Sunday, February 25, 2018

National Call-In Day

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a call to U.S. Catholics and people of good will across the nation to take part in a "Call-In Day' on February 26 for the protection of Dreamers -- protecting them from deportation, providing them a path to citizenship and avoiding damage to existing protections.  Click here for more information about participating in the National Call-In Day.

For your March Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember in March:

  • March 8 - International Women's Day
  • March 21 - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • March 22 - World Water Day
  • March 25 (Palm Sunday) - International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • March 29 - Holy Thursday
  • March 30 - Good Friday
  • March 31 - Easter Vigil

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Barking to the Choir

Perhaps you remember the 2010 book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle, SJ.  In 1988, Father Boyle (with the assistance of many others) founded Homeboy Industries as a way to intervene in the increasing gang violence in the Los Angeles area.  Since then, Homeboy Industries has grown exponentially and "serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking to leave gang life, for whom barriers and challenges are great, and for whom there is virtually no other avenue to enter the mainstream" (from the Homeboy Industries website).  Visitors to the website are met with this audacious claim:  "Hope has an address."

Now, Father Boyle has published Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, which just might be the book you'd like as a companion during the rest of your Lenten journey.  Continuing to tell the stories of Homeboy Industries and the variety of people who find refuge and transformation there, the author challenges us from the beginning of the book.

Here's an excerpt from page 2: "Human beings are settlers, but not in the pioneer sense.  It is our human occupational hazard to settle for little.  We settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness.  We settle for the fear-driven when love longs to be our engine.  We settle for a puny, vindictive God when we are being nudged always closer to this wildly, inclusive, larger-than-any-life God.  We allow our sense of God to atrophy.  We settle for the illusion of separation when we are endlessly asked to enter into kinship with all..  The Choir has settled for little . . . and the 'barking,' like a protective sheepdog, wants to guide us back to the expansiveness of God's own longing."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Fragile Joy Returns to Iraq"

Timothy Radcliffe, OP, has written this article, "Fragile Joy Returns to Iraq," about the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine in Iraq, whose "endurance, commitment to education and to care of the sick, and above all,  joy, is a sign of hope in our Lord who never deserts us."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Day of Prayer and Fasting

Friday, February 23 has been designated by Pope Francis as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Whole World.  Resources for this day (including additional intercesssions for the Prayer of the Faithful) are available on the USCCB website.  Here is a prayer that is found on that site:

Heavenly Father,
you tell of a time when the lion and lamb lie down together,
and swords will be turned into plowshares,
a time when all divisions will be healed.

Be with the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan
in their hour of suffering.
May your Spirit of Love comfort them and kindle in their hearts
a hope for true peace, mercy and reconciliation.

Be with the leaders who hold the future of these countries in their hands.
Open their minds and hearts to your Spirit of Peace
so that they may work to build societies that respect the rights of all.

Ever Living God, may our heartfelt prayer and fasting
help bring peace and justice
to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and to all the World.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lenten Calendar

The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ offer this calendar for our Lenten consideration.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Prayers for World Day of Social Justice

World Day of Social Justice is commemorated annually on February 20.  This year's theme, as noted by the United Nations, is "Workers on the Move: The Quest for Social Justice."  The Sisters of Mercy have published a brief prayer service for this day (available here) and Education for Justice has provided this prayer for the day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ash Wednesday

Here are some thoughts from  Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (1817-1881) that may help to guide our Lenten journey:

"When we behold our own weakness, let us look up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  He offered Himself in atonement for our sins and shares with us the treasures of His Heart.  Our good works and virtues have value only through Him.  In the Heart of Jesus we find the fountain of love that was the source of all He did during His entire life.  Let us mold ourselves entirely according to this model.  In the various circumstances and happenings of our life, let us always ask, "How would Jesus have acted?"  Let us do likewise and imitate His meekness, His humility, His love, His mildness, His spirit of penance.  Now, during the holy season of Lent, we want to think of His fasting, especially His spirit of fasting.  Jesus will be pleased to find hearts that with Him think of the sinners whom He loves so much.  But how He must feel when He sees those who act as if He had never done anything for them.  Heart of Jesus, help me to grow in the knowledge of Your love that I may love You more and more.  Dearest Mother Mary, help me to imitate more and more the virtues of the Sacred Heart.  Amen"  (February 22, 1855).

Monday, February 12, 2018

Message of Pope Francis for Lent

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is on February 14.  The Holy Father's Lenten message is available here.  Its theme is: "Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold" (Mt 24:12).  In his message, Pope Francis urges the members of the Church to "take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.  If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!  He constantly gives us the chance to begin loving anew. . . . By listening to God's word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Prayer for the 11th of the Month

As we remember our day of fasting and prayer for the 11th of the month, we pause, reflect and pray that "God will guide our feet into the way of peace."  Click here to visit the SCC Western Region's website which contains a prayer for this intention.

Friday, February 9, 2018

World Day of the Sick 2018

Sunday, February 11 will be the 26th World Day of the Sick.  The message of Pope Francis for this day is available here.  Other resources from the Catholic Health Association can be found here.  The Holy Father's brief message for this day concludes: 

"To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them."

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Prayer on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child and endured untold hardship and suffering.  Once liberated from your physical enslavement, you found true redemption in your encounter with Christ and his Church.  O St. Bakhita, assist all those who are trapped in a state of slavery; Intercede with God on their behalf so that they will be released from their chains of captivity.  Those whom man enslaves, let God set free.  Provide comfort to survivors of slavery and let them look to you as an example of hope and faith.  Help all survivors find healing from their wounds.  We ask for your prayers and intercessions for those enslaved among us.  Amen.

For more information and resources, visit the website of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

St. Bakhita Day Webinar

On Wednesday, February 8 at 1 pm (EST), the USCCB is hosting a webinar to "learn how parishes around the country are combatting human trafficking and how you can do the same."  Click here for more information about attending the webinar.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The daily "havoc" of grace

On Friday, February 2, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and marked the 22nd World Day for Consecrated Life.  The text of his homily is available here. An excerpt of the homily follows:

How good it is for us to hold the Lord "in our arms" (Lk 2:28) like Simeon.  Not only in our heads and in our hearts, but also "in our hands," in all that we do: in prayer, at work, at the table, on the telephone, at school, with the poor, everywhere.  Having the Lord "in our hands" is an antidote to insular mysticism and frenetic activism, since a genuine encounter with Jesus corrects both saccharine piety and frazzled hyperactivity.  Savoring the encounter with Jesus is also the remedy for paralysis of routine, for it opens up the daily "havoc" of grace.  The secret to fanning the flame of our spiritual life is a willingness to allow ourselves to encounter Jesus and to be encountered by him; otherwise we fall into a stifling life, where disgruntlement, bitterness and inevitable disappointments get the better of us.  To encounter one another in Jesus as brothers and sisters, young and old, and thus to abandon the barren rhetoric of "the good old days" -- a nostalgia that kills the soul -- and to silence those who think that "everything is falling apart."  If we encounter Jesus and our brothers and sisters in the everyday events of our life, our hearts will no longer be set on the past or the future, but will experience the "today of God" in peace with everyone.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Halftime Challenge

You will recall from the Super Bowls of the past few years the social media campaign, the Halftime Challenge, whose purpose is to spread the message of abolishing modern-day slavery.  Since the Super Bowl will occur this Sunday, February 4, we draw your attention once more to the Halftime Challenge.  Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for February

The February issue of Stop Trafficking is available here.