Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

My best regards to all for a new year of 2010 filled with blessings and deep inner peace.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

My Christmas celebration began at 8:30 pm with Mass and Christmas carols.
this Christmas is a special one for me, since I am in a Catholic Christian community made up of religious priests, sisters and brothers. It is a unique experience that I find at once enriching and very human. Before Mass many of us watched the movie "The Nativity story." Even though I have seen this film several times since it was released in 2006, I am still moved by the portrayals of Joseph and Mary, and the three Wise Men.
If you have a chance to own the DVD or rent it, I recommend it as wholesome family entertainment as well as a source of meditation.
My best regards to all for a truly blessed Christmas day and Christmas season. As the priest said in tonight's homily, "God wanted to be with us, to speak with us by sending his son Jesus....the way He chose to come was in simplicity, poverty and love."
I know I have much to learn each time I contemplate this great mystery. Little babies invite us to gather them into our arms just by their littleness. Jesus wants us to do the same with him: to take him close to our hearts and love him and let ourselves be loved by him.
Enjoy these days of Christmas. Each day is a gift from God. I intend to live each day well in appreciation for this gift of life.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Countdown

My best regards to all my readers for a lovely preparation for Jesus' birthday on Friday. I know some readers are getting lots of snow as I write this. Where I am in Ontario, snow is not expected until Christmas Day. However at this time of winter, winds and clouds can change rapidly.
On Friday I received a little reminder from the Lord that my life is in his hands. During morning Mass I felt my heart begin to race. When it did not slow down after an hour, I went to our nurse who drove me to the local hospital's emergency center. It was a busy day in the E.R. Since mine was a cardiac problem, I was wheeled by a formidable lineup of gurneys with accident victims and people who looked much worse than I did. I just closed my and began to breathe more deeply to calm myself as much as I could. When the nurse put an oxygen tube on my face, and an intravenous in my left arm some o f the seriousness of this event began to penetrate. The doctor told me my heart had an "electrical" problem. If an injection did not work, it would have to be shocked back into rhythm. The injection did not work, so I was given an anesthetic and the paddles were placed on me. I reflected that I had seen the procedure on many a TV show, but this was to be the real thing. After all, I have only one heart, so it needed some attention! I was home by 2:45 in the afternoon. I have gone "cold turkey" from a daily caffeine jolt in the morning to no caffeine. My medications have been changed and added to. How life can change within minutes.
I am grateful that our nursing staff is so concerned, and all those with whom I live are also very considerate and caring.
Jesus came to share this same human condition--to raise it up and sanctify it. The little prayer our founder was so wont to pray came back to me: "By myself I can do nothing. but, with God I can do all things. To God the honor and glory. To me, the eternal reward." I realize now more than ever that each day is a gift, and that's why it is called "the present."
May each of you have a blessed and truly Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wolf Within

Advent moves along as we light the third candle on the Advent wreath. The color pink or rose signifies the words from St. Paul, "Rejoice. I say it again, rejoice!" When skies are gray and snow or drizzle is falling, it's comforting to be reminded to rejoice, be cheerful. Christ is coming liturgically on Christmas Day. How do I prepare for Christ's arrival? Yesterday's preacher gave an example of how to prepare by narrating a story with native American roots. A young boy asks his grandfather, "How am I supposed to be a good person?" The grandfather replied: "Each of us have two wolves within us. One is the wolf of kindness, compassion, love and mercy. The other wolf is that of anger, jealousy, rage, laziness, and cruelty. What kind of a person you will be depends on which wolf you will feed." Just as a wounded dog or wolf can lick his sores and seem to brood on what hurts, so can we humans curl up in self pity and feed the sneaky angry wolf.
I was reminded of this when I spoke to one of my sisters on the phone yesterday. At 4:55 PM I could hear her cocker spaniel barking and her cat meowing loudly. Her pets never forget that 5:00 PM is their supper time. My sister had to close our conversation to quiet her four legged companions.
When its time to have our meals, why not ask, "Which wolf am I feeding?"

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This evening we began the new liturgical year with the season of Advent.
Our chapel has a very nice large Advent wreath--with 3 purple and 1 pink candle to represent the 4 weeks of Advent and the years before the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.
Advent is a time of anticipation of the coming of Jesus. the first part of Advent focuses more on Jesus final coming. In the final days of Advent the liturgy points more to the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem, and in our hearts.
I wish you a blessed and happy Advent. As the days darken and shorten in December, so the Light of Christ is even more needed to brighten our lives and our world. The candles of Advent remind us of that Light.
In thousands of churches around the world we will sing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" as we usher in this season.
May Jesus come into our hearts, mine and yours, by our making room for him, leaving space for him to be "born anew in us."

