Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Praying for Peace

Prayer vigil St. Peter's Square, September 7, 2013
In recent weeks Pope Francis called for prayers for peace in Syria and he himself prayed and fasted. On the evening of September 7, the Pope led a four-hour prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square attended by approximately 100,000 people.

It is not unusual to find outside or just inside the door of a Benedictine monastery the motto Pax or "peace".   When I was in the Holy Land last May and visited Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem I felt a special kinship with the monks of the Abbey when I noticed that they had a peace pole near their front entrance, the same peace pole we have just outside our Whitby Museum and Gift Shop. Saint Benedict in his Rule makes several references to peace such as "Let peace be your quest and aim." (Prologue 17) And his famous line from Chapter 4:73, "If you have a dispute with someone make peace before the sun goes down" which is an allusion to Ephesians 4:26. As committed as we are to praying for peace in countries that are thousands of miles away because we all belong to the human family and when my brother or sister is attacked in one part of the world it chips away at the fabric of our world, it can be infinitely more difficult when the disagreement is in our own house or when the people involved become "enemies" to each other. It is tempting in such situations to "give a hollow greeting of peace" (RB 4: 25) and move on as if nothing is wrong but "praying for [our] enemies out of love for Christ" (RB 4:72)  demands love and mercy toward the other. Sometimes the seriousness of the disagreement requires vigiling and fasting because all other human means have been exhausted.

Saint Benedict is a wise teacher when he asks us to pray the "Our Father" at the end of the Liturgy of the Hours so that we might become aware of and take care of any unresolved disagreements before the end of the day. And so I leave us with the question: "How can I do my part to bring peace to my little corner of the world?"  If I do it will have repercussions all around the world.  Pax

Peace Pole

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flooded by Love

J Hasting
School has started.  The school season brings to mind a quote of St. Robert Bellarmine (whose feast day is today, September 17,): “In the last day, when the general examination takes place . . . love will be the whole syllabus.”

We all know that unhealed wounds need somehow to be opened (named) and anointed for healing to begin.  We also recognize that one dynamic energy that can anoint a wound, preparing it to open, is an outpouring of love.

Is it possible to believe, as some African tribal peoples believe, that all persons are invited to name and walk into (wrap their embracing arms around) their personal wound if they want to find their personal wholeness and gifts? Whenever a child is born with physical limitations in this tribe, the entire tribe celebrates, because they so strongly believe that when this child walks into her or his wound, she or he will be a tribal healer.

We as a global human community have currently heard consistent invitations to flood our parched acts of inhumanity (woundedness) with daily loving energy.  Is that the outpouring it will take to love one another into sufficient global freedom, into our fully gifted humanness?  Are we ready for the dailiness that would require?
Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Alarming Statements About Poverty

  • Poverty in America: Bigger Than Ever and Rapidly Spreading
  • One in three Americans are now poor, sapping our nation’s social, economic, and moral strength
  • People fall between the cracks because there are cracks
  • 25% of our children now live in poverty
  • The richest few among us have abandoned the many to a future of poverty

Difficult to read? to take in? to put one’s mind and heart around? YES!  Do I delight in repeating these statements to you, my reader? NO!  I feel helpless, ashamed, not wanting to believe what I read and see around me.  Where is the lived truth in statements such as: “We’re all in this together” or “Why don’t the poor themselves take initiative?” Really? Are the poor the ones who create the problems?  I don’t think so.

How is it that we, the richest country in the world, have come to the point where 50 million Americans are poor, i.e., 50 million of our own brothers and sisters are trying to make ends meet on $11,000 or less a year for an individual; $15,000 a year for a single mom with one child; and $23,000 a year for a family of four? Fifty million Americans! (The Census Bureau).

Yet there are those who would cut the food stamp program for the simple motive that our economy is improving and, therefore, “who needs food stamps in good times?” or perhaps cutting Medicaid would cut our national budget!  Where is there significant pondering of how such action endangers our national healthcare standards or affects homebound senior or low-income veterans? 

We can do better! In whose faces and lives do we see the hungry Christ, the thirsty or imprisoned Christ, the homeless and unclothed Christ?  There are 50 million, right here, right now, in our homeland!  

Renee Domeier, OSB

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shades of Gray

Labor Day is over and the summer is at an end. I always feel a sense of nostalgia at this time of year, even though it's also a time of beginnings with new school year starting. Beginnings are something that I always associate with anticipation and hope. Endings sometimes come with a sense of fulfilment and completion, but are often also tinged with sadness. Consequently, this is a time of year when I have something of a sense of conflict inside. Mild conflict, not the kind that makes a person really unhappy - in fact, my conflicted feelings gives me cause for meditation.

Holding opposites in my mind and heart isn't just a seasonal event. It is, in fact, rare that any situation or question of importance has only one right, clear, immediate answer. There are usually different values, different opinions, different experiences, different needs when we come to making decisions, all of which affect the outcome of how we choose and act in any particular case. Life is mostly lived in shades of gray, rather than black and white.

Yet, as a Christian, the most important factor in any choice I make, any act I perform, is whether I am living out the Gospel values. And what underlies the Gospel? Love for our fellow human beings, whoever they are and wherever they may be. In all the shades of gray that surround us, we can look for that simple, pure light and pray to be led by it.

Karen Rose, OSB