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.