Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Story of Zacchaeus

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.  Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.  When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over."  And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."  Luke 19: 1-10

Zacchaeus is saved us, because he descends from Abraham. He is saved, too, though, because he descends from the tree!   I have always loved the story of Zacchaeus.  Perhaps it is because I can easily related to his height issue.  Zacchaeus was a wealthy man and had a need to see who Jesus was.  He had heard of Him but desired to see Him so he climbed the sycamore tree.  Jesus calls Zacchaeus down, just as He calls each of us.

Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree, to a direct encounter with Him. Jesus does not condemn him.  He calls him to dwell with him.  The same message is there for us.  Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him and be saved.  Like Zacchaeus we too need to have the desire to see Jesus and follow.  We are called to have open and listening hearts.  Jesus takes us as we are and invites us to grow and develop into who we are called to be.  May we live each day with that certitude of heart.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Natural Disasters

Seven years ago today the east coast was rocked by Hurricane Sandy.  I remember that day so clearly.  We had gone over to Mass at the Ursuline Provincialate to be greeted by our Provincial who asked us if we could move in for a few days to help out in case the employees could not get in.  After the initial shock passed we immediately said we just needed to go home and get our things for work.  As soon as Mass ended we headed home and packed up for what we thought would be a few days.  We began our tour of duty by making sure all the beds were made and that there were names on the doors so the sisters would know what room they would use.  Several sisters came from our convent across New Rochelle and those who lived near water also moved in.  We wound up staying for a week, school was closed so we really just remained safe with the sisters.  About three days after the storm hit we went home to check on our apartment since we were not there for the storm.  Once we got to our apartment we were greeted by the fact that there was no electricity or heat so we emptied the refrigerator, put away our work clothes and headed back to the convent where we stayed until the electricity was restored. 

Watching the news was nonstop and when I spoke to my sister I realized that the storm had taken her house.  She told me that, “Barnegat Bay met in my living room.”  As she said this she described the point at which they decided to abandon their house and seek higher ground—it was when a piece of siding landed in their front lawn.  A week later I visited her home to help with the gutting of it.  The water was just less than four feet high which meant that insurance would only pay for half of the walls to be replaced.  We ripped out carpets, took out furniture and cleaned out the refrigerators which still had water and minnows in the draws.  For the past seven years she has fought with FEMA, contractors, been robbed and after finally finishing her house she has sold it and moved to a smaller home away from the water.  Her story is very much like so many others, many of whom have still not completed repairs. 

Today we are praying for the people of California who are battling fires once again.  Two years ago we lost our Retreat Center in Santa Rosa, one of the sisters lost her home and her dog and many lives were turned upside down due to fires.  Let us continue to pray for all those who are in the path of natural disasters -- that all will be safe.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tree of Life

One year ago today a lone gunman opened fire with an AR- 15 rifle at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  Eleven people were killed that day and six others were injured.  The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 years of age.  Two were brothers and greeted people as they came to the synagogue and one had survived the Holocaust.  The conservative Jewish synagogue has remained closed since that fateful day but many people visited the site to mark the one year anniversary.  There is a fence that surrounds the synagogue which has been decorated with messages from around the country and artwork sent by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The outpouring of love and support does not lessen the pain of the senseless violence that had occurred.   There have been random acts of violence since that fateful day, as well as, threats of violence.  Our world is in such pain and everyone needs to come together and work for justice for all.  We need to remember the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor.  Each one of us has been created in the image and likeness of God and that is both a call and a challenge to act out of that reality.  May those who have succumbed to senseless violence rest in peace and may we always seek to foster peace in all we do.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Light the Night

Tonight I participated in the Light night walk at Rye Playland.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk funds treatments that are saving the lives of patients today. LLS is making cures happen by providing patient support services, advocating for lifesaving treatments and pioneering the most promising cancer research anywhere. And it's all happening now. Not someday, but today. Each year friends, families and coworkers form teams to raise money in support of our mission.

For the past 12 years I have walked in honor of a dear friend of mine Bob who lost a valiant battle with Leukemia.  I had the pleasure of knowing Bob and his family for well over 40 years.    I am still friends with his wife and children and now grandchildren.  Bob had an incredible outlook on life.  When he became ill he fought with all his will and never gave up hope.  Tonight in his honor we donned our “Big Bobby” shirts and gathered for our team photo with great pride.  One of the most special parts of the time is having the opportunity to go into the remembrance tent.  In the tent family and friends are invited to write a message to their loved one.  Each year the messages get more personal and there are often many tears shed. 

The opening ceremony has changed over the years and tonight’s begun with the sharing of a survivor’s story.  A woman who told her story shared how “faith, hope and humor” sustained her on the journey.  She also shared that in January she had her blood test and her oncologist called her to congratulate her that she was in remission and was also pregnant.  The one thing she wanted was a child, her son, Tyler is now two months old.  This story like so many give tremendous hope.  Let us pray for all those who have succumbed to cancer, are fighting cancer, or are in remission from cancer.  May a cure be found very soon.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Healing of the Ten Lepers

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.  They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master!  Have pity on us!"  And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"  Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." Luke 17: 11 – 19

Today’s Gospel is the familiar story of the healing of the ten lepers.  Even though ten were healed only one returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  This leaves Jesus wondering where the other nine were.  God has been alive and present in all of our lives.  Always ready to heal and make whole our God often wonders where we have gone. We forget to see God’s action in our lives.  Often we are not willing to allow God to heal what needs to be healed in us.  We are afraid to surrender to God what needs to be healed.  God is always present to us and is willing to perform both the small and extraordinary miracles we need to experience.  May we always be open to allowing God to heal those places that we are most unwilling to share with Him.

Image result for the healing of the ten lepers

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Lead a New Life

On Wednesday, October 2nd the members of the Ursuline General Chapter had an audience with Pope Francis.  His message to them is inspiring for all of us.

Pope to Ursulines: “Make new life” by attracting people to Christ By Robin Gomes

Today, no one can say any more: "This does not concern me". The problems of others are our problems, my problems. They no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. Pope Francis made the point to the Ursuline Sisters, officially known as the Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula.

Our problems, my problems

Commenting on the theme of their General Chapter – “A Global Community moving into new life” – the Pope said, “We find ourselves in a time increasingly interconnected and inhabited by peoples who have come to be part of a "global community". “Today,” he said, “no one can say any more: "This does not concern me".  “The protection of human rights, the conquest of freedom of thought and religion, the evangelization of the distant and the near - beginning with oneself -, social justice, the protection of the environment and the common search for sustainable development, the advent of a humanistic economy, of a policy that is truly at the service of man,” the Pope said, “are not ‘problems of others’, but they are our problems, they are my problems; they no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. In this regard he pointed to the burning of the Amazon forest saying it is not just a problem in that region, it is a global problem. The migration phenomenon does not affect only some states, but the international community, and so on.

“Make new life”

In the face of this, the Holy Father urged the Ursulines to focus on the hope expressed in the second part of their theme: "Let us go towards a new life", that echoes the words of their foundress, Saint Angela Merici: “Make new life. ”The Pope said it is possible to make new life by “opening the doors to Christ and imitating him in charity, that is, in His becoming a neighbor to every man and woman of every language, people and nation with great respect for the diversity of the other, both cultural and religious”. n their charismatic originality, he said they are called to "make new life", to bring a breath of new life to the ends of the earth, knowing how to be with responsibility in the midst of different peoples, nations and cultures, so that the message of faith, hope and charity that you bring may attract people to Christ.

Conversion and witness

He asked the nuns, to seek through a climate of prayer, the appropriate instruments to pursue their individual and community objectives without losing sight of the vast horizon of humanity for which Jesus gave His life. This task, he said, requires a pastoral conversion of structures, so that they become ever more mission-oriented and "outgoing", to encourage the response of all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. For this, a coherent witness is needed, beginning from personal conversion. In this context, the Holy Father particularly encouraged the Ursulines to continue with enthusiasm in their special charism of educating the young, especially in thinking critically and discerning the pros and cons of the means they use, so they mature in values. Serious human growth in the awareness of values, the Pope said, is only possible by combining education with the proclamation of the Gospel, which is done primarily through personal witness.--Vatican News

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Praying for Peace in our World

As we continue to look at the need for peace in our world let us reflect on:
We are all called to develop the global common good and support the struggles of our sisters and brothers in the human family wherever they stand against injustice.

Solidarity “is the firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #193)

Pope Francis has recently given fuller voice to environmental concerns that have been a part of Catholic social teaching since the 1960s.

“Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #466)

Let us pray:

Free me, Creator God, from sin, from fear;
Free me from all forms of hate;
Free me from anger and violence.
Free me to love all my neighbors;
Free me to love the gift of Creation;
Free me to love with compassion and courage.
Free me to listen to your wisdom;
Free me to pay attention to the earth;
Free me to discern where my voice is needed.
Free me to follow your prophets, ancient and new;
Free me proclaim a graced-filled vision of peace;
Free me to walk the journey to Justice.  Amen.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Season of Creation

Today we begin the Season of Creation 2019.  This time of prayer spans September 1st until October 4th.  Let us pray for our world which is in such need of healing.

Creator of Life, the Earth is full of Your creatures, and by Your wisdom you made them all. At Your word, the Earth brought forth plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit, the waters teemed with swarms of living creatures of every kind, and world was filled with every kind of winged bird, walking animal, and creatures that creep upon the ground.

Mountains, plains, rocks, and rivers shelter diverse communities, and through the changing seasons Your Spirit renews cycles of life.

During this Season of Creation, open our eyes to see the precious diversity that is all around us. Enlighten our minds to appreciate the delicate balance maintained by each creature. Inspire us to conserve the precious habitats that nurture this web of life.
In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Come Rest by the Water

For the last few days there have been frequent posts about the last days of summer.  People are sad to see the hazy, hot days disappear yet are anticipating the cool, colorful days of fall.  Today I took a few hours to go over to the beach and sit by the water.  Someone posted on social media how the “beach is one place you can go and have your blood pressure drop even though there is salt.”  The beach is a place of beauty and calm for me.  I saw several butterflies, families enjoying time together, students worrying about their schedules, and those trying to stay out of the sun.  It was a beautiful day and a pure gift for me.  I was one of the first people to arrive and when I left the beach was mobbed with people.  It was so nice to be able to have some quiet time at the beach as it is one of my most favorite places to pray.  I find the image of the vast ocean a tremendous reminder of our God’s abundant love for each one of us.  At first the water looked like clear glass and the waves picked up later.  It was very relaxing and calm.  May these last lazy days of summer be filled with many blessings and much peace for all.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Queenship of Mary

Today we celebrate the memorial of the Queenship of Mary.  This memorial has its roots in Scripture for at the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive David’s throne and rule forever.  At her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, Mary is called the “mother of my Lord.”  Her queenship is closely aligned to Jesus’ kingship.

Throughout history we have all sung songs in honor of Mary.  We have sung:  Hail Holy Queen, Lady of Knock, the Ave Maria and the Salve Regina, as well as many others.  Each of these hymns point to Mary’s place of honor in our lives.  Mary is the Mother of Jesus and is to be revered that way.  She is our advocate with Jesus in a very real way.  Mary has been called our Mediatrix with Jesus assuring us that she is always there for us.  May we take time today to spend some time with Mary, our Mother, who has always promised to be with us.

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Loving Invitation

A young man approached Jesus and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"  He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good?  There is only One who is good.  If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."  He asked him, "Which ones?"  And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."  The young man said to him, "All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me."  When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.  Matthew 16: 19 – 22

There are times when I find this Gospel passage very perplexing.  They young many rather innocently approaches Jesus and asks Him a question.  The answer he received was not the one I think he was expecting.  I think he expected Jesus to congratulate him on keeping the law and doing everything right.  But there was still more that Jesus was requiring.  I believe if Jesus were to come today and have this conversation with any of us I think He would ask us to put down our cell phones and listen with our hearts, put away our computers and focus on those we are with and to reach out and help those in need no matter who they are.  Jesus calls us to surrender all the things which block us from having a deeper relationship with Him.  In this deeper relationship all things will be taken care of.  The less we carry and cling to the easier it is to receive His invitation of unconditional love and grace.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Senseless Violence

In the last week we, as a nation, have heard the reports of 4 mass shootings.  The scenes were:

• El Paso, Texas

• Dayton, Ohio

• Southaven, Mississippi

• Gilroy, California

In these mass shootings some 34 people lost their lives and more than 50 were wounded.  These are men, women and children, our brothers and sisters who have been injured or murdered.  There is no common source other than the ability to purchase guns is too easy.  
A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.

