Sunday, August 2, 2020

Taking Time

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.  The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.  When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.  When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”  Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”  But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”  Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over— twelve wicker baskets full.  Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.  Matthew 14: 13 – 21

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had died.  He tried to go off by Himself and the crowd followed Him.  Jesus was moved by pity and He reached out to help them.  Rather than go away He healed their sick and felt genuine pity on them.  As they day drew on His disciples told Him to dismiss the crowd.  Jesus realizing that they much have been hungry asked the disciples what they had with them.  There was no way that the food would be enough but Jesus made sure that there was.  Not only were they all fed there were even leftovers.  Jesus in the midst of His own grief took care of the crowd even though He wanted to be alone.

Jesus’ strength and courage came from His daily prayer life and His relationship with God. These past six months have been hard for all of us.  The pandemic, civil unrest and political divisions have caused many of us to want to run away and hide.  Like Jesus we need to take time and pray.  We need to ask God to strengthen us and give us the courage to face the many difficult situations that come to us.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Sower and the Seed



On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.  And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13: 1 – 9

In today’s Gospel we hear the familiar story of Jesus getting into a boat leaving the shore to teach those who had gathered.  This is one of my favorite Gospels as we hear Jesus instructing those who had come to follow.  Jesus was sharing the parable of the Sower and the Seed.  Each of His words emphasized the intention of each one of us receiving the Word of God.  Jesus lets us know that it is not enough to hear the Word we need to live it out and let it take root in our lives.  Our lives can become difficult and complex at times but we must allow the word of God to fill it and live out of that reality.  Jesus challenges us to look at ourselves and examine those parts in our hearts where there may be rocky soil.  In what areas do we need to allow Jesus to touch our hearts?  Let us take time to reflect on this Gospel today and allow ourselves to be open to Jesus’ healing touch.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Come to Me


At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11: 25 – 30

Over the years in ministry this scripture passage has taken on incredible meaning for me. Having worked with every age level in education I have seen firsthand how young people appreciate the simple things of life.   It is heartwarming to watch children especially at this time of year.  Watching children watch firework displays is an incredible sight.  They watch in wonder and awe as the fireworks burst in colorful displays.    In our gospel today, Jesus speaks here of His intimate connection to the Father revealing Himself to be both the way of love and mercy. Having carried the weight of the world, He asks for us to merely trust him with our daily load.

We are asked to allow Jesus to be in control yet we do not easily allow Him to.  If we allow Jesus to lift our burdens we would feel so much better.  As we go through each day let us remember that even the desire to pray is the beginning of prayer.  Each time we come to prayer our soul finds rest in our loving God.  Let us be open as we recall, “Only in God will my soul be at rest, from God comes my hope, my salvation.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Leadership Transition Prayer


Today the Ursulines Community celebrates the transition to a new Leadership Team for the Ursulines of the Eastern Province. It is also an opportunity to express our gratitude to the Ursulines who have served as the Province Leadership Team for the past six years. As we gather today, at this significant moment, we recall the words of Sr. Susan Flood, our Prioress General, at the conclusion of the General Chapter:

We have made a commitment to work together towards New Life...And always, this new life will be for the sake of the world, so that the Good News might be shared more effectively.
We have so many reasons to be confident. We recall that Jesus promises life in all its fullness.

We stand in the footsteps of so many who have walked this path before us, women who responded generously and with commitment to the signs of their times as they discerned them, women who continued to make the path begun by Angela as she pointed towards Jesus.

How, then, can we not set forth on this next stage of our journey together as women filed with joy and hope, a joy and a hope which will ignite an energy for life in everyone we meet along the way.

God our Creator, we come today to express our gratitude for our outgoing and new provincial teams: Sisters Jane Finnerty, Ann Peterson, Pat Russell, Maureen Welch, Brenda Buckley, Pat Schifini. Bless them with the gifts of the Spirit that are needed to serve our province and its mission. Help them to undertake the work of our province with energy and hope. Help all of us, members to embrace them with support, love and prayer. Guide these Sisters to lead with integrity and prudence. Give them wisdom to make intelligent decisions. Give them courage to undertake the tough decisions with grace and fortitude. Help all of us to be supportive, welcoming and hope filled people. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day


Today we celebrate Father’s Day.  The presence of fathers in the lives of children is important to their growth, development, and wellbeing. Fathers serve as role models to their children, exemplifying hard work, devotion to family, self-confidence, and faith. Through their character, determination, strength, and direction, they guide our futures toward happiness. Thus, it is no surprise that research increasingly shows involved fathers can help foster self-esteem, success in school, empathy, and positive behavior in their children.

By raising children to be happy, productive, and responsible adults, fathers play a critical role in shaping our society. Our fathers set an example for us of how to be our best in every aspect of our lives. The lessons they teach us guide us as we strive to care for our families, succeed at school and at work, serve others, and contribute to our communities.

Today we celebrate all those who have been or are fathers and those who have served as father figures for children.  May all fathers and father figures know the love and gratitude of their children.  Happy Father's Day to all!

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday

From the Archdiocese of New York


“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” From today's Gospel JN 3:16-18

Spring is a beautiful reminder of new life, where everything blooms. Summer is a beautiful reminder of joy, where we get to enjoy the beauty we saw blooming before. Then follows fall and winter, a time where the same beauty we once appreciated and enjoyed comes to an end and perishes. This could be the case with everything around us, just like flowers don't last forever, many of the things we buy and try to hold on to, pass away, even ourselves. Today’s Gospel reminds us of something that is beautiful and everlasting, faith in Jesus. He has promised that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but instead shall live in an eternal spring of everlasting life.

As we believe in the Son of God and accept Him as our savior, how do we live in this world of perishable things? The answer is time. Let’s take time to invest in things that do not perish, let’s make time to grow in our relationship with God. How to do that? Our prayer life for example, it is there that we can have a glimpse of eternal life when we come into contact with the Father. Reconciling with others, is also a very important part of having a healthy relationship with God.  By forgiving we are set free of grudges and resentments. Even if there is a justifiable reason for us to feel that way, these feelings weigh us down and take the space in our hearts where God wants to dwell.  And lastly, having a peaceful life, and this does not mean a problem-free life, but on the contrary to embrace our problems with love and faith. Living this way will make us emissaries of peace, men and women who know that even the biggest problem shall pass like everything else, but the peace will remain.

A good example of someone who lived a life trying to increase in “non-perishable assets” was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She had nothing that she could call her own, but her relationship with God.  She poured out her love for God through her work with the poor, and she was full of peace.  Her way of life, her Christian example, made her a model of peace. When she died, she didn't take anything with her, she died poor and weak, yet wealthy and strong in the love of God, and as a saint of heaven she will not perish.  Nor will the things that she did for others in the name of God, that are still bearing fruit in the world today.
Let us reflect on the things we do and give, and how these things are helping us grow in relationship with God, perhaps how these things will bring us a step closer to heaven. Just like Mother Teresa said: “Is not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts”, and this love can only be given if we truly believe in the resurrected Christ.

On this day, when we have witnessed weeks of turmoil in our cities, as believers in the One True God, who created all men and women in His image, we pray for peace, for an increase in faith and a fuller conversion of hearts for us all. Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020


Today we celebrate Memorial Day.  While it often signifies the official beginning of summer it is much more than that.  It is the day when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation throughout history.  Let us pray with gratitude and honor for all those who gave their all: 

Gracious God, on this Memorial Day weekend, we remember and give thanks for those who have given their lives in the service of our country.  When the need was greatest, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy, and to win the same for others.

O God, you yourself have taught us that no love is greater than that which gives itself for another.  These honored dead gave the most precious gift they had, life itself,
for loved ones and neighbors, for comrades and country - and for us.

Help us to honor their memory by caring for the family members they have left behind,
by ensuring that their wounded comrades are properly cared for, by being watchful caretakers of the freedoms for which they gave their lives, and by demanding that no other young men and women follow them to a soldier's grave unless the reason is worthy and the cause is just.

Holy One, help us to remember that freedom is not free.  There are times when its cost is, indeed, dear.  Never let us forget those who paid so terrible a price to ensure that freedom would be our legacy.  Though their names may fade with the passing of generations, may we never forget what they have done.

Help us to be worthy of their sacrifice, O God, help us to be worthy.  J.Veltri, S.J.