Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Merry Christmas to all of you who read this. Christmas season in the Church's calendar lasts through the feast of the Epiphany or January 6.
On December 16, we Daughters of St. Paul began a 9 day preparation for the Birthday of Jesus. It's called the Christmas Novena. I prayed in a special way for all of you who meet me via this blog. Thanks for stopping by and reading it. thanks for the comments, and for your prayers.
I hope to "talk" to you soon in the next blog entry.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Advent's Signs

Thanks for visiting my blog, and having patience with me. It's already more than a month since I have added to this site. Last Saturday, December 1 was our annual Birthday Party for Jesus event. About 270 children came along with their parents and other relatives. Children and adults dress in costumes to have their pictures taken with "Baby Jesus." St. Nicholas gives presents, volunteers do creative face painting, 17 cakes disappeared, and balloons added color to the hall. Here are some pictures of the Party. Since our center has a spacious hall beneath it, we are able to fit about 100 people seated at tables for crafts, and refreshments while folks wait to dress in their costumes and have their photos taken.
Here are some photos to give you an idea of what it was like. Of course, the book center too was busy, since the only way to arrive at the Party was to enter Pauline Books & Media book center.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

November Begins

November seemed to sneak in silently without any fanfare. Tonight we are back on Eastern Standard Time. My Palm Pilot however switched itself over last Sunday which resulted in my almost late arrival at Mass. For Americans, November brings the celebration of Thanksgiving--a home centered holiday, and one of America's more "religious" of civic celebrations. After all, the first Thanksgiving celebrated God's bounty and goodness toward the original Pilgrims. In Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the first Monday of October. Our little community of Sisters celebrated with traditional turkey, cranberry sauce, and all the fixings that go with a traditional American Thanksgiving. Since the fourth Thursday of November is not a Canadian holiday, we may have turkey for our midday meal, but no holiday. However, we too will give thanks with our fellow Americans for all the abundant blessings God gives us everyday.
In this past week we enjoyed the visit of Sister Mary Martha Moss who brought us up-to-date on the workings of the 9th General Chapter of the Daughters of St. Paul. Our order is located in 52 countries, with its general headquarters in Rome. More than 70 Sisters representing all those countries met for one month in the Divine Master Retreat House in Ariccia, Italy. The Chapter meets every six years. One of the first things on its agenda is to elect or to re-elect the Superior General and her council. Sister Antonietta Bruscato who is from Brazil generously agreed to take up a second term as Superior General. She has 6 councilors who help her, a general secretary and a general "bursar." The bursar is the bookkeeper or accountant on a general level. Her councilors hail from Italy, Columbia, Spain, Japan and the Philippines. One of the councilors who is Italian has lived in Kenya, Africa, for over 20 years. This is a good representation from around the world. While it is in session, the Chapter is the highest authority in our congregation. Before the Sisters began their deliberations and meetings, they had a week of silent retreat led by Jesuit Father Rupnik. The Sisters wanted to make sure that they were spiritually ready to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The Chapter delegates all were attuned to the theme "Chosen and loved in Christ Jesus, we communicate his Word to everyone."
With colorful Power Point slides, Sister Martha showed us the reports given at the Chapter. Then she gave us the final Chapter Document which charts the course of our religious congregation for the next six years. The Document presents three major goals for the Congregation as a whole and thus for each individual community. We were given copies of three main addresses given at the Chapter. We read each one, studied it and dialogued about how that topic related to our particular situation. It was a good experience in the dynamics of "communication." Events such as General Chapters give us the opportunity to avoid being complacent and to renew our life and mission.
On another topic: If you go to www.youtube.com/fatherjeffrey, you will find a 13 minute interview Father conducted with me in September. The title is "Tender Mercies." That may help you to locate the video.
This month connects us in a spiritual way with the next life. Its two first days showcase our family and friends who have gone before us: with All Saints Day on November 1, and All Souls Day on November 2. November 11 is called Veterans' Day or Armistice Day (from World War I). We remember those who died to preserve peace for us, and those still living who went to war for us. My Uncle Bill is one of those who served in the Pacific during World War II. He has many a harrowing story to tell.
Let us pray for those brave men and women--like Uncle Bill--who have gone before us and laid their lives on the line for us. May your November be one of prayerful reflection and joy-filled activity.
Until next time, God bless you!
Sister Mary Peter

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Saint for Today, October 22

In the Pauline world of about 10,000 members worldwide, we celebrate the feast day of our first "Blessed" Father Timothy Joseph Giaccardo today. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 22, 1989. Father Timothy was the right hand man of our Founder, Father James Alberione. Alberione had met young Joseph Giaccardo while he served for a few months as assistant pastor in the parish of St. Bernard's in Narzole, Italy. The young priest noticed a definite goodness in one of the boys in the parish and invited him to pursue a priestly vocation. The boy, Joseph Giaccardo, explained that he would like to become a priest, but his family was too poor to afford to pay for his studies. Father Alberione found benefactors who paid the necessary expenses. Alberione was one of the professors at the seminary in Alba, northern Italy, where Giaccardo studied. Father Alberione, although relatively young, was also the seminary's spiritual director. Under his guidance, Joseph Giaccardo grew in virtue and in the desire to use the media--especially the printed word--for God. In the early 1900's, there was a wave of bitter anti-clericalism in Italy multiplied by printing presses which poured out newspapers and magazines which ridiculed religion and the Church. The message conveyed in many publications was (in today's words) that "it's not cool to be Catholic; nor to be a believer in God."
Father Alberione had his heart set on using the very same media--books, magazines, newspaper, movies and all the media--for God and for the Church.
In due time, Father Alberione with a small band of young boys began his mission work of setting up printing establishments "for God." His first endeavor was the diocesan paper The Alba Gazette, or in Italian La Gazzetta D'Alba. Soon other dioceses asked the newly formed Society of St. Paul to print their weekly papers and bulletins. When Joseph was still a seminarian, drawing closer to ordination, he asked permission from his bishop to join Father Alberione. He wanted to be a priest and a writer. In the foosteps of St. Paul, he wanted to reach people through the printed word. When he took his first vows, Joseph added the name Timothy. As St. Timothy was a faithful disciple of Paul, so Giaccardo became a disciple of Christ by working closely with Father Alberione. Whether it was a writing project or celebrating a Mass for one of the women's Pauline congregations, Father Timothy was ready to put his heart and soul into his work. Father Timothy died in January of 1948. He can be considered a new patron for writers, journalists and media producers.
In the picture to your right, we see an artist's rendition of Blessed Timothy. On the left is a shot of the altar dedicated to Blessed Timothy in the parish where he was baptized,St. Bernard's in Narzole, Italy.

Book Signing and Other Activites

Before I left for Boston we held our once-a-year Everything On Sale Day at Toronto's Pauline Books & Media Centre. During the Sale Day I took time from greeting our patrons to present some of the background of the books I wrote, "Tender Mercies, Prayers for Healing and Coping," and I signed copies which people had purchased.
On October 18, I gave a more "formal" presentation on the book complete with Power Point slides and more in depth background. I am pleased and somewhat humbled that so many are being helped by "Tender Mercies." One of my sisters told me yesterday that she gave "Tender Mercies" as a gift to the Ursuline Sister who was my first grade teacher. Sister said,"It made my day!" I am one of the hundreds or thousands whom Sister Mary Jeanne touched with her smiling and patient ways. Now aged 82, Sister works as a nurse. I still have many happy memories of First Grade where a very young Sister Jeanne taught us reading, writing, arithmetic
(in our day "math" was not yet in vogue), and religion. Our reader books were called "Alice and Jerry." I am grateful to Sister Jeanne for getting me off to a great start in the academic world!
In the Catholic Exponent, the newspaper of my home diocese, Youngstown, Ohio, there was an interview published about myself and the book, "Tender Mercies." If you would like to read the full article, please go to this link and click on "Local News": http://www.doy.org/exp.asp.

October -- "Actober"

Last night as I watched the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians in game seven of their playoffs, I saw the word "actober" flashed on the screen. That said a lot. October is so crammed with events for some of us that it is full of action.
I began this month in Boston, Massachusetts where I attended the Pauline Cooperators National Convention. (It is really the North American Convention, since I came from Canada.)
The Convention took place at St. Thecla's Retreat House which is in Billerica, Mass. That is about 20 miles north of Boston. St. Thecla's is a good place for meetings and retreats, since the neighborhood still has a semi-rural air about it. There is little traffic to create noise which allows for better meditation, and listening.
Our main speaker was Father Kevin Kersten, a Jesuit priest currently assigned to Boston College. Father has an impressive list of credentials in the field of communications. He gave an enthusiastic presentation on using media for God, and in a very positive way.
Father Jeffrey Mickler came from Canfield, Ohio to be the homilist and for his own spiritual input into our meeting. Besides his spirituality, Father lent very practical help by being the videographer.
I too gave a presentation on the Pauline Family's four wheels: prayer/piety; study/willingness to learn from everything; apostolate/mission and poverty/stewardship of all our gifts and resources. To illustrate the points I used movie clips from Entertaining Angels (Dorothy Day's story); from The Lord of the Rings, part 1; from The Rookie (with Dennis Quade); and from the Italian Job. The energy used to outfit the mini-Coopers made it really clear how all involved used their particular gifts to achieve the final end....
Here are a few pictures from the Convention:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photos for the Blog

I forgot to attach the photos to the last two blogs.
I beg your patience while you drift from one picture to the next, dealing with the August and September activities.
One pic. is of deer tacks near the gas well on one of my relatives property; another is of my niece and her horse; and a few other random shots.
This is what I call "The Pumpkin Pile". Of course, there are a lot of squash in it too. This pile is not only pretty, but good to eat as well.

Photo From Vacation and Signings

Here are the pictures which I forgot to publish in the very last blog:

September Song

Since I was on vacation (or as Canadians say, on holiday) in Ohio from late August to mid-September two seasons passed in front of me. I arrived home in Ohio amid good old summertime hot sun weather. When I returned to Toronto, I could see trees turning scarlet or yellow already.
While on vacation, I was able to visit the Mahoning County or Canfied Fair once again. As a teenager I was a 4-H member. That meant bringing my project to the Fair having it judged and spending 24 hours there for a week at a time. Now I have a 13 year old niece whose project this year was her horse Dynamite (Dee for short.) Megan, the horsewoman also brought her rabbit, Blackberry. The Fairgrounds cover many acres, so it was providential that Blackberry and Dee were housed in neighboring barns. Another niece had a sewing project as well as a health project. Our thirteen year old nephew is also in 4-H. His project involved repairing small engines.
I also met one of my fellow 4-Hers who now operates a farm machinery business. I was surprised that he recognized me after many years.
One of the highlights of my vacation was taking part in a book signing for my own new book, Tender Mercies, Prayers for Healing and Coping.
The first event took place at the chapel of the Society of St. Paul in Canfield, Ohio. Even though they do not have a parish, the Fathers and Brothers of St. Paul open their large chapel to the public for two Sunday Masses. The 10:00 AM Mass is televised. Father Jeffry Mickler of the Society of St. Paul offered the TV Mass on "signing day." After Communion he held the book up, recommended it and even read one of the prayers--the one for a person who has lost a spouse. A lady came up to me after Mass and asked to have her book signed. "I made up my mind to get the book when Father read that prayer. I recently lost my husband." Another lady came up to me and told me she has anxiety attacks. She too went home with one of the books to help her cope with her difficulties. Father Jeffry also interviewed me for a Catholic radio program for the Diocese of Youngstown. The program is called "Wineskin's." Father Jeff also taped a TV interview with me for the Catholic and ecumenical TV channel in the Youngstown, Ohio Diocese.
A number of relatives and friends purchased copies of the book for themselves and for gifts.
Today I was able to give a copy of "Tender Mercies" to the Archbishop of Toronto, Most Reverend Tom Collins.
My Uncle who is 87 year old, and still very alert told me he was disappointed. When I asked "why," he said he thought the book would contain my autobiography--the adventures of my life. One of these days I half-promised him I would sit down and chronicle some of my adventures in my life as a Daughter of St. Paul.
I hope you all get a chance to read my book--and most of all to pray with it!
Here are some pictures: one of the book, and others of the Fair, and a variety of things....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

August Update

Summer seemed to be in full force when all of a sudden I saw TV ads for back-to-school sales! Where did summer go! My vacation or "holiday" as it is called in Canada (and probably most places once under British rule) will not take place until the end of August. I realized today that I it's about time that I plan the year's meetings with our Pauline Cooperators, both the English and Italian speaking groups.
When I get back from vacation I will be conducting a meeting for our Pauline Cooperators. In October they will have their National or North American Convention in the Boston area. Some of the Canadians are planning on going to Boston.
This coming Sunday our little community of Sisters is planning to visit the Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs in Midland, Ontario. I am looking forward to learning more about the "Canadian" Martyrs. In Auriesville, New York there is the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, since the Jesuits who gave their lives came from what is now Canada to what is now upstate New York, USA to evangelize the Native American people.
So much has happened in the world since my last blog. There were lots of events that caused us to pray more: the Minneapolis Bridge collapse; the suicide bombings continuing in Iraq, the miners trapped in Utah...last night's news predicted a possible tsunami on the Pacific coast. Thankfully, that seems not to have happened.
Sometimes God "gets the blame" when accidents happen or other tragedies occur. However, God does not cause evil. He made the rivers, but not the bridges, as I once heard a preacher say. God is not a chess player, moving figures around for fun. At times the reason behind certain tragic events certainly is not clear to us, and may only be clear when we get to see creation through his eyes in eternity.
One of my favorite passages from St. Paul is Romans 8:28, "For those who love God, all things work together for the good." May you enjoy a blessed day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

July Jubilees

Yesterday was a "jubilee" day at our Provincial Convent in Boston, Mass. Seven Sisters celebrated 25 years of religious profession and 3 celebrated 50 years. The main celebrant for their Mass was Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland. Bishop Lennon served as chaplain for our Boston community for more than 18 years.
Here in Toronto we celebrated in our own way by hosting a barbecue supper for seven young women. Some of them are volunteers in our centre, others are discerning the possibility of entering religious life.
On a more personal note, I am happy to share with you the news that August 1st is the release date for the book which I authored called "Tender Mercies, Prayers for Healing and Coping." I received an advance copy and it looks good. This book is intended to bring comfort and a means of healing to those suffering various kinds of stress, or those struggling with addictions, or those suffering from various forms of abuse, and it even has prayers for those recovering from natural disasters. I will let you know more about the book in future blogs. I am aware that there are many people who feel they cannot pray formal prayers when they feel agitated, or depressed by any number of problems. In "Tender Mercies" I offer some guidance on why pray, and how to pray. The prayers offered are usually brief--a bit longer than sound bytes--yet complete enough to launch a person's prayer experience. I certainly prayed much before I worked on the book, and as I was waiting for its "birthing process"--its journey through its various editorial stages--I continued to pray for whomever will receive a copy of this new book.
Today would be the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene. She displayed a great love for Jesus, and he chose her to be the first to announce the good news of the Resurrection to the first Christians. May we all share at least some of her enthusiasm and love for the Lord.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ordinary Time

The weather this week after Canada Day and the Fourth of July is sizzling. Today in Ontario it is supposed to be about 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 Celsius. We thank God for air conditioning.
In the Church's liturgy, this is considered "Ordinary Time"--the 14th week of it. This week we will celebrate the feast of St. Benedict. He is one of the Patron Saints of Europe, the Founder of western monasticism. We who have the Bible today can thank Benedict's monks who painstakingly copied Bible manuscripts by hand in the monasteries that spread throughout all of Europe. "Ora et labora" that is, pray and work was Benedict's original motto. Then a third element was added: "studia", or study.
Another legacy which Benedict and his monks gave to all the world is that of "lectio divina." It literally means "divine reading." There is a lot to say about "lectio." In another post I will tell you more.
As we live this ordinary time in which every minute is an extraordinary grace, let us think about Jesus in Nazareth who spent 30 years of "ordinary living."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Canada Day/Indepence Day

Yesterday Sister Marlyn and I went downtown to celebrate Canada Day by taking part in the multicultural festival at Dundas Square. That's in the heart of Toronto's downtown. The weather was unseasonably cool, so it was providential that we both took our jackets. Sister has a white Roots sweatshirt with the red maple leaf design on it. She was very much Canadian. I too wore a little stickpin with the Canadian flag. We were able to see dances from Egypt, Ecuador, and Indonesia. There was limited seating, so I ended up on the steps leading up to the stage. All the dances were lively. The Egyptian Pharaoh dance was truly beautiful. It reminded me of scenes from Cecil B. De Mille's Ten Commandments. We were asked to wish one another "Happy Canada Day" several times. Little children were handing out maple leaf stickers to remind us what day it was. It was the 140th anniversary of Canada as a nation. Being still a "newbie" here, I have to check out what that really means. Many of those at Dundas Square were obviously not native born Canadians--the audience was truly multicultural.
Later, Sister and I wandered into a large used book store where I found some titles for my brother who is interested in Canadian history. One book is about German U-boats which had been active in the St. Lawrence river area during World War II. I learned about an aspect of both Canadian and American history of which I was totally unaware.
Our Superior left for a meeting in Los Angeles on media. Since we live in "Hollywood North" Sister heads up our Toronto Centre for media. She has been doing that by holding monthly "Movie Nights." She uses a regular feature film, and finds a connection to a gospel passage. She reads the passage and then projects the entire film. After a brief intermission, the group is invited to discuss the film in relation to the gospel. We have been getting a steady audience each month. Her LA meeting may bring other elements into the "movie mix." Some of the movies we watched in the past year were "Holes," "Ladder 49," "Bend It Like Beckham," "The Spitfire Grill" and "The Guardian." Then Sister will make her annual retreat and what we call an "encounter"--an updating session of about 5 days.
Sister Marlyn leaves soon for a three week encounter in Brazil where she will be join other Sisters from the Americas. Since we are an international congregation, there are occasional meetings like the Brazil encounter that gather Sisters from many countries who share the same ideals in a variety of cultures.
For all the Americans who read this, my best regards for a safe and happy July 4th holiday. I pray that God will bless America, and continue to keep us free and good.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Away from It All

This past Monday I returned from a week long retreat in Ohio. It was a week without phone calls, mail, or Internet access. The timing was so that I was able to attend my niece Sharon's graduation ceremony as well as the party on the following Sunday. After connecting with the Lord during a time of semi-seclusion and silence, I was able to re-connect with ten of my brothers and sisters. Only one of my siblings was unable to attend. She lives in South Carolina. As you may have been counting, I am from a large family.

My retreat was spent with part of my spiritual family. As a Daughter of St. Paul I am a member of what's called the "Pauline Family." My retreat director was Father Ignatius, SSP. The SSP stands for Society of St. Paul. Today in New York's Staten Island borough, members of the Daughters of St. Paul and the Society of St. Paul are celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of the pioneer Paulines in America in 1932. After an ocean voyage of about 12 days, the future priests and the young Sisters arrived in the Port of New York with few belongings and much faith. For the historians among you, 1932 was the height of the Great Depression. Those were days when every nickel went a long way. The Sisters' first home was a small apartment in the Bronx. In 1936 the Sisters and the Fathers moved to Staten Island locations.

The chapel where I spent my days of retreat is well air conditioned. The Lord provided perfect weather for my time of more intense prayer. The nights were cool and the days comfortably warm and sunny. Father suggested some New Testament readings which had a lot of substance and meaning for me. At night time traffic on the road outside seemed quiet. The only noise at night came from what I think were frogs who kept up an alto and bass chant all night. Even the flying creatures like flies and mosquitoes were pretty tame and restrained. One morning three large deer showed up on the back lawn. I could hear coyotes, I saw several rabbits, and ground hogs were around too. "Wild life" in this our area of Toronto is limited to black and grey squirrels, sea gulls and a few other birds. One morning as I left the front door of chapel, a chipmunk zoomed by me, practically running right over my feet. A mulberry tree at the monastery is home to several kinds of birds and a host of chipmunks. I wish you all have the opportunity to one day spend a week of prayerful retreat in a place similar to that where I was in Ohio. I will post here some of the photos of St. Paul's Monastery so you can see what I mean.
The pond whihc is in the back of tghe monastery was a favorite place for meditation. I call it the "Reflection Pool," since I could see the trees and shrubs all reflected like a mirror on the pond's surface. A robin is framed by the remains of an ancient mulberry tree.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June Blog

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that my last blog entry was in mid-May!
June is full of religious feasts, at least for us members of the Pauline Family. Last Sunday was the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Soon we will celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, then the celebration in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, next the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the end of the month is the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. On the 30th of June, we Paulines have a special Mass in honor of St. Paul. On that day three of our novices will pronounce their first vows at our Boston convent. The novices are from California, Arizona and Singapore. They are from three different ethnic heritages: Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese. Yet they are now part of a world-wide religious family. In a sense, they are "nuns without borders" since we Daughters of St. Paul are in 51 countries. There is a possibility that one day any one of those three may be called to serve in a different country.
In a few days one of our Sisters who was serving in Philadelphia for the past two years will leave for "the missions." Sister has been asked to become a missionary in the sense that she is leaving the USA, her homeland, to serve abroad. She will go to Rome for studies and then she may be assigned to one of our convents in what was formerly the Soviet Union, or she may go to any other country in need of a Pauline Sister.
We already have eight Sisters from the USA serving in other countries (not counting us assigned to Canada). We will miss her. Now with email we can always keep in touch electronically.
Sister Roberta is the "new" missionary. Last year Sister Pat (Patricia Thomas) left for her mission assignment in Moscow. I knew Sister Pat when she was a young woman in Alaska discerning her call to be a Daughter of St. Paul. When I was assigned to our book center in Alexandria, Virginia several years ago, I met Roberta the high school student. Now she is Sister Roberta. During her novitiate, Sr. Roberta and I were together for six months in our Charleston, SC convent. As a novice, Sister spent time in a smaller community to experience what life might be like once she made her vows.
Another one of our Philadelphia Sisters is flying to Rome soon. There she will perfect her Italian skills in preparation for attending the Course on the Charism of the Pauline Family. I attended the Course from 2003--2004. She will have the chance to study the life of our Founder, Blessed Alberione, the history of our order, the Daughters of St. Paul, and each of the other nine branches of the Pauline Family, plus many other subjects. After I finished the Charism Course I felt enriched not only by all the informational input, but also by new friends with whom I still correspond.
On Friday I will leave for Ohio. On Saturday one of my nieces is graduating from high school. For the first time in m life I will be able to attend a niece or nephew's graduation. Then on Saturday evening I will begin a spiritual retreat at St. Paul's Monastery in Canfield, Ohio. So during that time I will not be blogging or emailing. Once a year we Sisters have the privilege and the obligation to make a week-long retreat. I look forward to this precious time.I promise you all that I will pray for you too. Have a good month of June. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter
A P.S.
Check out the Daughters of St. Paul on "YouTube." Here is a link:

Click here: YouTube - Best Catholic Books: Summertime Spirituality

Friday, May 18, 2007

Niagara Falls

Every time I see Niagara Falls I am amazed. Thankfully I cannot get a "ho-hum" attitude toward this wonder of the world. This past Tuesday four of us Sisters went to see the Falls. One of us four had never seen the Falls. She had passed by on her way to places like Cleveland and Buffalo, but had never been able to get off the Interstate and enjoy the sights. She was duly impressed. I was able to take a few nice pictures for Sister and even a few seconds' worth of the cascade as the water plunges over the falls. Sister Irene and I went down under the Falls. I was impressed once again at the 34 million gallons of water rushing by us each minute as we stood at a portico beneath the Falls. My first assignment after I left our mother house was in Buffalo. The historical lore tells us that Father Hennipin, the Franciscan who accompanied the French explorers in the Niagara region, exclaimed "What a beautiful river!" or "Que beau fleuve!" (My French is probably all wrong here). To those around him it sounded like "buffalo"--the bison--so that is the word that stuck and became the name of the city which sprung up along the shores of Lake Erie and the Niagara River.

The Falls are truly awesome. In late April as I flew back to Toronto from a week in Boston, the pilot tilted our plane so we on my side enjoyed a gorgeous aerial view of the water. The immensity of the Falls reminds me of the song "Our God is an Awesome God." It's good to praise God and thank him too for the gift we have in the nature around us. I have a friend in Maine who lives near the ocean. In fact there are parts of her house that allow her a fantastic view of the Atlantic. At times I feel, "I'd love to live there where Ginny is, so I can see the ocean all the time." Yet I know that this is impossible for me. However, the beauty of having seen the water cascading over the Falls, churning and misting minute after minute, reminded me of the immensity of God's graces that he showers on each of us. So I am compensated for not living in Maine!

We as Church are in the midst of, or preparing to pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised "I will send you Another...an Advocate." The powers of nature remind me of the story of the First Pentecost when the Advocate, the Holy Spirit did come. The Acts of the Apostles tell us this: "Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer. And, Mary the Mother of Jesus was there." (Acts of the Apostles) The power of the Spirit on Pentecost was awesome. His power can be just as awesome today, not only in the pounding force of the Niagara River's cascades, but most of all in the grace He gives us to be open to God's presence and to the needs of those around us.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Whereabouts and Spirituality with Spider Man 3

To your left are some photos of St. Thecla's Retreat House where I spent the last weekend of April. The "twig cross" was a natural formation on the retreat house grounds.

