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

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Epiphany and "The Ordinary"

Happy Feast of the Epiphany, and soon, tomorrow, happy Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!
Today we celebrated the Epiphany of Jesus to the Magi, that is, the non-Jewish peoples of the world.
Tomorrow we celebrate Jesus' Baptism, the beginning of his ministry. We will also begin the first week of what the Church calls "Ordinary Time." St. Theresa of the Little Flower used ordinary things done extraordinarily well to show her love for God. That makes Ordinary Time not so blah or dull, right?
At our community's Boston headquarters (for our USA/English-speaking Canada Province) many Sisters have gone to our St. Thecla Retreat House to begin our Provincial Chapter. Chapters take place every six years in our congregation. Our Superior General has a six year term. She is elected or re-elected at a General Chapter with representatives from our Sisters all over the world. The Provincial Chapter deals with issues in our area--or as our documents call it: our circumscription. As is true in our case, our circumscription covers more than one nation: USA and Canada's English-speaking areas. In prayer, we in Toronto are accompanying the Sisters gathered at St. Thecla's. One of the provincial councillors emailed me the prayer booklet that the Sisters will be using for morning and evening prayers. I printed it out for each of us five Sisters here. So we will be with them in spirit.
St. Thecla, by the way, is said to have been the first woman convert of St. Paul, and one who collaborated with him in his evangelizing mission. We pronounce it as "Teck" like the "tech" in technician.
My prayers and best wishes to all of you who read this blog for a happy and holy Ordinary Time!