Thursday, April 18, 2013

All Things are Possible

     This morning the Sister who led our morning prayers read a piece of the homily of Pope Francis on the Holy Spirit. He reminded us that the Spirit is God's power driving us forward. As I mentioned yesterday, we are disciples of Christ, the Crucified and Risen Lord.
     This winter we have witnessed the power unleashed by hurricanes, tornadoes and heavy snowstorms. These are all forces of nature. I remember several years ago driving through a 300 mile stretch of Texas. Only the day before a tornado had swept down and up, down and up. It followed the same 300 mile route that we were traveling. It left a church building with its roof gone, and the pews stacked up against each other. As we drove through a small town the local grocery store was roofless and a huge highway sign was draped in corrugated metal dangling from either side.I still remember scenes of wrecked homes and insulation splattered against tree trunks. Yet this is the power of our natural universe.
The Holy Spirit--God's Power--is an unstoppable force. One of my favorite Bible verses is in St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians:
 "To him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine--to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end. Amen." (3:20)
     Paul had experienced in his very being that power he was telling us about. Christ had turned him from a ferocious persecutor of Christians to one of Christ's foremost spokesmen. We do not live in denial of the evil and negative events and actions that occur in our lives. Sins are committed, rights are denied, even human trafficking is all too common. Yet as Paul reminds us "we are more than conquerors" in the midst of all this. We do not panic and join the doomsday sayers. We are part of Christ's flocks. He does not abandon his sheep. He lays down his life for us. And he takes it up again.
     Tonight I was reminded of a daily sight I experienced on the way to our classes in Rome. Our convent or generalate as it is called, lies not far from Rome's city limits. As two car loads of us Sisters drove to class on the busy Via della Pisana we passed many apartment houses, and businesses. There is even a large Ford auto sales place. Then we would make a right turn onto a street with scattered businesses to our left followed by drab concrete housing projects. Patches of grass separated the buildings. To our right was an expansive field of emerald green grass with low slung electrical grid The toweers resemble short, stout weight lifters with arms raised supporting thick wires with electrical power for miles. The towers seemed lower to the ground than those in the USA. Amid the trucks, cars and other modern trappings we always witnessed a shepherd with his flock on that stretch of highway. Always the same man, rain or shine. He must have been a good shepherd.
He was a modern Good Shepherd: boots instead of sandals; umbrella instead of a staff; and cell phone rather than a King David model harp. On one rainy day he stood out with his black boots, huge black umbrella and his cell phone. His flock never strayed far from him.They munched away at the urban grass. The sheep were content and secure. Why if even one sheep did go astray the shepherd could have alerted the local carabinieri to help find his stray sheep. We have Jesus the Good Shepherd always with us, watching over us. Even in the midst of troubles, aggravations, pain and sorrows he is there with us. He says to us just as he said to Peter and the men with him on the rough Sea of Galilee: "It is I do not be afraid."


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not Easy

Someone commented about my blog post yesterday. He seemed to think my take on the Marathon Bombing and its aftermath was "too easy." A Christian/Catholic view of life is that of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Jesus' resurrection and ever present help is always available. However this help comes to pull us out of the depths of sorrow and pain that we can experience, especially when faced with the evil, destructive violence. This pain is our "cross". Putting up with it, without undue complaining, blaming and other negative comments is our living the Scripture's advice: "Bless and do not curse."
Once in Rome, after spending three hours with a friend viewing the beauty and history of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, I experienced what that phrase meant. I was standing on a street corner near the Basilica speaking with two of our Italian senior Sisters. All of a sudden I felt my head jerk. A group of young men in their early twenties had come along and pulled off my veil, throwing it into the gutter. My first reaction was not a prayer, but something else.
Then I thought of the words, "Bless and do not curse!" That is in no way easy to do when justifiable anger rises. However it is possible with the grace of God.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marathon Mourning

