Do I really believe in Jesus?

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our June 26th newsletter

Burden.CrossThis is a question I often ask myself. I am an early riser so I sit on my deck with a cup of coffee and my dog Howard, watching the sun come up and listening to the birds singing their morning praises. While sitting there I regularly reflect on two things; do I really believe and if so, what does that actually mean? If I believe, does it mean that I just have to go to Mass on Sunday, fold my hands the right way, participate in the sacraments, and obey the commandments? Is that the message from Jesus’ life and sacrifice? I am good at that, I’ve been doing it all my life. As I am sitting on my deck meditating, however, I feel like there is more.

In her book, Holy Thursday Revolution, Beatrice Bruteau says Jesus’ teachings and actions mean “we are to deepen our purity beyond ritual observances and not let any purity practice divide us or set us at odds with our fellows.” If we are so concerned with our rituals and our purity codes that we are not hearing the cry of the poor and oppressed and not acting on those cries, what does that make us? Sr. Ilia Delio so beautifully describes it in her book Making All Things New: “Eucharist means being an active participant in the Cosmic body of Christ, a body evolving unto fullness, the Cosmic person, through the rise of consciousness and unity in Love. The Gospel life is not a social agency of good works but a life of mindful presence or oneness with God as such sacraments do not make one a Christian.”

So what does it mean to really believe in Jesus? In Sunday’s second reading from Romans 6 we are told “If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” We keep waiting for Jesus to come back again. Scholars and theologians have even tried to predict when Jesus will return. Yet this passage, like others in the Gospels, tells us that Jesus never left us. He is always with us. The apostle Thomas did not believe until he actually touched the wounds. Do we need to touch the wounds to really believe?

If we walk down the street and see a homeless person, do we cross over to avoid them, do we quicken our pace, do we look down so as not to make eye contact? Or do we see Christ and reach out to touch his wounds? Do we see Christ in the poor, the imprisoned, and the oppressed? In her book Beyond Apathy, Dr. Elisabeth Vasko states “To be a Christian is to take sides with those who are marginalized, dehumanized and subject to violence. Whether we like it or not neutrality isn’t an option. In the face of violent activity, to hide behind the mirror of ignorance is to take sides with the powers that be.”

The Gospel reading says “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” We tend to spend more time worshiping at the foot of the cross than taking up the cross and following Christ. Worshiping Jesus is so much easier than taking up the cross. Do we really believe in Jesus?

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on June 27, 2017 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  

One Dad’s Thoughts on ‘Trumpcare’

By Joseph McGrath

The views of this author do not necessarily represent those of the Franciscan Action Network

I’m the father of two beautiful daughters and husband to a heroic woman. Our oldest daughter, Maura, is 18 and has severe intellectual disabilities, autism and other behavioral issues and depends on Medicaid and others for all of her needs. Our second daughter, Michelle, is 17. She is gifted both academically and athletically, and has been blessed with a caring and compassionate heart.McGrath Family

The beer party celebration in the rose garden at the White House was sickening and hypocritical. They weren’t celebrating a cure for cancer, but instead they were celebrating the repeal of the ACA that includes $880 billion in Medicaid cuts. According to Senator [Bernie] Sanders, they will give estimated tax breaks of $52 billion dollars to the richest family and $4 billion dollars for a politician’s family as a result of the estate tax break. To make matters even worse, only the top 0.2% of the top 1% of richest families receive this tax break. I am not against tax cuts, but this specific cut would mean the other 99.99998% of families are worse off because of it. Shouldn’t we know how much all politicians benefit from the Medicaid cuts as well as the pharmaceutical and insurance companies? Shouldn’t politicians protect the poor and vulnerable and not give tax cuts to the rich and comfortable? Do they vote for the American people or for their personal pockets?

Thirteen male senators met in private to discuss and write a new healthcare bill. They met in private after complaining publicly about Obama’s healthcare bill seven years ago. After criticizing Obama for so long, you would think that they already came up with their replacement for Obamacare. It is hypocritical and shameful that our government, “by the people, for the people,” is writing this bill in secret.

