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Everyday Spirituality

karina and monita best

Karina Sandoval and Monita Alvarez Chip

A survivor of fear, 26-year old Karina Sandoval strategizes to bring recovery to Ciudad Jurárez, a Mexican city smeared by its bloodshed and drugs. “My family lived in Anapra, west of Ciudad Jurárez,” said Sandoval. “We heard shootings every day. Our parents would drive my sister and me to High School even though we lived only a few blocks away from the school.”

The day came in year 2010 when, with what belongings they could pack, Sandoval, her mother and sister got into the family car and drove across the Mexico/Texas border into El Paso to live. “We were lucky, we have United States Citizenship,” said Sandoval. One week later, they returned to their Anapra house and found it robbed of the furniture and electronics left behind.

Since the 1990’s, Ciudad Jurárez has more than once ranked number one as the most violent city in the world. Serving as a distribution conduit for narcotics from Mexico to the United States, the city instigates rival drug cartels and subdued Mexican officials, creating a breeding ground for terror and senseless deaths. Casualties include young women, exposing a feminicide that chafes those who struggle to validate female humanity in a male-dominated world.

The violence and its effects bleed into nearby communities. In El Paso, a bit more removed from the core of the chaos, Sandoval reasserts her determination to help her former home, doing so with the dimension of faith. Sandoval works at the Diocese of El Paso in the Office of Faith Formation. “Working from the standpoint that all people have an inherent right to dignity and respect, we are building a network to provide services to those who escape the violent areas while adding our voices to the activists currently fighting to make sure violence and impunity do not have the last word,” said Sandoval.

The lack of funds for social services adds to the daunting task. Therefore, Sandoval was pleased to discover that forty-five miles away, at St. Albert the Great Newman Center, Monita Alvarez Chip, has been developing a plan with her colleagues to bring awareness of the border problems to students attending New Mexico State University (NMSU). “For two years now, the students have become engaged in campus ministry to learn about and respond to the border realities as a whole,” said Monita Alvarez Chip.

The NMSU Catholic Campus Ministry, connected to New Mexico State University, is developing a Border Awareness Program to offer students a series of day trips to the El Paso/Juarez area. “The ministry calls attention to why the border issues matter to the spiritual journey of each individual,” said Alvarez Chip. “Individual spirituality contains a social element.”

The Campus Ministry students have twice now made trips to the border towns. “So far we have only been able to speak through the border fence, but Mexican children gladly come over and talk with the college students,” said Alvarez Chip. “The students see first-hand that the people, too often marginalized and ignored by society, are equal human beings.” The visits impact the heart. After returning to campus, effort is made to unite the heart with the head and form critical skills to flesh out tangible action.

“People can be liberated from poverty, violence, human trafficking, and feminicide,” said Alvarez Chip. “All people have innate dignity and the right to awareness, healing and progress.” A theological approach to reversing the injustices reaches back into the 1990’s when pink and black crosses were used by activist groups in the area to bring attention to the deaths and disappearances. The symbols ask consciousness to take the crucified people down from the cross to receive acquittal.

This theological approach is also reframing salvation, from a future beyond this lifetime, into a reality today. “The crisis in Ciudad Juárez calls for wide reaching transformation, not only politically but also in the church,” said Dr. Nancy Pineda-Madrid, associate professor at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and author of Suffering and Salvation in Ciudad Juárez, the first book written that identifies a theological aspects emerging from the violence and feminicide. “Local and international human rights activists can put these border issues on the front burner. The Mexican government can give due attention to stopping the atrocities. The Church hierarchy can reconfigure its views on women. Survival can advance to salvation.”

The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, originated circa 1660.

Two-hundred and thirty years ago, Benjamin Franklin, inventor and politician in newly founded America, wrote a letter to Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society in Britain, telling him about an upcoming first-time manned flight.

For people to fly was ridiculous, basically impossible to Joseph Banks and he poo-pooed the idea of flight as he spoke with his fellow members of the Society. To even consider the idea was a waste of time and thought.

Thinkers in the Royal Society, even established scientists, were influenced by Joseph Banks, and didn’t pursue the idea of flight. But, a few intrigued, courageous people quietly looked into it.

The French were the first to put man in flight via hot air balloons. And, they did so successfully. November 19, 1783, Pilotre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlande rose and traveled through air.

Manned flight was so amazing, it blew people’s minds. They wondered if they could hook the hot-air balloon up to their plows and reduce the need for more horses.

Obviously, the physics behind balloon flight wasn’t totally understood. But, flight still happened.

The science behind Mind-healing may not be totally understood, but it still happens. Nothing can stop the laws of life, truth, and love from being manifest in health and happiness.

 

Elmore Leonard (1925-2013), author with bestselling books, gives 10 tricks for good writing. One of the tricks is to “use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.” In other words, keep the writing free of religious, medical, psychological jargon.

I look at the Bible and wonder if its writers applied the same trick. Minus the flowery patter in the King James Version, most Bibles use language suitable to a broad range of speakers and readers. Distinctive idioms are used sparingly.

This says two things: Elmore Leonard wasn’t the first person to learn the trick to use jargon sparingly. And, I can use the jargon I am familiar with when I am praying a prayer based on a spiritual truth read in the Bible.

The Gospels were written decades after Jesus ascended, therefore, personal quotes were never taken from Christ Jesus. So, Jesus very well could have spoken words not written in the Bible. Experimenting with this, I began praying with a language familiar to me.

I don’t just repeat the words from the Bible. I focus on a spiritual truth and put it in my own words.

I found my prayers are more effective when I use my jargon. And sometimes, my lingo can get brazen.

When I’m talking with other people, I refer back to the trick, and speak in idioms they are familiar with. Communication is much stronger and more productive.

Here is an excerpt from an abridged version of Science, Theology, and Medicine,  a discussion on how to guide those modalities with spirituality.

 

“Some spiritual healers exhibit an innate effortless ability to reflect Truth—they are the Mozart of music, the Emily Dickinson of poetry. Most of us, however, need to study divine Science and practice our spirituality with concentration. Be assured, we can capture, or recapture the healing element because the healing power of Truth extends throughout time and space.

The system of divine Science relies on the might of Mind.”

The entire chapter can be purchased for $1.99 on Scribd