Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

A Holocaust Survivor Learns to Forgive
January 4, 2010

No, not that Holocaust; rather, the one that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. The Rwandan Holocaust lasted only 91 days, but claimed almost a million lives. This is the story of Immaculée Ilibagiza, a young Tutsi woman, who survived the genocide perpetrated by the Hutu tribe by hiding for 91 days in a bathroom with 7 other women. This is one of the most moving stories you’ll ever hear, and one that could have ripple effects throughout the entire world – if only we would listen.

Immaculée was a college student in April 1994 who was home for Easter vacation when the plane carrying the (Hutu) President of Rwanda was shot down. Immediately the Hutus sought revenge against their Tutsi neighbors, most of whom they had lived with and been friends with for years. The Hutus comprised about 80% of the population and the Tutsis about 20%, but the Tutsis were the better educated of the two tribes and had good jobs and standards of living. (This is more likely the real cause of the genocide: envy.) Immaculée’s parents were both teachers, well-respected in their village, and had always been helpful and kind to their Hutu neighbors. But there would be no mercy for them when the Hutus stormed their home.

As Immaculée describes in her book, Left to Tell (read 421 Amazon customer comments, average 5 star rating), when the genocide began, her parents ordered her to run to a minister’s house 3 miles away and ask him for protection. Immaculée’s parents, two brothers, and grandparents were all slaughtered by the Hutus. One brother survived because he was studying outside the country. The minister who sheltered Immaculée (and 7 other Tutsi women) in a 3′ by 4′ bathroom for 91 days was not only a Hutu, but also a Protestant minister (Immaculée and her family are Catholics).

This calls to mind the parable of the Good Samaritan, where we are called to assist our neighbor in trouble, regardless of tribal, religious or ethnic affiliation. If the minister had been caught harboring Tutsis, both he and his family, along with the 8 Tutsi women, would have all been killed.

This is not only a story of survival amidst unspeakable horror, it’s also an inspiring story of faith, love, and forgiveness. In her book, Led by Faith: Rising From the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide, Immaculée describes how she was spiritually transformed during those 91 days of terror by turning to her faith in God and meditating on the words of the Lord’s Prayer:

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

For me, this is the most amazing part of the story. Immaculée later sought out the man who had killed her family and offered him her forgiveness. She asked him why he had done it, and he replied that they had all been promised banana plantations and riches if they would slaughter all the Tutsis. Instead, he ended up spending 11 years in prison, and lost everything he had. Immaculée is now married with 2 children, is a motivational speaker, and the author of 4 books on the genocide. She has appeared on CNN, 60 Minutes, EWTN, and many other forums. Always her message is of forgiveness and reconciliation.

This brings to mind other survivors of Holocausts and the very different ways they have reacted. Without mentioning any names, there are those who still live on the bitterness and hatred, and who pass that sentiment onto their descendants. Regardless of whether the most famous Holocaust happened as has been purported, there were human rights abuses committed during World War II, and millions of people were killed – not only those of a certain group. The tens of millions of Russians who were worked, frozen and shot to death by the Communists have never gotten justice. Their story has rarely ever been told and most in the West have no idea it even happened. Some Holocausts are more equal than others.

We have all been victims of injustice, either as individuals or as groups, in one form or another. But perpetuating the hatred only leads to more violence, and on and on it goes. I hope the story of Immaculée’s survival, and her message of forgiveness, will inspire people to forgive those who have trespassed against them – and to work for peace on earth. Forgiveness does not mean no justice, it just means you don’t continue the cycle of violence. Peace.

[Read her blog here.]

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Sister/Doctor Teresa Forcades Warns Against Flu Vaccine
November 8, 2009

Sister Teresa Forcades is a Benedictine nun who also happens to be a physician specializing in internal medicine. She also has a Ph.D. in Public Health as well as a degree in theology from Harvard. So she’s obviously an extremely intelligent and well-educated woman, highly qualified to speak out against a medical crime against humanity. She herself admits that if she were still practicing medicine in a hospital setting (in other words, for money) she might not be brave enough to speak out against the medical/pharmaceutical cartel. But as a nun, she has no personal stake in maintaining the status quo (in other words, money) and can use her medical knowledge as a spiritual work of mercy. I think it’s of paramount importance that anyone considering getting the flu vaccine listen to what Sister (Doctor) Teresa has to say. As she says in the video “money cannot buy health or life.”

Sister Teresa explains that in February 2009, the pharmaceutical giant Baxter sent 72 kg. of the seasonal flu vaccine to 16 labs in Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany to be distributed to the populations in the next two months. But thanks to the scrupulosity of one Czech hero who worked as a lab techician, an evil, genocidal plan was uncovered. This Czech lab tech decided to run a test on the vaccine material received from Baxter by injecting the material into ferrets in the lab. All the ferrets died from the vaccine.

Only then was it discovered that live Avian (Bird) flu virus was mixed in with the seasonal flu vaccine sent from Baxter pharmaceutical. This would have had the effect of creating a new virus by recombining the seasonal flu virus with the Avian flu which would have produced a highly contagious, highly lethal vaccine. Once this vaccine was innoculated in the general public, being both highly contagious and highly lethal, well, you get the picture. Only due to the extra efforts of a single Czech lab tech, was a catastrophe of epic proportions averted. Sister Teresa asks why this explosive news was not covered by the media or the politicians. By the way, she says that it is virtually impossible that this was an accident, given the extremely high standards employed in laboratories, and for 2 virii to be found mixed together like that is just inconceivable as an accident. It was a deliberate contamination of vaccines that were to be administered to the general public.  She even says that one must assume malicious intent, given the series of extraordinary coincidences which would have been necessary for this to have been an accident.

Are you getting the picture? They had the vaccines all set to be shot into people’s arms, but a single Czech lab tech literally saved the world. Their nefarious plan was foiled. But the next “irregularity” she notes is that the World Health Organization (WHO) has changed the definition of a pandemic from a highly contagious infectious disease present in multiple countries with a high mortality rate, to just an infectious disease present in multiple countries. In other words, if only a few people in several countries have the same virus or symptoms (since they’re no longer verifying in labs whether patients even have the A-H1N1 virus anymore), then it’s a pandemic even if relatively few people are dying. Why is this significant? Because, says Sister Teresa, the WHO changed their regulations in 2005 stating that in the case of a global pandemic, the WHO can override national sovereignty and order countries to take certain measures with their populations. Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, declared in June that the swine flu is now a pandemic – even though hardly anyone has died. The WHO is an arm of the United Nations. So it appears that they’ve decided to go ahead with the “global pandemic” scenario anyway, the way they had planned it when they thought the lethal vaccines were going to be administered. More on this later. (more…)

Tracy Chapman – For You
July 3, 2009

For You (Lyrics)

Hat tip KW

Forgiveness
June 7, 2009

 

Learning to forgive those who have caused us irreparable harm can be one of the hardest things to do in life. But with God’s grace, it can be done, even after many years of suffering. It’s liberating to let go of the hurt and anger, even if those who have hurt us refuse to recognize the harm they’ve caused. But in forgiving them, we reclaim our power and refuse to be victims any longer.  And as the Good Book says: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those … you know the rest.

But learning to forgive yourself? Now that’s a different story. That’s a horse of a different color. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

But why shouldn’t we give ourselves the same gift we give to others when we forgive their trespasses against us? After all, what’s done is done. We can’t go back. If we could, we would all have done some things differently, but that is not an option. But we can grow spiritually from our mistakes, and become compassionate towards others who who fallen by the side of the road. Especially those who have made the same mistakes that we made. And we can even try to help others not to make those same mistakes. But if they do, as some inevitably will, we can be there for them to help them heal and grow, and learn to forgive themselves. We can reclaim our long lost innocence and become healing angels.

And best of all, we become less judgmental of our fellow human beings, knowing that we also needed God’s forgiveness. We recognize how easy it is to take a wrong turn in life and end up all alone, wounded and bleeding by the side of the road. But we’re really not all alone after all, since God is always with us. And in a special way, the masses of wounded souls who plod along with heavy crosses are also with us in spirit. We’re the ones Christ came to die for; we’re even the ones He hung out with. We’re the Magdelenes, ever grateful for that second chance.

And we will not be judged. Nor will we  judge. We will only love and offer compassion. And empathy. And forgiveness.

We have forgiven ourselves.

We are free.

[SONG for us Magdelenes]

Prayer of St. Francis by Sarah McLachlan
April 30, 2009

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
February 24, 2009

 

O God who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession; that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among her Saints by Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.  –   Imprimatur: Most Rev. Bernard Hubert, Bishop of Saint Jean de Québec  

 

Dorothy Day: My Kind of Saint
January 12, 2009

 

dorothy-day-with-cigAlthough she is famous for saying “Don’t call me a saint,” many consider Dorothy Day the kind of saint that sinners like us can relate to.

Dorothy Day was born in New York City in 1897 and died there in 1980, having lived the kind of full and amazing life that  most of us could only dream of. She accomplished more in her life than almost anyone else in the 20th Century, comparable only to Mother Teresa herself (who, by the way, was an admirer of Dorothy Day, too!). But very much unlike Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day was a woman with a past. I think that’s why so many of us can relate to her in a way that we can’t with Mother Teresa. Everyone admires Mother Teresa, including non-Catholics and even atheists, but we all know that we could never reach her heights. But with Dorothy, it’s different. She makes us feel like we could do what she did, even with our own pasts.

Before she became a Catholic in 1927, she had been a Suffragette, a writer, a common-law wife, a single mother, an anarchist, friend of Eugene O’Neill, anti-war protester (for which she spent time in jail), and yes, truth be told, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.  No boring layabout, she.

Mind you, that was before she became a Catholic. Dorothy Day was, of course, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement  (along with Peter Maurin), which sounds eerily similar to the movement in which she first started out, but was, in fact, a rejection of that anti-Christ movement. But like many young, well-intentioned intellectuals in Depression-era New York, she was attracted to the social justice platforms of the Communist Party. But later she came to realize that Marx’s philosophy amounted to a different kind of exploitation of the worker. She rejected Marx’s rejection of Christianity and his calls for violent revolution, becoming completely committed to peaceful, non-violent activism, although she always remained an anarchist. (She later became an ardent supporter of Distributism.) She started a newspaper called, of course, The Catholic Worker, which sold for one penny and – believe it or not – still sells for one penny today.

Today there are more than 185 Catholic Worker communities around the world whose motto remains:

We are committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms.

I’ve been thinking so much about her lately because of the horrible violence in Gaza, and I’ve been wondering what she would say. I needn’t have wondered long. I found the website of the Washington, DC Catholic Worker Movement, and I should have guessed that they’d be right on top of it. Their website screams in capital letters: GAZA EMERGENCY, STOP THE KILLING NOW! Ol’ Dorothy would be proud. 

But it would be a mistake to consider her a liberal with the connotation that word carries today. We have all, even Catholics, become brainwashed into thinking that there are only two political points of view, liberal and conservative, and that we must fit ourselves neatly into one category or the other. But that is not correct – and that is definitely not Catholic. Before the 1970s, most Catholics were loyal Democrats, since the Catholic Church teaches us to care for the poor, the downtrodden, the marginalized and the victim. In other words, we have not been infected with Calvinism, which teaches that Jesus came so that we could have financial blessings (in contradiction to the Sermon on the Mount). By that vision, the poor are obviously not beloved of God and have obviously done something to deserve their fate. But that is not what Jesus taught. Dorothy herself wrote that she became attracted to the Catholic Church precisely because it was “the Church of the poor and the immigrant.” But when the Democrat party embraced the Culture of Death, Catholics headed to the Right. But only for the “life issues,” not for the vulture capitalism. Dorothy herself never belonged to a political party (other than the Communist Party, but we already talked about that!).

And there is no doubt that Dorothy Day was opposed to abortion, and not only because that’s the Church’s position. She learned the hard way that abortion is evil because before she eventually had her daughter, she had an abortion herself. Until the day she died, she always described the abortion as “the great tragedy of my life.” Unfortunately, people who are opposed to war, violence, racism, exploitation of the poor, the greed of the rich, capitalistic medicine, and other social evils are considered liberals or leftists, and it is assumed that they must be pro-abortion.  But Christians can never consider abortion a form of social justice because the unborn child is the most vulnerable and deserving of civil rights. After all, if you don’t have the right to life, all other civil rights are moot. Abortion isn’t liberal, it’s evil, and Dorothy never failed to speak out against it.

Dorothy also had mixed feelings about Vatican II. She liked the emphasis on “the preferential option for the poor,” but she lamented the changes in the liturgy.  So the idea that Catholics who fight for social justice are also big fans of the “clown Mass” is completely erroneous, too. Dorothy Day was a traditionalist, especially when it came to the liturgy. And that’s why Dorothy Day is my role model; because she appreciated tradition but also the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The two are actually supposed to go together! Too many Traditional Catholics today care only for the Latin Mass, no meat on Fridays, and women wearing veils, but have forgotten about those works of mercy. But those works of mercy are as Catholic as the Latin Mass.

Dorothy Day is a saint for us sinners because she herself had made the big mistakes. She also graduated from the school of hard knocks. She even attempted suicide. Anything we could have done, she’s already been there and done that. But she pulled herself together, found the Catholic faith, and the rest is, as they say, history. Dorothy Day still lives on in the Catholic Workers around the world, in her several autobiographies (she was a writer, after all!), and even in the movie made about her life. The movie is called Entertaining Angels from 1996, and the title is apropos for her. It comes from the book of Hebrews 13:1-2:

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Cynthia McKinney, You GO, Girl!
December 31, 2008


God bless Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for standing up to the Israeli terrorists in defense of the people of Gaza. This incident, in which the Israeli Navy tried to sink an unarmed mercy boat, is eerily similar to the deliberate, sustained attack by Israel on the USS Liberty in 1967. Major kudos to Cynthia McKinney for bringing up the attack on the USS Liberty! She is a true American heroine. Meanwhile, all we hear is crickets from the President-elect.

***Update: According to wiki, Ms. McKinney is Roman Catholic!

Chick Song for the Soul
November 2, 2008

That I Would Be Good – Alanis Morisette

Mother Teresa: Abortion Is the Greatest Destroyer of Peace
August 25, 2008

 

mother_teresa“I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today in the world is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we must remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta