Thursday, December 31, 2015

Overcome Indifference and Win Peace

The theme for this year's World Day of Peace (January 1)  is "Overcome Indifference and Win Peace."  Click here to access the message from Pope Francis to commemorate this day and here to access the summary of the message -- with suggestions for actions --  available from the USCCB.  In his message, Pope Francis calls us, in the spirit of the Jubilee of Mercy, to "realize how indifference can manifest itself in our lives and to work concretely to improve the world around us, beginning with our families, neighbors and places of employment." 

He concludes, "I would like to make a threefold appeal to the leaders of nations: to refrain from drawing other peoples into conflicts or wars which destroy not only their material, cultural and social legacy, but also – and in the long term – their moral and spiritual integrity; to forgive or manage in a sustainable way the international debt of the poorer nations; and to adopt policies of cooperation which, instead of bowing before the dictatorship of certain ideologies, will respect the values of local populations and, in any case, not prove detrimental to the fundamental and inalienable right to life of the unborn."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Join Us in Prayer

On the 11th of each month, the Sisters of Christian Charity pray and fast for peace in our world. Click here to go to the SCC Western Region's website to find prayers for today.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Issue of Stop Trafficking

In anticipation of January's National Anti-Trafficking month, the December issue of Stop Trafficking, available here, gives basic information about human trafficking that can be used to educate others.  Even if the issue of human trafficking is very familiar to you, the December issue is a good review.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Our Merciful Hearts

The word for mercy in Latin is misericordia -- suggesting that one has his or her heart (cor) with those who are poor or who suffer (miseri).  Perhaps we should begin the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with a "heart checkup." Fortunately, this type of checkup does not involve going to a medical provider. 

In the words of Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity, "We should have neither eyes to see the faults of others, nor ears to listen to evil reports about them, nor tongue to accuse them, nor reason to judge them, nor will to condemn them, nor memory to recall evil of them, but a merciful heart to compassionate all, a charitable tongue to excuse all, a meek and patient disposition to bear with all" (from the SCC Constitutions). 

As you enter into this Year of Mercy, how's your heart?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hunger Hits Home

As we travel through Advent and prepare for our Christmas and other holiday celebrations, could we take a moment (or 40 minutes) to consider childhood hunger in the United States?  This 2012 video from the Food Network, "Hunger Hits Home," might motivate us to consider actions toward ending hunger -- especially childhood hunger -- in this country.  It is worth your time to watch.

Monday, November 30, 2015

35 Years

December 2 marks 35 years since the murders of the "Churchwomen of El Salvador" -- Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Sister Ita Ford, MM; Sister Maura Clarke, MM; and Jean Donovan.  Click here to view the blurb from Ignatian Solidarity Network that helps us to remember these remarkable women.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Prayer for World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on December 1.  Click here for resources on the USCCB website.  The National African American Catholic HIV/AIDS Task Force has provided this prayer:

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
 O Good and gracious God,
You are the God of health and wholeness.
In the plan of Your creation,
You call us to struggle in our sickness
and to cling always to the cross of Your Son.
Father, we are Your servants.
Many of us are now suffering with HIV or AIDS.
We come before You and ask You, if it is Your holy will,
to take this suffering away from us, restore us to health
and lead us to know You and Your powerful healing love of body and spirit.
We ask you also, to be with those of us who nurse Your sick ones.
We are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and friends
of Your suffering people.
It is so hard for us to see those whom we love suffer.
You know what it is to suffer.
Help us to minister in loving care, support, and patience
for your people who suffer with HIV and AIDS.
Lead us to do whatever it will take to eradicate this illness
from the lives of those who are touched by it,
both directly and indirectly.
Trusting in You and the strength of Your Spirit,
we pray these things in the Name of Jesus.
Amen

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Give Thanks

For what are you thankful this year?

 (Email subscribers:  If a video is not embedded in your email, click here to view it.)




Saturday, November 21, 2015

The World's Most Powerful Woman

Click here to read Maureen Orth's cover story in the December 2015 issue of National Geographic, entitled "How the Virgin Mary Became the World's Most Powerful Woman."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stained-Glass People

In her essay, "Stained-Glass People," in the November 2 issue of America, Mariele Courtouis writes:  "Stained glass is impractical.  It doesn't help the stone wall stand.  In fact, it is the most vulnerable to breaking.  It is made from broken pieces.  It is a potential weak point in the wall.  But it is through stained glass that light can bring color to the darkened nave.  Its intricate array bears a secret in the night and a message in the day.  It makes the sunbeam striking.  By allowing something else to work through its stillness, it creates beauty."   She concludes:  "Even broken pieces have found their purpose in creation: to come together. . . . [Sometimes] we can make a gift of ourselves to others simply as signs of the light to come.  Sometimes, even if it is just for one person, a glance through the window to the view beyond the wall makes the most transformative impact of all."

This week, may we realize the transformative power of our brokenness -- that is, may we realize our power to become "stained-glass people."

Click here to read the essay in its entirety.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Pray for Peace


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Friday, November 13, 2015

November Issue of Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the November issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, focusing on the exploitation, fear and coercion involved in human trafficking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Prayer and Fasting for Peace

As is our custom on the 11th of the month, the Sisters of Christian Charity are praying and fasting for peace.  Click here to access prayer resources provided by our Western Region.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Merciful Heart

On Saturday, October 17, the Companions of Pauline of the North American Eastern Province of the Sisters of Christian Charity held their annual retreat whose theme was "A Merciful Heart: Blessed Pauline and the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy." Led by Sister Ann Marie Paul, over 100 Associates and Sisters reflected on Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis's letter announcing the Year of Mercy, which begins on December 8, 2015.  Using this letter as a foundation, participants considered the Parable of the Prodigal Son as well as the writings of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity.  The day culminated in a reflection on "Our Merciful Hearts," in which participants considered how they will prepare for the upcoming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. 

