Monday, December 31, 2007

Worthwhile spiritual reading

The Dominicans have posted Fr. Jordan Aumann's classic on spiritual theology here.

Fr Aumann died this year. His book is an excellent guide to the spiritual life, based on St. Thomas

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas season lasts about two weeks, so we have a little time to savor it.
Today's reading in the Office of Readings is from the first letter of John. He makes the point that if we sin, we have an intercessor with the Father: Jesus. Yes, Jesus is our intercessor, our advocate, and he pleads our cause. The letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus "lives always to make intercession for us."

I'm not really in the habit of thinking of Jesus that way, but it's exactly what he does for us. He is our advocate,and he is on our side. He calls us to conversion when we stray, but always in a way that is kind and merciful.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peter Rudegeair, RIP

Today I heard the news that Dr Peter Rudegeair died suddenly last Friday evening in a car accident. Dr Rudegeair often spoke at the Courage conferences each summer. He was a psychologist and supporter of Church teaching on homosexuality. In 2003 he made a trip to Australia to promote the message of Courage and faced opposition and heckling.

He will really be missed. May he rest in peace.

Women Affirming Life

I've gotten a bit behind in blogging. On December 8 I gave a brief presentation to the group of Women Affirming Life on Mary and the theology of the body. It centered on how the idea of making a gift of one's self is at the heart of TOB. Spousal love, of course, is the most significant way of making this gift of self. But in whatever ways we show love to others, we are making a "sincere gift of self," as Pope John Paul used to say.

I have to thank Marianne Luthin for inviting me to do this. At the breakfast I also met her husband Henry for the first time. Marianne works in the pro-life office for the diocese of Boston. Both she and Henry are wonderful examples of living the spousal gift of self! God bless you both!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spe Salvi various thoughts

One passage of the encyclical that really grabbed my attention was this:

"Both these things—justice and grace—must be seen in their correct inner relationship. Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

That's quite a powerful statement! I think it speaks to the modern tendency to somehow whitewash moral evil, as if what we do with our lives doesn't really matter in the end. But it does. What we do now will have consequences for all eternity.

That's a consoling thought for people who suffer injustices here on earth. While we rightfully act to right those wrongs, on earth, justice often is not done. When you see evil seemingly triumph, it can sorely test the faith of believers. But evil will not have the last word.

Spe Salvi Summary

I'll be doing this in several posts

1. Introduction

The Pope reminds us that we can have hope because we have a great goal: our salvation. That goal is “not simply a given,” he says. We can hope for something for two reasons: because it’s possible to attain, but also difficult. If it was a sure thing, we wouldn’t have to hope for it, we would just take it for granted. But we can’t take our salvation for granted because it depends on our cooperation with grace.

2. Faith is hope

Here Benedict reflects on the relationship between faith and hope. In a sense, he says, they are interchangeable. The solid basis for our hope is our faith in God. Because we know God, we can have hope and rest secure in the knowledge that as Christians, we “have a future.” While we don’t know the details, we do know that eternal life with God awaits us after death.
In this context, Benedict mentions the example of St. Josephine Bakhita. Born in Sudan, at the age of nine she was captured and sold into slavery. He recounts the story of her extreme sufferings, and of how she was rescued and found faith and hope in God.

3. The concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and the early Church

In this section, the Pope speaks like a professor—wouldn’t it be great to be in one of his classes? He talks about the concept of faith in the New Testament. First he mentions how the encounter with Christ is not something abstract, but can change our lives. That is what attracted people to it in the beginning of the Church. By Baptism we meet this loving God who personally cares about us and our destiny.
Benedict mentions how in ancient Rome both poor people and those from upper classes found hope in Christianity. In ancient Christian tombs, Christ was often presented in one of two ways: as a philosopher, and as a shepherd. As a philosopher he teaches us the meaning of life and death. The shepherd leads us through the path of death to life.
Then Benedict goes on to give an extended exegesis of the famous text from Hebrews on faith (11:1): “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

4.
Eternal life—what is it?

Benedict probes the idea of eternal life. First he recalls the classical rite of Baptism. In presenting their child, the priest says, “What do you ask of the Church?” Answer: “Faith.”
“And what does faith give you?”
“Eternal life.”
This is the ultimate goal, what gives sense to our whole life. Yet Benedict discusses how we often feel conflicted about eternal life. On the one hand, we want to keep on living and the idea of death frightens us. On the other hand, the prospect of endless living on earth is frightening also. Who would want to live forever on earth, with all its pain, trials, and sufferings? This is the paradox we face.

Quoting a letter of St Augustine to the Roman widow Proba, Pope Benedict says that we are seeking “the blessed life,” which is equated with happiness. The Pope then says that we sometimes have a problem with the idea of eternal life because we can’t help but think of it in earthly terms. Yet it is completely different. It is not an endless succession of time, one thing after another. Instead, he compares it to “plunging into the ocean of infinite, a moment in which time—before and after—no longer exists.”

It will be like we are completely enveloped in love, and in that moment we will be overwhelmed with endless joy.

The Pope recommends this book!


The Pope recommends Prayers of Hope.

"When I have been plunged into complete solitude…; if I pray I am never totally alone. The late Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, a prisoner for thirteen years, nine of them spent in solitary confinement, has left us a precious little book: Prayers of Hope. During thirteen years in jail, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness, the fact that he could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope, which enabled him, after his release, to become for people all over the world a witness to hope—to that great hope which does not wane even in the nights of solitude."
Spe Salvi, n. 32

Spe Salvi

The Vatican has posted the new encyclical online.

Here are some impressions I had in my first reading.
Pope Benedict shows the many facets of his personality. In some places the encyclical reads like he is teaching a class--wouldn't it be great to have taken one of his courses! For example, he gives an extended exegesis of the famous definition of faith from Hebrews: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

In other places he appears as a pastor, citing remarkable examples from the lives of the saints. He mentions St Josephine Bakhita as an outstanding example of hope. She went from slavery in Africa to being a religious sister in Italy. The Pope speaks of the great Cardinal Van Thuan, and specifically recommends Prayers of Hope, a book which we published! He also has a long quote from one of the Vietnamese martyrs.

In more posts I'll talk a little more in detail about my impressions, but please do read the encyclical for yourself. All comments on it are most welcome!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Henry Hyde, RIP

Henry Hyde served in Congress for 32 years as a representative from Illinois, and he was one of the greatest pro-life politicians. The Hyde Amendment, which he sponsored, prohibited federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. The American Right to Life Committee estimates that this amendment has been responsible for saving the lives of at least 1 million babies who would otherwise have been aborted.
Hyde had great integrity and he showed how a Catholic politician can be an effective leader without renouncing the Church's position on life issues. In a speech at Notre Dame in 1984, he said, "It is clearly insufficient for a Catholic public official to hold that his or her personal, conscientious objection to abortion as a matter of personal choice for himself or herself ends the matter"

May he rest in peace and enjoy his well-earned eternal reward.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spe Salvi Saved by Hope

Friday, Nov 30, is the official release date of the Pope's new encyclical. It will be his second encyclical, following Deus Caritas Est. It looks like he is writing on the theological virtues. Perhaps his third encyclical will be on faith?
Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who visit this blog!
One of the great reasons to give thanks this year is the breakthrough that was just announced about stem-cell research. In a remarkable advance, scientists have found a way to take ordinary human skin cells and send them back to a state where they act like embryonic stem cells. That is, they have the ability to develop into different kinds of tissue cells that could be cultivated to replace failing organs.

And it can all be done without destroying human embryos. This is a great victory for the pro-life movement. These scientists have proved what pro-lifers have been saying all along, that we can get better benefits from stem cell research without destroying embryos. This is truly a win-win situation for all sides. This article has more details.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The pursuit of holiness

Following up yesterday's post, here are a few more thoughts on the pursuit of holiness.

A desire will grow stronger with more motivation. Although our baptism committed us to pursuing holiness, it still needs to become a personal desire. Why desire it? One compelling reason is that life on earth is short and will soon come to an end, even if a person lives to be 100. What is that in comparison with eternal life?

Here's a little exercise to bring that home. Take your present age and double it. Do you realistically expect to live that long? If not, you've already lived more than half your life on earth. It will be fewer years from now until your death than from your birth until now. And that's assuming that no accident or sudden illness cuts it prematurely short.

St. Francis Borgia was the Duke of Gandia in Spain. He served the Queen Isabella of Portugal, who was very beautiful. She died while still rather young and beautiful. When Francis saw her in the coffin, he was shocked at how the ravages of death had already stolen her beauty. This incident helped him take a turn in his spiritual life and he later became a Jesuit priest.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What does it take...

