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LCWR Resolution 2019-22

Sisters of Mary of the Presentation stand in support of The LCWR Assembly Resolution 2019-22:

“Reading the signs of the times from our desire to create communion, we, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, affirm the interrelatedness of the justice concerns addressed by the LCWR Call for 2015-2022. We are heartbroken by the myriad ways our one human family and Earth, our common home, suffer from disconnection, indifference, violence, and fear in the face of racism, migration, and climate crisis. Responding to God who loves all of creation into being, we recommit ourselves to create communion and examine root causes of injustice. We particularly focus on the intersection of racism, migration, and climate crisis. We recognize a sense of urgency and pledge prayer, education, and advocacy. We will use our collective voice, resources, and power in collaboration with others to establish justice which reflects God’s creating love.”

Reflection for Easter Sunday

Reflection for Easter Sunday

from the Catholic Health Association of America

Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:7b-8a

A young boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon. Out of nowhere a bumblebee flew in the car window. The boy was deathly allergic to bees and so, began to panic. Knowing his allergy, the father quickly reaches out, grabs the bee, squeezes it in his hand and then releases it. Seeing the insect angrily buzzing around the car again, they boy became frantic again.

Seeing his son’s fear, the father reached out his hand saying, “Look here.” There, stuck in his palm was the stinger of the bee. “You see?” he asked. “You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you.”

I’ve taken the sting for you.

How often have we yearned to say these words to someone in pain? When tragedy strikes our community, we reach out a hand to help. When a friend or family member, loved one or beloved patient, a dear child is afraid, we say to them, I wish I could do something. I wish I could take your place. In the most extreme cases we pray, take me and not them.
It is the wonder of wonders that our God is the same way. Seeing our isolation from one another, seeing our brokenness and the fear of and power held over us by death, Jesus enters into the death, taking it on himself to remove the sting. The great sin of Eden was not so much about a fruit tree as it was about the rejection of our oneness with God, the forgetting that we are beloved of God and belong to one another.

Lent is the journey back to these two truths and they are what we celebrate this Easter. No matter what, we are beloved of God – not even death can separate us, and in spite of all that may point to the contrary, we belong to one another. Our call in Catholic health care is to witness daily to God’s promise of life over death and joy over suffering. Our role in Catholic health care is to heal in such a way that lives are transformed and communities are rebuilt. As the people of Catholic health care, we witness to these Easter truths every day.

Where we had been broken, Christ mends us. Where we had been scattered, Christ binds us together. Where we had fallen, Christ lifts us up again. Where we had been dead, Christ brings new life. And we proclaim with Saint Paul,
Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
 Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:51, 53-55

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for Holy Week

Reflection for Holy Week

from the Catholic Health Association of America

“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”
Philippians 2:8-9

A young child trips and falls one morning while playing on the jungle gym. She scrapes her knees on the pavement as she goes down, and, upon seeing the few drops of blood mixed with rocks and gravel, limps dramatically to where her mother watches closely.

“Mama!” the child exclaims, “Mama, I fell … it hurts! Can you kiss it? Make it better?”

“I saw, love,” the mother replies, “Come, I will kiss it for you.”

The child climbs onto the bench where the mother sits, and she leans over to kiss the child’s knees.

“You’ll be okay,” the mother soothes. She gently strokes the child’s hair and cheek,
“Look at how strong you are.”

After a few moments, content with the mother’s soothing, the child sighs, smiles and climbs down. She limps away across the playground—a little less dramatically this time.

Children know well the power of touch as a tool to both show care and to feel cared for. So too do nurses, CNAs, physical therapists and support staff who daily use touch in their healing. We know that touch alone doesn’t necessarily heal, but a hug, a kiss or a handshake all can help us to feel significantly less alone and better understood. Not only this, but while our culture tells us that pain and suffering are to be avoided, our faith reminds us that it is precisely in experiences of suffering that God rushes in to walk with us, to help us feel understood. Indeed, because of God’s desire to accompany us, moments of pain can, paradoxically, become especially graced. We feel God’s soothing touch. We sigh, smile and carry on with our lives—a little less dramatically this time.

During Holy Week, when we walk with Jesus in his Passion and ultimate death on the Cross, we are offered the chance to enter God’s suffering in the way that God enters ours. Indeed, on Good Friday, we literally kiss the cross as means not only of demonstrating our veneration, but of also indicating that we are with Jesus in his suffering. While we know that our show of care does not change Jesus’ ending, or make the suffering go away, we are reminded that—as ‘God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name’—we, too, are strong and will be okay.

How have you felt God’s accompaniment in your own struggles this Lenten season?

How have you borne witness to and accompanied the suffering of God in this season?

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for the Fifth Week of Lent

Reflection for the Fifth Week of Lent

from the Catholic Health Association of America

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.”
Joel 2:12-13

In our ministry we have entire rooms dedicated to the experience of waiting: waiting to see a doctor, waiting for test results, waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery, waiting for birth. At any given moment, in a hospital waiting room, a grandparent waits with bated breath for the arrival of their grandchild while, a few seats down, an adult child awaits the outcome of surgery being performed on their aging parent. At any given moment, in a hospital waiting room, life and death hang in delicate balance.

This week’s gospel story tells of a woman “caught in the very act of committing adultery,” and offers a similar example of how life and death hang in delicate balance. She is brought to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. While the law clearly requires she be stoned, they ask Jesus what to do with her. We know well his familiar response: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” However, have we thought to consider how excruciating it must have been for the woman – face down in the dirt – waiting to see if stones would be thrown?

The season of Lent offers similar juxtaposition amid a period of waiting: we wait for the winter cold to dwindle and anxiously look for the spring sun to lure us out of hibernation, while, liturgically, Jesus awaits his painful journey to the Cross only to be resurrected on Easter Sunday. Indeed, we are utterly immersed in the dichotomous experience of waiting. Not only this, any of us who have even waited for anything know also how torturously long those last few moments of waiting can feel. The moment you see a door open and a doctor begin to head your way with news of your loved one; the moment the first footsteps walked away from the woman; the moment you see the first tulip bulb begin to emerge from the defrosting ground; waiting to discover the tomb empty. Waiting can feel like an eternity.

In each of these distinctive examples, though, we know also that the last few torturous moments of waiting offer a turning point—a pivotal moment of pause that somehow points to a shift, a feeling of the beginning of something new being created within us. As we watch the doctor walk toward us with news, or as we approach the tomb of Jesus, it is the moment just before we release the breath we didn’t realize we have been holding in. Indeed, it is in this very moment, that, if we’re paying attention, we feel God calling most ardently …

How are you being called by God, even now to “return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.”

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for the Fourth Week of Lent

Reflection for the Fourth Week of Lent

from the Catholic Health Association of America

“I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
Luke 15:8

When asked, Mark Twain named Jesus Christ as the greatest storyteller of all time, and when pressed, Twain suggested that the Prodigal Son was his best work. The story is full of the elements of good fiction: family drama, bad decisions, suspense, reconciliation and ultimately, a happy ending. As in any good story, we can relate to each character and find bits of ourselves mirrored in them.

More often than we want to admit we have been the prodigal younger son. We’ve been wasteful and reckless with material goods – we spend too much and recycle too little. While money and possessions are one thing, the ways in which we are wasteful and reckless with the affections of others are more serious. Things can be replaced, but heartache and pain are not so easily overcome and must be honestly dealt with.

Lent is a time for each of us to consider what relationships we take for granted, assuming that they will remain, and also, the hurts we have inflicted on others that require forgiveness.

Just as often as we’ve been the younger brother, we have been the self-righteous older one. We’ve been diligent, sure to do what has been asked. We’ve been faithful to the letter of the law, even if we resented it. We’ve lined up our virtues and accolades and have taken credit for our own successes and salvation. We’ve judged others by our rules and values. We’ve resented second chances and mercy given to others, particularly when we aren’t able to give the same to ourselves.

Lent asks us to shed our close-mindedness as well as the structures of virtue that keep us from loving others and seeing them as children of God and true brothers and sisters.

Many believe, Pope Francis among them, that this story should be called the Parable of the Merciful Father. For it is the mercy of the father that provides all the plot twists, reconciliation and driving action of the story. He runs out to each of his children and is, in turn, consoling and welcoming and affirming and reassuring. The father meets their needs as a loving parent and forms the family around mercy and forgiveness. In our best moments, we emulate the love and mercy of the Father by seeing others beyond their failings or accomplishments.

Lent is long for a reason. The six weeks of Lent give us a sustained amount of time to consider our relationships with God and others.
How are you the elder son, fixated on accomplishments and justice?
How are you the younger son, squandering both material goods and the affections of others?
How are you the merciful father?

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for the Third Week of Lent

Reflection for the Third Week of Lent

from the Catholic Health Association of America

“Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:7

On a cold morning in November, Leigh Ann Tuohy and her husband, Sean, were driving when they spotted a young man walking alone along the side of the road in only shorts and a cotton T-shirt. As they drove past, Leigh Ann said two words to Sean that would change their lives forever. She told him to “turn around,” and he did. The two invited the young man into their warm vehicle and eventually their home and family. The young man was Michael Oher, who with the love and support of the Tuohy family, went on to become a first-round NFL draft pick and Superbowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens.

Turn around …
two simple words that changed the course of several lives in one moment.
Turn around …
two simple words that call us to retrace our steps and see what we may not have seen before.
Turn around …
a call to change and conversion.

Lent’s call to repentance is a call to turn around. When we repent, much like running into our home for forgotten keys or turning around on the interstate due to mixed up directions, we seek something we’ve forgotten and reorient ourselves to get back on track.

The Greek work for repent is “metanoia.” It means “to think differently after,” and indicates a change of mind, heart or consciousness. Repentance requires the willingness and humility to recognize we have lost our way and to change. All of us have something for which we need to repent: a person we have wronged, a good we have neglected to do, a cruel or unkind word we have spoken. We have been less than lovely, less than faithful and less than gracious from time to time with others and with ourselves. And the call gently comes into the muddled space of discord, with a voice that tells us to simply turn around.

Step back into your colleagues’ office and clear up a misunderstanding. Sign up to volunteer. Recommit to your practice of prayer and meditation. Prioritize date night with your partner, family time with your children, weekly calls or visits to your aging parents. Set down old ways of being and doing that aren’t serving you, and simply turn around. Follow more faithfully the path of goodness and love, service and truth. Listen to the still, small voice in your heart and simply, without shame, turn around.
There is a promise in God’s call to conversion. Repent; turn around! For the reign of God is at hand. The reign of God is a time of fulfillment and flourishing, when there is no distinction between heaven and earth. Jesus promised us it is closer than we think; indeed, it is just around the corner. Our repentance and reconnection to God and others brings it about. For as theologian Walter Rauschenbusch reminds us, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of getting individuals into heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven.”

What needs to be turned around in your life? What do you need to seek again?

Copyright Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for the Second Week of Lent

Reflection for the Second Week of Lent

from the Catholic Health Association of America

“From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: This is my beloved Son, hear him.”
Matthew 17:5

How many times have we, upon witnessing a colleague’s or friend’s response to a situation, thought quietly to ourselves of the myriad ways we would have responded differently, or played out what we would do in his or her place?

The story of the Transfiguration of Jesus is so remarkable. It invites us to consider what we would do if we were Peter, James and John. Pulled away from the crowd to pray with Jesus on their mountaintop, when suddenly he appears clothed in “dazzling white,” conversing with Moses and the prophet Elijah, what would you do? Then, when a shadow is cast, and a cloud envelopes them and the voice of God calls Jesus beloved and commands that they listen to Jesus, in their place, what would you do?

Perhaps we would have departed immediately to spread the Good News. Or like the disciples, would we fall silent, be afraid and not tell anyone what we had seen? It is tempting to believe that we would have responded differently. However, like them, we, too, might have needed some time to consider what we had been told. While we don’t often find ourselves enveloped in a cloud, hearing the direct words of God, God does continue to speak, telling us to listen to Jesus.

Our interactions with friends, family, colleagues and the natural world are all offering us glimpses of God’s grace. Indeed, any of these can be experiences of God communicating with us. Are we using that grace, that communication of God, to discern how God’s life might be known through us? Are we making ourselves vulnerable, stepping out of our comfort zones and into the light? Or is it safer, easier to close ourselves off and remain in the silence of darkness? We know that the disciples do eventually come down from the mountain. And so we should ask how, in our own lives, have we been called down from the mountain to serve as conduits of God’s grace.

More specifically, in our health care setting, are there ways in which we might better accompany patients as they, too, seek to step out of the darkness into the light? We know that our ministry is about caring for the whole person, if we aren’t careful, however, patients can seem instead, like mere groupings of symptoms to be treated. Do patients seeking help feel as though they can bring their whole selves to the care process? Or are there facets of themselves that remain hidden? Do we make assumptions about individuals seeking care based on how they look or sound, or based solely on the symptoms they present?
The Lenten season calls us to share our vulnerability and darkness with one another such that we all might step out of our comfort zones and into the light. Whether we need time to consider or are ready to respond, whether we are seeking care or offering it, the voice of God calls each of us to bear witness to the beloved Son and to hear him.

How is God speaking to you in your daily life?

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Reflection for the First Week of Lent

Reflection for the First Week of Lent

from the Catholic Health Association of America

One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

On a hillside by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus taught his disciples the only prayer he would teach. It is deceptively simple and familiar enough that most Christians may not even notice the words as they rattle them off. The last line asks that God keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil.

Temptation is a human experience, in and of itself, not inherently problematic. Scripture makes a deliberate point to let us know that Jesus himself was tempted. As he prepared for his ministry in prayer and fasting alone in the desert, Satan set before Jesus the same things that may tempt us: power, glory and the illusion of control. Jesus rebukes him each time, quoting Scripture and affirming over and again the power and glory of God.

We are not often tempted to turn stones into bread or command angels, our temptations are more subtle. In C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon, Screwtape, is writing to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood. Screwtape steers his protégé away from more flamboyant temptations. He writes, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.” 

Our greatest temptations and most dangerous temptations are not spectacularly sinful, they are cumulatively destructive. Little by little we buy into the belief that by doing, buying or achieving we can add to our own value, dignity and worth. Little by little we convince ourselves that some small thing isn’t that big of a deal.

So we listen to or share what we overheard about someone. We groom and fret and fuss about how our external appears without paying attention to the health of our minds, hearts and spirits. We treat ourselves with extra food and goods without considering those who don’t have the essentials. We focus on what the world has to say about us, forgetting that God has already called us good and beloved. And so it goes, the small cracks become chasms that in time become false separations from others and the love of God.

Lent invites us again to recall that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God in whose words and love we find our truest life.
What daily temptation is the most challenging for you?

Copyright 2019 Catholic Health Association of the United States.