Monday, February 29, 2016

Human Dignity

Human dignity is something which Pope Francis is bringing to our minds constantly as he reaches out to the poor and the handicapped as he travels the world.  In trying to imitate him can I reach out to those who are considered to be less than worthwhile?  Can I reach out to the elderly in nursing homes, the poor, the homeless the handicapped?  Can I see the face of Jesus in each person and recognize that each person is worthy of human dignity? 

K. M. Donohue, OSU

Sunday, February 28, 2016

God's Infinite Love

God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you. Rick Warren
When I was out walking today around a park near where I live I was struck by the notion that the water I was looking at was a real symbol of God’s infinite mercy for me.  God’s mercy is absolutely endless and no matter what is never taken from us.  Our God loves each and every one of us as a precious child.  No matter how often we sin or turn our backs on God our God does not ever give up on us.  God’s unconditional love for us is beyond our comprehension.

In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 4 verse 16 we read, “God is love, and all who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them”.  We are called to live this scripture in our daily living.  When we live this way we are able to help our brothers and sisters in their daily living.  We are called to spread God’s love for us to others and spread light in our world.

Love of God and neighbor is a tremendous virtue in our lives.  We need to always share this great blessing with others.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Laduato Si

Today I had the pleasure of attending a day of contemplation and reflection on Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laduato Si.   At first I was not quite sure how the day was going to flow but I found it to be a wonderful experience.  We began with setting the context of the day and then had input on chapter 3, The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis, which deals with technology.  It was very interesting to hear and see the impact of technology on our daily lives.  Every minute of every day we are influenced by the use of technology.  Each day there are new advances in technology.  Gadgets of every kind are now part of our everyday existence.  We have information accessible to us at every moment.  We live in a world where we need to be aware of our dependence on our technical gadgets.  As part of the experience we were invited to place our cell phones on a table and be disconnected for our time together.  It was an interesting feeling within to be disconnected even for a short period of time.   After a period of contemplative silence we had the opportunity to share on our experience and what we heard.  Everyone in the room had different experiences of using technology and different abilities in using it.

Pope Francis in a General Audience once said, “Creation is not some possession that we can lord over for our own pleasure; nor, even less, is it the property of only some people, the few: creation is a gift, it is the marvelous gift that God has given us, so that we will take care of it and harness it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”  Let us try to live out Pope Francis’ desire to respect creation and one another.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, February 26, 2016


Henri Nouwen, wrote in his book, Reaching Out:  The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life that “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”  Hospitality is a virtue that we practice every day of our lives.  Each one in their own way reaches out to others and tries to make others feel welcome.  Every culture has its own unique style of greeting others and often this centers around food.  Whether it is a cup of tea, a croissant, a cannoli, plantains, or a seven course meal the reality is the same.  Human beings are meant to share life together.  It is in our daily interactions that we continue to practice hospitality.  Let us always remember to welcome the stranger the same way we welcome a friend. 

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being Merciful

Lent is the time to demonstrate how our faith calls us to compassion and mercy.  We are called to be full of mercy and forgiveness.  Pope Francis has declared the special year of mercy this year and we are encouraged to practice it in all we do.  Mother Teresa once said, “Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor” (In the Heart of the World).   I believe that this is what we are called to.  Our God is always there for us and is always willing to forgive.  We need to do the same.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Good Example

All of our lives we are told to be a good example for others.  Everyone can relate to this statement.  What does it truly mean?  Does it mean to be a “goody goody” all the time, doing what is pleasing, or acting in a way that is not true to how you really are?  Perhaps is means some of all of the above.  We are called to be imitators and reflectors of Jesus Christ, modelling the values that Jesus taught at all times, and trying our best to live out the gospel call to love at all times.  This is not always the easiest or most popular road.  At times we don’t want to be the ideal person we are called to be.  We are only human and at times respond out of that reality.  Within the big picture of life it is important to remember that Jesus probably also had the days when he wished everyone would leave him be.  Yet he never responded out of that place.  Let us always remember to keep trying to be the good example we are called to be and live our lives confident of Jesus’ love and care for us.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Compassion, "to be with passion" can also be translated, "to be with love."  All around us we see signs of compassion in the faces of doctors and nurses who care for the sick of the world and in those who stop to care for the homeless and the poor who live among us daily. Jesus showed compassion when he healed the soldier's daughter and Peter's mother-in-law.  And he certainly showed compassion when he raised Lazarus from the dead.  I can show compassion by reaching out to a classmate who looks sad or one who is sitting by herself.  I can show compassion by defending someone who is being talked about.  I can show compassion by trying my best to love those people who drive me crazy.  I can show compassion by treating my siblings with kindness.  Look to Jesus as a model of someone who lived with compassion, with love.

K. M. Donohue, OSU

Monday, February 22, 2016

Who do you day that I am?

In today’s Gospel we here the familiar question posed to Jesus’ disciples, “Who do you say that the Son of Man is?”  Whenever I hear this particular Gospel I am drawn back to the day of my reception into the Ursuline Community as this was the Gospel that day.  Since that rainy August day some 30 years ago this Gospel has truly been part of my journey of faith and growth.  As the disciples answered the question for Jesus back in the day I find myself pondering it today.  The response is very much the same but there is a certain certitude of heart now that was not present long ago.  

Lent gives us the opportunity to reflect on our relationship with Jesus in a deeper way.  We are encouraged to look deep within.  Our God encourages us to see the good in one another and to accept each person where they are coming from.  We are called to be Christ for one another and to remember that Christ came to save each one of us.  Like Peter we need to have the courage to admit that Jesus is truly, “The Son of the living God.”  We are called to share that reality with all those we encounter.  Let us live this day and each day in joy and peace!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Service of Others

The motto of all Ursuline schools is Serviam, Latin for “I will serve.”  But what does Serviam really mean?  It’s a way to deepen your concern for others and turn it into meaningful action.  It’s a calling to use your unique gifts and talents to help those in need. It’s an attitude and a spirit that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

But what does the shield stand for?   First, the Serviam shield is used worldwide and represents all Ursuline schools.  Our motto Serviam, “I will serve,” signifies service of God, of country, family and society.  Serviam is a profession of faith in practice.

The seven stars represent Ursa Minor and remind us of our patroness, Saint Ursula. The North Star in Ursa Minor reflects our search for Jesus, the Truth, in all our decisions and actions.  The shield stands for loyalty to others and consistency in our actions.  The cross is the foundation of one’s life, and gives us courage to face life’s difficult times.  The cross reminds us of our faith.

Let us live this day and every day in the service of others.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 20, 2016


When I think about forgiveness I think about letting go of resentment, anger and the human desire to get even.  We all get hurt, offended, are misunderstood, lied to, and feel rejected.  It is learning how to respond to these emotions is one of the basics of the Christian life.  The real meaning of the word “forgive” means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt.  When we wrong someone, we seek their forgiveness in order to restore our relationship with them.  This is an important step and we have to remember that forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves it.  It is given as an act of love, mercy and grace.  Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.  Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to: peace of mind, better health, happiness, relief and sustains our relationships.  Let us live each day remembering the importance of forgiveness.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, February 19, 2016


In the play, “Les Miserables,” Jean Valjean endured great hardships in his life and was on the road to destruction when he was shown mercy and given a second chance.  He came to accept responsibility for his own life as well as that of his adoptive daughter, Cosette.  His self-sacrificing and boundless love for her changed his life and heart forever.  In the Epilogue lyrics we hear, “Take my hand, and lead me to salvation Take my love, for love is everlasting and remember the truth that once was spoken To love another person is to see the face of God!”  This is indeed what we are called to.  We are called to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Let us live this day and every day in love.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Golden Rule

In today’s Gospel we hear the familiar Golden Rule -- “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”  Matthew 7: 12.  The Golden Rule is shared by many of the world’s major religious traditions.  I remember learning it as a child and it has stuck with me ever since.  Understood by all as the ideal by which we should live – is it the reality by which we live?  We are called to live in such a way that I treat others the way I would want to be treated.  Is this the way I truly live my life?  How can I go beyond this ideal and truly treat others the way that Jesus would treat them?  These are rather difficult questions but I believe ones worth pondering during this Lenten season.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Conversion of Heart

Conversion in Greek is Metanoia, meaning change of heart.  Conversion is to turn to Christ and allow Him who is the Light of the world to enlighten and inflame our hearts. Conversion is to allow Christ to pour His grace into our hearts and transform our minds and our lives and our very being into Him.  When I think about the word conversion I am often reminded of the quote from the book, “The Little Prince” by Antione de Saint-Exupery, “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” This quote summarizes for me what I believe conversion of heart is truly about.  As we go through our day to day routine we need to be mindful of others and remember that we are all part of the same universe.  We need to work together to achieve success, to grow in life and to be faithful followers.  Lent is a journey of conversion and our hearts are at the center.  As we continue our Lenten journey perhaps we can remember that our God is nudging us to change something in our lives.  Perhaps we are being called to let go of an old habit and embrace new life.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


When I think of prayer I am struck by how my earlier notions have changed and keep growing and changing.  Prayer is a form of communication, a way of talking to God.  It may be formal or informal.  Often we think of prayer primarily as asking God for something but it is so much more.  When we have a conversation with a friend we are able to feel that they are listening to us.  The same is true of God.  Our God is always ready to listen to us and is always present to us.  We need to come frequently to God and allow ourselves to recognize God in all we do.  By praying we strengthen that recognition of the presence of God, which draws us closer to God.  We do not always have the time that we wish to spend in prayer but I believe that our God understands that and knows the desire of our heart.  Let us during this Lenten season have the desire to spend more time in prayer –  in conversation – with our God who loves and cares for us and all we do.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, February 15, 2016

Awareness of Others

Our scriptures today call us to be there for one another and to serve.  We are called to an awareness of others, their needs, their hopes and their dreams.   During this Lenten season and each day we must follow our Lord’s command to care for the poor, the hungry, the homeless and strangers in any way that we can.  We need to be there for one another the same way Jesus was for his early followers.  Jesus listened to and was present to those in need.  As we strive to imitate Jesus and be there for one another let us remember to pray and ask for God’s guidance and strength to “bless us with an awareness of the people around us.  Open our eyes to see your face in each person we meet and give us the courage to serve the poor with your love and mercy every day.”

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, February 14, 2016


In his song, “Change Our Hearts,” by Rory Cooney, the refrain is:  “Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be.  Change our minds this time, your life could make us free.  We are the people your call sets apart.  Lord, this time change our hearts.”  During our Lenten journey we are reminded that it is indeed a time to change our hearts – to undergo a process of conversion.  We are invited to let go of old habits and embrace new ones.  Scripture reminds us to “put on Christ.”  Jesus continually called his followers to become their best self.  He always accepted them where they were at and challenged them to grow deeper in their love of self, God and others.

When we travel to other countries we often convert some money before we leave so that upon arrival we will have some spending money.  In this process we are never sure of what the conversion rate will truly be, yet we do it.  Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised and other times we are rather saddened.  The most important thing is the willingness to take the chance on it that it will all work out.  The Lenten season calls us to do the same.  Let us all take the chance this Lent to make the changes we need to and to trust in the true love that we are called to be.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Patience and Mercy

In a prayer booklet I am using this Lent Pope Francis wrote, “Patient and merciful.”  These words often go together in the Old Testament to describe God’s nature…In a special way the Psalms bring to the fore the grandeur of his merciful action.  (Misericordiae Vultus, N. 6)

I found myself thinking a great deal about patience and mercy as I read this today.  We live in a world where these virtues are seriously lacking at times.  The virtue of patience is often defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”  There are many obstacles in our lives to being patient but we need to remember that our God is always patient and gentle with us.  We are called to respond to the invitation to embrace God’s mercy. 

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. The one who has God lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”  May God alone suffice for us during this Lenten season.

Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, February 12, 2016

Indifference, reflection by Sr. Kathleen Mary Donohue

Perhaps one of the greatest sins of our time is that of indifference-indifference to poverty, war, homelessness, human slavery, persecution of Christians and others for their faith, substance abuse.  We watch the news or check the Internet and become immune to these happenings in our world as they are so overwhelming.  We comfort ourselves by thinking we are only one person in a sea of indifference because it is all too big for us to fathom. A Lenten practice might be to make an effort to become more aware of what is happening and to ask our God heal the hearts of the oppressors while giving strength to the oppressed.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

God's Abundant Mercy

“God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones” (Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14)…

Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives, too; and let us become agents of his mercy.  Pope Francis

When I think about mercy I often think about forgiveness.  As I prayed this morning I was struck by the reality of God’s abundant mercy.  God is always there for us in good times and in bad.  It is amazing how easy it is to forget that.  So often we find ourselves comforting those who are in pain – physically, spiritually and emotionally.  We are called to be there for one another and in doing so transform the lives of others.  As we show mercy toward one another we experience the gift that we share.

The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need.  The Corporal Works of Mercy are the kind actions by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.  As we practice these Works this Lenten season may we always remember that we experience the mercy of others as often as we show it.

Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday: Our Lenten Journey Begins

Image result for lent

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.  Our weaknesses and sinfulness are not the focus, but a catalyst for growth.  Lent can be a challenge for us; a time to invite Jesus into some area in our lives in need of growth.

Pope Francis has declared that the season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should also be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy.  Let us enter into this Lenten season with a spirit of doing more rather than giving up things, with a spirit of care and compassion for all people.  May this Lenten season be a source of mercy, consolation and peace for us as we move forward as a community of faith, hope and love. 

Have a happy and blessed Lent!

Sr. Pat Schifini, OSU