Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Every Day Advent

Happy Advent! Today is the first Advent weekday.
We are waiting for Jesus' arrival on Christmas; his arrival at the end of time; and his unexpected arrivals today. If you've ever waited for a loved one to come off a big jet liner, it seems that he or she is never coming. So many others drift by somewhat dazed from their long flight. I am fascinated by the variety of folks who exit first: tanned faces and flip flops tell of a Florida or Caribbean vacation; parkas and high boots say "It's cold up north!" Some passengers sport cheerful smiles, others reflect a somber demeanor. Perhaps these are coming from or going to a funeral? While we wait for Jesus in Advent, it's good to take a look at the faces that pass us by. When others see me with a serene and smiling face, it may be that Jesus is using me to bring about an "every day Advent." What do I mean by that? As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ wants to dwell in us. He wants to use you and me to make his presence felt in the every day. Not every day carries drama and excitement. I remember the first time I rode Toronto's subway system. Everyone I met was very helpful. My first impression of Toronto still brings a smile to my face. Jesus was showing me his kindness through the courtesy I received that day. Jesus likes to use disguises. For instance, Mother Teresa of Kolkata is famous for saying that "Jesus is there in the distressing disguise of the poor." The poor are not always homeless and shabbily dressed. In our homes there may be one of our children who is rebellious, or moody, or very needy in other ways. When tempted to react to resistance or crankiness, it helps to pray "Lord, what would you have me do right now?" Then we can respond to the behavior as a Christian trying to do his or her best to be a living gospel today. Of course, when we receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, his Body and Blood, or when we approach him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we enjoy a very special Advent visit. Certain Christian Churches have the custom of saying that "Jesus is coming soon!" When I was assigned to Hawaii several years ago, each time we drove to the airport we passed the "Jesus Coming Soon Church." Since most of our airport runs were done after sunset, the church steeple was lit up with a big neon sign: "Jesus coming soon!" As Jesus himself said in yesterday's Sunday Gospel selection, no one but the heavenly Father knows when that final public coming of Jesus will take place. That's why we need to be watchful and ready.
I am reminded of a homily I heard in a parish recently. The priest said when he worked in retail in a big department store, the owners hired "secret shoppers" who posed as customers who were less than satisfied. Some wanted a different size than was available; others wanted items that were out-of-stock. Yet, each clerk had to do his or her best to find an agreeable solution to the problem handed to them. As Jesus said about his coming, he used the word "thief". Jesus and St. Paul both referred to his coming as a thief who uses stealth to break in. Jesus is the Ultimate Good Thief who steals into our lives at the prickliest moments. As we continue our Advent journey let's allow Jesus into our lives under his various disguises. We ask Jesus to be welcoming to him in whatever disguise he chooses. We await his "coming" in this Advent season. He awaits us in prayer.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Lessons from Football

It was a fine summer day in Maine's lake region. I was just about ready to exit the pulpit after having given an invitation to the parishioners to visit our book fair. The pastor spoke up: "Sister forgot something!" I made a quick mental fact check. Father continued: "All you men who sit on the couch watching football, there's book downstairs [in th eparish hall where our display was set up] for you." I smiled when the priest reminded me of the "football book." I think it is now out-of-print, The Spiritual Lessons of Football. Since at that time I was not a New England Patriots fan, nor did I follow any other football team, I had not even leafed through the book Father pointed out. Of course, we sold out all the copies of the "spiritual football book." Today I read an article in the Boston Globe about the New England Patriots, who so far have only lost one game in this season. Tomorrow they will face one of their strongest foes. To prepare themselves, New England's coach and all the team members watched videos of their own plays, highlighting their own mistakes. Their goal is to avoid the mistakes they made, or to execute plays they had not tried so as to win tomorrow. St. Ignatius would be glad to see how they are making a football examination of conscience. No doubt coach Bill acknowledged what each player did well, and encouraged his men to keep up the good. St. Ignatius taught that the daily examination of conscience is a "non-negotiable" element of the spiritual life. The daily examen starts with praise and thanksgiving to our God for the graces received in the last 24 hours. Then one looks over the day and checks his or her response to God's grace: You may see that you had the opportunity to practice patience with one of your kids. Did you control your immediate reaction to scold him? Or, did you let loose with a "not again" complaint? Did you show your love for your spouse, or were you too busy to give that little rub to his shoulder, or kiss or when you walked in the door? Whatever your position, married or single, lay person or vowed religious or priest, the daily review helps us to be more aware of God's efforts to draw us closer to him. When we notice our failings, our sins, we don't hang on to them like a weight to be dragged around. We admit our mistakes, we tell God "I am really sorry." And as we might say to our children, "We resolve to do better the next time" we are faced with similar challenges. After we express our contrition, then we pray for the grace to continue on our spiritual journey. We tell Jesus we trust in him to provide the strength we need to overcome our habits of sin: our impatience, our reliance on alcohol or pain killers, our cover-ups for our own shortcomings. Maybe we have fallen into gossip. We plan to change the subject the next time we are tempted to take down somebody we really don't like. Whatever the sin, we admit it. We don't white wash it. We allow Jesus to dissolve our spiritual stains, better than any "oxy" soap. Prayer gives us the power to overcome bad habits, or to do a good deed for someone we may not like; to go the extra ile for soomeone who may not be able to repay us. Blessed James Alberione practiced this Ignatian examination of conscience every day. Alberione gave his Pauline Family members a short prayer that sums up the goal of the examen. It goes like this: "By myself, I can do nothing. But, with God, I can do all things. To God the honor and glory, to me the heavenly reward." The Divine Mercy devotion reminds us to pray often, "Jesus, I trust in You." With the daily awareness prayer, we can face our daily challenges with confidence.
Like Coach Bill and his players, we can go out on the field and score our spiritual touch downs and field goals with confidence and the spiritual skills we learned in our prayer time. November brings not only football and falling leaves here in New England and elsewhere. In November the Church reminds us to remember to pray for all of our deceased family, friends and for folks we have never met--all those who have gone before us. We believe that before we can fully enjoy the presence of God in heaven, our souls need to be purified of stains of sin. The poor souls, as we call our deceased, realize how now how important is every second of our life. They realize what habits of sin, or habits of spiritual neglect kept them from fully allowing Jesus to live in them. St. Paul wrote to the Galatians: "I live no longer I, but it is Christ who lives in me." The Poor Souls wait to be completely purified of all that kept them from fully enjoying the Blessed Trinity. They can no longer adjust their spiritual lives. They rely on our prayers and sacrifices to help them move on to that total bliss of the Presence of God. The Psalm says, "My soul is thirsting for the Lord. When shall I see him face-to-face?" May we perform the work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead especially during this Month of the Poor Souls. Then these souls who thirsted for the Lord will be satisfied for all eternity.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Novena to Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life

