Monday, December 22, 2014
It struck me this morning that there are only three days left until Christmas. Most of my Christmas cards are already mailed. I actually found some moments to breathe and reflect. What can I do to celebrate the best Christmas ever, to make sure that I welcome Jesus better than I ever have before? My mission as a Daughter of St. Paul is to evangelize through the media. Through our book fairs at parish weekend Masses, through our website and digital newsletters, in our book center, and through our phone calls the message of Jesus is touching many hearts this Christmas. At our morning Mass, and during our daily Eucharistic adoration, we Sisters pray for everyone who is touched by a Pauline edition be it a broadcast on TV or radio, a book, lyrics of our music, a DVD, or even a religious gift item such as a Miraculous Medal or a crucifix, or a handmade rosary. In our book centers and at book displays, people confide their needs to us so that we may pray for them. At our Dedham, Massachusetts Pauline Book and Media Center on Saturday a grieving father confided his sorrow to me. His son Brendan died of a heroin overdose. I was touched because I knew of another Brendan, who died last year from heroin addiction. Both of these young men left parents and brothers and sisters who loved them dearly. I pray for the victims of heroin, as well as for the families who in their lose experience deep suffering and grief. When I meet people face-to-face in our Centers, or when I speak with them on the phone, then suffering has a face, or at least a voice. It is hard not to be moved to compassion when I learn of their sorrows. May Jesus who came to take all the sins of the world on his shoulders, console these families. May Christmas bring them hope in the mercy of our God who came to save each one of us. May they experience the peace that comes from being rooted in faith, hope and love of God and of their neighbor. I pray for a friend named Mary Ann in her early 60's, who died yesterday morning from a brain tumor. She had been a career Navy officer. In her retirement she was very active in her parish in Alexandria, Virginia. She attended Mass every day that she was able to drive. When she was in remission, she often visited our Pauline Book & Media Center in Old Town Alexandria. Her passing saddens us who knew her and enjoyed her cheerful company. Yet, I am happy that her Advent, her time of waiting for the Lord's arrival, is now over. The Lord came to bring her into the eternal banquet, the eternal celebration of everlasting life. As St. Paul said in Romans 8:28, "For those who love God, all things work together for the good." Only God can bring good out of evil. May those suffering from armed conflicts be delivered soon from danger. May those who perpetrate violence, hatred and war turn from evil and do good. In case you have young people in your family (kinder to about 3rd grade), you may want to get a copy of our newest DVD, "From Saint to Santa", the Story of St. Nicholas. It is a delightful presentation with kids from the Boston area. For more information visit our website: www.pauline.org. Good reading, especially the Bible, the writings of the Saints, and the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis help us to "put on the mind of Christ." May you find time in this Christmas season to withdraw from the noise and let God speak to your mind and heart through a good book or an inspirational movie. Have a blessed Christmas!
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Today we who use the Advent Wreath light all four candles to usher in the Fourth Week of Advent. Today is the first day of Winter in our northern hemisphere. As I write the sky is gray as little fits of snow flurry about. The fourth light of the Advent Wreath adds needed light to our world. Yet, we Christians have hope as we await the coming of the True Light of the World, Jesus Christ, born in a Bethlehem stable. One of our Mass hymns today was "People Look East" the time is near of the coming of the Lord. I remember the sense of heightened expectation I felt as a little girl waiting for Baby Jesus as well as Santa to come. Now as a religious Sister, I feel an even greater sense of expectation, waiting for Christmas to arrive. I look forward to the Mass on Christmas Eve night with its telling in word and song of the Christmas story. Then I love Christmas morning Mass which is such a joyful way to begin the day of celebration and gift giving and receiving. Jesus is "the" Gift par excellence sent by the Father to save us, to teach us, to give us a Way to follow, and to enliven us with his grace. This past week I was struck by the huge difference that believing in the coming of Jesus as God makes for us Christians. I wrote about that in our on-line newsletter/blog published on Saturday. I invite you to read the article http://www.pauline.org/blog. Winter offers a respite from noise which helps us reflect more deeply on Christmas. Snow usually falls without making a sound. It is pervasive and covers all in its path, sometimes just leaving a dusting, at other times smothering and reshaping all in its path. All the while the frozen flakes land every where in perfect silence. So the coming of the Savior was silent. Christ, our God, came as a Baby--silent and cueing little sounds that any baby would utter. The Angels provided the choir voices. "Gloria", Glory to God in the highest. This week can mean a crush of stress, rushing to get things done: presents wrapped and delivered, cooking, calling, and so much else. Take some time, if possible before the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, to be silent before him, to ask him to calm you, to center you, to recall the Love who lies in a manger.
Monday, December 08, 2014
Today the Church around the world celebrates Mary's Immaculate Conception. For us Americans this day holds more meaning, since Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the special Patroness of these United States of America. The Church teaches that Mary was conceived by her parents, Joachim and Anna, without original sin. So the first moment of her existence, Mary's souls was spotless, free of any sin. In view of her coming role as Mother of the Savior, God preserved Mary from the effects of original sin. The gospel which the Church offers us today is from St. Luke's narrative. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the good news that she was to be the Mother of the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel--and of all humanity.
In her [Mary], God has impressed his own image, the image of the One who follows the lost sheep even up into the mountains and among the briars and thornbushes of the sins of this world, letting himself be spiked by the crown of thorns of these sins in order to take the sheep on his shoulders and bring it home. ...[Mary's] heart was enlarged by being and feeling together with God. In her, God's goodness came very close to us. Mary thus stands before us as a sign of comfort, encouragement and hope. She turns to us, saying: "Have the courage to dare with God! Try it! Do not be afraid of him! Have the courage to risk with faith! Have the courage to risk with goodness! Have the courage to risk with a pure heart! Commit yourselves to God, then you will see it is precisely by doing so that your life will become broad and light, not boring but filled with infinite surprises, for God's infinite goodness is never depleted!
