Friday, December 29, 2017

Poem for the New Year: The Ever Dawn

The Ever Dawn
They said if you awake
in the night
at a time not your norm
arise and say “speak!”
Then listen deeply
for the One who speaks to hearts
might be calling

Perhaps it will happen that way
Or perhaps we must realize
that the caller is crying out all day
in ordinary voices
“I am here!”

and amazingly we miss it
trading the wonderment of day
for the darkness of the night
where blearily we open ourselves to hear
the Voice that does not grow hoarse
and see the light of a dawn
that never fades away.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

One Day

One day you awake
and realize
that everything had changed

All by the small actions
of living life
you've formed a foundation
for yourself

From those depths
you'll need to draw
what comes next

The lifegiving water
only God can give
You must be willing
to receive
to trust
to know in your heart of hearts
that life is greater
and deeper
and truer
than you ever could have imagined

And yet, in the stillness, the sameness, the everyday
God imagined it for you

Open your hands, to receive
your eyes, to see
that grace is in the gifting
and God's taken everything you knew
and made it new
and you'll never be the same again.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Charism for Our Times

After a little hiatus from the blog (see: switching ministries, moving, and some medical issues), I'm back!  Thanks for your patience. Below is a piece I wrote for the Global Sisters Report reflecting on the nature of charism and why the world is so very in need of the gifts charisms offer right now. Enjoy!

Over the last year, I've noticed a phrase pop up more and more in conversation with the sisters in my congregation.

"Now, more than ever, our charism is needed in the world," sisters will say as we discuss current events.
"The world needs our charism," others will say as we reflect on a corporate action the congregation is undertaking.
In congregational mailings and in presentations on the mission to everyone from associates and employees to students, the same sentiment prevails: This charism, our charism, has something to offer the world right now.
"We live and work so that all people may be united with God and one another": I believe in this mission; I know this charism in my bones.
At first, I nodded my head in agreement.
Yet as I see pictures of flooding in Texas and read stories about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the threats to peace and unity in our world, I can't help but think the conversation needs to be larger. Perhaps it's not just one charism, but myriad charisms — and ultimately the faith and practice they point to — that are needed right now.
Out of one Love, many ways of loving
Mercy. Peace. Cordial charity. Care for the sick. Healing presence. Prayer. Hospitality. Unity. The list could go on and on. These are the gifts of religious life, a sampling of the charisms of religious congregations being lived out in the world today. No one is better. Each is a gift given to the world, the expressive way in which congregations live out their mission and call in the world.
Each charism has its place. Each charism fulfills a need. And just as each charism is lived out by members of specific religious congregations, each charism embodies the spirit of a religious foundation and utilizes the gifts of that foundation's members toward the same end: the glory of God and living of the Gospel.
In a world that seems in many ways to be in disarray, it's hard to deny the need for such Gospel living. St. Joseph Sr. Mary Pellegrino, past-president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, alluded to as much in her presidential address at this year's LCWR annual assembly as she tapped into Pope Francis' call to communion: "Each of us by virtue of our vocation are to be 'experts in communion,' witnesses of communion in and for a broken world."
As we grow in communion with God, with ourselves, and with one another, we are drawn out into the world to foster and nourish communion. Such communion is founded in each of the charisms vowed religious live out.
The call to religious life, after all, is refracted in these different lived charisms. Charism as a lived expression of call is an embodiment of the gifts we have to share and the grace we desire to discover in the world. It is by our lived action that these gifts take on life. Our living of a specific charism puts flesh on the call of Christ and the vision of our founders.
As long as we continue to live the call in these specific ways, we offer the gift that is charism to the world. And because of the dynamic nature of life, charism, no matter how old historically, is continually made new by the needs it responds to, the current events of a society, and the lived experience of those called to live it out. It is only if or when one of those aspects changes — the need, the society, or the presence of those who respond to the call of a specific charism — that a charism runs its course.
Now more than ever?
As religious life evolves, so does the nature of charism. A charism is only as sustainable as the needs it serves and the response of individuals to the call to live it out. Today, that response and the needs served by a charism are in constant need of reconsideration. While a charism is associated with a specific religious institute, the call to live out that charism, which once might have been considered limited to vowed religious, has expanded to lay associates and beyond.
Such expansion gives new life and expression to a charism; yet such expansion mustn't forego the need for vowed religious commitment in our world. Each new moment requires a new expression and living of our charism. With openness and freedom, we must surrender to the Spirit's creative work in us and our way of life, allowing the development of means to envision (and re-envision) charism for our times.
Perhaps what is needed now more than ever is an open response to the call of the Spirit. That call and response isn't one and done. It is the "yes" of a lifetime: a life well-lived in pursuit of Truth and Love through the expression of our gifted and grace-filled being.
As a male religious friend suggested to me when I remarked about the assertion that our charism was needed now more than ever: "Maybe our charisms have always been needed now more than ever. Perhaps that's part of religious life — there's an inherent need for it."
Religious life bears witness not just to the charism of each order, but to complete and utter dependence on God. Living such a life can be a challenge, but to do so at this time in our history is a gift unto itself... Read the rest of the piece here

