Sunday, July 31, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air

Today I did something I don't often do, I sat down to read a book and finished it in one afternoon.  I read the book, When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi.  I have  had the book for some time and I brought it on retreat with me this week.  The book is the story of Paul being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of  thirty six.  Paul was an aspiring neurosurgeon in his last year of residency when he received the diagnose.  The book chronicles his transformation from a naive medical student to a medical patient, a new father and being able to confront his own mortality.  It was a engaging story of a life well lived for it showed the real life struggles of the patient and those who are caring for him.  Paul faced his death with the same courage he pursued his medical career with.  It is filled with many life lessons and many thoughts to reflect on.  I would recommend reading it but be prepared for the myriad of emotions that come as a result!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

World Youth Day 2016

While we are in the midst of the Democratic National Convention young people from around the world are gathering in Krakow Poland for World Youth Day.  World Youth Day is being held from July 25 – 31st .  The theme of this gathering is “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”  Using the fifth Beatitude from Matthew’s gospel, WYD focuses on celebrating God’s mercy during this Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.  Young people from around the world will gather in Krakow, Poland to experience the culture and the global Church.  This pilgrimage of faith will be an opportunity for the youth to learn about others and experience prayer and worship together.  Krakow has given the world many saints including St. Faustina, St. Maximillian Kolbe and St. John Paull II.

Our Ursuline community in Poland is hosting some of the pilgrims.  Let us pray for all who are on this journey of faith and for all that we may practice mercy in all we do.  Perhaps it is a good time to pray again Pope Francis’ prayer for the Year of Mercy.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with His anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring  good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, July 22, 2016

St. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene is one of my favorite biblical women.  She is often seen as a prostitute which is not supported in scripture.  One thing for sure she was present with Jesus during his public ministry, his death and his resurrection.  Mentioned at least a dozen times in the Gospels she is often portrayed as a close friend of Jesus.  
In the Gospels we meet Mary who was originally a great sinner.  Jesus cast seven demons out of her and she shared that with others who also came to follow Jesus.  Regardless of the scholarly debates she is a woman who encountered Jesus and changed her life for the better.
Mary was a disciple of Jesus, she followed him to the cross and was present for the events of that day.  She was present at his resurrection.  Today’s Gospel shares the story of Mary going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and finds the stone rolled away.  Jesus is very much alive and she was the first witness of the resurrection.  

Mary Magdalene has a great deal to teach us.  She was a woman of faith and shows us the importance of deep faith.  Let us celebrate her this day and remember that God’s love is overwhelmingly generous and God wants us to be happy.
Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Making Peace

I was searching for a quote about peace and I found the following which seems to summarize it well for me.  “Peacefulness is an inner sense of calm - it comes from becoming still – in order to reflect and meditate on our inner wisdom and receive answers. A peaceful heart is one that is free from worry and trouble. It's becoming quiet so we can look at things quietly so we can more clearly understand them and thus come up with creative solutions. It is learning to live in the present.”  (Anonymous)

Our world right now is far from this but I believe that it is up to each person to make peace with themselves first and then they can spread it to the rest of the world.  Each one of us needs to learn to live in the present and the only way that I can see this happening is by taking time to quiet oneself and reflect on what I can do each day to make the world a more peaceful place.  I am reminded of the hymn Let There Be Peace on Earth.  Perhaps today is a good day to reflect on the words and let us make peace a reality by letting it begin with me.

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father, we are family. Let us walk with each other, 
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, Let this be the moment now, 
With every step I take, Let this be my solemn vow, 

To take each moment and live each moment in peace, eternally.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Beautiful Celebration

Yesterday's celebration was magnificent!  In fact the entire day was a day of celebration.  We gathered for Mass at Notre Dame Church in Malone and had a beautiful celebration.  Bishop Terry LaValley was the celebrant.  He spoke so eloquently about the history of the Ursulines in the North Country and the gift that the sisters have been for the past 118 years.  The Church was filled to the rafters and it was so nice to have the opportunity to greet the people of the parish at the reception after.  Later in the day we gathered at the sister's home and celebrated together.  We shared stories, memories and prayed for all those who have served in the North Country.  It truly was a beautiful, bittersweet experience for all.  We leave today confident that St. Angela and the Ursuline legacy will always remain in the midst of the people of the North Country!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sr. Teresa, Bishop LaValley and Sr. Sheila

Papal Blessing given to the Ursuline Sisters

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Leave Taking

Change is something that many people struggle with but change is good as it often leads to new life.  Following the words of our foundress, St. Angela Merici, “To respond to the needs of the times” we are in Malone, New York this weekend to say goodbye to a place we have ministered in for 118 years.  For the past 118 years the Ursuline Sisters have served faithfully and generously in a variety of ministries – education, pastoral outreach, religious education, prison ministry, advocacy and many other areas.  Our sisters have served faithfully and joyfully and are leaving an incredible legacy behind.  The Ursulines may no longer be physically present in Malone but their spirit will live on in all whose lives they have touched.  Our Ursuline Lay Associates will continue to bring the spirit and mission of St. Angela in their daily living as they continue to spread the gospel to others.  Malone will always remain a part of our history and we are very grateful for all of the love and support that have been shown to the Ursuline sisters over the years.  May we always remember to “Cultivate the vine entrusted to us!”

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Praying for Nice

Today the people of France celebrate Bastille Day.  The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on July 14 1789.  Intended to be a day of celebration and pride in French culture the events of today have turned it into a day of tremendous pain and suffering.  A truck plowed thorough the crowd and there are some 77 dead and an additional 100 injured.  There doesn't appear to be anyone claiming responsibility at this time.  Our world is once again in a state of mourning.  Let us pray for the people of France, those injured and those who have died.  May we take time to be grateful for one another and remember that we are beloved children of God.  Let us try to live each day in peace!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Nuns on the Bus

Yesterday we returned home after our 12 day road trip having driven through an additional 5 states.  There are so many beautiful places in our country! Today another road trip begins!

Last night there was a kickoff for the Nuns on the Bus road trip with a Pre-Launch blessing at the First Unitarian Society in Madison, WI.  The rally will kick off today in Janesville, WI.  This year’s theme is “Calling on Elected Officials and Candidates to Mend the Gaps!”

The bus will travel to both the Republican and Democratic Conventions where they will educate people on the gaps that we are experiencing in our society and the hope to bridge the divides. The goal is to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion.

Let us pray for all those who will participate on this trip that their travel will be blessed by great results, safe travel and open hearts and minds.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Prayer Vigil

Last night we attended a prayer vigil here in Louisville, Kentucky.  We were led to believe that the prayer was for both the officers in Dallas and the lives that were lost in other acts of violence.  It was a moving experience on many levels.  The tragedy in Dallas is heart wrenching and we need to pray for all both survivors and victims.  What struck me most was when an African American family came and there was no mention of lives lost in violence.  One of the young women was visibly upset and angered by this.  She was comforted by her family as well as several of the Ursuline sisters who were present.  Many of us remained with her after the prayer service ended and she was finally able to be interviewed.  When she was interviewed she was poised and calm and was able to speak her truth.  I realized the pain that so many feel and the reality that we need to pray for all as all lives matter.  Let us take time today to pray for peace in our nation and spread the word that we need to embrace peace and not violence.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Convocation Day 2

Today we had the opportunity to listen to Fr. Mike Crosby, OFM speak about Re-imagining Angela’s charism, what is our radical response in a continually evolving world, 
especially with and for those who live on the margins?  It was a thought provoking experience to say the least.  Fr. Mike used his leanings from yesterday's presentations as a spring board for his thoughts and reflections.  His comments gave a renewed energy to the room and you could really feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Glimmer of Hope

Our nation is in terrible pain today!  Let us pray for all those who were killed during the past few days.  May we seek peace rather than violence to solve issues.

Last night we had the opening of the North American Ursuline Convocation in Louisville, Kentucky.  The theme of the tri-annual conference is A Radical Response in the Evolving World:  Re-Imagining Angela's Charism.  There are over 180 vowed religious, associates, collaborators, and friends in attendance.  As we began last night we did so in prayer to ignite the "Holy Fire" within us, Each congregation's name was called and sisters, co-workers, and associates came forward with their lighted candles and placed them on the table in the front as the congregational charism or mission statement was proclaimed. It was an extraordinary event when the fifteen different congregations were called forward.  After we prayed and had time for sharing we had a social to renew acquaintances and meet new friends.

This morning we had a wonderful, spirit-filled presentation by Sandra Schneiders, IHM.  As she spoke we had the opportunity to reflect on two questions:  1) What am I hearing that challenges me to re-imagine Angela's charism as a legacy for the future? and 2) What radical response am I being called to in our evolving world?  I am grateful for her insights and thoughts and look forward to reflecting more on her words.  It has been a very nice experience so far!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Candles representing those in attendance!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Road Trip Continues

During the past week I have driven through 10 states!  It has been a wonderful experience to drive through so much beauty!  Our country is so beautiful and there is so much to see.  Driving from the sea shore through the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountain ranges has been an incredible experience.  Each state had its own special beauty.  Whether it was the mountains, the rolling rivers, the trees, or the vast valleys I had a tremendous sense of awe as I drove.  Reading all the historical signs caused me to pause and think about those who have made our country what it is today!  On Monday we celebrated Independence Day and many sang familiar patriotic songs.  Singing these songs and seeing all of the incredible beauty during this road trip gives me much to be grateful for.  May God bless the United States of America and all those who work to keep it beautiful!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July

Today we celebrate Independence Day, a day when we commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire.  It is a national holiday in the United States and is often celebrated with great fanfare.  There will be parades, concerts, fireworks, family reunions, barbecues, picnics, etc.  Whatever you do today let us take a moment to give thanks to all who have fought for and continue to insure our liberty, freedom and safety.  I hope everyone has a very happy 4th of July today!  May God always bless the USA!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, July 3, 2016

We Are Called

This morning I went to Mass at St. Brendan the Navigator in Shallotte, North Carolina.  It was one of the nicest Liturgies that I have attended in a long time.  The sense of parish community was palpable and there were so many people there.  It was wonderful to be with all ages and witness the participation of all. As I listened to St. Luke's Gospel and the homily I was reflecting on the theme of discipleship.  While I was listening I found myself recalling David Haas' song, "We Are Called."  I share the words.  May we live this day and every day knowing that we are all called to be disciples of Jesus and that we have much work to do in our troubled world!

      Come! live in the light!  Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!
      We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God!

      Refrain: We are called to act with justice.  We are called to love tenderly.
      We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.

      Come! Open your heart!  Show your mercy to all those in fear!
      We are called to be hope for the hopeless, so all hatred and blindness will be no more!

      Sing! Sing a new song!  Sing of that great day when all will be one!
      God will reign and we'll walk with each other as sisters and brothers united in love!

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, July 1, 2016

Road Trip

The other day I began a "road trip" with a friend of mine.  We left New York and headed for North Carolina.  As we drove we kept talking about the scenery and how lush everything looked.  It was a beautiful drive.  Last night we realized that we had been in seven states already.  After spending time in the pool we took off on a little ride through the surrounding area.  It was nice to drive around and see some of the area.  We weren't out long but still had the sense that we accomplished something as we tried a different route home and did not get lost.  The pace of life in North Carolina is so different from what we experience at home.  It is a great realization that it is okay to slow down and enjoy the sights.  We are so accustomed to racing around that it really stands out when you have the time to just be.  I am so enjoying this time of just living in the moment.  May we all take some time these days to enjoy the moment and the gifts we are given!

Pat Schifini, OSU