These shootings took place at a festival in Northern California, a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi, another Walmart on the border of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, and a popular entertainment district in Dayton.  There have been 251 shootings this year alone.  Where will it end?  Innocent people are being killed or injured.

Pope Francis offered his condolences Sunday to the victims of the multiple mass shootings in the US.

At the Angelus noon prayer in Italy, Francis said the attacks affected “defenseless people,” and also extended his “spiritual closeness,” to the victims of the California attack that happened earlier this week.

I express my spiritual closeness to the victims of the episodes of violence that these days have bloodied Texas, California and Ohio, in the United States, affecting defenseless people,” he said. “I invite you to join in my prayer for those who have lost their lives, for the wounded and their families.”

Let us join in prayer for the victims of these shootings and help to make the changes necessary to stop the senseless violence.  Gun control is a Pro-Life issue. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

40 Years of Music

Today I had the privilege of attending the closing concert of the Songcatchers Choir Camp Concert.  It was a wonderful celebration of the past forty years.  Some 40 years ago, Sr. Beth Dowd, had a dream of having a week long experience for her then children’s choir.  She believed that if they could go away for an intense program of music, arts & crafts, drama, sports and swimming they would learn music that they could use all year long.  The choir began with 33 campers and a staff of 15, today the choir and staff number well over 100 people.  Many of the first campers are counselors today.  It is a tribute to a dream that began some 40 years ago.  Today’s performance included songs and plays from the past camps.  It was very cleverly done and the overarching theme was that music unites all people.  The mission of Songcatchers remains “reaching for peace through music.”  Today’s performance mirrored that reality.  These talented young people will continue to make the world a better place by their presence and love for one another.  May we take every opportunity to be a force for unity, kindness, concern and peace.  It is by living this way that we continue to touch hearts and minds.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Convocation 2019

Today we await the arrival of the participants in the North American Ursuline Convocation entitled, “Angela’s Family:  Celebrating, Converging, Expanding.”  Ursuline Sisters, Ursuline Associates, Members of the Company and Colleagues will gather to explore and celebrate the special way of life that St. Angela has given to us.  We all know that God has blessed each one of us through the life and works of our beloved foundress.  St. Angela promised to, “Remain in our midst and encourage us to steadfastly continue the work we have begun.”  Surely Angela will be with us in St. Louis.

As we gather these days we will look at:  What does Angela’s charism mean to you personally?  How do you see Angela’s charism spreading in the next 10 years?  What would our planning process look like if Angela were sitting at this table with us?  These questions will be explored over the course of the next 4 days. 

When Angela’s family gathers together it is very much like a big family reunion.  Each time we gather there are new faces and a certain sadness about those who can no longer be with us.  The faces may have changed but the reality is we are still family we are there for one another and look forward to catching up with one another.  May these days of Convocation be richly blessed and may Angela be in our midst lending aid to our prayer.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Martha and Mary

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me."   The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.   Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."  Matthew 10:  38 – 42

In today’s Gospel we meet up with Martha and Mary, the sisters of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. This story always reminds me of the virtue of hospitality.  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to every word He said.  Martha was busy with many things and was upset with her sister for not helping.  In this passage, Jesus tells Martha that Mary had chosen the better part.
As we live our daily lives how often do we take the stance of Mary?  How often do we respond like Martha?   

Living our lives calls for a certain balance between the reactions of Martha and the actions of Mary.  Our lives are often very busy and we need to take the time to respond like Mary.  We need to consciously set aside a certain amount of time to dedicate to our relationship with Jesus.  It is important to take time and allow Jesus to fill our hearts with His love.  Take time today to spend time with Jesus and have a conversation with Him.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Being Childlike

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 the childlike.  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."  Matthew 11: 25 – 27

There is something very special in this Gospel that always catches my attention -- that Jesus revealed to the “childlike.”  Jesus didn’t reveal to the wise and learned yet did so the childlike not the childish.  When I heard this reading at Mass this morning I thought of all the children I have known over the years and for those who are special in my life today.  Children are wonderful and we can learn so much from them if we pay attention.  I was in awe at a video of my six year old nephew climbing a pole and then jumping off the platform for his ride on the high ropes course.  As I thought about this image I thought about the fact that he had to trust those who were guiding him, overcome his fear of climbing 35 feet up in the air, and muster the courage it took to step off the platform.  Are these not the things that our loving God asks of us – trust, overcoming fear and courage in our daily living?  If we allow ourselves to respond to God with this childlike simplicity we will open ourselves to great things. 

