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!