Wednesday, December 31, 2014

January 1: World Day of Peace 2015

As we reminded you in this blog post, the theme of this year's World Day of Peace message from Pope Francis is "No Longer Slaves, But Brothers and Sisters."  The message (available here) focuses on the millions of people today -- children, women and men of all ages -- who are deprived of freedom through forced prostitution, labor, human trafficking and terrorism.  The Holy Father's message asks us to focus on the causes of slavery and to make a shared commitment to end it.  The conclusion of the message states:  "We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands."

Perhaps as we begin this new year, we can consider how "the globalization of indifference" has caused us to do less than we are able to do to help.  Have you read the Stop Trafficking newsletter?  Advocated for legislation to end human trafficking?  Prayed for victims and those who cause trafficking to occur?  In 2015, perhaps we could "step up" our efforts to end human trafficking.

As always, we pray:  "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Violence against priests in Mexico

In this NEWS.VA article, Pope Francis calls the recent murder of Mexican priest, Rev. Gregorio López Gorostieta, "unjustifiable violence" and "urges all priests, and other missionaries, to continue in their mission despite the difficulties encountered, following the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd."  Although a motive has not yet been determined, this article from Catholic Online suggests that it was related to a homily in which the priest spoke out against the drug cartel.  Additionally, it indicates that this was the third such incident in recent times.

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015

Will it be 2015 in just a few days?  How did that happen?  As we approach the new year, we continue the Year of Consecrated Life, the Sisters of Christian Charity continue the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mother Pauline in 2017, Carmelites prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Jesus (St. Teresa of Avila), and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton will be observed.  What do all of these things have in common? The connection is not readily apparent.  However during 2015, this blog will attempt to provide resources for these (and other) commemorations, relating them to the blog's overall theme of peace, justice and the integrity of creation. 

As an overview, here are some sites we can begin to explore:

  • Year of Consecrated Life:  The National Religious Vocation Conference has a page on its site (available here)
  • Pauline von Mallinckrodt:  The Sisters of Christian Charity websites are worth exploring.  From the Generalate site, one can reach any other SCC site.  Here is the link to the North American Eastern Province's site, the home of this blog. 
  • St. Teresa of Avila: This site is a wonderful "5th Centenary" site, sponsored by various Carmelite nuns and friars.
  • Thomas Merton: Here is the link to the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University.  Additionally, the January 2015 issue of St. Anthony Messenger has "Thomas Merton 100 Years" as its cover story. 
These sites "scratch the surface."  What other information have you found that you would like to share?  Please go to the comment section of the blog to list them.  (That is, click on "comment" at the bottom of the post after you click on this link.)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Restlessness of Love

During Advent, we have been attempting to reflect on Rejoice, a letter to consecrated women and men based on the teachings of Pope Francis. During this fourth week of Advent, when we proclaim the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), we would do well to ponder the final portion of Rejoice, "Hail, Mother of Joy," which references both the Annunciation and the Visitation. 

Additionally, we might consider another question of Pope Francis included in Rejoice.  In his homily for the opening of the General Chapter of the Order of St. Augustine in August, 2013 in Rome, Pope Francis referenced the "restlessness of love," that is, "ceaselessly seeking the good of the other, of the beloved, without ever stopping, and with the intensity that leads even to tears."  The Holy Father's question included in Rejoice is:  "The restlessness of love is always an incentive to go towards the other, without waiting for the other to manifest his need.  The restlessness of love gives us the gift of pastoral fruitfulness, and we must ask ourselves, each one of us: is my spiritual effectiveness healthy, is my apostolate fruitful?"

Friday, December 12, 2014

No Longer Slaves . . .

The 2015 World Day of Peace Message of Pope Francis was released on Wednesday.  The theme is "No Longer Slaves, But Brothers and Sisters."  Click here to read the full text. Here's an excerpt in which Pope Francis discusses the efforts of religious congregations to end human trafficking and assist its victims:

"I would like to mention the enormous and often silent efforts which have been made for many years by religious congregations, especially women’s congregations, to provide support to victims. These institutes work in very difficult situations, dominated at times by violence, as they work to break the invisible chains binding victims to traffickers and exploiters. Those chains are made up of a series of links, each composed of clever psychological ploys which make the victims dependent on their exploiters. This is accomplished by blackmail and threats made against them and their loved ones, but also by concrete acts such as the confiscation of their identity documents and physical violence. The activity of religious congregations is carried out in three main areas: in offering assistance to victims, in working for their psychological and educational rehabilitation, and in efforts to reintegrate them into the society where they live or from which they have come" (n. 5).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December Issue of Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the December 2014 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, highlighting studies that expose the complexities of sex and labor trafficking.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prayer and Fasting for Peace

On the 11th of each month, the Sisters of Christian Charity observe a day of prayer and fasting for peace.  Thanks to the Sisters of the Western Region (Wilmette, IL) for providing us with this prayerful reflection for December 11:


PATHWAYS TO PEACE

 In our fasting and prayer on Thursday, December 11, 2014 let us ponder the words of Pope Francis as he names the virtue of humility as an important step on the pathway to peace.
“So it is always with God’s love, that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility… One can take no other road, if I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian, you are not on the pathway to peace.” (Pope Francis: Homily.)
“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination in the Cross.  He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.” (Pope Francis: Pathways to Peace.)

FOR REFLECTION:   HOW WILL I RESPOND?
Catechism of the Catholic Church 520:   In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model.  He is the “perfect man” who invites us to become his disciples and follow him.  In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way.
Consider:  Where could I grow in the imitation of Christ’s humility?  What elements of humility do I like to follow?  What elements do I ignore or avoid?
Pope Francis:   “Servant leadership is found in service.  Just like Jesus, who didn’t come to be served but to serve.  His service was on the Cross.  He humbled himself unto death, He died on a cross for us, to serve us, to save us.  It’s with this path that the Church moves forward.  For the Christian, getting ahead, progress, means humbling oneself.  If we  do not learn this Christian rule, we will never be able to understand Jesus’ true message on power and peace.”

Consider:  What are my views about power, service and peace?  When have I had positions of leadership – in my family, my school, my workplace, my parish, or my community? How did I carry out those roles of servant leadership?  Have I been a servant to those I lead?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Waiting for God's Tomorrow" during the Second Week of Advent

We began the Year of Consecrated Life last week by introducing Rejoice, a letter to consecrated men and women based on the teachings of Pope Francis. This week, we draw from the same letter, this time quoting Pope Francis from his celebration of Vespers with the Community of Camaldolese Benedictine Nuns in November 2013.  Its Marian theme is especially timely during this week in which we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and its "waiting" theme is especially timely during this second week of Advent.

"At the foot of the cross, Mary is at the same time the woman of sorrow and of watchful expectation of a mystery far greater than sorrow, which is about to be fulfilled.  It seemed that everything had come to an end; every hope could be said to have been extinguished. She too, at that moment, remembering the promises of the Annunciation could have said: They did not come true, I was deceived.  But she did not say this.  And so she who was blessed because she believe, sees blossom from her faith a new future and awaits God's tomorrow with expectation.  At times I think: Do we know how to wait for God's tomorrow?  Or do we want it today?  For her the tomorrow of God is the dawn of Easter morning, the dawn of the first day of the week.  It would do us good to think, in contemplation, of the embrace of mother and son.  The single lamp lit at the tomb of Jesus is the hope of the mother, which in that moment is the hope of all humanity.  I ask myself and I ask you: Is this lamp still alight in monasteries?  In your monasteries are you waiting for God's tomorrow?"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ebola and Poverty

In the November 17 issue of America, Michael Rozier, SJ writes:  "Our instinct is to overlook the social and environmental influences on health and focus on personal behavior and medical care. We like to blame either the individual (typically for chronic diseases like diabetes or obesity) or the micro-organism (tuberculosis or Ebola). But we fail to appreciate how involved we all are -- how responsible we are -- for the social conditions that foster disease along the way."

His article, "Behind the Headlines: Ebola and the magnifying power of poverty," invites us to look beyond the "powerful narrative" of the sensational media coverage by looking at the poverty and political instability that gives the virus its true power.   His article, available here, is well worth your time.  It would also be good to remember in prayer those individuals, families and communities who continue to be devastated by Ebola, which -- according to Rozier -- will "extend longer than our attention span."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

JPIC Advent Calendar

Thank you to the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth for sharing their calendar containing brief and meaningful suggestions for Advent.  Click here to access the file or here to go to the Sisters of Charity site, click on the "Peace, Justice and Earth" tab, then "Advent Calendar." 

(An example of the suggestions on the calendar for December 3:  Feast of St. Francis Xavier, nameday of Mother Xavier - Pope Francis says “Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: 'We have always done it this way.'” Do I hear a call in these words?)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy New Year . . . of Consecrated Life

The first Sunday of Advent always rings in the new liturgical year. However, this year it also brings the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life.  The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has published Rejoice, a letter to consecrated men and women from the teachings of Pope Francis.  The letter provides opportunity for reflection on various teachings.  For example, drawing from the Holy Father's July 2013 address to seminarians and novices, it references today's "culture of the temporary," in which it is seemingly difficult to make commitments for a lifetime.  Our question for today (in the words of Pope Francis):  "We are victims of the culture of the temporary.  I would like you to think about this:  How can I break free from this 'culture of the temporary'"?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

All Good Gifts. . .

As we continue to be engaged in prayer, service and advocacy for the least of our brothers and sisters, we remember that we are instruments of God, who has bestowed "all good gifts."  Here's a clip to help us remember that "All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above . . . so thank the Lord!"  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Pope Francis at FAO Nutrition Conference

Click here to read the address that Pope Francis delivered at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yesterday.  In his address, the Holy Father spoke of waste, excessive consumption of food and the rights of those who go hungry. 

This brief address is worth reading.  Here's an excerpt:

"If we believe in the principle of the unity of the human family, based on the common paternity of God the Creator, and in the fraternity of human beings, no form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable. Political and economic pressure: here I think of our sister and mother, Earth, our planet, and of whether we are free of political and economic pressure and able to care for her, to avoid her destruction. We have two conferences ahead of us, in Perù and France, which pose the challenge to us of caring for our planet. I remember a phrase that I heard from an elderly man many years ago: God always forgives … our misdemeanours, our abuse, God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction. But, above all, no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SOA/WHINSEC

The Convergence of Hope and Resistance is happening this weekend at Fort Benning.  You will recall that we shared a prayer service on the 11th of this month for this purpose (click here to see that posting).  Additionally, an Evening Prayer is available on our website (click here), should you wish to use it.  Special prayers go out to the Sisters from the SCC North American Western Region who will attend. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

JPIC News from Rome

The UISG-USG JPIC Commission in Rome invites us to visit its website, www.jpicroma.org to find "a wide range of information and resources on justice, peace and the integrity of creation as well as a forum for JPIC promoters and a calendar of Commission events.

Speaking of the calendar of events, Sister Joanne Bednar will be attending today's prayer event mentioned on the site:  The 50th anniversary of the Pact of the Catacombs and the Conclusion of Vatican II.  We are sure she will share with us about the experience. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador

In the October 15 issue of Santa Clara Magazine, Ron Hansen writes about the massacre of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter in San Salvador on November 16, 1989.  Click here to read the article and here to go to the 25th anniversary commemoration site.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Remembering Dorothy Day

Last Saturday would have been the birthday of Dorothy Day.  Click here to view a nine-minute video meditation on Dorothy Day by James Martin, SJ or here to view a full-length (two-plus hours) documentary.  In his meditation, Father Martin quotes her autobiography, entitled "The Long Loneliness" (worth reading or re-reading): "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community."  This is a quotation worth remembering.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Physician-Assisted Suicide in New Jersey

On Thursday, the New Jersey state assembly is scheduled to vote on a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. The New Jersey Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide provides information on its website to assist us in opposing this bill.  Click here to access the site, which includes information about contacting your legislators.

Pray and Fast

Let us remember to pray and fast for peace today, the 11th of the month, as has been the tradition of the Sisters of Christian Charity for the past several years.  Click here to access a prayer for today shared by the SCC North American Western Region.

Since today is Veterans' Day, we also remember those who gave their lives that we might enjoy the freedoms we have. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Who Cares About the Saints?

As we do each November, let's remember the "cloud of witnesses" we call the saints.  Who cares about the saints?  In this video, James Martin, SJ provides an answer.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week of Holocaust Remembrance 2014

Click here to view the list of events that will commemorate the Week of Holocaust Remembrance (November 10-14)  at the College of St. Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ) this year. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

English "Relatio Synodi" Published

The final "relatio" of the Synod of Bishops on the Family -- "Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization" --  has been published in English.  Click here to access the report. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

40 Days for Life: One Week to Go!

With one week left in the campaign, have you been participating in "40 Days for Life"?  Click here to read the latest update.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Have you signed the poverty pledge?