Jesus comes anew every day in each sister and brother. As an Advent song reminds us, "Will we know him when he comes?"
God bless you in this new liturgical year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Even though I am still in Canada, I remain an American. Thanksgiving Day was always celebrated very well in my family. Every few years my father's birthday happened to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday, as it does this year. My Father passed away in the 1980's. In 1971 on American Thanksgiving Day--if I remember correctly--Father James Alberione, my "spiritual father", died in Rome. He was to proclaimed Blessed James Alberione in 2003, beatified by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in Rome. I was in Philadelphia at the time Blessed Alberione died. At that time we did not have the benefit of email and web cams to keep us up-to-the-minute with news of the Founder. However we did learn that a few hours before he breathed his last, Alberione was visited by Pope Paul VI. Pope Montini had a very high regard for Father Alberione, since all the institutes of the Pauline Family were present in Milan. Paul VI had been archbishop of Milan when he was nominated to the papacy. As I join my fellow Americans in giving thanks to God for his countless, gifts, I give special thanks for the gift of Father Alberione to me, and to the whole church. Through the consecration of the ever evolving media of communication for use in evangelization, the dream of Blessed Alberione continues to be fulfilled: that through the media of communication Jesus Christ may be given to each and every person on earth.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to one and all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Seasons Secular and Sacred

This morning I and a few friends made a trip to the local dollar store. The aisles were filled with ornaments for the Christmas season. I was looking for a small pink candle to complete a miniature Advent wreath for my desk. My search was rewarded with a find: a pink candle not exactly like the other three, but close enough. The last Sunday of this month of November will be the first Sunday of the new Liturgical year--or, as some say, the church year.
I was struck by how busy the store seemed compared to my last leisurely trip. More families were looking for Christmas items. I was looking for a miniature Nativity scene. The only religious reference to Jesus' birthday was in the boxes of Christmas cards. At least the Lord's coming as a Baby is depicted on many of the cards. There were some religious paper weights and even plaster crosses. Those of you who are able to visit Pauline Book & Media Centers, St. Pauls bookstores, or the Liturgical Apostolate Centers in the USA and Canada can find many religious Christmas scenes. In Toronto, Canada, the Santa Claus parade is scheduled for Sunday, November 15. It seems Santa has to come earlier in the northern regions. I wonder if there will be any floats with the Bethlehem story.
A help to imbibe the spirit of the coming season, is the DVD "The Nativity Story." New Line Cinema released the film in late Fall of 2006. The opening scenes are accompanied by the ancient Advent music: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Every time I have watched those scenes I felt a deep nostalgia. The music brought back memories of learning the song in Latin and in English many years ago.
In the USA people are making plans for the Thanksgiving holiday. May all who will celebrate this beautiful day enjoy the company of family, and friends as well as a great Thanksgiving meal.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

St. John Lateran , St. Martin and Veterans

As we begin the second full week of November, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
I have many good memories of visiting this huge church in Rome. Next to the church is the Lateran Palace which was home to a succession of Popes for many years. Whenever the Church announces a Jubilee year, there is the holy custom of visiting Rome's four major basilicas. St. John Lateran is one of the four. Even though St. Peter's Basilica is much larger and more famous, since the Holy Father lives next to it, St. John Lateran is really the "cathedral" of the diocese of Rome.
On Wednesday, November 11, Americans and Canadians celebrate or better, commemorate the sacrifices of all veterans. In both countries, there is the custom of purchasing poppy shaped lapel pins to commemorate the sacrifices of those who fought in Flanders Field.
The poem "In Flanders field" by Lt. Colonel John McCrae is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made long ago by some, and more recently by others:
In Flanders Field

In Flanders field the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singling, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
the torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Canada, November 11th is called "Remembrance Day." In the USA we call it Veterans' Day or Armistice Day. It is fitting that this day falls in the middle of the month dedicated to prayer for the departed. We honor those veterans who have died, and those who among us who have survived combat.