“Trumpcare” will cut Medicaid by $880 billion dollars over the next ten years. This will happen by changing Medicaid from an entitlement, in which the federal government automatically provides states with funding based on the needs of their population, to either a block grant or a per capita allocation. This will only become worse as time goes on because many baby boomers will need Medicaid as they age. Currently, Medicaid pays for 60% of people in nursing homes. The proposed plan will also cut Medicaid-funded home and community-based services, so that seniors and people with disabilities can live in their own homes, control their own lives, and be fully included in society. This is a crucial reason why advocacy groups for the Elderly, Disabled and Poor all oppose this bill. Also opposed to this bill are hospitals, health insurers, doctors and religious leaders, including the Catholic bishops who expressed concern over what they dubbed “serious flaws.” Charities have already noted that these cuts will be disastrous. Shouldn’t all religious leaders (Shepherds) speak out against Medicaid cuts to protect their flock?

As a father of a child who cannot defend herself or even tell me if someone has hurt her, Paul Ryan and politicians with his policies terrify me. They’re commitment, or lack thereof, to the elderly, poor and disabled resemble the principles of Ayn Rand more than Pope Francis. We must speak out. Gandhi once said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” The truth is cuts to Medicaid are occurring in order to provide tax cuts for the rich. These cuts will lead to more deaths and more poverty. Also, more elderly and disabled will be forced to live in institutions as a result. I always recommend people to google Christmas in Purgatory to see how the disabled were treated in institutions. Cuts to Medicaid will cause reduced care and will cause higher incidents of neglect and abuse and ultimately death. Paul Ryan after the Manchester bombing said “To deliberately target innocent children is cowardice in its most heinous form.” I agree, but taking health care from the sick also targets the innocent. Cutting Medicaid is clear political cowardice. I make this statement as a proud Casey democrat.

I believe Healthcare is a universal human right. Cuts to Medicaid are pro-greed, pro-malice, and pro-death.

Many politicians abuse the term “pro-life” in order to garner votes. Cuts to Medicaid are hypocrisy. When politicians make cuts to these safety net programs, this leads to abortions. Unfortunately, pro-life has become has become a single issue to make abortion illegal for many. Can you support life when you support politicians whose policies hurt both the born and unborn and may result in abortion?

Are people so naive to believe if Roe vs Wade is overturned that it will end abortions? Countries in Europe who outlaw abortions have women cross the border to another country to have an abortion. Wouldn’t women just go to another state? We will always have people who choose abortion. That’s why I believe in love, care and support, especially for pregnant women and the vulnerable.

When my wife, Rita was pregnant with Maura, we found out that our child was going to be born with Down syndrome. My wife was questioned multiple times if she was going to terminate the pregnancy. The resounding answer was always no in accordance to both her commitment to life and to her Catholic faith.Maura

Maura, who at birth had only a slightly beating heart as her only sign of life and spent the first month of her life in a NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit], had open heart surgery at 4 months old. When our girls were 17 and 3 months old, we received terrible news. My wife had breast cancer. After months of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, she beat cancer. I tell you these stories because some times there are situations beyond our control. I know the fear of almost losing my wife and my daughter. The fear of Medicaid cuts are as just terrifying and I am advocating against these cuts to protect the vulnerable.

Donald Trump tweeted, “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.” The recent beer party celebrated Trump’s lie. As a result of this vicious lie, obituaries will soon read, ‘Cause of death: Trumpcare.’

Hubert Humphrey said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” Trumpcare fails every single one of these moral tests. Aren’t we all better than this as Americans? Shouldn’t we be judged on our actions and try to promote life with love, care and support?

These are my experiences as a Dad and Husband that must be shared. If anything offends God, I ask forgiveness and Mercy from God.

Published in: on June 21, 2017 at 3:59 pm  Comments (2)  

“For to you I have entrusted my cause.”

Reflection for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Secretary, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 19th newsletter

hungryThe reflection title comes from this week’s first reading from Jeremiah, chapter 20.

Several weeks ago, while lobbying my Senators in Washington with the purpose of ensuring that my Catholic and Franciscan values were included in the federal budget, I witnessed the arrest of seven faith leaders praying in the lobby of the Senate Office Building. As I watched these men and women being handcuffed I questioned: what is God asking of us?