Catholic Charities USA has reached 33% of its goal of 20,000 signatures on the Pledge to Fight Poverty in America.  Click here for more information.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Speech at the Conclusion of the Synod

A "provisional" translation of Pope Francis's speech at the conclusion of the Synod is available here.  (At the time of this posting, the "official" translation was not available.)  The speech is noteworthy for several reasons, including the mention of some "tensions and temptations," such as inflexibility, a "destructive tendency to goodness," and "coming down off the cross" to please people rather than doing the Will of God.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As you may be aware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Click here to access a prayer calendar for the month. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Resources for World Mission Day

Resources for World Mission Day (Sunday, October 19) are available here from the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Message for World Mission Day 2014

Sunday, October 19 is World Mission Day.  Click here to access the message from Pope Francis for this day.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Are you praying for the synod?

Remember to pray for the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome until October 19.  Click here for more information from the USCCB site.  Here is the prayer from Pope Francis for the Synod, available at the link above:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God's plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October Issue of Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the October issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, focusing on providing assistance to trafficking survivors for their healing journey.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pray for the Synod

The USCCB has provided great resources for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family (October 5-19, 2014).  Click here to access those resources.  Here is the prayer for the Synod (also available through the same link):

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God's plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Living Justice in the Body of Christ

The North American Eastern Province of  the Sisters of Christian Charity and their Companions of Pauline assembled on Saturday, September 27 to discuss "Living Justice in the Body of Christ."  In the morning, participants heard presentations from Sister Diane Moughan, SCC, Professor of Theology at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, NJ and Sister Anna Nguyen, SCC, Assistant Director of Asian and Pacific Island Affairs at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC.  The afternoon was spent visioning about the theme.  Guided by Scripture, The Joy of the Gospel, Catholic Social Teaching, and the writings of Mother Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity, the day was filled with discussions of how Sisters of Christian Charity and Companions of Pauline can deepen their commitment to living justice in the Body of Christ.  One of the most important things that will be remembered from the day is:  LOVE ACTS!  Here are some photos of the day.  (Email subscribers:  If you do not see photos below, click here to go to the blog to view them.)





 



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that takes a peaceful approach (consisting of prayer and fasting, vigil and community outreach) to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods.  From September 24 to November 2, you can participate in 40 days for life.  Click here to find a location near you.  (If you are in the Morristown, NJ area, click here to get information about the local campaign.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

USCCB Call to Prayer

The U. S. Bishops invite the faithful to join a movement of prayer, penance and sacrifice for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage and religious liberty.  Click here for more information.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pray for Peace

On this International Day of Peace, we are again sharing this simple video. (Email subscribers: If you do not see a video below, please click here to view.)
 
Let's also remember those participating in the People's Climate March today in New York City/

 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws

Polaris Project has rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 categories of laws regarding human trafficking.  Click here to access the report.  If you are from Delaware, New Jersey or Washington:  Congratulations!  Your state fulfills all 10 categories.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Prayer for 9/11

As we solemnly recall the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we continue to pray for peace on earth.  Here is a prayer that was written and shared by Thomas L. McDonald last year (available here):

Dear Lord, as we remember the evils of September 11, let us turn our hearts and minds toward the good found only in you; be close to those who mourn:  the parents who lost children, the children who never knew a parent, and all who lost a loved one.  Embrace this grieving nation and let time never lessen the impact of this day.  May we never forget.  Protect those who go in harm's way to save others and those who suffer and die to safeguard our nation.  Give wisdom to our leaders, that they may make choices that prevent another day such as this.  Convert the hearts of those who seek our destruction, and banish from the world the darkness that allows such hate to fester and grow.  Let your love rain down upon us, and let your peace flourish on the earth.  All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pray for the missionary sisters killed in Burundi

Please click here for information about the three Italian  Xaverian missionary Sisters who were killed in Burundi.  Chances are that by the time you get this message, the news will be updated beyond what's contained in this article.  So, stay current -- and PRAY!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Charity and Justice Must Guide Our Response

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque released its response to the "border crisis," reminding us that "charity and justice must guide our response."  Click here to view the page which might give us some ideas about our own response, especially regarding unaccompanied children.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Meaning of Labor Day

Bishop Tobin of Providence, RI has written a brief reflection on "The Catholic Meaning of Labor Day."  Click here to access the reflection.  Here is an excerpt:

"Labor Day is primarily a civil holiday and social event, but it also has religious significance, at least in Catholic circles. The Church uses the occasion to reaffirm its teaching about the dignity and value of workers and the work they do. We recall that work is not an end in itself, but rather a sharing in God’s work of creation and redemption."

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Resources from U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Please click here to access updated resources from U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  On this page, you will find prayers, fact sheets, awareness activities and much more.  Because these are simple, yet meaningful, resources, we will feature them individually in upcoming blog posts. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Take 4 Minutes to Pray for Peace

Here's a beautiful video reflection by Reba McEntire, "Pray for Peace."  It's only four minutes long, but a very simple, beautiful prayer.  (Email subscribers: If you do not see a video link below, please click here to view the video.)


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reminder for Sunday: Pray for Peace in Iraq

As we reminded you earlier this week, we are asked to pray in a special way for peace in Iraq as we gather together as a faith community this Sunday.  Click here for more information. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pray for the Pope's Trip to South Korea

Today, Pope Francis begins his five-day visit in South Korea.  Please pray for him and for the people of South Korea.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Advocating for Peace in Gaza

Please click here for information from the USCCB on the prayer, pilgrimage, projects and public actions being taken toward reconciliation among the people of Palestine and Israel. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 17: Pray for Peace in Iraq

When faced with the news of increasing violence around the world, we often wonder what we can do. 

Please click here to read the invitation from Bishop Richard Pates, chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the USCCB, to all US dioceses and parishes to pray special prayers for peace on Sunday, August 17. 

Bishop Pates has also shared the prayer of  Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako that was shared with you on this blog yesterday: 

Lord,
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Angelus Appeal for Peace

Click here to read the text of today's Angelus address, in which Pope Francis appeals for peace in Iraq and Gaza.  In his message on Twitter yesterday and in his prayers each day, the Holy Father is reminding us that we can all do something to help our suffering brothers and sisters:  prayer, social media, advocacy, donations and direct service are a few of the ways we can offer assistance.