Yesterday I received two text messages about the Boston Marathon bombings. Both messages came while I was praying in our chapel. I immediately turned to the Lord Jesus and asked him to be with all those people.
Having lived in Boston several years, I am very familiar with the area of the Marathon Finish Line. Various television networks supplied on-going coverage of the blasts and the human toll. I appreciate the networks' discretion in refraining from not showing every detail of the wounded and traumatized victims of the blasts. I regretted that the thousands of runners who train for months on end were denied their rewards. Their joy was turned to sorrow.
My heart was touched when I saw so many people rush to help others. Many were trained first responders, police and firemen, others were generous bystanders. Their selfless deeds counter-acted the wickedness of the bombings. As Pope Benedict once said, "Only God can bring good out of evil." God was working through the people kneeling on the pavement staunching blood flowing from the wounded; he was present in the ambulance personnel who worked endlessly to rush the victims to various hospitals; his spirit was present in the doctors, nurses and health care persons who worked tirelessly to save many lives. I was proud of our Bostonians and of all the good people who ran to the aid of the wounded.
Where is God in the midst of all this chaos? He works through his sons and daughters who are living out the command: "Love one another as I have loved you." During my Eucharistic Adoration this morning I finished reading and praying with the final chapter of "Jesus of Nazareth" the second volume by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict). Benedict speaks of the resurrected Jesus' presence among us today. He did not go away and "leave us orphans" to face the maddening violence of terrorists and other evil minded persons. No, he is with us. May Pope Benedict's words console all of us and refresh our spirits:
After the multiplication of the loaves, the Lord makes the disciples get into the boat and go before him to Bethsaida on the opposite shore, while he himself dismisses the people. He then goes "up on the mountain" to pray. So the disciples are alone in the boat. There is a headwind and the lake is turbulent. They are threatened by the power of the waves and the storm. The Lord seems to be far away in prayer on his mountain. But because he is with the Father he sees them. And because he sees them, he comes to them across the water; he gets into the boat with them and makes it possible for them to reach their destination. 
 This is an image for the time of the Church--intended also for us. The Lord is "on the mountain" of the Father. Therefore he sees us. Therefore he can get into the boat of our life at any moment. Therefore we can always call on him; we can always be certain that he sees and hears us. In our own day, too, the boat of the Church travels against the headwinds of history through the turbulent ocean of time. Often it looks as if it is bound to sink. But the Lord is there, and he comes at the right moment. "I go away, and I will come to you"--that is the essence of Christian trust, the reason for our joy. (Jesus of Nazareth vol. II, pp. 284--285)
I pray for the physical, mental and emotional healing of all the victims of the Boston bombings. May the Risen Lord Jesus give strength to the care-givers and law enforcement personnel. May this incident never deter any of us from loving one another. I pray for our civil leaders that they may be clear headed, strong and determined. May the citizens and visitors to Boston be safe and sere as they rebuild their lives.


Sunday, April 14, 2013


In this part of our country Spring indeed has arrived. Flowers are blooming--tulips, pansies, dandelions-- and trees are sporting their blossoms. their pollen is layering on our outside sign. This year I am more bothered by Spring allergies than ever before.
However lest you think me a pessimist, I do love Spring. On those days when a light rain softens the earth, I am reminded of Monet paintings. I was in Ohio for almost a week. When I returned I found the sycamore tree outside my room already sporting green leaves.
Today's gospel passage reminds us that Jesus forgave Peter who had denied him. He also entrusted his church to Peter and the other Apostles. The affirmative response Jesus was waiting for came in Peter's words: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus asked for Peter's love for him as Master and Lord. Jesus' love had already been proven when he died on Calvary and when he gave the Apostles his body and blood on the evening of the Last Supper. Let us pray for Pope Francis, the successor of St. Peter as he continues in his ministry as Bishop of Rome and head of the universal church.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easter and New Life

My apologies for not blogging sooner. My family has had some trials lately. On March 1, my Uncle William J, Malone was buried. Earlier that morning, my brother-in-law Dennis died suddenly. Dennis was the husband of my youngest sister, and Dad to Steven and Megan. Dennis was well loved in the rural community where he and Kelly spent the last 25 years. A lover of the outdoors, Dennis worked for the Army Corps of Engineers guarding and sustaining the Berlin Lake area. He loved hunting and fishing, and his wife and children followed his example. Soon a man-made lake will be named after him. The lake will be stocked with fish to perpetuate his memory. Another brother-in-law, Bob, gave a moving eulogy.
On Easter one of my older sisters was rushed to the hospital with what appeared to be severe pneumonia. The doctors soon concluded that all her symptoms were those of Legionnaires Disease. She caught it while in Florida. Now she is on a ventilator to assist her breathing. She is hooked up to many tubes, and monitors in an ICU unit in Ohio.I went home to Ohio for a few days to see her. On my last visit she opened her eyes for a sustained period and I assume she understood what I said.
I ask the prayers of all of you who read this for my sister Coletta who is 5 years older than I. She is the mother of five adult children, and grandmother of many! On my last visit home in September, I stayed at her house.
On a happier note I was happy to meet my four-month-old great niece. She is a cheerful and content little girl. She seems eager to walk already. Also before I left Ohio Father Jeffry Mickler took me to see a real eagle's nest in North Lima, Ohio. The nest is atop a very tall, barren tree. I was able to see the white topped eagle peeking down at me. Father has a super strong lenses that shows much more than my eyes could see. Check out his Facebook page: Jeffry Mickler. The lines "Fly like an eagle; and I will raise you up on eagles' wings" kept replaying in my head.
Thank you and I hope to write more next week. Starting tomorrow we will have our once-a-year visitation from our Provincial Superior. So my blog time will be minimal at most. Have a blessed rest of April.
The photos are Father Mickler's. That's me staring up at the nest.