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Time to Go

As regular readers of this site know, last March I wrote that I was ending my blog. The resulting feedback convinced me to reconsider, and I continued both my blog and the entire site.

This time I won’t change my mind. Stopping the site will give me time for whatever ministry I might be called to when I am in Pennsylvania. Besides, many wonderful sites exist now that weren’t available when I started in 2012. 

My thanks to the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus for their blessing on this ministry. My thanks to Fr. Terrence J. Moran, who convinced me to start the blog. My thanks to those special helpers (like Thomas J. Murphy, Ph.D.) who so graciously checked my drafts over the years to be sure the science, theology, and grammar were correct. And thanks to those who have read the material, used the group resources, forwarded items to their friends, posted on their websites, published information about the site, translated resources, and written me words of encouragement. I treasure the many connections I made because of the site!

Although I shall no longer update pages or post blogs, I shall leave the site available. Many past blogs and pages, as well as Advent, Lent, and Laudato Si’  resources, will be relevant for years.

I don’t mean to trivialize Mary Oliver’s profound words in “In Blackwater Woods,” but her ending is appropriate here: “… when the time comes to let it go,/… let it go.” It’s time.

My loving thanks to each and all readers — and to the empowering Mystery acting within us and our expanding and interconnected universe!

Saved from Slavery

About 15 years ago a dear friend in Hungary — whom I met there in 1984 and with whom I communicate regularly — mentioned that his very attractive teen-age daughter Emma (real name) was eager to come to the United States. He wondered if I could help to get her a job here. I replied that I could not, but warned that she must be careful to follow all government regulations. Like most religious women, I was very aware of  the dangers of trafficking. My friend assumed that my warning was simply stating facts, because soon he wrote, delighted, that Emma had been offered a job in the US, and those inviting her would attend to all the paperwork.  

Very alarmed, I rushed him a reply alerting him to the dangers she was most certainly facing. I  urged him to forbid her this “opportunity” regardless of her reaction. Fortunately he did so, offering her the possibility of more education. I cringe when I think what might have become of her….

Throughout the world today, traffickers use deception, force, threats, and coercion to compel children, teens, and adults into slavery for purposes such as domestic, farm, fishery, and industrial labor; military service; and sexual exploitation. This abhorrent system is the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise, estimated to affect between 21 and 40 million — million! — current victims worldwide! According to UN agencies, children constitute nearly 1/3 of the victims. There are more slaves today than at any time in human history! The internet provides traffickers easy home access to potential victims. 

And victims are everywhere. Caused by lack of information, neglect, or desperation, vulnerable humans of all ages, races, sexes, and nationality are trapped in this grotesque system. Flattery and offers of fame, food, money, jobs, and security can be tempting. Sadly, unprotected refugees are easy targets. 

The magnitude of the problem can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis. Put in the correct context of the unity of all creation since its beginning billions of years ago, this self-inflicted cancer and affront to our global unity — to ourselves —  is baffling. Greed blinds some to our intrinsic unity. No one person can single-handedly save everyone, but I believe my experience proves that the “little” actions of many will make the difference as we contribute to the evolution of a planet that makes trafficking obsolete. 

Here are some suggestions:

. Focus on one person at a time, remember how closely we are bound to each brother and sister. For example, pray for one victim enslaved near you. (February 8 is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, a good day to join with others to pray for those affected by the crimes of modern slavery and the people that volunteer and work to eradicate this crime.)

. Never underestimate the power of awareness. I helped Emma simply by being alert to danger. 

. Talk to children, young people, and adults about safety measures such as memorizing important addresses and phone numbers. 

. Learn the signs of human trafficking so that you can recognize and report it. (US Homeland Security.)

. Many countries have hotlines that can be saved and used to report suspected trafficking. Learn yours and save it. (The US National Human Trafficking Resources Hotline is 888-373-7888.)

. Make a donation to an organization fighting human trafficking such as Polaris (polarisproject.org), the organization named for the North Star that enslaved people in the United States used as a guide to navigate their way toward freedom. 

. Contact your local, state, and national elected officials and ask what actions they have taken to stop this humanitarian crisis..

. Check with hotel, motel, trucking, and event organizers to be sure they have procedures in place to prevent trafficking.  Ask to see a copy of the procedures.

. Purchase Fair Trade products.  Buying these products helps prevent trafficking.

And Emma? She accepted her dad’s offer to get more education. She is now happily married, living in France. 

 

Some readers received this message when I first posted this blog: Moments ago I learned that one of my Nigerian SHCJ sisters, Chizoba Onuora, was kidnapped on Saturday, January 26th, aboard public transport at Abaji, Nigeria. Please pray fervently for her safety and quick release. I shall post updates about her on this blog as I receive them.

I rejoice to add this wonderful news on Sunday afternoon: The [SHCJ headquarters in Rome] has just received word from the sisters in Abuja [Nigeria] that Sr. Chizoba Onuora has been released. Deo Gratias! Continued prayers for Sr. Chizoba and all the African sisters. 

LENT RESOURCES

As many readers know, my site has long provided free resources for personal and group use during Lent. This is a service to those who want to respond not only to Jesus’ suffering and death, but also to the unnecessary suffering and death within creation, where God lives and acts, and where we are intrinsically united with the whole.

These aids supplement Christians’ focus on Scripture and provide help to those concerned about the state of Earth, our common home. They follow the Scripture readings from the current liturgical season, taking cues from those readings as to which aspects of creation to highlight. 

Two resources are available for Lent 2019. One is

                                                spirituality.of.soil.lent.2019

This resource is intended to help individuals and groups deepen their appreciation of the precious and sacred gifts of fertile dirt, seeds, crops; trees, current threats to them; and how we can respond in faith. It includes suggestions for music and media.

 

In addition to the Soil resource, my Lent site includes a second option: 

laudato.si’.reflection.resource.

This resource focuses on Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical highlighting the unity of all creation, current threats to it, relevant Scripture, causes of the problems, and potential solutions. Participants will read and pray with quotes from the document, discuss them and take actions. It, also, includes suggestions for music and media.

I am truly grateful to all those who have participated in these Lent experiences since they began in 2004. Thanks to their feedback, I have made many improvements. Your suggestions are welcome (terrishcj@aol.com).