Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holy Innocents

Today, December 28, marks the Feast of the Holy Innocents: little baby boys, two years of age and under who were massacred by King Herod. It was Jesus whom he sought to kill, but his blind rage would brook no opposition to his seething ambition to allow no rival ascend his throne. Scholars estimate that perhaps 20 innocent children perished because of the king's jealousy. Some wonder why the  Church honors these little ones. Without words to speak they shed their blood in place of the Divine Baby hidden in the arms of Mary and protected by Joseph. Safe in Egypt the Holy Family escaped Herod's wrath. As the writer in the current issue of Magnificat magaine says what an honor to be "mistaken" for Christ.
Would my actions today be mistaken for those of Jesus?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Hope

In my last post I  placed an image of Baby Jesus with the words, "He is our Hope."  The original bookmark I used had a wonderful timely prayer on the back that I would like to share with you as my gift to all my readers:

A Prayer for Unfailing Hope

Lord Jesus, you see my entire life:

past, present, and future.

You know my thoughts and feelings.

You see how hard life can be,

how unfair it can seem at times.

In all the confusion, one thing is certain—

your love for me never changes.

I place all my hope in You.

You embrace me as I am.

You walk with me and guide me.

Help me to recognize Your presence

and to follow where you lead with trust.

You desire only the greatest good for me;

You are on my side.

I place all my hope in You.

Help me to know how much

you want to be part of my life.

Widen the limits of my heart

to make room for You

and through You for others.

You are God, my Savior.

I place all my hope in You.

Blessing: “May the God of hope fill us

with all joy and peace in believing,

so that we might abound in hope by

the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).

To practice: Read a passage from the New

Testament daily.

© Daughters of St. Paul


Merry Christmas to all my readers.Today, as we celebrate Christ's birth we enjoy a lovely crisp winter day. All of nature seems happy to receive the Baby who came to save the world. Even our Christmas cactus is loaded with blossoms slowly opening their delicate flowers.
As our pastor said last night, "Let's keep it simple. God became 'Baby'-- human--for us". So at this morning's Mass when a toddler's voice pierced a momentary silence, it seemed appropriate--a reminder that God took on a Baby wordless voice too. In real time he grew up to preach, teach. die and rise. That night in the stable in Bethlehem when God appeared as Baby and man for us a never-ending fountain of grace opened to refresh and sustain us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Thanksgiving greetings to all my readers. On Thursday, millions of Americans will gather for a family meal, many with turkeys or hams and all the trimmings. In my family, thanksgiving remains a day when as many as possible of my siblings gather together for a festive meal and fellowship. We always used special amber glass plates. Only a few years ago did I realize that the dinner wear is called "Depression Glass." Now sought-after by antique collectors, the made-in-America tinted glass substituted for fine China.
Although not a church holy day, it is our American day to thank God for his unending goodness to each of us, and to our nation. We are one nation under God.
When you feel like getting cranky or ready to complain, it may help to sit down and write a litany of thanksgiving/a list of your gifts, and ways others have gifted you.
My best wishes and prayers for you that your Thanksgiving Day may be joyous in all ways!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Turning Leaves

Yesterday as we were on our way to Mass, a carpet of multi-colored leaves decorated the pavement. I almost hesitated to walk on it.
Glancing out my window I see our fig tree refusing to turn colors, our peach tree slowly surrendering its leaves, and our neighbor's gloriously scarlet maple leaves shimmering bright. For those who live in a warm climate, it is worth putting up with the cold to see at least once the variety of color that only comes with the changing of seasons.
Change is everywhere in nature this autumn. Soon the weather man says it will all be covered with a blanket of wet, heavy snow. Thankfully, the weather person is reassuring: the snow won't stick, at least not here.
All this change going on outside of us can question us: Am I changing for the better? As the leaves fall, am I letting go of things I don't really need. I notice a proliferation of storage units for rent. I wonder if the bins awaiting donations for the St. Vincent de Paul Society or other worthy charities are as frequented as the storage units which charge rental fees. The hymn "Abide with Me" says "Change in all around I see...Dear Lord, abide with me." Some have experienced loss of jobs, loss of homes, and other significant people in their lives. May we see God active in the changes. He is consant and unchanging "our rock of refuge."