Sister Mary Veronica Kulsar, SCC, Coordinator of the Companions
of Pauline for the Eastern Province, and Sister Ann Marie Paul, SCC
meet with some of the participants in Saturday's retreat.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Prayer for the 11th of the Month

On the 11th of each month, the Sisters of Christian Charity pray and fast for peace.  Click here to access prayer resources from our North American Western Region to mark the 11th of the month.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Story of Community

Click here to read Kerry Weber's "Of Many Things" essay in the October 5 issue of America.  Weber, Managing Editor of America, talks about the meaning of the Pope's visit to the United States.  Here is an excerpt:  "In the end, the story of Francis’ visit is, at its heart, a story of community. It has challenged American Catholics to acknowledge connections to those who may hold differing political views or those who may be on the periphery of society. It has reminded us that we should put as much effort and attention into welcoming our neighbor—the poor, the suffering, the dying, the imprisoned, those without a home or family or nation—as we have in welcoming Francis into our midst. . . . The papal visit has put the spotlight not just on Francis the man, but on the Gospel message he proclaims and lives: Mercy. Always mercy. Over and over again, Francis directs us back to Christ, who guides us in our own journeys and whom we must recognize in all those we meet along the way. "

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Prayer for Synod on Family

The XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops -- focusing on "The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World" --  is being held from October 4 to 25.  Click here for more information, including prayer resources.  Let us pray for the Synod in a prayer that Pope Francis offered:

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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter

The Holy Father has announced the theme for World Communications Day 2016 -- "Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter."  Click here for more information.  World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council, is marked in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2016, May 8th).  


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Deo Gratias!

One of the things we marveled at in Philadelphia was how the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway could be seen and heard so well by the million or so friends who gathered there.  From time to time, the volume of the sound was loud enough that the last words spoken or sung would echo for several seconds afterwards.  This was especially noticeable when the words "Deo gratias" -- that is, "Thanks be to God" -- were sung at the end of the readings.  It seemed as if they reverberated for 20 seconds or more!  How appropriate to this weekend to have thanks echoing through that large crowd!

During this much-anticipated visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families, there was so much to be thankful for, mostly having to do with the encounters along the way.  We are grateful for so much:
  • The reason everyone was there -- families!  How edifying it was to see families of all shapes, sizes and ages from all over the world come together.  Deo gratias.
  • The people we met on the streets of Philadelphia and the stories they told.  There was a man who had grown up in Passaic but who now lives in South Jersey.  When he asked where we were from and some of us said, "Passaic," there was an instant connection.  There were people who originally came from Reading (but were now living other places) and were taught by our Sisters at Reading Central Catholic.  There were people who were connected to us through other people.  Deo gratias.
  • Reunions with people we had not seen in years.  Every one of us encountered someone we had known previously, but had not seen in many years. How could we possibly find each other in those crowds?  Only God could do that!  Deo gratias.
  • The people who stayed.  Because of the massive road closures, most schools and many workplaces were closed.  Many Philadelphians took this opportunity to leave town until the roads opened up and life returned to normal.  However, those who stayed could not have made things more hospitable for visitors.  There was such a generous, festive atmosphere, especially in the homes that opened their doors to us!  We celebrated with Catholics, other Christians, Jewish people . . .  a truly catholic (universal) event!  These people were very interested in the Holy Father, his mission and this visit.  We were able to share our Catholic traditions far and wide.  Deo gratias.
  • The people who left.  Some folks were able to rent out their homes for thousands of dollars during the Papal visit.  We are aware of one family that went to the shore and gave its empty home to five Sisters of Christian Charity for the weekend -- for free!  Deo gratias.
  • Mass with 800,000 of our closest friends.  How profound it was to participate in a Eucharistic liturgy of that size!  The participation, singing, responses and reverential silence we experienced made the Body of Christ tangible and palpable.  Deo gratias.
  • The Holy Father. Enough said.  Deo gratias.
As we move away from the experiences of the weekend and our resolve begins to fade a bit, let us always remember the importance of gratitude, especially for the people we encounter each day.  Let us remember especially those people who might make it difficult to be grateful each day.  For them we say, "Deo gratias."
  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

With the Holy Father in Philadelphia

As we prepare to celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families with the Holy Father on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, we are so grateful for the opportunity and so edified by the families we have met.  We are grateful for the many modes of transportation -- planes, trains and automobiles -- that have brought us here and the people who worked to make each of those modes of travel possible. We are grateful to our community for its support of this venture and for accompanying us in prayer.  We are grateful for all the shared stories we will have to tell about every leg of our journey.  We are grateful to Pope Francis for bringing all of us together!  Here are some photos of our pilgrimage thus far.
One of the many families who wanted their picture taken
with "the Sisters."  The orange t-shirts were worn by
all volunteers at the World Meeting of Families.
SCCs meeting on the Parkway!

The newly-professed:  IHM and SCC
Artwork on the side of a building in the
Fairmount section of Philadelphia

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pray for the Papal Volunteers

As we continue to follow Pope Francis's visit to our "neighborhood," we ask for prayers for the thousands of volunteers at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, including our SCC volunteers.  On Sunday, September 27 at the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Sisters Ann Marie, Bridget, Maria Angeline, Marie Jose, Mary Amata, Mary Peter and Mathilde will volunteer as "Guest Service Associates" -- greeting, welcoming, directing and otherwise assisting visitors.  Those of us who are qualified might be called upon to offer medical assistance or translation services, as well.  Here is a front and back view of our "uniforms" for the event:


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peace Day Celebration at ACS

From Sister Joseph Spring, SCC, President of Assumption College for Sisters (ACS):
On September 21,  International resident students of Assumption College for Sisters, Denville, gathered in the convent chapel to pray a special Evening Prayer commemorating the International Day of Peace.


