Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve

Today, December 31, 2019, we celebrate the last day of the year.  The day is often celebrated with getting together with others and parties that last through the night.  Many people will brave the elements and gather in Times Square to watch the magnificent ball drop ringing in the New Year.  Some people take time today to reflect on the past year and from their reflection make resolutions for the year to come.  However you mark this day doesn’t really matter what is important is that you take time to look back and celebrate or mourn what has been and move forward looking happily on what will come.

These days have certainly been filled with many hardships and difficulties as well as triumphs and great successes.  Our world has seen great pain in the last few weeks and this extreme hatred must come to an end and we must live the way that Jesus taught us to.  There is no room in our life for hatred or lack of acceptance.  Every human person is created with dignity given by God.  There is no room for blatant hatred, racism and lack of understanding in our world today.  Each one of us has to work toward mutual acceptance and the willingness to forgive those who have wronged us. 

Let us pray…Jesus, light and bringer of light. Jesus, bringer of life and healer of the wounds of sin. Jesus, reconciler of broken relationships.  May Your light shine in our lives, and may we each become Your light for others.  As this New Year dawns may we radiate Your love to others in all we do, say and are.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Joy at Meeting the Baby Jesus

There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.  When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.  (Luke 2: 36 – 40)

In today’s Gospel we hear the joy of the prophetess Anna, who received the ultimate reward for her devotion. She got to see the baby Jesus!  What joy she must have experienced.  When she was at the Temple Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus there for the customary ritual.  Anna probably got to hold the baby and stroked His head as she held the bundle of joy.  As an elder she probably reacted as a loving grandmother would have.  Anna told all who would listen to her about the child.  Her Advent journey ended when she experienced the baby.  As we live the Christmas mystery let us do so with joy and hope.

Friday, December 27, 2019

St. John the Evangelist

Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life—for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.  1 John 1:1-4

Today, the third day of the Octave of Christmas, is dedicated to St. John.  St. John is particularly important to honor during Christmas because of the fact that so much of what we know about Jesus comes from him.  Not only did he write one of the four Gospels, he also wrote various letters that are preserved.  The letter above was from the first reading of the Mass for today.  In this letter, John echoes what he wrote in the first chapter of his Gospel when he spoke of the Eternal Word, existing from the beginning, taking on flesh.  Here, he echoes that “What was from the beginning…was made visible to us.”  Namely, the Eternal Son of the Father took on flesh for us to see.  John was a witness to this.

As we honor St. John, it’s good to try to look at Christmas from his perspective.  He would have been able to ponder the great mystery of the Incarnation of God throughout his life.  He would have pondered the reality that this man whom he came to know personally and intimately existed from before time and was a member of the Most Holy Trinity.  For John, the Incarnation would have been particularly real and overwhelming in a personal and transforming way.  John saw and believed.  Let us celebrate John today and remember that we, too, are called to believe.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Reconciliation Monday

Today is Reconciliation Monday in the Archdiocese of New York.  In keeping with the intent of the day we had Reconciliation for our students, faculty and staff.  It was a rather heartwarming day to say the least.  During each period students were invited to reflect on the Scripture, Matthew 10: 28 – 30, Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  (Matthew 10: 28 – 30)

Our students genuinely entered into the prayer time and were respectful.  They fully embraced the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation if they chose to do so.  Many students availed themselves to the Sacrament and were grateful for the opportunity.

The priests who came to celebrate the Sacrament with us were very kind and all came highly recommended.  On this day of Reconciliation let us take the opportunity to embrace the forgiveness we have been given by Jesus and share that with others.  As we approach the mystery of Christmas let us take the time to reach out to others who we need to forgive and share Jesus’ peace and love with them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Eve

Today on Thanksgiving Eve many people are traveling, others are at home preparing for tomorrow’s dinner, others are shopping and some are even having a quite evening at home.  Whatever you may be doing take time today to be grateful for the countless blessings you hold in your heart. Thanksgiving is a time to remember and celebrate.  Each year we have the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends this special day. In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians we read, “Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.” (2: 7)  We have so much to be thankful for and today is a good time to take stock of our blessings.  As we prepare to watch parades, enjoy being with family and friends, or thoroughly enjoy a festive meal let us always remember that God’s love with be surrounding us long after the meal is ended and the dishes are cleaned.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Foundation of the Ursuline Order

Happy Foundation Day of the Company of St. Ursula!

484 years ago today, November 25th, 1535, St. Angela Merici founded the Ursuline sisters.
On this feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Angela Merici gathered with the first 28 members of the Company of St. Ursula and after celebrating Mass together signed the book of the Company, thereby making their commitment to a life of virginity, service and love for all people. They lived in the midst of family, workplace and local community. The group would meet regularly for prayer and would be visited by the local leaders in the Company.
At that time, to freely choose this state of life was to engage oneself in a novel and unique enterprise in the Church. These women courageously contributed to the advancement of women in the society of the day, since they were not cloistered.

St. Angela Merici left her wishes and educational approach in documents she dictated to her male secretary: her Rule, Counsels, and Testament. As a person of rich and practical experience, her principles were full of wisdom and common sense. These documents formed the first Ursulines and continue to guide the Ursulines throughout the century in their education mission.

Thank you, St. Angela Merici, for following God’s call and founding a company of women dedicated to service and love for all people.

We wish the Ursuline Sisters, associates, alumnae, benefactors, friends, collaborators, companions and members of the company all over the world a blessed Foundation Day!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Martyrs of El Salvador

Today we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the brutal murder of six Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter in San Salvador.  A group of highly trained soldiers entered the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador shortly past midnight on Nov. 16, 1989.   Their target was the president of the university, Ignacio Ellacuría Beas Coechea, S.J., the rector of the university.  Killed along side of him were:  Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., vice-rector of the university, a leading expert on Salvadoran public opinion; Segundo Montes, S.J., dean of the department of social sciences; Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J.; Joaquín López y López, S.J.; Amando López, S.J.; Elba Ramos, their housekeeper; and Celina Ramos, her sixteen-year-old daughter.

These brutal murders shocked the world and called people called for immediate retribution.  Those charged were tried and only two were found guilty of the major charges the others were given lesser charges. They were murdered because they were labeled communists and were reported to be in solidarity with the poor.  The civil war in El Salvador lasted 12 years and claimed some 75, 000 lives.

These eight people joined Sisters Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Maura Clarke, MM, Ita Ford, MM and Jean Donovan (an Ursuline volunteer), as well as Archbishop Oscar Romero who were killed in the civil war also.

These senseless murders call for us to reflect on the value of every human being and challenge us to be persons of peace and justice.  May the cry for justice for all people be heard and respected for all.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Story of Zacchaeus

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Natural Disasters

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

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

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tree of Life

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

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

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Light the Night

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

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

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Healing of the Ten Lepers

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

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

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Lead a New Life

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

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

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

Our problems, my problems

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

“Make new life”

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

Conversion and witness

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Praying for Peace in our World

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

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

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

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

Let us pray:

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

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Season of Creation

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Come Rest by the Water

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Queenship of Mary

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

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Loving Invitation

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

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

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Senseless Violence

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

• El Paso, Texas

• Dayton, Ohio

• Southaven, Mississippi

• Gilroy, California

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 3, 2019

40 Years of Music

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Convocation 2019

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

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

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

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Martha and Mary

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Being Childlike

At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."  Matthew 11: 25 – 27

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

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

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