Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

To begin a New Year is a grace that is reserved to us who are on this side of eternity. I was looking at a notebook where I keep anniversaries and a few other important events to remember. My Grandfather Malone died on New Year's Eve when I was a novice. May Grandpa rest in the peace of Christ where Grandma preceded him two years earlier.
Millions may watch a crystal ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve night to usher in 2013. Many of us Daughters of St. Paul will be spending time in prayer before the Eucharistic Christ to thank God for the grace to begin a new year, and to beg for many graces for ourselves and for the whole world.
We pray for peace in Israel and Palestine, in Iran and Afghanistan, in Chad, in Nigeria, in Mali, in the Congo and other African nations where violence and anarchy reign. In our own continent we pray for an end to drug trafficing, and for a stop to human trafficing wherever it lurks.
We pray for the Church that it may be free to preach the gospel in every country and with all means available. May social media, the internet, the cell phone, Face Book and chat rooms be clear of all that is not worth printing, seeing or listening to, so these communications media will become bearers of the Good News.
Pray intentionally while we pray in actuality our special End-of-the-Year Hour of Adoration. We will be praying from 8:00 to 9:00 Eastern Standard Time. Others of our Sisters in different time zones will be praying later.
May your New Year be blessed in every way possible especially with graces, good health and good spirits.
For us Paulines, the last night of each year reminds us of the Founder, Blessed James Alberione. On the night which divided the 19th and the 20th Centuries, he  was a 16 year old seminarian of the Diocese of Alba northern Italy, The young man spent a prolonged time in adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist in the  Alba's cathedral. During the four hours Alberione spent with the Lord it became clear to him that he was to do something for the men and women of the new era with the newest media of the time. Then that meant the press. then the radio, movies and all the media of social communication. All those means were often used for anything but wholesome ends. The future Founder was inspired to consecrate media for God rather than to condemn media. From that night sprang the present day "Pauline Family" of 10 religious groups. For more information see the web sites of the Pauline Family on www.alberione.org. Of couse we Daughters of St. Paul have a site of our won www.pauline.org.
Have a very Happy New Year! May 2013 be rich in blessings for each of you my readers!

A very young Father,  now Blessed James Alberione.
Blessed Alberione in his later years.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Feast for the Family

Today, the Sunday within the week after Christmas, is the Feast of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
the gospel reading for this year;s feast is the story of an adolescent Jesus who stays behind in the temple of Jerusalem while his parents search for him, not knowing his whereabouts. Jesus was immersed in what he considered "His Father's business" discussing and studying the Law of God with the teachers in the Temple. Maybe Jesus had just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, his becoming a "son of the Law".
However the gospel says he left Jersualem wth Mary and Joseph, and went to Nazareth "where he was subject to them." It goes on to say how Jesus grew in wisdom, grace and favor before God and men.
The tragic events of the recent past make us realize how precious each human life is, especially the lives of our children.
Our family was blessed with a new arrival in the form of a beautiful little girl named Harleigh, born December 7. May she be blessed with many graces and continued good health. I guess it is a sign of maturring when it is all too easy for me to remember my sister, the new grandmother, as a   curly topped red-headed three year old. I was supposed to be watching her when all of a sudden she was not in the house. I was a teenager who had been lost in conversation with a girl friend. I ran out to our corral and there was Rita smack under the belly of one of our mares. Neither the horse nor Rita seemed to be excited when I approached to snatch my little sister from a potentially dangerous situation. I believe in the existence f Guardian Angels. That was one of the many incidents that reinforce my belief.
As we celebrate Jesus' being part of a real flesh and blood family, we ask to put on the virtues that make our families true homes full of love, patience, humility, and all the virtues needed to live as Christians today.
Best regards to all the members of the Holy Family Imstitute who celebrate their common Feast Day today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guadalupe

December 12, 2012 is a day of rejoicing for North American Catholic Christians. This feast day marks the day in December 1531 that a Mexican Indian Christian gathered a cloak full of roses and brought it to the Bishop of Mexico City. As the Indian, Juan Diego opened his tilma (cloak) the Bishop fell to his knees. Juan Diego was amazed too, for imprinted on his tilma was the image of the beautiful woman who had appeared to him a few days before. She told him she was the Mother of God and she wanted a church built in Tepeyec near Mexico City. The Bishop had asked for a sign to prove that the Virgin Mary was real, and not a result of Juan Diego's faith. Frost had already killed most of the flowers where Juan Diego passed on his way to the Bishop's house. That day when the Lady asked him to gather the roses, he found many fresh and beautiful Castillian roses to present to the Bishop as his sign. He was not aware that an image of a woman with native American complexion, and dressed in the finery of an Aztec royalty, but wearing a cross, the symbol of Christianity with her head slightly bowed in humility was imprinted on his cloak. Today that cloak still survives, enshrined in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many symbols in Mary's clothing and other details of the mysterious painting reinforce the fact that the lady who appeared to Juan Diego was and is Mary, the Mother of God.
When I was assigned to the convent we had in San Antonio, Texas I was impressed by the devotion of the people to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Almost every Catholic home had the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I remember the last time I was in San Antonio for this Feast, we woke up early to sing "Las Mananitas" to Mary (a song to awaken a person) and we processed around the block near the Cathedral of San Fernando where a young man dressed as Juan Diego acted out the apparitions and the visits to the Bishop's residence. Then we filed into the Cathedral for a festive Mass.
Both men and women are named Guadalupe or Lupe especially in Mexico and among Mexican Americans. However devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe is not limited to those of Hispanic origin. She is the Mother of all the members of her Son's Mystical Body--all of us.
In the image a ribbon tied at Mary's waist symbolized her pregnancy. She told her messenger that she was Mary, the Mother of God. She wanted a church built--the church would honor her Son Jesus.
Before Juan Diego encountered the Lady of Tepeyec, missionaries had minimal success in converting the local people in Mexico to embraced Christianity. Word soon spread that this Mary was a "Virgen Morena" (a dark skinned Virgin Mary) like them. Within a few years nine million native Americans accepted Baptism and became fervent believers.
Our Lady of Guadalupe  is also the Patroness of the Unborn.
Tonight our community will enjoy a festive Mexican meal prepared by one of our Sisters who is Mexican American. As I write the aroma is wafting into my room and giving me an appetite!
May Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Patroness of all the Americas intercede for all of us, especially you my readers.
Blessings!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Birthday Party Weekend

As Advent progresses children are exposed to a barrage of TV ads that tantalize their appetite for toys. It may happen that kids will want Mom or Dad to buy that precious toy or video game right away. They may want it "now" rather than wait for it to appear under the Christmas tree. As an antidote to the "gimme" (give it to me, now culture), we Pauline Sisters often host a Birthday Party for Baby Jesus in our Pauline Book & Media Centers throughout the USA and English-speaking Canada. Here in Alexandria, Virginia our "party" space is limited, but we make room for over 200 children from babies to about 10 years old. Our chapel is transformed into a big Nativity scene. The center piece is a manger with a large statue of Baby Jesus. Families can take pictures of their children and sometimes of themselves dressed in costumes as shepherds, or Mary And Joseph. At times the family's infant child poses as Baby Jesus. Coming for the party and having the picture-taking has become a family tradition in many Virginia households.
One of the Sisters and lady volunteers hold a story hour every hour and a half. The story telling is interactive, so the little ones stay involved. This year we had a young woman guitarist who led us all in signing Christmas carols. Then a birthday cake complete with candles was brought in and all sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. then cake, apple juice and crackers were served. The adults enjoyed coffee from our neighboring coffee shop, Misha's.
The party was held on Friday and Saturday. Thanks to the many volunteers who helped with costume fitting, traffic handling, refreshments, story telling, and so many other details.
My prayer if that the children who came will remember the main theme of the party: that Christmas is Jesus' birthday.
Later this week we will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the Patroness of all the Americas. There is mote to come....

Saturday, December 08, 2012

America's Patroness

USA Catholics went to Mass in greater numbers today, December 8. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The Feast commemorates the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother. She was conceived "without sin"--that is, she was free from the weakness inherited from Adam and Eve which we call original sin. Because she was to be the dwelling place of God--Jesus Christ--she was preserved from original sin.
In France in the 1850's when Bernadette Soubirous had visions of a beautiful lady, hands clasped together in prayer, with rosary beads in hand and a blue sash around her waist, she did not know what to call "the lady." When Bernadette was asked by church authorities to inquire about the lady's name, the answer given her was "The Immaculte Conception."
The Catholic Bishops of the United States of America chose the Immaculate Conception as the heavenly Patroness of the USA. The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC is an imposing church with a striking blue dome and a soaring bell tower. Inside the lower church there is a replica of the grotto whre Bernadette saw Mary, the Immaculate Conception. The Shrine is home to numerous Marian altars, each a miniature shrine, which depict Mary as she is venerated by the many ethnic groups in America. Students at CAtholic University of America often mingle with busloads of pilgrims who visit the Shrine. As big as the Shrine is, it feels like home to me. I find a comfort there perhaps because of the maternal care of our Mother Mary who is so honored there.

Today too was a big day at our Alexandria, Virginia book and media center. A few hundred young children and their parents came to our annual Birthday Party for Baby Jesus. We Sisters have a large Nativity back drop, costumes and a manger holding a large Baby Jesus statue. Families and/or children pose for photos with Baby Jesus. The children and parents can dress as shepherds, magi, Mary and Joseph. Many families in Northern Virginia look forward to this event each year.

Of course there were many live babies. Some of them role-played the Baby Jesus part in the pictures. At intervals story tellers entertained the children with various stories centered on Christmas. Today a young guitarist lent us her talents and enlivened the story time with music.  The children became involved in the story telling by making the sounds of the animals who may have entertained Jesus: they baaa-baaaed and moo-mooed on cue, and some even hee-hawed like donkeys. A birthday cake with candles was the signal to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, and then to blow out the candles. Volunteers passed out slices of birthday cake, apple juice and fish crackers. The grown-ups were treated to hot coffee from Misha's a neighboring coffee shop famouse for its tantalizing coffee. We thank the many volunteers, all the parents and grandparents who brought their little ones, and Misha's for their generosity in donating their delicious product.
Several parents came up to us Sisters and thanked us for havng this event which stresses the true story of Christmas. I admire those Dad's who gave up watching and for some even actually being preent at the annual Army-Navy football game in order to attend our Birthday Party for Baby Jesus with their children.
May we all prepare ourselves well for the coming Feast of Christmas, Jesus' Birthday celebration as well as our perhaps long-range preparation for the final coming of Jesus. May we be aware ever more of Jesus' presence in our own lives even today.
Blessings on us all as we begin the second week of Advent!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

What is Advent?

Once the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is over many North Americans seem to think that the Christmas Season is upon us. Certainly the advertising world is in full gear with ads for diamonds, toys, new cars and much more. Liturgically speaking the first week of December this year is the beginning of a new church year. It is also the beginning of a short liturgical season: Advent.
Advent reminds us of Jesus' first coming in history. Pope Benedict XVI's latest book "Jesus of Nazareth the Infancy Narratives" delves into this coming or advent of Jesus. I have already read much of this little volume. I recommend it for mediation and reflection during this season.

Pope Benedict's new book is a handy $20.00. It makes an attractive Christmas gift! See our website for easy access to our center: www.pauline.org

Advent, we know is not Lent in the middle of winter. No, even though the priests wear purple vestments, it is entirely different as a time of joyful expectancy.

The gospel many times tells us to focus our attention on children and to “become as little children.” This of course means as little children, not childish. A child’s sense of expectation brings him or her great enthusiasm.

John Updike is quoted as saying, “Be careful of people who are not on friendly terms with children.”

Those of you who have children, grand children or little nieces and nephews have experienced this kind of expectancy. When my grandmother came over to our house, we always had a sense of expectancy to see if grandma had any special goodies for us. When my brother-in-law would return from a long business trip, my niece would look up eagerly to see her special gift from Daddy’s trip.

All of us probably experienced this same kind of longing, and eager awaiting when we expected Santa Claus to come down our chimney and bring us our skates or wagon or sled, or whatever else we dreamed of.  Today ipads, and smart phones, and digital gadgets of all sorts may replace dreams of skates and candy!

Our dreams make us expectant. They make us enthusiastic, often they fill us with energy. A priest told us that as a little boy, he couldn’t sleep because he was so excited that Santa was coming. How many times have we tried to sleep, but couldn’t because we were filled with a sort of energy on the prospect of meeting someone special, or getting a new job, etc.

When there is no “expectancy”, enthusiasm withers. In a homily a chaplain gave us an example of withered enthusiasm in a marriage. He had dinner with a couple who had been married about 15 years. As the evening progressed, the wife announced, “I’m going to bed, since there’s nothing to stay up for....”. Apparently the couple had lost their enthusiasm for one another, to the point where the wife ignored her guest too.

We need to awaken in ourselves the necessity of expectancy, of “waiting on” the Lord’s coming. One theologian said we desperately need Advent. Why? Because people aren’t expecting much of anything. They may be bored, or sated with life’s good things, and they are clueless about something much better – life on high with Christ—waiting for them.

Advent is a time when we look back at the prophets who told us to be watchful and ready for the coming of the Lord. Prophets kept the people of God expectant for the right person. Sometimes, the Israelites, the Chosen People, became complacent and lost in the gods around them--in the pursuit of earthly pleasures.
We come from a long line of expectant pilgrims. Abraham “waited” on God to fulfill his promise of an heir. Abraham’s descendants were reminded over and over again by the prophets to look for God, and wait on him (wait for Him).

The Bible calls the simple, lowly people who longed for, and expected the Messiah, the anawim. The gospels tell us of the anawim who waited for the Savior: Anna, the prophetess; Simeon whose Nunc Demittis (now Lord, you can let your servant go in peace) is said every night in the Office; Zacharia; Elizabeth; John the Baptist, and last of all, but not least--Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus.

The prayer we use in the Liturgy after the Our Father says, they “lived in joyful hope”, waiting for the Holy One of Israel. These people, the anawim, had their trust in God--not in worldly leaders or politicians. They were not asleep to the Lord.

People with diminished expectations are asleep, or sluggish. People who long deeply for the Lord are not asleep. During the rest of this first week of Advent, we can raise our expectations. We are awaiting God to break into our lives. He comes to us every day in disguise. One day he will come and bring us to his holy presence. We want to be ready to meet him both in disguise and face-to-face!


First Week of Advent

On Monday of this week, our Singing Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul, gave a very uplifting Christmas Concert at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, Virginia. The audience was multi-generational, ranging in ages from babies in their strollers to grandparents and many in-betweens.
The Sisters returned to Boston on Tuesday to prepare for another concert in Massachusetts, plus two final concerts at the Provincialate Chapel this coming Saturday and Sunday.

  video

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26 Pauline Feast Day

On November 26, 1971 Paul VI paid a visit to an old friend, founder of the Pauline Family, Reverend James Alberione. Paul VI signed the guestbook at the residence of the Society of St. Paul in Rome. However Father Alberione was already slipping in and out of consciousness. The Pope knelt at the bedside and commended Alerione's soul to God. Not long after Alberine looked up and prayed "Ave Maria" and then left this world for eternity. In 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Father Alberione and set the date of November 26th as the day when we can celebrate a Mass in honor of Blessed James Alberione, pioneer in media evangelization. Blessed James founded 10 religious groups: two institutes dedicated to media evangelization: Priests and religious brothers of the Society of St. Paul: http://www.albahouse.org/; and my commuity of Sisters called Daughters of St. Paul: www.pauline.org; another order of Sisters dedicated to liturgy, and assistance to the priesthood, Sister Disciples of the Divine Master: www.pddm.us/; another order of Sisters who work in parishes, Sisters of the Good Shepherd or Pastorelle; and fourth religious community of Sisters, the Sisters of the Queen of Apostles, or Apostoline who promote all vocations in the church; a secular institute for priests: Institute of Jesus the Priest; the Gabrielites, a secular institute for single lay men; the secular institute of Our Lady of the Annunciation for single women; the Holy Family Institute for married men and women; and the Pauline Cooperators.See the web site www.alberione.org for more detailed information on the Pauline Family begun by Blessed James Alberione.

We pray for the folks who work in the media of communications today that the example of Blessed Alberione who used media for God will also inspire these men and women to spread the gospel with the media.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day/Remembrance Day

November 11th marks the commemoration of all of our military veterans. Thank you to each one who served us in the military both in our country and abroad. There are few left alive of the veterans of what was called "The Great War." In that conflict young men from Europe and North America laid down their lives in what was supposed to be a "war-to-end-all-wars." Spielberg's movie "War Horse" shows some of the hardships endured on both sides of that conflict.
After reading an account of a young Canadian officer who served in France, I was struck by the enormous number of young soldiers who never returned from that war. Seen from a modern perspective, lives were lost due to inadequate training, inexperience, and lack of  ammunition and know-how. In Canada the custom still prevails of wearing a poppy (usually made of paper). The poppy reminds all who see it of the sacrifices made by veterans, especially those who died in "Flanders Field:"

 In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, 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 failing 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.

John McCrae   (Canadian Poet and Veteran of World War I)

May those who have fallen rest in the eternal peace of God. May those who survive now receive respect, gratitude and support from all of us.

God bless all of our veterans.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Enter October

I was in North Jackson, Ohio last weekend with members of the Holy Family Institute at their annual three day retreat (Triduum). I was able to set up a display of mainly Pauline editions at the group's meeting, and I led Eucharistic adoration for them on Friday and Saturday. North Jackson, Ohio is a bit west of the city of Youngstown. The spacious grounds of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon has been hosting the HFI for ten years, It is truly a "family" event and multi-generational. Certain members are grandparents already, while others are younger adults blessed with children. The evening meals which are taken at the Shrine show how the Institute is growing potentially with the energy only kids can bring.
The Holy Family members (HFI) hail from all over the USA and Canada. There are always new members joining. Couples or sometimes just one spouse join the Institute because they are seeking a deeper spirituality for married folks. This year's retreat director was Father Michael Harrington. Father Mike is a Pauline priest too. He belongs to what some call a "secular institute", the Institute of Jesus the Priest. IJP members are diocesan priests who take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and follow the spirituality of the Pauline Family. Whenever possible the IJP members serve as spiritual directors or contact persons for the Holy Family members. Father Harrington is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston engaged in vocational and multi-ethnic ministires and work with young adults.
I enjoyed the drive back to our Alexandria, Virginia convent where I am now assigned for a while. Our convent and book center are at the corner of US 1 South (Henry Street) and Virginai Route 7 which is King Street. It is a lovely city and a great location. Have a blessed first week of October!
Tomorrow is the feast of St. Theresa Martin, the French Carmelite Saint. Since my family name is Martin, we adopt her as our family's patron saint along with St. Martin of Tours. May we all imitate the deep love of God and neighbor /Theresa practicved in her Little Way of doing all things == big and little -- very well for God.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jubilee Visuals

Today I want to post some phots from our Jubilee celebration. Thanks to the Sisters who took these photos for us!
Alice DeGug., Fr. O'Regan, Sr. Mary Peter, Dennis D., Audra and Ann

Sr. Mary Peter with Cousin Raun Davis

Sr. Mary Peter, Ila J., Coletta, Frances (All 4 Sisters)


Left Sr. Domenica and Sr. Joan 60th Sr Irene M, Sr. M Peter, Sr. Majorina 50th

Father O'REgan Sr Mary Peter, Sr Irene Mary, Sr Majorina Bishop Lennon

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jubilee Year

It's almost three months since I posted any news. Although it was summer, life did not slow down and computer time was limited. I joined about 30 other Sisters in August for a silent 8 day retreat. Then we had a series of meetings and seminars for our annual updating. In-house we call such gatherings "Encounters."
As the title states, this is a time of Jubilee for me. First off, my "real" anniversary of the day when I first pronounced my vows was June 30, 2012. That makes 50 years of vowed religious life. The years have flown by. To mark the actual date, Father Paul Quinter, pastor at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Philadelphia, allowed me to renew my vows during the weekday Mass. It was a simple yet solemn ceremony. Father's remarks were very cordial and affirming.
 On June 30th of this year, Sister An Mei Marie Lam pronounced her final vows in her home parish in Honolulu, Hawaii. Final vows put a sort of golden seal on the first five or more years of vows which are made for one year at a time. Final vows mean a religious Sister (or priest or brother) vows to live poverty, chastity and obedience for all one's life as a Daughter of St. Paul.
For me the biggest celebration took place in our chapel in Boston on August 18. I joined two of my co-novices who also celebrate 50 years of vows; two others who professed vows 60 years ago; and five younger Sisters who celebrate 25 years of profession. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Richard Lennon
joined by eight priests. Bishop Lennon served as our chaplain in Boston for 18 years before being ordained a Bishop. One of the eight priests is a friend whom I met back in the 1980's while I was in Guam. Father Hugh O'Regan served as a US Navy Chaplain for 24 years. His time of service included the Vietnam War. Once he celebrated eight Masses in one day being ferried by helicopter from one ship to another. After his military service Father administered the downtown parish of St. James in Boston home of a large Chinese Catholic Community. Now retired from parish work Father lives on Cape Cod near his sisters and their families.
I had about 20 guests at my tables including 3 of my sisters, and a cousin who lives in Boston. It was good to see so many of my New England friends. Ginny, a friend from Maine, drove down to be with us.
Another guest from Ohio was a retired Congregationalist minister friend.
 In Philadelphia on September 8th, we celebrated once again with friends and Pauline Cooperators with a Mass celebrated by two priest friends and about 22 guests. The Mass was followed by an abundant pot luck dinner.

God has been very good to me, and many of his people have also been good to me. I offer many prayers of thanksgiving that God will reward all those who gifted me in so many ways. Rejoice with me and ask the Lord to send many more young women to join us Daughters of St. Paul.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Happy 236th Birthday USA!

Enjoy the 4th of July USA Birthday. Many will have family picnics, parades and fun. Others will go the shore. Our parish will begin the day celebrating Mass at 9:00 AM.
Since it promises to be a hot day, as well as a "day off" I may just read a book in the coolness of air conditioning. Archbishop Chaput has written a book very relevant to the 4th of July: "Render Unto Caesar" on the role of the Christian in political life. Archbishop Chaput just returned from Rome where he received the pallium, a stole which is made as a wide collar and is given to Archbishops. It is made from lambs' wool.
At a recent meeting of Philadelphia's archbishop and his auxiliary bishops with many of the priests, a non-Catholic worker in the meeting space asked a priest "Who are those men with the hats?" The priest replied, "They are the successors of the Apostles." The man seemed to understand well the responsible charge the bishops carry out. As a successor to the Aposltes. each bishop fills that role, to teach, to lead, and to sanctify the people of God. That's an awesome task! Yet the Lord promised them and us, that He would be with us until the end of time.
Returning to the theme of July 4th, I thank God for the freedom we have in these United States to worship God and to proclaim the gospel. On the ma facing Independence Hall there are granite signs which spell out the Bill of Rights. At the recent Freedom Rally I was struck that the First Amendment sign was next to the crowd that gathered to declare our right to worship and to serve all people as an expression of our religion.
Here it is:

Monday, July 02, 2012

For the Fourth of July

Our weekend finishing out the month of June and starting July took place in the oldest section of Philadelphia, just steps away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. We held a book and media display at Philadelphia's oldest Catholic Church, Old St. Joseph's. The Jesuit Fathers founded the parish in 1733 and still carry out their ministry in the heart of historic Philadelphia. Church volunteers generously serve the poor a meal every Saturday morning. St. Joseph's provides abundant spiritual nourishment and material food to those in need. It was a pleasure to be there. We had a tent set up (it could also be called a canopy) in the courtyard of the Church off Willing's Alley. Divine Providence provided a well functioning air conditioning in the church so folks who saw items outside could comfortably browse through them again inside. Our thanks goes out to Father Ruff and the Jesuit Community, and to the laymen who helped set up. A gracious couple helped to dismantle our display and load our van. Such people truly serve as "angels" especially in the excessive heat of this summer.

 Pray for the 24 young women of high school and college age who are spending this week at our Novitiate House in Boston. The young women will conclude their "live-in experience" by witnessing the perpetual profession of vows of Sister Marlyn at her home parish in Boston.

As we prepare for the 4th of July, we thank God for the freedoms, especially the freedom to worship, which we enjoy in the USA.
Here are inside and outside glimpses of our Pauline Books and  Media display at Old St. Joseph's:

We brought along additional lighting since the church is very old. The balloons all popped in the heat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

St. Anthony

"St. Anthony help me find what I lost!" How oftern devotees of Saint Anthony call out to him to help him find lost keys, eyeglasses and other articles. In New York people celebrate this day with processions and prayers, and Italian food. Since Anthony was born in Portugal,  folks in that country celebrate their native son's feast too. St. Anthony was a contemporary of the founder of the now world-wide Franciscan order
 St. Francis of Assisi.
Anthony was the first Franciscan to teach theology. He knew the Bible by heart and was a renowned preacher. May we pray through the intercession of St. Anthony to become devoted readers of and followers of God's Word in the Bible.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More on Today's Feast

As we celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast of Christ's Body and Blood, many things are happening that distract us. We see the news about Syria and the violence perpetrated there. Some are avid fans of basketball and its exciting finals. Or, the exploits of our favorite baseball team keep us focused on the TV.
 I heard today that one of my own sisters is very ill with a persistent fever. Another part of my family is rejoicing as a niece graduates from high school as the valdictorian of her class. Sorrows, concerns, and joys all converge on the altar where Christ through the priest once again offers his body and blood for us. For those who consider the Mass as "boring" I suggest re-readng the Vatican II document on the Sacred Liturgy which I quoted yesterday. Or you might go to the Irish Jesuits' website called Sacred Space for a lengthier presentation on the day's liturgy. http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/ Or, you may want to read Cantalamessa's book on "The Eucharist." You may order copies from us at philadelphia@paulinemedia.com or from our webstore at http://www.pauline.org/. Have a blessed week!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Corpus Christi

This weekend in the USA we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In many parishes there will be Eucharistic processions with the priest carrying the monstrance--the container which holds the consecrated round wafer which is the Body of Christ.
At Christmas we celebrate Emmanuel, God-with-us. In a real sense Emmanuel, God is with us everyday in the Eucharist. In preparation for this celebration of Corpus Christi I have been reading and meditating on a little book called "The Holy Eucharist" by Capuchin Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa. After attending four sessions on the liturgy of the Mass by Father Dennis Gill of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Father Cantalamessa's book is a perfect segue. Fr. Cantalamessa explains how Jesus wants all of his Body, which is us too, to be offered with him to God the Father.When we are absent from the Mass, part of Jesus' Mystical body (us) is not there.
How many times have we seen crowds wait in line for hours to get a glimpse of a Rock Star as he or she exited a posh limo at a film premiere? Or have you ever waited for a concert with tickets that cost a fortune? Christ is present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Usually there is little or no fanfare, no security guards, no barricades, just a hushed atmosphere, no entrance fee, sometimes dim lighting, a few loyal souls gathered to adore whenever we enter an adoration chapel. Or, at Mass we may have to wait in line to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. That wait is far from oppresive and often very brief. We become "walking tabernacles" containing the Body and Blood of Christ. Rather than rush out of the church right after Communion do we sit and chat with our "Little White Guest?" I made my first Holy Communion when I was in the second grade. After receiving Jesus for the first time we sang a hymn called "My Little White Guest." I can still remember some of  the lyrics: "You have come to my heart, dearest Jesus, I am holding you close to my breast. And, I am telling you over and over, 'You are welcome, my Little White Guest.' "
For the Feast of Corpus Christi I pray that all my readers may enjoy the peace of Christ that comes from receiving him into our bodies and nourishes us spiritually. Vatican II called the Eucharistic celebration the "source and summit" of all our faith. Christ is the Mighty God yet he humbles himself to be food for our souls. He invites us to celebrate with him at Mass.
As a prelude to Corpus Christi Day, I find that the Vatican II document on the Saced Liturgy is a great help:
Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed;  at the same time it is the font [or source] from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper.

