A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Franciscan’

Happy Feast of St.Francis

Happy Feast Day FSPA community and Franciscans everywhere!

On this special day to honor the life and legacy of St. Francis a  reflection from Sr. Joan Chittister entitled: We need St. Francis now.


We need St Francis now

By Joan Chittister

Created Sep 27, 2010

Some things never go way. The best ones, in fact, come back to us in whole new ways. Saints are like that.

The church calendar that formed me, for instance, provided the Catholic community one feast day after another designed to remind us of the heroes of the Catholic community. On those days, congregations held special masses, sang special songs, prayed special prayers and blessed special statues.

On St. Joseph’s Day, for instance, the Italians had street fairs in which they spread a family feast from one end of the country to the other in honor of Joseph, the just one, who protected the Virgin and raised the child Jesus in a holy family. And so that Holy Family became a model for us all. For committed children and faithful fathers and strong mothers.

On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish carried shamrocks to remind us of Patrick’s exegesis of the Trinity which, we were told, converted the pagans of Ireland and were still a clear icon to us of the God whose presence is “three in one.” It was the articulation of a ‘mystery’ that became clearer as we got older.

On Halloween, all the saints of the church were honored for their faithful lives and their models of goodness. We dressed up to look like Therese of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola and the Children of Fatima rather than Peter Pan and The Terminator and a vampire or two on Halloween.

We named our children for saints. We dedicated our churches to their memory. We presented them as icons and heroes to our children long before celebrities and rock bands and rappers and reality shows conquered the airwaves and took their place. Long before Brittany and DeShaun and Darcy and Travis replaced Peter and Mary and John and Theresa as baptismal names.

In that period, we lived immersed in a veritable “communion of saints,” surrounded by signs and images of those whose lives were themselves meant to be templates for our own.

We don’t do those things anymore. For many good reasons, both liturgical and theological. At the same time, the stories and the figures go on stirring in my memory, raising old ideals, provoking old memories of beauty and fidelity and awareness and commitment. Only now those figures and those stories ring in strong new ways.

For instance, Oct. 4 is the Feast of Francis of Assisi, il poverello, the poor one, whose voice in the newly emerging mercantile class of the 13th century warned of the greed and corruption and destitution that would come when the world was run more on profit for the rich than it was on a prophetic commitment to the poor. And he was right.

But Francis was known for more than protests.

Francis loved animals, too. He was a walking apostle for ecology and the protection of woodlands which having been destroyed for parking lots and housing estates leave animals who once lived in caves and forests spilling over into our largest cities. He talked to the animals. He understood them. He knew their place in creation.

Francis talked to the birds about their call to the unceasing singing of the praises of God. When the birds surrounded him, he told them,”My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in every place give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you …

He calmed the wild. The wolf Gubbio who had been ravaging animals and people alike lay down at his feet like a puppy when Francis scolded him for his violence: “All these people accuse you and curse you … But Brother Wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.”

Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger”, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly, and in return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator.”

No doubt about it. In a world where species after species is disappearing under the rubric of “progress,” where animals are being used for research on materials and cosmetics, where the boundaries between forests and cities are fast disappearing, where bears show up in shopping districts of major cities and crocodiles show up on people’s front lawns, we need St Francis now.

It is also becoming clear that Francis knew what we are only now discovering.

In our time, the science that separated us from nature is now declaring that animals, too, have intelligence, have emotions, have needs like ours. Research by Dr. Filippo Aureli, professor of animal behavior and co-director of the Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology in Liverpool, England, indicates that the study of animal emotions, particularly in birds and primates is providing new insight and information on the emotions of humans, as well as the feelings of animals.

Well, I am an animal lover, too. And I have been threatening for years now that my last book would be Two Dogs and a Parrot: The Spiritual Lessons I Have Learned From My Pets. The parrot, named “Bennie” for obvious Benedictine reasons, is the most obvious educator of them all.

From Bennie I am learning persistence and emotional sensitivity. Both of which are needed in this world of invisible women and neglected children.

Persistence is a very good thing for a woman to know in a man’s church. If Bennie needs something, she simply refuses to give up trying to get it. She will knock at her hopper until it gets filled, until the door gets opened, until you put her on your shoulder and make her a real part of the community.

Emotional sensitivity, the awareness of the needs of needy others, is her forte. She stretches herself out on the top of her cage, thin as a pencil, rigid as a piece of steel and stares at you until you stop work and give her the loving she seeks, for her sake and yours. She teaches us to be very aware of very small signals in life.

No wonder that churches to this day bless animals on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis.

St. Francis would find it all very normal, very necessary.

