Only God would use lung cancer as a opportunity to offer a vocation.
Police are treating a recent fire at the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island as a hate crime. One of the sisters is in intensive care, due to injuries as a result of this fire.
The Daughters of Divine Charity web site describes the sisters’ work:
“We the Daughters of Divine Charity of Holy Family Province, make God’s love visible in the world by reaching out to those in need, especially to women, youth and the elderly.”
If you would like to help the sisters, you can find an address by following the links above.
In addition to the story about the Staten Island fire, I’ve included a few other examples of vandalism directed at churches. This is a sample of the church vandalisms I found with a quick Google search. I searched for attacks in the last week. It’s not meant to be exhaustive.
Staten Island Catholic News Agency:
New York City, N.Y., Oct 15, 2013 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A convent and chapel in New York City were the site this weekend of a suspicious fire, in which two nuns and four firefighters were injured.
Sister M. William McGovern, provincial superior of the Daughters of Divine Charity community on Staten Island, explained in an Oct. 12 press release that the fires were “a true tragedy.”
“The historic portion of our home – with our chapel, sacristy, archives and provincial offices was destroyed – and is now a crime scene.”
Early in the morning of Oct. 12, firefighters responded to fires at St. Joseph Hill Convent and Chapel. According to multiple local news sources, Sister Regina Gegic and another older sister were staying in the building when the fire started, the former jumping from the second floor of the building to escape the flames.
Sister McGovern explained that Sister Gegic “is in intensive care at Staten Island University Hospital,” with injuries sustained from the fall. The other sister in the building at the time of the fire was not reported to have been harmed.
Other sisters in the order, including several visiting the United States for the 100th anniversary of the Daughters of Divine Charity’s presence in the United States, were staying in another building at the time, and were not harmed.
The fire is being investigated by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
Jackson TN Eyewitness News 7:
JACKSON, Tenn. — For the third time in a few weeks, a church has been broken into and vandalized.
Investigators say that on or around September 29, 2013, shortly after 10:30 a.m., deputies responded to a report of vandalism at Lebanon Methodist Church, located at 643 Tige Hopper Road, Jackson, TN.
Police say that at approximately 8:45 a.m., the congregation observed several crosses hung upside down, the numbers “666” written in the Bible on the church altar. Also, craved on the church altar were the words “Smoke Meth & Hail Satan,” along with the number “666.”
Carroll County TN, Eyewitness News 7:
CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn.- Carroll County deputies are investigating after one West Tennessee church and cemetery were the target of vicious vandals.Cedar Grove residents said told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the Old Palestine Church, a Christian place of worship has recently become a playground for vandals.Deputies said there is rumor that the church and cemetery are haunted, making it a target for trespassers who are drawn into investigate possible paranormal activity.Gail Carr who has several family members laid to rest in the cemetery, said almost every time she visits her loved ones she finds evidence of vandalism.”It’s just unbelievable how could somebody come and destroy a cemetery it’s just unbelievable,” resident Gail Carr said.
Jim Thompson, the Old Palestine Cemetery groundskeeper, said he’s recently had trouble with people knocking over and breaking marked graves. Thompson said some of the headstones in the cemetery date back to the early 1800s. He said the sacred area has been attacked at least three times, destroying nearly 24 headstones. Some graves reportedly had marks stolen off of the property.
Okeechobee FL, NewChannel 5:
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – An Okeechobee church became the target for vandals on Tuesday, causing about $20,000 worth of damage, according to Okeechobee Police.
The vandals ruined almost everything, but took nothing from The Pentecostals of Okeechobee
Church members say they were heading to a prayer service Tuesday night when water came pouring out of the doors.
One member spent hours cleaning the mess up on Wednesday. “I felt violated. I honestly didn’t feel safe, and when I come here I always feel safe.”
Reverend Raymond Warren says the vandals first clogged three sinks in the church and left the water running for hours.
They’ve had to pull up all the wood floors, and have to replace damp carpet.
The vandals then went for the church’s cleaning supplies, and poured bleach on the chairs and carpet. They also knocked over an organ, and cut the cords attached to speakers and microphones. They also poured bleach on instruments.
“The laptop computer that was on the pulpit, they poured bleach in that,” pastor Warren said.
Whoever broke in, however, didn’t complete the damage without leaving a mark. Reverend Warren says residue left from a fire extinguisher that was sprayed in the church revealed footprints. He says the shoe size is an 11 1/2.
Franklin Township, South Jersey Times:
According to Diocese of Camden spokesman Peter Feuerherd, the vandalism occurred sometime in the early morning hours and has been reported to the Franklin Township Police Department and the church’s insurance company for possible repair.
The incident is under investigation and no motive has yet been determined.
“Obviously it’s something that is disturbing and something that is obviously the product of a twisted mind of some sort,” Feuerherd said.
Catonsville MD, Fox45:
Updated: Saturday, October 12 2013, 09:54 PM EDT For the past half of a decade, Jack Parks, a groundskeeper can be heard and seen keeping a watchful eye over his church. The Catonsville Baptist Church has sat undisturbed since 1924 until October 7th 2013. “Whoever did this must have had anger, flipping the desk, but dear of the lord, because didn’t damage anything in the sanctuary,” said Jack Parks. While the sanctuary remains untouched, the church’s office doors were busted in. The church’s secretary’s desk had been overturn; the burglars not only ransacked the church but stole money save by the school children. They also stole electronics and poured bleach on everything to cover their tracks. The crime lab spent Tuesday looking for finger prints.
Read More at: http://www.foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/catonsville-baptist-church-victim-vandalism-22859.shtml#.Ul3SMxbpTZs
I’ve talked quite a bit about people who — without being aware of it — are guided by satan in their actions.
Is there another side?
Of course there is! For every rapist, batterer, abortionist, thief, pederast there is any number of good people, living the Gospel day by day.
Here are some examples:
1. Sister Angelique Namaika, a Roman Catholic nun, received United Nations recognition for her work helping women whose lives have been destroyed by the atrocities committed against them in Congo’s civil war.
2. Hernan Prado of Argentina lost his brother when he was murdered as he sat in his car with his two children on September 6. “I am a Catholic and I believe in Jesus Christ,” Prado said, “If God forgives us every day and gives us the chance to start over, how can I not forgive somebody else?”
3. Little Sisters of the Poor filed the first class-action suit about the HHS Mandate. “Like all the Little Sisters, I have vowed to God and the Roman Catholic Church that I will treat all life as valuable, and I have dedicated my life to that work,” Mother Loraine Marie Clare Maguire, superior of the congregation’s Baltimore province said.
To join the discussion about Atchison Blue, or to order a copy, go here.
Life is hard.
Life for Americans is not only hard, it is usually frantic.
We are frantic, almost driven, people. I did not realize this until I went to a country where people live by a different internal clock. The contrast was stunning.
Americans are certainly not the only people who race from deadline to goal to commitment to task. And we have a sense of self about how we do it that is our special grace among the driven places on this earth. But living here is a tough boogie.
Life is hard and it is fractured and in some ways desperate. Our nation is divided between the drop outs who just sit, and the doers who never sit at all. In both cases there is a kind of desperation and overwhelmed thing going on. In the case of the drop outs, overwhelmed is where they live and what they do. But for the doers, overwhelmed is the demon they fight every day.
Judy Valente, the author of Atchison Blue, is an overwhelmed fighter. She is an astonishingly high achiever who has managed to carve out a flourishing career for herself in two competitive worlds: free lance writing and human interest broadcast reporting.
Her private demons are a nagging dread of death and the great bugaboo of everyone; family problems. The major betrayal of her life was being laid off from her job at the Wall Street Journal the year after she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Based on what she writes in this book, losing this job was an earthquake for Ms Valente, a wake-up call about trusting career to be the all-in-all of life.
Her solution for her human woes is to seek the thing we lack in our American society: Wholeness.
It is a simple fact that the abundant life that Christ offers us is based on a spiritual and emotional wholeness that the larger society (any larger society) can never provide. Anyone who wants to be whole must find a way to retreat at intervals from the squabbling bitterness of our workaday lives. Without these retreats, we slide into a kind of fractured insanity without being aware of it. I see this insanity quite often in the exceedingly fractured world of politics. In fact, there was a time, back before Jesus rescued me, when I was pretty sick with it myself.
There is no permanent cure for this fractured-ness. It’s causes are so thoroughly woven into this fallen world and the way it treats people that no one anywhere can completely escape its pull. However, for overworked, over-stimulated Americans, it is particularly ubiquitous. We are a driven people. The fact that we in large part drive ourselves does not change this.
Without retreats, stopping places, we become so fractured that the insanity of life becomes our own insanity.
My retreat is simply going home. When I walk into my house and shut the door behind me, I leave the frantic outside world. Nobody inside those walls is going to attack me or betray me or go on the internet posting lies and accusations about me. Inside these walls, I am free of that.
Ms Valente sought something akin to this when she went to the Benedictine monastery, Mount Scholastica, in Atchison Kansas.
I’m beginning to think that monasticism is a particularly good fit for writers. After all, writers are already contemplatives by nature and avocation long before the monastery bug bites them.
For someone like Ms Valente, who is a poet and human observer writer, walking into the monastery must have been something akin to what I feel when I walk into my house. She must have known at some level that this was home.
Atchison Blue is a lovely book written by a journalist-poet whose writerly skills enable her to tell the story without letting the poetry overwhelm it and still keep the romance of the contemplative life in the midst of the story. It’s a delicate balance; the kind of writing that probably comes naturally to a journalist-poet.
Reading this book makes me want to pack my bags and head off to Atchison myself. I imagine it will do the same thing for many of its readers.
Love stories are like that. They make you want a love of our own.
In the final analysis, that’s what Atchison Blue is; the love story between one woman and monasticism. It is the tale of her homecoming to wholeness in the contemplative life at a Benedictine monastery.
The oblates of Mount Scholastica, Benedictine Monastery. Ms Valente is the one on the bottom right.
The Sisters of Life are a new order. Their charism is a response to the evils of our times. I can think of no work more needed than theirs.
Our Church needs vocations.
It needs men and women who will commit their lives to Jesus in the absolute and total way that taking vows implies. We need priests to bring us the sacraments. We also need sisters to go out in the world and bring the love of Christ to suffering people.
However, before anything else, these vowed ones of God must be true to Christ and to His Church. I want a priest who will show me the way to heaven. I know that there is only One Way and that Way is Jesus Christ. I want a priest who will teach me and lead me in the narrow way of salvation that Jesus shows us. That means I want a priest who is faithful to the Church.
I also see the crying need for sisters to bring Jesus to sin-sick people, the world over. These are just my personal thoughts — definitely not Church teaching — but I honestly think that the loving hand of one person, lifting up another in the name of Our Lord, is a very real and personal sacrament of grace. It is not the sacraments that flow through the apostolic succession and into us when we go to confession or partake of the Eucharist. It is, rather, a personal gift of love and care that is empowered by and grows from those sacraments; a grace that is transmitted by and through the sacraments and becomes itself a kind of sacramental gift.
When the devil comes at us, he most often walks in on two feet. When the Lord Jesus shelters and care for us, he most often reaches out to us through human hands.
Sisters offer gifts that are unique to them as women. Their fidelity down through the centuries is a testament to the way that Christ works in this world through women. Sisters have built hospitals, schools and other forces of civilization all over the world. They have taught and nurtured and cared for countless people who would have been closed off the witness to Christ of a man.
“What would the Church be without you?” Pope Francis asked 800 superiors of women’s orders from around the world today.
I can answer that question, at least partially. It would not be the universal Church that speaks for all humanity. Without women, the Church is a body, cut down the middle, half of itself cast aside. It cannot function, cannot live, like that.
Pope Francis told the religious superiors that they need to ensure that the women in their orders “are educated in the doctrine of the Church, in love for the Church and in an ecclesial spirit.
“It is an absurd dichotomy to think one can live with Jesus, but without the Church, to follow Jesus outside the Church, to love Jesus and not the Church,” he said.
Here, from CNA, are quotes from the Holy Father’s speech:
In his talk to the women, Pope Francis said their vow of chastity expands their ability to give themselves to God and to others “with the tenderness, mercy and closeness of Christ.”
However, “please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not a spinster,” he said. While the sisters were laughing at his use of a very colloquial Italian word for “spinster” or “old maid,” he added: “Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important.”
Pope Francis said that just as Mary could not be understood without recognizing her role as being Jesus’ mother, the church cannot be understood without recognizing its role as being the mother of all believers. “And you are an icon of Mary and the church,” he said.
“We must never forget that true power, at any level, is service, which reached its highest point on the Cross. Think of how much damage to the people of God has been caused by men and women of the church who are careerists, climbers, who use the people, the church, their brothers and sisters — those they should be serving — as trampolines for their personal interests and ambitions,” he said. “This does great harm to the church.”
I have friends who spent a long time in Papua New Guinea, working as missionaries for Wycliffe Bible Translators.
It is true that God calls special people for this work. They don’t look different than the rest of us. The differences are inside, but they are profound.
