Sunday, August 29, 2021

September 2021 - Sr. Thea Bowman, Servant of God

Currently, there are some African-American holy people who are being considered for canonization in the Catholic Church. This is a formal process during which their lives are examined very closely.  


There are four major steps: (1) Usually, at least 5 years after the person's death, unless the Pope makes an exception, a request for canonization is made to the Bishop of the Diocese in which the person died. The request contains examples of the person's living a holy life and lists reasons for considering canonization. The person is now named a “Servant of God.” Sr. Thea Bowman is one of the African-American holy people at this stage right now.

(2) During the second stage, the Bishop sends a formal report and request to Rome where nine theologians read the material and determine whether or not to go forward with the process by the study of the person’s writings and other aspects of his or her life to make sure the person was faithful to the teachings and practices of the Church. There is even one person called, a “devil’s advocate,” who is charged with asking questions that may reveal a reason the candidate is not qualified to be considered a saint. If the candidate is approved by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, he or she is declared “Venerable.”

(3) The third stage is beatification. If a person was a martyr, he or she may be beatified and called “Blessed.” Otherwise, a miracle must be attributed to the intercession of the candidate.  Once a person is named “Blessed,” he or she may be venerated or honored.

(4) The fourth stage is canonization. This requires a second miracle attributed to the intercession of the candidate. The Prefect of the Congregation then sends the request for canonization to the Pope who makes the final decision. When the person is canonized, he or she is officially declared a “Saint” and the Pope offers a special Mass in honor of the newly canonized "Saint."

The reason the Church chooses to formally canonize certain people is to provide spiritual heroes and heroines for us to imitate in our own circumstances and times.

We all either personally know some saintly people, or at least have learned about them. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia is a current example. After a life dedicated to family, the Civil Rights Movement, and more than three decades in the House of Representatives, he recently lost his battle with cancer. When announcing this death, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who knew him personally, gave him honor with the words: "Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress."

While I taught and served as a campus minister at Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black Catholic University in the United States, I attended the Black Catholic Institute one summer. Sr. Thea  Bowman had helped to establish the Institute which provided classes on topics of interest and usefulness for Black people and others who worked among people of color.

Sr. Thea, who was a gifted, dynamic preacher, sometimes taught classes on preaching at Xavier. The summer I was there, one of the professors became ill and Sr. Thea was the substitute. I vividly recall one class. We had assembled in the chapel and were chatting among ourselves. I, and probably others, had not noticed that on one side of the chapel were seated black students, and on the other were mostly white students. When Sr. Thea arrived, she looked out on the class and noticed the situation. Before she began the class, we had to get up and mix with one another This was typical of Sr. Thea. She always tried to bridge the gaps between people of different races.  

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In 1937, Sr. Thea was born, Bertha Bowman, in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Her grandfather had been born into slavery. Nevertheless, her father became a doctor and her mother a teacher.  Raised in a Methodist home, she attended a Catholic School run by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from La Crosse, Wisconsin. At nine years old, with her parent's permission, she converted to the Catholic faith and later join the Congregation of her teachers.

As the only Black member in her all-white Community,  Sr. Thea shared the beauty of her own culture through the years. Also, in her educational ministries from elementary school to university level, she inspired people with her deep spirituality which was evident from her inspirational talks and black sacred song. In 1987, Sr. Thea became instrumental in publishing a new Catholic hymnal Lead Me, Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal.

After sixteen years in education, Sr. Thea was invited by the Bishop of Jackson, Mississippi to become a consultant for intercultural awareness for his diocese. At this point, Sr. Thea was able to focus more on her mission to help people to appreciate their differences and maintain their cultural identities. With respect for her own traditions and those of others, Sr. Thea created a sense of fellowship among people of different races and religions.

When Sr. Thea was stricken with breast cancer, she continued to be an inspiration to others. As long as she could, she continued to give inspirational talks from a wheelchair, with a bare head and the assistance of a Sister friend. She had determined that she would live life fully until she died.

While bedridden, she counseled children whose parents were suffering from cancer that it was good to talk to their loved ones about what was going on. Sister was an inspiration at all times. When asked what she would like to be written on her gravestone, she simply said to put "I tried."

Shortly before she died, she spoke to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops, deeply touched by her talk, loudly applauded her. Led by Sr. Thea, they then stood linking arms and singing the spiritual: "We shall Overcome."

In an interview with Mike Wallace on a 60-minutes show, Sr. Thea said: "I think the difference between me and some people is that I'm content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make a change. But if each one would light a candle we'd have a tremendous light."

Let us strive like Sr. Thea to be bridges between all peoples in the troubled waters of our time.

Comments:

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D. Historian C.A.emerita

Sr. Thea Bowman said that she was willing to "do my little bit." Each of us can say that. Not all of us are famous or wealthy enough to be recognized as generous benefactors, but each of us can do our "little bit" to expand God's kingdom on earth. Mother Katharine prayed that she would "learn to know [Jesus] in the sanctifying prose of daily duties." Yes, even the mundane duties such as washing dishes or making a bed can be sanctifying if we offer our activities in a "Morning Offering," offering all we do to the glory of God.

The Christophers used to say: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." We don't have to light the world but we can brighten up our little corner of it. We can do this by letting the light of God's love shine through our words and actions.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Wow, Sr. Annette, you certainly gave us a bang for our buck with today’s blog! Thank you for outlining the steps involved in the Canonization process as well as giving us such touching insight into the life of Sr. Thea Bowman. It will be exciting to follow the progression of Sr. Bowman’s cause.

The “devil’s advocate” will be at a loss to find anything that would halt Sr. Thea’s proceeding through the “Servant of God” stage. I found it remarkable that she converted to Catholicism at only nine years of age. Indeed, she was a very special child, chosen and gifted with talents that God wanted her to share.

Sr. Bowman undoubtedly inspired countless individuals during her sixteen years as an educator. In her position as Consultant for Intercultural Awareness, she was able to impact an even greater community. I admire how she emphasized appreciation of cultural differences and respect for cultural traditions. This positive approach surely contributed to the successful creation of fellowship between people of different races and religions.

Her determination to “Live until she died” is very uplifting. Reactions to diagnoses of terminal illness are unique to individuals. Many people chose to retreat from the world to concentrate on getting affairs in order, on resting for maximum comfort, on surrendering to the twilight of the final season.  Sr. Bowman’s choice to continue her life passion of addressing issues of social justice and inspiring others to follow the teachings of the church was a courageous response that certainly led many people to commit to living a more intentional life.

Additionally, the counsel she gave, while bedridden, to the children of parents suffering from cancer to have the dialogue that would bring closure to their family life was invaluable. She planted seeds of peace in the grieving hearts of those who followed her bedside advice.

It is easy to see how Sr. Thea inspired so many people. Her love of God and fellow man is so apparent. Her humility shines through in her comment, “I tried,” as the desired engraving on her gravestone. I sincerely believe that we will one day celebrate the canonization of St. Thea Bowman and that her life story will one day appear in the pages of Modern-Day Saints. 


Sunday, July 25, 2021

August 2021 - St. Monica and St. Augustine of Hippo

This August 2021 we celebrate the feasts of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine.


 We will begin our reflections on St. Monica. Born in North Africa in 332 a.d. She was a devout Christian who married a non-Christian named Patricius. They had three children. Their son Augustine exhibited exceptional intelligence, so they sent him away to be well educated, eventually studying in Carthage, the great city on the northern coast of Africa. Because of her prayers and example, her husband became a Christian himself.

St. Augustine was also born in North Africa and became a source of concern for his parents as a young adult. Forsaking his Christian Faith, he became a follower of Mani, a Persian prophet. Ambitious to advance his career, Augustine left Africa to seek a career in Rome in 383 a.d. He eventually became a professor of rhetoric in Milan. 

While in Milan, Augustine was impressed with the preaching of the Bishop, St. Ambrose and eventually was baptized by him, returning to his Christian Faith. After 16 years of praying for her son, St. Monica had the joy of seeing her son embrace the Christian faith as an adult. She traveled to Milan to see him and died on the way home to Africa, saying that all her hopes had been fulfilled.
 
In the meantime, Augustine had fathered a son by a long-term lover, who left the baby with him. The young father named his son Adeodatus and moved back to his native town in Tagaste to raise his son, care for family property, and spend time writing.

When his son died as a teenager, Augustine sold the property and became a clergyman in the coastal city of Hippo, north of Tagaste in North Africa. After his conversion and with his gift for preaching in a way to appeal to all peoples, Augustine was eventually called to be the Bishop of Hippo.

With Augustine's talent for writing about religious topics and his ability to preach in such a way as to sway the intellectual community, as well the ordinary people, he became involved in defending the Faith. While he was a prolific writer, many of his works were lost. However, there are some who have survived to this day. Two popular books that survive are The City of God and the Confessions of St. Augustine.

St. Monica has long been an advocate for wives and mothers who pray for their spouses and children. She is a source of hope for devout Christians who are concerned about family members and others who have lost their way. Let us invoke her assistance whose example and prayers led her husband to embrace the Faith and her wayward son to end up as a holy Saint.

Augustine reminds us of God's mercy and that He is always willing to give us a second chance to return to Him and be loved unconditionally. He or she might even be given the graces to become a Saint.  

Praise the Lord!!!   

Comments:


Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. Historian, certified Archivist, ASBS emerita

St. Katharine urged the Sisters to “Pray, whether you feel like it or not …. We never lose by making an effort.”

Sixteen years is a long time to pray for a special intention; St. Monica may have felt weary at times, saying the same prayer over and over again. But God heard every prayer and every heartfelt wish. St. Monica lived to see her prayers answered when St. Augustine returned to the practice of the Christian faith.

When I say a “Hail Mary” to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, I don’t see any result. But I hope that maybe a breeze of cool air will comfort a soldier in a hot, dry climate. Thinking that I continue to pray for peace and trust that Our Lady and Our Lord hear.


 Pat Chiafa, ASBS emerita

Every evening at 8:00pm I pray the Relevant Radio Family Rosary across America facilitated by Fr. Francis Hoffman, aka “Father Rocky.” Nightly, there are several requests from mothers asking for prayers that their children will return to the faith. Father Rocky has stated multiple times that this is the most requested prayer received. I include my own sons in this petition as well. St. Monica has been a source of inspiration and hope for me throughout the years.

There is no greater moment in life than when a mother cuddles her newborn infant. She sees the face of God in that precious baby and her heart is overwhelmed and warmed by its innocence and purity. My tears of joy that flowed at the birth of my children were motivated by the sheer marvel at having co-created with God to bring forth such love. At that moment God is so real and the awareness of His Presence in this tiny being is rooted in the depth of our being. That experience is etched on our hearts and it remains forever. We have such dreams for our children. While I did not entertain any specific outcome for their life, I assumed that my boys would embrace the values that were sacred to me. To that end, they attended 12 years of a Catholic school as well as a Catholic college. I am deeply saddened that each one has chosen not to actively practice the faith.

It is natural that adult children set out on their own path and seek adventure and fulfillment. You noted St. Augustine left his homeland seeking to advance his career. As mothers, we are concerned that distractions may pull them into harmful directions. Henri Nouwen articulates my burden when he writes, “I suspect that we too often have lost contact with the source of our own existence and have become strangers in our own house. We tend to run around trying to solve the problems of our world while anxiously avoiding confrontation with that reality wherein our problems find their deepest roots: our own selves.”

St. Monica is a wonderful reminder that it is with faithful trust that God will hear our prayers for our children and give them the opportunity to return to his open arms where He will welcome them home.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

July 2021 - The Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha


This month, we are focusing on the
 Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Although Kateri was born in 1656 at Ossernenon, near modern Auriesville in New York, surprisingly, many of her life experiences were similar to our current experiences. However, in spite of, and maybe because of all the challenges of her life, she developed a deep spirituality and became the first Native American woman of North America to be canonized by the Catholic Church. 

(Image from CatholicSaintMedals.com)

Kateri's mother, Kahenta was of the Algonquin Tribe and a Christian. During a raid by some Mohawks, she was captured and enslaved among Mohawks. However, she was being closely observed by Kenneronkwa, a Mohawk chief, who was impressed with her kindness and forbearance in the midst of difficult circumstances. Eventually, he fell in love with her and chose to marry her. Thus, Kahenta was adopted into his tribe. Kateri was the first of their children.

Kateri was born into a world where one group fought against the other and frequently enslaved the other or subjugated them. At the same time, the French Jesuit missionaries were attempting to bring the message of Christ and the spirit of love to the world. 

Kateri's mother had become Christian. However, in her adopting tribe, she was unable to go to church or have Kateri baptized. Nevertheless, she did share her faith with little Kateri who was only about four years old when her mother, father, and baby brother died of the smallpox plague. Kateri also was struck by smallpox, but she survived. Nevertheless, she was left with a severely disfigured face, very limited vision, and a weak body.  

When her father, the great Mohawk War Chief, Kenneronkwa died, the village matriarchs chose his brother Iowerano to replace him. As was the custom in the Tribe, Kateri was adopted by him and he moved into the Longhouse of his late brother, bringing his wife and aunt with him. It is believed that he was very kind to Kateri.

While it was proper for him to raise his late brother's child, it was also a wise political move since he had no children of his own. He probably hoped that she would marry a fine young warrior and carry on the lineage of his family. His wife and aunt welcomed her with love.

Kateri proved to be a great asset to the family with her gentle ways. In spite of her health issues, Kateri helped the family with gathering wood for fires, cooking meals, sewing, beadwork, etc.

However, when she showed attraction to Christianity, brought to the Mohawks by French Jesuits, Kateri’s uncle did not like this. The family was concerned about her lack of interest in marriage. After all, that would interfere with their plans to have a son-in-law who would carry on the lineage of their family. They even tried to trick Kateri into an arranged marriage when she was seventeen. Nevertheless, Kateri was alert to the effort and removed herself from the situation.

One day when most of the women were involved in harvesting the corn crop, Kateri had to stay home because she had injured her foot. Fr. Jacques Lamberville, a Jesuit priest, was visiting her Village. When she shared with him her desire to become a Christian, he agreed to instruct her.

At age nineteen, she was considered ready to be baptized. On Easter Sunday, April 18,1676, she was baptized and given the name, “Catherine” after St. Catherine of Siena. (Kateri is the Mohawk form of Catherine.)

The following was recorded by Father Cholonec., S.J., who wrote what Kateri said: "I have deliberated enough. For a long time, my decision on what I will do has been made. I have consecrated myself entirely to Jesus, Son of Mary, I have chosen Him for husband and He alone will take me for a wife."

Once it was known that Kateri would never marry and provide a family to ensure the lineage of her uncle’s family, she experienced a lot of persecution. (Today we have many people of integrity who are being persecuted too, once they are deemed to no longer be useful to advance the desires of others.) Nevertheless, Kateri, despite her own handicaps and suffering, spent her life teaching children about God, visiting the elderly and sick, and helping those in need. 

 

Comments:

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.d. Historian, Certified Archivist emerita

St. Kateri suffered during her lifetime – illness, loss of family, and trials because of her faith.  St. Katharine Drexel understood these trials; she had suffered illnesses and the loss of loved ones.  She and the Sisters faced opposition in their efforts to work among the African American and Native American people. St. Katharine told the Sisters: “You are not going to go through life without having your patience tried.” Even as a young woman, Kate knew that her Lord said: “Come to Me all ye that suffer and I will refresh you.” Yes, we can expect difficulties in our lifetime but with the Lord walking beside us, the Holy Spirit to guide us and the Blessed Mother to console us, we can handle all the bumps along the way of our life’s journey.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS emerita

Thank you, Sr. Annette, for sharing such interesting details of St. Kateri’s life. I am particularly touched by her intimate relationship with Jesus. Her refusal to submit to the expectations of others so that she could stay true to her desire to pursue a life of prayer and service reminded me of a quote from Matthew Kelly: “As we mature spiritually, we realize that to want anything other than the will of God is foolish and futile.” St. Kateri’s decision to follow Christ is a beautiful example. She would not have felt fulfilled had she chosen to placate the wishes of her uncle.  Kateri most certainly knew that her decision to embrace Christianity would result in criticism from her family and tribe. But she was driven by her great love of Jesus.   

