FRANCISCAN BRIDGES SHARING OUR LIVES, HOPES AND VISIONS Holy Family Convent
RETHINKING: WHO AM I? Most of us, or perhaps more accurately, many of us, put ourselves down, thinking we are “nobodies,” or, we get drawn into the competitive race, thinking we have to push ourselves up, in order to be “somebody.” So, Who am I? A “nobody” or a “somebody?” Who Am I? The answer to the question suddenly shifted for me when I read Father Richard Rohr’s book, THINGS HIDDEN. He changed the question from “Who am I?” to “Where am I?” Paul, he says, answers the question directly in Colossians 3:3-4 when he says, “You are hidden with Christ in God, and he is your life.” So, when we get into one of those unbearable states of feeling stupid, isolated, and a “nobody,” we can change this, through realizing where we are. We are hidden in Christ and his life becomes our life. We share in humanity’s woundedness and suffering as well as in the glory of God’s divine nature (2 Peter: 1-4). Through changing our focus to where
we are, rather than who we are, we begin to feel the strength of our connections with all of humanity, hidden within Our Creator. So, our actions that might be seen as meaningless, become meaningful when seen within the larger picture. Perhaps it is somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle. One piece separated from the whole appears odd and useless, but when it is placed within the whole picture, it becomes attractive and needed. So, finding ourselves hidden within Christ, we are saved from all of those things that make us feel there is something wrong with us. Father Rohr says that we are never going to get it right when we focus on ourselves, disconnected from the whole. In his words, “We’re never going to put it all together. We’re too tiny, too insecure, too ready to beat ourselves up. We can’t always be correct, but we can [always] be connected” (p. 30). CONCLUSION We are more apt to get it altogether when we see ourselves “hidden in Christ (continued on p. 2)
Rethinking (continued from p. 1)
with God,” rather than seeing ourselves as separated individuals, who are incapable of getting it altogether. Source: Richard Rohr, OFM, THINGS HIDDEN, Scripture as Spirituality, Cincinnati, Ohio: St. Anthony Press, 2007.
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INNER PEACE Are you growing in inner peace? Here’s a check list to rate your progress: SYMPTOMS OF INNER PEACE Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.
A loss of interest in judging self. A loss of interest in judging the actions of others. A loss of interest in conflict. A loss of ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.) Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature. Frequent attacks of smiling. An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.
WARNING: If you have some or all of the symptoms, please be advised that your condition of inner peace may be so far advanced as to not be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed only at your own risk. SOURCE: Unknown. If anyone knows the source, please inform Sister Ruth Ann. READ, REFLECT, AND PRAY
Some signs and symptoms of inner peace: • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences. • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. • A loss of interest in judging other people.
“Holiness is a participation, a mutual indwelling, not an achievement or performance on our part.” —Richard Rohr, OFM, in THINGS HIDDEN, p. 51 Book Reflection—See p. 3.
BOOK REFLECTION Murphy, Roseanne, MARTYR OF THE AMAZON, The Life of Sister Dorothy Stang, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007. Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, chose to go into one of the most dangerous and remote areas in Brazil to fight for justice for the poor and to stop the destruction of the Amazon rain forests. Her remarkable success in defending the legal rights of small farmers and in protecting the rain forests ended in her murder by a wealthy rancher who hired killers to get rid of her. Her life and work was a threat to unscrupulous ranchers who sought to increase their own wealth through taking land away from the defenseless and through destroying the rain forest for their own economic gain. Prior to Sister Dorothy’s murder, the state of Para in Brazil in which she worked was known for its lawlessness and high rate of murder for anyone who sought justice. Laws to protect the rights of the small farmers to their land were ignored in order to favor the wealthy landowners. The rancher who hired Dorothy’s killers thought her murder would be silenced, just as murders in the past had been si-
lenced. But this time it was different. Sister Dorothy’s work to bring justice to the poor and to save the Amazon from destruction had traveled around the world. Her work could not be silenced. She had touched a nerve that jolted the complacent. The demand for justice went beyond the local community into the larger world community. Synopsis Sister Dorothy began her work in Brazil in 1966 with three other Notre Dame de Namur Sisters. After studying the language, the culture and the laws of Brazil, they started in the town of Coroata, establishing Christian base communities, studying the Bible, and presenting the teachings of the Catholic Church. After ten years in Coroata, Sister Dorothy and another Sister left Coroata to go deeper into the Amazon forest to help small farmers defend themselves from wealthy ranchers and land developers who would stop at nothing—including murder— to take the land away from the poor. In the 1970’s the government had opened up thousands of acres of the Amazon forest for poor people to homestead on a small plot of land. Although they had rightful ownership of the land, they were not always aware of their rights. The more powerful used every method they could to take the land away from them, including using fraudulent
papers to claim the land was theirs. Sister Dorothy had maps to prove the rightful ownership of the land. She was the farmers greatest resource to obtain justice. Sister Dorothy organized the farmers into unions, developed Base Communities, and encouraged them to build schools. She also taught them sustainable methods to use the land without destroying the precious Amazon rain forests. Her work for social justice became linked to conservation. This brought her world-wide attention since the value of the rain forests for the entire world was becoming known. Sister Dorothy’s work was beginning to bring about change, however, her successes threatened the powerful, and she began to receive death threats. She was accused of being a Communist. This was a common label used for anyone who worked for the poor and taught them their rights, many of whom were hunted down, arrested, and even killed. On February 12, 2005, Sister Dorothy, on a way to a meeting of the small farmers, was murdered by two gunmen who were hired by a wealthy rancher. The killers, who were hired to murder Sister Dorothy, were sentenced to prison. According to one report, they were the only ones for the last three dec-
ades in the state of Para who had been sentenced for murder. The rancher, who hired the killers, was first sentenced, then acquitted, then brought back again for a re-trial, and finally sentenced for murder. Sister Dorothy’s community, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, have pledged to continue the struggle for a world of justice and peace. This includes helping the small farmers in the Brazilian rain forest to keep their land and to work for the preservation of the rain forests. Sources for this Book Reflection were drawn from Google Search in addition to the above book by Roseanne Murphy. READ, REFLECT, AND PRAY Hatred or Love Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. —Martin Luther King
FRANCISCAN BRIDGES is published four times a year by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manitowoc, WI, to promote sharing their lives, hopes and visions. The Sisters are encouraged to submit articles. Editor: Sister Ruth Ann Myers Assistant Editor: Sister Kay Elmer