In the "Pauline Family" to which my community of Daughters of St. Paul belong,both secular and religious, our principal devotion is to Jesus Christ, and Master, our Way, our Truth and our life.In most of the myriad depictions of Jesus Master, Jesus is pictured holding a Bible in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in blessings.
In the ancient world when a master or teacher lifted up his right hand while holding two fingers together, it signified that he was indeed a qualified person with authority to teach. Statutes and pictures of Jesus Master portray him standing with his right hand having two fingers raised, as his left hand bears the Scriptures. Many of early Christian Churches portray Christ as Lord and Master. When I visited the Cathedral in Pisa, I remember how the fresco in the sanctuary depicts a very majestic Divine Master. The little camera which I had at the time could not take it all in. So I rely on my memory to visualize the majestic Christ the Master which dominates the dome above the altar. The images of Jesus Master and Teacher are a help to me in this chaotic time before the USA presidential election. As we pray this Novena to the Holy Strong One, may he enlighten us to make the best decisions. And, may he help whoever wins to be a good, wise, humble, gospel living and firm leader. We Paulines celebrate the Feast of Jesus Master on the last Sunday of October. I want to share with you The Novena to Jesus Master.
The Novena begins with an antiphon which is repeated between Scripture verses: "One only is our Master, Christ Jesus. O, come let us adore him." Then follow verses gleaned from the Gospels: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness. Repeat the antiphon. You address me as Teacher and Lord, and fittingly enough, for that is what I am; for I have given you an example: As I have done, so you must do. Repeat the antiphon. Avoid being called teachers. Only one is your teacher, the Messiah. (You are all brothers.) Repeat the antiphon. A student is not above his teacher, but every student when he has finished his studies, will be on a par with his teacher. Repeat the antiphon. I am the vine you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him shall produce abundantly. Repeat antiphon. I am the Bread of Life; if anyone eats this Bread, he shall live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Repeat the antiphon. Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The man who brelieves in it and accepts it will be saved. Repeat the antiphon. Then you may read from any of these selections: Matthew 23:1--10; John 14:1--11; Hebrews 1:1--16. A Hymn to Jesus Master may be sung here. A suggested song would be "You Lord Are the Way" by Lucien Deiss After the hymn, the leader (when there are 2 or more) says or sings: Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life. The response is: Have mercy on us. Antiphon for the Magnificat(The Magnificat is Mary's joyful hymn of praise which is recorded in Luke's Gospel, 1:46--55. O Master, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, alleluia. "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and tp his descendants forever." Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen. The antiphon O, Master.... Let us pray: God, our Father, you sent your only Son to be our Teacher and Lord. May we ponder his teaching so that we may better understand divine wisdom. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Saintly Pauline

Today the Church celebrates a Saint who embraced a very modern apostolate, Blessed Timothy (Joseph) Giaccardo. Father Timothy, as we affectionately call him in the Pauline Family, was the first ordained priest in the Society of St. Paul, after the Founder himself, Blessed James Alberione. As a parochial vicar in the parish of St. Bernard's in the Italian Piedmont town of Narzole, Alberione noticed the signs of a priestly vocation in young Joseph Giaccardo. When Alberione asked him if he wanted to become a priest, Joseph responded enthusiastically. Then he hesitated, since his family was poor, he did not have the necessary funds to put him through the seminary. Convinced of Joseph's priestly vocation, Alberione found benefactors to sponsor Joseph in the diocesan seminary. As soon as he could, Father Joseph Giaccardo asked his bishop permission to enter the tiny community founded by Father James Alberione. When the first group of Pauline priests pledged their lives to God through vows of obedience, chastity, poverty and fidelity to the Roman Pontiff, then Joseph took on the name "Timothy" in imitation of St. Timothy, a devoted disciple of St. Paul.
The group's mission was "glory to God, and peace to men." They would carry out this motto by living an intense prayer-life and then plunging into their work as writers and editors of Catholic publications. The ever-expanding Society of St. Paul would use the printing press, the radio, films and whatever new means would be invented to "preach." These priests would not only preach from a church pulpit, but they would expand their audience to thousands of readers and viewers by adopting high speed presses and radio and television to preach the Good News. Alberione's young followers were entrusted with the task of reviving the Alba Gazette, the Catholic newspaper of the Diocese of Alba. The paper was about to go under for lack of subscribers. After Alberione took over its direction and printing, the paper thrived. Today Gazzetta d'Alba (The Alba Gazette) occupies a four story building in Alba, Northern Italy. Alberione called his mission "The Good Press" (La Buona Stampa). Aware of the radio in its infancy then, Alberione told his band of very young men that they were to use not only the press, but any of the new means which would emerge to spread the gospel. Since many of the first Pauline priests and brothers entered as youngsters, the Founder entrusted their guidance to Father Timothy. Timothy learned from Alberione to live a saintly life. He was a writer and editor for God, as well as a sought-after confessor and spiritual guide. In the 19th century Italian world, anyone who was a journalist needed to obtain a license. Both Alberione and Giacardo enjoyed being bonafided "journalists!"
Father Timothy became Alberione's right-hand-man assisting his spiritual father in myriad ways. Father Alberione founded the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master in 1947. Their Mani as prayer-warriors for the rest of the Pauline Family. These Sisters pray two Eucharistic hours each day for all the rest of the Pauline Family; and in reparation for the evil use of the media. Some Sister Disciples are talented artists and architects who use their skill to promote high quality liturgy. The Sisters also have an apostolate of assisting the clergy. Blessed Alberione entrusted the formation of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master to Father Giaccardo. Not all the official Church understood the genius of Father Alberione and his various religious congregations. When the foundation of the Sister Disciples seemed threatened to extinction because of the incomprehension of certain officials, Father Giaccardo offered his life that the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master would be approved and that they would thrive. The Lord accepted Father Timothy's offering of himself as a victim for the Father Timothy learned to accept the differences in personality between himself and Blessed Alberione. For example, Timothy loved ceremony, nice vestments and flowers on the altar. Alberione, instead, preferred simplicity. He enjoyed Gregorian chant and appreciated both art and music--to a certain degree. United in their goal of promoting the Good News with the press, Alberione and Giaccardo made a great Team for Jesus and the Church. John Paul II beatified Father Timothy on October 22, 1989. What is there to learn from this saintly priest and media apostle? His silence, serenity, his deep prayer-life, his humility, and his inventivness. In their era, they were pioneers who dared to

