Lent – A Time of Reconciliation
Reconciliation is a gift sorely needed in our families, our communities, our nation, and our Church. As we stand, often divided, by race, rhetoric, and relativism, we must return to the wisdom of St Augustine, and redefine ourselves as a people – as ” a multitude defined by the common objects of their love,” those things being God, our neighbor and the gifts of God’s glorious creation.
As we enter into the Season of Lent, let us choose not to divide, but to come together. Not to retort, but to reconcile. To hear the pain of those who have been injured and work towards justice for all. To pursue unity by relating rightly, justly, and with love towards those around us.
This Lent, the Dominican Sisters of Peace wish to walk with you on a journey of reconciliation. To help us all along the way, we will be focusing on the word of God as it addresses reconciliation in our words, in our treatment of our brothers and sisters, and our treatment of the Earth. Please follow this page and our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media to join us as we build peace, preach peace and be peace throughout these 40 days of penance, almsgiving, and prayer leading to our reconciliation with God.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Sixth Sunday of Lent
Back in the 70’s there was a rock group named KISS. Today KISS is an acronym … one that we use as “keep it simple and sincere.” When it comes to working with people who are “economically disadvantaged”, simpler is better. What does that mean? It means we do not have to have tons of money to make a difference. It means giving what we can to help those who need it most, and giving from our hearts.
The “economically disadvantaged” are those not able to pay for many things in life that some of us take for granted. During this pandemic year, it has meant not being able to pay for the higher electric bills caused by the use of multiple computers and the addition of WiFi while the children attend school virtually. It has meant a higher food bill because the children are home all day. It has meant the water bill is higher because the children are in the house all day and use the bathroom more. And, ultimately, it has meant having to make decisions about what bill to pay first knowing there will be late fees on those unpaid and wondering how those can be paid later.
This situation has created in us an awareness of the need to raise the consciousness of those who have narrowed their vision about poverty and disadvantage. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you”; but they are not a burden nor should they be ignored.
Our ministry at the Peace Center has required us to listen more attentively to those who call or stop by to ask for help. We can assist our neighbors with a small gift toward their huge bills when people have shared donations with us to pay it forward. We have established a network in the city so that we can reach out to other agencies for additional help. The needs seem endless, resources are limited, and we are challenged to respond.
Sisters Suzanne Brauer and Pat Thomas minister at the Peace Center in New Orleans, LA.
After a year of pandemic quarantine, “How are you” and “Stay healthy” have become ingrained in our vocabulary. But next time you ask, really listen. Is there stress, sadness or need in the answer, even if the words are positive? Listening is a simple act – and the first step towards helping those around us.
The Peace Center in New Orleans works specifically with the economically disadvantaged, but many of our ministries serve the poor in different ways. Your gift to the Dominican Sisters of Peace helps us be the hands of Christ to our neighbors.
Click here to view a video based on Sunday’s blog by Sisters Suzanne Brauer and Pat Thomas.
Who is poor in America? According to a 2020 analysis in USA Today, the poverty rate of children under 18 is more than 16%, higher than any other demographic group. The poverty rate of children living with a single mom is nearly 25%. COVID-19 has made this much worse, with women suffering job losses or stagnant career progress at much higher rates than men. Click here to read more about it.
This week’s Lenten blog talked about LISTENING to those around you to see what they need. Many local food pantries list their greatest needs on their website – and sometimes it’s not food! Look up the pantry nearest you and donate the most needed items.
As we said on Thursday, children under 18 are the group of Americans most likely to live in poverty.
Recent studies show programs that alleviate childhood poverty lead to higher education levels and a meaningful opportunity to escape the cycle of generational poverty.
By supporting programs to help children from economically disadvantaged families, you help those children build a better life for themselves as adults. Giving alms and supporting local charities is the first step; supporting those in the public arena who promote programs to alleviate poverty is the next step. As individuals, as a Church, and as a nation, we can create a more just world!
Sunday, March 21, 2021, The Fifth Week of Lent
Hosea paints a dire, but realistic picture of how the land mourns, and, in turn, all who live within it. Yet this is not God’s vision of Earth, nor Earth’s vison for herself. The call to reconciliation which we hear all around us is a plea to return, to restore, to remember who it is we really are, in God’s image. It is our Lenten call for reconciliation on all fronts, beginning with recognizing our deepest relationships.
Recognition comes with engagement: pausing, seeing, listening, learning. We are awaking to the need to repair our relationship to Earth, to re-assess our needs and wants and to restore a relationship of humble reciprocity–maybe even love.
