Kindness 101: A Lesson on Gratitude

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

On an evening newscast, the feature story was about an “On the Road” reporter who was teaching an interactive, online class to students of all ages:  Kindness 101.  Students from all around the country tuned in to learn about heroism and “how heroes today are wearing all different kinds of uniforms.  Their assignment for the week was to pick one of these new heroes and thank them in any way they could.”

Some students immediately got on the phone and called everyone from the pharmacist to the fire chief to nurses.  Others went outside and used chalk to post messages on driveway asphalt, writing thank you messages to postal workers and delivery care workers for their service.  One little girl even extended a thank you note on a long pole up to a sanitation worker sitting in his truck, who was visibly moved by a seldom-given thank you in his line of work.

In these difficult times with the COVID-19 crisis, we can find many individual heroes—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians, custodians, distribution warehouse workers, food service and grocery store workers, and many others.  We can also find heroes and witness goodness in the people around us.  We can each show kindness to ourselves and to each other as we face and move through this crisis together.  Kindness is a friend that gives us hope in the darkness and shines a light on the beauty of the human spirit.

During a time when so much is beyond our control showing kindness and gratitude is something we can do.  We can spread positive thoughts, uplifting messages, inspirational words to bless those who have blessed us.  We can be instruments of God’s peace, holding each other in prayer and embodying the prayer of St. Francis.

As we enter into Holy Week next week and reflect on the Stations of the Cross, we see two acts of kindness extended to Jesus as he carried his cross.  First, Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross and then Veronica wipes the face of Jesus of his blood and sweat.  These acts of kindness speak of the compassion we are capable of especially during troubling times.  Whatever cross we may be carrying or have yet to carry, let us lighten each other’s hearts with kindness as we pray this Celtic blessing:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every [person] who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

Click here to listen and view a video of another rendition of this prayer.

Maybe you have heard the voice of God calling you to be Christ to others as a religious sister.  If so, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to begin the first step in answering this call.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Justice Updates – 4/1/2020

#EveryKidCounts in the 2020 census

April 1 is CENSUS DAY! The Leadership Council for Women Religious (LCWR) has joined the National Partnership Program of the U.S. Census Bureau to help spread the word about the critical importance of ensuring that the 2020 Census counts each and every person living in this country. Current circumstances including political polarization, fear-mongering, anti-immigrant sentiment, and COVID-19 are enormous barriers to getting an accurate count.

There are many ways you can safely promote the 2020 Census. Post a blog or video message. Send notices to your email lists. Include messages in your newsletters, on your website, and on social media. Invite your sisters to call neighbors and friends who may need help in completing the process. Check out the attached toolkit for resources and for more information visit 2020Census.gov.

Learn More about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On April 3, 2020, at 2:00 PM EST, The Coalition of Human Needs will host a webinar on the historic $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and recovery legislation enacted by Congress, and how it responds to the massive public health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Join CHN as we examine the good and the bad of what’s available so far, and the human needs that still must be addressed in a fourth package. We’ll discuss cash assistance, expanded benefits, help for nonprofits, and new programs such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. And we’ll let you know how you can take action to call on Congress to take the next steps needed.

Presenters will include:

  • Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Judy Conti, Government Affairs Director, National Employment Law Project
  • Michelle McGrain, Federal Affairs Manager, National Partnership for Women & Families
  • Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

This webinar will be close-captioned. If you try to register but can’t sign up, please contact Nicolai Haddal to ensure you receive a recording: nhaddal@chn.org.

Click here to register for this important and informative event.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

How Far Have we Come in 50 Years of Earth Day?

Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

April brings thoughts of the beauty that surrounds us. Flowers with a rainbow of colors abound, and the gray of winter disappears. Even though we are limited in our movement because of the coronavirus, the beauty is there to inspire. April also brings to mind Earth Day and all that has happened since April 22, 1970, when Senator Gaylord Nelson hosted an environmental teach-in.

Fast forward to 2020 and we find rubble in many forms:

  • the United States withdraws from the Paris Accord
  • the EPA suffers drastic cuts
  • the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are weakened
  • changes in the Endangered Species Act threaten all wildlife
  • scientists are ignored

 

Is there any good news in today’s reality?

While our government is ignoring an environmental crisis, individuals are stepping up with a determination that inspires. Students have made the streets their new classroom, drawing attention to climate change and the urgency of the most critical concern of our day. While that may not make parents or principals happy, their voices need to be heard—this is their future!

I have been impressed by students who are collecting plastic bottle caps.  These caps are sent to a company that produces benches and picnic tables made from this normally-discarded plastic.  More individuals are refusing to use plastic straws, instead using metal straws, or simply drinking from the glass.

Informed citizens know the state of our plastic-infested oceans.  The Pacific Ocean is now called ‘plastic island” because it contains an amount of plastic twice the size of Texas, harming marine life and destroying ecosystems. We dump 150 million metric tons of plastic in all of our oceans, and add eight million tons each year, according to the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. One survey found plastic in 94% of our tap water.

What better time than this “Earth Month” to make a difference with our choices and our voices.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Just Reflecting

I must say that my heart fell when I read the news from my parish website, “The Bishops of Ohio have suspended all public masses…no services will be observed during Holy Week or Easter.” Knowing that this message was heard by just about every diocese and archdiocese across the United States, and perhaps the whole world, did not bring me comfort.

A cradle Catholic, I can barely recall a time when I have not participated in Lent and the Triduum. Is this what early Christians felt when their rights to attend church services and receive the Eucharist were denied? Did they ask, what am I going to do? How will I live without practicing my faith?

This catastrophe we are facing is not exactly what the early Christians experienced, but I imagine the feelings it evokes are similar.  I have rarely been absent from Sunday services and when I have been unable to attend Mass I feel as if something spiritual and physical is missing.  Attending Mass makes me feel the real presence of God in my life.  It reminds me that I am human and God will always love and forgive me.

In Jeremiah (17:7-8) we are told, “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches it roots to the stream.  It fears not the heat when it comes…in the years of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Jeremiah’s words remind me that during this world-wide pandemic, I must remember to trust in the Lord, place my hope in the Lord to deliver us safely from this devastating illness. I must pray and continue on my journey through Lent and the Triduum, knowing that I am not alone. I will be traveling with the hearts of my fellow Christians, not despairing but looking forward to God’s help.

-Patricia Herrick, OPA

For online resources prepared by the Dominican Sisters of Peace to commemorate the Lenten season, click here

Posted in Just Reflecting, News