Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Unite with Christ

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5: 3-5)

In his apostolic letter on suffering, Saint Pope John Paul points out that Jesus Christ, by His own suffering and death as our Redeemer, has conquered suffering in our lives. His own love -- the love of God for us -- has given an answer to the question "Why?" that no one could ever have imagined on his own. Christ's victory over suffering, indeed over death itself, gives us hope, it lights a fire in the midst of darkness, it promises eternal life. Perhaps this promise John Paul makes seems like a platitude to some. But Jesus not only suffered, He suffered in innocence. He, in His own Body, answered the often repeated "Why?" about the good suffering when they don't deserve it.

There is no platitude here. Jesus deserves to be believed because He has gone through suffering in a way more profound than we could ever know. And Jesus has gone so far as to invite us to join Him in suffering on behalf of others. Remember how He said, "Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me," or "Take up your cross and follow in my footsteps." It is true, as the spiritual masters point out, that suffering with courage, in faith, holds within it a power to unite us interiorly with Christ in a most intimate manner. I am convinced this is why so often we come upon people who hunger for the eucharistic Christ so intensely, or even for some simple sacramental as a reminder of the Lord.

This is the art of suffering well -- with faith in Christ and with courage that embraces God's will and His love for us. God himself is the Artist of this grace in the life of the believer. When suffering lurks just out of sight, when fear presses hard upon us, when the heart is weighed down with burdens that no one should have to bear, then there is no one who can answer the question "Why?" except Jesus Christ himself, the Suffering One, the Risen One.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Marianist Monday

Little Sisters of the Poor get unscheduled visit from Pope Francis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis made a previously unannounced 15-minute stop Sept. 23 at a Washington residence operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, where he met with about 45 sisters.

Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters, said the pope talked individually with each sister, ranging in age from novices to 102-year-old Sister Marie Mathilde, who is Colombian and spoke to the pope in Spanish.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters in Washington that evening that the papal visit was intended as a sign of support for the Little Sisters' lawsuit against the Obama administration's mandate that all employers offer contraceptive coverage in their health plans or participate in a religious "accommodation" that the sisters have refused.

But Sister Constance said Pope Francis made no mention of the lawsuit during his visit. Rather, his message to the group was about the Little Sisters' "mission to the elderly" and "how important it is in a society that tends to marginalize the elderly and the poor," she told Catholic News Service Sept. 24.

"We were deeply moved by his encouraging words," she added.

The Little Sisters did not know about the visit until after the pope's morning meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, Sister Constance said. Three Little Sisters of the Poor, including Sister Constance, had been invited to attend the ceremony on the South Lawn.

Sister Maria del Monte Auxiliadora, the mother superior was told after the ceremony that Pope Francis wanted to make a five-minute visit to the Jeanne Jugan Residence, located across the street from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and not too far from the St. John Paul II Seminary.

Pope Francis made the stop between the canonization of St. Junipero Serra at the basilica and a visit to the seminary, run by the Archdiocese of Washington.

Because his visit was so brief, the pope was not able to meet any of the home's residents, Sister Constance said. The visit ended up lasting about 15 minutes, she said.

In addition to the 12 nuns who live and work at the Jeanne Jugan Residence, sisters from other homes operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor and the order's postulants were invited to the meeting, Sister Constance said.

The Jeanne Jugan Residence provides independent living, assisted living and nursing home care to low-income seniors. Although it currently has 80 to 90 residents, it is undergoing renovations and will upon completion reach full capacity of 100 residents, Sister Constance said.

  • Click to enlarge image Pope greets Mother Mary MIchael.jpg
  • Click to enlarge image Pope greets Sr Jeanne Veronique.jpg
  • Click to enlarge image Pope prays Hail Mary with Little SIsters.jpg
  • Click to enlarge image Pope speaking about care of the elderly.jpg
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  • Click to enlarge image Pope with LIttle Sister novices.jpg

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Go out to others and share the good news that God


From Pope Francis’s homily Friday night at Madison Square Garden:

Big cities…conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath “the rapid pace of change”, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no “right” to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts. Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope. A hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. A hope which frees us from empty “connections”, from abstract analyses, or sensationalist routines. A hope which is unafraid of involvement, which acts as a leaven wherever we happen to live and work. A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city.