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sustaining Communities

This summer I've been reminded of the many communities that have nurtured me over time. Community, after all, is essential to our life journeys. Building sustaining communities bolsters our being and gives us a glimpse into the Kin-dom of God. Below is a piece I wrote for the Global Sisters Report reflecting on communities near and far that have given me life & called me to more. Enjoy!  

Five years ago, on the brink of my entrance into novitiate, I was hit by a car. I had been riding my bike through South Philadelphia when a motorist, forgetting to check her side mirrors, made a right turn directly into me. Bumped and bruised, I emerged from the wreckage with minor injuries and a mangled bicycle. After the police finished gathering information, they asked me where I lived with the intention of driving me home.
When they discovered I lived miles away in a rougher part of town, they apologized that they couldn't take me that far and offered instead to drop me off at the closest subway station. I had been living with our sisters for almost a year and worried how anxious they would be if I called to tell them what happened. So, rather foolishly, I took my broken bike and bruised body and got on the train.
Pumped full of adrenaline, I navigated the way home and walked my bike from the station to the convent. About a block from the house, I met one of my sisters who was out for a walk. It took her a second to realize it was me before she scooped me up and brought me inside. There, surrounded by those I lived with, I knew I was safe, and soon tears came to my eyes as the many emotions I had been keeping at bay surged within me.
The sisters I lived with cared for me and made me feel safe. They brought peace to an otherwise chaotic situation and were kind enough to restrain themselves from returning to the fact that I hadn't called for help. Looking back, I can only shake my head at my younger self and wonder what my sisters felt and thought in those moments.
Now I realize they were teaching me a lesson in community living and what it means to call a people and a place home.
Later that night, as I sat in prayer, a voicemail buzzed on my phone. Somehow, word had traveled up the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Connecticut, reaching a former spiritual director who is now a dear friend. She expressed her care and concern about what had happened to me and lovingly asked me to call her back.
"I just need to hear your voice," she pleaded, "to know you're OK."
When I called her back to assure her I was safe, we shared a loving conversation. I never did erase her message, though, and to this day, I have it saved to my phone for the moments I need the encouragement and love it has to offer. Its presence reminds me that the communities we become a part of never leave us, even if we physically leave them.
That's the miracle and the mystery of community: that across time and space, we belong, and in our belonging, we find a place, a people, a space to call home.
That space lies deep within our being, an elusive sense that must be felt and can't be forced.
For as trite as it sounds, the old adage "Home is where the heart is" holds true. We carry home with us wherever our heart goes, and it is the communities we belong to that allow us to express and discover that sense of home in new, wonderful and sustaining ways.
When I consider my religious life, I can't help but think of the many sustaining communities I belong to. There are, of course, my religious congregation and the larger community of the universal church. In days gone by, that might have been where the list ended, but as I look to the future and consider the present reality of religious life, I know the need for a more expansive and varied sense of community and, with it, a more open and willing approach to finding home.
Today, community must expand beyond parochial boundaries. This isn't new. It's the universal reality of religious life today. Just as we expand our vision to welcome and minister to those around the world, so too is it necessary to understand that what was once served by a model of community that drew boundaries between congregations (and drew sharp restrictions from the world, family and friends) must change.
For newer members of religious life, this reality is particularly poignant. To sustain our communities (and the charisms we embody) into the future, it's essential to foster relationships — intracongregationally, intercongregationally and beyond.
When I stood side-by-side with 70 other religious sisters all under the age of 50 on July 6-9 at the Giving Voice National Gathering in New Rochelle, New York, this point was vividly illustrated. As a chorus of voices, strong and vibrant, joined together during liturgy, shivers ran up and down my spine. These were my sisters, even if we didn't share the same initials after our names. We shared something more, something beyond boundaries: experience of religious life today, faith in the future, and commitment to living the Gospel mandate of our vocations.
Our hearts united, and despite our short time together, I felt at home. Together, we were one, united in love. Setting out from the gathering, I knew a new community was helping to sustain me on the journey. Like the sisters who bandaged me up years ago or the sisters I live with in community day in and day out, these sisters, my peers, whom I sang with and shared with were now a part of my heart.
Together, we move forward into the future. We are part of communities larger than ourselves; communities that fill our hearts and feed our souls.
Sustaining communities is the work of the Spirit, work that employs each and every one of us. Our responsibility is to be true to our hearts, to sustain the communities that sustain us so that, in so doing, we might be available and energized to build communities that can sustain others...Continue Reading Here