Here it's already May 6, and I have not blogged since April 22! On April 23, we had an evening Mass with one of the Toronto Auxiliary Bishop, Most Reverend Peter Hundt. After Mass we enjoyed dinner cooked by Sister Marlyn, and a spirited conversation with the bishop. He is very youthful--I am not sure of his age. I was impressed by his understanding of "where people are" religiously and his willingness to help them progress to another level.
The next morning I left for Boston, Massachusetts. I was scheduled to help at the annual Cooperators' Retreat for the Northeast held during the last weekend of April.
My assignment was to prepare all the prayers to be done in common, including an Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Since my ticket was made for two days ahead of my scheduled assignment, I used some of the time to finish a translation from Italian to English for a Sister in Rome. Then I made some handouts to use for the retreat's Hour of Adoration. Sister Patricia Cora who is in charge of the Boston Cooperators gave several sessions on holiness and sanctification of the mind, the will and of the heart. Sister used simple Power Point slides and reflection guides for each talk.
While I was away, a letter arrived from the Bishop of my home Diocese, Youngstown, Ohio. The newly installed Bishop, George V. Murry, S.J. (a Jesuit) sent a kind letter of thanks in reply to my Easter greetings and congratulations on his accepting the nomination of being Bishop of a diocese which has been "bishop--less" for two years.
I look forward to seeing Bishop Murry on my next visit to Ohio. Bishop Murry is a scholar and an experienced bishop after having served in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
The Boston Retreat went well. Sixteen people were able to come, including a priest who is a novice in the secular institute of Jesus the priest; and a couple who are novices in the Institute of the Holy Family. One of the Cooperators is a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) representative. He had just returned the day before from parts of Nebraska which had suffered from storms and floods. He may now be in Kansas, assessing the aftermath of the huge tornado which ripped apart the town of Greensburg. A young couple expecting their first child also made the retreat. In reality there were 17 persons there, although one was in disguise!
The evening of my return from Boston marked our April Movie Night, part of our ongoing
program called Faith and Film hosted by Sister Hosea. About 25 people watched Bend It Like
Beckham, including the youth group from a local parish and their priest. A lively discussion followed the film viewing.
Our book centre was extra busy in the last few days due to many folks coming to us for items to use for First Communion and Confirmation gifts.
Our quarterly order for Italian titles arrived from Rome while I was away. It was good to see Pope Benedict's new book "Jesus of Nazareth" and his document "Sacramentum Caritatis" already available in Italian for our Italian population.
Last week flew by between finding space for new Italian titles, and serving the people who turn to us for books in our centre.
Many people of all ages and backgrounds visit our center. Yesterday a gentleman who served (maybe he still does) as a hotel concierge in Europe was interested in a collection of saints. We do have several lives of saints' collections in English, Italian and Spanish. The man was telling me of a beautiful chapel he had seen in Paris. He wanted to know who the Saint was connected with that chapel of the Miraculous Medal. He was fascinating to listen to, although I had to tend to others needs. He remains well impressed by the devotion he saw at shrines in Europe where steady streams of pilgrim testify that faith is very much alive in lots of people.
A mother of a recent First Communicant came in for gifts for her daughter's girl friends who were to receive Communion today. The mother was so thrilled that her daughter "got it"--the "it" being the meaning of Communion. The girl was so excited last week that she could hardly sleep. One night she told her Mom, "Only four more days!" The perplexed mother asked, "Four more days for what? It's not your birthday. The child beamed and said, "It's four more days to Sunday when I can receive Jesus again!" Would that we adults had that same enthusiastic love! I thought to myself, "Wow! the Lord really loves the little children." The mother just happened to have some photos of her daughter's First Holy Communion. The child's face was truly glowing with joy. Stories like these help to make my day.
Tomorrow I will take some time for a retreat day. Today, the first Sunday of the month, is our usual day of silent retreat. However, today our little community of Sisters went to see Spider Man 3 in a local theater. We chose an early screening to avoid the big crowds. Sister Hosea Marie will give a presentation on Monday night called "Praying with the Media." Since Spider Man 3 is a huge media event, we decided that we needed to know what was so great about this sequel and how does it relate to human problems and religious themes. We certainly had a great discussion in the car on the way home. Forgiveness, self knowledge, love and sacrifice, as well as giving in to pride and vanity all had front-row-center attention in the film. Of course, the good versus evil theme was there as usual. See it for yourself to see how much we can learn from a movie about what Jesus teaches us.
While I was in Boston I had a nice surprise. A young man, a biochemist and teacher, who is also the brother of one of our Sisters came by to tell three of us who know him well his good news: He is accepted as a candidate in a Trappist monastery in California. Trappists live a very austere life of prayer and work. They follow the original Rule of St. Benedict who gave his monks the advice: Ora et labora! Pray and work. Each monastery has to have an "industry" which supports it. Some sell eggs from the chickens they raise; others prepare honey and beeswax; others like the Trappistine Sisters in Massachusetts make candy, or fruitcakes, etc. This young man spent his summer vacation of 2006 visiting every Trappist monastery in the USA. His coast-to-coast wanderings led him to the California site which produces wine. The monks have their own vineyards. Our friend was thrilled that his background in biochemistry will help him develop even better grapes for the monastery. I have known this young man for 16 years. I was pleased to hear his good news and to witness his spiritual growth. I promised my prayers for him that he may be able to persevere and find true happiness at the New Caliveaux.
Have a super month of May. For us Catholics May is the month of Mary, when we remember her special role in bringing Jesus into the world, and in accepting her place in the plan of God as Mother of the Church. I know I plan to be more faithful to the daily rosary. It's like carrying the gospel in your pocket. Each time I pray the rosary I remember different episodes in the life of Jesus and see how I can learn from them.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another Nun Blog

A Sister friend of mine in Rome is from Singapore. We have been friends since she spent four years in Boston for her initial formation as a Daughter of St. Paul.
Here is her blog spot address: http://fspveritas.blogspot.com/index.html

Cast Your Nets

A Good Day for Fishing
Today was a beautiful one weather-wise in Toronto. I hope it was the same for you who are reading this. A few young women spent the weekend with us. Yes, there are still some women who see religious life--being a Sister--as a valuable, viable option for their life's choice. Today's gospel reading from St. John tells of a miraculous catch of fish. That came after a hard night of no fish at all. Then the Lord said, "Cast your nets to the other side of the boat." The net was filled with 153 fish. After Peter hauled the fish ashore, all by himself, the Lord had breakfast ready and waiting. Then came a moment of decision for Peter. Three times Jesus asked him: "Do you love me." Each time the answer was "yes." After each affirmation Jesus gave Peter a task--really layers of responsibility: "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep." Peter's love would have a price. I recently saw the film called "Peter" so the characters in the gospel were vivid in my imagination today. (Omar Shariff portrays a convincing Peter in the full length feature DVD.) Love is freely given, but it requires sacrifice. That's what Peter would find out soon enough.
So all of us find out that love has its own costs, yet the rewards beat out the costs any day! The young women who came this weekend were discerning if this life of ours is where God is calling them to pour out their love.
Today during our hour of prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist, we were asked to present a symbol of ourselves at this moment. I brought up a map of Toronto and the surrounding area--the GTA as it is called--along with a lighted candle. The symbolism lay in the candle light representing the light of Christ in the Word we distribute as Paulines in this area; plus the light of my own life which is burning out slowly for the Lord. Years ago my sister had a prayerbook for young women. I would borrow it sometimes. I still remember a poem in it which started like this: "Rabboni, when I am dying, how glad I shall be, that the lamp of my life has burned out for Thee." An old, seasoned missionary priest once said, "There is a fire in everyone. It can be the fire of love of God, or the fire of love for self." So I hope this "fire" is the right one--for God!
I have a poster in my office with the words: "We have believed in love!" That epitomizes one who gives his or her life in love. I think of that 76 year old professor and Holocaust survivor who died saving his students at Viriginia Tech. He certainly proved his love for others.

The late Pope John Paul loved the expression taken from the gospel of today: Cast your nets into the deep. That expression would take the space of an entire blog. Yet, there are times when God asks us to take a leap of faith, and cast into the deep. May we be ready for that when the time comes....
May you have a wonderful, Jesus-filled week of peace.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The "Sea of Peace"

For many families and individuals, this has been a painful week. I am referring especially to the shootings at Virginia Tech. The young perpetrator was obviously mentally disturbed. As one TV commentator remarked, "Hindsight is 100% surer than foresight." As we look to the past of that young man, then we see a trail of abnormal and disturbing behavior. Let us pray that in the future any such individuals will be helped long before they reach a point of no return.

The Presidential Prayer Team website gave an opportunity to sign a cyber "wall" for the victims and their families. When I responded to the PPT website, I thought of the words of St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). She lived in unsettled times in Italy when the opposing parties--Ghibelline's and Guelph's--were antagonizing each other, and the Pope was living in Avignon, France, rather than in Rome.
Catherine learned a ot from prayer. Even though she had not gone to school, she was fearless when she felt it was God's will to act in a certain way. That certainty of being anchored to the Will of God gave her the courage to go to the Pope and respectfully urge him to move back to Rome. Despite her lack of academic skills, Catherine became a spiritual leader, and a mystic. One of her writings describes Jesus as "a sea of peace." I pray that the Lord will plunge the families of the deceased and wounded into this Sea of Peace, so they will be consoled in this time of grief and sorrow. May Jesus grant his peace to each of the deceased as well as to the survivors. May his strength and love console those who grieve.

On a much brighter side, it was a delight to be in our book and media center today to witness how many young people are approaching the sacrament of the Eucharist as they make their "First Holy Communion" this weekend or very soon in May. Many youngsters are going to have a Jesus-filled day when they receive the Body and Blood of the Lord for the first time. The graces of the Holy Spirit will anoint many young people as the Bishops of the Archdiocese confer the sacrament of Confirmation on many young people, and some adults in the Archdiocese. We pray that the remembrance of Who jesus is, his teachings and the examples of the Saints will help to prolong the spiritual effects of these two sacraments.

Today was one of unmitigated sunshine and mild temperatures in Toronto. It's amazing to watch how faces brighten too when the sun comes out. I thank the Lord for giving us good weather, espcially for all the young childen who will be receiving the Lord for the first time in Holy Communion.

In Jesus,

Sister Mary Peter

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Amazing Grace--the Movie

Recently our Toronto Star newspaper had front page articles on the 200th anniversary of Great Britain's abolition of the slave trade. The USA took almost 50 years to follow suit.
Today three of us went to see Amazing Grace the new film that depicts the struggles of William Wilberforce to end his country's slave trade. His pastor was the ship captain turned preacher who wrote the song "Amazing Grace." Because slavery was part of the underpinning of the English colonies economy, few members of parliament were willing to vote against it. With dogged perseverance Wilberforce finally won. His story reminds me of St. Paul's advice to preach the gospel "in season and out" of season. Wilberforce's did that. Of course he made enemies, and he ruined his health. Yet he won in the end. The acting is top notch, and the action keeps moving. The movie focuses on William Pitt also. Pitt was a lifelong friend who served in Parliament with Wilberforce. The producers and screen writers came up with a good blend of friendship, subdued romance, Christian commitment, and hsitorical fact to make for a fast moving two hours. The emotional impact was strong--at least for me and my companions. So bring the Kleenex if you go!
Have a great continuation of Easter Week!
Sister Mary Peter

Monday, April 09, 2007

Little Easter

Happy Easter!

Today is Easter Monday. In the Church each day of Easter Week is a new Easter day. The psalms of Morning and Evening Prayer are the same each day of this week. Some of Christianity's best hymns are reserved for this time of year.

I hope that all of you readers were able to connect with family and some friends yesterday. I spoke with family members in Utah, Ohio, and South Carolina.

The weather has not been cooperating here in the north country, and apparently down in the USA too. Despite snow flurries and cold temperatures, Easter is real and Christ is truly risen. Of course we hope for the resurrection of the dead at the end of time. Yet there are daily resurrections that can bring us joy, and radiate peace to those who live near us. The first of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary is that of the resurrection. Blessed James Alberione's reflection on this mystery goes something like this: "Jesus resurrection also represents our resurrection from the 'grave' of sin and defects. Let us ask the grace to rise from the tomb to new life in Christ."

Have a wonderful Easter Week!

Sister Mary Peter

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Our chapel bathed in the Easter morning sun.
Happy Easter to all who read this! We rejoice in the reason for our faith--the rock foundation being the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was so uplifting to be present a the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. The pastor from Blessed Trinity Church where we attended Mass last evening explained the history of the Easter Vigil to all of us present. Keeping "vigil,", waiting up at night to commemorate the resurrection of the Lord, goes back probably to the second century of Christianity: People read Scripture and prayed all through the night in anticipation of the Lord's resurrection. So we read the Scriptures and pray for various intentions. Then the Alleluia is sung three times before the Gospel is proclaimed. All through Lent the alleluia was silent. In fact, in some places a ceremonial "burial of the alleluia" takes place on Ash Wednesday. It resurrected again last night as the alleluias were sung. I felt very happy to be a Roman Catholic--to be connected with all these centureies of belief and practice; to all the people of every culture who worship the same God with the same sacrifice and the same teachings from Scripture. It was good to see about 15 adults baptized or received int o full "Communion with the Roman Catholic church.
I want to pass on to you an Easter homily from Hong Kong. It is very upbeat. HK of course means Hong Kong.
Please enjoy it.
Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, April 7-8, 2007 by M. Sloboda (Father Michael Sloboda, a Maryknoll priest serving in Hong Kong.)

Happy Easter!
I’ll begin and end with words of joy from the ancient Greek Church:
[Tonight] Today we rejoice in the salvation of the world.
Christ is risen; let us arise with him!
Christ enters new life; let us live in him!
Christ has come forth from the tomb;
Let us shake off the chains of evil!
The gates of hell are open,
The powers of evil are overcome!
In Christ, a new creation is coming to birth,
Lord, make us new,
Alleluia! [St. Gregory of Naziansus, 330-389]

Let’s look at those exclamations.
“[Tonight] Today we rejoice in the salvation of the world.” Jesus and all of his first disciples were Jewish. But the Good News has gone out to all the world. In this congregation, there might be several people with Jewish ancestry, but I see faces from every part of the world. St. Anne’s is a cross section of the human race, part of a universal church open to everyone, and the Greek adjective for universal is “catholic.”
“Christ enters new life; let us live in him!” Speaking of new life, tonight [last night] we will baptize a baby [name]. His mother was baptized at the Easter Vigil in the USA a few years ago, and his grandparents are visiting HK now. The Easter Vigil is the best time of year to baptize. In all the Catholic churches in HK, a total of 2550 adults and children will be baptized tonight. “Christ enters new life; let us live in him!” So after I baptize baby N, we will renew our baptismal promises.
This baby is one of the youngest residents of HK, but HK also has the oldest priest in the world. Fr. Nicholas Gao is a monk at the Trappist monastery on Lantau Island. Born on Jan. 15, 1897, he recently turned 110. The oldest citizen of HK has been thin all his life. He says a Rosary every day, and advizes people to “keep moving, keep praying, keep working, and never get angry, never get angry.” He is alert and can still take care of himself. He goes to bed early and rises when they ring the bell at 3:30 AM. He throws on his alb, ties a cincture, that is, a rope belt, and shuffles to the chapel for the first prayers of the day. Actually, he started slowing down at age 104 and now he does not have much energy. So some people are now whispering that Fr. Gao’s best days are behind him. On the contrary, I say that his best days are ahead of him, the endless days of eternal life.
As most of you know, I was seriously interested in astronomy years before I became seriously interested in the Gospel. I read a book review recently. An astronomer [Marcus Chown] wrote a book to explain the frontiers of science and the latest news in astronomy to the general public. He tackled big qns, like the origin of the universe and its long-term fate, in non-technical language and without a lot of math. Next, he needed an attention-grabbing title to entice people to buy his book. So he titled his new book The Never Ending Days of Being Dead. The Never Ending Days of Being Dead? That doesn’t sound like an attractive title to me. I’d rather read about the Never Ending Days of Eternal Life. Because Jesus triumphed over death, because he rose from the dead in a glorified body, the laws of physics will not have the final say over the universe. The Son of God will have the final word. Whatever our problems, there are better days ahead for us, and so we have hope.
Looking at the parents of baby N, they seem fully qualified to give their son an excellent start in life, a nice house, good medical care and first-class education. We all wish that N will grow up wise, loving and strong, and make a contribution to the world. We hope he will be in this world for a long time. When N turns 110 in October of the year 2116, the world will be a different place. On second thought, asking for 110 years on this earth might be overly ambitious. But the hopes of his parents and grandparents for N are not limited to this world only. They are bringing him into the church to ask for faith for him, and faith will give him eternal life, a share in the eternal life which Our Lord won for us by his death and resurrection.
They will be the first teachers of N in the ways of faith. May they also be the best of teachers by what they say and do. Setting a good example is the hard part. But in Christ a new creation is coming to birth, and Christ can make us new, alleluia!
Candles are the most noticeable feature of the Easter Vigil. So what? Today we take bright lights for granted. Everywhere in HK there are lights, too many lights, which are brighter than any candle. The city of Sydney recent turned off its downtown lights for an hour to demonstrate saving energy. However in this church a few years ago, the electricity stopped before the 6 PM Mass. It was late summer, so we still had some daylight. But by the time I got to the altar, it was growing dark, and those candles (plus someone standing next to me with a torch [flashlight]) gave me enough light to read the book. We take light for granted, but it is precious. Not everyone can see the sun at noon, and many people are blind to the light of truth.
I’ll end with an ancient Greek invitation, an invitation for all of us to rejoice at Easter:
Let everyone who loves God rejoice in this festival of light!
Let the faithful servants gladly enter into the joy of their Lord!
Let those who have borne the burden of fasting now come to celebrate the feast!
Let those who were inwardly dead now rise and dance with Christ, the Lord of life! [St. John Chrystostom 347-407]

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Waiting for Easter

I am writing this on the night of Good Friday. In Toronto, the streets were quieter than usual--even quieter than Sunday's. People have the day off so they can go to church. I took the subway to the downtown cathedral of St. Michael. I was edified at seeing lines of people waiting at each confessional to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Other folks were devoutly praying the Stations of he Cross on their own. Some people had stopped to pray at the Pieta' statue of the Sorrowful Mother in the entrance way. When the prayer service began, there was standing room only. Since the weather outside was very chilly, it was OK to be squeezed into a pew. I held my coat most of the time, since it is so thick it takes up the space of another person when I rest it on the bench.
Tomorrow, Holy Saturday, is as Henri Nouwen put it a time for "the rest of God." It is a day of silent waiting for Christ's promise to be fulfilled. The Word of God lies silent for a short time--waiting for Sunday morning when the joyful alleluias sing out around the world.
May your Holy Saturday be serene and to the extent possible, a day of silent waiting for the Lord in company with Mary and the disciples.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

Before I went to Mass this morning, I saw a glimpse of Pope Benedict beginning the Palm Sunday liturgy in Rome. St. Peter's Square seemed overflowing with clergy and lay people packed into the Square.

Yesterday a woman came into our centre asking for The Liturgy of the Hours. "What does liturgy mean anyway?" she asked as I lead her to the area where we have books to assist in praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The Greek origin of liturgy comes from the words "letus ergon" meaning work of the people. The Roman Catholic Church has only two "official" liturgical prayers or forms of worship: the Mass or the "celebration of the Eucharist," and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is really a way of sanctifying the hours or time of each day. Morning prayer, which is also called Lauds, and Evening Prayer, or Vespers, are the "hinges" or mainstays of the hours. Monks, priests and many nuns (that is vowed religious women) pledge to pray this form of prayer every day. Lay people are strongly encouraged to pray the hours, especially morning, evening and night prayer.
In some communities the prayers are sung. They can be put to music because the prayers are from the Psalms which were written to be sung at temple worship by the Jewish people. Yesterday someone was surprised that we pray with prayers from "the Old Testament," or, as it is often referred to: "the Hebrew Bible." Usually morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours is a form of praise and thanksgiving to God expressed in two Psalms and a canticle. By a canticle we mean a prayer taken from another book of the Bible, Isaiah, for example. Then there is a short reading from Scripture followed by a few lines of response. Then an antiphon, a line or two giving a theme, is recited before we pray the "canticle," Zechariah's words praising God from Luke's Gospel. Then the antiphon is repeated, and an intercessory prayer follows which presents needs of the church and the world. All our prayer intentions are gathered up as we pray the Lord's Prayer and a concluding prayer which sums up that "hour" of prayer for the day. Before we leave the place of prayer we end with an invocation: "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen."

Sometimes the psalms used are those of "lament." In a psalm of lament the writer or original pray-er is complaining to God, at times even asking God to wreak havoc on "my enemies." Yet in the same psalm of complaint, the writer usually never fails to interject praises to God for all the good he has done in the past. The "enemy" in those psalms can be our own unruly inclinations, our stubbornness, our faults and sins, our temptations. Even though the words were written a few thousand years ago, the emotions we feel today can be transferred into the words we pray from those psalms of lament and praise.

When someone prays the Liturgy of the Hours he or she can be confident that he is praying with the whole church. We are praying with the same Word of God that Jesus used. In fact, among the last words Jesus spoke on the cross were, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" from Psalm 22. At first it looks like a terrible lament: God forsaking his loved one. Then the psalm returns to the fact that God does deliver his beloved: "You who fear the Lord, give praise!...For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of the poor." In Jesus' case, God the Father allowed him to suffer for us, but he vindicated him through the power of the resurrection.

There are many translations of the Psalms available. But, for the Liturgy of the Hours, an official translation is chosen so people can pray easily together. To find a copy of he liturgy of the Hours, check out the Daughters of St. Paul website: www.pauline.org.
Best regards for a peace-filled and blessed Holy Week.

Let's pray today too for youth, since Pope Benedict addressed young people today. It's become a tradition initiated by John Paul II that the Pope give a talk to youth every Palm Sunday.

Sister Mary Peter

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Week Called "Holy"

It's already Palm Sunday in lands east of North America. Each year Lent seems to be a long haul of 40 long days. Then it ends up zooming by faster than any "zoom zoom" commercial on TV.

Palm Sunday's liturgy plunges us deep into the heart of the Paschal Mystery--that's the name the Church calls the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paschal relates to "Passover." It is the new and lasting Passover when Christ's blood saved each of us from the effects of sin. Instead of the blood of a lamb being sprinkled on door posts, as happened at the first Passover when the Hebrew people--the Israelites--were preparing to leave the slavery of Egypt for the freedom of the Promised Land, we were and are saved by the blood of Christ shed for us on Calvary. Easter then is our celebration of Christ's saving event.

There are good movies to help us recall these events: Jesus of Nazareth, and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are among them.

Then there are other movies that have "Christ Figures" in them. By that I mean characters who give their lives that others may live. "Ladder 49" with Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta as firemen shows how some people do give their lives that others may live. Kevin Costner in "The Guardian" portrays a Coast Guard veteran rescue swimmer who seems extremely tough on new recruits. Yet, he never asked anything from the young men and women he trained which he had never gone through himself. I don't want to give away the end of the movie, so I won't tell you how "The Guardian" ends. Just bring Kleenex when you get the DVD. The Kevin Costner film uses real Coast Guard rescue personnel in addition to real actors. These last two movies are good for any time of year, since being Christ-like is a 24/7 operation, 365 days of the year.

I wish you a good Holy Week: time for inner quiet; outer quiet too; prayer; reading that reminds us of what Christ did for you and me; time for Church; time for reconciliation and confession; time for peace. One gentleman who frequents our book centre told me last week, "What counts is that God loves us, and that we love him in return." That's a great start for a Holy Week reflection.

Let's pray for each other to make this the holiest of Holy Weeks, so our Easter will truly be a Happy Easter.
The crucifix depicted here is in the lower church at the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii, Italy.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Meet the Actor

Today I was privileged to meet the young man who played Karol Wojtlya in the movie (now on DVD) Karol A Man Who Became Pope; The Pope, the Man. Piotr Admaczyk is in Toronto for what -- in a sense -- is the premiere of this film on Imax screen. The movie will show in English Saturday night, March 31 at Ontario Place in Toronto. It is showing in Polish--but that viewing is sold out already. On Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM it will be shown in Italian.

One of the announcers at the station "Radio Maria" -- a Catholic radio station here in Toronto--invited us Daughters of St. Paul to come to the station to meet Piotr who is in town for the premiere. Frank Ruffolo conducted an interview on radio. Before the radio program began Omni News, a multi-lingual television service, sent their camera man Hugh to film Piotr who spoke in English, Italian and Polish. The actor was still feeling jet lag having arrived in Canada only a few hours before.

The DVD of Karol is in English and Italian dialogue. Apparently the film was first shown on teloevision as a mini-series.

Piotr, who turned 35 on March 21, said he felt honored to play the role of the Pope. He recalled one of the scenes which took place in Poland where 600 extras portrayed Poles who were forced to flee their homes when the Nazis invaded their country. The actor said that despite cold and wet conditions the people did their part quietly and seriously. He felt they realized they were walking in the footsteps of their ancestors who actually suffered displacement and hardship in the war years. He said too that even as a child of seven, when John Paul visited Poland as Pope for the first time, he knew that things were going to change. The grown ups were talking about it and he sensed the greatness of this man from Poland. Another moment which struck the actor as especially poignant was the scene in St. Peter's Square which re-enacted the attempt of John Paul's life by Ali Acca. He was dressed in the white cassock which then was stained with blood. The square was filled with pilgrims from all over. Yet one woman close to the filming site spoke aloud: "I will never forget that moment...". Then it was that Adamczyk realized that this is a film that would touch the emotions of people around the world.

I am looking forward to seeing it. One of our Sisters who has seen all of the John Paul II movies says that this portrayal is by far the best.

In the photo you will see Frank Ruffolo interviewing Piotr Admaczyk for Omni TV; myself and Antonietta Ferlitto, an Annunciationist. She too is a member of the Pauline Family--a vowed member of our feminine secular Institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Check out these videos

Sister Anne Joan Flanagan who lives in Chicago sent me some links to videos she has done with the assistance of some friends. The one on The Angelus prayer is very interesting. Some of you may even live in areas where the Catholic church bells ring at 6:00 AM, at noon and at 6:00 PM for The Angelus--the prayer which daily reminds us of the fact of the Incarnation. That Latin based word, "In - carnation" means "in the flesh" literally. That is what happened when Mary said "yes" to the Angel Gabriel. The Word of God, God Himself became a human embryo which became Jesus. All of us started out in that embryonic, microscopic form. Jesus shared this experience with us. I recommend that you see the DVD "The Nativity Story", a very reverent yet very human portrayal of the Incarnation and Mary and Joseph's roles in this drama that impacts us every day.
Here are the links Sister Anne Joan prepared:
Pray the Angelus! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQse864GuN8.
Best Catholic Books for Lent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiBj2XlTF74
Best Books for the Way of the Cross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWAb4vI7Se8

She will have to prepare something now for Ester very soon.
To everyone reading this I wish a serene and joyful preparation for Holy Week, and for the celebration of Easter.mHave a blessed day! Sister Mary Peter

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jesus' Bones

Tonight Canada's Vision Channel aired the "documentary" about the supposed tomb of Jesus.
There were so many "if's" that the film maker seemed to take no note of how far fetched his whole theory is. I was impressed at how little time he gave to those who seriously doubt his premise, even though the "doubters" are people of outstanding credentials. I also found it uninteresting, maybe boring is the more honest word.
As we say in the Creed, he, Jesus, arose from the dead. He did not, as the film wrongly states, ascend in spirit and leave his body behind. Why go through the Resurrection only to have bones left behind? That hypothesis, as one writer comments, is "full of holes."
I pray that people who may know little of their faith will read more about the truths of Christianity, and thus have their faith strengthened by this attack on Christian faith.
N.T. Wright has a large book called "Jesus" which answers those who resist the Resurrection accounts in the gospel.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Meeting the Archbishop

Yesterday's Mass with Toronto's new Archbishop Collins and the women and men religious of the Archdiocese was a very nice event. The Sisters of St. Joseph hosted us in their chapel for the Mass and for the reception in the spacious hall beneath chapel. About 500 were in attendance. It was nice to get to meet and see some of the many sisters and religious priests and brothers who serve in this Archdiocese.
I just realized that I used a very specific Catholic term when I wrote "religious."
That word refers to men and women who are consecrated to God by means of vows, from the Latin word "religare" which means to bind. Many priests are religious--that is members of religious orders. Other priests are secular or diocesan--that is, they are not bound to live in common with other priests, nor do they have a vow of poverty. Canon Law which is another name for Church Law stipulates that priests should live simply, but it does not impose a vow of poverty on diocesan priests. Religious also stems from the Latin "regula" which means "rule." That is, each order of monks or Sisters has a rule or regulation to follow which governs their lives. Some older books about Catholicism may mention secular or regular priests: the regulars are the religious who live in community and follow a rule of life according to a particular order's constitutions. That's enough of "class" for the day. Enjoy the week, and for those of us in the northern clime, stay indoors as much as possible, since we have a wind chill warning that advises against going out in subzero weather.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Meeting with the Archbishop

This afternoon many of the Sisters in the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto will have the opportunity to meet with our new Archbishop Thomas Collins. Three of us Daughters of St. Paul met Archbishop Collins at the dinner and reception which followed his installation Mass on January 30. His homily at the Mass was clear and challenging in the sense that he invited Catholics to be engaged with society. He seems very outgoing and approachable.
I will let you know how the meeting went in my next blog.
Sister Hosea and I are somewhat involved in the Archdiocese as we are members of a planning team. The team is preparing for the 2008 North American Catholic Communicators Convocation. It will be held in Toronto in May of 2008. It is good to know the lay people and clergy involved in using media to get out the Good Word. I am impressed at how well our meeting went, being it was the first time for some of us to have met.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A "Documentary" on Jesus' Bones

By now you probably heard or read the news about a documentary prepared by a Canadian film maker and the famous director of the Titanic film. The documentary treats an issue which most Christians will find interesting, but also a waste of time. According to the news release information, the film maker asserts that the bones of Jesus Christ, "son of Joseph," of his "wife," and other members of his family were discovered in Jerusalem. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father, raised in Nazareth in Galilee, and who was crucified by Pontius Pilate, rose from his tomb on the first Easter morning. Therefore, there are no bones about it. Jesus Christ is still very much alive. The names Jesus, Joseph and Mary was very common in the early first century C.E. (or A.D.)
I read two commentaries. One appeared this morning on CNA, a Catholic web news service. In the news article, the author states that he himself is the one who discovered the "bones" in question. He does not believe they belong to Jesus the Resurrected One. Another longer article was forwarded by our publishing house's acquisitions office. CNA's email address is: cna_news@acinews.net.
The longer article is written by Ben Witherington. The file name is: Ben_Witherington_on_the_Jesus_Tomb.doc. I am not sure if you can link to it from here, but give it a try. He also refers to a Toronto Star article which discusses the same topic: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/185708.
If you have ever read the works of Eusebius, Father of Church History, you will find a description of the tomb of "James 'brother' of Jesus." Of course, the term 'brother' here also can mean cousin. Eusebius' writings contradict the Talpiot tomb findings which will be discussed in the documentary.
Since I am a partial movie buff I was taken by Witherington's words: "So my response to this is clear--James Cameron, the producer of the movie Titanic, has now jumped on board another sinking ship full of holes, presumably in order to make a lot of money before the theory sinks into an early watery grave. Man the lifeboats and get out now."
May the Risen Jesus enlighten us and strengthen our faith.

February's Almost Over!

Last Saturday was very busy. It started out as a very sunny day which allowed many folks to come to our Pauline Centre (Canadian spelling) on Dufferin Street. Since we were minus two of our "regular" Sisters (one is helping out in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks, the other was due to arrive that evening from a Rome-Boston trip), we were very busy. Then two Pauline lay Cooperators came to accompany Sister Hosea Marie who went to set up a book display in St. Mary's Parish in Barrie, Ontario. Milly (Milagros) and I were alone to help the people who came to us on Saturday. Milly and I did not have time to hold a conversation with one another as we kept busy answering the phone and the inquiries of the customers.
Many people also paid a visit to our chapel to spend a few quiet moments with the Lord.
On Sunday Sister Paul who had arrived the evening before and I attended the 11:00 AM Italian Mass at St. Charles Church just two doors away from us. Father Donato Sartini, OFM, celebrated Mass. Father Donato always gives a great homily. Since Sr. Marie Paul had recently come back from a communications' course held in Rome, she was happy to keep up the Italian. It was good to have a real day of rest after our busy Saturday. Fridays can also be demanding, since our centre is open from 9:30 AM until 7:30 PM. As in so many big cities, Friday evening traffic creates miles of automotive "crawl space" on the 401 [that's the major east/west artery here], and all the other big streets in-between. Toronto rivals New York and even Boston for traffic jams! I always admire people who drive to Pauline Books & Media on Friday evenings, since they have a real sense of perseverance! May the Lord reward their patience.
How is your Lent doing? I hope it is going well for you.
God bless you! Sister Mary Peter

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Time for Ashes and Renewal

Happy Lent!
Yesterday seemed a bit like Spring, since for the first time in what seemed ages, the temperature was above freezing. And, I thought I heard little birds chirping! No matter the temperature outside, Lent is often called a "Spring time for the Soul."
Sister Hosea and I went to 7:00 AM Mass at the chapel of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. After the readings, Father Mark blessed ashes left from last year's palms. Then he marked each of our foreheads with the ashes. This ritual is repeated around the world today to remind us of the need to "repent and believe" the Good News.
The Vatican Council II document on the Liturgy says, "The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the Word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence...in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis."
St. Paul said that "Christ did not seek to please himself" (Rm. 15:3). So we have our best model for Lent in Jesus himself.
Father Guido Gandolfo, SSP, commented on our Founder's thoughts on Lent and penance or what the Founder more often called mortification: "To understand precisely the thought of the Founder (Blessed James Alberione) who said 'take on the way of Jesus Christ by means of mortification', we need to speak of adhering so much to Jesus-Way, by following him, even by 'holding on' to him, so that he re-lives his virtues in us today. It is a question then of making space for the One whom we have chosen to love!"
That's a very positive spin on repentance.
Just as in the Spring we do some digging and moving around in our gardens, so the same with our spiritual selves: we dig out the weeds, soften the soil and plant seeds of virtue. We make space for God in our thoughts and in our way of acting, and we spend more time with him in prayer. Best wishes for a great Lent!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Catching Up

Well, a lot has happened in the past few weeks, and I forgot to enter a blog. Forgive the lapse.
Tonight each time I tried to spell check y blog I somehow erased it!
About two weeks ago I accompanied Sister Hosea to St. Isaac Jogues Church in Pickering, just east of Toronto. The pastor and his assistant were very gracious and allowed us to speak after Communion at each Mass. Folks were very responsive once again. That was the beginning of the truly cold weather. Yet people came and waited patiently in line to be served. One of the books which I spoke about was "Why Go to Confession?" It's a little book by Archbishop Bruno Forte. I had the privilege of getting to know Bruno Forte when he spent a month at our Staten Island house several years ago. Then one Saturday morning in Charleston, South Carolina there was a priest sitting in the sanctuary of St. Mary's Church waiting to concelebrate the Mass. The Sister with me, Sr. Mary Agnes, had been in Staten Island that summer when Father Bruno Forte came to stay with us. We both looked at each other and said, "That's Father Forte!" After Mass he walked over to our book center, and one of his books was on display in our book center window. I am delighted that this new book, so small yet so precious is available to a wider audience. Forte has been and still is an outstanding theologian. Right now he is an Archbishop in Italy. For years he taught theology in Naples, Italy. He would spend his summers in a different country not only to practice his language skills, but to get to understand new cultures and the needs of people. Forte's pocket sized book answers not only why go to confession, but its emphasis is not so much on sin, but on the intensity of God's love waiting to meet us in the Sacrament.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weekly Roundup

Usually I blog on a Sunday. I realized that last week, I told you about the day we would spend at St. Jerome's Parish in Brampton, Ontario. Since our van was on its way to Boston with two Sisters who had meetings to attend there, our good neighbor and Cooperator Pat D'Cruz drove Sister Donna and I to Brampton. There were some snow flakes coming, but the salt trucks were ahead of us, which was very reassuring. At the Mass, the pastor, whom I know as Father Jan, welcomed us. He said, "The Daughters of St. Paul are here," and they did not arrive empty handed. We want them to go home empty handed." Then after Communion I spoke at two of the Masses and Sr. Donna spoke at the last Mass. I mentioned how as Daughters of St. Paul, we use the media "for God," and if St. Paul were alive today, we figure that he would use the media to preach the Good News. I held up some of our children's' titles and a book on St. Luke's gospel. I also assured the people that we do pray for them, and that prayer accompanies all the work that we do--especially prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I felt inspired to keep walking down the aisle after I left the pulpit. In that way, I could get to our tables in the foyer before the final procession. In a flash, a sea of people was surging against our tables holding up books, Cd's and DVDs. For the second Mass, I had to pick different books to focus on, since the first titles were disappearing fast. When we packed up and met Pat at 2:30, Father's suggestion had come true: book wise, we were pretty much "empty handed." However, we were very happy that God's Word, in the guise of many books and audio/visuals had elected to stay in many homes in Brampton.

I spent most of the week helping in our center (centre is the Canadian spelling) on Dufferin Street. Despite the icy weather on Monday, things kept busy. There was a major computer glitch which tried the patience of all of us, and of our heroic staff members. The problem was finally fixed on Thursday. Once it was said that there are "martyrs of patience." Well, I think our staff should be carrying the palms of "patience martyrdom" high for all to see!

Sometimes phone calls are routed to my office. I picked up the call one day from a priest at the Catholic Mission in Perilous Bay in Nunavut. That is way up north. Father had a strong French-Canadian accent, even though he did speak English. I still have to look up Perilous Bay on a map. Our assistant manager assured me that it is a bush community, probably reached only by plane. That was a neat experience speaking to a missionary priest from our Canadian Far North. Father's call gave me the incentive to take up my study of French once again. I have two computer programs to help me. Both employ microphones which then have a gauge with a line that wavers between tourist (red: 0% pronunciation skills to green for pretty good.) Right now, I can pray the Hail Mary in French and say Good Day, and Good Night. So I have a lot more to learn!

Since we are still in Ordinary Time, I wanted to share with you something I shared with our Pauline Cooperators at our meeting last week. The information of suggestions came from an Italian Pauline priest, Father Guido Gandolfo. Don Guido, as he is called over in Italy, has been preaching on a book written many years ago by our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, called "Donec Formetur Christus in Vobis." That is Latin for Paul's words in Galatians 4:19 where he tells the people that as a mother is in labor to give birth to her child, so Paul is undergoing pain similar to child birth "so that Christ may be formed in us." Don Guido suggests taking St. Paul in his conversion which we celebrate this week on January 25th as a point of reference. When Paul was struck down on his way to Damascus, and the Lord spoke to him, he was told, "Get up, go into the city...and it will be told to you what to do." From then on, for the most part, God's Will for Paul was mediated through many ways: the Word of God and the Eucharistic celebration; through people, like Barnabas, Peter and other companions; it was mediated by the needs of the people to whom he was sent; God's will was mediated and manifested also through events, and circumstances. So for us, God uses these ways, including that "still, small voice inside of each of us which gives us inspirations to behave well" to let us know what his Will is for each moment of our days.

Besides being aware of and assenting to these mediations of God in our daily, "ordinary" lives, Father Guido also said to keep asking the Holy Spirit to help us live "of" Jesus. He suggests that we set aside three "moments" in our day (in the morning, in the early afternoon, and in the evening) to renew our consecration to the Holy Spirit with this little prayer:

"To you O Spirit of Truth, I consecrate my mind, imagination and memory.

To you, O Sanctifying Spirit, I consecrate my will, guide me in your Will.

To you, O life-giving Spirit, I consecrate my heart. Guard and increase the divine life in me."

The Holy Spirit formed Jesus in Mary. Together with Mary and the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be formed in us and grow in us. In this way Galatians 4:19 will come true in all of us.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friends Young and Old

Hearing from Friends Young and Older This First Week of Ordinary Time has sped by. Much of my time was spent in preparing an order for Italian titles. It was faxed yesterday. I found out by email today that it was received and the Sisters in Rome are planning to fill it soon.Today was a bit colder than the unseasonable warm weather which we have been experiencing.Today, Saturday, people came into our center in small groups. One of the first groups was a young mother of five. Today she only had the two youngest boys with her. Her oldest who are girls attend Italian classes nearby at Villa Colombo. We are in what was once a very Italian neighborhood. It is predominantly Italian, but now more multi-cultural. Folks of all colors and ethnic backgrounds came in today.One of our Saturday regulars in Toronto is a gentleman who is a devout New England Patriots' fan. He went on vacation to Boston and bought himself a nice Patriots' jacket. I did not have a chance to tell him that we have to pray that they win tomorrow's game against San Diego!Another Saturday "regular" is a business man who spends time in Eucharistic adoration in our chapel. He is getting lots of spiritual nourishment with books from our shelves.Our center also houses our chapel. We open the chapel to the public as long as the center is open. It is moving to see the prayer intentions which people write in the chapel's prayer book.Some people write out their feelings, their anxieties, their cares for family members who are alienated, or in difficulty. Others are truly grateful to God for all the favors He gives them.I received a very upbeat letter from a young priest friend in New England. He has been ordained just a year and a half. His schedule is overflowing with pastoral activities.At times he is called on to be with people at the most painful times of their lives. Father Michael accompanied State Troopers when they had to break the news to a young husband that his wife and unborn baby had died in a horrific car accident. Father accompanied the man as he identified the bodies of his wife and child. It seems that neither he nor his wife practiced any faith and were not familiar with prayer. Here is part of Fr. Michael's description: "Because no family members were present in the area, the man was facing waiting hours for family from out of state. I stayed with him at his home for the rest of the evening and morning until family arrived. It was one of the saddest experiences I ever had and it was hard to imagine how the man must have felt. I will never forget this experience....I am simply amazed at what Christ asks of us sometimes. It is amazing how priests are placed in situations that are humanly impossible but with the grace of Christ are possible."From another New England priest I received an invitation to celebrate his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination. This priest, Father Hugh, was a US Navy chaplain for more than 20 years. I met him in Guam when I was driving a stick-shift truck on Nimitz Hill. Since the phones were not operational at the time, Father was tailgating us so he could order some religious books from us. Years later, when we were both reassigned to Boston, we would laugh about the "crazy driver" in Guam who would not leave us. I have always wanted Father "O", as we call him, to write his memoirs of his Naval experience. He told us once that in a single day during the Vietnam War he offered Mass eight times: he was ferried via helicopter from one ship to another since so few chaplains were available. Father worked well beyong "retirement" age in his Boston assignment--which included two churches with very diverse congregations. I am privileged to call both the young and the seasoned priest my friends. Another priest friend (since there is never a two without a three, right) is a retreat director in Italy. He sends a seasonal letter with suggestions for the spiritual life. I shared his insights with our Pauline Cooperators on Thursday night.Here are a few highlights from Father: since we will be celebrating St. Paul's Conversion this month, we can take a lesson from what happened to Paul. Jesus told him "It will be told to you what you have to do." That "telling" did not usually come with any fanfare. It was mediated through persons like Ananias and Barnabas, and people who needed his ministry; it came through that "tiny still voice" within him that was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; it came through events and circfumstances. We all have people around us whose kindnesses to us can be as "visits" from the Lord. The Word and the Eucharist at the Liturgy are visible signs of the loving presence of the Father. It's up to us to have an inner "silence" so we can listen to the voice of the Spirit within and without us, and see how God's "visits" to us are mediated during each day.Tomorrow I will be going to Brampton, Ontario for a parish display of our books and A/V's at St. Jerome's parish.I will let you know how it goes.God bless you!Sister Mary Peter