November 11th is also the feast of St. Martin of Tours. Many bear the family name of "Martin" in various forms. Researchers say it comes from Martin of Tours, a holy monk who evangelized the countryside in what is now France. I chanced upon a book on St. Martin's life. I am fascinated by how much he traveled, and how his charisma influenced many who chose to become monks through his example. I wish happy name day to all who bear the name Martin--either as a first name or as a surname. May his zeal inspire all of us.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Happy Feast of All Saints! Today the Catholic church remembers all those who have died and are enjoying the presence of the Blessed Trinity in eternity. These are the "undocumented" citizens of heaven--so to speak--who are not written up in catalogs of saints. Yet, these people remained faithful to Christ all their lives. They are the "cloud of witnesses" that the Letter to the Hebrews speaks about. I think of my grandparents who worked hard all their lives, prayed daily and loved God and all their neighbors. My maternal grandmother gave our whole family an example of stepping out for Christ by helping battered women whom she knew to get help. She knew how to lend a hand, to give a smile and to be a great friend to all her bingo friends in her old age.
I think of my Dad who helped many relatives and friends to find gainful employment even when times were hard. I remember my Mother on Valentine's Day sending me to the farm house down the road to the old Ukrainian widow lady who lived alone. Mom made sure I brought her some cake and candy to show our affection for her. My parents always found space for someone in need. One needy person was a young high school graduate who lived at our house for four years until she could find herself emotionally ready to face life. When my youngest brother was a teen one of his friends was locked out by his mom's new husband. He stayed at our house for a year. Today is the day when we thank God for the communion of Saints--our membership in the Church which connects us to those who have gone before us in the Body of Christ.
The gospel read today was that of the Beatitudes. Some call these the blueprint for a holy life. Matthew and Luke both give us the blueprint. Matthew's version is more detailed. It begins in chapter five with the Sermon on the Mount. I plan to reread these blueprints and meditate on them.
Tomorrow we will celebrate All Souls Day. We pray for those who have gone before us, yet yearn to enjoy the fullness of eternal joy.
One of our early Sisters used to pray 100 "Eternal Rests" whenever she had to make a long journey by car, train or plane. By eternal rests I mean this short prayer: "Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord. and, may perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen." Sister's devotion often came through when she told us of graces she received through "the poor souls" as we often referred to the deceased.
May the Holy souls intercede for us as we begin this month of November.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blessed Timothy

As I wrote in my last blog, the Pauline Family celebrates the Feast of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo on October 22. He died on January 24, 1948. His Feast Day marks the date on which he was beatified. I believe it was in 1989. Born Joseph Giaccardo in the town of Narzole in Italy's Piedmont region, Giaccardo is a holy man of the media of communications. He was one of the very first to join the Society of St. Paul in Alba, Italy. He was convinced that the press and other communications media are powerful instruments that can be consecrated to broadcasting the Good News of the Gospel. The Founder of the Society of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione was assigned to the Church of St. Bernard in Narzole only for a brief amount of time. In that assignment, he noticed the young Giaccardo and encouraged him to pursue his call to the priesthood. In the seminary, Giaccardo again met Alberione who was one of his professors--apparently one of the most influential of them all. On this day when we celebrate the holiness of Timothy Joseph Giaccardo we pray that the media of communications may be used more and more "for God" and to uplift the lives of men and women throughout the word.
The photo on the left is a painting of Bl. Giaccardo in his home parish. The center picture shows him walking with the Founder. On the right is an artist's rendition of his likeness.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jesus Master

This week marks a feast day for members of the Pauline family. On Thursday, Oct. 22, the church celebrates the feast day of Blessed timothy Giaccardo. Blessed timothy was the right hand man of the founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione.
the two were of vastly different personalities, yet both are acclaimed as holy men by the church, and especially by members of the Pauline communities around the world.
On Sunday, Oct. 25, the entire Pauline family will celebrate the Feast of Jesus the Divine Master. Bl. Timothy, the first priest to join the society of St. Paul, had a very special devotion to Jesus the Divine Teacher, or Master. He explained so well that Jesus is our Way to the Father, the Truth for our minds, the Life for our hearts.
As we in the northern hemisphere enjoy the colorful Fall foliage, nature invites us to meditate more on who Jesus is in our lives.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


After several rainy and cloudy days, we are being treated to a classic Fall Day. I just want to share some of God's autumn artwork with you as I snapped some pictures in Ontario.
Have a great rest of this month of the Holy Rosary.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Back Again

Has it already been four months since I blogged? I guess so! I'm glad to be back. My Facebook friends have been sending me messages. Since not all the world's on Facebook yet, I decided to renew my blog entry more often. the summer went very quickly. In my own family two of my blood sisters had cancer operations this summer. Of course, all my family my 11 siblings were effected by this sad and upsetting news. it certainly caused us all to pray more, and reflect on how precious a gift is our life--every single moment of it.
One sister has been receiving chemotherapy treatments weekly; the other has begun radiation. she continues her job as a grade school teacher. My middle brother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last month. So health issues have been prominent. Yet there is always something to rejoice in, and every moment is a grace.
I trust in your prayers for my sisters'
and my brother's health.

In mid-summer I was crossing a toll bridge on a day when traffic was sparse. There was some good humored banter between the toll keeper and myself. His remarks were sobering and deeply spiritual. He noticed my habit and commented how he admires people like us religious who are "so focused." then he recounted how he had been in a horrific car accident the week of his graduation from a top military academy. Apparently, he never made it to graduation. Yet he said, he is grateful to God for every day that he awakens. What a cheerful and grateful person. I can still see his peaceful smile. From my position in a small car, I could not see if he was able to walk or not. My guess is that he is disabled. Sometimes God uses moments like these to "talk to me" through people like the toll keeper. He was a sort of angel who reminded me of what people of faith do when hit with adversity. I hope that his story will help any of you readers who may feel a bit down hearted or blue. God does love you and me with a fierce love. So go on on day at a time and trust in God. he will see you through!

In early September it was a privilege to join about 45 members of the Boston Chinese Catholic community in a pilgrimage to 4 churches dedicated to St. Paul in the Toronto area. It was great to see their fervor and renew my friendships with so many of them whom I know.
For those of you in the Northern hemisphere, enjoy the change of color. It reminds me too that if we get better as we grow older, our more beautiful colors come out. (I am still working on the growing older part!)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

St. Paul in the Square

On May 17th 2009, Archbishop Thomas Collins and several priests, religious and laity from the Archdiocese of Toronto filled Dundas Square with prayer, praise and joyful song. Based on the account of St. Paul's preaching in the public area called the Areopagus of Athens, the Archdiocese reserved the Square for a prayerful use.
Toronto's own Susan Hongkook Taylor sang, Matt Maher a Canadian born musician who now resides in Arizona provided an upbeat music concert. The group prayed the rosary.
Neil McCarthy the Archdiocesan director of communications, proved a very able emcee along with Father Robert Mengella. The sun was bright, but temperatures were on the cool side. Then Archbishop Collins lead all the group in a "Lectio Divina" based on the account of St. Paul in Athens from the Acts of the Apostles. Even though brisk shafts of air kept pummeling us all day, people stayed to the end
clapping to Matt Maher's music, and praising God at the same time. We Paulines, myself and a good number of Pauline Cooperators, Holy Family members and volunteers staffed two book tables. We brought Bibles and St. Paul titles especially.
Here are some photos of St. Paul in the Square.
With the help of Pauline Cooperators and friends, we held a book display very near the stage. The Archdiocesan Icon of St. Paul was strapped to the tent posts next to our first book table. Friends of our stopped to have their picture taken with the St. Paul Icon. May St. Paul accompany all of us as we finish this year dedicated to him and begin the Year of the Priest.
Have a beautiful Trinity Sunday.

June A Month of Feasts

The photo is a long shot of the bell tower at St. Paul Church in Burlington, Ontario.
The entire Easter Season rushed by and I never blogged once! I missed communicating with all my blog readers. My apologies for not scheduling in the time to post.
For me, June is filled with anniversaries and feast days. I graduated from High School on June 5th many years ago. I entered the Daughters of St. Paul on June 15, just as many years ago. I entered the novitiate on June 29th; I received the religious habit on June 25th; I made my first profession of vows on June 30th. I have a brother and a sister whose birthdays fall on June 2nd and June 12th. Tomorrow the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Blessed Trinity, Three Persons in One God. Next week will be the Feast of Corpus Christ, the Body and Blood of Christ. Then we will have the Feast of Jesus' Sacred Heart on June 19, and the Immaculate or Sacred Heart of Mary on June 20.
On June 29th we celebrate the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. And, for us members of the Pauline religious Family, we celebrate a special Feast of St. Paul on June 30.
The Pauline Family observes a solemn Novena in honor of St. Paul during the nine days prior to June 30.
On the afternoon of June 27th, we Sisters and a group of young women are planning to have a special hour of Eucharistic Adoration or other prayers for our solemn closing of the Year of St. Paul.
The Archdiocese of Toronto celebrated the end of the Pauline Year by reserving the pubic space in the heart of Toronto's downtown Dundas Square. I will blog again about the St. Paul in the Square event.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Greetings for a beautiful Easter Season. In the Church's liturgy, every day of Easter Week is another celebration of Easter.
The weather here in Toronto has been and promises to be very much in sync with the season of joy. The sun is beckoning our tulips and daffodils to wake up and flower soon.
Even though physical death has visited some over this weekend of joy--there is the Easter hope that one day we will all rise again. For all our loved ones who have "passed away" our faith assures us that they are closer to us now than when we could see them.
Pope Benedict XVI has been giving us a clear and uplifting explanation of Easter. I recommend checking out the Vatican's website, to find all of Pope Benedict's talks in English. Other sources for the Pope's talks and his many activities can be found at the Vatican press office's news source. Another site worth checking out is
Music can help us relax and prepare us to pray. "In Paradisum" the newest CD from the Daughters of St. Paul helps me too.
Enjoy this Easter week.

Friday, April 10, 2009

St. Paul

In this photo you will see the Maltese statue of St. Paul with the viper.
May St. Paul inspire you to rejoice even more deeply in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus!
In the other photo you see Lena doing the reading at Mass in St. Paul's Basilica. The choir is on the right.

Pilgrimages and Holy Week

Today is Good Friday when we Christians commemorate Christ's saving death on a cross. Jesus' death gives us courage and hope, especially when we see sorrow around us, or view scenes of the earthquake in Italy. On Monday I attended a funeral Mass for a relative of one of our Sisters. It was impressive to see how many people filled the parish church. Even though the family and friends mourned the loss of their husband, brother, father, and friend, no one seemed desperate or bitter. Tony had lived a good life, he was truly a devout Catholic who professed his faith openly and courageously.
On Wednesday Pauline Cooperators Ann and Pat D'Cruz welcomed me on their bus pilgrimage throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Ann and Pat had asked me to be the spiritual guide for what we billed as a "Pilgrimage/Mini-Retreat." I was able to prepare some hand-outs with prayers to St. Paul, and some of his own prayers from his letters, and songs. The weather at first was cold and gloomy looking. When we emerged from the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Mississauga--a sprawling suburb of Toronto--the sun came out. The Mississauga church has a contemporary painting of St. Paul, a large mural depicting his life and travels; still another picture of his call at Damascus, and a separate painting of the shipwreck off of Malta.
The priests at each parish were very welcoming. At. St. Paul Church in Burlington, Ontario we were greeted by the assistant pastor who was very welcoming and enthusiastic. One of the pilgrims mentioned to me that he resembled the young St. Paul in the statue in the church foyer. All four churches which we visited had different architecture and styles inside. The Burlington church was built in 1990. It is home to over 5,000 families and growing.
Our third stop was at St. Paul the Apostle Maltese church in Toronto. Although I had been there twice before I did not notice the particularly Maltese aspect of their large St. Paul statue. As I observed it closely I could see the figure of a snake rising from a bonfire. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that after the Maltese people saved St. Paul and his companions from their shipwreck, a viper rose from the fire which was lit to warm the people. It bit St. Paul, but he simply shook it off his hand and threw it back into the fire. The Maltese expected him to keel over dead from the poison. Instead he was as healthy as ever. It was a sign to them that God favored Paul. The parish also had a Holy Week display which showed images of Christ's Last Supper and his Passion.
Our last stop was at St. Paul's Basilica in downtown Toronto, site of the first Catholic parish in Toronto. The parish grounds also serve as the resting place of the mortal remains of many of the Irish who died of typhus during the massive immigration in 1847 during the great Famine. The Basilica is full of art work expressing Paul's life. There we found a statue of Paul "The Elderly." We ended our pilgrimage with a Mass celebrated by Father Vic, a good friend of the Cruz's. The bus trip was truly a prayerful journey, since we prayed at each place for Pope Benedict, and for many other intentions. It was a chance for many of the 55 people to learn more about St. Paul. The Mass was made even more special by an impromptu choir of pilgrims who joined Pat in providing good music.
Yesterday, Holy Thursday, I was a guest on Radio Maria. My host, Sharon Di Cecco, had prepared a wonderful program on the Holy Eucharist. Sharon makes a lovely hostess for her program "Community in Concert." What we said and the music we heard prepared us to celebrate the Eucharist last night in a more prayerful way.
Sharon also had some of the ingredients for a Passover meal, since yesterday was the start of the greatest of all Jewish feasts.
During the radio program, listeners were able to hear the newest CD of the Daughters of St. Paul, In Paradisum. It is truly uplifting and relaxing.
Tomorrow we will end our day with the celebration of the Easter Vigil. I love the many readings of this special Mass because they recall the whole story of salvation from the Bible. And, the "Alleluia" is resurrected at the Easter Vigil. There is a triple Alleluia and then at the end of the Mass, when the priest dismisses the people He says or sings, Go in peace, alleluia, alleluia. St. Augustine says that "We are Easter people and alleluia is our song." May you enjoy an Easter filled with promise, with hope, with deep joy and cheerful song.
Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

40 Days for Life

Today I attended a Mass marking the 20th day, or the mid-point of 40 Days for Life. This is a 24/7 prayer vigil held on the sidewalk across the street from an abortion facility. The targetted abortion clinic is diagonally across the street from our parish church, St. Charles Borromeo. From the little knowledge I have of it, the 40 Days for Life movement is an intensive prayer effort coupled with the sacrifice of praying outdoors for an end to abortion. The prayers are focused first of all on the clients, the young pregnant women who seek to end the life of the child within them. There were some extremely cold days and nights in the past 20 days. I pray that the sacrifices made by men and women of all ages and walks of life will save many children from extinction in abortion mills. Our Archbishop Thomas Collins quoted one of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories about a man who wanted to steal from Father Brown. The would-be-thief tried to distract Father Brown with highfalutin language so as to steal a cross from him. Father Brown broke into the man's rambling by quoting the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not steal." Thou shalt not steal is a commandment, not an option. So too "Thou shalt not kill" is not a suggestion. It is a commandment. May abortion be replaced by a love for and a culture for life. May 40 Days for Life continue on for all the days of this year. I pray that both America and Canada be places where love for unborn life is a priority among all citizens.

The penance which the 40 Days for Life participants practice reminded me again of St. Patrick whose feast is on Tuesday. There is a place of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Ireland, in a little village near the town of Westport. Pilgrims walk or drive to a visitor center from where they climb a steep rock strewn hill. It is said that in the year 441 A.D. St. Patrick spent 40 days in prayer and fasting on that mountain. Croagh Patrick, as it is called, has been a place for Christian pilgrims and penitents since the earliest of Christian days in Ireland.
For more information on Croagh Patrick check out the web site:
Tomorrow evening, March 16, for those who can tune in, watch the story of the wave of Irish immigrants who came to Toronto in 1847: Death or Canada. It will tell also the story of Toronto's first Catholic prelate, Bishop Power.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

St. Patrick and Wearing of the Green

Today at morning mass a gentleman was dressed in a green shirt, green jacket and a sequined oversize green bow tie. Apparently he was headed to a St. Patrick's Day celebration. Sunday there will be a parade in St. Patrick's honor in Toronto; on Sunday evening the Canadian History channel (if I am not mistaken) will air a special called "Death or Canada." It tells the story of just one year of Irish immigration to Toronto--1847. It was a sad reality for thousands of Irish: either die of famine, or immigrate to North America.
An article I read several months ago told the story of Irish children whose parents had died aboard "coffin" ships moored in Montreal's harbor. There were scores of orphans alone in a strange country and ignorant of the language. At a Sunday Mass the children filled the front pews of the Cathedral. At the end of Mass the doors were closed. The Bishop told the people that the children needed homes. The parishioners were asked not to go home until each child also had a home. From then on many "French Canadians" were really Irish immigrants taken in and adopted by French speaking Canadians. One set of brother and sister began to cry when they were being separated. The couple who had chosen the boy, figuring he would be an asset on their farm, took in his sister. At their death, the couple who had raised the two orphans, left them both all of their property. Only God knows how many times similar stories were repeated as waves of immigrants spilled onto Canadian shores.
In Toronto, the area around the Basilica of St. Paul at Queen and Power was the site of many Irish immigrants whose sacrifices built the original church on that site.
I am of Irish descent. It was instilled in us that the Faith was our most important heritage. Thanks to St. Patrick for the gift he brought to the Emerald isle and to so many parts of our world because of his perseverance.
May St. Patrick pray for all of us!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Today I read a comment on my last post on the Big Seven Capitol Sins. The comment said that, like a bad egg, once it is cracked open, things get worse. Thanks to the person who sent his comment.
Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He told his apostles that suffering and humiliation awaited him. They were put off by what He said. How could the Messiah be a Man of Sorrows? I can sympathize with the Apostles. Suffering is not something our nature seeks after. Yet we know from experience that the Cross is always somewhere. Jesus carried his. He gives us the grace to carry ours.
During this world wide financial crunch there are in-laid crosses: Perhaps the cross is hidden in the restrictions of a very tight budget; it may mean working harder with less pay; putting up with disappointments and other inconveniences. Bearing our own shortcomings and those of the people with whom we live is a daily cross. When we allow Jesus to live in us, we are able to bear the weight of our daily share in His passion. Mpther Thecla Merlo, the first Mother General of the Daughters of St. Paul said, "Even if we cannot always be joyful, we can always be at peace!" Keeping our eyes on the Prize--Heaven--helps us to have a light heart as we journey with the Lord this Lent.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Get rid of PALE GAS

Lent is already in its second week! I came across some notes I made a few years ago in a Lenten journal: PALE GAS. I thought to myself, "What's that?" The seven letters represent seven sins, better known as the capitol sins. These are the ones we struggle with that have little "side bars" attached to them. The first is pride; then comes anger; then lust; then envy, the "green monster"; the letter g stands for gluttony, which can also be cholesterol laden and a real killer; avarice is the second A, another name for greed; sloth, the last, is the one that lets everything slide downhill. Some of the side bars may be arrogance, gossiping, stinginess, sadness when certain others do well, and I miss the mark. The three main "works" of Lent are geared to diminishing the effects of Pale Gas. These three are prayer, fasting and alms giving. Honest prayer and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit help us to recognize the inroads of Pale Gas. Grace also helps us to apply the remedies which open us to the gifts of the Spirit.
Last weekend I spoke to two groups about St. Paul and Lent. Lent was not yet instituted when Paul was alive. His sufferings and imprisonments made his life as an Apostle one long journey, very similar to our Lent. He said to the Galatians (2:19)"I am crucified with Christ." In Ephesians 4 he says to "live a life" worthy of our calling.
Some of the people whom I met did not realize that many of the hymns and songs we use at Mass are words from the Letters of St. Paul. Today we sang one of the "Pauline hymns" called "Only this I Want."
May St. Paul help us to continue our Lenten journey toward Easter with humility and determination. I like the short prayer our Founder, Blessed Alberione, gave us: "By myself, I can do nothing. But, with God, I can do all things. To God the honor and glory; to me Paradise!"

