Dear Sisters and Friends,
Once again, I stand with our Benedictine community listening with the ear of my heart to the pain of another shameful death of a human person, our black brother, George Floyd. The tragedy of his senseless death and inhuman treatment touches our lives with intense outrage and heart-wrenching sadness.
The echo of his helpless cry haunts me. “I cannot breathe” landed on deaf ears. This obscenity resulted in his death by the hands of those pledged to protect him. We must hear this cry and change the course of this pattern of inhuman, cruel treatment. We must address its roots and plant the seeds for a future of justice, freedom and peacefulness for all people without excuse or delay.
In this time of Pentecost, I pray with confidence but with a heavy heart:
Come Holy Spirit, we are your people, who cannot breathe the breath of freedom and life these days. We need your presence to confront the horror that has infected our human spirit. We are sick with racist actions, with cruelty to one another, with ideologies of superiority and other kinds of self-centered motivations. This injustice and inequity towers in opposition of who we are and who you have called us to be. Stop us in this insane behavior. Show us our responsibility to make changes.
We need your help. We need your wisdom, your courage and your love to create a world where every man, woman and child can breathe freely the air of equality without fear or prejudice. You know where and why we have lost sight of your mandate to live in love. Lead us to face the truths of our destructive decisions; to understand the messages inherent in your creation of diversity and our oneness in the collective body of humanity. Give us the insight of your Spirit to see as you see and to love as you love. Restore our original blessing of only goodness and loving kindness.
Forgive us. Help us to continue to untangle the threads of oppression in the systems of our society and the arrogance of our hearts to realize freedom and justice for everyone. Make us bear witness to our common human identity. Help us transform all forces contrary to peace. Bless us with the vision to bring true renewal and commitment to effect justice.
We are one; created in your love. We are your people; all of us. Heal our wounds and make us a healthy nation. Help us to live with the strength of your blessing that has the power to re-create the face of the earth. Amen.
I invite you to join me in solidarity to pray that we become a more inclusive and responsive human community dominated only by love and care for one another. My prayer and sympathy goes out to the family of George Floyd and the whole Black Community. May our openness to the gifts of the Spirit be a source of strength to destroy evil and bring about good. May the joy of the Spirit find its ways into our lives once again.
United in the Spirit,
Susan Rudolph, OSB
Prioress, St. Benedict’s Monastery
The Benedictines of St. Walburg Monastery in Villa Hill, Kentucky, have been active in peace making activities through a number of initiatives, working and praying in cooperation with other religious sisters in the area. These include:
*Bi-monthly Peace Prayer Vigil at a city park
*Annual visit with the men on Kentucky’s death row
*Participation in Northern Kentucky Justice & Peace Committee
*Advocacy, especially about immigration and environmental justice, through
letter-writing and rallies
*Funding of assistance to ICE detainees for bonds, legal fees, and family support
*Participation in Mexican border trips with presentations and fund-raising at home.
On November 15, 2008, the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery erected a Peace pole with four languages: Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and English.
This fall a Peace Pole with eight languages was installed and blessed by the sisters living in our retirement community of St. Scholastica Convent in St. Cloud.
The additional languages represented the countries of the employees and volunteers who work at St. Scholastica Convent.
The Peace and Justice Committee at Holy Name Monastery in St. Leo, FL encouraged all the sisters and volunteers to wear orange on June 7 which is designated as Gun Violence Awareness Day as a way to show support for groups working toward an end to gun violence. The color orange is used because it is worn by hunters to protect themselves. There are more guns than people in the United States. “We’ve seen too many shootings and too often lately” said Sr. Mary David. “We, Benedictine Sisters of Florida do what we can – pray, sign petitions, call legislators, wear orange.”
The sisters at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN made a similar statement the first weekend in June. In collaboration with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the sisters wore orange. They also hung posters in the monastery buildings to promote information and encouraged others to wear orange. On Sunday they set up a table in the monastery gathering space so people coming to Sunday Eucharist had access to information about the movement.
The Benedictine Sisters of Florida celebrated Earth Day, April 22, at sunset with a brief prayer service out by our fountain and fire. Our corporate commitment to “feed hungers” is related to Earth Day — the fact is global warming and food insecurity are connected. Lack of care for the earth affects the poor and causes hunger. The Rule of Benedict tells us to treat all as a gift from God — the earth is that gift and is to be cared for and shared with all. Lack of care /support for others is what causes war/violence, so Earth Day is also related to Peace/Justice.
At the end of our vigil, we signed petitions to our Senators regarding supporting the Green New Deal and legislation that moves USA to renewable energy.
BACK FROM THE BRINK: THE CALL TO PREVENT NUCLEAR WAR is a national grassroots initiative seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy and lead us away from the dangerous path we are on. The Call lays out five common-sense steps that the United States should take to reform its nuclear policy. More information can be found at www.preventnuclearwar.org.
Campaign Nonviolence is a week-long series of actions by thousands of volunteers in hundreds of communities across the nation. Its goal is to express the most creative and unstoppable force for change in the history of humanity, the force of nonviolence. Together we are caring, sharing,C and making a new world.
Beginning on September 15, the week culminates in a rally and march from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the White House on Saturday, September 22. Campaign Nonviolence is a project of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service. www.paceebene.org
National Benedictines For Peace is one of the many organizations around the country sponsoring Campaign Nonviolence.
There is a sickness of the soul in our political life, as the Poor People’s Campaign says, and it will take all of us to heal it.
The blessing that my religious community, Mount St. Scholastica, gave me and a long-time, hands-on involvement in justice issues led me to the Poor People’s Campaign in Topeka, KS, for my first-ever arrest. I drove to Topeka with a support person the first two Mondays of the campaign and on the second Monday, May 21, was arrested around noon for “occupying” a conference room at the office of Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kobach is the architect of voter suppression in Kansas and, increasingly, in other states. Some 18,000 Kansans have been unable to register to vote at a motor vehicle bureau because Kobach’s regulations require showing a birth certificate or passport to register. Since 1990, from my work in Wyandotte County, I’ve been aware of Kobach’s distrust of the entire community of persons with a Spanish-speaking background in this country.
On May 21, handcuffed with a thick plastic tie, my hands back to back, I was led from the conference room single file with the 17 others arrested, none of whom I knew, to a waiting bus. A good-sized crowd cheered us on.
Eventually our information was taken down by hand by the Kansas Highway Patrol. The body search was quick but thorough. Only shoes and socks had to be removed. The fourteen of us women were put in a holding cell with a wooden bench on two sides that could hold 13 of us at a time. We took turns standing or sitting on the floor. After several hours during which we got to know each other a bit, a meal was served, but I chose to skip it.
Finally they started to call us for additional processing—photos, fingerprinting, questioning, and paperwork—during which we waited some more. We were released individually after processing. I hope my ten hours in detention will count as time served.
My civil disobedience became a vocation (a calling) within a vocation. There’s an element of mystery, a spiritual dimension, to why I did the action. Many great persons have spent time in jail: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Wangari Maathai (a college friend of mine who won the Nobel Prize in 2004 for the tree-planting movement in Kenya).
The deportations going on right now, in the United States, divide family members. Parents are deported; children are put in juvenile detention centers and can’t get out. Recently, within two weeks, 600 children were separated from their families. This evil cries out for resistance.
People tend not to understand civil disobedience. It is elusive to define. It is done publicly. It is done nonviolently. And people who do it expect consequences from the law. I believe the Poor People’s Campaign, using civil disobedience, may be needed more now than when Martin Luther King began it in 1967.
—Sister Barbara McCracken of Atchison, KS, at age 78 was “by far the oldest resister” in Topeka May 21, she says. A long-time PeaceWorks-KC member, her work in Kansas City, KS, included teaching at Donnelly College; staffing Shalom Catholic Worker House for the homeless; ministering to prisoners; and being assistant director of Keeler Women’s Center. She still visits prisoners and helps keep her community’s investments aligned with its commitment to justice and peace.