Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Saturday, November 05, 2016
It was a fine summer day in Maine's lake region. I was just about ready to exit the pulpit after having given an invitation to the parishioners to visit our book fair. The pastor spoke up: "Sister forgot something!" I made a quick mental fact check. Father continued: "All you men who sit on the couch watching football, there's book downstairs [in th eparish hall where our display was set up] for you." I smiled when the priest reminded me of the "football book." I think it is now out-of-print, The Spiritual Lessons of Football. Since at that time I was not a New England Patriots fan, nor did I follow any other football team, I had not even leafed through the book Father pointed out. Of course, we sold out all the copies of the "spiritual football book." Today I read an article in the Boston Globe about the New England Patriots, who so far have only lost one game in this season. Tomorrow they will face one of their strongest foes. To prepare themselves, New England's coach and all the team members watched videos of their own plays, highlighting their own mistakes. Their goal is to avoid the mistakes they made, or to execute plays they had not tried so as to win tomorrow. St. Ignatius would be glad to see how they are making a football examination of conscience. No doubt coach Bill acknowledged what each player did well, and encouraged his men to keep up the good. St. Ignatius taught that the daily examination of conscience is a "non-negotiable" element of the spiritual life. The daily examen starts with praise and thanksgiving to our God for the graces received in the last 24 hours. Then one looks over the day and checks his or her response to God's grace: You may see that you had the opportunity to practice patience with one of your kids. Did you control your immediate reaction to scold him? Or, did you let loose with a "not again" complaint? Did you show your love for your spouse, or were you too busy to give that little rub to his shoulder, or kiss or when you walked in the door? Whatever your position, married or single, lay person or vowed religious or priest, the daily review helps us to be more aware of God's efforts to draw us closer to him. When we notice our failings, our sins, we don't hang on to them like a weight to be dragged around. We admit our mistakes, we tell God "I am really sorry." And as we might say to our children, "We resolve to do better the next time" we are faced with similar challenges. After we express our contrition, then we pray for the grace to continue on our spiritual journey. We tell Jesus we trust in him to provide the strength we need to overcome our habits of sin: our impatience, our reliance on alcohol or pain killers, our cover-ups for our own shortcomings. Maybe we have fallen into gossip. We plan to change the subject the next time we are tempted to take down somebody we really don't like. Whatever the sin, we admit it. We don't white wash it. We allow Jesus to dissolve our spiritual stains, better than any "oxy" soap. Prayer gives us the power to overcome bad habits, or to do a good deed for someone we may not like; to go the extra ile for soomeone who may not be able to repay us. Blessed James Alberione practiced this Ignatian examination of conscience every day. Alberione gave his Pauline Family members a short prayer that sums up the goal of the examen. It goes like this: "By myself, I can do nothing. But, with God, I can do all things. To God the honor and glory, to me the heavenly reward." The Divine Mercy devotion reminds us to pray often, "Jesus, I trust in You." With the daily awareness prayer, we can face our daily challenges with confidence.
Monday, October 24, 2016
In the "Pauline Family" to which my community of Daughters of St. Paul belong,both secular and religious, our principal devotion is to Jesus Christ, and Master, our Way, our Truth and our life.In most of the myriad depictions of Jesus Master, Jesus is pictured holding a Bible in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in blessings.
The Novena begins with an antiphon which is repeated between Scripture verses: "One only is our Master, Christ Jesus. O, come let us adore him." Then follow verses gleaned from the Gospels: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness. Repeat the antiphon. You address me as Teacher and Lord, and fittingly enough, for that is what I am; for I have given you an example: As I have done, so you must do. Repeat the antiphon. Avoid being called teachers. Only one is your teacher, the Messiah. (You are all brothers.) Repeat the antiphon. A student is not above his teacher, but every student when he has finished his studies, will be on a par with his teacher. Repeat the antiphon. I am the vine you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him shall produce abundantly. Repeat antiphon. I am the Bread of Life; if anyone eats this Bread, he shall live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Repeat the antiphon. Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The man who brelieves in it and accepts it will be saved. Repeat the antiphon. Then you may read from any of these selections: Matthew 23:1--10; John 14:1--11; Hebrews 1:1--16. A Hymn to Jesus Master may be sung here. A suggested song would be "You Lord Are the Way" by Lucien Deiss After the hymn, the leader (when there are 2 or more) says or sings: Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life. The response is: Have mercy on us. Antiphon for the Magnificat(The Magnificat is Mary's joyful hymn of praise which is recorded in Luke's Gospel, 1:46--55. O Master, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, alleluia. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and tp his descendants forever." Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen. The antiphon O, Master.... Let us pray: God, our Father, you sent your only Son to be our Teacher and Lord. May we ponder his teaching so that we may better understand divine wisdom. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Today the Church celebrates a Saint who embraced a very modern apostolate, Blessed Timothy (Joseph) Giaccardo. Father Timothy, as we affectionately call him in the Pauline Family, was the first ordained priest in the Society of St. Paul, after the Founder himself, Blessed James Alberione. As a parochial vicar in the parish of St. Bernard's in the Italian Piedmont town of Narzole, Alberione noticed the signs of a priestly vocation in young Joseph Giaccardo. When Alberione asked him if he wanted to become a priest, Joseph responded enthusiastically. Then he hesitated, since his family was poor, he did not have the necessary funds to put him through the seminary. Convinced of Joseph's priestly vocation, Alberione found benefactors to sponsor Joseph in the diocesan seminary. As soon as he could, Father Joseph Giaccardo asked his bishop permission to enter the tiny community founded by Father James Alberione. When the first group of Pauline priests pledged their lives to God through vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and fidelity to the Roman Pontiff, then Joseph took on the name "Timothy" in imitation of St. Timothy, a devoted disciple of St. Paul.
Friday, October 07, 2016
To all those who try to be faithful readers of my blog, please accept my sincere apologies. I am still learning time management: how to balance my prayer life, my mission, my community life, and stay in touch with my social media friends! Those on Facebook who are "friends" with me are a large number. Yet, many of them, to be honest, the great majority of my Facebook friends are unknown to me. These friends are an international bevy of men and women religious, priests and laity. Many are Catholic, others may not be. In our Pauline Family we have a prayer of praise for the media of communications which bring glory to God, and draw people closer in fellowship to one another. Personally Facebook is where I find news about family members who otherwise are far from me geographically and physically. It is true that there are some who misuse this form of Internet communication to defame others, to bully, to spread downright lies. Yet I am impressed by how many ask for prayers for themselves and many others every day. They are intercessors for the needs of others. I enjoyed a vacation that took me to Ohio for a few visits to the Canfield Fair. The Fair is one of the longest held festivities in the Youngstown, Ohio region. Whenever I am home in August and September, I try to go for at least one day. This year I think I attended 3 days. The weather was hot so I and my sisters and niece took our time to view the display, the various farm animals: draft horses, ponies, 4-H horse barns, chickens, ducks, goats and llamas. There were pigs for only one day because of the possibility of swine flu. Officials reported that there were over 500 vendors. Most of them sold food: cotton candy, Italian specialties, French fries, lemonade, apple fritters, and of course, ice cream. From the 8th grade through the 11th grade I attended the Fair as a 4-H person. I kept a horse (owned by my oldest sister) at the Fair along with those of my family 4-H club members. We had kept a record of how much we spent on feed and care for the animal, then we were judged in various competitions. 4-H (head, hands, heart and health) helped to form us kids to be responsible and accurate in the way we cared for our horse project. Tonight I ask you to pray for all those in the path of Hurricane Matthew, and for all its victims, especially in Haiti. I will try to be more of a blogger. God bless you!
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Earlier this week we read of the violent death of 85 year old Father Jacques Hamel, a priest of the Diocese of Rouen, France. Two young men entered the Church in the small village of St. Etienne near Rouen. They killed Father after they forced him to his knees. The Church has lived through many persecutions, some memorialized by churches, statuary and monuments. I believe it was the early theologian Origen who said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith." Father Hamel could have retired 10 years ago when he reached he age of seventy-five. Since he had the energy and the will to keep in his post as an active priest, he stayed on. People loved him because of his dedication, his kindness, gentleness and humility.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Happy Birthday Church,that is, best wishes for a great celebration to all of us members of the Church. The Church began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit "on Mary and the Apostles," and all who were present with them in the Cenacle. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that after the Ascension of Jesus the early Christians, Apostles and the holy women and other first disciples of Jesus. Where they had been timid about their belief in Jesus as Lord, now they were all proclaiming to crowds of people the Good News of the Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. At the Ascension of Jesus he had promised that they "would be clothed with power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes to you." May we share in this same "Pentecostal" experience and rejoice in the gift which is the grace of God and membership in this Church. Let's ask to be "clothed with that power from on high. That power grants us the seven Gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, fear of the Lord, understanding, piety and fortitude. We can always grow in these gifts which are also virtues.
We are not Christians "part time", only at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain decisions; no one can be Christian in this way, we are Christians all the time! Totally! May Christ's truth, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and giveds to us, always and totally affect our daily life. Let us call on him more often so that he may guide us on the path of disciples of Christ. Let us call on him every day. I am making this suggestion to you: let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day, in this way the Holy Spirit will bring us close to Jesus Christ.As we see in the Scriptures the Apostles were gathered with Mary and they all received the Holy Spirit. Sister Mary Ann Lorraine wrote about Mary, Queen of Apostles. Enjoy her enlightening words. Here is the link which I am typing and I hope you will be able to open. http://thomasfortoday.blogspot.com/2016/05/mary-and-holy-spirit.html Let us ask Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of the Apostles, to grant us each a new and deep Pentecostal experience of truly living in the Spirit! Have a Happy and Holy Pentecost as we celebrate our common Birthday together!