To become a saint?

What’s your goal in life? What do you want to be? What do you want to become—not so much in terms of doing a particular thing, but of the kind of person you want to be?

As baptized Christians, we have a life goal set out for us: holiness. At Vatican II the bishops wrote a whole chapter about the universal call to holiness (it’s found in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).

Today and for the next few days I’ll put up a few posts on how to become a saint in five (not so easy) steps. Please feel free to add your own thoughts about it.

1. Desire it
I read somewhere that when someone asked St Thomas Aquinas how to become a saint, he simply replied, “Will it.” It’s true, of course, that we absolutely need God’s grace. But God can’t help us if we don’t want him to. So the very first step in becoming holy is to want it, to want it more than anything else. Blessed James Alberione once said to the sisters, “Desire holiness and will it constantly.”
Francis Bernardone started out by wanting to simply repair a broken-down church. Little by little, he gave up all his material goods, every worldly possession, to live in complete poverty so that he could love God more. That single-hearted desire changed him from Francis the town clown to St. Francis of Assisi.
At bottom, the desire for holiness is a desire to be in a love relationship with God.It means realizing that we can't live without God.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

St. Albert the Great

St. Albert was a Dominican and a teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. Besides his interest in theology, Albert was also a great student of the natural world. He studied biology and observed bees and other animals to understand nature better.

Albert was destined to be overshadowed by his student, but he probably didn't mind. Some people have the role of being a precursor for someone else who will surpass them in some way. But that doesn't detract from Albert's own greatness. He is a Doctor of the Church, especially known for his philosophical writings. He studied Aristotle extensively and helped the young Thomas assimilate Greek philosophy. Thomas then went on to become an outstanding commentator on Aristotle's writings.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pope's visit in the spring

It looks like the Pope's schedule has been finalized for his visit to the US next spring. He won't be coming to Boston but he'll be celebrating a Mass at Yankee stadium on April 20. I hope I'll be able to go! I haven't been to Yankee stadium since October 1979 when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there. It was a great event. We got to get fairly close as he drove by in the Popemobile.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Success for water heater campaign!

I've had the appeal for a new water heater on my blog for a while now, and this is an update. Through your generosity and that of other generous benefactors, we reached our goal! The work is beginning now and the target date for completion is Thanksgiving.
When it is finished I hope to get some pictures to post.

We pray for our benefactors and every month offer a Mass especially for them and their special intentions. I want to thank everyone who has visited this blog and made a donation for this project. The old water heater, almost 40 years old, was on its last legs. The new one will be much more energy efficient, so we can save in that way as well.

Thank you all and God bless you!

All Souls Day

Today is the day the Church remembers and prays for all the souls of the deceased who are still undergoing purification.
Catholic teaching is that those who die without being fully purified of sin receive that purification in the next life. Purgatory is not a physical place but a state. It's a sign of God's mercy, for he gives us the opportunity to grow in love and cast off the remnants of sin.

The best way to avoid purgatory, of course, is to avoid its cause: sin. Our age seems to have a diminished sense of sin, which may be why teachings like purgatory have fallen out of the popular awareness. In some traditionally Catholic countries, like Italy, however, devotion to the holy souls is very strong. The Italian sisters in my community are very devoted to their souls!

When I saw the movie Gladiator, I noticed that the hero (played by Russell Crowe but I forget the character's name) was a pagan. But he had a great devotion to his deceased ancestors, even to the point of having little statues of them and burning incense and candles. So it must have been a part of the pre-Roman Etruscan culture of Italy, which the Romans also had. When Christianity came, this element of the culture was like a "seed of the gospel" that must have made it easier for the people to understand Christian teachings about the afterlife.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pope coming to Boston?

I just read an update from Catholic News service about the Pope's trip next spring. It seems he may very likely come to Boston, but it is not completely confirmed yet. I hope that he does because it would do a lot to help the morale of the Catholics in this archdiocese.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great Thomistic page

By chance I just discovered a great web page on St. Thomas. It is by a professor Freddoso at Notre Dame. He's actually doing his own translation of the Summa and is posting it online, along with a helpful commentary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New encyclical on the way

A report is out (here) that the Pope has written his second encyclical on the theme of Christian hope. No release date has been announced.

His first encyclical,Deus Caritas Est is on the greatest of the theological virtues, charity. This one deals with the other virtue of hope. I wonder if he'll deal with faith in another encyclical to come.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Life is good

I was on a road trip over the weekend, and a car passed us that had "Life is good" written on the back. I also noticed there was a sticker in the window that said "Happyville College." It made me smile but the driver was probably trying to convey a message that life is often what we make of it and there's plenty of good things to be happy about.
The best thing about life, though, is that God loves us and our destination is eternal happiness with him in heaven. If life on earth is good, eternal life is a million times better! Jesus came to lead us there.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reasons for hope

Today's first reading is about the Israelites rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem after they return from exile. The prophet Haggai asks, "Who among you has seen this house in its former glory?" Now all they have to look at is a pile of rubble.

But God has the last word. He will step in and not only help them rebuild it as it was before, but in an even greater way.

Sometimes in life it can happen that our life seems to be in ruins. It may be from an alcohol or drug addiction, a betrayal, a struggle with a habit of sin we can't seem to shake. But it is precisely at those moments, when we are at our lowest, that God is most powerful. Because then and only then do we allow God to act in us. When things are going well, it is easy to maintain the illusion that we are adequate of ourselves. That we can be virtuous on our own. But we can't. We absolutely need God's grace. And the good news is that God is never lacking with his grace.

The prophets Zechariah and Haggai said to the people, "Do not fear. God is with you." He is still with us today.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Choose God, not the works of God

Those are the words of Cardinal Francis Xavier Van Thuan, the now deceased cardinal from Vietnam who spent 13 years in communist prisons. 9 of those years were in solitary confinement.

At one point he had gotten discouraged, thinking of all the works he had to leave behind in his diocese. In prison, he could not do anything directly for his people and this weighed on his heart.

But one night he had an illumination from God. A voice spoke in the depth of his heart, "Why do you torment yourself? You must learn to distinguish between God and the works of God. Everything you have done and desire to continue doing--the formation of seminarians, men and women religious, laity and youth, pastoral visits, building schools....--all of these are excellent works. They are God's works, but they are not God! If God wants you to leave all of these works, place them in God's hands immediately and have confidence in him. God will accomplish things infinitely better than you.... You have chosen God alone, not his works!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mary in space

Last week one evening I went to a talk held at the Dexter School across the street from us. They had two astronauts speak who had flown on the international space station within the past year. The talk was fascinating as they told us about what it's like to live without gravity, etc.

They showed many pictures and I happened to notice that in a part of the space station (which I think was the Russian part) there was a Byzantine-looking crucifix on the wall. Not far above it was an icon of the Blessed Mother! They showed that section of the craft several times so I got a fairly good look at it. It was great to think that Mary's image is orbiting the earth, looking down on all of us as she travels around the globe!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Triumph of the cross




From Pope Benedict:

"What looks down to us from the Cross is a goodness that enables a new beginning in the midst of life’s horror. The goodness of God himself looks on us, God who surrenders himself into our hands, delivers himself to us, forcing us to look at the dangerousness of man and all his heinous deeds and at the same time makes us look upon God, who is stronger in his weakness, and upon the fact that we are loved by God. It is in this sense a sign of forgiveness and hope…God is crucified and says to us that this God who is apparently so weak is the God who uncomprehensively forgives us.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's in a name?

Today is the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. It's a feast that wasn't on the calendar anymore since Vatican II, but was added again a few years ago. Until the new translation of the sacramentary is approved, however, we don't have the official prayers for it.

In any case, it gives us an opportunity to think about what names mean. In the Bible, names are very special. They indicate who the person is. When God revealed his name to Moses at the burning bush -- I Am Who Am -- it was a very special revelation. By revealing his name, God was bringing Moses into a deep relationship with him.

Mary's name is Mary, of course, but she has another name. It's her special name of grace, the one that the Angel Gabriel gave her. Gabriel said to her, "Kaire, kecharitomene" (the Greek from the Gospel). "Kaire" means "rejoice!" "Kecharitomene" was her name of grace. It's a hard word to translate. "Full of grace" says something but doesn't really capture the full meaning.

Fr Ignace de la Potterie explains that the Greek grammatical form means two things:

1) Mary receives the gift of grace from God (the root verb ends in a double O, which is causative; it indicates that a change that takes place)

2) this grace has already transformed her (it's a past perfect participial form that means the change has already happened).

