Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Not long ago I saw a Japanese movie called "Departures". I will not spoil your viewing by telling the story line. However one aspect of the film intrigued me: three non-Christian Japanese gathered around a table-top lighted Christmas tree. They each wished each other a Merry Christmas. Then to bring some music into their celebration, the main character in the film asks permission to play the Ave Maria on his cello. It was a lovely scene. Christmas has a strength of its own. the appeal of a tiny new-born is irresistible at least for me. Maybe it is my feminine nature, but I feel like cradling every tiny infant I see in my arms. This instinct was helpful last weekend when I attended a family gathering here in New England. During the day there were two infants, both about 6 months old. the little boy was not as big, since he had a number of problems at birth which slowed his growth. Yet his eyes kept following me. The 6 month old girl looked like a tiny elf with her red and white outfit. Yet how beautiful Jesus must have looked to Mary and Joseph. My nephew Ben was photographed as he planted the first kiss on his new born son, Bennett. I have that picture as a screen saver on my office computer. The tenderness of that photo reminds me of the tenderness God has toward each of us. Pope Francis often asks us to "be tender" with one another. Francis has declared the present time as a Year of Mercy. In his Letter which announced and explained what is the Year of Mercy, he shows us that God's mercy comes in several ways. One of the ways which people have neglected in the last several years is Confession/the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why not take advantage of God's tender mercy given to us in the Sacrament of Forgiveness/Confession/Reconciliation. I pray that our celebration of Christ's birth as a tiny Infant will lead you all to experience for yourselves what the kiss of the Father is to his child, you and me, in the Sacrament of Confession and in the gift of his life in the Eucharist. I promise all my readers that I will pray for you at Mass tonight (Christmas Eve) and in all my Masses until the New Year. Merry Christmas! May your soul bask in the love that God has for you and be at peace as this new born baby.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Life Changed, Not Ended

When I was in high school, I studied Latin each year. When I saw the phrase, "Vita mutata, non toliter" I understood it: Life is not ended. It is changed." Today we celebrate the "changed life." We humans really have three kinds of physical life: First we are hidden and growing in the womb. Then we are born and live as long as the Lord permits. Lastly, we die to this life and go to life eternally with God. Today our morning Mass was offered in a special way for all our deceased Daughters of St. Paul from the USA/English-Speaking Canadian Province. At the Prayer of the Faithful Father Mike Harrington read the name of each Daughter of St. Paul who spent her life here in North America. I remembered also Sisters Teresina, Innocenza, and Nicolina who returned to Italy some years ago. These three Sisters also spent much of their lives evangelizing in the USA. Since I last wrote for this blog site, my middle brother Timothy died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. I remember him with fondness, since of all my three brothers he was the smallest. Ten years younger than myself, he would tease me by reminding me how I had dropped him down a flight of stairs when he was an infant. I was ten years old at the time. So when Tim stopped crying I figured all was well. My mother was never informed of the incident until at leat 20 years of my convent life had passed! I do pray for Tim's soul that he may truly be at peace in the eternal presene of Jesus Christ--the Lamb of God, our Redeemer and God. I urge all of my readers to remember your own deceased with prayers today and during all of this month of November. They have all precede us to eternity. I pray not only for them, but for their intercession for my special needs. They are with God, so they are not restricted by time and space. Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Saint for Today

August 28 is the feast day of a most unlikely Saint, Augustine of Hippo North Africa. Today that section of North Africa includes Tunisia and its neighbor to the East, Algiers. Augustine was the son of Monica, a daughter of a Christian Berber clan. Berbers still live in North Africa in a variety of countries. At the time of Augustine (354--430)the city of Hippo now modern day Annaba, Algiers, was a Roman colony granting Roman status to its citizens. Patricius, Augustine's non-Catholic father had an overbearing hot temper. Monica lovingly put up with Patricius' outbursts. Eventually her husband and his mother embraced Christianity. Of her three children, records tell us that Augustine was her heart breaker. He had tasted and enjoyed the classical Latin education, Augustine soaked up philosophies, the current "intellectual 'buzz' A devout Catholic Mom, Monica urged her son to embrace Baptism, the Catholic Faith, and the sacrament of matrimony. Augustine dismissed his mother's urging to marry his live-in girl friend who had borne him a son. Ever the orator and intellectual, Augustine had fallen into the trap of the Manicheans. So very similar to the religious relativity common today, Manicheans were infatuated by a fake spirituality. Manicheans considered the soul and spiritual matters all important. What one did with his or her body didn't matter. They considered the body evil, therefore what one did with his or her body was considered of little or no importance. Amoral and promiscuous activity did not matter, since followers of Mani, the Persian, considered themselves above reproach. Augustine did not feel inclined to leave his girl friend, or even to bother to marry her. Partly to escape his mother's insistence on converting and leaving the double standards of the Minacheans behind him, Augustine snuck away to Italy. He ended up in Milan. A model of persistance, Monica had searched out and found her wandering son. Soon she and Bishop Ambrose of Milan were great friends. Worried about the eternal outcome of her son, Monica begged Ambrose for help. His homilies provided Monica with fuel to try to convince Augustine to give his life over to God. Someone had told him to read the gospels. He was bogged down by his distain of what he considered a boring presentation. A friend handed him the Letters of St. Paul. Augustine tells of that moment when Paul's words about putting aside sinful ways, and putting on Christ. The grace of God had finally penetrated like an arrow to the heart. As Paul said elsewhere suddenly for Augustine "grace abounded where sin had abounded." Before Augustine returned to Hippo, his mother died in Italy. Certainly she died happy to see her son be baptized and fully accepted into the Church. Augustine in his "Confessions" tells how God wore him down with his mother's unfailing concern and her continual non-stop prayers for his total conversion. Augustine absorbed the teachings of the faith so well that he preached beautiful sermons and volumes of books on virtues, and on the Faith. There is a religious order of men, the Augustinians, who trace their founding to a rule written by the man from Algieria. May we convert from whatever habit keeps us from Christ. If you have never read the Confessions of St. Augustine, put that book on your list. Have a blessed weekend!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Celebrating the Circle of Life Here and Hereafter

I want to share with you some of the events we have been living as a Pauline Family during these weeks. On July 16th, one of our Sisters, Sister Gabriella (Violet) Tubick passed away. Sister had received the anointing of the sick and the sacrament of reconciliation just a day before. At 3:30 pm the next day, the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Sister was summoned by the Divine Master to enter her eternal life. Because Sister's closest relative, a Notre Dame missionary Sister was actually in flight that day, headed from Uganda to California, Sister Gabriella's funeral rites were delayed. Today the official wake and vigil service will take place in our Jamaica Plain, Boston Chapel. One of our Pauline priests happened to be visiting us on July 16th. He blessed Sister's body and prayed with the Sisters for the repose of the soul of Sister Gabriella. On Monday another Pauline priest, Father Goonan will preside at the funeral Mass and internment of Sister Gabriella.
Saturday morning, four of our Sisters celebrated Jubilees of religious profession. Sister Mary Augusta achieved 75 years of vowed life; Sister Mary Agnes celebrates 60 years since her first vows; and Sister Mary Jerome and Sister Hosea Marie are the young Silver Jubilarians. These milestones deserve to be celebrated. yesterday's Mass and the dinner following were festive and brimming with joy on the part of the Sisters and their families and friends. Father Michael Goonan, an Australian now transplanted in the USA, celebrated the Jubilee Mass. Along with two Pauline brothers, Fr. Goonan's presence as a member of the Society of St. Paul brought us more closely together as a truly Pauline Family. Remarkably, Father Goonan had met Sister Gabriella when she was assigned to our Sydney, Australia community in the 1970's. Sister had previously served in Pakistan. As Father shared with us at lunch today, he never thought that he would one day be the main celebrant at Sister's funeral 43 years later.
Our Mass this morning concluded with the entrance into Novitiate of three young women who spent two years in formation as postulants in our St. Louis community. Putri originally from Indonesia; Julie from Washington state; and Danielle from Michigan made their decisive step towards becoming professed Daughters of St. Paul. During another two years they will study our Pauline life and charism more deeply. They will be given more time for contemplation and study. They also will participate in various phases of our Pauline mission. During their second year of Novitiate these young women will spend about five months living, working and praying in one of our smaller communities. This experience will be a foretaste of what they may be experiencing for a good part of their future. As a member of our large Boston community, I am happy to accompany these young women--at least by my presence--as they grow into becoming full fledged Sisters. On August 15, two other young women, Sisters Carly and Chelsea, will pronounce vows for the first time as Daughters of St. Paul. Although separated by time from each other, each of these women share in the same Pauline life. All have gone through, or one day will mark the milestones that Sister Gabriella achieved. With love for and trust in Jesus our Master, we all want to reach the goal which Sister Gabriella and many other Sisters of our USA/English Speaking Canada Province have reached. As St. Paul tells us the goal is "Life on high with Jesus Christ." I ask your prayers for the repose of the soul of Sister Gabriella. Pray too for our Jubilarians that they may continue in their lives of service to Christ and the Church; and pray for our young women in formation. We are blessed to have novices, postulants and junior professed Sisters with temporary,(not yet final) vows. "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest!" To find out more about the Pauline Family check out the trailer of the DVD/movie on Blessed Alberione: You can also view some events and Sisters at Have a very blessed final week of July. Be assured of my prayers for all those who ready my blog.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Saints for All Seasons

Today, June 22, the Church celebrates the feast day of two English men martyred for their faith in the 1500's. I have seen the film, A Man for All Seasons, many times. Paul Scofield did a masterful job in his portrayal of Sir Thomas More, married man, lawyer, father, faithful Catholic and Lord Chancellor of England, and eventually martyr for the faith. He was a friend of King Henry VIII until Henry decided to marry Anne Boleyn as a replacement for his first wife. Thomas More resigned his post and suffered material losses as fines and other expenses piled up. More was a writer and a philosopher, friend of Erasmus and many others in Europe. His book Utopia was a "best seller" in his own time. Thomas More loved his wife and children. He could have saved his life by feigning adherence to Henry's call to be recognized as head of the Church in England. More in conscience could not give in to the King. Eventually Thomas More was beheaded for disobeying the King's command. St. Thomas More left an example of honesty, fidelity to truth and to family, and a great love for God and neighbor.
St. John Fisher died a few days before Sir Thomas More. Of all the Catholic bishops in England, Fisher stood alone as one who would not condone Henry's repudiation of his first wife for the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. (After three years as King Henry's consort, she was executed.) Fisher was made Bishop after a distinguished tenure in Cambridge. He was known for his skill as a great preacher and theologian. He was put to death on this date in 1535 for refusing to give in to King Henry VIII's demand that Fisher recognize the King to be Head of the Church in England.
In our times we see hundreds, if not thousands, being executed or hounded because they will not give in to a violent form of Islam. In North America, we hope not to see a persecution that includes capitol punishment. However we would do well to pray to the Holy Spirit for all judges and law makers, and all those in executive positions in government. We pray that they may have the courage of Saint Sir Thomas and Saint Bishop Fisher. Courage or fortitude is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. We pray for our politicians that they will remain strong, even when they are challenged by those who paint everything in the moral law as "a threat to freedom." As we begin the long haul to voting day 2016, may we Americans pray for the intercession of these two Saints. Both of them held public and very responsible positions. They were not afraid to speak truth to power. Their sufferings were real, but are now gone. What remains is their good example, their words and example to help each of us to live in humility and truth. Saints Thomas More and John Fisher pray for all of us English-speaking Christians.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Living with the Holy Spirit

When I first discovered the Irish Jesuits' on-line daily prayer space, Sacred Space, they provided an awareness prayer. The prayer asked God to make me more atune to what he, the Lord, was doing around me. It asked that I be more aware of his presence in those with whom I live. Our daily sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. As we pray the Novena of Pentecost, asking the Holy Spirit to come to us in an abundance of graces, we can ask for the seven gifts of the Spirit and the 12 fruits of the Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is true peace.
I think of the Saints whose memory is honored today: St. Christopher Magallenes and more than 20 other Mexican priests and lay people, including Jose Rios, a 14 year old. All of the Mexican Saints honored today died as martyrs at the hands of an anti-Christian, anti-Catholic government. Besides their courage in the face of torture and execution, these martyrs had a certain peace. It is the peace we wish to each other when we turn and greet our fellow worshippers at the Sign of Peace during Mass. During that bloody era in Mexican history (1920's and 30's), Archbishop Luis Martinez of Mexico City guided his flock with a steady hand. He lived in intimacy with the Holy Spirit. If certain violent events or horrendous natural disasters are shown to us through the media, we can still keep our peace. Martinez wrote: "The first path to peace is faith. In fact, if we lived by faith, we would live in peace." Martinez wrote a classic book called "The Sanctifier" which has been printed many times, and remains a best-seller. In the handy sized book "Secrets of the Spirit" Sister Germana Santos, the editor, gleaned gems about peace and many other virtues written by Archbishop Martinez. I recommend both of his books which are from Pauline Books & Media, .

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Original Novena

When Jesus ascended into heaven he promised to send his Advocate. He told the dismayed disciples: "...John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." He also said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:4,8) While they waited for the arrival of the Advocate and the power he would bring, the Apostles and disciples gathered in the Upper Room for prayer. The Acts of the Apostles tells us, "All these (Apostles and disciples) were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus...". After the nine days, a "Novena," of prayer from seemingly orphaned or abandoned friends of Jesus, the promise Jesus gave was fulfilled: "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit...". We know how with a new vigor, love and courage the Apostles and disciples immerged from the Upper Room to start the fire of evangelization which still burns today.
In the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults the Glossary (page 521) states: Novena: Nine days of prayer, usually invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary or a saint. The novena traces its development to the scriptural nine days of prayer by Mary, the Apostles, and disciples asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit after the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
Until Pentecost Sunday, this coming Sunday, we are praying to the Holy Spirit that we and all the members of the Church, especially Pope Francis and all the other bishops who are successors of the Apostles will be filled with the gifts of the Spirit. There are seven main gifts of the Holy Spirit that we are asking for: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fear of the Lord, counsel, piety (devotion to prayer), and fortitude, courage. Join us as we invoke Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, that we too may be filled with the Holy Spirit and become true apostles today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Mary in Our Life

Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mary, is alive and active. As Jesus made it clear that those who have gone before us are still alive in eternity, so Mary lives today. In our Pauline communities we honor Mary as "Queen of Apostles." The pictures or statutes depict Mary holding the little boy Jesus out, extending her arms so we can reach out to him. An apostle's mission is the same as Mary's: to give Jesus to the world. When I first visited a Daughters of St. Paul convent, I was attracted by the statue of Mary as Queen of Apostles. The Sister who explained why Mary is holding Jesus out to us rather than hugging him tight emphasized "That's what an apostle does...give Jesus." What we write, film, broadcast and speak about are to be channels where people can find out about Jesus, Mary's Son, and Son of God. St. Peter Julian Eymard was ready to give up his dream to become a priest when he found out that a letter supposed to be a recommendation for his entrance to a seminary was, instead, a vote against him. In the city where he was to present himself to the seminary authorities for admission he found a church where he resorted to prayer. He laid his problems at the feet of Our Lady, asking her to help him in his hopeless looking situation. As he came out of the church, he met Bishop de Mezenod, founder of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. "How are you doing?" the cordial Bishop asked. Bishop de Mezenod remembered Peter Julian from his days as a young teenager whose poor ill forced Eymard to leave the Oblate seminary. The young man poured out his heart and his good intentions to the Bishop. "Don't you worry about anything," the Bishop reassured him. "I'll take care of this for you." Mary had intervened once again in the life of Eymard. Have you turned to Mary in a time of difficulty? I am moved when I see film clips or photos of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, especially women rosaries in hand , praying for Mary's intercession. Both my grandmother and my mother prayed the rosary very often. I can still see their large blue crystal beads glinting in the sunlight. Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, had a mother who took her little son to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Flowers in Northern Italy. There she dedicated the boy with very fragile health to the protection of Our Lady. Alberione confided that he never did anything, written or verbal, that was not preceeded with rosaries or at least Hail Mary's. Sister Marianne Lorraine Truve' put together a lovely book called "Mary Help in Hard Times." You can find that at\It's been 100 years since Father Alberione started the Daughters of St. Paul. Here's a link to an on-line magazine about us. God bless you! 100 Years of Hope: Stories Celebrating the Centenary of the Daughters of St. Paul

Friday, May 08, 2015

Month of Mary Mother of Mercy

May in Boston is one of the most beautiful month of the year. Almost overnight trees that were gray and barren sport lovely new leaves in all shades of green. Tulips, daffodils and Tulip Trees are blooming. I think I can finally clean my boots and box them away until winter comes again. After one of the longest, snowiest winters on record it is so refreshing to look out the window and seen green, yellow and all sorts of colors.
After our Mass on Sunday we will have a May crowning, when the statue of Mary in our chapel will be browned with flowers. Jesus chose Mary as his way to approach us. We are following the Master's example when we turn to her to get closer to Jesus. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene in a garden at the Resurrection. It seems to me that God has an eclectic, wide-ranging taste in color every Springtime.
During this month many of us resolve to pray the rosary at least once a day to ask Mary's intercession for us. The founder of our order, Blessed James Alberione never made an address, or gave a talk without first turning to Mary's rosary. The one time I met with him he signed a little holy card with the advice: "Many and good rosaries." When we pray the Salve Regina or Hail, Holy Queen, the first sentence calls to her as "Mother of Mercy." She mothered the Son of God, Jesus, who is Lord and Divine Mercy itself. At the wedding feast of Cana we see Mary telling her Son the newly weds were in trouble: "They have no wine." Jesus tried to put her off by saying, "What concern is that to you and to me?" To our ears his response sounds like a put down. That did not bother the Blessed Mother. She knew her Son's heart. He could not say "no" to his mom, nor could he let a newly wed couple's happiness be diminished by embarrassment. Jesus answered his mother with his actions. He called the waiters and Mary advised them, "Do whatever he tells you." We know the result of that advice. Huge jars of water were turned into wine, and the feast went on without a hitch. This is all reported in the second Chapter of the Gospel of John. If you ever feel that you have spiritually "run out of wine;" or, you feel short on love or tenderness toward your friends and family, turn to Mary. Ask her to tell Jesus how you need help. You need a transformation, a sort of transfusion of the good wine of God's grace flowing through your actions, instead of the murky waters of a half-hearted attempt at holiness. Just "do whatever he, Jesus, tells you."
If you want help praying the rosary or staying focused on your rosary meditations, Pope Francis can help you. check out the little book, "Praying the Rosary with Pope Francis" from Pauline Books and Media. Another way to meditate the rosary is to pray a Scriptural Rosary. Sister Marianne Lorraine Trouve' a Daughter of St. Paul prepared a lovely book with a Scripture thought for each Hail Mary of the rosary. Both of these books are inexpensive and can be obtained from Pauline Books and Media on-line or at a Pauline Books and Media Center. Ask at your local Catholic book store. If they do not stock these titles, tell them to call us at 1-800-876-4463.

Friday, April 24, 2015

History Lessons

Today is the Feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen (now a part of Germany). Fidelis was a Capuchin monk whose Baptismal name was Mark Rey. The name Fidelis came from the Book of Revelation where the Lord says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." Fidelis lived up to his name when he was attacked and killed by a group who did not want to hear his message of reconciliation with the Church. We don't know the names of those who ended his earthly life, but we do know the name of the man who remained serenely faithful unto death. Today tempers would not run so high, we would hope, that listeners would turn violent. Now we Christians dialogue, and seek to work in a climate of peace and honesty. When we celebrate Saints such as Fidelis, we see how hostile parties can become deadly in their disagreements with those who do not see things the same way. May we who profess Christ as our Savior unite in solidarity with those Christians and others who are persecuted for their religious beliefs. St. Fidelis is a good patron to invoke for Christian unity, and for the grace to express what we believe in a clear and loving way. On another topic dear to me I want to let you know that a new movie is available that chronicles th elife of a pioneer in using media for God: "Media Apostle" the movie about Blessed James Alberione who founded the vast Pauline Family to use media for God is ready now from There is even a trailer on line to preview it. Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter Week

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Each day of this octave (the week following) Easter we sing or say, "This is the day that the Lord has made!" We celebrate Christ's rising from the dead every day this week. In his book "From Resurrection to Pentecost" Bishop Robert Morneau quotes Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "God's Grandeur". Despite news reports of bad things that happen around the world, we need to remember the good things that happen daily. We Christians have hope precisely because Christ overcame the finality of death. He is alive, and because he rose from the dead, we aim to be with him one day. When we close our eyes to this world, we want to open them to see the Risen Christ. The Risen Christ walked with the two Disciples of Emmaus. He explained the Scriptued and prophesies about him. Do we recognize when Christ walks with us during our day? In this life, we often experience slivers of his cross in our own sufferings. He told us that "unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and dies, it remains only a grain of wheat. But, if it dies, it produces grain...". The Church Fathers compare Christ himself to the grain of wheat which died and was put into the earth, into a tomb. He sprang forth alive and transformed on Easter morning. Hopkins saw God at work in the beauty of creation. Enjoy his poem and see the Easter message in it:
God's Grandeur The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge, and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs-- Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and ah! bright wings.
As the poet saw the grandeur of God in creation, may we who are made in the image of God, be witnesses to the great Good News of the Resurrection. Have a blessed day and a blessed Week of the Resurrection! He promised to be with us not just at the end of our life, but through every minute. There is a simple prayer we Sisters say now and then to remind us that the Resurrected Jesus is among us: One prays: Jesus is with us. The other responds: We are with Jesus. Make sure to be truly him!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday 2015

Sorrow descended on Garissa, Kenya yesterday just as we Christians around the world prepared to celebrate the Lord's gift of Eucharist, the priesthood and Christian love. Many families in Kenya mourn today as they they drink a chalice of terrible sorrow. As Mary mourned her Son's death, how many mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters ache at the loss of a loved one wrenched from their midst by violence. Amid all the wailing, the tears and the gruesome work of finding and burying the dead, people may cry out, as Jesus did, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" Mary stood at the foot of the cross and heard her Jesus say, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing!" We pray for the repose of the souls of the scores of victims. We pray too for the conversion of mind and heart for the perpetrators. Let us pray that the hope Jesus brings through his resurrection will console all who mourn. Prayer is the power that you and I possess that penetrates every wall, crosses every sea, climbs every mountain. Because we are addressing God who is all powerful and everywhere, my prayer here in Boston can touch the lives of a person in Kenya, or in the Sudan, or the Sister right next to me. As we who are able to spend this Good Friday in prayer and reflection on what Jesus suffered for each and all of us, may we pray for those in Africa, those in our inner cities, those in prison who suffer today.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Holiest Week

Today we began the most holy week of the Christian year. Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem astride a colt of a donkey. People shouted Hosannas to the King. Others spread their cloaks on the road as Jesus passed by. In earlier preaching, Jesus had warned people not to call him the Messiah. People expecting a warrior-savior king would not recognize this preacher seated on a donkey. Now instead Jesus accepted the Hosannas and praise. At last many people recognized him as their long-awaited Messiah. Before the end of a week, cries of "Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar," came from another crowd in Jerusalem. That crowd denied Jesus' claim to oneness with the Lord, to be king of the Jews. Most of us know the story of a mock trial, an unjust sentence by a Roman judge, the horrible scourging, mistreatment, crown of thorns, bearing of a heavy cross, and the torture of being nailed to a cross. Jesus bore all that pain, humiliation and scorn to atone for the sins of all mankind. Love kept him on that cross when as God, he could have spared himself all that agony. During this week, slow down and pray about the Passion of Jesus. Take a penetrating look at a crucifix. If you see a street person with an unkempt beard, or one who shuffles in ill-fitting shoes, don't say "What a mess that man has made of himself." Instead think of how Christ lives in that man too. Once I heard a bishop say how his mother had scolded him as his dad drove them through a tough Los Angeles neighborhood. As they passed a very inebriated street person, both the bishop and his dad said, "What a bum!" Instead of agreeing with her husband and son, the mother turned on them and said, "That is a mother's son! Don't call him a bum!" The bishop never forgot his mother's rebuke. She could see what he had forgotten. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus describes the final judgement as depending on our treatment of others: "I was hungry and you clothed me, thirsty and you gave me to drink...". People asked, "When did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned...", Jesus answered, "you did it to me." Two weeks ago I heard from a postal worker friend who frequents an area with many homeless. "When we know we are going to pass through those streets my wife and I, we pack a lot of sandwiches. When we see a homeless person, we make sure we give them something to eat." Their son Jay noticed that one of his classmates always ate by himself in the school cafeteria. Instead of asking him why he was alone, Jay decided to sit with him. He noticed that his new friend's lunch was very sparse. After that Jay asked his mom to please pack another big sandwich for his lunch. Jay's mom didn't question why he was asking for a bigger lunch. "He must use a lot of energy in track or whatever else he does," she thought. He never told his mom that he was giving the second sandwich away. "We found out that he was giving money to his new friend, not just food." We told him, "You don't need to give him your money. We'll take care of that." "No, I want to do this myself. I want to give what I can," their son answered. Jay learned from Matthew 25, Jesus was hungry and poor in his classmate. Jay is doing what he can to feed Jesus in his fellow teenager. I ask myself, "What am I doing to help Jesus in the Sister next to me, in the person who asks my advice, in the person whom I call or speak with this week?" May your Holy Week be truly a focusing on Jesus, a time of prayer, and serving Jesus in people I live and work with. Let us pray too for all those Christians who suffer their own passion week because of outright persecution. Pray for refugees who have fled persecution that they may be housed, fed and protected. Pray too for a group of young women who will spend the latter part of this Holy Week making a retreat to discern their call in life. Thank you for praying with us and for us. Have a grace-filled Holy Week.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Lessons From a Football Game

