Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Feast of St. Stephen

The day after Christmas we're already celebrating the feast of a martyr. There are several martyrs feasts this week, one after the other: Stephen, John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, Thomas a Becket.

It might seem like a downer coming so soon after the joy of Christmas day. But Jesus came to save us and he did that by giving his life for us on the cross. From the cradle to the cross. It's interesting that some of the Christmas carols actually note this. What Child Is This, for example, has these lyrics in one of the lesser-sung verses:

Sword, spear, will pierce him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail, the Word made flesh,
The babe, the child of Mary.

Or consider We Three Kings:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Or The Holly and the Ivy:

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

But this is good news, because through his death, Jesus conquered death so that we might live forever.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Pope Benedict's Christmas homily

Here is a link to his beautiful words. If you don't have time to read it all, at least check out the second paragraph. Benedict says that God made himself small--a baby--so that we would not fear to approach him and that we would learn his love.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

O Come Let Us Adore Him

At our "midnight" (actually 8 PM) Mass tonight, we concluded a beautiful liturgy with the hymn "O Come All Ye Faithful." (Adeste Fideles). Something came over me while singing it, at the lines "Deum de Deum, Lumen de Lumine....genitum non factum." (We were singing it in English but the Latin words were there too.) Those are the words of the Creed. "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made."

All of a sudden, a glimpse of the mystery of the Incarnation just amazed me. Wow! God became a man. He became one of us. Why? To save us from our sins. This little baby lying in a manger is begotten of the Father--and begotten of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. I got a picture in my mind of people all over the world singing the same thing--praising Jesus Christ, God incarnate, our Savior, our Redeemer. Then I thought of all those who don't know him yet and I felt a great desire to make him known.

That's what our mission is all about as Daughters of St. Paul. To make Jesus Christ known. I felt grateful to God for the gift of my vocation. So that glimpse into the mystery of the Incarnation led me around back to gratitude for my personal vocation and God's gifts to me in sustaining me through it. Bl. James Alberione, our Founder, once said, "Everything leads to the Magnificat!"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Best Christmas Gift

The best Christmas gift isn't the one we get, but the one we give. It doesn't have to be a thing, but something done out of love for another person.
What is the best Christmas gift you've ever given or received?

Women Affirming Life breakfast

Last Saturday I attended a meeting of Women Affirming Life (thanks to Lisa for alerting me to this picture which was on Cardinal Sean's blog!)
Sr Christine is on the left and Sr Mary Frances on the right (I'm in the middle).
They had some excellent speakers who talked about promoting a culture of life. Two of the women were from the philosophy faculty at Boston College. It's very heartening to know that there are good faculty members like them who are doing their best to communicate to their students the Church's view on life issues. A group of young women from Boston College also attended.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Latin

Someone sent me this copy of Rudolph in Latin:

Rudolphus rubrinasus
Rudolphus rubrinasus fulgentissimo naso,
vidisti et si eum dicas quoque candere.
Omnes tarandi ceteri ridebant vocantes nomina;
non sinebant Rudolphum interessa ludentes.
olim crassa nocte Christi, Nicolaus it dictum:
“ Rudolphe, naso tam claro, agesne traham meam?”
Qui tum tarandis amor conclamantibus eum,
“ Rudolphe, rubrinase descendes historia!”

Please notice that in the sixth line, the Latin literally refers to "the night of Christ." That's who Christmas is really about--Jesus Christ, the Lord of the world!

Amen! Come Lord Jesus! Maranatha!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Come, O Root of Jesse!

O root of Jesse, standing an ensign of the people, before whom even kings silent will remain, whom the Gentiles, too, shall beseech, come now to deliver us all; delay no longer (cf. Is 11).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Come, O Lord! O Antiphon

O Lord and leader of the house of Israel, who once appeared to Moses and spoke to him from a bush aflame, and on the peak of Sinai gave him the law; come now, bring us your redemption with your mighty outstretched arm (cf. Ex 3, 15, 24; Deut 5).

Christmas novena

Sr Anne at nunblog has posted a shortened version of the Christmas novena that we sing in community on YouTube. Check it out and pray along with us!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas novena

The novena for Christmas started yesterday, Dec. 16. It's a wonderful way to prepare spiritually for the feast of Christmas.

Come, O Wisdom!

"O Wisdom,
who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching out mightily from end to end,
and sweetly arranging all things:
come to teach us the way of prudence."

The O Antiphons

Starting on Dec. 17, the Church uses seven special antiphons in her liturgy. Called the "O" Antiphons (because each one starts out with "O"), they were written in Latin by an unknown author during the Middle Ages. Each one of them uses a special title for Christ and expresses the Church's longing for a Savior.

They are:

O Wisdom (sapientia in Latin)
O Lord (Adonai)
O Root of Jesse (radix)
O Key of David (clavis)
O Radiant Dawn (orient)
O King (rex)
O Emmanuel (Emmanuel)

The first letter of the Latin terms forms SARCORE, and read backward, it reads "ero cras," which in Latin means "tomorrow I will be!"

I'll post the full text of the expanded antiphon each day, because the current ones are a bit abbreviated.

Did you notice that our Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is actually based on these antiphons?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

From the comments box--worth reading!

A man named David posted this in the comments box of one of the posts about having children. It's a wonderful testimony of faith and confidence in divine providence:

I've been meaning to follow up on my post with a story: be careful what you ask for!

The very night after I posted my comments, my wife told me she thought she may be pregnant. We confirmed this a couple of weeks later.

It has been a struggle to come to terms with this. My wife and I are both in our early 40s. Our three boys are 7, 5, and 2 and we were just beginning what we thought would be our post-infant years. Our lives are stressful and chaotic as it is; 2006 was particularly insane and we were both looking forward to a more peaceful 2007. But now we are starting over again with a 4th. To be honest, neither of us is sure how we will be able to manage this.

But when my wife showed me the positive pregnancy test, she apologized for the "mistake" (she had misread her calendar... I'll leave it at that). I explained that God doesn't make mistakes, that he sent us this baby on purpose. So instead of thinking about how our plans have been impacted by this baby, we are trying to focus on God's plan, and who this baby might be. I don't think either of us has made peace with this change quite yet, but I also know that the only path to peace is acceptance of God's will and a setting aside of our own will. We are placing our hope and trust in God.

So I'm asking for your prayers this Advent, as my family enters its own season of waiting for this new child that will arrive in early August... specifically:

-- for the health of my wife, who just turned 40 and has always had serious morning sickness, that she remain healthy, rested, and strong, and that she not suffer from morning sickness

-- for the health of our baby

-- that the baby is a girl, because my wife so dearly wants a daughter (but would never tell me so)!

-- for our three boys, that they be as supportive and accepting of their new baby brother or sister as they have always been of each other

-- for our family, that we work together in love to take care of this child and each other

-- for my wife and I to focus on the joy of knowing that God has reached out to us and entrusted us with another life, and in 2007 to find peace and serenity that seems to have eluded us in 2006

-- and, finally, for myself, that I overcome my own struggles, so I can lead my family with joy and strength without distraction over the coming year.


Sr Julia talks about Advent and Christmas books

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"My yoke is easy and my burden light"

Those words from today's Gospel are very consoling. All of us have burdens to bear. No matter what they are, we can always give them to Jesus. They won't necessarily go away, but he'll carry them for us. Just give him all your baggage.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Guadalupe movie

Since today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, if you've seen the new Guadalupe movie, please leave a comment with your opinion on it. I haven't seen it yet. Thanks!

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Immaculate Conception

This is my favorite Marian feastday (and also my birthday!). God preserved Mary from sin.

Sometimes I used to think that it must have been hard for Mary to put up with all the sinful people around her. Yesterday in talking to someone, she helped me see it another way. We find it hard to "put up with" other people precisely because we are sinful and we don't always have the patience or other virtues needed to do it. It's not a question of "putting up with" people, but simply accepting them, just as they are. That's how God deals with us. He loves and accepts us just as we are. At the same time, he calls us to conversion and to grow in holiness, but loves us all along the way, not just when we arrive at a higher state of virtue.

So Mary, being sinless, would have known how to accept herself, first of all, and then to accept and love other people just as they are.

What do you think about this?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

St. Paul's Tomb

I just saw this article about Vatican archeologists unearthing St. Paul's tomb. Awaiting more information. For a Daughter of St. Paul, this is exciting news indeed!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Supporting Marriage

I just came across a good website on marriage and family issues from a Catholic perspective, by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse..

Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent A Time for Waiting

This year Advent is a short 3 weeks. It's a wonderful season that always goes by too fast.

Advent is divided into two parts. The first lasts until December 16, and the second is from Dec. 17 to 24.
The second part is the immediate preparation for Christmas and focuses more intensely on the Scripture prophecies about the coming Messiah.

Advent is all about waiting. In general, we are awaiting Christ's coming. We look forward to his final coming in glory, so the liturgy highlights this in certain ways. For the past two weeks we've already been reading the Book of Revelation at Mass. It provides a good transition into our Advent expectations.

But there is also a more immediate coming of Christ by grace into our hearts. Although he's already with us, grace can fill us more and more in different ways. So we pray for an abundance of grace as we prepare to celebrate his birth.

Friday, December 01, 2006

What accent do you have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.


The Inland North

The Midland

The South


The West

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

I'm originally from Long Island, NY, (or should I say "Lawn Guylan") so this came out fairly accurate.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Interesting comment about abortion

In the post below that talks about people choosing not to have children, someone left a comment that reads in part:

"Like the woman you write about, I had an abortion. I was sixteen, wanted to keep the baby, and my parents gave me only two choices: adoption or abortion. I thought adoption of a child I wanted would break my heart, so I chose abortion.
It's taken me a long time to come to terms with my anger at my parents, and with my own feelings about all this. In the end, I left the Catholic church. I left because I feel that God doesn't love me any less for my experiences, and I don't feel what I did was a sin. I feel like my childbearing decisions so far have been reactions to choices constrained by circumstances, and I feel sure in my heart that God understands that."


Please join me in praying for this woman. I posted a comment in response to hers:

Thank you for your heartfelt post and honesty in writing about your experiences. I am sorry about your abortion; it sounds like you really didn't want it either. You mentioned being angry at your parents, so I presume it is related to their not allowing you to keep your baby.
You are right that God doesn't love you any less for what you did, just like he doesn't love any of us less for what we do. But that doesn't mean that what we do is always the right thing. God is too loving to tell us that it's OK to do evil, as if we can remain untouched by what we choose.

God doesn't condemn you for the abortion but calls you to repentance for it, like he calls all of us to repentance for our sins (including me--I'm not exempting myself in any way from the call to repentance.) The good news is that Jesus washes away all of our sins in his blood. We only need to acknowledge and repent of them. It's actually quite easy--almost too easy. True, it can be a bit embarrassing to confess our sins to a priest, but it's over quickly enough, brings the relief of finally getting it out, and best of all, the words of absolution actually bring about the complete cleansing and forgiveness of any sin. Then the joy of the Holy Spirit fills our hearts. Happiness!

God bless you!

What would you say if you could speak to this woman?

St. Andrew the Apostle

In today's feast, the first reading is from chapter 10 of Paul's letter to the Romans. He speaks about how people can't believe unless someone is sent to preach to them. He says, "Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ."

This gives us two things to ponder. First, God speaks to our own hearts, sending in prayer the light we need to see his will and to do it. It's amazing how this often comes as a flash of insight, when God makes known something to us. It happens in an ordinary way but it comes through grace.

Second, we can help other people by offering a word of faith in appropriate ways. Maybe someone is gossiping or backbiting, and the Holy Spirit can inspire us with a good word to say that can perhaps turn the conversation in another more positive direction.

St. Andrew, pray for us that we might preach the Gospel like you did and bring others to faith in Jesus Christ.

St. Andrew prayer

This is a traditional Christmas prayer to obtain graces that is prayed starting from Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, o my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of his Blessed Mother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blessed Sara Salkahazi

I was recently catching up on back issues of L'Osservatore Romano, and found an interesting article about a new Blessed. Sister Sara Salkahazi was beatified in Budapest, Hungary, this past September 17.
Her short biography had many things that amazed me. She entered the Sisters of Social Service at age 30, and had to kick her chain-smoking habit. She also knew the power of the media. She had worked as a bookbinder and a journalist, and edited and published a Catholic women's magazine in Hungary. This was during the time that our founder, Bl. James, was promoting Catholic publishing also. St. Maximilian Kolbe and Bl. Titus Brandsma were doing the same things in other places in Europe. It seems that the Holy Spirit was leading the Church to understand the power of the media.

Bl. Sara must have been something of a character, because at one point she was denied permission for a year to renew her temporary vows. But she persevered, and during World War II she and other sisters saved the lives of over 1000 Jews. She was martyred on Dec 27, 1944, at the age of 45. The Nazis shot her in cold blood for her work in saving Jews. Before her execution, she slowly and deliberately made the sign of the cross, testifying to her Christian faith.

Blessed Sara, pray for us!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Nativity Movie

Have you seen it yet? Please post your reactions if you have. I haven't but I will be seeing it soon.

We have published two books that relate to the movie, which you can check out at our website.

I wrote a chapter in the one pictured here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Presentation of Mary

Today is the feast of Mary's presentation in the Temple. This is not in the Scriptures, but comes from an apocryphal Gospel called the Protoevangelium of James (scroll down to # 7 in the link for the part on the presentation.)

The Gospel of James, though apocryphal, is an interesting document. It's where we find the traditional names for Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne. Of course we can't rely on it as a historical document. Nevertheless, it's an important testimony to what the early Church believed about Mary. For example, it has a strong emphasis on Mary's virginity.

Perhaps one message we can take from today's feast is that Mary was always dedicated to God. She gave herself totally to him, and we can too.

On a personal note, I had my own "presentation" when I was a year old. On my birthday (the feast of the Immaculate Conception) my mother brought me down to church. In those days (the 50's) it was common for priests to bless children and I was dedicated to the Blessed Mother. I'm grateful to my mother for doing that for me.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Our Father

Two nights ago I woke up around 3 AM feeling agitated and concerned about some problems going on that I have to deal with. For a while all those thoughts just swirled around my head. Then I thought at least I could pray. So I started to say the Lord's Prayer, and as soon as I said, "Our Father," this feeling of deep peace came over me. I couldn't continue the prayer, but just kept repeating "Our Father." I felt very strongly the presence of God the Father in a very loving way. I fell asleep again, and later that day the feeling remained with me.

St Ignatius calls these kinds of experiences "consolation without preceding cause," meaning a consolation that just comes upon us for no other reason than God's grace. It's great when it happens! But it's usually not that often. God knows when we need a little extra help to keep on going. It would be good to hear about your own experiences of God's consolation too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cats vs. kids

I happened to come across a pro-abortion blog, written by a woman who has had an abortion and says she does not regret it. After the abortion, even though she is now married, she deliberately chose not to have any children. Instead, she has two cats.

I could not help but feel a little sorry for her. I suppose cats have some advantages. Perhaps the parents out there could comment on how your children have enriched your life. Would you trade your kids for two cats? Cats, not being persons, are not able to have a real relationship with you. Cats cannot say "I love you," or bring you a birthday present or visit you and take care of you when you get old and sick.

But more importantly, having children is a way that we can make of ourselves to another person. The "law of the gift" means that it is only in making a gift of ourselves that we can truly find ourselves. I don't mean to say that everyone is required to have children, since God calls some people to other vocations and some people bear the cross of not being able to have them, though they would want to. But to deliberately block them out when one chooses marriage, whose outcome is normally children, is the problem.

St. Albert the Great

Today's feastday is Albert the Great. He was a friend and mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas. As the story goes, when his fellow students called Thomas the "dumb ox," it was Albert who said, "One day that ox will bellow so loud that the whole world will listen!"

Here are some Albert links

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Catholic Sun

This is a poem by Hilaire Belloc that I like

The Catholic Sun

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so,
Benedicamus Domino!

Pope Benedict on St. Paul

The custom in my community is to dedicate Mondays in a special way to St. Paul, our patron.
I was just reading the talk that Pope Benedict gave on St. Paul in a recent general audience. The pope said that Paul gave all his energy to serving Jesus. He added, "From here we draw a very important lesson: what counts is to place Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so that our identity is marked essentially by the encounter, by communion with Christ and with his Word. In his light, every other value is recovered and purified from possible dross."


Sunday, November 12, 2006

What kind of English do you speak?

Here's mine (I'm originally from New York):
Your Linguistic Profile:
40% General American English
40% Yankee
10% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern

The widow's mite

Today's Gospel is about the poor widow who gave two small coins to the Temple treasure. But Jesus said that she gave more than all the others, because she gave from her neediness.

I thought of Grams, as she is affectionately known. Grams is the mother of two of our sisters in our community. She happens to be visiting Boston right now. She's 94 and sharp as a tack. As she once said, "I thank God that I have all my marbles and I know what I'm doing!" She's knows what she's doing, all right! She's extremely generous and while she lives very frugally herself, over the years she has made many generous donations both to our community and other good causes. God bless Gramas!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A typical day

Sometimes people ask me what a nun's life is like. Well, here's a typical day. This morning I was going back to my room after my morning shower, and one of the other sisters saw me and said, "There's an alarm going off by the boiler room and the red light is on." Oh great, I thought, this has to happen on Saturday when our maintenance staff is not here.
So I went down and silenced the alarm but found it went on because the boiler failed. I tried the reset button and it started up again, but after about one minute it failed again and the alarm went off. So I got on the phone and tried to get help, but it wasn't available just yet (why would it be on Saturday morning?). Luckily the weather has gotten a bit warmer these past few days, so it's not too bad. Then after breakfast I got a call that a group using our retreat house had no hot water and no heat. We got the hot water back but not the heat so far.

A typical day

Sometimes people ask me what a nun's life is like. Well, here's a typical day. This morning I was going back to my room after my morning shower, and one of the other sisters saw me and said, "There's an alarm going off by the boiler room and the red light is on." Oh great, I thought, this has to happen on Saturday when our maintenance staff is not here.
So I went down and silenced the alarm but found it went on because the boiler failed. I tried the reset button and it started up again, but after about one minute it failed again and the alarm went off. So I got on the phone and tried toget help, but it wasn't available just yet (why would it be on Saturday morning?). Luckily the weather has gotten a bit warmer these past few days, so it's not too bad. Then after breakfast I got a call that a group using our retreat house had no hot water and no heat. We got the hot water back but not the heat so far.

A typical day

Sometimes people ask me what a nun's life is like. Well, here's a typical day. This morning I was going back to my room after my morning shower, and one of the other sisters saw me and said, "There's an alarm going off by the boiler room and the red light is on." Oh great, I thought, this has to happen on Saturday when our maintenance staff is not here.
So I went down and silenced the alarm but found it went on because the boiler failed. I tried the reset button and it started up again, but after about one minute it failed again and the alarm went off. So I got on the phone and tried to contact our maintenance man, but he wasn't available (why would he be on Saturday morning?). Luckily the weather has gotten a bit warmer these past few days, so it's not too bad. Then after breakfast I got a call that a group using our retreat house had no hot water and no heat. We got the hot water back but not the heat so far.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Back home!

We got back home last night from Rome and it's really good to be back. The trip was very enriching in many ways, especially in meeting sisters from various countries who are carrying out our Pauline mission with great dedication. I was impressed at the older sisters who are still very active. For example, one night we visited our community in Albano, which is close to the retreat house where the meeting is. The superior, Sr Rosaria, is 80 years old and amazingly dynamic. She just radiates an incredible joy and holiness.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Feast of the Divine Master

Today the Pauline Family celebrates a special feast we call the feast of Jesus, the Divine Master. Fr Alberione stressed this aspect of Jesus, based on his own description of himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

This morning for Mass we went to the Church of the Divine Master in Rome, which is run by the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, our sister congregation. They had a beautiful liturgy.

The homily was in Italian so I didn't get that much of it but the main thought that stuck was Christ lives in me. He is always with us and lives in our souls.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Meeting update

Thanks for all the wishes for safe travels! We arrived safely in Rome after just barely making the connecting flight in Amsterdam. Half of our baggage didn't make the connection, but the airline delivered it later.

The meeting is an international meeting of the treasurers of the various provinces and delegations of the Daughters of St. Paul. It's only the second time in our history that we've had such a meeting, and the purpose is to help establish some general guidelines for administration and help the treasurers in their work.

This morning a Barnabite priest, Fr Franco Ciccimarra, spoke on what the Church teaches about the use of temporal goods. He spoke about how religious congregations have to give a real witness of poverty and live by the Church's social teaching. This has many applications in the work we do, our relations with employees, etc.

The meeting is being held at Ariccia, where our Founder, Bl. James, established a retreat house. It's a beautiful location on Lake Albano. You can see Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, in the distance on the other side of the large lake.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Off to Rome

On Oct. 17 I'll be leaving for a trip to Rome and will return on Nov. 2. I'm going to attend an international meeting for the sisters involved in administration. It should be an interesting experience.
I don't know if I'll be able to get out much to see some of the churches, but I'll pray for all those who visit my blog while I'm there.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The heart of the Cure' of Ars

Did you see the news stories about the relic of the heart of St. John Vianney? It has been brought to New York and is in St. Mary's Church in Waltham, Ma, today, and will be in the Boston cathedral tomorow.

I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this, because the idea of taking hearts or other bodily organs for relics can be taken to extremes sometimes. But it does have to do with the incarnational reality that is at the heart of Catholicism. Some of the sisters are going tonight to see it in Waltham and if I'm able I would like to go too.
The priest at Mass this morning said that the bishop of the diocese where Ars is located is accompanying the relic. The vocation office here is sponsoring this as an invitation to pray for vocations to the priesthood and for the holiness of priests. Father said that when the bishop was first asked to allow the relic to be brought here, his first reply was "no." But then he said, "For Boston....yes!" as if to say that the only way out of the terrible scandal is for priests to be holy.

How do you feel about these kinds of relics?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The book launch Theology of the Body

I just got back from the book launch of the newly translated edition of the theology of the body talks by Pope John Paul II.

It went so well! Dr. Michael Waldstein came from Austria and spoke briefly about the new translation, then he took questions from the audience. The people there raised excellent questions which Michael answered very well.

The event took place at the Holy See's office near the UN, where they have a Permanent Observer mission. Pope John Paul had visited that very room on one of his trips to the USA. Interestingly, there is a large painting on the wall depicting Michelangelo's portrait of the creation of Adam, which is the same one used on the cover of the new book. He pointed out how Eve, still in the mind of God, can be seen under God's arm. Her gaze is fixed on Adam, who in turn is looking directly at her.

I met many wonderful people there, and was especially delighted to see David Hajduk, one of our authors. David recently wrote a book on the theology of the body for young people, which we published in August. It's already a best-seller!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Theology of the Body book launch

Next Wednesday evening, Oct. 12, I'll be in NY for the book launch of our new edition of Pope John Paul's theology of the body. The volume, entitled Man and Woman He Created Them, has been newly translated by Professor Michael Waldstein of the Gaming Theological Institute in Austria. He has also taught in the past at Notre Dame University and brought exceptional academic expertise to the work (he has one doctorate in theology, another in philosophy, and an SSL from the Pontifical Biblical Institute.)
I'm looking forward to this, which is a very exciting thing. The new edition is a beautiful book and this excellent translation of Pope John Paul's writings has clarified many points and will be a reference for years to come.
This page has more details about the amazing discoveries Dr. Waldstein made in the secret archives of Karol Wojtyla.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

St. Francis, lover of poverty

Today's Gospel for the ordinary weekday is an appropriate one to fall on the feast of St. Francis. In it, Jesus says that the Son of Man has nowhere to place his head. He's telling his disciples that if they truly want to follow him, they have to get their priorities in order. They can't expect a life of luxury and ease.

St. Francis was the perfect model of this. Probably no one more than he lived a more radical poverty in the spirit of the Gospel. In fact, some of the things he did could easily be seen by us as too radical, but he was trying to get across an important message to the people of his time: to put God first in their lives.

I have to ask myself: is God really first in my life?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

They wanted to be with Jesus

A line from the Gospel read at Mass a couple days ago impressed me a lot. Luke's Gospel said that Jesus' mother and brothers came to where he was teaching and wanted to be with him.

They wanted to be with him. That's all. Isn't that a great definition of prayer? Just to be with Jesus? It made me want to spend more time in prayer, just to be with Jesus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teaching Islam in the Public Schools

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about indoctrinating students in the practice of Islam in a California public school. This link has more details about the case.
The school board is arguing that it does not violate the establishment of religion clause because the students are role-playing in order to learn something about the religion.
However, in the classroom the students are reciting Muslim prayers, taking Muslim names and dressing as a Muslim.

Can you image the uproar from the ACLU if this class were about becoming Catholic for a month? If the children were reciting the rosary in class? If they were taking the names of patron saints and dressing up as their patrons? If they were being taught that abortion is immoral?
I really don't get it. Why is it not OK to mention the name of God in a public school but it is OK to teach impressionable children about Islam in such a way that may make them want to convert to it?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They forgot the bread

This morning I was reading the Gospel of Matthew, the passage which notes that when the disciples rowed across the lake they forgot to bring bread along. It just struck me that this is a very human, even humorous, incident. I realize there's a deeper theological point to the passage (about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees). However, I could just imagine the group of men getting into the boat in a hurry, and no one thought to bring along the essential supplies.

This gives me courage. Whenever I'm a little unorganized and forget something, at least I'm in good company! As human beings we're always going to slip up and make mistakes. The important thing is not to avoid mistakes but to learn from them.

The Pope and Islam

You've probably been following this important story. Amy Welborn has a lot of excellent links and terrific coverage of the whole thing.
The Pope just gave another talk in which he clarified his intention: "I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together." That is the whole point and what it was really about.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today on this feast a small detail from the Gospel struck me. John mentions that some women stood by the cross, Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. It's not clear if there were 3 or 4 women (was Mary's sister the same as Mary the wife of Clopas?). In any case, the three women who were named all have the same name: Mary.

This feast brings us again to ponder the paschal mystery, the mystery of the cross that leads to resurrection. I've been thinking more lately about the spiritual exercises I made last January. St. Ignatius was very wise in the way he put them together. Week 3 is about the cross, but week 2 is all about falling in love with Jesus. It's hard to go to the cross if we don't really know Jesus very well. But when we allow him to draw us into a deeper relationship with him, we can naturally fall in love with him. Then the mystery of the cross isn't so hard, because it's all about someone we love. It's like parents who stay up with a sick child--they don't even think of their lack of sleep, etc., because they love the child so much.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy birthday, Mary!

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Mary's nativity. Of course we don't know the actual date, but this feast was placed on the liturgical calendar exactly nine months after we celebrate Mary's Immaculate Conception (which means she was preserved free from sin from the first moment of her conception).

Once a priest told this story in his homily for this feast. He had been dealing with a very difficult problem and could not see a good solution. After struggling with it for a long time, he still had not found an answer. He was praying about it on this feast of Mary's birth. He told her, "Mary, you know that this is an impossible situation to deal with and I don't know what else to do. So I'll just give it all to you as a birthday present." Some present!
Anyway, a few months later something happened that resolved the situation. It just so happened that the breakthrough came on the priest's own birthday. So he said, well, look at that! I gave Mary my problem for her birthday present, and she gave me the solution for my birthday present!

Mary doesn't mind if we give her problems for her birthday present. She loves to help us with them and going to her with a lot of trust is the best present she can get.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Be doers of the Word"

Today's second reading, from the Letter of James, really hit a chord with me, especially the part about being "doers of the Word." It's funny how sometimes the word of God coincides with secular things that I happened to read. A couple weeks ago I read an excellent article from an internet newsletter about getting things done. The author, Robert Ringer, stated a very simple principle: nothing happens until you act.

It might seem obvious, but more times than I care to admit, I've simply waited through a situation hoping something will change. But nothing will happen until someone acts. If I want a certain outcome, I've got to take steps.

So many times I've thought of something that I'd like to do, said to myself, "Yes, I need to do that," and forgot about it. So it never got done. I can overwhelm myself by thinking of how big a project might be. But to start it takes only one simple step, then another, then another.

So I put on my desk a small sign reading: "Nothing happens until you act." It helped me a lot this past week to take specific steps to deal with issues I have to take care of.

Book Meme

Lisa tagged me for this meme:

1. One book that changed my life: Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. I read it in high school (during the time when religious ed. classes in Catholic schools were mostly fluff) and it was my first engagement with the faith at a deeper intellectual level.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Sanctification of the Mind by Bl. James Alberione. In it he expresses so well in his clear, concise way how important our thoughts are in living our lives. He talks about "power ideas" which he says are guiding principles to build our lives on.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: The Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas. It would certainly be something to fill the days!

4. One book that made you laugh: Any of the Far Side cartoon books by Gary Larsen. Somehow I enjoy his twisted sense of humor.

5. One book you wish had been written: The Idiot's Guide to Being a Nun.

6. One book you wish had never been written: I can think of several but just to name one, Hitler's Mein Kampf.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A mystic's brain

Another interesting story, this time about a study to see how the brain reacts to a mystical experience. I wonder how valid it is, though, since no one can call up a mystical experience at will. It all depends on grace, and when it happens, the person receiving the grace of prayer isn't likely to call the doctor for an on-the-spot MRI!

Thanks to Marty Helgesen for pointing this out!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Something really strange

Just when you think you've heard everything, something else really strange comes along. This story is about a man who had an extremely rare condition "fetus in feto"--His twin was never born but got wrapped up inside him and lived inside his body for several decades. It should be in Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Monday, August 28, 2006

St. Augustine

What a great saint Augustine was! I thank and praise God that he followed the inspiration of grace and was converted. Imagine if he hadn't been; what a great light would have been lost.
His beautiful words always move me: "Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new!"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Working hard--for what goal?

I recently saw an email marketing newsletter that has a secular focus. The author is a young man who's made a lot of money by working hard and is urging others to do the same. It reminds me of what Jesus said about the children of this world being more clever than we are.

The newsletter asked its readers frankly if, to get rich, they are willing to work 16-hour days, give up TV and other entertainment, and get up an hour earlier to do something to get rich.

It honestly made me reflect: do I have the same kind of determination to work for God and for holiness? If people are willing to work so hard to get rich, shouldn't I, who am aiming for eternal life, be willing to work even harder for that goal?

Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us that we might keep our eyes on Jesus and work for heaven!

The Assumption of Mary

St. John Damascene and St. Germanus of Constantinople are two ancient writers who focused on Mary's Assumption. Here is a text from St. Germanus:

"Just as a child seeks and desires its mother's presence and a mother delights in her child's company, it was fitting that you, whose motherly love for your Son and God leaves no room for doubt, should return to him. And was it not right, in any case, that this God who had a truly filial love for you, should take you into his company?"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Some people are so lucky."

