Friday, February 8, 2019

Life Without Artificial Sweeteners

Many processed foods are sold on the basis of those things that they do not contain: fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc. Fat, sugar and gluten are natural nutrients that are contained in natural foods. They have gotten a bad rap over the years as our collective waistline expands and we try to limit our food intake. They taste good, but their nutrient value is questionable.
Studies are beginning to show that the substitutes found in processed foods also have negative health effects. So now foods are being sold on the basis of yet more ingredients they don't contain: no artificial sweeteners, no MSG, etc. Take a favorite of mine: no sugar added, no artificial sweeteners, fat-free, gluten-free, no MSG. It's an apple, or a carrot, or any one of a host of naturally occurring foods. Or we could look at the advertising slogan: the incredible, edible egg.
Now let's talk about spirituality. There are lots of artificial ingredients: things, thrills, and superficial relationships, drugs and alcohol. Sure these things will make me happy for a time. But spiritually, they are artificial sweeteners; they taste good but lack nutritional value.
Micah has a recipe for natural, organic, no artificial additives spirituality: Do justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God. Again, our CSJ motto: Community, Spirituality and Justice. This needs no artificial sweeteners and delivers simple, wholesome nutrition for our spirit.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A Lifetime of Prayer, Service and Compassionate Encounter


I believe that the ministry of presence, this ministry of encounter, is one of the great gifts of our elder sisters in religious life. With quiet joy after decades of dynamic and faith-filled service, they remind me of the poem the New Collossus by Emma Lazarus (1883) that is cast in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
[They cry] with silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
These our sisters, walking each other home to heaven, also lend us their gift of a listening ear, a comforting word, a compassionate heart. Hearts formed through a lifetime of prayer, of service, and of compassionate encounter.