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Living Hope-fully in a Chaotic World

In an age with images of violence and the trauma of terrorism, how might a person maintain a sense of hope and not give in to the fear and depression that stalks members of our society? How does one nurture an attitude of peaceful expectation in the midst of financial challenges and demanding relationships?

Awareness of challenges facing society and individuals is necessary in spite of the surrounding and sometimes impending “bad news.” It is still, in my opinion, important to follow daily newscasts and keep abreast of family and neighbourhood happenings, while maintaining a cheerful and hope-filled perspective. This is not to suggest that we should not care and care deeply about society’s problems or our neighbour’s situation; however, wearing an attitude of upbeat curiosity can actually enhance our ability to live meaningfully.

So, how do we do that? How do we wear a smile and have a lift to our step that is real and not fake? First of all, I believe we encounter the truth of difficult situation head-on: no denying, no evading. We talk about a troubling situation to someone we trust- whose opinion we value; praying about a given situation or episode is also helpful. To speak with the Divine about the hurts that trouble our spirit and that of the world is important. We can consciously spread “Good News”, looking for it and then capitalizing on it. That is what we share when we meet our next-door neighbour or our cohort at work. We take responsibility for passing on a smile, for creating a more peaceful corner of our own milieu. Positive “warm fuzzies” create a sense of well-being. May we take charge of the threatening atmosphere and change it in the little ways we can: being people of caring and hope, creating peaceful encounters, lessening the drama of the daily news, and spreading the Good News of faith and renewed energy.

We are called to face reality and truth with courage, not to duck and hide. Life is good. We can be sources of creative energy and enthusiasm; we can live and spread hope. 


Helen Russel, csj 

Spiritual Director at Providence Spirituality Centre www.spiritualcentre.ca




Weekly Pause & Ponder

Interconnectivity is not only a law of physics and of nature, but also forms the basis of community and compassion. Compassion is the working out of our shared interconnectivity, both as to our shared joy and our shared suffering and struggle for justice.

Matthew Fox.  A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.


As the world nears four famines, 22 million children are at risk

For Janet Tiko, every day brings the possibility of tragedy. Her nine-month-old son, Simon, suffers from malnutrition. She brought him to be treated at the Al-Sabbah children’s hospital in Juba, but Janet doesn’t know if it’s already too late.

More than one million people in South Sudan are now on the brink of famine. A United Nations declaration in February 2017 made the famine official, but the situation continues to deteriorate. There are 4.9 million people in urgent need of food and it’s estimated that more than one million South Sudanese children will suffer from acute malnutrition this year.

Unfortunately, since I last visited South Sudan in 2014, the situation for children has only grown worse. Ongoing conflict, a collapsing economy and depleted stocks from the last harvest have destroyed families’ livelihoods. As people flee violence, they’re left to survive on whatever food they can find – of which there isn’t much. Children have little choice but to drink unsafe water, leading to an increase in illnesses, especially diarrhoea, which can be deadly. Immediate threats to safety and health are compounded by long-term threats to the future of a generation.

The scale of today’s crisis is staggering, but South Sudan isn’t alone. The world is now facing the very real possibility of four famines, with food crises also threatening the lives of children and families in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Across the four countries, nearly 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition, and 22 million children are hungry, sick or out of school.

The good news is that child deaths due to famine and malnutrition are preventable if the right action is taken early.

In South Sudan, UNICEF and partners have conducted massive relief operations since the conflict began, and have intensified efforts to mitigate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis.

Since the famine was declared, with the World Food Programme, we  have been conducting joint emergency missions, delivering life-saving supplies and services to the affected areas in Unity State. Together, we have reached almost 200,000 people – including nearly 50,000 children –  with food aid, nutrition screening and support and basic health care. This is just one aspect of our large-scale regional response.  

UNICEF is working around the clock to reach vulnerable children and families in the most remote locations. In South Sudan this year, we aim to treat more than 200,000 severely malnourished children and provide therapeutic feeding programs at 620 outpatient and 50 inpatient sites. We’re also working with the warring parties to prevent recruitment of children into armed groups and reunite children separated by the conflict with their families.

Across the four affected countries, UNICEF has more than 750 staff working to bring life-saving aid to the most vulnerable, and that includes more than food. UNICEF is working to provide 7.4 million children with safe water, 3.4 million with measles vaccinations and 2.1 million with education.

But despite our best efforts, the scale of the crisis is far outpacing the humanitarian response. Unless more action is taken, the situation is likely to continue to deteriorate.

UNICEF has requested $255 million to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of children in South Sudan, as well as Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, in 2017. Last month, Canada announced $119.25 million to help scale up the response to the famine crisis, including $9.6 million for UNICEF’s work in South Sudan.

No child should die of hunger. The continued support of Canadians will make a difference in providing life-saving assistance to these children before it’s too late. 

David Morley is President and CEO of UNICEF Canada.


Weekly Pause & Ponder

It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, the radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.

Joanna Macy.  www.azquotes.com


Weekly Pause & Ponder

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

Joseph Campbell. www.brainyquote.com


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.