In this video, a missionary sister in the Holy Land talks about the challenges Christians who live there must face.
The old-fashioned habit that was worn by women religious for several hundred years is a romantic garb.
It is, in its own way, more high fashion than anything coming out of Paris, Italy or New York today. It harkens back to the days when Europe was going through a prolonged cold streak, when buildings where the common folk lived went mostly unheated.The habit began as the fashion of the day and, as time moved onward and the fashions of the days changed, it became an icon of religious identity for the women who wore it and those who saw them.
The habit meant something rather grand, speaking as it did of the mysteries of the sealed-off world of the convent and lives lived according to vows of lifetime commitment to Christ and His Church. The habit, when worn by Ingrid Bergman or Audrey Hepburn, was not only living religious icon, and high fashion; it was high Hollywood, as well.
No wonder the laity longs to see its return and many young girls like to wear it. But given that it is bound to be a rather uncomfortable and hot dress for today’s climate and an altogether unwieldy one for much of today’s work, no wonder so many other nuns were only too happy to shed it.
Fifty years on in this experiment of habit-less nuns and sisters, the question remains: To inhabit the habit, or not? Should nuns and sisters wear this garb as it always has been, or should they wear a modified version of it, or, should they abandon it altogether?
I am not a nun or a sister. I don’t, as we say here in Oklahoma, have a dog in this fight.
What I want from sisters and nuns is the same thing I want from priests: Authenticity of purpose and fidelity to Jesus.
I do think that it serves an important purpose for God’s vowed ones to be identifiable in public. Priests wear the collar. But they don’t wear it on the basketball court or the swimming pool. They take it off to go out for dinner with their friends and family.
From what I’ve seen, sisters and nuns try to wear their habits at all times, even when they are engaged in physical enterprises which make it clumsy or even dangerous. I think that is kind of extreme.
Maybe the question should be more along the lines of what should nuns who are active in the world wear for a habit, rather than if they should dress like civilians. As I said, this isn’t my fight. The only reason I’m writing about it is because I see a crying need for sisters who will engage in ministries such as human trafficking, prostitution, and other crimes of violence against women.
The truth is, many of the women who escape from these things are unable to relate to any man in a healthy way, and that includes priests. They are deeply wounded, maimed even, on a spiritual and emotional level. They need people of God to work with them, and it would be very helpful if at least some of these people had the authority of religious vows.
It can’t be men; not in the early stages. It has to be women. That, to me, means sisters. The reason I bring up the habit is that I can see that a full-bore, head-to-toe habit might be a barrier between a sister and the people they are ministering to. Victims of this kind of terrible violence have enough survival barriers they’ve created inside themselves without adding more with something like the clothing you wear.
To me — and I’m going to say for the third time that I’m out of my depth here — but to me the question about whether or not to wear a habit should revolve around what purpose it serves. I think women religious should wear something that is uniform to their calling and that distinguishes them from the laity. But I also think that transporting middle ages fashion to the 21st century may not always be the best way to go.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to wear this type of habit. It’s fine. But for certain kinds of ministry, it would interfere with the sister’s ability to minister. On the other hand, dressing like just anybody who walked in off the street would hamper that ministry, as well.
I mentioned the collar and black and white clothes that priests wear because I think they are a good solution. It is a distinctive and uniform look that anyone who sees it recognizes as clerical garb. At the same time, it does not inhibit a priest’s ability to walk, run, sit or drive a car. Priests even wear short-sleeved shirts in summer, which seems kinder than wearing a full habit to me.
Priests also take their clericals off when they want to play golf or go jogging. They even take them off for private social occasions.
Why can’t sisters and nuns exercise the same common sense in their clothing?
I’ve read that the orders which use the full habit are growing while those that don’t wear a habit are declining. I don’t know if that has to do with the habit or with the spiritual practices and mission of these orders or what. I would like to think that young women are joining religious orders for much more important reasons that what habit they wear.
As I said, my interest in this comes from what I see as a crying need to have women religious in certain ministries. The lack of women religious to help in the fight against violence against women is a sadness to me. I know that they could make a profound difference for the good, but there are not women religious to do this work, at least none that I know of.
This is a rambling post that goes off in several directions and doesn’t come around to any conclusion. That’s because I’m thinking this through as I type.
What do you think about all this?
Also, do you know of an order of sisters who might be interested in the kind of work I’m talking about?
The Church needs nuns and sisters. It has to have them to do the work of evangelization that it has set for itself.