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.

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