Friday, October 07, 2016

Autumn Leaves

To all those who try to be faithful readers of my blog, please accept my sincere apologies. I am still learning time management: how to balance my prayer life, my mission, my community life, and stay in touch with my social media friends! Those on Facebook who are "friends" with me are a large number. Yet, many of them, to be honest, the great majority of my Facebook friends are unknown to me. These friends are an international bevy of men and women religious, priests and laity. Many are Catholic, others may not be. In our Pauline Family we have a prayer of praise for the media of communications which bring glory to God, and draw people closer in fellowship to one another. Personally Facebook is where I find news about family members who otherwise are far from me geographically and physically. It is true that there are some who misuse this form of Internet communication to defame others, to bully, to spread downright lies. Yet I am impressed by how many ask for prayers for themselves and many others every day. They are intercessors for the needs of others. I enjoyed a vacation that took me to Ohio for a few visits to the Canfield Fair. The Fair is one of the longest held festivities in the Youngstown, Ohio region. Whenever I am home in August and September, I try to go for at least one day. This year I think I attended 3 days. The weather was hot so I and my sisters and niece took our time to view the display, the various farm animals: draft horses, ponies, 4-H horse barns, chickens, ducks, goats and llamas. There were pigs for only one day because of the possibility of swine flu. Officials reported that there were over 500 vendors. Most of them sold food: cotton candy, Italian specialties, French fries, lemonade, apple fritters, and of course, ice cream. From the 8th grade through the 11th grade I attended the Fair as a 4-H person. I kept a horse (owned by my oldest sister) at the Fair along with those of my family 4-H club members. We had kept a record of how much we spent on feed and care for the animal, then we were judged in various competitions. 4-H (head, hands, heart and health) helped to form us kids to be responsible and accurate in the way we cared for our horse project.
At the Fair we met other 4-H'ers who had cattle. Some local churches operated food stands as fund raisers for their congregations. Ethnic groups performed dances and had stands where one could learn about their heritage. When I attended the fair we did not have Mass available. My Dad had to drive us to the 7:00 AM Mass at St. Paul's Monastery in Canfield. Now, as a Daughter of St. Paul, I realize that those Masses were my first introduction to the Pauline Family. Of course, I think St. Francis of Assisi would love to be at the Fair too. He wrote a Canticle of Praise where he tells all of creation to praise God. The varieties of farm and domestic animals, the abundance of crops on display, and the variety and ingenuity of the attendees, young and old, were a sight to behold. I enjoyed the art building filled with photos and paintings of local artists. Local musicians had a chance to entertain too. For me it would be an opportunity to have a booth stocked with upbeat quotations from Scripture, Pope Francis, and the saints to hand out. Tomorrow at our St. Thecla Retreat House in Billerica, Mass. our Sisters are hosting a weekend retreat called "Clay Pots" for Catholic media workers Pray that the Holy Spirit will indwell all those participating and directing. Some of us will be at St. Thecla's to keep prayers ascending to intercede for those on retreat. Each of us will pray an hour of adoration in the Retreat House Chapel, asking God to give special graces to our guests.
Tomorrow too I hope to invite you to visit our Webathon page. At noon and at 8:00 PM in the evening you can view and pray along with Daughters of St. Paul here in Boston via the Internet. Check out our web site: Tonight I ask you to pray for all those in the path of Hurricane Matthew, and for all its victims, especially in Haiti. I will try to be more of a blogger. God bless you!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A New Age

Earlier this week we read of the violent death of 85 year old Father Jacques Hamel, a priest of the Diocese of Rouen, France. Two young men entered the Church in the small village of St. Etienne near Rouen. They killed Father after they forced him to his knees. The Church has lived through many persecutions, some memorialized by churches, statuary and monuments. I believe it was the early theologian Origen who said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith." Father Hamel could have retired 10 years ago when he reached he age of seventy-five. Since he had the energy and the will to keep in his post as an active priest, he stayed on. People loved him because of his dedication, his kindness, gentleness and humility.
One media account quoted an Algerian born Muslim woman who came to the site of the Church to offer her prayers and condolences. She had been touched by the priest's kindness. During this Year of Mercy, I am sure that Father Jacques would have whispered "Jesus, forgive them, they know not what they are doing."
Let us pray for all victims of violence and their survivors who mourn them. As Pope Francis said, "This is a war", scattered in many places. But, he adds it is not a "religious" war. Greed is the prime mover of much of the violence we witness in our life time. Although it is at times hard to watch, the movie "Blood Diamonds" shows how human trafficking, greed and violence trap men, women and children into In the USA we see racial tension, joblessness, gang violence, random shootings, and discontent among many. Others of us need to stop and refresh ourselves in prayer offered for our leaders, our priests, our Pope and each of us. May Father Hamel's death remind us of how unexpected death may be.
Following the Crucified Lord day-by-day we can overcome our fear of death, natural though it is, by daily "dying" to our selfishness and other sins. Our daily self-denial is what we can offer in the chalice and on the paten raised up in offering and consecrated during daily Mass. Is our Age, a new Age of Martyrs. Whether or not that be true, we are witnessing examples in our days: Father Hamel, the 4 Missionaries of Charity slain in Yemen, the young Christian men killed by ISIS in Libya, are part of this "New age of Martyrs." May these men and women, new Christian martyrs, intercede for us. May they pray for us to be be solid in our faith, and alive with enthusiasm for God and our brothers and sisters.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Birthday of the Church

Happy Birthday Church,that is, best wishes for a great celebration to all of us members of the Church. The Church began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit "on Mary and the Apostles," and all who were present with them in the Cenacle. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that after the Ascension of Jesus the early Christians, Apostles and the holy women and other first disciples of Jesus. Where they had been timid about their belief in Jesus as Lord, now they were all proclaiming to crowds of people the Good News of the Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. At the Ascension of Jesus he had promised that they "would be clothed with power from on high when the Holy Spirit comes to you." May we share in this same "Pentecostal" experience and rejoice in the gift which is the grace of God and membership in this Church. Let's ask to be "clothed with that power from on high. That power grants us the seven Gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, fear of the Lord, understanding, piety and fortitude. We can always grow in these gifts which are also virtues.
Pope Francis tells us:
We are not Christians "part time", only at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain decisions; no one can be Christian in this way, we are Christians all the time! Totally! May Christ's truth, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and giveds to us, always and totally affect our daily life. Let us call on him more often so that he may guide us on the path of disciples of Christ. Let us call on him every day. I am making this suggestion to you: let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day, in this way the Holy Spirit will bring us close to Jesus Christ.
As we see in the Scriptures the Apostles were gathered with Mary and they all received the Holy Spirit. Sister Mary Ann Lorraine wrote about Mary, Queen of Apostles. Enjoy her enlightening words. Here is the link which I am typing and I hope you will be able to open. http://thomasfortoday.blogspot.com/2016/05/mary-and-holy-spirit.html Let us ask Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of the Apostles, to grant us each a new and deep Pentecostal experience of truly living in the Spirit! Have a Happy and Holy Pentecost as we celebrate our common Birthday together!

Monday, May 02, 2016

May with Mary

Today is only the second day of May. The weather is damp and a bit chilly, yet the sun is still behind all those clouds. We are OK with the rain, since April showers were missing most of the time. I planted some morning glory seeds last week and they have already sprouted in their window sill containers. I plan to put them in place at our Dedham, Massachusetts Pauline Book & Media Center. Today our Sisters in Pauline Books & Media shipping department are very happy. Our print run of the Pope's New Document, Amoris Laetitiae arrived this morning--jut as it was promised to us by the printers. See the little video: https://youtu.be/opNW_0WAm_Y.
Yesterday I spent my time on retreat preparing to spend this month well. Soon it will be the Ascension and the Novena to prepare for Pentecost. Our Redemptorist Chaplain reminded us yesterday of the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our Lady is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, since Jesus was conceived in her through the Holy Spirit. Let us ask Mary for the grace to be truly attentive to the Holy Spirit's promptings in our lives. Years ago another Sister and I attended a catechetical conference in Indiana. The keynote speaker was a Bishop who told us to remember what we are saying as we make the Sign of the Cross. He suggested praying the Sign of the Cross like this: "in the name of the Father who created me, and of the Son who redeemed me, and of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies me." Using this format once in a while reminds us of how the Blessed Trinity informs and gives life to our lives. A great way to spend the month of May is by praying the Rosary. It is like carrying the whole gospel in your pocket. Each one of the Mysteries of the Rosary presents us with an episode from the lives of Jesus and Mary. Praying with our lips and meditating with our minds on the four kinds of Mysteries gives us so much spiritual help. If your day includes a lot of drive time, why not help your prayer life by using the Rosary CD's done by our Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul. Have a great start to this Month of Mary, Month of Pentecost and of the Holy Spirit. And of course, it is the month for Mothers too. Let's remember our heavenly Mother as well as our birth mother. God bless you! Sister Mary Peter

Thursday, April 07, 2016

April Flurries and More

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Yes, He is truly risen! The Easter season lasts for several weeks, so it's OK to wish people a Happy Easter even in this second week of Easter! Usually I post a few lines to Facebook everyday. So I apologize for being remiss about my own blog. For various reasons I have spent more time at our Pauline Books & Media Center in Dedham, Massachusetts lately. Before Easter folks were looking for gifts for the many new Catholics being received into the Church on Holy Saturday. Since May is traditionally the month of First Communions, especially for East Coast Catholics, we have been really busy with families seeking First Holy Communion books and gifts.
We are hoping for good weather. On Monday we had icy snow all day. It snowed a bit more on Tuesday. Then most of it melted today with a heavy April downpour. We also have experienced electrical power failures that were related to electrical failures. Today and in the past week we are experiencing high winds. For a few days we will enjoy warmer (above freezing) temperatures. Then there may be more snow on the horizon. I am looking forward to seeing all of our plants blooming very soon. Last Spring I took on the little project of making sure that our planters outside of our book center in Dedham, Mass. had fresh plants. The budget I had to work with was $17.00. The a few miles past our Center a nursery had many plants, especially marigolds and petunias. For $16.99 I was able to purchase 2 little trays of baby marigold plants and about a half dozen petunias. Before I pulled up the dried marigolds just before winter, I saved a packet of their seeds. Now I am awaiting a fresh crop of baby marigolds. So far only 2 green sprouts have poked their way out of the little containers where my marigold seeds are waiting to take root and eventually move to Dedham to adorn our Book Center!
My plant hobby reminds me of our spiritual life. In particular it reminds me of the parable of the Good Seed. The Internet article on marigold care left me thinking that these flowers are the Special Forces of the Plant Kingdom. The article discouraged planters from using good expensive new soil, since these flowers don't need rich soil--just plain dirt. "Bloom where you are planted!" came to my mind. I also thought of Jesus the Gardener. He can make virtues grow in us, even though we hardly seem to make an effort at being good. The Divine Gardener is ready to make us bear fruit. St. Paul once wrote that some Apostles sowed the Good Word, others "watered it" by nudging it along in local churches, yet "God gave the growth." May he do so for us: Give us the ways and means of growing in solid virtue with roots deep in the soil of faith, hope and love. The photo shows one of the planters bearing last year's crop of marigolds and a few petunias.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday 2016