The root verb (charitoo) is used only one other time in the New Testament, in 1:6, which speaks about how we are graced in Christ.

So Mary's name means that God has already graced her. Sophronius of Jerusalem sings to Mary, "No one has been fully sanctified as you... no one has been purified in advance as you."

Rejoice Mary, you who have been graced by God!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 911

It's hard to believe it's already been six years since 911. This year it falls on a Tuesday, the same day of the week as the attack.

I just heard about this website which is attempting to turn the remembrance of 911 into something positive for good. The idea is to do some good deed that will help on a small scale to promote peace and reconciliation. It's a secular site, but as Catholics we can do something that also comes from our faith.

A few ideas: reach out to someone who may be a little isolated or lonely, forgive an old hurt, pray a rosary for peace, be kinder to the people closest to you. Other ideas?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Being in nature

This weekend I had the opportunity to spend Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday at the seashore. It was a very welcome change and brief time of renewal. I went walking with a couple other sisters on a wooded area nearby the shore, attached to a farm open to the public.

It felt so refreshing just to be closer to nature, around the cows, horses, sheep and goats on the farm. People who live on farms are really fortunate to be able to live closer to God's creation. I actually felt a peacefulness and restfulness coming over me from being in nature. I would have loved to live on a farm but it's not something my vocation entails.

Back in the city now, at least there are trees and parks nearby that we can enjoy here. Sometimes I get so busy with work that I don't go outside as much as I would like to. Being in touch with nature brings me closer to God, who created it.

If you live in a city, how do you find ways to enjoy creation?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Bishop Montrose on the occult

Bishop Donald Montrose has written a pastoral letter detailing the dangers of the occult and other New Age types of practices.

It's a good reminder of a somber reality, and that as Catholics we should steer clear of anything at all related to the occult.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Two firemen died in Boston fire

Last night there was a bad fire in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, and two firemen died. Several others were injured. Please pray for them and their families.

It happened just a few miles from our convent. A little after 9 PM, I was reading in my room and started to smell smoke coming in through the windows. It was fairly strong, and then I heard a lot of sirens blaring for a very long time. I and the other sisters also saw and heard several helicopters flying over the nearby area.

The two men who died were in their early to mid fifties and had teenage children. What a suffering it must be for their families to go through this! I really have to admire the courage of these men who put their lives on the line every day.

This is a news link about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thought from Bl. James Alberione

I Am a Miracle of God

Your mercy is infinite;
I will never be able
to fully understand it.
I want to adore it
more than examine it.
How is it that you chose me,
a small creature,
a great sinner,
whom you already knew
would betray your expectations?

I am a miracle of God!
Your call of the Twelve
transformed them;
your call to me
has made me a new person.

I am immersed in Christ:
his interests are my interests;
his doctrine, my doctrine.
My life is that of Christ.
I carry out his works,
or better, he carries them out in me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mary our Queen

Today is the feast of the Queenship of Mary. Basically it is a continuation and fulfillment of the feast of the Assumption. Coming only one week apart, the liturgy helps us to see their connection.

Assumed into glory, Mary is now living with her Son in heaven. But she thinks of all of us still on earth, struggling with daily trials as we do our best to live a Christian life. Mary helps us along the way.

As Queen, she prays and intercedes for us, obtaining many special graces for us. It's great to have her on our side. Today's reading from the Office of Readings puts it very beautifully: that no one has ever gone to Mary without coming away enriched.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The rich young man

Today's Gospel is about the rich young man. He came running up to Jesus and wanted to know what he needed to do in order to gain eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The man said that he had always kept them, and asked, "What is still lacking to me?"

What a great question that is! It's a more literal translation of the Greek text. The translation read at Mass has him asking Jesus, "What more do I need to do?" But that glosses over the point.

He's rich. He has everything, according to this world's standards. But he knows he's still lacking something. He feels a void in his heart.

Jesus tells him exactly what he did not want to hear: sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. The young man went away sad, for, the Gospel tells us, "he had many possessions."

Because he couldn't give up his material wealth, he ended up sacrificing the wealth of the spirit. If he had accepted Jesus' loving invitation, he probably would have become one of the apostles, a great saint, and been a pillar of the Church. Instead, he chose his possessions.

And I, what do I choose?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mary's Assumption into Heaven




Pope Pius XII defined that it is a dogma of the Catholic faith that "the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever-Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was over, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven."

One thought this feast brings to mind is the hope of heaven. Eternal life is a reality, the greatest reality for our existence. While we are still living on earth it might seem no more than a dream. But it's the ultimate goal of each human life. When life gets hard, it's a good idea to remind ourselves that life here is temporary, but eternal life will last forever.

Mary assumed into heaven, pray for us who still struggle in exile here on earth!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scripture translation problems

This morning at Mass the translation of the Gospel struck me as very odd. It was from Matthew, ch 17, the story about Jesus paying the Temple tax. Someone asked Peter if "the Teacher" (ie. Jesus) pays the Temple tax. Peter said, "Of course." Then he went to the house where Jesus was, and Jesus asked him, "Do kings of the earth take taxes from their sons or from foreigners?" Peter replied, "From foreigners," and Jesus observed, "Then their sons are exempt."

The problem is that the translation now used at Mass doesn't say sons, it says "subjects." So the question runs, "Do kings of the earth take taxes from their subjects or from foreigners?" That translation just doesn't make sense, because governments certainly tax their own citizens. I suspect that the translation was changed out of a desire to use "inclusive language," that is, non-gender specific language. Sometimes inclusive languages works, but at other times it doesn't and actually gives a wrong reading of the text.

So I checked the commentary by Fr Daniel Harrington on Matthew. The Greek word is "sons," (uion), not "subjects." It definitely is a wrong translation. The whole point of the story is that Jesus doesn't have to pay the Temple tax precisely because he is the Son of God. Christians who are joined with him share in his sonship, so they are exempt too.

By changing the translation from "sons" to "subjects," the teaching about Jesus as the Son of God is lost. This is a Christological text, and the wrong translation obscures the whole point. This is what happens when translations are dictated more by the desire to be politically correct than by fidelity to the written text.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Some thoughts on the Assumption

The feast of Mary's Assumption into heaven is coming next week (August 15).
St. John Damascene (8th century) was a Father of the Church who wrote three famous sermons on the Assumption. Here is an excerpt from the third sermon:

To-day she begins her second life through Him who was the cause of her first being. She gave a beginning, I mean, the life of the body, to Him who had no beginning in time, although the Father was the cause of His divine existence. Rejoice holy and divine Mount Sion, in which reposes the living divine mountain, the new Bethel, with its grace, human nature united with the Godhead. From thee her Son ascended to heaven as [207] from the olives. Let the world-embracing cloud be prepared and the winds gather the apostles to Mount Sion from the ends of the earth. Who are these who soar up as clouds and eagles to the cause of all resurrection, ministering to the Mother of God? Who is she who rises resplendent, all pure, and bright as the sun? Let the spiritual lyres sing to her, the apostolic tongues.


The full text of all three can be found at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/johndamascus-komesis.html

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Peter walking on the water

Today's Gospel was about the time the apostles were rowing on the lake and a storm sprang up. Jesus came to them walking on the water. Peter, impetuous as ever, asked Jesus to allow him to walk on the water too. Jesus told him to come, so Peter got out of the boat and began walking. Then he realized what he was doing, saw how bad the storm was, lost faith and began to sank. But Jesus was there, and he reached out and lifted Peter back up.

Sometimes I do the same thing. I take a leap of faith in some way, then realize what I'm doing and start to falter. But Jesus is always there. By myself I can't do it, but with Jesus I can.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Minnesota bridge collapse

I'm sure you've read about the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota.
My prayers are with the families of the persons who were killed or injured.
Such events often bring questions like why did God allow this to happen, or why were certain persons killed and not others. In Jesus' day, something similar happened when the tower of Siloam fell, killing 18 bystanders. Some people asked Jesus what evil they had done to deserve such a fate. But Jesus asked them in return, "Do you think those 18 were more evil than the other inhabitants of Jerusalem?" Answering his own question, he said, "No, but if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

God wasn't punishing the people who died. But Jesus took the occasion to remind people that we all have to repent or we will ultimately end up badly. Tragic events happen all the time. They can serve as reminders that life on earth is short, so the wise person lives with a view to eternal life.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

One of those days

Yesterday was one of those days--I had a feeling it wouldn't be good when the fire alarm went off around 3:30 AM. Then right after breakfast I found out that the registration on one of our cars had expired. Two of the sisters had left on a trip to the Courage conference in Chicago (we record the talks and have a book display.) They got stopped and had to come back home (with a ticket of course). Luckily they weren't too far away.
So I went down to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and waited for about 45 minutes, only to discover that I needed another form from the insurance company. I went back home to get the insurance info, made a trip downtown to the insurance company, and then back to the RMV. It was almost 3 PM by the time I was finished with it all.

