Thursday, July 13, 2017

To say yes, sometimes we have to say no

What does your to-do list look like today? How many commitments are you juggling? My husband reminds me often to put a hold on my workaholic tendencies. Even on weekends and vacation time, I keep a to-do list, checking off one item, adding two more.

A question I should be asking myself: Are all my activities in line with what matters?

My sister gave me some excellent advice a few years ago, which echoes in my ears each time I am asked to take on a new commitment. “Every time you say ‘no’ to a new request for your time, you are saying ‘yes’ to your family.”

This holds true as well in our faith lives. For as we say no to what is not important, we create room in our lives to follow the Virgin Mary’s example and say yes to God.

However, in the midst of our busy buzz, we need to pay close attention to what we are saying yes to. To do this it is helpful to pause. In a world where we feel inclined toward rushing all the time, multitasking on several projects at once, it seems awkward to pause.  It’s as if we think that by stopping for bit we might miss something.

Our capacity to discern, however, requires time. Retreats can offer space for a needed pause, for a moment to consider how we are using our time. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola include a helpful framework for discernment.

In his rules for discernment, St. Ignatius explained the different motives, which influence our decisions as a movement of spirits. He classified these as consolations and desolations. Consolations move us toward deepening our relationship with God, while desolations pull us away. “Our one choice,” he said, “should be this: I want and choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.”

In the secular world, Stephen Covey, author of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” suggests writing a personal mission statement. He also offers a time management matrix for organizing priorities. It includes a quadrant for what is 1. Urgent and important; 2. Not urgent but important; 3. Urgent but not important; and 4. Not urgent and not important.

As we focus on our priorities, understanding our goals and objectives, we learn it’s okay to say
no. When we say “no” it helps us consider our capacity for what we can add to our hours. More importantly, Saying no helps us say yes to what matters.

Throughout our day, we are saying no to a host of things before us – to new tasks, to temptations the modern world offers such materialism, greed, gluttony; to emotions which are harmful – negativity, anger, rage; to all that keeps us from saying yes to living more fruitful and grace-filled days.

Just as we must measure and watch what we eat and try to exercise our bodies to stay fit, it’s helpful to take a step back from all our activities not only to recharge ourselves, but also to get some perspective. I know firsthand that saying yes too often can lead to overextending myself.

We have to ask ourselves, are we addicted to busy or to being tethered, always connected to our mobile devices and social media notifications?

When it comes to saying no, I draw inspiration from my sister Leslie who said no to her profession as a stockbroker and later as a teacher so she could focus on her family. Also, from my friend Zulema, who despite a fulltime job and raising a six-year-old, found time to train for her first half Ironman race in May. She did this by saying no to new projects and to television and saying yes to exercise. I think, too, of all the priests and the religious men and women in our diocese who have said yes to God’s call and said no to another vocation.

As we evaluate where we are and the direction, we recognize God may be trying to get our attention and alter our course. We can’t say yes to everything. What can you say no to that would help you say yes to something that truly needs your attention?
(Originally published in July 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper) 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finding joy in the darkness

Fear can paralyze us. After my father died, it took me more than a year and a half to return to his home, my childhood home. With windows boarded up and weeds growing, the house sat abandoned until recently when I finally decided, and with my siblings’ promptings, that it was time.

I was overwhelmed. The emotions of dealing with my father’s home coursed through the full spectrum. But I found strength to find the positive side of the situation.

Pope Francis in his message for the 51st World Communications Day addressed the theme “‘Fear not, for I am with you’ (Is 43:5): Communicating hope and trust in our time.” In his message, he said, “Everything depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them.”

We need to remember this in the dark days that emerge from time to time in our lives. Through health struggles, family dramas, financial burdens. Also, we can’t escape the headlines filled with the tragedies occurring near and far.

James in his letter tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (Jas 1: 2-3).

“Consider it all joy.” Easier to consider when we are not living in the middle of the storm. How do we proceed when it’s too dark to see? James reminds us we must ask God for wisdom, and that we must do so with faith. (Jas 1: 5-6)

It also requires us to consider the lens we use to view a moment we are living. Jun Ellorimo, a triathlete and trainer in Harlingen, shared with our group, “Struggles, challenges, obstacles, or anything that falls in that line are a part of life. We will all encounter that. As Christians, we are not spared from it.” Some struggles, he said, “will either 1. Destroy us; 2. Define us; or 3. Develop us. It’s our choice.”

Pope Francis in his message proposed, “that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.”

“I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients.”

If we are to find solutions, we must rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost this month on June 4 is a good time to remember that we are each given gifts to share. Remembering, too, that we can’t share the gifts if we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear and other trials.

In our communication ministry, we recognize we have an important responsibility to share the stories in our diocese, a diocese that serves more than one million Catholics here in the Rio Grande Valley. In sharing the stories, we can see how God is always at work in our lives, we can indeed “consider it all joy.”

I am grateful for the grace to serve in this ministry and to do as Pope Francis asks, “offer people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news’.”

As Pope Francis notes in his World Communications Day message, “This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture.” He adds, “In Christ, God has shown his solidarity with every human situation.”

I’m not finished with my father’s home, with the emptying and sorting through what he left behind. I know too there are other moments that will test me, but I trust God will help me “fear not,” for he is with me. I also trust he will put people on my path to remind me and that we will remind and help each other find the joy in each moment.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Women of Easter, carrying hope

With continued talk of building a wall along our border with Mexico, we need to continue to oppose such efforts. It is easy to get disheartened at times, but we need to remember in this Easter season, we are people of hope. We proceed with joyful, hopeful and faithful hearts. These are the common attributes shared by the women in the book “The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene,” by Liz Curtis Higgs.

In April, some fellow poets and I visited the border wall near the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse in Hidalgo. As we walked the edges and went around the wall to explore the old trails overgrown now from disuse, I wondered how many more nature trails would be cut from our reach, and how unwelcoming and threatening our borders are becoming. As we read our poems to give others a glimpse of our Rio Grande Valley, we found comfort in knowing our words can impact the world.

Our actions, too, are important.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores in a lecture titled “The Politics of Human Dignity, Catholics and Immigration” which he presented at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, said, “A Catholic must begin with hope which for us can only emerge from our contemplation of the One who watches in the night. For us politics can only really be about keeping faith with Him, and what he shows us about God, about ourselves and about our neighbor.”

Holy Week leading up to Easter left us also with some lessons we should remember throughout the year. Each of the Triduum celebrations had a common theme of coming together and of accompanying Christ on his way to Calvary.

On Holy Thursday, “The Lord washes the feet of his disciples, and he says at the end of it, ‘As I have done for you, so you must do for one another.’” Bishop Flores reminded us the Lord “wants us to wash each other’s feet in humility and in service.”

On Good Friday, as we accompanied Christ on the Via Dolorosa, we reflected on his humility and suffering. Bishop Flores pointed out in his homily on Good Friday, we need to recognize the humility of the cross and the hope it offers. “Only a people humble of heart really understand what the hope of the cross is.” He also said we need to seek God’s grace. “We need to seek, we need strength, we need love and we need the courage to be true.”

At the Easter Vigil Mass, we witnessed the power the Lord has over death, and that he is with us at all times. He is the light. “The risen one opens the eyes of the blind to what really matters.” It is up to us to share this news.

Daily we walk together, following Christ’s example, and the example of his Blessed Mother Mary.
Bishop Flores, in his lecture, said we can sometimes forget that “God’s governance in history expresses itself primarily through human agency.” He shared the story of his grandmother who “prayed that if ever they (her grandchildren) are in trouble, God would put a kind and generous soul in their path to help them.” “She was a woman of faith, and trusted to God that He would find ways to help them. Mostly, that meant He would put the right people in their path,” he said.

Bishop adds, “The mirror image of that kind of perception, available to anyone with faith and a little imagination, is that we are also all potentially answers to some grandmother’s prayer in some place far away. Indeed, the generosity God inspires in each one of us today is his answer to someone’s prayer.”

These words resonate. They imbue us too with responsibility as we consider how we can be the “answer to someone’s prayer.” I encourage you take some time to read the bishop’s entire lecture, which is posted on his blog.

“Even in a wounded world,” he notes, “people find themselves crossing paths with someone who will not abandon them to disaster.”


While some may insist on building walls, we must continue to be God’s hands and feet in the world, offering care to those who need it. We must move forward as joyful men and women of Easter carrying hope into the world.

(Originally published in May 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper) 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Finding focus in a world of distractions

Several years ago, I purchased some juggling balls along with an instruction booklet. Maybe I thought if I actually learned how to juggle, I could transfer the skill to help me focus on all that requires my attention.

We live in a world of distractions. Despite our best efforts to stay on course, an onslaught of diversions can halt our progress. Sometimes these diversions are beyond our control, such as emergencies or family needs; sometimes it’s the nature of our work and we must multitask as we carry out our responsibilities and tasks.

As much as I try to designate specific time for writing, my sentences are often paused in mid-thought so that I can respond to a request or tend to another matter. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Some days feel like a game of tug of war.

My natural tendency to chase butterflies, or rather lose focus easily, does not help. To compensate requires some strategies to keep my attention where needed. The Lenten Season provides some helpful resources, as does the Easter Season. 

Four years ago, I completed an online spiritual retreat, “An Ignatian Prayer Adventure,” based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The eight-week retreat asked participants “to commit to a regular period of prayer each day.”

Given that once the phone starts ringing before I even enter the office, my days lean toward the unpredictable. To avoid any interruptions, I made it a point to wake up an hour earlier during this time and set some other parameters in place to ensure my concentration. This experience invigorated me. By the time I left home, I felt accomplished, and this motivated me further to stay on course.

Part of the spiritual exercise called for taking note of the attachments in our lives. St. Ignatius referred to the things that keep us from God as “disordered attachments.” The constant distractions in our days can fall in this category.

Technology and social media feed our short attention spans. I know I am not the only one guilty of planning to spend only 10 minutes checking Facebook or Twitter. Then half an hour or even an hour later, we look up and suddenly realize how much time has passed.

Recognizing what attachments or addictions keep us from God and from other priorities in our life is a step toward making changes. From time to time, for example, I completely disconnect from social media. Sometimes for just a day or a weekend, sometimes for longer periods. As for the notification alerts, I keep those off at all times to avoid the distraction. Netflix is another temptation I have to limit. If I’m not careful, it’s too easy to binge-watch yet another series I find interesting. Shifting our focus from unhealthy distractions gives us more time to assist someone who needs our help or to concentrate on a project that requires our attention.

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, the 1992 Nobel Prize winner from Guatemala, spoke in March at a women’s conference, “Mujeres Formadoras de Paz” in Reynosa. I am thankful Sister Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, attended the conference and recorded some of her talk.

Menchú’s talk has a number of points I plan to revisit. Two points resonate: First, she stressed the need for organization and clear goals and objectives. “Good intentions alone do not change things,” she said. Second, she advised women to distance themselves from vice, which keeps us from moving in the direction of our goals.

In this world of distractions, we can take steps to find focus. We can start by being intentional. This does require us to pause from the busyness of our day and find some quiet to concentrate. Turning to prayer has become my priority in this process. We can then proceed to making choices about what matters most as we set our goals for our faith life, families, vocations and health. Periodically we also need to pause, consider our progress, evaluate what changes may be needed.

The Daily Examen offered by St. Ignatius is another helpful practice. It includes five steps: 1. Become aware of God’s presence. 2. Review the day with gratitude. 3. Pay attention to your emotions. 4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. 5. Look toward tomorrow. More resources are available online at http://www.ignatianspirituality.com.
As for the juggling balls, I never devoted enough time to learn how to juggle. I am thankful, though, that I did learn how to focus when needed.

(Originally published in April 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper) 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fasting year-round, learning to surrender

Because some things should remain private, I have hesitated writing about my devotional fast. However, I believe we learn from one another. Sharing helps us engage in conversations that lead to greater understanding.

I started fasting twice a week close to four years ago. I began not for the reasons one might think, but as a health measure. After watching the BBC documentary “Eat, Fast & Live Longer” by Dr. Michael Mosley, a physician and journalist, I wanted to try intermittent fasting. According to research, fasting provides time for the body to initiate healing.

“It’s not just about how we eat, but when and how we eat it,” said Mosley. In his documentary, he looked at the scientific theory that calorie restriction influences longevity in humans.

My mother died young. She was 50 years old. Since her death, I have been on hyper alert to ways of living healthier. Naturally, I wanted to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting. We take extreme measuring fighting an illness; why not take extreme measures at prevention?

Over time, my practice has evolved into a devotional fast, and I see it now as a gift.

I felt guilty that my fasting did not come prompted for spiritual reasons as part of my ongoing prayer life. Father Alex Flores, pastor at San Juan Diego Parish in McAllen, put me at ease one day when he explained, “Grace builds upon nature.” He said God is gentle and uses our natural inclinations to draw us toward him. So while I started this discipline for health reasons, God helped me understand there are greater reasons to fast.

Fasting is one of the three pillars of the Lenten season. Which draws me to the question I ask myself frequently, “Why fast?” Each week I find more and more reasons to continue my twice-weekly fast.

For thousands of years people have fasted – some for spiritual reasons, some for health. During Lent, we focus on Jesus Christ’s fast in the desert. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his message for Lent 2009 said, “The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting.”

He adds, “Fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person.”

I remain in awe of how God works in our lives and by how our Blessed Mother calls us closer to her son. Early in my fasting journey, my husband and I made plans to visit Croatia. While our original plans did not include Medjugorje in Bosnia, the site where apparitions of the Blessed Mother began in 1981, the proximity prompted us to include a side journey.

It truly felt like our Blessed Mother was guiding us toward Medjugorje. She was also helping me gain a better understanding of the discipline of regularly abstaining from food. I did not realize at the time Our Lady of Medjugorje is calling for fasting twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. I still can’t seem to trade my Tuesday fast for Wednesday, but at some point I may be ready.

To date, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not issued a doctrinal judgment on the apparitions. However, on Feb. 11 Catholic News Agency reported Pope Francis “appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warszawa-Praga as a delegate of the Holy See to look into the pastoral situation at Medjugore, the site of alleged Marian apparitions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

This does not diminish the call for fasting. While I sometimes fail, the weekly practice of abstaining from meals keeps me aware of the graces that flow from this devotion.

For one, fasting compliments prayer on multiple levels. It is a great gift to offer up a fast when someone has asked for a specific prayer intention. I am becoming more aware as well that fasting is part of my ongoing surrender to God. Learning to rely on him for strength, each fast brings some insight to a moment before me or to a lesson on my spiritual journey.

Second, fasting keeps me in balance by helping me focus on what is important. I’ve learned to better appreciate the blessings before me. I have also become more aware of the needs of others.

Often fasting serves as a reset button for times when I overindulge and have committed gluttony or when I veer off course from healthy eating. Not only does fasting keep me in check, it makes me more mindful of my meals on the days I don’t fast. I have a greater appreciation for the foods I consume.

Third, fasting offers health benefits for body and mind. Scientists continue to study this and find more and more proof of the merits of periodically abstaining from meals.

Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician known as the Father of Modern Medicine, advocated for fasting. He noted, “The man carries within him a doctor; you just have to help him do his work. If the body is not cleared, then the more you feed it, the more it will be harmed. When a patient is fed too richly, the disease is fed as well. Remember – any excess is against nature.”

What a blessing. Fasting does not need to be reserved for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We can incorporate the practice year-round. I will likely continue to stumble at times, but I trust God will set me back on the path, however many times it takes.

(Originally published in March 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper) 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Why we must march with love, respect

Thousands of women marched on Jan. 21 to raise their voices for human rights. In Washington, D.C. and across our nation, women came together in solidarity.

On that same day, I marched in McAllen for my beliefs along with hundreds of others in our community who joined the Diocese of Brownsville’s annual Pro-Life March. Had I been in Washington, I would have marched in the Women’s March, but not for all the reasons organizers of that particular event supported in their platform.

The question for some on that day, as reported in the L.A. Times: “To march or not?” The headline continued: “Some women are staying away from women’s rally because of a rift over abortion.” Organizers decided not to include groups with a pro-life stance as partners for the event. So it seems the Women’s March did not aim to include all women’s voices.

“It’s frustrating and insulting,” said Meg McDonnell, executive director of Women Speak for Themselves, that you would claim to be inclusive and for human rights and yet leave out women who are defending the rights of humans in the world.”

Helen Alvaré, a law professor at George Mason University and founder of the Women Speak for Themselves movement, also pointed out in a piece published on Crux, a Catholic news site, the Women’s March raised a number of questions – questions the media rarely pay attention to when it comes to what women “really want.” The article is available at https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2017/01/17/womens-march-raises-questions-answers/

“I realize that no one wants to organize a march called “The March for Some Women’s Ideas, Some of which are Good, Some Vague, and Some Truly Terrible.” But that would be a more fair characterization of the 2017 Women’s March.”

Moving forward, I say given any opportunity, we should march. We should show up and stand for our beliefs regardless of what the organizers try to set forth at the dominant agenda. The Women’s March organizers showed their card by removing pro-life groups from their list of partners, but we must not be bullied to the sidelines.

All women have the right to speak and uphold their convictions. No one can dictate my beliefs or silence me. I am a pro-life feminist who promotes life at all stages.

Closer to home, the annual Pro-Life March in our Diocese is held in solidarity with the national March for Life. Father Alex Flores emphasized it was a “peaceful and prayerful march.”
This year the national march was moved from Jan. 22 to Jan. 27. As we reported in the January edition of our newspaper, it is held in reparation for the more than 58.5 million babies who have been killed in the United States since abortion became legal as a result of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on Jan. 22, 1973.  

Interesting what the media pays attention to when they cover an event. Most reporters and photographers in McAllen on Jan. 21 were not at the start or the finish of the pro-life procession. They did not hear or report on the testimony of a father who adopted a baby whose mother considered an abortion and opted instead to give him life. They did not hear the songs of love, faith and hope of those who witness to life. They hovered instead at the intersection near the abortion clinic on Main Street and Houston. They wanted to see a confrontation as the voices of those who support abortion tried to drown out the song and prayers of the pro-life march.

Talking to pro-life supporters who gathered at St. Joseph the Worker Church before the procession, Bishop Daniel E. Flores acknowledged, “We are living in a country right now where we see a lot of anger for a lot of different reasons.”

He stressed, “We must be a people who do not let our anger move us, but we let our love move us. Let us be the witness of a people who march through the street, in a procession, singing praise to God, praying and asking God for the grace to make this a world that is first of all hospitable to unborn life.

“As we pray, pray for each other, for those whoever they are who may be contemplating abortion, pray for those who are undecided, and pray for those who are angry at us. One thing Jesus made very clear; we have no right as Christians to answer anger with anger.”

How can we expect peace in the world, if we cannot create it here in our communities? As someone who is not comfortable with confrontation, with people screaming in my face, I prefer to sit together and talk with one another. There is no need to scream. I can hear you better when we dialogue. Let’s remember we are brothers and sisters. We may have different views, be we can still love one another and respect our differences. Bishop Flores reminds us, “Responding with love triumphs with the grace of God.”

(Originally published in February 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper) 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Walking together, raising our voices

Hope is one of the gifts brought by a New Year. But before we rush into the new it’s healthy to stop and reflect on the past year we traversed, give thanks for the blessings, consider the lessons learned, and acknowledge the people who walked with us.

Some of the standout moments for my 2016 are those spent with family and friends. As much as I value quiet spaces to think and write, I also treasure the time spent in community with others. I think this is one of the reasons I never tire of participating in outdoor processions during special feast days or for an important cause. We are family, in good times and in bad times, walking together on this pilgrimage.

St. John Paul II in his encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis said it best, “We are all one family in the world. Building a community that empowers everyone to attain their full potential through each of us respecting each other’s dignity, rights and responsibilities makes the world a better place to live.”

Pope Francis called for a “revolution of tenderness” as we participated in the Jubilee of Mercy in 2016. He wants this revolution to continue.  “Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church,” he said in his apostolic letter “Mercy and Peace.”

“Like a gusting but wholesome wind, the Lord’s goodness and mercy have swept through the entire world,” he said. Now we must put that mercy into action.

At the closing of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said that while the Jubilee ended and the Holy Door is closed, “the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open. We have learned that God bends down to us (cf. Hos 11:4) so that we may imitate him in bending down to our brothers and sisters.”

He pointed out, “The culture of extreme individualism, especially in the West, has led to a loss of a sense of solidarity with and responsibility for others.” He added, “Mercy impels us to roll up our sleeves and set about restoring dignity to millions of people; they are our brothers and sisters who, with us, are called to build a “city which is reliable.”

In December, two young women whose parents and grandparents have been in exile in the United States, worked with interfaith leaders to organize a prayer vigil at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in solidarity with the people in Syria. Families there have been devastated by a five-year civil war. We came together, people of all faiths, to pray for the people of Syria. We came together in solidarity. Throughout this New Year, we can find ways to express our solidarity with others, to walk with them sometimes on roads paved in uncertainty.

As Pope Francis notes, “We are called to promote a culture of mercy based on the rediscovery of the encounter with others, a culture in which no one looks at another with indifference or turns away from the suffering of our brothers and sisters.”

Following a procession in December for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bishop Daniel E. Flores reminded us “we walk together as brothers and sisters, as children of God.” And this requires, he said, “that we respond with care to those who are suffering, those who are living through difficulties and darkness.” In his homily at the Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he said we must raise our voice to protect those who are vulnerable.

In January each year, we celebrate a March for Life giving voice to the unborn and to remember the millions who have been lost to abortion. In our diocese, we will walk together on Jan. 21 from St. Joseph the Worker Church to Sacred Heart Church in McAllen.

“The Power of One,” the national theme for the march scheduled Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C, recognizes “One person can make a difference in the world, whether in the life of one person or many,” as noted on their website. “Sadly, in the U.S. alone, one million babies are not even given the opportunity to live and change the world each year,” according to organizers. “Building a culture of life and ending abortion takes each and every person. Starting with your family or neighborhood, our collective efforts will change hearts and minds, save lives, and build a culture of life.”

Pope Francis in his message “Overcome Indifference and Win Peace” for World Day of Peace 2016, said, “There are many good reasons to believe in mankind’s capacity to act together in solidarity and, on the basis of our interconnection and interdependence, to demonstrate concern for the more vulnerable of our brothers and sisters and for the protection of the common good.

For me the words of Elie Wiesel in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 also resonate. He said, “Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.” This is certainly counter culture in a world drunk on individualism and indifference.

In this New Year, I recognize more than ever I cannot stand on the sidelines. We cannot turn away with indifference from our family close to home or in other parts of the world. We walk together, we practice mercy, we raise our voices. For our New Year’s resolutions let’s look for ways to include more moments of solidarity, mercy and action.

(Originally published in January 2017 edition of The Valley Catholic newspaper)