Father Richard Rohr wrote a recent article on St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi in which he stated that they were “not so many prophets by what they said as in the way that they lived their lives. Their agenda for justice was the most foundational and undercutting of all others: a very simple lifestyle…plus a conscious identification with the marginalized of society. In this position, you do not “do” acts of peace and justice as much as your life is itself peace and justice. You take your small and sufficient place in the great and grand scheme of God.” Kateri, like Francis and Clare, who “within their chosen structural freedom, also found personal, mental, and emotional freedom. They were free from negativity and ego. Such liberation is full Gospel freedom.”

In reading your blog, I sense that you have many social justice concerns in your heart. July is historically a month of celebrating freedom. It appears as though we have drifted from our proclamations of liberty and justice for all.  Evangelist Alveda King, the niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shared the following sentiments in her Independence Day blog, “Admittedly, these aspirations for our nation have yet to encompass the rights of all American people; especially those in the womb, those oppressed by the yoke of skin color racism, and other human barriers. However, Hope is still alive. We are not colorblind; we are not separate races. We just need to learn to see and hear each other.”

You gave us a glimpse of the world into which Kateri was born and drew “There is hope that the imperfect union can still become a perfect union; one race, one blood, one nation under God. As we move forward, we must remember that as the human race, we are all made in the image of God.”. The message of Christ and the Spirit of Love was stronger than the injustices of the time for Kateri, and they continue to be the answer for us today. With a penitent heart, we need to turn to the Lord, ask for His mercy, compassion, and guidance so we can release the illusions of separation and alienation that divide us from one another.

With Christ, change and renewal are possible. The most basic first step toward reconciliation is to examine what is in our hearts. We may be unaware of indifference or prejudices that have taken root. Pope Francis cites the global indifference we as a society have toward our neighbors. We live very distracted lives. I think we need to pause and intentionally recommit to our responsibility as disciples. We profess to love Jesus, but we need to live out our Christ-centered discipleship on the streets. If we aim to open ourselves to others, love will replace fear and distrust, for perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

I read the following prayer on the website: https://www.kateritekakwitha.org/kateri/prayers. and thought it would be a lovely close to this post.

“Loving Creator God, we acknowledge your power and presence in the Four Directions of your vast and beautiful universe. We celebrate Kateri Tekakwitha, "Lily of the Mohawks", as one of your Son's most faithful followers. Help us to turn our backs on all evil and walk in her footsteps, sharing our love and Christian concern with others. Let us reverence, as she did, your mystical presence in the poor and suffering.” Amen

 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha:

An Echo Pantomime

 

In the Mohawk Valley of old New York,

A chief who knew no fear,

Set forth with a bow in winter's cold

To hunt for elk and deer.

(Mime walking with bow and arrow.)

 

In Algonquin land he found a wife,

Kahenta, good and wise,

A Christian maiden with the peace

Of God's grace in her eyes.

(Expression of affection, arms outstretched.)

 

Kahenta bore the Mohawk chief

A precious, dark-eyed daughter,

Who learned and locked within her heart

The faith her mother taught her.

(With hands folded, look up.)

 

They also had a bright-eyed son,

But brief was their delight,

For through the valley, smallpox came -

Its power they could not fight.

(Looking at infant in arms, parent's

hand to face.)

 

Father, mother, and baby brother

Soon died from its dread fever;

Though scarred, the little one lived,

Nearly blinded from the fever.

(Hands shielding eyes; squinting.)

 

Her uncle, now the tribe's new chief,

Took her as a daughter.

The women let her work with them,

And many skills they taught her.

(Shucking or grinding corn.)

 

Because the sunlight hurt her eyes,

She worked where it was dim.

She cheerfully sewed boots and belts

And added beads as trim.

(Beading and stitching.)

 

Because she saw so poorly,

Through her efforts smiles would bring,

They named her "Te-ka-kwi-tha" -

"She-who-stumbles-into-things.".

(Small stumble, with arm outstretched.)

 

When tribal chiefs in Council met,

Their comfort she would heed.

And as she served she often heard

Her peoples' griefs and needs.

(Passing serving tray.)

 

Other folks would want to know

What things they talked about,

But though they scolded her to tell,

The Council’s trust she safely kept.