Monday, June 12, 2017

Learning how to leave: The grace of goodbye

Here is my latest from the Global Sisters Report: a reflection on leaving my current ministry and the lessons learned in the process. Hope you enjoy!

Goodbyes are rarely easy. As a child, I had difficulty in leaving places and people I liked. As an adult, I know the familiar feeling of gratitude swelling in my heart and tears welling up behind my eyes when it comes time to part ways with those I love or to end an experience that has been enriching.

For the last two months, I've been saying goodbye to the community to whom I've ministered for the last three years. This was my first ministry experience after initial profession, and as I prepared to go, I found myself sad to leave the people and place I had grown to love. They played a significant role in my initial formation as a Sister of St. Joseph. That being said, I also felt a readiness for the next step on my journey, even though that meant having to say goodbye.
I used to hate goodbyes, but I've come to appreciate the deep value they hold. Taking leave is a process that goes far beyond the act of simply saying goodbye; it's bound up with the relationships we've built and lessons we've learned.
An ending, no matter how ready (or not) we are for it, provides a moment of pause. The end, just as the beginning, facilitates a time out of the ordinary; it is a time that offers perspective and grants an occasion for clarification of our own story and the place of a new experience in it. Like any good story, it has its ups and downs. Yet a closer reading offers insight into the nature of saying farewell.
As school lets out for summer and the academic and fiscal years come to a close, it's helpful to pause and consider the lessons to be found in leaving. I offer some of the insights I've learned about how to make the transition a little smoother.
Take your time and honor your feelings, whatever they may be.
Saying goodbye takes time and energy. Often it isn't until you are finished in a place that the full effects of your time there — and your departure — become apparent. Endings can move quickly, but it is important to build in time to reflect on the process of saying goodbye. Many months later, the feelings around leaving may continue to catch up with you. There's a grace in being open to these emotions. Whether you feel gratitude, loss or something else entirely, learning to honor your feelings and not just brush them aside in pursuit of the next thing is worthwhile as you leave and make a new beginning.
Even if you're excited about what comes next, leaving "what is" can be taxing and trying. In the midst of goodbyes, simple tasks — like packing or cleaning — can seem daunting. Be patient with yourself; transition isn't easy on anyone. Cut yourself some slack. Choose healthy ways to cope: some need to process with friends or mentors, while others need to step back and quietly reflect on what's happening. Do things that will help you relax — enjoy life's simple pleasures, socialize and share with others, and celebrate small successes.
Realize this is about more than just you.
Goodbyes can be difficult. Others will be affected by the change too. Everyone reacts differently. You should honor where people are, and mark the departure in a way that gives the opportunity for closure.
As much as you might want to fade into the background, doing so would be a disservice to others. Honoring your feelings and valuing relationships means allowing others to do the same; give others the time and space they need. Cherish the myriad ways that people will find to say goodbye, and be respectful if they choose not to. Leave-taking is about relationship building, too.
When you invest yourself somewhere, it's important to take the same time and care that you've given in day-to-day interactions and apply it to your leaving. Navigating the loss of a community or a ministry, after all, is about navigating and tending to relationships. It requires the recognition that things change but also the recognition of the gift that has been and will continue to be.
Let people know the impact they've had.
