Thursday, July 28, 2016

A New Age

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.
One media account quoted an Algerian born Muslim woman who came to the site of the Church to offer her prayers and condolences. She had been touched by the priest's kindness. During this Year of Mercy, I am sure that Father Jacques would have whispered "Jesus, forgive them, they know not what they are doing."
Let us pray for all victims of violence and their survivors who mourn them. As Pope Francis said, "This is a war", scattered in many places. But, he adds it is not a "religious" war. Greed is the prime mover of much of the violence we witness in our life time. Although it is at times hard to watch, the movie "Blood Diamonds" shows how human trafficking, greed and violence trap men, women and children into In the USA we see racial tension, joblessness, gang violence, random shootings, and discontent among many. Others of us need to stop and refresh ourselves in prayer offered for our leaders, our priests, our Pope and each of us. May Father Hamel's death remind us of how unexpected death may be.
Following the Crucified Lord day-by-day we can overcome our fear of death, natural though it is, by daily "dying" to our selfishness and other sins. Our daily self-denial is what we can offer in the chalice and on the paten raised up in offering and consecrated during daily Mass. Is our Age, a new Age of Martyrs. Whether or not that be true, we are witnessing examples in our days: Father Hamel, the 4 Missionaries of Charity slain in Yemen, the young Christian men killed by ISIS in Libya, are part of this "New age of Martyrs." May these men and women, new Christian martyrs, intercede for us. May they pray for us to be be solid in our faith, and alive with enthusiasm for God and our brothers and sisters.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Birthday of the Church

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.
Pope Francis tells us:
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!

Monday, May 02, 2016

May with Mary

Today is only the second day of May. The weather is damp and a bit chilly, yet the sun is still behind all those clouds. We are OK with the rain, since April showers were missing most of the time. I planted some morning glory seeds last week and they have already sprouted in their window sill containers. I plan to put them in place at our Dedham, Massachusetts Pauline Book & Media Center. Today our Sisters in Pauline Books & Media shipping department are very happy. Our print run of the Pope's New Document, Amoris Laetitiae arrived this morning--jut as it was promised to us by the printers. See the little video: https://youtu.be/opNW_0WAm_Y.
Yesterday I spent my time on retreat preparing to spend this month well. Soon it will be the Ascension and the Novena to prepare for Pentecost. Our Redemptorist Chaplain reminded us yesterday of the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our Lady is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, since Jesus was conceived in her through the Holy Spirit. Let us ask Mary for the grace to be truly attentive to the Holy Spirit's promptings in our lives. Years ago another Sister and I attended a catechetical conference in Indiana. The keynote speaker was a Bishop who told us to remember what we are saying as we make the Sign of the Cross. He suggested praying the Sign of the Cross like this: "in the name of the Father who created me, and of the Son who redeemed me, and of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies me." Using this format once in a while reminds us of how the Blessed Trinity informs and gives life to our lives. A great way to spend the month of May is by praying the Rosary. It is like carrying the whole gospel in your pocket. Each one of the Mysteries of the Rosary presents us with an episode from the lives of Jesus and Mary. Praying with our lips and meditating with our minds on the four kinds of Mysteries gives us so much spiritual help. If your day includes a lot of drive time, why not help your prayer life by using the Rosary CD's done by our Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul. Have a great start to this Month of Mary, Month of Pentecost and of the Holy Spirit. And of course, it is the month for Mothers too. Let's remember our heavenly Mother as well as our birth mother. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter

Thursday, April 07, 2016

April Flurries and More

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Yes, He is truly risen! The Easter season lasts for several weeks, so it's OK to wish people a Happy Easter even in this second week of Easter! Usually I post a few lines to Facebook everyday. So I apologize for being remiss about my own blog. For various reasons I have spent more time at our Pauline Books & Media Center in Dedham, Massachusetts lately. Before Easter folks were looking for gifts for the many new Catholics being received into the Church on Holy Saturday. Since May is traditionally the month of First Communions, especially for East Coast Catholics, we have been really busy with families seeking First Holy Communion books and gifts.
We are hoping for good weather. On Monday we had icy snow all day. It snowed a bit more on Tuesday. Then most of it melted today with a heavy April downpour. We also have experienced electrical power failures that were related to electrical failures. Today and in the past week we are experiencing high winds. For a few days we will enjoy warmer (above freezing) temperatures. Then there may be more snow on the horizon. I am looking forward to seeing all of our plants blooming very soon. Last Spring I took on the little project of making sure that our planters outside of our book center in Dedham, Mass. had fresh plants. The budget I had to work with was $17.00. The a few miles past our Center a nursery had many plants, especially marigolds and petunias. For $16.99 I was able to purchase 2 little trays of baby marigold plants and about a half dozen petunias. Before I pulled up the dried marigolds just before winter, I saved a packet of their seeds. Now I am awaiting a fresh crop of baby marigolds. So far only 2 green sprouts have poked their way out of the little containers where my marigold seeds are waiting to take root and eventually move to Dedham to adorn our Book Center!
My plant hobby reminds me of our spiritual life. In particular it reminds me of the parable of the Good Seed. The Internet article on marigold care left me thinking that these flowers are the Special Forces of the Plant Kingdom. The article discouraged planters from using good expensive new soil, since these flowers don't need rich soil--just plain dirt. "Bloom where you are planted!" came to my mind. I also thought of Jesus the Gardener. He can make virtues grow in us, even though we hardly seem to make an effort at being good. The Divine Gardener is ready to make us bear fruit. St. Paul once wrote that some Apostles sowed the Good Word, others "watered it" by nudging it along in local churches, yet "God gave the growth." May he do so for us: Give us the ways and means of growing in solid virtue with roots deep in the soil of faith, hope and love. The photo shows one of the planters bearing last year's crop of marigolds and a few petunias.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday 2016

The Pope treated this today:
Impress, Lord, in our hearts the sentiments of faith, hope, love and sorrow for our sins.
When Jesus bowed his head and said,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,"
the hearts of his mother and his followers at the foot of the cross must have felt so devastated, so alone. Yet, he had told Dismas, the thief who from his cross had asked to be remembered in Jesus' kingdom: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Somehow remembering that sentence must have lit a flicker of hope amid the sadness at seeing Jesus die such a brutal death.
With Pope Francis we repeat our prayer asking Jesus to engrave in our hearts a deeper faith, hope, love and contrition or sorrow for our own sins. When we were younger our mother told us that today, Good Friday, is a day of silence, a day to think about Jesus and what he went through for us. Perhaps you had to work today, or travel, or look after your own children or someone else's little ones. Offer your work as a living prayer, done for love of God and with the intentions Jesus has.
Believe me, placing a holy intention into what we do in our everyday tasks whether or not we get a salary for those works, is like putting the correct address on an envelope that we mail. That song that was around in the late 60's, What the World Needs Is Love, Love Sweet Love, is good for every year and every day. We need to build bridges and not walls of hatred, extend helping hands and not "turn our back on our own." In this Good Friday of the Year of Mercy, I look to the cross of Jesus from which mercy flows every day so I can benefit from God's mercy freely given to me. Because of this free gift, I hope to extend mercy to all around e, and to all who may read this blog. Each day in the Mass we renew the sacrifice of Calvary and Jesus offers anew his body and blood for us. I am so privileged to be able to attend Mass almost every day and receive the Body and blood given for me and for all. Have a good continuation of this holy Friday, this Good Friday which brought us the greatest Good--God's loving mercy and redemption. May you grow in love and in thanksgiving for the gift that is Jesus, our Lord and God.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Sacred Three Days

At 5:30 this evening, Holy Thursday, two priests con-celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in our chapel. The reading from Exodus reminded us of the Passover meal, and the blood of the lamb sprinkled over the doorways of the Hebrew households spared them from death as they prepared to flee Egypt. The reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians clearly teaches that the bread we eat and the wine we drink are the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood to nourish us on our way in life. In Chapter 6 of John's Gospel, Jesus had promised that he would "give us his body as food and his blood as drink". Some people walked away from Jesus then. Jesus did not call out to them and say: "Hey, wait a minute. I meant to just give you a sign, a symbol of my humanity. Come on back. Forget what I just said." No, Jesus was a prophet and not a politician. He spoke the truth because he is The Truth. We believe Jesus' promise to care for us and actually nourish us who believe in his "Real Presence" in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Paul wrote that he received from the Lord what he handed down to us. Tonight we remember that Greatest of Gifts the Eucharist which is so available to millions of us throughout the world. God wired us so that we need to eat about three times a day. So why not feed our soul what it yearns for--that union of our whole self with the whole Self of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tonight we keep watch with Jesus hidden in the Eucharist. On that first Holy Thursday Jesus went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He prayed face down on the ground begging the Father to spare him "the cup" of suffering. He shuddered at the thought that despite his love being poured out for each person, sinners would turn their back on him and reject his love. As John wrote: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." That moral suffering of being rejected and the thought of bearing all the sins of the world must have weighed on him. Luke tells us that "drops as of blood fell upon the ground" St. Paul said that "He who knew no sin was made sin" as he gave himself up for us. When I meditate on Paul's words, I imagine Jesus being overwhelmed with a huge weight, a weight that is ugly, stinking with the rottenness of dead things, totally abhorrent. Doctors who have studied the Passion believe that Jesus heart even in Gethsemane was broken with sorrow. He begged his Father to spare him from drinking from the chalice of suffering humiliation, ridicule, apathy, scourging, and crucifixion. Yet, his prayer brought him into perfect alignment with the Father: "Not my will, but yours be done."
If you stay up tonight, or for reading tomorrow, take up the New Testament or just the Four Gospels and read the last chapters of each gospel to read and pray over their descriptions of Jesus' suffering or Passion. I leave you to pray in our "garden" set up where Jesus in the Eucharist is surrounded by Sisters and guests who want "to spend one hour" in his Eucharistic presence. Here is the "Garden" where Jesus in hidden in our midst in the small tabernacle prepared with love by our Novices. May the following two days of teh Sacred Threesome, Good Friday and Holy Saturday be grace-filled and peaceful for you.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

March Meditation

We are in the middle of our Great Lent--the once a year time when we focus as a whole church on Christ's Passion and what caused that Passion: sin. Rather than on sin itself, which we are all aware of we zero in on Christ. His life and death redeemed us, made reparation for our sins. When he comments on Jesus' heading towards Jerusalem, the Scripture writer Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis sums up the purpose of Jesus becoming one of us like this:
The Letter to the Hebrews, having at its center the whole Christian theology of atoning sacrifice, spells out in clearest terms how Jesus' eventual self-oblation is the very purpose of the Incarnation, It also shows us how the holocaust of Jesus' life and body toward which he is ascending in Jerusalem like Isaac carrying the wood on his back up Mount Moriah, is the highest fulfillment of the Father's design.
One of our first Sisters in the USA often repeated that when it comes to living a good life and accepting the crosses which come our way, it is not a matter of having a "grin and bear it" attitude. That could be something forced and eventually will evaporate. No, rather Sister would say, "It is a matter of giving love for love." Christ died for love and with love. Love is what makes the ugly beautiful, the heavy light, and the unsufferable bearable. Jesus said that we can do nothing worthwhile for heaven by ourselves. But, as St. Paul passionately emphasizes, "With God I can do all things!" St. Paul did endure a lot of suffering, fatigue, shipwreck, beatings and an entire litany of sufferings. In the end he would say, "I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me!" May your day be lighter and lovelier because of the love of God poured out on you. My prayers are with you for a very blessed day!