Each one of us is called to love as Jesus did.  We are seeking God’s revelation in our daily lives.  Every day we are invited to show the great love that Jesus modeled.  By following the example of the childlike in our midst we are invited to grow closer to our loving God and share His great love with others.  Today let us not be afraid to climb the pole, step off the platform and enjoy the ride with God.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Today we honor the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.
As I prayed today I recalled fondly the numerous Mt. Carmel feasts that we went to as children.  There were games, some rides, gold fish and great food including pastries and Italian Ices.  I remember we would go to Mass and then participate in the procession of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s statue through the neighborhood.  It was a wonderful time for all.  One of my favorite memories was as an adult one time going to the feast and winning a gold fish who we named Arthur as we won it on Arthur Avenue.  By some miracle the fish lived for about 5 years and outgrew several tanks.
Being on retreat these days has given me the opportunity to pray for others and for our world in a bit of a different setting than the original hermits.  I am on an island off Mystic Connecticut called Enders Island.  The island is surrounded by beautiful views of the water and incredible flowers.  I enjoy coming here for my own spiritual renewal – a great place to recharge one’s inner battery and live in the Lord’s love.  Sometimes I wonder if this is why the hermits went to Carmel in the first place to recharge.  If you have never made a retreat I highly recommend taking some time away to reflect and pray.  Our loving God knows what your body, mind and spirit need and retreat is a time to embrace God’s love in a quiet and gentle way.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Love and Mercy

Today’s Gospel is the familiar story of the Good Samaritan.  It is a story that we have heard many times and yet it is one that is filled with tremendous meaning.  When I listen to this story I try to reflect on what am I doing to treat others with respect, how have I come to the aid of a neighbor, do I build people up or tear them down, and what more can I do to help others?  In our lives we have met people who have hurt us and we are at times hesitant to help or trust.  This is exactly what we are being called to do.  We have to be willing to bandage wounds of others, welcome the stranger in our midst and do all that we can to help meet the needs of others.  In our world today there are many who are suffering, who are marginalized and we need to be willing to put their needs in front of our own and do what we can.  Each of us is called to be Christ for one another.  In doing so we reach out as Jesus would and become that source of hope for others.  He will always lead us in the right way of doing things.  Are we willing to humble ourselves enough before Jesus to ask for divine assistance?  Are our hearts open enough to feel Jesus’ presence walking with and guiding us?  Let us make today the day where we open our hearts to extend love and mercy to others.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Team USA!

On Sunday, July 7, 2019, the United States Women’s Soccer Team pulled off an amazing feat, they defeated the Netherlands in the World Cup Final.  There had been tremendous hype going into the game and some questioned if they would be able to rise above the mounting pressure.  Added to this was the fact that the men also had their final game at the same time.  The women went in with the attitude of we have worked hard for this and will do our best.  It wasn’t until 2/3rd of the way through the match that the women scored and did so a few minutes later.  With a 2 – 0 lead it seemed that the women’s dream would come true.  This game was not won by a single individual but rather an all-out team effort.  The women had trained together and used their skill to win.  They played as a team, celebrated as a team and are now modeling what it means to be a team.  I believe that there is a message in this unique story.  These women had come together to show their pride in one another and more importantly their country.  Tomorrow they will have a parade in the Canyon of Heroes in NYC.   There will be a great celebration for a well-deserved effort.  May we celebrate with them and applaud their determination to work together and work together for a fabulous win.  Thank you ladies for making us proud!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Take Courage

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, "My daughter has just died.  But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live."  Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.  A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak.  She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured."  Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, "Courage, daughter!  Your faith has saved you." And from that hour the woman was cured.

When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping."  And they ridiculed him.  When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose.  And news of this spread throughout all that land.  Matthew 9: 18 – 26

Today’s Gospel shows us the importance of faith, trust and perseverance.  When Jesus receives the official he does so with compassion and concern.  As Jesus rose to go with the official a woman risks all to touch the tassel of His cloak.  Ultimately she does succeed and is cured.  Jesus tells her that her faith has saved her and that her courage has cured her.  Arriving at the official’s house, Jesus sees the commotion and tells everyone to “go away!”  He came in and took her small had and she arose.  Two cures in one short passage.  Neither one of these cures would have happened without the faith and courage displayed by the woman and the official.  Perhaps when we feel we have no more to give it is just Jesus inviting us to stretch ourselves a little more and trust that Jesus will be there to take care of everything. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

An Independence Day Prayer

I received this prayer in an email from Autom and thought it summed up what this day truly means so I share it with you.

Dear God our Father, we praise You for who You are – a God of love, who reveals to us that love is truth and freedom.  Thank You for our country, the United States of America, conceived in liberty, and for all those who have sacrificed that we might enjoy these freedoms.

Like a city on a mountaintop, help us to share our blessings with the world, and to allow the light of Your Holy Spirit within us to set others free in spirit, soul, and body.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

May this prayer instill in us what this day is truly about – truth and freedom.  As we celebrate this day let us remember the many who are not free and are not able to enjoy life, liberty and happiness.  May our loving God always bless the United States of America.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Serviam Concludes for Now

Yesterday was our last day of “work” with the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.  For me this has been an incredible week of meeting those who have suffered so much to come to the United States for a better life.  Being at the CCHRC gave us the opportunity to meet many travelers, some of whom were there most of the week and some who were leaving that day.  These are the lucky ones who have been cleared from the detention centers and are going to family members who will welcome them for the next phase of their journey. 

Seeing the faces of so many infants, toddlers and young children will forever be engraved in my heart.  St. Angela said, “Have each one engraven in your heart, for this is how true love acts.”  This simple phrase came to me many times during this week as I gave our clothes for those in need.  Simple things such as shoelaces and belts were a precious commodity as they were taken by ICE at the detention centers.  It was so hard to tell the men we had no more.  Yesterday another young child had to be taken to the hospital for dehydration as he had to be ready to travel later in the day.  After a four-hour emergency room visit the child was cleared for travel and returned to the Center to be with his family.

A highlight of this time was having the opportunity to meet Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ. the Executive Director of CCRGV (Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.)  She is an incredible model of welcoming God’s people and lives the social mission of the Church. I had the opportunity to thank her for all she has done and for the example she is for all of us.

While our Serviam time has come to completion I know that this experience has taught me so much and will forever be in my heart.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Serviam Experience Day Three

Today we set out to our service site and were surprised when we did not see too many people in the reception area. When we entered the clothing area, we realized that everyone was just in the inner area.  We immediately got to work, preparing breakfast, distributing clothing and whatever else needed to be done.  Upon entering the clothing area, we realized that everything was totally mixed up and we needed to shut the station down for a few minutes to reorganize the clothing which was everywhere.  In less than 15 minutes we were all set to begin the work of welcoming our guest with a change of clothes and shoes if needed.  The kitchen crew did an amazing job feeding the many hungry guest and had the experience of not being sure if the promised lunch donation was really going to arrive.

What is amazing to see is the number of guests who volunteer their services to help cook, clean and distribute clothing.  One of our guests today was cleaning and tidying and when asked where her shoes were, she humbly responded, “No tengo zapatos.”   In a manner of minutes, she had shoes as one of our volunteers made sure that she had what she needed especially after she had been so helpful during the day.  Such simple actions cause one to be humbled by all that is happening.

After our group left for the day, we returned to our Basilica Hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes and we went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was a nice way to end the day.  After dinner we came back and had our reflection and sharing session.  During this time, we focused on where we saw/met Jesus today.  The responses were often in the faces of the men, women and children that we had encountered during our day.  Each one shared how they saw Jesus in the faces of those we served today and in the faces of many of the other volunteers.  Even though we are not able to take photos the faces I believe will forever be imprinted in our hearts and minds.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, June 14, 2019

Flag Day 2019

Today we commemorate Flag Day.  On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state.
In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The American flag, also nicknamed as “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner”, has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.

As we honor Flag Day today let us pray for all those who have paid the ultimate price defending our flag and our nation.  May we always pause to reflect and celebrate our nation and the symbols that has represented it for the last 242 years!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pentecost Sunday

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday! Since Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church, it is one of the most exciting days in our Christian Year. It is the time when the disciples no longer feared but were energized to proclaim the good news of God’s love through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.   The universal Church celebrates Pentecost, the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, 50 days after Easter.  Jesus promised His apostles that He would send them the Holy Spirit to empower them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Pat Schifini, OSU