In the busyness of your daily life, you don't often take time to stop and name the specific gifts others offer and to reflect back to them the impact they've had. This should be a part of saying goodbye. Such naming not only affirms others, it also allows you to take stock of the gifts you've received and the grace of time well spent in a particular place or ministry.
There is a great grace in reverencing shared relationships. For good or for ill, you are formed by your experiences and by the people with whom you spend your life. Recalling the goodness and the challenges of an experience gives perspective and a more nuanced understanding of how you've been affected by it. Taking the time to process this helps you see the ways you've been called to grow and the ways you've responded. You will carry this greater self-knowledge with you into new experiences, integrating these lessons and using them to expand your capability to be flexible and respond affirmatively to future invitations to growth.
Identify your roots and see how you've grown.
As you say goodbye, it is helpful to identify what grounds you. Times of transition can be challenging and confusing. Remembering the integral experiences, lessons and people who root your being reminds you of who you are and prepares you for future times of change, uncertainty and instability.
Moving on also offers you an opportunity to assess the impact you've had and the legacy you leave. Your presence and manner of being can last far beyond your actual time in a place. You live on in those you work with and they live on in you. That is one of the blessings of being and serving together: we all become one, learning and growing together.
Give thanks.
It can be tempting to critique what has been as a way of trying to move on peaceably. But honest reflection is a healthy way of processing your experience and is often filled with graces. The ultimate hope of such reflection, though, is that it will lead to a place of gratitude... Read the rest here

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Seeking the Living

My latest piece has been published on the Global Sister Report. A reflection for this Easter season, "Seeking the Living" looks at the call to search for new life, a process that isn't always neat but is, nonetheless, well worth it. Blessings to all this Easter- may the season lead you to the new life you most need as you seek the Living One in the every day!


"While they were puzzling over the empty tomb, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to the women. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, 'Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised' " (Luke 24:4-6).

"All I want is for Easter to come," a friend said to me last week. Liturgical exhaustion had set in. Lent had been long, and she was ready to go. Bring on the Resurrection. Come on, new life.

Yet as the Easter octave rolls on, I wonder to myself where that life is leading. Warships are gathering, world governments are in disarray, and all I really want is resurrection. New life. Something softer and safer.

That, however, isn't what those women encountered that first morning. The angels, renowned for saying "Do not be afraid" first and foremost to those they encounter in the Gospels, do not pass the same reassurances on to the women at the tomb. These women are terrified and as they go forth, with a story that will be called nonsense by others, the search set before them is only so clear.

In that moment, faith and fear are married in the Resurrection. The message rings out: Belief is not safe. It will push you to search for truth, to forever seek the living beyond the dead.

That is the Easter message I find myself returning to this season: "Why do you seek the living one among the dead?" Better yet: What does it mean to seek the living today? And when I consider my life, what is it that gives me life?

Reflecting on my friend's plea for an end to Lent, I found myself contemplating my own Lenten journey into Holy Week. The past few months have been filled with discernment and transitions: death, dying, fear, frustration and, ultimately (and somewhat surprisingly), freedom.

It's that last stop on the journey — freedom — that leads to new life. Freedom to see the world in a new way or to consider the Spirit moving in an unexpected manner is at the root of following the resurrected Christ, of seeking the living.

During Holy Week, I longed for a deep connection with liturgy but kept coming up short. Nothing seemed to click: Only men had their feet washed, the homiletics were dry, and corners were cut more for efficiency than effect.

By Easter Sunday, I sat quietly, trying to navigate the frustration of desires fallen short. Standing at that tomb, recognizing that the troubles of the world don't transform in a day, I dwelled like the women.

"All I want is for Easter to come," I thought to myself. Where was the life in moments and days that seemed to be devoid of it?

Watching the sun rise, I wondered. Then I thought of the words of those angels: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" And suddenly, figures began to populate the landscape of my soul.

I thought of the community of men religious I shared the beginning of Holy Week with who welcomed me with open arms as truly their sister. I rejoiced in the women I gathered with on a Good Friday morning to create works of artistic beauty and to sift through big questions of life during a prayerful pause on a solemn day. I recalled the presence of each sister I sat beside during those Triduum services who emanated light no matter the doldrums of the circumstances.

These were the living I had sought, and the Living One was among them, living, breathing and moving.
If I was free enough to embrace new life, to take a step back and be free from death, that same Living One would be in me, too.

The first step in bringing forth that life, though, was and is to name what is dead, to see the tombs we stand terrified before, and to have the courage to turn and go out to find life in an otherwise shattered world.
The process does not stop there, though. It can be tempting in our current reality to point to the dead rather than the living, to dwell on the constricting structures that we are part of that keep us from truly being alive or that keep our institutes from reaching their full potential.

Yet Pope Francis reminds us in The Church of Mercy, "How often does Love have to tell us, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead?' Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness ... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!"

Christ, after all, wasn't resurrected into a perfect world. He returned to the same place and people who had crucified him days before. The world hadn't changed; the life he lived in it did — and that, mixed with the promise of faith fulfilled, made all the difference... Continue reading the piece here

Friday, April 21, 2017

Holy the Spaces

the spaces we inhabit
the sacramental
scenarios of
our lives
lived out with
grace quite unknown
but not unfathomed
the space between
(two people)
filled by the spirit
Population: Holiness

Feet washed in conversation
Wood venerated on a creating table
Stone rolled away in song and laughter
Love revived, resurrected by the One
                who dwells deep within and
                right in front of you

Monday, March 20, 2017

Only a Shadow

Social media filters hundreds of videos past us each day. Somewhere in the last few months, I saw a video of children discovering their shadows. No sound was needed. Watching the many reactions to the figure that was following them was priceless. I laughed in the moment and didn't think much more of it. That is until I sat down to reflect on St. Joseph.

"The one chosen shadow of God upon earth," a friend wrote on Facebook in celebration of St. Joseph's Day (which seemingly straddles two days this year- March 19th and March 20th.) And as soon as I read that statement, I thought back to those babies and their great discovery.  

I wondered how Joseph felt- the shadow of God, chosen as a stand in, to foster and love God's beloved son, Jesus.  Maybe some days he was scared and maybe others he felt inadequate.  Perhaps, the shadow seemed misformed or warped some days, a poor replication of the real thing.  

Yet, Joseph pressed on. He trusted and he embraced what it meant to answer the call.  The light that shined upon him left an outline of the love of God wherever it went... be it Bethlehem or Egypt or Nazareth.  By simply being himself, Joseph brought God into the world.  

As Sisters of St. Joseph, we often say that little is known of Joseph, but what we do know is reflected in Christ.  Jesus grew up in the shadow of a man striving to do what was right, to live a life gifted to God, and as he grew, Jesus surely emulated Joseph.  He was kind and caring, compassionate and hard working; he stood for what was right and trusted in the vision of God, even when he couldn't see or fully understand what would come of it.  He was a shadow of faith, his life outlined in grace.

As we celebrate Joseph, it's helpful to remember the way he made the darkness of the shadow shine for all to see.   He lived a life others could follow. Without pomp or need for approval, he pursued what was right.  His great faith is what we emulate; it helps us discover our own shadow and not to run but to turn toward the Light that shines in and around us.  

Today, may we embrace that call and like Joseph, who dreamed in darkness and walked in the Light, may we be a shadow of God's grace for all to see.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

From the Pews in the Back

My latest piece has been published on the Global Sister Report. Entitled "From the Pews in the Back," it looks at what it means to move to the margins and how we might be able to grow and what we might be able to learn from taking a step back and taking in the long view of the world around us. Enjoy!

Twice last weekend, I found myself somewhere I haven't been in a long time: the back pew of church.

Any cheeky pastor or regular Massgoer will tell you, with a note of sarcasm in his or her voice, that the pews in the back are where the "real" Catholics sit. The further back, the better. There, behind dozens of heads, there's little chance of being singled out. You can come and go as you please, sneaking in late or leaving early. And there's no need to worry about who might be watching you because, for the most part, everyone is ahead of you.

Sitting in the back pew, though, I realized something different. There, in the back of the church, I had a different perspective. I could see things from a place I hadn't for a long time, and suddenly, I understood the call to stand on the margins in a new way.

Sure, I could go to the border, stand at a rally, or serve in a shelter. In fact, I had spent the week before with a group of students on an alternative spring break trip doing service in Appalachia, but for a moment, in that back pew, my understanding of the margins took on another dimension. 

I watched the families in front of me as parents wrangled their children with all the love and affection you can muster when a 4-year-old can't sit still. I took in a view of the whole church — couples, singles, families, young, old — as the community moved together, joined in worship. As the pastor pulled out a step stool and trash can to illustrate a point in his homily, I watched as the collective heads of the congregation stretched to see what was going on and as little children poked their heads out into the aisle to get a better view.

What I had thought would be distracting (not having a clear view) in fact put me more in touch with the people around me. As I listened to the Word of God, the people around me illustrated it. There, on the ordinary margins of the church, was a gift I wasn't expecting: the People and Spirit of God in my midst.

There was a closeness to the space in the back. People packed into these rows. What I had anticipated would be a solitary seat soon became a communal experience, and even if not everyone around me was singing or saying the prayers, there was a palpable presence to our being together. At the sign of peace, a whole group of people who'd come to Mass alone greeted one another, happy to have friendly faces in the same section. 

Taking this all in, I realized the only thing truly standing between my neighbor and me was the border of my own being. And yet, on the margins, that being is exactly what unites us.
It is our brokenness, our blessed and broken being that draws us together in communion and community. Sitting in the pews in the back, that became abundantly clear. 

I observed as eucharistic ministers were directed back to the woman with a walker so she wouldn't have to make the long walk to the front of the church and could still have easy access to the facilities she needed in the back. I listened as ushers welcomed and directed people long after the opening hymn. 

Further up in the sanctuary, there were places implicitly saved for people by virtue of regularity, but the pews in the back didn't have reserved seats. Everyone could have a place. 

The challenge, though, is bridging the gap between these places, connecting the center and the margins for the betterment of all. Placing ourselves on the margins isn't as easy as sitting in the back pews. It requires more than an hour a week. It means shifting our perspective completely — altering our life stance, questioning our convictions, and living in a place that is more often than not uncomfortable. 

To know and embrace such a shift to the margins is to become marginalized... Continue Reading Here

Friday, January 27, 2017

Why I Marched (and why we can't stop marching)

I made my way to the Women's March on Washington last Saturday filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I had gone back and forth about whether I should go, torn between a deep-seated conviction that there are matters of basic human rights, dignity and justice that need to be defended, and an internal disquietude about a broad protest platform that included certain positions I didn't agree with.

Holding all of this, I went anyway. Why? Because I believe that I needed to be there — to stand for justice, to express dissent and to use my voice and my being for change.

Perhaps the mix of conviction and fear, passion and trepidation, were exactly what I should have felt. This unease reminded me that justice comes at a price, and as I marched with a sign that identified my religious congregation and named our mission of creating union with all people and with God, I again acknowledged that standing up for what you believe in isn't always easy, and it most definitely isn't always clear cut.

Yet if being a religious sister and studying religious life has taught me anything, it's that sisterhood is powerful. The Women's March on Washington (and around the world) only deepened that conviction for me. It also deepened the belief that unity is the path to the future.

