Christmas Compassion


Compassion is a year-round virtue, but many of us suffer “compassion fatigue” when faced with the endless stream of stories of the lonely, the sick, the destitute, the abandoned, and the displaced in our world today.  What are we to do?  Jack Melito, C.M., discusses Vincent de Paul’s instruction about living a life of compassion:

First of all, we must remind ourselves that our first experience of compassion was the compassion we were sown by God.  As a result, we must make every effort to be compassionate to ourselves and to others.  We must pray for a spirit of Compassion and Mercy.  A life of compassionate action will result in a heart open to carrying the sufferings of the poor.  Though there may be times when regret creeps in, you must remember that, though you may judge yourself as having neglected opportunities to be merciful and compassionate, you did your best.  Therefore, always pray for a spirit of compassion and mercy.

“Christmas Compassion” is a chapter from the book, Windows on His Vision, (pp. 112-113) available at:

It is also available as an ebook here:



The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality


In this reading, Robert Maloney, C.M., “focuses on: 1) the cross in the New Testament; 2) the cross in the Vincentian tradition; 3) some problems in reflecting about the cross; 4) some reflections on the cross today.”

“The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality” is a chapter in the book He Hears the Cry of the Poor: On the Spirituality of Vincent de Paul (pp. 30-51) available at:

From the book cover: “In He Hears the Cry of the Poor Robert Maloney addresses vital questions of religious communities today.  His vision is filled with hope and promise as he discusses the renewal of community and prayer life, the apostolate, and the growing international character of communities.  Throughout the book, Father Maloney puts into active and creative dialogue voices from the past and the present.  Vincent and his spiritual friends come alive, not only as a force in seventeenth century France, but as partners in conversation with men and women of today.  This book is an excellent resource and guide for those who follow a Vincentian spiritual life, as well as anyone who takes an active role in their Christian community.”

“The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality” appears also as an article in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 16, Issue 1, Article 1 (1995) available at:


“Healing Grief, Inspiring Hope: the Prophetic Practices of Ramadan”

iman iftar photo

This is the khutbah (sermon) I delivered for the Eid ul Fitr prayers marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan at the University of Chicago on June 25, 2017.

In it, I try to examine the reality of grief and trauma as pervasive aspects of the human experience and how true prophetic religion does not seek to cover up or pretend away such realities but rather acknowledges them directly. It also provides individual and communal practices for healing such grief and trauma, while at the same time always inspiring hope in a reality greater than what we can perceive in the moment. Examples of this prophetic methodology are mentioned from the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!). The worship practices of the month of Ramadan can be some of the best examples of these practices in our community and we should build on that model and work to create real and healthy communities throughout the year.

I welcome feedback and please share with others if you think the message is important.

Peace and Blessings,


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Insights on Ramadan, Mary Poppins Style


Right now nearly 2 billion Muslims are celebrating Eid.  Is it just a holiday name on a somewhat inclusive calendar for you? Does the description, “festival of the breaking of the fast” marking the end of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from before dawn until sunset actually give you any insights or make you think, “Clearly going 17 hours with no food or drink is an occasion for JOY!”?  Do you observe Ramadan and want to share your own comments?

Well DePaul’s Muslim Chaplain and Assistant Director of the Office of Religious Diversity, Abdul-Malik Ryan, just published a blog piece originally posted on entitled “Ramadan is like Mary Poppins” in which he paints a picture of what Ramadan means to him as seen through the lens of Mary Poppins.

I’ll share a portion of the writing as a warm-up, but give the entire text a read when you have a chance, and feel free to share comments below:

In Ramadan we do things we never knew we could
If we were asked before we experienced Ramadan, when we might have tried fasting once on a relatively short day and found it difficult, whether we could fast a month straight of nearly 17 hour days, while standing to pray in the nights, maintaining our work schedule, spending significant amounts on numerous worthy causes, while maintaining a cheerful attitude with a range of people we don’t always spend time with…we would surely not think it is possible. Yet, many of us have found we can do that with the help of faith, hope, and the special conditions of Ramadan. The Banks family would never have imagined they could do the special things they did with Mary Poppins, whether it was hopping into chalk drawings, dancing on the rooftops of London, or telling off their boss when he deserved it, but with Mary Poppins around accomplishing what they would have thought impossible became a regular occurrence.

Ramadan brings joy into our lives
It is most famously in the scene where the children go to the chalk drawing in the County Fair that one sees the enormous joy Mary Poppins brings into their lives, as the song says “It’s a jolly holiday with Mary, no wonder that it’s Mary that we love.” This is of course also seen in making a task like cleaning the nursery fun, or spending an afternoon laughing themselves up to the ceiling. Although it is filled with fasting and other forms of worship, Ramadan is a time of joy for most Muslims. Most of us have some of our fondest memories in this month and we look forward to it. Routines are changed, families spend more time together, people visit each other more often. While excessive feasting in the evening is not recommended, even a small meal after fasting brings a person pleasure and tranquility. The Prophet (saw) told us that the fasting person has two joys; one when breaking the fast and one when he or she meets God. The month is filled with joy for many and culminates of course in Eid, where one relishes in the accomplishments of a month of getting closer to God and to each other.

Katie Brick is the Director of the Office of Religious Diversity

Importance of Interfaith Dialogue

By Priyanka Patel

While most college kids look forward to spending that beautiful, stress-free week in March on a beach in a tropical climate, I chose to spend mine volunteering with the Daughters of Charity in Bladensburg, Maryland. Upon arrival to Bladensburg, we were told we’d be staying in a convent with the Catholic nuns that were kindly hosting us. This was the first time I’d ever seen a nun, let alone step into a convent. I was born and raised a devout Hindu, and still practice my faith on a daily basis. I wear a red vermillion mark on my forehead to symbolize my affiliation to the Hindu faith. Nonetheless, each of the nuns greeted me warmly and were careful to ask about my religious dietary restrictions so that they could prepare food for me accordingly. The next morning, we headed to Church. I sat in amazement witnessing the love and devotion among the Catholic devotees. While serving meals to the homeless, I watched as the community came together, gathered in small Church basements serving what they could and bowing their heads in prayer in unison. It was these small moments that I realized the importance of interfaith dialogue. Though my religion is much different than the Abrahamic ones that surround me, we are all essentially devoted to one cause – social upliftment. Through this mission, we can find our similarities and coexist. As my Guru, H.D.H Pramukh Swami Maharaj once said at the United Nations’ Millennium World Peace Summit in 2000,

“Just as the unity of our followers makes our religion strong and protected, the unity of all faiths will make our common future strong and protected… True progress of any religion lies not in growth by numbers but by the quality of life and purity and the spiritual awakening in the adherents. Thus every Hindu should become a better Hindu, every Jew a better Jew, every Christian a better Christian and every Muslim a better Muslim and every follower should become a better follower… Religious leaders should not dream of establishing their religion as the one religion of the world, but dream of a world where all religions are united. Unity in diversity is the first lesson of life. Flourishing together by working together is the secret behind peace.


Who do you Know?

By Katie Hoffman


Who do you know?


It is interesting to sit back and think about all of the people we know… do you ever think about your backgrounds and how that has perhaps defined some of the interactions you’ve had with that person? It’s intriguing to ponder how cultures can change and even enhance some of our relationships and allow us to be more altruistic.


For me, I think about my living situations through my time at DePaul; each year sharing a home with someone of another faith tradition. My freshman year I lived alone and then with a friend of mine who happens to be Muslim and through our conversations it was easy to note how similar she and I are. My sophomore year, I shared an apartment with a very good friend of mine who is a non-practicing Lutheran and hence, religion and culture affected by religion were not large parts of our relationship but we were still able to share values. Junior year I was lucky enough to live in the Vincent and Louise House–this perhaps was the most rewarding and challenging living situation, especially being the only Jew in a house with seven Catholics, a baptist and a non-denominational Christian.  It was a home in which ideals were always challenged; but with love and the hopes of understanding.


Now, as a senior I share an apartment with another Jewish girl and a good friend of mine. One would think it would be a lot easier when considering culture, however it is quite the contrary. However, through our discussions it has allowed my eyes to be opened to truly how different one person may believe and practice their faith tradition and allowed this to be compared to my own experiences; this has made all the difference and has allowed me to appreciate Judaism so much more and it’s multifaceted approaches. This understanding I have begun to apply to learning about others and their cultures and I invite you to try to do the same.