The Pope treated this today:
Impress, Lord, in our hearts the sentiments of faith, hope, love and sorrow for our sins.
When Jesus bowed his head and said,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,"
the hearts of his mother and his followers at the foot of the cross must have felt so devastated, so alone. Yet, he had told Dismas, the thief who from his cross had asked to be remembered in Jesus' kingdom: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Somehow remembering that sentence must have lit a flicker of hope amid the sadness at seeing Jesus die such a brutal death.
With Pope Francis we repeat our prayer asking Jesus to engrave in our hearts a deeper faith, hope, love and contrition or sorrow for our own sins. When we were younger our mother told us that today, Good Friday, is a day of silence, a day to think about Jesus and what he went through for us. Perhaps you had to work today, or travel, or look after your own children or someone else's little ones. Offer your work as a living prayer, done for love of God and with the intentions Jesus has.
Believe me, placing a holy intention into what we do in our everyday tasks whether or not we get a salary for those works, is like putting the correct address on an envelope that we mail. That song that was around in the late 60's, What the World Needs Is Love, Love Sweet Love, is good for every year and every day. We need to build bridges and not walls of hatred, extend helping hands and not "turn our back on our own." In this Good Friday of the Year of Mercy, I look to the cross of Jesus from which mercy flows every day so I can benefit from God's mercy freely given to me. Because of this free gift, I hope to extend mercy to all around e, and to all who may read this blog. Each day in the Mass we renew the sacrifice of Calvary and Jesus offers anew his body and blood for us. I am so privileged to be able to attend Mass almost every day and receive the Body and blood given for me and for all. Have a good continuation of this holy Friday, this Good Friday which brought us the greatest Good--God's loving mercy and redemption. May you grow in love and in thanksgiving for the gift that is Jesus, our Lord and God.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Sacred Three Days

At 5:30 this evening, Holy Thursday, two priests con-celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in our chapel. The reading from Exodus reminded us of the Passover meal, and the blood of the lamb sprinkled over the doorways of the Hebrew households spared them from death as they prepared to flee Egypt. The reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians clearly teaches that the bread we eat and the wine we drink are the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood to nourish us on our way in life. In Chapter 6 of John's Gospel, Jesus had promised that he would "give us his body as food and his blood as drink". Some people walked away from Jesus then. Jesus did not call out to them and say: "Hey, wait a minute. I meant to just give you a sign, a symbol of my humanity. Come on back. Forget what I just said." No, Jesus was a prophet and not a politician. He spoke the truth because he is The Truth. We believe Jesus' promise to care for us and actually nourish us who believe in his "Real Presence" in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Paul wrote that he received from the Lord what he handed down to us. Tonight we remember that Greatest of Gifts the Eucharist which is so available to millions of us throughout the world. God wired us so that we need to eat about three times a day. So why not feed our soul what it yearns for--that union of our whole self with the whole Self of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tonight we keep watch with Jesus hidden in the Eucharist. On that first Holy Thursday Jesus went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He prayed face down on the ground begging the Father to spare him "the cup" of suffering. He shuddered at the thought that despite his love being poured out for each person, sinners would turn their back on him and reject his love. As John wrote: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." That moral suffering of being rejected and the thought of bearing all the sins of the world must have weighed on him. Luke tells us that "drops as of blood fell upon the ground" St. Paul said that "He who knew no sin was made sin" as he gave himself up for us. When I meditate on Paul's words, I imagine Jesus being overwhelmed with a huge weight, a weight that is ugly, stinking with the rottenness of dead things, totally abhorrent. Doctors who have studied the Passion believe that Jesus heart even in Gethsemane was broken with sorrow. He begged his Father to spare him from drinking from the chalice of suffering humiliation, ridicule, apathy, scourging, and crucifixion. Yet, his prayer brought him into perfect alignment with the Father: "Not my will, but yours be done."
If you stay up tonight, or for reading tomorrow, take up the New Testament or just the Four Gospels and read the last chapters of each gospel to read and pray over their descriptions of Jesus' suffering or Passion. I leave you to pray in our "garden" set up where Jesus in the Eucharist is surrounded by Sisters and guests who want "to spend one hour" in his Eucharistic presence. Here is the "Garden" where Jesus in hidden in our midst in the small tabernacle prepared with love by our Novices. May the following two days of teh Sacred Threesome, Good Friday and Holy Saturday be grace-filled and peaceful for you.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

March Meditation

We are in the middle of our Great Lent--the once a year time when we focus as a whole church on Christ's Passion and what caused that Passion: sin. Rather than on sin itself, which we are all aware of we zero in on Christ. His life and death redeemed us, made reparation for our sins. When he comments on Jesus' heading towards Jerusalem, the Scripture writer Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis sums up the purpose of Jesus becoming one of us like this:
The Letter to the Hebrews, having at its center the whole Christian theology of atoning sacrifice, spells out in clearest terms how Jesus' eventual self-oblation is the very purpose of the Incarnation, It also shows us how the holocaust of Jesus' life and body toward which he is ascending in Jerusalem like Isaac carrying the wood on his back up Mount Moriah, is the highest fulfillment of the Father's design.
One of our first Sisters in the USA often repeated that when it comes to living a good life and accepting the crosses which come our way, it is not a matter of having a "grin and bear it" attitude. That could be something forced and eventually will evaporate. No, rather Sister would say, "It is a matter of giving love for love." Christ died for love and with love. Love is what makes the ugly beautiful, the heavy light, and the unsufferable bearable. Jesus said that we can do nothing worthwhile for heaven by ourselves. But, as St. Paul passionately emphasizes, "With God I can do all things!" St. Paul did endure a lot of suffering, fatigue, shipwreck, beatings and an entire litany of sufferings. In the end he would say, "I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me!" May your day be lighter and lovelier because of the love of God poured out on you. My prayers are with you for a very blessed day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Day for the Sick

Today is the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. This coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In Lourdes, France, on this day in 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a young illiterate girl, first saw the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary called herself The Immaculate Conception. When her Bishop heard Bernadette say, "The Immaculate Conception, he made the connection--this has to be real! Bernadette complete her earthly life as a religious Sister. Now she is St. Bernadette. Miraculous cures of all kinds happen at the spot where Mary appeared in Lourdes.
Here is just part of the story of Our Lady of Lourdes:
On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with her sisters Toinette and Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood and bones in order to buy some bread. After taking off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coups de vent) but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move. "I came back towards the grotto and started taking off my stockings. I had hardly taken off the first stocking when I heard a sound like a gust of wind. Then I turned my head towards the meadow. I saw the trees quite still: I went on taking off my stockings. I heard the same sound again. As I raised my head to look at the grotto, I saw a lady dressed in white, wearing a white dress, a blue girdle and a yellow rose on each foot, the same color as the chain of her rosary; the beads of the rosary were white....From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, came a dazzling light."[11]
This year the main celebration for this Day of Prayer for the Sick is happening in Nazareth, in the Holy Land. On this second day of lent, take some time to pray for the sick, especially those with chronic or terminal illness. Our Holy Father Pope Francis sent his message for this Day. Here is some of what he wrote: Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: Why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning…
In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand. At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary is the thoughtful woman who sees a serious problem for the spouses: the wine, the symbol of the joy of the feast, has run out. Mary recognizes the difficulty, in some way makes it her own, and acts swiftly and discreetly. She does not simply look on, much less spend time in finding fault, but rather, she turns to Jesus and presents him with the concrete problem: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). And when Jesus tells her that it is not yet the time for him to reveal himself (cf. v. 4), she says to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (v. 5). Jesus then performs the miracle, turning water into wine, a wine that immediately appears to be the best of the whole celebration. What teaching can we draw from this mystery of the wedding feast of Cana for the World Day of the Sick? The wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the centre there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign; around him are the disciples, the first fruits of the new community; and beside Jesus and the disciples is Mary, the provident and prayerful Mother.
Pray for and if possible visit the sick today. Have a very blessed Lenten day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

The opening prayer of today, Ash Wednesday's, Mass goes like this:
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
This prayer summarizes in a few phrases what Lent is all about. On Facebook this morning, someone kindly posted a quote from Saint John Paul on why ashes for today. Here it is:
May today's fast bring us clarity of mind, deeper love in our hearts and more life in our souls to begin this "holy campaign" against our own personal sin and failings, so that the whole Body of Christ will be more holy as we approach our Easter of Resurrection. As many Saints have told us: Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. May we be joyful "ambassadors of Christ" as St. Paul tells us in today's reading from 2 Corinthians, and messengers of mercy.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Lent Begins

Tomorrow I will read from the Prophet Joel. His voice echoes through the millenia with the same message he proclaimed to the people of Israel:
Even now says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment....
The selection from Joel ends with these words of hope:
Then the Lord was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on hia people.
Lent is that recurring season that culminates in Easter. Before we get to Easter however, there is work to do, and suffering to endure. C. S. Lewis wrote that "nothing that has not been crucified will rise." A number of candidates seeking the office of our United States presidency have latched onto catch phrases such as "rise" and take up "greatness." Rising, just like the process of tiny plants during their growth crack open the seed and leave it behind as they push through the earth toward the sun, requires leaving the familiar and cozy behind to risk getting above ground and thriving in the light of the sun. So we need to crack open the shell of our old sinful patterns of allow the Light of Christ's grace to penetrate us to our very depths.
Even in our mundane world changes, many of them painful events transpire before positive changes are made to improve a family, a community, a nation. Physical trainers repeat the axiom, "No pain, no gain." It is so true that Christ saved us without us, but he wants us to correspond to that amazing grace with our own daily practice of virtue. Just as muscles rebel when made to exercise, so our human side can rebel at the very idea of change. Durig Lent we want to emphasize imitating Christ, even in some little thing every day. Certain folks give up chocolate, or ice cream, or going to movies. Why not fast from an hour of TV to do some good spiritual reading for an hour a day? If you are not a reader, you can listen to good audio books, or watch Catholic TV or EWTN if either or both of these are available to you. In Canada Salt & Light TV offers wholesome Catholic viewing. Pope Francis is asking us to remember those who are financially poor in this Year of Mercy. On the Internet I have seen how some families keep a supply of plastic "survival kit" bags in their cars. The kits contain bottled water, granola bars and other snacks. Others keep modest supplies of dental hygiene needs, bars of soap, shaving needs and other toiletries. I know of some people who purchase gift cards for Dunkin Donuts, or McDonalds and hand them to street people. I heard of a family that often has to drive through a depressed neighborhood. Before the couple and their teen children set out, they prepare bags of sandwiches to hand to any homeless people whom they see.
"Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism." -- Pope Benedict XVI
While most of us cannot physically retreat from our daily routine, we can always reflect more, examine our consciences on a daily basis, pray more intentionally, practice humility and patience. None of these practices are flashy or attention-getting. It is love for God lived out in the nitty-gritty of our lives; stuck in traffic, yet not cursing or complaining, but taking that time to pray or turn on the local Catholic radio, or listen to an audio book on the spiritual life...there are so many ways to return "love for love" in this Holy Season. These 40 days are a way for us to say a daily thank you to Jesus for coming among us, especially for suffering and dying and rising for us. I wish each of you readers a holy and grace-filled Lent. May it be the best ever!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Mercy Mindfulness