On a related note, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, has written the following prayer for peace in Iraq, which has been shared by the USCCB:

Lord,
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Stop Trafficking Newsletter

Click here to access the August issue of Stop Trafficking, highlighting the plight of children in the U.S. and those seeking asylum because of violence and sexual exploitation.

Monday, August 4, 2014

#IAMPEACE

Click here for more information about a Global Meditation for Peace this Saturday, August 8.  Can a simultaneous global meditation make a positive difference in our war-torn world?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

USCCB Resource Kit and JFI Action Alert

Please click here to access a resource kit from the USCCB dealing with the growing number of unaccompanied migrant children coming to the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The kit contains links to a letter from Pope Francis and statements from other church leaders, background information, Catholic Social Teaching, and other information for reflection and action.

Additionally, Justice for Immigrants has made us aware of an immediate "Action Alert" regarding unaccompanied minor children.  Please click here for more information about sending a message to your Senators and Representatives urging due process for these children.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunday: Pray for Peace in the Holy Land

This Sunday, Christians around the world are invited to pray for peace in the Holy Land.  Click here for more information from the Vatican news network. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What can I do?

As we consider the plight of migrants and immigration reform in the U.S., we need not be overwhelmed.  There are many things we can do wherever we are:  pray, be informed, contact our representatives, . . .

One of the most comprehensive summaries of how to help the children is available through the Global Sisters Report (click here). 

Additionally, go to the USCCB's Justice for Immigrants page, scroll down, click on the links.  Choose one action and commit to doing it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What happens to them?

Click here to read and/or listen to a story from the NPR show, "Here and Now," about what happens to the over 52,000 migrant children (many unaccompanied) who have crossed into the United States.  Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy for the USCCB is interviewed in this story.

Friday, July 11, 2014

#PAUSEforPeace before the World Cup Final

The Pontifical Council for Culture has launched the "Pause for Peace" Campaign to precede the World Cup Final on Sunday evening in Brazil.  The Council asks for a moment of silence before the final game between Germany and Brazil to remember those stricken by wars and unrest worldwide.  Click here to read an article on the Vatican Network.

Why?

Why are so many Central Americans attempting to enter the United States?  Why are they so desperate that they even try to send their unaccompanied children?  Click here to read an article from the Catholic Herald explaining the plight of one group of would-be migrants in San Salvador.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Poverty is a Circumstance, not a Value Judgment."

Click here to read Darlena Cunha's Washington Post article about going from wealth to poverty. Entitled "This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps," her sharing is a reminder about the judgments we make of "the poor" -- who they are, why they are poor, and what they should/should not be doing/buying/wearing if they are poor.  Perhaps the most important reminder in this article is this perceptive sentence:  "Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment." 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July Stop Trafficking Newsletter

Click here to access the July issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, focusing on the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.  The theme of this year's TIP is "The Journey from Victim to Survivor."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 14: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection (the final one).  Here's an excerpt: "What is the relationship between growing religious diversity, as well as growing interactions among people of different faiths, and religious liberty?"

Perhaps we could close our observance of the Fortnight for Freedom by praying the "Litany of Liberty," available here

Happy Independence Day to all of our readers in the U.S.A. -- and those who are observing the holiday from outside the country, too!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 13: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt: "In the United States, religious freedom is protected in the Constitution. . . . Are those constitutional protections enough? Are they growing stronger or weaker in our society today? What else, apart from the law, can strengthen or weaken religious liberty? What should Catholics do to defend and foster religious liberty in America today? What have Catholics done in the past when religious liberty was threatened?"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 12: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "What present circumstances threaten the freedom of the Catholic Church particularly? Are threats to the Church's freedom always from without, or do threats arise from within the Church itself? What threats in the past has the Church in our country had to contend with?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 11: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "What causes religious conflicts today? Do governments always adequately respond to such conflicts? What distinguishes "public order" (which limits religious freedom) from an ordinary policy preference of government (which does not)?"

Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 10: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "Within our contemporary world, where is religious equality denied or religious discrimination tolerated? Are there instances where one religion violates the rights of other religions?"

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 9: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt: "How do governments protect and promote the religious life of their citizens? Do governments take this into consideration today?  In the U.S., how does the government foster religious life while respecting the principle of separation of church and state?"

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 8: Fortnight for Freedom


Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom Reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "Since the family is a society in its own original right, it has the right freely to live its own domestic religious life under the guidance of parents.  Parents, moreover, have the right to determine, in accordance with their own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education that their children are to receive" (from Dignitatis Humanae).

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 7: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  What contemporary examples are there of religious bodies using coercion in an attempt to spread their faith or hindering others from exercising their faith? What contributions does the Catholic Church make to society and culture?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 6: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "Provided that the just civil and religious rights of others are not transgressed, religious bodies must possess the freedom to live out publicly what they believe.  They must be free to gather for worship, to instruct their members and to develop institutions that further the religious life of their members. . . . Consider examples in contemporary life where governments -- federal, state, or local -- fail to respect the above rights.  What is the relationship between the religious freedom of individuals and institutions?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 5: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  How does religion contribute to the good of society?  In what ways might it hinder the good of society? Do contemporary Western governments view religion in a positive or negative light?  How can governments today foster or aid the good of religious belief?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

168 Children, Sex Trafficking Victims, Rescued

Please click here to read a story about 168 children who were rescued by the FBI in a U.S. sex trafficking sweep.  The youngest child rescued was 11 years old.  Many of those rescued were missing from child welfare systems across the country.  Many of them were not reported missing.

Day 4: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  In what ways is religion being reduced to the merely personal and private? Why should religion have a voice in the public square?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 3: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflections.  Here's an excerpt:  What are the contemporary means of seeking, finding and sharing truth?  In what ways can this freedom to seek, to find and to share be inhibited?

