Prayer, both liturgical and private is an integral part of my daily life as a Dominican Sister of Peace. As I have grown in prayer, I have found Lectio Divina – holy reading and reflection upon the scripture – to be a particularly fruitful one for me. Here I would like to share my reflection upon today’s first reading.
“I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.” Ezekiel 36:26
When I have read and prayed with this scripture, I have felt God touching my heart and softening it, making it less stony and more natural or new. One such time, I was praying to forgive someone who had wounded me deeply when I felt God asking me, “Why are you holding onto your stony heart so tightly when I want to give you a new one?” I replied, “Because…my stony heart can’t feel the hurt as much and I don’t really want to feel the pain.” I was surprised at my answer that had risen from within me without my conscious effort. It made me take a deep breath and then I heard God say to me, “Keep breathing and when you are ready, I will be with you.”
I wasn’t ready that day to let go of my pain, but as I prayed each day, I felt a gradual loosening of my grip upon my stony heart…until one day I realized that I was no longer holding onto it. I don’t remember letting go of it, but I had. Then, God was able to lift this old heavy heart from me and gave me a new one.
Yes, this new heart feels more pain than my stony one did. It also feels joy, love, and peace more deeply. I didn’t realize how much I was missing. Thank you God for loving me and waiting for me to be ready to let go.
“I will put my spirit within you and make you live. . .” Ez 36:27
What is keeping you from letting go of your stony heart?
Bring it to God . . . let God lift it from you . . . when you are ready.
Come close to God and God will come close to you.
“To contemplate and to share with others the fruits of our contemplation” is one of our Dominican mottos. In community, we often take time for Lectio Divina and the sharing of the fruits of our prayer with each other. When we are together in this way, it is then that I feel the profound grace and depth of life in community. What a blessing it is to live as a religious sister – as a Dominican Sister of Peace. I give thanks to God that I was called and that I said “Yes!”
If you would like to know more about becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace, please contact one of our vocation ministers or consider attending our Come and See Retreat next month in St. Catharine, KY.
On Thursday, August 16, Ohio Governor John Kasich met with religious sisters from all over the state for lunch and discussion at the Governor’s Residence in Columbus. Sisters Pat Twohill, Nadine Buchanan, and Barbara Kane represented the Dominican Sisters of Peace at this meeting, the second such conducted by the Kasich administration during his eight years as Governor. Kasich held the first of these luncheons in 2016 to celebrate the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta.
Governor Kasich opened this year’s conversation with his personal concern that people are not hearing about compassion, mercy, and justice in their churches, and are not bringing Jesus’ message of inclusion out to the world.
The discussion led to a number of comments and compliments about the Governor’s policies from the Sisters in attendance, especially regarding his dedication to Medicaid expansion and his willingness to consider and grant clemency for those on death row. Although he personally believes in the death penalty, Kasich said, it is a very serious decision to make.
In response to a discussion about the decrease in those entering religious life, Sr. Pat Twohill commented that the Dominican Sisters of Peace and other orders are getting vocations. She added that it is a call that is not for everyone. Sr. Barbara Kane explained that the large number of vocations in the 1940’s and 50’s was an anomaly and that sisters are still attracted to religious life. When asked what kept Sisters doing their work, all agreed that the call and the support of the community were vital.
During the wide-ranging discussion, the Sisters at the meeting expressed their concern regarding a variety of societal issues facing our towns and cities, including health care for the poor, the opioid epidemic, fetal alcohol syndrome, and care for creation. During this discussion, Governor Kasich told the Sisters that he believes that local folks must come together to make a difference. “Strength in a group brings forth action,” he said. He recognizes that the Sisters are often involved in coalitions that can initiate change in their local communities, and he strongly believes the individuals of faith must “spark people into action.”
A perfect example of the Governor’s belief in the power of Sisters to be a catalyst for change happened during the luncheon. Seated next to Kasich, Sr. Nadine
Buchanan had the opportunity to tell him about her own work with trafficked women. She mentioned a recent drug-related incident that took place in her presence, and Kasich responded immediately. The Governor introduced Sister Nadine to Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety John Born, who assigned resources to the problem right away.
Governor Kasich also shared his concern for children being separated at the border and being berated for coming to the U.S. from war-torn countries. “You just need to feel what it’s like to be them,” he said.
As part of the day’s discussion, the Governor’s staff described some of the programs that they are working on that are expected to improve the lives of Ohioans.
When asked if he was going to run for president in 2020, the Governor said that anything could happen, but most important, he would like to continue to have a voice in caring for people and promoting what is right.
Our Congregation and other consecrated religious in Ohio are grateful for this opportunity to share our concerns with Governor Kasich and his staff.