Flags of the various countries represented by the students were depicted surrounding a globe placed in front of the altar.  Pictured here are the students who have come to Assumption College for Sisters for the first time this year:  Sister Charity Nkwera, OSB (Tanzania), Sister Marie- Therese Nguyen, SPP (Vietnam), Sister Mary Cecilia Akol, LSOSF (Uganda), Sister Norbertha Mlowe, OSB (Tanzania), Sister Lucia Anh Nguyen, SPP (Vietnam), Sister Monica Nakawala, LSOSF (Uganda),  Sister Catherine Thu Le, FMV (Vietnam).



Assumption College for Sisters is a two-year Sister Formation College, the only one of its kind in the United States.  ACS is sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity. For more information, visit www.acs350.org.

Monday, September 21, 2015

We Serve People

While we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Pope Francis in the United States this week, we should pay attention to his message in Cuba:  "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."  In his September 20 homily as he celebrated Mass in Plaza de Revolucion, Pope Francis reminded us of the good news of Jesus:  "Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others."

Peace Day

Today marks the International Day of Peace, whose theme is:  "Partnerships for Peace -- Dignity for All."  Click here to access the resources on the official Peace Day site and here to access an Evening Prayer for the occasion.  For collections of prayers from different countries, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

40 Days for Life Webcast

Click here to join the webcast (Tuesday, 9 pm Eastern) sponsored by 40 Days for Life in which you will learn more about and about how to stop the horrific practice of harvesting and trafficking of aborted babies.

What is the Hunger and Homelessness Committee of the WMOF?

As part of Pope Francis's papal visit to Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), the WMOF leadership mandated the creation of a Hunger and Homelessness Committee.  This committee will use the occasion of the papal visit and the WMOF to increase awareness of issues of hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia and throughout the United States.  The goal of the Committee is to spark more effective action and advocacy around these issues in the spirit of justice and compassion.  Click here to learn more about the WMOF Hunger and Homelessness Committee.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What is the World Meeting of Families?

There is so much talk about the World Meeting of Families right now, but do we know what it is and why it is convened?  The website provides our answers.

Since its inception by St. John Paul II in 1994 [the International Year of the Family], the World Meeting of Families has strengthened the sacred bonds of families across the globe.  Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the largest Catholic gathering of families.  Each World Meeting of Families has a theme that energizes and enlivens the event while adding great depth of meaning to our understanding of families.  The theme of the World Meeting of Families  -- Philadelphia 2015 is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive," emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society.

At the conference, families share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers, working together to grow as individuals and family units.  Families can participate in discussion groups on the Christian family's role in the church and society, led by many distinguished speakers.  


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Undoing the Knots

The 2015 World Meeting of Families Hunger and Homelessness Committee has several great initiatives to share.  The first one we'll share with you is the "Mary, Undoer of Knots Grotto."    From the website:

 Throughout time and across all cultures, a knot has been used to symbolize tension and struggle. The undoing of a knot symbolizes freedom from these burdens - a release of pressure. In the tradition of Mary, Undoer of Knots, Pope Francis' favorite artwork, visitors of the grotto will be able to add or remove knots, symbolizing their personal struggles and sharing the burdens of others.

Where is the grotto?  How can you submit a "knot"?  Where can you get more information?  Click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

9/11: Let There Be Peace on Earth

... And let it begin with me.  (Click here if you do not see a video below.)


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Issue of Stop Trafficking

The September issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- focusing on how demand for services subtly promotes human trafficking -- is available here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Prayer Resources for 9/11

As we approach the fourteenth anniversary of "9/11," several prayer resources are available.  Click here to access resources on Beliefnet and here to access resources from the Western Region of the Sisters of Christian Charity.  Resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are available here.  Prayers and other resources are available from "The Text this Week" (click here).  Remember that we are also asked to give service on "Patriot Day," as the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks is now called.  How will you mark this day?  How will you be an instrument of peace?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hands at work . . .

Click here to read the USCCB Labor Day 2015 Statement, written by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, FL, and to find other Labor Day resources.  Here's an excerpt of the statement:

This Labor Day, the violation of human dignity is evident in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life. How do we participate in this wounding of human dignity, through choices about the clothes we wear, food we eat, and things we buy--most of which is unaffordable to the very workers who make it? Do we give a thought to this truth, that for our wants to be met, economic realities are created that cause others to live in ways that we ourselves would not? How can we advance God's work, in the words of the Psalmist, as he "secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, [and] sets captives free" (Ps 146:7)? These are difficult questions to ask, yet we must ask them.

On this Labor Day, perhaps Colossians 3:23-24 could be our prayer:  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord, and not for yourselves.  Remember that the Lord will reward you; you will receive what he has kept for his people.  For Christ is the real master you serve."

Finally, an often-quoted maxim of Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity, expresses sentiments appropriate for Labor Day.  In a January 20, 1880 letter, Mother Pauline advises Sister Honorata to assist as best she can in the formation of young Sisters and postulants:  "Let their hands be at work, their hearts with God."


Saturday, September 5, 2015

European Migrant Crisis

 Images of human beings -- especially children -- drowning or being forced to walk 100 miles to safety should motivate us to do what we can to aid our suffering brothers and sisters.  What will you do -- individually, in your ministry?  Your parish?  Your community?  Your convent home? Click here to go to the Caritas Internationalis site and here to go to the Catholic Relief Services site to learn how you can help support their efforts to aid the hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants fleeing war-torn countries, especially Syria.  Click here if you'd like to make a very direct donation to the organization that is dedicated to providing assistance to migrants who "find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels." In the past year alone, this organization -- the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) -- has rescued more than 11,000 migrants attempting a crossing in "unseaworthy vessels."

Would you like to share information with us about what is being done in your area to help refugees?  Just click the "Comment" section to let us know.

