Friday, August 27, 2010

A Night Out at Gillette Stadium

Yesterday evening four of us Sisters left our house about 6:00 PM headed to a New England Patriots ball game. I had not seen a "live" football game since my last year in high school, so I was happy for the offer from friends of ours who had some tickets available.

Linda, our customer service person, provided us with great

directions to the correct parking lot, and she gave us football necklaces to show our loyalty to the Patriots.

We even had hot dogs and pasta for dinner at our fiends' tailgate dinner party.

The weather was very pleasant, the moon was rising and very full. The players were working hard. It was all fun except seeing our team lose by one point! However, it was an exhibition game, so it was good practice for them all.

At the end of the game as we were preparing to descend the stairs, one of the women in our group pointed to a large circle of the players kneeling in the middle of the field. She pointed out "You never see this on television. Yet they do this at every game. Players from both teams kneel and pray together at the end of every game here." I wish I had not packed my camera away. That would have been a great shot

I was pleased to learn about this good habit--seeing these expert, well paid players kneel before thousands of fans is a great tribute to God as well as to these men who are not afraid to express their gratitude to God.

(In the photo Randy Moss faces off a Rams player.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking and Reflecting

This morning I read an article in the New York times which resonated with me. The writer's literal "bottom line" was that we do not think enough.

In the play, The Man for All Seasons, about St. Sir Thomas More, Lord Cromwell tells Sir Richard Rich, "You haven't thought enough!" Cromwell as well as The Times' David Brooks both were pin pointing mental laziness. Brooks calls it a "metacognition deficit." Brooks may have been referring to celebrities and politicians whose selective memories force them to make public statements about pronouncements they had made which were false and/or faulty.

In every Catholic spiritual tradition there is time set aside daily for an examination of conscience. Some call it a "verification" of the day. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, called it a consciousness exam. Actually rewinding the video tape of our previous 24 hours, and pausing at our own behavioral mishaps, helps to prevent metacognition deficit and mental laziness.

Ignatius recommends beginning this daily examen with a prayer for enlightenment. Then he tells us to thank God for the many graces which God gave us since the last examen. Then we are invited to look and see how we responded to the graces, or if we just ignored them, or, if we even acted contrary to what our good judgment told us.

If we discover lapses, mistakes, and sins, then we tell God how we are sorry. Then we resolve to do better tomorrow, or from now on. Then we pray again to be more Christ-like.

St. Paul told his readers, including us, to "put on the mind of Christ."

I consider this advice to mean that I use a new set of lens to see the world, and especially my own particular circumstances. These lens are the criteria of Christ. In Philippians Chapter 4, Paul spells about his view of Christian criteria:

"Whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is commendable,
whatever is pleasing,
if there is any excellence and
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things. "(Philippians 4:8)

Today I think of two good persons who died in this week: Brother James Mann, a Brother of the Society of St. Paul, and Sister Maria Rosa Ballini of the Daughters of St. Paul. Both gave their lives to God in the Pauline family, and both spent all their energies for God.

