Monday, October 30, 2023
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Punish, kill, revenge, get back at someone are the rules of the ancient times. Twenty seven states still have death penalty while twenty three states have already abolished death penalty. Are we still in the prison of hatred? Is death penalty a just law? Are we getting what we deserve as a society from our lawmakers?
United States of America, a land of freedom, and yet a land of imprisonment. We are imprisoned by complacency, by indifference, by revenge to get back at someone because for some old practice that is called justice. Is it really justice? People get punished using the rule "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." If I get killed, somebody will get killed. And we say that we are not at war but at peace? We look at the people in Gaza, praying that God will have mercy on Israelites and Palestinians especially the civilians and that the war will be put to an end. We have our own interior war in United States. One life, a life of a nation, is a life at stake. We cannot put a price on any one's life. Ending one's life or ending a whole town's life is a wound that penetrates throughout generations.
In the history of United States, death penalty has been in existence since the Colonial times. In Biblical history, there was once a punishment as death penalty where murder is to be judge with death (Leviticus 24:19-20).
Is this the justice of God? If we look at the book of Numbers 35, a compassion for a person who committed murder through the city of refuge is given. The city of refuge is a place where people who accidentally killed someone can go to. There is a required two witnesses before anybody can be condemned to death. There is a year of freedom once the high-priest passed away. Did this rule last in the land of the chosen ones?
God protected Cain from revenge when Cain murdered Abel. Moses murdered the Egyptians, he was guilty, run away from the Egyptians. God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. David fell in love with Bathsheba put Uriah in a risky and life-threatening position where he, the husband of Bathsheba, died. None of these chosen ones died. Who are the chosen ones? Christ made all of us God's chosen ones. He died not selectively but the Messiah died for all. The Word made flesh came for His love to be manifested for every single person who has ever lived and who is yet to live so that we can be with God for all eternity.
Fast forward, here in United States of America, we are watching the war in Gaza by Israelites and Palestinians who are using the old rule of justice, an "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" while this country is the number one producer of weapons of mass destructions, gun violence kills most people, we have a "silent" war that has been happening over the millennium. Death penalty is a silent killer. As a society, we punish people to die. Unless we abolish this law to kill people who commit heinous crime, some were proven innocent, we are guilty of murder as well through our complacency and directly through our taxes. According to Amnesty International, the cost to put the people in death penalty along with its litigation and follow-up representation can go up to $237 million a year compared to a non-death penalty maximum life imprisonment can only cost over $11 million a year (https://www.amnestyusa.org/issues/death-penalty/death-penalty-facts/death-penalty-cost/).
It is time that as a nation, we can have more peaceful society where healing is cultivated rather than revenge, hatred, punishment, and cruelty. Jesus ended a cruel punitive behavior of the society on the cross. "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they were doing." We certainly do not know what we are doing after two millennia as we are still in this unresolved punitive behavior that is brought by the colonial times and some interpretations that have existed in the Old Testament. There is an inconsistency between upholding what the country whose foundation is built upon what is life-giving i.e. pursuit for life, liberty, and happiness.
Last October 10, the University of Incarnate Word commemorated the World Day Against Death Penalty. It was a date when UIW, Catholic Mobilizing Network, Texas Coalition Against Death Penalty, and Texas Pax Christi sponsored a symposium to talk about abolishment of Death Penalty through panel of experts in this topic: Monique Coleman, the sister of Ryan Matthews who was exonerated from death row, Mitesh Patel, who advocated for clemency for the man who killed his father, and Dr. Doshie Piper, an Associate Professor in Criminal Justice.
October 10, 2023 is another date when we as a nation executed another person on death row. This time, it was Mr. Jedidah Murphy. His execution in Texas proves our continued support for this system of hate and revenge. We are responsible as a society for this life executed. Another person in death row, William Speer, who is originally scheduled for execution on October 26 received a stay on execution. Speer was forgiven by the brother of a person he killed more than 26 years ago, when he was merely 16 years old. His completed education that time was 8th grade. Living in prison, he committed murder of his fellow inmate. He was remorseful for what he did. A converted man, a baptized Christian in 2021, he is becoming an instrument of healing among the prisoners which is a source of light for the victims' family. His appeal for clemency was unanimously denied on October 24, 2023.
There is a silent war among every US Citizens, especially the legislators who have been entrusted to uphold laws that are good for their constituents. It is a war crying out loud in the deepest core of our being for a change. If we are not going to talk about this, we agree to continue to uphold this undignified ancient practice, and putting people who are normally victims of poverty, lack of education, sexual, mental and physical abuse into capital punishment. We need a government and society that upholds program that builds good and moral behavior, education, and life-sustaining skills. We all have voices. Are the voices that need to be heard getting heard? Have we used our voices to make long lasting justice and peace possible for the future generations to thrive? Are we sustaining practices that we can be proud of? Are we grateful for what we are upholding in the present?
It is a call to revisit our participation in the justice and peace system of this country. Call on your legislators to abolish the Death Penalty Laws. We are wasting tax-payers money and ignoring the opportunities that we can take to make way for true peace. We can truly promote life, liberty, and happiness by true peace in our hearts with action in our legislative system.
Make true peace a reality by supporting various organizations that are working hard to abolish this inhumane practice:
- Texas Coalition Against Death Penalty
- Catholic Mobilizing Network
- National Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty (NCADP)
- Equal Justice USA
- Journey of Hope
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)
- Witness to Innocence
- International Commission Against Death Penalty
- Amnesty International
Saturday, October 28, 2023
The more we understand why we have to do justice on the environment, the more we will be able to understand the urgency of it. If we look at our daily food consumption, grocery shopping that produces trash in the landfill, the daily restaurants and to go food shopping, the more we will understand how much poor our environment is becoming.
In a throw-away culture, people want convenience. You get your coffee, you throw your single-serve brewing pods that are non-biodegradable. How many are using these disposable plastic brewing cups? I can see this in school, in the house, in car dealers, in hospitals, etc. If there are 332 million people in United States and 27-30% of Americans are using this single-serve brewing cups, we are dumping that much plastic that are non-biodegradable in the landfill. This is how much is going to get burned in the atmosphere. The burning of this plastic produces harmful chemicals that can cause respiratory illnesses, cancer, and other chemicals that can harm the reproductive system. If you are really serious about getting healthy, one of the things you can help is to reduce the amount of plastics that are getting into your trash.
Reducing the amount of single-use plastic trash and polystyrene in our trash can be resolved by being a little bit more conscious in our daily choices and grocery shopping. If people who buy these non-biodegradable resources convert into an environmentally friendly traditional coffee brewing machine, or coffee press, there will be a significant decrease in the amount of trash in our environment not to mention the chemicals that get into our body through the chemicals from the plastic from the food and our environment. This is just one example among the daily choices we make affecting our health, environmental justice, and the future of the children and their children. Ponder what other resources that are harmful and that you throw in the landfill that you can opt for a smarter and environmentally-friendly choice?
Learn more about how you can be part of the solution by networking with the friends of environment. Participate in the Eco-Study Tours in San Antonio, Texas:
Thursday, October 12, 2023
Our hearts grieve at the increase in the number of people killed and wounded in the violence of war. We sorrow at the culture of violence and war that terminates with the right to live. Warfare is the real adversary. Wars endanger all humanity and threaten all life in our common home.
United with Pope Francis' prayer for "a stop to the armed attacks," we pray that more people will reject weapons, inhumanity and hatred. Let us pray to nurture the culture of nonviolence and peace in all nations of the world. The people in Israel and Palestine are in our hearts. Let us pray that we promote, in unity, actions rooted and grounded in love that seek the path to justice and stand along humanity.
Let us pray:
Incarnate Word, we ask that peace prevails in our common home.
Walk with us in our promise to extend your healing love to all that causes fear,
hopelessness and sorrow on our planet.
Please guide our path to justice and peace.
Sign the Declaration of Peace
Nuestros corazones lloran ante el aumento del número de personas asesinadas y heridas por la violencia de la guerra. Nos aflige la cultura de violencia y guerra que pone fin al derecho a la vida. La violencia bélica es el verdadero adversario. Las guerras ponen en peligro a toda la humanidad y amenazan a toda la vida en nuestra casa común.
Unidas a la oración del Papa Francisco para “que cesen los ataques armados,” rezamos para que más personas rechacen las armas, la inhumanidad y el odio. Recemos para alimentar la cultura de no violencia y de paz en todas las naciones del mundo. La gente en Israel y Palestina están en nuestros corazones. Recemos para que en unidad promovamos acciones enraizadas y fundamentadas en el amor que buscan el camino hacia la justicia y nos mantiene al lado de la humanidad.
Verbo Encarnado, te pedimos que la paz prevalezca en nuestra casa común.
Acompáñanos en nuestra promesa de extender tu amor sanador a todo lo que causa miedo, desesperanza y dolor en nuestro planeta.
Por favor, guía nuestro camino hacia la justicia y la paz.
Firma la Declaración de la Paz
Sunday, October 8, 2023
- Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
If you are interested in viewing the latest update on what you can do to support the Climate justice through economic and foreign relational commitments, please refer to the email below from our friends from Sisters of Mercy.
From the Sisters of Mercy:
“Given Pope Francis’ urgent call to care for our Common Home, both in Laudato Si’ and Laudate Deum, NETWORK has drafted a letter (attached) urging President Biden to fix the agreement immediately, out of our shared Catholic values. Please consider signing on your congregation and sharing with your Catholic associates. While the form requests individual contact information, it is the congregations and organizations that will be listed. To sign, please click the link:
IPEF Congregations/Organizations Supporting Climate Justice through Economic and Foreign Relational Commitments: here
NOTE: If you want to see the letter drafted by NETWORK, give us a comment or send us an email: email@example.com
- Laudate Deum: "Laudate Deum": Apostolic Exhortation to all people of good will on the climate crisis (4 October 2023) | Francis (vatican.va)
What is it about? Here’s conversation about it:
- Stewardship on life
It is a waste of resources if the people’s effort is spent on revenge and killing people as a form of justice. There is no peace in revenge and deliberately taking life. Why not restorative justice, rehabilitation, circular healing, and other life-giving initiatives like the eco-socio-economic programs?
UIW Symposium for Abolishment of Death Penalty October 10 with various time for events
From the Organizer:
If you are not a UIW student or employee and want to park your car, you will need to sign up for a visitor's pass. Here are the instructions:
Visitors you may register your vehicle for a guest parking permit at no cost via the T2 Cardinal Cars website. You must create a Guest Login to register your vehicle. This is free of charge.
Please have the following required items before you begin the process:
· Valid email address (you will be required to verify your account using this email)
· Vehicle license plate number and State
· Vehicle Make, Model, Color, Style
You will receive a confirmation email with a receipt listing valid vehicle and parking date(s).
TRANSPORTATION TO VIGIL
For those of you who registered to ride the UIW bus to the Vigil downtown, please meet in front of the Diane Bennack Concert Hall. The shuttle will leave promptly at 11:30 so please be five minutes early.
For questions, please contact the UIW Parking Office at (210) 283-5066 or call me, Arturo, at 210-259-1060.
Hope to see you there.
Saturday, October 7, 2023
A big thanks to Dr. John Hooker, Dr. Benjamin Miele, Ms. Patricia Ramirez, Mr. Daniel Potter, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, Laudato Si Animators, the UIW community, the Incarnate Word Sisters, and Texas Pax Christi, who made the eco-pilgrimage possible. Dr. Carlos Garcia, MSE Dean, provided transportation for the high school students. UIW Medical Health’s Dr. Shaylon Rettig, Mission, and Ministry’s Ms. Beth Villareal, Headwaters’ Sr. Cindy Stacy, Ettling Center, and Sustainability Department’s Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez and Teofilo Reyes also contributed to bringing their juicy ideas and background works to celebrate UIW’s Season of Creation. The team promotes sustainability, raising awareness of our own contributions and responsibility to care for the Earth. To hold this outdoor event without any bottled water being used, we gave the students reusable water bottles from the beginning of the pilgrimage, reminding participants that the UIW campus is surrounded by water refilling stations in each of the buildings.
The team started as early as 7am getting ready with the resources and preparing for what the day would bring. The eco-tour started at 9am and ended at 11am. We had four groups of high-school students led by Arthur, Sr. Christi, Maria, and UIW student Jessica Solomon. Everyone was given a pilgrimage guide containing facts, quotes, and prayers or reflections related to pilgrimage, community gardens, the pollinator garden, the solar house, artworks, Headwaters, and the Blessing of the Animals. The event only featured four of these while the Blessing of the Animals was scheduled for October 3. The Headwaters Sanctuary was not covered by the event but is open to the public. It is adjacent to the UIW campus and offers nature trails and the Blue Hole, making it a popular spot for outdoor education, reflection, hiking, and volunteer works for the preservation of native plants and species.
Everyone joyously celebrated the season with all the eco-friendly and sustainable gifts they can bring home and talk about after the end of their pilgrimage. Apart from the reusable water bottles, other eco gifts were given after answering questions about the tour. The students had a chance to have reusable utensil kits, native seeds, reusable water bottles, and some biodegradable toothbrushes (including biodegradable bristles, yes!). Some cheerfully received extra gifts after answering questions on sustainable habits and were given eco-friendly friendship bands that were personally crafted by Maria Trevino and Sr. Marylou. The friendship bands included sustainability pledges such as “I will use reusable water bottles (instead of bottled water)”, “I will plant and care for a tree”, “I will turn off the faucet when not in use”, “I will start a pollinator garden” and many others.
Sustainability is visible in the UIW campus, being part of the Laudato Si Action Platform. The practice of sustainability is still growing and that is the point. Sustainability is an ongoing process with an invitation to what individuals and the collective society are already able to do and what else can be done to further lessen our carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
As the last activity of the Season of Creation, Sr. Martha Ann, Dr. Darlene Carbajal of the UIW Communication Arts Department, Darlene Jasso and Edwin Mendoza, founders of the Little Angels of Mary in Guatemala www.LittleAngelsofMary.org facilitated the Annual Blessing of the Animals at Our Lady’s Grotto on October 3 at 6 pm. This has been a tradition for more than forty years. Dogs from small, medium, and large, pictures of cats, squirrels, and dogs, and animal stuffed toys paraded the seats of the Grotto. Annually the gathering has begun with “Sacred Creation,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60OgepxidUg a version of St. Francis’ “Canticle of Creation” which was set to music by Bro. Rufino Zaragoza, OFM with all incarnating the prayer.