When we strive to engage one another in honest, open and often uncomfortable conversations, we emerge the better for having done so. I can't say that I support everything the Women's March was about, but I can say I support enough. I've given my life to a Love that's greater than myself, and that gift calls me to live my life in defense of all of God's creation. I believe in a world where we engage one another's voices and, in so doing, engage in one another's lives.

When we seek unity in this way, relationships guide the way and everyone gets a place at the table. As Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress and the first woman to vie for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, once said, "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

We come to recognize that, beyond any one person or group, the table is large and the conversation we're engaged in is much larger and much more complicated than what we may have first imagined. Yet together we work with one another to find common ground so that the common good can flourish.

Pro-life; pro-voice

In the days since the March, I've watched as social media has erupted with debates over whether the Women's March was welcoming of all women or just some. The argument is that if you didn't fit a specific stance . . .  if you weren't pro-choice, there wasn't a place for you.

I've watched as fine, upstanding religious women and men have been slandered for supporting the Women's March — called deplorable names and lambasted for asserting that to be "pro-life" is to defend all life — unborn, marginalized, impoverished, incarcerated, trafficked, immigrant and so much more.

That is what it means to be pro-life: to defend the life of every person, even those you don't necessarily agree with. To recognize that every person deserves a voice and to take a stand so that what is right rises to the fore.

Women deserve equal rights. We deserve a world where all people have access to healthcare; where the water we drink is safe; where race isn't a qualifying or disqualifying attribute; where children can be brought up in loving families; where the press is free to report; where facts matter and righteousness and compassion are the principles we live by.

I believe in a world where all people are free. I cannot be better than my brother or sister; my good is their good, and that is the Common Good. In an age of "America first," there's a paramount conflict with the belief that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

I marched on Saturday for the least of my brothers and sisters because I live my life in union with God working for the least of these. I marched for the uninsured woman I accompanied through treatment for breast cancer, which could have been caught by access to preventative care. I marched for the asylum-seeking family my sisters welcomed into their convent so that they would have a home as they tried to find safety and welcome in a new land. I marched for the children in our schools who don't know where their next meal will come from after they go home. I marched to defend the arts which have transformed my life. I marched in honor of all the strong women who've formed me and have given me the gift of faith. I marched for my sisters who couldn't; for the sister who days before the march tucked a 10-dollar bill in my pocket to help pay for my transportation because she knew she physically wouldn't have been able to march that long.

I march in faith, hope, and love — in faith that our voices matter, in hope that democracy lives and in love of my dear neighbor.

Those are ideals for which we can't stop marching. It is the power of our faith and the call of our baptism: to love God and neighbor without distinction...Continue Reading Here

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cherish the Moment

There are some times in life that just need the light of hope.  At New Years, I helped give a retreat at Genesis Spiritual Life Center in Westfield, MA; that experienced was blessed.  Not only did it provide a prayerful pause for retreatants, but it also gave me a chance to look back on my year with new eyes, eyes of hopeful reflection and grace-filled review.  What I came across as I prepared my remarks was a poem from this past summer that I never published.  It didn't strike me as something I necessarily should until someone asked for the title of the poem during my talk and I gave it to them only to think to myself- "they're going to search that title and never find the words that go with it!"

Written before my reflections on brokenness & Christmas, "In a bar room booth & hospital bed, 6-16-16" dwells on the way light comes through even in the darkest moments and how Light is being born in us and around us all the time. God is waiting to be found- in people... in places... in moments.  

Coming to that realization and finding these words was a grace. I give thanks for it and for the gift of relationships that fill my heart and soul.  May you find those moments in these dark days and let their light shine in all you are and do.

In a bar room booth & hospital bed, 6-16-16

What is that moment
when you realize
that all your love
is caught up
not just in moments
but in the people
who inhabit them
And one small glance
One tiny nod
One heartfelt laugh
unleashes the floodgates
of a life and love you
long for and belong to.
That moment is a gift
and like all the gifts
of love we must do our best
to savor it.