Friday, September 4, 2015

NativityMiguel School of Scranton

Congratulations to our very own Sister Maria Angeline and everyone at the NativityMiguel School of Scranton for an awesome opening to their school year.  Click here to read Friday's story in The Scranton Times. (Watch the video to get a glimpse of Sr. Maria Angeline in action.) If you're on Facebook, "like" the school and view photos of all the wonderful things going on there, including a first-day-of-school visit from retired New York Yankee, Mariano Rivera.  The Sisters of Christian Charity are proud to be among the founding sponsors of the NativityMiguel School of Scranton!

Monday, August 31, 2015

World Day of Prayer

Perhaps this video -- released by the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace -- could be part of our prayer for the World Day of Prayer for Creation.  It is six minutes long (which seems to be an eternity in cyberspace), but it is worth the time to read excerpts of Laudato Si superimposed on videos of  "our common home."


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reminder: World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Remember that Pope Francis -- following the lead of the Orthodox Church's remembrance since 1989 --  declared September 1 (that is, this Tuesday) as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  An outline for a one-hour Eucharistic Adoration to mark this day is available here from the Vatican Office of Justice and Peace.  The Global Catholic Climate movement offers resources (available here) for individuals, groups and parishes.  Additionally, the USCCB offers resources (available here). Finally,  Laudato Si offers this prayer:

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live 
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, 
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer List, Part 4

All summer long, we have been suggesting films and books.  Our last suggestion for the summer --  Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out, by Kevin Clarke -- is another book in the Liturgical Press "People of God" series.  How timely this book is, given Romero's beatification in May 2015.  In the Introduction, Clarke suggests that this beatification could only occur because of the "unblocking" of Romero's cause by Pope Francis, who seemed to follow "parallel spiritual and practical tracks" with Romero.  Clarke suggests that Romero, while not a member of the Society of Jesus (the religious community of Pope Francis), was greatly influenced by his Jesuit education and by having undertaken the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises as a young man.  Clarke considers their simplicity, humility, modesty, renunciation of creature comforts, and delight in the people as some of the most obvious parallels between the two men.

While the discussion of Archbishop Romero often leads to debates about the role of clergy in situations of political upheaval, let us focus on one of Romero's greatest teachings, echoing the greatest teaching of Jesus Christ:  "Love one another."

One of the many stories Kevin Clarke chose to include in Love Must Win Out demonstrates this well (p. 103).  Archbishop Romero offered the homily at the funeral Mass of Father Alfonso Navarro Oviedo, a priest who was murdered just a few months after Romero's dear friend, Father Rutilio Grande had been murdered in 1977.  At Navarro's funeral, Romero told this story:  "A caravan was traveling through the desert, being guided by a Bedouin.  They had become desperate and thirsty and were searching for water in the mirages of the desert.  Their guide said: 'Not there, over there.'  He had spoken these words so many times that the members of the caravan became frustrated, took out a gun, and shot the guide.  As the guide was dying, he extended his hand and said one last time: 'Not there, over there.'  He died pointing the way.

"This legend becomes a reality in our midst: a priest dies forgiving and praying for his assassins. . . . Let us receive this message. . . .  We believe in God; we preach a hope in this same God, and we die convinced of this hope. . . . Hope is an ideal that never dies.  It is like the guide in the desert that says: 'Not there, not for those mirages of hatred, not for that philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth -- no, that is criminal.  Over there: 'Love one another.'

"Do not walk on those roads of sin and violence. . . . You are going to build a new world, so walk on the road of love."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis has announced a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to be observed annually on September 1. Click here for more information.  (Providentially, yesterday this blog supplied a prayer for the care of creation.  Perhaps it will come in handy for you on September 1, as well.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Observing the 11th of the Month

Click here to access a prayer prepared by the SCC North American Western Region to observe August 11th as a day to pray for peace.  This month's theme is "Protecting All of God's Creation." The Sisters of Christian Charity observe the 11th of each month by praying and fasting for peace.  For more prayers, go to the Western Region's website.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Month of Prayer

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, of the Diocese of Paterson, NJ -- where the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Christian Charity's Eastern Province is located -- has designated August as the Month of Prayer for Those Suffering Religious Persecution.  Bishop Serratelli asks that the Prayer for Those Suffering Religious Persecution (below) be prayed together at all Masses.  Additionally, the following may be added:  1. Petitions for Persecuted Christians in the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass; 2. Holy Mass using the liturgical texts designated "For Persecuted Christians"; 3. A Holy Hour with Scripture Readings, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction for this specific intention; 4. An invitation to undertake some personal acts of prayer, sacrifice and charity for our suffering brothers and sisters.

Prayer for those suffering religious persecution

Good and gracious Father, whose own Beloved Son suffered violence and death for the salvation of the world, listen graciously to our cry for all who are being persecuted for their faith.

In your great mercy, comfort them with the Holy Spirit.
Give them strength in the face of hostility and courage in the face of trial.

Open the eyes of those who raise their hands in violence to see others as their brothers and sisters, children of the one Father of all.  By your grace, turn their hearts from hatred to love.

Through the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Queen of Peace, may justice and peace prevail so that all may have the freedom to worship you, the one true God and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Laudato Si: We Need One Another

We continue our reading of Laudato Si:
228.  Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion.  Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters.  Fraternal love can only be gratuitous; it can never be a means of repaying others for what they have done or will do for us.  That is why it is possible to love our enemies.  This same gratuitousness inspires us to love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them.  In this sense, we can speak of a "universal fraternity."  

229.  We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.  We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty.  It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good.  When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.

230.  Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.  An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.  In the end, a world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August Issue of Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the August 2015 issue of Stop Trafficking, which highlights the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Forming the Watchman

Have you read Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman?  There was certainly a lot of hype prior to its July release -- everything from the seemingly new racist tendencies of Atticus Finch to whether the novel is the sequel or prequel to Lee's other novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

In all of the monologues, dialogues, reviews, praise and criticism surrounding the novel, is enough attention being paid to the origin of the title and its meaning for 26-year-old Jean Louise ("Scout") Finch, the main character?