In the last several years, schools and houses of prayer have recommended the practice of mindfulness. In other words it means paying attention to what we are doing or experiencing in the here and now, We tell kids to "eat mindfully" and to savor each bite of food. When we hear music, we can be mindful of the lyrics, the mood the music creates, the rhythm, and perhaps memories or images that music brings to us. On December 8th, 2015, Pope Francis initiated the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Pope reminds us to be merciful and to receive mercy. The sacrament of penance/reconciliation or confession is one of the greatest ways to experience God's mercy in our life. The Pope recommends practicing the 7 Corporal and the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy. No doubt you practice many of these "works" everyday without being mindful of them showing "mercy." If someone inadvertently steps on your toes, you may practice mercy by saying "That's OK, my toes have endured worse than that." Or you might even be in a position to apologize yourself, if your feet were in someone's path. There are myriads of occasions to forgive, and to receive forgiveness everyday. Lent begins a week from today. As a positive Lenten practice, why not practice at least one each of the works of mercy each day. That resolve may seem trivial to some. Yet, remaining faithful to practicing virtue--AKA a work of mercy--is a sign of love for God and for neighbor. The "neighbor" could be your spouse, your child, your roommate, your co-worker, a street person, or a total stranger. In Matthew Chapter 25, verse 31 and following to the end of that chapter, Jesus says he will consider done to him or denied to him works of mercy we either carried out or neglected.
For more information on the Year of Mercy see The US bishops' website:usccb.org/jubilee-of-mercy, and our Sisters' website: www.pauline.org. God bless you!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Candlemas Day, The Presentation

While every February 2nd some folks in our Northern Hemisphere check groundhogs to find out if they see their shadows, this morning we gathered in our chapel for a special feast, the Presentation of the Lord. Joseph and Mary had taken their son Jesus to the temple for a rite of purification of the mother and a presentation of the child to the Lord. Because Jesus is the Light of the World, this day has been called Candlemas Day for centuries in the English-speaking world. Candles are blessed to be used at prayer services at home and in chapels. This morning in our chapel, candles were blessed, lit and then held high as we processed into our spacious chapel.
When the Baby Jesus was brought into the Temple two elderly people sensed in that Baby Jesus the presence of God, the arrival of the Messiah. Simeon and Anna, both advanced in age, were prompted by the Spirit to be in the Temple just at the right moment. Luke's gospel says, "Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying,
Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
Luke goes on to say, "There was also a prophet, Anna....She was of great age....At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel." (Luke 2:36) Both Simeon and Anna proclaimed the Good News that the Messiah had arrived. I pray that when I get to be really advanced in age that I will be capable of listening to the urging of the Holy spirit. I guess one has to begin early to be attuned to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual writers suggest that we read the Scripture often to see examples of what God did for others. Regular daily prayer helps as well as an effort to quiet our minds. This is a prayer to invoke the Holy Spirit:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful And kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray: O God, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In the same Spirit, help us to know what is truly right and always to rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Catholic Schools Week

During the past month of January the Church celebrated a number of Saints who were officially declared "Doctors" of the Church. That is, their teaching is not only to be admired but held up as worthy to treasure and study. As the year began two friends from the area once known as Cappadocia were honored: Basil the Great, and Gregory Nazianzen. Their homeland is in the middle of what is now known as Turkey. Basil and Gregory were friends who loved to pray and to study. They became hermits for awhile until each was named a Bishop. St. Basil is considered the founder of monasticism in the East. Gregory for a time was bishop of Constantinople. Then he returned to his hometown of Nazianzen. Both Saints died between 370 and 390 AD. Each defended the Faith from the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus. Saint Hilary became the Bishop of Poitier in France around the year 350 where he too had to defend his flock from Arian influence.
Mother Seton and St. John Neumann are two American citizen Saints who were great educators. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Mother Seton, was a convert from the Episcopalian faith. Even as a devout Protestant she helped the poor. She began a Catholic school in Emmitsburg, Maryland around 1810. In Philadelphia, the saintly Bishop John Neumann, himself an immigrant, organized the Catholic Parochial School System. He died on January 5, 1860. On January 28, one of the greatest theologians ever, is celebrated as a Saint and the patron of Catholic students and Catholic schools: St. Thomas Aquinas. Born around 1225, Thomas' family was determined to get him married off to a suitable bride. He would hear none of it, despite family members various efforts to dissuade him. Thomas wanted to devote his life to God in the Dominican Order. He had already studied at Monte Casino. After joining the Order of Preachers (known as the Dominicans), Thomas was sent to study in Paris and Cologne. He even studied under St. Albert the Great. Thomas soon became a professor and a prolific writer. His books are still published and sought after today. He was not afraid to incorporate the best parts of the philosophy of the Greek Aristotle with theology. Thomas also learned from the Jewish philosopher Maimonides. Thomas would introduce a tenet of faith, or a question about a religious topic then he would say: This particular matter is true, however to the contrary, this is also true. In Latin it is named "sed contra"--but on the other hand....
While Thomas worked mainly in the halls of great centers of learning, the last Saint honored in January was St. John Bosco. Hailing from Northern Italy, John was concerned about the many young people caught up into and victimized by the Industrial Revolution. John realized that without guidance, knowledge of the Faith, and solid training for life skills, many of the boys on the streets would end up not only in poverty but in a life of crime. Don Bosco as he was called, employed a cheerful, balanced and prayerful method of teaching. He also wrote and published books to instruct the wider public who were ignorant of their faith. St. John Bosco started the Salesian order of priests and the Sisters of Our Lady Help of Christians, Salesian Sisters to carry on his work of education. His religious orders spread throughout the world prepare thousands of young people academically, spiritually and practically to contribute to building a civilization of love.
Fittingly the week which we now experience is Catholic Schools Week. Support your local Catholic Schools. If you are able why not donate some Pauline editions for the school library. Of course, it is a wise thought to ask the principals and librarians which books or audio/visuals they may need. You might even suggest that the school host a "JClub" Catholic book fair in the school. Just let me know in your comment line if you need more information. Pray for Catholic school personnel, teachers and principals as well as the young boys and girls who attend. Let us pray for young people so they may grow as Jesus did in wisdom, age and grace!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy February

