Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe I should have been a Dominican?

I took this quiz on Facebook about what religious order appeals to you, and I got:

You are infused with the desire to learn, and, following in the footsteps of St. Aquinas, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Louis de Montfort, should consider joining the Domincans. Founded to preach the gospel and to combat heresy, the order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. Further, the Order places heavy emphasis on the role of charity in the Christian life. As the image of God grows within man, he learns to rely less on an intellectual pursuit of virtue and more on an affective pursuit of charity and meekness. Meekness and charity guide Christians to acknowledge that they are nothing without the One (Christ) who created them, sustains them, and guides them. Thus, man then directs his path to that One, and the love for, and of, Christ guides man's very nature to become centered on the One, and on his neighbor as well. Charity is the manifestation of the pure love of Christ, both for and by His follower. Friars differ from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) in service to a community, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live cloistered away from the world in a self-sufficient community, friars are supported by donations or other charitable support. Dominicans are distinguished by their white habit and black mantle, from which they get the term “Blackfriars”.


I'm not surprised because I've always loved St. Thomas. I guess that's a clue.
But I'm very happy being a Daughter of St. Paul. Actually, we have Dominican characteristics. There's a reason why I was attracted to an order that makes books!

Prayer need

An awful story from Oklahoma: the Rev. Carol Daniels was brutally murdered and her body left with arms outstretched in a crucifixion position. She had been tortured evidently. She was the pastor of a Protestant church. I pray that her murdered will be apprehended soon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feast of St. Augustine

Today is the feast of St. Augustine, that great convert. He was a religious genius and left a huge amount of very important theological writing. He is certainly an inspiration to all of us sinners who are seeking to follow Christ.

Today is also my anniversary of entering religious life--33 years! I remember taking the Amtrak train from NY to Boston. It was a Saturday and that evening we started a day of retreat. I certainly had no idea what to expect but it's been a great adventure. I thank the Lord for his mercy to me, for the grace to persevere, for the sisters in my community and for our great mission in the Church. It seems like a drop in the ocean and very insignificant. But at least that drop is there. God can multiply the effects of the little good that we do.
I pray for the grace of perseverance. It's a great grace, and ultimately the most important one. After grace, of course, I think I've made it this far through a certain stubbornness in not giving up. Religious life is not for the faint of heart. I've survived, difficulties, problems, upsets, conflicts, and two bouts with cancer. God is most faithful.
Deo gratias!

Early signals of financial reckoning day for USA

I saw a news item that the Swiss bank Wegelin is closing its US branches due to the US government's new requirement for the bank to turn over certain data. However, buried in the article is this:

"It added that it believes the US overestimates its attraction as a financial centre, and is advising its clients to get out of all US securities."

Take note of that. Investors in other countries are getting out of US securities. That means that the day is approaching when the Treasury holds its auction and there will be no buyers. Then, how will the government finance the crushing deficit? Taxes and printing money, which leads to inflation. It could ultimately bring down our economy. It's time to get back to fiscal responsibility before the whole house of cards collapses.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Real unemployment at 16%

Once in a while a government official will let the truth slip out. It happened this week about unemployment:

"The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.
"If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart. "

"The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday. "If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking -- so-called discouraged workers -- and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

Full story here:

Fr Sirico on Kennedy

Fr Sirico has an excellent reflection about Ted Kennedy and the Catholic aspect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This amazed me

The news of Kennedy's death evoked a lot of different feelings in me. More than anything, I was feeling disturbed about how the whole issue of abortion affected his career. Sometimes when I'm dealing with the pull of different emotions, I pray about it and ask the Lord for a word from the Scriptures. So I did that and opened my Bible at random, and this is the first thing my eye fell on:

Jeremiah 2:22-23

Though you scour it with soap and use much lye,

The stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord God.

How can you say, “I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals’?

Consider your conduct in the Valley*, recall what you have done.

*The note on this word says that the Valley refers to Ben-hinnom, south of Jerusalem—the site of a pagan temple where children were sacrificed to the god Molech!

This really amazed me, especially the reference to sacrificing children to Molech. It seemed to confirm for me that it is important to realize that the issue of abortion is major. It can't be shrugged off, for "not as man sees does God see."

A further thought: though soap and lye can't take away our sins, "the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin." (1 John)

On the death of Ted Kennedy

When someone dies it is a time to remember we all have to go before God. It's a time to pray for the person and ask God's mercy. Thus may it be for Senator Kennedy.

Some years ago my mother had a problem with the Social Security Administration. Living in NY, she wrote to Senator Daniel Moynihan and he got it straightened out for her. My brother told me about it and said, "We're grateful to the senator for helping us out with this, but we still can't vote for him because he supports abortion."