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

Click here to access the June issue of Stop Trafficking, focusing on legislation that would help address some of the injustices faced by victims of labor and sexual exploitation and cut profits to traffickers.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 2: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here for today's Fortnight for Freedom reflection.  Here's an excerpt:  "The Council states that in order for human beings to fulfill their obligation to seek the truth and live by it, they must be free to do so.  No one or no authority is to force them to believe something to which they themselves have not freely given their consent."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 1: Fortnight for Freedom

Click here to access reflections for Day 1, June 21.  Here's an excerpt:  What challenges to religious liberty do you see within our contemporary world? When the Council says that religious liberty must be upheld "within due limits," what would fall outside of "due limits"?  What religious belief would seriously offend the moral order or a just law?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Nuns Working on the Margins

Catherine O'Connell-Cahill has written a piece for U.S. Catholic entitled, "The Places They'll Go:  Nuns Working on the Margins."  Click here to access the article.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fortnight for Freedom Begins June 21

Reminder:  The third annual Fortnight for Freedom begins on Saturday, June 21.  Click here for more resources.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Prayer for Our Family In Iraq

Today, remember to join in global, prayerful solidarity for our sisters and brothers in Iraq. Thank you to the Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee  for providing this "Prayer for Our Family in Iraq":

Gracious God, we place before you our
sisters and brothers in Iraq.
They are numbed and almost
immobilized by the horrendous
violence they have experienced over
the past weeks.

We can hardly imagine the intense
sadness and grief, the confusion and
anger that dominate their
thoughts and prayers..
We know that it is you who can turn
minds to thoughts of peace.
Your Spirit can change hearts. Even
enemies begin to speak to one another
and nations seek the way of peace
together.

Your Spirit is at work when
understanding puts an end to strife,
when hatred is quenched by mercy, and
vengeance give way to forgiveness.
For this we never cease to thank you for
your presence and action in our world.

We simply place our family in Iraq in
your tender and loving care.
We pray this in the name of our brother
Jesus. Amen.

June 19: Day of Prayer for Iraq

At Sunday's Angelus address, Pope Francis said: "I invite all of you to unite yourselves with my prayer for the dear Iraqi nation, especially for the victims and for those who most suffer the consequences of growing violence, in particular the many persons, among whom are so many Christians, who have had to leave their homes."  His prayer included a hope that the people of Iraq would find “security and peace and a future of reconciliation and justice where all Iraqis, whatever their religious affiliation, will be able together to build up their country, making a model of coexistence.”

The leader of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq has asked her Sisters throughout Iraq to join her in a time of prayer and retreat to beg God for the protection of the Iraqi people, especially the minority Christian community.

In response to these pleas, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States calls upon people of all denominations in the world community to join the Iraqi Sisters in a moment of prayer on Thursday, June 19 at 6 PM (in your time zone) to pray for an end to the violence and the protection of minority Christians in Iraq.  From the press release:  "The Iraqi Sisters are all Iraqi nationals and ministers in healthcare, social services, and education.  . . . As the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine continue their days of intense prayer, they ask that people throughout the world join them on June 19, believing that this intensification of global prayer can make a difference."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rest in peace, Sr. Mary Paule Tacke, CPS

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sr. Mary Paul Tacke, CPS, an American Missionary Sister of the Precious Blood who was murdered in South Africa yesterday.  What little is known at the time of this writing can be found here, on the CPS website. 

Countdown to Fortnight for Freedom

From the USCCB:  The Fortnight for Freedom: Freedom to Serve will take place from June 21 to July 4, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power -- St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  The theme of this year's "Fortnight" is the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church's teaching.  Click here for more information.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Call to Prayer for Father's Day

From the USCCB:  "St. Joseph was a 'just man': Truly Mary's husband and a spiritual father to Christ. On Father's Day this year, let us contemplate the spiritual dimension of fatherhood.  The Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, enables men to generate life, not only physically, but also spiritually: by guiding, protecting and modeling lives of virtue for others."

Let's pray for all fathers and fathers-to-be.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pray for Peace

Today, @Pontifex remind us:  "We run the risk of forgetting the suffering which does not affect us personally. May we respond to it, and may we pray for peace in Syria." 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SOA Watch Letter Writing Campaign

The SOA Watch is asking for letters to be written to President Obama's Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, urging an Executive Order to close SOA/WHINSEC.  Click here for more information.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Palestinian and Israeli Peace Prayer in Vatican Gardens on Sunday

As you know, Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas have accepted the invitation of Pope Francis to gather at the Vatican for a time of prayer.  Sunday, June 8 is the day for this to occur!  Click here for a related article and here for more information about the agenda for the day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

JRS Director Kidnapped in Afghanistan

We are asked to pray for the safety of Prem Kumar, SJ, the country director of Jesuit Refugee Services in Afghanistan.  It has been reported that he was kidnapped today.  Click here for more information.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day Prayer

From Education for Justice:
On this Memorial Day
Grant peace to the souls
of all those soldiers who died in war.
We remember the tears and grief of their families,
The pain of mothers, wives, husbands and children
Who lost precious loved ones.
To build a meaningful memorial to them,
We ask God to give us all the will
To work for peace around the world
So no more sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, nor mothers
Are slaughtered by the guns and bombs of war.
We ask Mary, who held the lifeless body of her son
And was pierced by the sorrow of his suffering and death,
To grant us the compassion and wisdom to affirm life
And honor the dead through forgiveness and peace making.
May God have mercy on the souls of the departed.
Grant them peace, O Lord.
May we have mercy on the living.
Grant us peace, O Lord.
In Your name we pray.
Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Human Trafficking and the World Cup

"Play in Favour of Life: Denounce Human Trafficking" is the theme of the anti-human trafficking campaign being launched by women religious to coincide with preparations for the World Cup.  To be played in 12 different Brazilian cities from June 12 to July 13, the World Cup has historically brought a rise in sexual exploitation to the areas in which it is played.  Click here for a report from the Vatican about the news conference introducing the campaign and here for an article in the Washington Post.  As frequent readers of this blog know, institutes of consecrated life have focused on the fight against human trafficking for many years. In fact, the Sisters of Christian Charity in North America join many other communities in sponsoring the Stop Trafficking! newsletter, available here. Additionally, Talitha Kum is an international network of consecrated life against trafficking in persons.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The May 2014 issue of the Stop Trafficking -- focusing on cultural biases and traditions leading to human trafficking-related crimes --is available here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Last Acceptable Prejudice?

At different times in the past ten years, Mark Massa, SJ and Philip Jenkins, professors of theology at different universities, have written different books whose subtitle indicated that anti-Catholicism was the "last acceptable prejudice" in the United States.  Recent events at Harvard University seem to bear this out. Click here for the statement from the President of Harvard about the so-called "Black Mass" being held there.  In the statement, free expression is defended "although it may deeply offend us." Yes, it's "deeply regrettable" that this is permitted to occur, but it does cause one to wonder whether it would be defensible as "freedom of expression" if aimed at another religion. So we ask again:  Is anti-Catholicism the last acceptable prejudice in the United States?

