All posts by susanfrancoiscsjp

About susanfrancoiscsjp

I am a Gen X Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. Read more about my community at www.csjp.org.

Good Friday in a wounded world

Somehow it is already Good Friday, with the promise of Easter just days away.

 Today we remember the power of love.

Love as modeled by Jesus is not rational, it is not self serving, it is not romantic, it is not saccharine or weak or pointless.

Because love is the point of it all. Love is the way to wholeness and healing and harmony and peace.

These of course are things our wounded world needs so deeply and dearly, even as in our name, some of our elected leaders threaten lifelines, tear open holes in our social safety net, drop death dealing super weapons and exploit our common home for short term profit.

And so this Good Friday I pray for wholeness and healing, for harmony and peace. For me and you and the entire human community.

Jesus, one with us, you who humbled yourself and suffered death on a cross, be with us in our cross carrying moments today. Inspire us to journey with one another, to remain at the foot of the cross, to bear witness and to create openings for hope even in the darkest of days. Teach us to love one another, always.

Overheard Rumblings

I found myself at the airport very early this morning, as my friend Sarah says before God was awake.

It was quiet as I went through security, so as I put my bags on the xray belt I heard a TSA agent, apparently originally from Poland, tell a coworker that she needs to get her family Polish passports because under Trump it will get harder to travel on an American passport.

As I sat having a cup of coffee to wake up, I heard two young business folks talking about the appointments of Trump and debating whether his actions and cabinet appointments would be good for business or hurt the economy and people who won’t realize what is happening until it is too late.

We are a preoccupied nation. We are rumbling and concerned, no matter what side of the spectrum we are on. Many of those who voted for President Trump were motivated by their own rumblings and concerns about being left behind. Many who did not vote for him now find themselves alert to what devastation may come as a result of his policies.

What to do with all this agitated energy? I highly recommend reading this article where Tich Naht Han and other zen masters give advice on coping with Trump.

Brothet Phap Dung points to the Buddhist teaching of interdependence: that people we perceive as our greatest enemies can be our greatest teachers, because they show aspects of ourselves that we find unpalatable and give us the chance to heal.
“We have the wrong perception that we are separate from the other,” he said. “So in a way Trump is a product of a certain way of being in this world so it is very easy to have him as a scapegoat. But if we look closely, we have elements of Trump in us and it is helpful to have time to reflect on that.”

Resistance as the Way of Love

Today’s Gospel from Matthew is certainly timely (Matt 5:38-48).

Go read it.

Love your enemies. Resist evil itself, not evildoers. The way of Jesus is not easy my friends, but it is transformative. It can transform our own hearts, our web of relationships, and our world. 

The first reading from Levitivus is also challenging and timely (Lev 19: 1-2, 17-18).

“Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love

Nonviolence

Resistance

The way

Jesus

She Persisted – Praying with Gospel Women

Today’s Gospel tells the story of the syrophoenician woman, whose persistent faith led to the healing of a loved one. I was inspired by the Gospel, and by current events, to create this video reflection praying with persistent Gospel women.

The women speak out and act for healing, for justice, for compassion, and for love.

Grant me justice

Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs

I will be made well.

They have no wine.

May they inspire us, strengthen us, pray for us, be with us.

May be be blamed for persisting as well, for the sake of the Gospel

#ShePersisted

Resistance and Relationship

When I was studying theological ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, one of my main research areas was the ethics and spirituality of Christian nonviolent resistance.

Resistance of course now is a trending hashtag on Twitter. I was invited to share some of my thoughts and research about the urgent need for an ethic of resistance grounded in relationship in a guest blog post for NETWORK Lobby (the folks behind Nuns on the Bus).

Whatever comes next, it is crucial that we develop an ethic of resistance that is grounded in human dignity and right relationship. Otherwise, we face the danger of recreating and repeating negative cycles of violent and dehumanizing language and actions. …

In fact, we would all do well to read up on the history of resistance to social sin. Resistance is not futile, but neither is it easy. The Christian tradition of resistance begins with Jesus, and think of where his path of resistance led.  Jesus resisted dehumanizing social norms, created a wide web of relationship, and engaged in liberating action for the oppressed.  In the centuries since, Christians have followed in his footsteps and resisted social sin and injustice.  

Read the rest over on the NETWORK blog.