I thought of that story when I heard about Kennedy's death. I'm sure that in many ways he did help a lot of people. But the sad thing about his life is that he turned into an indefatigable advocate of abortion rights. In fact, he racked up a 100% approval rating from NARAL. He voted in favor of extending abortion in any way he could, and he voted against any restrictions on it. I could never understand how he could ever justify this since it is completely against Catholic teaching. In the encyclical "Gospel of Life," Pope John Paul wrote: "Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize.... I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law. For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society."

Amid all the media adulation of Kennedy, and even feeling for the humanity of the man, I feel disturbed at the way Catholic politicians have been so complicit with the culture of death. May God have mercy on his soul.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mary's Queenship

Tomorrow is the feast of the Queenship of Mary. One thing she does as Queen is to intercede for us.
There's a great book on the rosary by Jean La France. In it he calls Mary the "omnipotent intercessor." In other words, if you need anything, go to Mary. If your life is getting off track, go to Mary. If you're in trouble, go to Mary. Just pray to her and she'll get you back on track. Really, there's nothing she can't obtain for us if God wants us to have it. She does for us what she did at Cana. She went to Jesus and just said, "They have no wine." That's it. "They have no money; they have no family life, they have no job...." She goes to Jesus and will present it to him. And her Son will take care of whatever she wants.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Marian week

This week we're between two feasts of Mary: her Assumption on the 15th, and the feast of her Queenship on the 22nd.
Actually, these are like two facets of the same feast. The Assumption is about Mary's final passage to glory, and her Queenship is about what she does in heaven. She doesn't forget about us but always intercedes for us with her Son, Jesus.
Especially for us Americans, the concept of royalty and queenship can seem a little remote. Pope John Paul liked to talk about it in terms of service, however. In his writings about Mary he spoke of her as the attentive servant of the Lord. "To serve is to reign."
A few years ago when I was at a Marian meeting, a sister who had done some research on how people relate to Mary spoke about her findings. She said that thinking of Mary as a Queen was actually popular with men. More men than women said they liked to think of her that way. I thought that was kind of interesting. I'm not sure why that would be-- any thoughts?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just released--my new book on St Clare

Today's the feast of St Clare, so it's an appropriate day to mention my new book about her. It's part of our Encounter the Saints series, beautifully illustrated by Sr Mary Joseph.
I learned a lot about Clare in writing the book. What impressed me the most was her great love of poverty. All her life she fought for the "privilege of poverty"--of owning nothing! She had to contend with cardinals and popes, but on the day before she died, she finally obtained this privilege as part of the Rule of her order.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Marian festival

A Marian festival will be held in France for a few days around the feast of the Assumption. As part of it, the rosary will be prayed simultaneously on five continents next Sunday, August 16, at 11 AM Eastern time.
More details here. It's a great way to honor our Blessed Mother.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What's the real unemployment rate?

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data saying that the US unemployment rate was down slightly, to 9.4 %. It reminds me of the saying that Mark Twain popularized about there being three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

The government removed 796,000 people from the total number of unemployed. Those people are still unemployed, but they've given up looking for jobs. So they're not counted. This is nothing new, since the Labor Bureau has always done this. But in a climate like today when we have so many people unemployed, it can really shift the numbers. When you add them back in, the real rate is 9.9%. Probably it's actually even more than that, because it doesn't account for people who are working fewer hours than before, and those who are working part time when they really want full time work.'

My point is that the headlines are a bit misleading. This isn't an economics blog, but I've been thinking about the economy a lot lately. The downturn has moral dimensions to it. While I'd like to be hopeful, I think the reality is that it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Transfiguration

This feast is the anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI (1978). I was a novice at the time. Pope Paul had the difficult task of leading the Church during the chaotic period right after Vatican II.

In the Gospel for today's feast, Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James, and John. While he is transfigured in glory, Moses and Elijah appear. Jesus speaks with them about his coming Passion and death. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets. Jesus brings both of those to fulfillment.

The journalists were released

Thank God that the journalists were released!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Help free the two American women in North Korea

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were condemned to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. And they didn't even commit a crime. Find out more at this website, which also has some ways to help them. But especially, pray for their release.

This op-ed has more details about the case. As the article notes, Christians in North Korea are also suffering persecution:

“A Christian woman accused of distributing the Bible, a book banned in communist North Korea, was publicly executed last month for the crime, South Korean activists said yesterday.’’

"So began a recent Associated Press dispatch from Seoul noting the death of Ri Hyon Ok, a 33-year-old mother of three. According to the Investigative Commission on Crime Against Humanity, a South Korean human-rights coalition, punishment for Ri’s “crimes’’ was meted out to her entire extended family: The day after she was executed, her husband, children, and parents were all thrown in prison." (article by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe)