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Read Sister Joan's commentary on exclusion in the name of God.
The worst of religious sins
"A time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane, they will attack him saying, 'You are insane because you are not like us.'"
 —Abbot Antony of Egypt, pioneer of Western monasticism, feast day, January 17

Never doubt for a minute that “keeping up with the Joneses” is not as much a religious phenomenon as it is an economic one. Being like the people we want to have like us is a social phenomenon of major proportions. Grounded in fear or greed, it can cause whole populations to shift social behaviors like schools of fish change direction.
 
Social psychologists call it “herd behavior” or the “mob mentality” and have been studying facets of it since the nineteenth century. No one knows better than economists the dangers of it now. And no small part of it happens in religion. Because some people begin to predict the end of the world, other people set calendar dates for a world catastrophe and stack their backyard bunkers with supplies enough to last for years. Worse still, religious madness may well be more engrained in social thought than other social ills. The witch burnings in the United States—the executions of women for “consorting with the devil”—completely belie the very founding ideals of the country. Suppression of religious freedom throughout the world exposes the grain of ignorance that runs through every society that claims concern about God. The attacks on churches in the Middle East, the tribal wars in Africa, the laws of exclusion that followed the great wars of religion in Europe right up to the twentieth century, are clear proof that we have all sinned. We name “differences” madness and make mad attempts to stamp out the other.
 
But the Desert Monastics, the most “catholic” of Catholics in an age of pristine revelation, would have none of it. Abba Antony brooks no doubt: Exclusion in the name of God is the very worst of religious sins. God speaks in many tongues and to every color and age of people. It is not ours to decide where God’s favor lies.
 
In God's Holy Light: Wisdom From the Desert Monastics by Joan ChittisterBut is it ours to see as a spiritual task the obligation to come to our own opinions. We are not to buy thought cheaply. We are not to attach ourselves to someone else’s decisions like pilot fish and simply go with the crowd. We are meant to be thinking Christians.
 
 "A time is coming when people will be insane, and when they see someone who is not insane, they will attack him saying, 'You are insane because you are not like us.'"
 
—from In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics by Joan Chittister (Franciscan Media)
 

What's New: January 11, 2016

LENT OFFERINGS:We have two Lenten possibilities by Joan Chittister—one print and one digital—to help observe the season.

Print Resource: “Now I have a reason to look forward to Lent,” wrote Andrea from Redford, MI. And Charles from Apache Junction, AZ emailed, “Thank you so much for making these wonderful resources available at such an affordable rate! God bless you.” Both of them were responding to the new Lenten resource, Mercy, Misericordia by Joan Chittister which you can purchase for $3. For more info, click here.
 
Web Resource: Did you know that Irish singer-songwriter Bono once wrote an introduction to a book on the psalms in which he compared them to the blues and noted, “The Book of Psalms is the most read book in the Bible. It is also the Old Testament book that Jesus quoted most—11 times—during his lifetime.” Sister Joan Chittister also loves the psalms and is offering a Lenten eRetreat, Songs for Lent, on them. For more info, click here
  
Two Dogs and a Parrot: What Animal Froends Can Teach Us About the Meaning of LifeNEW REVIEW:Contemplative Life Bookstore recently highlighted and encouraged its membership to consider Joan Chittister’s latest book, Two Dogs and a Parrot: What Our Animal Friends Can Teach Us About Life (Blue Bridge).  The review read in part, “Whether we have an animal companion, wish to live with a pet or know someone who does, or cherish the animal world and nature, this book is for you (or would make an excellent gift).” Click here to order.
SOUL POINT:“I’d rather die young, having lived a life crammed with meaning, than to die old, even in security, but without meaning.”
—Mev Puleo, witness of solidarity, died Jan. 12,1996 at the age of 32. 

To read more about this remarkable friend of the poor, click here.
BIO PODCAST:NPR correspondent, award-winning author, and poet Judith Valente interviewed Tom Roberts recently on his new biography, Joan Chittister: From Certainty to Faith. The interview aired last week on WGLT Radio, the National Public Radio affiliate in central Illinois and went out to other Illinois public radio stations. To listen, click here
POEM OF THE WEEK:This Gaelic blessing poem by John O’Donahue was recently featured on Krista Tippett’s weekly podcast “On Being.” To view a video of the author reading the poem, click here.  

Beannacht: A New Year’s Blessing
 
For Josie
 
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
 
And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
 
When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
 
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
 
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
 
—John O’Donahue
 
[Note: "Beannacht" is the Gaelic word for "blessing." A "currach" is a large boat used on the west coast of Ireland.]
  
FROM OUR READERS:Ed Note:  If you still need a late Christmas or New Year's gift, consider The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister that arrives every month either in print or digital form. Here are two notes from subscribers who receive the digital verso, including a license that enables them to forward it to others. For more information and to subscribe, click here.

This (The Monastic Way) will be forwarded to over 40 people and churches per month.
–Fr. Jim, clergy community coordinator, Rosecance Behavior Health
 
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We LOVE having a short, 21st century, reflective moment each day. Many, many, thanks to you all who make this happen for us each year - Joan, the artists, the email manager, the money manager, the coffee makers, the website fixer uppers, all of you. Peace. –Christine C., Melbourne Australia
 

Compiled by Mary Lou Kownacki and Benetvision Staff

Mercy Misericordia: Joan Chittister Lent 2016




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