The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality


This article explores essential New Testament texts about the cross, its meaning in Vincentian tradition, and problems in reflecting about the cross. The cross is the symbol of God’s love for humanity as well as his power, as evidenced in the resurrection and Jesus’s victory over sin. Moreover, Jesus’s choice to die as an outcast is part of his focus on the marginalized during his life. Sometimes the cross refers to actual suffering that believers must undergo, but is more often used metaphorically to refer to what people must do to follow Jesus. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac encouraged the contemplation of the cross as a symbol of God’s love and saw service to the poor as identifying with the cross in that sense. Their nuanced views on suffering, asceticism, and mortification are explained. Examples of beneficial ascetical practices are given. The theological problem of God’s relationship to suffering is discussed. Texts are offered for Vincentians and Daughters of Charity to use in meditation, and the forms the cross takes in the lives of both are listed. Finally, readers are urged to respond to suffering in the world because it is a reflection of the crucified Christ.

“The Cross in Vincentian Spirituality” is an article in the Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 16, Issue 1, Article 1 (1995) available at:

It is also available as a chapter in the ebook He Hears the Cry of the Poor: On the Spirituality of Vincent de Paul (pp. 30-51) by Robert P. Maloney, C.M., available here:

Praying with Louise de Marillac – Introduction


Louise de Marillac was a wife, mother, widow, teacher, nurse, director of the Confraternities and Ladies of Charity, and cofounder with Vincent de Paul of the Daughters of Charity.  Patron of Social Workers, Louise knew personal suffering, and she also knew the suffering of God’s poor people.  She was an organizer, a radical thinker who lived life intensely and whose quest was to do the will of God with a deep faith in divine providence.

Praying with Louise de Marillac is a book in the Companions for the Journey series of meditation guides on Christian spirituality.  Authored by Audrey Gibson, DC, and Kieran Kneaves, DC, it was published by Saint Mary’s Press,  Christian Brothers Publications, Winona, Minnesota, in 1995.  ISBN O-88489-329-4  Copies may be obtained directly from the publisher or on-line at


Solidarity with Muslims at DePaul

Abdul-Malik Ryan serves as Assistant Director of the Office of Religious Diversity and DePaul’s Muslim Chaplain. In this role he serves as Advisor to UMMA and the Interfaith Scholars student groups.

Recent days have been trying for many different people in our country and around the world, among them the Muslim community which has been targeted through both inflammatory rhetoric and government policies that have caused suffering and created fear for many in American Muslim communities.  At the same time, we have also seen an outpouring of action from Muslims and from others acting in solidarity which has given us hope and determination to continue to struggle for dignity for all communities.

Many people have been asking, “What can I do?” For those looking to show solidarity with the Muslim community at DePaul, we would like to extend a special invitation to participate in Fast a Thon on February 16.

Fast a Thon is an annual program organized by DePaul’s UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead) student group which invites people of all faiths or none to join us in experiencing fasting, community, and service together on the same day.  We recognize that everyone is busy and has many different commitments on their time, so we have created several different ways in which people can participate in this effort.

1) People are invited to pledge to fast (as best they are able) on February 16.  Simply go to this link and enter your name and email and you will get a reminder the day before with some suggested guidelines around fasting.  This will include an invitation to wear green on that day in a display of solidarity with the Muslim community.   

2) People are also invited to attend our iftar (breaking of the fast) dinner on February 16 at 5 PM in Cortelyou Commons.  The breaking of the fast (at sunset) will be at 5:27 PM that day.  We will share a delicious meal as a community, reflect together on the experience of fasting, and be entertained by a unique comedian Jeremy McLellan. McLellan is a Christian who has caught on with Muslim and other audiences for his unique take on issues like immigration, race, religion, Islamophobia, politics and disabilities – he celebrates diversity and critiques bigotry through his comedy.  Please RSVP for the dinner here if you know you can commit. An RSVP is necessary to ensure we have space (and food) for you at the dinner.

3) Finally, Fast a Thon will raise money as a community for a great cause.  As part of this Fast a Thon, UMMA is collaborating with Zakat Foundation, an international humanitarian relief organization, to raise money to support education for Syrian refugees, the youngest and most innocent victims of the world’s greatest contemporary humanitarian crisis.  People can donate through this link, by bringing a donation on the day of the Fast a Thon, or visiting the Muslim Life Center in Lincoln Park Student Center room 329 at any time leading up to the dinner.  Please look out for Fast a Thon tabling in the Student Center and spread the word about ways to get involved.  If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Abdul-Malik Ryan