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Friday, April 20, 2018

Earth Day Roots

Ever wonder how Earth Day got started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues in 1970. Two senators asked Americans to join grassroots demonstrations and chose the date April 22 to be the annual date on which to celebrate.

"Praised be to you, my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us." These are the words of St. Francis of Assisi in his wonderful song of creation. He reminds us that the earth is our common home. Pope Francis, in his encyclical "Laudato Si," reminds us that "Indeed, the earth, which is our common home, cries out to us in pain because we have hurt her by how we've used and abused her. The violence we render is now evident in the sickness of the water, the soil, and the air. In our sinfulness, we have forgotten that we are made from the dust of this very earth ourselves."

Saints Vincent, Louise, and Elizabeth Ann all spoke of the beauty of our planet. They too spoke of our close relationship between those who are poor and our fragile planet an dhows we are all connected. As Daughters of Charity, we believe that every person has dignity and that there is a need for us to promote ways to afford a sustainable lifestyle for us all.

Let me make our efforts collective in showing our deep gratitude for such a sacred planet and let us treat Mother Earth with care, respect, and dignity. In the words of Pope Francis, "The poor are the majority of the planet's population. We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment so as to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

Written by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Friday, April 6, 2018

What Our Vows Mean to Me

The Daughters of Charity, just like other religious orders, make the usual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, we also make an additional vow--a vow of service to those who live in poverty. Each Daughter of Charity renews her vows every year on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.

As a Daughter of Charity, the vow of service to the poor is the prism through which I view the other three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. I experienced the invitation from Jesus to give my life to God and, with my "yes," God gave me to the poor. Poverty allows me to see that all I have belongs to the poor. Chastity frees me to love all in the human family, especially the poor and forgotten. Obedience awakens my conscious and deliberate choice to seek God's plan each day.

Pope Francis calls us to leave our comfort zones and to go to the peripheries to find the "wounded." Every day, Jesus invites me to follow Him. I delight in the gift of my life as a Daughter of Charity--given to God, in community, for the service of those who are poor.

Written by Sister Maureen Houlihan, D.C.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Seek Him Among the Living



Alleluia! He is Risen!

The empty tomb...one of my favorite images of my faith. On Easter Sunday, the women came to the tomb where Jesus was laid and it was empty. An angel announced, "He is not here; for he has risen" (Mt 28:6). The tomb was empty and a new chapter in human history began. I like to think of the angel as saying, "He is not here. Go seek Him among the living!" Our faith is alive and found among those who are living, not one that is dead and decaying among the dead.

"He is not here. Go seek Him among the living!" Find Jesus in the face of the little child gazing in wonderment at a butterfly. Find Jesus in the arthritic hands of an elderly woman knitting a sweater. Find Jesus in the homeless man who begs for food on the corner. Find Jesus in the inquisitive mind of the preteen who questions how the universe began. Find Jesus in the inane laughter of close friends sharing an inside joke. Find Jesus in the flickering fire that dances in the night. Find Jesus in the repetitive tides that continually lap the shore. Find Jesus in the tree leaf. Yes, Jesus is found among the living, not among the dead. So, embrace your faith and heed the advice of the empty tomb.

Ask yourself these questions this Easter.

  • How do I celebrate my faith as one of the living and not of the dead?
  • Where are special places that I discover the Risen Christ?

Written by Sister Kathleen Shannon, D.C.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Celebrating the Triduum



Holy Thursday is about Eucharist. It was at His last Passover that Jesus shared the Eucharist with his disciples. It was where He "took the bread, blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'" He gave us of Himself and provided a way for each of us to become a part of Him by partaking of His body. It is through us partaking of His body that we are united as one, one with Him and one with each other. We will never be alone again. He provided both for our spiritual and emotional needs.

It was also during this meal that "He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded." He called us to an availability of service to one another, to care for one another's physical needs.

Take time this Holy Thursday to reflect on these questions.

  • How does the Eucharist provide for my spiritual, emotional, and physical needs?
  • How does the Eucharist make me responsible for providing for others' spiritual, emotional, and physical needs?
Good Friday is a day of extreme suffering. Jesus is flogged, stripped, and crucified for all to see. We gaze upon the crucifix and shutter at the horrible humiliation that was done to Him. Yet, each day, many of our sisters and brothers experience comparable humiliations. Whether it's living under tyrannical regimes, being trafficked for another's sexual pleasure, being enslaved as forced laborers, or experiencing continual emotional and physical bullying, people are flogged and scared daily. They are being stripped of their human dignity and are being raised up for all to see their most broken selves. Crucifixions continue to happen daily.

This Good Friday, reflect on these questions.
  • When I encounter modern day crucifixions, am I as horrified as I am when I see a crucifix or have I become callous?
  • What are some steps I can take to be more aware of the suffering of my brothers and sisters who are victims of modern day crucifixions?
And on Holy Saturday, it's all over! Jesus has died and now lies lifeless in a tomb. What do I do now? Where do I turn? There is a heaviness, an unbroken silence, a shattering emptiness. Time stands still. There is nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. Those of us close to Jesus have all come together and yet, we all are not really there for one another. All of us are living in this suspended state of numbness.

Reflect on these questions this Holy Saturday.
  • Are there times in my life that have left me in this state of numbness?
  • Can I appreciate the "Holy Saturday experience" without having actually experienced this phenomenon in my own life?
  • What is my experience of Holy Saturday?
Written by Sister Kathleen Shannon, D.C.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Anniversary of the Death of Sister Suzanne Guillemin, D.C.

On March 28, 1968, Sister Suzanne Guillemin, D.C., our Mother General, was called home to God suddenly. What a tremendous shock it was. Why does this matter? Who was Sister Suzanne to us? Who was she to Daughters of Charity? Who was she to me?

Sister Suzanne's impact can be best understood in view of an era--the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, rock music, social unrest, an exciting time of new ideas. Pope John XIII inspired Vatican II and the whole church to listen to "the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of people of this age."

Sister Suzanne, a lay auditor at the council, became a Daughter's prophetic voice, calling us to live fully our vocation in response to the needs of humanity. Leading the Daughters to set aside the historic habit for one more suited for the times, she called us to ground ourselves in the contemplation of Jesus within us and within the poor persons whom we served. She urged adaptation of our service to the current and emerging needs. She reminded us that, "true charity, in our century, consists less of giving relief than in understanding and sustaining the effort for liberation which is agitating the classes and the minority groups." Mother Guillemin urged us to be the first women of God, grounded in Spirit, to become what we claim to be. She showed us how to be unafraid, humble, simple, and loving. Her spirit and words live on today.

What is Sister Suzanne saying to us today as women of the Church? As Daughters of Charity? As discerners? Let her example speak to your heart today. Pray to her for courage to have a prophetic voice for all those who are poor.

Written by Sister Suzanne Baumgartner, D.C.