On November 26, 2023, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) introduced Transforming Grace, an initiative to support the work of vowed religious in preaching Love, community-building, and transformative Justice.
This response invites each of us to willingly refuse violent rhetoric, find resources to support our understanding, and recognize the complexity of healing the polarities that shape the root causes of the division among us. The work of transformative justice impels each of us into a response.
“Since he is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor. 14,33)
In the coming months, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids are joining Catholic Sisters in the United States in entering a state of being that invites us to be both contemplative and open to study, dialogue, and relationship.
LCWR invites its members to engage the members of their own institutes in this collective discernment on “What is ours to do in this time?” The work of transformative justice is grounded in contemplation and is an engagement in learning the skills and practices that will lead to decision-making and action that leads to being in right relationship with Earth and all human persons.
- Where might our faith in Love and Hope, our faith in one another, move us if we become more intentional about our own presence in every area of our life?
- Is it possible to increase our capacity to live in a world characterized by division, polarization, and fear, in the hope that we enlarge our capacity to create communities of love and compassion among ourselves and those we serve?
- Are we willing to seek to cultivate our own growth, our own willingness to come to and welcome others to the table? How might we enlarge the tent, the table, to nurture conversations and relationships that are healing, not divisive?
“Our role is no longer to merely ease suffering, bind up wounds, and feed the hungry, but through every form of effort to raise the powers of love upward to the next stage of consciousness,” wrote 21st Century Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher.
“In a 1967 lecture opposing war, Rev. Martin Luther King declared, “When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu- Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: ‘Let us love one another, for love is God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.” ~ Bell Hooks, All About Love”
As vowed women religious, we are formed to listen for the wisdom of the ages, and of current times. Through our spirituality ministry of Dominican Center Marywood and our lives of contemplation, we have long welcomed the voices of Chardin and King, and other prophets: theologians, scientists, healers. Our Sisters have witnessed to and with many who our impoverished in spirit, body, and mind; and harmed by injustices through no fault of their own. Today, our faith and our hope is “to raise the powers of love upward…”.
All Are Welcome
- Transforming Consciousness
November 2023 thru the Christmas Season
- Transforming Presence
January 2024 thru Lent into Easter
- Transforming Care Easter Season into Pentecost 2024
- Transforming Practice June 2024 thru November 2024
NOTE: If you would like to study along with us, start when and as you are able. There truly is no hard timeline. These study resources are available to you to explore and share.
“Once the seed of faith takes root, it cannot be blown away, even by the strongest wind – Now that’s a blessing.” – Rumi
You might use the following to help ground and encourage you throughout this transformative experience.
At this table, everyone is welcome. At this table, everyone is seen. At this table, everybody matters... no one falls between. At this table, you can say whatever. At this table, you can speak your mind. At this table, everything's forgiven... there's enough for everyone. So come as you are.
“The perfect gift you can bring in your heart: come as you are,” songwriter Selah sings in her song At This Table.
Her words welcome us to begin cultivating our own willingness to be present at tables where, perhaps, our own voice or values or beliefs may not be most prevalent.’ May it also be an invitation to each of us to soften our own hearts as we offer grace and forgiveness to ourselves and to those around us, each and every day.
We, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, invite you, where ever you are, to join us in contemplation, study, and dialogue. We begin with the song At This Table. For, as we Grand Rapids Dominicans know, song is a prayer that settles deeply into our being.
As we embark on this journey of transforming consciousness, we open those spaces where the “other” is unwelcome and where we know ourselves to be the unwelcome “other.” In silence, with a simple breath, in this present moment, we can become one with all those who feel this same wall of separation. Reflecting, perhaps journaling with the following questions, and, if possible engaging in contemplative dialogue on them may lead us towards the first step on this journey.
Considering the image of table, who might need an invitation to our “table?” What might we need to do so that they might feel welcome?
Sometimes love takes us where we have refused to go. Think of a table where you have not felt welcome and imagine what it would take for you to say “yes”?