Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of the Year and Happy New Year

For many years, a New Year’s Eve custom was the singing of the Te Deum a Latin hymn of praise and thanks to God for all the graces of the year which soon to leave us. We each can make our own Litany for all the graces of this past year: for our life, our health, for the opportunities to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, for the graces of absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation. WE thank God for good friends, for supportive families, for beautiful scenes, for joyfilled entertainment, for good books and movies. I thank God too for the good I received from our friends and relatives who passed into eternal life this year. Two of my sisters, a brother-in-law, and our uncle died in 2013. Each of them left many good examples of generosity, and devotion to their families. We thank god too for negative events which purified us, strengthened us, and taught us--even if we did not "like" them. In the Church, we received a new Pope as we honor Pope Emeritus Benedict. The two Popes together published the encyclical, The Light of Faith. Now Pope Francis has gifted us with his own document: The Joy of the Gospel. It is ready to ship or to pick up at our Pauline books & Media Centers. Happy reading in 2014! 2014 also marks a special anniversary for the Pauline Family: 100 years of existence. The actual anniversary date is August 20. On that date in 1914 Reverend James Alberione gathered two young men into what was called the Typography School in Alba, northern Italy. The School soon became a seminary for the education of the members of the newly born Society of St. Paul. The Society’s aim was to use the press as a means of evangelization. As media blossomed, so the Pauline Society was to adapt each modern means of communication for the gospel message. Happy Anniversary to all Paulines! In the early years of the Pauline foundations, everything was lacking--except faith in God's loving providence. Money was scarce, bills piled up, deadlines loomed waiting to be met. It was then that Father Alberione (now blessed Alberione) together with his assistant, Father Timothy Giaccardo (composed a prayer of confidence in God. It reads more as a "contract" with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is called the Pact or Secret of Success. In my next blog I will provide The Pact.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hunger for Bread for Body and Soul

 At this noon hour I want to share with all my readers the prayer to end world hunger: Here is the campaign prayer to be prayed at noon on Tuesday, December 10, 2013:

O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all creation so that we might care for the earth and be nourished with its bounty. You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us your Law of Love. Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family. Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food – even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand 
and many more.

We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family. Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world’s citizens, to find just, and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.

Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgment, we can proclaim ourselves as “One Human Family” with “Food for All”. AMEN


In our work as Daughters of St. Paul we strive to abolish spiritual hunger too. I remember years ago meeting an elderly Japanese lady who told me, "I just met Jesus Christ." I did not ask her age, but I think she was at least in her 80's. That is when it struck me that there are millions who have never really heard about Jesus. Pope Francis' new Exhortation the Joy of the Gospel tells us how to alleviate that hunger for Jesus that many people have.

Last night in Alexandria, Virginia the Daughters of St. Paul Choir gave an outstanding musical night of evangelism. None of the songs were scolding people nor did they make fun of Santa (After all Santa is truly "Saint" Nicholas, a real man, a real and holy bishop who did give to the poor.) 

Our Choir Traveled Many Miles and Long Hours to Sing in Alexandria VA

There are some "religious" people who refer to the saved and the unsaved. The feast of Christmas which we are about to celebrate on December 25 celebrates the coming of Christ, born of Mary, to save the entire human race. He went on to preach, suffer and rise from the dead to save all. While there is life there is always hope. As long as one's breath clouds a little mirror Jesus is always offering his saving grace. As Francis Thompson wrote, Jesus is truly the Hound of Heaven who pursues souls "Down the nights and down the days, and down the many labyrinthine ways." As the Gospel of Matthew assures us, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leaves the righteous 99 sheep to find even one wayward sheep. May we pray today to abolish world hunger and to satisfy the hungers of human hearts starving for goodness, beauty and lasting truth.
 
Sister Fey Rocks a Gospel Number at
St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, Virginia

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

St. Francis Xavier and Us

This third day of Advent is also the feast of the Jesuit missionary saint, Francis Xavier. Francis was one of the original band of young men who joined the Company of Jesus. They became known world wide as the Jesuits. When Francis was a student with the older man, the ex-soldier, Ignatius of Loyola, he was fun loving, and carefree. Ignatius kept reminding Francis that there was more to life than fun. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet suffer the loss of his soul?" When Francis finally gave in and turned his life totally over to God, he gave all his talents to the Lord too. Francis sent to India at first where he converted many--it is said hundreds of thousands to Christ. He converted the songs the men at the docks used into musical Bible lessons. He prayed intensely and worked just as intensely. He lived as a poor man among the poor. Then he moved on to Japan. There he dressed as a Japanese in a more elegant and acceptable style. After all he was an ambassador for Christ. Francis lived out St. Paul's words: "I have made myself all things to all people, so as to win some for Christ." Francis wanted to preach to the Chinese, but his strength was consumed and he died off the coast of China. Pope Francis wants us Christians to be evangelizers, to reach out to our neighbors with the gospel message and with our witness.The Daughters of St. Paul publishing house, Pauline Books and Media, will be printing the pope's apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. It is expected to be ready by January.
Another way to evangelize our culture is though music. The Daughters of St. Paul on the US east coast begin tonight to sing in concert to prepare folks for a happy Christmas.
See the www.pauline.org web site for locations nearest you. This link provides locations and times: https://www.facebook.com/DSPchoir/events

Have a blessed continuation of this season when we celebrate God's coming to us as a true man, a real human being who loves each of us.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Eve St. Andrew's Day

Today is the Feast of the Apostle St. Andrew. He was the brother of St. Peter. Andrew seems to have had a pleasant personality. He never seemed jealous of his more famous brother Peter. He who was a fisherman became a fisher of men. He was called directly by Jesus to follow him and seek to draw men and women into the net of the Faith. As Pope Francis is exhorting us Christians, we too are called to follow the example of Peter and Andrew, James and John who left their nets to follow the Lord.
St Andrew
A priest friend mentioned this morning how he imagines what the people driving near him on the roads and highways really look like. Then he prays for his fellow motorists. For me riding on public transportation, the transit system, or the Metro as it is called in the DC area, serves up a slice of real life. In the car I can't stop to hear a street person ask for a few coins. I can't hear the roar of the trains pulling in or out of the stations, Nor can I hear the fellow playing a recorder as he leans up against an office building. Neither can I hear the jazz and blues belted out by a sidewalk entertainer playing a keyboard atop enormous speakers at the subway entrance. From the car's windshield I never noticed the policemen in bullet proof vests near the subway entrance. In the comfort of our little van I had forgotten the feel of  squeezing into a subway car and holding on tight as the train lurched forward. At the airport stop, some got off, headed for a higher adventure; their plane trip to work or home. Others from the airport entered the rail car, some looked exhausted, others seemed content. Someone got up (a woman) so I could sit down. I really appreciated the chance to stop swaying. The man seated next to me seemed annoyed and morose. I feel sorry for him. He gave off a joyless vibe. Perhaps he was ill, or had experienced a bad day at work.
Scanning the faces of my fellow passengers I wanted to say "Cheer up! The Lord is near. He loves you. You have reason to smile despite your crosses."  I did not feel quite filled enough with the Holy Spirit to actually say these words: "God bless you! Smile, God loves You!"
After the rush of our current Advent/Christmas season, I highly recommend the Holy Father's new Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelium Gaudium, TheJoy of the Gospel. Our Pauline Books & Media publishing house will publish the new document in January: www.pauline.org. Gospel means good news. Each of us Christians who live our faith are living gospels. For Advent a good resolve to prepare for Christ's coming would be to have a "joy" check up every morning in front of the mirror. Am I smiling or at least serene in my appearance? Away with all crankiness and complaining. Enter peace, self-control and joy.
Have a blessed St. Andrew's Day and a super Advent!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Saints Shakers and Movers