God had an inspiration one day. It was you. You were divinely inspired by God. Go look in the mirror. What do you see? Did you just laugh because when you looked you saw gray hair and wrinkled skin? Did you just smile because you saw long dark shiny hair, and soft skin? Did you see hair that was relaxed or natural and skin like chocolate? Did you wince because you saw scars, or things you wish you could change? Whatever you saw, it was inspired by God.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder what God was really thinking that day. What inspired God to think of me? Do you ever wonder?
This is the first of a series of blogs about the Sustainable Development Goals devised by the United Nations. These 17 goals imagine a world without hunger, poverty, and natural disasters caused by climate change. They vision a world in 15 years where children can grow up in a healthy environment including access to education and sustainable development. And while there has been significant progress over the last 15 years, there are still millions of people who fall into these categories. Each of my blogs will highlight one goal and provide information on the progress yet to be made.
The first goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. It seems daunting but when you consider that in the past 15 years, extreme poverty was reduced by half, it is possible. Around the world, 800 million people or 10% of the world’s population, live on $1.90/day. In 2017, economic losses attributed to disasters were estimated at over $300 billion. This is among the highest losses in recent years, owing to three major hurricanes affecting the United States of America and several countries across the Caribbean.
While extreme poverty has eased considerably since 1990, pockets of the worst forms of poverty persist. Ending poverty requires universal social protection systems aimed at safeguarding all individuals throughout the life cycle. It also requires targeted measures to reduce vulnerability to disasters and to address specific under-served geographic areas within each country. Based on 2016 estimates, only 45 percent of the world’s population were effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit.
In the US, extreme poverty is called deep poverty and is defined as a household with a total cash income below 50% of its poverty threshold. According to the Census Bureau, in 2016, 18.5 million people lived in deep poverty. This is 5.8% of the total population. For a single individual under 65 years old, a deep poverty income would be below $6,243 and for a family of four with two children, it would be $12, 169.50. Nearly 8.2% of all children lived in deep poverty compared to 3.3% of adult over 65.
Regardless of the amount, when an individual or his/her family are not able to purchase enough food to be nourished, don’t have healthy living environment or cannot attend school, there is a problem that world governments must care for.
I enjoy watching the TV show “What Would You Do?” where people are confronted with dilemmas that at first make my blood boil, then wonder who will do something about the injustice happening right in front of them? There is always a bit of relief when John Quiñones appears and makes it known that it is a staged situation with actors playing the villains. But it never fails to make me ask myself: what would I do? In real life would I let my anger, mixed with compassion, empower me to take action? or sit still, walk by, and mind my own business?
Since I wrote my last blog on being “Angry at the Wrong Time” I have noticed many articles, blogs, and stories about how right it is to be angry at injuries and injustice done to other people.
Phil Marcin, OPA, recently wrote: “Remember Adam and Eve. When God confronted Adam about his sin, Adam said: “Eve made me do it.” And Eve said: “The Devil made me do it.” They both passed the buck. They accepted no accountability or responsibility. We often do the same–just talk or complain. We need to act. There are opportunities at home, at work, in our neighborhood, our city, our church, our nation.
Last week a short paragraph in our Akron Beacon Journal alluded to an Instagram by actress Ann Hathaway, followed by an editorial by Dahleen Glanton quoted from the Chicago Tribune: “Until a couple of days ago, I had never heard of Nia Wilson. My introduction to her came from an unexpected source: the Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway. With a single Instagram post last week, Hathaway was able to push the story of this young African-American woman’s tragic death onto the radar of mainstream America more quickly and with greater impact than any one of Wilson’s own race could. That’s the astounding power of white privilege.”
Hathaway’s Instagram read: “The murder of Nia Wilson — may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here — is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence. She is not a hashtag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man,” Hathaway wrote underneath a photo of Wilson. “White people — including me, including you — must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS. White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence. Given those givens, we must ask our (white) selves- how ‘decent’ are we really? Not in our intent, but in our actions? In our lack of action? Peace and prayers and JUSTICE for Nia and the Wilson family.” To read this editorial, click here.
In his recent article in the New York Times, “The Virtues of Catholic Anger,” Father James Martin SJ encourages Christians in the face of the Pennsylvania abuse scandal, to use their rage to combat evil within the Church. He writes: “Anger is an important part of the life and ministry of Jesus. And so anger should be part of the Catholic life — with Jesus as a guide…Jesus’ anger is always a righteous anger, never on behalf of himself, but in reaction to how he sees others being treated.”
William Barclay wrote: “selfless anger can be one of the great moral dynamics of the world.” Anger fueled by compassion and active love can make heroes of ordinary people. There’s just one question: Will we let it?