From where I stand, we need to take another look at what animals have to teach us today, yes, but we have to take another look at what the saints have to say to us today, too. Somehow or other, the models we have put in their stead have not, as a class, managed to fill the gaps.

International Women’s Day

“Women never benefit from bombs and bullets.”  Rethink Afghanistan

I offer two resources today – a link to a video that examines what is happening to women in Afghanistan and a list of facts about Afghanistan that was created by justice promoters in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

The situation for women in Afghanistan makes the upcoming International Women’s Day all the more poignant and important. Women in Afghanistan have been used by the U.S. administration to point to the “success” of the invasion. Women were liberated when U.S. troops entered and now hold positions as members of parliament, teachers, etc.

The facts are that women face as much if not more violence and violation of their human rights as when they were under the Taliban. Liberation does not come at the end of a gun – whether that gun is held by a Taliban fighter or a U.S. soldier.

Take a moment to honor International Women’s Day and learn about the women of Afghanistan. Then remind your Representatives and Senators that  you will not support further funding for this war because “women never benefit from bombs and bullets.” And the truth is no one person or part of creation does either…


Afghanistan – Did You Know…?

  • To date, $1.05 trillion dollars have been allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

($747.3 billion to Iraq and $299 billion to Afghanistan.)These appropriations do not include funds to support the “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan announced by the Obama administration on December 1, 2009.  Conservative estimates suggest the surge will cost approximately $30 billion and we anticipate supplemental appropriations for this later in the year. Source: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

  • Currently only a fraction of US development assistance in Afghanistan goes to meet basic human needs and help the economy develop. Much of the economic benefit of foreign development assistance is lost to Afghanistan because only 31% is spent on local goods and services and much of it leaves the country in the form of foreign contracts and salaries. Source: http://www.nationalpriorities.org/auxiliary/costofwar/cost_of_war_afghanistan.pdf
  • Afghanistan is home to more than a dozen ethnic groups; Pashtun and Tajik, the two largest, together make up over half the population. Both peoples are from Mediterranean stock and practice Sunni Islam. Most Taliban are Pashtun and most Northern Alliance fighters are Tajik. Source: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0206/feature4/
  • In response to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and part of its overall Cold War strategy, the United States responded by arming and otherwise supporting the Afghan mujahideen, which had taken up arms against the Soviet occupiers. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan


Whitewashing a coup…elections in Honduras

Dear All – This past week 8th Day Center for Justice staff member Erin Cox went with a delegation to Honduras to serve as a protective international presence for the Honduran people wishing to peacefully boycott the elections held this past Sunday.

Honduran civil society has called for a boycott on elections for several important reasons.

One: The coup that unseated the democratically elected Zelaya has not been addressed – the Honduran government has refused to follow requests made by international bodies – including the U.S. – most importantly to recognize Zelaya as the legal leader of Honduras.

Two: A high level of repression by military and police forces has erupted in Honduras since the coup. This has included the enforcing of a curfew, detainment, arrests, torture, and the death of 22 peaceful protesters at the hands of the military and police. How can a democratic election take place when people are being arrested for exercising their right to dissent?

Three: The country has existed in such chaos for the past several months there has been no ability for a normal campaign process to happen. Citizens have not been given a chance to educate themselves and choose between a diversity of candidates.

The reports we have received from Erin have been serious and heart breaking. The police and military were out in huge numbers. They used rubber bullets, tear gas and physical intimidation to prevent peaceful protests. They forcibly arrested leaders of social movements before the day of election on trumped-up charges as well as asking  mayors for “lists” of organizers in their communities so these individuals could be “targeted” before Sunday’s elections. And in communities where people were boycotting the vote they used intimidation and threats to force people to the polls.

Democratic? Transparent? Legal? Why is the United States recognizing these elections? Please check out the link below (it is a cartoon story that depicts the lead up to the coup…very useful tool!) and an action to call the White House and State Department and demand we do not recognize this election.

Remember, if the election is seen as legal then all of our military aid will once again flow to Honduras. Do we want to fund a regime that disappears social leaders, tear gasses peaceful assembly, intimidates voters and flies their legally elected President out in the middle of the night? I am thinking no…Much Peace Liz


Action:  At April’s Summit of the Americas, President Obama promised Latin America’s leaders a new relationship with Latin America. However, instead of a new direction, President Obama has deeply undercut his promise by failing to take timely, effective action in concert with the OAS to reverse the illegal coup in Honduras.

Equally cynical is the promised U.S. recognition of scheduled coup-regime elections, despite opposition by the United Nations (UN), the Organization of American States (OAS), the 23-member Rio Group, and an active national coup resistance movement within Honduras .

