What do Fortune Cookies have to do with one’s Vocation?

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

What is so special about fortune cookies that we can’t leave a Chinese restaurant before we receive one? A fortune cookie is not just a free dessert, and it’s not something that we crave for its taste, but we love them. Why? I think, we all have the answer. Have you ever tried to just put it in your pocket after receiving it? Friends around me would not let me alone until they heard my fortune message. Or, has it ever happened to you that nothing was inside? What does that mean, anyway?! It is indeed the message in the cookies that we can’t wait to read and share.

Most of them are either an advice or a ‘fortune’ statement: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Or, “Now is the time to try something new.” Some fortunes are funny: “If you eat something and no one sees you eat it, it has no calories.” Or, “The fortune you seek is in another cookie.”

But one, that I recently had that caught my attention: “Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.” This is so true for vocations. When we do what we love, we can give our 100%. It is hard to give our best when we don’t like what we do. Frederick Buechner once said: “Vocation is the place where our greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” We are called to do what’s rooted in our heart’s desire. God calls us to love. Each of us is called to live out the mission of love, either as a vowed religious, as a single person, as an associate, or as a parent.

Many people spend a lot of time wrestling with God’s call. I know for myself, I let God keep nudging me until I gave it a try. Now, I know, and the fortune cookie also reminded me: “Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.”

What is God calling you to? If you would like to talk about living out your call as a vowed religious sister, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

 

Posted in God Calling??, News

Reflections on “The Case Against Hope”

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

I recently read a piece with the above title in the New York Times, written by Roxanne Gay, who offers an overview of worrisome situations in the government, international issues, immigration, wars, hunger, the climate crisis, and so on. She ponders what advice she would offer this year’s graduates if she were giving the address about their potential and their futures. One thing is sure: “I don’t traffic in hope. Realism is more my ministry than unbridled optimism. Hope allows us to leave what is possible in the hands of others.” She continues, aligning hope with apathy, complacency, and indecisiveness.

I think she actually is referring to optimism, a state which can be a bit thin and ethereal, and easily lost. I do not think she is describing the Hope we Christians share, which is far more a roll-up-the-sleeves and get-down to business venture. We call it  a theological virtue, which means it is both gift and practice, shared with us by God and by us with each other; in the service of God’s future, the gathering of all creation, all peoples, into One—a future for which we have a shared longing but cannot fully embrace. Nonetheless, God has placed us, fired by the Spirit of Christ Jesus, in a world in which he himself suffered amid the trials of human life in an unfinished universe.

Encouraging each other, taking on the burdens as we can and forging on, struggling to remain open to God’s presence among us and God’s design revealed a little at a time to us and through us; praying, singing, preaching, listening, consoling those who are burdened and those who cannot see or feel at this moment, we are buoyed by Hope– not crushed by defeats, bemoaning our helplessness, or yielding to fears that keep us stopped or stuck or hiding.

A huge amount of work is involved in loving and serving God’s people, God’s creation. And here Hope helps us to discern our place in this divine-human entanglement. We are not in charge and we should not take ourselves so seriously. Our lives are a miniscule part of the thousand energies involved over the eons of the Trinitarian adventure; we will not finish the mission. We are weak, and have our faults, we anger and grieve one another, and will never perform to our own satisfaction.

In hoping, we welcome God as the energy, the source and the goal, who is ever gracious and merciful and knows and loves us deeply. Hope keeps us attentive to our limits, as well as to the special call we have, the specific Word we speak, each of us given unique purpose, a labor to love.

Emily Dickinson writes a tribute to hope that begins, “Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul/ and sings the tune without the words/and never stops at all.”

Her poem charms me, and has its own truth. But I’m tempted to start with “Hope is the thing with muscles.”

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Why You Should Vote for our Corporate Stance to Abolish the Death Penalty

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

We, the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Therefore, we believe that the death penalty should be abolished because it is contrary to our Catholic faith.  We urge immediate commutation of all death sentences and passage of legislation to repeal all statutes authorizing capital punishment at the state and federal levels. We pledge our support to efforts to abolish the death penalty.

Today we begin voting for our corporate stance for abolishing the death penalty.  There are many good reasons for eliminating the death penalty:

  • There are excessive costs for capital cases compared to non-capital cases.
  • It does not deter violence
  • Innocent people have/can be executed
  • The extraordinary amount of time it takes does not provide closure to victim’s families
  • Society can be protected from dangerous criminals without killing them
  • It discriminates against people in poverty and of color
  • Current methods of execution can be considered cruel and unusual punishment
  • Pope Francis changed the Catechism of the Catholic Church to state that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”
  • Most importantly, it goes against our belief in the value of life from conception to natural death.

The abolition of the death penalty is not a new concept to us.  Several founding congregations had corporate stances prior to our becoming the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  In fact, as early as 1988, the Kentucky founding congregation took up this issue stating “We strongly oppose the death penalty.”  Perhaps their many years as early as the 1850’s of working with prisoners helped them to see each prisoner as a human being deserving a chance to live and to transform his/her life.

If we pass this corporate stance, we will begin praying more intentionally for those individuals being executed, for their families, and for the families of their victims.  We will work in our states to encourage laws that abolish the death penalty and/or for moratoriums on the death penalty.  And, we will continue to work with individuals in jails and prisons.

I hope you will vote to abolish this “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Voting for the Corporate Stance to Abolish the Death Penalty.  Starting today until June 26, you can cast your vote for the stance either by paper or on line.  Here is the link for online voting.  The ballot is attached here.  If you use the paper ballot, please send it to Ms. Crystal Henderson, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43219. It must be postmarked by June 26.

Underwear Update.  We sent 210 pounds of underwear and socks to Annunciation House from Columbus, and 36 pounds from Great Bend. There were also shipments from Watertown, MA and directly from Walmart.  Thank you, sisters, associates and friends, for your generosity and for supporting our efforts on the border.

Ten things in your home linked to climate change.  We all know what it’s like to receive junk mail and how quick we are to just throw it away. But did you know that 100 million trees were destroyed to produce 100 billion pieces of junk mail annually? About 848 pieces of junk mail get delivered to every household. When they get trashed, 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases are created. That’s more air pollution than every car registered in New York City and Los Angeles combined. (Source: TakePart.com)  Please read this article from Catholic Relief Service about ten things in your home linked to climate change. 

More about the Budget as a moral document. The Institute of Policy Studies recently released a report on how the federal government spent our 2018 tax dollars and here are some of the key findings:

  • The average U.S. taxpayer paid more to private military contractors than funds that directly support the troops
  • The U.S. spent more on proliferating weapons of mass destruction than on foreign aid and diplomacy, the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • The government spent as much taxpayer money separating families as it did on Kindergarten-12th grade education
  • Health care is the taxpayer’s biggest tab, with Medicare and Medicaid providing health care for 33% of the people in the U.S.
  • More dollars went to disaster relief than to investments like renewable energy that could have helped prevent the worst disasters
  • The average taxpayer contributed more to private Department of Defense contractors than to labor and unemployment programs

To see the full report, click here.  For more on the U.S. Budget, click here.

Check out “Reach to End Sex Trafficking in Native American Communities”.   Sr. Carol Davis (cdavis@oppeace.org) has purchased a DVD from Teresa Ann Wolf, OSB in South Dakota.   Carol and Teresa serve on the Board of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  The DVD:  Reach to End Sex Trafficking in Native American Communities was produced by the Watertown Initiative to Prevent Sex Trafficking. Native women and children comprise 40% of sex trafficking victims.  The 17-minute film addresses avenues into sex trafficking, obstacles in leaving and it raises hope in healing.  To borrow it, contact Crystal Henderson, CHenderson@oppeace.org.

Are migrant children welcomed in Jesus’ Name? Please take a look at this beautiful story about Jose written by Sr. Jeanne Christensen, RSM and sent by Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

World Refugee Day is June 20. On that day, people all around the world will remember those refugees and immigrants who have been lost as well as those who have survived. According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is one who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his [/her] nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself [/herself] of the protection of that country.” Today, refugees and migrants are fleeing violence, persecution, poverty, natural disasters, and political upheaval.

The U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking have an excellent educational resource, “Intersectionality of Human Trafficking with Migrants, Refugees, and Internally Displaced People.” It is available in both English and Spanish. (Links included at the end of the reflection.)

Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to Jesus, for him to touch them. The disciples scolded them, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Additionally, Jesus said, “Anyone who welcomes such a little child such as this in my name welcomes me…” (Mark 9:37)

Migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border are not welcome. How would Jesus respond to how these children and their families are treated? What is your response? What does Jose’s story call you, challenge you to do?

This is a typical story of a young migrant boy, a child. “My name is Jose and I am 12 years old. I left Honduras with my mother, two sisters, and Miguel, my uncle. We do not know where my father is. Our goal was to travel in a larger group, eventually arriving at the United States border. We hoped to cross over to a new and better life. We hoped to feel safe, find shelter and have food to eat. We were escaping from violence and poverty, at home we had nothing—barely enough to eat and we never felt safe.

We traveled for many days—too many to count—and struggled to find food, water and a place to stay. My little sisters cried a lot because they were tired, hungry and scared. I tried to be strong and to help my uncle. My mother cried when we weren’t watching. She didn’t know I saw her.

Finally, we arrived at the border but it wasn’t at all like we expected. There were hundreds of people jammed in small spaces, on bridges, under bridges. A few lucky ones got across—but we weren’t lucky. The armed men (like ones we left behind in Honduras) separated us. My little sisters stayed with my mother and the men took my uncle and me to a detention center. At first, it felt safe and we had food and water, but they took our shoelaces away from us. Pretty soon, they made my uncle go with the men and they took me to another part where there were hundreds of boys like me. I was cold and scared. It was fenced in, so we could not go anywhere but where they told us. After a few weeks, they took about 25 of us away in a van. They didn’t tell us anything; I was very frightened and worried about the rest of my family.

They drove to someplace far away. And when we got there it was hot and sunny—like at home in Honduras. We were forced to work long hours in fields without shade picking strawberries. They didn’t even give us hats to shade our heads! Where we slept and what they gave us to eat was awful. We also didn’t get much water while we worked. Nothing was like what they promised us.

When there weren’t any more strawberries to pick, the men loaded us into a van but didn’t tell where we were going. The police stopped the van and began to search it. When they found all of us inside, they arrested the driver and the other man with him. We waited a long time until another van came and got us. This one took us to a better shelter and that is where I am right now. I don’t know what comes next, but I hope I get to be back with my family—wherever they are now.”

Another child left “in limbo.” Unfortunately, this is not an unusual story. Much is written about the plight of the thousands of migrants and refugees seeking asylum in the United States at our southern border. It is imperative that we use our voices to urge our elected legislators and our president to provide compassionate, safe and prompt asylum as well as to work collaboratively to reform our immigration laws and procedures. By doing so, we are working to save migrant children from falling into the hands of opportunistic human traffickers.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: PROTECTING THE FLOCK

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The doors of the sanctuary are … locked?

Let that sink in: limited access to a place of refuge and safety.

It has become the new normal in our places of worship – locked doors, armed security officers, barriers, surveillance cameras, bag searches, etc.

What in the world is going on with the Fort Knox-level security in places that have traditionally been open places of welcome? This is a question that I have pondered for years and one that emerged again  on Sunday, as I watched and listened to a news report called “Faith under fire: How 3 congregations moved on from mass shootings.”

The report took on special significance for me because it was aired on the weekend devoted to raise awareness about gun violence and to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence.

While security in houses of worship is not new to some parishioners, who have traditionally provided protection for high-profile religious leaders; it certainly was not the norm for most, until fatal shootings at faith-based properties (at least a dozen in the past six years) got our attention and raised questions of safety and preparedness.

I admit that I have no firm answers. In fact, I have more questions than answers because I believe that  there are dangers in under-reacting to security risks and in over-reacting to security risks in places of worship and that no place of worship can promise complete safety and security.

I also believe that any security measures taken need to be ministry-based and reflect a belief that God is our ultimate protector while offering preparedness for a real risk.

I’m not sure what that looks like – how do we balance concerns for safety with an open-door policy that can put our safety at risk?

Posted in Associate Blog, News