Working with the Spirit

In today’s reading from Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we hear

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

I think we all need to pray with and reflect on these words, especially as we enter into a time like none we have experienced in our lifetimes, when the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the marginalized and vulnerable are under attack by misguided, isolationist and dare I say non-Christian policies.

But God did not give us a spirit of cowardice. God gave us the Holy Spirit to disturb us, urge us on, and give us the energy and inspiration to stand up for what is good and right and just.

We were called to these times to bring the Gospel values of love, justice, peace, inclusion, equality, and compassion to our lives together. We are called to work with the Spirit on behalf of the common good.

The church, which means both leaders and the people of God, needs to be a strong voice for Gospel values during these dark days. 

For my part, I have decided to tweet to the president each day of his administration, since it is a platform he follows religiously as it were. But more important than whether or not he actually reads any of my tweets, I am committed. I am praying for him each day. I am praying for those who are impacted by his unjust policy choices. And I am speaking out. Resistance must be centered in the goal of right relationship, and at this point when I want to just hide under the covers, I am called to stay at the table and engaged, to keep my eyes open, and to act with a compassionate heart and a loud voice for justice. As someone who follows Jesus, it is the least I can do, and hopefully this commitment will lead me to courageous action on behalf of the common good.

Who will join me?

   

  
 

Storms

Even though today is the beginning of the last week of Advent, and we actually have a full four weeks of Advent this year, I must admit to being a bit liturgically mixed up.

For one thing, I’ve been experiencing a lot of waiting and expectation these past few months, so on the one hand I feel like my Advent has been much longer than usual. And given that some of the expectation will continue into the new year, my Advent will also continue.

Next Sunday is of course Christmas, but I’ve not gotten much into the spirit just yet. This will be a simple and easy Christmas spent with community in a much needed low key kind of way.  Spiritually, I am ready to welcome God with us, Love incarnate, and to remember and share that miracle through ritual and prayer and celebration. Christmas is good, even if I’m not super into all the festivities this year.

Then there is the rhythm of ordinary time, which we won’t take up liturgically for a while but in our lives is part of the every day mix, some good, some bad, all of it part of life.  I’ve been reflecting a bit on the storms of life, both literal (we had a minor winter storm yesterday that has turned to mild rainy weather) and the figurative ones in our lives that rock our world from time to time.

The other day, a song popped up on my play list on my music player in the car. I’ve been avoiding Christmas songs, trying to stay in the Advent mood, so the other day I listened to a play list I created for retreat a few years ago.  It included a song I’ve not listened to much, by singer songwriter Amy Speace – “How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat.” Her words and music really spoke to my heart and where I’ve been a bit lately, seeking peace in the midst of the storm. The song has helped me to bring that to prayer, and today I spent some time in prayer creating a video prayer set to her words and music.

It’s not necessarily liturgically appropriate for the fourth Sunday of Advent, but life is pretty stormy right now for many people I know and even more I don’t know, so I offer this as a pre-Christmas gift in case it is helpful on your journey.

Peace

Waiting and Wondering

What do you do when life gets a bit topsy turvey 

or just filled with too much uncertainty 

or chaos 

or plain old messiness?

Do you ever find yourself wondering …

what next?

how do we get through this? or

why are things so complicated?

I know I do, from time to time.

I am sometimes tempted to wait,

for the solution, the savior, the end of the messy situations.

This is advent after all, a season of waiting.

But expectant, not passive waiting. 

It is a season of joy and hope, not gloom and doom.

How I wait, how I anticipate, how I participate and co-create makes a difference.

It paves the path, prepares the way,

for the in breaking of love,

for life-giving energy,

for the next steps in this journey.

We wait and we wonder, but we also live and risk and love.

Together. Broken and whole. Vulnerable and resilient. 

God is there, with us, emmanuel, through it all.

The Revoutionary Power of Yes

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

I like to think of it as a celebration of Mary’s YES.

Yes to love, life, and possibility.

Yes to uncertainty and confusion.

Yes to perhaps not always understanding or being understood.

Yes to life as a mix of joy and sadness, suffering and compassion.

This morning I ask myself, how am I living into my yes?

Mary shows us that our yes, freely given and lived into day by day, has the power to change the world.

Or as Pope Francis recently said in an interview about negativity in media: “Today there is a need for a revolution of tenderness in this world that suffers from ‘cardiosclerosis.”

Hardness of hard or tenderness?

You get to choose.