I think we must have never gotten the registration renewal form in the mail, but I felt responsible because I should have noticed it. In this big community of over 60 sisters, we have to have a number of cars and it's easy for things like this to slip through the cracks. Anyway, I was feeling annoyed at myself for the whole thing. But the reality is that I make plenty of mistakes. As long as I can learn from them, that's what counts. Everybody makes mistakes, and when I make them, it reminds me to be more understanding about them, both for me and for other people. God doesn't expect us to be perfect here on earth, only in heaven.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Road rage and anger

On Sunday I was driving home from Buffalo with two other sisters. At one point we were going over a bridge, and I tend to be a little extra cautious on bridges. So I was driving about 5 miles below the speed limit and I stayed in the center lane because I feel safer there than on the outer lane.


Anyway, there was nobody behind me until a lone car came speeding up. It was toward the end of the bridge so I went over but as the car passed me he made an obscene gesture at me. I guess it because he thought I was going too slow. Is our society getting so rude and crude that people don't have any courtesy anymore?

Then shortly after that we were on the Mass. Pike and I went into the left lane to pass a car. As I got back into the right hand lane, the person driving the other car started to honk at me a lot--I guess he thought I was too close to him and maybe thought I was trying to cut him off (which I wasn't). I had a feeling he was going to try some other form of "revenge" so I kept my eye on the car as he sped up, got into the left lane and passed me. As he came up to our car, he deliberately started going over the white line as if to edge us off the lane and then passed really close in front of me. I decided not to honk at him and just slowed down a bit and let him go.

Things like that are really annoying and I was starting to feel angry about it. But then all of a sudden Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount came back to me, what he said about responding with a blessing when people curse you. It struck me that I had a choice about how to react. If I got angry, I'd just be upset and ruin the rest of my drive. If I let it go I'd have more peace and serenity. I couldn't do anything about it anyway--people do all kinds of crazy things on the road.

When Jesus told us not to respond to anger with anger, he was really telling us how to have peace of mind. By getting angry the first person I hurt is myself. I've done it so many times--I get angry and even if I don't say anything, I might stew about it for a while and then my peace of mind goes out the door.

Jesus was telling us, instead, that if we can forgive these little things we'll have a much happier life.

Lord, help me to follow your wisdom!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We never know how God can work through us

Today at lunch one of the sisters related this story. Recently two of our sisters had done some evangelization work at our local parish, St Thomas Aquinas. Along with providing some good Catholic reading materials, they had given some talks on praying with the Scriptures.

The other day two other sisters were out on an errand. A man came up to them on the street and told them he had attended the parish mission. He said that he hadn't been praying for many years, but the sisters' talk inspired him to take it up again. "My life has been transformed," he said simply. Then he told them he had stopped drinking and felt much peace and happiness. The power of God's grace working through us is amazing!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mary and Martha

Today's Gospel is the famous one about Mary and Martha. While Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him speak, Martha was busy with all the details of hospitality. Obviously annoyed at Mary, she complained to Jesus and told him to tell Mary to help her.

Jesus' reply is hard to understand, since he seems to say that Martha was doing something less good: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken away from her." No doubt many mothers, on hearing this, feel slighted that their loving efforts to take care of their families seem to get a put down from Jesus!

The priest at our Mass today gave a great homily on this Gospel. He said that Jesus is not trying to put Martha down for working hard. Instead, if he seems to reproach her, it's not because of what she is doing but the way she is doing it. Martha is anxious and worried about many things.
That seems to be the key. Instead of being anxious and worried, Martha needed to trust more in the Lord and put first things first. Father said that the word that is translated here as "anxious and worried" is the same word used in the parable of the sower, where it is translated as "choked." The seed that fell among weeds was choked off and couldn't grow. Jesus is saying that if we get too caught up in our everyday concerns, those very concerns can choke off our spiritual life.

Father also said that although the last line is usually translated "Mary has chosen the better part," the Greek word there is "good": "Mary has chosen the good part." The good part is to listen to the words of the Lord.

Jesus didn't tell Martha she should hurry up and get the dinner on the table! He wouldn't have minded if Martha had sat down too and joined Mary in listening to his words. We still have to do our everyday tasks. Someone has to cook the meals and do the dishes, and those are very important things. Jesus wasn't putting that down. He was just telling Martha to get her priorities in order and stop worrying.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How the saints help us

This is a true story that happened recently. It's from one of the sisters whose father died near the end of June:


"Tuesday evening my dad noticed someone in the room with us. He looked toward the ceiling and asked me “Who is that?” I asked him who it looked like since I couldn’t see anyone. 'John the XXIII,' was his reply. I started telling him about John XXIII. The next morning my brother looked him up on the Internet and printed out his picture.

[Shortly after this] a priest came to administer the Sacrament of the Sick. We told him about dad’s 'vision' of John XXIII. Fr Perez had recently returned from Rome. He told us that he had celebrated Mass for dad on the tomb of John the XXIII."

******

Isn't that amazing? They didn't even know that this priest had celebrated Mass on the tomb of John XXIII until afterward. But it's not unusual for people who are dying to see a saint or the Blessed Mother, who comes to help them enter eternity. The saints can help us in practical ways like this; it's a good idea to ask for their help!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

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). In their original state of innocence, they had no need for clothes. They were naked but not ashamed—this is what Pope John Paul called “original nakedness.”
But after their sin, our first parents lost their innocence and needed to be clothed. God’s tender action of making clothes for them 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 imagery blends the spousal theme with that of garments of salvation. 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, picks up 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).
Among the several “blessings” in the book of Revelation, we find this one: “Blessed are those who wash their robes [in the blood of the Lamb] so that they will have the right to the tree of life” (22:14).




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.

Prayer

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!

Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Mass

I just got back from vacation, so yesterday I read the new Motu Proprio on the Tridentine Mass for the first time. I still need to read more commentary on it. But here are a few things that caught my interest.

1. The explanatory letter to the bishops that accompanies the Motu Proprio gives the Pope's main reason for doing this. "It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church." The Pope candidly admits that in the past, "at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity."

This gives us a great insight into Benedict's pastoral heart. I see him as a pastor who wants to keep everyone in the fold, no matter what their preference for liturgy is.

2. He stresses that the Tridentine Mass is an "extraordinary" form of the Roman rite. This should--hopefully--assuage fears that he is trying to overturn Vatican II. The Novus Ordo remains the ordinary form of the Roman rite.

3. One line in the explanatory letter especially struck me: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
Sometimes in hearing people talk about the liturgy, a certain disdain and even contempt for the old rite comes out. Certainly it needed reform, as Vatican II desired. Benedict's reminder here that the liturgy always remained sacred is very welcome.

I recall something that happened in a class I took in the early 1990's. We were discussing the liturgy, and the priest/professor, who certainly supported the new rite and the reforms of Vatican II, remarked that something was still missing. The reform of the liturgy hadn't attracted more people to worship, but in fact more Catholics were staying away from Mass. More work still had to be done to truly reform the liturgy.

What do you think about it?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gay rights leader comes out of homosexual lifestyle

Michael Glatze, a founding editor of Young Gay America magazine, has repudiated his homosexual lifestyle. He shares the story of his conversion in this article.

Motu proprio on Latin Mass

From the Vatican news agency:

Vatican, Jul. 4, 2007 (CWNews.com) - A papal document widening use of the 1962 Roman Missal will be released on July 7, the Roman news agency I Media says, confirming reports that circulated late in June.

The motu proprio will be entitled Summorum Pontificum, I Media adds. The title of the Pope's document had not previously been mentioned in the media, despite numerous reports of its existence and intense speculation over its contents.

The German-language agency Kath.net reported on June 27 that the document by Pope Benedict XVI ( bio - news) will be released on Saturday, July 7. The Kath.net story appeared after a special Vatican meeting in which a small group of prelates were briefed about the contents of the motu proprio. The Vatican press office later confirmed that the meeting had taken place, but did not confirm the publication date for the document.

The motu proprio is reportedly a 3-page document. It will be released in conjunction with a 4-page explanatory letter in which the Pope sets out his reason for encouraging the use of the pre-conciliar liturgy as an "extraordinary" form of the Latin rite.

Cast your vote!

Sr Anne Joan at nunblog is urging everyone to help the Fr. Harry Thompson Center in New Orleans in a very easy way. You can cast your vote here so that they will receive funds from Burger King.

Sr Anne explains what the center does:

The Harry Thompson Center is committed to providing a calm and caring environment in which to serve the needs of the poor and homeless in the downtown New Orleans area. The Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all those who come to us in need, not merely by responding to physical needs, but also by attending to the whole person with respect and compassion, after the example of Jesus

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Letter to the Church in China

Today the Pope issued a letter to Catholics in China.
The Vatican website also has a note that goes with the letter, giving some details about the background of the whole situation of the Church in China.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Congratulations to our new professed!

On Saturday, June 30, our congregational feast of St. Paul, three of our novices made their first vows! Congratulations to Sr Maria Kim, Sr Jamie Paula and Sr Karen Theresa.
I hope to get some pictures to post soon.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Retreat

I'm going on my annual retreat this week, so I won't be able to blog for a little while. I'll pray for the intentions of everyone who reads this. God bless you!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Red Terror on the Amber Coast

That's the name of a film some Dominican priests are putting out. It's about the Soviet communistic persecution of the Church in Lithuania. It caught my interest since my mother's parents were immigrants from that country in the early 20th century.
It's inspiring to realize the heroic courage of so many people who fought against great odds to keep their faith and spread it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Pope's new book

I just obtained a copy of Pope Benedict's new book on Jesus and started to read it over this weekend. It's tremendous! Every Catholic should read it. It has so much food for thought that it's the kind of book that one can go back to again and again.
In the introduction, he says that the book is not an exercise of the papal magisterium. It's something he wrote on his own as a scholar, so he says that everyone is free to contradict him! He must certainly be a very humble man. As I read it I'll do more posts about it.
If you have read it, please leave your comments about it. Thank you!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Was St Joseph a widower?

Before he married Mary, that is.
This question came up in the feedback I got about the presentation I did on Mary and Joseph's virginity. So I did some reading to find out more about it.
First, this is not a matter of faith; as Catholics we can hold that Joseph was or was not a widower when he married Mary. It's a speculative question that we can't really answer with absolute certainty. But the ancient sources are interesting.
The idea that he was a widower first came up in the Proto-evangelium of James.That's one of the apocryphal Gospels, so it's not a reliable historical source but it shows what early Christians thought. The reason he's portrayed as a widower is to explain who Jesus' "brothers" are. In this theory they would have been Joseph's children by an earlier marriage. There's another writing in Coptic called History of Joseph the Carpenter. That work said he was 91 when he received Mary!

In the Eastern Church, the idea that Joseph was a widower was more prevalent, thanks especially to the writings of Epiphanius of Salamis (end of the 4th century). In the West, however, the indomitable St Jerome vigorously defended the idea that Joseph was always a virgin throughout his entire life. Augustine, too, followed Jerome on this. So the influence of these two "heavy-weight" doctors of the Church made that view prevalent in the West. In the Middle Ages it became the common teaching of almost all Western Church writers.

Personally, I like to think of Joseph as a young man when he married Mary. He had to support her and Jesus through his work, so it doesn't seem likely to me that he would have been so old he couldn't have done that.What do you think?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Visitation



The Visitation shows Mary as the model evangelizer: carrying Jesus within her, she brings him to those around her, showering on them love expressed in service.
This is what we do as evangelizers. We bring Jesus, who lives in us, to everyone we meet. Whether we evangelize through the spoken word or the witness of our lives, may be be authentic images of the love of Christ.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

St. Joan of Arc

It's not celebrated here, but today is the feast of St. Joan of Arc.
She's such an amazing saint--she had a truly unique vocation. A few years ago I read the transcript of her interrogation, and I could only marvel at her answers. The Holy Spirit inspired her. Imagine a young teenage girl being hauled before a hostile court. She could have easily been intimidated, but she didn't let them intimidate her.

At one point they asked her, "Are you in the state of grace?" Her reply: "If I'm not, may God put me there, and if I am, may he keep me there!"

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Slideshow on Mary's virginity

This is the powerpoint I did for the Mariological Society Meeting.
I uploaded it through slideshare but the only drawback is that it won't do the narration. I'm trying to find the best way to post the text.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Meaning of 40 days

The discussion around when to celebrate the Ascension got me thinking about the biblical meaning of the number 40.
I had never really paid that much attention to it, but in the Bible, the number 40 is quite significant and occurs around many important matters: the rain fell on Noah 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, Moses stayed on the mountain with God for 40 days, Elijah fled for his life for 40 days and nights until he came to Mt Horeb, God's mountain, and of course Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert.

I found a good article on this here.

To quote part of it:
"Forty denotes a period of preparation for some special action of the Lord; it is a time of grace.After the flood in Genesis, a new creation begins. After Moses converses with God, the covenant is renewed. After Israel's wandering in the wilderness, they will enter into the Promised Land. After Elijah's journey, God strengthens him to resume his prophetic ministry. After Jesus' temptation, he begins his public ministry; after the Ascension, we enter the age of the Church. At the end of the season of Lent, we celebrate Holy Week and the great feast of Easter."

The 40 days of the Easter season are a time of grace to prepare us for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and the new birth of the Church.

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mary and the Ascension

The feast of the Ascension falls today, 40 days after Easter (However, many dioceses in the US have transferred it to the following Sunday).
I like to celebrate this feast on Thursday because it keeps the symbolic significance of the 40 days, and also because the novena to the Holy Spirit in preparation for Pentecost starts tomorrow.

In any case, the events around Ascension and Pentecost involve Mary. The Scriptures don't say a lot about it, but what is there is very telling. Luke notes that after Jesus ascended to the Father, the disciples went back to Jerusalem to pray for the Holy Spirit. In Acts, Luke notes, "There were some women in their company, and Mary the Mother of Jesus."
At the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and she became the Mother of Jesus. We can see a parallel between Luke's account of the Annunciation, and his account of Pentecost. He specifically tells us that Mary was present. This time, however, she was not alone, but was in the midst of the group of disciples. Now, at Pentecost, she becomes more fully the Mother of the Church and this happens because the Holy Spirit comes upon her as she is joined in prayer with the other disciples.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TOB for teens

This link is to a great article in the National Catholic Register about one of our new books, God's Plan for You, which is a theology of the body for young people. David Hajduk, the author, is a great communicator of this important message to this audience.
You can order the book at www.pauline.org

Decline in religious life

The 2002 edition of the Catholic Directory of the US said that there were 75,500 religious sisters, and the 2006 edition said there were 67,773. That's a decline of 7727 in four years.
At the time of Vatican II, there were approximately 180,000 sisters in the US. So in a little over 40 years, the numbers dipped by roughly 112,000. That's a steep decline!
A lot of ink has been spilled over this, but the reality is that nuns are a vanishing breed. The next 20 years should bring a further steep decline, as the average age of most congregations is quite high and elderly members will be dying off in large numbers.
Thankfully there are new orders springing up, but it doesn't seem that they will be able to offset this decline by very much. Many factors have contributed to the problem: Catholics having fewer children, the falling away from faith, other opportunities for young women, religious becoming so much like the laity in many cases that people don't see any reason for religious life, and confusion among religious themselves as to what religious life is all about.
I don't know how it will all turn out, but the Church will weather the storm as it has weathered countless others through the centuries. That doesn't mean that religious life in this country will necessarily climb back to the numbers it once had. I'm guessing it might stabilize somewhere around 20 to 40 thousand, and hopefully begin a small increase again.
For that to happen, though, Catholic family life will have to be renewed. Good Catholic families are a seedbed for vocations.

Monday, May 14, 2007

St Matthias, saint of hope

Have you been feeling discouraged or in need of hope? If so, there's a saint for you. His name is St Matthias. He was one of the original disciples of Jesus.

After Jesus was crucified, everything seemed lost. He had given them such hope. Now look what happened! Even one of his own chosen followers, Judas, had betrayed him. Things looked so dark. Matthias must have felt very discouraged and hopeless.

But you know the rest of the story. Jesus rose from the dead. The impossible happened. Just when things seemed darkest, it all turned around in a flash with the resurrection.

The other apostles must have felt bad about Judas' betrayal. But they picked up the pieces and went on. They chose from among the group of Jesus' followers someone to replace Judas, and that was Matthias.

When things seem bleakest, when you're facing big problems, when you have no resources, hold on to hope. Pray to St. Matthias. He's not as well known as the other apostles, like St. Jude. But Matthias knows what it's like when things seem lost. He'll be your patron in heaven, praying for you and leading you through the dark times. The sun will come out again. The Lord is risen, alleluia!

