Thursday, December 28, 2017
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Today the Church celebrates a Saint of Light in the midst of winter's darkest days: St. Lucy. Her name comes from the Latin lux which means light. One of the first women venerated in the Church since the 4th century, Lucy was a Christian young woman. The story goes that her mother had a debilitating illness. Both Lucy and her mother went to the tomb of the martyr St. Agatha also from Sicily. While there, Lucy had a dream in which St. Agatha came to tell her that her mother would be cured. Lucy, however, would witness to Christ by dying a martyr. A persecution of Christians broke out. A young man who had hoped to marry Lucy turned on her and denounced her as a Christian. Attempts to put her to death failed, until finally an executioner plunged a sword into her heart. Her name is remembered each time that the Roman Canon, or First Eucharistic Prayer, is used at Mass.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Friday, November 03, 2017
In the center of one of the myriad New England towns lies a granite memorial to deceased war veterans. In large letters it reminds us: "Lest we forget" the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. A compilation of our Founder's homilies on Purgatory uses this same phrase for it's title: "Lest We Forget." November is dedicated in a special way to the memory of all the souls who have died in the grace of God. We Catholics believe that in order to see God face-to-face we need to be free from any attachment to sin. When our eyes are sore, it is painful to open our them to the sunlight. Spiritual writers tell us that the "pain" of Purgatory is the longing to be fully in the presence of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Church teaches that we can help the Holy Souls by prayers, Masses, sacrifices and good deeds. This short prayer directed to Our Divine Lord is a sort of theme song for this Month of the Holy Souls: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Church gives the name Purgatory to [the] final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned." (CCC, no. 1031) As I grow older the list of relatives and friends already passed into eternity is growing. When I was on vacation, I enjoyed meeting up with about a dozen women, all of us high school classmates. One of the ladies, Bonnie, came despite having to use an oxygen tank for her lungs. Bonnie also suffered from cancer. The friend who hosted our celebration texted me that Bonnie died in mid October. All of our group have been affected by Bonnie's death. Our faith assures us that after death the friends and family we know appreciate every prayer we offer for them. Although they cannot help themselves, they can intercede for us.
Maybe it's climate change or just a warming trend. Whatever the cause our usual brilliant Fall colors have delayed their annual colorful appearance. Yet, there are some trees that are a golden yellow which glow whenever the sun penetrates them. Since we live on a hill, as we drive down towards the more dense areas of Boston, there is one stand-alone tree which is totally red or burgundy. Often as we approach a bend in our many parkways, I feel that "wow!" expression welling up and onto my lips. One of the Sisters with a good eye for color keeps me alert when she points out certain extra colorful trees: "Look at that!" she cries. Then "Look, on the left, wow, what a bea-u-ti-ful tree!" Fall can offer its own art style of ever changing amber, red and gold curtains of foiliage. Soon enough the "leaf curtain" will blow away and low and behold, I spy a building I never realized was hiding behind a stand of trees. I even saw a reservoir not far from us which I only noticed last summer.
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Today one of our Sisters shared a few anecdotes of what people have revealed to her about their spiritual lives. One story impressed me, so I'd like to share it with you. A woman told Sister that she began to visit a Blessed Sacrament Chapel for adoration on a daily basis.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Catholics around the world celebrate today the 100th anniversary of Mary's apparition to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal. "The Miracle of the Sun" served to validate the truth of Mary's appearance and of her message. That day began with thousands of people, some believers, others sceptics, who gathered in the Cova da Iria in Portugal on October 13, 1917. All the people who gathered were soaked with a driving rain. As the children and others prayed the rosary, the sun seemed to fall from the sky spinning toward the earth. As the sun sped tpward the people it dried their clothing and the ground which held them. Soon the heavens returned to their steady normal light.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
It's been less than a week since I returned from my annual vacation. This year most of my time was spent in in eastern Ohio where many members of my family live and work. For my birthday, besides the party held on the day, members of my family pitched in to send me and one of my sisters to enjoy a quick trip to Ireland. There are many tours to chose from to visit the emerald Isle. Our tour was the "Taste of Ireland." It began in the capitol city of Dublin. Who knew that Dublin is over 1,000 years old, and founded by Danish invaders? Since it is 55 years since I pronounced my first vows as a Daughter of St. Paul, the Lord provided me with an anniversary present--a trip to the Emerald Isle for the emerald anniversary. In Dublin we visited Dublin Castle which for centuries was the seat of power especially under British rule. When some North American tourists remarked that the portraits of former rulers from the British monarchy still adorned the walls of the splendid staircase, our guide assured us that "In Ireland, when it comes to history, we just turn the page." It was a matter-of-fact an hopeful comment. Our guide pointed out that the Irish president is just 38 years old, the son of an Indian father and an Irish mother. Ireland is an active member of the European Union. The euro is the currency in use That first evening we went to a pub outside of the city to enjoy an Irish supper and a show with Irish song, and ending with a performance by Irish Step dancers. Our bus had only 39 passengers. Yet the pub had several busloads of people who joined us for dinner. A few people were not in tour groups. One couple from New Jersey was there to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Their son had planned the trip and drove them around the country. A couple in our group was celebrating 15 years of marriage. We all enjoyed celebrating together. For two nights we were lodged in a hotel in Killarny. From there we visited the countryside which is very rural. Our driver pointed out that the country's previous population had been eight million. Due to the devastation of the Famine and persecutions, Ireland has about four million inhabitants. In the larger cities, much of the help in the hotels and restaurants was made up of immigrants from Easter Europe. We saw an abundance of sheep and cattle, both dairy and beef animals. Jim (Seamus) our driver pointed out the hills and mountains where people went to celebrate Mass when Catholicism and the priesthood were deemed illegal. "Priest rocks" were hiding places as well as places for Mass.
Thursday, September 07, 2017
As I write, the winds of September are howling in the Caribbean and menacing most of Florida. Hurricane Irma is dallying at the southernmost tip of Florida. Dire predictions of destruction, loss of electricity and flooding threaten not only Florida but Georgia, and the two Carolina's. In the early 1990's I was assigned to Charleston, South Carolina. That charming city endured some of the worst of the 1989 Hurricane Hugo. A year later, in 1990 I took part in my sister's wedding near Charleston. I remember the sights of boarded up homes and ripped palmetto trees at the upper end of what is now fashionable King Street. My brother-in-law grew up in Charleston. Our nephew Ben and his family live in a beautiful new Charleston subdivision. My sister lives a few miles east of Columbia, SC. She and her husband are preparing for the onslaught of Irma and the two storms trailing behind her. Though they live more than 100 miles from the Carolina Coast, they are preparing for whatever may come in the wake of these September storms. Hurricane Matthew downed 15 large trees on their land in 2016. Thanks to satellites and learned meteorologists we know how to prepare for these storms that usher in the school year. Storms bring out the worst and the best in human nature. My niece told me how she witnessed a near brawl in a grocery store as a man and a woman fought over packed water bottles. Neither of the two heeded the store manager's pleas to leave enough water for the long line of folks waiting patiently. I suspect that both parties still had clean running water in their homes. They could have used their own containers to store potable water. Others manifest the best in our human nature by going out of their way to assist others. Our Sisters from Miami are staying with a family in Orlando. My sister is welcoming her teacher friend, and possibly our nephew and his wife and one year old son. The storm triggers many works of mercy. To give shelter to the homeless is one of the seven corporal works of mercy. From New England I look at the TV satellite images and hear the near constant warnings repeatedly broadcast, it is easy to feel very much afraid.
Monday, July 10, 2017
July is well upon us as well as its beautiful weather. Last Saturday, July 1, we at our Boston convent had the joy of welcoming three new professed Sisters into our ranks. The day before the three novices received the blessed habit of the Daughters of St. Paul at the morning Mass.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! We are blessed to profess One God in Three Divine Persons! The God who always was, is now, and shall ever be is a Trinity! In Jesus Christ we have Jesus, the Son of the Father, God in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father for the Son and the Son's reciprocal love. The Trinity is not a concept we Christians, especially Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, made up. Jesus speaks of the Father in John Chapter 14. When the Apostle Philip asked Jesus to show him and the other disciples the Father, Jesus responded: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) Jesus assured the Apostles that when they would no longer see him, they would be strengthened by his Spirit, the Advocate. In John 15:26 Jesus affirmed that he would send the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. Last week we celebrated that first visible manifestation of God the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. The Acts of the Apostles, to me, can be subtitled, "The Astounding Power of the Holy Spirit", working through the Apostles and Evangelists of the early Church. From the second Chapter of Acts through the very end of this first History of Christianity we witness the power of the Spirit as he gave light to the minds of the first missionaries, fortitude to bear countless hardships, dangers, and opposition. Those men who preached the Good News of Jesus Christ were on fire with the love of God. Sometimes religious art can impress us so much that we might form an image in our minds of the Father as an old man with a flowing white beard. We may picture Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, seated calmly on the Mount of the Beatitudes with an utterly other worldly demeanor. Maybe we picture the Holy Spirit as a fluttering dove such as the one which pointed out Jesus at his baptism. Whenever we make the Sign of the Cross we can remind ourselves of our own Baptism and of the great Mystery of the Holy Trinity. I once heard a Bishop in the Midwest suggest adding these words once in a while to our Sign of the Cross. He put the wording this way: "In the name of the Father who created me, and the Son who redeemed me, and of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies me."
Monday, April 17, 2017
I hope everyone of my readers enjoyed a Happy Easter! In the Catholic Church we celebrate the Easter liturgy for a full week, and then for 50 days! This year Eastertide or the Easter Season which lasts until the Feast of Pentecost will last all through the month of June. After the 40 days of Lent, Easter brings joy and hope. The gospel for Easter was taken from Chapter 28 of Matthew's gospel. He tells us of Mary Magdalene who was determined to give Jesus a fitting burial. Since Jesus had died on Friday, no work could be done on the Sabbath, Saturday. Early on that Sunday morning Mary arrived at the tomb dismayed that
Thursday, March 16, 2017
A Boston Globe column writer recently described a firestorm of digital accusations and unkind remarks about a female public servant from a small town in the Boston area. Accusations of wrong doing, insults and other negativity filled the lady's hometown Facebook page. Without fact-checking their postings, several people assumed the worst and defamed their town's hard-working councilwoman. Writers assumed the worst instead of fact-checking the event. The lady in question was near another small town which had just suffered a destructive tornado. Since that town's administrator was out of state, this lady stepped in and helped organize rescue and rebuilding efforts. The lady in question did what she did at the cost of sacrifice without receiving pay. She called her boss and asked to make the day she spent helping another town as a "sick day" not a paid work day. People who sent nasty messages to the town's Facebook page implied that the council woman was spending their town's money on another town which in their opinion was an unpardonable offense. Without informing themselves of the realities of the woman's motives and her communications with her own boss, she was being painted as a quasi-criminal stealing from her fellow citizens. To me it sounded like a bit much. Yet in today's volatile social climate it is a sad reality that one of the Top Ten, The Ten Commandments, Number 8 has been transgressed. This is how the 8th Commandment is worded: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16) In ordinary parlance it is translated, "Don't lie about your neighbor. Rather, tell the truth." How many times have I blurted out something which I soon later regretted! From my own experience as well as what others have said, mistakes such as white lies, or blatant big lies, come from not thinking enough. For Lent I one of my resolves is to think about what I am going to say, and how I say it, write it, or record it, or send it out on the Internet. A Maryknoll priest stationed in China shared his homily online. Here is part of it:
In ancient Greece, Socrates [470-399 BC] said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He said that when he was on trial, facing the death penalty. He could have kept his mouth shut and lived longer, but he wanted people to live better. He kept asking his fellow citizens in Athens what they were doing and why. It is annoying when people challenge us to think. Thinking is hard work. People prefer to speak without thinking and to act without thinking. Socrates. believed in an afterlife. He did not know much about the One God, but at least he knew that death is not the end of everything.(From the Sunday Homily of Father Michael Sloboda, MM, 3/12/17)Thinking before we speak can indeed be a penance. It's far easier to speak spontaneously and passionately. But, then we may have to symbolically "pick up the pieces" left by our unscripted speech or writing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a great statement about truth telling:
Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and guarding against duplicity; dissimulation, and hypocrisy... Respect for the reputation and honor of persons forbids all detraction and calumny in words or attitude. (CCC, nos, 2505 and 2507)
Saturday, March 04, 2017
The gospel of this First Sunday of Lent shows us Jesus alone in the desert being tempted by Satan. Re-reading the passage from Saint Matthew's gospel, I am reminded of watching a sword fight. Satan's first thrust is the temptation for Jesus to use his powers to satisfy his hunger by changing stones into bread. Certainly after 40 days fasting, Jesus was hungry for bread. Jesus would not bow to Satan by using his divine nature to do a sort of magic trick to turn inanimate matter like stones into bread. Jesus thrusts back at Satan with the Word of God: "Not on bread alone is man to live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." The Devil could not trick Jesus by playing on his physical appeptites, so he tried a second time to tempt. This temptation told Jesus to jump off the highest part of the Temple and be unharmed, since, if Jesus wished it to be, no harm would come to him. Satan was clueless about Jesus' resolute iron will: no, Jesus would not tempt God by showing off, by being a first century stunt man. Jesus counters the Devil with another Word from God: "You shall not put the Lord God to the test." I can imagine the passion with which Jesus hurled his answer back to the Tempter. Yet Satan did not give up: he tried a third time: He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world with all their pomp and vanity on the condition that Jesus of Nazareth would bow down in homage to Satan. Jesus gave Satan a final tuche': "Away with you, Satan! Scrpture says: "You shall do homage to the Lord your God; him alone shall you adore." And, Matthew wrote: "At that the Devil left him, and angels came and ministered to him." Yet David did not wallow in his sorrow, he asks for strength to get up and do better: He asks God for the grace to stick to the right path, he says, "and a steadfast spirit renew within me." Father Charlie suggested praying Psalm 51 and slowly meditating on it. I leave you with words from Psalm 51: "Give me back the joy of your salvation and a willing spirit sustain in me." Have a prayerful First Full Week of Lent.
Thursday, March 02, 2017
If you were fasting from food yesterday, how did you do? I was surprised that I did not feel faint or super hungry. At breakfast this morning, I had a real appetite. Our two cooks make a substantial meal for breakfast, so I admit it was hard to say "no" to all the muffins and sweet breads. On another topic, our Founder, Blessed James Alberione wanted to see the gospel message communicated through movies both sacred and those more secular. This evening some of us Sisters will view the new movie "The Shack." Having read the book, I can only imagine the scenes right now. After a few hours I will have seen it. Only then can I comment on it. Some of our USA/Canada Daughters of St. Paul are film critics. Sister Helena Burns,(Tweet @SrHelenaBurns)