Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

On Wednesday, March 19, Sister Mary Caroline Tessa, a Sister of our Boston community died of pancreatic cancer. I knew Sister when I first met the Daughters of St. Paul in Youngstown, Ohio. Sister never seemed to age with her lovely complexion and sweet smile. She offered herself to the Lord with her first vows on March 19, 1948. On her 60th anniversary, the Lord came to take her to himself where she would celebrate an eternal Easter with him. We recommend Sister's soul to the Lord's loving mercy, and we trust that she is enjoying the reward of "the good and faithful servant."

As I write this, it is still Holy Saturday. In some churches in our part of the world, the Easter Vigil is underway. On this night people are being baptized, and confirmed and receiving the Eucharist--Communion--for the first time. My little community attended an earlier Easter Vigil Mass at a convent in our neighborhood. Sister Hosea sang the Exsultet, a song that begins with the word "Rejoice" that is sung immediately after the Easter fire is lit, and the Paschal Candle is brought into the church. Sister has a lovely voice and made the evening's liturgy even more solemn. Today a gentleman accompanied by his wife, his mother-in-law and his young daughter came into our center to celebrate the man's reception into the church which was to take place tonight. He was beaming with joy as he told us that he would receive all three sacraments tonight: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The three adults all were intent on choosing Christian DVD's and other DVD's with good values. He wanted the "classics" such as Ben Hur, Song of Bernadette and many more. He choose one of our favorites, Amazing Grace. It's the story of William Wilberforce who labored in the House of Commons in England to abolish slavery in the British Empire in the 1800's (about 30 years before it was abolished in the USA). The new Christian/Catholic's enthusiasm was contagious. It made clear to me why Christianity must have spread so fast in its early days. When someone is truly joy-filled, and ready to explain the why of his joy, then it is hard to resist being caught up into the same enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek "en theos" (roughly translated) as "being in God." Theos is the Greek word for God. A recent Catholic news item said that about 64,000 men and women were to join the Church in the USA tonight. I am not sure how many are being received into the church in Canada. However, I think it is a large number too. Despite the sins and failures of Catholic Christians, people are finding Christ in the Catholic Church and the true peace which comes from that relationship with the Lord. And, it is a relationship with Christ in his brothers and sisters too. "How can we love the Christ we cannot see, if we do not love the brother or sister whom we do see?"
Many people came in our Pauline Book & Media Centre today looking for gifts to help new Catholics on their spiritual journey. It's a great feeling to know that in some way through our mission of media evangelization, we have been able to accompany and assist these new Christians.
A Sister from Italy sent me a bookmark with a lovely Easter saying. I'd like to share it with you as my Easter greeting to each of you: It is from Pope Benedict (no date was supplied), "The Lord says to each one of us, 'I have risen and now I am always with you!' Wherever you might fall, you will fall into my hands. I am present with you even to the gates of death....There [in heaven] I await you and for you I will transform darkness into light."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy Week

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of you who commemorate the great missionary Saint. The late Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston once compared Patrick to Abraham,Father of All Believers. Those of us of Irish descent owe the roots of our faith to the seeds Patrick planted centuries ago. Today I am wearing a little label pin shaped as St. Briget's cross with a green shamrock in the center. Bridget used to make crosses out of blades of grass or straw. Since they were all woven there are four parts joined by a square of woven grass in the center. I have one of the straw crosses which my mother brought me from Ireland over twelve years ago.

Yesterday ushered in the greatest liturgical week in the year: Holy Week. It seems that this year Lent sped by faster than ever. Our order's Co-Foundress, Mother Thecla Merlo, reminded the Sisters in a talk she gave on Wednesday of Holy Week in 1958,
At the beginning of Lenteach of us selected a penance for herself.
I believe that we all did it, whether big or small, according to the fevor
of our soul.
Now we are in Passion Week and we must try to add some other little thing which
is a sacrifice for us....We have to live together and we have to have
patience and try to bear with each other for the love of Jesus....Every day and'
every moment there are things to put up with....First of all we must live in
charity well; then everyone should week to give her contribution so as not to be
a burden on others....If we take something, then let us put it back in its place;
if we close a window, let us close it well, with the handles turned the right
way. Even these little things pleas God.Let us act this way during this Passion
Mother Thecla is called "Venerable Mother Thecla" an "official" title given by the church which designates that a person has already passed the first official stage on the way to sanctity. The next stage is beatification, and the person is referred to as "Blessed James" or Blessed Jane. I promise more on Mother Thecla and sanctity later.
My prayers for all of you that you may have a deeply prayerful Holy Week as we meditate on what Jesus did for each of us.