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.