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

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.