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
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


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!
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!