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THE POWER OF (PURPOSEFUL) LOVE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I made no plans to watch the Royal Wedding this past weekend.

But when my internal clock awakened me at 6:30 a.m., I decided to turn on the television.

I am certainly glad that I did because I got an unexpected surprise when Presiding Episcopal Bishop Michael B. Curry delivered the wedding homily (I had not followed the preliminary coverage of the wedding, so I had no idea he was on program. When I saw him, I knew that the millions of people watching were about to receive something special because Bishop Curry, one of the leading progressive theological voices in America, preaches with fire).

It appears that Bishop Curry surprised, awed and stunned some of those listening to his sermon (which some described as “unconventional”  or “unorthodox” for St. George’s Chapel). Some of them had no idea what they were witnessing or experiencing – the black preaching tradition.

That tradition helped to end slavery and to birth the Civil Rights movement. It continues to call people and communities to account for their social deeds and misdeeds. It continues to inspire and encourage people to keep hoping against hope in turbulent times.

Bishop Curry delivered a prophetic call – not only to those in the chapel at Windsor Castle, but to the world — to let the radical and transformative power of love guide us. He reminded us that justice is rooted in love. He challenged us to commit to loving our neighbors as ourselves. He challenged us to be better.

He drew on liberation theology to describe love as a necessary social and political force that provides hope in the face of social injustice and that serves as the power to eradicate those injustices:

“When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down, down by the riverside to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, for all of God’s children. Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family.”

Bishop Curry lifted up a faith that believes love ultimately triumphs over hatred, a faith that believes love can change the world, a faith rooted in the radical power of redemptive love.

Thank you, Bishop Curry for reminding the Church of its social responsibility and of the need for religious engagement.

Let the Church say: Amen!

Posted in Associate Blog, News

How Will We Send Love Ahead?

Blog by Associate Lucy Strohl

May 14, 2018, Feast of St. Matthias Acts 1:15-17, 20-26,Ps.113:1-8, Jn. 15:9-17

“Send love ahead.”
This phrase of Fr. Solanus Casey’s kept coming back to me as I prayed with the readings for this feast of St. Matthias. Fr.Solanus encouraged others to “send love ahead” margotno matter what the circumstances–positive or perplexing.

We listen to so many familiar words from scripture today. They can almost sound like clichés. We read where Jesus told his disciples, and he reiterates to us as well: “Remain in my love.” This brings several incidents to mind.

…The couple had been through a very hurtful time for themselves and their children. After hearing some of the details, I was angry, too. Yet the son was able to say of his father,'”This does not take away from the dad he’s been to me.” Isn’t that sending love ahead! I had quite a ways to go to catch up with that young man’s attitude.

…The client who had been in jail multiple times showed up in the office. The counselor’s frustration was evident in his voice, so he apologized and started the conversation again.

We don’t often get to choose the situations and folks God may put in our path. Jesuit Fr. Michael Gallagher points out, “We probably don’t hate anyone, but we can be paralyzed by daily negatives. Mini- prejudices and judgments can produce a mood of undeclared war.” Hopefully, instead, we can learn to send love ahead and remain in God’s love, with a little more compassion for ourselves and others.

In the gospel, we see that Matthias was the next chosen disciple. He spread the gospel with much zeal. Today we pray for enthusiasm and joy in being bearers of peace, whether this is a beautiful time or one of those ho-hum, ordinary days for us.

Our sisters in the infirmary and other health centers no doubt send love ahead as they daily intercede and support us with their loving presence, patience, and prayer. May they and their caretakers know that they remain always in God’s love!

Then I read the story of the woman who usually had a friend nearby because she was showing signs of Alzheimer’s. The lady explained: “Some of my mental faculties are leaving me. I ask God to let me know beforehand what will be taken from me next, so I can give it to God ahead of time.” What a courageous way to send love ahead!

According to Sophia Park SNJM, a Holy Name sister and professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oakland, “remain in my love” does not mean to stay, but rather to leave for the unknown. The disciples who experienced the resurrection were forced to look at their own limitations and embrace new things. They had to admit new groups that were beyond their own cultural norms and comfort. They were indeed surprised that the Holy Spirit was poured onto unbaptized foreigners.

Will we leave room to be surprised by the Spirit, to send love ahead, even though the coming days may be unfamiliar and challenging? Thankfully, we can recall Oblate Fr. Ron Rolheiser’s words: “If we’re still struggling, we’re still healthy. In making us, God factored in human weakness and how growing into deeper love is a lifelong task.” May we confidently send love ahead as we continue our prayer and our journey together.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Cultivate the Pearls Given to Us by Our Mothers

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I was recently watching an interview with Denzel Hayes Washington Jr., as he called himself.

The interviewer recited a list of awards he had received and asked: “What’s left for Denzel Washington?”

Denzel, as we call him, said “Man gives the award. God gives the reward. That’s what my mother raised me on. So, I like awards. We all wanna be loved! You know, you work hard and you want people to appreciate what you do. But that’s not what I live for.”

Kudos to Denzel’s mom for her words of wisdom.

A week later, those words still reverberate in my mind and heart and cause me to reflect on the pearls of wisdom that my own mother shared with me.

With Mother’s Day coming on Sunday, perhaps this is a fitting time for all of us to reflect on the lessons that we learned from our Mothers.

