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

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
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:
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


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.