Two years ago, in his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis warned, “The warming (climate) caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.” (51) What is God asking of us, when 12 million children, women and men in East Africa, each one made in the image and likeness of God, are starving to death due to drought: a drought likely caused in part by our nation’s consumption and continued misuse of God’s creation?

As we watch images of our brothers and sisters starving throughout the world, how can we as a nation even consider a budget that will cut aid to international food programs, including taking every penny away from the International Food for Education program which helped feed more that 2 million people in 2016?

We daily entrust our cause to God. Yet, God has entrusted us with this time on earth, to live our Christian and Franciscan values at this moment in our nation’s history. With globalization and advances in communication technology we can no longer turn our heads when we see the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. We are all interconnected; over 7 billion children, women and men with one home, Earth. What affects our brothers and sisters in East Africa affects us all. Each time we say the words of the Our Father, “Your will be done” we are reminded to consider what God may be asking of us. Recognizing Christ and our humanity in our brothers and sisters suffering injustice, we cannot NOT take action.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on June 20, 2017 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

The Living Bread

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ by Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our June 12 newsletter

share food“The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Old Testament reading this week reminds us that in the relationship we have with God, we have been tested to see if our intentions and hearts are with the Lord. We also are reminded that the Lord our God feeds us with manna in the desert.

In Corinthians, we hear ” …the loaf of bread is one; we, though many, are one body, for we partake of the one loaf.” But in this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that unless we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,” we do not have life within us. There is a lot of wisdom here, for whenever we gather together as a family or with friends we usually do it around the sharing of food. Something in this sharing breaks down walls and brings us together, despite differences.

Food has always been a sign and a reminder of God’s covenant to His people, to care for them and to always be with them in the “breaking of the bread.” To remain in Jesus is to accept His challenge: not just to receive Him, but also to see the world through His eyes, to engage the world with His passion, and to feed the world with His generosity, literally and spiritually.

So, next time a hand reaches out to you in need, don’t walk by. As this administration puts together its budget for the American people, work to ensure that it reflects the moral fiber of our nation, which has long been defined by altruism and equality. Be the bread that God gave to the world.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Published in: on June 13, 2017 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Faith Rests on Mystery

Reflection for Most Holy Trinity Sunday by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our June 5 newsletter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho would have thought that the most profound tenet of our Christian faith would become the topic of a contemporary novel made into a film?! However, “The Shack” is only the most recent expression of what seems to be a human need to visualize the mystery of The Most Holy Trinity. We have used a triangle, a picture of two men and a bird, a shamrock; why not a movie? However, all these efforts fall far short of definition and explanation of the profound mystery on which our faith rests.

Christianity is not for those who insist, theologically and spiritually, that seeing is believing, or that everything believable must have a rational explanation. God becoming fully human while remaining fully divine is not rational. Bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ cannot be proven by scientific inquiry. The institutional Church has many rules, rubrics, and requirements, but the core beliefs that must be held are few, and call for faith in mystery. The Holy Trinity is our most fundamental belief: three distinct but equal Persons in one God, a God whose very nature is community, relationship.

When the worshipping community prays the Creed each Sunday, we say “I believe.” Even in moments of doubt, we proclaim “I believe.” This belief without scientific proof is not lazy or naïve; rather, it acknowledges our humanness and our trust in God “who so loved the world.” St. Francis cried, ”Who are you, O God, and who am I?” Like Francis, we accept our flawed but loved humanity with humility and gratitude when we proclaim “I believe.”

If the very nature of God is love expressed in relationship, then our faith and love must be three dimensional: love God, love others, love myself. So simple, yet so challenging. In today’s Second Reading, Paul insists that the brothers and sisters “encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace…Greet one another with a holy kiss, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Living a life of relationship may be harder than faith in mystery.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  

When It Comes to the Police, Trump Is All Bluster

Blog submission by George Cassidy Payne

Authors’ views are not necessarily those of the Franciscan Action Network

paynePresident Trump recently addressed law enforcement and family members of the fallen at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service outside the U.S. Capitol. In this speech he reaffirmed his campaign promises to restore justice and end attacks on police. The President remarked:

“You are the Thin Blue Line between civilization and chaos. You come from every community and all walks of life. You are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met, people you don’t know, performing your duty under the most difficult conditions — and often without any thanks at all.”