Here are a few of my mother’s gems (some of which I’m sure you’ve heard before):

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Never lose sight of who you are. Be true to yourself. Never change who you are for someone else.

Learn to say no. You can’t do everything.

Have faith in God and trust yourself to do what is right.

You don’t have to look up to anyone, but never look down on anyone.

People who seem to be the least lovable, need love the most.

Listen (and think) before you speak.

Be the best that you can be.

There are certainly many more and I hope, by now, some that were passed on to you by your mother have come to mind (Always wear clean underwear. Learn to laugh at yourself. Be grateful for what you have. Never eat yellow snow. Mind your manners, etc.).

This will be my third Mother’s Day without the physical presence of my Mother. But the things she instilled in me will remain with me forever and live on through my daughter (as I strive to pass on the wisdom).

If you are blessed to still have your Mother with you, take the time to show her love each day.

If, like me, you can no longer pick up the phone to call her or feel the warmth and comfort of her embrace, know that she lives on through you. You are her legacy.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the strong women who have made us who we are.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Praying with or without Words

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

I have had a laminated picture card in my prayer book since the 1990’s. When we received our long awaited copies of DOMINICAN PRAISE in 2005, I transferred the card to the back of my see-through protective cover, and it has been there ever since. Given to me by a friend sister artist, I especially like its colors and design, but have not given much thought to the quote printed on it until the other day.

It reads: “PRAYER is not so much about talking to or addressing God, but rather about deepening our awareness that GOD—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  [author undecipherable]

That day for some reason, it held my attention and stayed on the periphery of my mind for several days, inspiring me to review the evolution of my own personal prayer over the years.

As a young Sister and for several years, I wrote out my prayer as a monologue or dialogue in a journal, sharing all my troubles, concerns, joys and everyday happenings with God as with a best friend/Divine Counselor. It started as a way for me to stay awake and focused during my personal prayer time. Gradually my prayer with many words led to more frequent silent pauses of insight, appreciation, awe, and longer periods of wordless contemplation.

Praying without words made me wonder if I was praying at all; I was so used to using words. But my spiritual director encouraged me to trust my wordless heart prayer as much as my mind’s prayer of many words.

Our daily Common Liturgical Prayer–Mass and Liturgy of the Hours—uses hymns, psalms, prayers, readings; along with signs, symbols and actions—to express and celebrate Christ, our faith and reality as Church, and to draw us into awareness of God, into communion, transformation, silent adoration.

On Saturday, April 14, as our Mission Group meeting opening prayer, Mary Otho, OP, led all of us assembled in a time of contemplative prayer. Inviting us to quiet ourselves and enter our “inner room” where we come into God’s Presence, she then used the triple ringing of a gong to signal the beginning and end of 10 minutes of “prayer without words.” Slowly repeating “I AM,” (God’s name and ours) helped me quiet my busy mind, and call me back to silent presence when distracted. Gradually the “I” dropped off to simply “AM.” When the gong sounded to end the prayer time, it seemed a surprisingly short 10 minutes.

Surrounded by 80+ other Dominican Sisters of Peace united in silent wordless prayer, was peaceful and sacred–prayer “not so much talking to or addressing God, but rather deepening our awareness that God—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  Word made flesh. Body of Christ. That is what it’s all about. My card has been waiting all these years for me to discover its message!

Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, “radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ,  commit ourselves to be women [and men] of peace who: study, contemplate, and preach God’s revelation discovered in the unfolding mystery of creation and in Sacred Scripture.”   — 1st Chapter Commitment, 2009 and 2015

 

How do you discover God’s revelation?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Holding Up The Light of Truth

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is scheduled to open this week and I’m wondering if America will ever own her racial terrorism.

I am afraid that if we, as a nation, don’t confront our history, we will never be free to experience peace and justice. After all, our past – no matter how ugly — informs our present and guides our future.

For me, the Starbucks fiasco that resulted in two black men being handcuffed and arrested for what appears to be “making a white woman feel uncomfortable” is yet another symptom of our inability to even acknowledge that we have a problem with race in America.

I applaud Starbucks for trying to get out in front of the issue. But please excuse me for skeptically believing the effort is more about the bottom line and protecting the brand than about impacting our culture of systemic racism. I’m just not sure how much “training” it will take before we resolve that black and brown people should be treated like human beings.

I’m not blaming Starbucks, but I do want people to understand that what happened in Philly is indicative of what black folk experience on a daily basis. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing this was a one-time atrocity perpetrated by one bad manager.

It’s not about one bad store. It’s not about one bad employee at a store. It’s about systems. It’s about our culture in America.

Unfortunately, white folks’ “uncomfortableness” with black and brown folks has resulted in the arrests, incarcerations, beatings, and killings of multitudes of innocent brown and black people.

I am encouraged by the Equal Justice Initiative – a group dedicated “to challenging racial and economic injustice and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society” – for making The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial of Peace and Justice a reality.

When the memorial opens on Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., it will become the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, blacks humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence

The memorial, which commemorates the lives of thousands of black people who were lynched in the United States, sits on the site of a former slave warehouse. The museum is near one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America.

The hope of EJI is that by honestly confronting the truth about our legacy (of slavery, lynching, segregation, and injustice), we will take steps toward recovery and reconciliation.

EJI Director Bryan Stevenson puts it this way: “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.”

My hope is that we are not too uncomfortable or too tired to help hold up the light of truth.

Posted in Associate Blog, News