The title, Go Set a Watchman, comes from Isaiah 21:6: "Go, station [set] a watchman, let him tell what he sees."  This verse is the focus of the Methodist minister's Sunday sermon in the novel.  However, during the sermon, Jean Louise pays little attention to this verse as she daydreams about the music director's use of a new musical setting for the Doxology.  She wonders what could have possessed him to replace the Doxology music that had stood the test of time since her childhood with something so modern, northern and, quite possibly, Catholic.

It seems that the incorporation of the "watchman" verse with Jean Louise's internal railing against the loss of her childhood Doxology brings us closer to the point of the novel -- that is, Jean Louise's painful acceptance of becoming an adult.  While the Doxology music will return to "normal" the next Sunday, what Jean Louise is asked to endure during the 24 hours following the church service will affect her forever.

With the help of her uncle, Dr. Jack Finch, Jean Louise is brought to the realization that she is holding on to a childlike, uninformed conscience ("watchman"), largely the result of her father's influence and her lack of effort toward ongoing formation of  her own conscience.  Dr. Finch says:

"Every man's island, every man's watchman, is his conscience. . . .  Now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father's.  As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God.  You never saw him as a man with a man's heart, and a man's feelings. . . . You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.

"When you happened along and saw him doing something that seemed to you to be the very antithesis of his conscience -- your conscience -- you literally could not stand it.  It made you physically ill.  Life became hell on earth for you.  You had to kill yourself, or he had to kill you to get you functioning as a separate entity."  [Note:  The killing reference is not literal.]

As Jean Louise struggles to understand her uncle, he drops this bombshell:  "You're very much like your father. . . . Except you're a bigot and he's not. . . . What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinion?  He doesn't give.  He stays rigid.  Doesn't even try to listen, just lashes out.

"You've no doubt heard some pretty offensive talk since you've been home, but instead of getting on your charger and blindly striking it down, you turned and ran.  You said, in effect, 'I don't like the way these people do, so I have no time for them.'  You'd better take time for 'em, honey, otherwise you'll never grow.  You'll be the same at sixty as you are now. . . . You have a tendency not to give anybody elbow room in your mind for their ideas, no matter how silly you think they are."

We would do well to reflect on Dr. Finch's words to Jean Louise:
  • How has my conscience matured as I have aged?  While I am grateful to those on whose shoulders I have stood, have I allowed their influence on me to be a crutch that prevents me from embracing my own, well-informed conscience?
  • How do I continue to educate my conscience?  Do I regularly speak with people who will present opposing viewpoints?  Are those people welcome within my "circle"? Do I read books and articles that will open my mind to how "the other side" feels?  
  • Who is my "Uncle Jack" -- the one who will say the tough things to me whenever I need it?  Do I speak with this person when I am making a decision or do I avoid him or her, thinking I know best?
Conscience formation is an important element of our Catholic faith.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart" (1784).

How and when did you last educate your "watchman"?

[If you've read the novel, why not start a conversation here?  Click on the comment section and let me know your thoughts about the book or about my interpretation of it.]

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Laudato Si: Attitude of the Heart

We continue our Sunday reading of portions of Laudato Si:

226. We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, “he looked at him with love” (Mk 10:21). He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers.

227. One expression of this attitude is when we stop and give thanks to God before and after meals. I ask all believers to return to this beautiful and meaningful custom. That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labors provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Walk with Francis

In preparation for the September visit of Pope Francis to the United States, the Archdiocese of Washington's "Walk with Francis" project invites us to pray, serve and act.  The website (click here) is worth exploring.  No matter what diocese we call "home," the idea of this initiative -- to welcome Pope Francis by transforming our community -- is reflective of the Holy Father's consistent message since the beginning of his papacy.  How will you choose to pray, serve and act to transform your community?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Reading the Encyclical: Being at Peace

We continue to offer our Sunday excerpts of Laudato Si:

225. On the other hand, no one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself. An adequate understanding of spirituality consists in filling out what we mean by peace, which is much more than the absence of war. Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered”.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer List, Part 3

In addition to our previous summer viewing/reading suggestions, we add one more book, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother and the Lessons of a Lifetime by Scott Simon.  From the book's description:  "Unforgettable . . . [is] a memoir that is rich, heart-wrenching and exhilarating. . . . Spending their last days together in a hospital's ICU, mother and son reflect on their lifetime's worth of memories, recounting stories laced with humor and exemplifying resilience."

While this book might be considered an atypical "justice and peace" selection, it gives a very moving description of health care for an underserved population in the United States -- the elderly.  It is a great grace that several Sister of Christian Charity lovingly minister among this population.  We are grateful to all of those who provide care not only for our older Sisters, but for the elderly in the neighborhoods where we live and in the places we minister.  

Here is a sample of Unforgettable (p. 26), providing an example of what is discussed above:

"My mother was right:  America pastes decals on old people.  They are identified as a demographic group, a market, or a political lobby, but often feel invisible, unheard, and powerless as individuals.  People talk past them, as we do to children.  Their bodies start failing them, fighting them.  To be old in America is to live in a world in which you have to take pills but can't pry open the bottles, and can't open a drugstore pocket comb because it comes encased in a protective packaging fit for the Agra Diamond.  The elderly are accused of slurping up government benefits and medical care in a way that poisons our children's future.  Every marketer and media company wants to suck up what's inside their wallets, but avoid the taint of being identified with the cranky, wrinkly oldsters.  Intricate technologies bark at them from cold screens for passwords they can't (can any of us?) remember, and actions that might as well be commands in an ancient Parthian language.

My mother had come into a hospital for a quick stick in her finger to see if she was sick.  She had planned to have lunch, and dawdle in front of the store windows; she had planned to fly to see her grandchildren the next day.  But instead, she'd been whisked into a ward, jolted, jabbed, and speared without anyone she recognized as a doctor ever really saying why.  And now my mother was being asked, in so many words, if she was ready to give up breathing to get a better view.  Has medical care become so compartmentalized that the first inkling a patient gets that her case is untreatable is when the palliative care team circles the bed?"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reading the Encylical: Integrity of Human Life

Here is another excerpt from Laudato Si.  Keep reading and reflecting!

