Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fat Tuesday

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, February 27, 2017

All Things are Possible for God

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

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

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Will Never Forget You

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

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Artisans of Peace

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 23, 2017


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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chair of St. Peter

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

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First or Last

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, February 20, 2017

President's Day

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

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

God Moments

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

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Carrying Crosses

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

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

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

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

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

Pat Schifini,, OSU

Sunday, February 12, 2017


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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our Lady of Lourdes

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

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Snow Day

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

Pat Schifini, OSU


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salt and Light

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

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

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

Feast of St. Blaise

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


In St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews he exhorts us to, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God.” (Hebrews 12:15)

This verse really calls us to live in unity with one another.  Relationships are so important to us.  Everything we do and say is a result of being in relationship with others.  The “Golden Rule” reminds us to treat others as we would like to be treated.  In our world, today this is over tremendous importance.  As we look at our relationships is there one that is not at peace?  How can we extend peace to others?  I believe that it is only possible through prayer and a willingness to look at the truth of the matter.  When we ask God for help we are able to move in the right direction.  Let this new month bring with it a new spirit of forgiveness and openness to God’s presence among us.

Pat Schifini, OSU