Last Sunday I was praying in certain intense moments during the Super Bowl. For much of my life I held a certain antipathy toward the very rough and ready sport f football. I traced this ill will to a 7th grade gym class test. The lady who was our teacher handed out sheets of paper filled with symbols used by football referees. since I had never yet even watched a football game, I tossed the paper aside. to my horror, at the next class we were to name all those referee calls! That was the rub: the only "F" i remember getting in all my school years. Last Sunday's Super Bowl was a sort of epiphany for me. I had often brought to our Pauline book displays copies of a book called "The Spiritual Lessons of Football." On a weekend in Mained, the pastor allowed me to give a presentation after Communion about our mission and the books. As I finished, the priest said, "What Sister said was fine. However she forgot something." My mind raced: "What did I forget?" Father continued. "For you men who become couch potatoes watching football games,, there is a book downstairs for you, "The Spiritual Lessons of Football." Needless to say, the book published by our Father of St. Paul became a best seller at that parish. Last week's Super Bowl taught me many points that apply to my spiritual life, as well as to any one who is trying to "walk the walk" of a Christian today. Lesson one is perseverance, don't quit! The winning quarter back threw the ball at least 50 times in the 60 minutes of play. He was sacked once and got up right away. He was not alone in persevering, so were all of his teammates. Each yard counts in football. It can be tedious, but keeping at it with your eye on the ball brings victory.
The second lesson I learned was obedience to the coach, the captain and the game plan as well as to the rules of the game. Always be attentive is the third lesson. Be ever watchful is a Biblical phrase too. With only 20 seconds til the clock ran out, a watchful virtually unknown player stepped in and won the game. Both teams used every second. The losing team scored with only 6 seconds to go. Every second of life is a gift from God. Profit from all the time I have. In our family, in our communities, in our work, teamwork is essential. For the winning team especially this was a characteristic. Each member credited the win to the whole team. Unity is another name for teamwork. As Tom Brady said, "We never doubted each other." Related to teamwork is humility, one more lesson from the football game. A willingness to share with many members of the team, to utilize their strengths made it a great game. One example, the winning Quarterback threw the ball to four different men who caught the ball and ran with it. Big egos seem to hold their teams back. The monotony and sacrifice of practice paid off tremendously. Allied with practice is patience. Mistakes were made, but the coach, the captain and the whole team learned patience and practiced again and again.
I have to admit that during the playoff game I was able to watched another program and go back to see our team win. However during the Super Bowl, for once I was anchored to the TV and glad of it. Of course I did pray the Hail Mary several times as well as the prayer to the Guardian Angel to protect all the players from injury. Now of course I have to forgive that dear lady who gave me that awful test on football signals. Now my heart is more inclined to forgive her, since I see a lot of good in a sport I once scorned. Have a blessed week, our last full week before Lent!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January's Almost Gone...

This apparently is my first blog post for 2015. Last Sunday the young priest who celebrated Mass in our chapel strongly suggested that all of us in the congregation should blog about the Faith. I made a mental resolve, "today I will take up my blog." However as you see, I did not keep the resolve. Thanks for your patience in waiting for my posts in this new year. I wrote a blog entry for our Pauline website. Just glancing at the daily newspaper can be cause for sorrow. Looking at the paper actually makes me pause and pray for people involved in sad and tragic situations. In our Pauline communities, we have a custom which involves "Praying the News." We watch at least a segment of an evening news broadcast. Then we pray for the people or the situations which we watched. In one of our convents, the nightly news is on during our supper. We record the news and watch it later. When it is Praying the News Night, we use the pre-recorded edition which enables us to pause after each incident and bring it to prayer. Some of you may have already read the blog post which appeared this past weekend on our My Discover Hope on-line newsletter/blog. Because of space limitations, part of the blog was edited to fit into the dimensions of the blog site. I do not want this blog to be a "downer", something to bow your heads and lament over. However, when I meet individuals face-to-face or listen to them on the telephone, or see their appeals on Facebook, I feel for them, and I pray. Since some of you may not have read the Pauline blog, I am including the first draft of my article for you now.
In this first month of the New Year, I have been touched by the readings from the Letter to the Hebrews. Jesus our High Priest is the center piece of this masterful work. The writer tells us that Jesus learned “obedience from what he suffered” for us. He purchased our souls for God. Because of what Jesus did we have hope. In our coastal New England area it is easy to visualize an anchor holding a ship fast, no matter the high winds and waves. Jesus is the anchor that gives us hope. No matter how much we may mess up, we can reach onto that anchor. The author of Hebrews says, “Hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior, behind the veil where Jesus has entered on our behalf…”.What we don’t see, he does see. He beckons us to trust, not to fear, but to “hold fast.” When we read the newspapers and Internet news, some days the news is close to apocalyptic: terrorists killing, maiming, raping, kidnapping—downright scary stuff. On other days tales of greed and thievery and scandalous behavior seem to be the media soup d’jour for our souls starving for hope. Pope Francis travels to bring hope. We are commissioned too as bearers of hope. During this month while serving at our Pauline Book & Media Center, I was able to speak about hope, and about the infinite mercy of him who is our hope, Jesus Christ. When I am able to serve at our Pauline Book and Media Center, often I am privileged to share with families their joys, and lately with their sorrows. This saying holds true: “When we share our joys, we multiply them. When we share another’s sorrow, we divide them.” A couple of weeks ago, it was my turn to care for a Dad in his 50’s and his youngest daughter about 12. They were searching for something appropriate to memorialize Brendan, their son and brother. In his mid-twenties, Brendan died of a heroin overdose. Hearing Brendan’s story, I thought of another family who had lost their son and brother also named Brendan. Only days after being released from prison, police found his lifeless body in an abandoned building surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Now both Brendan’s have gone to eternity. As I prayed for the souls of both of these young men, I also asked God to console the families they left behind. My next trip to our Center found me assisting a young woman who came for a rosary for her brother, Jamie. He, a 27 year old father, died as did both Brendan’s. Later that afternoon, a very devout middle aged man asked for a book about Father Vincent Capodanno. He was a Maryknoll Missioner and US Navy chaplain who died in Vietnam in 1964. Father died shielding a wounded medic from machine gun fire with his own body. Father Capodanno’s cause for sanctity is underway. Since I had read the book “The Grunt Padre” and had seen the movie with the same title, I was able to locate a copy for the man. (A friend of mine is the widow of Father’s commanding officer, Marine Corp Col. Richard Alger.) The book was intended as a gift to the man’s brother, a Vietnam vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and an addiction to alcohol. I promised I would pray for the intercession of Father Capodanno that his story would help release the veteran from his inner wounds. The gentleman had one more request: Would I pray for his nephew Bryan? In his mid-twenties, Bryan lay in a hospice facility preparing for a holy death surrounded by family. The other three drug victims died away from their homes. When I glance at the death notices in the newspaper sometimes I see write-ups about young adults with no cause of death noted. Were they also part of the huge toll exacted by drug trafficking in our country? Blessed Paul VI assured us that it’s Okay to multiply intentions when we pray. I can offer an Our Father for the souls of those who died from violence or drugs; I can pray for more young men and women to answer the call to follow Jesus as priests, brothers and religious sisters; I can pray to change the hearts of the abortion providers; of the drug pushers; of the people who traffic in human slavery. I offer prayers for my family, my Sisters in my community, for our chaplains, our bishops, and the list goes on. Yet I trust that God does hear my prayers and yours for the countless intentions we offer. Pope Francis wants us not to be glum, super serious believers. As Francis has told us religious, all of us Christians, have “to wake up the world” with our joy rooted in Jesus! Last week I accompanied one of our senior Sisters to a very busy Boston hospital. The weather was overcast and fiercely cold. A young man, a Coptic Christian, was beaming. For him it was Christmas Eve and he was brimming with joy. The stream of people jamming into the revolving door to escape the cold and meet their appointments was no problem. He was happy about Jesus’ birthday and he was determined to share his joy with us. Hundreds of thousands of Americans marched for life on January 22nd. May their sacrifice and their joy at the gift of life be another anchor of hope reaching further and further into the hearts of the grim, the sad, those intent on sin because they do not know the reason for our joy. On January 25th, it is usually the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the Apostle. May Paul’s Damascus event where he met Jesus face-to-face help us all to turn ever closer to Christ and to deepen our hope in Jesus Christ. As Paul said to the Galatians and he says to us about Jesus: “He loved me and gave himself for me.” Because of that we all have hope in this life for the life to come.
This is Catholic Schools week in the USA. We celebrate two great Saints who were teachers: St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John Bosco serve as bookends for this week that celebrates the gift of Catholic Schools. I am a product of Catholic schools, I was taught mainly by Ursuline nuns whose Foundress sought to teach and form young Christian women. St. Angela Merici started the Ursuline nuns in the 1500's. Her work continues throughout the world by Ursulines in many parts of the world. St. Angela's feast day is January 27th. She is another Catholic educator to celebrate in this Catholic Schools Week. I pray for you all. and, I promise to be more faithful to blogging than in the past. God bless you!