That happens when we take time, spend time, and offer time to Earth—listening not to ourselves, but to her….when we take time to watch a sunrise, to listen to the wind and to learn what we have forgotten about Earth and what she yearns for. Like efforts at human reconciliation, there must be give and take – we must be willing to let the other speak and share her pain, but also, as we build trust, we experience her beauty, her hopes, her longings—God’s own desires. We may learn how we share the same destiny. We share the same longing for wholeness, for fulfillment and peace. Yes, there is sacrifice. And yes, there is joy.
Let us resolve, this Lent, as days lengthen and weather mellows, to reacquaint ourselves with Earth—wherever we find ourselves. Once you begin the conversation, your comfort will increase, you’ll know when to listen and just to be still, and then you’ll know how to respond when the time is right. Soon, you will understand what to do to begin the real work of reconciliation. Now is the acceptable time.
Blog by Sr. Jane Belanger, OP, a member of the Heartland Farm Community in Pawnee Rock, KS.
God knew what God was doing in designing food. Natural foods come in natural packages — an apple has a skin, an orange has a peel – even an egg has a shell! This week, make a real effort to minimize paper and plastic package in favor of what God gave you. For more ideas on how to be kind to the planet in your eating habits, read our eco-justice blog.
The Dominican Sisters of Peace are blessed with the responsibility of beautiful lands that are in our care. The Crown Point and Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Centers in Ohio, Heartland Farm in Kansas, and St. Catharine Farm in Kentucky are spaces of natural beauty where we treat Earth with respect as we grow food for our communities.
Click here to learn more about our ecological ministries.
Click here to view a video based on Sunday’s blog by Sr. Jane Belanger, OP.
Scientists predict climate change will displace more than 180 million people by 2100. Louisiana native Colette Pichon Battle survived Hurricane Katrina, and knows that we are not ready for this displacement. Click here to view her Ted Talk, Climate Change will displace millions – here is how we prepare.
We all know that producing animal protein has a high carbon cost. In fact, For example, the carbon cost of beef is about 20 times more per gram of protein than it is for beans. But switching to a plant-rich diet is better for YOUR health too! People who eat more vegetables, legumes and grains are less likely to be overweight or suffer from heart or kidney disease. For meatless recipes you can use during Lent or all year long, click here.
EarthDay.org offers a tool kit for celebrating this year’s Earth Day theme, Restoring Our Earth. Click here for ideas on letters to the editor, press releases, pandemic-safe event ideas and more!
Sunday, March 14, 2021, The Fourth Week of Lent
A Lenten blog by Gaye Reissland, OPA
There are two things I want to call out as I begun to write: this country is steeped neck-deep in a history of racism and colonialism, taken from our Native American brothers and sisters and the built on the backs of my ancestors.
The second being that regardless of this shared history, and even in light of recent events in our country, I STILL have hope.
Why do I cling to this hope? The late great Nelson Mandela reminds us in his May 10th, 1994 inaugural speech:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, background, or religion. People must learn to hate; and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Why do I believe this to be true? Because I’ve witnessed transformation. I don’t believe everyone WILL be transformed, but I do think we, as Christians, can all act as agents for change.
Back in 1978, I was a Sophomore at Fr. Joseph Wehrle Memorial High School. It was the first year of desegregation in The Columbus Public Schools, and scores of white kids who had previously attended public schools flooded into my school. The year went on, and we grew to know each other on a personal basis.
One of those white kids, Chett, spoke before his Religion class and admitted he was absolutely TRAINED to hate black people, but once he had gotten to know me, he couldn’t any longer. Chet had been transformed and could no longer see me as “a threat” or “The Enemy.”
I’m reminded of the song ‘Underneath Your Beautiful.’ Although it’s a love song between a man and woman, the characters in the song long to strip away all of the external surface “STUFF” that distracts from the other’s beauty within.
Jesus, how I wish this could be how we maneuvered around one another as human beings. Fact is, God created each of us as uniquely beautiful, but as humans, we are flawed and tend to emphasize the differences instead of the commonalities. This moves us further from God.
So how can we inch closer to Him? Could you be an agent for Change?
Time for the homework – for the hard work. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts:
- DON’T think of any group of people as a monolith. Obviously, there are commonalities such as food, style of worship, dance, and dress that you will find unique to every culture. But commonalities are not the same as stereotypes, which are oversimplified and often minimizing. Stereotypes build up walls of distrust, fear, and division.
EVERY culture hopes and prays for the same things for our children – health, peace, and prosperity. Those common goals are where we should aim our focus.
Which goes to my second point.
- DO focus on our commonalities. While there are such beauty and richness in our diversity, we all benefit from discovering and celebrating the things we have in common. We can weave a more perfect nation and world using our common threads!