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Today two Sisters from my community and two volunteers held a book display at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Toronto. This church is the only Maltese parish in all of North America. Today the Maltese celebrate the beginning of Christianity in their island nation, the Shipwreck of St. Paul. I know that in my last blog I mentioned something about this church. The feast they celebrate today reminds me of St. Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans (Rom. 8:28), "For those who love God all things work together for the good." On Wednesday evening Sister Helen and I attended an evening Mass and stayed for a presentation on St. Paul and the Eucharist given by Father Karm Borg. Father gave a thorough explanation of Paul's words to the Corinthians in his first letter to that community. I was impressed by the fact that these words of St. Paul in the 11th Chapter in first Corinthians are the oldest presentation of the Tradition (I emphasize the capitol "T") on the Holy Eucharist.
On Thursday evening, at our Pauline Cooperator meeting we prayed with the words of St. Paul from Corinthians 1:13,1-13. Almost anyone who has been to a Christian wedding ceremony may have heard these words: "Love is patient; love is kind; it does not envy...". Then after our social we started a class on Paul's letters beginning with 1st Corinthians. I enjoyed preparing the class, and now I am already working on the second installment. I am amazed at how much Paul crams into his letters. And, I am edified at how kind he was in correcting his Corinthians. Even though someone had sinned and probably had scandalized others, Paul did not mention his name. His restraint is a good lesson. When he says, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ," he is not bragging, just being honest.
This past week has brought tragedy to our neighbors just south of us in Buffalo, and in other parts where friends and family members have lost loved ones in the airplane tragedy. I was assigned to our Buffalo convent for at least 5 years. I have a place in my heart for those dear people. I pray for the souls of those whose lives were taken from us, and that God will comfort those who are now mourning. I pray for all those who have to deal with the painstaking process of clearing the site, and all the first responders, NTSB folks and all involved.
This week is Family Day weekend in Ontario, Presidents' Day in the USA, and also the celebration of St. Valentine--patroness of lovers. The greatest Lover of all is Jesus. May He be the One we all love to the utmost!
Best regards and prayers for a super rest of the week!
This week too I offered thanks to the Lord for the healing of a great niece named Tia whose blood clot on her lungs disappeared. As her mother, my niece Tina wrote, "My God rocks!" Thanks to the many friends and email partners who prayed for Tia's health.
The photo of the mosaic of St. Paul is one where Paul is receiving the Eucharist.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mother Thecla