Sunday, October 16, 2011


In my last blog I mentioned the "move night" in Newark, Delaware. About a dozen people attended our Faith and Film evening at Holy Family Church. The group held a very animated discussion after watching the film "Ladder 49" starring Joachim Phoenix and John Tavolta. None of the audience had seen the movie before. Many expressed amazement that such a wholesome film was produced by a Hollywood company. Filmed in Baltimore (about 50 miles from where we viewed the film), Ladder 49 portrays firemen on the job fighting real fires, as Dad's involved in their kids' school and sports, as husbands confronting wives anxiety and as faithful believers. Before we watched the movie, we began with a short prayer and a reading from St. John on the Good Shepherd. The word "sacrifice" came up often in the discussion. Characters in the film made small sacrifices daily. Some made the ultimate sacrifice. If you are interested in a Faith and Film night at your parish, please email me at You may also want to check out  Sister Rose Pacatte's blog and movie reviews
Today I was at a parish health fair. What has a media evangelizaer to do with a health fair? As I see it, a wholistic view of the person includes his or her spiritual and mental health. Pauline Books & Media offers a wealth of titles on the spiritual life, and several titles on healing and coping which attend also to the mental health of their readers.

Dome of Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral

Celtic Coss Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral
 This evening it was a pleasure to arrive at our parish church, Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to see many people--from grandparents down to grade schoolers--adoring the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The Forty Hours Devotion is being led by with a special preacher. It includes prolonged time for Eucharistic adoration and a closing celebration for the entire parish. St. John Neumann initiated the 40 Hours devotion in Philadelphia when the Catholic church was targeted by a group called "The Know Nothings." Their bigotry led to church burnings and other forms of persecution. Philadelphia's Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Basilica has no street level windows because of fear that any windows in range of rock throwing rowdies would be shattered. When police would investigate criminal allegations against the group their answer was always: "I know nothing!" In our day the need for The 40 Hours" is more to fan the flame of our love and appreciation of God's presence in the Holy Eucharist than to ward off the Know Nothings. As one of the parish priests remarked tonight, the presence of the Lord is even more felt as the parish gathers as a family around the Center of it all.  May you  too enjoy the benefits of participating in Forty Hours in  your parish.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's New?

Today Sr. Cynthia and I will be traveling to Newark, Delaware to host a Faith and Film night at Holy Family Parish. I am excited to be able to once again participate in a movie night to see how the Spirit will work in the folks who come.
On our Philadelphia blog there is a description of the movie: Ladder 49.  Many films today are replete with CGI'/computer generated images. The producers and directors of Ladder 49  used "real" fire and the main actors underwent grueling training sessions with actual firemen to create a you-are-there sensation for the viewers. The movie increased my admiration for the self-sacrifice of all firemen and women. Pray that all goes well.
Also pray for Sister Neville Christine who begins a new assignment today in Redwood City, California.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Free Fall

As autumn begins our schedule fills up almost as fast as the leaves fall around us! Heavy rains have made for hard times for many of our local farmers. I pray that somehow they may be compensated for all the crops they have lost. Yet there is still plenty in this land of abundance.
Our publishing house continues to provide new titles for the young and for adults who want to grow deeper in their spiritual life. Father J. Brian Bransfield, a Philadelphia priest authored our latest book release, "Living the Beatitudes." A few months ago Father Bransfield gave an introduction to his new book at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. For some who may question the value of making an effort to live a life of virtue, Bransfield's book will supply answers and guidance on "how to" live the gospel.
Father Bransfield's first book published by our Pauline Books & Media is "The Human Person in the Thought of Pope John Paul II." Father's book gives a clear and thorough guide to understanding the late Holy Father's "Theology of the Body." Here is a link to information on Blessed John Paul's "Man and Woman He Created Them", the Theology of the Body. It comes from the St. Louis Review.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mighty Winds and a Film

I am writing to you from Philadelphia where winds left over from Hurricane Irene are blowing a mighty wind outside. I woke up early this morning expecting to hear pounding rain and howling winds. Instead, there was an eerie silence: neither rain nor wind. Parts of Philadelphia are flooded with water from the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers flowing into certain streets. Trees are blocking some roadways, and power lines are down. We had flashlights and candles ready for an eventual outage. Flickering lights last night seemed to foretell an outage. Yet, we still have electricity, running water and all the amenities that these provide. Tree branches and leaves cover the lawns and driveways, yet the huge branches we feared might crash on top of us are still intact.
A steady leak in the roof is under control. Our roofer has had so many calls lately that he has not answered ours yet. In the meantime we use buckets and a dehumidifier.
Watching continual news coverage of the hurricane did not help to alleviate any fears, so we chose to preview a film we will use for a Parish Movie Night. "Ladder 49" highlights the story of a young Baltimore fireman played by Joaquin Phoenix. Phoenix and his fellow actors participated in an actual fireman's training program using real fire so as to make the movie as realistic as possible. The camaraderie and brotherhood among the firemen, their everyday heroism and humanity are well portrayed. Since our movie nights relate film to the gospel, we invite the audience to see threads of the gospel's values lived out/portrayed on screen. This film sets most of its characters as Roman Catholic, so a Catholic audience may find many gospel references as well as a certain "Catholic humor." Last night we enjoyed the bonus features offered and saw real fireman who assisted in the film's production, as well as their families. We will be hosting a Film night in a parish in Newark, Delaware in September. I will let you know the date soon.
My summer has been a full one with a long trip to Ohio, attendance at a diocesan Faith and Family Festival, and at the annual Holy Family Triduum in Ohio. As I return to my "blog desk" I will fill you in on what happened.Meanwhile thank God along with us for sparing us from any severe damage from Hurricane Irene.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Best wishes to all Americans who read this post for a very happy and safe celebration of our nation's Birthday! In the Mid-Atlantic area, i is picture perfect weather. Many people in the Philadelphia area have headed for the Jersey shore. Yet here in the city of Brotherly Love, it is very pleasant indeed. In a way, July 4th is a time of thanksgiving for the blessings we have received as a country. Recently, Sister Neville and I visited the Liberty Bell shrine in downtown Philadelphia. We joined a long line of visitors who waited patiently to see the bell with the quotation from Leviticus: "Proclaim liberty through all the land." The bell has a famous crack which has marked it as a symbol of American freedom. To some the crack may resemble a scar rather than a beauty mark. Symbols are like that--they speak without words about truths that run deep in the foundation of our national life.
Yet the bell's crack is a flaw. It testifies to the truth that we are all flawed, good but not perfect. We do not yet "have it all together." That's OK. Together as a people we can proceed ahead with each person's gifts making up for what another may lack.
In a religious sense, we pray for a liberty from the worst oppressor: sin. May God deliver us from our sins, big and small. They are the cracks which divide us in life. May Christ heal our "cracks" and unite us for the good.

Monday, June 27, 2011


June 28 marks the day back in 1932 when three young Pauline Sisters arrived at the Port of New York. Sent by the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, the three were eager to begin their work of evangelization with the printed Word in New York and North America. The Sister who would remain at the head of the American foundation of the Daughters of St. Paul for many years was Sister or Mother Paula Cordero. Baptized Adele in the hillside village of Prioca in Italy's Piedmont region, Mother Paula and her companions began their mission in the Bronx section of New York. They went from door-to-door with literature explaining the gospel, lives of saints, and prayer books. Some of the literature was in Italian, some in English.
After a few years the Sisters opened their own convent in Staten Island New York. The property had been home to the Benziger family, who were among the USA's first prominent Catholic publishers.
While she still possessed good health, Mother Paula would tell her yearly "Exodus" story of how she had been asked by Mother Thecla Merlo to move from the small town of Alba, Italy to cross the Atlantic to begin the Daughters of St. Paul in the USA.
Today we Sisters, her spiritual descendants, are ever grateful to Jesus Divine Master, to Mary Queen of Apostles and all our heavenly helpers for the courage and faith of our founding Sisters.

Picture of St. Paul in the Melkite Cathedral, Boston
May St. Peter and St. Paul intercede for you. Amen!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord

In the Orient it is already Sunday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In New England it promises to be a lovely day. I plan to visit a friend in Maine and to visit the beach where we can walk on the sand and enjoy the view. I look forward to tomorrow's liturgy which is very joyful and full of meaning.
This evening I glanced a the Vatican News Service bulletin's summary of the latest talk by Pope Benedict. You will be enriching your spiritual life if you go to the Vatican website and sign up for its free daily news service. Our Holy Father gives us profound and practical teachings on living the gospel today.
Christ stays with us in his Eucharistic presence in the Blessed Sacrament. One of our Sisters likes to say that we can stay in the sun of the Son of God. When I visited the General house of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Rome, they had a picture of their founder, St. Peter Julian Eymard which impressed me. Eymard's features are darkened and his hair singed as if he had passed through burning flames. The picture symbolized the burning love of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Eymard spent many hours in adoration before that "fire" which kept burning in his soul. If we ever feel down or "cold" in our love for God or for the people we live and work with, try warming your soul in front of the hidden flames of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus said he came "to cast fire on the earth." His is not a destructive fire, but a life-giving power that that fires us with the grace we need to be true Christians today.
My prayer for you is that you will be nourished by Sacrament of Love--the Eucharist. And, I pray that you and I will be on fire in a holy way with the love of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Seven Day Retreat and an Annniversary

Today is my first full day "off from retreat." About 25 of us Sisters spent the last week at our retreat house north of Boston, St. Thecla's in Billerica, Massachusetts.

St. Thecla's Retreat House

 Although the weather was unseasonably cool and moist, the Lord was certainly at work. I appreciated the pause for extended prayer time, for some rest, for the time to look over the blessings of the past year and more. Usually the retreat director notes a few Scripture passages for reflection and prayer. This year too my director did just that, and also provided some readings from St. Paul commented by N. T. Wright. I was struck by Wright's explanation of Paul's writing in 2 Corinthians about us being the "sweet odor" or "aroma" of Christ. and, he mentions the "glory" of Christ and of Christians which contrasts with  a more secular kind of glory. I keep reflecting on what was given me on the retreat. That precious time away "retreating" with the Lord is almost like a spiritual re-fueling. It is a time of more openness to the Holy Spirit.
Today marks the "birthday" of the Daughters of St. Paul in the town of Alba, in the Province of Cuneo, in northen Italy in 1915. Little did Teresa Merlo who joined the small group of women dream that the tiny group of young women in a ramshacle home become a robust religious order today. Under the direction of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, the first young women pioneers in using printing and now social  media for God, frequented San Damiano Church in  Alba.

Teresa Merlo in 1914. She met Blessed Alberione in June of 1915. Teresa became Mother Thecla Merlo, first General Superior of the Daughters of St. Paul. Teresa's brother, then a seminarian, recommended her to the Founder.

Mother Thecla seated on the left with a group of the first Daughters of St. Paul in 1922. The Sisters began using a religious habit in 1929. The image in the center of the photo is that of St. Paul. The towns people gave the young women working in their midst the name "Daughters" of St. Paul.

The Church of San Damiano where Mother Thecla first met the young priest, now Blessed, James Alberione. San Damiano is still an active parish in Alba, Italy.

Teresa Merlo was an excellent seamstress. Before the Sisters began their printing an publishing ministry. Teresa used her sewing talents to help support the group. In a few years the group expanded to ther parts of Italy. In the 1930's Sisters were sent outside of the Italian penninsula to North and South America, and the Orient.Now Daughters of St. Paul are present in 55 nations, including the newest nation, Souterhn Sudan.
In 1960 I joined the Daughters of St. Paul in our novitiate house here in a beautiful section of Boston's Jamaica Plain.Thank God for the gift of the Daughters of St. Paul to the whole Church, and for God's gift to me to have received a Pauline calling.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Summer Time

In the USA, Memorial Day ushers in the summer season even though summer does not officially begin untill June 21. In Boston the temperature right now feels like autumn:  the air has a chill, even though the flowers and lush greenery deceptively look like summer.
My heart goes out to all those suffering the effects of tornadoes as far east of Massachusetts. As a teenager, I was home from school once when the sky turned an ominous yellow, and a funnel cloud passed over our house. By then my mother and I were in the basement. The tornado passed over us without touching down. It sounded like a freight train at terrifically high speed as it sped away. In the late 1980's another Sister and I were in Texas scheduled to give a workshop on catechetics in parish about 250 miles north of us. We watched in dismay as a TV newscast showed the remnants of homes, churches and businesses destroyed by a Sunday tornado. Our workshop was set for the next day, Monday evening.  We called ahead and the pastor said to come anyway, even though there were some casualties in his parish too.
A powerful tornado had traveled over 300 miles dipping down, rising up and churning everything in its path to bits and pieces.
As Sister and I guided our van to our destination we saw alongside our route what tornado devastation looked like. Some areas were unscathed, others were totally destroyed. Sheet metal walls were twirled around sign posts like so much ribbon. A small wooden church lay on its side, all the pews pushed up again one another. Remnants of trailer homes lay scattered in fields ready for harvest. Pink sheets of fiberglass insulation clung to trees, and volunteer emergency personnel were already doling out food and water to survivors. We were following the tornado's path. It seems to have followed the same route we drove.  It swept through some towns and ignored others. We saw debris for mile-after-mile: a memory I hold even now as very impressive. When we arrived at the parish, the Benedictine nuns there told us how a young mother whose husband worked in the rose industry, lost her baby to the tornado.
Why does God allow such violent storms?  As St. Paul says in Romans 8:28: "For those who love God all things work together for the good." It takes time to clean-up, much more time to heal lossesater, and healing of memories requires God's tender mercy. For those of you who can afford it, please give to the causes collecting for tornado and flood relief.
May this month of June bring many graces through the Sacred Heart of Jesus Master. and, may St. Paul whose feast day is at the end of June intercede for all of u.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Beautiful Day for Camden

On Saturday, May 7th in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, New Jersey, James Henry King IV was ordained to the Catholic priesthood. Jamie, as James is called by family and friends, has waited a long time for the ceremony when Bishop Galante would lay his hands on his head invoking the power of the Holy Spirit on him. Bishop Galante, as  true shepherd and spiritual father, explained the duties that the young man was undertaking. He also emphasized the  power of prayer when he told Father King, "Don't be afraid to let the people see you praying." I was getting teary eyed at the Bishop's genuine warmth and affection.
Jamie's mother and step Dad brought up a chalice and hosts to be offered during the Mass. His father's gold wedding band forms part of the base of the large gold chalice. In a way his father was present through the ring which remains visible especially to anyone who holds the chalice.
The music was well done and incorporated some Spanish too. The new priest has already spent time serving people in Latin America. 
I met a Sister who gave Jamie his first catechism lessons. She certainly got him off to a good start! Although he did not attend Catholic school until his entrance into St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, the Sisters in his parish gave him a solid  religious upbringing.
"To sing is to pray twice," said St. Augustine. Father King is gifted with a great singing voice, as well as with the talent to play many instruments. May he continue to praise God doubly in his priestly ministry.
The clip above is a shot of the ordination ceremony. Since my digital camera needs repair, I await pictures from my friends Father Bob Stolinski of Buffalo, and Sister Marilyn who came all the way from Phoenix. When they send me their photos I will share them with you. On Saturday during the ordination and at the   festivities later, there was a joy on everyone's faces. We all shared in the happiness that God's Church now has one more priest totally dedicated to God and to the service of his people. Please be patient with the video. The batteries were running very low. To be contnued....

Saturday, April 23, 2011


In the mid 1980's I was assigned to the beautiful state of Hawaii in Honolulu. Each time the pastor began his homily he would say, "My dear Saints." As I reflected on Father's greeting, I first thought it a little overstated. "We are not there yet!" I would say to myself. However, the older I become the more accurate I think Father was. We are Saints-in-the-making.
On this eve of the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Easter, I recall the beautiful and touching Good Friday service. In the church where we attended in Virginia, at least a thousand people went to venerate the image of Jesus on the cross. The cross was about 4 feet high, steadied by two young acolytes. Many knelt to kiss its feet, or to reverence it in other ways. Some touched the feet, others the wounded side, others bowed in reverence. Grandmothers, a young army woman, a tall man whose close cropped hair reminded me of a Marine, mothers with infants, teen boys, older men, an EMT (emergency medial technician), the well off, and the not so rich, people of every color all reverenced Jesus represented by the study wooden crucifix. As we waited prayerfully for all to come up to the cross, I thought how each one of those present would someday share in that cross. Others obviously are  shouldering part a  cross of illness, or of stress, or of burdensome duties. Not one of those who crowded into that church would be without some form of a cross. Yet there was a serenity about all those whom I saw. There was love for God and what he did for us in Jesus. Confessions, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, was available in two side chapels after the service. Again, the elderly, young mothers, teens and parents, mature adults and religious Sisters,  lined up to hear the reassuring words "I absolve you from your sins...".
Jesus died and rose that we might truly be Saints--holy people. Holy people imitate Christ. That is what we want to be, saints. Not santimonious, but saintly. After this Lent, we want to rise up, to a "new life", a life where we make room for Jesus to live in us. May your life and mine be one of true joy as we celebrate once again the Good News: Christ is risen. Yes, He is truly risen! Alleluia!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Member of Our Heavenly Family

Our St. Patrick's Day celebration was a bit subdued this year in our Boston commumnity. Sister Cecilia Paula Livingston was laid to rest after a funeral Mass in our chapel at 11:00 AM this morning. Sister's younger sister, who is also a Daughter of St. Paul, Sister Jane Raphael was present along with friends, cooperators and members of the Pauline laity. At her wake the previous day, we prayed the rosary for her soul. The room where the casket lay was decorated with photos and mementos of her life. Sister had been suffering from cancer off and on since 2008. After the rosary, we were surprised that Sister Cecilia "spoke to us" via a DVD her sister filmed shortly before her death on March 11.  Her basic message, delivered in a serene and upbeat manner was that in this life what matters is to love God, and to love and support one another. Many of the Sisters recounted th kindnesses Sister Cecilia had shown them, her care for others, her desire to do God's Will, and her quiet but very real sense of humor.
Sister had many assignments, including being one of our "pressroom Sisters" who operated our four color presses some years ago. She served as local superior in Bosotn and in St. Louis. In the last five years, she was home in California caring for her elderly parents. However as the cancer advanced and resisted any chemotherapy, Sister re-enterd the community in Charleston, SC. The superior in Charleston is her younger sister, Sister Jane. Friends of the community assisted  in many ways as Sister Cecilia prepared herself to meet the Divine Master face-to-face. We are grateful to the Sisters of teh Charleston Community and the good people of that lovely city who appreciated Sister Cecilia's prayers and offering of herself to God.
Thanks to Sister Marie, one of our blog readers, whose commented added to mine about the Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day Parade. A Sister was the Grand Marshal of that great Parade.
May your troubles be few and the graces be many! May St. Patrick pray for us all, and help us to prepare well for the Solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph. Happy Feast Day to all the Joseph's and Josephines, and to all Canadians whose Patron Saint is St. Joseph.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick and St. Joseph

St. Patrick Day celebrations began early this week. Philadelphia had a big parade in honor of St. Patrick on Sunday. The celebration began with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Rigali in the church of St. Patrick. We know St. Patrick was not born in Ireland, yet he is equated with the people of the Emerald Isle. He, like St. Paul, made himself "all to all in order to save" as many of the Irish as he could. Patrick persevered in his efforts to bring Christianity to the Irish people. He met opposition of many kinds, yet he never gave up. Thanks to his untiring zeal, his love for God and for the men and women of Ireland, Christ is better known, loved and lived not only by Irish, but also by the multitude in locales where Irish missionaries have preached around the world. May St. Patrick intercede for all the Irish, part-Irish and all who associate with them. Best regards for a Happy Name Day to all the Patricks, Patricios, Patricia's, and Paddy's.
On Saturday we will celebrate the real "Quiet Man" who was not Irish, but Jewish: St. Joseph. May he be an example for all of us in our prayer life and in fulfilling our day-to-day tasks.
With best regards to all the Joseph's and Josephine's,
Sister Mary Peter

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mardi Gras, Carnevale, Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras has arrived, and will soon be over. Folks who love to party will enjoy their last hurrah as Tuesday wanes and Wednesday dawns with the promise of ashes. Forty days of Lent. It seems like forever in this age of instant messages, tweets, and cyber symbols. I will spend most of Ash Wednesday in the Cathedral of St's. Peter and Paul in center city Philadelphia. We Daughters of St. Paul will hold a book and media display geared to Lenten reflection at the Cathedral as well as at Holy Martyrs Church in Oreland, Pennslvania.
As one retreat master put it, "a good book can tell you more than your best friend would dare to tell you." Lenten Grace" is one such good book of daily reflections based on the gospel readings for each day of Lent.
Pauline Books and Media offer a variety of Lenten titles, as well as a new series of books called The Catholic Wisdom Collection. The CWC presents the reflections of Christian writers known for their spiritual depth: John of the Americas, Cross, Jean  Pierre de Caussade, John Henry Newman and more. Although John of the Cross lived at the time of the colonization of the Americas, his pen still touches the hearts of people today who experience a spiritual darkness. The Wisdom Collection offers light and guidance to all who want to learn from the classics who have gone before us.
Enjoy Shrove Tuesday and prepare well for the graces in store for us in Lent.
For more Lenten reading visist

