Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Advent Session for Laudato Si"

Courtesy of Maureen O'Keefe, rsm

Mercy and Justice Have Embraced (Ps 85:10)

First Sunday of Advent: “Strange things will happen to the sun, moon and stars. The nations on earth will be afraid of the roaring sea and tides, and they won’t know what to do..” Lk 21:25 

In his encyclical, Laudato Si’ (LS) Pope Francis calls people of faith and people of goodwill to dialogue about our ‘common home’. As we enter the Advent season, it’s a time of preparation and hope for an earth and spirit renewed. Can I go beyond the personal to include our suffering planet?  

So as our world awaits the birth of the Infant Jesus anew, let us think especially of: 
1. World leaders meeting in Paris to discuss climate change Nov 30-Dec 11th ...
2. The global Year of Mercy starting on December 8th ... 
3. The western world struggling with the fallout from the Paris massacre... 

In response to the above, Pope Francis is urging courage, compassion, justice and reconciliation. For Francis this includes both personal and collective responsibility: “We have to adapt due to climate change. The world’s poorest people are bearing the brunt” LS’, 29

MORGAN FREEMAN Film Clip – A Beautiful World  

Quiet time to reflect on what we have seen.... Decide on one concrete action!?

The UN COP21 meeting, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. This is critical and urgent! 

In Laudato Si’ strategically prepared in anticipation of COP2, Pope Francis reminds us that ALL creation is a gift from God and each person and creature has a right to this common home!  Francis believes that through the mystery of the Incarnation, Christ is intimately present in the world around us. When we see the gifts of the earth in the light of the Lord, we have a deeper understanding of how to care for our common home. 

What is my response to this photo?  


“If we want to bring about deep change, we need to realise that certain mindsets really do influence our behaviour. Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. Otherwise, the paradigm of consumerism will continue to advance, with the help of the media and the highly effective workings of the market.” (LS 215)

Q. Do I agree with this statement?  Does it demand that I make any changes in how I am living? 

Reflection: Creator God, we can choose to live differently! Inspire us as we make choices so that we will recognize the impact our lives have on our environment and our human family around the globe. We pray to the Lord: Lord, help us to reclaim the future! 

Loving God, we can reclaim the future! Encourage us to be people of hope as we look forwards in faith, knowing that we can build a world of justice and peace.                                                                 We pray to the Lord: R/Lord, help us to reclaim the future! 

Brilliant God, we can choose to live in a way that creates a better world for everyone. Help us to know that our individual actions are made in solidarity with our sisters and brothers.                             We pray to the Lord: R/Lord, help us to reclaim the future! 

Wonderful God, you invite us to live simply, to live sustainably, and to live in solidarity with the poor. So help us to respond to that invitation with conviction and generosity. 
We pray to the Lord: R/Lord, help us to reclaim the future!

Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si’ calls us to: 
A conversion, a change of heart, 
so as to see Christ present 
in the world around us. 
Francis believes 
 “This conversion calls for a number of attitudes –
which together foster a spirit of generous care,
full of tenderness.
But first, ‘it entails gratitude and gratuitousness,
a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift and
that we are called to quietly imitate his generosity
in self-sacrifice and good works”  LS 220.

Mercy and Justice have embraced: A response to the Islamic State reality...
”Nation will not lift sword against nation; there will be no more training for war.”  Isaiah 2:4
Isaiah the Advent prophet offers hope that a time of peace IS coming! Whatever we hear in the media, this is not an impossible dream. Peace-building starts with each one of us and by the way that we treat the people around us including other creatures and planet earth. 

Question: What can I do, to promote a spirit of peace around me today?
During this first week of Advent – prayers are urgently needed:
190+ World Leaders will courageously sign a legally binding, universal Climate Treaty...
For a peace-full solution to the ISIS crisis through justice, mercy and negotiation...
That each of us be active peace-makers through knowing God’s peace in our hearts...

An Advent Hope: Can I retreat from the daily bustle and create some silence and stillness?

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Submitted By:  Maureen O'Keefe, rsm

The Sisters of Mercy Newfoundland will prepare for COP21 in a seven-day vigil beginning on November 24 and ending on November 30, the day of the Conference opening.  They will also join in the 12 Days of Mercy prayer.   All are welcome to join them in their seven-day vigil.

© Mercy International Association 2015

The 21st Conference of the Parties, i.e. the annual meeting of all countries which want to take action for the climate, will be held in Le Bourget, France, from 30 November to 11 December. Its goal is to achieve a legally  binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

Echoing the creation story of Genesis 1, we begin our seven day vigil on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Each day, beginning on November 30, we are invited to pray and reflect either in community or personally. Each day carries a colour of the rainbow (see covenant reference on day 7) and an image of the day of creation as well as a short text and a prayer followed by a call for action.

Our vigil will end on the first day of the Conference (November 30). On the tenth day of the Conference (December 9), the Prayer for Earth will be led by Canada/Peru on behalf of the Mercy world.

November 24, 2015 Day I

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void  and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. Gen 1:1-3

Prayer:  Let us create a climate of change

Lord, in the joy of your Creation,
The whole human family has received this unique gift from you: our planet Earth.
We sincerely thank you, Lord!
Lord, look on our EARTH and
help us to recognize that it is urgent that we act… for we are destroying our forests, devastating our soil, and polluting our seas.
When we do this, we cause changes to our climate, and create environmental turmoil that increase poverty in the countries of the South.
We sincerely ask for forgiveness, Lord.
Yes, it is time to act…to guide our planet in its development and in its peace. Amen.


November 25, 2015 Day 2

Humankind on the Planet Earth is ordained to live in equity, justice and dignity, peace and harmony in the midst of the order of Creation. Humankind is ordered to treat respectfully Creation, which has a value in itself. We  Catholic Bishops recognize the atmosphere, rainforests, oceans and agricultural land as common good that require our care.
Catholic Bishops’ Statement, Lima On the Road to Paris (2014)


May God bless us with wonder at creation’s glory.
May God bless us with fury at creation’s spoiling.
May God bless us with courage at this critical hour.
And may the blessing of God, Creator, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon us and on all creation,
this day and for the future to come. Amen.


November 26, 2015 Day 3

A flourishing humanity on a thriving Earth in an evolving universe all together filled with the glory of God – such is the theological vision and praxis we are being called to in a critical age of Earth’s distress. We need to act as members of the Earth community called to be partners with God in the ongoing creation rather than destruction of the world.   Elizabeth Johnson, csj

Creator of all that was, is now and ever will be.
Look with mercy on our frailties; forgive our carelessness.
We ask for minds to share in Your wisdom, that we might NOW become good and faithful stewards of your beautiful creation.
We ask for hearts to imitate Your love,  that we might NOW take up the cause of justice
for our sisters and brothers who go without.
We ask for spirits to share in Your joy, that we might NOW work with leaders,
organizations and communities to take action to end climate change.
For this, O God, we thank you. Amen.


November 27, 2015 Day 4

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our  common home. Laudato Si’, 13

Lord, make us fervent protectors of the world That you have given us:
Where there is waste, let us practice frugality. Where there is greed, let us model sharing.
Where there is exploitation, let us shout out against injustice.
May we be vocal and persistent in demanding action on the part of governments and world leaders.
May we make everyday lifestyle choices wisely, leading by example.
Deepen our understanding of the environment and our love of each other,
that we may preserve your gifts for generations to come. Amen.


November 28, 2015 Day 5

This is a good old house, delightfully situated, fields and garden all around it. Just now it appears like a fine summer day . . . (There are) walls or hedges in every direction. It must be particularly healthy. Catherine McAuley

God of creation, we thank you for all that you have made;
For the joy and glimpses of you we find in nature’s beauty,
Help us to tread lightly and use wisely, Valuing the needs of others, and of creation, above our own desires.
Challenge us where we need to change our lifestyles,
Convict us when we need to speak out on behalf of a voiceless people, or world And soften us where we have stood
in judgement of others.
O God in your mercy, change us and use us For the restoration of your world,
and the protection of all your children. Amen.


