Reflections
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Poverty is Sexist

The NGO ONE has recently presented the report "Poverty is sexist: discriminating laws between men and women in 155 countries" where it shows the discrimination that many women around the world suffer, and highlights the 20 worst Countries to be born a woman.
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The document indicates that, in 2016, 500 million women are still unable to read, 62 million children cannot attend school and 155 countries still have discriminating laws between men and women.

At the beginning of the report the NGO notes that nowhere on earth, women have the same opportunities as men, and that in many Countries to be born poor and a woman means a life condemned to inequity, oppression and poverty, as well as in many cases to a death sentence.

A baby girl born in Nigeria, for example, is likely to die before 5 years of age than another born in Norway. However, this is not a phenomenon that affects only the poorest Countries. Globally, only 50% of women fall in the labor market, compared to 77% of men.

The 20 places listed from worst to least worst in which to be born a woman, where being a woman is a health hazard, a challenge to find paid employment and an odyssey to be a mother and not die are: Niger, Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Chad, Comoros Islands, Pakistan, Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Haiti, Djibouti and Mauritania.

Read more: Poverty is Sexist

Water on Mars

NASA scientists recently announced the planet Mars appears to have flowing rivulets of water, at least in the summer.

Untitled-1Artist’s rendering of ancient Mars billions of years ago from MOLA (Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter) data. In 2008, it was confirmed frozen water exists on the planet, but this new discovery bolsters the chance that life might exist on Mars, since liquid water is essential to life on Earth. “You can see the water flowing in real time,” said Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, who called the discovery exciting.

Listen to the interview by Ann Schneible with Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ:

“You can see the traces of the rivers changing over the course of a Martian year. So we are not talking about water that was there a long time ago or water that is frozen under the surface, but actual liquid water on the surface,” he told Vatican Radio. “Of course, the air is so thin that it will evaporate right away, but it is enough water in there long enough to move stuff around.”

NASA also said the possible rivulets appear to be made up of salty, wet soil.
“It’s brine,” explained Br. Consolmagno.

Read more: Water on Mars

Do Works of Mercy

Untitled-1Editor: Cardinal O’Malley of Boston recently published a Pastoral Letter entitled, God’s Mercy Runs to Meet Us. The following is a small section of his letter with specific suggestions for doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Also you can download the full Pastoral Letter:

 

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There are many ways to live these works of mercy and I encourage people to be creative and showing the merciful love of God through various expressions of caring for others. Our Archdiocesan website has good resources to assist us in living the works of mercy, as well as a list of local opportunities to serve the poor and those in need. You can visit our Boston Archdiocesan website. 

Corporal Works of Mercy

 

Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty – Give funds to food pantries or meal centers. Organize a food drive. Pray for those who are hungry during grace at meals. Bring a meal to a homeless person that you often pass by. Join your parish’s Saint Vincent de Paul Society, or begin one, if your parish does not currently have this wonderful outreach ministry.

Read more: Do Works of Mercy

The End of Empathy?

The March horrific attack in Brussels spurred a bit of "Je Suis Bruxelles" sympathizing on FaceBook and other social media platforms. If the truth be told, it wasn't anywhere near as much as the pro-France messaging when that country was attacked in November, leaving 130 people dead.
Untitled-1Brussels rally for victims of 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting, Jan. 11, 2015 (Photo: Miguel Discart, used with permission)
But even the relatively muted reaction to the Brussels attack was enormous compared to that given to similar attacks this month. On March 13, a car bomb killed 37 people and wounded 100. On March 21st, 4 people were killed by a suicide bomber in the same nation. But while they made the news, neither attack elicited the kind of spontaneous expressions of sympathy that did France and to a smaller degree, Brussels.

 

Why is that?

 

Now, I'm not intent on shaming anyone for posting "I (heart) Brussels" on Facebook. And I won't insist that every massacre and atrocity should get the same coverage and the same reaction from the public. But why the differences? The country that lost 41 people in attacks this month was Turkey. As in France and Brussels, the attackers were from ISIS.

Turkey has a large Muslim majority, but it has steered a secular path in a region that is riven with religious sectarianism. In short, they are like us. But I don't recall seeing one "Je Suis Ankara" post on my Facebook feed, and I ran across no drives to send help to that troubled country.

Is it because so many Muslims live there? Could be. We have been trained for many years to see Muslims as either the feared Other or as the to-be-protected Other. But either way, Muslims are often "other," regardless of our disposition towards them. We (and by that I mean Christians) don't know much about them, and less about their beliefs.

 

We Christians, Muslims and Jews

Read more: The End of Empathy?

Pope Francis – On Love in the Family

As can readily be understood from a quick review of its contents, the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, seeks emphatically to affirm not the “ideal family” but the very rich and complex reality of family life.
Untitled-1Pope Francis signs his Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)It is not by chance that Amoris Laetitia (AL), “The Joy of Love”, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “On Love in the Family”, was signed on March 19, 2016, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. It brings together the results of the two Synods on the family convoked by Pope Francis in 2014 and 2015.

It often cites their Final Reports; documents and teachings of his Predecessors; and his own numerous catecheses on the family. In addition, as in previous magisterial documents, the Pope also makes use of the contributions of various Episcopal Conferences around the world (Kenya, Australia, Argentina…) and cites significant figures such as Martin Luther King and Erich Fromm. The Pope even quotes the film, Babette’s Feast, to illustrate the concept of gratuity.

As can readily be understood from a quick review of its contents, the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia seeks emphatically to affirm not the “ideal family” but the very rich and complex reality of family life. Its pages provide an openhearted look, profoundly positive, which is nourished not with abstractions or ideal projections, but with pastoral attention to reality.

Read more: Pope Francis – On Love in the Family

The Bugler Played Reveille

Years ago Winston Churchill planned his own funeral, and he did so with the hope of the resurrection and eternal life which he firmly believed in. He instructed that after the benediction a bugler, stationed high in Untitled-1the dome of St Paul's Cathedral would play Taps, the universal signal that says "the day is over." But then came a very dramatic moment, as Churchill had instructed. Another bugler was placed on the other side of the massive dome, and he played the notes of "Reveille", the universal signal that a new day has dawned and it is time to arise. That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history the last note will not be Taps but Reveille. There is hope beyond the grave because Jesus Christ has opened the door to eternity for us by his death and resurrection.

The Resurrection signals freedom and joy, as well as the tremendous joy of freedom. It is the most perfect act of God's love that we know. This is not Lazarus rising from the dead only to die again eventually. Nor is it the daughter of Jairus, or the son of the widow of Naim, who both rose from the dead and died again. These people were restored to life. Christ was not restored to a life he had before. He was not resuscitated. He was resurrected. The difference is as big as life itself.

 

The New Life of Jesus!

Read more: The Bugler Played Reveille

Why Pray the Stations?

Untitled-1The Stations of the Cross are an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church going back to the fourth century when Christians went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Like many of our Catholic traditions, the Stations of the Cross can be rich, deep, and meaningful, but at the same time we can lose sight of their significance and how to relate them to our everyday lives.

Here are eight reasons from our Holy Father on why we should pray the Stations of the Cross:

1. They Allow Us to Place Our Trust in Him

 

“The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we find his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe…. let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to him, because he never disappoints anyone! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption.” (Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013, #2)

 

2. They Put Us into the Story

 

Read more: Why Pray the Stations?

Called Beyond Ourselves

The Holy Spirit is the God of justice and has been breathing on suspecting and unsuspecting disciples from the dawn of creation, from when Jesus handed over his Spirit from the cross, and at the first Pentecost, to name just a few moments.

 

The Spirit Blows Where She Wills

 

Untitled-1We see, especially, in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, which some Scripture scholars say should actually be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit of God breathes life and energy into the early disciples to help them address immediate needs: taking care of widows, healing the sick, and sharing all in common.

The Holy Spirit inspired those disciples as they went from being fearful and pusillanimous to becoming mature women and men who were heroic—thinking and acting in magnanimous ways—all of this coming from the radical inspiration of Jesus in his paschal mystery, into which we are all baptized!

…the Holy Spirit does not really solve the problems we face each day, but as the song goes, stirs and troubles the waters we wade in from the moment of our baptism. What do I mean? Listen to the poetry, “When We Let the Spirit Lead Us,” by Alice Walker: “When we let Spirit lead us it is impossible to know where we are being led. All we know all we can believe all we can hope is that we are going home, that wherever Spirit takes us is where we live.”

 

We are Born into “Today” 

Read more: Called Beyond Ourselves

Sr. Teresa to Saint

Pope Francis has announced that Blessed Mother Teresa, along with three others, will be canonized later in the year, after miracles were recognized for each of them.

Mother Teresa was, in her own lifetime, and still remains, one of the most famous people in the world. But who was she, really? And how did she come to be declared a Saint?

 

Humble Beginnings

 

Untitled-1She was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, on August 26, 1910. Her hometown of Skopje was, at the time, part of the Ottoman Empire, though it is now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. As a child she was fascinated by stories of missionaries and was soon convinced that she too should give her life to missionary service in the Church.

She initially joined the Sisters of Loreto, taking the religious name “Teresa” and spent almost twenty years in the order, often in teaching positions across Calcutta.

 

A Call within the Call

 

However, her life changed during a train trip in 1946. It was onboard this train from Calcutta to Darjeeling that she felt what she later described as “Call within the call.” She had long been concerned about the terrible poverty in Calcutta and suddenly felt called to serve those poorest of the poor and to live alongside them whilst she ministered to them.

Read more: Sr. Teresa to Saint

The Art of Awareness of God

In a small Benedictine Monastery resting on a hillside in South Africa, there is a very simple but challenging quote hanging on the wall near the entrance to the monks’ chapel which says:

 

Untitled-1“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes and we see it maybe frequently.

“God shows God’s self everywhere, in everything, in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and and everything and we cannot be without God. It is impossible. The only thing is that we don’t (physically) see it.”

 

I certainly do not see this as a denominational statement which has embedded within it tenets of a certain faith. In my view, it is a general reminder that all of us need to attend to those around us – every moment of every day. Buried within these quite ordinary moments, God can speak to us powerfully, inspiring, strengthening and lifting us up.

Read more: The Art of Awareness of God

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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.

Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.

Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”

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