Weekly Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


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 He did this to try to make the leaders see that their rules had suddenly superseded the “rules” of God.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

Polarization is NOT Catholic!

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

Have you seen the cover of the January issue of AMERICA magazine? The Pope is there with the headline “POLARIZATION IS NOT CATHOLIC”. Notice that all the letters are in upper case which takes the easy way out for the magazine at least at face value.

Polarization is not catholic for sure because catholic (small c) means universal; therefore, everyone is welcome and cannot be separated for any reason. Polarization is not Catholic is hardly correct, and right now the institutional Church has been fine with our divisions and polarities. Our church leaders have polarized the priests and the people in the pew with their very public rebuttals of Pope Francis and his pronouncements. Regional seminaries bring men together from various dioceses and some have Bishops who follow the Pope and some have Bishops who are publicly critical of the Pope, so they must have lively debates, or not.

Wherein lies the truth, and finding it is something every Dominican must be committed to for everyone’s sake. Disagreements might be healthy until they tear at the fabric of our universal truths. Some may say, how can they be universal if they are tearing us apart? Good question, how do we answer it? Study, listening to all sides, being well informed, searching for motivations and intentions and the best of all Prayer! Jesus warned us that we would be divided within our families and in our faith. As women and men of the Gospel, we must look and pray deeply to find the ways that Jesus has given us to really be catholic.

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Gratitude and Thanksgiving

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

Despite what we might be seeing on TV, Thanksgiving comes before Christmas, but I guess that other than “Black Friday” advertisers cannot figure out a way to really market the holiday.

Or is their problem the fact that we have become aware in this 21st century that what happened in 1620 near a rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was just another way to exclude some folks who were not white Anglo Saxon Christians? So, are advertisers steering clear of making a big deal out of that event?

No matter what the issue is, we do have a day on our calendars that specifically demands a time of thanks giving. Right now it is demanded more than ever. We are searching for ways to see the good things around us in the midst of a whole lot of division, negativity, sickness, violence and hate.

When this Thanksgiving Day rolls around (tomorrow) and the only thing we can be thankful for is that we are still breathing……shout to the heights THANK YOU! It means we still have a chance to make a difference in all the right ways. It means we still have the opportunity to change some of the stuff we know should be changed. It means we can acknowledge that God can still work if we allow God to work.

Rev. Stephen Pugh, a minister of the Disciples of Christ Church wrote this prayer:

O God, when I have food,
help me remember those who are hungry.
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all.
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer.
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency,
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help,
by word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

A Simple Prayer

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

Before coming to “rest” for 8 years in New Orleans, I traveled a lot for ministry, and all of those trips gave me a sack full of stories. One came to my mind as I listened to the Gospel on Sunday. It spoke about prayer, and so does the story I remembered.

We were on a flight coming from Orlando Florida and going to Newark, New Jersey. Right there sets the stage. Passengers included parents dead tired from walking Disney World; children in mourning because they would not get to walk Disney World and hug the mouse; regular customers (like me) just going about our business.

Seated behind me was an exhausted Mom, an older brother and a younger brother about five, and it was obvious the younger boy was not ready to go home. The kicking from behind of the seat next to me began fairly soon after take off and the sniffling began soon after that.

About an hour into the four hour flight, he began crying in earnest because he had realized there was no turning back. He cried himself to sleep after a short time for a short time, but when he awoke, it was louder and straight from the heart!

Just when we thought there would be no relief, a voice behind me from the 8 year old brother rose loud and clear that said, “Dear God, get us down from this sky!!”. A very loud “AMEN” resonated from the rest of us.

Now that is prayer! That is the kind of prayer we heard about in Sunday’s Gospel; straightforward, from the heart, no ruffles and flourishes, no grandiose pronouncements of praise and love and honor to God. It was a prayer that deeply acknowledged God’s power and a childlike trust that God will hear and God will do. Yes, it did take another hour, but the people on that plane knew God was with us! And we did indeed get out of that sky! AMEN.

Posted in News, Weekly Word