A Prayer for Lent

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett

Recently I found this Lamentation in my files.  It was published in Dominican Life/ USA in 2009, 6 years after the beginning of the war in Iraq, which began 20 years ago.

It’s a “Lament for Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, and other countries struggling with extreme violence.”

Today the list of countries struggling with extreme violence is exponentially longer:  Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Turkey, Syria, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru,  and the list goes on.

Mary Ellen Bennett





How lonely she is now, the once crowded country.
Widowed is she who once held strength over nations.
The queen of the region has become broken and shattered.

Her occupiers have the upper hand and they enjoy their prosperity.
The men search for income for the survival of their families.
Women fear for their lives and for the lives of her beloved.

The Woman groans and cries out and there is no one to comfort her.
Her youth have lost hope and cannot see a future and carry guns.
Her lovely children once strong and healthy have seen war and have lost their innocence.

We on distant shores beg of you, O God, to hear our prayer on behalf of this weeping woman.
For we too weep for her losses and for our part in causing her suffering.

We plead with you to heal the broken hearted.
Restore justice, health, and wellbeing, and bring forth hope and peace
To this once-prosperous land of love, peace and creativity.

With all our hearts we want the killing to stop,
The guns and bombs to cease, and the enemies to become friends,

And our sisters,  Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Myanmar, Iran, Cuba, Haiti, Turkey, Syria, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru to stand strong and tall

And reclaim their voices in our world.




Posted in Just Reflecting

Populism – The People

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

We are approaching a sacred time in the history of the Dominican Sisters of Peace:  preparation for the General Assembly, and the 200th Anniversary of Dominican Sisterhood in the United States.

We praise God for the blessings of the past, the graced moments of the present, and our bright hopes for the future.

I am reading LET US DREAM by Pope Francis in conversation with Austin Ivereigh, and I want to offer you some extended quotations:  his reflections on “The People”/ “Populism.”  With our special time in mind, I substitute “Congregation” for “The People.”

“The CONGREGATION is always the fruit of a synthesis, of an encounter, of a fusion of disparate elements that generates a whole which is greater than its parts.”  p. 100

“The CONGREGATION is a living reality that is the fruit of a shared integrating principle.  It is not a logical concept.  It can be approached only through intuition, by entering into its spirit, its heart, its history and traditions.”  pp.101—102

“To speak of a CONGREGATION is to appeal to unity in diversity. . .we have become used to speaking of identity in categories of exclusion and differentiation.  I (Francis) prefer to use the archetypal  term, ‘mythical category’, for it opens up a different way of describing reality, through the synthesis of potentialities  that I  call overflow.” p. 102—103

During this graced time may we intuit the soul of our congregation as we ponder our spirit, our heart, our history and our traditions.  May our reflections bring us to a synthesis of potentialities for our future (overflow).  May it spill over and inspire the days yet to come.

Dr. Austin Ivereigh is a Fellow in Contemporary Church History at Campion Hall, University of Oxford

Posted in Just Reflecting

Preaching for Holy Week

Preaching by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

Jesus was an astute reader of human nature. He was able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses and motives of the people he met. His special disciples had been with him most days and nights for 3 years. He must have watched each of them carefully and been very aware of each of their strengths and weaknesses. This included Judas. In another place it was said that Judas was in charge of the money and would often use it for himself. I’m sure Jesus was aware of Judas’ desires.

We don’t know Judas’ motives. Why would he turn against the very person who had given him so much? At the same time it must have been a terrible feeling for Jesus to know what was Judas was up to. He had chosen Judas as one of his special disciples and here he was turning against Jesus.

There may have been a time when one of our friends turned against us. It may have been a betrayal of a special confidence we shared, or a turning away to become a special friend of someone else and rejected our friendship. Our reaction may have been to retaliate against that person, reject her from any friendship, maybe even to tell others of the meanness of that person or cross her off our list of friends. Somehow we wanted to get even.

That wasn’t Jesus’ way. Even knowing what Judas had planned, Jesus still treated him as one of his chosen disciples. He still loved him and desired good for him. That wasn’t an easy thing to do. How do we forgive another when that person has rejected us? Not easy! My guess it will take time after time of resolving to forgive for us to actually forgive that person.

As we enter into the most sacred days of the year, may we reflect deeply on the love Jesus had for Judas. Let us make one more attempt to do the same with the person who has turned against us.

Posted in Just Reflecting

End Gerrymandering

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

If this past election has taught us anything, it’s that every vote truly matters and must be counted.

To make sure that a fair elections process happens every time, we need to produce fair election district maps, and end the process of Gerrymandering.  This is a bi-partisan issue.

In 2011 there were no rules against partisan Gerrymandering, and no Federal regulations about it.

During the upcoming redistricting process, we all could play an active role in how our political maps are drawn.

With the current districting in Ohio, for example, 55% of voters get 75% of seats. That’s a 20% difference. Vote shares and seat shares should be close.  Democrats are packed into 4 districts because of distorted boundary lines.  Therefore there’s a disconnect between how constituents feel, and how legislation is acted on.

The 2020 Census Data probably won’t be available until March, but it’s not too early to begin advocating for fair Election District maps.

Posted in Just Reflecting