After a relaxed vacation schedule in February, Wisdom Wednesday returns. What a week! Today we offer prayers for peace in Ukraine, an exhortation to preach about the climate crisis and a student’s blunt message to the pope. We also offer links to two religious news services for the Ukraine war. We include a petition against the planned Texas execution of a woman – even after eyewitness testimony that the death of the woman’s two-year-old was an accident. A Supreme Court nominee – a Black jurist — says “we can only come this far by faith.” And what could be more appropriate during Lent than pondering the moment of death? That is the exact moment of death: do the memories of a lifetime really flash through the mind of a dying person? A new study, before and after the moment of death, says, “Maybe.”
Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal for peace in Ukraine at his public audience in the Vatican on Feb. 23. He also appealed “to everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike” to make March 2—Ash Wednesday—“a day of prayer and fasting for peace.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also calls for prayers.
There are conflicting views about the role of the Russian Orthodox Church at this time of war.
Commentator Pat Marrin ponders whether Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill could be negotiators, while Mark Silk ponders the role of the Orthodox Church as an arm of state policy. Associated Press writer Peter Smith finds Ukraine’s majority Orthodox Christian population divided between an independent-minded group based in Kyiv and another loyal to its patriarch in Moscow.
In Chicago — where more than 54,000 people in the metropolitan area identify as having Ukrainian ancestry, according to 2019 U.S. Census estimates — several Catholic churches held special Masses and rosaries over the weekend to pray for peace in Ukraine and an end to the war.
In an article in America, Ashlee McKinless and Jim Martin conclude that it is good to pray for peace in Ukraine, even when it feels useless.
Along with prayer and fasting, of course, there is alms-giving.
Many opportunities – for Lent and beyond – are available to take action for the climate.
Pope Francis heard college students from the Americas speak about climate and the lack of leadership from the church.
I think every priest should listen to this,” said Marilyn Antonik, a climate activist and contributor to the efforts of the AUSCP.
And here’s a provocative statement from Father Emmet Farrell.
To pastors who avoid talking about climate change, saying it’s a political issue, ‘I say, no, no, no. This is stewardship for the Earth. This is probably as moral an issue that we’ve ever dealt with, . . . I don’t think I’ve ever had one person say to me in confession, ‘I sinned against the environment . . . .’”
Need more encouragement? Visit this site.
The latest death penalty newsletter is out, with lots of opportunities to bear witness to the value of all life – and we offer a petition to save one life – a mother Texas wants to execute for the death of her two-year-old, even though eye witness testimony said it was accidental.
AUSCP Picks This Week
Oh yes! There’s a Supreme Court nominee in the news, even though crowded off the page and broadcast by Ukraine. But immediately after President Joe Biden introduced Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court at a White House event on Friday (Feb. 25), the federal appeals court judge stepped up to the podium and appealed to the divine. “I must begin these very brief remarks by thanking God for delivering me to this point in my professional journey,” she said. “My life has been blessed beyond measure, and I do know that one can only come this far by faith.”
Read or remember Richard Rohr? He was a keynoter at our Albuquerque Assembly? You can keep in touch. Register by March 16 for Immortal Diamond, an online spiritual exploration of the True Self based on Richard Rohr’s book. Join spiritual seekers around the world to rediscover your forgotten Self that can never be destroyed—only transformed to live in eternal Love.
Finally, if you have been with a family member or are among the many ministers who have accompanied someone from this life to the next, here is a page from Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience. Researchers caught a rare glimpse of recorded brain activity in the moments preceding and following death. But can this actually tell us anything about what happens when we die? Did life’s moments stream by?
If you want the religious perspective on the war in Ukraine, National Catholic Reporter is one go-to source.