Add to this mix the placement of seven (that’s 7!) new military bases in Colombia and certification that Mexico and Colombia have complied with human rights conditions to receive U.S. military aid despite comprehensive evidence to the contrary. Change we can believe in? Sadly, it does not even appear on the horizon.


Through these actions, President Obama and his top advisors risk driving a whole new generation of Latin Americans to become mistrustful of and hostile to the United States.



For this reason, each of us must give voice in the USA to the courageous civilian coup resistance in Honduras, and human rights defenders in Colombia and Mexico!

To start, please contact President Obama and the State Department this week urging them to reject these coup regime-sponsored elections and their results, and to instead encourage constitutional reform in Honduras to make more inclusive participatory democracy a reality.

Call the White House: (202)-456-1111 or (202)-456-1414   (to email go to www.whitehouse.gov )

Call the State Department: (202) 647-4000 (to email go to www.state.gov)


Memory as resistance…the call to close the School of the Americas

“It is time to take the funeral out of the funeral parlor…” Hector Aristozabol, Puppetista

Dear All – This past week I went again to Georgia to join in witnessing with thousands of others the call to close the School of the Americas and the transformation of oppressive U.S. policy.

I was especially honored to see one of our partners there, Padre Alberto from Colombia who I work with on the Ethics Commission. From the stage, he spoke of the deep need for the continued joining of hands between the north and the south to build a new future and transform a very painful history.

This year there was a slight change in the traditional funeral procession that usually occurs within the area permitted by the police. This year a group of folks and the Puppetistas (an artist group that joins us and makes puppets and pageantry for the weekend) left the permitted space.

This group walked through the police barricades, past lines of officers and marched into the street taking our witness as Hector had said…out of the funeral parlor. This was not to damage or change the traditional witness, but to raise up the idea of memory as resistance.

Our grief is not private for if we make it private we make it individual denying the necessary whole to which our grief flows from. Our grief is public because the story of what created all the loss and tragedy in Latin America belongs to all of us as one human family, as one nation of participative democracy, and as one faithful spirit led community.

Our ritual then of reading the names of all those killed and calling out Presente! cannot stay in the “funeral parlor” or permitted area but needs to flow out beyond the arbitrary borders enforced by authorities for grief, for recognition, and for healing. It was a powerful act and I was proud to be part of stretching the boundaries.

I think of Advent coming up and the ritual remembrance we do as a community of the journey of Mary and Joseph. We are not just remembering this beautiful piece of our tradition. We are recommitting ourselves to the inherent resistance within its lines. Mary and Joseph broke the norms of the day, resisted local authorities and had the courage and vision to accept Holy Mystery with no guarantees or promises.

Can we? Can we flow out of boundaries, out of fear, and uncertainties toward that which is unknown and waiting to be born if we can but say yes? I would love to hear all your stories this Advent season of how memory has served to teach, inspire and raise up new paths forward in your lives…Much Peace Liz

20th Anniversary of the El Salvador Martyrs

Dear All – I leave tomorrow to help with the annual organizing of the School of the Americas Watch Vigil. 8th Day Center for Justice has helped out at the vigil since 1996. This year, as in many years past, we will assist with the “Peacemakers Training.” Peacemakers are a presence of nonviolence and help to guide the procession and facilitate conversations with the local authorities…if necessary 🙂 .

This year the procession will be led by life-sized puppets that represent the six Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter. The idea is that these martyrs and the vision they gave their life for still guides us today. A vision of  a world that does not demand grinding poverty for the many while the few may be rich.  A world that does not demand crushing violence as an answer to the cries for peace, justice and dignity.

I will carry with me the beautiful and peace filled presence of the FSPA community and the prayer of St. Francis…God make me an instrument of your peace…Check out the link below for more info on the event…and blessings till the next time! Peace Liz


FSPA partners with Catholics Confront Global Poverty

We’re excited to tell you about our new partnership with Catholics Confront Global Poverty (an action alert is below). The FSPA Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation committee decided to partner with this organization to contribute to the work of confronting the challenge of global poverty.

The initiative  is a partnership between the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services and is inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 World Day of Peace Message: Fight Poverty to Build Peace.

This initiative aims to mobilize one million Catholics in the U.S. to confront global poverty by defending the life and dignity of people living in poverty throughout the world. It focuses on seven key areas:

  • U.S. international assistance
  • peacekeeping
  • debt relief
  • fair trade
  • natural resource extraction
  • migration
  • global climate change

This effort provides a way for Catholics to confront these poverty issues by praying, learning, acting and giving.

