Sunday, February 28, 2016

Year of Mercy Wisdom from Blessed Pauline

As Sisters of Christian Charity, we are blessed to have access to many volumes of writings of our Founder, Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt.   Especially during the Lenten season of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, we look to Mother Pauline for guidance.  A letter from November 1872 instructing a Sister about her relationships in her local convent illustrates the depth of wisdom contained in Mother Pauline's writings: 

"We cannot have people only with their good qualities; they have their faults, too.  This is an imperfect world.  Heaven alone will bring perfection.  And it is a work of mercy:  'What you cannot change in your neighbor you must bear with patience.'"

Perhaps our Lenten resolve will be strengthened during this Year of Mercy by putting these words into practice.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Slow Down and Show Compassion!

Have you heard of the interesting 1973 "seminary study" that was performed using the parable of the Good Samaritan?  Having been recruited for a study on religious education, 40 seminary students completed questionnaires on religion and were given a task.  Beginning the experiment in one building, they were told (with varying degrees of urgency) to go to other buildings to deliver a talk on the Good Samaritan.  As they made their way to their respective assignments, they encountered a man slumped over in an alleyway (actually, an actor portraying a man slumped over in an alleyway). 

The ultimate question was:  Would seminary students who were rushing to deliver a talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan actually stop and help a seemingly injured man?  (Note: Other variables were tested, too.)

The ultimate answer:  Whether they stopped depended on how hurried they were -- even though they had the parable of the Good Samaritan on their minds.  In "low hurry" situations, 63% helped; in "medium hurry" situations, 45% helped; and in "high hurry" situations, 10% helped. 

While the researchers avoided the simplistic conclusion that "ethics becomes a luxury as the speed of our daily lives increases," their study should cause us to pause:  How often do we, who reflect daily on the Word of God, allow our "hurriedness" or "busyness" get in the way of acting compassionately toward others? 

As we continue our Lenten journey during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, perhaps we can reflect on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and its call for us to "Go and do likewise."  Hopefully, we can slow our lives down enough to become the compassionate neighbor Jesus calls us to be.

Click here if you are interested in reading the study ("From Jerusalem to Jericho: A Study of Situational and Dispositional Variables in Helping Behavior").

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mercy and Movies, Week 3

This week's Mercy and Movies suggestion is Romero (1989), the only English-language film of our Lenten films:  "Raul Julia stars as Blessed Oscar Romero of El Salvador, a zealous pastor and defender of his flock whose evolution is not unlike the transformation some observers have described in Pope Francis, another Latin American prelate noted early in his career as a theological conservative, but later considered a social-justice crusader."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mercy and Movies, Week 2

As you recall from last week, we are sharing Steven Greydanus's suggestions of Mercy and Movies.  This week's suggestion is The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978):  "Ermanno Olmi's luminous portrait of rural Italian life at the turn of the 20th century offers both an idyllic depiction of community and family life . . . and a bitter critique of the exploitation and oppression of the poor by the wealthy."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Free Rice: Feed the Hungry

As we continue to journey through Lent during this Year of Mercy, let's remember some of the ways we can feed the hungry.  Free Rice is owned and operated by the United Nations World Food Programme.  It not only provides free rice to hungry people, but also provides an education to its users.  The available subjects have expanded, so you can brush up on several foreign languages, science, math, humanities and geography.  Click here to be directed to the site.  Do you have a few minutes to feed the hungry this Lent?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Lent: Preparation for Joy

In his essay about Ash Wednesday entitled "Spiritual Medicine" (available here) Thomas Merton wrote:

"It is necessary that at the beginning of this fast, the Lord should show himself to us in his mercy.  The purpose of Lent is not only expiation, to satisfy the divine justice, but above all a preparation to rejoice in his love.  And this preparation consists in receiving the gift of his mercy – a gift which we receive in so far as we open our hearts to it, casting out what cannot remain in the same room with mercy."

As we approach the First Sunday of Lent during this Year of Mercy, let us consider what we need to cast out.  What cannot remain in the same room with mercy?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February Issue of Stop Trafficking

The February issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here.  Highlights of this issue include various means for parents and professionals to safeguard young people from becoming victims of trafficking. 

