As spring makes its way even into chilly Minnesota, we share this poem written by a favorite teacher at the College of St. Catherine. May you be blessed by the beauty around you.
Lent encourages us to slow down so we can recognize what drives us and to fast from food and fashion that consumes us. As Sisters of St. Joseph we celebrate the feast of our patron on March 19 and take a break from Lent for festivities. Joseph is also the patron of the universal Church, so March 19 is a feast we can all claim. Joseph gives us an example of an ordinary husband and father who faces extraordinary challenges. Here is a prayer to him.
Joseph, most ordinary, on this your feast,
help us listen to our dreams with compassion and openness as you did.
Help us stretch, hold, and deepen our relationships.
Open our embrace of the future
as you opened your arms to a child not your own.
In these hard times may we, like you,
dream compassionately, provide wisely,
and build community that can hold us together.
We ask this through Jesus, whom you claimed and named. Amen.
Good Ground Press is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Our congregation has published the following public statement in regard to Syrian refugees:
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are heartbroken and outraged by the recent violence perpetrated around the world in places like Paris, Beirut, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
As we join the world in grieving those killed and injured in these attacks, we refuse to allow the actions of radical groups to push us to respond with anything but love and mercy. We urge people around the world and their governments to embrace the refugees fleeing violence and hatred and welcome them into the sanctuary of our countries. Syrian refugees, fleeing a brutal civil war, are themselves victims of ISIS.
Certainly, preventing any future attacks is of utmost importance, but refusing the deserving, carefully-vetted Syrian refugees who are in the process of being resettled in the United States is not the answer. These refugees go through multiple layers of interviews and rigorous security checks. These measures ensure that we can both welcome these refugees and ensure our national security.
We were challenged by Pope Francis in his address to Congress on September 24: “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. … We must not be taken aback by their numbers but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation in ways that are always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
Our charism calls us to love God and love the Dear Neighbor without distinction. We will not distinguish people by religion, color or creed when they cry out for mercy. Let us all respond to our Dear Neighbors with love in their hour of greatest need.
The sadness of so many killed in the terrorist attacks spreads through families and coworkers and touches us all. In response to our expression of solidarity with our French colleagues at Bayard-Presse in Paris, we heard today:
“Thank you for your message which provides warm thoughts. The week has been quite chaotic. One of our freelance editors has been killed in the concert hall Bataclan. We keep hope that peace will recover but the middle east is fully at war and we pay a very high price in front of this situation.”
War brings with it so much to mourn on every side.
Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ
Good Ground Press
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I wanted to promote Buzzfeed’s article Feminism in Faith: Four Women Who Are Revolutionizing Organized Religion.
The article highlights four women working within their faith community to bring about change:
Sara Hurwitz: the first publicly ordained Orthodox Jewish Rabba
Kate Kelly: an attorney getting the issue of ordination of Mormon women in the public eye
Elizabeth Johnson: a Catholic feminist theologian, nun and professor working for female ordination
Zainah Anwar: a Muslim journalist and advocate working to reinterpret the Qur’an’s verses that lead to taking multiple wives and beating wives
The article asks:
Why bother? Why fight? If you’re an educated feminist who was born into such a religion, why not convert to another that doesn’t relegate women to a second-class status? For each of these women, the answer relates to not only her devotion to her own faith, but to her community. This is no small thing: By a rough estimation, there are nearly a billion and a half women on Earth who are Orthodox Jewish, Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim.
Take a moment today to learn more about these women who are working for equality in their faith communities.
Who would you add to the list?
Christians today may wonder why the four fishermen so unhesitatingly follow a man who comes walking along the lake shore and invites them to, “Follow me.” Matthew is writing about the call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John more than 50 years after Jesus’ public life. Their instant, wholehearted initial response to Jesus reflects the story of their whole lives. They experience a steep learning curve as they follow Jesus during his ministry but in the end they give their lives wholeheartedly to spreading Jesus’ good news after this death and resurrection. Responding to Jesus’ friendship changes their lives. It redirects them from casting nets for fish to gathering people in the Christian community.
Who has called and empowered you to minister? How do you respond? How has your response changed your life?
The fourth gospel begins in God time and enters history only in verse 6, when “a man named John was sent from God…to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” (1.6-7). Jesus has no birth story and no parents at the beginning of this gospel. Instead he has a dedicated public relations man who testifies someone greater is coming.
John the Baptist apparently preaches in such a compelling way that many mistake him for the promised messiah, but he insists no. Someone else is coming who will baptize with the Spirit. Artfully the fourth gospel uses the Baptist to build up anticipation. The Baptist is the point man. Artists often draw him pointing.
The Baptist witnesses that indeed Wisdom, God’s partner in creation, has found a dwelling in Israel. The Word has taken flesh to reveal God among us. Not until verse 29, where Sunday’s gospel begins, does the Baptist point out Jesus and identify him as the someone.
In court, witnessing and testifying require swearing to tell the whole truth about events one has observed or participated in. Testimony is also a Christian practice in which one talks about the power of God in one’s life.
Many people who grew up Catholic no longer claim their faith. The continuing flow of sexual abuse cases causes deep distrust of leaders who don’t meet their promise of zero tolerance. The whole Church suffers.
We Christians are Jesus’ witnesses today. As our courts work to find the whole truth, we in the pews must give witness to all God is doing in our lives. We must be church to one another and Christians others can believe in.
What witness do you give?
“This is my beloved Son. My favor rests on him.”
In receiving John’s baptism, Jesus passes from private life in Galilee to public life characterized by humility and compassionate justice. At his baptism the Spirit of God commissions him for his life work.
The voice from the heavens tells Jesus that God’s favor rests on him; he is the one chosen to bring justice to the nations. He will open the eyes of the blind, free prisoners, and bring those who live in darkness out of the dungeon.
What is the public purpose of your Christian adulthood?
The gospel tells us little about the foreigners who come to worship Jesus, but we have clothed them in rich detail. Why? Maybe because the strangers take such a big risk in following the star. They leave the comforts of their homes, take a long trip, and outwit a king anxious for his crown. They don’t know where they are going or what they will find when they get there. In other words, they are model believers and seekers of truth.
Where have you journeyed to find hope in transcendent meaning in your life? What did you find?