Brother James died in Ohio of pancreatic cancer. Sister Maria Rosa died at our clinic in Albano, Italy, about an hour's drive from Rome. Brother James worked in the CD and DVD duplicating department of the Society of St. Paul in Canfield, Ohio. He was also active in keeping the extensive grounds very well groomed. Brother James was known for his serene smile. Sister Maria Rosa too was one who smiled often. She spent many years in Africa, especially in Nairobi. However, like our Patron, St. Paul, she often ventured to many parts of Africa to bring the Word of God to people who were not able to "come and get it" at one of our book centers. She arranged "Bible Days" where easy to purchase Bibles were made available to the people. Sister herself would speak to the people and explain the Bible with clarity and enthusiasm. Like a farmer who sowed the seed, she "sowed" the seed of the Word of God in Ethiopia, Swaziland, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania and several other African nations. May these Paulines, Brother James and Sister Maria Rosa, reap an eternal reward for their years of service and loving fidelity.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Today in Boston we had the joy of celebrating Mass with our Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O'Malley. Cardinal Sean prefers to wear his brown Capuchin Friar habit and sandals when he can. After Mass we all enjoyed a brunch together.
The cardinal concelebrated with Fr. Robert Kickham, his secretary, and Father Michael Harrington. Father Michael is the first American member of the Pauline institute for diocesan priests: The Institute of Jesus the Priest.
The Mass was one of thanksgiving to God in a special way for 50 years of vowed life for our Sister Mary Philomena Mattuzzi. Sr. Philomena grew up in Italy in a small town near Verona.
Shortly after her first vows, she was sent was sent as a missionary to the USA.
In the Eastern rite Catholic Churches, and I believe in the Orthodox Churches as well, this day of the Assumption of Mary is also celebrated. In the East it is called the Feast of the Dormition of Mary. Cardinal Sean reminded us this morning that among Mary's first recorded words, was the phrase, "Be it done to me as you say", in response to the angel's invitation to be mother of the Redeemer. Her last words in the gospel are "Do as he (Jesus) tells you" when Jesus turned water into wine. Mary gives us a path to follow.
May you have a blessed week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cinema Divina Retreat

From August 2nd until Monday noon august 9th, I was part of a small group of Daughters of St. Paul who participated in a "Cinema Divina" Retreat. The priest chaplain is a Jesuit Father who hails from Munich, Germany, Fr. Christof Wolf, sj. Sister Suzanne Mayer,IHM, a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Philadelphia, was also a director for the retreat.
Almost everyday we began by viewing a film at 9:00 AM. Each film was chosen because it somehow incarnated the gospel reading for the day's Mass. At 5:15 pm there was a sharing on the day's film. A person was free to share, or free even not to attend the sharing but to pray more.
In the group photo Sr. Suzanne is second from the left, Father Christof is on the right.
Each Sister had a retreat "director" whom she saw for about a half hour each day. The director would suggest a reading, usually from the Scripture. Then we each would pray with that Scripture at least three times throughout the day.
Father Christof offered Mass each day. His homilies were very focused, practical and Christ centered.
The last film we viewed,"The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen) made in 2006, depicts life in Communist East Germany. A career Secret Police interrogator has a change of heart when he bugs a a playwright's apartment. Because of his change of heart the policeman is demoted while the writer is eventually freed from surveillance. The silent and beautiful surprise ending is very moving. This film had particular significance for Fr. Christof who lived 19 years in Communist East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In almost every movie at least one person chose to change for the better. Both their behavior and their perspectives changed. God's grace is powerful. Grace even permeates movies when they are seen from a Faith-filled perspective.
One of the first movies which we saw, "The End of the Spear" takes place in the Amazon jungle in 1956. This true story of five American Protestant missionaries' efforts to evangelize the Waodani people is very moving. The widows of the five men became a missionary presence among the people who killed their husbands. The unassuming heroism of these good people won over the hearts of a tribe that was literally dying because of its ruthless violence.
In one of Fr. Christof's homilies he quoted a contemporary author who said that (wasting our minds) with trivia is sinful. Father noted how so much of television fare is trivia. Father is a TV and film producer in Munich.
In our Pauline Family Prayerbook there is a prayer called The Pauline Offertory. It has nine petitions in which we ask God to increase the ranks of those who produce quality Christian media. May God increase and multiply Father Christof's productions for Loyola Productions in Germany. And, may God bless and multiply the efforts of Christian film and TV producers in the USA and Canada.
May you too have the grace of one day spending time in prayer on a Cinema Divina retreat.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Today, Monday, August 2, I am beginning my annual week long silent retreat. I am at our St. Thecla Retreat house in Billerica, Massachuetts north of Boston. I promise to pray for all of you who read my blog. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter
This photo shows the bell tower and front of St. Thecla's.