World Day of the Sick

Today is the 24th World Day of the Sick, "a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one's suffering for the good of others and of reminding everyone to see in his sick brother or sister the face of Christ who, by suffering, dying and rising achieved the salvation of mankind" (Pope St. John Paul II).

We pray in a special way today for all those who care for the sick, especially those Sisters of Christian Charity who minister in health care and their colleagues.  We are so grateful to them for carrying on the healing ministry of Jesus and the healing legacy of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt.

Click here to read the message of Pope Francis for World Day of the Sick 2016, "Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus Like Mary: Do Whatever He Tells You."  Here is an excerpt of the message:

"In Mary’s concern we see reflected the tenderness of God. This same tenderness is present in the lives of all those persons who attend the sick and understand their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they look upon them with eyes full of love. How many times has a mother at the bedside of her sick child, or a child caring for an elderly parent, or a grandchild concerned for a grandparent, placed his or her prayer in the hands of Our Lady! For our loved ones who suffer because of illness we ask first for their health. Jesus himself showed the presence of the Kingdom of God specifically through his healings: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them”; line-height: 20px;">Mt 11:4-5). But love animated by faith makes us ask for them something greater than physical health: we ask for peace, a serenity in life that comes from the heart and is God’s gift, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, a gift which the Father never denies to those who ask him for it with trust."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mercy and Movies, Week 1

Writing in the National Catholic Register, Steven D. Greydanus suggests six movies for Lenten viewing during this Year of Mercy.  Click here to access the article.  The first week's suggestion is Of Gods and Men, a 2010 film based on the true story of the Trappists of Notre-Dame de l'Atlas during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990's.  This film "depicts the monks' sacrificial service to their (Muslim) neighbors, offering them everything from free medical care and help filling out government forms to moral support in a time of terror and jihad."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl and Human Trafficking

Whether you watch the Super Bowl this evening or not, perhaps you could make an effort to raise awareness of human trafficking.  As suggested previously, the Half Time Challenge is a social media effort to raise awareness of the efforts to abolish human trafficking. 

If you cannot participate in the Half Time Challenge, could you make the commitment to do something else to raise awareness of human trafficking?   Perhaps you could share information with one other person. 

Here are some websites that could be shared:
  • Stop Trafficking: A newsletter sponsored by religious communities (including the Sisters of Christian Charity) to promote awareness, to exchange best practices in advocacy and to recommend actions to stop human trafficking
  • US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking:  a collaborative, faith-based national network that offers education, supports access to survivor services, and engages in advocacy in an effort to eradicate modern-day slavery
  • USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program:  An effort by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to educate on the scourge of human trafficking as an offense against fundamental dignity of the human person; to advocate for an end to modern day slavery; and to provide training and technical assistance on this issue.
There are many more sites that contain information about human trafficking.  Most of them are linked to the sites above. 

Let's agree to do something today -- pray, raise awareness, or advocate in some way -- to take a stand against human trafficking. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Message of Pope Francis for Lent

Click here to access the Holy Father's Lent 2015 message, "'I desire mercy, not sacrifice': The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee."

Here is an excerpt:  "The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. . . ."

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bite your tongue!

To celebrate the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis held an audience with women and men religious.  In one portion of his address, he told them, "If you get an urge to say something against a brother or sister, to drop a 'gossip bomb,'  bite your tongue!  Hard!"

What a good reminder for us! 

But what does this have to do with peace and justice?  All our thoughts, words and actions -- even our gossip -- have implications for our right relationships with the world and all who dwell therein.  So, the seemingly small habit of controlling our gossip has implications for peace in our lives and in our world.  It's that important!

 A 3-minute video report of this talk is below.  (Email subscribers:  Click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)

Human Trafficking: Half Time Challenge

As you know, human trafficking activities are often associated with large sporting events.  In preparation for this Sunday's Super Bowl, the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking is again mobilizing the nation to deter human trafficking. Click here for more information about how you can participate in this year's "Half Time Challenge," a social media campaign that takes place leading up to and during the Super Bowl.