What is it like, this light travelling through our streets? How do we encounter God, who lives with us amid the smog of our cities? How do we encounter Jesus, alive and at work in the daily life of our multicultural cities?

The prophet Isaiah can guide us in this process of “learning to see”. He presents Jesus to us as “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. In this way, he introduces us to the life of the Son, so that his life can be our life. Wonderful Counselor. The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: “Master, what must we do?” The first thing that Jesus does in response is to propose, to encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, to go out. He urges them to go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be. Go out, again and again, go out without fear, without hesitation. Go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people.

The Mighty God. In Jesus, God himself became Emmanuel, God-with-us, the God who walks alongside us, who gets involved in our lives, in our homes, in the midst of our “pots and pans”, as Saint Teresa of Jesus liked to say.

The Everlasting Father. No one or anything can separate us from his Love. Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful Father who himself goes out, morning and evening, to see if his son has returned home and, as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. An embrace which wants to take up, purify and elevate the dignity of his children. A Father who, in his embrace, is “glad tidings to the poor, healing to the afflicted, liberty to captives, comfort to those who mourn” (Is 61:1-2). Prince of Peace. Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters.

God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities, and she wants to be like yeast in the dough. She wants to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. And we ourselves are witnesses of that light.

Pope Francis at Ground Zero

Pope Francis’s Prayer at Ground Zero 

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths
and religious traditions,
who gather today on this hallowed ground,
the scene of unspeakable violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here:
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion,
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here fourteen years ago,
continue to suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.

Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.

Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred
and who justify killing in the name of religion.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.

Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

New York Pope


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Give me Jesus

Jesus poses simple but penetrating questions
as he does here when he asks, “Who do you say that I am?”

And he is always asking this question of us.
- Who was Jesus for us when we were 17/18 years old?
- Who did we say Jesus was for us in college?
- And how did we answer that same question
as we made our first profession, started teaching, renewed our vows
and met the situations and circumstances,
the joys and happiness,
the losses and pain that come into every life?

In the good times and in the bad times
how have we answered the question,
“Who do you say that I am.”

The stark simplicity of Jesus’ question is disarming.
It reduces the whole equation to two terms:
me and Jesus, face to face -
and puts the burden on me to say who he is in my life.

In a sense, my job as the preacher is easy today.
It’s my task to make sure we hear the Lord’s question,
and ask ourselves:
“Who do I say Jesus is?”

Truth is, many of us may have more than one answer to the question.

• Who I say Jesus is - on Sunday morning -
might be different than who I say he is when I’m at teaching,
in the middle of the week.
On Sundays I might feel free to sing his praise
but on Wednesday I might be slow even to mention his name.

• Who I say Jesus is when I’m struggling with pain and loss
might be different than who I say he is when all’s going well.
The Lord is quick to point out in the gospel here
that the weight of the cross will burden those
who want to follow him.
Sometimes our suffering deepens our faith in Jesus,
but sometimes, in our pain, we feel he’s forgotten or abandoned us.

• Who I say Jesus is might change, a lot, as I grow older.
As I grow from childhood into adolescence
and from my teens into young adulthood,
and on to shouldering life’s greater responsibilities,
and in many ways ,
in every phase of my life my response to the Lord’s question,

“Who do you say that I am?” will change
and in many ways it should change as I change, and grow,
and learn and deepen my faith and understanding.

Indeed, there’s a problem if my answer to that question today
is the same one I gave when I was a child.

Jesus doesn’t change but: We. Do.
As I change, as I grow, as I deepen my faith,
so will my understanding of who Jesus is
change and grow and deepen.

So, the question for us today
is the question Jesus asked 2,000 years ago:
“Who do I say Jesus is?”
How has my reply changed over the years,
and how does it need to continue to change?
But most important of all: who do I say Jesus is today
- September 25, 2015?

We’re gathered at this altar because we believe, we say
that Jesus is the Bread of our lives and Cup of our salvation.
May the sacrament we celebrate and receive here,
give us Jesus…

"Give Me Jesus"
In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise,
in the morning when I rise: give me Jesus!
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus!
You may have all this world, give me Jesus…

In my troubles ‘long the way, in my troubles ‘long the way,
in my troubles ‘long the way: give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus!
You may have all this world, give me Jesus…

Oh, and when my days are done, oh and when my days are done,
oh and when my days are done: give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus!
You may have all this world, give me Jesus…

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis addresses Congress

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City.

It is a rich and thoughtful speech, highlighting the necessity for dialogue—a word he used often—and a hunger for the common good.

The conclusion:

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

…A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pay attention

Image result for distractions from god

Among all the distractions
whirling in me and around me,
help me stop today, to pause, to pray
to pay attention to you, Lord...

Help me pay attention
to how you attend to me,
ever watchful in your vigil,
through the day and through the night...

Help me pay attention
to what you whisper in my heart,
words to grace and guard and guide me
and keep me from harm's way...

Help me pay attention to your Spirit,
moving in my thoughts and plans;
help me attend to what you ask of me
and walk the path you chart...

Help me pay attention, Lord,
to all whose paths cross mine;
help me attend to others' needs
and to the gifts they offer me...

Clear my mind of its distractions
and my heart of fear and worry:
make a quiet place within me
where you and I can meet...

Make me mindful, Lord, of you
as I pray and just sit still:
in the silence of your presence
help me find you by my side...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For the Beauty of the Earth

It's not easy to let go of summer and welcome the fall. But this year the Creator is treating us to sunny warm days followed by cooler evenings. I'm taking no small amount of joy in this last breath of summer's beauty and thought we might pause today, sit back and pray over beauty of the earth around us... Lord... Let every ray of sunshine on my face, every touch of warmth upon my back, every cooling breeze upon my cheek, every bloom along my path, every splash of green across blue skies: tell me of your beauty, reveal your awesome glory, herald your good news and remind me to raise a joyful prayer of praise for the beauty of the earth... Amen.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pope Francis 1

Details from

On Tuesday morning, atop the cinematic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, officials will unveil a special loan, in honor of Pope Francis – a monumental bilingual version of Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture.

AMOR will overlook the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where Pope Francis will conduct his papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27.

Officials at the Art Museum and the Association for Public Art, who arranged a four-month loan of the colorful six-foot sculpture, noted that amor means love both in Latin, the classic language of the church, and in Spanish, Francis’ native language.

The sculpture will face – at the opposite end of the Parkway – Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture, which rises from JFK Plaza, now popularly known as LOVE Park.

“With the installation of this generous loan atop our famous steps, we hope to add the most appropriate artistic note possible to Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia,” said Timothy Rub, Art Museum director. His visit comes at the climax of the World Meeting of Families, which begins the day AMOR is to be installed.

Penny Bach, executive director of the Association for Public Art, which has been acquiring public art for the city for well more than a century, called Indiana’s LOVE “the most recognized sculpture in a city known for having one of the largest collections of public art in the country.”

AMOR, Bach noted, will now be “in dialogue” with LOVE, which was installed in 1976 and donated to the city by the philanthropist F. Eugene Dixon Jr. She added that AMOR conveys the message that Philadelphia is “a welcoming city.”

We want Pope Francis to feel beloved,” said Rub.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Marianist Martyrs

Marianist Martyrs of Ciudad Real

Yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of three Marianists. Blessed Carlos was born in Spain on November 2, 1884. He and his two companions, Blessed Fidel and Blessed Jesus were imprisoned in hatred of the faith in 1936 in Cuidad Real.

All were devoted to teaching and to the Marianist charism of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. The three met in Ciudad Real in the summer of 1936 and suffered separate martyrdom.

When his school, the prestigious "Collegio Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar", was requisitioned, he felt hunted in Madrid and made a dangerous journey to Ciudad Real to seek help from his former students. Sadly, he found the two schools there had already been requisitioned and the communities scattered. "It will be as God wishes", he would say, as he calmly visited his confreres, without concealing his religious status. He was executed at dawn on September 18, 1936. His companions, Fidel and Jesus were martyred shortly afterwards.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Love's greatest glory

Our first reading today offers personal advice for the conduct of Timothy’s ministry. The author first tells Timothy not to let anyone have contempt for his youth. It is hard to see how Timothy could prevent this. He can try to be an example for other believers in speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity, giving them, reason to respect and imitate these qualities in him. But if youth is a problem for them, these qualities may not change that.

Our gospel story from Luke recounts Jesus, a dinner guest at the home of a Pharisee named Simon, reclining at table. A sinful woman comes to the house and bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, dries his feet with her hair, and anoints them. The Pharisee says to himself that if Jesus were a prophet, he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner. Later on we learn that Jesus does know the woman is a sinner and thus that Jesus is, in fact, a prophet.

Jesus contrasts the behavior of the woman with that of his host. Simon has failed to do all of the things for Jesus that the woman is doing. Jesus explains the woman’s behavior as a response to having been forgiven much; one who has been forgiven much loves much. Simon’s behavior seems to show he has not been forgiven much – and consequently he does not love greatly.

It appears to me that the Gospel is contrasting two attitudes of mind and heart:

1. Simon was conscious of no need and therefore felt no love, and so received no forgiveness. Simon’s impression of himself was that he was a good man in the sight of men and God.

2. The other attitude is the woman. The woman was conscious of nothing else that an urgent need, and therefore was overwhelmed with love for him who could supply it, and so received forgiveness.

The one thing that shuts a man off from God is self-sufficiency. The strange thing is that the better a man is the more he feels his sin.

Barclay comments on this section: “It is true to say that the greatest of sins is to be conscious of no sin; but a sense of need will open the door to the forgiveness of God, because God is love, and love’s greatest glory is to be needed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Who's translating now?

From The New York Times:

On a blustery day in January this year, Pope Francis appeared before thousands of worshipers in Tacloban City, the Philippines, and asked for permission to give his address in Spanish.

“I have a translator, a good translator. May I do that? May I?” he asked in heavily accented English. When the crowd cheered its approval, Msgr. Mark Miles — a trim, bespectacled official from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State — discreetly materialized at the pope’s side and began expertly echoing the pope’s speech in English, keeping time with his pauses and his expressiveness, too.

The pope did not want to use a “professional translator that hides in the wings and is only a voice,” said Cindy Wooden, the Rome bureau chief for the Catholic News Service and the author of a recent book on Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila. Instead, Francis went out of his way to show “affection and esteem for Monsignor Miles” because the pope wanted to be able to speak from his heart, Ms. Wooden said.

Overnight, Monsignor Miles became a star in the Filipino blogosphere. And he is likely to become a familiar figure to Americans when Francis visits the United States this month.

Of the 18 addresses, speeches and homilies the pope is expected to deliver during his six-day visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, only four will be in English, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference on Tuesday. The rest will be in Spanish.

And though the Vatican said subtitles would be used in some cases, it is more than likely that, as in the Philippines, the pope will rely heavily on Monsignor Miles on this trip to turn his comfortable Spanish into smooth English.

The pontiff’s two immediate predecessors were high-profile polyglots. St. John Paul II knew a dozen languages and spoke more than half of those fluently, and Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, is said to be fluent in five languages, as well as classical Latin.

Pope Francis has more modest linguistic leanings. Born in Argentina, a descendant of Italian immigrants, he is fluent in Spanish and Italian, conversant in German, French and Portuguese, and, to a lesser degree, capable in English.

“He’s very shy about not knowing English — he knows Italian and Spanish very well,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said at an interfaith event in New York in May. “His English is a little better than he lets on. But he’s not conversational in English.”

The pope uses English so rarely that his first public address in English — a video message to a conference — merited note in the Catholic press.