- DON’T argue with Grandpa or your racist Uncle. It’s futile and frustrating!
If Grandpa keeps using racial slurs or bigoted statements, gently let him know that you have people of color in your life that you care about, that his racial slurs are offensive, and that his stereotypes are not based in truth OR reality.
Offer racist Uncle Joe a glass of water and ask him if he’s alright because his statements are making him seem a wee bit unhinged.
You may even want to let them know you’re going to need to spend a little time away from them as you’re not comfortable hearing this kind of talk, ESPECIALLY if his vitriol is being spewed in front of children.
- DO Go out of your way to expose your children to people that may not look like them. Your actions will teach your children well. No one said the work would be easy, but it’s necessary!
Hoh BOY….here come the biggies….
- DO look into policies and practices of institutions with which you are affiliated that may be discriminatory in nature, and support those working to change these things…. be it the municipality in which you reside or the school your children attend, your alma mater, or a Board you may happen to sit on. This is how we begin to chip away at SYSTEMIC racism, the TRUE stain that has permeated the fiber of our nation for years.
And I know, I KNOW that it’s easier to turn away and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but this won’t help to alleviate the issue!
- Finally, DO WORK for justice. Walk and act boldly in Christ’s peace and truth.
In the past months, I witnessed many young people of EVERY HUE working together for justice. THIS GIVES ME REAL HOPE!
ACTS 27:16 says, “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth.”
Racism can be like a cancer, but justice, peace, and harmony can be like that Balm in Gilead! Let’s heal our nation and heal our world!
No justice no peace.
I love you!
Associate Gaye Reissland is an artist and art instructor in Columbus, OH, and ministers as the Activities Coordinator at the Columbus, OH, Motherhouse. of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
During #BlackHistoryMonth in February, we shared some of the writings of Colette Parker, our Director of Associates, who died in 2020. She was a passionate voice for social justice and racial justice in particular. Click here to read our special Black History Month feature, “A Voice for Justice.”
Our Learning Centers in Ohio and Connecticut welcome adult learners of all races and nationalities to improve their English and other skills. Learning changes lives, and your gift can make a difference. Click here to give.
Please click here to view the video based on Sunday’s blog by Associate Gaye Reissland.
Father Bryan Massingale believes that the Catholic faith and the black experience make essential contributions in the continuing struggle against racial injustice that is the work of all people. Look for his book, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, at your library or bookstore. For more resources, click here to view the study guide for the Dominican Sisters of Peace 2019 study on racism.
Black unemployment is 9.2% – higher than any other group. More than 40% of black families are food insecure. Direct some of your Lenten alms to a local food pantry and make a difference in a family’s life.
Amnesty International recommends that people call out racism when they see it — and condemn it. That means the person of color who is bullied at work, the black teen followed around at the department store or mistreatment of our sisters and brothers of color by government entities. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said “Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” That’s what being an ally means.
Sunday, March 7, 2021, The Third Week of Lent
A Lenten blog by
Deacon Frank Bevvino, OPA
A Lenten blog by Deacon Frank Bevvino, OPA
Prayer is communication. It is our reaching out to acknowledge God’s presence in our life. Our prayers come in many forms: petitions, expressions of gratitude, contemplation on scripture and reflection on events of the day. But God already knows all about us… it is we who need to get to know God.
As it is with God, communication is essential in getting to know others. As we spend time with family and friends, we experience their wants and needs, their opinions and feelings.
In the twentieth century, families developed into parish communities which grew as they shared common interests. The more people interacted, the more they became aware of each other’s needs and wishes. The closer they drew together in relationship, the more they committed to meeting the needs of those in their families.
Sharing became the common bond that kept them together. That relationship-building dynamic extended beyond the parish and into the world, creating an interactive community that transcended communal prayer into the active prayer of caring for each other.
Relationship with God is grown by becoming the Christ to each other. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”(1Cor 12:12-13)
Christ used this prayer to teach His disciples to pray… you can use it too!
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Some people find that praying outdoors is a way to leave their lives behind and concentrate on God. The circular path of the labyrinth at the Shepherd’s Corner Ecological Center offers a place of peace for prayer and meditation. To learn more and to support Shepherd’s Corner click here.
Please click here to view the video based on Sunday’s blog by Deacon Frank Bevino, OPA.
There are many ways to pray. One that our Sisters find very rewarding is the Taizé prayer, a simple, meditative form of worship that invites us to dwell deeply on Christ’s presence around and within us. You can click here to view and pray with a past Taizé prayer service or join the Dominican Sisters of Peace for a Facebook live Taizé service this evening.