(Addendum:  Since this was posted, the Black Mass was postponed indefinitely, as noted here by the Catholic News Agency..)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pray and Act: Bring Back Our Girls

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez, a blogger at CatholicMom.com, has posted "Bring Back Our Girls: Pray and Act for Nigeria (and the World)."

In this very informative post, Santiago-Rodriguez plainly presents the facts and offers suggestions for action:  "As ordinary citizens, we might not be able to do much in terms of directly helping the Nigerian government recover the kidnapped schoolgirls. As Catholics though, we can do our part by calling on the heavenly ‘forces’ and lifting up their plight in our prayers.  Pray for the girls, pray for their kidnappers (yes, they need our prayers too!), pray for those involved in rescue operations, pray for our governments to do something concrete to help countries like Nigeria. Pray for the WORLD. It may sound cliche to some, but we believe that prayer is power, and can work miracles and move mountains.

Of course, with prayer comes action too. In your own way, help spread the word about the Nigerian schoolgirls’ plight. Use the hashtag #bringbackourgirls in your social media posts about them. Support groups and organizations that fight against the discrimination and abuse of women/girls, as well as groups and organizations that seek to provide education to females of all ages and races. Offer up Masses for this specific intention, or maybe even hold prayer gatherings just to intercede for the millions of girls and women who need our prayers every day. If you have kids, teach them to pray for these intentions too.

In the end, the little we do may not seem much, but in the eyes of our Lord, it will make a difference."

Click here to read the entire post and please think about your answer to her final question:  "How else do you think we can help the victims of attacks like those that happened [in Nigeria]?"

Saturday, April 26, 2014

John XXIII and John Paul II: Resist the Urge to Label

As we celebrate the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, James Martin, SJ has written an article for the Wall Street Journal, "Two Very Different Saints Come Marching In."  In the article, Martin calls us to "resist the urge to see Pope John XXIII as a liberal and John Paul II as a conservative":  "Each saint was unique, called by God to be himself or herself. For holiness means being who you are—no more but (more important) no less. . . . This cookie-cutter model of sanctity belies the astounding differences among the saints. Grace builds on nature, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, and upon some very different natures." Click here to read the article.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Global Sisters Report

Global Sisters Report, a project of National Catholic Reporter, is an independent, non-profit source of news and information about Catholic Sisters and the critical issues facing the people they serve.  It is funded by a three-year, $2.3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.  Click here to explore the website, which is a veritable treasure trove of information!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nine Days That Changed the World

In preparation for Sunday's canonization of Pope John Paul II, you are invited to view the film, "Nine Days That Changed the World," exploring his pilgrimage to Poland in June 1979.  During that visit, millions of Poles turned out to see the Pope in person.  This film posits that this nine-day journey led to Solidarity becoming a recognized trade union 16 months later, to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Click here to view the film (which is about 90 minutes long).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Would Be Called John

As the world prepares for the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, here's a video of a 1987 made-for-TV movie, "I Would Be Called John: Pope John XXIII." A one-man show starring Charles During, this film -- about 90 minutes long -- provides a good introduction to the man, his holiness, his influence and his many witty, wise sayings. (Email subscribers click here to view the video if you do not see a video link below.)


Monday, April 14, 2014

Human Trafficking Educational Module

"Human Trafficking and the Objectification of Women" is an educational module provided by U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  This module is comprehensive in its inclusion of Awareness, Analysis, Reflection (including Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching), Action and Further Information.  If you have time to pay attention to only one human trafficking resource this year, this resource would suffice.  Click here to access a copy. 

Here are some of the actions suggested by this resource:
  • Pray and sacrifice daily for both the victims and the perpetrators of human trafficking.
  • Subscribe online and through the mail to anti-human trafficking newsletters.
  • Write letters to local newspapers, keeping the human trafficking issue alive and spreading news about developments.
  • Contact a popular columnist, asking her/him to write a news article on the topic.
  • Bring pressure through letters to the editor concerning Backpage.com which publishes on the internet, urging them to remove their "adult" section advertising the availability of persons for commercial sex. 
  • Discuss with store managers the offensiveness of the pornography on their check-out counters.
  • Join parish social action groups such as JustFaith and encourage them to focus on human trafficking.
For further information (in addition to downloading the file above), go to www.bakhitainitiative.org.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Test for Yahoo Email Users

As many of you know, our blog has stopped sending emails to Yahoo email users.  (This is due to the implementation of a new DMARC policy at Yahoo.  Don't know what DMARC is?  That's OK, but Google it if you're really interested.)  This post is asking Yahoo email subscribers only to reply to this email.  In that way, we'll know if our attempt to fix the problem has worked.  If not, we'll go to (as yet unknown) Plan B.  Thanks for subscribing and for being patient while we work out the "bugs."

Reflection for Palm Sunday

Pax Christi USA has provided a reflection for Palm Sunday.  Click here to access the reflection.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The April issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is now available (click here).  It contains an abundance of information regarding Fair Trade.  Perhaps it will provide a renewal for us to look for Fair Trade products in our stores and online purchases, to buy Fair Trade when possible and to ask "Why?" when stores do not carry Fair Trade items.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Liliana's Story: A Reflection on the Trafficking of Human Persons

Click here to access a Way of the Cross that offers stations reflective of the experiences of trafficked persons.  Published by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Ireland and England), the booklet is meant to printed and copied back to back. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Good Friday with Pax Christi

Pax Christi Metro New York will hold its 32nd consecutive Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 18, beginning at 8:30 am at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and proceeding along 42nd St. to 9th Avenue.  Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Attention Pennsylvanians!

Those of you in Pennsylvania might want to pay attention to this message about human trafficking from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference:

Human trafficking is modern day slavery - one person profiting from the exploitation of another. It can take the form of prostitution, slave labor, pornography or other abuses.

And it is happening here in Pennsylvania. A leading human trafficking hotline received over 2,100 calls to report suspected human trafficking in Pennsylvania alone.

Pope Francis has pointed out our personal responsibility for this scourge, saying we "must not allow these women, men and children to be treated as objects, to be deceived, raped, often sold and resold for various purposes, and in the end either killed or left devastated in mind and body, only to be finally thrown away or abandoned. It is shameful."

Pennsylvania is known as a "pass through state" whose laws and atmosphere make it easier for traffickers to carry out their heinous actions. Senate Bill 75 will address human trafficking through prosecution, prevention and protection.

We must act TODAY, just click on the link below to contact your legislator in support of SB 75.


Click the link below to log in and send your message (scroll down to the human trafficking link):
https://www.votervoice.net/PACC/Campaigns/34280/Respond

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

VISION Year of Consecrated Life Survey

As you may know, Pope Francis named 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life.  VISION Vocation Guide is conducting a survey to capture contemporary thoughts on consecrated life.  Click here to access the survey. (If the link does not work, enter "Vision 2015 Year of Consecrated Life" into your web browser.)

Paycheck to Paycheck

Did you know that 42 million women in America -- one in three -- are living in poverty or teetering on its brink?  More than 13 million are mothers of young children.  Maria Shriver, in conjunction with HBO, presents "Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert." From the website: "This film offers a deeply personal, unvarnished and moving story of Katrina Gilbert, a single mom of three, struggling to get ahead but constantly getting knocked back by a system that almost seems designed to see her fail."

The film, a little over an hour long, can be viewed this week for free (and on HBO during the rest of March).  You are encouraged to read the screening guide and start a conversation.  Click here to access the site and the video.




Monday, March 17, 2014

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for March

Click here to access the March 2014 issue of Stop Trafficking, which uses the occasion of Women's History month to highlight women taking steps to curb human trafficking.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

40 Days for Life

As we continue our Lenten journey, remember 40 Days for Life, whose vision is to seek an end to abortion through prayer, fasting and peaceful vigil.  Click here for more information.

Lent: Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up

From the USCCB:  "We can begin to embrace [the call of St. Francis this Lent] by fasting from or 'giving up' material things, including foods, that are superfluous to our basic needs; 'taking up' charitable habits that are directed to helping and caring for others; and 'lifting up' our brothers and sisters who are in need through giving alms, praying and participating in devotional practices."  Click here to access multiple Lenten resources from the USCCB.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Hunger Site

As we continue to recall simple ways in which we can fight poverty, we are reminded of the Hunger Site.  If you haven't clicked on this site in some time, you might be surprised to find that you can also support other causes, including breast cancer, autism and literacy.  You can contribute daily with one simple click of your mouse.  So, if you haven't visited in a while, check out the Hunger Site.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Friending Sisters"

As we wind down the inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), America has published an article by Christina Capecchi, "Friending Sisters."  Take a few minutes to read about the power of story in introducing Catholic young women to the possibility of religious life:  "How to go about that—the church’s million-dollar question—is not a matter of a slickly produced marketing campaign, insist the co-directors of NCSW, but of presenting a stripped down, heartfelt narrative. That is exactly what took center stage during the kickoff gathering of the initiative, when four sisters shared turning points in their path to consecrated life using the quirky storytelling style of The Moth Radio Hour, the national public radio show that won a Peabody Award in 2010. Perhaps the promotion of religious life is more 'Charlie Rose' than 'Mad Money'—fewer blinking billboards, slower cuts."  Click here to access the article.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Energy Poverty in Africa: How You Can Help

One.org is asking for your support for the Electrify Africa Act, a House bill that will bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa for the first time.  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lenten Caring for Creation Calendar

Suggested by the Catholic Climate Covenant website:  The Archdiocese of Washington Care for Creation Committee suggests the practice of spiritual reflection and sacrificial action during Lent which focus on fulfilling our commitment to be wise stewards of God's creation now and for future generations.  Check this Lenten Caring for Creation Calendar for suggestions for each day of Lent 2014. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Don't Forget Fair Trade!

Did you know that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) sponsors three Fair Trade programs (crafts, coffee and chocolate)?  Click here to learn more about CRS Fair Trade.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Free Rice for Lent?

Remember Free Rice, the non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme?  The goals of Free Rice are simple: 1) Provide education to everyone for free; 2) Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. 

It's so easy to contribute!  Just go to the Free Rice website and answer questions in Humanities, English, Math, Chemistry or other subjects of your choosing.  For each correct answer, you make possible a donation of 10 grains of rice.  The more questions you answer correctly, the more grains of rice you donate to hungry people around the world. 

Are you wondering just what type of Lenten practice playing an online game suggests?  Consider this: The Son of Man coming in his glory and saying to you, "Come . . . inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me free rice." 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

National Catholic Sisters' Week

As part of Women's History Month, the first National Catholic Sisters Week is being observed from March 8-14, 2014.  The website describes this week as "intended to shine a national spotlight on the good works and good will of Catholic sisters.  It recognizes past and present sisters, from the movers and shakers pressing the front lines of social change to the faithful praying in cloistered chapels."  Click here to go to the website to learn more about how to participate in the week, to access materials to celebrate the week (including a prayer booklet and accompanying readings) and to spread the word about this commemoration. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

UNICEF Tap Project

The UNICEF Tap Project is a nationwide campaign that provides clean water and adequate sanitation to children around the world.  With just $5, UNICEF can give one child safe drinking water for 200 days.  Since 1990, more than 2.1 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water thanks to the work of UNICEF and its partners.

Clean water is important for the obvious reasons of health and hygiene, but did you know that clean water also keeps children -- especially girls -- in school?  In Nepal, UNICEF found that school attendance for girls went up 30% for every hour the girl did not have to spend collecting water.

The Tap Project is running a rather unique initiative called the UNICEF Tap Project mobile initiative, in which sponsors fund one day of clean water for every 10 minutes you do not use your mobile phone.  How does it work?  Go to http://tap.unicefusa.org/ on your Smartphone.  You will be instructed to place your phone on a flat surface for 10 minutes.  If your phone remains unused for 10 minutes, the sponsors make a donation to the Tap Project.

Although it is not billed as a Lenten practice, wouldn't it be interesting during Lent to see how often you can go 10 minutes without using your Smartphone?

It is also possible to donate to the Tap Project without taking the mobile challenge.  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

By his poverty . . .

Click here to read the Lenten message of Pope Francis, based on 2 Corinthians 8:9, "He became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." 

Link Updated

Thanks to those of you who pointed out that our earlier post for "Moved to Greater Love" lacked the link.  Click here to access the Lenten reflections from the Jesuits.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent: Moved to Greater Love

The Jesuits of the United States are offering "Moved to Greater Love,"  a nine-week Lenten/Easter digital prayer experience that began on Sunday, March 2 and will conclude on Sunday, May 4.  Click here to go to the site to "opt in" by entering your e-mail address.  Each evening, material for the following day's prayer will be sent to your inbox. 

From the website:  "The nine U.S. Jesuit provincials who conceived of "Moved to Greater Love" describe it as 'an invitation to magnanimity, silence, creativity and depth, calling all to consider how God's love burns away fear and opens us up to respond generously and wholeheartedly.'

"The program focuses on four specific graces: Gratitude, Spiritual Freedom, Vision and Joy.  A two-week period will be dedicated to each grace, beginning on a Sunday with an introduction that explains the grace being sought.  Daily online presentations will offer questions for reflection, a reading and multimedia content."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Do Not Worry: About non-anxiety or a call to community?

In Sunday's Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34), we heard, "Do not worry about your life, . . . but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides." 

In his newly-released book, No Irrelevant Jesus, German theologian Gerhard Lohfink invites us to go beyond the surface of this difficult teaching of Jesus and to remember what this meant for his disciples at the time -- that is, the creation of a community of mutuality:  "Can [a preacher] really tell the audience that they should not worry?  Obviously, they have to worry and take care. . . . Anyone who has any kind of responsibility has to be careful to keep control of the bank balance, fill the refrigerator, order heating oil before the prices go up, plan ahead and follow up, budget rationally -- and all that takes wisdom, prudence and careful planning. . . . Some preachers find a way out of this situation by saying that . . . a Christian must indeed be prudent and look to the future but should do it with confidence.  That may be true, but it does not get at the heart of the saying of Jesus.  Its addressees were not simply the crowds of people around Jesus; they were the disciples who traveled with him throughout Israel. . . .

"Jesus and his disciples needed people who would prepare a meal for them in the evening and offer them shelter for the night.  In turn, the localized followers needed vital contact with Jesus and his disciples so that the new thing, the silent revolution of the reign of God could enter into their families.  So there was a profound relationship between the two groups, a mutuality and community. 

"I am convinced that precisely here we are challenged by the Gospel of non-anxiety: do we want community in this sense -- as a being-together of many who support one another, a communion of many brothers and sisters who are present for one another so that engagement on behalf of the Gospel will be possible?  This would be a change from solitary parishes staffed by single persons and self-sacrificing individuals to communities in which there are mutual aid, mutual claims and commitments, mutual advice, mutual consolation, mutual correction, continually renewed and common repentance -- and precisely, therefore, no anxiety.

" . . . [The reign of God] calls for a people, a renewed people of God, a new society -- and this eschatological renewal of the people of God has as its indispensable precondition disciples, or more precisely, a community of disciples" (pp. 8-10).

Monday, February 24, 2014

CRS Rice Bowl: There's an app for that!

Lent is just around the corner and, this year, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invites us to download the CRS Rice Bowl Mobile App and/or sign up for weekly reflections via e-mail during Lent.  Click here to go to the CRS Rice Bowl site for more information.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

World Day of Social Justice

In 2007, the UN General Assembly proclaimed February 20 as World Day of Social Justice.  Click here to learn more about this day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Advocacy: Sustainable Medicare

We have been asked by Sister Mary Joan to share the following with you:

Right now, Congress is working on legislation to replace a flawed Medicare physician payment methodology – called the Sustainable Growth Rate or "SGR" – with a payment system that rewards quality and value.  Repealing the SGR and shifting Medicare payment to a reimbursement system that rewards high-quality, efficient providers is important.  Congress should not, however, "pay for" the cost of fixing the flawed physician payment system by merely making additional payment cuts to other Medicare providers.  More cuts will have serious repercussions, including reduced patient access to necessary health services and weakened ability for hospitals to serve as economic engines in their communities.

Click here for more information provided by Trinity Health and for the ability to send a letter to government officials regarding this issue, should you choose to do so.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Follow Up: Candlelight Vigil

On Wednesday, January 29, the Candlelight Vigil to End Human Trafficking was held at the Xavier Center chapel on the campus of the College of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ.  At the vigil, Sister Katie Hamm, SC, of LifeWay Network reflected on Isaiah 58: 7-10, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,” and “sharing your bread with those enslaved.”  Here are some photos (not owned by this blog) from the event:



Friday, January 31, 2014

NJ Coalition on News 12 New Jersey

Click here to view the News 12 New Jersey coverage of the SOAP training over the weekend.  This provides good exposure for the efforts of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and those who have volunteered to raise awareness of human trafficking in conjunction with the Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Be the Hero

Volunteers are needed in New Jersey (through January 31) to help distribute 5,000 missing children booklets. Click here to access the informational flyer for the event. To volunteer, go to www.rescuersvp.org and click on the "Help Us Fight" tab.  This is part of the effort of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking to heighten awareness about sex trafficking and the Super Bowl and to take whatever actions are necessary to end human trafficking. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Have you signed up for the Halftime Challenge?

From the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking:  At 8:30pm on Sunday, February 2, during the halftime show of the Super Bowl, Thunderclap will simultaneously blast a Facebook post or Tweet from every person who registers, creating a wave of attention.  We have 192 people signed up out of our goal for 250, so please register and share with your colleagues, families, and friends!  Just follow the instructions below:
 

How to Thunderclap:

1. Click here

2. Click the button for Twitter and/or Facebook

3. Click "add my support"

4. Insert your username and password for your Twitter and/or Facebook account

5. If you want updates from the #HTchallenge insert your email and hit "submit"

6. If you want to invite others and post on your page that you joined the challenge, click the Twitter or Facebook button and submit.

Click here for more information about the Halftime Challenge.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sex Trafficking/Super Bowl on ABC News

On Monday, ABC's World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer provided this report, highlighting efforts to curb sex trafficking during the Super Bowl.  According to the report, the number of prostitution ads in the greater New York area jumped 50% over the past weekend and is expected to triple by Super Bowl Sunday.  Congratulations and thank you to Polaris Project for its efforts to place anti-trafficking billboards in strategic places in New York and to provide training for those who may come into contact with traffickers and their victims. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated worldwide on January 27 in memory of victims of the Holocaust.  Click here for more information.

Become a Shepherd

From the USCCB:  As Catholics we are called to find ways that each of us can work with our dioceses and communities to address the evil of modern-day slavery.  One way in which you can do this is to "Become a Shepherd" -- that is, Stop Human Trafficking and Exploitation, Protect, Help, Empower and Restore Human Dignity.  Click here to access the Become a Shepherd Toolkit from the USCCB.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day of Prayer for Trafficked Persons

The USCCB Committee on Migration has designated Feburary 8 as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking.  More information and resources are available from the Bakhita Initiative (U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking), UNANIMA International and the USCCB website