Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Bound for Emmaus

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.
In today's gospel, Luke continues the story after the Emmaus disciples arrive back in Jerusalem. this time Jesus appears to the whole group gathered with Peter and the other Apostles. Jesus again reminds them that he fulfilled all that was said about him from Moses and the other prophets. Today's reflection by the Irish Jesuits on their Sacred Space website offer us some more food for our mins and hearts.
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

Easter Tuesday Outing to Jerusalem

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.
Each girl showed some of the quarter of the city where she lives and explained the celebratory activities of their neighborhoods. I found it interesting that the celebrations highlighted for each group were centered around religious practice, rather than mere cultural practices.
The ancient city has few roads. Instead, pathways or stone staircases lead up and down the hillsides. As one of the guides said, the three major religious groups live side-by-side, yet there is little if any, interaction among the three main religious groups. Jerusalem was invaded 40 times by various armies, among them the Roman army of the Caesars. When the Muslims invaded it in the seventh century, they found it a Christian city.
The followers of Mohamed searched for a place for their own worship. They found what they believed to be the foundation stone or rock of the Jebusite city: a very large black rock almost a plateau on a hill. They chose to build their mosque around the rock. That is why it is called The Dome of the Rock. 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

Easter Monday is Marathon Monday

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

Boston College Alumni | Reflections for Easter Sunday

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

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

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

Why Call It Good?

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

The Last Lenten Friday

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.
Reparation can also be “public.” By this I mean that when a radio or TV program blatantly mocks our Faith, we can do something about it. We do not “turn the other check” and allow the public airwaves or the cable for which we pay to trash our faith. Call or email the channel or station with a respectful comment telling of your displeasure, not a hate-filled rant which is not worthy of a Christian citizen. You could say something like this,
“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

A Sign for Us

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.
My oldest sister has a Greek Orthodox friend. Her living room is dominated by an icon crucifix. The right arm extends over the fireplace, and the Savior’s head is bowed to the right. The mere size of that crucifix compels you to gaze at it and to contemplate why is that Man on the cross? You needn’t have an almost life-size crucifix, a small one suffices. However it is helpful for our spiritual life to have a wall crucifix to remind us when we enter our homes who is our Healer and our Lord. Have a blessed day.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Come Out of the Tomb

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.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Are You a Modern Day Lazarus?

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."
Jesus restored Lazarus to his earthly life. Blessed James Alberione affirms that there are people who are "walking dead" or veritable cemeteries, because their souls are starved of grace. Their inner lives are bereft of the light of God because they have refused to accept the call to repentance, to conversion, to true love of God through Jesus. In the Catholic Church we know that Christ forgives all our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or, as we say in everyday language, confession. Sin is cancer of the soul. Jesus is our Healer ready to clear out the wound of sin. He is waiting to tell our soul to "come out of the tomb of sin, of spiritual darkness, of an ego turned in on itself. He tells us to come out of the tomb off brooding over the festering hurts of offenses done to us; or, of sins we have committed and never admitted to God or to ourselves that we were at fault." Lately Pope Francis preached on the need to confess our sins and to receive pardon through the absolution offered in the Sacrament. Before hundreds of people, he himself knelt to confess his sins at one of the many confessionals in St. Peter's Basilica. I pray for all those who have been away for years from the healing power of the confessional. Some of us go face-to-face. If you can't kneel it is more convenient to sit and tell the priest. Sitting, standing, kneeling or on a sick bed, Jesus is ready to tell the Lazarus within us, to the sin within us, to "come out of him", "leave her." As we begin this time closer to Easter, we want to experience our own personal rising from the death of sin, to the new life that only Christ Jesus can give us. In many parishes throughout the USA, there is an effort to make confession more available by offering it on Wednesday evenings. Check your local parish's website to see of they are part of "The Light Is On For You" practice; or, you can check when confession is available. When you are really hungry, you can't wait to bite into a good steak, a hamburger, or a dish of ice cream. You don't wait a month, or a year or more. As we feed our bodies, we need to nourish our souls. Confession or Reconciliation serves as not only a "clean up" service for our souls, but an infusion of grace, the divine energy that only comes from the Holy Spirit. Have a blessed Sunday. There are three titles, each one concise, that can help you prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation: Basic Helps to Confession; Why Go to Confession by Bruno Forte; and for young people: The Sacrament of Reconciliation in My Pocket.
The above titles are available from

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The "Real" Gift

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.”
“The plan that is inherent in the Sacrament of Marriage is truly wonderful! It takes place in the simplicity and also the fragility of the human condition. We know the many trials and difficulties that the lives of a married couple encounter... The important thing is to keep alive the link with God, which is the basis of the marital bond.”
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:

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Pick It Up

The gospel selection for this day in Lent tells us about a healing Jesus performed on a Sabbath. He met a man, apparently crippled, who had lain next to the pool at Bethsaida for 38 years. It was said that an angel would at times come down to stir the water. When that happened the first to arrive in the pool was cured. The man lamented that he could never make it. Someone always got their before him. Jesus asked the man: "Do you want to be well?" Instead of answering yes right away, the man told his story. Jesus' reply was this, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk." If we want to be well, we cannot remain motionless. Jesus told the man to get up and pick up his bedroll. In Lent, when we feel called to do a good deed, or to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation we cannot remain motionless. We must allow the Holy Spirit to permeate us, to let his strength move us to repentance, to good deeds, to a deeper life of prayer. If someone has the grace to return to confession/the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even after a long separation from it, he or she can feel like she is walking on a cloud. "Take up your mat" can mean put more effort into your daily routine. If a pedestrian steps into your path and you have to brake suddenly, say a quick Hail Mary. When you may feel cranky due to a late night project, resist the temptation to snarl at one whose ways annoy you. Pause a moment and ask Jesus to help you to show his gentleness and patience, instead of your rudeness. Jesus faded into the crowd immediately after he cured the man with the mat. Afterwards Jesus found him and said, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more...." One commentator wrote about this man: "He never takes hold of the life that Jesus has restored to him" (Vatican II Missal)
I wonder if that man who was cured later found a good job. He probably entered a whole new lifestyle: no more begging or sitting next to a pool. Did he follow Jesus? What would I have done? Jesus offers me life every day. Do I take hold of what he offers me? These thistles seem to me to epitomize the harshness of penance. So the thorns too remind us of Jesus bearing a crown of thorns. "Seize the day"--seize the moments of grace Jesus send you!