Friday, September 28, 2007

Contemplative Consciousness Necessary Foundation for Justice and Peace

This week the Metropolitan Association of Contemplative Communities welcomed a presentation by Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP of CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES entitled Sent to Heal a Brokenhearted World. Her first presentation to this group of contemplative nuns concerned Justice and Peace: God's Creative Design. The second talk focused on the issues of immigration and human trafficking. We were more than amply rewarded for our time and attention.

Sr. Arlene is a most effective, knowledgeable and impassioned voice for the cause of peace and justice. It may be wondered why nuns whose lives are centered on contemplative prayer would want to be informed concerning the particulars of these tremendous issues. Sr. Arlene immediately answered such a question. "The need for contemplative consciousness must be considered as the supportive underpinning for active apostolic work for justice and peace." Contemplative consciousness in daily living implies deep listening to and deep receiving of the Word of God. Contemplative nuns model this level of consciousness for the Church and the world. Contemplation and justice are interwoven with life in God and God's original design which is marked by justice and peace, which can be expressed as right relationship. Right relationship brings about the restoration of God's creative design. What is necessary for this restoration is not only change in human structures but also the conversion of hearts and minds to a condition beyond self-centeredness and self-interest. Monastic community life is the living representation of a spiritual consciousness of the reality that we are all one in God. Our practice of right relatedness is an expression of peace and Justice, the antidote for the suffering created in our world by a mistaken sense of unrelatedness. Sr. Arlene stated, "The mission of religious is to restore the memory of relatedness." Our capacity to sit in silence cultivates the ability to be in union with the One. This is a tenet of all major world religions.


1/2 of the population of the world lives on less than $2 per day
1 billion people live on less than $1 per day
96% of all cases of HIV Aids are in sub-Saharan Africa

Disease, armed conflict, immigration issues and the globalization of the economy play the largest part in creating the reality which leads to such statistics.

After a discussion of all these issues and viewing a very alarming video on human trafficking we spoke of the ways that even contemplative nuns and monks can promote the cause of peace and justice. Primary, of course, is the life of prayer and living a model of peace and justice in our communities. But we spoke too about the subtle but important influence we can have on those who come into our monasteries when we present them with coffee and tea purchased from a provider of 'fairly traded' goods. Equal Exchange is one such provider. Here is their commitment statement: "We pay a fair price to the farmer, trade directly with democratic co-ops, supply advance credit and support sustainable agriculture." Yes, these goods cost more but it is only these 'real' prices which provide a decent wage and profits to the poor. Placing the Equal Exchange sign next to your coffee pot makes a statement, may open a discussion, and lead to a deepened consciousness of right relatedness. We can participate in whatever way possible in World Aids Day, December 1, 2007. Catholic Relief Services can provide a complete Candlelight Vigil Service. We can also raise our level of consciousness in all of our purchasing decisions. Sr. Arlene said we were doing just the right thing by making our habits since the global economy is currently responsible for great in justices created by the apparel industry in manufactured abroad.

In a plan called Solidarity Will Transform the World, Sr. Arlene asked that each of communities agree to pray for a Catholic Relief Services in a particular area of the world. We gladly agreed. I urge you to consult their website for more information concerning immigration, the Iraqi humanitarian crisis and the hidden but growing traffic in human slaves.

"We are the consciousness of God."
Teillard de Chardin

No comments: