Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Invisible Human Pain

A child sold here in the United States
Sadly it has taken me a long time to wake up to the terrible fact that  HUMAN TRAFFICKING which exists worldwide, including in the United States, is endemic of a world that is blinded by greed, drugs and violence. 

Next weekend is Super Bowl weekend, and while on the surface, and for most of us, it is a great occasion for celebrating and for friends to get together to watch the game, enjoy the commercials, good food, etc. there is a shadow that darkens all of this and it is a side of humanity that not many of us ever see. I have always known that prostitution existed but in looking back over the years I recognize now that I was and am still filled with prejudices and naivety about the women and young men who practice the trade of prostitution. The one thing that has come home to me at this late date is that the women and men who practice prostitution do not do it out of choice.   And we, even if we know that it goes on more often than not, ignore the situation claiming, "It is someone else's problem; what can I do?"  There is a statistic that claims that before and during the 2010 Super Bowl 10,000 women and girls were trafficked to Miami for the Super Bowl. While that figure may be inflated it is completely true that trafficking of human beings, whether boys, girls, women or young men, is very real and because this form of life lives in the shadows most of us never come face to face with it. There is no doubt that this is one of the, if not the, ugliest side of the human family, and I am not referring to the prostitutes themselves who are the victims but the perpetrators who use the prostitutes for sex slave in order to feed their disordered appetites.

Human trafficing is much more complex than mere prostitution.  It is at its very worst slavery when children and young girls are bought and sold for slave labor. These children are vulnerable because of family situations, war, famine, and just plain greed.

In conclusion I would like to suggest two films, the first one is a documentary and the second is a film based on a true story:  (1) Half the Sky: Turning Opression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and (2) The Whistleblower. Let us hope that we will do our best to edcuate ourselves about human trafficking and report suspicious activity in your neighborhood, universities, offices and sports teams. We can also listen attentively to our young people and to the values they speak of and live by.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Falling into Unity

Each time I found myself immersed in a new culture, I began to hear stories about the way that culture came to know God. What fascinated me were the strands of familiarity I noticed when comparing each unique cultural spirituality with my own Catholic faith tradition as expressed in the USA. 

I was fortunate enough to spend a summer in the southern portion of the Navaho Reservation in Shiprock NM, to live in central Utah for eight years and also to spend an academic year in a Catholic high school in northern Japan.  The spiritual richness of each culture ultimately manifested itself in the clarity with which each one lived out their faith-precepts in their daily lives. This demonstration of faith became most apparent in their communal expression of God-connection within the celebration of their liturgies.  The subtle nuances of their symbols and songs immediately spun me into the mystery of the vastness of God’s presence-among-us.

So this week of “Church Unity”, as we acknowledge the wealth of multiple religious traditions and the strands of unity that bind us as one, I flash back to my past experiences and the wealth of lens-expansion that each experience gave me.  The prophetic message that each religion expressed, helped me recognize how truly complementary each tradition was.  Each of us has a “mother tradition” in which our deepest consciousness has been formed.  This “mother-tradition gives us a concrete faith community to remind us to be accountable for what we say and do as we journey together in learning to truly love. [Richard Rohr Daily Meditation, January 20, 2014]. And, within this community, we can safely allow ourselves to be enriched by the insights of other faith traditions.  Together we journey deeper and deeper into this mystery of inclusive love.  Perhaps, when we go deep enough, we may find ourselves “falling into the “underground stream that is shared by ALL.” [Rohr]

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Excitement, Commitment and Perseverance

Some of you may remember that in the months before I made my perpetual monastic profession in July 2012, I kept a blog of my experiences. I'm sure it came out at the time how excited I was, how certain of my commitment I felt, how I had persevered in seeking God to reach the point I'd reached and how I intended to keep persevering in that search.

Well, 18 months on, where am I? I'm still committed, I'm still persevering, but I'm not excited any more. It is an effort to keep going. The sense of lightness has left. I think this something many religious experience after perpetual profession and I guess it can also be in the same in a marriage. It's not that you don't want to be there, more that it's not always easy. What seemed attractive and simple at the time of making the commitment now seems like the hard road and the challenge that I said I wanted. But wanting a challenge in theory is not the same as experiencing it in practice. Also, the challenges are often different from how you envisaged. Mine are more mundane, less glamorous.

However, there is a positive side. Every day, I consciously have to decide to keep going and there is a satisfaction in keeping going now the going is tougher. I didn't make  a fair weather commitment. I stick at it. I like the fact that I do that. And underneath the dreariness, there burns that flame of hope that staying with things as they are, in all their unexcitingness, is a test which is ultimately going to yield rich rewards. I hope so!

Karen Rose, OSB

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Who Is Wisdom?

Photo: Karen Streveler, OSB

There is so much wise advice in the Book of Wisdom! This reading from chapter 12 tells me: “You taught your people . . . that those who are righteous must be kind: and you gave your children reason to hope that you would allow them to repent for their sins.”  Who among us would not go to Lady Wisdom who sits at the gate awaiting the one who seeks her?

And Who is Wisdom?  Solomon describes her in chapter 7 of the Book of Wisdom in such a way that one could scarcely resist being deeply attracted  to her!  He says:
There is in wisdom
a spirit that is
loving the good
free from anxiety
overseeing all

through all spirits
that are
and altogether

How did Solomon know all of this about Wisdom, we may ask ourselves?  The answer is that he prayed for wisdom. . .and it was granted to him.  Could we do any better than to pray for Wisdom?

Renee Domeier, OSB

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Light in the Darkness

I just finished reading the utterly captivating book, Left To Tell, by Immaculée Ilibagiza, one of the few surviving Tutzi tribe members who suffered an unspeakably cruel genocide in her country of Rwanda.  If her telling of the horrors did anything to me concerning evil, the equally astounding presence of God revealing Himself to her through miracle after miracle of escape was nothing less than an Epiphany-kind of revelation. Through her fidelity in prayer and silence, her trust in nothing but God, her Savior revealed Himself in the darkness, at the last minute, blinding the enemy to the hunted Tutzis, sending someone to help in the nick of time or giving Immaculée an amazing gift of love, even for her would-be killers.  Anyone who has known God, has probably known God’s presence more in the dark than anywhere else.  So it was with Immaculée and she would surely attest to the truth that it is in the dark where God seems to visit most often.  Is Epiphany going on in our darkness?  In the darkness of our Church?  Of our world? I think so.  Is God’s Light shining through you too?


Renée Domeier, OSB