224. Sobriety and humility were not favourably regarded in the last century. And yet, when there is a general breakdown in the exercise of a certain virtue in personal and social life, it ends up causing a number of imbalances, including environmental ones. That is why it is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosystems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values. Once we lose our humility, and become enthralled with the possibility of limitless mastery over everything, we inevitably end up harming society and the environment. It is not easy to promote this kind of healthy humility or happy sobriety when we consider ourselves autonomous, when we exclude God from our lives or replace him with our own ego, and think that our subjective feelings can define what is right and what is wrong.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July Stop Trafficking Newsletter

Click here to access the July issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, highlighting the plight of children and other laborers in mineral mines and some very good news in terms of anti-trafficking advocacy in the business sector in the United States.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pauline 200 Web Page

The SCC Generalate website has set up a special page to keep track of the Pauline 200 mission.  Click here to access this page, which has updates in German, Spanish and English.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reading the Encyclical

To continue our commitment to reading Laudato Si itself in addition to reading about the encyclical, here is another excerpt:

237. On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality. It also proclaims “man’s eternal rest in God”. In this way, Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity. Rather, it is another way of working, which forms part of our very essence. It protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else. The law of weekly rest forbade work on the seventh day, “so that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your maidservant, and the stranger, may be refreshed” (Ex 23:12). Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. And so the day of rest, centred on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Encyclical: Local Media Coverage

Click here to read an article focusing on Laudato Si in the Daily Record (Morris County, NJ).  Erin Lothes, a theology professor at the College of Saint Elizabeth (Convent Station, NJ) is interviewed.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Laudato Si: Musical Selections

Are you intrigued by the fact that there could be suggestions of musical selections to accompany the recent encyclical?  Read on!

The Archdiocese of Washington has published a study guide for the encyclical, Laudato Si (available here).  One of its suggestions for reflection is:  "Various composers have written musical pictures or poems about nature, such as Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, Smetana’s The Moldau, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Listen to these works and describe what they say to you. What do you envision as you hear the music?"

On this summer Sunday following a holiday, can we take a few minutes to sit back and hear the music of nature?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Prayer for Independence Day

This brief video is crafted from prayers of former Presidents of the United States.  Reflecting on the words of  these prayers might be a fitting way to reflect on the meaning of Independence Day.  (Email subscribers, please click here if you do not see a video embedded in your email.)


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pauline 200 Mission

Please click here to read the blog post from the Consecrated Life of the Diocese of Paterson blog regarding the Sisters of Christian Charity Pauline 200 Mission, which just began. We offer our daily prayers for all the Sisters involved in this mission, especially (from left in photo), Sr. Christina Marie, Sister Maria Lan and Sister Mary Joseph.  


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Joy and Peace: Laudato Si

Continuing to read and reflect on Laudato Si:  Remember, if you would like to comment, go to the blog (click here) and click on "Comments" at the bottom of the post.

222. Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.

223. Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them. So they are able to shed unsatisfied needs, reducing their obsessiveness and weariness. Even living on little, they can live a lot, above all when they cultivate other pleasures and find satisfaction in fraternal encounters, in service, in developing their gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer. Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eucharist and Creation: Laudato Si

Rather than reading about the new encyclical, let us commit to reading and reflecting on Laudato Si itself. Please read the paragraph from the encyclical (below).  If you'd like to make a comment that reflects your thoughts on this portion of the encyclical, please go to the blog (click here) and click on "Comments" under the post.  In this way, perhaps we can begin a conversation about the encyclical.

236. It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”.  The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself ”.  Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer List, Continued

You will recall last month's suggestion of a film, McFarland USA, for the start of our "summer list."  This month, we suggest a book, Flannery O'Connor:Fiction Fired by Faith, by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell.  Part of the Liturgical Press People of God series, this book "tells the remarkable story of a gifted young woman who set out from her native Georgia to develop her talents as a writer and eventually succeeded in becoming one of the most accomplished fiction writers of the twentieth century" (from the book's description).

Quoting Flannery O'Connor, O'Donnell writes, "St. Thomas Aquinas says . . . that a work of art is a good in itself, and this is a truth that the modern world has largely forgotten.  We are not content to stay within our limitation and make something that is simply a good in itself.  Now we want to make something that will have a utilitarian value.  Yet what is good in itself glorifies God because it reflects God.  The artist has his hands full and does his duty if he attends to his art."

In describing O'Connor's goal of discovering how to be a Catholic writer, O'Donnell continues, "The Catholic writer should not seek to testify to her faith in the pages of her books or to convert her reader; instead, she should try to write the best fiction that she can.  This assurance freed O'Connor to devote herself to 'the good' in the form of her craft with the same fervor she devoted to the practice of her religion.  She would come to realize that her faith would naturally manifest itself in her art, regardless of the story she might be telling and regardless of whether there was any explicitly Catholic content" (p. 47).

(According to Liturgical Press, People of God is a brand-new series of inspiring biographies for the general reader. Each volume offers a compelling and honest narrative of the life of an important twentieth or twenty-first century Catholic. Some living and some now deceased, each of these women and men has known challenges and weaknesses familiar to most of us but responded to them in ways that call us to our own forms of heroism. Each offers a credible and concrete witness of faith, hope, and love to people of our own day.")

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laudato Si Study Guide

The USCCB has provided a study guide for the encyclical Laudato Si.  The study guide, available here, contains a prayer service, group reflection questions, a social encyclical primer and additional resources.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Provincial Statement on Ecology

As we continue to reflect on the message of the papal encyclical, it is a good time to review the Province's Statement on Ecology, drafted in 2008.  It is available on our website (along with some other good resources), and is quoted below in its entirety. Question:  How are we doing with this commitment?

