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 L√≥pez 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?)