The Children of God

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

We are all God’s children, and that is one of the most important names we could ever have.

What’s in a name? “Call me Ishmael.” “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” “What’s your name, is it Mary or Sue?” “A rose by any other name…” “His name will be John.” “My name is not easy.” Getting someone’s name right matters a great deal.

You can probably remember other quotes where a person’s name becomes their identity, who they are, why they behave the way they do, or how they can be known by someone else. The word name is a noun. A pronoun can take the place of a noun and, these days, pronouns are hotly contested items.

Someone’s face will appear on a Facebook profile, or on a ZOOM screen, or at the end of an article, and the name might be followed by pronouns like she/her, they/them. What? Are they confused? Is there something wrong with their name? Why the extra modifiers?

Every unborn child is a child of God, and when the baby leaves the womb, we all know we now have a girl or a boy. That is how God made us, male and female. It’s in the Bible! End of discussion!

But after some time, it is discovered that the boy likes other boys better than girls, and the girl likes other girls better than boys. The debate over whether it is a choice or just an acceptance of who she or he is continues but is quieter, and science and psychology have shed light on the topic. So we still have to talk about it and affirm we are all children of God. That’s just the way it is.

Until it isn’t! The girl now has a different perception of herself. The boy feels less like himself. There is a nagging, uncomfortable disturbance within and no one knows what to do about it, least of all the boy or girl. It’s not that he wants to be a girl; in his mind and heart, he is a girl. It’s not that she wants to be a boy; in her mind and heart, she is a boy. The human person is more complex than we can ever imagine or understand. That is why we feel free to ask, how can this be, it’s just not right. And we just don’t get it.

Has anything really changed? Are they no longer children of God? When did they become demons or the spawn of the devil or possessed by evil? Those are the descriptive words a lot of people use when talking about people now referred to as members of the Transgender community.  They are children of God but, admit it, those people make us uncomfortable so calling them names is perfectly understandable. Right? We can’t define them; they don’t fit, so we make up our own names for them. Yet they are all God’s children.

I am cisgender, and it is who I am and how I behave; but what if I were transgender? Supposedly, I am normal, but as a transgender person, I would not be. How can that be? It can be because the “normal” folks say so.

I look to my Church—–sorry that door is locked; where is the key?

I look to my politicians—sorry that door is stuck somewhere in between.

I look to my schools—–sorry that door is blocked by the parents of the “normal” kids.

I can only look to the Risen Christ who declares us all Brothers and Sisters, those whom God loves and lavishes with mercy and compassion, not pity.

The blood of Christ sets us ALL free to be people of God. Why do some of us get to decide who “deserves” that name?


Posted in News, Weekly Word

Dominicans Survive and Minister During Hurricanes on the Island of Puerto Rico

Blog by Sr. Narcisa Barreto, OP

Puerto Rico’s streets are lined with hurricane evacuation signs – the sign of a people on watch for danger. But the hurricanes have made us more dependent on God’s merciful love, knowing that God will keep us safe whatever life brings. Hopeful are we who live in the land of Puerto Rico, we who love land, nature, and people at every stage of life!

As a native Puerto Rican, I have lived through so many hurricanes and so many crisis moments of chaos and destruction. Sadly, I have seen that the poor always seem to pay a higher price in these tragedies. in 1 Johm, 3:17, 1 John 3:17, the apostle tells us, “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” As followers of Christ, we are called to share our abundance and to offer God’s charity.

As a native Puerto Rican, I have also been blessed to also see the recuperation from many hurricanes and natural disasters – the reconstruction of homes and the reclamation of land. I have been witness to a marathon of love – men and women cooking for their neighbors, distributing food and clothing, and offering financial assistance.

We Puerto Ricans know how to respond to a hurricane. We board up the places of refuge, like homeless shelters nursing homes, and schools. In response to the loss of shelter, schools serve as a sanctuary for children, and universities open their doors to house the needy and those made homeless by the storm.

We are grateful to FEMA, who has helped us recover so many times. We are also grateful to the Dominican Sisters, who have always contributed time, treasure, and prayer.

Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord.  Prosper the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17.


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Seeing and Believing (Revisited)

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

A few years ago I reflected on the Sunday Gospel that told the post-resurrection story of Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Of course, he gets his reputation as a Doubting Thomas because of that incident.

And as we all know, a week later, Thomas is there when Jesus appears and he invites Thomas to touch his wounds as proof he is alive. Thomas proclaims his belief saying, “My Lord and my God.”

I have a new insight about Thomas because of the television series The Chosen. I highly recommend you catch it if you can— just download the Angel Studio app and watch it for free. There are three seasons so far. This is the telling of the story of Jesus more through the lens of his relationships with other people than directly through Jesus himself. Many episodes are about the growing cohort of people who come to believe him to be the Messiah. It’s more often their stories of coming to belief.

It turns out that in one episode Thomas is a caterer and he and his partner Rema prepare all of the food and drink and such for the wedding feast at Cana. He is fastidious, methodical, and is a bit of a challenge to Rema who is anxious to get to Cana to set everything up. Most of all he’s a bit of a worry wart, obsessing that he has plenty of food to supply this wedding. I think of him as a nervous accountant. He is a witness to Jesus’s miracle of the wine at Cana, and he is mystified by how this actually happened because, of course, he was in charge of the wine steward, a subcontractor for the wedding. Thomas just couldn’t figure out how Jesus was able to supply all this extra wine that was so wonderful. So he is left happy for the outcome, but mostly puzzled.

I can understand why Thomas is baffled by this miracle of the wine.  It stands to reason, by virtue of his personality, that he would have a hard time believing that Jesus multiplied the wine, let alone that he rose from the dead. It’s this bent of personality that strikes me because Thomas didn’t so much doubt— in our contemporary way of doubting —as he was being skeptical. I think for Thomas it just didn’t add up and he was someone who calculated all the time. How many of this and how much of that do we need for the wedding?

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is what condemns Thomas to his undeserved reputation — that he needed to see in order to believe.  Thus, for 2000 years his fate is sealed by a moment when he actually asked a legitimate question. How many times have you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?

Sometimes we are like Thomas I would wager. There is so much of the world that is unbelievable, things just baffle us. It’s not really disbelief— it’s more like being mystified by things we cannot understand. Think of the latest pictures from the James Webb telescope. It’s hard to believe that what we see is what scientists say it is. And if by bent of personality, science remains a mystery to you then is it really that you doubt the scientists?  Or are you just awestruck?

Maybe that’s it. Thomas was awestruck. It wasn’t doubt,  it was his God-given personality that made him a skeptic, a  bean counter. He probably would be a CPA today, but I think he would come to believe and say, “My Lord and my God,”  just the same.

So let’s be a little kinder and not so quick to judge people who are skeptical because by bent of their personality they’re practical. Let’s give some slack to those who seem a little pie-in-the-sky, because by  bent of personality they are dreamers. We all can come to belief in our own way.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

FAITH that makes me break the rules.

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see the film “Women Talking.” Was not planning to see it, could not imagine watching women talking for almost two hours, but that thought came before I knew the plot line.

Women of many ages, living in a religious colony, had been abused, raped, sometimes by many young boys in the colony, sometimes impregnated, and shared their insights, opinions, and answers to the question “Should we flee, stay and fight, stay and do nothing?”. In the end, well, I won’t spoil it for someone who plans to see the film.

Because this is a religious colony, so much of what has happened comes from the teachings of their religion, thus legitimizing the actions of the men who will not educate the women, other than in church; who beat them and approve the rapes which have taken place as part of the life of the colony; it is what men do.

The talking becomes loud, gets soft, is intergenerational at times, but establishes each woman’s perspective. When questions of their faith become intense, one woman screams loudly “My faith makes me break the rules!”.

What came to my mind at that point was that Jesus broke the rules that had become a part of Jewish life as part of their religious practices. He did this to try to make the leaders see that their rules had suddenly superseded the “rules” of God. Go back and reread all of the Gospels since at least Ash Wednesday, and what are Jesus’ words all about according to Gospel writers? Things like “I have not come to break the Law but to fulfill the law;” “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you;”; or “Stop judging and you shall not be judged,” and others.

We as humans are much more comfortable with the Judeo traditions of our religion and are less so with the Christian aspects. But for me, the distinction lies in what the woman said, “It is my FAITH that makes me break the rules.” I have had my faith since birth because I came from God, but the religion I grew up with tries to form that faith and give it structure, The structures are breaking, are cracking, are dividing us, and so my faith has to make sense of it all and, maybe, spend some time with Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

These are the words the women leave us with by the end of the film.

Featured image from the film Women Talking, sourced from IMBD.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Hard to Understand

Tyrie Nichols, Anthony Lowe.

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

These are two of the latest victims of overzealous police action. Some say police brutality.

Both men were African American, but the men who killed Mr. Nichols were also African Americans and part of an elite police unit that never seemed to have seen this kind of behavior coming. If the videos are to be believed he was fleeing from the officers, probably gave them a lot of smack talk, and was frustrating their efforts to restrain him, even after being tased. Critical point….was he armed? No proof has been found that he was. So a well-trained, elite squad could not capture him. All of the officers have pleaded not guilty. Hard to understand.

Anthony Lowe had stabbed a man on the street and police were called. Mr. Lowe had a 12-inch butcher knife and was wielding it at the white officers who responded to the call. Mr. Lowe was an African American paraplegic and was fleeing the officers, not in his wheelchair but on his “legs”. These officers were in fear of a disabled man with a knife as they aimed their guns and fired.  Hard to understand.

Videos, from body cams and other devices, in both of these situations, showed clearly what was happening and left little to the imagination. An unarmed man was fleeing police who could not otherwise completely restrain him, and a knife-wielding man was running away on his crippled legs and could not otherwise be apprehended without injury to one or all of the officers. There seemed to be no other response that the officers could have made. Hard to understand.

This is the state of our country. I think of this every time our older African American boys come to the center. Some of them have “hair trigger” temperaments and thus could fly off the handle with the least provocation. Those same boys are on medication for various disabilities, e.g, ADHD, ODD, general anger management. Some have seen people gunned down right in front of them, relatives and strangers. What does the future really hold for them? Hard to understand.

A few days ago, two of those boys returned to the Peace Center after being away for some months, and just knowing they could see this place as a safe place even for an hour or two was hopeful for me. They need more safe spaces in our cities, and more people to let them know they can live good lives. Without violence? Well, that remains to be seen.

Hard to understand.


Posted in News, Weekly Word