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What Shall We Do With Our Hearts?

“What do we do with our hearts, confronted daily as we are with so much suffering of our world?”  I ask this question often as I listen to others speak about countless numbers of people and places battered by hurricanes, fires, floods, drought, and the unleashing of senseless violence, deadly prejudice and pervasive injustice. I hear in us a felt sense of compassion.  I realize that we live in a time of great loss and chaos, and find myself grieving so much destruction by human hands. I feel deep angst about the dangerous planetary crisis we humans have already precipitated, and wonder what we might do next.

I’m remembering a movie I saw some years ago, “Life is Beautiful”, in which a Jewish father uses his loving imagination to keep life beautiful for his young son in the midst of the Nazi takeover of their lives.

This is a similar time for me, and I want to learn to take the angst I feel, and lift it to a place of transformation. Perhaps this is a time for us to find one another, a time to remember that we belong to each other and that together we can change the story in which we find ourselves living. It is a time to remember that we are surrounded by love and beauty, and can open our hearts to others and invite them in.

May we find one another and come together to share the work of our hearts–our fears and dreams, our needs and our visions.  May we find hope and strength as we imagine together “the world we know is possible” and work together and encourage one another to build that world right now wherever we are.  May we deeply know that each of us is beautiful and is created to enjoy beauty and create beauty.  May we surrender to the beauty and wisdom of our generous Earth, and be strengthened in the joy and gratitude which will arise from living consciously within the embrace of our human/earth community.

Reflection and Artwork by Sr. Mary Southard, CSJ (used with permission)
Mary Southard Art



The Holy Act of Singing

Have you ever participated in a crowd of people singing what they know and love?

On July 1st at parliament hill, the nation sang together in real time. Some standing on the grounds of our capital, others singing over the internet with astronaut Chris Hadfield and Ed Robertson of the Bare Naked Ladies – Is Someone Singing? It was electrifying! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeEctN8sA0c

This summer I attend a conference where every evening over 700 people gathered in song. It too was electrifying! This annual gathering of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, had just over 200 people registered. So where did all the other folks come from?

Well, during the day we enjoyed the facilities of Conrad Grebel College in Waterloo, and at night we were bused to various churches within the Waterloo/Kitchener area, and the local folks just came out in throngs. I must give credit to the strong singing tradition of the Mennonite and Lutheran communities in that area. If you love to sing hymns, you just are drawn to places where you can feel comfortable doing so. The next link is not professionally recorded, but you can see the size and participation of the group.


The Hymn Society has this attitude about why we sing: “Because we believe that the holy act of singing together shapes faith, heals brokenness, transforms lives, and renews peace.” I well imagine that the same thoughts were bubbling up in the minds of the advocates of congregational song during the discussions at Vatican II, when we Catholics experienced a shift toward encouraging everyone in the assembly to sing. The breath of the Spirit weaving together the voices of people longing for mercy, justice and compassion in our world.

This year we mark the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s call for reform of the Church. He was also a musician and composer, recognized that singing be taught in schools and encouraged a renewed energy in community song. There are so many groups celebrating Luther’s movement, reflecting on his insights, researching his influence, and recognizing the deepening of faith that is achieved in song.

You may want to listen to a lecture by Fr. Anthony Ruff, Protestants and Catholics Singing together: Rich Traditions, Challenging Future. https://www.kings.uwo.ca/campus-ministry/veritas-series/

And finally may I encourage you to check out events in your local area:

St. Paul’s Cathedral London Ontario: http://www.easternsynod.org/event/2017-10-22-190000-500th-anniversary-reformation-lecture

Blog submitted by Loretta Manzara, CSJ, musician, liturgist. “Strong congregational singing makes my heart dance and my spirit soar with gratitude for what God is doing among us.”




Weekly Pause & Ponder

The mind is conditioned by either/or, by this or that. To enter the place where unconditional love resides, you have to let go of subject/object, self, and other. Polarity functions beautifully in the physics of linear reality. But higher reason dissolves the limited functionality of polarity in favour of a reality that is based upon interconnection, interdependence and interpenetration and unity.

The Conscious Activist: Where Activism Meets Mysticism by James O’Dea p. 84


The Thames River is a Person

On October 10, 2017, CBC radio host, Anna Marie Tremanti’s presented a segment entitled “Colorado River: Should the river have the same legal rights as a person”.  A lawyer, Jason Flores Williams, on behalf of an environmental group has asked a judge to grant to the Colorado River the same legal rights as a person.  Mr. Williams stated in the interview with Tremanti, that states and corporations are legal “persons”.  The Corporate “persons” use the finite resources for their own interests, these same resources upon which all of us depend. Existing laws to protect nature are inadequate to prevent degradation of the environment and loss of many species of plants and animals. If the Colorado River is deemed to be a legal person, entitled to be represented by a guardian, this ecosystem upon which the population depends can go to court to protect itself from injuries inflicted by all-powerful governments and corporations. Already, the overuse of the Colorado has been such that this former great river no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  Corporations have sufficient wealth to influence governments into issuing permits for fifty-million-dollar water bottling plants. But new forces are instituting change.  Three dozen communities in the United States have statutes proclaiming the rights of natural entities. Similar laws in New Zealand, Equator, Bolivia, Columbia and India have been passed and upheld.  

David Boyd, and environmental lawyer from Pender Island, BC, is the author of The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World.  Boyd notes that Indigenous peoples think of nature as having human qualities. In Manitoba, aboriginal people speak of Lake Winnipeg having a spirit which is crying for help.  Boyd comments that we treat nature as property which is either privately owned or the property of government.  Indigenous people speak of connections among all nature – "all our relations”.   We are facing the meltdown of our planet with massive decreases in animals and plants. We are on the verge of the 6th mass extinction of earth in the four and a half billion years of our history.  Concerns of communities about fracking and bottling water abound. Countries, such as Equator, have established that nature has constitutional rights as a legal person.

David Boyd states that unless we develop a different perspective in our relationship with nature the degradation will continue rapidly. We need to transform our view: “Nature is a community to which we belong, not a commodity which we own.”

The radio program hosted by Anna Marie Tremanti The Colorado River, can be accessed at CBC, “The Current”, October 10, 2017.  The audio presentation is worth nineteen minutes of listening.

Pat McKeon, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.

Barry Neil Kaufman.  www.google.ca


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.