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 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.

Dust and ashes

I love Ash Wednesday! It's the day for making a fresh start, for cleaning up my inner self, for just pausing a bit to take stock of where I am spiritually.

If I learned anything from the 30-day retreat I just made this past January, it's that the key thing in the spiritual life is to grow in my relationship with Jesus. That's what it's all about. The resolutions, penances, etc. that we do are important and necessary means. But what matters ultimately is our relationship with Jesus. Of course the Church is a big part of that; I don't mean to suggest it's only about me and Jesus. What I mean to say is that any particular Lenten practice has value to the extent that it helps us grow in that relationship.

So for this Lent what I need to do is to continue what I started in the retreat and pay more attention to prayer.

What are your Lenten plans?

A good thought for Lent

Someone emailed me this thought from an anonymous author:

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are. Your reputation is merely what others think you are."