Sisters of Christian Charity, North American Eastern Province Statement on Ecology

Because we recognize creation as God's gift to us, 
the Sisters of Christian Charity are committed
to a harmonious and interdependent relationship
with the earth and its creatures.
We will be guided by the principles
of sustainability and environmental accountability
in our decisions and actions
as we claim responsibility 
toward self, others and all of creation.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fortnight for Freedom Begins Today

From the USCCB:  The Fortnight for Freedom:  Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, 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, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  The theme of this year's Fortnight will focus on the "freedom to bear witness" to the truth of the Gospel.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The June 2015 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here.  This month's issue highlights the thousands who seek employment only to be trapped in exploitative situations.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Prayer Service and Other Resources to Celebrate Encyclical

Education for Justice has provided a prayer service to celebrate Laudato Si, the newest papal encyclical released yesterday.  Click here to access the resource.

Additionally, the USCCB offers multiple resources, available here.

America Magazine offers mutliple viewpoints.

  • Click here for "The Franciscan Character of Laudato Si" by Daniel Horan, OFM.
  • Click here for "The Top Ten Takeaways from Laudato Si" by James Martin, SJ.
  • Click here for "What the Environmental Encyclical Means," by the editors of America.  This is a "roundup" of expert analysis of the encyclical.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Download/Read Laudato Si

The Holy Father's newly-released encyclical on the environment and human ecology, Laudato Si, is available here.

This is the prayer with which Pope Francis concludes the encyclical:

A prayer for our earth 

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mercy Investment Services' Human Trafficking Resources

The website of Mercy Investment Services contains an impressive collection of human trafficking resources on one web page.  Click here to view the user-friendly page, which is worthy of more than a few minutes of your time.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Never Justifiable

Writing in the June 22-29 issue of America, Daniel P. Horan, OFM proposes that church leaders give "a black-and-white answer to whether or not the death penalty is acceptable."  In the spirit of the "seamless garment" approach to Christian ethics, Horan suggests, "We must affirm that either all life is sacred or no life is sacred."  Horan's proposal would require a revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which echoes traditional church teaching by not excluding recourse to the death penalty (no. 2267).  Horan also suggests that the CCC be revised to remove the qualifier "innocent" when referring to human beings:  "While individuals may be guilty or innocent of a crime, all human life is sacred without qualification; there is neither innocent nor guilty life."  Click here to read the entire essay.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Laudato Si

As we prepare for Thursday's release of his much-anticipated "environment encyclical," Laudato Si (that is, "Be Praised" or "Praised Be"), the Holy Father used the parables of this Sunday's gospel to remind us that the Kingdom of God is a gift of the Lord, but it requires our collaboration.  Click here to read more about the address after Sunday's Angelus in which Pope Francis says of the encyclical:  "Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to us."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

USCCB: WeAreSaltAndLight.org

The USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has developed a new website entitled WeAreSaltAndLight.org.  Inspired by the US bishops' statement, "Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish," the site provides resources using these themes:  "Pray Together," "Reach Out Together," "Learn Together" and "Act Together."

Click here to watch a video introduction and here to go to the site.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Beginning of the Summer List

With the help of Education for Justice, we begin (as we have done for the past several summers) "the list."  In the past, we have suggested books with Catholic Social Teaching (CST) themes for your summer reading list.  This year, we'll add movies to the list.  The first movie suggestion for summer 2015 is McFarland, USA.  This film makes the list because of its focus on these CST themes:  Life and Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family, Community and Participation; Solidarity; Dignity of Work; Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.

Here is a brief synopsis of the film:  "McFarland, USA  follows the real life story of Coach Jim White and seven Mexican-American inexperienced runners living in California's San Joaquin Valley, an area rich with farmland but plagued with poverty.  White witnesses the students' extraordinary running abilities and recruits them to start a cross country team.  With the odds stacked against them, the young men, through the guidance of their coach, are successful in winning the 1987 state championship, starting a more than two decade-long winning streak at McFarland High School."

Click here to access the Education for Justice Discussion Guide for the film.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Memorial Day Prayer

From Education for Justice:

On This Memorial Day
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.

Holy Father's Message for Archbishop Romero's Beatification


Vatican Radio's translation of the letter of Pope Francis for yesterday's beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero is available here.  An excerpt follows:

"The voice of the newly Blessed continues to resonate today to remind us that the Church, a convocation of brothers surrounding their Lord, is the family of God, in which there should be no division. Faith in Jesus Christ, when understood well and its final consequences assumed, generates communities of that are builders of peace and solidarity. This is what the Church in El Salvador is called to today, in America and in the whole world: to be rich in mercy and to convert into the leaven of reconciliation for society."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Readings on Romero

Thanks to America Magazine, we have a set of readings to get us ready for Oscar Romero's beatification this weekend (May 23).  Click here to find a article that links to those readings.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May Issue of Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the May 2015 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter.  This month's issue highlights the growing trade in human organs and the abuses associated with organ trafficking.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Feast of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt

Today, Sisters of Christian Charity and their Associates around the world celebrate the feast day of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, who died on April 30, 1881.  Pauline was born on June 3, 1817, in Minden, Westphalia (Germany).  Her family's wealth and prestige did not close her mind to the hardships of others.  As a young woman, she was particularly involved with the poverty-stricken families on the outskirts of Paderborn, Germany.  She nursed their sick and brought them food.  To aid them further, she opened a day-care center for the children of working mothers -- an undertaking which brought to her attention the needs of blind children and led her to found a school for the blind. 

When Pauline's works of charity became too vast for her to manage alone, she founded a religious community, the Congregation of the Sisters of Christian Charity, in 1849.  The story of the spread of the Congregation beyond Germany to other parts of Europe, North and South America and the Philippines is worth exploring.  Discover more information about the Sisters of Christian Charity by visiting the website of the Generalate, www.sccgen.org, which will lead you to all the websites of the Congregation, including that of the Eastern Province, www.scceast.org.