Sunday, December 07, 2014
The first week of Advent flew by. I was able to go to Staten Island, New York on Thursday with 17 other Sisters. We traveled on a small bus to be present at our 20th Annual Daughters of St. Paul Benefit Dinner and Concert. Our singing choir Sisters offered 18 numbers selected from very upbeat Christmas-centered songs. Over 900 people were present. Our guest of honor was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He received a great welcome. It took him a long time to reach his place at table because of the folks who went to greet him and stopped to pose for selfies with the Cardinal. We Sisters are very grateful to Richard and Lois Nicotra and their hard working staff who host and manage this dinner/concert every year. The venue is their Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island. In his opening remarks, Cardinal Dolan said that the New Testament story of the First Christmas gives inn keepers a bad name. They had said "no room" to Joseph and Mary. The Nicotras have restored the image of a good inn keeper! This morning I attended the 7:30 Mass at a nearby parish. For the following Mass, I stayed at the side entrance which is a large circular, glass encased room. There we had ample space for many tables and display units for our books and media which we were offering the parishioners this morning. During the second Mass, while Sister Susan attended the liturgy, I stayed in the entrance area. A young mother with a 2 year old and a 4 year old boy was trying to pay attention to the Mass, even though her boys were too young to keep still. Much later on a middle aged couple came in with a perky two-year old girl, a child in a cradle-car seat, and two boys all under two years old. The couple were white and three of the children were African American. Only the child in the car seat was still. All three wanted to see everything, inspect all our books and DVD's, run up and down the handicapped ramp, and socialize with the first two boys. When I told the little girl that behind the tables was "Only for big girls," she responded firmly: "I am a big girl!" She was a miniature "big girl" in her bright pink winter outfit, white flower headband, and lamb's wool vest. In Advent we await the coming of Christ at the end of time, and we commemorate Jesus' birthday in Bethlehem of Judea. Jesus was a real baby, who, if he were born in our day, would ride in a car seat rather than a donkey, wear jeans and not a robe, and still keep landing on his bottom as he made baby steps to catch up with the older boys. I was edified when I asked "Mom" and "Dad" if the children were foster children or adopted. The children were both: two, a boy and girl, were already their adopted son and daughter; the other two were still in their care as foster children. I reflected that these parents were nearing retirement age. They could look forward to a restful sunset of life. Yet they had taken on the care of four children who otherwise might be on the street or in a shelter, if not in worse conditions. I thought of Matthew Chapter 25 where Jesus describes the final judgement: "I was hungery and you gave me to eat; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me...". What a Christmas gift those two are with their lives. May we learn from them, and pray that those who can do the same will emulate their example and give more children a loving, warm home. Have a blessed second week of Advent.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Happy Advent! This morning I was with two other Daughters of St. Paul at a parish north of Boston. We had a beautiful display of books, DVD's and CD's. People were eager to bring home books, especially a new title by Sister Mary Lea Hill, who uses the subtitle "Reflections of a Crabby Mystic" on her new book, "Prayer and You." There were many who purchased a brand new DVD for children called "From Saint to Santa", the true story of St. Nicholas. Contrary to the naysayers, "Yes, there is a real Santa. He is Saint Nicholas." The person behind the Saint and Santa outfits is Father Joseph Marquis a Byzantine priest who is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Livonia, Michigan. With a cheerful, husky voice, Father Joseph transposes himself into a believable Santa. See more about "From Saint to Santa" on our website: www.pauline.org. This morning I felt invited to spend Advent, the liturgical season which starts today in the company of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Her's was the first Advent--a nine month waiting--as she prepared for the arrival of Jesus' birthday. For Mary, there must have been long stretches of silence as she readied meals, fashioned baby clothes, walked the road to Ain Karim to help her older cousin Elizabeth. Then she and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem in her final stages of pregnancy. Mary was a walking tabernacle hosting Emmanuel, God with us. As Luke's gospel tells us "she pondered in her heart" the events that she experienced. Advent is an invitation for me and you to ponder in our hearts the wonder of the Incarnation: the truth that God took on a real body, "born of a woman", Mary. Today someone told me, "He (Jesus) was just pretending, borrowing a human appearance, right? When he became man?" I gently responded that Jesus was not pretending, not putting on a costume as an actor would, and then discarding it. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. He had a DNA, he became a real member of our race; "Like us in all but sin." It is a wonder, something to ponder. Yes, beyond our deepest imagining. Yet, so very true. Once a spiritual director told me to meditate on the Baptism of Jesus. When he waited in line to be baptized by John the Baptist, no one, not even John at first, recognized him as being set apart from the other men in line. A traditional prayer in the Church recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, we call it The Angelus, from the Latin opening words: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae. At least once a day, why not pray the Angelus as an Advent practice: The Angel spoke God's message to Mary. And, she conceived of the Holy Spirit. I am the lowly servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word. And the Word became flesh. And lived among us. Let us pray: Lord, pour your grace into our hearts. We to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Today we pledge allegiance to Christ our King. The Church celebrates Christ's sovereignty over us. His rule is not one of subjugation, but one of love. As one priest pointed out today, before any political election propaganda or advertising is all over the media. The candidates make a lot of promises, yet how many deliver? Christ does not do propaganda. In fact, his invitation: "Take up your cross and follow me," may be puzzling to any who have never heard the gospels. "Narrow is the way" that leads to salvation. It's hard to put a spin on a message like this. Despite the hard truths of his message, Jesus Christ does not say, "Hey, come back here. If you want a styrofoam cross, let me help you pick one out." Rather than promise a financial reward in this present world, Christ promises us the hereafter. St. Paul was granted a glimpse of the "other side". He wrote, "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him."
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Today Americans celebrate Veterans Day. Many years ago, we called it Armistice Day, in remembrance of the day when World War I ended. My Dad was several years older than my Mother. He was a veteran of the War to End All Wars. My uncles on my mother's side of the family all were in the World War II military service. Only the oldest was given duties states side. Uncle Fran served in the under belly of an aircraft carrier--making sure the boilers kept that ship moving. Uncle Bill served in the Aleutian Island, and then was sent to the steamy jungles of the Philippines. For years Uncle Bill spoke hardly a word about his experiences. Something triggered his memories. He began telling stories of his experiences. When the Navy ship carrying his army division landed in the Aleutian Island, none of the soldiers had winter clothing. They had boarded their transport ship in the balmy weather of San Diego. As each soldier headed onto the cold island climate, a sailor stepped up to donate something warm for his army counterpart. "I'll never forget Jim, whoever he is," Uncle Bill remarked. "He gave me a warm leather jacket with Jim on the front." From the frozen North Pacific to the heat of the Philippines, Uncle Bill and his comrades were faithful to their duties. Cold, faulty equipment, sweat, and jungle rot were some of the memories our uncle talked about. He never complained. He only related the facts. He was a faithful veteran. A few years ago, two of my siblings were driving near his house on an election day. They noticed a tall man on a gravel pathway. He was using a walker close to a very busy road. They stopped and gave him a ride. It was Uncle Bill on his way to vote. His valor was part of the reason we all have the right to vote. Today we say "thank you" to all our veterans, both living and deceased. It is appropriate that this day set aside for veterans falls on the feast of Saint Martin of Tours. Born in what is now Hungary, and brought up in Italy, Martin was a soldier of the Roman Empire. Art depicts him astride a white horse. He wields a sword which he used to slice his red cloak in two. A beggar is lying on the ground where he awaits Martin's gift of a generous half of his cloak. Later in a vision, Martin learned that the beggar was really Jesus. The Spanish-speaking world calls him "Martin Caballero" (Martin the horseman.) After he left the military, Martin became a monk, then a missionary. He is credited for evangelizing folks in the countryside especially in France. Earlier evangelization was aimed at the masses in the cities. After the Edict of Milan, people were given the OK to be openly Catholic. Martin was the first -- or at least--the foremost in promoting the Faith throughout Gaul, in its villages as well as its large cities. He was elected Bishop of Tours, France. Much was written about him. Although he died around 352 AD, his life story is still with us to teach us how to follow Christ. May the Saint on Horseback help us to honor our veterans, and to be mindful of our Faith and its lasting impact at every stage of our life.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Our Halloween in Boston looks like it will be a beautiful day. Boston's people were saddened to learn of the death of their former Mayor Menino yesterday. Mr. Menino endeared himself to the public because of his attitude of acceptance of all peoples, his fidelity to his faith, and his hard work for the people of Boston. When the Boston Marathon bombing ripped at the heart of his city last year, he checked himself out of a hospital to be of assistance to his people. The Mayor left office only a few months ago. We pray for the repose of his soul. We rejoice in the many good things he did for the city as a whole, and for the many individual lives he enriched by his efforts. Tom Menino was a humble man, because humility is truth. One of the Sisters of our community said this morning, "I met him at the funeral of the mother of a priest. He was in the line." He did not seek first place because he was the Mayor. May his successors learn from we all learn from his example. Tomorrow is the Feast of All Saints. Happy Feast Day to all my readers. God bless you!
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Today was one of those serendepedus days (I apologize for my not knowing the spelling of this made-up word) when a few things actually went very well. I had a chance to get something done well and fast. Our chaplain came for the sacrament of reconciliation as I was passing by. There were moments of grace. There is a prayer which the Jesuit or Ignatian spirituality recommends. It is called The Awareness Prayer. Since for me it is rather late at night (we have morning prayers very early at 6:40, I will just touch briefly on this prayer. It takes a bit of time, but it helps us become aware of what God is about in our lives. It also lets us slow down long enough to stop for a few minutes; to look at what God has done to me, for me through events and other people and other ways; to listen to my heart, that is my feelings, my desires. Am I happy? Sad? Stressed? Why, why not? How did I respond to the circumstances I was in? Or did I "react" instead? How were my words, my actions? I become aware of my own actions, words, attitudes.... For what is good, I give thanks. For what is wanting in me, for my failures, I ask pardon, I pray an act of contrition. For the grace to do and to be better tomorrow, I pray an act of trust and confidence in our Master's unfailing help. I remain in peace with God. Some of you may already be praying and practicing this kind of prayer exercise. It is very helpful to do this every day. Until tomorrow I say God bless you. For those of us who celebrate the secular feast of Halloween (All Hallows Eve) have a good and safe celebration.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Today in our Boston chapel and in Pauline Family chapels throughout the world, we celebrated Mass in honor of Jesus Christ, the Divine Master, Way, Truth and life. The Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione, had petitioned the Vatican for permission to celebrate this feast on a Sunday. Permission was granted in 1958, a few years prior to the Vatican Council II. to find out more. There are lots of videos to watch to focus in on our mission. Thanks ahead of time for your generosity. I assure you that I pray for all of my reader, and especially for those who make a sacrifice to help us.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Blessed James Alberione founded the world-wide Pauline Family and gave it three underlying devotions: Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life; Mary, Queen of the Apsotles; and St. Paul, the Apsotle. We celebrate the feast of Jesus Master on the last Sunday of october. In preparation, we Sisters usually sing a Novena found in the prayers of the Pauline Family. Our Digital Team formed by Sisters of various countries offers you a chance to pray this Novena with us. Here are the prayers for today: I hope that you can join us. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Yesterday I wrote about Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, a holy man who died in 1948. World news media recently focused on the tragic deaths of four men who were killed by ISIS members. The first was the American photo journalist James Foley. He had been imprisoned by terrorists at another time and released. We know that he prayed the rosary on his knuckles during that time. He was known for his generosity to the poor and his goodness to all his co-workers. Our retired Pope Benedict once wrote that “Only God can bring good out of evil.” This morning I read an article which appeared earlier this week in the Washington Post’s on-line opinion section. The author highlights four victims of ISIS brutality and how their public executions shed light on their lives of self sacrifice and goodness. Had they died in bed back in their homelands, others would have mourned surely. Their public demise brought out their lives of goodness for the whole world to see.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Yesterday was the 19th Sunday in Ordinary time. Had it been a weekday, we Paulines would have celebrated the Mass for the Feast of blessed timothy Giaccardo. [The "Gia" is pronounced as the "ja" is pronounced in the word jaw.]Father Timothy was the first young man to be ordained as a member of the society of St. Paul in Alba Italy. In the Acts of the Apostles we read of how St. Paul took the young disciple timothy as his companion on the mission of evangelizing the world of St. Paul's time. Father Giaccardo was baptized Joseph in the parish of St. Bernard in the town of Narzole in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy. When the young Giaccardo made his first vows as a Pauline priest, he chose to change his name to Timothy. As Timothy was a faithful "son of St, Paul in the Faith," so the young Father Joseph Giaccardo desired to learn from Father Alberione and allow his "father in the spiritual lie" lead him to become a Pauline saint. A totally opposite character type fromn the founder, Giaccardo became a faithful confidant and vicar to blessed James Alberione. Giaccardo loved beautiful liturgical celebrations, music and tasteful decor. Alberione was satified with simple vestments, brief songs, and so on. In one sense, the founder was a minimalist. His vicar instead liked to maximize certain aspects of liturgy and celebrations. Giaccardo accepted the reality of their differences. He learned to open himself to Alberione's guidance especially in his spiritual life.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Apologies to all my readers for taking so long to re-blog! I must confess that Facebook has robbed a lot of my on-line time. The other day I wrote something to post for today. Here it is, and I hope it is clear to all my fellow relative or close aquaintenses. Last weekend I was on a retreat. This time I was the one giving the conferences. The setting was lovely—nestled in North Carolina's mountains with a lake shimmering with autumn colors, a lovely chapel and comfortable quarters, good meals, and good people.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
When he was ten years old, Maximilian Kolbe had a dream or a vision. He saw the Blessed Virgin Mary holding out two crows for him to choose. One was white for purity, the other red was for martyrdom. Instead of choosing only one, the boy chose both. He went on to enter a Franciscan monastery in Poland. Then he started the Knights of the Immaculata: men devoted to Mary Immaculate. He began a magazine which reached thousands of people with the message of the gospel. He went from Poland to Japan where he began the same work--using the press to spread devotion to Mary Immaculate. Due to health issues he returned to Poland, just as the Nazi regime was taking over his home country. He seen became a target of the Nazi occupiers. They arrested him. Eventually he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. There he fulfilled his dream of becoming a martyr. He became a martyr of charity when a prisoner escaped and ten men were rounded up to be sent to a starvation bunker as punishment. Kolbe stepped out of the line of prisoners and offered to replace a man who had cried out that he was married with children. Kolbe's offer was accepted. After 14 days in the bunker where he had prayed and encouraged his fellow prisoners, Kolbe was injected with poison. May he intercede for all of us as the world faces new and brutal forces intent on wiping out Christianity and other religions.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Today the Church celebrates the feast of two saints who suffered martyrdom almost at the same time. One was the lawful Pope at the time. His name was Pontian. The other was upset that the Pope--in his opinion--was too lenient in accepting once lapsed Christians back into the fold. The dissenter Hippolytus declared himself Pope and a brief schism occurred. Not long after the Roman Emperor decided to arrest, imprison and eliminate Christians, especially their leaders. The two Popes ended up in the same prison. A reconciliation took place. Soon both died for the one faith they professed in Christ. We can learn from early Christian history that the saints were authentically human. They had their disagreements. They did not always see eye to eye. Yet they all loved Jesus and despite their opinions, loved one another. Their Christian love involved reconciliation, saying "I am sorry," embracing the other, loving from the heart. None of this behavior is easy all the time. With the grace of God, we can behave the same way. We just need to ask. A consoling line in the the gospel of Matthew read today is this: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst."
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
As I write the news media report destruction in the Holy Land, kidnapping in Africa, Christians fleeing Iraq and Syria. Innocent children are being killed, maimed, orphaned, and robbed of their childhood joys. On Facebook images of mass executions and other horrible scenes show up. It is easy to skip by them, keep scrolling down until a peaceful scene appears. News of violence and war makes me appreciate some of the lighter jokes and pictures of cats and dogs. On Facebook a few days ago there were pictures of a Christian young man, perhaps in his early 30's who was tried and condemned for a "crime" for which he was innocent. The scene was either in Iran or Iraq. The faces of those who were leading him to a makeshift gallows were grim and determined. The Christian was taller than his accusers. He stood out, not so much for his height, but for the glow on his face. He radiated a peaceful, joyous look of expectation. In a few minutes the man would breathe his last. Yet, there was no indication that he was fearful or angry. Instead he seemed fearless and happy. That same night I opened a book on the Fathers of the Church. I had turned to the page describing the martyrdom of St. Polycarp. He was already an old man of 86 years. Dragged before a Roman official, he was ordered to worship the Emperor who had proclaimed himself a god. Someone suggested that he pretend to worship the god. All he had to do was sprinkle a few grains of incense on the hot coals before Emperor's image. He did not have to really intend to worship, just pretend. Polycarp knew that behaving like that would be caving in to paganism. How could he, a bishop, and an elderly man give such bad example? The proconsul tried to persuade Polycarp: "Take the oath (to deny Christianity and declare Caesar a god) and I will release you. Revile Christ!" Polycarp would not deny Christ. Exasperated, the Roman proconsul said, "I have wild beasts and I will cast you to them if you do not repent!" Polycarp stood his ground: "Call them! It is impossible for us to repent from better to worse; it is good, though, to change from what is wicked to what is right." "Let him be devoured by the lions," came the sentence. However the animal keeper denied the judge's order, since his animals had done enough work for the day. A pyre was set up around the steadfast old man. The Christians who witnessed the event noted that Polycarp showed no fear. The chronicle of his last day says, "He was filled with courage and joy, and his face was full of grace...". A tradition says that the flames formed a circle around the martyr and did not scorch him. An executioner was ordered to dispatch the saintly old man. Instead of wiping out Christianity, Polycarp's death remains a tribute to the courage of the first Christians and an example for today's persecuted Christians. (Direct quotes are from the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp printed in Volume I of "The Apostolic Fathers, Bart D. Ehrman, Harvard University Press, reprint 2005). An ancient saying assures us that "God gives the grace of the moment." When we need the grace to be brave and to remain faithful in the face of persecution, grace and strength come. Let us lift up in prayer all those Christian men, women and young people who at this moment are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
