As We Await in Joyful Hope…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The season of Advent begins a new year for the Church.  During Advent, the world accelerates into the busyness and commercialism that attempts to define Christmas. In contrast, for the next few weeks, Christians are called to wait in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Emmanuel—“God with us.”  During Advent, the themes of hope, peace and rejoicing ring throughout the Scripture readings for this special season.

Each year, the coming of a new season of Advent helps give me a better perspective on the current times, which are usually in need of a renewed sense of hope, peace and joy. Advent offers us the chance to once more focus on the promises of God with the coming of Emmanuel.

Last week, on the First Sunday of Advent, I experienced a wonderful sign of hope and joy as Sr. Elizabeth Jackson, OP, professed perpetual vows in the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  Monsignor Frank P. Lane celebrated the Mass, reminding the Sisters and all who were present that consecrated religious life, in all its forms, is, indeed, a joyful sign of hope for the world. Through their service to God and the people of God, they can help witness to the world the transformation that is possible because of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace rejoice and celebrate this Advent sign of hope in Sister Elizabeth Jackson’s profession of perpetual vows and service to God for her whole life. I invite you to enjoy a few of the pictures from the Mass and the Rite of Profession.

As we prepare to enter this second week of Advent, I also invite you to consider the question: in what do you rejoice and find hope in this season of hopeful anticipation?

Posted in God Calling?

Thoughts on Penance at Advent

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John 1:5-7

 

Here is the message we heard from him and pass on to you:  that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we claim to be sharing in his life while we walk in the dark, our words and our lives are a lie; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, then we share together a common life, and we are being cleansed from every sin by the blood of Jesus, his Son. The word of the Lord.

John tells us that God is light and in God there is no darkness.  Jesus is the light that drives out the darkness of evil and the darkness of sin.

But Jesus doesn’t just drive out darkness.  In God’s own mysterious and powerful way, God actually uses the darkness at times.

I remember being invited to dinner to a friend’s home in Hideaway Hills, south of Lancaster.  There were no outside lights.  We arrived in the daylight, but when we were leaving it was dark.  The only light was the porch light and the light coming from the windows of  the house.  I have never seen the stars the way I saw them that night.  They were the brightest and closest I’ve ever seen them… because of the darkness.

Think about seeds that will not grow into plants unless they are buried in the dark soil.  Think about us who were nourished in the darkness of our mother’s womb.

Tonight we come to face the darkness in our lives, our weakness and our sins.

How can God use the darkness of sin to bring about light? to bring about life?

When we sin and acknowledge our sin and trust in God’s mercy, can this bring us to be more humble and grateful, more open to receive God’s mercy?  Can God use our weakness to help us accept others when they are weak?  Then the grace of God, the light of Christ is at work in us…conquering the darkness within us.

There is a story about a man who was visiting his friend.  They both appreciated works of art.  The one man had a gorgeous vase in his living room which the visitor noticed and admired.  His friend went over and picked up the vase and handed it to his guest to examine it more closely.  As he turned it around he dropped the vase and it broke into many pieces.  Of course, he apologized profusely and then he said to his host, ”Give me the broken pieces.  Let me take them home and I will repair the vase.”  The host had little hope that it could be repaired, but he reluctantly gave the broken pieces to his friend.

When his friend returned a week later and showed him the vase, the owner was astounded.  It was not only repaired, but it was more beautiful than before it had been broken.

The man had used a gold substance to put the pieces together.  Where the pieces had been broken there now appeared what seemed like golden threads scattered throughout the vase.

Nothing we can do or fail to do can be so dark that God cannot bring good out of it…even our sins.

Julian of Norwich says, “First there is sin, then the recovery from sin.  All is grace.”

When we admit our sin and weakness and give our broken pieces to Jesus, he not only conquers the darkness but uses it to bring about good.  Jesus is our light, and he is more powerful than any darkness.

By Sister Louis Mary Passeri, OP

Posted in News

Wednesday’s Word

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

This past Sunday began the new Church year!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In Advent, we do the dance between waiting and activity, between what has been & what will be, between tradition and innovation.  How to know which will take the lead and for how long?

Wisdom and openness—we pause, we ponder, we pray, we proceed.

I would suggest during this time of Advent, we pause this first week: just slow down a bit. I know this will feel like going upstream in our Christmas-present-buying-crazed culture, but maybe it’s time simply to step out of the stream, at least a little bit each day!

Next week when we’ve slowed ourselves down a bit, perhaps we can take in the view of ourselves and of our world around us.  You know, just like when you walk somewhere instead of driving.  I know I notice much more when I stroll then when I drive….

