnam War, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded the first national Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Throughout the 1970’s, many different laws were enacted – both at the federal and state level – to promote conservation efforts and raise awareness of them to the general public. Thus, the Three R’s were born.

How can we live them out?

Reduce the amount of waste created. Americans create tons of trash every year. Reducing the amount of waste produced helps to prevent crowded landfills and the environmental damage.

Reuse items that could have a future purpose.  How many items put into the trash or recycling could be reused? There are the obvious items, such as clothes or the extra canned goods that could be donated to the needy. Some items require a bit of creativity.  Just remember before tossing out that box of “junk” in the attic that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Recycle whatever can be recycled. There is no need to feel guilty about creating waste – not every single thing in the universe can be reduced or reused. Luckily, a lot of items we use can be recycled.

Saint Catharine Motherhouse in KY took on the challenge more than 25 years ago.  In 1992, Sr. Margaret Marie Hoftsetter and Sr. Appoline Simard were collecting and recycling newspapers in an unused chicken coop on the property.  Later a recycling building was constructed (Click here for photos of the Recycling Center in present time).  For more than 25 years, the newspapers continue to be sent to an Insulation Factory in Springfield to be recycled.  Minnie Fay Smith, after working for 17 years in the Motherhouse Kitchen, now works part time with Sr. Appoline to sort, weigh and prepare items to be taken for recycling. Every week stacks of newspapers are taken to the factory.  Cardboard that has been collected is picked up by the New Hope Soup Kitchen. The payment the Soup Kitchen receives help to feed the hungry poor.  Paper, both shredded and recyclable, is taken to the Washington County Recycling Center in Springfield, and aluminum and tin cans and glass are taken to another center that accepts these things. These are steps that we are proud of, but we know we can still do more.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

THE PROMISE AND THE FULFILLMENT

Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

I love Gospel Music.  The songs are so down to earth and so joyously in love with God that they lift your heart and your spirit.  My favorite is one called Can He, Could He, Would He?  This is the first line:

Can he save me, Could he love me, Would he take me, Did he really?

On Easter Sunday Jesus saved us, He showed his love for us, He took us to his heart. He really, really did.

It’s difficult to find the words that express what Easter really means to us believing Christians. What it doesn’t mean is the Easter Bunny. Sorry.

The life of Jesus has been called The Greatest Story Ever Told and it surely is that. At the moment he set foot on the banks of the Jordan to be baptized, the drama began to unfold.

He wrestled with the temptation to use the power he had to fix everything in one fell swoop, but he couldn’t. That was not the plan.

He chose his disciples the way Samuel chose David; he trusted that God would reveal them to him. Just like we do when trying to make a big decision.

The healing miracles took a lot out of him. They required total, absolute trust in God, no hesitation and no fear. He must have known disappointment when so many came for that and only that, caring nothing for his message.

The anger and resentment of the official leaders of the people resulted in one confrontation after another, each one adding to the pile of so-called evidence against him. He was fully aware of the dangers, but he persevered.

Flaunting all the rules that bound his people and gathering to himself those who had felt worthless, were the paving stones on the road to his death.

Still, he kept on.

Finally, he told people that unless they ate his body and drank his blood they could not have life. That was the last straw. Then at the Last Supper he explained what he meant when he raised the bread and wine. That is our legacy.

Then came the arrest, the beatings, the hypocrisy and betrayal of the crowd, which probably was the worst part. His death was as if the sun itself was dying. All the reason for hope was bleeding to death on a cross.

Those feelings are not unfamiliar to most of us. That is what makes Easter Sunday what it is: the resurrection of Hope and Faith and unceasing Love.

This story is so powerful it overshadows everything else and for many it is frightening. It seems to demand something from us, something we aren’t  willing to give. That is too much.

But celebrating Christ in the Easter mystery transforms all who will not diminish or limit Easter to the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

As the second line of the song says: Yes, He can, He could, He would and He did!

[Click here to listen to this song on YouTube.]

Happy Easter

Posted in Associate Blog, News