Today, we pray:  Father in heaven, lead us in the way of love as you led Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt.  Open our hearts to others, that loving them as you Son commanded, we may be one with them in your heavenly kingdom.  Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Help Nepal through Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is in need of assistance to help the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Nepal. Click here for more information.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sister Stefani Tiefenbacher, CPS

Missionary Sister of the Precious Blood, Sister Stefani Tiefenbacher was allegedly gang raped and murdered in South Africa last week.  She is the second woman religious to be murdered in South Africa in the past year.  Click here for information on Sister Stefani from America, as the story continues to evolve.  Please pray for Sister Stefani and her community.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Misericordiae Vultus: Formal Declaration of the Holy Year of Mercy

The Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, given today in Rome by Pope Francis, is available here.  An excerpt follows:
 
The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:37-38). The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn. If anyone wishes to avoid God’s judgement, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister. Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul. How much harm words do when they are motivated by feelings of jealousy and envy! To speak ill of others puts them in a bad light, undermines their reputation and leaves them prey to the whims of gossip. To refrain from judgement and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment and our presumption to know everything about him. But this is still not sufficient to express mercy. Jesus asks us also to forgive and to give. To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity.

Merciful like the Father, therefore, is the “motto” of this Holy Year. In mercy, we find proof of how God loves us. He gives his entire self, always, freely, asking nothing in return. He comes to our aid whenever we call upon him. What a beautiful thing that the Church begins her daily prayer with the words, “O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me” (Ps 70:2)! The assistance we ask for is already the first step of God’s mercy toward us. He comes to assist us in our weakness. And his help consists in helping us accept his presence and closeness to us. Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others (n. 14).

Consecrated Men and Women Denounce Persecution of Christians

From News.va:  A message released by participants of a Congress for Formators of Consecrated men and women (April 7-11) implores governments to implement concrete interventions to bring peace between peoples and break the spiral of violence in which so many innocent victims find themselves.  Click here to read the entire press release.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Living Easter

America has provided a brief editorial summary (available here) of how "each moment of the triduum can offer important insights into our contemporary world and contemporary lives."  As we continue this journey, this article asks important questions:
  • Holy Thursday:  How can we make our church more a “community of equals?” How can we move from self-aggrandizement toward “humble service” in the Catholic Church? And when are we called to meet and touch the poor among us? 
  • Good Friday: In so many ways, Christ continues to suffer in his body today. How can we aid him? 
  • Holy Saturday: Can our government take any serious steps to aid the poor, repair our crumbling infrastructure and improve our faltering public educational system?
  • Easter Sunday:  Yes, we suffer the pain of a broken world, of dashed expectations and seeming hopelessness. But the Resurrection tells us that suffering is never the last word, that God is always a God of surprises and that nothing is impossible with God.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflection for Palm Sunday

Click here to read M. Shawn Copeland's reflection for Palm Sunday on the Pax Christi USA website.  Here's an excerpt: 

Holy Week teaches that while nothing is impossible with God, we must wait for the realization of that possibility. This is difficult in an age that so values activity over waiting. We moderns are happiest when we have something to do. We plan and plot, work and produce. Through technological sophistication, we contrive to control the uncontrollable–future and destiny, success and defeat, history and mystery....Passion Sunday counters this; it slows us down.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Death Comes for the Archbishop

Today we remember the 35th death anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who will be beatified on May 23 in San Salvador.  Click here to access Kevin Clarke's article, "Death Comes for the Archbishop: The Martyrdom of Oscar Romero," in the March 23 issue of America

Friday, March 20, 2015

March Stop Trafficking

The March 2015 issue of Stop Trafficking is available here.  This issue attempts to show the growing tolerance for sexual violence in the media and its potential connection to the trafficking of women and children.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflection for First Sunday of Lent

Pax Christi USA has shared a reflection for the first Sunday of Lent (available here), written by Mitch Finley. 

Remember that we suggested other Lenten resources to you on Ash Wednesday.  One of those was the "Busted Halo" Lenten calendar.  Today's "MicroChallenges" from that resource are:
  • FAST from distractions like Facebook, Pinterest browsing, BuzzFeed lists today.
  • PRAY by writing out some personal goals for yourself that you want to accomplish this Lent.
  • GIVE encouragement to someone who needs assistance accomplishing one of their goals.
Additionally, a faithful blog reader suggested this site: Best Lent Ever, featuring Matthew Kelly. Do you have more to add to the list?  Let us know. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lenten Resources

On this Ash Wednesday, please be aware of several Lenten resources:
  • National Catholic Register (click here) has its "2015 Ultimate Lenten Resource Guide"
  • Busted Halo (click here) has its "Fast Pray Give Calendar"
  • The USCCB (click here) has a variety of Lenten resources
  • The Ignatian Spirituality website (click here) offers Lenten meditations, "Growing in Friendship with God," by William A. Barry, SJ.
These are a few of the available resources.  If you know of other good resources, comment on this blog post and we'll post them for others.

Monday, February 16, 2015

February Stop Trafficking

Click here to access the February 2015 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter, highlighting the complexities of modern-day slavery and cautioning us to avoid oversimplifying solutions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Wisdom of the Heart" for World Day of the Sick

February 11, 2015 marks the twenty-third commemoration of World Day of the Sick.  This year's theme is, "I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame" (Job 29:15).  The message of Pope Francis for today asks us to consider the theme from the perspective of "the wisdom of the heart."  According to Pope Francis, "the wisdom of the heart" means serving our brothers and sisters, being with our brothers and sisters, going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters and showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters without judging them.  Please click here to read the letter in its entirety.

As Sisters of Christian Charity, we thank and support all of our Sisters and Companions who minister in health care.  As we continue to pray for them and those they serve, we remember those pioneer Sisters who cared for the sick in the past and built health care institutions to bring the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to them.