A Prayer for Uplifting Human Dignity

“When we build a culture of understanding and uphold human dignity, we build a better world.”

(Ban Ki Moon, former UN Secretary)

All are Welcome, Marty Haugen

Opening Prayer:
Dear God, in our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the family are inferior and others superior.
Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.
Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.
Help us to create a Church and nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed People of Color where we live, as well as those around the world.
Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen. (Written by the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team)

Bishop Michael Bruce Curry preached on the “redemptive power of love at the royal wedding.  His message is universal and timely.  Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church encouraged all receiving his message to discover the power of love to make of “this old world a new world.”   Select passages of his sermon will serve as a reading. If you cannot read the entire sermon, read the part between the brackets.

“The Power of Love” sermon:
[And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the Song of Solomon in the Bible: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love.]

Oh, there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it – it actually feels right. There is something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love, and our lives were meant – and are meant – to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God: the source of all of our lives. There’s an old medieval poem that says: ‘Where true love is found, God is there.

The New Testament says it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God. Why? For God is love.”

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. Set me as a seal on your heart… a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.

Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer, to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses, and he went back and he reached back into the Hebrew scriptures, to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” And then in Matthew’s version, he added, he said: “On these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world … love God, love your neighbors, and while you’re at it, love yourself.”

Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history.

A movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world – and a movement mandating people to live that love, and in so doing to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself.

I’m talking about power. Real power. Power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s Antebellum South who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. “They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual, even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says ‘There is a balm in Gilead…’ a healing balm, something that can make things right.

“‘There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.’ “And one of the stanzas actually explains why. They said: ‘If you cannot preach like Peter, and you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all.”‘ Oh, that’s the balm in Gilead! This way of love, it is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t… he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world… for us.

[That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world. If you don’t believe me, just stop and imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way.”

Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way. Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive.

When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.

When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children. Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.

My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family.

Dr. King was right: we must discover love – the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world, a new world. My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.]

Quiet Meditation: Please take a few moments to reflect on the scripture passages and words of Bishop Curry.

Prayers of Intercession for the Nation:
Gracious God, we thank you for the human family filled with all the peoples of the earth. We are thankful that you have created such an amazing and wonderful diversity of people and cultures. We pray that you will enrich our lives with ever-widening circles of fellowship, so that we may discover your presence in those who differ from us. Deliver us from the bondage of racism that denies the humanity of some people, and deprives all people of the blessings of the diversity you have created; deliver us from assumptions that we make without thinking, and presumptions that we take without asking. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Bless and strengthen each effort we make as individuals when we seek to understand ourselves and others as well as the ways we benefit from personal privilege and power, so that we may be allies who challenge bias and prejudice within ourselves and others. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Bless and strengthen each effort we make to change the systems and structures of our schools and educational institutions; our politics and civic policies; and our economic institutions’ methods and models; so that the roots of racism may be recognized and purged from among us. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

O God of unconditional love, look with compassion on our nation. Break down the walls that separate us from one another. Cast out the spirit of violence that afflicts so many. Cleanse us of malicious ideas and ideologies. Unite us in bonds of love like unto your own. And through all our struggle for justice, work within us to accomplish your purpose and establish your kingdom vision. Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

O Lord, open our hearts to respect and uplift the dignity of every person. Open our eyes to see the injustices within church and society. Open our ears to listen and learn from the experiences of people of color. Open our mouths to speak out against prejudice and injustice. We commit ourselves to work for justice and peace, and to pursue a deeper relationship to you, Lord, so that we truly may be the body of Christ on earth, your church for the sake of the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord who has taught us to say when we pray:

Our Father…
(“Worship Resources for Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”)

Prayer of Commitment
Left Side:
Lord, you are the Light of the world. You came into this world to bring true peace and a right relationship between all people and God,
between individuals, between nations and between all peoples and the whole creation.
Amidst the confusion of today’s world, empower us to stand firmly on the side of goodness, justice and lasting truth according to your will.

Right Side:
Help us to identify, expose and confront the root causes and the structures of injustices at all levels which exploit and destroy your children and creation. Help us to commit our lives to a new value system where life is nurtured and abundant.

Help us develop a new understanding of sharing in which those who have been marginalized by reasons of gender, age, economic and political condition, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and disability take their place at the center of all decisions and actions as equal partners. Help us to be open to one another, as friends on the basis of common commitment, mutual trust, confession an, forgiveness. This is our prayer, for the glory of your name and the good of all people and creation. AMEN.  (Archdiocese of Chicago, Office for Racial Justice)

Closing Prayer
O God, true source of wholeness and peace, in a world bearing fresh wounds of suffering and grief, you call us to be a people of healing. Help us to reach out to neighbors in need, to bear one another’s burdens, to weep with those who weep. Give us the grace to share the comfort of Christ with all those who long for his healing touch. Help us to hold in our hearts and show in our lives what we proclaim with our lips: Goodness is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; hope is stronger than despair. (Pax Christie)

To view and print a PDF copy of this service for your own use, click here.

(Prepared by Sister Joanne Caniglia, OP)

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

What Are You Doing for Others?

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I opened my email this morning from Cards by Anne, an international greeting card company specializing in inspirational messages, this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. caught my attention: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others.”  Of course, Dr. King’s legacy is one of advocacy for others, having dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States.

The question, “What are you doing for others?” stops me in my tracks and resists being ignored.  It’s like a neon sign flashing in the darkness looking for daylight and for a response.  It’s a question that cuts through to the heart of what matters, to what is important, to where our passion drives us.  The question prompts another question, “What am I living for?”