Yesterday, February 5th, I was interviewed on English Radio Maria here in Toronto. My show host was Sharon Di Cecco. Sharon prepares a lovely program every Thursday afternoon. I have been her guest a few times. Since February 5th marked 45 years since the death of Mother Thecla Merlo, we dedicated our hour to her. The former Teresa Merlo from a small town called Castagnito near Alba, Italy was called to be the first Superior General of the fledgling congregation named Daughters of St. Paul. When Father James Alberione had begun the masculine branch of the Pauline Family, he asked some of the students at the Alba Seminary if they knew of a few good young women who shared the dream of evangelizing with the press (and consequently all the media.) Teresa Merlo's brother recommended his sister. Another order had passed over her, citing her fragile health. Despite the fragile health, Teresa met with "The Theologian" as Alberione was once called. She accepted his invitation to use the means of today for the people of today. Although at first there was nothing to show of a future "Media Apostolate", Teresa joined a small band of young women who had already gathered in a small apartment close to Alba's Cathedral. They opened a small book center. A statue of St. Paul was placed in the window. The local passersby made the connection: St. Paul and these young women whom they called "daughters" from the word in the Piedmont dialect "figlia" for daughter or young woman, must be related. Paul, the Father, these young ladies were his daughters. The name became official. The embryonic community of women dedicated to a routine of daily prayer and meditation blended with long hours of writing, editing and printing "for God" grew by leaps and bounds.
Sharon asked what did I think Mother Thecla would say about the Internet, especially now that Pope Benedict and the Vatican are on YouTube. I answered that Mother Thecla would certainly have applauded the use of this wide reaching means to evangelize the good. Her criteria for accepting or rejecting projects was: "Will it do good to the people?" My blog is a tiny way of fulfilling the wish of Mother Thecla to use the means of today for the people of today.
On Sunday, February 1, the Toronto Archdiocese celebrated its Day of Religious Life.
By "religious" we mean especially those who live in communities of prayer and often of apostolic work. These men and women are set aside, consecrated to God especially by vows of poverty, chastity, obedience. Poverty is a simplicity of lifestyle which involves renunciation of income in many cases, care for material goods, a true "work ethic" for God. Chastity is the choice of loving God above all else, and directing one's affection and energies to his work and his people. Chastity does not shrivel up a person's heart, but makes him or her more caring of the whole people of God. Mother Thecla used to say that our hearts have to encompass the needs of all people. that's a big order! (By the way, we pronounce Thecla like: tek-lah.)
Obedience entails submission of our will to a superior who represents the Lord in our particular situations. Obedience is often called the hardest vow, since the item most dear to people is our own opinion. the Letter to the Hebrews says about Jesus that "He learned obedience." His obedience brought our salvation. His grace enables us to live fully the three vows as a sign of Christ's love for all of us.
It was encouraging to see many young religious men and women who were in their first stages of formation. (In the photo where Mother Thecla is seated she is with M. Ignazia Balla, who was her first successor. The other photo captured M. Thecla at prayer.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today the Church around the world celebrates the "Conversion of St. Paul." Many refer to this as "The Damascus Event." Saul who became Paul was approaching Damascus with the intent of arresting those Jews who had become Christians. All of a sudden he was surrounded by a brilliant light which blinded him. Then he realized when he asked the voice that he heard, "Who are you, Lord?" and the answer came, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting." A few days later Saul was baptized by Ananias. Then began the adventure of Paul, the Apostle. This morning we attended Mass at the Church of St. Paul on Toronto's west side. It is the only Maltese Catholic parish in all of North America. Paul was once ship wrecked off the coast of Malta. The Maltese cared for Paul and his companions. And, they listened to and accepted the message of the Good News about Jesus Christ that Paul offered. The people of Malta have remained Catholic Christians from day one.
The artist Caravaggio painted a dramatic picture of Paul lying on the ground bathed in light while his horse gazes at him. Even if Paul had been only walking toward Damascus, he was knocked off his high horse of arrogant dislike for Christians, and for all those who did not fit into his former way of thinking. Somewhere inside of us there may be a high horse rearing up with its own sort of baggage that wants to make us lesser than we should be. St. Paul can help us with his prayers of intercession and with his insights liberally sown throughout his letters.
There is a hymn to St. Paul called "Lead Us Great Teacher Paul." In that song we ask Paul to follow him as he learned "wisdom's way."
As we continue this Year of St. Paul, may you be guided by Paul to a deeper knowledge of Jesus, Way, Truth and Life.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Here is a photo of the St. Paul Icon without the glare of reflected lights, and one which is full of lights!
My title lines keep turning into what I think is Hindi. Does anyone out there know how to keep it in English?


From December 22 through December 29, 2008, we Daughters of St. Paul in Toronto had the privilege of welcoming the Archdiocese's traveling icon.
A Benedictine nun in Israel, Sister Marie Paul, made the icon which is truly beautiful. St.Paul is shown with the book representing the Word of God in his hand.
This week I will be speaking on St. Paul at a parish in the west end of Toronto. The parish will be hosting the icon for 3 days. I will try to give you a glimpse of what it looks like. Because it has a glass covering, any light source was reflected on it. To me, it is a very prayer-inspiring image, a true religious icon that helps us "step into the sacred."


Today in North Amerca we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, or the "Manifestation of the Lord." This day is when we read the account of the three Wise Men in the gospel of Matthew. After seeing Catherine Hardwicke's movie "The Nativity Story" several times, I have a vivid mental image of the three men from the East--perhaps Iraq or Iran, who followed a star to Bethlehem and found Jesus.
These men, as far as we know, we not Jews, but God-fearing people who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus. In Italy the legend says that "La Befana" brings gifts to all the children. In Spanish speaking areas, the Tres Reyes, the Three Kings, do likewise.
Epiphany is a reminder to be a manifestation of he Lord in my own life. That's always a challenge. As the grown up Jesus told his followers, "Do as I have done", that is a daily goal to strive for. As our Founder Blessed Alberione said, "By myself I can do nothing; but, with God I can do all things. To him (to God) all honor and glory, to me the heavenly reward."
A word to those who may be reading this blog, and wondered why I missed several weeks. One reason is that my computer which served me everyday for the last 5 years had a major stroke. Its screen died. The data was retrieved. However, with the new computer I have not yet been able to get all the older programs going. It is taking me a while to get used to it.
As I write this, there is violence and what looks like all out war in the Gaza Strip. St. Paul prayed, "Come Lord Jesus." We pray that Jesus will come with his just peace to Gaza, to the Congo, to those suffering in Zimbabwe, to those suffering from human trafficking--to all who need to be saved both physically and spiritually. Amen!