Here’s an action alert from our friends at Catholics Confront Global Poverty:

Tell Senators on Key Committees: 

Protect the Poor in Climate Legislation
Take Action Now! Contact your Senator now and urge that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, the climate change bill) now being considered:
Fully protect low-income individuals and families in the U.S. from any potential rise in the price of energy and other consumer goods resulting from the legislation by providing the same level of funding for low-income assistance as in the House bill;
Significantly increase the funding for international adaptation programs. At a minimum allocate $3.5 billion of funding generated by the bill to international adaptation programs starting in 2012 and increase rapidly to $7 billion annually by 2020 so that people living in poverty around the world can be protected from the effects of climate change.

Why is action important now?

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will likely vote on this climate change legislation this week. This begins a serious and overdue effort to face up to our moral and environmental challenges.

What is the Church’s position?

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) seek climate legislation that achieves two fundamental goals: care for creation and protecting the poor and vulnerable—both at home and abroad—who contribute least to climate change, but suffer its worst consequences. While we are encouraged by language in the Kerry-Boxer bill acknowledging the need to protect poor people worldwide, we are deeply concerned that the level of funding for these provisions is well below what is needed.

What does climate change have to do with my Catholic faith?

The Catholic Church brings a unique voice to the climate change debate by lifting up both the moral dimensions of caring for God’s creation and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The Catholic bishops’ primary concern is to place the life, dignity and needs of the poor and vulnerable at the center of climate legislation. Poor people should not bear an undue burden of the impacts of climate change or the global adjustments needed to address it. To learn about Catholic teaching on climate change, read the June 2001 statement by the United States Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good.

How is the Catholic Church confronting the effects of climate change?

The Church promotes prudent action in the face of the growing impacts of global climate change and is seeking common ground for the common good in a very polarized debate. CRS has already witnessed the tragic consequences of climate change in the daily lives of people living in poverty and is working diligently to help affected communities through health, agriculture, water, and emergency preparedness programs in 100 countries. USCCB, CCUSA and CRS are members of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change that invites Catholics to join the Catholic Climate Covenant. Through the Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative, USCCB and CRS are mobilizing one million Catholics to learn, pray and act in support of policies that will help address the effects of climate change on poor people worldwide.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Contact your Senators below who are members of the Environment and Public Works, Foreign Relations and Finance Committees now – through e-mail, phone calls, or FAX letters.
John Kerry, MA (sponsor)
Barbara Boxer, CA (sponsor)
Richard Lugar, IN
Benjamin Cardin, MD
Joseph Lieberman, CT
Max Baucus, MT
Thomas R. Carper, DE
Frank R. Lautenberg, NJ
Bernard Sanders, VT
Amy Klobuchar, MN Sheldon Whitehouse, RI
Tom Udall, NM
Jeff Merkley, OR
Kirsten Gillibrand, NY
Arlen Specter, PA
George Voinovich, OH
Lamar Alexander, TN
Robert Menendez, NJ
Bob Casey, PA
For more information, contact:
Cecilia Calvo, USCCB Environmental Justice Program Coordinator: 202-541-3188, ccalvo@usccb.org
Tina Rodousakis, CRS Grassroots Advocacy Manager: 410-951-7462, trodousa@crs.org
Monica Maggiano, CCUSA Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America Director: 703-236-6230, mmaggiano@catholiccharities.org

Oct. 20 is national day of action for health care reform. Actions you can take…

We’re passing this on from our friends at NetworkLobby (and below that, a health care reform prayer from our friends at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good).



The United States is the only industrialized democracy in the world that has not made the commitment to ensure health care coverage for all its people. This is a moral scandal, and we call on Congress to approve a reform plan that guarantees accessible, affordable, quality care for everyone in the U.S. Join with people of faith and organizations all around the country to make your voice heard in support of quality health care reform!


  • Send an e-mail: Visit  http://www.networklobby.org and look for the “Contact Congress” box on the right. Enter your zip code, click “GO,” and select “Healthcare Reform: It’s time to deliver” under “Write to Your Elected Officials.”
  • Sign on to our letter to congressional leaders: Visit http://www.networklobby.org/Oct20signon.html to add your name and comments to thousands of other signatures on a letter that we will deliver to the leaders of Congress on Tuesday, October 20.
  • Make 3 Phone Calls: Tell your 2 Senators and your resentative that you want them to pass a healthcare reform bill that fixes our broken system. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 888-797-8717 or(202) 224-3121 and ask for the appropriate office. Identify yourself and leave a brief message in support of healthcare reform.
  • Put this flyer in your window (house or car) or another visible place to remind others that there are people of faith working for health care reform!

Here’s a health care reform prayer from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good http://www.catholicsinalliance.org/node/21233


Tag Cloud