November 29, 2015 Day 6

We do not inherit the earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children. Inuit Saying

Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Laudato Si’, 159

Creator God, call us to renewal, to stewardship;
Call us to solidarity to Earth and all its creatures.
Give us new vision to see the fragile beauty that remains to us;
Give us new spiritual energy to become active In loving the world through our daily life;
Give us new voices to speak out for environmental solidarity.
Bless us again with the gift Of being a joyful community;
Bless us with a love of your Creation And we will glimpse your Eden once again.


November 30, 2015 Day 7

Human beings must feel that they are sons and daughters of the rainbow, those who translate this divine covenant with all the beings existing and living, with new relationships of kindness, compassion, cosmic solidarity, and deep reverence for the mystery that each one bears and reveals. Only then will there be integral liberation, of the human being and of Earth, and rather than the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth there will be common celebration of the redeemed and the freed, human beings in our own house, on our good, great, and bountiful Mother Earth. Leonardo Boff

Holy Spirit, call us out of our sleep; awaken our hearts and minds
to our choices and their impacts.
Awaken us to the possibilities of a new way of living.
Awaken us to be renewed with creation. Awaken us to the joy of enabling others to live life to the full.
Holy Spirit, call us out of our sleep. Amen.


On behalf of Mercy World December 9, 2015

All-powerful God, 
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace,
that we may live as brothers and sisters,
harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue
the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world
and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover
the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray,
in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
~ Laudato Si’ 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Was A Stranger and You Welcomed Me: Reflection for the Year of Consecrated Life

By:  Elizabeth Davis, rsm

In Matthew 25, when Jesus was asked how we could best walk in God’s way, his words were starkly clear, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me” (Matt 25:35-36). 

The Sculpture of Hands by Gerald Squires:
The Gathering Place, St. John's, Newfoundland.
We have a poignant living out of this scriptural passage at The Gathering Place*. There, every day, we – Guests, volunteers, staff members and Sisters – live the words “I was hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, a stranger . . .” There, every day, the Gerry Squires’ sculpture of hands reminds us that we cannot always tell who is giving and who is receiving. 

This is the first in a series of reflections during the Year of Consecrated Life giving our two congregations – Presentation Sisters and Sisters of Mercy – a moment of shared rejoicing in our blessed life expression as women religious. We will explore one of these markers along God’s way, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Who is the stranger? How do we welcome the stranger? How are we welcomed as the stranger?

The first stranger we are invited to welcome is God. God has chosen to come to us as a guest. Indeed one of the many names by which the early Rabbis called God was Shekinah, the divine presence among us. The angel told Joseph that the baby born of Mary would be Emmanuel, God-with-us (Matt 1:23). At the beginning of John’s Gospel (1:1, 14), we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” Our God has expressed love for us by dwelling among us, by becoming one of us and by pouring the Spirit into our midst, “I will pour out my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your young men will see visions and your old men will have dreams” (Acts 2:17-18, Joel 2:28-32). How rarely we take the time to contemplate the depth and richness and enormity of the Trinity present within and among us – Shekinah, Emmanuel, Spirit outpoured!

After his Resurrection, the transformed Jesus appeared to his disciples and friends as a stranger. Mary, weeping in the garden, thought him to be the gardener until he softly said her name, “Mary!” The disciples, sad and dispirited in their night fishing, did not recognize the stranger on the beach until he told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat (John 21:6). Mary and Cleopas, returning in despair to Emmaus from Jerusalem, walked and talked with a stranger, invited him to supper in their home, and did not recognize him until he broke bread with them. Only then could they exclaim in joy-filled delight, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

Mary and Cleopas showed the hospitality which was an essential aspect of their Jewish culture, embedded in sacred codes of conduct requiring that strangers be given food, water and shelter. Abraham’s first action after God’s call into covenant was to offer hospitality to three strangers, not knowing that God sent them, “Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree” (Gen 18:4). About Woman Wisdom in Proverbs, we are told, “She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:20).

This same sacred code toward the stranger is embedded in the New Testament. Jesus frequently shared meals with strangers: tax collectors, rich men, a prostitute, and five thousand men, women and children. He met a Samaritan woman at a well and asked her for a drink (John 4:7). He defined “neighbour” by a Samaritan traveller’s response to a complete stranger who had been injured, “He put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Lk 10:34).

Bruidean of Ireland - public houses mandated for the
hospitality of the stranger, newcomer and traveller.
In later Jewish culture, there were haknasat orehim, houses where travellers obtained lodging. The Rabbis suggested that every house should have doors on all four sides, so that poor people and travellers might find easy access from everywhere. In a remarkably similar way, in ancient Irish culture, the Breton Laws mandated hospitality for the stranger, newcomer and traveller. The bruideans were public houses designated for this purpose and placed strategically at major road intersections with doors open to every direction. This openness is still echoed in the lovely Irish greeting, “Céad Míle Fáilte!” – “A Thousand Welcomes!”

There is a beautiful French hymn, Laisserons-Nous À Notre Table, the verses of which are loosely translated: “Will we leave at our table a little space for the stranger – when they come, will they find some bread and friendship? Will we leave in our words a little time for the stranger – when they come, will they find an open heart to listen? Will we leave at our feast, a dance step for the stranger – when they come, will they find outstretched and inviting hands? Will we leave at our fountains a little water for the stranger – when they come, will they find free and thirsty people? Will we leave at our churches a little space for the stranger – when they come, will they find poor and hungry hearts?” Who are the strangers whom we encounter every day – in our own communities, in our places of ministry, when we go to church or to shopping malls, when we travel? Inclusion at its most daring will lead us to take risks, make us uncomfortable and cause us to challenge a social order which keeps the stranger, the other. 

We, too, are often strangers ourselves. As we grow in awareness that we are members of a sacred community of all life, we are coming to realize that we are not owners or masters of Earth but strangers who are ungrateful guests, slowly destroying this life-sustaining place into which we have been invited. The words of the theologian Leonardo Boff call us to a very different response:

Human beings must feel that they are sons and daughters of the rainbow, those who translate this divine covenant with all the beings existing and living, with new relationships of kindness, compassion, cosmic solidarity, and deep reverence for the mystery that each one bears and reveals. Only then will there be integral liberation, of the human being and of Earth, and rather than the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth there will be common celebration of the redeemed and the freed, human beings in our own house, on our good, great, and bountiful Mother Earth.

The mystic, Mechthild of Magdeburg, said, “How should one live? Live welcoming to all.” As we enter more deeply into this year 2015 and begin our celebrations of the Year of Religious Life, let us renew our promises to welcome the stranger and be radically inclusive. Let us remember that we are often the stranger being welcomed. Let us receive respectfully the welcome from Earth.  Let us make our own the Irish greeting and blessing, “Céad Míle Fáilte!”
*The Gathering Place, located in St John's Newfoundland,  is a community centre for vulnerable persons who are homeless or living with inadequate supports.  It is a joint initiative of the Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland.    It was established in 1994 to respond to the needs of those seeking food.  In recent years programs and services have been added such as foot care, hair care, a clothing room, literacy programs, computer training and access  to housing experts, nurses and social workers.

Memories of a Very Simple Beginning

By:  Peg Madigan, A-cnd

When recently asked to share an article on the founding of ARCAN (Atlantic Religious Congregation Associate Networking) I was flooded with memories of our very simple beginning.  

As Sr. Alma MacLellan CND and I were working as co-coordinators in Associate Relationship we had often wondered how other congregations were making out in this relatively new venture. After a time of discernment, letters were sent off to our Maritime communities to invite those who were involved in associate leadership to gather together for a two day sharing session with us in Pictou.
We began our meeting with prayer followed by a very open agenda, which offered lots of opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and ended with plans to gather again.

From these simple beginnings ARCAN has grown into a vibrant network for all religious and associates in Atlantic Canada.

At a recent ARCAN Conference, Margie Gillis-sc, presented an overview of ARCAN:

‘ARCAN owes some measure of gratitude to it founders, Alma MacLellan CND & Peg Madigan CND Associate. Twelve years ago when they came up with the idea, it was new, it was a risk.  As with most things of this sort one usually doesn’t realize it’s significance, it’s future value, until much later.
It’s rather interesting perhaps even prophetic that the original committee members chose the word ‘networking’ to describe this new Atlantic wide accumulation of sisters and their associate.’

Both Alma and I would like to thank the ARCAN Committee sisters and associates who have attended and worked so hard in building and keeping the spirit of ARCAN alive and growing.  May ARCAN continue to grow and deepen in it’s mission and vision of associate relationship.

Presentation Sisters and Sisters of Mercy: Prayer and Reflection for Year of Religious Life

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

GATHERING HYMN:    One of your own choosing – 
(suggestions: John Foley’s Come to the Water, Marty Haugen’s All Are Welcome, Marty Haugen’s Gather Us In) 


I saw a stranger today. 
I put food for him in the eating-place 
and drink in the drinking-place 
and music in the listening-place. 
In the Holy name of the Trinity 
he blessed myself and my family. 
And the lark said in her warble 
often, often, often 
goes Christ in the stranger's guise. 
O, oft and oft and oft, 
goes Christ in the stranger's guise. 
            Carmina Gadelica, “Celtic Rune of Hospitality”


Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 
     I was hungry and you gave me food, 
     I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
     I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
     I was naked and you gave me clothing, 
     I was sick and you took care of me, 
     I was in prison and you visited me. 
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.    (Matt 25:34-36, 40)

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ 
     So he went in to stay with them. 
     When he was at the table with them, 
     he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 
     Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; 
     and he vanished from their sight.
     They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us 
     while he was talking to us on the road, 
     while he was opening the scriptures to us?’    (Luke 24:28-32)


The Servant-Girl at Emmaus  

She listens, listens, holding 
her breath. Surely that voice 
is his - the one 
who had looked at her, once, across the crowd, 
as no one ever had looked? Had seer her? 
Had spoken as if to her? 
Surely those hands were his, 
taking the platter of bread from hers just now? 
Hands he'd laid on the dying and made them well? 
Surely that face-? The man they'd crucified for sedition and blasphemy. 
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb. 
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, alive? 
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table 
don't recognize yet with whom they sit. 
But she in the kitchen, absently touching the wine jug she's to take in, 
a young Black servant intently listening, 
swings round and sees 
the light around him 
and is sure.
                            - Denise Levertov

Which image, phrase, word captures my heart and my spirit and my energy in celebration of religious life?

BLESSING:       Pilgrims on the Road 

We are once again pilgrims on the road to Emmaus . . . 
Our heads are bowed as we meet the Stranger 
who draws near and comes with us. 
As evening comes, we strain to make out His face 
while he talks to us, to our hearts. 
In interpreting the Book of Life, 
He takes our broken hopes and kindles them into fire: 
the way becomes lighter as, 
“The Servant-Girl at Emmaus” by Diego Velazquez
drawing the embers together, 
we learn to fan the flame. 

If we invite Him this evening, He will sit down 
and together we shall share the meal. 
And then all those who no longer believed 
will see and the hour of recognition will come. 
He will break the bread of tears at the table of the poor 
and each will receive manna to their fill. 

We shall return to Jerusalem to proclaim aloud 
what He has whispered in our ear. 
And no doubt we shall find brothers and sisters there who will greet us with the words: 'We, too, have met Him!' 
For we know: the mercy of God 
has come to visit the land of the living! 
                              Brother Roger Schutz of Taizé