What Would Jesus Do?

That’s what Sister Helen asked.

Susan and I were watching a documentary called “Sister.”

SISTER is a one-hour documentary highlighting the work of death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean. The film examines the life and influences of Sister Helen and delves into the evolving role of Catholic nuns in America. This poignant piece follows Sister Helen (best selling author of Dead Man Walking) as she counsels and fights for the stay of execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Sister Helen Prejean grew up in the Jim Crow South, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph at the age of 17, and emerged to become the leading voice against the death penalty in the USA.

Sister Helen’s awareness of social justice came even later, when she attended a talk by an activist nun who noted that Jesus’ message about the poor is that they be poor no longer. That their fate was not God’s will, and that just praying for people was not enough. Social justice, the nun said, meant being involved in political processes, because doing nothing was tacit support for the status quo.

What stung the most, Sister Helen said, “was the realization of how passive I had been.” A year later, she moved into Hope House, a Catholic service ministry in a New Orleans housing project. She was 42 years old. And a year after that, she would begin writing to a death row inmate.

“There’s this thing of how you discern God’s will in your life,” Sister Helen said.

Sister Helen’s latest memoir “River Of Fire” came out in paperback in 2019.

When you accompany someone to the execution, as I have done three times as a spiritual advisor, everything becomes very crystallized, distilled, and stripped to the essentials. You are in this building in the middle of the night, and all these people are organized to kill this man. And the gospel comes to you as it never has before: Are you for compassion, or are you for violence? Are you for mercy, or are you for vengeance? Are you for love, or are you for hate? Are you for life, or are you for death?

All of this got me thinking about purpose–my life’s purpose.

I do believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

But after watching this documentary I wondered what else am I doing to be more like Jesus?

There is my volunteer work with 3rd and 4th graders. Unfortunately this came to and end with the beginning of the quarantine one year ago. Note the date on the above school photo. March 4. One year ago today. You can read about the impact Susan and I had on these children here: https://brucebarone.com/2017/09/26/what-a-wonderful-world/

We pray we can continue with this work again someday soon.

Beauty. Children. Community. Working to make the world a better place.

Lent contemplation

When I woke up Wednesday morning I read:

“On this Ash Wednesday, I give thanks for this holy season—a time of deep, prayerful contemplation. With faith, I commit to deepening my spiritual understanding and more fully expressing my divinity. I solemnly ask which habits or thought patterns are keeping me from being the person I want to be. I take time in the Silence to sit with this question, open to whatever wisdom comes to me.

“As I consider what to give up, I also think of what I am giving to. I release old thoughts and patterns of behavior and welcome a new way of living. I release negative thinking to give myself the gift of positivity.

“I make a sacred commitment to the process of allowing the pure expression of my Christ nature to shine brightly through and as me.”

I love this. Deepening commitment. Silence. A new way of living. Positivity. Wisdom. Light.

I believe I have been given a gift from God to express my divinity by seeing and sharing beauty, by being of service to others, by being my true self and finding ways to bring light to truth.

My mission is to connect with people, inspire people, and build community.

With connecting with people and sharing with people in mind, I look forward to the day when Susan and I can continue our volunteer work in town with 3rd and 4th graders, which has been on hold for one year because of Covid-19.

Later during the day on Wednesday, I went food shopping and saw this in the grocery store:

I couldn’t help but wonder what chocolate candy, chocolate bunnies (I do see a chocolate cross!) and peeps have to do with Easter. I’ll have to look into this.

Meanwhile, it is lightly snowing now and time for me to read a few pages in some new books:

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew21:1-11