This Sunday's gospel has a lot packed into a small space. One of our priest friends is the only son in a family of three. His two sisters are married and caring for their children and husbands. When their Dad passed away, it fell to the priest son to clear out the family house and sell what remained. It took Father a long time, hours of emptying closets, drawers and the basement. His father had a way of stashing cash around the house. Father J. called his sisters who needed house repairs and disposed of the "hidden treasures" in a short time. One of our young Sisters who will soon pronounce her first vows wrote a practical piece on her blog about storing up earthly treasures. It is OK to put money into a savings account, to plan your funeral so family does not have to worry. Yet, I have seen with my own eyes what happens when some people inherit unearned money. In one family, an aunt died leaving several thousand dollars to two nieces and a nephew. The nephew squandered all of the inheritance on drugs; the other two quit their jobs, also lost their money. One of them divorced her husband. Rather than money granting happiness to those three, the ill use of it led to a lot of misery. You are probably saying, "I am so in need, I would never squander thousands of dollars." Good for you! However what I wrote really happened. Some of the happiest people are those who have nothing, or have very little. I am thinking especially of vowed religious men and women. I remember walking to early morning Mass on a frigid morning in downtown Philadelphia. A woman in front of us pressed a dollar bill into the hand of a woman huddled near a steam vent on the sidewalk. As we passed the lady wrapped in a blanket, she looked up and said "I didn't ask her for money." From her expression we could tell that she had no desire for money. She may have been mentally ill, but she showed no desire for even a little wealth. The Sister whose blog I quoted gave up a well paying job. Her boss was ready to offer her a higher position in her job, in addition to the handsome pay she was already getting when she told him she was leaving all to enter the convent. As we like to say about our salary: "The pay is out of this world!" A young priest I know had a great job, and a Porsche to prove it. He found another treasure, the call to the priesthood. He left it all to serve the People of God as a parish priest. Father is happy with his new life fueled by prayer and effort. Christ is the center of his life, the treasure that he literally sold all to find. May you find Christ as the treasure of your life. Then despite ups and downs in your life, your heart will be secure. Don't take my word for it. Take the Gospel's word:Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I have always been impressed by the passage in the ninth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel (vs. 36) The words that most remain in my heart are:
"When he saw the crowds he had compazssion on them for they were harrassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd."When I see media accounts of people whose homes were bombed out or deliberately burned down, I feel compassion for the people runing for their lives. Who is going to provide shelter for families forced into refugee situations? Maybe a few weeks before the neo-refugees enjoyed the comforts of an apartment, a television, landline telephones, hot showers, modern stoves. These folks could be ourselves. In the USA this is hurricane and tornado season, just as much as it is summer fun time. Tonight I called one of my sisters who lives in Ohio. A tornado touched down two miles from her house. Our Fathers and Brothers of St. Paul who are holding a retreat for members of our Pauline Family also lost windows, electrical power, and perhaps damage to their water pumps. Many trees were knocked over. Thankfully it seems no one was hurt by the powerful winds.
"Take up your cross and follow me."Strong language. Yet he also invites us to
"Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."Let us pray for a just peace wherever it is needed in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Africa, in the Ukraine and elsewhere. Prayer has no borders. Prayer makes us "ambassadors for Christ" as St. Paul says. Our prayer unites us to God at leaat for a short time, and it gives us compassionate hearts, hearts like Jesus' who had compassion on the crowds.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Here in the eastern United States we are at the end of a three day holiday weekend. We celebrated the 283rd birthday of our nation on Friday, July 4th. In Boston the annual Boston Pops concert and fireworks were held on July 3rd evening because of the approach of Storm or Hurricane Arthur. From the top of our house in Boston we had a magnificent view of the Boston Pops fireworks off of the Esplanade. Barges anchored in the Charles River are used to hold the fireworks. I watched much of the concert on TV and then went up to our rooftop patio to view the huge lights of the fireworks. I think it is the best Fourth of July view I had ever enjoyed. Even though a storm was on its way. the skies were clear. We could see lights from shore points too. I enjoyed the festive mood at the concert. People of every race and color were singing together, waving the Stars and Stripes and having a grand time enjoying our common national birthday. So many of our national songs refer to God and his blessings: America the Beautiful...May God shed his grace on thee; God bless America and on and on. There is much to lament in our society today. However we are truly blessed in countless ways. We can practice our faith openly without fear of being locked up or sentenced to hard labor, or summarily executed. We can drive coast to coast on interstate highways, some even without tolls. Most of us enjoy running water, hot and cold water taps, heated and air conditioned homes and work spaces, fire stations and police which keep us safe. Communications via TV, radio, Internet, phone and other digital devices abound. Refugees living in tents with no potable running water, sanitation or ventilation long for a sliver of the comforts that even most of our poor enjoy. As we are plunged into the heat, fun, sun and toil of the height of summer may we pause and pray in thanksgiving for what we do have and take for granted in the USA and the free world. May we pray for the mounting number of refugees, especially in the Middle East. Many of these refugees are Catholics, Orthodox Christians and people of other Christian faiths whose lives are threatened by violence and a persecution. We pray too for immigrants seeking better lives. May we respect their humanity, because every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. Lately I "unfriended" a few names from my Face Book page. I did so because I do not want my page to be associated with people who use hate language; who refer to immigrants as being less than human; or as thugs and free loaders. Some whose description on their home pages boast of church membership use very "unchurchy" language whenever they speak of immigrants or of politicians with whom they disagree. Jesus told us in the seventh chapter of Matthew's gospel to "love our enemies, do good to those who persecute you..and you will be children of your father in heaven...". I know I am the granddaughter of immigrants on my father's side. On my mother's side, I remember great grandfather who was from Ireland. In my hometown there is an area, now sparsely populated that was once called "Monkey's Nest." When I was growing up there were Hispanic and Black residents mainly. But the name was bestowed in the early 1900's when Italian immigrants lived there. N o matter our ethnic heritage, we Americans are one nation under God. May we live up to the song titles "They Will Know That We Are Christians By Our Love, By Our Love...".