I recall one occasion when God’s voice came to me from an unexpected source. A few years ago when I visited my family for vacation, my brother Paul took me and my mother to a Broadway show (The Sound of Music). It was about 11 PM as we left the theater but lights blazed, cars honked and people crowded the sidewalks. As we picked our way through the crowd to the parking garage, I noticed an old African-American woman huddled on the sidewalk. She crouched next to a building, warming herself near a steam grate, the patches on her jacket fluttering in the wind. As we went by she said, “Some people are so lucky.” Did she intend those words for me? I don’t know, but those words drove straight into my heart. In a second all sorts of feelings flooded into me. I felt bad for her, guilty that I had eaten a steak dinner that evening, and frustrated about a society that lets people live on the sidewalk. Whenever I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself, those words come back to haunt me, “Some people are so lucky.” She was like a prophet who spoke God’s word to me. Only God knows what kind of hand life had dealt her. But she gave me a gift that night and taught me an important lesson about gratitude.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terrorist plot averted

The foiled plot to blow up ten planes is the big item in the news right now. Thank God that a big tragedy was averted and lives saved. When things like this happen, I always wonder if it was in answer to someone's prayer that God would prevent it.
In her autobiography, St. Therese had a reflection about things like this. It's been a while since I've read it, but it was about how we should be even more grateful to God to realize what evils he prevented us from reaching us.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The "takeaway close"

I just read about a marketing idea called "the takeaway close." The idea is that if you tell people they can't have something, that makes them want it. In selling, for example, when stores say only a few choice items are in stock, people will go crazy trying to buy it.

The other day I drove past Fenway Park and saw a big banner that said "Parking: $30." I don't know how much the tickets cost. When you add everything up, it costs a lot to go to a ball game. Yet people always crowd in. I couldn't help but think that maybe if the Church charged lots of money for the privilege of going to Mass, people would pack the churches!

Isn't it true that it's so easy not to value what we can easily obtain. The body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the most precious gift of all. Nothing on earth can approach its value. Yet it's so neglected. How many Catholics don't bother to participate in Mass at all. The same thing holds for confession. Who wouldn't want to have all of their sins completely forgiven? Yet, this sacrament is so neglected today.

What are your thoughts on this?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Let them alone"

This morning at Mass, the Gospel reading confirmed for me a decision I had made. Has it ever happened to you that you found an answer to some problem through the Scriptures proclaimed in the liturgy?
Recently I was involved in a difficult situation, and to resolve it a decision was made that I knew would upset a certain person. She is not directly involved in the situation anymore but had been in the past and a strong emotional bond had developed about it. Anyway, I was debating if I should try to discuss it with her and perhaps come to an understanding.
After praying about it I realized that part of my reason for doing that had to do with my own self-interest. I don't like knowing that someone might have some bad feelings about me even though I did nothing to offend. Sometimes, too, people are so strongly emotionally invested in a situation that it's hard for them to talk about it, and I realized she wouldn't be able to listen to what I had to say (based on some past experiences).
So I decided to let it go. There was no point in this particular situation to try and dialogue.
In today's Gospel, Jesus said something that upset the Pharisees. When his disciples told him they were angry at him, he just replied, "Let them alone. They're blind guides of the blind."

That confirmed my decision. It's not to say that the other person is blind, but just to acknowledge that sometimes it's better to let things go. The priest gave a great homily about this. He pointed out that Jesus reacted in different ways. Sometimes he was direct and told people things rather strongly. Sometimes he was gentle and tried to open their hearts. But other times, like in this Gospel, he realized there was no point in a useless debate. So he let it go.

Lord, help me to learn when to let it go and when to reach out to someone!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Our Lady of the Snows

August 5 is the feast of the dedication of the basilica of St. Mary Major, also called Our Lady of the Snows. I visited it in 2003 on our pilgrimage for the beatification of Fr. Alberione. It's a beautiful church. From there we walked to St. Clement church (which has excavations under the church we weren't able to see) and St. John Lateran. The Holy Stairs are nearby that.

In October I'll be going to Rome for a meeting of the bursars (my other job), so I'm starting to look forward to that.

"You are my beloved Son"

The Gospel for the Transfiguration gives us the voice of the Father saying about Jesus, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."
The spiritual writer Leanne Payne often talks about how in prayer when we listen to the voice of God, we'll find him saying very wonderful things to us. Sometimes I've heard people say things like "God is out to get me." But that's so wrong. Even when we do sin, God is never "out to get us" but always looking to save us. He doesn't approve of the evil we do, but he loves us in spite of it.
Imagine God saying to you, "You are my beloved son; my beloved daughter." He's really saying it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A lot has been happening lately

I haven't had much time for blogging lately due to many things.
But the situation that's developed in the Middle East and especially Lebanon is very serious. Pray the rosary for peace.

The other day I read a page from St Thomas on happiness. The moral section of the Summa is built around the idea of happiness. Virtuous living makes us happy. He was saying how the goal of life is union with God in heaven; that's what we're meant for. We're on a journey.
I can so easily forget that and focus so much on the here and now. But it's a great thing to meditate on: happiness with God forever in eternal life.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Peace or division?

This morning at Mass Jesus' words in the Gospel especially struck me: "I have not come to bring peace but division." Then he goes on to say how families will be divided because of him.

It's a mystery to ponder. I think that Jesus isn't saying he wants to deliberately cause division, but that knowing the realities of human life, his message will in fact divide people. Those who want to follow it will be divided from those who don't. I recall the vocation story of one young woman who tried religious life over the violent opposition of her parents. There are many others like that.

What are your thoughts about this Gospel passage?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Because it falls on Sunday this year, the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel isn't celebrated in the liturgy. But here is a reflection on the scapular that I wrote a couple years ago for our FSP website:

Today’s feast, commonly associated with the scapular, can help us reflect on the Biblical theme concerning garments of salvation. The German word for scapular, “Gnadenkleid,” literally means “grace-garment.” Many references to garments and clothes are scattered throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis: “And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). After their sin, our first parents lost their innocence and needed to be clothed. This tender action can perhaps be seen as symbolizing the garments of grace that God would bestow through Jesus Christ.

Pure and clean garments came to symbolize grace and salvation, as the prophet Isaiah sang:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

This text is used in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Garments signify the gifts of grace that God adorns us with inwardly.

The last book of the Bible, Revelation, uses the theme of white garments to express the holiness of the saints, of those who have been through great trials and held fast to their faith: “Yet you still have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels” (Rev 3:4–5).

Perhaps today the scapular devotion is not as popular as it once was. But Catholicism, as a sacramental religion, uses such material symbols as signs of the deeper underlying inner reality of grace. The scapular is not meant to be something superstitious, like a talisman or a good luck charm. Wearing it expresses in a silent yet eloquent way our love for Mary and our confidence in her intercession and help.


The following prayer, called Flower of Carmel, is attributed to St. Simon Stock:

O Beautiful Flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God, still ever remaining a pure virgin, assist us in our necessity! O Star of the Sea, help and protect us! Show us that you are our Mother! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tunnel falling down

You've probably read about the poor woman who died last Monday night when a 3 ton concrete slab fell down from the ceiling of a Big Dig tunnel in Boston. It's caused an uproar here and rightly so. It's hard to believe that a project that cost 16 billion dollars (and counting) was done so poorly.

Now the news is reporting that hundreds of loose ceiling panels have been found. Having driven through those tunnels, it's certainly not a comforting thought to hear that!

All this got me thinking about having a good work ethic and taking pride in one's work. I don't know who's to blame for the tunnel fiasco, but somewhere along the line someone didn't do the job he was paid to do and supposed to do. Pope John Paul wrote an encyclical on human work, in which he pointed out that our work has a place in God's plan. Even if I'm cleaning the kitchen or mopping a floor, it has value if I offer it to God.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pray from where you're at

The other night I was reading Peggy Noonan's biography of Ronald Reagan, When Character Was King." She recalled an interview with his daughter Patti who talked about prayer. She said something that I liked a lot. When she prays, she doesn't think that she first has to get herself all cleaned up, so to speak, but can talk to God from whatever spot she's in, no matter how messy. I really liked that because sometimes I can think I have to get myself "all together" before I pray. But God just wants to hear from us, whether it's just after an argument with someone, or in the midst of changing dirty diapers or whatever.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy anniversary

Today is the 27th anniversary of my religious profession of vows. I thank God for all the graces he has given me through all of these years. Deo gratias!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Great comments

I've gotten some really great comments lately. Under the theology of the body post, Clare wrote a wonderful piece about the role of beauty in communicating truth. Thank you, Clare!
Also, Teodora-Yana Yaacov wrote from Bulgaria. It's amazing how the Internet connects people all over the world.
In another post someone who had HCL wrote to ask about blood counts. I can't find the particular post now so I'll answer it here. HCL (hairy-cell leukemia) is a blood disease I've had in the past. The person was concerned because his or her blood counts are declining.
That can be a bit scary because declining blood counts are the first sign the disease is returning. However, my doctor told me that the white cell count can fluctuate quite a bit and sometimes it doesn't mean much. At times my would dip down a little below normal but then come back up again. It's only recently--last year--that my platelet count got consistently back into the normal range. So it takes time. I'll keep the anonymous commenter in my prayers.

Corpus Christi

The feast of Corpus Christi is coming up this Sunday. It brings me back to some of the beautiful things Pope John Paul wrote in his encyclical on the Eucharist. He spoke of the way Mary is connected with the Eucharist:

" Mary is a “woman of the Eucharist” in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery. Mysterium fidei! If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition." (from n. 53 and 54)

This works itself out in so many ways. For example, many of the great Marian shrines are also Eucharistic shrines. Think of the Eucharistic procession at Lourdes, just to mention one.

In what ways do you see Mary related to the Eucharist?

Monday, June 05, 2006

New translation of Theology of the Body

Click here for part 1 of the interview with Prof. Michael Waldstein, who did a fresh translation of Pope John Paul II's theology of the body talks.

Prof. Waldstein came to Boston in early February to work with us on the text. He is a wonderful person, a true gentleman. I had the impression that he is so steeped in John Paul's thought of respect for the person that he radiates this in his own life. He is so gracious and kind it was a real treat to meet him!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mary, Queen of the Apostles

Today in our congregation we celebrate the feast of Mary, Queen of the Apostles.
Bl. James Alberione gave us this devotion to Mary because it relates to closely to the mission of evangelizing. In a nutshell, his idea was very simple: Mary gave Jesus to the world by accepting the vocation to be his Mother. Literally, she gave him birth. Because of Mary, we have Jesus.

In a similar way, by giving the Gospel to people, we bring Jesus to birth for them spiritually. It's something that every Catholic is called to do. It can be in the most simple of ways, sometimes just a kind word or a smile or a friendly gesture.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fr Todd

If you've been surfing the Catholic blogosphere, you've probably heard about the untimely death of Fr. Todd Reitmeyer. He was a young priest in his mid-3o's who tragically died last week in a boating accident while on vacation in Texas.

He was ordained about three years ago. God's ways are so mysterious--we just never know when our time here on earth will be up. All the more reason to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. It pays to practice virtue. In light of eternity, so many things I've been concerned about get put in perspective.

Reading for spiritual health

When I finished the 30-day retreat last January, one of the "advices" the retreat director gave was to make time for spiritual reading, every day if possible.
I had gotten away from it for a while, but over the weekend I had some time so I read a little more. It's amazing how it really does make a difference. I read a bit from "The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life," a classic book by Lagrange. He mentioned how it's easy in day-to-day life to get so caught up in things we have to do that we can forget about God. But even a few minutes of reading from a good spiritual book can help us refocus.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Vanishing species?

Last week a couple of the sisters had a bookfair at a nearby Catholic grammar school.
One fourth grade boy, looking quite serious, approached the table and asked the sister there,
"Are you a nun?"

"Yes," she replied.

He pondered this a moment and then replied,
"I didn't think they existed anymore. I saw one once when I was in kindergarten but I thought they were extinct by now."

Friday, May 19, 2006

ABC Meme

Sr. Anne and Lisa tagged me for this meme, so here goes:

Accent: New York, although 20+ years of living in Boston has toned it down a bit.

Chore I Hate
: Sewing.

Dog or Cat
: Dogs, especially German Shephers

Essential Electronics
: Desktop

Favorite Cologne(s): What's cologne?

Gold or Silver: Gold.

Hometown: Elmont, Long Island

Insomnia: No.

Job Title: Main one: Sister Secondary: Editor, Maintenance Supervisor, Treasurer for the community of Boston.

Kids: I was one once.

Living arrangements: Tiny room in convent with paper-thin walls. The architect never heard of soundproofing.

Most admirable trait: Ability to see others' points of view.

Overnight hospital stays: Twice: in 1994 and 1999. Not since then, thank God!

Phobias: Getting stuck somewhere, like on the highway 300 miles from home.

Quote: "Not to go along the way of God is to go back." (St. Thomas)

Religion: Roman Catholic

Siblings: Two brothers and two sisters; one brother is in heaven.

Time I wake up: 5:30 or 6 (AM)

Unusual talent or skill: When I used to work in our shipping department, I could work on three computer screens at the same time. Of course, computers were slower then.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: I'm pretty much OK with them all, except okra is hard to swallow.

Worst habit: Depends who you ask.

X-rays: Mostly dental.

Yummy stuff I cook: Cooking? What's that?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A week of rain

After the post below about the beautiful spring weather, we've had more than a week of solid rain! It's actually causing quite a lot of damage in the area and people are suffering from flooding, etc.

Jaroslav Pelikan, RIP

I just saw the death notice of Jaroslav Pelikan. He was a wonderful scholar of Christian history and a fine theologian. Last year I read his new book on the Bible and right now I'm looking at the wonderful book he did on Mary, called "Mary Through the Centuries." He wrote in that book, "It is impossible to understand the history of Western spirituality and devotion without paying attention to the place of the Virgin Mary."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mary Queen of Apostles

Bl. James Alberione focused on Mary as Queen of the Apostles. By that he meant that she's the first apostle because she gave Jesus to the world. Like her, we can be apostles by giving Jesus to the world in whatever way we can.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Spring in Boston

We're having beautiful weather these days.

Photo by Sr Ann, FSP

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Marian spirituality

Someone asked in the comments box why I was putting thoughts about Mary from Bl. James Alberione, and not other sources.

Actually, it's not that I want to exclude any others, since there are so many wonderful writers who have said such great things about Mary, like St. Alphonsus and others.

The reason I'm focusing on Bl. James is because he is the Founder of our congregation, and I'd like to do my small part to make his Marian thought better known. His thought was very profound in that he saw Mary as an apostle. He put her very much in the forefront of his entire apostolic work.

This is an aspect of Mary that's less well known but very important.

Mary Radiates Jesus Christ

Every apostolate is a radiating of Jesus Christ.
It is to give something, if we can use the expression,
of Jesus Christ.

Mary gave us the whole Christ,
Way, Truth and Life.
She is the apostle empowered by God.
Blessed James Alberione

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mary and the month of May

During May I'd like to post some thoughts from the writings of Bl. James Alberione on Mary.

"Christ is my life,
and the way to reach him
is Mary."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The DVC at BC

Last night I went with some of the other sisters to an excellent talk that was given at Boston College on the DaVinci Code. It was by a Professor Attridge from Yale, who specializes in Biblical studies and ancient texts. He recounted how he became aware of the DVC when he got a call from a group in Greenwich, Ct, who was looking for a speaker. He told them he usually speaks on topics like the Nag Hammadi texts, Gnostic Gospels, etc. They weren't interested in that but asked, "What about something exciting like---the Da Vinci Code!"

He gave a great talk on the claims made by the novel, like the claim that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalen and their bloodline still exists in the mysterious Priory of Sion, etc. In debunking it, he was so gracious and scholarly but at times just had to say that Brown's claims are "arrant nonsense."
Just one small point: the book claims that the name "Mona Lisa" is actually drawn from goddess worship. But Attridge said that Da Vinci's painting was called "La Gioconda," and the name "Mona Lisa" wasn't given it until a century later.

This article by Sandra Miesel has a lot more details.

Why is the DVC so popular? I think one reason is that it presents a philosophy of life that doesn't make any moral demands on anyone. If we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have to live by the moral demands of the Gospel: love God and our neighbor, self-sacrificing love, lives of integrity, justice and truth. Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him. Quite different from the curiosity of a conspiracy theory that doesn't call us to conversion.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Book of Revelation

This week the Office of Readings begins a reading of the Book of Revelation. The first part of it contains letters to seven churches in Asia Minor.

The letters contain both praises and reproaches for the churches. Interestingly, some of them are reproached for false teachings. This book was probably written around the end of the first century, a time when we would consider the Church to still be in a state of pristine fervor. Yet, human nature is the same and problems occur in every time and place.

It's encouraging to read this, because it makes me at least realize that despite the problems the Church has today, we don't need to be discouraged about it. Jesus still walks with us today, just as he did with those Christians who lived so many centuries ago. And even if we hear his voice reproaching us for something, he does it with love.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Random Meme

Sr Anne Joan tagged me with a random meme, that is, 6 random things about me. So here goes:

1. I'm always trying to get organized but I never quite make it.

2. I have a weakness for chocolate.

3. I'm interested in eating healthy (note the contradiction from point 2). This point, however, comes from being a cancer survivor. I had a disease called hairy-cell leukemia but recovered from it twice (in 1994 and 1999). Now I'm doing fine.

4. St. Thomas Aquinas is my favorite saint, even though I'm a Daughter of St. Paul. St. Paul comes in second.

5. I belonged to the Catholic Evidence Guild before I entered the convent (in 1976). Once when I was giving a street corner talk in Times Square (yes, we did that), a crazy guy came up and slapped me in the face. It was my big martyrdom moment that I was really proud of: slapped for the faith! I've always said I would like to die as a martyr. (Realistically it's the only way I can see myself avoiding purgatory! Remember all the chocolate...)

6. I love to throw out junk and get rid of garbage. Now that I'm also overseeing maintenance of our Boston facilities in addition to my editorial duties, I can go and clean out something when I start to feel stressed out. I spend more time than I should hanging around dumpsters.

Well, that's it!

Good resources on DaVinci Code

The Ratzinger Fan Club blog has a thorough list of links for good information about the Da Vinci Code.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Easter Week

In Easter week, liturgically every day is another celebration of Easter. That's why the preface reads "on this Easter day" even though it's not Sunday.

In the ancient Church, the newly baptized (called the neophytes) wore their baptismal robes to the liturgy throughout this week, wearing them for the last time on Saturday.

Even though they took off their robes, they had put on Christ. We have too. Like them, we still live in the presence of Jesus every day, walking with him along the road of the Christian life.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

From the Exultet:

This is the night
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave!

Here is a link where you can hear the Exultet proclaimed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Triduum begins

Pope Benedict offered this thought today in his general audience to help us prepare for these most holy days:

Let us dispose ourselves, therefore, to celebrate the Easter triduum taking up St. Augustine's exhortation: "Consider now attentively the three holy days of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord. From these three mysteries we realize in the present life that of which the cross is symbol, while we realize through faith and hope, that of which the burial and resurrection is symbol" (Letter 55,14,24).

New Marian website

Check out this new Mary of Nazareth website; it has a lot of good material about Mary.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tridentine Mass rumors

Some rumors are going around that Pope Benedict may allow wider use of the Tridentine Mass, allowing any priest who desires to do so to celebrate it. Right now, the Church allows it only when the bishop of the local diocese approves its use.

The rumors said that the permission would come during Holy Week, so we'll see.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Jesus' Agony in the Garden

I've been reading some parts from Fr. Brown's book Death of the Messiah, which is a very long and detailed commentary on the Passion narratives. He said something I found quite interesting about the agony in the garden.
He said that the Greek word the Gospel of Luke uses for this is agonia, which our English word "agony" derives from. But the Greek has a different meaning. The agon was the place of an athletic contest and also the contest itself. Agonia meant everything that went into preparing for a great athletic contest, including the tension and the foreboding and endurance. So it has a different sense from our usual understanding of agony. The idea is that Jesus was preparing for a great trial that would cost blood, sweat and tears.

Related to this, Brown explains that Jesus' initial prayer was that he might be delivered from the trial: "Father, let this cup pass." But once he received the answer that he would not be delivered, he prayed more earnestly. Why more earnestly? Because knowing that he had to endure the trial, he prayed for the strength to carry it out.

The letter to the Hebrews expands on this athletic theme: "Let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings to us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Heb 12:1-3)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The books of the Bible

This morning at breakfast we were talking about the discovery of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas, as well as new books appearing like The Jesus Papers, etc. Someone asked, "So how did the Church decide which gospels were real and which weren't?"

It's a great question and one that's very topical. By the end of the first century, there were many gospels circulating, perhaps even hundreds. The Church had to sift through them and discern which ones were truly inspired by God.

In doing that, the Church used three criteria:

1. Apostolic origin The writings that were accepted were associated with an apostle. For example, Matthew and John were believed to have been written by those apostles; Mark was connected with Peter, and Luke with Paul. Even if they weren't actually written by those persons, somehow being associated with an apostle made a writing more accepted.

2. The local Churches to which the writings were addressed.
The various local churches preserved the writings they received, and those that became more important naturally had more of their writings preserved, and they were given greater authority. For example, the church at Rome probably preserved the Gospel of Mark, the letter to the Romans and the letter to the Hebrews.

3. The rule of faith
The writings that were accepted had to accurately teach the rule of faith that the Church taught, which had been handed down by oral tradition. So the various gospels written by Gnostics were excluded, because they taught errors. The Gospel of Judas falls into that category.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

You may have seen some news stories about the discovery of an ancient text called the Gospel of Judas. I read the article in the New York Times, which seemed to suggest that this new discovery is something that could shake the foundations of Christian belief. Actually, it is nothing more than another text from the Gnostics. Gnosticism was an ancient heresy that rejected orthodox Christian beliefs and replaced them with supposedly secret knowledge reserved to an elite. The idea of being part of a special group "in the know" was one reason it attracted followers. Way back in the second century, St. Irenaeus wrote a long treatise explaining their errors (called "Against Heresies.")
Irenaeus may well have read this Gospel of Judas. So there's nothing new under the sun.

Amy Welborn has some links to more background on this.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bishop Lennon goes to Cleveland

You're probably heard that Boston's auxiliary Bishop Lennon is going to Cleveland. Here he is at our jubilee celebration in 2004. Before he became a bishop, he was our chaplain for about ten years and has been a wonderful support for our community and mission during that time.
Our prayers go with him!

In picture from left: Sr Laura, myself, Sr Frances and Sr Susan)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

John Paul the Great

These past few weeks have been extra busy for me so I haven't done much blogging. But April 2 was the anniversary of Pope John Paul's death. What a privilege it was for all of us to have such a great pope for so many years! I truly believe he will go down in history as one of the greatest popes of all time.

During our pilgrimage to Rome in 1985, I had the privilege of taking part in a Mass in his private chapel. Before the Mass he knelt praying so intensely--he was totally absorbed in God.
On another personal note, much of my editorial work in the past ten years was occupied with preparing his writings for publication--encyclicals, apostolic letters, other letters and documents, and the various collections of his general audiences that we published. In particular, his work on the theology of the body is a milestone and I am very grateful for the small part I have been able to play in making it better know.

What are your memories and reflections about him?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Purpose Driven Life

I was talking to one of the sisters about this book, which has been selling millions of copies. It appeals to people because it gives a sense that there is a purpose to my life given by God.
The problem is that the book is based on Calvinistic theology. Calvin is famous for his ideas about predestination: God sends those people to heaven he wants, and the rest can go to hell--literally!
This isn't what the Catholic Church teaches. The problem with Warren's book is that it's basically predestination in a different kind of packaging.

It raises some problems, though. If I fall and bruise my knee, is it because from all eternity God planned that, or is it because I was not paying attention to where I was going?

St. Thomas has an interesting point in his discussion of Divine Providence. God's Providence governs all things. Yet, it doesn't exclude the action of secondary causes. Because God made us free, if we act freely, that's covered by Providence. But it doesn't mean that God is sitting in heaven like a puppeteer, pulling strings for each little thing that happens.

This is a fascinating topic, though. What are your thoughts about it?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DaVinci Code info from the bishops

Check out this link for some good information about the misleading errors in the Da Vinci Code, from the USCC.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy feast of St. Joseph!

St Joseph is a great but often overlooked saint. He's especially invoked for help with financial matters, since he was the provider for the holy family. He's a patron for people looking for work and all workers, for the dying, for fathers, and in general the saint of divine providence.

Here's an interesting article from a secular journal about St Joseph and selling homes.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Louis Trouve' RIP

Today is the 10th anniversay of my brother Louie's death. He died at the age of 33 from chronic myelogenous leukemia after a failed bone marrow transplant.

It's hard to believe it's 10 years already. I believe he's in heaven so while I feel sad that he died so young, I'm happy to think of him enjoying God in heaven.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's a great day for the Irish--especially here in Boston--so I hope you all have a happy feast day.

Today I recall my Irish grandmother, Elizabeth McNally, who had a great love of the Catholic faith and transmitted that to her family. She was born in the tenements of New York City in 1894 and lived to be 100. She used to tell this story: when was a child she first went to a Catholic school but for later grades had to transfer to a public school. One day in class in the public school, the teacher asked a question and nobody knew the answer except my grandmother. The teacher said, "Well, look at that, Elizabeth knows the answer and she went to a Catholic school," as if the Catholic schools were inferior. Those were the days of "No Irish need apply."

As she told the story, she said, "I got mad. Yes, I got mad. So I stood up and I said, 'If I'm the only one who knows the answer, and I went to a Catholic school, doesn't that mean that the Catholic schools are better?'"

Thanks for the help

Thanks to Mark Mossa, SJ, and an anomyous commenter who helped me figure out how to make the picture of St. Paul look better on the sidebar!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I'd like to put the picture of St. Paul that's in the post below this on the sidebar.
But as you can see, I'm having some difficulty. I tried reading the help section in Blogger but I couldn't find this precise problem. Does anyone know what I have to put in my template to make the picture appear in a normal way?

Thank you very much!

St. Paul Mosaic

Thanks for the prayers for Sr Patricia

Thanks to all who left a comment for Sr Patricia. I'm planning to email her these words of support as soon as she gets more settled and has some email access.

When she left Boston yesterday, the whole community gathered to send her off with a lot of love and prayers. She's wanted to be a missionary to another country for a long time, and last summer she made a special retreat to discern if this was what God was calling her to do.

As we hear news from her I'll post it. There's another American sister there, Sr Leonora, who has been there for several years already. The emails from her are quite exciting. Of course in Moscow most of the people are Orthodox, and right now the relations between the Orthodox and the Catholics are tense. So that presents a difficulty, but the sisters have been working on projects trying to build some bridges.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cardinal Van Thuan's books

Thanks to Sr Anna for sending me a link where people can obtain Cardinal Van Thuan's books in Vietnamese (someone was asking about it in the comments box).

Missionary to Russia

Today one of the sisters from our USA province, Sr Patricia Thomas Lane, left to begin a new assignment in Russia. She's going to Moscow to work in our mission there. It's going to be very challenging, as she has to learn the language and adapt to the harsh weather, etc. She's originally from Alaska, so she'll be quite hardy as far as the climate goes.

Please pray for her as she begins this exciting yet difficult assignment!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Prayer breakfast

I received this info about a special national Catholic prayer breakfast to be held in Washington:

1413 K Street, NW • Suite 1000 •Washington, D.C. 20005
3rd Annual National Catholic
Prayer Breakfast Announced
March 7, 2006 703-739-5920 or 800-536-5920
WASHINGTON— The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Board of Directors today announced the 3rd annual breakfast will take place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 7, guest speakers and the schedule of events.
“We were blessed with tremendous success last year, with more than 1,600 people in attendance,” National Catholic Prayer Breakfast President Joseph Cella stated. “We were especially pleased to host the President of the United States and a number of prominent leaders. Based on the growing interest, we have expanded the activities around the prayer breakfast to maximize opportunities for those who plan to attend, especially many who are traveling from various parts of the country.”
Mass will be held Thursday evening, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Cathedral with His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick serving as principal celebrant and homilist. Mass will be followed by an evening reception.
The prayer breakfast will be held the following morning at the Hilton Washington Hotel beginning at 7:00 a.m. on April 7. The keynote speaker at the breakfast will be His Excellency Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Paul McDermott, O.P., who is responsible for reconstruction of Catholic schools in the New Orleans area, will also speak. Catholic Theologian Scott Hahn and Fr. Benedict Groeschel, will give a talk following the breakfast
Thursday, April 6 6:30 p.m. Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral
1725 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington
Followed by reception
Friday, April 7 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at Hilton Washington
1919 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Followed by educational program
The annual event was created in 2004 in response to beloved Pope John Paul II’s appeal for a “New Evangelization,” and is a way to spread the Word of the Gospel.
For more information, log onto www.catholicprayerbreakfast.com. To schedule an interview, please call Diana Banister at (703)739-5920.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The power of prayer

Today's Mass readings are on the power of prayer. Jesus says so clearly, "Ask!"

You'll receive.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pauline Cooperators' Conference

This coming weekend I'll be in St. Louis for the conference of Pauline Cooperators.
I'll be doing a presentation entitled "Mary, Gateway to the Gospel" which will explore the Marian spirituality of Blessed James Alberione. His Marian thought is very apostolic, since he saw Mary's mission of giving Jesus to the world as one that we can all imitate, though in a different way.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Choose life!

Today's first reading from Deuteronomy puts a clear choice before us: life or death. So choose life!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lent song

I got this song from Marty Helgesen, an old acquaintance from the Catholic Evidence Guild whom I reconnected with through the internet. He wrote it to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music. I added the first verse since the original song has one verse, then the refrain:

Vigils and penance and prayers without number,
Though I feel cranky from my lack of slumber,
I want to get rid of all sin that still clings,
So these are a few of my favorite things:

Sackcloth and ashes, and days without eating,
Mortification and nights without sleeping,
A hair shirt that scratches, a nettle that stings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

          When it's Christmas,
When the tree's lit,
When the cards are sent,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I can't wait till Lent.

More Lenten reading

What books would you recommend for spiritual reading this Lent?

Lenten reading from NRO

Check out National Review Online for a list of great books for Lenten reading.

I was surprised and quite excited the other day when I got an email from Kathryn Jean Lopez asking me to recommend something. I don't know how she found out about my blog. Anyway I suggested Cardinal Van Thuan's great book, Testimony of Hope. He was truly a saint. Shortly after he became the coadjutor bishop of Saigon, he was arrested by the communists and thrown into prison. Then began 13 long years of suffering, 9 of which he spent in solitary confinement.

One story he tells in the book is how his people managed to smuggle in a copy of the New Testament, and the prisoners divided the pages among themselves. They hid them in the sand so the guards wouldn't find them. Then each of the Catholic prisoners memorized verses, and when they were able to at night, they would recite out loud the verses they had memorized. Van Thuan recounts how moving it was to hear God's word proclaimed like that. "There is no chaining the word of God."

A couple years before he died, the cardinal visited our convent in Boston. I was so impressed by him because he was one of the most serene and peaceful persons I have ever met. He also had a great sense of humor. He was one of those persons who just radiated holiness. The crucible of his sufferings turned him into a saint because he was so open to God's grace. He showed us the small wooden cross he persuaded one of the guards to let him make, which he then hid in a bar of soap. After he was finally released, he cherished it as a special reminder of God's care for him.