Don't Just Pray — Do Something!

A reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH


“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words.”                                                                               –Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

As I grappled before God over the horrific and senseless mass shooting in Orlando, Ignatius’ words echoed within me. From centuries ago, Ignatius joins the anguished voices of today, crying, “Don’t just pray, do something!”

Perhaps prayer is most pleasing to God when our relationship with God leads us to see the face of God in another, to be the face of God to another.

Hate terrorizes. Guns kill. Prayer acts.

The act of prayer takes place when we act for justice. We pray when we sign a petition for gun control, or we vote to ban the sale of assault weapons. We pray when we accept and embrace the differences in our faith, in our expression of love, in our gender, and in our culture.

We pray when we recognize mental illness as a disease and provide proper care and funding. We pray when our hearts are free from judgment.

one heartOur hearts are broken. Our prayer is broken. Something tells me that one won’t be healed without the other.

(Image created by and used with permission of the Society of the Sacred Heart)

“Independence” – A Reflection on Independence Day

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

“Independence.” From toddlerhood on, our children are encouraged to walk by themselves. No one with any sense tries to prevent their walking because they might fall: spills are part of the process and another valuable lesson, scary and painful though they be.

Middle-schoolers learn gradually to speak truth to power, starting with peers on the playground. If well mentored, they grow in courage as teens, finding their backbone and making hard choices as they enter adulthood. We agonize with them at times but cheer their insights and brave decisions.

On a parallel, our country struggles to become itself, free, courageous in confronting evil, determined to go forward no matter the price in lives or money—and if you’ve lost a loved one in one of our many armed conflicts, you know that “pricey” doesn’t begin to describe the pain.

american flag 2As we sing our National Anthem on this July 4, enjoy fireworks and hot dogs, and recall the struggles that bought our freedom, let’s say a prayer of gratitude for all those—proud new parents, wise teachers, spiritual mentors, brave soldiers—who have bought and nurtured our independence, individually and as a country.

Let’s pray as well for people around the world who are still striving to be free and self-determining.

Whose example of hard-won independence inspires you? How will you express your gratitude for freedom this year?


The Divine Spark Within

By Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

As I reflect on my journey of faith, a tune from my youth pops into my head:  “Everything is beautiful, in its own way….” And I muse, “Yes, everything, even those twisted, thorny times when life seemed a blur.”

This gives me pause because I see at those very times the “divine spark” that exists in each of us provided the energy and focus that ultimately brought renewed vision.

I grew up in a culture where the neighborhood, the church and ethnic roots provided communal solidarity and gave a sense of direction.  As a child of six or seven, I recall being lively, carefree and somewhat undisciplined.  By the time I was Confirmed, I was making a more conscious effort to pray and to overcome faults.  It was also a time that sparked a desire to learn and to excel. But it was also a time when I had grown very, very shy.  It was a shyness that continued into my adult life.

In high school, I wanted to choose a college preparatory program, but my counselor said that my immigrant parents would hardly be able to provide a college education. This was a real blow to me and left me with feelings of inadequacy and poor self-image.

But in my teens, I met a seminarian who saw some sort of giftedness in me.  He thought that I might have the qualities needed to bring peace, joy and growth in people.  He encouraged me to investigate a group of Sisters whom he described as dedicated and exuding warmth and joy.

“Yes, I Can…”

This began a new phase in my life.  After meeting the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, I knew that life for me could never be the same. I wanted to be a part of whatever it was  that inspired this group of women to give themselves so totally to God.

With them, I found people who believed in me. I recall how shocked I was when I was assigned to work toward a college degree. I was frightened and didn’t think I could do it, but the love and support of the Mission Helpers seemed to crack the wall that had been constructed around me and caused it to crumple. With their help, I made it and I made it with A’s and could say, “Yes! I can do it!”

My superiors also assigned me to tasks for which I considered myself unqualified. But, once again, their confidence in me gave me the courage to go forth. Somehow in my own growth, I had reached a point where Jesus was now at the center of my being, someone with whom and through whom I derived meaning. I discovered the truth of, “in him I can do all things.”

The divine spark remains eternally within us.  All it needs is an awakening. And then, what marvels it can do!

Reflection:  Who or what awakens the divine spark in you?

Read more about Sister Agnesine’s journey in the Fall/Winter issue of The Mission Helper magazine.