Beginnings. We all have them. They can be simple like the start of a new day or momentous like the start of a new ministry or job. Beginnings can be happy or sad…exciting or scary…stormy or smooth. Welcome to the inauguration of a new blog from the Dominican Sisters of Peace called “Wednesday’s Word,” an opportunity to connect with Scripture in a real life way. It’s a bit nerve-wracking writing the first blog but stay with us because there will be someone new each week of the month. We will all be trying to help our readers apply the Word to their lives. Continue reading →
For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.
Once upon a time many of us took pleasure in hearing the bird-songs of summer, smelling the aromas of earth’s flowers and leaves or the lake and salt waters of the shores. Today our windows are closed for air conditioning against seasonal heat and humidity.
We are city people and a city is noisy, full of movement. If we sit quietly outside or open a window, we hear the constant flow of traffic, sirens and horns. How do we relate to our natural world environs? Recently I met a young man whose friends were driving westward. Stopped somewhere in Ohio, they called him and commented on how boring their drive was because they only saw trees.
Is this the issue underlining the current debate over climate change in the world? We city people have lost contact with and feel separated from the natural world?
The challenge presented us is to change our relationship to Earth. The facts of climate warming and its effects are in. Human activities with our technologies of fossil fuel energies and production methods have raised atmospheric heat beyond what is safe for human existence. Today Church and State are together in calling for recognition of Earth as belonging to all peoples. Earth’s resources are meant for all; the privileged minority must share abundantly with the vast majority of impoverished peoples.
The upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, France, November 30-December 11, 2015, highlights issues requiring binding and universal agreement on climate. It will advise immediate action steps to reduce the dangerous atmospheric carbon storage and accumulation occurring. Climate change is defined to mean “a change of climate which is attributed directly/indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” (Natural variability can occur through volcanic activity or solar cycles as examples.) Among issues are the need for diversified agriculture, recovery of indigenous knowledge systems of food production, recognition of diversity in ecosystems with their impact upon carbon-oxygen exchanges, and recognition of the importance and primary place of women in the use of earth’s resources.
The facts and experiences of world climate alterations place women with their families in the center of poverty – 70% of the world’s poor are women. Droughts, floods, the loss of land and weather extremes are occurring world-wide. Diversified farming helps to sustain and promote sustainable food systems when climate changes occur in a region. Women are usually the first to experience the consequences of water scarcity and contamination. They are the ones who travel distances to get water as well as sticks for fuels. Their skeletal structures witness to the burden; their families become ill with the contaminated water—typhoid, dysentery, parasitical worms among other diseases. A glass of clean water is an unknown luxury for most families around the globe.
Laudato Si brings to the forefront the role of spirituality developed over the centuries in relationship to Earth. Close contact with “Mother” Earth awakens a spiritual relationship with Earth as in the Sioux prayer: “Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.” The writers in the Bible experienced this relationship: “greatness and beauty of created things” by God is seen (Wis.13:5). Creation is of God, a gift, our common home. Creation is the order of Love of which Nature is a part – for in Christ were created all things in heaven and on earth (Col.1:16). Thus Meister Eckhart in the 13th century: “Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God.”
We are witnessing the largest number of refugees and displaced persons ever in recorded history, a consequence of human greed and the drive for power. This is a result of world inequalities in which 80% of world peoples are deprived of earth’s resources by which they might earn a living with dignity, integrity and respect. This poverty has close connections with the problems of human and organ trafficking, forced labor/slavery, prostitution, drugs, migrations and wars. When water, land, minerals and all creatures are seen only as commodities, we cease to see Creation as gift. When Creation is no longer gift, God disappears from our sight. Our skyscrapers, ever taller, become the new towers of Babel. Earth becomes “an immense pile of filth” in human and chemical wastes.
Let us read and ponder ; let us pressure our politicians to be open and willing to lead in fostering policies and actions for the common well-being of all peoples.
The terrible scene that recently occurred at the historic AME Church in Charleston, SC, cannot be resolved by our analysis or rationalizations. This evil action can only find some resolution in our minds and hearts by focusing on the individuals whose lives were rudely interrupted by the violence and horror. These people were in their home worship space where they were no doubt quite comfortable. The radical in-breaking of gun violence took their lives and surely carried them into God’s loving embrace.
I choose to think about the deep faith of these church-goers who, midweek, were at their church praying for us and our world, praying for themselves and their families, praying for their city and its well-being. In the midst of the gunfire massacre, our Christian faith assures us that God called each of them by name. They were at prayer; they were focused on true Life. God was with them in the light and in this awful moment of darkness. God carried them into everlasting light and peace.
“Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps, then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and hope.” – Albert Camus (quoted by PACE E BENE) Continue reading →
Dominican Sister of Peace Carmelite Zibilich, OP, died at Mohun Health Care Center, Columbus, OH, on June 28, 2015. She was born in 1937 in New Orleans, LA, and in 1956 entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary’s, New Orleans, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace. She earned a BA degree in English/Education from St. Mary’s Dominican College, New Orleans, a MA degree in English from the University of North Carolina and a MA in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University in Chicago. She was a Licensed Professional Counselor and Spiritual Director. She taught high school and college in New Orleans. She ministered as a counselor and spiritual director in Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana. She was also involved in Formation ministry for the congregation. Continue reading →