dcsimg Faith 101

Epiphanies:

Faith 101

  • Whole Life: Service and Social Justice

    Oct 09, 2014


    By: Jeanne Grammens Hidalgo, Campus Minister

    I had time this summer to actually read a whole book— it was a gift that was sent to me by a friend who knows me well, is an avid reader, whom I respect greatly and who often puts the right book into my hands at the right time! Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle, was written by a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries is a gang intervention program located in Boyles Heights, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. Father Boyle’s honest, reflective and probing vignettes of his experience with gang members was helpful to me in addressing the tension I feel between promoting service work and working for social change. One is popular, one not so much. As Archbishop Don Helder Camero is quoted as saying, “When I fed the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they were poor, they called me a communist.”

    This reality is something I wrestle with in my ministry at Marian University. It is easy to invite students into service. It makes us feel good to serve others. It is rooted in our faith tradition, our gospel values. You don’t even have to be “religious,” to believe in the value of helping others! Social Justice, while I believe can come out of service experience, seems to be a different entity. Social Justice demands a shift in something, which almost always makes people, including myself, uncomfortable.

    One of the things I worry about in offering students opportunities to serve, whether it be through STARR , Alternative Spring Breaks or our new Indy Urban Plunge, is that we who are privileged to have or be earning an education, who probably know where we are going to sleep tonight and are confident that we will have food to eat this evening, well, that we approach those who don’t naturally have those “privileges” with a sense of “we are here to help you.” The real truth, as expressed in scripture, is that those with seemingly less, often are the ones who help us—who help us to grow in gratitude, who impact us with their humility, their joy and faith. They often offer us the opportunity for transformation.

    Fr. Boyle hit a chord with me through his insights gleaned from many trauma filled years walking amongst gang members in extreme poverty and violence.

    “Often we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Great Ballroom.

    Kinship—not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not a ’man for others’; he was one of them. There is a world of difference in that.”

    I believe that is the beginning of addressing the tension of serving versus working for social change. If we take the time to walk with “the other,” to develop relationships, we soon realize that there is no “other,” and we begin to be invested in their lives and become natural “companions” who want to share our resources to work for change together!

    Recently, I came into contact with a local woman who exemplifies this magnificently. LaShawnda Crowe Storm is a community builder in Indianapolis, currently working in Marian’s own neighborhood, the Northwest Area, on a Quality of Life Plan. For more information, visit, www.nwqol.org.

    In the words of another who walks with the poor, “When asked how doI work with the poor,” Sr. Elaine Roulette, founder of My Mother’s house in New York responds, “You don’t. You share your life with the poor. It’s as basic as crying together. It is about ‘casting your lot’ before it ever becomes about ‘changing their lot.’

    May we grow in awareness that we are all one; that in sharing our time and eventually our lives with those who seem to have less access the basic “goods” of life—food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, that we are responding to Jesus gospel call to “love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mt. 22:39) and our own lives will be transformed alongside those we are seeking to serve.

  • Living Word: Which Brother are You?

    Oct 02, 2014


    Ginny Smith, School of Mathematics and Sciences administrator
    gsmith@marian.edu

    The last two Sundays of September’s gospel readings have been parables that transpired in the vineyard.  The vineyard in these teaching moments is symmetrical to the seasons of a Christian’s life.  A seed is planted in fertile ground, watered by the rain, nourished by the sun, pruned by human hand, blessed with bounty and then shrivel and lay dormant for another season. So too, our Christian lives are grounded in rich soil (the Church/Jesus) and God provides all the tools we need to become bountiful.  Our responsibility is to feed our souls daily with praise to the Father, humility, grace, compassion, patience and more.  Easier said than done – right?

    In this past Sunday’s gospel by Matthew (21:28-32), the story is about two brothers who are asked by their father to go into the vineyard and work.  The first brother said “No!”, but later went and did as his father asked.  The 2nd brother said ‘yes of course’, but never completed his father’s bidding.  The question is asked ‘which brother are You’?

    So I’m asking you which brother are You? Are you the self -righteous one or the obedient one? Do you let excuses live your life? Are you a hypocrite saying whatever anyone wants to hear, but never showing up?

    Are you impatient or critical of others because you think you can do it better or that you are smarter, faster, or prettier than another? Maybe it’s time for you to use the gifts God has blessed you with and I have 2 methods that can help you become more patient, less self-righteous and obedient to God’s will:

    1. Use the sign language for the word ‘patient’! Put your right hand in a fist with the thumb out. Slide your thumb downward across your lips toward your heart.  This sign will remind you to silence your lips, remembering what’s important and that all good things lead to your heart. A beautiful gesture!
    2. You are responsible for your own actions and reactions!  So when life gets frustrating, throw off the bad, the impatient, the self-righteousness, the pity, the anger…by throwing up your hands and saying “praise Jesus”. 
  • Being a Sister of St. Francis

    Oct 02, 2014


    By: Sr. Jean Marie Cleveland, O.S.F.

    During my senior year in high school, I felt a call to religious life.  Since I attended Little Flower Elementary School and Scecina Memorial High School and they were each taught by Sisters from Oldenburg, I decided to join them.  I did not know any other Sisters and appreciated the care and concern I felt they had for each other and for us students.  Little things like laughter, teasing, joy, and care made an impression on me.  I knew that they cared for us because they showed us through their actions in the classroom, in the halls, and everywhere we met.

    At Oldenburg we learned stories about St Francis and St Clare.  Most of their works had not been translated into English so did not have the major documents.  The translations began to happen after Vatican II asked Religious to go back to their roots and learn from them.  Gradually we became more and more familiar with Francis and Clare.  For example:  we did not know the San Damiano Crucifix, which all at Marian should recognize because it is in so many places.  It was in the Convent adjacent to the Saint Clare basilica in Assisi and was not available to the public until one of the Popes asked that it be put into the basilica so that the world would know it.

    Today I know so much more than I did when I was a senior.  I have had the opportunity to visit Assisi for a pilgrimage.  I have attended workshops and done reading about Franciscan life.  I know that Francis and Clare centered their lives on Jesus Christ and His Gospel message.  Franciscans treasure The Crib, The Cross, and The Eucharist.  Conversion, Poverty, Contemplation, and Minority are key characteristics we strive to adopt in our lives.

    We Oldenburg Franciscans have always tried to respond to the needs of the times.  Mother Theresa Hackelmeier came to America at age 24 because she heard a call to come to a small village to teach young German immigrant children.  Gradually the Sisters responded to needs in other rural areas around Oldenburg.  We branched out to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St Louis, and other cities.  Eventually we found ourselves in China, on the Crow, Cheyenne, and Navaho reservations and in Papua, New Guinea.  Several Sisters worked in South Korea and Africa.

    When the need arose, we trained Sisters to be social workers, counselors, pastoral workers, and nurses.  We ministered to prisoners and in inner city.  We taught teachers at Oldenburg beginning in 1851 and formed Marian College from St Francis Normal School and Immaculate Conception Junior College in 1936.  Marian College moved to Indianapolis in 1937 and located on the James Allison estate.  Today six Sisters are teachers or staff members at Marian.  Another seven Sisters serve on Marian’s Board of Trustees.

    When I became a Sister, there were not many careers which were open to women.  I chose to go to Oldenburg because I felt called to religious life and because I wanted to become a teacher.  I did not know that I would find a family which would be a support my whole life.  I did not know that I would teach with the teachers I had in school and would be the principal for some of them.  I did not know I would be a teacher, a principal, a pastoral associate, a parish life coordinator, a member of the leadership team for my community, involved in national organizations, and work at Marian.  I had no real idea that I would meet thousands of students and parishioners.  I did not know that I would grow to appreciate living in community and having friends of all ages.

    I had some idea of these things but did not realize what an impact they would have on my life.  I value the friends I have made in my life as a Sister of Saint Francis.  I thank God for a community with whom I can share prayer and dreams – sorrows and joys.  I thank God for each of you and how you impact my life today.

     
  • Whole Life: Centering Prayer

    Sep 24, 2014

    By: Karen Spear, Director of the Center for Organizational Ethics

    When I was in graduate school, my priest asked me how my coursework in theological ethics was affecting my faith. My response? "I feel as dry and desiccated as a bone." He invited me to join a small group of parishioners to whom he was teaching a prayer form called Centering Prayer. His invitation changed my life. I consider centering prayer one of the great gifts of my life.

    Centering Prayer a method of doing contemplative prayer. Many of us have probably experienced contemplative prayer in the context of deep personal prayer, saying the rosary, or kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. It is that deep peace and rest that comes upon us when we are focused on and content to abide in the presence of God.

    The method of centering prayer was formulated by Frs. Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington in the 1970s. In response to an invitation from Vatican II leaders, they developed centering prayer to revive the contemplative teachings of the early church and to make them accessible to modern believers. As such, centering prayer is thoroughly Christian and Catholic and is in no way derived from Eastern religion or Eastern mysticism.

    The practice of centering prayer is simple. We sit in silence for 20 minutes, focusing our minds on a "sacred word" that represents our intention to be present to God. The sacred word can be any word or very short phrase that signals our intent. It can be as simply as “Jesus” or “God” or “rest.” As we sit in silence with the sacred word, we will notice that our minds have wandered and we are thinking. When we become aware that we are thinking, we gently turn back to our sacred word. We continue to sit in this manner – focusing on the sacred word, finding we are thinking of something else, and gently returning to our word – for 20 minutes. As our bodies and our minds begin to slow down and become still, we experience a deep and restful peace and sense of well being. Our thoughts – while not ceasing – have slipped into the background of our mind as we rest in the presence of God.

    So why would anyone want to waste 20 minutes of their day sitting around doing nothing? The priest who taught me to center called his centering prayer practice "wasting time with God!" The immediate answer is that 20 minutes spent in the presence of God is good in and of itself. God has created us so that we get pleasure from being in God's presence - and it is deeply pleasant to rest in the presence of God during centering prayer.

    For me personally, centering prayer was like coming home. In centering I begin to let go of the judgments and expectations I put upon myself and others. I find that a daily practice of centering prayer helps to keep me a little closer to my "true self" and smooths out the rough edges of my personality (AKA, my "false self"). In short, through centering prayer I became aware that God loves me just as I am.

    It's important to note, however, that practicing centering prayer can be a difficult struggle, too. In deep prayer we become aware of our shortcomings. Furthermore, such deep prayer can also bring to light psychological issues. Indeed, Fr. Keating calls centering prayer to be "divine therapy." That is, it can be God's way of gently letting us know that we have work to do on ourselves. If you find the prayer bringing up troubling issues, it is best to seek professional psychological counseling or spiritual direction to help you deal with those issues.

    If you are interested in exploring centering prayer, a good place to learn and start to practice is in a centering prayer group. There are a number of centering prayer groups in Indianapolis and they are always happy to welcome new members.

    In an age in which the speed, stress, and human disconnection of daily living can leave us feeling "dry and desiccated," centering prayer can offer 20 minutes of silence and rest that reminds us that God is present to us always and we are accepted exactly as we are.


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