Sunday, January 27, 2019

Feast of St. Angela and Catholic Schools Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Life Well Lived

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Miracle on the Hudson

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Monday, January 14, 2019

Follow Me

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Value of Older Things

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

Kathleen Mary Donohue, OSU

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Feast of the Epiphany

We Three Kings

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

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

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

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

The First Noel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Schifini, OSU

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Blessing

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

Prayer for the New Year

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

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

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

Pope Francis’ Prayer For Peace

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

Pat Schifini, OSU