Spiritual Reflections

What table flipping needs to be done today?

Let this be the time to cross the thresholds before us.

IHM Direction Statement 2022–2026

Journeying together in co-creating our ever-evolving future, we will intentionally engage in actions that reflect God’s unconditional love for all creation and transformation of the world.

Let this be the time we commit to

  • Embracing courageously the Paschal mystery…
  • Being a mystical presence in the world…
  • Living boldly the call to discipleship…
  • Engaging in the evolving relationships among ourselves and with the global community…
  • Accepting the consequences of letting go… for…
  • Fostering mutuality and accountability for visioning…
  • Planning for the future, through contemplative dialogue and communal discernment, recognizing the urgency of the present moment…

Let this be the time to cross the thresholds before us.

IHM Community Answers

Jo-Ann Baca, IHM Associate

Any culture that inordinately values things that are shiny and new, and people with fame, fortune, and influence, needs to be flipped. In the uniquely Japanese aesthetic known as “Wabi Sabi” there is acceptance and appreciation of beauty that is imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. Noble signs of aging are welcomed as is simplicity, modesty, and silence. As a human race, we must learn to see the beauty in the humble, and to love the broken and the hurt. Through Christ we know that sorrow is not forever. Love is.

Sister Margaret Gannon, IHM 

We need to flip the voting tables where people are being denied their voting rights by appointed and elected MAGA officials.

Sister Ancilla Maloney, IHM

I am outraged that sane and insane persons are legally able to obtain automatic weapons. A new one is supposedly coming on the market that is modeled on those used on a battlefield! That will enable others to mass murder their brother and sister citizens.

Sister Ann Marie McDonnell, IHM 

The strangers among us-immigrants, migrants, refugees-were not welcomed, not wanted in some areas of the U.S. They were put on planes or busses carrying few possessions, told false promises, having no idea where they were going. Their destination was some big city in the North. No one there was expecting them. But the strangers were welcomed with open arms, and given food, clothing, shelter; were treated with respect and kindness. The table of mean-spiritedness was flipped to a table of love.

Sister Suzanne Delaney, IHM 

The present reality calls for flipping the tables where darkness resides in our world into reservoirs of wisdom and light to transform our world.

Sister Loretta Mulry, IHM 

I would flip the table on voting rights issues because it spans the problems of racial and social discrimination, disproportionately affecting dark-skinned persons, the elderly, and all financially poor persons. I am utterly appalled at some states reducing the number of voting polls, moving scarce voting polls to suburban or country locations where there is no transportation, making voter ID very difficult to prove, thereby reducing eligibility, and lastly, doing away with mail-in or early voting.

Sister Rose DiFluri, IHM 

In the past twenty-five years as Assistant Superintendent in the Diocese of Camden, my “flipping tables” moments are usually related to the areas of inequity between public and private schools around educational funding. Thankfully, while the state of New Jersey offers more funding for private schools than many other states, the nonpublic community is still working tirelessly to advance the adoption of school choice for the state. This has been, to put it mildly, an uphill climb at best. As a viable alternative to the many under-achieving public schools in the city of Camden, our Catholic schools would welcome students whose parents wish for a more conducive educational environment for their children, if only funding were provided in the form of vouchers or tax credits. While we do have our moments of justified anger, and of wanting to “flip tables” to see this become a reality, we continue to urge our constituents to do all that is possible in terms of political advocacy. This is what we must do, as the future success of our children demands that we do no less.

Sister Patt Walsh, IHM

As the election approaches, I would like to flip the table on the phrases: “Right to Life” (only for fetuses and not mothers, victims of rape, sexual violence or women with uterine health issues and the poor) and “Pro-Abortion” (does anyone seriously think a woman, a doctor, a family are seriously in favor of abortions? Rather, they want the ability to make a personal/family decision about having an abortion – and its potential physical, emotional and financial consequences – instead of a legal decision by a court). 

Sister John Michele Southwick, IHM

When I think about flipping tables, there are so many I would like to flip. Many in society: like bringing back the idea of respect as opposed to competition, caring for the earth as opposed to using it for our own benefit, and greed as opposed to working for the common good. In the Church there are tables as well that need to be flipped. Women in leadership, dignity and respect for LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters, speaking out on social justice issues like poverty, privilege, voting rights and so many more. We have so much work to do.

Sister Eleanor Marie Malanaphy, IHM 

I think our terrible problem of homelessness should turn the tables. It is so sad to see so many adults and children living on the streets. My mother used to always thank God for a roof over her head and enough to eat. She added, “what more do I need, Lord?” Homeless people can’t say that, for they don’t have either a roof or food. I lived with Sister Jeanetta Hughes and she always made two sandwiches – one for a homeless person whom she saw every day on her way to school and one sandwich for herself. Her little kindness turned over the tables.

Sister Fran Fasolka, IHM

We need to flip the tables on thinking and believing that anyone who is not cisgender and heterosexual is intrinsically evil and morally disordered. This type of binary thinking rejects the great and beautiful diversity in God’s creation. 

Sister Ruth Harkins, IHM

In 2013, Catholic University of America’s campus ministry received a Human Rights Grant to provide students with an opportunity to experience the US-Mexico border first hand. That opened the door for CUA to sponsor its first immersion trip to the Texas/New Mexico border. Life for migrants from Latin America has simply deteriorated over the past nine years. Now is the time and this is the moment when WE as women religious, bishops and Catholics need to begin flipping the tables until we begin to see change at both the state and national levels of government. More and more we are seeing the gradual deterioration of human dignity and basic human rights of anyone seeking a better life for their children and themselves. Our broken and wounded world is crying out for God’s unconditional, redeeming love, therefore, we as IHMs must fully embrace the poor and abandoned of our world in the spirit of Saint Alphonsus. Today’s immigrants are yearning for the same dream of Theresa Maxis and so we must respond with authentic hospitality and radical availability. 

Sister Mary Schoberg, IHM 

Lots of tables need flipping to my way of thinking. So, the first one is that of my own heart – being open to listening to both sides of an issue, comparing them to the Gospel, and discerning how best to respond.

Sister Judy O’Brien, IHM 

I have always found this scripture passage difficult. Imagining Jesus in this anger-induced state of mind does not come easy for me. Although I have been angry at moments in my own life, my usual reflex reaction is to cry as opposed to imposing any physical response. Having said that, I do believe that Jesus might have been calling us to flip a table to affect an immediate and necessary change for the betterment of the world and all of creation. The most obvious anger-inducing issue for us today I believe, is racism. It definitely warrants table flipping. The historic and present-day horrific realties of the oppression of people of color must stop. Recognizing and admitting that Jesus was a person of color may be a place to begin conversations for religious women. Being brain-washed by unrealistic depictions of the Holy Family as white has allowed us to participate in and create false interpersonal relationships with Jesus as he truly was. We have vowed to love and to follow the life and ways of a person of color, Jesus the Christ. How might that realization impact our present-day relationships with all of our brothers and sisters whose skin color and cultures differ from ours? In order for us to ponder and perhaps effect any change personally and globally, we may have to flip a table, too.

Sister Eileen Coleman, IHM 

Just as Jesus overturned the tables in response to the money changers’ disrespect for the sacred space of His Father’s house, we might follow His example by overturning the various “isms” that divide and disrespect the sacred soul of each of His Father’s creations.

Margaret Keller, IHM Associate 

Defend your church from the devil by praying the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. He is the fighter for our church.

Sister Karen Marie O’Neill, IHM 

It’s time to turn the tables on entitlement. “To whom much is given much will be expected.” Luke 12:48. We have so much and we think we are owed something… privilege, deference, and respect. We can think we are better than others. We need to flip the table on entitlement.

Sister Katie Sitja y Balbastro, IHM 

Flip the table to break with the righteousness of thinking that there is only one way to believe or only one set of values applicable to everyone, with no room for openness and diversity.

Sister Eileen Egan, IHM

I’d like to flip the table on inadequate medical care. A few years ago, a man came to our house asking me to pray for his sister who was dying of cancer. Arriving at his home, I became aware of an elderly woman screaming in pain as she experienced her last agony. I asked him if there were medicine to calm her pain. He replied that his family had taken his sister to the hospital the night before and was told there was nothing that could be done for her. Immediately, I got in the car and drove to the emergency room. The nurse informed me that they were at the change of shifts and that no doctor could help me at that time. Then, she retired from the desk and I was left alone. Noticing a wheelchair nearby, I began wheeling myself down the hall, raising my voice saying, “Auxilio, auxilio!” (Help, help!). A doctor appeared almost immediately and asked what he could do. I explained the situation and he wrote a prescription for pain medication. Because I am not proficient in giving injections, I asked for a nurse from our local medical station to help me. We returned to the house and, after a few minutes the poor, suffering woman was able to breathe easily and the family gathered around to pray for her. She died that afternoon. Her brother commented later, “I hope you’re around when I’m dying.” 

Sister Donna Korba, IHM 

What if we could flip the map so that the Global North becomes the South and the Global South becomes the North? Perhaps humanity would realize that if we work together there is enough for all to have enough so everyone might live dignified lives. No one would have so much as to deprive another to go without.

Sister Nancy Elder, IHM

We need to flip tables on all that prevents our crossing the threshold together to something new. 

Sister Christine Mihelich, IHM 

I need to flip my own tables: my assumptions, biases, and outright mistakes.

Sister Jane Connolly, IHM 

We are called to flip the table of certainty as we strive to embrace God’s unfolding plan.

Pat Sheehan, IHM Associate 

Let us tip the table on those in our society who call themselves Christians, but do not believe what it really means to be a Christian. Christians are followers of Jesus, who is a loving, forgiving and understanding Jesus.

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