A Reflection on Peace During the Dominican Month of Peace

A reflection for the first week of Advent by fr. Emmanuel Mulu, OP, Promoter for Justice and Peace for Dominicans in Africa, Vatican Representative to the United Nations in Kenya, and member of the Vicariate of Eastern Africa.

The four weeks of Advent constitute a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the nativity of Christ and His return at Parousia. Waiting is a sign of hope. Hope for healing to a broken world that needs fixing. The world is broken because it abhors waiting, preferring quick-fix solutions to issues that bedevil it. These quick-fix solutions eventually fail, hurting the world even more.

The expected Messiah gives hope because he is the only one who is able to fix our broken world. He is able to mend and repair it.

The Prince of Peace

The first reading from Isaiah draws our attention to a peaceful coexistence. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Peace therefore can neither be achieved through wars nor by building walls. It is a gift from God as we find in John 14:27 New Catholic Bible (NCB). However, humanity is at liberty to elect either to embrace this gift or not to. More often than not, peace is not chosen yet the fruits of not embracing this invaluable gift of peace are conflicts, violence, wars, discrimination and their attendant outcomes. Myanmar suffers due to failure to choose peace. Some leaders in this beautiful country refused to embrace peace. They have refused to allow coexistence resulting to untold suffering. Displacement of masses, homelessness, maiming, emotional disturbance and death are the results of this war in Myanmar.

Prophet Isaiah speaks to this situation. He tells nations and governments including Myanmar to turn their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, their military budgets into development budgets and hatred into love. Although it may sound difficult, this transformation is possible through the grace of the Messiah, the Prince of peace. Christ is the Prince of Peace in contradistinction to many world leaders who inflict suffering on those they lead due to selfish motives.

Keep watch as you wait

Matthew in the Gospel directs our thoughts towards ‘keeping watch’ as we approach Parousia because the Lord will come at a time we do not expect. We therefore have to keep watch and prepare. This can seem to be a long wait tempting humanity to deviate, a dangerous path to take; a path that many nations have taken. A path that Myanmar has taken. A way of conflict. A way that seems right in the sight of its leaders “There is a way which seems right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12.

A ready and expectant spirit inspires careful observation of the times. Preparedness and watchfulness is accomplished through prayer. Those who are not watching are not praying, and those who are not praying are not watching. Prayer is dialogue with God. Constant communication with God keeps a person hopeful while at the same time maintaining a relationship with Him. If the world faithfully keeps watch through prayer, hope will replace despair and fear. Through prayer, tolerance, cohesion and coexistence can abound. This is possible in Myanmar. This is possible in the world and in all nations that are rocked by violent conflicts and wars.

The wars we witness in the world are reminiscent of a desperate world; a world that lacks the preparedness for the Savior, a world full of fear, a world devoid of patience and tolerance, a world that courts an attitude of self-sufficiency and locks the Messiah out of its matrix. This attitude tries to nip hope in the bud casting humanity to the mercy of fear and despair.

The time of Advent is therefore a time to stop war, discrimination and conflicts so that is can embrace the all-encompassing Christ. We are all called to wait for Christ who heals our broken world because waiting is not a waste of time but the price we pay for our healing (John 5:3-New Catholic Bible).

We are hopeful as we wait to celebrate the birth of the Messiah that Myanmar and other parts of the world that witness wars will welcome the Prince of Peace and that they will know peace.

Have an expectant waiting for the Messiah during this Advent Season, won’t you!

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

The Dominican Sisters of Peace Stand with our Sisters from the Adrian Dominican Sisters on the United Nation’s International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 25, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in observance of the United Nations’ International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, 2022.

As a community of women of faith with a global presence – in the United States, Dominican Republic, Philippines and Norway – we join in observing the United Nations’ International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, and call for an end to gender-based violence in our world.

We are especially mindful of the courageous women in Iran who have been engaged in daily protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in police custody days after her arrest on September 13, while visiting family in Tehran, for allegedly wearing her head scarf or hijab “improperly.” As The New York Times reported later that month, “Tossing head scarves into bonfires, dancing bareheaded before security agents, young women have been at the forefront of these demonstrations, supplying the defining images of defiance.”

Despite brutal crackdowns and the arrest of more than 16,000 people, the protests continue. According to Iran Human Rights, at least 416 people have been killed, including 51 children and 27 women, and hundreds more injured in gruesome videotaped police beatings. The woman journalist, Niloufar Hamedi, who first brought attention to Amini’s story, is among 48 journalists, including 18 women, held under arrest.

Valuing human dignity and aware of the injustice of patriarchy which maintains the subordinate status of women and girls throughout the world, we stand in solidarity with the courageous women of Iran, and the men who support them, in their decades-long cry for gender equality. We pray for their safety and for the uplifting of their inherent rights and dignity – and those of all women and girls around the world – beloved by God and made in God’s image.

The General Assembly adopted this day of observation in honor of three heroic sisters in the Dominican Republic – Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal – who resisted the reign of terror of then-dictator Rafael Trujillo. Under his order, they were brutally murdered on November 25, 1960. The Mirabal sisters, also known as Las Mariposas (the Butterflies), have become international symbols of popular and feminist resistance against oppression.

 

Members of the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters are Sisters Elise D. García, OP, Prioress; Lorraine Réaume, OP, Vicaress; and Corinne Sanders, OP, Janice Brown, OP, and Bibiana Colasito, OP.

 

 

Posted in News

Dominican Month for Peace 2022

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country’s largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century.    

CapitalNaypyidaw Population54.41 million (2020) World Bank

Click here for more information on Myanmar.

Myanmar’s people and history are a glorious mishmash of settlers and invaders from all fronts. The Mon and the Pyu peoples are thought to have come from India, while the now dominant Bamar migrated through Tibet and, by 849, had founded a powerful kingdom centered on Bagan. (Mandalay RegionThe Bagan Kingdom was the first Burmese kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Burma, later renamed to Myanmar. For the next millennium, the Burmese empire grew through conquests of Thailand and India and shrank under attacks from China and internal rebellions.

TIMELINE OF BURMESE HISTORY 

500 BCE Iron working settlements

180 BCE beginning of Pyu city-states:  Between the 1st century BCE and the 9th century CE,  speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages known as the Pyu established city-kingdoms

200 CE The Pyu convert to Buddhism

832 Pyu city-states destroyed by Nanzhao (Tai kingdom/southern China)raids

849–1297 The Kingdom of Pagan was the first Burmese kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Myanmar.

1277- The first Mongol (an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia) invasion followed by the Pinya Kingdom.  Other Kingdoms included Ava, Prome,Mongol, Pagan, et. al.

1385 Forty Years’ War

1527 Confederation of Shan States

1547 First Burmese invasion of Siam begins.   Siam becomes Burmese vassal until 1584

1600 Portugal ascends with Burmese Army – introduces Catholicism and attempts to

destroy Buddhism.  Civil war ensues

1619-1677 English East India Company and Dutch India Company establish their presence

1824 Start of First Anglo-Burmese War

1885 Third Anglo-Burmese War; end of Burmese monarchy.  Burma is proclaimed a British colony.

1937 Burma is separated from British India and becomes a separate colony

1941 Burma Independence Army formed with Japanese help

1945 Return of British rule

1947 Panglong Agreement:  independence from the British[

1947 Constitution guarantees the Federated Shan States

1948 Burma gains independence from the United Kingdom with U Nu as Prime Minister

1950 Insurgencies begin Burmese Army repels Nationalist Chinese invasion of Shan State (to 1961)

1960 U Nu’s party faction wins decisive victory in 1960 elections, but his promotion of Buddhism as the state religion and his tolerance of separatism angers the military.

1961 U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third secretary-general of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971, the first non-Scandinavian to hold the position. He held the office for a record 10 years and one month.[b]

1962 Democratically elected government of U Nu is overthrown by Ne Win, who abolishes the federal system and inaugurates “the Burmese Way to Socialism” – nationalising the economy, forming a single-party state with the BSPP as the sole political party, and banning independent newspapers.  Government guns down student protesters

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Where do you find HOPE?

The First Sunday of Advent – November 27, 2022


As we enter this season of Advent,
we ask an important question –

Where do you find hope?

We Dominican Sisters of Peace
find hope in our work.

In the immigrant that can now read
her child’s storybooks in English,
offering hope for a world of acceptance.

In the newly-born calves and cria that totter
across our farms in Kentucky and Kansas,
offering hope for a hungry world.

In the women who have said “Yes” to their call from God,
creating a future of hope
for our Congregation and for religious life.

As we await the coming of the Christ Child, the hope of the world,
we share hope with each other,
and with you, our beloved friends.

Click here for a video of HOPE.

Click here to help the Dominican Sisters of Peace share HOPE.

 

Posted in News, Seasonal Observances

A Reflection on Gratitude – Thanksgiving 2022


oday is a national holiday in the US. It is Thanksgiving Day, a day when we express our gratitude for blessings we have received as a nation and individuals. So the reading I chose is from St. Luke, the cleansing of the ten lepers.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he is approached by ten men with leprosy. They don’t come too near, because they are unclean. They had to have known about him because they call out to him, “Jesus, Master, take pity on us.” That was enough and Jesus tells them to show themselves to the priests and they are made clean while on their way, while they carried out his command without question.

Only one of the ten returned to give thanks to Jesus for this gift of healing. He is so happy and grateful that he turns back, praising God aloud, throws himself down at Jesus’ feet and thanks him. Jesus, although touched by the man’s gratitude, expresses his disappointment that the other nine did not come back to share their joy and to thank him. No doubt, each of us can understand Jesus’ disappointment. Haven’t we felt the sting of ingratitude at one time or another? It is disappointing and hurtful to realize we have been kind and generous to someone and have received no acknowledgment or gratitude in return.

After Jesus expresses his disappointment, he says to the man who is a Samaritan, “Stand up and go on your way; your faith has cured you.” What could Jesus have meant? The man was already cured of his leprosy. What did his faith, expressed in gratitude, cure him of? I wonder if the Samaritan realized that this man who cured him of leprosy also regarded him with the respect due every human being, even Samaritans. I wonder if he was grateful, even for his having had leprosy, which brought him to the place where he had this encounter with Jesus and so his faith not only caused him to follow Jesus’ command “to go and show yourself to the priest,” but this faith also caused him to know his own worth as affirmed by Jesus. Although leprosy brought him to Jesus, it brought him to know something of this Jesus. Maybe this is what Jesus was telling him: that life was more than being free of leprosy, that life had meaning beyond what was obvious, that he had discovered something of worth that couldn’t be measured.

Today, we thank God for blessings which are obvious. Perhaps we are called to thank God for the blessings that come in disguise, too. Henri Nouwen encourages us to be grateful for joy and sorrow, successes and failures, rewards and rejections…all that has brought us to this moment. Leprosy brought the man to his encounter with Jesus. Whatever has led us to be closer to God is a blessing.

We thank you, loving God, for all the blessings you have given us…
the obvious and those which came to us in disguise. Amen.

From Crumbs from the Table by Sr. Louis Mary Passeri, OP

 

 

 

 

Posted in News, Seasonal Observances