As much as I agree with the president’s sentiments about the bravery and dedication of most police officers, I cannot help but see through the hypocrisy of these words.

Take for example the criminalizing of nonviolent marijuana users, which seems to be a priority of the Trump-Sessions Justice Department. Studies show that legalizing marijuana greatly reduces the burden of America’s prison system on taxpayers. The population in America’s jails and prisons has grown to 6.9 million, including those on probation and parole. In prosecuting and policing individuals with regards to marijuana, between $7 billion and $10 billion is spent annually. Ninety percent of those cases were for possession only. According to the Justice Department’s own data, there are more arrests made on marijuana charges than violent crimes combined (e.g., assault, rape, robbery and murder).

The war on drugs, as it is being waged under Trump’s new administration, takes resources away from the police and makes them less capable of responding to the highest needs in our communities. It is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an extremely reckless policy for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to uphold. Most police officers that I know would rather risk their lives trying to save a victim of sexual assault or finding a lost child than arresting kids smoking and/or selling reefer.

Even more disconcerting is Trump’s massive reduction in spending on vital social services which directly impact the day to day lives of police officers. For instance, every weekday, millions of children from some of the poorest parts of the United States remain after school for programs that aim to enhance not only academic performance, but also build social skills and foster relationships with healthy adults. These kids get a safe and enriching place to spend the afternoon and early evening, and their working parents can take advantage of free child care. Threatened by his proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs, many of these services could go extinct.

If this were to happen it would be immeasurably counterproductive-that is if reducing crime and violence against the police is the goal. Every $1 invested in after-school programs saves $9 by increasing kids’ future earning potential, improving their performance at school, and reducing crime and welfare costs, according to a study by the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College. What is clear from the research is that regular participation in after-school programs and community learning centers increases achievement in math and reading, school attendance, homework completion, class participation, improved classroom behavior and lower dropout rates.

Put in starker terms, kids who do not have these programs turn to gangs, rely on heavy drug use, and ultimately commit crimes. Kids who do not have these programs, sometimes end up shooting police officers. The direct correlation is there, but the president refuses to make the connection.

The same can be said for his stance on public education. The Trump budget would slash $9 billion—13 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s funding—while investing $1.4 billion of new money in school choice, including private school vouchers.

In addition to cutting supports to teachers and after-school programs, this budget eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which provides volunteer support and educational awards for teachers in training and out-of-school time programming. A majority of competitive grant awardees in the AmeriCorps program, the largest CNCS program, go to educational programs in schools and serve students in 41 states and Washington, D.C.

What is more, Academy Charter Schools, Teacher Residencies, Reading Corps, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Teach For America could be severely crippled under the president’s proposed budget. Without these programs, police officers across the nation can expect to be dealing with youth and immature adults who are less educated and community oriented, less civil in general, drastically poorer, and far more apt to make violent choices.

Lastly, there has long been a tension between the interests of law enforcement and the efforts to roll back gun regulations, but the conflicts will become more frequent as gun rights are expanded under the Trump administration. Police departments across the nation have insisted that gun owners be required to receive training, as their officers do, and that people with violent histories, who are more likely to clash with the police, be stopped from obtaining weapons.

Maine has recently enacted a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training, despite the objections of Michael Sauschuck, the police chief in Portland, the state’s largest city.

“It is absolutely ludicrous to me that we require people to go take a test to get a driver’s license, but we are allowing people to carry a deadly weapon on their person without any procedures regulating it,” Chief Sauschuck said.

I could go on. Trumpcare, lopsided defense spending, the president’s record of homophobic and sexist remarks on the campaign trail, and his paternalistic comments about African Americans and the Black Lives Matter Movement, also contribute to increased risks for police officers who are asked to serve and protect an increasingly agitated and under-resourced public.

There is a relationship between public education and crime; there is a link between the war on drugs and attacks on police; there is a direct line from poverty to prison; and there is a difference between truly supporting police officers and making hyped up speeches at memorial day celebrations. If Donald Trump truly cared about the safety of police officers, his policies would reflect this concern. As usual, the president is all bluster and no substance.

George Cassidy Payne, M.A., M.T.S
State University of NY Humanities Instructor
Rochester AmeriCorps Member (2009-10)
Founder, Gandhi Earth Keepers International

Published in: on May 31, 2017 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Reflection for Pentecost Sunday by FAN Board Member, Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 29th newsletter

Tongue of Fire “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be With You”. (John 20:19) When the disciples were together again in one room, it was not a peaceful scene. As related in Acts: “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were,” followed by tongues of fire which parted and settled over each of them and each one in the room spoke in a different language that all understood. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s coming was not one of peace, serenity, and calm. In fact, the Jews who heard the noise and heard them speak in different tongues wrote them off as bewildering and probably drunk.

But at that moment the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach about Jesus, resist those who misjudged and dismissed them. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples found strength, joy and pride in preaching and upholding the life and prophecy of Jesus.

Why should we be surprised when we receive the same destiny as the disciples? If our destiny is to bring peace and justice to this world, are we willing to work against the injustices of unequal pay, denial of the gifts of women, lack of health care, racism, denial of rights and compassion for the refugee and immigrant population, compassion for the poor, care of the earth and the many more  injustices? By receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit – fortitude; knowledge; piety; awe, wonder and fear of the Lord – we are strengthened to end the injustices. Every time we are confronted by an injustice, we know we can handle it because we know we are not alone. Today as we say “Come Holy Spirit” let us be aware of what we are asking for. Can we live up to and embrace the destiny that is ours?

Sr. Marge Wissman, OSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on May 30, 2017 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Our Lives

Reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Treasurer, Br. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our May 22nd newsletter

St.James Holy Spirit Window“I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

The Celebration of the Ascension always reminds me of the various times of goodbyes and moving on in our lives. Change is never easy. Moving is always a challenge to us and to our family and friends. It’s also a time to look at our lives, accept what seems to be the right thing to do, and then start afresh, hopefully with a better vision, plan or purpose.

Someone once said that intimacy is always a work in progress. It’s never a done deal, and if you come from an Irish heritage, you are always awaiting for another shoe to drop.

So it was with the very first disciples and followers of Jesus. Jesus had been taken from their midst and nailed to the Cross, died, and then rose from the dead. All this to prepare them and us for the Gift of the Holy Spirit; for the power and inspiration that we need to do what Jesus had done. It is only the Holy Spirit who can touch and change our hearts and the lives of others.

I recently read, “The World Will Be Saved by Beauty” written by the granddaughter of Dorothy Day. Through this intimate yet honest portrait, I was able to see how the Spirit of God can move us to embrace our lives and family as they are. Knowing that God has a plan and mission for each one of us.

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives shows us that we need to come anew into our hearts and lives. So, let us all pray; Come Holy Spirit, set our hearts afire with True Love of God, so that all will say, “See how they love one another”!

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  

A Reason for Our Hope

Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 15th newsletter

HopeAs I reflect on the readings for this Sunday I wonder, am I really attentive to the great love that God bestows upon me, upon us, upon all people? Our gracious and generous God has blessed us with Incarnate Love, the gift of Christ, become one with us so that we may know God’s great desire to dwell with us.

God’s generosity does not stop there! As we hear Jesus proclaim in the gospel, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.”

Our Triune God, the dynamic presence of relationship, Father/Creator, Christ/Sanctifier, Spirit/Advocate is continuously gracious and generative. God continually invites us into this Divine Relationship of overflowing Love, to be one with Love. How do we give voice and witness to this deep, generative love of God in our world today?

Granted, we are faced with overwhelming challenges of terrorism, violence, poverty, hunger, human exploitation and trafficking, and mounting pollution and degradation of our land, air and water. We listen to national and world leaders calling for isolationism, nationalism, and protectionism, forgetting that every nation and all people live on this one single planet, till the same soil, and breathe the same air.

The vision and words of these leaders are being called into question, as they should be, because their message seems to have gone so far afield from the wisdom and truth of the gospel. As we continue to be underwhelmed by the message of popular leaders, we are called and challenged to be the clarion call that we hear in the first Letter of Peter, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

I often hear and read Franciscan scholar, Br. Bill Short, OFM, use this text as a foundation for our Franciscan presence, spirituality and theology needed in our world today. Br. Bill states, “People are seeking an alternative language – an alternate way of looking at the human person, the meaning of the Church, and its place in the world, who God is, what Christ represents, what salvation or creation means in our day. We have a hopeful word to speak to the concerns present in today’s Church and to the crises affecting our society.”

Are we always ready to give the explanation for our hope? Recently, I had another opportunity to speak at a premier of the Sultan and the Saint, this time in Orlando, FL. Before and after every premier I am attentive to the people gathering, welcoming and thanking them for coming and for the work they are doing to bring the message of peace to their community. At this Orlando premier as I was greeting people an older Muslim woman approached me and thanked me for being there. She asked me if I was a nun. I told her, “Yes, I am a Franciscan sister.” I felt her look deeply into me as she exclaimed, “This is wonderful! You have dedicated your life to God and to God alone. This is a great witness to all of us. Thank you. We need people to know this.” She then asked if we could give each other a hug.

Her words, this encounter, still resonates within me, especially in light of our scriptures. We all need to reveal and recognize the dynamic presence of God’s love with us and within every one of us   by our very presence, by connecting person to person. We need to explain and give witness to our hope, the dynamic gift of love that we are called to invite others to share.

On April 25, 2017 Pope Francis spoke via video at a TED conference of people gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His message was one of encounter as he stated, “Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.” The Pope called for a ‘revolution of tenderness.’ “And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands.”

For those who have not had the opportunity, I urge you to watch and listen to Pope Francis’ TED talk on hope and tenderness. If you have watched it, I invite you to watch it again and be open to the encounter of hope and of love.

As we reflect and prepare to encounter Christ and one another in the Eucharistic feast, let us also be ready to go forth, incarnating love and be ready to give the explanation to anyone who asks for the reason for our hope. And remember to always do it with gentleness, tenderness, and reverence.

Margaret Magee, OSF
President of FAN

Published in: on May 16, 2017 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

What Is Ours to Do

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 8th newsletter

RainbowYears ago, while driving home with my family from celebrating a Mother’s Day dinner, there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky. I remembered the quote from this week’s Gospel, which was also the Gospel on that Mother’s Day many years ago: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, where I am you also will be.” (John 14: 1) I told my parents that I thought the rainbow was a sign from God for all the mothers who had lost a child that year. Today, as a grown daughter who lost her very precious and dear Mother a year ago, I know that a rainbow, and these words of Jesus, also may bring comfort and peace this Mother’s Day for children whose Mothers are now with God.

Perhaps it is because of the recent loss of my own Mom that my attention is drawn to news regarding how our nation is treating Mothers. Is our country seriously attempting to cut healthcare funding for maternity care? Are leaders of our country (i.e. the Attorney General and Homeland Security) having conversations about separating children from their mothers as they flee violence and attempt to enter the United States? Was our Attorney General referring to Mothers (or any human being) when, in his prepared speech to the border control in Nogales, Arizona, he referred to those crossing the border as “filth” (a word he omitted during the actual speech)? How many families are we tearing apart, how many Mothers are we separating from their children (including from at least one special needs child) through deportation?

St. Francis quoted this week’s Gospel as the first sentence in his Sacred Admonitions: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life…” (John 14: 6) Throughout His public life, Jesus gave his disciples examples for all time of how genuine faith leads to action. Our baptismal mandate impels us to take action against injustice shown toward any Mother and toward any human being. This week’s Gospel assures that those who attempt to live lives following His Way, His Truth and His Life “will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” (John 14: 12)   As Francis was dying he is attributed with saying to his brothers, “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do.” In an Apostolic Letter dated 46 years ago Sunday, Pope Paul VI mirrors these words of St. Francis when he urges “Let everyone examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to….point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.” (Apostolic Letter, May 14, 1971 (48)) May we honor our Mothers today by asking Christ to teach us what is “ours to do,” and by taking effective actions against the injustices shown towards Mothers in our society.

Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Secretary

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment