Sunday, May 28, 2023

Pentecost Sunday 2023

    Happy Birthday to the Church! Today, Pentecost Sunday, is considered "The Birthday of the Church"

Why the Birthday? Because on the first Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to all the members of the Church, the followers and believers in, Jesus Christ. (Just to back track a little: Pentecost refers to five weeks, 50 days from Easter Sunday.) Until the gift of the descent of the Holy Spirit, the first Christians were huddled together, praying? Yes! Out announcing the Good News about Jesus? No, they were hiding for fear of death and persecution for their belief in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. They were praying, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, awaiting the next move they should make as followers of the Man from Nazareth. As they were praying they heard a sound like wind blowing. Then miraculously "tongues as of fire" descended on each of them! Then they began to speak to a crowd of people, Jewish believers in the the God of Revelation, who came from various parts of the Roman Empire. The book of The Acts of the Apostles," in the New Testament of the Bible, relates the story of the "Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Mary."

With the strength and boundless enthusiasm that accompanied the gift of the Holy Spirit, the doors where the Apostles were sheltered were thrown open. No longer cowering for fear, Jesus' followers began to loudly proclaim who Jesus is with boundless enthusiasm! That same day the Apostle Peter, who not long before had denied that he even knew Jesus, was the first to proclaim, to Jews and to all who would listen that Jesus is the One to adore and listen to. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, beginning with Chapter 2 and following, we read the first history of the beginnings of the Church.

We who are Christians and Catholics today are the spiritual descendants of that first believers in Jesus who left the protection of the closed doors to move out of their comfort zone to let people know the person who is "The Way, the Truth and the Life." Jesus had told the disciples when he ascended to Heaven, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". 

Today, my friends, we celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to send the Holy Spirit. Let's invoke the Holy Spirit that we too can burst open the doors of our fear to talk about Jesus; to let people know that you are a believer in Christ; to speak up when some people around you may revile the Church, her pastors, and all of us believers. We are called to be humble, not arrogant; convinced, not petulant; prayerful and pleasant. Let our lives proclaim "The Good News!" Amen!

PS Now may be a good time to read the beginning chapters of "The Acts of the Apostles."


Saturday, May 13, 2023

                                            A NEW BEGINNING! 

Our Celebration of May, the Month of Mothers' Day and a Month Dedicated Honoring Mary, Queen of Apostles, Mother of Jesus Christ.

For me, it is a re-entering of Blogger world !
Welcome back to any of my readers who may have missed me!
May is a beautiful time to begin again. I apologize for any reader who was expecting news from me. I may have "fallen off the grid" but I am still firmly rooted on this earth for now! For those who may not know me, I am a Catholic religious Sister (some call us nuns, however we are an active Order founded to evangelize with all forms of communications media). I am a member of the "Daughters of St. Paul", media missionaries established back in 1915 in Alba, northern Italy. Now we Pauline Sisters are present in close to 50 nations. I live in our Boston, Massachusetts, USA, convent.  This is also where our Novitiate is. That is, before a young woman makes her final vows to become a "professed Sister"--that is, one who solemnly promises God and our Superiors to serve the Lord as a Daughter of St. Paul, she spends two years of more intense study of the rules of our particular congregation of Sisters. That is she studies what it means to vow to live chastity, poverty and obedience in our religious community. For a few years she vows to live these vows for one year at a time. Then she makes her final profession. That is, she vows to remain in the congregation for the rest of her life, living in community with fellow Sisters.  This promise seals her commitment to living in community, under the authority of our  religious Superiors. This may seem restrictive but it is a liberation from the difficulties people may face who are not promised to God and who live, sometimes many days and years lonely. There is a little prayer that our Mother Thecla Merlo, the woman who co-founded the Daughters of St. Paul, prayed very often: "By myself I can do nothing, but with God, I can do all things. To Him honor and glory, and to me the heavenly reward!"
Besides studying the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, novice Daughters of St. Paul learn various phases of our media mission. This may include writing articles, getting familiar with working in  one of our Pauline Book & Media Centers, and, depending on the media available, posting media messages on various internet sources. When possible Sisters use TV and radio outlets. 

Who was the Founder of the Daughters of St. Paul? The priest who founded the Daughters of St. Paul is now addressed as Blessed James Alberione, SSP. These initials stand for the Society of St. Paul, consisting of vowed priests and religious brothers. The Pauline priests and brothers share the same mission as the 
Daughters of St. Paul, that is to be missionaries of the communications media. In the USA their publishing house is also known as "Alba House" referring to the city of our Pauline Family's origin.

Wow! This ended up being a much longer intro to my message than I had planned. I guess I wanted to re-acquaint my readers with my religious family 's roots! Or a better word would be: the miraculous story of how one lone priest from Italy's Piedmont area laid the foundation for an entire family of religious orders and lay institutes. 

Devotion to Jesus, especially Eucharistic devotion, is a hallmark of the Pauline Family: All the editorial, liturgical and other efforts are consecrated to the glory of God. A daily hour of Eucharistic adoration is part and parcel of the life of most members of the Pauline Family. In fact, the second feminine order which Alberione began, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master promise two hours of Eucharistic adoration every day. In fact, these Sisters who are devoted to promoting the Sacred Liturgy, offer prayers each day for the rest of us members of the Pauline. 
If you are reading this post, I say "thank you!"  May your weekend and the days ahead be

blessed. My prayer is that during this month of a more intense devotion
to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist accompanied by the Mary, Queen of the Apostles, you may enjoy good health, plenty of sunshine, May flowers and an abundance of the graces of God.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Alone with the Lord

I am glad to be back at my blog once again. I recently had the grace to participate in an intense

week of study about Media Literacy especially from a Catholic lens. Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, want us to use the "most rapid and fruitful means" to let people know about Jesus and his message. We saw how powerful films can be, both religious films and secular media. We "prayed the news" using NPR's 5 minute capsule of daily news as our starting point. 

Now that I am in the closing days of an 8 day silent retreat, I am praying for writers, producers, directors, actors and all the men and women whose many tasks go into a film production. Even the gaffers, the persons who tape down the many wires coming from cameras and lights, all are involved and necessary to secure an appealing outcome, to tell a story in the relatively short time that it takes to see a movie!

I am writing this in the last days of my annual retreat where I am alone with the Lord alone,

even though there about 25 other Sisters here at our beautiful St. Thecla Retreat House in Billerica, Massachusetts. Having the opportunity t pray in our lovely chapel and even in our rooms, is a gift from the Lord. I promise to pray for you my patient readers who haven't seen a post from me for a long time! God bless you and pray with me for the spiritual well being of all who work in the film industry!

 October is zooming by fast. In the Pauline Family we celebrated today the Feast of Jesus Christ, the Divine Master, Way, Truth and Life. In the gospel of John, Chapter 14, Philip said to Jesus, "We do not know the way (to the Father)." Jesus responded right away, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6 ff)

Briefly, we receive supernatural light for our minds from Jesus who offers us himself, who is the Truth. For our will, to help us make right choices, to follow the path God wants us to journey on, Jesus is the Way to follow. For the strength we need to know God's will more clearly, and to follow it more carefully, Jesus offers us himself as our Life. Especially in the Eucharist, the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, we receive in ourselves Jesus, Way, Truth and Life.

This, in a nutshell, is a condensed version of the spirituality of the Pauline Family. 

Through the mission of media evangelization which is the work of the Sisters, Daughters of St. Paul, and of the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of St. Paul, we Paulines strive to make Jesus, the Divine Master, known and loved more.

Today about 46 young women from North America, Brasil, the Philippnes, Malasia and a few other countries joined together in a vocational discernment retreat.  ask your prayers for all these young adies who sincerely are looking to seek what God's will is for their lives. 

O Jesus, the Eternal Shepherd of our souls, send good laborers into your vineyard!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The Dead Have Their Day!

Happy Friday, the First Friday of November! And, Happy All Souls Day! The souls we are referring to are the souls of the Faithful Departed, our deceased family members, and all who have died. In the Apostles' Creed we say, "I believe in the holy, Catholic church, the Communion of Saints, and life everlasting. Amen. We believe that these souls are living in the "life to come," the after-life. Actually this life is the eternal life that will never be interrupted by death. This Communion of Saints which we mention in the Apostles Creed prayer connects us with all our family who have gone before us. We are not really alone, even if we are on a remote island not only God sees us, but we believe that the Angels and Saints see us and can help us. Have you seen the movie, "Coco"? It's about the Dia de Los Muertos celebrated in Spanish-speaking cultures in many parts of the world, including our neighbors South of the Border in Mexico. The film treats the Day of the Dead as a very important feast, and it depicts the after-life in a rather up-beat fashion. I do not want to describe it at length, because it is better to see it and enjoy it. It is a Pixar and Disney film, with engaging animation and a mystery being unraveled at the very end! For us of another culture, November 2 is a more somber day. From the joyful celebration of the Saints, we descend to the dead, those who may be in Purgatory, not ready yet to be fully in the presence of God. The Saints believed that it is a healthy custom for the soul to meditate on death, so we will live ready to die peacefully any time. In our palms we each have an "M" inscribed to remind us of "Memento Mori", remember your death. We all know that we could die at any moment from innumerable causes. If we paused once a day to look at those "M's" in our hands, and pray for a holy death, we would have less fear of judgement and the after life. A new book from Pauline Books & Media, is actually a prayer journal titled "Memento Mori" Remember Death. To get it, just dial their 800 number: 1-800-876-4463. My best regards for a beautiful month of November. May you have the chance to pray for the loved ones who have lef this life. I promise my prayers for all who read and meditate with this blog. God bless you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Feast of All Saints

Happy Feast of All Saints and Happy Month of November--Month of the "Poor Souls!"
(These stained glass windows from Holy Martyrs Church show Saints of every stripe: men and women, adults and children, clergy and lay.) This year the Boston baseball team, the Red Socks, won the World Series. For the first time in my life, I was able to watch at least a part of each game in the play offs and in the World Series itself. When the game ended, a veritable explosion of players in red socks piled out onto the field with hugs, tears of joy, and smiles all around. Today the players were the main attraction as a parade of Duck Boats carried the players and their bosses, as well as their family members through the main streets of Boston for a crowd of at least a million.
It was a joyful event as spectators waved to their team and reveled in yet another Boston victory. A few days ago Sister Maureen reminisced about witnessing the Chicago Cubs fans hailing their team's win in the 2016 World Series after a drought of 106 years! She said, "It reminded me of what heaven's going to be like when new arrivals come. There was a sense of true happiness and contentment as the Cubs fans waited for their team to pass by in their parade." The Feast of All Saints, November 1st, reminds us that we are headed for an unending victory celebration once we pass into the halls of heaven. I may seem a bit biased, however, I was truly impressed by our hometown players who persevered even when they faced formidable opponents. In New York the roar of the Yankee's fans turned to silence when Boston's players moved ahead. It was a moment of silent awe when Boston's players, then considered the underdogs, amazed everyone with their victory. The Mass readings for these days have featured St. Paul's advice to the Ephesians about respecting and loving one another, being humble and kind to one another. When the Red Sox began winning often, their manager reminded them that pride comes before a fall. "Stay humble," he was reported to have said, and to add, "Don't be arrogant!" Each team member praised his fellow players. Many of the players remembered that their far-off goal as Little Leaguers was to one day play in the World Series. In this game of life, we are all in the Little League! However, we are meant to be in our own version of the World Series! Reading the Lives of the Saints, watching films about them and trying to imitate some of their virtues will help us to win or final victory. One day we'll grow-up to be real Saints, crowned on the home plate of heaven. It may sound corny, or trivial, yet there is so much to learn from sports, specifically baseball. When the Red Socks started practice in Florida, they had already aimed to make it to the World Series. They certainly aimed high! We are called to aim high, to take part in spiritual exercise so as to build up the muscle of our spiritual lives. As St. Paul says, "We are to put on Christ." Sometimes we round the bases, other days we slide in the mud and get messy because we fell into a rut of distraction or routine. That is a form of spiritual "auto pilot!" Every day is a gift. Every day is a challenge to be our best and to do our best for God, in union with our Mother Mary, and together with Jesus who wants to live in us. Happy Feast of All Saints, our own Patrons and our Family's Patrons. Have a Blessed Feast Day and a grace-filled Month of the Holy souls!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Cinematic Classic

Yesterday I posted that I am making a Cinema Divina Retreat. One of the films we watched is a classic, "To Kill a Mocking Bird." The story takes place in a fictional Southern town called Maycomb. Played by the impeccable Gregory Peck, Atticus Finch is a widowed lawyer with two children, his son, nick-named Jem, and his young daughter, Scout. Scout narrates as a grown up Louise when there is no dialogue. Together with Jem, Scout is both carefree and curious about many things, especially the mentally challenged son of the next-door neighbor. From scary hear say, the children named the reclusive son Boo. Scout is the most talkative sibling whose innocent greeting of a poor farmer turns a dangerous situation into a non-event.
Produced in 1962, the story tells of the efforts of Atticus Finch to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a young woman. Her father is notorious as the town drunk whose temper becomes more violent the more he drinks. Atticus is a model of a Christian gentleman. He treats the black woman who serves as maid and full time nanny for the children with kindness and respect. He could even cheer up an elderly lady known for her cranky disposition.The film's title comes from a statement Atticus made at dinner one evening: "It is a sin to kill a Mocking Bird." When the children ask "Why," Atticus says that this bird never attacks anyone, it only sings for us, it gives us pleasure. With no medical records to prove the accusations against Mr. Robinson, Atticus hopes to win his case by showing the jury how flimsy is the case to prosecute Robinson. Viewers used to "forensic science facts" would be mystified to watch the way the trial proceeded without any real evidence. Filmed in black and white, the movie makes great use of light and dark, and facial expressions. When Atticus finally leaves the courthouse, everyone in the gallery stands up. When Scout ask why she should, the Reverend tells her, "Stand up, your father is passing by!" If you have seen this film, maybe you could view it again by seeing it through a "gospel lens." If you have never seen "To Kill a Mocking Bird," don't miss this classic which touches on events that happen even today. And, the film reminds me of Matthew, Chapter 25 verses 31 and following. Tomorrow will be the final day of my Cinema Divina Retreat. I promise my prayers for all of you who read my posts! God bless you!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Movie Retreat

I write this towards the end of my annual 8 day retreat. Usually I make this retreat at our congregation's lovely retreat house in Billerica, Massachusetts north of Boston.I think it is a privilege as well as an annual duty to spend this time on soul work. Our retreat house is graced with lots of walking space, tall trees, shade and a relatively quiet neighborhood. I chose to make a Cinema Divina retreat this year. Each morning at 9:00 AM we gather in one of the living rooms to view a movie. A Scripture selection that reflects the movie's theme is read before the film. Afterwards the Scripture is read again. For those who wish, those who want to comment or add a reflection can do so. This year's theme is Children--"And a child shall lead them." One of the films is "The Florida Project" depicting a small group of children most of whom live with a single parent. The main character Moonie is about 9 years old. She is the leader of the kids who make mischief with little or no parental guidance. This takes place in a motel along a strip of highway leading to Disney World, a fantastic place for children. Bobby, the motel manager, is a steady father figure for the children and for some of the parents who display adolescent life choices.The experienced actor, William Dafoe, portrays Bobby a compassionate heart, and the one truly adult figure for the purple motel's children. Lack of money, danger of eviction, flaunting of rules, profanity riddled vocabularies and other less than grown up behavior show especially in Moonie's mother. She appears to have no workplace skills to help support herself and her daughter. The young mother has frequent melt downs in front of her child who seems all too used to her Mom's behavior. Moonie is adept at panhandling, showing younger children how to beg for ice cream money. Parts of the film are light-hearted, especially the children's conversations as they try to figure out life as best they can on their own. Moonie takes her friend Jancey on a "safari" in a cow pasture as part of their discovery of the world near-by. "The Florida Project" portrays just a few motel situations where children grow up in less than savory environments. In Massachusetts, homeless families are often put up in motels. Motels usually feature one large room, often only one bed, a small refrigerator, and maybe a microwave. I couldn't help but think of families cramped into motel rooms, of trying to manage caring for a baby and other children, providing meals and getting children off to school when classes are in session. The end of the movie "The Florida Project" was certainly a surprise. I do not want to give you any spoilers. I couldn't help but reflect on how many children live in such cramped quarters without playgrounds, with no space for doing homework, and little or no adult mentoring. Religion seemed absent from the neighborhood. Most of the time, right or wrong seemed relative. No one is shown going to any church, or saying any prayers. The families shown had very little comfort. Most of all, they seemed to lack the assurance that God loves them, and that they are precious in his eyes. If you see "The Florida Project" you may be inspired to help the children of the motel population to know that they matter and they can become upright, beautiful citizens. The film might also inspire job trainers to pay visits to motels which have longer term residents. Whatever the outcome, from now on, I will pray for all those, especially single parents, who must reside in motels because they lack their own homes.
A scene from The Florida Project As you read this, may your faith increase, your hope be stronger and your love be deeper. God bless you! As part of your summer, watch a good movie!