The Bible talks often of prayer and fasting. While Catholics no longer fast on Lenten Fridays, we do abstain from meat. Here’s a recipe for your meatless Friday.
One way that you can work towards a more just world is through prayer. Our Jesuit brothers have a collection of social justice prayers on their website… choose to say one daily before you take action for justice in your community.
Sunday, February 28, 2021, The Second Week of Lent
A Lenten blog by Sister Valerie Shaul, OP
Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her. Mark 1:30, 31
Over the last months, I have spent a good deal of time in Emergency Rooms and on the phone with hospital and nursing home staffs. Seventeen of the Sisters at the Akron Motherhouse contracted Covid-19 at the same time. I have grown in gratitude for the health care workers here in the house and in the hospitals where three of our Sisters received care.
The pandemic has given many of us a new appreciation for the health care providers in our country. From doctors to janitors, technicians to nurses, nursing assistants to therapists, these valiant people provide care for the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, adult and disability care homes. Since families are often not allowed in, these health care professionals also supply the love that families can’t, and keep those families informed about their loved ones.
These healing professionals follow the example of Jesus, who confronted challenges, cured with love, and consoled the dying and their families. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude, along with prayers for their continued ministry.
We’ve been hearing for months, and we’ll say it again. Wear your mask to cover your nose and mouth. It’s the easiest way to show kindness to everyone around you. #MaskUpAmerica #HeroesWearMasks
The city of New Orleans has been hit hard by COVID-19. Our Peace Center in New Orleans has helped provide food, educational resources, and employment assistance. Click here to Give Today to help the Peace Center continue its work.
Please click here to view the video based on Sunday’s blog by Sr. Valerie Shaul, OP.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on pay inequity in the United States. Sr. Judy Morris talks about the importance of a living wage for all workers in this 2020 blog. Click here to read about it.
Our late Director of Associates Colette Parker had a vision for life after the pandemic as well. Click here to read her blog.
Do you have an elderly or ill neighbor that is afraid to go to the grocery store? Next time you shop, check in with your neighbor and see what she needs. That few extra minutes in the store will give her peace of mind and help save her health. #BeAGoodNeighbor
While we are blessed by God with the creation of a COVID vaccine, it will take months to distribute to all Americans. Masking and social distancing are still the best ways that we can protect ourselves and each other during this pandemic. While we are still suffering from this pandemic, human kindness – protecting those around us – Is also social justice – working to help those who are oppressed. Take a small step towards justice and stay 6 feet away! #SocialDistanceisSocialJustice
Sunday, February 21, 2021, The First Week of Lent
A Lenten blog by Sister Barbara Kane, OP
Meister Eckhart, a great Dominican mystic, taught: “Every creature is a word of God and a book about God.” Isn’t that a wonderful image? You and I, all of us, are unique words of God for the world… helping the world to know about God’s great compassion. There are two expressions that are uniquely human; one of which we share with God. They are “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” Phrases that will elicit great inner peace when sincerely given. God always whispers, “You’re forgiven” whenever we ask. As we begin the season of Lent, can we be God’s words to those we’ve hurt or who have hurt us? Can we be open to admitting our offenses and sharing forgiveness with others? If we can, then we will hear those words God longs to whisper, “You are my beloved” and we will ourselves experience God’s compassion and peace.
We all know the temptation to “clap back;” to respond to a comment or a social media post with sarcasm or insults.
Next time, THINK before you speak or post. Is it:
Sometimes, the kindest way to communicate is to just stay quiet.
The Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna, NY, is offering an online series on Compassion during the season of Lent. You can sign up for the series here.
Please click here to view the video based on Sunday’s blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP.
The last year has been hard for everyone. Whether a person has lost a family member to COVID, is experiencing economic hardship, or is lonely after months of quarantine, many people need kindness right now. This short video from Bene Brown is a wonderful explanation of empathy and friendship.
It’s the First Friday of Lent – time to abstain from meat in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. You can forego the fish and try something new with this meatless recipe.
In a recent article, Sr. Fran Ferder and Fr. John Heagle said:
“After the riots in the Capitol, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim spent almost two hours on his knees picking up debris on the floor of the Rotunda.
His response is a challenge to each of us. What can we do now? We can kneel and pick up the broken promises of justice, the scattered pieces of the Gospel. We can kneel as humble servants to clean up the debris of fear and hatred. And we the people, all the people, can stand together in the long road of healing.”
How can you help?
Click here for an Ash Wednesday blog from Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP.
Remember, Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstaining from meat in memory of Christ’s sacrifice for us,