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Inspired and Empowered by God’s Spirit

More
than 3,000 delegates, including lay women and men, religious sisters and brothers,
deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals of the United States gathered
in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018 for the National V Encuentro.
Together they examined the evolving role of the Hispanic/Latino Catholics in
the U.S. In his closing Mass homily the USCCB vice president, Archbishop Jose
Gomes of Los Angeles, said: “The Lord
calls each of us to hear his voice. Take your place in the history of salvation
and do your part.”
   (info from the Northeast Ohio Catholic,
Nov.Dec.2018)

Blog by Sister Amy McFrederick

These
words, though addressed to those at the September gathering in Texas, equally
apply to all persons of faith. Recently people across the USA awakened to their
role in guiding our democracy, came out and voiced their concerns through the
power of a single vote.  As each of us
listens and follows the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our life, no matter
how big/small the action, we help build the Kindom of Christ.

Carol Lemelin, OPA, recently wrote:

How did it happen that Paul of Tarsus, a relentless persecutor of the followers of Christ, became His greatest advocate? We know about his being knocked off his horse and blinded. We know he went at Christ’s command to the city. We knowthat Ananias was directed by God to go to Paul. He went even though Paul waspractically a murderer in the eyes of the New People.  From there it makesa great story. Can you imagine the reaction when the disciples inJerusalem heard that the notorious Saul of Tarsus wanted to be aChristian?  After the initial shock woreoff, the efforts of Paul to enlighten his people to the coming of the Messiahhad a powerful effect on the Apostles. It undoubtedly took quite a whilebut eventually they came to see that his grasp of the true meaning of the lifeof Jesus was nothing short of extraordinary. There is only one answer tohow this was even possible and that is the Holy Spirit was at work. 

From that time on it has been
the Holy Spirit who speaks to us. The trick is to learn to understand and
listen carefully. That is not impossible. Despite the enormity of
God, God is as close as your next heartbeat. The prophets all learned to hear
and understand that the voice of God comes from within. There is a knowing that comes with the voice of
God.  It is not limited to prophets or evangelists. It is for
you and me as well. This is not spooky or weird, but as real as you
are. Again, however, you and I must get in touch with that Spirit before
we can hope to understand what God wants from us.  

Thomas Moore, Catherine of
Sienna, Dominic, Martin de Porres, Isaac Jogues and Oscar Romero, are just a
few of the millions who have heard and acted on the voice of the Spirit because
they learned to listen and to follow. Pope Francis says we have to leave
room for the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of
our lives in our every decision. 

Most of us may
never be required to do deeds of magnitude, but it is not for us to determine
what is or is not important to God.  

Let our aim each day be to listen for God’s guidance and do God’s will.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Remember, Honor, Celebrate Veterans with Gratitude

As I approached an elevator this weekend, I encountered a
man wearing U.S. Army dress blues (adorned with medals, badges, patches,
stripes and a silver oak leaf insignia).

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

He greeted me with “Good Morning. How are you today?”

I responded “I am well, thank you. How are you?

He replied that he, too, was well.

As we got on the elevator, I commented (in question form)
“You must be on your way to a Veteran’s Day service or celebration?”

He replied that he had traveled to Ohio from Norfolk (VA) to
be part of an appreciation breakfast hosted by an alumni chapter of Phi Beta
Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

We shared small talk about Norfolk; and as we got off the
elevator, we exchanged well wishes for the day. I added “Thank you for serving!”

He responded, with a smile, “Thank you for your support!”

That interchange got me thinking about what it means to
support our military veterans and active servicemen and servicewomen. I started
considering a number of ways to show support – donating to causes that help
veterans and troops; volunteering to give veterans a ride to medical
appointments; visiting VA hospitals and facilities that serve our wounded
soldiers; sponsoring a companion dog for veterans with PTSD; sending care
packages and letters; helping homeless veterans; volunteering with
organizations that serve our military personnel and their families; listening
to their stories and sharing them; advocating for the fulfillment of our
nation’s promises to our veterans, etc.

The list of ways to help is not limited to those listed
above. But perhaps the easiest way to support our veterans and active military
personnel is with a “Thank You” that is heartfelt and sincere. That simple act
of gratitude is something that we all can extend to show appreciation for
everything they have faced and sacrificed. It is something that can brighten
the day of a veteran or military person.

I trust that the smile on Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Hall’s
face as he said “Thank you for your support!” was an indication that my “thank
you” had brightened his day.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

SEEKING PEACE IN THE MIDST OF TRAGEDY: BLACK LIVES DO MATTER

Blog by Associate Marybeth Irvine

Man Caught After Two Slain
— on most mornings,
this headline would have just received a glance from me. I, like I assume many
others, have begun to see it as a normal day in the big city.

But this time
was different for me. I became a news junkie. I listened and read everything
that was written about the violent actions of the gunman who left Vickie Jones
and Maurice Stallard dead — dead just because they were black.

Maurice and
Vickie were going about the normal events of a normal day, stopping at the
neighborhood Kroger — a thing we all do; but they were black. I believe that Maurice
symbolized all the black males that the gunman hates.

The Dominican
Sisters of Peace congregational study of racism and gun violence became real
for me on October 24. – the day that Vickie and Maurice, both grandparents,
were gunned down (Maurice, right in front of his 12-year-old grandson).

But why this
shooting?

This shooting
and death held significance for me because I knew Maurice and his wife,
Charlotte. This was not just the death of another black male; it was the
killing of a black male that I knew. A man that I celebrated Eucharist with in
our common parish; a man I spoke to often and saw even more frequently, as he
served the parish in many roles. This killing killed a relationship and it
mattered to me.

Being a part of
the activities that honored Vickie and Maurice mattered to me; I needed to
participate. I attended the vigil held in the Kroger parking lot. I did not
anticipate the fear arising in me as I stood in the open space. Fear that
became palpable as I watched the armed police officer on the rooftop and
wondered if there could be more violence?

I found comfort
as I observed the mingling of blacks, browns, whites — why does it take a
killing to bring us together?

And there was
disbelief as I went into the store finding myself in aisle 37, not because I
needed to visit the scene of Maurice’s death but because I was picking up cat
food, which happened to be in the next aisle. The disbelief surfaced because
this was a small secluded aisle. The killer had to intentionally follow Maurice.

I also attended
the visitation because I needed to hug Charlotte. It took two hours to wind my
way into the funeral home. What I observed in the parking lot made the wait a
blessing. Standing in line, I observed, again, respect for others, calm,
long-time friends greeting one another and conversation among strangers. Why do
our best manners only get dusted off in the midst of tragedy?

The news
coverage has not ended. Charges have been filed but the most significant, that
of being a hate crime, has to find its way through the justice system. According
to news reports, prior to the shooting, the gunman allegedly tried to enter a
predominantly black church nearby but was unable to get inside. When that
attempt failed, he went to Kroger instead and opened fire in the store.

As the days
pass, I sit with sadness. Maurice’s life mattered to me; his black male life mattered
to me. The relationship I had with him makes all the difference.

I pray with the
words of the Kaddish that we have heard so often recently: May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us all…may the
One who creates harmony on high bring peace to us.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Gifted by Life’s Challenges

Blog by Sister Amy McFrederick

Life can throw us all kinds of challenges—whether
small, medium or seeming insurmountable, they call something more from us.

This morning, fussing with my uncooperative hair and
complaining to myself about the beautician who didn’t cut it to meet my
expectation, and noting that I must not have been clear about what I wanted, I
finally submitted. “O well, what is IS,” and I grab my curling brush. It’s
amazing how that little wand in hand can improve my mood. And just when I think
my hair is beyond repair, it sometimes turns out better than ever!

Later this morning when I opened Pat Farrell, OP’s daily online posting, OPREACH,
I was greeted with: “Even when life challenges us, it’s a gift beyond all
measure.” —
Parker Palmer

I got to thinking how often life doesn’t give us
exactly what we want or expect, but when we rise to the occasion, do what we
can to make the best of it, things often work out well enough. We may be
surprised how well it turns out—and sometimes even see that the challenge was
really a special blessing or gift.

One day some of my Sister friends and I planned to meet
near Kansas City for a weekend of prayer, sharing and relaxing together. I was
going to leave St. Louis around 4 p.m, Friday after work to be there between
8:30-9:00 p.m. When I tried to pack my weekend bag, I felt an inner force
preventing me from moving in that direction. Instead of doing what I had
intended, I found myself redirected several times. The clock kept ticking, and
at 5 p.m. I saw myself turn on the TV, sit and watch the news, making me
wonder: “What is wrong with me? Why am I doing this? I need to get going!”
Suddenly around 6:30 p.m. I felt released from whatever was holding me back. I flew
into action, and was soon on the highway.

As I approached Kansas City, NPR news reported a
terrible accident on the same interstate highway I was taking. It had held up
traffic for about 3 hours and was now finally clearing. I arrived at my
destination around 11 p.m. safely, mystified, and with a thankful heart. Was it
intuition? God? My guardian angel?  The
puzzling ‘force’ holding me back proved truly a blessing for me – “a gift
beyond all measure”.

I was visiting with a 40-50 year old man who was a
quadriplegic due to a diving accident when he was 19. He described it as being
the worst day of his life. As he continued to talk, he shared how much he
treasured his faith in Christ, and how deeply enriching and meaningful his
relationship with God and with other people of faith had become to him. He had
a profound spiritual depth that he shared freely and with ease. 

When I asked him what his life was like before that
terrible accident, he said he was “pretty dissipated”, and had little or no
faith. Suddenly, his eyes lit up as he said, “You know, I have always cursed
the day I became a quadriplegic. But now I wonder if it had not happened, if I would have ever looked
for or found God—the  greatest gift of my
life!”

I have heard other stories of persons who found great
gift hidden in some of their life’s worst challenges. Have you ever been served
a life challenge that was truly a gift in disguise? I invite you to share your
story.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

WHAT CAN EQUAL THE VALUE OF A HUMAN SOUL?

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m pretty sure that we have all heard “Everything has a price” – as in: for the right price, anything can be bought or sold.

As
I pondered that idea, I was reminded of a dialogue between a professor and
fellow student in one of my history courses in college (a few years ago, wink
wink). It went something like this:

Professor: Anything can
be bought.

Student: Well, you
can’t buy love.

Professor: Maybe. But
for the right price, you can buy a pretty good imitation of it.

The
class erupted in laughter, as the student conceded that the professor had a
good point.

I
think that memory moved to the forefront of my mind because I needed a light
moment before tackling the really serious question that started my deliberation:
How much is a human life worth? – $10 million, the EPA’s value of statistical
life for 2016? a billion? $18 billion, the amount that the U.S. reportedly
cleared in new arms deals with Saudi Arabia in 2017? a trillion? Or is it
invaluable?

I
choose the latter. I believe that life is a sacred gift from God; therefore, it
is not to be treated like a cheap commodity. I believe that it is a mistake to
disregard the value of human life, no matter what the circumstances.

I
choose to respect and value my life and the lives of others. I believe the
dignity of a human soul is worth more than any economic gain.

I
was horrified when I heard an Evangelical leader say “you don’t blow up an
international alliance over one person” in response to the murder of Washington
Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

I
am not willing to give up my commitment to championing human rights for economic
benefit. I am not okay with jeopardizing America’s global reputation as a moral
authority that advocates respect for human rights in exchange for money from
arms sales.

Are
you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News