Today, November 4, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Charles Borromeo. At a very young age, in his early 20's, Charles' uncle the Pope appointed him a bishop. 21st century opinion would call his a case of pure nepotism. However God Charles' position to help implement the reforms of the Council of Trent--an ecumenical council which last about 20 years. Trent was the council summoned to answer the Protestant Reformation. That Council clarified many issues. spread his new religion using a catechism. Trent issued the Roman Catechism to educate Catholics to the basics of the faith. Luther and other reformers pointed out the failings of many of the clergy and other church officials. To remedy the situation, the council fathers mandated  a more systematic training of future priests: seminaries. Charles Borromeo was especially expert at setting up these centers of priestly formation where men were trained in academic and spiritual subjects. It was important to have clerics steeped in learning to help their parishioners. The seminary fostered growth in the spiritual and ascetical life, with its discipline and prayer, both communal and private. There young men  learned to live more gospel centered, prayerful lives. One of those seminaries, that of the Diocese of Alba, in Italy's Piedmont was instrumental in the forming of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione. When one visits the chapel at the Alba seminary, the influence of St. Charles Borromeo is very evident.
St Charles Borromeo
St. Charles worked and prayed hard for his own Diocese of Milan. He lived from 1538 to 1584--a time of great turmoil in Europe. One of the reforms of the Council of Trent was that of making sure a bishop resided in his own diocese. When Carlo (his Italian name) arrived in Milan the church was reeling from the lack of leadership and organization. With prayer and great tact he set about reforming the clergy and the church in general in that huge northern Italian see. There were some who resented his efforts and even tried to kill him. The Lord spared him from a violent death. He died in Milan and was proclaimed a saint only 26 years after his death.
In the 20th century Milan was a huge industrial city. Immigrants from southern Italy came to work in the auto industry and other related factories. Italy's Communist Party was making headway among factory workers.
A priest who had worked with college students during the time of the Fascists was singled out to work in the Vatican. Giovanni Battista Montini preferred to work with the people and with the ordinary laity. Yet Montini
Pope Paul VI
was eventually appointed Archbishop then Cardinal of Milan.Cardinal Montini went to the factories to bless the machinery and to talk to his flock. He even donned a hard hat at least once to evangelize the men and women who had begun to drift away from the faith, I am sure that Montini, who became Pope Paul VI, learned much from his predecessor Carlo Borromeo. I saw Paul VI when he came to New York City to address the UN and beg for peace. Then I saw him up close in Rome. May he rest in peace with the Lord he served so well. Paul VI traveled outside of the Vatican several times. He was the first Pope in hundreds of years to embrace a Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Athenagoras. Like his predecessor who brought the reforms of the Council of Trent into the real world, so Paul VI did for the renewal called for by the Vatican II Council. He carried the cross of his Pontificate with grace and humility. May he intercede for our bishops, and our Pope Francis.  

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Saints, Sinners, and Memories

November slipped in with the Feast of All Saints on Friday, and of All Souls on Saturday. Saints with the capitol "S" and many, many more with the small "s". When I lived in Hawaii a priest at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace would begin his daily homily like this: "My dear saints." That was always a good pick-me-up, a great way to feel affirmed as we began our day with a very early Mass. Two of our Sisters attended a beautiful wedding on All Souls Day. The groom told the guests at the reception that he and his wife were going to help one another to become saints. What a blessed way to begin their life together, declaring their resolve to become saints by helping one another throughout their lives. Everyone is made to be a saint. Life has built-in aids to sainthood. Another name for these aids is a cross. By taking up the daily duties we have: those we like, and those which annoy us, we travel a bit closer to the goal of sanctity.
Saints are not "born" with halos. God's continuous gift of his grace and effort to accept and bear our crosses help to become daily, saints in the trenches. Or, should I say saints-in-the-pews!
I hope to write more about this month packed with feast days both religious and civil.
Have a blessed week, and be happy saints!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Taking a Good Look

Last weekend was gray and rainy as far as the weather went. Yet it was very pleasant for me. I enjoyed being at a vibrant parish in Maryland, Davidsonville. Sister Maria Elizabeth and Sister Theresa, a novice, formed the rest of our three-some of Daughters of St. Paul. Sister Theresa gave an awesome talk on what is Lectio Divina and just how to do it. Sister gave her presentation complete with appropriate Power Point slides to re-enforce what she as explaining. On Saturday evening, folks were treated to a wine and cheese repast as hey browsed our book displays and then settled down to hear Sister Theresa.
Many of our books, DVD's and music CD's found new homes near the Maryland shore. We Sisters pray that the content of the books will help to draw their readers ever closer to Jesus, the One who we all want to imitate.
Sr. Maria Elizabeth, Beverly and her grandson John,
and myself Sister Mary Peter in Davidsonville, MD.

Like Lydia did when she met Paul, these people took the time to listen to what we had to say and bring home many good books especially for children.
Presently our Sisters in Boston are hosting a WEBATHON on line to cover some basic financial needs for our publishing house. Click on www.pauline.org to see how you can help.. 


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Faith, Our Light

Pope Francis' first encyclical letter, Lumen Fidei, The Light of Faith offers much wisdom for living our faith. To unpack all the wisdom in the Pope's writing, gifted authors open the door of faith to allow more of that spiritual light to shine on our souls. Father Scott Hurd, a Virginia based Catholic priest, is one of those gifted writers. Father Scott Hurd's newest book, "When Faith Feels Fragile", delves into the times in our lives when grief, poor health, spiritual dryness or any manner of tempest rattles our soul.  Father spoke at our Alexandria, Virginia book and media center last Thursday evening. Comparing our life of faith to a marriage, he explained that many people are looking for that first love, the first fervor, the honeymoon feeling between themselves and God. Feelings do come, but they also go.Father was describing
how some cannot rest until they retrieve a bit of the "spiritual high" they felt when they began to pray more seriously. Faith is more than a feeling. The virtue is a gift of God to each of the baptized. It is also like a muscle to be exercised every day. I recommend reading Father Hurd's latest offering. He began his ministry as an Episcopalian married priest. Several years ago he entered the Roman Catholic Church. He works especially in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. His book is available from Pauline books & Media, Pauline Books & Media

Monday was the Feast of the Holy Rosary. The Feast commemorated the victory of Christians led by Don Juan of Austria at the port of Lepanto in 1571. A large Christian fleet was challenged by an invading fleet of fast ships and skilled warriors. Pope Pius V had asked all of Christendom to pray the rosary for victory. Defeat would have meant slavery, death, forced conversions, as well as loss of property. Christianity or die. There were no speedy communications systems to alert the Pope as to who won. Yet the day of the battle, in the midst of a meeting, he paused and said, "Let us thank God for the victory of today." He seemed to have had a vision of what really happened. Out of 300 ships, only 40 enemy ships returned.
That battle was over 400 years ago. There are daily spiritual battles in each one's lives. There are also more dramatic events when individuals came through victorious because of their devotion to praying the rosary. If you have not read it yet, read the story of  Immaculee Illigabiza, a Rwandan survivor of that country's genocide. She and a small group of women lived through days of hiding from the horror around them. Immaculee testified that she prayed the rosary constantly for herself and for all around her. Now she speaks in defense of forgiveness and reconciliation.

In the early part of the 20th century Mary appeared in Fatima, Portugal to ask people to pray the rosary, to
do penance, to lead better Christian lives. I know in my own life, the rosary has helped me in many ways. It roots me in the gospel by reminding me of what Mary and Jesus did for us. When I take a daily walk, I pray the rosary as I go along the streets. The rosary keeps me focused and less distracted. May we all spend the rest of this month of October growing in faith and in prayer with our rosary in hand.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Saints, Crankiness, and Sanctity

St. Jerome's feast day was today. Jerome is noted for his tremendous dedication to the work of translating the entire Bible from several languages into Latin. Latin was the "common" language of the Roman empire in his day. The Pope at the time commissioned Jerome to do the work of translating. It seems Jerome had a cranky personality. He is sometimes pictured as working in a cave. More artists have him seated at a desk surrounded by manuscripts, and his faithful lion resting at his feet. Jerome must have had some persuasive powers in order to find rabbis and experts in languages of the Middle East to assist him. He found time to have a correspondence with Augustine of Hippo, the famous St. Augustine. The two remain as great saints who had many widely differing opinions. Their exchange of letters gives us hope for sanctity--if they could make it, so can we! May we be as devoted to a prayerful reading of the Word of God as was St. Jerome and his contemporary, St. Augustine. Lectio Divina is a way of praying the Scriptures. Sister Elena Bossetti's book on Lectio Divina are a wonderful way to pray with the Bible, You can find her titles on the web at www.pauline.org.

Many news outlets give us sound bytes of our Holy Father, Pope Francis. His recent interview given in Italy and then transmitted in various languages is available at this link: Pope Francis; Interview from America Magazine http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview.
It will take time to read it all, but it's worth the effort. Pope Francis by his word and example is teaching us how to live the Gospel today.

October 1st the Church commemorates St. Theresa Martin, a Carmelite cloistered nun. She died in Lisieux, France at the age of 24. She is commonly known as "The Little flower," or St, Theresa of the Child Jesus, or St. Theresa of Lisieux. Theresa is known for her "Little Way." Her spirituality was based on love of God expressed by doing each little task in life with extraordinary love. She did not accomplish "big" things in life. She did great things instead by offering each moment of her life to God as a cheerful giver. She had a missionary heart although she never left her cloistered community in France. She offered her daily work, joys and sacrifices for many holy intentions. She shows us a "do-able", day-to-day sanctity. May she intercede for us and help us become saints with the daily opportunities we encounter.

October is the month of the Holy Rosary when we pray the rosary more often. As one commentator said, "The rosary is like carrying the gospel in your pocket. When you pray it, you are reviewing all of the life of Jesus and Mary." There are many books and pamphlets out to help us meditate the rosary. The prayers of the Rosary are compared to a crown of roses offered to Our Lady in homage, and to represent the love we offer to God and which we show by loving and serving our neighbor.Have a wonderful and blest Month of the Rosary.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September Round Up

It seems Face Book has replaced blogging for a while. Tonight I realized that it is more than three weeks since I posted a blog. "Mea culpa, mea culpa!" For those who follow my blog, please accept my apologies. I was on vacation for most of September. I spent much of my time enjoying the sights of rural Ohio and western Pennsylvania. I went to the Canfield Fair which looks much like it did when I was a teenage 4-H Club member. Now the 4-Hers sleep in other areas rather than at the Fairgrounds. In my day, we slept on cots in tents. There were bathrooms and showers a good hike away. Our tents were close to the large tents or barns that housed our horses. We didn't mind the simple arrangements. Thousands  of people would pass by our horse barns and admire our animals. Some would come to the judging areas where we rode our horses and ponies. This year there was a 4-H talent contest. Some played drums, such as my nephew,
John J M II on drum.
a talented 8th grader. Others sang. One young girl sang an acapella tune--a brave performance given the heat and the poor acoustics. Those gifted young people are signs of hope that life is to be celebrated and lived to the fullest. For folks who live in urban areas the Fair provided close-up encounters with farm animals: ducks, rabbits, pigs, cows, horses and ponies. There were lots of huge horses who competed in pulling iron wights. 
Another perk from vacation was the chance to see my great-niece Harleigh. Of course, we all think she is the smartest and the prettiest. She is a delight for her parents, grandparents, her many aunties and uncles, and for
the world at large. In our book and media center here in Alexandria, we enjoy seeing infants coming in with their proud parents. It's a pleasure to see so many infants whose parents desire that their offspring will begin  reading chapter books in no time! 
As I finished my vacation I attended the Triduum (3 day event/retreat) of the Holy Family Institute. Holy Family members are married or widowed persons. Some join as couples, others as individuals. In a future blog I will write more about them. Tonight a photo will suffice as an "appetizer." Have a blessed week. Tomorrow we begin the week with the feast of St. Jerome. Jerome was a rugged personality who was very good at languages. For that reason the Pope at the time entrusted Jerome with the task of translating the Scriptures from the many languages in which it was written: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and other languages in use when the Bible was compiled. We owe a debt of gratitude to Jerome whose love for Scripture gifted the world with the Bible in a sense under "one cover" in the language of the time: Latin. St. Jerome said that "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." Jerome is pictured in art with a lion resting in front of his desk. The story goes that the lion had a sharp thorn in his paw. Jerome bravely removed the thorn and the lion became his companion in the long hours spent in translating the Holy Book. May we spend many hours praying the Scripture as Jerome did. After all, the Bible is God's letter to each of us. 
This is Durer's wood cut painting.


Saturday, September 07, 2013

A Day of Prayer and Fasting

I am asking all my readers to join with Christians and believers around the world for peace in Syria  especially. We also pray that peace will reign in all troubled nations, and in all hearts. Here is the link for a video prayer for Syria: http://pauline.org/StrengthforYourDay/Blog/tabid/1005/ArticleID/170/Default.aspx
May the light f the Holy Spirit illumine the mind and heart of our president that he may seek peaceful, non-violent solutions. And, may he be humble enough to listen to the advice of the wise and experienced.
God has given us here a beautiful September day. May God's grace flood our souls today and bring us all peace.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Gratitudethern

This morning I did not hear my cell phone alarm. Or maybe it just didn't ring. Anyway it seemed miraculous that I was able to be in chapel by 7:00 AM. As I was brushing my teeth the light above the sink died out. "Oh, both bulbs burned out at once. Strange," I thought to myself. I switched on another light and that too went out. I turned the vertical blinds to let in the light of the eastern sky. I grabbed the small flashlight I bring with me, and keep in my own room each night.
Despite the chilly air, we propped open the chapel doors to let in some light. My flash light was to serve as light for the Mass readings and Eucharistic prayers. It was our own version of the Catacombs. The early Roman Christians used torches. Three triple A batteries did a marvelous job along with Brother John Joachim's flashlight and two candles for our Mass.
Our whole area had an electrical blackout. Thankfully by 9:30 AM electricity was flowing. Gratitude was the order of the day as we thanked the Lord for getting us out of potential problems. One of the older priests who has to use a cane stepped out of the elevator less than a minute before the blackout.
As the weather eventually warmed up, two of my sisters drove me up to Lake Erie. I say "up" since we live about one and 1/2 hours south of the Lake. On the cusp of autumn the Ohio countryside is still very lush and vibrant.. We drove through Ohio wine country where grape vines abound. We visited the Lodge at the Geneva-on-the-Lake State Park. Lake Erie was a placid deep blue. Two small sail boats broke the horizon. The landscaping at the Lodge is lovely. I am very grateful for another peaceful day enjoying the Great Lake that covers all of the northern shore of our Buckeye State. Psalm 19 expresses my feelings about today better than I can: "The heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork."
As the world looks at the crisis in Syria, let us join in prayer tomorrow, September 7, with fasting and prayer to obtain a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria. St. Paul was brought to Christ at the gates of Damascus. May the united prayer of Christians and all people of good will obtain the gift of peace for Syria and all nations troubled by  armed conflicts. Jesus promised, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them."


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Autumn Events

This afternoon my sister Theresa and her daughter Rebbecca took me to a parade and town festival in Columbiana, Ohio. After living much of my life in larger cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and the Capitol District, I enjoyed the small town atmosphere. A few high school bands provided a festive atmosphere. Many of the floats were flat bed construction platforms with hay bales for seating. Tents and   vendors booths offer calorie laden treats. Fire engines and emergency response vehicles from the neighboring  townships drove past the city circle amid cheers from the crowd. Local political candidates drove by waving and throwing candy. Various Christian churches provided  floats--some with choirs singing praise and worship tunes. I found it refreshing to see people satisfied with simple things. The crowd was multi-generational and very positive. People waved as their friends passed by. It seemed to be a "live" Norman Rockwell moment. It was the evening of a peaceful and lovely day. May you enjoy Christ's peace that "is beyond all understanding.
May you enjoy a restful night....
God bless you!
Sister Mary Peter


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Cry for Peace

As so many Americans were enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer, Pope Francis issued a call for peace--especially in Syria. He called on the entire world to pray with him. He declared this coming Saturday, September 7, to be a day of prayer and fasting to obtain the gift of peace for Syria. May we all heed this call to prayer. As the Pope said, war just leads to more war, more violence. As Christians let us pray that negotiations not bombs may rule; that restraint, not rage may guide our policies.
Yesterday I was sent a YouTube video of an interview with the actor Jim Caveziel. Jim starred in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ movie. For Caveziel his role playing meant a transformative experience. He suffered a dislocated shoulder, a 14 inch laceration, pneumonia and other problems while he took part in the filming of Jesus' passion. He suffered the physical hardships as a way to join in Christ's suffering to repair for his own sins. Caveziel went on to say that rather than a "prosperity" gospel Christ preached that we need to take up our cross. He pointed out that the first apostles all suffered for their Christianity. He mentioned some of the martyrs of the 20th century. He also said that we Christians don't always have to blend in to be accepted.
His line, "You were not made to fit in. You were born to stand out" is a meditation worth reflecting on for a long time.
Have you ever made the Sign of the Cross before digging into a restaurant meal? It takes just a few seconds to do so. I do it not to show off but to remind myself and others that God is present. And, that I am a Christian in public and in private. As Paul say "when convenient or inconvenient." Have a blessed first week of September.
Let us keep praying for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria and in other Middle Eastern countries.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Life Given Totally to God

Last Sunday, August 18, the Lord visited the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston to call home our Sister Susan Helen Wallace. Sister was 73 years old. Gifted with a clear mind and quick wit, Sister Helen was a
writer and editor for much of the 52 years she spent in the convent as a Daughter of St. Paul. If you Google her name you will find a long list of titles which she authored. Writing was Sister's way of evangelizing--making the Word of God easily accessible to thousands.
A short video prepared for her wake on August 21, reveals some of her upbeat attitude and dedication. when she speaks of "Maestra Paula" she was referring to Mother Paula Cordero who was the founding Sister of the Daughters of St. Paul in the USA. The word maestra is Italian for mistress, head teacher, instructor. Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, called each of the Superiors maestra in honor of Jesus Master who is "the" Great Teacher and model for all of us.I hope I can connect you to the link so you too can get a glimpse of Sister Susan Helen's life. May she be enjoying the eternal peace of Jesus Master.
http://www.pauline.org/StrengthforYourDay/Blog/tabid/1005/ArticleID/167/Default.aspx   Click on Sister Helen's picture in that link.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sound Bytes and the Truth

Yesterday's Washington Post had 3 cartoons on its Op Ed page. The bottom cartoon really hit bottom!
The cartoon depicted Pope Francis saying "Who am I to judge?", but adding that you are going to burn in hell, etc. That cartoon is a contemporary display of anti-Catholic sentiment and a distortion of the truth. In the 1800's the "Know Nothing" Party trashed Catholic Churches and burned convents as its members incited  its followers to hate.Whoever drew the image seems totally unaware of the compassionate stance the Church has toward each and every person. Anything new under the sun?
Cartoons such as the WP depiction can re-open old wounds as well as spread falsehoods. As a letter to the editor in today's Washington Post comments--reiterating Catholic teaching--we hate the sin, but love the sinner.
Here is a link that expands and clarifies Pope Francis' comment:
From where I am writing it is a lovely, clear summer day. May you too be enjoying the sunshine. Have a blessed week.
Tomorrow the Church celebrates the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. A more popular name for this feast is "Our Lady of Snows." When I arrived in Rome at the beginning of August 10 years ago, I looked forward to celebrating this Marian feast. An ancient tradition says that a well-to-do Roman lady was asked to build a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To show where it was to be built snow fell in Rome at the site of the present church. It is called "Major" to signify its rank as the first church in the west to be dedicated to Mary. A lovely tradition continues at Santa Maria Maggiore as the Italians call this huge church. As the Gloria is being sung or recited during the principal Mass, white flower petals fall from an opening in the roof. It was a lovely sight to behold even though the temperature outside was at least 40 Celsius or 100 F. May Mary intercede  for us Christians and for all those suffering from wars and violence in Africa and in the Middle East.
Tuesday is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. In the Transfiguration Jesus briefly revealed a glimpse of his divinity. May we, by our prayers and actions, reveal to those around us that we truly believe in the divinity and glory of Jesus Christ.


Saturday, August 03, 2013

August Awakening

Recently the town of Campostella in Spain was in the news because of the tragic crash of a high speed train. Most of the passengers were pilgrims headed for the church of Santiago de Campostella. Tradition has it that the remains of the Apostle St. James are kept there. For centuries people from all walks of life have made the 800 kilometer trek from France to Santiago, then some continue on to the ocean where the trail ends.
Just yesterday a young man came into our Center in search of books to bring along with him on the "Camino de Santiago."  Determined to make at least 100 kilometers of the Camino, the youthful pilgrim plans to bring 5 changes of clothes, along with other necessities. He admitted that the things dearest to him right now which he will have to give up on the journey is a hot shower. "I am sort of a neat freak. I like to be really clean." along the way in the small villages where he may stay, a shower will be a definite luxury. 
If you would like to visualize the Camino I recommend viewing the film "The Way" starring Martin Sheen. His son Emilio Estevez who plays the part of Sheen's son directed the film as well. The movie reveals some of the hardships pilgrims face from themselves together with the surprises and trials of a journey on foot through villages, mountains and crowded cities. Trekking for days on end comprises a true penance, and helps to put people in a receptive mood to see what else God has in store for us.
Another film which is more of a documentary is also available from our Pauline Books and Media Centers.
The films may be ordered from www.pauline.org. Or, you can contact the nearest Pauline Book & Media Center.
In this life we are all on a "Camino" towards heaven. Like the Camino pilgrims we are heading for a rendezvous with the Lord. Before we reach the goal there will be some bumps in the road, and probably some huge craters to challenge us. Like the pilgrims who lean on their staffs for support, we can lean on the grace of God to be there with the strength we need 
At Santiago de Campostella pilgrims who finish the journey there receive a diploma of completion.of The Caminos.
God bless you. If you can get to a beach near you before school re-opens pick up a scallop shell to remind yourself  of the lessons of "The Camino/The Way."

 
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

World Youth Day

Today Pope Francis flew to Rio de Janiero, Brazil. There thousands of young people from teens to young adults are celebrating their faith in Jesus Christ as expressed in the Roman Catholic Church. World Youth Days (which usually are 7 Day events) serve as a revival experience, a deeper awareness of what it means to believe in Christ.  One young man came into our Alexandria, Virginia center with his parents. He was to leave the next day for Peru. There he and the other 40 members of his group from the Richmond, Virginia Diocese would spend about a week in a poor neighborhood north of Lima. Their goal was to help build decent homes for the local poor. Then they would move on to Rio de Janiero. In Rio the Virginia delegates will pray, and learn from Pope Francis and from the many talks and events. Certainly  all of the groups from around the world will grow in faith, love and hope. Let's pray for them all.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Post Retreat Reflections

My retreat experience was very good. The atmosphere
Bridge in Larz Anderson Park
 was quiet, peaceful and very conducive to prayer.
The week went by too fast. However the Lord was
 very good to me and He gave me a priest
retreat director who was kind and insightful.
It was a time of spiritual intimacy with the Lord Jesus.
Today's gospel account of Martha and Mary reminded
me of retreat. I had to put aside the Martha "busy about many things" to be the Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus.  Now I try to be Mary especially in the mornings when we have time set aside for meditation, morning prayer and
Mass. These are great ways to focus my day's activities toward the Lord, to ask his guidance on the best way to act. Our Founder called this type of thinking and praying a "preventive exam" on my day. That is, I try to look ahead to see what the agenda is, and what negative or difficult situations may arise. I ask the Lord to help me behave as He would want me to.
One observation I made occurred this past Tuesday. Sr. Margaret Michael and I were driving on Interstate 95 North on our way from Virginia to Boston. Not far from the bridge separating us from Virginia, traffic was backed up in all the lanes. Oh, there must have been an accident, I told Sr. Michael. But, traffic was not snaking in and out of lanes as often happens when there is an accident.
Exit signs signaled that we were yet far from our fist "big city"--Baltimore. Usually the trip there is just an hour.  We inched our way along when we saw the cause of our delay: Four police cars with red and blue lights flashing were parked in the center median strip. There were no wrecker trucks, no ambulances, no banged up cars.
People were "rubber necking!" They were slowing down to a crawl to observe the cause of the police action. There was none to be seen! I was inwardly complaining that we were set back an hour on our journey by rubber necking, people turning their focus to the left and not "keeping their eyes on the prize"--the road ahead!
We had left early so as to arrive early in Boston. However curiosity slowed us down.
Then I went into retreat mode and reflected on what that traffic tie-up taught me. How often do I rubber neck? Do I switch my focus of attention to trivia, to gossip, to stuff that really is neither here nor there? Time is so precious and how often it is possible for me to "rubber neck" and check on the latest news. When I turn on my computer and go to one or another Internet provider, there are pages of news. Some of it is up-to-the-minute coverage of international events. Other news, such as the melo-dramatic reporting of two Hollywood ladies who wore the same dress to the same party thus committing a fashion mortal sin is useless rubber necking. Could hours spent watching court dramas be a form of rubber necking? As they say in Minnesota, "You betcha!"
If you think your spiritual life is in need of a make-over, perhaps you might travel down the highway of your memory to see where you wasted time in rubber necking.
Pray for all the young people traveling to Rio de Janiero and for Pope Francis as he heads for World Youth Day.
Have a blessed new week: safe journeys for all who travel, success in your work, peace in your families and good health.
Prayerfully in Christ,
Sister Mary Peter
  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Beginning Retreat

Yesterday I posted that that I begin my annual retreat this evening. Very soon I will be "quiet". The Psalm say, "Be still and know that I am God." Today's gospel reading was from Matthew where the disciples of Jesus asked him how to pray. Then Jesus replied by giving us the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father.Retreat is a good opportunity to reflect on the Our Father.
The retreat is a response to an invitation from Jesus "to come apart with me for a while." So it is a privileged time to be physically apart too from my usual daily work of evangelization to be more deeply evangelized myself.
While I am on retreat with 21 other Sisters, a group of our younger Sisters will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to help Sister Maria Kim Bui celebrate the profession of final vows in her home parish in Tempe, AZ. You can follow this event on Face Book, the Daughters of St. Paul Vocation Page. You may connect too through Ask A Catholic Nun.com.
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
Crucifix on the Grouds of St. Thecla Retreat House


St. Thecla Retreat House

St. Thecla Retreat House


Posted by PicasaThis is a view of the front of St. Thecla Retreat House in Billerica, Nassachusetts.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Retreat

Beginning tomorrow I will join about 20 other Sisters at our St. Thecla Retreat House to begin an annual 8 day retreat. These days will be spent in silence and prayer. I will have a retreat director whom I will meet with each day. Usually the director suggests a Bible passage as a prayer topic for the day. 

Then the following day the person making the retreat meets with the director to share her reflections and the impact of that Scripture. It is a time of "spiritual therapy" in a good sense.
I promise you blog readers that I will pray for you and your intentions.
I may not be able to blog during this week ahead. I look forward to joining you at the end of this month of June. May you celebrate well the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29.
For now I leave you with this message from St. Paul in Romans 8:28: 
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

98 and 53

On this day 98 years ago a young priest in the town of Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy invited Teresa Merlo to begin a new work for God.
When Teresa emerged from the sacristy of the Church of San Damiano in Alba, her mother asked her,. "What did the Theologian ask you? What did you say?" Teresa answered, "I said 'yes'."  That "yes" was the starting point for the new congregation of Sisters dedicated to media evangelization, the Daughters of St. Paul. Their beginnings were modest to the extreme. Even today the building where the first women of the "Pauline" group gathered in Alba looks uninviting, to put it mildly.
A very young Father Alberione

