Category Archives: columns

Resistance to Human Trafficking: Sojourner’s Article

Last month I finished the work on my 122 page thesis for my Masters of Arts of Theology at Catholic Theological Union. The title of my thesis is “Human Trafficking as Social Sin: An Ethic of Resistance.” It was a wonderful opportunity to apply what I had learned in my studies of theological ethics to one of the most important issues of our time. I was also able to draw upon my ministry experiences with survivors of human trafficking and in human trafficking education and advocacy.

sojournerstraffickingseries

This month I was invited to write an article for the Sojourner’s Website for their special series on human trafficking, “Breaking Chains, Raising Voices.”  I took it as an opportunity to condense the main points of my thesis into an 800 word column, “Resistance. Lamentation. Action.”

Resistance might not be the word that comes to mind in response to human trafficking. Most often people speak of “combatting” or “fighting” human trafficking, particularly when it is approached as a crime. But when we consider human trafficking as social sin, one in which ordinary persons are complicit and connected, even if inadvertently, then resistance emerges as an appropriate moral response.

Head over to Sojourner’s to read the whole thing.

The One who calls is Faithful

Over the weekend I was praying with a group of my CSJP Sisters, which is always a heart-stretching and heart-warming experience. As it happens, the prayer sheet we were using had some weird sort of typo where the characters “g=” were accidentally inserted right before the word “faithful.”  During the quiet reflection time, I couldn’t get the resulting formula out of my head or heart:

g=faithful

God equals faithful. God is faithful. So simple yet so very powerful. I almost feel like I should engrave that on something or post it on my wall. When life seems complicated or the path ahead unsure, remember, God is faithful.

Then I prayed with the readings for this Gaudete Sunday, and was stopped in my tracks by the second reading from Thessalonians:

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

The one who calls is faithful. The one who calls will accomplish it. It is not up to me. It is not about me or us. Authentic call is about responding to God’s faithful love.

This weekend, I have several friends who have responded to the one who calls in faith, trust and love in special and powerful ways. My friend Stephanie married her sweetheart Matt. My friend Graham was ordained as a deacon on the path to being ordained as a priest. Another friend was in Peru witnessing the final profession of one of her Sisters. And today, my friend Belinda professes her final yes as a Benedictine Sister.

My prayer for all of my friends who are responding to the one who is faithful with a big “YES,” and this includes myself and the four CSJP Sisters who are stepping into the circle of leadership with me in January as we begin our term of office on the congregation leadership team, is just what this reading says.

May we rejoice always
Praying and giving thanks without ceasing, no matter what
May we embrace God’s will in our lives and in the lives of those with whom we are called to journey.
Spirit of God, soak us with your goodness and surprises.
Open our ears to your prophetic word.
Guide us on the path of creative experimentation.
Lead us to goodness and light and everything which gives life.
God of peace, strengthen our spirit, soul and body so that we may be ready,
Ready to respond joyfully always to your faithful love.
Help us to trust that it is YOU who works through, in, and with us.
You have called, God of peace and love and joy.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Amen

Habits of Love – Global Sisters Report

GlobalSistersReportMy latest column is published over at the Global Sisters Report. It’s my attempt to engage the pesky and sometimes polarizing question of distinctive religious dress (aka habits) in a helpful way.

I am blessed to have younger religious friends, women and men, on both sides and in the middle of the distinctive dress question. Some of my sister friends are in communities that wear a habit. Most of my sister friends are in communities like my own that transitioned to simple dress almost 50 years ago, before we were even born. And some belong to communities that wear a habit for prayer, liturgy and ministry, but dress simply the rest of the time. This seems to be an option mostly for male religious, although I know a few sisters in this category.

As younger post-Vatican II religious, we made a decision to enter communities that have already made communal decisions about this question. We go where we feel at home. But in my experience, we do not judge those who make a different choice. We do not deride our peers either for wearing an “anachronistic costume” or for being a “plain-clothes nun.” Those labels belong to other generations, or perhaps should belong to none. Our attitudes of respect and inclusion affirm the both/and nature of the question today. Left to our own devices, over time, I believe we can heal this polarized division and in turn help heal a rift in religious life and the church. We find our common ground in the habits of love we develop, which form us as religious and shape the witness of our very lives as ones who follow Jesus in a particular way.

Head over to Global Sisters Report to read the whole column.

Global Sisters Report: Where my Election Officer & Sister Worlds Collide

My most recent column on Global Sisters Report is proof that while you can take the girl out of the city elections office, you can’t take the city elections officer out of the girl, even when she takes the unlikely step of becoming a Catholic Sister.  You see, not only am I the daughter of a local elected official, before I entered religious life I spent eleven years working in local government myself, eight of those years as City Elections officer in Portland, Oregon.

Democracy is important to me, and truth be told, I’m more than a little worried about the state of ours. So, with election day almost upon us, I reflected on elections and decision making through my Sister lens.

The decisions that we make together matter, especially decisions that impact the common good and our future. This is something that I firmly believe. It is why I take my right to vote, earned through the literal blood, sweat and tears of my foremothers, very seriously. Yet I also can’t help wondering, especially after another election season filled with negative campaign ads and outrageous corporate spending . . . is our system broken? Is there another way we could be doing this? …

Truth be told, I don’t really know what we can do about our current political system other than show up, speak out and act for the common good and the needs of those on the margins, always with respect and integrity. I think this is part of the great popular appeal of NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus efforts. Yes, people enjoy the novelty of nuns rolling around on a campaign-style bus in the great tradition of whistle stop tours. But even more, I think people who are really paying attention appreciate the way the Nuns on the Bus and their supporters engage the issues respectfully and with a common heart.

So what would it be like if the rest of the world made decisions the way that sisters do? I have to believe that the world would be at least a little bit kinder, gentler and focused on the common good.

Read the whole column over at Global Sisters Report.

And if you are lucky enough to have the right to vote, please make sure to exercise that right.

Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson, Creative Commons 2.0
Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson, Creative Commons 2.0

Grief, Play & Friendship – New Global Sisters Report Column

GlobalSistersReportFor the past few months I have been a monthly contributor to the Horizons Column at Global Sisters Report, dedicated to the reflections of younger Catholic Sisters. My latest column was just posted. It’s not the column I was planning to write this month, but it is the one that kept coming to my heart and that my fingers wanted to type. I generally find that in such cases, what I am writing needs to be said and shared.  Here’s a snippet:

I recently found myself playfully adapting the opening line from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Thinking about, and praying for, some younger Catholic sister friends who are grieving the loss of dear wisdom women in their religious communities, I repurposed the quote in my mind and heart: “It is a truth increasingly acknowledged, that a younger Catholic sister blessed with friendship in community, must be in want of religious life age peers.” …

Increasingly, my experience of religious life friendship – both intergenerationally in community and with religious life age peers – has confirmed my belief that engaging in play together makes us better able to grieve and live into the unknown future of religious life.

You can read the rest over at Global Sisters Report.

And on that note …. I am headed out of town this weekend for some much needed “play” time with a Giving Voice Sister friend!