Ministering to the Imprisoned Join the Catholic Mobilizing Network today, Wednesday, April 22nd at 2:00 PM ET for “Five Lessons from Restorative Justice: In the Time of COVID-19”
Our worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19, Our incarcerated brothers and sisters face this pandemic behind bars, often without protection, in increased isolation and at a disproportionate risk of infection.
This discussion features Sheryl Wilson, an esteemed restorative justice practitioner and national leader.
Three Days of Virtual Earth Day April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, kicks off a three consecutive day livestream that will bring together celebrities, activists, performers, and thought leaders for an empowering, inspiring, and communal digital experience.
The fight against the coronavirus and the climate crisis go hand-in-hand, and as we work to flatten the curve of this pandemic, we must strive toward the longer-term goal of building a society rooted in sustainability and justice.
April 2020 – Stop Trafficking This month’s issue looks at the connection between foster care and human trafficking. Children in the foster care system lack a permanent and stable family, they may move multiple times during their time in foster care and may have limited access to educational opportunities. These may contribute to their sense of vulnerability and puts them at risk of human trafficking.
What will our lives look like when we emerge on the other side of this pandemic?
That question keeps resurfacing in my mind, particularly when I hear people say things like we will return to “normal” – whatever that means. I think “normal” is different for different people.
But I digress.
My hope is that we will emerge better than before. My hope is that we will have more compassion for each other.
My hope is that we will lose the superiority complex that causes us to judge people based on job titles or earnings. My hope is that we will have the wisdom to embrace one humanity and recognize our interdependence on each other.
My hope is that we will have discovered reservoirs of power and resilience to address critical global challenges, including economic injustices, disparities in access to quality healthcare, peace and nonviolence, and the climate crisis.
It has been reported that in China (where pollution is believed to cause as many as 1.6 million premature deaths annually) the reduction in pollution caused by the COVID-19 lockdown may have saved 50,000 lives.
Could it be that our concept of commuting and polluting needs to change, at least in part? Could it be that we need to re-evaluate our travel patterns and the effectiveness of things like working remotely, online education, limiting air travel, carpooling, public transportation, smart energy, and alternative fuels?
Could it be that we can create a peaceful environment, free of violence and war?
Could it be that we can implement a plan that provides quality healthcare for everyone?
Could it be that we can stop treating “essential” workers as if they are expendable and provide a living wage to all workers that will eliminate poverty?
Through our response to the threat posed by this pandemic, we have demonstrated that it is possible to rapidly and drastically transform our systems and societies.
It is possible to carry our “new awareness” beyond this current emergency.
We can change our behavior —why not change it for the better, for the common good?
How many times have you heard these old expressions: Every cloud has a silver lining. When God shuts one door, he opens a window. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength?
What motivates you to find the good in a bad situation? What can we gain from an examination of the pandemic we are now experiencing?
I am amazed by how not being able to attend Mass has contributed to a deeper relationship with my God.
First, I have found myself with plenty of time to pray, no excuses.
I have also found myself with absolutely no distractions while listening to the world of God via YouTube. It has increased my listening ability drastically. I almost feel as if the priest (or God) is speaking directly to me.
I find myself trying new things, listening to biographies of saints, finding new ways to pray, reading the oppeace.org website, exploring Christian blogs, etc. One link leads to another, putting me on a more expansive and exciting fact-finding spiritual journey.
Being sequestered in my home has been the ultimate challenge. There’s only myself, my husband and our youngest daughter. We are finding it hard to avoid each other’s nerve endings, yet good things have resulted.
We have become involved in good family activities — reading, watching movies, playing cards, working puzzles, watching church services and praying more together than ever before. The time that we are spending together is enriched and has more depth and meaning. It is helping us expand and deepen our relationships with each other.
I am flabbergasted by the response of the common person to this global crisis.
I see and hear about people who are feverishly sewing masks, gowns, or caps for medical personnel. I am amazed at the medical personnel who have the courage to expose themselves and their families to the virus so that others may benefit. I am impressed by all the stories that I am hearing about how communities are coming together to provide food for the poor, the unemployed, and the homeless.
I’m astounded at the number of businesses who have provided supplies for masks and gowns; schools that are staying in touch with their students; and magazines that are offering free entrance to websites so parents can find activities for keeping their children busy and engaged. It’s truly fulfilling to witness the number of people who have stopped to ask themselves the question, “What can I do to help?”
The coronavirus is frightening and devastating. When we look back on this time period 10 years from now, we will not only recall the negative aspects of a deadly disease and the number of people who succumbed to the illness. We will also recall all the good that came from the global and individual effort to sustain ourselves during the crisis.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship… They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2:42 – 46)
Just like the early believers, we have embraced our home church with grace and creativity as our church buildings are closed and we are worshiping via live-stream Masses, prayer services and days of reflection.
A popular meme shows the devil proudly declaring to God, “With COVID-19, I closed your churches!” Then, God answers, “On the contrary, I just opened one in every home!”
And to this, I say Alleluia!
The fact that we have opened a church in every home is a blessing amidst a time of great tragedy and challenge. In the early church, the believers met in their homes and many were not able to go worship in the temple as they had done so. Their homes became their sanctuaries, much as ours have become.
I do not know about you, but this Holy Week was one of the most prayerful ones I recall in many years. The connection with my sisters in preparing for the services was pure grace. From the cutting and arranging flowers, placing the consecrated hosts on the gold paten and crisp linen corporal on our coffee table, to setting up the live-stream link on our television – it was an experience of community collaboration.
For us, daily Eucharist and Mass is a way of life, as is written in our Constitutions:
“We participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
In the Eucharist we gather at the Lord’s table,
celebrating in this most sacred mystery the redeeming love of Christ.
In this communion we include in our embrace
those entrusted to our care so that all may gather at this
banquet of love and the banquet of life.
We find sustenance in Word and Sacrament.” 
As many of us continue to gather at our coffee and dining room tables, desks or wherever we participate in worship these days, how are we praying? Do you consciously create a place of prayer for your times of worship?
You may wish to put a tablecloth or placemat in front of your monitor, upon which you place a candle, a crucifix, an icon or other symbol and your scriptures or worship aide. Take a few moments before Mass begins to recollect yourself. Become present in body, mind and spirit for the great mystery that is about to take place.
Then, after Mass is over, take a few moments to pray in thanksgiving for this time of prayer and worship. If you are with others (physically or virtually), take some time to share your faith. This can take whatever form is most comfortable for you. Sharing a word, thought or phrase from the scripture, or the homily or whatever touched your spirit. This is a way we can continue to create community and build up the Body of Christ – of which we are all members.
One of the precious memories I have of this time of quarantine is that of sharing faith with my sisters in community. I believe it has brought us closer together and God has spoken to us through each other. Thank God for community!
God continues to call men and women to religious life. Is God calling you to something more? If so, contact us to begin the conversation.
* Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
As I write this letter to you, I am mindful of the isolation, loss, sorrow, and even fear that you might feel during this COVID-19 pandemic. Our Sisters across the country and around the world join you in following the advice of medical professionals. We are staying inside to help slow the spread of this virus. We are also imploring our merciful God to bring peace and healing to all affected.
Although we may have to maintain a physical distance from each other, please be assured that you and your loved ones are held close in our hearts and in our prayers. We cannot comprehend the many challenges you are facing, and we pray that this letter may bring you some peace.
This time of isolation reminds me of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Isolated from his family and friends during this time, he relied on God for strength and courage. As we journey through the current desert created by this virus, let us support each other in prayer, and help each other as best we can by following all of the established precautions designed to support the common good of all.
Talk to our loving God about your worries. Ask for strength. Together let us look forward to an eventual resurrection and a new dawn.
In our Dominican tradition, we do what we can to help meet the needs of our time. In this case, our desire in sending you this letter is simply to offer you peace. The enclosed prayer card, with its verse from Isaiah, offers us a special prayer for these extraordinary times.
We have posted links on our website at oppeace.org for prayer requests and online masses, along with some meditative and peaceful videos which we hope will soothe your spirits. Look for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where we also extend our support to you.
In the book of Isaiah, we hear God’s voice saying, “Do not be afraid. For though the mountains may depart and the hills be shaken, my love for you will never leave you, and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken.”
Today and everyday, take this promise to heart, knowing that God is always with us. Take courage in God’s love.
Be safe, be calm, and be at peace.
Sister Patricia Twohill, OP
Dominican Sisters of Peace