Spirituality

Thank a Sister

Sister Linda Fuselier was my first-grade teacher. It was 1969 at St. Ignatius Catholic School in Sacramento, California. I remember her round, smiling face greeting me every morning, her hair tucked modestly into her veil. She helped us learn how to go to Mass and say our prayers. She was just “Sister Linda,” the teacher I loved.

In January 2009, the Vatican informed the 59,000 American Catholic sisters in 341 religious orders that they would be subject to a two-year investigation or “visitation” into their “quality of life.” Communities of cloistered, contemplative nuns are not officially part of the investigation. (Apparently, it’s the active Christian life that has Rome agitated.) The Vatican has opened a parallel doctrinal investigation into the Leadership Council of Women Religious, an umbrella organization that represents 95 percent of U.S. Catholic women’s communities.

Due to bad historical press, the Vatican no longer refers to these investigations as inquisitions. Nonetheless, this scrutiny of American sisters undoubtedly is to interrogate women and suppress their perceived heresies. (Some sports just never go out of style.) “When women leaders visited Rome in April,” one Catholic sister told me, “some American clergy at the Vatican and some bishops in the U.S. were promoting the idea of the ‘visitation’ for nuns in the U.S. What is certain is that American Catholic sisters, as a body or as individual communities, didn’t ask for it.”

Catholic women religious were—and still are—my heroes. Sister Sheral taught me the beauty of singing to God, especially while sitting at a Thanksgiving dinner shared with hundreds of homeless men. Sister Joan exhibited Paul’s gifts of teaching and governance in her service to Catholic schools, while also taking in teen girls who needed a safe place to stay. Sister Nora, who taught me calculus in high school, was known as the “Mother Teresa of Sacramento” for her work with poor women.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Video Interview with Don Miller

Don Miller is the founder of The Mentoring Project and author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Miller spoke with assistant editor Jeannie Choi during Sojourners' Mobilization to End Poverty last April to share his vision to provide role models to the fatherless, and his practice of tithing as a spiritual discipline.

 

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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Solidarity and Retreat

Working to halt today’s intertwined social, ecological, and spiritual crises is a pressing task requiring more than ad-hoc activism. It requires a deep praxis flowing from a strong and healthy inner self. The famous ancient axiom “know thyself” has become crucial in a modern global society that barrages us with fragmented information that contributes to the construction of our similarly broken identities.

In Solitude and Compassion: The Path to the Heart of the Gospel, which consists of 20 chapters divided into three parts, Gus Gordon writes that “One of the fundamental dynamics we discover in human existence is the interplay and sometimes tension between solitude and solidarity.” He argues that both the Buddha’s and Jesus’ teachings foster a healthy balance between our inner self and concern for others. Through this comparative method, Gordon releases the powerful message of both teachers and the traditions their teachings spawned.

The Buddha taught that humanity’s life purpose was to find enlightenment through a lifetime of serious meditation, study, and solitude. Enlightened individuals understand clearly that all beings are interconnected in an impermanent universe. Thus, Gordon maintains that for Buddhists, “The spiritual path … begins with a period of retreat from the social world, like a wounded deer looking for a solitary, peaceful spot to heal her wounds.” This period is necessary for a Buddhist to develop the spiritual maturity required to effectively and positively impact the world.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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New and Noteworthy

Power of the Word

Like any life-sustaining resource, language can also become depleted and polluted, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre writes in Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies. She reflects on what it means to be good stewards of language, focusing on 12 practices that can revive and restore it. Eerdmans

Communion=Community

For writer Nora Gallagher, Holy Communion illustrates a web of people being continually stitched together. In The Sacred Meal, she reflects on her own experiences of Communion, includes a brief history of the practice, and presents various Christian perspectives on it. Thomas Nelson

Made for Relationship

For Living L’Arche: Stories of Compassion, Love and Disability, Azusa Pacific University psychology professor Kevin Reimer studied U.S. L’Arche communities for two years, asking questions about humanity and security, “downward mobility,” and “disability.” The result is a collection of stories that illustrate the transformative effects of compassionate love. Liturgical Press

Spiritual Awareness

Why do most of us feel spiritually imprisoned within ourselves? Why do our egos resist change? In The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, author and spiritual adviser Richard Rohr takes up these questions with love and directness—teaching us the difference between believing in God and experiencing God. Crossroad Publishing Company

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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