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

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.