These questions demand some difficult, honest examination of one’s values, beliefs, and priorities.  Where do I spend my time and energy?   These are challenging questions to answer.  As an introvert with a contemplative personality, my focus tends to be more on the internal stuff of life, rather than the external happenings around me.  I try to live each day mindful of being kind to those I encounter throughout the day with a hello, a smile, a listening ear.  I try to live by the golden rule of treating others as I would like to be treated.

You and I may not be grand-scale activists and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., but we can make a positive impact on the lives of others–coworkers, family members, kids, friends, etc.  If we touch one life through an act of kindness, we have done something positive for someone.  By doing something kind for one person, that person may do something kind for yet another person.  One act of kindness can set in motion the possibility for multiple acts of kindness.  We can start a ripple effect of many positive things happening to many people and begin a Kindness Revolution.

Need some ideas for what to do for others?  Here’s a short list to get you started:

  1. Call or text a friend whom you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  2. Bake a special treat for someone you know
  3. Let another person go ahead of you in the grocery line
  4. Talk to a teenager about what’s happening in their life
  5. Donate blood to help someone in need
  6. Give a coworker a compliment
  7. Forgive someone who has hurt you
  8. Be kind to someone who is unkind
  9. Send a thank-you note to someone who has shown you kindness
  10. Play a card game with a child or elderly person

The possibilities for kindness are endless.  Doing for others can be simple and easy.  Doing for others may seem like a small thing but it can have a big impact on someone else’s life.  Doing for others is an important tenet of the Christian faith.  In Matthew 25: 40, we hear Jesus say to his disciples ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

If you want to touch the lives of others and be part of a community that seeks to do good for others, why not contact us and learn more about how you can live a consecrated life.

Posted in God Calling?, News


Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

“Racial Disparity” is the new way to describe the treatment of people of color by white people. Well, it is really not new but it is becoming more prevalent. What is happening in this country of ours?

Sunday, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Pentecost. A remembrance of a moment in human time when the Holy Spirit was so present that people began to speak in all kinds of languages and perform all kinds of healing acts to the astonishment of the crowds and no one was left out. What has happened to us since that moment?

I don’t think we have to look far at all to see answers to that. Most recently, consider Philadelphia, PA, and Starbucks; Warsaw, NC, and Waffle House; Saraland, AL, and Waffle House; New Haven, CT, and Yale University. People of color may not loiter, may not nap and, most certainly, may not talk back to authority figures under any circumstances in public places. We tell their white counterparts the same thing, but the responses to their actions are almost always far different.

The Holy Spirit is seeking ways to break through the barriers we keep putting up to protect ourselves from those who are different, from ideas that make us uncomfortable, from solutions that take us far out of the boxes we put ourselves into and call personal space. We say we want the Holy Spirit to come, but what does that mean? When we know that accepting the Spirit will mean new life and probably change, do we still want it? I think we do. We just have to pray harder to know what to do when we feel the presence of the Spirit.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Assembly Action Steps May 22, 2018

When we look at our southern border, we are saddened to see those migrant families who are escaping various forms of violence and persecution in their homeland are being routinely separated. Since October 2017, over 700 children have been separated from their parents and rendered “unaccompanied,” including over 100 children under the age of four. On May 4, 2018, DHS stated that it will refer all individuals who cross the border without authorization for criminal prosecution, including adult members of family units. If implemented, this policy will undoubtedly lead to a drastic increase in incidences of family separation. On this day honoring Mary, we urge you to think about the families that will face forcible separation.

In honor of the central role that Mary and all mothers have in our world, please call your Congressperson to protect immigrant children and families seeking safety and shelter from violence by keeping these families together.

Send the following message to your Member of Congress:

Dear Representative,
Children are vulnerable and should not be separated from their parents. The family is a foundational element of Catholic teaching and family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system.

Separating parents from their children will not deter families from seeking safety and security in the U.S. Such a policy will not cure the pervasive root causes of migration existing in the violent areas of Central America. Furthermore, a policy of separating families at the border will be extremely costly to the U.S. taxpayer, costing hundreds of dollars/night per family.

As a Catholic, I urge you to recognize the importance of family unity and use your oversight capabilities to:
(1) Tell DHS Not to Separate Families
(2) Prevent DHS from Receiving Funding for This Harmful and Costly Practice
(3) Propose More Humane Solutions, such as Alternatives to Detention.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates


Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Well, it’s happened again. We are sending prayers to more families impacted by gun violence.  We’ve now mourned for victims of 220 school shootings – 16 in 2018 alone – 1 shooting each week.  While some progress has been made locally; largely, our national representatives have been deadlocked – background checks still have loopholes; assault rifles are still for sale; mental health measures to help troubled students unfunded. Corporations like Dick’s Sporting Goods that depend on sales are more willing to forego sales than sell assault type weapons. Where are our representatives who are elected to serve and protect their citizens?

When did it become OK to shoot someone who refused a date, played sports, or, even as despicable as it is, bullied another student?  When did our tool of choice for settling disagreements become a gun?  School shootings are a consequence of a deeper blight – the lack of respect for every human being.  When immigrants are called animals; members of a religion labeled terrorists; women treated as objects, or dying people made fun of, we have a problem.  We’ve lost respect for each other and using violence becomes OK because no one is important anyway.

The reading from St. Paul to the Galatians from the Mass on Pentecost warns us about hatreds, factions, fury, selfishness – traits of disrespect seemingly glorified today.  He lifts up the gifts of the Spirit such as love, joy, kindness, generosity, self-control and especially peace. Yet are inundated with the speech of disrespect. It’s in the news, in social media, in the pulpit, the White House, the Congress.

We desperately need the Spirit’s guidance to change today’s rhetoric into words of respect for all people.  Let us pray, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we will be recreated and you will renew the face of the earth.”  Only a renewal of our respect for each other, for our neighbors, our immigrants, our strangers will stop the violence in our world.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog