If you are like me, you’ve been to more than a few graduation and baccalaureate Masses this month. I have a confession to make: I like commencement speeches and baccalaureate homilies. I could write a book entitled, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned at Commencements and Baccalaureates.”
This year’s baccalaureate homily at Albertus Magnus College, a liberal arts college founded by our sisters in 1925, provided more than a few points to include in such a book. Father Jordan Lenaghan, OP in his homily, focused on three points that I believe speak directly to those graduating and those discerning their life’s call.
The first was to seek and speak the truth—Veritas—one of our Dominican mottoes, even when it leads you to bold action (that makes you shake a little) or to speaking that which is not popular. Secondly, to seek and pursue a deeper meaning in your life. Then, to become the community people strive to find.
I’ve been pondering these words for the last few weeks and I am more convinced than ever that this is our quest. To become, more and more each day, that community of believers others strive to find. A community, yes, a family of faith, truth, and deep meaning.
St Dominic embarked on this quest over 800 years ago, as did the women who founded our congregations. Today, we stand on their shoulders with our eyes fixed on the future.
What is your truth? Your meaning? Where are you being called?
Are being called to learn more about our community? Click here to contact us.
During the Easter Season we hear from the discourses of Jesus from the gospel of John.
As ambiguous as they may seem at times, they can challenge us to ponder more deeply the mystery of all that Jesus was attempting to teach.
Today’s reading is from the Last Supper discourse. Jesus tells his disciples: “But when he comes, The Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” “He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears” He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
The truth the Spirit reveals is grounded in the teachings of Jesus. We know those teachings from all the other gospels. Sometimes a particular teaching of Jesus will hit us head on. We might think, “Oh, that’s what Jesus was trying to say. I get it now.” Or “I think I’m beginning to understand it better.” At those times it is the Spirit guiding us to fuller understanding. At the same time the Spirit challenges us to live the message in a deeper way.
The beatitudes can contain such a message. Beatitudes – attitudes of being – ways of living our lives. The beatitudes sound simple enough on first reading. But when we take them seriously, they can be a force to change the way we act.
One beatitude that seems especially appropriate today is:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”
We need justice so badly today. We see evidence of the need for justice every time we turn on the news or see someone begging on the corner. Our Tuesday Peace and Justice Updates keep reminding us of the many justice issues in our world today. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to read about all the needs and figure out what to do. But when we read the details of these needs with an open heart, the Spirit has a way of touching us. Something will stand out as the justice issue that needs our attending this week.
May the Spirit spur us on to do the work needed to make our country and our world a more just place to live.
Death Penalty Resources. The Peace and Nonviolence Committee invites you to reflect and pray about the Death Penalty Corporate Stance and the rationale for taking this stance. Please click here for the corporate stance, the rationale, and articles about the Death Penalty.
Pope Francis changed the Catechism saying executions are an attack on human dignity and promising that the church would work “with determination” to abolish capital punishment worldwide. Read more in this New York Times article and from Crux Now.
An invitation to go to the Border. Sisters Manuela Crisologo Gonzalez and Barbara Kane are going to El Paso from July 7 – 22. If you are interested, please contact Sr. Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on Asylum Seekers. On April 29, 2019, President Trump issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to issue regulations on asylum by July 28th. The USCCB Justice for Immigrants prepared this information to explain more about this memorandum.
Thousands of unaccompanied children are coming to the border. They are sent to ‘influx’ or emergency shelters like the infamous Homestead, Florida facility. Justice for Immigrants has prepared this fact sheet about these facilities and how they can be made better.
Earth Day Network is launching a new program called Foodprints for the Future to address one of the largest contributors to climate change facing us today – our food system. A foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with growing, producing, transporting, and storing our food – from the natural resources consumed, to the pollution produced, to the greenhouse gases emitted. The campaign will enhance literacy around our food choices and food waste and create a call to connect plant based food choices with climate solutions. For more information about Foodprints for the Future visit foodprints.earthday.org.
The Administration has proposed to weaken regulatory oversight of overseas gun sales by transferring export controls from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce. The decision to transfer control will allow semi-automatic pistols, assault-style firearms, sniper rifles, and ammunition from the United States Munitions List to be exported under significantly less stringent criteria, effectively exacerbating gun violence, human rights abuses and armed conflict abroad. Additionally, this transfer eliminates existing congressional oversight of arms transfers by circumventing the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act – laws that provide critical oversight impacting human rights abuses. Congress has introduced two bills to prevent this dangerous transfer: H.R. 1134, sponsored by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35) and S. 459, sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Please ask your elected officials to co-sponsor and vote for these bills to ensure adequate oversight of firearms sales abroad.
Recently, I met Bill Pelke. In 1985, his grandmother was killed by a teenage girl who with some friends said they wanted to do Bible study with her. For many years, Bill wanted revenge. If his grandmother died, this young woman should die also. And she did receive the death penalty. But after several years of soul searching, Bill realized he didn’t want her to die and that his grandmother wouldn’t want her to either. He worked hard to get her execution changed to life without parole. Now Bill shares his story around the country in an effort to help others see the beauty of a Journey of Hope – From Violence to Healing.
I believe that I am a pro-life person. Life is precious. I want children to be born and to have the opportunity to live long and fruitful lives without hatred and prejudice. But it’s not that simple. Children are born into dysfunctional families…they grow up with inadequate education and support…they are victims of violence…and if you are a child of color, you are more likely to live in a violent neighborhood, participate in the school to prison pipeline, and be given a death sentence if you commit murder. We, pro-life people, should be as concerned about a child’s life as we are about his/her birth. That’s one reason why we should abolish the death penalty.
My reasons for wanting to eliminate the death penalty revolve around the need to be consistent about my pro-life beliefs. As Pope Francis said “the life of the unborn must be promoted and defended…At the same time, we must keep in mind that the dignity of every human being is equal and inviolable at every stage throughout his/her life.”
Some differentiate the innocent unborn child with the guilty criminal. But there are innocent people on death row. Over 164 individuals have be exonerated since 1974. New methods of determining innocence or guilt continue to be developed. If we are pro-life, how can we kill innocent adults? We need to be consistent.
Redemption is such an important part of our faith tradition. Jesus gave many sinners the advice to sin no more. But this can take time. Mercy is also an integral part of our faith. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. But this also can take time. Eliminating the death penalty allows both the victim’s family and the perpetrator to change. This is what Bill Pelke discovered. It’s the only way closure will occur.
My husband and I just started an all-liquid diet that we will be on for at least six months. It’s a medically supervised diet and, of course, it presents all the obvious challenges of hunger, temptation, and deprivation. But, I’m approaching this diet as a spiritual exercise in learning to let go of what weighs me down and keeps me from being transformed into the person God calls me to be.
One attitude that I’m trying to let go of is anger. When I harbor anger, I know I’m allowing this feeling to eat away at my ability to be at peace, to see things clearly, and to be open to God’s graces. What I’m learning is that if I adopt an attitude of understanding, I can diffuse my anger and not let it control me. When I allow understanding to be my focus, I can let go of my way of thinking about a person or situation and let God transform me into a more compassionate, peace-filled person. I can practice being and building peace, which are two aspects of the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates.
What attitude do you need to let go of and give over to God so that you can be transformed?
As I experience hunger pangs, I am aware that this will be only a temporary feeling for me. While I’ve made the choice to follow this diet, there are many who experience hunger not by choice but by circumstance, often beyond their control. Can I use this experience to increase my awareness of the plight of the impoverished or of those suffering from malnutrition? I can let go of my need to consume and use the occasion to make a monetary contribution to a local food bank.
What is God calling you to sacrifice today for the good of others?
As I pass by a bowl of candies many times a day on my way to and from my office, I experience a gnawing temptation to satisfy my taste buds with this instant delight. We all experience temptation because our desires for food, comfort, love, and so on, are part of being human. These same desires, however, can become addictive with a must-have attitude. Understanding what we are seeking or desiring can help us overcome temptation and by refocusing our energies towards something else or remembering why we’re pursuing a particular goal can help us refrain from temptation.
What temptations keep you from staying on your path to becoming whole?
In the Gospel readings from Mark, Matthew, and Luke, we read about Jesus’s temptation at Gethsemane of not wanting to face the upcoming events that awaited him of being betrayed, mocked, scorned, beaten, and then crucified. Prayer becomes Jesus consolation as he lets go of his desire to not suffer and prays to God, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42).
When I feel deprived upon seeing others enjoying a meal or a snack, I can remind myself again of this temporary state of dwelling and focus my attention on the need to be transformed physically and spiritually. Scripture again tells us how Jesus dealt with deprivation when he was hungry during his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. Confronted by Satan to provide food for himself miraculously, Jesus asserts “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus instead trusts God to provide for his needs. Jesus’ dependence on God is an act of letting go and allowing God to be the center of his life.
What is your spiritual hunger? What is your spiritual sustenance? Are you able to let go of your desires and give your concerns to God, making God the center of your life?
Each of us is on a journey and faces different challenges. We can lean on God through prayer and seek support from others around us for strength to accept or overcome these challenges. God is with us and we need only let go to allow God to transform us into the person we are meant to be.
Are you meant to follow God’s will as a religious sister? Are you ready to be transformed into the person God meant you to be? Why not contact us to talk over where God might be leading you?