Millions of people around the United States will place flags and flowers at the monuments of loved ones who served in the armed forces on this upcoming Memorial Day. The President will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. These rituals honor those who made great sacrifices and provide families with another opportunity to express their love.
I think the greatest tribute to loved ones lost in war is to mark that special day with a pledge to create a "Culture of Peace." Such a pledge means we seek truth, speak truth, and do truth by challenging lies that create wars that are unjust or promote violent systems. President Eisenhower spoke as one who knew much about war, "Beware of the military, industrial complex!"
Candidates and Discerning Dominican Associates across the the United States have been faithfully attending Prayer/Study/Discernment Sessions with their companions, led by area Mentor Teams, since last fall and will soon be participating in a required Associates Discernment Retreat. This special gathering gives them the opportunity to pray and reflect together with other Candidates, Associates, and Sisters in their geographic region before submitting their formal request to become an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The first retreat is in June and Commitment ceremonies around the country will be in August and September. Let us all pray for those discerning their call to Dominican Associate life!
For today's blog, I step away from focusing on the preaching ministry to highlight the beatification of the early 21st century martyr Italian Fr. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglisi. Why? Because of his love of and work for peace.
"All that is necessary for evil to exist is for good people to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke
Women in today's military are not safe. According to a report in Newsweek, women in the United States military are more likely to be assaulted by men in the military than killed or injured by an enemy soldier. Last year there were 26,000 reports of sexual assaults. Those are only the reported assaults. Women state they are being intimidated if they consider reporting. When a guilty verdict is reached, it is often overturned by a commanding officer. Women senators and representatives are taking a leadership role in addressing the issue.
The Violence Against Women Act was finally reauthorized despite conservative opposition. Those objecting did not seem to think it was important to protect Native American women or immigrant women from domestic violence.
"Immigration is a complex issue that is reshaping the cultural, economic and political landscape of the planet. Anyone who speaks of simple solutions either does not understand it or is not listening. Economic stability, cultural integrity, national security, human rights, and fiscal constraints are several of the many issues. Finding common ground amidst the fractious debate is not easy...And, the questions that deal with loneliness and belonging, good and evil, peace and division, healing and suffering, justice and injustice, love and apathy, freedom and slavery are the issues that can be worked out only in the inner depths of the human heart, where we forge the metal of what we most value." ~ Daniel G. Groody, cited by JustFaith Ministries in Crossing Borders: Migration Theology and the Human Journey, 2012, pp. 5, 27.
One of the most popular questions that Vocation Ministers are asked is, "What is the daily life of a Sister like?" Serious discerners are also interested in knowing what it's like living in a particular community of Sisters? How do you pray? What are the community and vocation stories that Sisters share among themselves and with others? To help women in serious discernment with the Dominican Sisters of Peace gain more insight into these questions, we offer them a "mini-immersion experience" among some of our Sisters in mission. Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling with two discerners, LaKesha and Helen, to visit some of our Sisters and mission sites in New Haven, CT, and Watertown, MA. It was a whirlwind visit, but an enriching experience for both the discerning women and the Sisters.
In all fairness to the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) who called for the writing of the new document Preaching the Mystery of the Faith, I have to agree that there are many Catholics today that have not received proper catechesis in the faith. Colleagues of mine who teach courses in Borromeo, the minor seminary, have commented on this weakness, especially those men who have not attended Catholic high schools. The new document is an attempt to correct this lack. Fr. George Smiga, a member of our homiletic team at St. Mary Seminary, writes, "While respecting the contributions of Fulfilled in Your Hearing, Preaching the Mystery of the Faith seeks to enlarge the homiletic ministry, it argues that catechesis and doctrine are fitting content for the homily. This conviction may have resulted from a desire to correct a common misunderstanding of FIYH.
In January 2009, President Obama announced that he would suspend all ongoing military tribunals and that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility would close within a year. Four years later, Guantanamo Bay remains open, fueling determination among human rights advocates to close it down.
Supporters of Guantanamo Bay claim that it is needed to deter terrorist activities and disrupt the coordination of splinter groups. There are compelling arguments for closing the detention center, including:
Many new and exciting endeavors are underway for the Dominican Volunteers USA (DVUSA)! At our recent corporate board meeting, we were greeted with the good news from DVUSA Executive Director Michael Chapuran that there are 38 new applicants for next year's DVUSA program and six current volunteers who are planning to renew for a second year. Each of these young, enthusiastic people are answering the call of Christ to deepen their spiritual life through prayer, study, community, and service in this wonderful program supported by a network of 17 congregations and provinces of US Dominican Sisters and Friars. Check out this video to learn more.