Sunday, April 23, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is the second Sunday after Easter and it is a special day for us to reflect on and rejoice in the merciful love God has for us.  We have received the gift of faith and have the daily opportunity to allow our beliefs to grow.  The Easter proclamation:  “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” still echoes in our hearts and minds.  Today we focus on God’s tender loving mercy for each one of us.   

In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the apostles gathered in the upper room and this time Thomas is with them.  The apostles recount Jesus’ appearance to them and Thomas does not believe what they are telling him.  He responds with saying, he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."   Jesus appears and invites Thomas to do as he said.  Thomas must have been shaken to the core with this appearance of Jesus, yet he appeals to Jesus’ mercy.  His faith is what helps him in his momentary unbelief.  Jesus’ mercy is right there for Thomas just as it is for each one of us.


On this Divine Mercy Sunday, take some time to relish in God’s merciful love and his promise to be with us until the end of time.  Let the joyful “Alleluias” resound this day and everyday as Jesus has risen!  Alleluia, Amen!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day

In the Prophet Isaiah we read, “Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12

Since 1970, April 22, Earth Day, has been set aside to raise global awareness of the need for environmental protection. Stewardship of our planet has always been a part of many religious traditions.  Today, Earth day, has taken on greater urgency as we face the troubling realities of climate change. Our world is in great need of change and everyone needs to do his or her part.  Pope Francis has modeled the need for the care of our earth home.  He took the name of St. Francis of Assisi and released a major  encyclical – Laudato Si, or Praise be to You – to call our attention to the exploitation and degradation of our common home in 2015.

Let us pray this day a prayer provided by the Rabbinical Assembly of the United Synagogue of America.

Light and Darkness, night and day. We marvel at the mystery of the stars. 
Moon and sky, sand and sea. We marvel at the mystery of the sun. 
Twilight, high noon, dusk and dawn. Though we are mortal, we are Creation’s crown. 
Flesh and bone, steel and stone. We dwell in fragile, temporary shelters. 
Grant steadfast love, compassion, grace. Sustain us, Lord; our origin is dust. 
Splendor, mercy, majesty, love endure. We are but little lower than the angels. 
Resplendent skies, sunset, sunrise. The grandeur of Creation lifts our lives. 

Evening darkness, morning dawn. Renew our lives as You renew all time.  Amen


Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday the beginning of the holiest week of the Christian Liturgical year.  This day in Churches all over the world the reenactment of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is observed.  Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey – a humble entry symbolizing peace as opposed to riding a horse, a symbol of military power.  In a matter of a few short days Jesus will go from being a lauded figure on Palm Sunday to being crucified on Friday because his followers had grown to an enormous number and the religious leaders had become envious of Jesus and with their powerful influences persuaded the people to turn against Him.


In today’s responsorial Psalm we hear “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Psalm 22.  This Psalm has been recited over the years and spoke to me very differently today.  As I recited the Psalm at our Mass I was struck by the overwhelming darkness in our world today.  There is so much pain and suffering and we need great faith at this time.  Perhaps on this Palm Sunday it is a good day to take some time to reflect on our world and our times and remember that Jesus too shared in his world.  May we always find the light of Christ in one another.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Promises

Promises are sacred things never to be broken.  Remember when we were little how we did "pinkie promises" with our friends.  We tend to take promises very seriously and are terribly hurt when a friend breaks a promise made to us.  The greatest promise ever made was the one that God made to us when He promised that He would make a new Covenant with us- an agreement, a sacred bond- that He would always be our God and that we would be His people forever.  He told us that the sign of that Covenant would be a rainbow of colors.  So, whenever you see a rainbow in the sky, God is renewing His Covenant-His promise to always belong to us.  Remember to say "thank you" when you see a rainbow!

KM Donohue, OSU

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Truth Will Set You Free

In today’s Gospel, we hear the familiar phrase, “And the truth shall make you free.” We hear this in songs, on TV, in books we read and from significant people in our lives.  This is one of those lines that really stands out when it is said or when we read it.
Jesus is urging us in this Gospel to move beyond our own sinfulness and be freed from all that binds us.  We all desire to be free and do not like to feel trapped, put down, or guilty, but we often find ourselves feeling that way.

We are called to live in Christ’s love and grace.  If we take the time to look at our lives we realize when we fall short of living in Christ’s love and grace.  Perhaps this last week of Lent is a good time to look at our lives and remember that the truth will always make us free and give us grace.  Remember that God’s love for you is unconditional!
Pat Schifini OSU

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Martha and Mary

In today’s Gospel from John 11:1- 45 we hear the familiar story of Martha and Mary following the death of their beloved brother Lazarus.  It is a lengthy story that is full of imagery and a wide range of emotions.  I always find myself when I hear this Gospel thinking about loved ones who have gone before.  Spending time with people we get to know them better and discover their most precious dreams.  The dreams of our hearts are the ones we most often cling to. 


In this story, Martha and Mary are mourning the loss of their beloved brother, Lazarus.  Lazarus who was also a friend of Jesus had died and was buried in the tomb already.  The sisters greet Jesus with the message that if he had been there Lazarus would not have died.  Jesus recognizing the grief of the sisters and probably his own performs a miracle and raises Lazarus from the dead.  In raising Lazarus Jesus embraced his own humanity and reiterates that the Holy Spirit will come and continue to care for all.  What a great reason to rejoice this day!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jesus' Words

In today’s Gospel from John 7:40-53 we read, “Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, "This is truly the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ."  But others said, "The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?  Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"  So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?"  The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man."  So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived?  Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?  But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed."  Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, "Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?"  They answered and said to him, "You are not from Galilee also, are you?  Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee."

As I reflected on this Gospel I was struck by the response of the guards who had been sent to arrest Jesus no one touched him.  Jesus proved to be an enigma to many of the people of his time.  Jesus was not the Messiah that they people of his time were expecting.  He preached a message of love and compassion.  People were drawn to him because of his personality and the way he treated people.  Always treating people with respect and love confused many.  His voice and the power of his words attracted many.


Jesus continues to speak to us in our daily lives.  His words are able to touch open, receptive and faithful hearts.  Are we willing to allow our heats to be touched by Jesus’ words and actions?  Take some time today to allow Jesus to speak to your heart and mind so that his words may touch your heart too!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedom

Today is not what one would call an upbeat day.  It is rainy and windy-Friday and the end of the month.  We hear these comments from each other and from those we pass on the street.  But, we really have it good.  We have coats and umbrellas, boots, hats-maybe a nice paycheck and the hope of what April and her days will bring to us. And above all, we are FREE to be who we are and where we are and to worship as we please.  Let us think today, and pray for those in our world who do not have these freedoms and who are being martyred because they choose to worship their God, especially our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Against their lives, is a little rain and wind so bad?

KM Donohue, OSU

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

God's gifts

God gives His children special gifts each day because He loves us.  Look around and see beginning buds, robins, puppies, good food, friends, family and many other things.  Today, He gave us the gift of sunshine and don't we feel better because of it?  These past few days have been gloomy and rainy and our spirits sink to our toes whereas today, the sunshine brings us hope that the days will be brighter and warmer and friendlier.  Let us thank Him for this special gift.


Enjoy!
KM Donohue, OSU

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lent, Take Two

It is hard to believe that we are half way through the Lenten season.  Is it time to revisit our promises or is it time to come up with some new ones to finish the season out.   Either way there is still time to do what we have the power to do.  When I was praying this morning, I came across this little reflection from the prayer guide The Word Among Us.   It seems so appropriate to this day.


“The more space you give God to work, the more refreshed, invigorated, and restored you will feel. So, as you enter into the second half of Lent, let the Lord nourish you. Sit quietly, pondering his word. In prayer, recall all he has done for you already, and praise him for all he still wants to do. Cherish the gift of the Eucharist. Or maybe share God’s blessings with someone in your home. Whatever you do, make it a point to balance out the things you do for God with how much you let him restore you.”

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Seeing With the HeartThis morning when I was reading over the first reading from today's Mass, a line in the reading struck me quite strongly... See if it resonates with you too? "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart." Take a few minutes to reflect on this statement and ask the Lord to help you to see with the heart not looking just at appearance. Perhaps you will be begin to see with God's eyes. Blessings on each of you for the coming week.

This morning when I was reading over the first reading from today's Mass, a line in the reading struck me quite strongly... See if it resonates with you too?


"Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart."  Take a few minutes to reflect on this statement and ask the Lord to help you to see with the heart not looking just at appearance. Perhaps you will be begin to see with God's eyes. Blessings on each of you for the coming week.
KM Donohue, OSU

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Annunciation

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation.  It seems a little odd to have it during the heart of the Lenten Season.  The image of the young Mary being visited by the Angel Gabriel who was sent by God.  Gabriel’s message was probably the last thing Mary ever expected to be hearing.  Yet she responds with great maturity and even greater faith.
Mary did not hesitate to articulate the simple word “yes.”  She knew that all would be okay because she was responding to God’s invitation and that God would never fail her.  We often are faced with responding “yes” or “no” in many different situations.  How easy is it to respond positively when we are uncertain of the outcome?  How often to I say yes to sharing my time and talents with others?  How would I respond if an angel of God were to visit me? 

These are good questions for this Lenten season.  Perhaps it is a good invitation for each of us to reflect on our responses when we are asked to do things.  Let us try and respond with the eyes of faith as Mary did.  Her simple “yes” changed the world forever.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador was assassinated on March 24, 1980 after he pleaded with government officials to stop the repression of the Salvadoran people.  As we remember Oscar Romero today let us take some time to reflect on his prayer:  It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.  The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.  We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.  No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith.  No confession brings perfection.  No set of goals and objectives includes everything.  This is what we are about.  We plant the seeds that one day will grow.  We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.  We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.  We are prophets of a future not our own.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Listening Heart

Today is a good day to think about praying for a listening heart.  To have a listening heart is to be attuned to the voice of God as He does His work in us.  It is to be attuned to His will as His Spirit is guiding us to live a good life-one which is pleasing to Him.

We can also enhance the gift of listening in our everyday lives as we become more aware of how we respond to our parents and teachers and how we hear what they are saying to us.  Our friends also need us to listen to them.  We all know how much better we feel if we think someone is truly listening to what we are saying.


Listening closely to what is being said to us helps us to examine what is happening in our lives and, in addition, helps us to grow both in our faith lives and our social lives.

KM Donohue, OSU

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Global Change

Today at my school we celebrated our 4th Global Symposium: “Fashioning Global Change” let us reflect on the words of Dorothy Day.  May we bring to life her spirit of compassion and justice for all each day.


“What we would like to do is change the world--make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute--the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words--we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”  ― Dorothy Day

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring

Yesterday we celebrated the first day of Spring!  There is something so refreshing to having longer days of sunlight even though the early morning hours are still dark.  I always find this to be a special time of year when there is new life blossoming all around us.  Seeing the return of the robins and even the Canadian geese signal a time of rebirth and renewal.  Each one of us is invited to live these spring days with hearts full of anticipation and challenge.  We are anticipating the warmer weather and the beauty of the sunny days ahead while at the same time we are continuing the challenge of the Lenten days.  As we move through the days ahead let us remember that our God always desires the best for us and that we God’s beloved children.  Let us rejoice in the reality that we are wonderfully made by our God who loves us beyond measure.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Woman at the Well

Today’s Gospel is one of my favorite as it is the beautiful story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well (John 4: 4 – 42).  It is a story of a woman who goes to the common well early in the morning as she is shunned by society.  She goes to the well when she knows that no one will be around.  One morning she is surprised to meet Jesus there.

Jesus does not judge her as so many other people have.  He reaches out to her in compassion and mercy.  I am sure that she had an experience that changed her life forever.  The woman had a difficult life and I am quite certain that she would have preferred to be alone.  Jesus did not force, accuse or judge her he spoke to her and gently challenged her to change her ways.  We, too, are called not to be judgmental to reach out to others with compassion.  Jesus gives us the model of how we should act in every situation we need to simply follow the model.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Prodigal Son

The story of The Prodigal Son is one parable that we all can relate to in so many different ways.  Each one of us can relate to f the characters in the story at various moments in our lives.  We have all had our share of making bad decisions and coming back to our families, friends and our God to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.  The younger son certainly experienced this in a most dramatic way.  Having squandered his money he returned home planning on begging for forgiveness and found himself welcomed home with wide open arms.
We can also identify with other sibling.  Having worked, obeyed and done “everything right” we are faced with accepting one who has not.  This is a difficult reality even in the best of situations.  We are called to be open, to forgive and to show compassion.  Sometimes it is easier to just hold a grudge.

