A week ago I traveled with a friend to our convent in Philadelphia. I am in the "City of Brotherly Love" to help for a few months. In a sense, ours is an itinerant community, since we are often on the road to bring our Pauline books and media to folks in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. At the moment, we do not have a Pauline Book & Media center (store) in Philadelphia. We are searching for an appropriate site. In the meantime, we bring Pauline books and media to parishes, meetings, schools and other events. On Saturday I will bring the book I authored, Tender Mercies, Prayers for Healing and Coping, to a workshop on mental health which will take place in our local parish. I will also bring along "Surviving Depression, A Catholic Approach" and other titles that will be of help to those assisting the mentally ill, or who may have a mental disorder. There are saints whose mental health was over the border of borderline, such as St. Benedict Joseph Labre'. Even though he suffered much from dark depression, he thought of others while he lived a life of deep prayer. Many gifted people suffer from depression or from bi-polar disorders. The church welcomes all and is seeking to alleviate this suffering which can cause heartache to individuals and families.
During my first days in Philadelphia, I traveled to the Jersey shore. I have been on the Atlantic coast many times before, but never on the sands of the New Jersey beaches. The day I walked on the beach looking for sea shells as well as for photo opportunities I met a challenge in the form of high tides and strong winds. Clusters of sea gulls and plovers ignored me as they hunkered down waiting for kinder winds. I did find a few nice sea shells to add to my collection. Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea" begins each chapter by comparing sea shells to stages in our adult life. Having a variety of shells helps me appreciate her reflections even more. A Jesuit priest once recommended reading "Gift from the Sea." He called it a "book for women." Although men can read and learn from it also, Mrs. Lindberg seems to be conversing woman-to-woman. I find the book a real gift that invites the reader to a more contemplative stance towards others and the events of our daily lives.
For us Catholics, October is the month of the Rosary. Tomorrow, Oct. 7th is the Feast of the Holy Rosary. Pope John Paul called the rosary his favorite prayer. Pope Benedict XVI said, "This popular Marian prayer is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the blessed Virgin Mary always to fulfill the divine will. It is contemplation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with Mary....To be apostles of the Rosary, however, it is necessary to let the Blessed Virgin to take one by the hand to contemplate the Face of Christ: a joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. Those who, like Mary and with her, cherish and ponder the mysteries of Jesus assiduously, increasingly assimilate his sentiments and are conformed to him." (From Pope Benedict's addess at Pompeii, Oct. 19, 2008) Best regards for a great month of the Holy rosary.