Shared from Passionist JPIC Australia
The recent US elections confronted me with the reality of political and religious fanaticism as I’ve never been confronted before. Even family members and friends seemed to blindly believe the slogans and online propaganda, to the point of getting upset and defensive when I tried to challenge their beliefs. I found it hard to comprehend that people could reject facts, reason, common sense to defend Trump or the conservative and narrow Catholic view of who Catholics should all vote for and support. As a result, now the dust has settled a little, I thought I’d try to explore in this blog article something of the psychology behind fanaticism.
Merely technical solutions run the risk of addressing symptoms and not the more serious underlying problems. There is a need to respect the rights of peoples and cultures, and to appreciate that the development of a social group presupposes an historical process which takes place within a cultural context and demands the constant and active involvement of local people from within their proper culture. Nor can the notion of the quality of life be imposed from without, for quality of life must be understood within the world of symbols and customs proper to each human group. Laudato Si', Pope Francis, 2015, Chapter 4, #144.
Are there connections between systemic racism and environmental threats and degradation?
In Lessons for Catholics from the life of Hazel Johnson, Mother of environmental justice," National Catholic Reporter's EarthBeat marked the end of Black History Month with a profile of Hazel Johnson, a Black woman who left an indelible mark on national environmental policy while remaining deeply rooted in Altgeld Gardens, the southeast Chicago neighborhood where she spent her life fighting polluters.
Johnson, who died in January 2011, is considered the mother of the U.S. environmental justice movement. She is known for her relentless battle against the evil that surrounded her neighborhood in the form of toxic dumps, lead paint and other pollution that sickened her neighbors and shortened their lives.
This first week of Lent, St. Paul of the Cross Province met virtually via Zoom for their Annual Assembly. The following statement, crafted by the Province to discuss Mission, describes the Emerging Charism of the Passionists, and seems so perfect for Lent:
"Who are today’s crucified?
As Passionists, what we do is remember. We remember what was done to Jesus in his Passion, and we stand with every living being today who is experiencing their own crucifixion.
So while we cannot state that ‘This is what we do’, we can affirm that ‘This is what we believe’ - we are thinking, living, and praying into a future where we will meet the crucified in ways never imagined. Ours is an emerging charism."
The new website of St. Paul of the Cross province is full of good news. The website coincides with the announcement of a major project that presents a creative and exciting movement for the province and its retreat center in Jamaica, NY. On February 26th, ground was broken for Thomas Berry Place. As the Passionists celebrate our 300th Anniversary year, the province reimagined the former Bishop Molloy Retreat House into a new Passionist Center that fulfills their re-focused mission, creates new partnerships, and offers new, mission-based utilization of the renovated physical spaces to meet the needs of our greater community. See more about Thomas Berry Place and the capital plan to fund it here. You can view the groundbreaking ceremony on that page as well.
Walking with the Crucified - Thomas Berry Place will include the Reconnect Brooklyn ministries founded in Brooklyn to engage young people looking for a positive life change, the program creates social enterprise business to employ youth and teach life skills as well as assisting with next steps in life. Reconnect now resides and is expanding into our Jamaica, NY retreat house located in the Passionist’s Thomas Berry Place in order to deepen the impact on young people’s lives. Here they will not only continue to expand their external business endeavors such as their printing and graphics shop, reopen the Reconnect Bakery but also be part of "fabric" of the renewed retreat house. Here they will tend to the organic and hydroponic gardens, help maintain the house and grounds and be part of live retreats.
Justice for the Earth - St. Gabriel’s Church in Toronto is designed on the principles of Fr. Thomas Berry, C.P. It was constructed in 2006, the church is the first in Canada to receive LEED Gold certification. The church has also created a community garden that supplies other ministries with fresh produce. The Passionists in Toronto are also engaging in a Synodality process that will help define and grow the mission and work of the Passionist Family there, with focus on Laudato Si' and integral ecology.
Passionists embrace solar power
This fifth anniversary year of Laudato Si’ has been a time of reflection and accountability. Father Jim O’Shea, CP, provincial for the Passionists of the St. Paul of the Cross Province, and Page Gravely of Catholic Energies, recount their collaboration to plan and implement a series of major solar power installations at Passionist properties in the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Fr. Jim explains, “Our legacy will include the visual witness that we tried to do something about climate change. The Passionists have now created their own story about acting on our beliefs, a story we hope will only motivate others as well.” Read the full story here.
Click here if you are interested in learning more about solar power and Catholic Energies, a program of the Catholic Climate Covenant that works with Catholic organizations to implement solar energy.