Every month, one of our Sisters or Associates writes a reflection on a topic related to social justice. We welcome you to read and reflect on these essays, contemplating your own thoughts on these important issues of our day.
To learn about Muslims and Islam, we need to ask Muslims who know and love their religion to teach us. In turn, Muslims need to do the same in learning about Catholics. In these face-to-face conversations we form relationships, the primary and first step in doing interreligious dialogue. Dialogue is the methodology; harmony among people of various religions is the goal, expressed scripturally, "that all may be one that the world may believe." (John 17:21); a formula for peace in the world.
Peace. Relations with Muslims, the people, and their religion, Islam, is certainly an important sign of the times for those of us who have been gifted with a charism for peace as Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace. We have also inherited from Dominic and his Order a history of relationships with Muslims.
There are many in our country, many Christians in fact, who think a military response is the necessary and just response to conflict with other countries. This position is certainly understandable, given the violence that has been committed by those in power and terrorists in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan; we are at a very human level faced with a "flight or fight" response. It is, however, undeniable that our actions have had dire costs; we are currently struggling to remove ourselves from the Middle East fight, while realizing that violence is still increasing. From a faith perspective and for peace advocates, these can be discouraging times.
In a surprising move on December 17, President Obama announced that the United States would begin normalizing relations with Cuba following the release of American contractor Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years. President Obama addressed Americans explaining that relations between the U.S. and Cuba would be restored and travel and trade would be opened.
The U.S. embargo against Cuba was enacted over 50 years ago at the height of the Cold War. This economic and diplomatic isolation was intended to prevent further spread of Communism, quickly dispose of Castro, and support a Cuban transition to democracy.
God's command to love our enemies is more important than our security and comfort. Our nation is now worshiping the gods of violence, weapons, money, control, torture, racism and murder, and the [School of the Americas] SOA is one of the centers of that worship. One of our jobs, I think, is to bring this awareness to fellow Catholics wherever we are. It's bound to be slow, gentle work, but, with prayer, we can do it. This year at the SOA Watch, I was strongly affected by seeing several young people with tears in their eyes as we were praying the litany of the Central American martyrs. If some of us older people had not been persistent in participating each year, I believe many younger people would not have been there this year, experiencing this unique way of living and witnessing to our Faith.
"Then Peter approaching him asked, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy times seven times." - Mt 18:21-22
The Archdiocese of New Orleans established an Office of Racial Harmony, which continues to work toward addressing the sin of racism in the city of New Orleans, LA, and environs. To that end, the office also adopted a special prayer, "The Family Prayer," which is said at every Mass on every weekend around the archdiocese. The prayer asks for God’s grace and implores the aid of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to help us end the violence and racist attitudes which are so present in this city. Let There Be Peace...
What do we know about immigration and immigrants? I spend my days with immigrants and people who are not American and I think each of them has a fascinating story, and would invite any of them to my home. Yet, is immigration a good thing for the US? Is the answer to that question different if we are talking about undocumented immigrants?
Half of the undocumented immigrants here come to the US illegally and half come legally and stay beyond their designated return time. Roughly 10% of the undocumented immigrants are Asian. Many of the undocumented immigrants who do not have a high school diploma work in low-income jobs such as construction, agriculture, healthcare, or dishwashing. They earn much less than the average U.S. born worker.
"We are one brief generation in the long march of time; the future is not ours to erase. So where knowledge is limited, we will remember all those who will walk after us and err on the side of caution." (Taken from "A Declaration of Interdependence," 1992 Earth Summit. Rio Janeiro)
Land (earth) is a living organism of which "we, humans, are but one of thirty million species weaving the thin layer of life enveloping the world."2 "The preciousness of human life cannot and must not any longer be separated from the preciousness of the Earth."3
I have vivid memories of the bitterly cold Colorado December day when Sr. Gemma Doll called to ask me if I would consider participating in a delegation to Iraq. Iraq? Surely I had heard her wrong. But no, she was inviting me to be part of Voices for Veritas, sponsored by the Dominican Leadership Conference, to support the Dominicans who were suffering under US sanctions. Never one to turn down a request or an opportunity, I agreed to go and thus I spent ten days of Lent 2001, along with Thoma Swanson and eight others, learning that "we have family in Iraq."
Connections lead to caring and to seeing ourselves as one human family beyond barriers of race, nationality, religion, language and all the other things that seem to divide us.
I have been working with immigrants in adult education since 1993 in New Orleans, Chicago, and now in Columbus, Ohio. This ministry has largely entailed helping them learn English and the culture of the U.S. in order to survive here. I have heard many stories over the years, but I would like to share some key elements of immigrant stories of current adult learners at the Dominican Learning Center.