This prayer is from his feastday Mass, on May 14:

Father, you called St. Matthias to share in the mission of the apostles. By the help of his prayers, may we receive with you the love you share with us and be counted among those you have chosen. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sr Kathryn James page on Facebook is called Holding Onto Hope

Friday, May 11, 2007

Christopher West visit

Today I was delighted that Christopher West was able to stop by our convent for a brief visit. He's in Boston for some presentations that he is giving. As you may know, he has published with us his excellent commentary Theology of the Body Explained. Soon we will be publishing a revised edition that Christopher has done in light of the new translation of Pope John Paul's text Man and Woman He Created Them.

It was wonderful to have Christopher here. We showed him what Sr Linda calls her "monument to the theology of the body," which is a HUGE stack of paper from when she was working on Man and Woman.

Christopher is doing a wonderful work in spreading the Pope's message far and wide. May God bless him, his work, and his family.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

My Mom's second anniversary in eternal life


Today it's two years since my Mom passed into eternal life. Our community Mass this morning was offered for her. I believe she's in heaven, but it's always best to pray for the deceased. If she doesn't need the prayers, someone else will benefit from them.
She must have been praying for me today, because I found myself feeling really happy and at peace, for no special reason!

Some good Marian books for May

Here is a link to Sr Julia talking about a couple of good Marian books for May, or anytime!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Christopher West coming to Boston

This Saturday, May 12, Christopher West will be presenting an entire day on the theology of the body. The Archdiocese of Boston is bringing him in to speak, in an effort to make the good news about the theology of the body widely known. It will take place at the Marian center in Medway, Ma, about 45 minutes outside of Boston.
Full details are at the website for the office of youth ministry.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Returning to the Catholic Church

You may have read on some blogs that Dr Francis Beckwith, who was the President of the Evangelical Theological Society, has become a Catholic. Actually, he has returned to the Church since he was raised Catholic but left it years ago.
This is a reason for rejoicing. It's always a beautiful thing when someone comes home.
If you're interested in more theological discussion of the topics this has raised, check out Fr Al Kimel's blog.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Back from the NCCL

I got back on Friday from the book display we had at the catechetical conference. It went quite well and we met a lot of people--many DRE's and people who work in diocesan offices for catechesis.

One funny thing. We had to rent a car to get around, and when we picked it up, the lady who helped us said, "it's a grandma key." Puzzled, I asked her, "What's a grandma key?" I thought maybe it was something like a valet key but I had no clue as to what it was. She replied, "It's like a Ford Taurus."
Then I realized what she was really saying: it was a Grand Marquis!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Away for a few days

This week I'll be at a book display at the NCCL, a conference for catechetical leaders. It will be in Columbus, Ohio.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The freedom of the gift

In his theology of the body, Pope John Paul talks about the "freedom of the gift." Today while reading about this I got a sudden flash of insight, a grace, about this important idea.
God is Gift, and we receive our life and very being from him as a gift. Everything we receive in life is a gift, and our task is to be aware of this and receive those gifts gratefully. It doesn't mean to be passive, for we can and should be active and develop ourselves. Then we can, in turn, make a gift of ourselves to others.

But sometimes we go from wanting a good thing and taking the means to be able to receive it, to "grasping" for it. I use "grasping" here in the sense of reaching out for something we think we're entitled to. This kind of grasping is the root of sin. Genesis speaks of how Adam and Eve saw the forbidden fruit was desirable, and they reached out and grasped it because they thought they were entitled to it, no matter what God had said. Stealing is probably the most obvious kind of sin we can commit by grasping for something we're not entitled to. But it can also operate in a more subtle way.

Even apart from sin, we can grasp for something that is good in itself, but perhaps not what God wants for me in my life right now. I was thinking about this in relation to the vow of obedience. A religious with this vow is certainly free to ask for things, perhaps going on a certain trip or for more education, or any number of things. If my superior agrees to the request, fine. If she doesn't, obedience calls me to accept that and see what God is telling me through it. Maybe God is asking me to probe my motives a bit more and see what I really want. Do I want this thing for some selfish reason? Or do I want it so that I can make a gift of myself? Perhaps God is asking me to make a different kind of gift than I thought I could make by getting my original request.

If I am so bound and determined to get something that I can't walk away from it even when obedience asks me to, then I'm no longer free. That thing I want, even if it's a good thing in itself, has lured me to give up my freedom. I no longer have the "freedom of the gift," as John Paul says.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Woman, why are you weeping?"

That's what the angel asked Mary Magdalene as she stood weeping outside Jesus' tomb.
Today I was praying with this Gospel, and I tried to do what St Ignatius recommends: imagine the scene, picture the details and imagine everything that went on. Mary Magdalene is a saint of the Church, but at that moment she was a bereaved woman crying over the death of someone she dearly loved.
She became a saint because of her relationship with Jesus. She probably didn't do anything special in terms of doing anything outstanding or heroic. But she loved Jesus. She loved him with a chaste, pure love, and she let his love for her transform her heart and actions. We can do that too!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter egg hunt


That's me in the middle with the yellow bag.
Up to now I've been the undefeated champion of our annual Easter egg hunt. But this year I came in second. However, I disputed that because it was really a tie. We used plastic eggs outside because otherwise the turkeys eat them.
But they actually tried to eat the plastic eggs too, so one of the eggs I found was just a half shell. So technically I had 29 and a half eggs, whereas the winner had 30 whole eggs.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter and many blessings to all who read this blog!
I pray that you may have the fullness of our risen Savior's joy in your hearts always!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

The most solemn day of the Church's year!

Even though Christ died 2000 years ago, in the liturgy it becomes present again, in a way that we can spiritually profit from it. Good Friday isn't just a day to think about something that happened a long time ago. It's a day to connect with the passion and death of Jesus Christ so that we might be saved from sin and death.

I just read a wonderful piece quoted in the book The Week of Salvation by James Monti. He quotes an article titled "Good Friday in Venezuela" that appeared in the April 1941 issue of Catholic Digest (It must be in the public domain by now!) The author was Heywood Broun.

"Some few years ago I went on a spring cruise. The steamer touched the northern tip of South America and paused for a day at the port... When we reached Venezuela word came that Gomez, the old dictator, lay dying in the capital. And, as we went up the winding road, I noticed that all those who walked along the highway were clad in black or purple. Young and old all seemed to be hurrying to some central point. And, naturally, it was my notion that they were hurrying to the palace to learn the fate of Gomez...

"But at the door of the cathedral the driver stopped and said something to my companion. My friend translated and explained, 'The driver says this is the service to mark the three hours of agony on the cross.' And it came to me that they mourned not for Gomez, but for the Son of God. Out of bright sunlight I came into cool darkness flecked, but not wholly broken, by the light of many flickering candles. And all about the walls and statues and across the shoulders of the worshipers I saw the Holy Week badge of purple.

"I have seen church services in far and near places, and many were impressive, but here for the first time I saw a people who seemed to feel that the Passion of the Lord was actually occurring again.
"Pilate was not a famous dead procurator of Judea who washed his hands in an ancient city long ago. It was but yesterday that Jesus stood before the Romans on trial for his life and was condemned. And at the very moment the living Christ hung on the cross....
"It was as if one of their own lay dying in a room at home. And all of them lived in a world in which each year Jesus again walked the earth and Judas brought betrayal in a pleasant garden. Many stood outside upon the steps under the hot sun and peered through the doors and down the dark aisles. They waited for some word from the mourners. Almost they seemed to say, 'What is the news? How fares our Lord on Calvary?'"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tenebrae

"Tenebrae" is Latin for "darkness" or "shadows." Last night I went to the Tenebrae service at the Holy Cross Cathedral here in Boston. It was a wonderful and beautiful experience.
It's a special service of morning prayer for Holy Thursday that is celebrated the evening before. A special candelabra of 15 candles is lit, and after each psalm, chant and hymn, the candles are extinguished one by one. At the same time, a light in the church is put out, until finally everything is dark except for the most essential lights.
These past few weeks have been very hectic and stress-filled for me, but during the service, the power of this liturgy was like an ocean of peace rolling over me. It's hard to explain, but the music, the use of light, the darkness, the solemnity of it all just captured me and helped me experience in some way the Paschal mystery.

One candle stays lit after all the others are put out. This one represents Christ. Toward the end of the service, it is taken out of the sanctuary, symbolizing Christ's death. At that point, the streppitus begins. The organ plays sounds to symbolize the earthquake after Christ died. It was a great effect, almost like the Phantom of the Opera. Then the candle is brought back in to show our hope in the resurrection. Finally, everyone leaves in silence and darkness.

It made me realize more how powerful the liturgy is to bring us closer to God, especially when it is well done.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Motu Proprio is coming

There is a story on Catholic News Service that the long-awaited motu proprio on the pre-Vatican II Mass is coming. The date has not been released, but it seems that Pope Benedict will issue a full explanation of what it's all about and why he's doing this.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Prelude to Holy Week

With Holy Week almost upon us, the Church enters into the most sacred liturgical time of the year. A certain anticipation hangs in the air. A sacred silence descends on faithful hearts.
The week of our salvation! We will tread on holy ground this week, from Palm Sunday to the Last Supper, Calvary and Easter. These are the most sacred days, when grace flows freely. The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, washes away the sins of the whole world. I am happy to claim my place among the ranks of sinners, for:
"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (1 Tim 1:15).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Annunciation


This year the Annunciation was moved to the 26th since Sundays of Lent take precedence.

At the Annunciation, Mary began her unique relationship with Jesus, her Son and the Son of God. The Gospel says that she was puzzled by the angel's greeting. What was she thinking of just then? We don't know, but we do know that she resolved to say yes to God's plan. With that "yes" she began a lifelong journey, but she took it one step at a time.

Recently when I went to confession the priest said, "We give up everything for Jesus, then we forget to have a relationship with him." I had to laugh, because sometimes I can get so caught up in the everyday details of life that I forget about Jesus.

Mary, help us always to grow into an ever deeper relationship with you and your Son Jesus.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Knut the polar bear cub


Knut is a baby polar bear in the Berlin zoo.
Check out the German newspaper site is you'd like to see more pictures of this cute little guy.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Listening at prayer

Leanne Payne is one of my favorite authors, and she often talks about listening to God at prayer. She says that if we pay attention, God always speaks to us affirming words of love. Sometimes those words can be a call to repentance--because God loves us he wants us to be as holy as we can.
Recently I had an experience like that. I was praying in chapel and thought about an area in my life where I could definitely improve. Then I started to think, "Well, it's not such a big deal, not even a sin, really." Suddenly, these words popped into my head, as if Jesus was speaking to me, "Even if it's not a sin, it still hurts our relationship." Those words stunned me. They definitely didn't come from me. It's amazing how God can put thoughts like that into our minds. Of course, we need to use discernment because some thoughts might come from the evil spirit too. But these brought some good fruit in terms of calling me to conversion in a particular area.

In what ways do you find that God speaks to you?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Angelus

Sr Anne Joan did a wonderful You Tube on the Angelus. It's about 3 minutes long.
She makes a great point that the Catholic custom of praying the Angelus three times a day is a call to prayer. The Church invites us to pause a moment and reflect on the greatest mystery of our faith: the Incarnation.
Recovering some of these customs can help us all to integrate our faith more into the fabric of daily life.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Go to Joseph!

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, the saint of divine Providence. He has a well-deserved reputation for providing for material needs. Pope John Paul wrote a letter about St. Joseph called Guardian of the Redeemer. The Pope said that while St. Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, he was his father in every other way. He wasn't just a figurehead but he played a very crucial role in Jesus' growth and development. He taught Jesus many things and gave him a wonderful example. We know from the Gospels that Jesus knew how to read. One Scripture professor I had once said that this was because of Joseph. It was up to the father of the family in ancient Israel to see to the education of the children. Joseph must have taken Jesus' education very seriously.

St. Joseph, pray for us, and for all those who need your help, especially those looking for employment and those who are approaching the point of death.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forgiving small offenses

Today's Mass readings are about forgiveness. Nothing blocks God's grace more than a stubborn refusal to forgive someone. It's not a matter of feelings, but of the will.

Today an incident that happened to me about twenty years ago suddenly popped into my mind. I had forgotten all about it, and I have no idea why it came back to me today. I was driving on the interstate with another sister, and we stopped at a fast-food place to get something to eat. An older man was at the counter taking orders, and when he saw us (wearing our habits, of course) he made some insulting remarks to us because we were Catholic nuns.
I chose to ignore the remarks, got our food and left. (Today I would be a little more gutsy and tell him that we're paying customers, and if he harasses us on the basis of our religion, that's discrimination and it's against the law. Remember the Denny's case?)

Anyway, when I thought about this today, I started to feel angry and I realized that I need to forgive that guy. At the time I just forgot about it because it wasn't a big deal, or so it seemed. But there's something inside me that doesn't like to be insulted and I was surprised today when I realized that this anger was coming up.So I prayed for the grace to be able to forgive him, and I prayed for him. Maybe he's in bad circumstances right now, perhaps he's sick or dying, and needs help.

Our minds and hearts are so amazing--we never really forget anything, even if an event drops out of our conscious awareness. All the events of our life are hidden in our hearts and can be dredged up at any time. It's only the blood of Jesus Christ that brings healing, forgiveness and peace to all. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we have this saying "Time heals all wounds." But time doesn't heal us, he said, since we never forget unless we forgive. And we can only forgive through the grace of Christ.

Sacrament of Charity -- Sacrament of Freedom

In reading this new document, I was struck by how often Pope Benedict links the Eucharist with freedom. It's a strong theme throughout. He speaks of how the Eucharist is a mystery to be believed, celebrated and lived, and in all these ways we come to a greater freedom.
It liberates us from our selfishness by uniting us to Christ in his self-giving sacrifice. It liberates us from error by uniting our minds with Christ, the Truth. It liberates us from a narrow existence by opening us up to the needs of all people.
In no. 73, the Pope states: "the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on '‘the Lord's Day.''' Although some might see it as just an obligation, Sunday worship is a source of grace that enables us to live as God wants us to, and thus find happiness.

Sacramentum Caritatis

One little note: The title of the Pope's new document comes from St. Thomas Aquinas. It's the first footnote in the text.

Sacrament of Charity

I've just started to read the pope's new document on the Eucharist: Sacrament of Charity.
It's a beautiful theology of the Eucharist. Pope Benedict took the results of the synod of bishops and has woven the themes into a wonderful summary of Catholic teaching on the Eucharist. The document is more like a theological reflection, with some pastoral applications. It's not a legislative type of document, so it doesn't focus on liturgical regulations.
He does speak of the importance of reverence for the Eucharist. He doesn't mention anything about the Tridentine Mass. As you may have heard, there was a lot of speculation before this document came out that he would authorize use of the Tridentine Mass in a more widespread way. I don't know where these rumors come from, but they seem to be just that--rumors!

This document will be a wonderful preparation for Holy Thursday.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A foreshadowing of Good Friday

Today's Mass readings give us a hint of the dramatic events to come during Holy Week. The first reading tells the story of how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. The Gospel is the parable about the landowner who had a vineyard. The tenants he leased it to did not acknowledge the landowner's rights and killed his son.

Both readings focus on a beloved son. The Genesis text stresses that Joseph was the son whom Isaac (also called Israel) loved the best. This love provoked his other sons to be so jealous of Joseph that they wanted to kill him. In the Gospel parable, the landowner thinks, "They will respect my son." Instead, they killed him because they wanted the son's inheritance.

Did Mary hear Jesus tell this parable? If so, what did she think? Did some foreboding come over her heart? Jesus was her only son, her most beloved son. She must have heard the murmuring of the people who didn't like Jesus and what he taught. We can only imagine the pain that must have caused her.

Both Joseph and Jesus were rejected. Ironically, as the Gospel says, the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstonre. Joseph would go on to save his people during the famine that struck Egypt. Jesus, of course, by giving his life redeemed the entire world.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow"

Today's beautiful reading from Isaiah's first chapter talks about God's mercy. No matter how bad our sins are, God can forgive them all and he does forgive them. All we have to do is repent.

