Thursday, November 01, 2018
Happy Friday, the First Friday of November! And, Happy All Souls Day! The souls we are referring to are the souls of the Faithful Departed, our deceased family members, and all who have died. In the Apostles' Creed we say, "I believe in the holy, Catholic church, the Communion of Saints, and life everlasting. Amen. We believe that these souls are living in the "life to come," the after-life. Actually this life is the eternal life that will never be interrupted by death. This Communion of Saints which we mention in the Apostles Creed prayer connects us with all our family who have gone before us. We are not really alone, even if we are on a remote island not only God sees us, but we believe that the Angels and Saints see us and can help us. Have you seen the movie, "Coco"? It's about the Dia de Los Muertos celebrated in Spanish-speaking cultures in many parts of the world, including our neighbors South of the Border in Mexico. The film treats the Day of the Dead as a very important feast, and it depicts the after-life in a rather up-beat fashion. I do not want to describe it at length, because it is better to see it and enjoy it. It is a Pixar and Disney film, with engaging animation and a mystery being unraveled at the very end! For us of another culture, November 2 is a more somber day. From the joyful celebration of the Saints, we descend to the dead, those who may be in Purgatory, not ready yet to be fully in the presence of God. The Saints believed that it is a healthy custom for the soul to meditate on death, so we will live ready to die peacefully any time. In our palms we each have an "M" inscribed to remind us of "Memento Mori", remember your death. We all know that we could die at any moment from innumerable causes. If we paused once a day to look at those "M's" in our hands, and pray for a holy death, we would have less fear of judgement and the after life. A new book from Pauline Books & Media, is actually a prayer journal titled "Memento Mori" Remember Death. To get it, just dial their 800 number: 1-800-876-4463. My best regards for a beautiful month of November. May you have the chance to pray for the loved ones who have lef this life. I promise my prayers for all who read and meditate with this blog. God bless you!
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Happy Feast of All Saints and Happy Month of November--Month of the "Poor Souls!"
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Yesterday I posted that I am making a Cinema Divina Retreat. One of the films we watched is a classic, "To Kill a Mocking Bird." The story takes place in a fictional Southern town called Maycomb. Played by the impeccable Gregory Peck, Atticus Finch is a widowed lawyer with two children, his son, nick-named Jem, and his young daughter, Scout. Scout narrates as a grown up Louise when there is no dialogue. Together with Jem, Scout is both carefree and curious about many things, especially the mentally challenged son of the next-door neighbor. From scary hear say, the children named the reclusive son Boo. Scout is the most talkative sibling whose innocent greeting of a poor farmer turns a dangerous situation into a non-event.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
I write this towards the end of my annual 8 day retreat. Usually I make this retreat at our congregation's lovely retreat house in Billerica, Massachusetts north of Boston.I think it is a privilege as well as an annual duty to spend this time on soul work. Our retreat house is graced with lots of walking space, tall trees, shade and a relatively quiet neighborhood. I chose to make a Cinema Divina retreat this year. Each morning at 9:00 AM we gather in one of the living rooms to view a movie. A Scripture selection that reflects the movie's theme is read before the film. Afterwards the Scripture is read again. For those who wish, those who want to comment or add a reflection can do so. This year's theme is Children--"And a child shall lead them." One of the films is "The Florida Project" depicting a small group of children most of whom live with a single parent. The main character Moonie is about 9 years old. She is the leader of the kids who make mischief with little or no parental guidance. This takes place in a motel along a strip of highway leading to Disney World, a fantastic place for children. Bobby, the motel manager, is a steady father figure for the children and for some of the parents who display adolescent life choices.The experienced actor, William Dafoe, portrays Bobby a compassionate heart, and the one truly adult figure for the purple motel's children. Lack of money, danger of eviction, flaunting of rules, profanity riddled vocabularies and other less than grown up behavior show especially in Moonie's mother. She appears to have no workplace skills to help support herself and her daughter. The young mother has frequent melt downs in front of her child who seems all too used to her Mom's behavior. Moonie is adept at panhandling, showing younger children how to beg for ice cream money. Parts of the film are light-hearted, especially the children's conversations as they try to figure out life as best they can on their own. Moonie takes her friend Jancey on a "safari" in a cow pasture as part of their discovery of the world near-by. "The Florida Project" portrays just a few motel situations where children grow up in less than savory environments. In Massachusetts, homeless families are often put up in motels. Motels usually feature one large room, often only one bed, a small refrigerator, and maybe a microwave. I couldn't help but think of families cramped into motel rooms, of trying to manage caring for a baby and other children, providing meals and getting children off to school when classes are in session. The end of the movie "The Florida Project" was certainly a surprise. I do not want to give you any spoilers. I couldn't help but reflect on how many children live in such cramped quarters without playgrounds, with no space for doing homework, and little or no adult mentoring. Religion seemed absent from the neighborhood. Most of the time, right or wrong seemed relative. No one is shown going to any church, or saying any prayers. The families shown had very little comfort. Most of all, they seemed to lack the assurance that God loves them, and that they are precious in his eyes. If you see "The Florida Project" you may be inspired to help the children of the motel population to know that they matter and they can become upright, beautiful citizens. The film might also inspire job trainers to pay visits to motels which have longer term residents. Whatever the outcome, from now on, I will pray for all those, especially single parents, who must reside in motels because they lack their own homes.
Monday, June 25, 2018
I once met an enthusiastic 6th grade religion teacher who prayed regularly to St. Paul. "Sister," she declared as she bought herself a new copy of her beloved Novena to St. Paul, "I taught religion to sixth graders for all my life. With St. Paul's help I was able to succeed!" I was delighted to see someone who was not in the Pauline Family so devoted to our Patron and spiritual Father.
Monday, April 23, 2018
In the USA I have not seen very many sheep mainly because I have not been to "sheep country." A yearly event where I come from is called the Canfield Fair which features farm animals,including lots of sheep and goats. Once when traveling from a diocesan event in San Angelo, Texas we stopped the car to take a closer look at a large flock of sheep. Something about our appearance spooked the animals. All of them began a mass movement away from us except for one curious lamb. Several months ago I was gifted with a trip to Ireland. Sheep are everywhere in the countryside. Our tour included a visit to a sheep farm with a demonstration of how a shepherd dog on his own could round up a flock and move them up a steep hill, and then back to their original corral. It was amusing to see how there was always one sheep sticking its head out of the mass of wooly neighbors to see what was going on. We ended our sheep farm tour with a sheep hearing demonstration. With a strong shepherd brandishing an electric shaver, two sheep lost their thick wool in five minutes! The sheep put up little resistance, partly due to the size of the burly fellow who sheared them. Now when the gospel of John mentions Jesus as Shepherd, I can picture a large sheepfold with several gates to keep to the sheep safe from marauders. Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd, and the gate which protects his sheep. "I know my sheep and mine know me," Jesus tells us. When I was in Italy for a course of study in 2003--2004 every school day we would pass a real shepherd with real sheep. The road we took was one of the boundaries of Rome, large power lines bordered the western side of the road we traveled. Even though we were still in the city, there was plenty of grass available. The flock of about a dozen sheep gathered around their shepherd. Sometimes they would be to our right near the powerlines, or they would be on a little hillside, or grazing close to large super market. Although he was part of a profession dating back millenia, our shepherd carried a cell phone and on rainy days he sported rubber boots and toted a huge black umbrella. Even in the 21st Century shepherds still keep watch over their flocks, and their sheep know the voice of their shepherd. How do we know the voice of our Shepherd? We can "hear" his voice when we listen to his gospel proclaimed in church, or over the media. When our universal Shepherd, the Pope, speaks, we can hear the advice of Jesus being filtered for our 21st century ears. When we read the Scripture, the Shepherd is speaking.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Evangelization in the Modern World, reminded us that the driving force behind our evangelization efforts is the Holy Spirit. Anyone who wants to grow deeper in his or her faith will do so with the help of the Holy Spirit. Why not chose one per day of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and ask the grace to practice that gift?
- I am a Catholic Sister, a Daughter of St. Paul. I grew up in the USA Midwest. I have lived in several states--from Boston to Hawaii, to Alaska, to Texas. I was blessed to have studied in Rome, Italy for almost a year. I have been several times to Guam, once to Samoa, once to the island of Chuk, which was once called Truk. I was stationed in Toronto, Canada. Now I am in the USA. For now I am assigned to Boston. I work in our Pauline Books and Media sales dept. and I write regularly for our digital, on-line newsletters. I also serve in our Dedham, Mass. Pauline Book and Media Center.I am also available for retreats and public speaking.