JUSTICE JOTTINGS

June 2024

MSJC JUNE FEATURES

Coming Out of the Dark: Embracing Imago Dei this Pride Season

Reflection by Team Member Brian Halderman


Closets are dark places where we store things out of sight. When unexpected guests arrive, we shove clutter into the nearest closet. Some have neat closets, others are overflowing. Recently, I saw a video of an African American pastor urging LGBTQ+ church members to come out of the darkness into the light. Her message was inspiring and prophetic. It made me reflect on my own closet and what called me out. All LGBTQ+ people must choose at some point: to live in a lonely, isolating closet or to emerge into the light of authenticity.


We celebrate Pride Month in June not to be boastful or to evangelize some “gay agenda,” but rather to celebrate our triumphs over darkness. We celebrate the progress we as individuals have made to live authentically and that our community has made to defend and uphold our right to human dignity and equal justice under the law.


Pride Month is also a time to honor our LGBTQ+ elders who created safe spaces and opportunities for us. Soon, we will kick off Imago Dei, an event planned for nearly two years. We will celebrate and honor these elders, marking the 50th anniversary of “The Gay Christian'' conference organized in 1974 by Fr. Norb Brockman, S.M. at Bergamo... [Read full reflection here!]


...I stepped out of the darkness of the closet 28 years ago now as a sophomore at the University of Dayton because I encountered campus ministers that created spaces of light for me, and I am forever grateful. My prayer is that the Imago Dei Assembly continues to further the conversation within the Marianist Family, broader Catholic Christian community, and our society to illuminate the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals and foster their human dignity. After all we are Imago Dei - made in the image and likeness of our God. A blessed pride month to all.

A Prayer for Juneteenth

Written by ASJP Team Member Miranda Melone


Holy Liberator,


You know pain. 

You have witnessed

The murder of your Son

The enslavement of your people 

The sins of our country. 



You remain with the oppressed.

Like Mary at the cross

Weeping,

But staying.

Never looking away.

You remain with the oppressed of our nation,

Our Black brothers and sisters,

Who have endured the worst of humanity,

Still living with the scars of their bondage.

America’s sin.


Holy Liberator,

Our Light

Our Hope


You know pain,

But you also

Know joy. 


Today is a day of joy,

Celebration,

Gratitude.


For the freedom of Black Americans

Is the freedom of all Americans.

For none of us are free

while one of us is not. 


Today we celebrate Black resilience,

Black resistance,

Black hope

Black love

Black lives

For what would America be without

Jazz, hip-hop, blues, country, rock and roll?

Jambalaya, watermelon, sweet potatoes, rice and beans, soul food?

Angelou, Morrison, Baldwin, Dunbar, and Hughes?

Modern dance, praise and worship, and fashion?


The Civil Rights Act of 1964?


Black culture is American culture.

Black history is American history.


Holy Liberator,


Thank you for the strength and creativity of America’s Black community. Your love shines through in their art, their food, their joy, and their struggle. 


Be with us today as we celebrate the Black influence on our nation,

As we remember the darkness of our past, and as we continue to fight for the freedom of all people.


Amen.

MSJC REFLECTIONS & RESOURCES

WOMEN & JUSTICE

A Response to the Remarks of Harrison Butker

Reflection by Team Member Linda Flores-Tober


After hearing Harrison Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College, MSJC's Women and Justice Team felt that there should be a response to the comments he made about the place of women. As an educated, wealthy, white male, Mr. Butker’s remarks say little about the reality of women in 2024 and say more about him. 


There are women who want, and do, care for their home and children. Frequently, these woman also care for other family members and are involved in their churches and community. They volunteer for Home School Associations, for the Rosary Altar Societies, at Food Pantries and in schools. They make valuable contributions to our society. They are not ornaments for their husbands, they are not maids in their homes, and they are not child caretakers. We need these women. 


Most likely the women in that college audience, about to receive their diplomas, had another dream. They were dreaming of careers where they could change the world with their newly acquired knowledge. They had hopes to be executives, teachers, doctors, scientists, and more. Many may also get married, have children and volunteer at their children’s schools, at their churches, and in their community. They will make a difference.


Instead of giving speeches telling women how to live their lives, we should be encouraging young women to explore their dreams and deepest desires. For example, there is a project called the Barbie Dream Gap Project that we can check out and support. We need to do like it says in the song by Crosby Stills and Nash Teach your Children: “And feed them on your dreams. The one they pick's the one you'll know by.” Let’s feed our girls dreams of their possibilities, nurture those dreams and allow them to fulfill their potential, whether it’s from home or in a corporate office. It’s the dream that matters.  


And no, Harrison Bukter, we want it all: mother, wife/partner, CEO, scientist, teacher, social worker, banker, engineer artist, or athlete or whatever moves us the most. That is what makes us “most excited.” 

DEATH PENALTY ABOLITION AND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

In early June, folks gathered in Dayton to say thank you to Sr. Grace Walle, FMI, and Bob Stoughton, for each of their 20+ years of service to the DP-RJ team as they both transition off.


Below we share a prayer of blessing upon Bob and Sr. Grace written by Bro. Tom Redmond, SM:


Once there was only darkness, it was all an empty void, until it happened, and it

happened in love. For in love God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light and

goodness and hope.


Then, there was the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Even though all people were guilty, some ran, in all humility, to meet God in the midst of such beauty and love. Some ran away from God in the midst of fear of being found out. And those who ran away from God began to blame others, saying, “their guilt is greater than ours, those with a greater sin need to be punished.”


They cried out, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.”


The crowd cries out, naming the crime, naming the guilt, naming the punishment so that there may be justice. The crowd cries out, “For what this person has done, he deserves the death penalty, for what this person has done, she deserves to be killed.”


It is now night, and again, we find ourselves in a garden. We see the accused

person praying. But in the midst of such deep misunderstanding, Mary is present; there is ray of hope. Mary encourages us to be aware; Mary tells us, “Listen, do whatever he tells you.”


We listen, at first we do not hear anything. Then in the silence we do hear something spoken by the accused man, praying in the garden.


Stay with me, remain here with me, Watch and pray, Watch and pray.

(Text: Mt 26: 36-42; Taizé Community, Tune Jacques Berthier, © 1984 GIA.)


And there is a ray of hope.


Creator God, from the beginning you have blessed all of creation with light and

goodness and hope. But some areas of life still remain in darkness. You have called your prophets forward to remind us of our original blessing. We gather this evening in thankfulness for these two prophets, Bob and Grace, for their long-standing presence with the condemned, their long-standing witness to the injustice of the death penalty. Holy God, as we thank Bob and Grace for their dedicated perseverance may the blessing you shared upon them continue to flow and touch others to be a dedicated witness to the injustice of capital punishment. Amen.

INTEGRAL ECOLOGY

Marianist Meatless Mondays


Team member, Tony Garascia, shares with us a reflection and special recipe from his mom.


I grew up Italian American in the 1950’s and 60’s in Cincinnati, Ohio.  My dad taught Chemistry at Xavier University, and with seven children, five boys and two girls, my mother learned to make meals stretch.

 

One of the most common dishes that my mom put on the table was polenta, what some refer to today as Italian cornmeal.  She would make a large quantity of polenta, put them into large rectangular pans, cover them with homemade tomato sauce, cover the sauce with American cheese and bake for 50 minutes or so. Served with bread and a salad and we dug in and ate, talked, argued and were grateful for a warm meal...

 

Many of the issues facing us today — the quest for racial, environmental and economic justice have been with us for over a century.  Yet these issues have coalesced into what Pope Francis, in Laudato Si, has termed “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. We are facing the need for personal and systemic change that seeks to address racial and economic injustice as well as environmental degradation. 

 

You might feel that your own personal efforts won’t achieve much. Yet if all of us commit to Marianist Meatless Mondays this action does help our world reduce its carbon footprint.

 

So…if you make the polenta recipe pause to remember that our own roots as a Marianist Family call us to live more in balance with our world as we strive for economic, racial and environmental justice for all.   Buon appetito


Full Meatless Mondays Recipe List & Tony's Reflection

RACIAL JUSTICE

Juneteenth Reflection and Challenge

by Team Member Andrew Buchanan


Since joining the Racial Justice team late last fall I have found that it can be quite overwhelming at times to be immersed in the intentional work of social justice. I recognize this is a privileged position to be in. While issues of racial injustice may not be as present or forthright on the news as I recall it being during the pandemic, it does not mean the fight is over. But there is also progress to be celebrated! I find a refreshing comfort (and also a challenge) to read success stories and celebrate the small victories in the fight against the sin of racism. Beyond that, I find a deep importance in continuing to educate myself on the history and continued effects of our country’s (and Church’s) past in issues of race.


Our document Calling the Marianist Family to Renounce the Sin of Racism remains a pertenant reminder of the challenges that lie ahead and the reassurance of our mission as followers of Christ. One line that stands out to me over and over again is, “Our Marianist charism calls us to build communities of gospel life and to recognize all people as made in the image and likeness of God.” We are all made with dignity by God and building community in the footsteps of the Marianist founders calls us to put in the hard work for the right reasons– to build the Kingdom of God.


There are resources such as the National Black Catholic Conference, the Black Catholic Messenger, Equal Justice Initiative, and many others that are wellsprings of information like the things above: successes and challenges, current information and events, and resources for learning, reflection, and prayer. In this summer month that we celebrate Juneteenth, I want to challenge you to reflect on how you are actively working to be an antiracist, how you are making positive change for racial justice, or in your chosen social justice area. We are not perfect and there is always room to grow in our lives, our faith, our fight for the dignity of every person and to combat injustice. I invite you to reflect on these words from St. Paul:

 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Colossians 3:23-24

BEYOND MSJC OPPORTUNITIES

Questions, comments, or feedback for Justice Jottings can be sent to us at info@marianistsjc.net.