What Is at Stake?

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

As a critical election nears, it is time to focus on being a “common good” voter.  We do not hear the words “common good” often, but those words are imperative in any election.  Too often we are stuck in “tribes:” pro-science or anti-science, liberal or conservative, Trumpster or anyone-but-Trump, masked or unmasked.  But truly, the only words that matter are “common good.”

Over the next weeks, I will be looking at a few of the social justice issues that demand our attention, especially in light of our own congregational commitments.

 

 

Health Care:

  • Congregational Commitment: Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.

With the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 20 million citizens received health care coverage, including nearly 3 million children. Persons with pre-existing disabilities could receive coverage, and young adults, who often cannot afford health insurance, could remain on their parents’ policies.

A March 2020 Gallup poll shows that more than half of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act. Support of the ACA has actually increased under the current administration. But the 2020 Federal Budget proposed $844 billion in cuts over a decade, for a budget decrease of 85%.  Outreach and policyholder assistance has been cut by 90%, so many people don’t even know that they are eligible for coverage.

The 2020 budget also includes $130 billion from changes to Medicare prescription-drug pricing, $292 billion from safety-net cuts — such as work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps — and $70 billion from tightening eligibility access to federal disability benefits.

Care for our children, our elderly, the weak and the marginalized are suffering death by a thousand cuts. We must act as the voice for those who will be left without healthcare.

Climate Change

  • Congregational Commitment: Foster God’s web of life personally, communally and ministerially by advocating and supporting just policies and decisions to reduce the impact of global climate change.

During the last three years, the current administration has attempted to roll back 100 environmental rules. These include everything from lowering fuel efficiency standards (both a climate and a pocketbook issue), to allowing coal power plants to emit greenhouse gases, to allowing hunters to kill animals while they are in hibernation, a practice that can be compared to shooting a human while she is asleep in her bed.

Five million acres have burned in the western United States and more than 30 people have died in wildfires that broke last year’s records, which broke the records of the year before. According to Michael Mann, the director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, “It’s clear that ‘dangerous climate change’ has already arrived,” Mann said. “It’s a matter of how bad we’re willing to let it get.”

Meanwhile, hurricanes and other devasting natural disasters are becoming more common and more deadly. Jascha Lehmann, lead author of a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, says that climate change causes the extremes to become more extreme – the hot and dry areas become even more hot and dry, causing both destruction by fire and death by famine, and wet areas get warmer and hold more moisture, making hurricanes stronger and more dangerous,.

The current administration withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord, a monumental agreement with 196 nations that moved us to address climate change with serious commitment.  As California, Oregon and Washington burn, this serves as a precursor to what will happen to the rest of the United States if we ignore our present dire reality.

We need to become the voice for our world, to save it – and us – from destruction.

As we continue to consider how to be voters for the “common good,” do your own research on the topics that we have raised today and those we will discuss in the coming weeks. How will you speak up to stand for the marginalized, and to honor and value our common home?

Our voices need to be heard.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I bet you think you know the answer to that question, right?  Our whole approach to life is the practice of peace: being peace, building peace, preaching peace.

So why am I feeling a little bit like I am at war? At war with the stress of the pandemic, the resulting sense of chaos, or lack of direction, the uncertainty, anxiety, and tension of sheltering in place all the time.  As part of our Assembly Chapter Planning Committee, I’m deeply embedded in the processes we need to create in order to form a spirit-led direction for the next six years and plan an election process that will truly discern who might lead us into the future as Dominican Sisters of Peace. A very demanding task!

NOT ONLY THAT, the eruption of racial violence, Black Lives Matter protests and my own awakening to the long list of ways I enjoy the privilege of being a white person has been heavy on my heart. ON TOP OF THAT, we are getting close to election day and I am quite concerned that we will have to endure another four years of rising division, a President who cannot tell the difference between lies and truth, and who wraps himself in a pseudo “pro-life” posture. In my opinion.

It’s enough to drive you crazy. It feels like everything is falling apart.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist monk, wrote a beautiful book: “When Things Fall Apart.” I’ve had it quite a while now and just went back to it to seek out her wisdom once again.

She offered me this wonderful, balanced perspective: “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy… Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”

It’s the not knowing part that speaks to me, as a person who likes to know, to understand, to have a plan and a mission. My dad was a great problem-solver. He believed that if you kept working at understanding something that was broken, you could eventually figure out how to fix it. He could fix anything: electrical, plumbing, motors, washing machines, bicycles.  I come by my urge to problem-solve from him.  And he never went to war over a broken pipe or flat tire.

I’m trying to peacefully be comfortable with that not knowing part. It’s a new way of practicing peace for me.

Dear God, I need your help to embrace this peaceful way of not knowing. Yes, in your wisdom, things do fall apart and then they come back together again. Help me to have room in myself to not know when or how we will emerge from chaos, from pandemic, from social conflict and division. Help me to recognize when I am at war with all that is falling apart. Help me to be a person who practices peace in all things.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Weekly Word

TRUE FRIENDS GIVE YOU ROOM TO GROW

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m going to sit this right here:

“Sometimes, you have to stay silent, because no words can explain what’s going on in your heart and mind.”

Let that sink in:

“Sometimes, you have to stay silent, because no words can explain what’s going on in your heart and mind.”

Understand one thing — this is not the “silence is complicity” silence. This is the silence that is necessary if you want to keep that card that allows you to walk in both worlds.

Some of you – who are probably not reading this – have no idea what I am talking about. But those of you who do, please stay with me.

During the past several weeks, I have been tested by a number of people who apparently think (operative word) that they know more about what I do than I do. This can be very distressing, especially when I understand that they only see a small glimpse of my world.

Probably what troubles me the most is that I wonder if there is something about me that speaks to this idea that something within me is lacking?

So, today I pay homage to my two strong parents who taught me that the world may not accept me for who I am, but that I am enough!

 

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”
― Alice Walker

Posted in Associate Blog

Fruits of our Contemplation

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

As Dominicans, one of our mottos is, “Contemplata aliis tradere” – which, means “To contemplate and to share the fruits of our contemplation.”  Most often, these contemplative fruits are shared in the form of preaching or service.  However, sometimes we actually grow the fruit of our contemplation.  Yes, quite literally at times.  You see, our newest Candidate Cathy Buchanan has shared with us the actual fruit grown from her contemplation.  An Asian melon – affectionately named “Hoa” or “Flower” in Vietnamese was harvested in New Jersey and brought to our convent in New Haven, CT.  Cathy shared the fruit of her contemplation with us and it was delicious.

Let me explain –

In June, Cathy participated in our Mission for Peace program.  In the context of the opening prayer service and reflection, we were invited to reflect on the story of the Parable of the Sower.  Sr. Luisa invited us to see ourselves as the sower, the soil and the seed.  What type of soil were we?  Were we ready to receive the Word of God as a seed planted in our hearts?  Were we the sower?  If so, what were we sowing in our lives?  In the prayer service, we were invited to prepare the soil and plant some seeds.  Then, to nurture them and watch them grow.  All the while paying attention to what God was planting in our hearts and nurturing in our lives.

Cathy planted a small seed and nurtured it – just as she had received the call from God in her heart.  A call from God that took many years to grow as she nurtured it with prayer, service and study.  This seed of a vocation flourished and she took the formal step to enter our congregation as a Candidate during Evening Prayer on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8.

Just as Cathy’s vocation grew, so did the little plant that she planted in the context of the prayer service during our Mission program.  In the course of caring for the plant, Cathy invited her good friend to plant it in her home garden.  At this point, her friend decided to name the plant “Hoa” or “Flower” because of her beautiful yellow flowers.  Over the months, Hoa grew and spread her vine up the trellis.  Yesterday, the melon was harvested and brought to our convent where we enjoyed it for dinner.  As we ate the melon, Cathy shared its story with us and we reflected on what fruit we were cultivating in our lives and spirits these days.

Sometimes our dinner conversation turns into a theological reflection.  During our dinner yesterday, we recognized the importance of being attentive to the still small voice of God – planting the Word, the seed of a call in our hearts.  Once planted, the call must be nurtured through prayer and the accompaniment of wise guides.  One of the ways of doing this is by attending Discernment retreats.  In fact, this weekend, we are having such a retreat.  Fourteen women will be zooming in from around the country to listen to God and to nurture the call planted within their hearts.  May we be faithful sowers and gardeners as we accompany them and help nurture that which God has planted.

If God has planted a call in your heart and you want to begin this amazing journey of discernment, contact us here – we will be happy to walk with you as you listen to God’s call.

Posted in God Calling?

Peace and Justice Updates, 9.9.2020

LCWR Presents New Immigration Plan

More than 170 immigration and advocacy organizations have endorsed Immigration 2021 Plan, a blueprint for the next administration to restore human dignity to a system weaponized by the current
administration, reinforce core American values and power the economic recovery of the nation.

“While the 2021 Immigration Action Plan seeks to undo the damage wrought by the Trump administration—from putting children and families in cages and restricting the due process rights of immigrants at the border, to extending the detention limit for children and families, and forging ahead with a failed border wall—it also acknowledges that more must be done to truly transform the system. Trump’s divisive, anti-Black and racist rhetoric against immigrants fans the flames of xenophobia, further corroding a system that has been broken for decades. Re-envisioning the country’s immigration system to work in the long term will take a coordinated, clear-eyed effort that aims to benefit immigrant families in every policy initiative.” (Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas)

To read the Immigration 2021 plan, please click here.

Sister Attracta Kelly, an immigration lawyer and director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Immigration Assistance Office will provide an overview of the Immigration 2021 Plan on livestream.  Her presentation is scheduled for September 15 from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm ET.

More and more right-wing Catholic priests are falsely claiming it’s a sin to vote for a particular candidate. This isn’t just bad policy — it’s bad theology, and a distortion of both the Gospel and Catholic teaching.

One prominent voice is Wisconsin’s Fr. James Altman, whose angry homily “You cannot be Catholic & a Democrat. Period,” has 280,000 views on YouTube.

The truth is that Catholic teaching allows discerning Catholics to vote for any candidate. Both the U.S. bishops’ conference and retired Pope Benedict have acknowledged that voters must often weigh multiple moral issues at the polls — including workers’ rights, protecting the poor, and stopping racist behavior.

Please click here to sign a petition to tell the US Bishops that our Church is not to be hijacked for political purposes.

 

 

 

As the 2020 national election cycle becomes more intense these next several weeks, the LCWR’s has created an eight-week long experience, “A More Perfect Union: 2020 Election Reflections,” that include three prophetic actions.

Beginning Wednesday, September 16, we will post weekly reflections as a part of the weekly Justice updates. These will include some food for thought, a couple of questions to seed your reflection and dialogue and a prayer for the upcoming election.

To view the LCWR’s Voting Guide, click here. 

You can also view other voters’ guides, strategies for resisting voter suppression, civility pledges, and voter registration and “get out the vote” materials by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

The White House has approved a dangerous and untested plan to transport fracked gas from northeast Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Four Democratic governors—governors of New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, who promised to follow climate change science— are going along with the fracking plan.

This dangerous plan will allow a company called New Fortress Energy to take fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania to export overseas. New Fortress Energy is attempting to get fast-track approval to transport the gas by trucks and rail tank cars to circumvent lengthy federal regulatory reviews that would require more public input.

Please click here to sign a petition calling on NJ, NY, PA, and DE governors to put a stop to the fracking project on the Delaware River.

EACOP Project

Sr. Rita Schwarzenberger is requesting that you participate in gathering signatures for Africa. She writes:

Please read the details here and share to your Facebook page or however you can get as many people as possible to sign it. Africa does not need another disaster. We have so much sunshine that solar energy could be such a lifesaver. No more oil spills. Nigeria has learned that well with more than 60 years of total devastation in the Niger Delta and all the conflict that has been a result of that.  Thank you from the people of many countries in Africa.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates