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Prayer: Week of July 17, 2016

Posted on 23. Jul, 2016 by .

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“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” 
― Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, 1986 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and author who fought for peace, human rights and simple human decency, died July 2 in New York at the age of 87.
And because of that, tonight I must write very personally.
This is my heritage. Not only did many of my family die in the Holocaust, but this is my heritage: my awareness that anywhere, everywhere, there is the possibility that friend could turn on friend, neighbor on neighbor, colleague on colleague. That fear could feed on fear, hatred on hatred, tormentor on victim. That good people everywhere could disbelieve, and turn aside, and protect their own – until a maelstrom of evil has wrought unspeakable horror.
And this too is my heritage: the commitment embodied by Elie Wiesel to never forget the Holocaust – and to turn that memory into making sure it never happens again. Not to the Jews, not to Nicaragua’s Miskito Indians, Argentina’s “disappeared”, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, South African apartheid victims, not to famine victims in Africa – to name just a few of the oppressed for whom he advocated – not to anyone.
It is that commitment that fueled my prayers when I started World in Prayer 15 years ago.
It is that commitment that fuels my prayers today, as I invite you to join me in praying for:
  • Growing evidence, including research released this past week by Duke University Medical Center (U.S.), that trauma not only affects those who experience it, but changes the genes of their descendants.
  • The attempted military coup in Turkey, and the Turkish government’s  “cleansing” countermeasures that have affected more than 50,000 people — judges, civil servants, military, police and others – and most recently included banning travel by all academics.
  • The death this week of 90-year-old Abdul Sattar Edhi, founder and lifelong leader of a vast public welfare organization in Pakistan, that provided birth to death care to millions through hospitals, homeless shelters, rehab centers, orphanages and ambulances.  No one who needed services was ever turned away, regardless of creed, cast, sect or ability to pay.
  • People in the United Kingdom, where there has been a wave of racist and xenophobic incidents, who have taken to wearing safety pins as a symbol of solidarity with immigrants, a symbol that the wearer is a “safe” person for immigrants to be around.
  • Israel, which opened a major crossing point between Israel and Gaza this week to allow the transfer of vehicles carrying goods–for the first time in nine years.
  • A group of Black Lives Matters activists in the United States that chose to hold a barbecue with police, instead of holding a protest demonstration
  • The 2016 World AIDS conference, held in Durban, South Africa, and described by a friend as the “swirl, conversation, discovery, protest, new networking etc. of 18,000 HIV/AIDS workers from the global effort to stop the epidemic. Commitment, imagination, love, significant, engaged conflicts and disagreement… It’s huge good news and testament to human spirit, resourcefulness and goodwill.”
  • Zimbabwe, where the war veterans association, which has played a key and sometimes violent role in supporting the now 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe, has released a statement withdrawing its backing for him, and accusing him of dictatorial tendencies, egocentrism and misrule.
  • Researchers from Ethiopia and Sweden who jointly discovered that the odor of a live chicken – yes, a chicken! – “significantly reduced” the number of mosquitoes near sleeping test subjects, which may lead to a completely different approach to preventing malaria.
  • Those in every nation who espouse hatred, violence, oppression; the lone-wolf attackers; the militantly self-righteous and power hungry; the xenophobics; the fear-mongerers and the fearful – all the people we would rather get rid of, than view with sympathy.
  • Today’s young people everywhere, making choices as to who they will be, how they will live, how deeply they dare love the world and everyone in it.
That commitment fuels my prayers every time I celebrate the Eucharist, remembering, in the Christian tradition, that God so loved the world, that he sent his son to live and die among us. Giving thanks, each time I celebrate the Eucharist, for Jesus Christ, for the Elie Wiesels and the Abdul Sattar Edhis, and for so many people of so many faiths who in their own traditions know and embody and teach the ever-living love of God.
“We tell these stories because perhaps we know that not to listen, not to want to know, would lead you to indifference, and indifference is never an answer. Whoever hates, hates everybody. Whoever kills, kills more than his victims.” – Elie Wiesel
Let us pray:
God, make us story-tellers and memory bearers.
Where there is evil, let us speak out.
Where there is pain, let us heal.
Where there is indifference, give us strength to care.
Where we are divided, draw us together.
Wherever we are, whoever we are, let us love.
–Andee Zetterbaum, founder, World in Prayer

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Prayer: Week of July 10, 2016

Posted on 23. Jul, 2016 by .

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There is a terrifying passage in ‘I and Thou’ by the Jewish mystic Martin Buber in which God says ‘I have sunk my hearing in the deafness of mortals’.  If this should be even partly true what a tremendous responsibility it places upon us to listen, to listen to each other with our whole attention, with our hearts, but what a difficult thing to do. ~ Elizabeth Bassett in “Beyond the Blue Mountains: Wisdom and Compassion on Living and Dying” (p. 93)

Without forgiveness there can be no future for a relationship between individuals or within and between nations… Resentment and anger are bad for your blood pressure and digestion… My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The news recently has been a cataloged of ever greater misery, tragedy, horror, and violence depicting the broken relationships between groups and nations. Hurt breeds resentment and violence arising from a sense of frustrated helplessness. This makes the truth of the essential need to truly listen to each other haunting. Challenge and inspire me. I can only hope to do this through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to fulfill, however falteringly, the command of the risen Christ, “Follow me!”

LET GOD…be Parent…speak…liberate me from my prisons…direct my path…infuse me with grace and love.

How do we reconcile God’s grace and love with our world where at least 80 are dead in Nice (pron. Neece), France as a result of a rampage driver, weaponry, and a hate-filled heart? Who did this? Why? What matter does it make? Hate and violence and death… Death and violence and hate…

  • The killings between black and white, police and citizens in the U.S.A. and inKenya;
  • Bombings and murder of Christians and other minority faiths in Iraq;
  • The seizing of Christian villages by Kurds;
  • The bombings and warfare in South Sudan;
  • The territorial advancement by China onto militarized coral reefs and artificial islands in the South China Sea as platforms for their nuclear arms;
  • Over a thousand people have ‘disappeared’ without trace and 40,000 have been arrested and tortured in the last 3 years in Egypt according to Amnesty International;
  • Hunger and lack of food in Venezuela that is being tackled by the army because it is so pervasive.

Lord, help us to persevere in the face of so many discouragements to do whatever little bit of good we can wherever we are. Together these small acts form channels for your love and grace to be freed to transform our brokenness and overwhelm evil. Lord hear us and bless us.

With a new government and a second female Prime Minister installed in the UK, we pray for the challenges to be faced together, from people of very differing viewpoints and convictions, so that the good of the country – as well as bridge-building to repair shaken if not broken relationships with other groups and countries – can be undertaken in honesty and integrity.

We pray that all those, everywhere, may listen to each other before leaping into superficial response and action. Our heavy use of social media often makes this a default position rather than pausing, reflecting, and even daring to take time to pray… We continue to pray for the often bitter and divisive presidential electoral campaign in the U.S.A. So often at times like this we seem to revert to appealing to the lowest common denominator instead of offering a vision of the best… Forgive us when we get seduced by the attractiveness of power – thinking it glamorous rather than often seedy and corrupting.

Remind us, O God:

Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us…Child of God, known by name, and whose very hairs are numbered. Praise and adore God and thank him for ever and ever. ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu in “An African Prayer Book”

LET ME…be son or daughter…listen…walk out of my prisons through opened doors…follow your guidance…open up my being to your grace and love…Study and imitate…the perfect sonship of Jesus the Christ…the universal brother…or all other sons and daughters.

Amen.

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Pastoral Letter to the Immigrant Community

Posted on 23. Jul, 2016 by .

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The following is from the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity:

A Pastoral Letter to the Immigrant Community:
Español abajo
 
Dear immigrant community:
Grandparents, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, youth and children:
We are sending you this pastoral letter in light of last week’s disappointing news from the Supreme Court which prevents DAPA and expanded DACA from moving forward.  It could have been a relief for many, but instead it keeps things the way they have been for far too long: with 11 million people living in fear, vulnerable to exploitation, at risk of deportation and being torn apart from their families, homes and country. We have waited expectantly for many months, only to receive such a disheartening decision. This is yet another blow, on top of the worsening hate speech and actions against immigrants every day in our country.

As faith leaders from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and other faith traditions, we care deeply about you. We want to tell you how sorry we are that, once again, this country’s institutions have failed to uphold your dignity and the promise of fair treatment and opportunity that you deserve. Read more here. 

or Watch the Video Message below.

Please share this message!

 

Una Carta Pastoral a la Comunidad Inmigrante:
Querida comunidad inmigrante: abuelos, madres y padres, hermanos y hermanas, jóvenes y niños:
Escribimos esta carta después de conocer las decepcionantes noticias de que la Corte Suprema de Justicia, diera su fallo que previene que DAPA y la expansión de DACA avancen. Estas órdenes ejecutivas pudieron haber sido un alivio para millones de inmigrantes y sus familias, pero en vez de eso, dicha decisión mantiene las cosas como han estado por mucho tiempo: Con más de 11 millones de personas viviendo con miedo, vulnerables a la explotación, en riesgo de ser deportados y separados de sus familiares, hogares y país. Hemos estado esperado con mucha esperanza por muchos meses, sólo para recibir una decisión tan dolorosa. Este es ungolpe más sumado a la creciente retórica antiinmigrante y de odio hacia los inmigrantes en nuestro país. Continue leyendo

o ver el mensaje de vídeo que es abajo

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Prayer: Week of July 3, 2016

Posted on 17. Jul, 2016 by .

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This has been one of those weeks, God…one of those weeks in which too many things have been happening- in my own life and in the lives of the rest of your children throughout the world.
  • Here in the United States, we are reeling with not one, but two shootings of black men by police officers, seemingly without reason, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. And late this evening comes the news of four police officers killed and at least seven others wounded by two snipers in Dallas, Texas, during a protest against the killings by police in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis. We want to have faith in, to trust those who have been commissioned to “Serve and Protect”; we want to have faith in those who protest the system; but it becomes more and more difficult to do so when, over and over again, that trust has been eroded.
And all we can say, with tears streaming down our faces, and our hearts filled with grief and confusion, is:
Lord, have mercy.
  • The citizens of Great Britain continue to reel after the Brexit vote, as everyday people wonder what this will mean for their lives, as the British pound is at its lowest level in more than 20 years, as young people wonder how this decision made by their elders will impact their lives in the years to come.
And all we can say, with tears streaming down our faces, and our hearts filled with grief and confusion, is:
Lord, have mercy.
  • In China, continued severe flooding has impacted thousands, while flooding in the state of West Virginia, U.S., has destroyed countless homes and lives which will have to rebuilt from scratch. And wildfires continue to rage in California, U.S., with hundreds of homes destroyed and thousands fleeing.
And all we can say, with tears streaming down our faces, and our hearts filled with grief and confusion, is:
Lord, have mercy.
  • The people of Turkey are reeling from the bomb attacks at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, with more than 50 dead and hundreds wounded; while the death toll in suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, has risen to 292.
And all we can say, with tears streaming down our faces, and our hearts willed with grief and confusion, is:
Lord, have mercy.
  • In the midst of all this devastation and heartache is the reality of the plight of refugees worldwide – the millions who have fled their homes because of war, out of fear for their lives, leaving behind everything but what they could carry. Fleeing in the hope that, somewhere, there would be a welcome and a home for them – but often, encountering hate and prejudice and xenophobia at every turn.
And all we can say, with tears streaming down our faces, and our hearts filled with grief and confusion, is:
Lord, have mercy.
And so, in this difficult and painful week, bathe us with your healing balm, we pray. Be with all those who have lost a loved one; those who have lost all their earthly possessions; those who have lost a limb or lost their life. Be with all those who are fighting the fires and floods; those who are reaching out and rescuing, even at the risk of their own lives. Be with those – like us – who are being confronted on every side by things we do not understand but which lay us bare, leave us vulnerable, unable to see the light, even as we look toward you, who is that Light.
Heal us, Gracious God; heal this hurting world. And show us how to BE your light and healing, wherever we are.
Amen and amen

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Provincial Letter on Orlando and Gun Violence

Posted on 17. Jul, 2016 by .

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Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.42.29 AM

 June 17, 2016
May the Lord give you peace!
This is the traditional greeting of St. Francis of Assisi, one that has been adopted over the eight centuries of the Franciscan Order by its members. It signals one of the main themes in the life of our founder and his followers: the call to be instruments of peace.
This week, here in the United States, we once again find ourselves dealing with yet another instance of the seemingly endless stream of senseless violence in our land. This time with 49 innocent deaths, and an equal number of injuries, at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. There have been 182 mass shootings this year alone. These shootings have taken the lives of 288 people and injured another 673. Six of these shootings have taken place since Orlando. These tragic moments serve add to a culture of fear in our nation that makes us suspicious of anyone we define as “other.”
As Franciscan friars in the United States, we of course, join our voices to the chorus of those offering thoughts and prayers for the victims in Orlando. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our LGBT brothers and sisters as they grieve and try to make sense of this tragedy. To them we say clearly: we stand with you.
But, there is another chorus we would like to join our voices to today; that of the voices calling for sensible gun reform in America. Discussion of gun reform always seems to lead to loud voices on both sides, so loud that no one really listens. We often try and reduce the public discourse to a simplistic black-and-white version of the issues. This is not helpful or productive. But, surely, we can all agree that there are some acceptable, sensible measures that can be enacted right now.
More than 35,000 people die in the United States each year to gun violence. When it comes to mass shootings, the weapon of choice has become assault-style weapons which have one purpose alone – to kill large numbers of people. There is no place for this type of weaponry in the daily life of citizens. It is not a weapon of defense or of sport. It is only a weapon of mass killing. We encourage our President and our legislators, to once again ban these assault-style weapons in our country.
There are also sensible measures that can be taken on the issue of background checks. It should not be more difficult to vote, get a driver’s license, or purchase cold medicine at the drug store, than it is to buy a gun. Universal background checks for all gun purchases no matter where they happen is a reasonable expectation when buying a weapon.
These two common sense reforms enjoy the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans, and are a sensible first step in reducing the violence of a gun culture run amok in the U.S.
It is time that we stand up as a people and say enough is enough. We strive to live up to our call to be instruments of peace in our world. We support these sensible measures to help us become a more peaceful, less fearful, society.
It is time for the President and the Congress to act. We ask them to act now!
May the Lord give us peace!
PROVINCIAL MINISTERS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Very Rev. David Gaa, OFM
St. Barbara Province Oakland, California
Very Rev. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM
Our Lady of Guadalupe Province Albuquerque, New Mexico
Very Rev. James Gannon, OFM
Assumption BVM Province Franklin, Wisconsin 
Very Rev. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM
St. John the Baptist Province Cincinnati, Ohio
Very Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM
Holy Name Province New York, New York 
Very Rev. William Spencer, OFM
Sacred Heart Province St. Louis, Missouri
Very Rev. Robert Campagna, OFM
Immaculate Conception Province New York, New York
U.S. SUB-CONFERENCE | ENGLISH SPEAKING CONFERENCE |ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR         exec@escofm.org
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