  • The liturgy in its turn moves the faithful, filled with "the paschal sacraments," to be "one in holiness"; it prays that "they may hold fast in their lives to what they have grasped by their faith"; the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way. (Taken from Vatican II;s "Sacro Sanctum Concilium, On the Sacred Liturgy" #10.)

When was the last time you felt "on fire" as you exited the Church after Mass? I ask myself that and I resolve to meditate more often on the meaning of the Mass, the Eucharist, Corpus Christi!









Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Planting and Praying

Today I am enjoying a glorious Spring with sunshine, green grass, and flowers to plant. I have little starter pots boasting sun flower sprouts. They are getting taller by the minute. In another area a row of morning glories are ready to step out of their egg cartoon nurseries. The next step is to clear space outside for the plants to flourish on their own. Squirrels scamper over our yard and dig little holes to hide their treasures. There is an elusive possum who likes to hide outback too. Once I plant the seedlings outside they will need stamina to withstand the heavy rains, the wind and the four legged marauders.
Yet I know the plants will survive as long as I do my part by watering and guarding them.
We are a few days from the Feast of Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit and he kept that promise and he still fulfills his promise. The wobbly seedlings of our attempts at virtue, the seeds of our good resolve and the desires of our hearts to stay closer to God will be strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. An oft-quoted Bible verse says, "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." As rain softens and prepares the soil  to receive good seed and young plants, so the Holy Spirit will grace us with what we need. One of the books that I am trying to absorb and which I recommend is "The Sanctifier" by Archbishop Luis Martinez. The author helps us to recognize how the Spirit is leading us to a greater love of God and neighbor. I find the book very encouraging. There is a smaller book called "Secrets of the Spirit" which has excerpts from The Sanctifier and a few other works of Martinez. You will find both books at http://www.pauline.org/.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Waiting for the Holy Spirit

The Easter Season is almost over and here I am just beginning to write again! Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. Today we--by the "we" I mean the whole Church--is praying the Novena for Pentecost. As the Acts of the Apostles tells us after Jesus ascended into heaven he instructed his followers to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He told them, "You will be clothed with power from on high." That is a reassuring promise, especially when you think that the Apostles up until that time were a rather timid bunch of fishermen and assorted other gentlemen. They were gathered in prayer "with Mary the Mother of Jesus." To be rooted in Scripture then it is good to pray with "Mary the Mother of Jesus."
Prayer is what enables us to be in the presence of God, and to gain a spiritual energy and resources that we cannot have without God. I remember a young father in Hawaii describing his little boy's comments when they would begin their family's prayers at night. The boy would reassure his daddy: "Now we've got 'the
power' Daddy!"
This month of May I have been making an effort to pray the rosary for many intentions. Of course, praying for peace in troubled areas is one of those intentions. The rosary is compared to the gospel, since it reminds us of all the major episodes in the life of Jesus. Someone once said it is like carrying the gospel in your pocket.
I pray too for all the folks whom I meet in my mission: either face-to-face or virtually.
After seeing once again the movie, Julia and Julie, which depicts a young woman who was faithful not only to cooking but to her daily blog, I resolved to get back to the keyboard once again!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy Easter!

Christ is risen! He is truly risen, Alleluia! May the certainty of our faith bring all of us joy and hope as we celebrate Jesus' resurrection. Enjoy the fullness of our Easter liturgies, and let the grace of God imbue your heart and soul with love and peace. As disciples of the Risen One let us rejoice and be glad. Blessings to all of you who read this for a very Happy Easter!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Holy Week

I hope all my readers did not give up on me! Life has been busy for me this Lenten season. I have never seen a Lent go by in such a dizzying way! It seemed yesterday that ashes adorned my forehead. Yesterday I held a palm branch to commemorate Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem.
Thanks to our unusually warm winter and spring, our flowers are blooming, especially our Iris and tulips. Out backyard peach tree has a lovely cloak of deep pink blossoms. A picture of our front yard could easily adorn an Easter card.
It would be terrific if I had as many virtues as there are flowers in our field. I trust that as Lent gives way to the solemn Three Days of celebration of the Paschal Mystery some "flowers" may show up in my spiritual garden. Of course, Jesus is the Master Gardener, so he can make things sprout where weeds abound!
Last week I was privileged to be at a parish in a northern suburb of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The priest in charge invited me to speak about my religious vocation at all the Masses. When I asked for a show of hands at one of the Masses when I asked who was thinking of being a religious sister, I could see two little hands waving from a distant pew. Two generous four-year-olds with their moms came to see me at our book and media display. Of course, the young ladies need to "age" for a good 14 years, they can keep on kindling the fire of holy desires in their hearts and minds.
Pray for little Lily and Emma to grow up and be generous in their response to whatever role God is calling them to fill. In the meantime, pray for the young adult women who will soon be attending and discerning at our Boston community's Holy Week Retreat.
My prayers are for all my readers to spend a reflective holy week of preparation for the greatest Christian Feast of the year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Life and Valentines

I gasped when I realized that I haven't blogged since January! Much has happened in the past month and in these February days. On January 28, Sister Emily Marsh who spent five months of her novitiate here in Philadelphia, pronounced her first vows as a Daughter of St. Paul. Sister Emily added a new name, Beata,  to signify the blessings she has received. Sister too is to "be" a blessing to all she encounters. Her assignment for now is assisting in the children's editorial department of our Boston publishing house. Sister Emily Beata begins a joyful, new life as a professed Daughter of St. Paul.
Early the next day, Sister Annette Margaret Boccabello left this life to begin her eternal live with Jesus Master. Sister Annette spent most of her religious life in our Boston community. With a great sense of humor, and tireless dedication, Sr. Annette carried out several responsible roles until she began her seven year struggle with cancer. When medical resources were exhausted, Sister wrote a letter to each of us Sisters sharing her decision to enter the hospice program. From then on her focus was to prepare for the final invitation when Jesus would take her by the hand into his heavenly home. Sister Annette now rests with Jesus and with all our Pauline Family members who preceded us into heaven.
On February 5th, we remembered the death or rather the entrance into new life of Mother Thecla Merlo, the first Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul. Mother Thecla is now called Venerable Mother Thecla, the last stage before a person is proclaimed "Blessed" by the Church.
Today we recall the death of Sister (frequently called "Mother") Paula Cordero in 1991. Mother Paula arrived in the USA at the age of 23, with another young Sister to begin the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul in North America. Armed solely with great faith and enthusiasm for the work of bringing the Word of God to people Mother Paula surmounted one obstacle after another to sow the seed of evangelization with the media deep into American soil. Mother Paula's birthday was on February 16. She enjoyed celebrating Valentine's Day along with her birthday. She often said, "Jesus is our Valentine!"  The day before Valentine's Day in 1991 she was called to begin the eternal celebration of our God who is Love. Mother Paula's delight in celebrating her Divine Valentine was so evident that she passed her joy to all of us her spiritual daughters.
Happy Valentine's Day to each and all of you readers. May our hearts be one with Jesus our Eternal Valentine!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year

Happy New Year! I write this from Boston where our novices reside as they prepare to take a definitive step in their formation. During the Christmas school break, our younger Sisters (called Junior professed)  gather for an updating and renewal meeting. We call it an "Encounter" as our Italian  and Spanish-speaking use the word "incontro" or "encuentro" to describe similar meetings. Today we enjoyed a festive meal  prepared by a bevy of talented Sisters. Last night we closed out the old year with a retreat and a commual Hour of Adoration. During the Hour we prayed for all of you too.
May 2012 make us more aware of how God is acting in our lives, and more open to the flood of graces God wants to give us.
Father Ron Rolheiser offers some great practical New Year's advice. Here is an excerpt from Father's article:

Guidelines for the Long Haul

Don’t be na├»ve about God: She or He will settle for not less than everything!

Distrust all talk about the consolation of religion. Religion puts a belt around you and takes you to where you would rather not be. Get used to virtue; it gives you a constant reminder of what you have missed out on.

Know that God will not settle for less than everything. Demands from God always seem unreasonable. Learn to wrestle with God; you can win by losing.

Pray that God will hang on to you!

Distrust Gallup polls. Trust prayer. Prayer is an enlargement. Be willing to die a little to be with God. He is dying to be with us. Let your heart, as Henri Nouwen puts it, become the place where the tears of God and the tears of God’s children merge and become the tears of hope.

Excerpts taken from the book “Forgotten Among The Lilies” by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI. Published by Doubleday, 2005.