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Prayers for Our Times

As some of you may know, the Church is suffering from the wounds caused by clergy sexual abuse in some parts of the world. The Church in Ireland is taking steps to heal from the hurt caused by people who betrayed the sacred trust of innocent children. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia allegations and investigations are underway to make sure that victims are protected and healed, and perpetrators removed from the chance of endangering any more persons.
We pray for the victims of clergy sexual abuse, as well as for the many who suffer such abuse from within their own families or other situations. Let us implore the Lord's healing grace for all, especially for the victims. Follow this link to find prayers directed to help us find God in this crisis:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Short Month Packed Full

In four days the second month of the year will be history. We saw a  regime topple along the Nile. Now another one is shaken by those oppressed for over 40 years. May true justice and lasting peace prevail in all nations.
An earthquake in New Zealand caused billions of dollars of damage and many lost lives. This short month has made many headlines and left its mark on history.
On the Church's liturgical calendar there are some of the "forefathers" whose courage in the face of persecution made the heros' list. Among thme of course is St. Peter, the Apostle, whose role as leader of the Church was celebrated on February 22nd as the Feast of the Chair (or Primacy) of St. Peter. In every cathedral there is the bishop's "chair" or cathedra which symbolizes the bishop as the head teacher of the faith in his diocese as a spiritual descendant of the Apostles. When the Pope speaks "ex cathedra" he is speaking authortatively as the one who today takes the place of Peter.
Our Sisters in Boston have been busy preparing many new titles books, music and apps for those who have iphones, ipads and other handheld devices.
Here is a link to some of their latest creativity: This lets

 you know what is available for your Lenten journey.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Frozen February and Valentines

Today's sunshine gives the great illusion that it is warm and pleasant outside. It is cold and icy afoot in the outdoors. Sunday's Super Bowl celebration was a good excuse to enjoy a bowl of warm chili and to watch a football game as a cheerleader for the team that lost! That was OK. The Packers fans were kind enough.
This has been a frosty and snowy February here in the Northeast. Recent carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand has slowed me down. Today is the first time I am using my right hand more extensively. I have gained a new appreciation for the use of two hands!
 St. Valentine's Day is next week. It is a day which celebrates love. Hearts, chocolates, bouquets and greetings abound--at least in our North American culture. St. John wrote that we should "love one another as Christ loved us." That's a tall order. Christ resides somehow in each human person. It's easy to choose the ones I feel more comfortable with to like. Others may be of a type that I might naturally "unfriend" as the Facebook term says. Yet, even the people in the unfriend category host the Christ within them--some unawares. For me finding and saluting  the Christ within each one I meet is a Valentine resolution.
I extend my prayers and best wishes to those Valentine couples who are about to marry soon: Virginia and Thornwell in Charleston; Theresa and Tim in Buzzard's Bay; and Ben and Abby who married in January in Kansas City!
Have a great St. Valentine's Day!
The Boston Globe this week featured a number of couples married at least 50 years and asked them the key to their successful marriages. The common thread was mutual love and respect for each other. "Be nice" to each other was their favorite advice. Only true love allows us to sincerely "make nice" through thick and thin. May Christ who is love personified grant us all a blessed St. Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paul the Convert /We the Would-Be Converts

