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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

290: "The future is more beautiful than all the pasts" - Teilhard de Chardin

Day 290: December 31st 2020:

"The future is more beautiful than all the pasts"

- Teilhard de Chardin

I could think of no better way to end the year than with three reflections from sisters who are working around the world. They are doing the heavy lifting of our faith and all are heroes who live the good news and work every day with hope and resilience. They bless us all.

"I was reading a book about the spirituality of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin by Jesuit Fr. Robert Faricy, who quoted Teilhard as saying: "God does not stand aloof from the world, somehow at a distance disinterested in the details; on the contrary, God chooses to involve Himself deeply and thoroughly in our world." These words are quite timely as the second wave of the coronavirus ravages our world.

(Sister Agnes Musemba Mativo in Kenya)

When darkness closes in on our lives and we feel alone, we might doubt the nearness of God, like the Israelites: "For you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our iniquities" (Isaiah 64:6). Just like them, we shrink with fear, worry and self-doubt. This kind of anxiety that we witnessed when the virus was at its peak denies us of inner peace that can only be achieved by embracing the sacrament of the present moment.

The pandemic has had negative effects that will be felt for a long time; despite these, it is important to move on.

Otherwise, we can find ourselves living in the past, forever chasing shadows that breed more inner turmoil and endless guilt that robs us of inner peace.

The pandemic reminds us that every experience we have in life never leaves us the same; there are always lessons to be learned. Perhaps we are wiser, realize we have more resilience and remember that what affects one person has ripple effects on others because we are intertwined, irrespective of our race, creed or social standards.

As we live through the second wave of COVID-19 and its new norms, like wearing masks, we must negotiate its effects with renewed inner strength and a deeper awareness that we have what it takes to live a life filled with joy, regardless of the challenges that we face.

So as we open our arms to embrace 2021, may we understand Teilhard's words:

"the future is more beautiful than all the pasts."

Agnes Musemba Mativo is a Kenyan member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Her ministries have included social work with HIV/AIDS patients in Zambia and mission advancement at a Mercy hospital. Currently, she works with men and women in formation as well as priests and religious, teaching and in psychological accompaniment. She has served as postulant mistress and continues as vocation promotor for her own congregation.

(An example of Bayanihan)

"The dark times have kindled Bayanihan, the Filipino tradition of the community coming together to help and care for one another. People from all walks of life donated funds to build facilities for COVID-19 patients while throngs prepared food and personal protective equipment for exhausted medical and health front line workers. Ordinary folk didn't need much prompting to help those who were stranded and to find ways to bring to the metro agricultural crops affected by the lockdown.

But little sparks flicker in the dark, bringers of feeble hope to this troubled land, trying to close the distance between God and his suffering people. Hardly noticed except in catastrophe and tragedy, even those who have least in life share their possessions, break bread with the hungry and open their hovels to strangers.

But while Filipinos are known for their resiliency, they're tired of being resilient and have started clamoring for accountability. That, too, is a spark of hope.

(Little sparks are contagious)

The pandemic gives us more time to pray, be still, reflect and take stock of our lives and our country's future. We are beginning to find our voice again. We respond to violence with nonviolence, to untruth by exposing the truth, injustice with justice, unbelief with faith.

These little sparks are contagious, attracting more ordinary people, celebrities, the religious, activists, Indigenous people, the wealthy and enlightened ones.

Soon, there will be enough little sparks to dispel the darkness and lead the way out of the pits. We're not hopeless.

Rosa Ocampo is a Sister for Christian Community from Manila, Philippines. The five years she spent as a missionary in Peru and El Salvador, as well as her apostolate in the Philippine urban slums, have provided invaluable insights and experiences that helped shape her views on social justice and the preferential option for the poor.

When unforeseen difficulties arise, it can be easy to get caught up in the problem at hand; this can create panic and disconnect us from our bigger goals. We need to sit down and ask: What can I do to be resilient? Are there opportunities for transformation?

So at the end of this year, I want to celebrate:

  • God's heart that has continued to love humanity and all of creation for eternity.

  • Mother Earth, who, in spite of the damage done to her, continues to be generous in sustaining the ecosystems.

  • Children who, in spite of their many unanswered questions, are staying cheerful and playful.

  • Parents who, in spite of their fears, continue to be present and hopeful.

  • Medical personnel, police, drivers, bankers, pastors, counselors, social workers, volunteers, journalists, farmers, sanitary service providers, teachers and all who, in spite of risks, continue to provide basic services and save lives.

  • Political and institutional leaders who, in spite of global panic, continue to search and provide guidance to the general public.

Sister Margaret Grace Nakafu of Uganda is a member of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. With an academic background in sustainable human development as well as HIV counseling and computer science, she has lived and worked in six countries: Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ireland and Honduras. Here she harvests coffee in Honduras.


ANNOUNCEMENT #1 from Jim McFadden:

Hi, Friends —

An update on the campaign to ban evictions during the pandemic.

The Board of Supervisors will be discussing a ban and instructing staff at its next meeting, January 5. So now’s a good time to get your support letters in, if you haven’t already.

An across-the-board ban on evictions by the BOS is key. First, the state and federal partial bans run out on January 31. Second, those bans have loopholes that landlords have been exploiting to get folks out, particularly now that tech professionals are moving north to work from home. Third, OMG! we’re in the middle of a pandemic!

Already on board: St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County Democrats, Sunrise Movement, North Bay Jobs With Justice, North Bay Labor Council, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, Graton Day Labor Center, Sonoma Valley Housing Group, Sonoma United Methodist Church, North Bay Organizing Project, Sonoma County Tenants Union . . .

We’re not asking everybody to turn out on Tuesday. We’ll do that when they’ve come up with an actual ordinance. Meanwhile, it’s good to get in your support letter in. (See below for a sample letter and list of the supes' email addresses.) And send a copy to your city council members, too — if any.

EVICTION BAN sample email 12_20
Download DOCX • 9KB

Thanks. Politics 2021 already!

- Jim

Announcement #2:

Video of our December 27th 2020 celebration now available!

Click on this link for Vimeo:

Jim Keck has also placed the video on our Emmaus website:

Click on this link and scroll to the bottom of the page:

Announcement #3:

We invite you to come together on New Year’s Eve on Zoom with fellow FCM members to pray and share together.

Date: Thursday, December 31

Time: 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT We will begin promptly and end the service after a half hour. We will then continue the meeting time for another 25-30 minutes for conversation among those who can stay.

This may be a smaller than usual group. Remember, when two or three are gathered.

If you cannot be with us, please have a Happy New Year. Pray for peace.

Description: Tom Cusack, host of the Prayer Gathering and member of the FCM Northeast Region, will lead us in a time of meditation and prayer. We will meditate for 15 minutes. Each attendee will then be asked to express a short prayer of one to three sentences. Each prayer will be followed by a brief meditation. As usual, participants will have an opportunity to express their concerns, fears and other requests for prayers via the Chat process in Zoom. These requests go to the FCM Prayer Ministry for their prayerful focus.

Preparation: We suggest:

Have at hand a picture/representation of the Christ. This will be a focus of the meditation.

Prepare a one to three sentence prayer, which you will express verbally for the group.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 869 7851 5121

Passcode: 779904

One tap mobile

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 869 7851 5121

Passcode: 779904

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