DO NOT BE SILENT

Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

St. Paul was a man who threw himself into his work, passionately sure of the rightness of his causes.  He was a diligent persecutor of Christians and was heading to Damascus at full speed to round up the followers of Christ and bring them to justice when God intervened.

Knowing Paul very well, God stopped him in his tracks with a dramatic flash of light, which threw him off his horse and blinded him.  God knew when to fight fire with fire.

Thus began the transformation of Paul of Tarsus from enemy to friend. As the transformation progressed Paul did not change personalities because God needed him just the way he was to spread the Good News, he just changed his perspective and understanding of Jesus of Nazareth and what He would mean to the world.

Armed with his usual single-minded drive, Paul set out on the greatest evangelical journey in history.  He went from place to place proclaiming Christ as the Messiah, but like all forceful people he sometimes worried that he was too forceful, that he might be turning people off with his approach.

The Jews were not responding and he had gotten angry and stormed off.  One night as he slept, God spoke to him: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking; do not be silent, for I am with you.” (Acts 18:9-18)

Most people shy away from the idea of evangelizing; it sounds as though they are expected to be like St. Paul, which does not come naturally to them, but the important part of God’s command is ”Do not be silent, for I am with you.”

Those are words we should keep in the forefront of our thoughts when the occasion arises.  No one expects you to preach like Paul but to be yourself and say simple things like: “I believe in Jesus and I think you would too if you knew Him. He can change your life and give you hope.”

There was once a Jewish man named Apollos who came to Ephesus.  He was a believer and it was said of him: “He gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace”. (Acts:18:23-28)   It’s as simple as that.  We shy away from speaking, afraid of the reaction.  We forget we are not alone!

Look about you. The power of Christ to change lives is from God, you are simply the instrument he uses to enrich the lives of his creation. If God were not the driving force behind Paul’s ministry and that of the the other early believers, Christianity would have died in infancy.

As it is, Christianity has survived every test and will continue to do so until God decides it is enough. You must believe that God is at the center of it all, that we are not alone, and never will be. See in his words to Paul the promise of everlasting companionship and be brave.

There are people who need to know Jesus and when you encounter them hear the words of God: “Do not be silent.  I am with you.” 

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

It is Silence that Kills

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

We’ve been listening to the prophets these past weeks, passages registering God’s passion and pathos— anger, frustration, longing and love for a people who keep falling, repenting and falling again.

Amos spoke scathing words, laying bare the avarice, cheating, exploitation of the poor. And he said words that have stayed with me, describing God’s sending upon the land “a famine of hearing the Word of God.”

Two weeks ago, in an opinion piece in the Sunday Times a pediatrician described the failings of the water system in Flint and the denials of serious corrosion by officials, and the massive exposure of young children to lead poisoning and lifetime damage. In his concluding paragraph he wrote, “One of the lessons of Flint is that science and public health won’t save us….being awake is not enough. We have to be loud.”

Two sentences that have everything to do with us Dominicans of Peace, as we enter into this Assembly titled “Lift Every Voice.”

There is a famine in our land, and that famine is starving people of God’s Truth and Self-giving Love.

And the famine is vast, and has many faces. For some, a famine of hearing the truth, a famine of hearing the Word of love for others, a famine of hope, a famine of peace. We are called to speak, especially for the sake of the ones whose voices are not heard, and to bring the light of Truth into the corresponding glut of misused power and wealth, willful deafness and blindness, of greed, and hubris.

How shall we preach the Gospel? How shall we speak Truth with Love to both oppressers and oppressed. How shall we plead for the earth, its community of life in danger of ruin and extinction? How will we listen to and speak for the hungry, the weeping, the unjustly treated, the despairing?

Remember our Brother Dominic, not given to thundering condemnations, but rather, singing loudly as he traveled the road and pleading loudly in his nights of prayer–not pronouncing wrath and judgment, but listening and conversing, considering and persuading. We call him Preacher of Grace.

We have pledged ourselves to the preaching of the Gospel. We see, we hear, we are awake and aware. We are responsive and responsible.

And now is the moment to speak: because it is not enough to be aware, and it is not Dominican to hoard the Good News in a world of famine. We must also live loudly, educating and advocating, praising and blessing and preaching. Grace abounds. But how shall they hear if there is no one to preach to them?

Posted in News, Weekly Word

We Are Making A Difference

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

The Dominican Sisters of Peace and their Associates will be meeting this weekend for an assembly. It’s a wonderful and exciting opportunity to gather, visit with friends, and engage in stimulating dialog.  The Dominican Sisters of Peace committed to justice work from the very beginning of our founding – nine years ago –  building on the work done by our founding congregations for many years.

In our chapter commitments, we expressed our desire to promote non-violence, unity in diversity, and reconciliation. We committed to work with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and to identify and transform oppressive systems.  We pledged to foster God’s web of life by advocating and supporting just policies and decisions to reduce the impact of global climate change.

It’s so gratifying to witness the sisters and associates put these commitments into action through March for our Lives, Wear Orange Day, and Keep Families Together rallies and marches. It’s encouraging to see them reduce their use of single use plastics in Motherhouses and convents.  It’s inspiring to see sisters reach out to the marginalized in their ministries – to assist women who have been trafficked, to counsel transgender women, transport immigrants to numerous appointments, tutor many nationalities, walk with families torn apart by ICE raids, teach children about the importance of nature, and many others.

Our Justice Committees speak to what our priorities are:  Peace and Nonviolence, Immigration Reform, Anti Trafficking, and Eco Justice.  Through their efforts, we have educated ourselves and others and motivated ourselves to act on issues around these topics.  I am very grateful to these dedicated committee members.

We have made many phone calls, written letters, and signed petitions to protect the Affordable Healthcare Act, SNAP, Gun Safety bills – legislation designed to protect the marginalized.  We have approved four corporate stances on Immigration reform, to end human trafficking, for common-sense gun safety laws, and to reduce the impact of global climate change.  And especially, we have prayed.  Prayed each day for children to be returned to their parents and for an end to war and violence around the world. We are making a difference.

Thank you, sisters and associates, for your passion for justice.  As we meet this week, let us celebrate our accomplishments and energize ourselves to carry on.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Bridges in Cleveland

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Last Saturday, our Vocation/Formation Teams, women in formation, a couple of other Dominican Sisters of Peace (including me), enjoyed a short cruise on the Good Times III Ship on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. It featured the Bridges of Cleveland.

As we slowly made our way through the harbor, and down the river around “Collision Corner” and back, the Captain of the ship pointed out important buildings and landmarks, named sights and bridges spanning the river, and narrated historic events pertinent to the area.

Probably most interesting to me was seeing and experiencing the different kinds of draw bridges that both allowed trains, cars, and pedestrians to pass over the river, but also could either raise, lift, or swing to the side to allow approaching larger boats and ships to pass, then return to their usual function as a bridge for land travelers.

Being a native Kansan, I had never seen draw bridges until I traveled to Louisiana, New York, Ohio and elsewhere. I was fascinated by the overall design of these amazing feats of engineering and cooperative work of humans.

I got to thinking about the importance of bridges in our lives, and not only bridges spanning rivers, swamps, lakes, and other wetlands, but turnpike, interstate, city and rural highway overpasses that avoid busy railroad tracks and congested areas and facilitate traffic flow. Praise God for bridges!

With bridges still on my mind as I read and prayed with the Gospel Reading for Sunday July 8, (Mark 6:1-6), the line that caught my attention was: (Jesus) “was not able to perform any mighty deed there (in his home town), apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Faith was the missing “bridge” that could have connected Jesus’ hometown folks to his mighty deeds.

I thought of the Luke 8:43-48 story about the woman who “touched the hem of Jesus’ garment”, believing she would be healed of her affliction and WAS healed. Jesus told her “your faith has made you well.”

Her faith in Jesus connected her to the healing power emanating from Him.  Though crowds were surrounding and pressing in on Him, she was the only one healed, and Jesus wanted it to make it known that her faith opened a way for divine healing power to flow to her.

Our FAITH in Christ is the bridge opening us to God’s loving power flowing to us!

When has your faith been a bridge to grace, healing, light, and gift flowing in/to/through you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Behind the Scene: Experiencing Sisters’ Life through Residency Program

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I saw an article about a residency program for inquirers or discerners like me to stay and have a real experience with sisters.

– “Should I go or not go? How about my search for a job?” I debated back and forth.
– Well, just a few months with them would be like going for a long vacation. Why make it a big deal?

Finally, I decided to participate in the program and moved forward.

I lived with professed sisters from different stages of life as well as those who were learning to become sisters. They treated me as another member of that community. I signed up for cooking, did house chores, and was involved in other activities. Every week day, we came together to pray and went to Mass, then to work, volunteer, or study. In the evening, we ate and prayed together. After prayer, we stayed in the community room or went to our own rooms.

From the outside, life in the convent seemed very much routine and boring. But, I found that it was not what I thought or observed from the outside. The first week I moved in, the community spent about one hour each evening eating and chatting around the dining table. I thought to myself “Don’t these people have a lot of things to do besides talking like this? It wastes time!” Making this wrong judgment, I left the table while people were still talking.

Later, I realized that by spending time at the dining table, we shared our life stories from work and school, blessings, challenges and difficulties, good and bad news. We also laughed, joked and enjoyed multicultural food and traditions through the meals we cooked. Most of the time, after work, I was eager to head home because I knew that there would be something wonderful waiting for me to receive from this community. Opening the door, I could smell the food and hear laughter from the dining table. It replaced my tiredness right away. Gradually, I began to build up my trust with them, and learned sharing and listening skills as well as how to support and care for each other at a deeper level. All of these activities represented the images of living daily Eucharist.

Laughter and joyful moment can be spontaneous at any time even while washing dishes. Photo was taken at the Dominican Sisters of Peace House of Welcoming in New Haven, Connecticut.

We continued to carry life sharing from dinner table to washing dishes then to prayer time. When we prayed, we shared the word of God that touched and moved us. A lot of times, sharing around the dinner table and listening to the Word of God became interwoven. It was a such profound experience of how to live Scripture on a daily basis and how to bring the Word of God to life, right in the midst of our busy life.

All of this sharing connected me to the outside world as well as to my inner world. I must admit that without this Residency Program experience, my life may have turned in another direction. No words can express enough about my wonderful experience because it was “behind the scenes” and came from the love of God through the community.

If you want to experience living with our Sisters through our Residency Program, or if you want to have a conversation with a Sister about your vocation, you can text, email, or make a phone call to one of our Vocation Ministers. Click here for our contact information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in God Calling?, News