In the third week, then, we will have paused and pondered enough to know what is in our hearts.  Then we can offer it in prayer to God…all of it, the joys and sorrows, the triumphs and the defeats, the love and the loss, the unexpected surprises and the great disappointments.

And then, eventually we’ll know how to proceed, but we will not be alone.  We will have caught up not only with God but with ourselves!

 

HAPPY ADVENT!

 

O come O wisdom, from on high,               PAUSE

Who orders all things mightily,                   PONDER

To us the path of knowledge show,          PRAY

and teach us in her ways to go.                  PROCEED

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Just Reflecting

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”    Hebrews 13:2 (NMW Toolkit p.9)

 

Conni Dubick, OPA

Dear Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates

When I read this Hebrew verse, I smile and think about the image of angels that surround us during this Advent and Christmas season.  It’s a tradition to decorate with lovely angels present at the crib.  But this year in National Migration Week 2019 (January 6-12), our Christmas angels could represent other angels who are perhaps strangers to us.  These new angels might be the immigrant strangers who are barefoot, hungry, and in danger, as they approach our or other international borders.

The DSOP Immigration Reform Committee has decided to describe these other ‘angels’, who are strangers, that DSOP Sisters and Associates meet each day in ministries, neighborhoods, parishes, on the streets, and at the wall by creating a representation of images and words for our “band of angels” who God has sent as strangers in our lives.

Please reflect on your encounters with ‘angel refugees/immigrants/migrants’ and send us a photo, personal art, or your own words.  Use this season of Advent as the time to create and submit your “angel image” by December 20.  Send it to Conni Dubick (cdubick@kent.edu) or contact Conni with any questions.

The IR Committee will launch these “angel images” in time for the January 6-12 National Migration Week to illustrate our DSOP efforts ‘to show hospitality to strangers who are angels and we were unawares.’

The Immigration Reform Committee members are Sisters Alicia Alvarado, Esther Calderon, Gemma Doll, Barbara Kane, Regina McCarthy, Roberta Miller, Rachel Sena, Carol Ann Spencer, Thoma Swanson, Janice Thome, Roserita Weber, Rene Weeks, and Associates Conni Dubick, Judi Engel, Dora Harper, Martha Maloney, Jim Tinnin and Tom Winters.

May you have a blessed Advent.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Why does the Democratic Republic of Congo Need our Prayers?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to sit down with a young man from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).   As you know, this second Annual Dominican Month of Peace is focusing on the DRC which is struggling with war, violence, displacement, and, recently, Ebola.  Theo is a husband and father to two baby girls. I first met him when he came to the Dominican Learning Center to see about getting ESL classes for a group of men and women from the DRC who were worshipping at a local Catholic church.  The primary language in the DRC is French and they wanted to learn English.

Theo explained to me that the nation has experienced political insecurity for many decades.  The current president, Joseph Kabila, agreed to step down as president at the end of 2016 but then reneged.  This has resulted in much violence as protestors demand the elections.  Last December, the Roman Catholic bishops, supported by a coalition of civil groups, called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday Mass. The government refused permits for the demonstrations yet more than 160 churches in many parts of the country participated in the call. Police responded with teargas, rubber bullets, and, in some cases, live ammunition.  Parishioners of St. Dominic’s Parish in Kinshasa (capital city), run by the Dominican friars, were fired upon in the church grounds and even inside the church. One friar was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.  Elections are now planned for the end of this month.

The DNC is a country of great natural wealth that is the cause of much of the current conflict.  In the eastern portion, the resources are being fought over by both internal and external forces. Corporations are encouraging this discontent because they are able to get the minerals more cheaply. This is also resulting in environmental disasters such as poaching, water pollution, deforestation, and mining. The Government had to shut down the Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park, when two British tourists were kidnapped and six park rangers were killed in April.

Now, in the northern part of the country, there is an outbreak of Ebola. More than 419 cases have been reported and 240 have died.  Treatment is complicated by violence against the aid workers who are trying to bury those infected.  Burial customs are in conflict with the need to isolate those who have died because they are still contagious.  Recently, the World Health Organization announced some success with some experimental treatments it is using to stem this deadly disease.

The DRC has the largest displaced population in Africa with more than 4.49 million internally displaced persons, including 2.7 million children.  Chronic instability and conflict are the primary causes of this displacement but poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation which lead to natural hazards such as floods also contribute to the displacement. Local ethnic divisions are used and abused by armed groups and the military, coupled with corruption and the illegal exploitation of mineral resources, mean the violence continues.  There is also competition for other natural resources, such as fishing grounds and arable land causing local insurgencies and conflict.  Theo told me of one village where the villagers were forced to flee to the forest to survive.

So you can see how much violence has touched the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Let us keep them in our prayers and hope that with a fair and peaceful election and sufficient care, some peace may again come to this land.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog