Week of 2/12-17/2024: The Courage, Wisdom & Faith of Sr. Dorothy Stang

February 12, 2024: Dorothy Stang & Père Chenu: Teachers of Courage, Firmness, Resistance
We continue to celebrate the feast days of Père Chenu and Sister Dorothy Stang. Sister Dot (as her friends called her) worked to support peasant farmers and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest where they live and work. She refused to back down to the powerful forces trying to tear down the Amazon rainforest. Both Père Chenu and Sister Dorothy were deeply caring and compassionate, and both taught and exemplified courage, firmness, fearlessness and resistance. Sister Dorothy knew her life was in danger but nevertheless chose to stay in Brazil with the people and forest she so loved. At her funeral, one peasant farmer spoke up. “Sister Dorothy, we are not burying you, we are planting you.”

A tribute to the activist work of Sister Dorothy Stang. Video by The International Peace Museum.

February 13, 2024: Sister Dorothy Stang’s Story, continued
A recent article named “The Amazing Grace of Sr. Dorothy Stang,” tells us that she “chose to live in extreme poverty in order to help others living in poverty.” Those who knew Sister Dorothy said that she had a passion for people of all cultures, for social justice, peacemaking, fairness, and respect for the environment. She carried her Bible everywhere and sometimes called it her ‘weapon.’ One day when she was walking on a rural dirt road, gunmen blocked her way. She brought out her Bible and began reading the Beatitudes to them. They gunned her down at point-blank range. About the epic battle raging around the peasant farmers, Sr. Barbara English, a companion working with Sr. Dot, said this: They were David facing Goliath, and Goliath came in the form of multinationals, big business, ranching and lumber companies…[who] began to devour the Amazon forest. Apparently Dot’s murder was financed by a local rancher and loggers who were illegally cutting down the rainforest.

February 14, 2024: Ash Wednesday Meets Valentine’s Day: Lessons from Kabir & Sr. Dot
Both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on February 14th this year. Quite an interesting combo—one day reminds us of our mortality; the other of love. Kabir, the 15th century Indian mystic wrote a poem that speaks of love and death, eros and thanatos. It begins: Friend, hope for the guest while you are alive./ Jump into experience while you are alive!/ Think… and think… while you are alive./ What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death./
If you don’t break your ropes while you are alive,/ Do you think ghosts will do it after? Sister Dorothy was a person who broke the ropes and “jumped into life while she was alive,” following a path of compassion and justice for the poor.

A BBC News crew investigates what lay behind the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang. MDMarshall

February 15, 2024: David Stang’s Letter about His Sister
In a letter from Sister Dorothy’s brother, he wrote about when Dot was to receive an award. The plush auditorium was filled with peasants, politicians, lawyers, professors and other government agents. As she received her award, she invited David and his wife to on the stage with her. They all embraced. When David looked out over the audience, he saw many tears. Many people came onstage to hug her. They all knew she had a price on her head….So many were saying goodbye….Less than two months later, Dot was murdered. Matthew shares that he went to a mass in the Amazon after which people were asked to light a candle and name three people they knew personally who had been killed trying to defend the forest. One person told Matthew, “The hard part was limiting it to three. I know at least ten off the top of my head.”

February 16, 2024: Lenten Meditations? Try These Teachings from Sr. Dorothy
Sister Dorothy worked with and lived among the poor people of the Amazon for 31 years. How did she sustain herself in the face of the violence continually perpetrated by the multinational corporations trying to destroy the Amazon? She writes: I have to fill myself up with Scripture and the spiritual life so I have the grace to continue in the struggle. I have learned that Faith sustains me. She says: Together we can make a difference bringing peace, joy, caring, love to our world that is losing sight of our guiding star—the goodness of the real God.  

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur honor Sister Dorothy Stang’s martyrdom by calling on viewers to take action for justice and for the earth in her memory.

February 17, 2024: Sister Dorothy’s Teachings, continued
Sister Dorothy spoke about a “real God”—one whose essence is goodness. This was also a theme of Thomas Aquinas who spoke of “original goodness” and how God is “sheer goodness.” Here are some other pearls of wisdom from Sr. Dorothy: We can’t talk about the poor. We must be poor with the poor and then there is no doubt how to act. And: I work with people who are living on the margin. They help me in renewing the earth, in the way we take care of it. All of us are part of a great Oneness. And: We must help the people recapture a relationship with Mother earth that is tender and kind. And: I’m trying daily to fill my lungs with the beauty of our cosmos—her energy—so all that is to be woman can be felt in me. This is Creation Spirituality in a nutshell, is it not?

Banner image: Altar for Sister Dorothy Stang at a Cosmic Mass.

Recommended Reading

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest (Revised/Updated Edition)

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.
“The unfolding story of this irrepressible spiritual revolutionary enlivens the mind and emboldens the heart — must reading for anyone interested in courage, creativity, and the future of religion.”
—Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

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3 thoughts on “Week of 2/12-17/2024: The Courage, Wisdom & Faith of Sr. Dorothy Stang”

  1. Avatar

    How fitting they call the Amazon the Lungs of the Earth. Technically, the oceans are the lungs, but the Amazon is the great Balancer, the great carbon sink, which nourishes the wild, mysterious, lush greening power of life. Is patriarchy another word for the human who is so fearful of being consumed by God and what God creates that the human decides to use brute force on the creation in order to destroy what terrifies him? But what is the human without God but an empty vessel.

  2. Avatar

    “The next level of evolution for us is to recognize that we are all cells in a larger community coming together to share awareness in order to create one living organism that would be called humanity. This is when we all recognize that we’re all cells in the same living organism and work in a coherent fashion — then humanity is complete, the Earth as an organism completes its evolution. It becomes a living, breathing, pulsing Gaia… When we come together in a unity, with a voice that will allow us to speak as one, that will allow us to speak with other Ones.” — Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.

    “Still there are moments when one feels free from one’s own identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such moments, one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small planet, gaining in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable: Life and death flow into One, and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only Being.” — Albert Einstein

    The Divine Flow of Loving Diverse Oneness in the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment….

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