Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day

Americans celebrate Labor Day every first Monday of September. This holiday celebrates the efforts of workers with most workers and students getting the day off.

A machinist named Matthew Maguire, secretary of the New York Central Labor Union, proposed a Labor Day holiday in 1882. Some believe it was actually Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor that proposed the holiday that same year. It became a federal holiday in 1894, but 30 states had already recognized the holiday individually.

The holiday tradition is also owed to the Knights of Labor, who held a large labor themed parade in 1882. Other labor associations continued to make Labor Day celebrations popular.

Many observers relax at home or head to outdoor recreational activities, such as boating, barbecues, and camping. It is a day to celebrate the end of summer, as many schoolchildren start school after Labor Day. It may also be marked with firework shows and other patriotic events.

Parades are the most common mode of celebration, which often feature processions of labor groups. One of the larger parades is held in Brooklyn.  The parade boasts up to three million participants from a variety of ethnic groups.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Portrait of Jesus at Six A.M.

Portrait of Jesus at Six A.M.

This morning I woke up with a brush in my hand, determined to deconstruct the image of a mono-toned man who only reflects one side of salvation.

The hieroglyphics of hierarchy have bleached your blemishes
With despotism and domination since before I was conceived
But this morning, it will change.

This morning, the silenced voices of my own ancestors will dance
Through the hues of your hair.

This morning, the persecuted presence of lost populations
Will thrive through the tones of your countenance.

This morning, the cries of the Cherokee Will ring through the satin of your garb, And the voices of bigotry Will be silenced through the shading of every lost seeker.

This morning, the beauty of night and noir and noise will eradicate all limitations of my salvation and my canvas will capture the beauty of each color in the world.

This time, the truth and hope and glory found in the every drop of dew and in every morsel of majesty will come alive on this easel.

This time, the splendor of my savior will seep into sources it has never seen because the brush I use has been erected by the fingers of fluid faith.

This time, I will paint your face the color of water, Your skin the hue of a night sky, Your body reflective of each person who has ever seen beauty in the moon.

~ Kaeley J. McEvoy

Poem used with permission of author. She is a senior majoring in Religious Studies at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA. Image of "Jesus of the People" used with permission of artist Janet McKenzie -


Friday, August 23, 2013

Beguines Continue to Inspire

Maria Roja, Associate of Wisdom
Participating in Dr. Elizabeth Dreyer's session on "The Beguines: In Their Own Words" on July 27 at Wisdom House was an enlightening experience.

Our group engaged in a Close Reading of selected texts from three 13th century Beguines (laywomen/mystics):  Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Brabant, and Marguerite Porete. 

This was a first such experience for me... wherein we slowly read the selections, shared our impressions of their writings, and attempted to discern the meaning beyond the words. This was no easy task given their creative writing styles, unique language, and the highly oppressive cultural limitations imposed upon them... plus the challenge of putting ourselves aside in the process. Under Dr. Dreyer's expert guidance and facilitation, the experience was fun, energizing and most enlightening.

I found myself intrigued by and drawn to the writings of Marguerite Porete, who, according to Dr. Dreyer, was the most radical of the three authors. I admired her courage, self-confidence, and the depth of her mysticism and inner authority.  Her writings stretched and challenged me towards growth beyond where I'm at now. She was a "free" spirit and her love for and commitment to God was unquestionably total and she wanted to share that with others

Marguerite wrote in one section of her book about the "freeness of charity." She wrote, "... at this stage of spiritual growth one is unencumbered from all things."  Many of us strive for this!

For more information about Marguerite Porete, see "Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls,"  Paulist Press series, " Classics of Western Spirituality."

For information about the Associates of Wisdom, contact Maria Roja at

Monday, August 19, 2013

Out of Control

Author and poet Rabbi Rami Shapiro presented a weekend program at Wisdom House in mid-July based on his book, "Recovery: The Sacred Art."

Participants explored the various ways we succumb to playing God and, therefore, prevent the cycle of control from being broken so that we can move into a fuller life. Rabbi Shapiro led the group in various chants and interspersed teaching and storytelling with great humor. Visit

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Wisdom Way

The actions of Jesus model the way of Wisdom; the way of mindfulness, discernment, holiness, and humility.

Photos taken at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine.
(#123 from The Love of Eternal Wisdom: A Revisioning of Saint Louis DeMontfort's Contemplation on Divine Wisdom by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. Book available through Wisdom House, $5 plus $2.50 shipping.)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

To Praise, To Preach, and To Bless

The feast of St. Dominic de Guzman is celebrated in the Catholic Church on August 8. This 13th Century preacher founded the Dominican Order dedicated to preaching the Gospel. This meant that from the beginning, they were "on the road." A contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi, Dominic's vision was to send preachers wherever the truth, justice, and the compassion of the Gospel needed to be heard and lived out.

One of the mottos of the Order was VERITAS (truth), so study was and is an important part of their lives.  One of the other mottos was "Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere" - "to contemplate and to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation."  Each of these mottos gives impetus to Dominicans in their prayer, their life, and ministry today all over the world.

Dominicans are known as joyful women and men who through their lives, their prayer, and their service, give praise to God, bless all that God has given, and preach God's unending fidelity. They are everywhere. You can find them fighting for justice and peace as well as creating a painting or writing poetry.

 For more information about the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers, visit In particular, to learn about the Dominican Sisters of Hope, of which I am a member, go to

Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP
Art and Spirituality Coordinator
Wisdom House

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friendship, Education, and Empowerment

The Youth Leadership Summit met at Wisdom House for educational workshops in July. The youth attending came from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Besides input sessions from group leaders, the youth had the opportunity to enjoy Wisdom House campus including our outdoor swimming pool.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Never Enough

Francis of Assisi didn't advocate organizing your stuff.  He advocated a radical poverty that meant you would never have enough stuff to organize.

(Excerpt from" Ethical Eating," Franciscan Media, p. 4)