(Hand and head signaling "No.")

 

One day when she was sixteen,

To visit, a Blackrobe came.

He was amazed that she welcomed him

And with love spoke Jesus' name.

(Hands extended in welcome.)

 

She said that she remembered well

Her mother's prayers and hymns;

She wanted to be baptized

And belong to Him.

(Arms crossed over chest.)

 

Though she could not read or write,

With God's help learning came;

At Easter she was baptized;

Now "Kateri" was her name.

(With head bent, use pouring gesture.)

 

For years she lived the Christian way,

With service, prayer, and fasting,

Helping care for sickly ones,

Her rosary always saying.

(Hands fingering rosary beads.)

 

Others did not understand

When she was willing to forgive,

And why she kept Sunday holy -

They felt that she was strange.

(Head-turning in bewilderment.)

 

Her life became a lonely one.

And when visitors one day,

From a Christian village came,

She thought it best to go.

(Side turn, head looking over shoulder.)

 

For more than two hundred miles

By canoe she followed her decision

Until in Canada, at last

She reached St. Francis Mission.

(Makes sign of the cross.)

 

At twenty-one, on Christmas Day,

Her happiness was deep.

For at last her heart knew "Love"

When Communion she received.

(Hands in prayer with eyes closed.)

 

When her strength began to fail,

She knew disease and pain.

She offered all her suffering

Her people's hearts to gain.

(Head bent to side, coughing.)

 

In life, her face so badly scarred,

Was radiant in death.

"Oh, Jesus, I love You",

She said with her last breath.

(Repeat words, close eyes slowly and

bow head.)

 

We celebrate her holiness

On the fourteenth of July,

"St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us,

Now and when we die."

(Fold hands in prayer, tap chest.)

 

Note:  In an echo pantomime, the students

repeat a line after the teacher, imitating the teacher's enthusiastic actions and inflection.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

June 2021 - Feast of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ)

In this time of concern and anxiety about the future of our country and the world, the Hebrew Scriptures remind us of God's providing for the Hebrew people. They had no food and water in the desert. Without divine intervention, they would starve to death.

The only hope for the Jews was God himself. Because of their trust in him, the Lord provided water from a rock and manna (a type of bread) from the heavens.

In the Christian Scriptures, we learn of the time when Jesus had been preaching to a crowd of 5,000 men and curing people throughout the day. It was getting toward evening. His disciples had expressed their concerns and asked Jesus to dismiss the crowd so they could find food and shelter for the night. Jesus simply responded: "Give them some food yourselves." The disciples told Jesus that all the food that was available was five loaves of bread and two fish. There was no way that they could feed the 5000 men and probably some women and children.

The disciples had to put their trust in the Lord because it did not make sense to them. Jesus rewarded their faith by taking the five loaves of bread and two fish, lifting his eyes to heaven, offering a blessing and breaking them, and giving them to the disciples to distribute. The food multiplied so that the disciples are able to feed the crowd and have twelve baskets of food left over. This prefigured what Jesus would do at the Last Supper and at every Mass since.

In the Eucharist, we are blessed to have Jesus as our loving companion. Sometimes, when people receive the Eucharist during their last days, it is referred to as Viatecum. The word comes from the Latin: Via (on the way), te (you), cum (with). However, that word can be a comfort all the time because Jesus is with us all along the paths of our lives.

God wants us to know that he cares and provides for us. However, it is not always in the way we expect. Often it is only when we look back over our lives that we see how he provided and even carried us at times. I love the poem “Footprints” which illustrates that so well.

Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord

Scenes from my life flashed across the sky,
In each, I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints;
other times there was only one.

During the lowest times of my life

I could see only one set of footprints,
so I said, “Lord, you promised me,
that you would walk with me always.
Why, when I have needed you most would you leave me?”

The Lord replied, “My precious child,

I love you and would never leave you.
The times when you have seen only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

Jesus invites us to participate in caring for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Jesus knows that in difficult times, if we focus only on our own problems, we become weighed down. However, if we try to find solutions for ourselves and others, we are able to make it through.

I can recall my mother’s giving me similar advice. She told me: “If you ever find that you are feeling sorry for yourself, remember there are others worse off than you are, and do for them.” In these stressful times, we see many people and even children, helping others to deal with the tragedies and disasters so common today. Often they become more Christ-like people as a result.  

Comments:

Reflection Question 1: During the Feast of Corpus Christi, we celebrate the Eucharist, made up of many grains of wheat, a reminder that we are all parts of the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus calls us to show love for one another. A very important way to reach out to others today is to become involved in social justice causes.  St. Katharine Drexel gave an excellent example in her day. What does she say to us?

Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita

St. Katharine wrote that “Working for social justice can take many paths.” Social justice for St. Katharine was giving each his/her due. All were to be treated equally and fairly.  For her and for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, education was an important path for promoting equal treatment.

Another path was letter-writing. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the Mississippi Flood Control project. Negroes working for white supervisors in the South was not treated or paid the same as their white co-workers. St. Katharine wrote to President Roosevelt, protesting this injustice. She and her sister Louise D. Morrell also supported the work of the NAACP in highlighting this double standard. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP, thanked St. Katharine and Mrs. Morrell for their invaluable support in correcting this injustice.

We can find our own path, whether by prayer, letter writing, financial support, voting, or other means, to promote social justice in the United States, the “land of the free.”

*********************************************************************

Reflection Question 2: Think of a time when someone in very difficult circumstances reached out to help others and simultaneously helped himself or herself.  Share your memories.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

The first thing that came to mind when I read your reflection question was, “Support Groups.” As I thought about it, I felt gratitude for the multitude of needs supported by so many gatherings facilitated by compassionate people who can hold the pain of others as precious because they experienced a similar event, situation, or circumstance. 

I have participated in a few such groups and have always left the meeting feeling more hopeful than when I entered. The opportunity to tell one’s story and be heard, to listen to another’s story, shed tears and receive hugs, express anger, learn coping tips, all in a nurturing environment, is healing as well as renewing. The Holy Spirit is very active in such life-affirming spaces. 

Twenty-seven years ago, when my youngest child was just a toddler, my friend and I started a support group for separated and divorced women. We met twice a month in my living room. The gathering was the brainchild of my friend, a psychologist, who saw many women who were bitter toward men and, by focusing on perceived wrongs done to them, held themselves prisoners by their limiting belief that they were victims.

The foundation of our group was to support and uplift one another to move forward with our lives as stronger and more self-aware women. We called our group Self-Empowerment. My friend was committed to inspiring women to claim their wholeness by acknowledging their accountability and responsibility for their own choices, decisions, and actions. The eye-opening techniques grasped were life-changing for many of us.

For individuals unable to get to meetings, the Internet can be a window to beneficial supportive communities. Whether grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship, marriage, or job, to feeling intense fear resulting from a devastating diagnosis, worry surrounding addiction, or fatigue resulting from caregiving – there is positive support available to guide us through life’s difficult experiences.

I became aware of Chris Wark, via the Internet, when my friend, Jill, was diagnosed with cancer. Jill received the traditional treatment protocol – surgery, chemo and radiation, but she felt there was more she actively needed to do to regain her health. Chris Wark not only regained his health but is healthier now than before his diagnosis as a result of healthy lifestyle changes he personally made. His online community (chris@chrisbeatcancer.com) became a resource for Jill as she incorporated his tried and proven enhancements to nutrition, exercise, meditation, and rest.

He developed twenty questions that every newly diagnosed patient should ask his or her oncologist prior to initiating treatment; he created a powerful docu-series on healing modalities, and he posts ongoing interviews with people who have successfully beat cancer! Positively healing, genuinely caring information to help others as they journey through cancer treatment is provided.  Helping cancer patients achieve wellness has become his passion and mission in life. See his ongoing resources at (chris@chrisbeatcancer.com).

Jesus was the model support group leader. He drew diverse peoples together, and spent three years dispelling worldly fallacies, teaching spiritual principles, and introducing people to a higher level of living, caring and sharing for themselves and others.  Communion was his passion and mission. He died promoting it. However, the group, Christians, continues His mission to this day as its members, individually and collectively, extend His love through ministering to others.

 

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and grandfathers.

Also, blessings on all those who care for others 

in a loving, fatherly manner!