I write during the final hours of January 2016. Tomorrow we begin the shortest month of the year. Smallest of months, yet it has a lot packed into it. February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The next day is the feast of St. Blaise and the annual blessing of the throats. Tradition says that Blaise was presented with a young boy choking on a fish bone. He was miraculously cured after Blaise blessed him. February 10th ushers in the great season of Lent. Now is the time to prepare for Lent. Find a good book to accompany your Lenten journey. In this Year of Mercy, make sure to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession to experience a flood of God's tender mercy for yourself. On Ash Wednesday don't be afraid to receive blessed ashes. That black cross shaped smudge on our foreheads speaks loudly that "I am a sinner who resolves to repent of any sin and follow Christ!" The Pauline Books & Media Centers around the USA and in Toronto offer a wide variety of daily Lenten reading. For those who commute often, there are books on CD that you can use while on the road. See their addresses at the Pauline website: .www.pauline.org. One of the books which offers daily Lenten reading uses the gospel of each day to read and pray over. Another term for This form of praying and reading and taking the Word to heart is called "Lectio Divina", or holy/devine reading. It is called Lenten Grace from Pauline Books & Media.
One of my family's neighbors is a Presbyterian. She once told me she was a vegetarian. During one Lent she had given up eating meat. That Lent marked a change in her lifestyle. For some of us "giving up" may mean giving of our time to do a good deed, a work of mercy. That might entail slowing down to notice the needs of someone in our family or our neighborhood, perhaps a senior citizen, who needs a ride to the grocery store, or to a doctor's appointment. Or, giving up may mean giving up complaining or just plain being negative. When you are about to put in your two cents worth about something, just cut it out. That's giving up some of your ego to let Christ take over. The Year of Mercy askes us to practice the "works of mercy." The list of seven spiritual and seven corporal or bodily works goes like this:
The Corporal Works of Mercy are: Feed the Hungry Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked; Shelter the homeless; Visit the sick; Visit the imprisoned; Bury the dead The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: Counsel the doubtful; Instruct the ignorant; Admonish the sinner; Comfort the afflicted; Forgive injuries; Bear wrongs patiently; Pray for the living and the dead.
If you or someone you know is struggling to be free of the scourge of pornography, I recommend a brand new book which offers help on how to be rid of this moral addiction. The book is called "Cleansed, A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn." This too is from Pauline Books & Media.
February brings us Black History Month, and Presidents' Day when we celebrate Lincoln's birthday on Feb. 12, and George Washington's on February 22. Happy and holy February!

A Correction

The Actor whom I site in the blog about Risen, the movie, has an older brother Ralph Fiennes. It was Ralph who starred in The Constant Gardener. Joseph Fiennes played in Elizabeth and many other films. I look forward to writing more. Good movies, religious and secular, can help evangelize our culture. Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Movie to Bolster Our Faith

Last night a few of us Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul from the Boston community went to the Cinema at Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass. to view a new movie: Risen. The wide theater screen certainly gave a "you are there" feeling of being in first century Palestine. The story's focus is on Clavius, a Roman Tribune, the commanding officer of all the troops in turbulent Judea. The film shows Pontius Pilate as a slippery sort of politician. The Tribune, played by Joseph Fiennes, is a master of military tactics. Although a pagan who worships Mars the god of war, he displays some feeling for his own fallen soldiers as well as a minimal respect for the Hebrew population. Pilate leaves the Tribune no peace as he calls on him continually to quell the rumors that Jesus has risen from the dead. Pilate wants to eliminate any mention of a risen King of the Jews. After making Clavius question "witnesses" at the tomb of Jesus, the Tribune is charged with producing the dead body of Jesus or face dire consequences. Clavius was too honest to lie. The film shows Clavius as being present at Jesus' death and witnessing the centurion Longinus' faith, as well as his own mighty efforts to seal Jesus' tomb. The film shows his trailing the Apostles to Galilee where he actually meets the Risen One. What happens next is for the reader to find out by going to see the film when it comes out February 19. Fiennes is an excellent actor. Some of you may remember him in the Constant Gardener, a film hard to watch but with a powerful social justice underpinning. I would recommend the film for teens on up. The opening scenes of Roman soldiers quelling rebels of the Jewish Zealot Party may be a bit too "real" for a younger audience. Fiennes plays his role very well. I am happy the film is coming out at the beginning of Lent. It is a good way to meditate on what Jesus endured for each of us.
Here is part of a conversation about the film quoting the main actor: Joseph Fiennes:
I think we got it right, and it seems there's an overwhelmingly positive reaction from theologians and Christian ministers from whom we sought council during filming and the editing process. I'm just a small component in that. It's like a detective story. Clavius goes on this mission, and on that mission, his conditioning and his understanding of the world as he knows it is undone, irrevocably. That was a big challenge, really, to get that believability to the character and also to remain true to Scripture and also to make it a great cinematic event.
Enjoy these last few days of January. God bless you and go to see Risen when it's in your neighborhood!