In the Gospel Jesus reminds us to be humble: "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Humility is honesty, seeing our true position before God. It doesn't mean that we should demean ourselves, but see our true position in God's eyes. But God only looks at us with love, and he sees deep inside us, into our true selves.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to live to 95 and enjoy it

Recently I went to Buffalo, NY, to celebrate the 95th birthday of "Grams" Wickenhiser, the mother of Sr. Mary David and Sr Mary Mark. Over the years I've gotten to be part of the family.
Grams is a great example of how living a Catholic family life can lead a person to great holiness. Her own mother died when she was in her young teens, so she took over raising the rest of her siblings while her father went to work. Even after she got married, she invited some of them to live with her while she raised her own six children (this was during the depression so things were very tough).
She ran a grocery store and knew how to manage money. The matriarch of the family, everyone would go to her when they needed help. And she would always help whoever needed it.
Grams has a wonderfully strong faith. It has been the bedrock of her life and she has always lived it out.
For many years when she was able to, she faithfully went to daily Mass. She can't do that anymore but she prays every day for all who need it.
How did she manage to live so long in such a vibrant way? Certainly it has been because of her faith and great attitude. She's a fighter who doesn't let things get her down. Throughout her life she's always thought of other people. At 95 she is still mentally alert. As she puts it, "I just thank God that I have all my marbles and I know what I'm doing."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Keep looking at Jesus

The following is a beautiful comment that was left by Fr. Gregory--I post it here so it can be more easily seen:

"When I was a child at home in Maine, my cousins and I used to play a game in the snow. We would attempt to walk from my backyard to the woods behind my house, the winner was the one who could keep the straightest line in the snow. It was a distance of 70-80 yards...a long walk for small children. My cousin, Donna, who was the smallest and youngest always won. So one day, I asked her: "How come you always win this game?" And she replied: "It's easy while all of you are watching your feet, I pick out a tree in the distance and keep my eyes on it...and so I win because I always have the straightest line."


I was reflecting on this today...as I (we) prepare for Lent. If we keep our eyes on Christ and His Most Holy Mother...rather than looking down at our 'feet in the snows of sin and failure' (God knows how we love to look at our own prints!) perhaps we might also make a 'straighter' line through our Christian life...and reach OUR goal (salvation) and win by His grace?


O Lord give us the sobriety necessary for the Lenten Fast...that recollected, we may repent of all our failures and grievous sins...and may yet have that image restored to us of our baptismal innocence that we so desire!"

Choose life!

Thursday after Ash Wednesday


“I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.... Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30: 15, 19)


“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Lk 9:23–25)


These first days of Lent are like an “orientation” to give us a direction for the entire season. God gives us a choice, and invites us to choose life. Paradoxically, to choose life does mean to choose the cross. Jesus turned our human standards upside down. The cross brings life.


Mary chose life when she gave of herself to bring Jesus into the world. It led her to Calvary. But it also led her to the fullness of life and happiness. Now from heaven she intercedes for us so that we might always choose life.

“Our Lady was for St Ignatius the one who chose, in a free and loving maner, what God chose for her.” (Fr. Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits)


Prayer

Mary, help me today to always choose the good, just as you did. Help me to choose life for myself and others.

© 2007, Daughters of St. Paul

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent with Mary Day by Day

Ash Wednesday reflection

“We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! (2 Cor 6:1–2).

At every moment of our lives, God invites us to accept his offer of grace. No matter how we might have messed up our lives in the past, God offers us a future full of hope. Mary accepted God’s invitation to become the Mother of his Son. She didn’t know what the future would hold, but she did know that God would be there with her. That was enough.


Prayer

Mary, help me to accept the grace of conversion that God is offering me this Lent. Help me to say “yes” to his invitation, so that this day might become for me a “day of salvation.”

© 2007, Daughters of St. Paul

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lent and prayer

In our Catholic tradition, there are three main penances for Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Lent is a great time to renew our personal life of prayer. The first thing to do is simply to pray, no matter how. Even if it seems badly done or a waste of time, it's important just to carve some regular time out of our day and spend it with the Lord in prayer.

It's like keeping an appointment. A reliable person shows up for appointments, barring some unusual circumstance. Prayer is a daily appointment with the Lord.

The most important thing about prayer is simply to show up. Then God will do the rest.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Behold the Lamb of God...who takes away the sins of the world!"

Has it ever happened to you that something you've heard hundreds or thousands of times all of a sudden strikes you as if you had never heard it before?

This morning at Mass that happened to me at the Lamb of God. When the priest held up the host and said "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," it hit me all of a sudden. Jesus takes away our sins. Of course I have known that and believed that my whole Catholic life. Yet, those words suddenly penetrated my heart in a very special way. It was like I had a felt experience of them. I felt clean. I knew Jesus had cleansed me of my sins.

Sometimes it's so easy to be down on ourselves and bemoan the fact that we are sinners. Yes, we are sinners. But Jesus knows how to deal with sin. He has cleansed us so that we really are washed, sanctified, justified. In the Book of Acts, when Peter had the vision of all foods being clean, the angel told him, "What God has sanctified you are not to call unclean."

That goes for ourselves, too!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Radio Notre Dame

I found an internet radio station in French that I like a lot: Radio Notre Dame. I've been wanting to learn some French and I thought listening to it on the radio is an easy way to get the sound of the language even if I don't understand everything.
This radio station is a Catholic one in Paris, and they broadcast wonderful religious programs, including Gregorian chant, the rosary, etc.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lent's coming up

Lent will arrive next week. I need to start thinking about it now so that I'll at least be a little prepared.

It's always been the Church's custom to focus on three things in Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Those are the ways that we can set our lives in order if things have gotten off track a bit.

Our Founder, Bl. James, gave us Daughters of St. Paul three particular penitential practices: intense dedication to the apostolate, the practice of charity in community, and a third one that's very interesting: personal development at all levels. I think what he meant by that last one is that we should not be content with just being mediocre, but we should strive to grow personally, interiorly.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mary, the Model of Prayer

In a few days it will be the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In that apparition, Bernadette saw Mary praying.
She was silent, raising her eyes to heaven, praising God and begging him for graces.

The most important thing about praying is to set aside a regular time for it every day and just do it. It doesn't have to be great prayer. Some days it might be impossible to do much more than sit there. That's OK. What matters is to be faithful to the time. God will do the rest.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The 60's singing nun

I accidentally came across this link to a video clip of the famous singing nun from the 60's singing her # 1 hit
"Dominique."
It brought back memories. Yet I was saddened to find out that she ended up committing suicide. I knew she had left the convent early on--before final vows. She got caught up in the crazy times of the 60s and after she left the convent, wrote a song praising the birth control pill! (The song flopped.) Later, in 1985 she and a friend committed suicide together.
Her real name was Jeanine Deckers. Pray for the repose of her soul.
Watching the video clip was a bit eerie--like the last hurrah of the pre-Vatican II world on the verge of collapsing. She looks like one of those angelic nuns from "Going My Way." But it was not what it seemed.
Perhaps the tragic life of Jeanine Deckers is a reminder that we all need the grace of God, always, every day, to keep on doing good, and that grace comes to us through prayer.

How to live to 95 and enjoy it

Over the weekend I went to Buffalo, NY, to celebrate the 95th birthday of "Grams" Wickenhiser, the mother of Sr. Mary David and Sr Mary Mark. Over the years I've gotten to be part of the family.
Grams is a great example of how living a Catholic family life can lead a person to great holiness. Her own mother died when she was in her young teens, so she took over raising the rest of her siblings while her father went to work. Even after she got married, she invited some of them to live with her while she raised her own six children (this was during the depression so things were very tough).
She ran a grocery store and knew how to manage money. The matriarch of the family, everyone would go to her when they needed help. And she would always help whoever needed it.
Grams has a very simple faith. Some of her interpretations of Vatican II would make me smile, as when she said "The Council said that when people go to Mass they should sit in the front pews." Well, that might not be an exact quote, but she knew that the Church was emphasizing the communal aspect of the liturgy.
For many years when she was able to, she faithfully went to daily Mass. She can't do that anymore but she prays every day for all who need it.
How did she manage to live so long in such a vibrant way? Certainly it has been because of her faith and great attitude. She's a fighter who doesn't let things get her down. Throughout her life she's always thought of other people. At 95 she is still mentally alert. As she puts it, "I just thank God that I have all my marbles and I know what I'm doing."

Thanks for the prayers

Thanks for all the prayers for the sisters who were in the car accident. They're doing well.
One was released from the hospital; luckily she had only minor injuries. The other one has some fractures but is doing well and expected to fully recover.
God really protected them, as the van flipped over a couple of times. They were also wearing seat belts. If they hadn't, they probably would have been killed.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Prayer request

Please pray for two of our sisters who were in a serious car accident yesterday in Arizona. Both are in the hospital recovering from their injuries but one is still in critical condition. Their car was hit by a truck.
On Sunday I had a very strong, unsettling feeling that disturbed me. I had a strong feeling that someone in the community was going to have a car accident. It wasn't just a passing thought but a very real, intense feeling. So all I could do was pray and I did in fact pray that Jesus would watch over and protect all of the sisters who were driving. Who knows--maybe God was inspiring me to pray because of this, and maybe in response to the prayer they managed to survive.
Things like this are amazing to me, how God can inspire us in these ways. I can't really explain it but it did in fact happen.

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