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
This morning we had a visiting priest offer Mass in our Boston chapel. Father recounted an incident which was a turning point in his priestly life. It involved a 94 year old widow whom he visited each week. Since the lady usually detained the priest for a long time, Father never looked forward to his weekly sick call to her tiny apartment. One day when she asked him just to look up, he paused and then decided "Why not?" It was a moment that changed his attitude forever. He realized that he was loved by God and the blessed Virgin Mary, and that the lady did appreciate his visits. In her long life she had suffered the loss of her husband and two sons. All three were policemen who had died in the line of duty. That tiny moment of giving in the the woman's request changed the priest's heart. There are times in life when one has to make a decision--even in what seems to be small things--which steers us toward God and our neighbor or points us toward ourselves and our comfort. In today's gospel (John 16:5--11) Jesus said he was going away, but he would send the Holy Spirit the Advocate. The closing days of May and the beginning of June bring many events that mark life passages: ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate, graduations and weddings. May the Holy Spirit guide all the newly ordained, the graduates, and the newly wedded to see that Jesus is at the heart of everything that happens in our lives! Have a beautiful and blessed May Day!
Monday, May 26, 2014
I am back to the Blog World. I was away on an 8 day retreat followed by days of updating. We in our congregation call those days Encounters. Since Sisters from our various convents throughout the USA and English speaking Canada join together, we really do encounter one another.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
As you know I was assigned to our Philadelphia convent for a few years. During my last year there, I had the privilege of being present when Archbishop Charles Chaput was installed as Archbishop of Philadelphia. We can call Philadelphia the Cradle of American Liberty, since it was there that the Declaration of Independence was signed in July of 1776. On this Good shepherd Sunday, when we celebrate vocations and we pray for the shepherds of our Church, that we read from one of the nation's Shepherds who clearly states the role of religion in our American Society. The article is in the May issue of the magazine "First Things." Archbishop Chaput quotes Benjamin Franklin, ardent patriot as well as a wise man. Enjoy this article and remember to use it when you can. Otherwise we Catholic Christians may feel intimidated by outspoken critics of religion in our Western society. As St. Paul says, we need to evangelize whether it is "in season or out of season"--whether it pleases some or not.
In 1787, at the age of eighty-one, Benjamin Franklin addressed the Constitutional Convention: “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and byword down to future ages.”
Happy Mothers' Day to all the women who read this post: mothers of families, spiritual mothers, God Mothers and those women who spend their lives giving new life to others as consecrated women in religious life or in secular institutes.In our chapel this morning we welcomed a good number of young families to our 9:30 Mass. Father Michael Harrington preached a homily geared to the children who sat on the floor in front of the altar. He touched the adults who listened by explaining how we can gift our mothers who are still with us. He had the kids list what would be a good thing to give Mom on her day: a nice card, and he held up some nice cards from the local CVS store; a box of candy; chores well done; a hug. Father then explained the significance of the statue of the Queen of Apostles which is now next to the Paschal Candle in our sanctuary. Since it is still the Easter season, a replica of an Empty Tomb is on the other side of the sanctuary for now. Father Mike pointed out that Mary is holding Baby Jesus tightly. Yet, she is holding him out to us, offering him to us, so we may take him into our arms too. That is her purpose: to give Jesus to each and every one of us. Before Mass was over we held a May crowing. Young people crowned Jesus and Mary with floral crowns. Each woman in the church, including us Sisters was given a flower as we entered. At the May Crowning we each brought a rose or a carnation and placed it in a vase in front of Mary. Two of the Sisters played Schubert's Ave Maria with flute and piano as a post-Communion meditation. It was a nice way to precede the Marian event.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Yesterday's Liturgy gave us St. Luke's story of the Disciples who were going home to Emmaus. Luke, the artist, paints a verbal picture of two downhearted people. Some writers say they may be a married couple. Or, they may be two male followers of Jesus who had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus, in disguise as a fellow traveler, joins them in their conversation. They were evidently very downcast and sorrowful. Jesus asked them why they were so disheartened. After he found out that the two were deeply saddened and discouraged by the sufferings and death of Jesus. Their hopes pinned on Jesus now seemed their hopes on him to be the promised Messiah of Israel. How could he be anything worthwhile after being executed as a criminal on Golgatha? The Traveler begins to explain. "Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures." When they had reached their destination--or at least were getting ready for a meal and rest--they invited Jesus to stay with them, still not realizing who he was. When they were seated for dinner
"he took bread, said he blessings, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight."The two from Emmaus immedediately changed their plans and headed back to Jerusalem to tell the Apostles. There they found the eleven Apostles and other disciples who too had seen the Lord Jesus. The two from Emmaus reflected on their conversation with Jesus. Their "hearts were burning" they recalled as they conversed with Jesus. Do we let our hearts catch fire as we converse with Jesus? As we listen and pray with his word, the Bible? We can get used to hearing and reading the gospel stories. So what new, good thing can he tell me today? If we leave Jesus space to get into our minds and hearts, he can transform us.
And out of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection comes the mission to proclaim reconciliation with God through Jesus to the whole word. “You are witnesses to this.” It is their mission to carry on the establishment of the Kingdom throughout the world. Or, as it is put here, “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sin, would be preached in the [Messiah's] name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem”. The Kingdom is being realised when people go through that process of radical conversion and change of life (‘repentance’ metanoia) which brings about a deep reconciliation of each one with God, with all those around them and with themselves, when all divisions fall away, when fear and hostility are replaced with a caring love for each other. If we have not yet done so, let us become part of that great enterprise today.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Six of us Daughters of St. Paul had an Easter outing today. A friend provided us tickets and even free parking for the Museum of Science in Boston. We were thereto see an IMAX movie called Jerusalem. It gave a cursory history of the ancient city and breathtaking views of the site of the Temple, the Dome of the Rock, and the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The weather was delightful, warm and moderately sunny. The movie served to remind each of us of the events we celebrated last week. From the film I learned that Jerusalem was inhabited by the ancient Jebusites. They worshiped the setting sun which they called "Shalem." Hence comes the name Jerusalem. In the film three young women served as guides: one Christian, one Muslim and one Jewish. I was impressed by the Christian girl's remark that the three religious groups live in tight proximity to one another; yet, none of the three religious groups seemed to know much at all about the why and wherefore of the other. May this movie be a way that leads to some understanding and peace to all those living in the Holy Land, especially to those living in the Holy City of Jerusalem. May it bring greater understanding to those of us who do not live in Jerusalem but also live in a multi-cultural setting where we too live with and respect people of all the major religions of the Holy City. Now when I recite the Psalm which says "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" it means much more to me.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Today 36,000 people are running from Hopkinton, Massachusetts for 26 arduous miles to downtown Boston. Thankfully, the sun is shining and it is still relatively cool. Volunteers along the way numbering 10,000 offer drink and momentary solace to the runners. Thousands more come to watch and millions view this around the world on TV and Internet. This year's event holds special meaning. It is a symbol of the solidarity shown to Boston by millions of people from all parts of the globe. After the tragic 2013 bombing which cost four lives and maimed scores of athletes and innocent bystanders, "Boston Strong" has become a rallying cry for peace and a sign of encouragement for anyone here facing difficulty. In the liturgy of the Catholic Church, today is a little Easter. It is an echo of the Alleluia's sung from Holy Saturday through Easter Sunday. As one writer says, the whole of Eastertide which last for about 50 days is characterized by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Easter is not just a day reserved for "church going" or as some old timers would say, "Sunday go-to-meeting" (church). It is a season and it calls us to go out of ourselves and proclaim the Good News that "Jesus is risen" with our lives. I want to share with you a commentary by the Irish Jesuits on their daily website Sacred Space:
In today’s reading, the women are to instruct the disciples that they will see him in Galilee, their own place and that is where we will expect to see him, too. Galilee is their home ground, the place where they were born, grew up and work. That is where the Risen Jesus is to be found. He is saying the same thing to us too. We do not have to go to Jerusalem or Rome or Lourdes or Fatima to find him. If we cannot find him in the place where we live and work, we won’t find him in those other places either.(Sacred Space, Monday of Week 1 of Easter 2014) Have a blessed and grace-filled day!
Sunday, April 20, 2014
I wanted to share with my readers a practical and lovely Easter
reflection from our Boston College Alumni spirituality source:
Boston College Alumni | Reflections for Easter Sunday
reflection from our Boston College Alumni spirituality source:
Boston College Alumni | Reflections for Easter Sunday
In many Christian cultures the greeting on Easter is: "Christ is risen, Alleluia!" The response is "He is truly risen, alleluia! Christ risen from the dead and living now and forever is what gives us peace and hope. By his dying and rising, Jesus points us to a better life, a live lived like his, spent in love and for love of God and our neighbor. The neighbor is first of all the person who lives next to us in our house. that neighbor may get on our nerves, disappoint us, even contradict us. But, Jesus as Mother Teresa used to say "is hidden in disguise" of that poor one. Poor--maybe spiritually or in manners, or attitude. Nonetheless there is Someone hidden in this person whom I am bound to love. Easter gives us reason to hope, to be energized in doing good. God does not lead us where his grace does not keep us! Have a very blessed Easter Sunday and Easter Season!"
Friday, April 18, 2014
In our English language we call the Friday before Easter "Good" Friday. In thelatin languages it is "Holy Friday", Venerdi Santo in Italian, viernes santo in Spanish. It is a "holy" day, a day of quiet reflection for those who can take the day off from school or work. In our Boston community we have 12 young women with us who are participating in a Holy Week Retreat experience. This day is one of silence for them and for us Sisters it is like a retreat day-. Our publishing house, Pauline Books & Media, is closed, our employees are off until Tuesday. It is indeed a special time. We hope that those of you who can will be able to attend a Good Friday prayer service, and communion rite at your local parish or a church near your workplace. Today there is no Mass celebrated. We will have a Communion service, and the veneration f the cross. Three times as the priest enters the church he proclaims, "Behold the wood of the cross, upon which hung our salvation. O come let us adore him." May your Good Friday be truly good: in your thoughts, words and actions. The first Good Friday seemed anything but good. Jesus Christ was unjustly sentenced to die like a criminal. His response: "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." On the cross Jesus paid the price for sin: mine and yours and for all men and women. As we pray today, let us pray for those parents and teachers in South Korea whose children perished in the ferry boat accident. May Jesus crucified and now gloriously risen bring comfort to the grieving, and eternal life with him to those who have died.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Today is the final Friday before Holy Week. The Church asks us to remember Jesus’ suffering and death on every Friday of the year. On Lenten Fridays we are asked to pray more intensely and to offer some kind of penance as a form of a “thank you” to the Lord for what he endured, and as an “I’m sorry” for the times we fell into sins. There are many motives for doing penance. For members of the Pauline Family, our prayers and work, in addition to any “extra” penance are offered to God in reparation for the disrespect given to Jesus, and all things sacred because of the misuse of the many forms of media. Sometimes this misuse comes in the form of mockery, put-downs of religious practices, and ridicule of the Pope and Bishops.
“I usually enjoy this show, but the slurs about the Catholic Church are too much for me to endure. I refuse to watch this show (name it), nor will I buy any more products from its sponsors.“A very effective way to cut short a program’s Catholic/Christian bashing is to notify the sponsors of the show. If it is a local company, call them and lodge your complaint. Again, be respectful but firm. If the company has an 800 or other toll-free number, call them with the complaint and the promise to avoid buying their products. For many companies, the bottom line is the profit from their ads supporting the offending program. There is an axiom that survived for ages:
“The only things necessary for evil men to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”Have a grace-filled Lenten Friday. God bless you!
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
In today's Gospel for the Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent, Jesus faces the people who challenge and ultimately reject him. Why the rejection? Because they were closed to the Truth which was standing in front of them. They thought they knew all the answers about God and religion. As one writer says, "They were the first fundamentalists." Jesus held out hope for them and for us when he responded with this, "The truth will set you free." In John 14:6 Jesus affirmed, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." When I am faced with a difficult decision, do I pray to Jesus Truth for wisdom to know the best way to decide? Here's a little prayer for today from Blessed James Alberione:
Jesus Master, sanctify my mind and increase my faith. Jesus Truth, may I be light for the world.Have I met Jesus Truth in his word in the Gospels today?
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
If you’ve ever flown at night across a wide expanse of ocean, you may have felt a bit of relief when you looked out the window and saw the far off lights of coastal villages. You may have glimpsed your destination airport’s lights tracing rectangles in the dark. Seeing the lights raised a natural sort of hope in your heart. Today the reading from Book of Numbers gave hope to a people worn out from their desert journey. They railed against God and Moses because they had another set-back. They had to make a detour around the Edomites. In their complaints about the food, the lack of abundant water, and the sameness of their diet, they sinned against the Lord. Many were bitten by poisonous snakes whose bite was fiery—the Seraph snakes. When the people cried out for mercy, God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole. When Moses did that, people who just looked at the pole were healed from the serpent’s bite.(See the Book of Numbers 21:4--9) Jesus referred to this when he said, “I, when I will be lifted up, will draw all to myself.” As the lights which pierce the darkest night, or as the bronze snake lifted high to heal, so Jesus lifted high on the cross, cures us. He gives us his Word to heal our minds, his example to heal our wills, his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist to nourish and sustain us.
Sunday, April 06, 2014
Today's Gospel tells of Jesus' raising his friend Lazarus from the tomb. Blessed James Alberione wrote a prayer that compares sin and the alienation it causes to a tomb. Here he writes: "O Jesus Good Shepherd, turn your gaze on the many 'lost sheep.' Their souls are in a spiritual tomb. They need to be 'born again,' given a new life of grace. There are many sinners, many spiritual cemeteries around us. May Jesus' voice resound in their ears:
'Lazarus, Come out of your tomb of sin!' May these souls rise to a new life of grace in Christ. Thereby they will give consolation to the church and to all their brothers and sisters in Christ." (Adapted from Brevi Meditazioni, Giacomo Alberione)Another way of looking and praying with this Gospel is to see how Jesus experienced grief and even anger at death. Sin brought death into our human experience. Father Scott Hurd, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, and author of books from Pauline Books & Media applies the teaching of this powerful Gospel to those who grieve at the loss of loved ones. http://fatherscotthurd.blogspot.com/2014/04/fifth-sunday-of-lent.html
Saturday, April 05, 2014
The Fifth Sunday of Lent offers us the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Chapter 11 of St. John's Gospel details the account of the death of Lazarus, and the mourning of his two sisters, Martha and Mary. I always admire Martha, the hard working lady of the house. Jesus tells her:
"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"Martha replied,
"Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."Martha made a profound statement of faith. Even though she mourned the death of her brother, Lazarus, she clearly and firmly believed in the power of Jesus. When Martha's sister Mary showed up at the tomb, weeping. Stirred by his own strong emotions, Jesus too wept. As the evangelist John wrote: "He became deeply troubled." Jesus went to the tomb. Martha warned him that Lazarus' dead body would be giving off a stench, since it had lain in the tomb for four days. Jesus prayed aloud to the heavenly Father.
"Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd Here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me."And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,
"Lazarus come out!"The dead man came out, tied hands and foot with burial bands....So Jesus said to them,
"Untie him and let him go."www.pauline.org
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Today I attended the funeral of a gentleman from our parish who was married for 66 years. His dear wife was escorted into St. Thomas church immediately behind her husband's coffin. It was a happy and sad occasion. One's earthly life was completed. Victor's eternal life had just begun. After Communion a grandson delivered the eulogy. He described his granddad as the ideal dad. He was a faithful Catholic. He belonged to the Holy Name Society which made him stand out as a fervent Catholic. He was faithful to his job as a mail carrier, faithful to his wife and his 5 children. Like St. Joseph, Victor was more of a "do-er than a speaker." After 66 years of marriage Victor went to his eternal reward. There were plenty of tears shed by his children and grandchildren. Amid the sorrow there was also a quiet hope. "Life is changed, not taken away" is one of the liturgy's comments on death. Among the relatives and friends joy radiated from a newly-wed couple, and the promise of new life evident in two of the expectant grandchildren. In both the homily and the eulogy those of us who were not close family learned a lot about the deceased Victor. He was a man of few words, but of an abundance of good works. He worked as a postal mail carrier--a hard but steady job. What a witness to true love for his family, devotion to his hometown, to the Boston Red Sox, to his heritage as the son of Italian immigrants. It seemed appropriate that today, Pope Francis addressed his Wednesday audience to newly married couples. Pope Francis told those young people beginning new lives together:
“When a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God, so to speak, is ‘mirrored’ in them, He marks them with His features and the indelible character of His love.” Even God “is a communion of the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who live forever and are forever in perfect unity. And this is the mystery of marriage: God makes one existence of the two spouses — the Bible says ‘one flesh’ — in the image of His love, in a communion which draws its origin and its strength from God.” The Pope then asked those husbands and wives present if they are aware of this “great gift” that the Lord has given them: “The real ‘wedding gift’ is this: Your marriage is a reflection of the Holy Trinity, and with the grace of Christ, you are a living and credible icon God and His love.”For those who prepare couples for a Catholic marriage, the Daughters of St. Paul have published "Transformed in Love" a thoroughly Catholic marriage preparation program. To find out more about this very helpful title, check out its website: www.transformedinlove.com.