Father Alberione was called "The Theologian" to mark his having earned a doctoral degree in theology.
Alberione had invited Teresa Merlo to join him to reinforce a feminine branch of the group of young men he had formed only the previous year, the Society of St. Paul. As St. Paul evangelized even through his letters, so the sons and daughters of St. Paul in the newly formed congregations were to evangelize by putting the words of the gospel in printed, broadcast, spoken, and digital formats. Alberione directed the new "Paulines" to use every form of mass media to preach the Good News.
Mother Thecla Merlo at Prayer
I thank God for Teresa Merlo's generous "yes" that day in Alba. She became Mother Thecla Merlo, first Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul. Father, now Blessed, Alberione gave Teresa the name Thecla in memory of St. Thecla whom tradition says was Paul's first woman convert.
I had the privilege of meeting Mother Thecla even before I entered the Daughters of St. Paul. She visited the Sisters in the Youngstown, Ohio book center while I was still in high school. I met her again when she stayed an entire month with us in Boston just after I had made my fist vows. I am glad that I saw her every day for that month. She was always serene, cheerful and playful. May she now intercede for us with the Divine Master in heaven.
On June 25, 1960 I entered the convent of the Daughters of St. Paul at 50 Saint Pauls Avenue, kin the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, Massachusetts. At that time there was one building and a new chapel was under construction. A visiting Cardinal, Giovanni Montini had just visited the new chapel. I entered about a week after that historic visit of the man who was to be Pope Paul VI.  I thank God for introducing me to the Daughters of St. Paul, and granting me these 53 years as one of them!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A New Priest

Today we celebrated the first Mass of Father Jason Burchell at St. Mary's Church n Alexandria, Virginia. Along with six classmates Father Jason was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood yesterday in Arlington, Virginia. I was privileged to proclaim the first reading, from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah:

 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. (Jeremiah 1:4--9)
Jeremiah's quote drives home the importance of the priest as one who speaks the Word of God: "I have put my words in your mouth." From now on Jason and his fellow newly ordained are to preach God's Word as Paul says, "in season and out"--whether their words be pleasing to the ear, or, when their words may irritate and annoy some who need a lifestyle change.

From all eternity those seven men were chosen to represent him as the Church says, "in persona Christi". That is, they stand in the place of "the person of" Christ, especially when it comes to celebrating the Eucharist, the Mass, and the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as the other sacraments.
For those of us who are Catholic and have been participating in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) for years, nothing beats the peace and comfort that come from receiving these sacraments. We look to our priests to provide these "life-lines" for our spirits.
Like Christ, they are to be obedient to the authority of their bishop. The Bishop asked each one, "Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?" Each one responded, "I do." Again Jeremiah's words ring true: "You shall go to all to whom I send you..." regardless of age, class, race, social standing or economic status.

The newly ordained receive the laying
on  of hands from
all the priests present at their ordination.
Father Dyer who gave the homily ended his sermon with a personal reminder that the priest, along with Christ, is called to be a victim. That means he is called to sacrifice. Father had had a long day on Saturday, attending the ordination, praying a holy hour with the seven about-to-be-priests on Friday night, busy in his usual parish assignment. Saturday he was twice awakened by the bus of a need to go to the hospital to anoint a dying person. His sacrifice of getting up and going to anoint the eldely person on her deathbed and comfort the family was his participation in the work of Christ the Priest and Victim.

Of course we continue to pray for Father Jason as he begins a three year assignment as a parish priest. Father is already a member of the US Navy Reserves.His experience here will be a treasure for hom when, after the three years, he takes up duties as a Chaplain in the US Navy.


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Paul -- a Good Friend

Today I will be brief, since in a few minutes I need to be on duty in our book and media center.
Here is alink to a newsletter edtion which I wrote. I hope you enjoy it!
http://store.pauline.org/SinglePages/StPaulHopeandPatienceforToday/tabid/280/Default.aspx
Archdiocese of Toronto Icon of St. Paul


God bless you!

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Heart of All

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart is the symbol of love. The Heart of Jesus beats with love. St. John the Evangelist tells us that "God is love." The Heart of Jesus loves each of us more than we love ourselves. The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah, "Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you." He says the same to you and me: Before I was even thought of by my parents, God knew me. He has a loving plan for me. He has a loving plan for you too.

Because God's plans are not always so clear to us, we can get side tracked into bad habits, distractions, addictions, entertainments and a host of other time wasters. These distractions cloud our spiritual vision and make us forget that we were made to love God and our neighbor.
I remember giving a pulpit talk in a New England parish. I looked at the faces of the congregation. Folks were serious, even somber. When I recounted for the people an incident with a kindergarten child, finally smiles and even laughter rose up. The gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus said there will be "joy" in heaven over one sinner that repents.The shepherd who found the lost sheep called in friends and neighbors to "rejoice" with him on the return of his lost one. The shepherd put the lost sheep around his shoulders and carried him home. He did not stop to scold the runaway. Rather he carried him and made it easier for him to return to his home. When some one we know slips up, makes a mistake that may embarrass himself or herself, how do I react? Do I rejoice to see an apology, a sincere act of humble repentance? Or, do I say, "Here we go again. So-and-So will never get his act together".
The Heart of Jesus can grace a person with conversion from bad habits to virtue, from stinginess to generosity, from selfishness to self sacrifice. If we want to see these transformations in those around us, the best way to effect change is to model it ourselves. Psychologists and counselors will tell you and me that the only person you can change is yourself. I  add to that advice: the only person I can change is myself with the grace of God! The Heart of Jesus is waiting to pour his love and graces on each of us. Let us ask him each day: "Jesus humble and gentle of heart, make my heart like unto yours."

By the way, I have not blogged in a while. This past Sunday I was in Ohio for the wake and then the funeral of my sister Coletta. My plane was to leave Washington Reagan National Airport at 6:00 AM. Instead a phone call at 2:30 AM jolted me awake to inform me that the 6:00 AM plane would leave at 11:00. If I wanted to leave earlier I would have to go tot he Baltimore airport. After going online to get directions to the Baltimore Airport, I went back to bed after 3:00 and got up at 4:00. My new flight took me to Chicago Midway Airport for a transfer flight. I saw a sign for Chapel. I me one of the Catholic priest chaplains. I found that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in that ecumenical worship space.The Catholic Mass would be held later, but I needed to board my plane.before that. Father gave instructions for his assistant to give me Holy Communion after the Protestant service. The minister prayed for the intentions of those who wanted to have prayers offered for them. I asked for prayers for my deceased sister and for the consolation of her family. In addition I asked the group to pray for the seven young women who were making a discernment weekend with our Sisters in Chicago. I looked at my watch and realized that I was in the chapel at the same time as the world wide Eucharistic adoration was taking place. Sunday was the Feast of Corpus Christi--the day we celebrate the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. "I am with you all days, even unto the end of the world" Jesus assured us. In the Eucharist Jesus is truly with us to protect, sustain and nourish us.



 Tomorrow I will attend the ordination of seven young men to the Catholic priesthood. I hope to tell you more about that later. Tomowwow is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.Have a blessed night and a peaceful day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Regarding Comments

Good day to all my readers!
Yesterday I enjoyed some spiritual consolation with the Mass in celebration for my 50th Jubilee of religious vows, and Sister Maria Elizabeth's 25th Jubilee of vows as a Daughter of St. Paul.
Bishop Paul Loverde, who is celebrating 25 years of being a bishop, was the principal celebrant of the Mass. He reminded us of the call to follow Jesus every day and to "go out of ourselves" as Pope Francis said. Quoting Pope Francis the bishop recalled too that we as religious sisters are called to be spiritual mothers to the people to whom we minister. After the Mass we were treated to a nice dinner in the Marymount cafeteria. The group in attendance was made up of religious Sisters from several orders. It was a joy to renew my vows and to be in the company of so many good and dedicated Sisters and priests.

Before I write more on various topic, I want to clarify a few points: 

 Some readers want me to publish their blog entries in place of, or on the same page as mine. I am responsible for what I write. I am not free to allow anyone else to blog under my name. As a consecrated woman religious, the content of what I write needs to be in conformity to Gospel values, as well as in readable English. If you have something to publish as a blog, you are free to establish your own blog. 

If you want me to publish your comment, your link has to be squeaky clean. Someone sent what looks like a very positive comment on my blog. yet his or her blog is a front for porn.

Lately some of the comments are solely advertisements for handbags, or some other products. I will immediately reject such intrusions.

Some comments are phrased in a way which I find hard to understand. Please comment in standard American English (if possible). Or you can comment in Italian or Spanish.

Thanks for reading this blog, and -- for you who want to comment -- please keep in mind that I am a religious Sister, so please keep it clean, clear and to the point.

Blessings!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saints South of the Border

Today the Catholic Church honors St. Christopher Magallanes and several other Mexican priests martyred for their faith in the 1920's.
If you have not seen the film "For Greater Glory" I strongly suggest that you find a copy and see it. Or, you can purchase a copy from any of the Pauline Books & Media Centers (www.pauline.org)
 in the USA or Toronto.
In the beginning of the film Peter O'Toole portrays Father Christopher Magallanas a kind pastor in Mexico. The country's president, Plutarco Elias Calles, had ordered all Catholic churches to be closed. Many churches were desecrated. It became a crime to be a believer.
Priests were denied a right to vote, the right to a trial by jury, as well as the right to wear clerical garb.   It became a crime to be caught doing priestly things, such as celebrating Mass, baptisms and processions. An atheist imbued with a hatred for Catholics, Calles was not officially a Communist.
However he allowed Mexico to be the first country to host a Soviet embassy. Priests, nuns, religious brothers, active lay Catholics and any who dared to speak out against the Calles government were arrested. It was even a crime to advise a young an to enter a monastery. When arrested some were shot immediately. Others were first tortured and then executed.
Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio
For Greater Glory reveals how Blessed Jose (Joselito) Sanchez del Rio, a teenager, witnessed the murder of Father Magallanes. Only 15 years old, Jose became part of the Cristero movement which opposed the Calles regime. Jose was captured by the Federales -- government troops -- and tortured.
His captors cut the soles of his feet and marched him barefoot to his place of execution. Like so many of the  martyrs of Mexico, Joselito cried out "Viva Cristo Re", Long live Christ the King! as he died.
Andy Garcia plays the Cristero General in For Greater Glory
St. Christopher Magallanes
Even after Calles finished his term as president, he held on to power as the Jefe Maximo, Head Chief of State, until 1934. The US ambassador to Mexico arranged a truce between the Cristeros and the government. The Cristeros were to lay down their arms and be given amnesty. Calles did not honor the treaty. Instead he had former Cristeros executed in their own homes.
One of the martyrs whose superiors first sent him to the USA to avoid arrest is Father Miguel Pro, SJ. He mastered many disguises as he ministered to the spiritual needs of his people before his arrest. Falsely accused of political insurrection, Father Pro died heroically, forgiving his executioners and proclaiming Viva Cristo Re, y Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe.Long live Christ the King and long live the Virgen of Gualadlupe.
Blessed Fr. Pro at his martyrdom

Calles died in Mexico in 1945. 90,000 people died during the years of his time in office. His political party managed to re-write text books or to eliminate the facts of Calles' anti-clerical and ferocious anti-Catholicism from Mexico's educational system. Unless they were instructed at home about the Cristero movement and the religious persecution many Mexican people were unaware of the dark days of the Calles government.Only in the 2000's did one of the Mexican presidents speak plainly of the evil perpetrated during the 1920's and early 1930's in the country which lies to the south of these United States. As we celebrate the holiness of Father Magallanes, Joselito and their fellow martyrs, we ask that God will grant religious freedom to all.

We continue to pray for those grieving the loss of life in Oklahoma, Texas and other areas suffering from floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters. May many generous people respond with help for those in need. I am sure that Catholic Charities USA will be helping along with other community relief organizations.
Have a blessed night and a good day tomorrow.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost

The Acts of the Apostles tells us the Apostles were gathered in the upper room to "wait for the fulfillment of the Father's promise...when..they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5)." They filled their time of waiting with prayer. "Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer" (Acts 1:14) The Apostles and those with them, including Mary the mother of Jesus, were together after nine days. They were "gathered in one place" when the Spirit came with a noise, a sound "like a strong driving wind." They perceived the Spirit's presence first with their hearing. Then their sight perceived: "tongues of fire..which parted and rested on each of them." Then the Apostles began to speak in languages they did not know before. The many people assembled in Jerusalem for the Pentecost feast were from a variety of nations. Yet, each of them could hear the message of the Apostles in their own language.
The Spirit burst upon them and shook them free of all fear. Immediately the disciples emerged from their upper room hiding place and started to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen. Peter filled with the Spirit boldly said: "Let the whole house of Israel know beyond any doubt that God has made both Lord and Messiah this Jesus whom you crucified."
The narration of the Pentecost scene reads as an attractive drama. The fact is that we too can be released from our private upper rooms. We may pray privately either in comfort or discomfort. Sooner or later at one point what we pray about--or rather who we pray to--is going to make a real difference in our lives. Peter and companions were safely behind locked doors before the arrival of the Holy Spirit. As soon as they perceived the new strength of the Spirit they did not sit still. They ran downstairs and met the crowds. The Apostles and other disciples could not keep the Good News of Jesus to themselves. Jesus had commanded it: Go into the whole world...:." May we allow ourselves to get out of our spiritual couch potato stance and begin a real inner life of prayer. May we preach the good news with our lives and then through our mission. Happy Feast of Pentecost to you all!
Let the waters of grace fall on us!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Waiting for the Spirit

Pentecost will be celebrated this Sunday. It marks 50 days since Easter, and together with Mary the Mother of Jesus and Queen of the  nine days since Ascension Thursday. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles and some women, including "Mary the Mother of Jesus" were gathered together in prayer in one place.
The Lord had promised "You will be clothed with power from on high." We Daughters of St. Paul and other members of the Pauline Family pray the pre-Pentecost novena (nine days of prayer) together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Apostles. We can imagine the respect and reverence given to Jesus' mother by the Apostles and the earliest Christians. The apostle John took her under his care. As the first Christians gathered in prayer with Mary, so do we. The novena prayers in the Prayers of the Pauline Family recall the Bible passages that mention Mary and her role as mother of Jesus and then of his followers.
May we prepare ourselves well to receive a more abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on this coming Sunday.
Mary, Queen of the Apostles, gives Jesus to the world.
The scroll in Baby Jesus' hands represent the gospel.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hawaii's Father Damian

The first time I flew to Hawaii I was well impressed as our flight neared Honolulu when the flight attendant told us in brief the story of Father Damian DeVuester. He was also known as Father Damien of Molokai. His parish was the entire island  of Molokai where lepers were exiled in those days. Father Damian volunteered to go to Hawaii as a missionary when his brother also a priest took sick and could not go.

An energetic and resourceful person, Damian served the material and spiritual needs of his parishioners.
Leprosy was common and a cure was unknown. People afflicted with the disease were sent to Molokai and left there to fend for themselves. When Damian arrived, he met not only physical suffering and decaying bodies but rampant moral decay besides. He helped everyone he could whether Catholic or not.
Using bamboo Father Damian set up a system to bring fresh water from the island's high ground down to the settlement closer to the ocean.
 His prayers, sacrifices and tireless effort transformed Molokai into a place where people found hope. Lepers learned to pray and offer their sufferings in union with Christ. Because it was believed that leprosy was highly contagious, Damian could not leave the island. After several years he did become a leper himself. He worked as long as he could and died in 1889.
Very devoted to the rosary and to Our Lady, Damian set an example for those who saw him. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson defended him from detractors. Volunteers came to help, including "Brother" Joseph Dutton, a Civil War veteran who left his home in Vermont to work alongside the Belgian priest.
Mother Marianne Kope
 Franciscan Sisters from Syracuse, New York came to help Father Damian. They were led by Sister Marianne Kope who is now Saint Mary Ann.
In 2009 Pope Benedict canonized Damian. Saint Damian's feast day is today, May 10th.


Monday, May 06, 2013

Mary and the Spirit

I would like to quote Pope Francis on the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit and us. When Mary said "yes" to the Archangel Gabriel, she became the Spouse of the Spirit. 
Pope Francis reminds us:
The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to accept the news of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to accept the Word of God, to accept Jesus inside of us and then to bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Holy Spirit with the Apostles in the Upper Room: we too, every time that we come together in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, in order to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to Jesus Risen....May Mary help you to be attentive to what the Lord asks of you, and to live and walk forever with the Holy Spirit!
 If you want to take a short break in your hectic day, in addition to praying the rosary, visit the website called: ourladyimages.org

God bless you!


Saturday, May 04, 2013

More on Mary

"All generations will call me blessed." Those words from the gospel of St. Luke (Luke 1:48) are proved to be true every time a Hail Mary is prayed any where in this wide world. When non-Catholic Christians question our Catholic devotion to Mary, Mother of God I always think first of that line from Luke: all generations... Intercessory prayer is part of our great Tradition. Many times in his letters St. Paul asked for prayers that he might be able to preach Christ against so many obstacles. When Jesus from the cross entrusted Mary to the Apostle John, he said: "Behold your Mother." John represents all of us men and women of all time--children of Adam and Eve. The story of Our Lady's apparitions in the 1500's to St. Juan Diego of Mexico continue the maternal role of Mary, When Juan Diego told the Virgin of his problems convincing the Bishop of the truth of his visions, Mary answered: "Am I not your Mother?" She is our mother, even more concerned about the well being of our souls and our bodies than our earthly mothers could be.
Anyone who prays through the intercession of Mary comes closer to Jesus. He chose her to come to us, and we chose her as a way to Jesus "The Way."
The Rosary is the Gospel in our Pockets. When we pray the mysteries of the rosary we bring to mind all the major events in the life of Jesus.
I am going to chapel now where I will also pray the rosary especially for you who read this blog. Thanks for your patience with me. I hope to keep up a little every day.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Month of Mary, Mothers, Communion and Confirmations

This year's tree allergies have kept me from my blog. Now that the trees here are mostly all in leaf, I can breath much better. A month ago I was in Ohio for a few days to see my sister Coletta who picked up Legionaires' Disease while in Florida. While I was home she was always on a ventilator, hooked up to all kinds of tubes and monitors. Now she remains in the hospital but improving a little each day. 
Thank you to all those who have been praying for Coletta. I am sure that the many prayers and God's kindness toward our family has helped her progress so far.
Our weekends have been very busy. Last Saturday and Sunday we held a book display at Holy Trinity in Gainesville, Virginia. It is a vibrant parish. It is definitely growing just by seeing the numbers of infants and small children. I remain impressed by the fervor of the parishioners and priests at all the Masses. Religious doomsday sayers would cheer up if they peered into the church and saw the parking lot full for the 7:00 AM Mass and for all the Masses after that! 
I want to share more on my blog about Holy Trinity parish at a later date.

As I write I see that the world turns with or without me!  A Jubilee gift from my Provincial team in the form of a globe with a solar powered battery sits in the afternoon sun on my desk..
 As soon as the sun is bright enough. the world spins round and round. When I want to locate a country I take the world into my hands to pinpoint a location. Otherwise my eyes can't keep up with the spinning globe! The globe reminds me to pray for those around the world in need of spiritual and material help: those suffering from war-like conditions; illness; extreme poverty and so many other problems.

Today my thoughts turn to Philadelphia and then to Harrisburg. Yesterday Bishop Joseph McFadden, leader of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, died of a massive heart attack while back in his home diocese of Philadelphia. Bishop of Harrisburg since 2010, Bishop McFadden was a dynamic person fully dedicated to the Church, and intensely interested in his people. My condolences to his family, his siblings and nieces and nephews; his fellow bishops, and the clergy and people of Harrisburg. I have many good memories of Harrisburg. One of those memories is of meeting the smiling and energetic Bishop McFadden. May his soul rest in the peace of Christ the Good Shepherd. 

The month of May brings many beautiful memories to mind. One is of my mother whose blue crystal rosary beads were often in her hands. Even when I was too little to read, I was impressed by a little blue prayer book she used to help her meditate the rosary mysteries. The round brown pictures of the lives of Mary and Jesus fascinated me. Today when I prayed the rosary during the last part of my Eucharistic adoration, I used a copy of the same book my mom had. Thanks to my mom for all the prayers she must have prayed to bring up 13 of us brothers and sisters! Our Grandmother Malone had a blue crystal rosary too. I helped to care for our grandmother before she passed away. She always held and prayed with those beads. 
Grandma Malone was a cheerful person, a great baker, and often our baby sitter. There were times when one or two of us would stay at Grandma's house. The only "price" to pay was dusting. She would give us a dust cloth and ask us to polish the lower legs of the furniture. In those days that was not a problem. My brother John and I were short enough at the time. Funny how it was so easy to dust the furniture at Grandma's but oh, so difficult at home to put a nice shine on the furniture!
As we approach Mother's Day, beautiful memories flash through my mind of my Mother and Grandmother. Now I see one of my younger nieces in the role of mother.I see a lot of love being poured out over and onto her little daughter. I pray that my niece will one day also find the serenity and strength in life that my mom and grandmother modeled for me.

By the way, it is a healthy Catholic tradition to pray the rosary daily during this month of May. I recommend it to you who read this. If you need some help praying the rosary, you might even like to use a CD with the Rosary recited by the Daughters of St. Paul (2 CD's with all 20 mysteries prayed and meditated by the Sisters.) When people ask me if my voice is on any of our CD's I can answer "yes" to that one: my voice is part of a group of Sisters who recite the rosary! As for the music CD's I am an avid listener!