Finally, we can relate to the parent who forgives and welcomes back the repentant child.  This is where we can see the merciful love of God in action.  We all need to remember the importance of offering forgiveness, welcoming back one who has harmed us just as our God is always there to welcome us home with open arms.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

Today is St. Patrick's Day, the patron saint of Ireland and the Archdiocese of New York.  It is said he went about the countryside converting the early Irish and used the shamrock to symbolize the Trinity-3 in 1. Throughout the centuries, the Irish have been known for their strong faith and have suffered very much for that faith.  So often today, St. Patrick's Day is seen as a day for drinking and partying-- definitely not the image presented by Patrick as he walked the hills and fields of early Ireland preaching of Jesus.

50 years ago today, four young women professed their first vows as Ursuline Sisters.  Each of those young women stood on the shoulders of Irish ancestors and gave thanks for the faith handed down through the generations.  Now, 50 years later, we still give thanks for our gift of faith and pray that those who stand on our shoulders will receive that same gift.


Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mindfulness

In today's Gospel, Jesus instructs us to look at our relationships with others and, if there is one relationship that is out of kilter, to heal it before approaching the altar.  I wonder how many of us think about this saying of Jesus before bringing ourselves to the altar.  I can truthfully say that is not my focus when I am in church or in the chapel.  But maybe I can ask the Lord to help me to be more mindful of others and to put my house in order before I go and ask Him to forgive me for my sins.  If I want to be forgiven, I must be willing to do the same for others. 


Have a wonderful weekend and be kind to each other in a world that doesn't always value kindness.

KM Donohue, OSU

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-10). Jesus teaches us that if we live according to the Beatitudes, we will live a happy Christian life. The Beatitudes fulfill God’s promises made to Abraham and his descendants and describe the rewards that will be ours as loyal followers of Christ.

Pope Francis has underlined how the Beatitudes are a Christian’s “identity card” that “identify us as followers of Jesus.”  As well as the eight Beatitudes Pope Francis also proposed 6 more to “recognize and respond to new situations with fresh energy.”

Pope Francis has explained that holiness is not so much about “great deeds and extraordinary events” but rather “daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism.” Holiness, he said, “consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters — something that makes a person deeply happy, as the saints showed.


“That is why we call the saints blessed,” the Pope said. “The Beatitudes are their path, their goal, their native land. The Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps.”  Let us live the Beatitudes in our daily lives.

Pat Schifini, OSU


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Follow Me

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.  He said to him, "Follow me."  And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.  Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.  The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"  Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."  (Luke 5: 27 – 32)


In today’s gospel, Jesus calls Matthew/Levi to follow.  His response seems to be rather quick leaving all behind and following.  During this Lenten season we too are called to leave all and follow Jesus.  We are called to examine our lives and renew our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus came and ate with sinners, the poor and the outcast and we are called to do the same.  We all sin and turn away from God’s love for us but we are always welcomed back.  Jesus called a very unlikely person to be one of his Apostles.  Matthew/Levi responded out of love and we are invited to do the same.  Perhaps this Lent is a wonderful time to do just that – respond out of love and not the sense of duty.  As we journey these days of Lent let us take some time not just to “give something up” – let us take the time to “do something more.”  It can be as simple as a kind word or doing something nice for someone.  We all need to let Jesus guide our lives during this special season.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Choose Life

H​ow deeply can​ we yield to what God wants to do with us, in us, through us​?  Today’s Lenten readings remind us to choose life that we may live and to take up our cross and follow.  The reading from Deuteronomy always causes me to reflect on the notion of life.  We are besieged by so many distractions that we don’t always have the opportunity to spend time on what is truly important our relationship with our God.  During Lent, we are invited to take some time to look at our lives and how we are living them.  We are called to go beyond ourselves and reach out in love and compassion.  As we pick up our daily crosses we are challenged to recall that it is not the physical cross that Jesus carried that we are asked to carry it is the seemingly small inconveniences that are the heaviest.


May this Lenten season be filled with many blessings and good things for each one of us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Letting Go

Fifty years ago today, March l, my parents were informed that my 20 year old brother, a United States Marine, had been killed in Vietnam.  The world stopped while we waited for his remains to come home, for the wake and funeral to take place, and eventually for life, forever changed, to resume again. This new life called for an immense conversion for us as we adjusted and dealt with the anti-war movement so prevalent in the country.  And it was a time of letting go of the old ways.  Today, as we begin Lent with Ash Wednesday, we are aware of the dying and rising we are asked to embrace.  We resist the letting go, perhaps of things we consider precious, but the letting go will allow us to change and adjust to new ways of living which will eventually lead us to deeper faith and fuller life.


May we embrace the opportunity to grow during this time of Lent that is being offered to us.  May you receive many blessings during these days.

KM Donohue, OSU

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fat Tuesday


Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, gets its name from the custom in many Catholic countries of using up fat, meat, and sugar before the fasting season of Lent. 


For many today is a great day of celebration – Carnivale in Rio, parties in New Orleans and “king cakes.”  Today is also a day to prepare for the upcoming season of Lent.  Lent is a time for spiritual renewal and each one of us is called to return to God with all our hearts.  As you ponder what to give up perhaps it is a good time to think about what else you could do to show your love for God.    Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday so let us take this opportunity to prepare well for the days ahead as we journey to the great celebration of Easter.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, February 27, 2017

All Things are Possible for God

In today’s gospel, we hear the familiar story of Jesus and the young man.  “As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone…He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."   Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions…They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said, "For men it is impossible, but not for God.  All things are possible for God."
(Mark 10: 10 – 27)

I always find this to be a very comforting reading.  Take time today to allow Jesus to look at you with the same tender love he had for the young man.  Listen to Jesus tell you all the good things you do.  He knows you and all you do for you are precious in his eyes and he loves you. Take some time to relax in Jesus’ loving presence.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Will Never Forget You


In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah we hear “Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."  Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?  Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”  (Isaiah 49: 14 – 15)  This tender message is meant for all of us today.  The Israelites were in desperate need of encouragement and hope, so are we.  This brief passage tells us that even if everyone forgets us our God never will.  What an incredible guarantee of unconditional love.  Our lives are filled with ups and downs, good times and hard times and still our God promises to be with us through it all.

Take some time today to calm your busyness and sit quietly with your God.  Let the words from the prophet Isaiah fill your inner being. Always remember that God’s love is always present.  Allow our God of love to touch your innermost being and provide the comfort and encouragement that you need at this time.  Pray for the special grace to always know that you are never alone and our God will never forget you!   
Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Artisans of Peace

Pope Francis says, “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace.”  As if reflected on this simple statement I began to realize how really complex it is.  Turning to God in prayer is something most people do each day.  Whether it is traditional prayers, spontaneous prayers, prayers in time of need or truly heartfelt prayers turning to God is something we learn at an early age.  The call to be an artisan of peace is a bit more challenging for we live in a very complicated world.  Right now our world is full of darkness and hate yet at the same time there is a call to hope.


As we approach the season of Lent in a few days perhaps it is a good time to contemplate how each one of us can become an artisan of peace.  We are each called to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love and to live virtuous lives.   A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of themselves. The virtuous person looks toward the good with all their sensory and spiritual powers; they pursue the good and choose it in concrete actions.  As we live virtuous lives we live in the way that our loving God desires us to.  Begin each day with the desire to be an artisan of peace.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Spring

Spring has sprung!  It seems that way at least.  The past few days we have seen a rise in temperature and the sky has been beautiful.  There is a renewed sense of hope with the birds singing and returning after being away for the winter. If you look closely you may even see new life emerging in the grass.  This is the promise of the gift that our loving God gives us each year.  Each year the beauty of spring replaces the dullness of the chill of winter.  Take some time to relish the newness of life these days as the warmth of the sun continues to shine gently on us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chair of St. Peter

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.  This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church. This feast brings to mind the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Jesus on Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle.

In today’s gospel we read, “When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."  He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16: 13 – 19)


In this exchange Peter answered each of Jesus’ questions correctly.  He answered without reservation or fear.  Peter was truly human and was aware of his short comings.  Immediately following this passage Jesus rebukes Peter for not responding as he should have.  As we celebrate this feast let us recall that we are all called to serve one another and live in the light of Christ.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First or Last

In today’s gospel, St. Mark, tells us, “They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, and he began to ask them, "What were you arguing about on the way?"  But they remained silent.  For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.  Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."  Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me." (Mark 9:  33 – 37)


This is one of my favorite scripture passages because the disciples were engaged in a very ordinary discussion and Jesus brings them right back to reality by using the analogy of a child.  For a child is often perceived as the most innocent and beautiful of all of God’s creation. Jesus sets before all of us the challenge to become childlike and to always remember that we are called to share love and joy with all.  Let us always remember that life is truly not about who is first or best it is about loving God and loving our neighbors.  We are called to treat everyone with respect and compassion for this is what we are called to.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, February 20, 2017

President's Day

The third Monday in February has become the day we celebrate Presidents Day.  It began as a way to honor our first president, George Washington’s birthday but now includes all the presidents as well.  As we celebrate this day let us remember the important values of our country – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Let us mark this day as a day of compassion and a commitment to help others in their daily needs.  Each one of us has the ability to do small things with great love as St. Teresa once said.  Celebrate this day and every day with a grateful heart and a heart full of love.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we celebrate the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Yet our scripture readings for this day are not ordinary.  Each of today’s readings, in one way or another, asks us to remember who we are, to whom we belong, how to act as brothers and sisters and not to use others’ behavior as an excuse for our own! Though written long ago for a people half way across the world, these speak to us today, right now.

So often in life we are asked to remember who we are – in our families, in our communities, in movies, in books, in school and even in our friend groups.  We often find our daily encounters with a gentle or not so gentle reminder to remember who we are.  Many times we are called to look at our roots and our scriptures remind us to do so.  In Leviticus we read: “You are holy, because I, your God, am holy…”  In our responsorial psalm we hear:  “the Lord is kind and merciful.”  In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:  “You are the temple of God… the Spirit of God dwells in you…” and in our Gospel from St. Matthew: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of God…”  In each of these readings we are reminded of God’s abundant love for us.  May we live this week in the knowledge that we are loved and cherished by God.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 18, 2017

God Moments

Today we read in the gospel of St. Mark the familiar story of Jesus transfiguring Himself before some of His apostles, on the top of Mount Tabor.  This was a profound moment for the disciples and they wanted to stay there with Jesus forever.  They did not want to leave.
In our daily lives we sometimes experience this kind of “God moment” when we can truly sense God’s presence in our lives.  Our God is a God of unconditional love and when we truly feel God’s love we don’t want the experience to end.  These “God moments” can be at the expression of a small child, going to Church, praying, seeing an old friend or a conversation with a trusted confidant.
These moments are truly a gift that help us to renew our inner strength.  It is in these “God moments” that we are able to renew our commitment to following the path that God has set before us.  We are able to once again choose life that we may live in the abundant happiness of God.

God love for us is infinite! God knows exactly what we need, and when we need it, so during times of trouble or great joy, let us always be ready for the gift of “God moments” in our lives.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, February 17, 2017

Carrying Crosses

In today’s gospel, “Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”  (Mark 8: 34) This passage speaks to me of the upcoming season of Lent.  In less than two weeks we will begin the Lenten Season. 

As I reflected on this passage I was struck by the number of “crosses” each one of us bears daily.  We never fully know what someone else is carrying in their heart.  Our world is in terrible pain and many are very distressed over this.  People are ill and dying which is another source of pain.

There are times when I find myself getting upset over little things.  Being late for an event, missing a deadline, getting the wrong meal at the drive thru and forgetting something can push me to my limit.  Once I have calmed down I find myself questioning was it really worth all the energy I wasted being upset?  Did it really inconvenience me or ruin my day?


This is when I can hear Jesus telling me to stop getting so upset over little things and to think more of others.  It is the invitation to learn a lesson from the little crosses in life and see the bigger picture.  I know that I have the ability to carry these crosses but that I can only carry them peacefully with Jesus’ help.  Remember to pray for those who have greater crosses to bear.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is the day that just about everyone buys and sends cards expressing their love and gratitude for loved ones.  It is the second biggest sale day for cards and gifts next to Christmas.  I received several cards this year and I am grateful for the gift those who sent them are in my life.  Some of the cards were unexpected and were a surprise.  As I reflected on what Valentine’s Day means to be I was reminded of St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians where Paul writes, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became an adult, I put aside childish things.  At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.  So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


Let us always remember God’s greatest gift to us – the gift of unconditional love!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pat Schifini,, OSU

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Choice

Today’s readings have a common theme – choice.  The first reading, from the Book of Sirach, speaks of the free will God has given us – to keep the commandments or disobey them, to trust in God or reject him, to choose life or death, to choose good or evil, and to act justly or unjustly.  Today’s readings challenge us to choose freely and wisely to observe the laws given by a loving and caring God.  Our lives are filled with choices every day.  In our daily living we make hundreds of decisions.  The current state of our world calls for us to take some time to pause and reflect before we make a decision.  Our God desires to be with us in every choice we make.  As I reflected on the readings today I was struck by the following acrostic:  Christ
                              Hears
                              Our
                              Interior
                              Concerns
                              Empathetically


Let us always remember that our God loves us beyond our wildest imagination.  God wants us to live in happiness and peace.  May we always trust that our God is there for us and calls us to be his own!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our Lady of Lourdes

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.  It was at Lourdes that Our Lady called herself “The Immaculate Conception”.  Our Lady asked St. Bernadette, a young peasant girl, to “pray for the conversion of sinners.”   Bernadette did not understand what that meant, and when she would ask, Our Lady would just smile.  During the eighteen visits of Our Lady at Lourdes, Bernadette received many messages. She was told to drink the water from a spring that suddenly sprang up at the foot of the grotto. Our Lady asked that priests should erect a church on the spot.  It took a while but finally the bishop appointed a committee who studied the apparitions and declared that all was true. A church was built on the spot. Bernadette joined the Sisters of Charity and never returned to Lourdes. In 1879 Bernadette passed away, and in 1935 Pope Pius XI declared her a Saint!

When I visited Lourdes I was struck by the beauty and the solemnity the site of the apparitions.  It was a cold, snowy January day when I was there but I was amazed at the number of people who were there despite the weather.  Visiting the sites is an experience I will never forget.


May each and every one of us grow daily in your love for Our Lord.  Perhaps today is a good day to begin to say the Rosary again – the prayer Our Lady prayed with St. Bernadette.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Snow Day

There are two words that always bring joy to students and teachers alike – SNOW DAY!  For the first time in a few years the NYC Public Schools are closed.  As I sit here, at home, looking out the window I am struck by the ominous beauty outside.  The snow is coming down quite rapidly and with those fine flakes that signal a good accumulation.  When I have a snow day it is a day that I see as a gift to catch up on things that I haven’t been able to do and the chance to plan ahead.  I find that it is a gift of time.  When we receive the unexpected gift of time we have to make choices of how to use it.  I know at some point I will go out and shovel out and clear the cars which right now seems daunting as the wind is howling.  But the rest of the day is a time to relax, catch up and enjoy the beauty of it all.  May this day be filled with many unexpected blessings for all!  Be safe out there everyone!

Pat Schifini, OSU

  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salt and Light

In today’s Gospel we continue the story of the Beatitudes.  Jesus said to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth.  But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?  It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5: 12 – 16)

In this gospel reading we are called to action we are called to assume the responsibility that we are indeed the salt of the earth; we are the light of the world.  Jesus encourages us, like the disciples, to be sure that our light shines brightly before others so that we glorify our God of love and compassion.  We are called to action not to sit idly by we are called to take action.

As we look at the events of our world let us ask our God for support and guidance on how I can carry this action out.  In a world filled with so many difficult moments we are called to provide that light and salt for one another.  Let us always search for ways to live out the Beatitudes in our daily living. 
Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, February 3, 2017

Feast of St. Blaise

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Blaise.  The legend has it that as the hunters hauled Blaise off to prision, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat.  At Blaise's command the child was able to cough up the bone.  In honor of St. Blaise throats are usually blessed on this day.  As a young child I remember not really understanding how the priest was going to put the candles around my neck for the blessing.  It is a tradition that is still followed today.  In honor of St. Blaise we pray:

"Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen"

Pat Schifini, OSU


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

In 1997, St. John Paul II established the special Day of Consecrated Life to coincide with the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (February 2). The Pope gave three reasons for his selection of February 2 as a special day for religious women and men: first, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; second, to promote the knowledge and appreciation of consecrated women and men by all the People of God; and third, to invite all those who have dedicated their life to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the wonderful ways that Lord has worked through them.


On this day, we recall that Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus to the Temple in accordance with the law to present him to God.  They did what they had the power to do and what needed to be done.  Their actions were affirmed by those present and they are praised for following the tradition.  May we take time this day to pray for all those who have been models for us and for those who continue to do so.  May we always remember that God’s love for us is far greater than our love for God’s is unconditional and full of grace.

Pat Schifini, OSU