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.