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

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:  "Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.  Father, they are your gift to me.  I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.  I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."  John 17: 20 – 26

Today’s gospel truly portrays Jesus abundant love for us.  As He was preparing for His death he recognized each one of us as a gift given by God and He prayed that we would always be united with Him.  In revealing God’s abundant love for us Jesus invites us into a deep relationship with God.  This relationship comes with responsibility too.  We are called to mirror that love for one another.  In accepting this responsibility we also accept the call to be people who “act with justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:9)  By living this way we respond to Jesus’ call to love and be people of love.  Jesus has always promised to always be with us until the end of time. May we always commit ourselves to live each day the way that Jesus has called us to.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May Crowning 2019

Today, our Middle School students gathered in the Ursuline Province Center Chapel to crown the statue of Our Lady with flowers.  Traditionally the oldest student in the Middle School carries the crown.  I was very nice today that the three oldest members of the Middle School did the crowning.  One carried the crown and the other two were acolytes.

In our introduction we set the stage for our crowning prayer service with:  My dear and sisters:  We gather today to crown this image of the mother of Jesus.  As we acclaim Mary, the Mother of God, as our queen and as the Mother of the Church, let us imitate her example and be attentive to the Word of God. As we honor Mary, who is higher than the cherubim and yet like us, let us pray that through her intercession we may achieve holiness of life, and a deepened faith, hope, and love, as we seek to do the will of God in all things.
Almighty God and Father, you have given us the mother of your Son to be our mother and our queen. With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of your children in the kingdom of heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May this simple ceremony continue to remind each one of us that we are loved by God and that we are never alone.  Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13

Last evening, I had the opportunity to watch the Memorial Day Concert from our nation’s capital.  It was a most moving concert with many stories of veteran’s shared.  What most touched me was the stories of young men who were friends who promised to take care of the other or of their family if anything happened.  The performance began with a salute to all Gold Star families.  Since I live with a “Gold Star” family member this had very special significance.  Gold Star families are those families whose member paid the ultimate sacrifice and did not return from war alive.  There were Gold Star families present from each war that has been fought.  The tribute to those soldiers who have come home disabled was very moving.  As I watched the performance, I was struck by how important it is to celebrate this day and to pray for those who died so we can be free.  Let us pray this day for all who paid the ultimate sacrifice and for those who continue to defend our shores today. 

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Jubilee Day 2019

Today the Ursuline Sisters celebrated our Province Jubilee Celebration, thirteen sisters will mark some 710 years of Religious Profession.  Each of these women responded to Jesus’ invitation to “Come and See.”  They responded not knowing fully where the journey would lead them.  With an eagerness of heart and a sense of awe they came and stayed.  Over the years they have been principals, educators, councilors, authors, pastoral care ministers, midwives, missionaries and working with the poor.  They have served in Province Leadership and International Leadership.  Each one brought her unique set of gifts with her and shared them unconditionally.  As we celebrate today we thank our loving God for the gift you have been to us.  Thank you Barbara, Beth, Brenda, Celestine, Claire, Fran, Julia, Mary, Mary Beth, Maryellen, Maureen, Pascal, and Pat for your loving fidelity to God and God's people. Ad multos annos!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Reaching Beyond Ourselves

Today two heroes were honored in New York.  One in Westchester County and one in New York City.  Both served in our military one a hero of World War II and the other killed while on duty with the National Guard.  The one in Westchester died in a nursing home and had no family.  A young woman who volunteered at the nursing home where he spent his final days made sure that he had the proper funeral with full military honors.  Her desire to honor his service and memory touched many people and his funeral was more than she could ever imagine.  Many people turned out to celebrate the life of a decorated veteran.  The most touching part was when the flag that draped his coffin was given to the young volunteer.  In the city the young father of three was celebrated with full military and fire department honors and will be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery.  Each of these men served their country with honor and remind us of the importance of looking outside ourselves and reaching out to others.  Let us take time to embrace the call that is greater than ourselves and always try to “do unto others as you would want done to you.”  

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday

Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Jesus Christ is risen today!   Easter Sunday is the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. is the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.  Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day following his crucifixion. His resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin and death.  The tomb of Christ is empty, and all rejoice.   Jesus’ disciples are called to believe what they have witnessed with their eyes we are called to believe with the eyes of faith.   As we celebrate this Easter let us remember our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka as they mourn the loss of so many in the Church bombings that occurred there.  May there be an end to violence in all parts of our world.  May this Easter season be filled with faith, hope and love for all.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday offers a quiet beauty as we move through the emptiness of the day.  On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn Easter vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.  As we reflect this day let us trust in God’s promise of salvation that we too shall rise one day.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

Good Friday is the day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Catholics are joined by almost all other Christians in solemn commemoration on this day.  According to tradition, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot on the night of the Last Supper.  The morning following His arrest, Jesus is taken before the Jewish authorities who condemn Him, sent to Pontius Pilate who found no reason to condemn Him.  Pilate tried to release Jesus, but the Jewish leaders would not accept this.  He then appealed to King Herod who also found no guilt in Jesus.  Pilate declared Jesus innocent and washed His hands to show that he wanted nothing to do with Jesus.  The crowds were enraged and to prevent a riot, Pilate reluctantly agreed to execute Jesus.  On this day of darkness, death and denial let us pray for the grace to overcome the darkness in our lives.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.  On this night, Jesus had His Last Supper with His Disciples.  During this meal, Jesus predicts His final betrayal.  Jesus celebrated the Passover Meal with His friends fulfilling His role as the Paschal Victim.   Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples and established the priesthood.   During the Passover meal, Jesus breaks bread and gives it to His Disciples, uttering the words, "This is my body, which is given for you." Subsequently, He passes a cup filled with wine. He then says, "This is my blood..." With this action the Eucharist – the celebration of the great thanksgiving is born.  As we receive the Eucharist this night let us remember the unity which we experience as part of Body of Christ.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Annunciation

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation-that moment in which the history of the world would be changed. For this is the moment when Mary, a young Jewish maiden, probably not older than our juniors and seniors, said yes to God's call to become the mother of Jesus, the Messiah.  Did she really realize the import of that message? How could she?  Yet, in faith, she jumped in with both feet and the world was changed forever. For God reached out and through her gracious response, we have been redeemed.  Listen to the calls in your life and see what miracles will follow.  Have a great week.

KM Donohue

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

St. Joseph

We do not have a great deal of information about the man whose feast we celebrate today.  St. Joseph, a humble carpenter, was betrothed to Mary, a Jewish maiden. During their betrothal it was discovered that Mary had conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When Joseph discovered this, he had two options first he could stand by her and taker her into his home as planned or he could have abandoned her and let her be stoned to death.  Joseph chose to continue with his betrothal and marry her, and then when the child Jesus was born Joseph raised him. Joseph followed God’s plan.  Joseph followed all that God had planned and sacrificed his will for the will of God.
Joseph died before Jesus started his public ministry.  He provided for Jesus as his earthly father and sacrificed himself for his love of God and his family.  Joseph never questioned or complained he just did as he was called to do.  In many ways he is the epitome of familial love and all that we should aspire to.  Joseph chose to love God, Mary and Jesus.  He shared in Jesus’ life and followed all that he was called to do.  Let us pray today for the grace to be as open as Joseph was and to follow God’s plan in all that we do.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pope Francis

In many ways it is hard to believe that six years ago today, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope.  So much has changed over these six years both in the Church and in our world.  He chose his name after St. Francis of Assisi and has modeled him in all that he does.  Pope Francis has done so much to move the Church forward at time when the Church is experiencing tremendous pain and suffering.  He has consistently challenged all people to be Christ for one another and has tried to do the same.  As we celebrate his anniversary today let us reflect on his statement, “We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love.  Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a wake-up call. It is the gateway to Lent. We have forty precious days to open ourselves up to God, to examine ourselves in the presence of the one who created us, knows us, and loves us. We have forty days to face ourselves and learn to not be afraid of our sinfulness. We are dust, and to dust we shall return, but with God’s grace we can learn to live this life more fully, embracing our sinfulness, allowing God to transform us.

Lent means “springtime” – coming to new life after winter.  It marks the forty days before Easter, commemorating Jesus’ forty days in the desert and the Israelites forty years in the desert wilderness.  Lent is meant to be an experience.  We are urged to pray, to do penance, and to sacrifice.  With Jesus we make the passage from death to life.  Lent can be a challenge for us; a time to invite Jesus into some area in our lives in need of growth.

This Lent let us look at things a little differently.  Instead of “What will I give up?”  Consider “What does God want to give to you?”  Before you think about what you are going to give up think about what God might be inviting you to.  God wants us to be happy, caring and compassionate toward ourselves and others.  We are meant to be free and not burdened down.

Let us embrace this Lent with a spirit of hope and be ready for big surprises!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Seeing Clearly

Jesus told his disciples a parable, "Can a blind person guide a blind person?  Will not both fall into a pit?  No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?  You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye.  "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.  A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."  Luke 6: 39 - 45

Today’s Gospel is one that is somewhat difficult to hear as it speaks to the heart of the Christian message.  It is so easy for us to find the faults in our brothers and sisters but it is near impossible for us to admit our own faults and shortcomings.  Jesus is rebuking hypocrisy in this message.  No one of us likes to view themselves in light of this Gospel.  It is so easy to hide our faults and short comings.  Perhaps the message of today’s Gospel is to take time to be open to others and reach out in kindness, compassion and mercy.  For if we do this we will be doing just what Jesus desires us to.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Celebrating World Day of Consecrated Life

Today we will celebrate World Day of Consecrated Life.  As we celebrate this day we remember St. Angela who had the vision to begin the Company of St. Ursula, now the Ursuline Community.  We share Sr. Brenda Buckley’s reflection from our St. Angela Feast Day Liturgy as we pray for all religious men and women throughout the world.

As we celebrate the Feast of St. Angela Merici today, and especially after listening to the scripture readings and St. Angela’s own words, I would like to comment on two sculptures of Angela that give us not just images of her in various ways, but perhaps even some insight into how she responded to God’s love in her life. While we honor St. Angela as the foundress of the Ursulines, we also celebrate her whole life’s journey and how this could be a model and inspiration for our own lives. Angela’s life witnesses to how one’s faith grows through commitment to prayer and loving service.

I think these images offer us some perspective on this faith journey.  To me they represent pivotal, important moments in Angela’s life that help us understand how her faithfulness to the actions and inspirations of the Holy Spirit shaped her life.  We know that Angela was part of a devout and loving family who listened to the stories of scripture and for whom faith was a central part of life. This made a great impression on Angela as a young child and helped her develop her relationship with God.  The statue of Angela with the basket of bread, perhaps bringing it to the workmen in the fields, shows that Angela was of service to and very much engaged in the daily life of her world and recalls for me a precious moment in Angela’s life.  Angela experienced tragedy and loss, and she mourned especially her sister and worried about the state of her sister’s soul. In the midst of her ordinary day, God granted Angela a tremendous gift of love and grace with the deep spiritual experience, that we call a vision, in which she was granted the knowledge that her beloved sister was safe with God. This intense prayer experience reflected the profound relationship that Angela had with God.

Angela was aware of the realities of her times, but she was not defeated by them.  Her world included political upheaval, economic disparity, poverty, exploitation of the most vulnerable, and loss of credibility of social institutions. We know that she chose to join the Third Order of St. Francis and was imbued with the Franciscan spirituality and its desire to serve others. Her deep spiritual life and holiness helped her guide and counsel others who were grieving, weighed down by cares and conflict, or seeking peace and consolation. As she continued her faith journey, she inspired by example, and she invited others to do the same.

And this is where the second sculpture fits in. We see Angela sitting on a bench facing an empty space, or rather a place for someone to join her. Her expression and position convey invitation, welcome and openness to listening and sharing. Angela’s delight in and respect for the unique relationship with Christ to which each is called empowered all who met her and who wanted to be part of her vision.  Angela’s vision and mission now centered on a very vulnerable and oppressed group of her day. Angela invited women, ordinary women, to join her to fill that space on the bench to form a new community, a new company who be called to be part of her faith journey.

The first members of the Company of St. Ursula came together and inspired by the Holy Spirit signed in a book their names or made their mark to express their commitment to live a life of consecration in the world. These women were part of something very new in Angela’s time. They were responding to an opportunity that had not been available to them: a chance to choose how they would their faith in their world and environment. It was empowerment for them and for those who would be the support of the new Company of Women. This is where we see the uniqueness of Angela’s mission. All levels of society would be empowered to transform and serve society. The more affluent faithful who were influential in the structures of the society would be called upon to be the guides and support for the new Company of St. Ursula. They also would be part of this unique faith journey. Their witness would be of service to the Company. This new and marvelous vision would be inclusive and would witness to the fact that one’s worth and relationship with God was not determined by one’s socio economic status, but by love and service.

It would be the task of the Company to announce that all are called to be the face of Christ for others and to see the face of Christ in others. It is what we are invited to live today and each day. We are invited to join Angela on that bench, to share faith, insights, hopes and dreams, and to learn from her wisdom gleaned from experience.  It is Angela’s gift to us and to the Church.

This is the truth that Angela speaks to us by her life and in her writings. It is what we must do as she invites us: to Act, move, strive, hope, cry out to God and believe that we will see marvelous things.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Feast of St. Angela and Catholic Schools Week

Today we celebrate two special events, the Feast of St. Angela and the beginning of Catholic Schools Week.

Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2019 is January 27 - February 2. The theme for National Catholic Schools Week 2019 is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”  Through different events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation. 

As we celebrate the Feast of St. Angela Merici today let us remember that she promised to always be in our midst, lending aid to our prayers.  St. Angela Merici was born in Desenzano, Italy in 1470. She grew up on a small farm with her parents, brothers and one sister. Angela was orphaned at 10 years of age and was raised by relatives. 

A young woman of prayer and action, Angela saw the need for education among the poor and especially of girls. Angela believed in girls having an education since women are very influential in families. She and several companions began to teach girls in their homes. Eventually, they formed a company of women under the protection of Saint Ursula, patron of learning, students, and young women.

This small Company of Saint Ursula has grown and developed since its start in 1535 to be a world-wide order of religious women, known largely as the Ursuline Sisters. Working in Angela’s footsteps in the United States, Canada, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, the Ursuline Sisters continue to educate and serve others in the spirit of Angela. Through prayer and action, Ursuline sisters can be found in the service of all types of ministry so they can continue to meet the needs of today’s times.

Let us join now in prayer today to ask God to bless all those throughout the world who have been touched by the life of St. Angela, that they may live by her spirit, in unity, appreciating, helping and loving as she has loved and believing in God “with firm faith and lively hope”.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Life Well Lived

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St. Angela on Sunday we pause today to remember and pray for Sr. Jeanne Brennan, OSU, a faithful daughter of Angela who has joined her in Heaven.  May we pray for her and all who dedicated their lives to serving God’s people.

Sr. Jeanne Brennan, a beloved member of the Ursuline Community, died peacefully January 21, 2019 at Andrus-on-Hudson, Hastings, New York.

Born Mary Louise to Ruth Provost and John Brennan in Stamford, CT in 1923, Sr. Jeanne entered the Ursulines in 1945, and was professed in 1948. Sr. Jeanne graduated from the College of New Rochelle in 1945 with a B.A. in History. She also earned an M.S. in Education from Fordham University and an M.S. in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College. In later years she was certified in Sacred Theology from the Institute of Spirituality and Worship at the Jesuit School at Berkeley, California, and in Spiritual Direction from the Center for Spirituality and Justice.

Sr. Jeanne began her ministry of over sixty years as a teacher at Blessed Sacrament, Grand Concourse Ursuline Academy, and the Academy of Mount St. Ursula. She went on to serve as a counselor at the College of New Rochelle and the Ursuline School. In the 1990s she became very active in spiritual direction, providing “Focusing” retreats and workshops to a wide range of groups, both locally and internationally. Sr. Jeanne’s leadership in the Ursuline community includes positions as Novice Mistress, Superior to the North Avenue and St. Teresa’s communities, as a trustee of the College of New Rochelle. Sr. Jeanne served as the liaison to the Ursuline School Mothers Spirituality Group, and to the Ursuline Associates at St. Teresa’s.

A wake will be held at the Ursuline Province Center, New Rochelle, NY, on Wednesday, January 23, 3:00 – 7:00pm, with a prayer service at 4:15 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Province Center Chapel on Thursday, January 24 at 10:30am. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Ursuline Sisters Retirement Fund at the Ursuline Provincialate, 1338 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10804.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Miracle on the Hudson

Ten years ago, today a near catastrophe was averted when Captain Sully Sullenberger safely landed a US Airways jet with 155 people on board in the Hudson River.  When a flock of birds flew into his engine, he realized that he would not make it to any of the nearby airports.  Rather than just crash he looked for a possible landing site.  His choices were limited so he chose to land the plane in the River in the hopes of saving everyone on board and not causing further injury on land.  When he approached the river, he realized that the landing was going to be a tough one and could mean the plane exploding but neither happened.  The landing was not as bad as he thought it would be and the plane remained in tact long enough to save everyone on board.  Let us take some time today to reflect on this event and all the good that came that day.  May we always remember this quote by him, "The facts tell us what to do and how to do it, but it is our humanity which tells us that we must do something and why we must do it." — Sully Sullenberger 

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, January 14, 2019

Follow Me

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the Gospel."  As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Then they left their nets and followed him.  He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.  They too were in a boat mending their nets.  Then he called them.  So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.  Mark 1: 14 – 20

Today we once again begin the Liturgical Season of Ordinary Time.  The Christmas season has come to an end and know we are back to that time between seasons when we are given the opportunity to reflect on the ordinary things of life.  In today’s Gospel Jesus calls Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him.  He invited them to be “fishers of men.”  They were to cast out their net and gather all people and bring them to Jesus.  Imagine receiving the personal invitation to follow Jesus and work for Him.  I think they must have experienced a myriad of emotions – joy, happiness, fear and anger.  They were being called to embrace the unfamiliar and must have been terrified.  We too are often called to do the same.  Situations arise and we need to rely on our courage to find the best solution.  As we live this day let us remember that Jesus has always promised to be with us and we only need to ask for help.  He does listen to our prayers and responds in His time. 

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Value of Older Things

This morning when I was checking my Facebook page, I came across a post from my cousin in CT.  She had posted about an Antique shop in Delaware.  I couldn't believe my eyes because I had taught the owner of that shop in the third grade in Wilmington!  She had put up pictures of his shop and they brought me back 50 years to our own living room.  My mother was an antique buff and our house was filled with marble top tables, antique furniture, and hurricane lamps which my dad collected. My cousin's mom was also an antique buff and often went off on a search with mom.  What is the point of this?  As I was looking at the pictures, I realized how beautiful and valuable these old pieces can be. So too, are the elderly who are so often forgotten and neglected. Many have no one to call their own but need to be cherished.  Take some time to bask in the beauty of the old and valuable persons and things in your own life.  May you have a blessed weekend. 

Kathleen Mary Donohue, OSU

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Feast of the Epiphany

We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traverse afar Field and fountain, moor and mountain following yonder star

O Star of wonder, star of night Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading, still proceeding Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never over us all to reign frankincense to offer have I incense owns a Deity nigh prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume breathes of life of gathering gloom sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying sealed in the stone-cold tomb glorious now behold Him arise King and God and Sacrifice Alleluia, Alleluia earth to heav'n replies

The First Noel

The First Noel, the Angels did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay in fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel Born is the King of Israel! 

They looked up and saw a star shining in the East beyond them far and to the earth it gave great light and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star three Wise men came from country far to seek for a King was their intent and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest O'er Bethlehem it took its rest and there it did both pause and stay right o'er the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those Wise men three fell reverently upon their knee and offered there in His presence their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

This morning at our Mass we sang both of these songs.  Admittedly they are among my favorite Christmas Carols.  It was very nice to end the Christmas season with these two songs.  For me they tell the story of the feast we celebrate today – the Epiphany of our Lord.  “Epiphany” means manifestation.  And the “Epiphany of the Lord” is Jesus’ manifestation not only to these three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world.  These Magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him.
God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore the Christ.  He used a star.  They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem they realized that something special was happening.  So the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. 

A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child.  They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration.  They set a perfect example for us.  If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same.  We are called to adore Him with a complete surrender of our life.

Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin.  Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die.  Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is.  If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way.

Whatever we do this day, let us take some time to reflect on the meaning of this day and be open to our God of great surprises so that we too may respond with a total “yes.” 

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Blessing

Today we begin 2019, a year filled with hope and opportunity.  Each day is a new beginning and we have been given the gift to live it.  I read that the New Year is like a giant blank book with 365 pages for us to write on.  May we write wonderful books this year.

Prayer for the New Year

God of all time, on this New Year’s Day, we place the days and months of the new year into your hands.  Fill our days with the blessings of family, friendship, laughter, and love. Show us ways to spend our time serving your children in need.  Help us remember to take time to read your Word and to talk with you in prayer.  Amen.

“Ask God what you can do for him today.  No matter how many days, weeks, or years you have wasted, it’s never too late to get started.  Today is a new beginning!”  Gary Zimak

On January 1st, 2019 Pope Francis will mark the annual World Day of Peace with a message titled: “Good Politics is at the Service of Peace.” Pope Francis compels everyone to be engaged in the work of advocating for and with those whose voices are marginalized, to ensure the protection and fulfillment of the ‘youngest and smallest.’

Pope Francis’ Prayer For Peace

Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!  We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried.  Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts and give us the courage to say: "Never again war!"  Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.  Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words "division", "hatred" and "war" be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be "brother", and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam! Amen.  

Pat Schifini, OSU