On Tuesday, January 25, the church celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The day's liturgy offers two choices for the first reading. Both selections from the Acts of the Apostles tell how Paul fell to the ground, surrounded by a blinding light. He heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" when Saul who became Paul answered, "Who are you, Sir?" The voice answered, "I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting." Paul was blinded by the light, yet his inner sight was opened to a new reality. The Christ whom he was persecuting in the Christians was and is a living reality--crucified and risen. This Christ is the "Kyrios", the Lord.
From then on, Saul the persecutor began a great change in his life. Many call it a conversion. Paul was already a God-fearing believer in all the tenents of Judaism. He was taught by the famous Rabbi Gameliel. Paul practiced all that the Jewish Torah demanded. His "conversion"--his turning about--was realizing that the Christ whom he had despised was the very same God he worshipped.
That event on the way to Damascus invites all of us to turn closer to Christ, if we are already Christians. If we are not Christian, we are invited to investigate, to see that God, the Creator and Sustainer of each of us and of all the universe is alive, he is caring for each of us. He is manifest to us in Christ Jesus.
Christ is alive in the church even though the Church is home not only to Saints, but to sinners. Some leave the church because they see some people who are "professionals" in the faith actually sin or behave in ways that look anything but Christ-like. My church history professor, the late Jesuit, Father Martin Harney, told us that the fact that the church is still afloat and alive in so many millions and throughout the world despite the scandals, the sins, the shortcomings. Yes, despite all the things which are not likeable, there is the presence of Christ. Maybe he seems to be asleep in Peter's boat, but he is still there. Paul turned toward Christ that day on the way to Damascus. Each day he turned a little more toward Christ until he could say, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ" (see the Letter to the Galatians).
So for us we can turn, we can change in increments, a little bit at a time. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we could spew out harsh words, or we could keep silent and pray a Hail Mary for the offender, as well as asking for patience for ourselves. That's converting a road block into a stepping stone. May St. Paul intercede for us so we can convert in small and big ways.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Memories and Dreams to Fulfill

I learned of the death of a cousin, Judy Bernat-Burton, on Sunday. I was going to call her. She celebrated a birthday last Thursday, making her the same age as myself. The next day she entered eternal life. Despite much illness and difficult times, Judy was always a woman of hope and concern for others. Her five children, numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews and we cousins attest to her being a loving person. She also spent the last years of her life researching her family history, going back to the first relatives who immigrated from Ireland in the 1800's. She left us a legacy of loving care and of detailed information on our extended family. May she be enjoying the presence of the Lord for all eternity.
I spoke with her by phone a couple of weeks ago. She was so animated in the conversation that I forgot that she was in a hospice program. She lived life to the fullest without giving in to self pity or bitterness. She prayed for all her family--another good example for the rest of us.
Today a niece of mine celebrates her birthday. She is in her early twenties and is in her last year of college. We trust in a beautiful future for her.
And, on Saturday a nephew of mine, Ben, will wed his fiance' Abby, in Kansas City. Ben and Abby give us hope that young people are ready to give their love to each other and to work hard to make that love permanent. All the best to these beautiful young people whose example shows that God is helping young men and women to have the courage to make a true commitment. May his grace accompany them through the ups and downs of life. As the letter to the Hebrews states hope is the anchor that reaches beyond what we can do into the strength of the Lord who loves us more than we can ask or imagine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blizzards and Memories

Last night I heard of the death of one of the persons to whom I owe much in the way of gospel living and gospel preaching: David Thorpe. David died suddenly on January 9. I offer condolences to his wife Barbara and to his children. David was a person who lived the gospel and who knew how to preach it well. I attended his classes on evangelization when the Boston Archdiocese included evangelization in its Master Teacher Program in the early 1990's. David was very active in the Charismatic Renewal program on a national and international level. Most recently he has been working with the Boston Archdiocese and its program to welcome back Catholics who have left the Church for one reason or another. I have a large ring binder notebook with all my notes and handouts from the classes I attended. Through the years I often referred to those notes and used some of the handouts in my own teachings on evangelization. David was born in Canada but spent most of his life in the USA. May he now be enjoying the presence of the Lord whom he loved and spoke of so well. I pray that Barbara be consoled and now feel her husband's help from heaven.
I ask prayers for the eternal peace of a young man named Scott who took his own life last week. Scott suffered from severe bouts of mental illness. May Jesus, our Sea of Peace, surround Scott now with eternal peace.
On a different note, anyone who lives in the US East Coastal area was back in Narnia Land today. the much predicted blizzard which spread blankets of snow on our roads, trees and buildings indeed reminded many of us of C.S. Lewis' Narnia. Here are a few pictures of the outdoors. It was not easy to take photos since snow was packed against most of the doors, and snow threatened to get my camera wet!
This picture looks black and white. The conditions were "whiteout."

Snow covered all of our convent property in Boston's Jamaica Plain hills. If you have seen the Narnia films, you can imagine yourself there!

Monday, January 10, 2011


2011 is well on its way to being packed with action, snow storms, and all kinds of events. yet in the Church Year today we began the first week of ordinary time. Christmas decorations are slowly being put away, the holidays are over and we are back to work. Yet God is still working 24/7, and he is still giving us grace upon grace. that's his "ordinary" way of doing things!
May your Ordinary Time be filled with extraordinary graces.