All things considered, Monsignor Miles should have plenty of occasions to shine this month.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Focus on the Pope

Fr. Michael Paris, assistant chaplain for the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland (and George Washington University), walks through the streets of Washington with a cardboard cutout of the Pope, stopping people to hear their thoughts on the Holy Father’s visit. Pope Francis visits Washington, DC on September 22-24.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Marianist Call for Vocation

Image result for marianist
We come today, Lord, to be with you and to pay attention to what you say to us in the Gospel. We want to pray with a sense of urgency, that there may be laborers for the harvest of the Church. We want to remain with you, calmly, in silence, savoring your Presence. We offer you our vocation. Thank you for your call. We know that you listen to us. We are here because you call us. You have called us in different ways within the Marianist Family: a diversity of vocations, sisters, brothers, lay people. During this time of prayer, we ask you to strengthen each of our vocations and to give us the gift of new vocations.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Sunday Word

"It's all about you" - the phrase can build us up or tear us down. But if truth be told, a more appropriate mantra for this generation is: "It's all about me." In fact, Web sites abound making that very claim. Type in "It's all about me" and you'll find thousands of self-declarative, self-proclaiming, self-expressing citizens of the net professing "It's all about me" - whoever "me" might happen to be. 

Online auction sites, now encourage "about me" pages because "Your About Me page is a great way for people to understand who you are." You describe who you are - or if not who you are, then maybe how you see yourself, or wish yourself to be. You create a Web site which defiantly declares, "It's about me! It's all about me! Me, me, me, me! Notice me! See me! Here I am! I matter! Read about me! Know me!"

Jesus is well aware of the destructive nature of the "all-about-me" mentality. That's why he warns that his followers must be willing to deny themselves before they can be counted as true disciples. He understood that the only thing that stands between God and me, is me. I'm in my own way. Every time I try to walk alone I trip over myself.

This getting-out-of-the-way is what makes Peter's proclamation about Jesus so remarkable, so extraordinary, so inconceivable. For a moment, perhaps for the first time in his life, Peter gets out of his own way. For a moment Peter stops thinking about himself. He stops putting "me" first. In a flash of insight he understands, if only for that instant, that it isn't "about ME" - it never was and never will be. In effect, Peter proclaims, "It's all about you, Jesus!"

It's about Peter's becoming smaller inside himself and allowing Jesus to become bigger inside him. John the Baptist had the same insight when he said about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Yet, it is all too easy to move from a constructive, life-affirming declaration of "It's you, Lord," to destructive, life-destroying declarations of self-interest. At first Peter says, "You, you, you ... Jesus, it's all about you." The very next minute he's thinking, "Me, me, me. It's all about me. Don't go to the cross, Jesus, or I lose my place."

Jesus' response is swift. "Get behind me, Satan."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Patronal Feast of the Marianists

The Most Holy Name of Mary

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God's infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God's ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights of all peoples.

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs”

Friday, September 11, 2015

In Prayer we Remember

Ground Zero, New York
Sunday, 20 April 2008

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—the heroic first-responders:our fire fighters,
police officers,emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those who,
because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.

Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.

Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all. Amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Image result for the wardrobe guy
The apostle Paul comes off in today's text as a sort of wardrobe/costume guy with some makeup work thrown in. 

"Clothe yourselves" -- that's how Paul begins his exhortation to change today. Think of a director on the set of a Hollywood movie who stops shooting and yells "Wardrobe!!!"

So Paul says, "Clothe yourselves." That may not seem very revolutionary to us, people of the overflowing walk-in clothes closet. Merely to change one's clothes is not a big deal. Today any person who buys a new house must have walk-in closets. If you buy a pre-1940s house, you're lucky to find a closet in your room at all. People just didn't have that many changes of clothes, and then, too, a lot of kids wore "hand-me-downs."

But, in the ancient world of the early Christians, putting on a fresh set of clothing was a big deal. Clothing was costly. There were no factories to manufacture it. Every article of clothing had to be painstakingly stitched together by hand. Few people outside of the aristocracy owned more than one or two changes of clothes.

To receive a new outfit, therefore, seemed like making a whole new beginning. And for Paul's readers to hear him saying, "Hey, you need a new wardrobe!" -- well, they would sit up and listen, because changing clothes was just not something you did without thinking.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Be Courageous!

Francis dolls for sale in Washington next to products for Donald J. Trump. Credit
Pope Francis had a piece of advice for the Americans he spoke to during a virtual audience hosted by ABC News: “Be courageous.”

During the event, which was moderated by ABC News’ "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir on Monday, the pontiff spoke for nearly an hour via satellite from the Vatican with individuals from the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, located near the U.S.-Mexico border, and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

The three locations were selected by ABC News because they are in parts of the country that Pope Francis will not be visiting during his historic trip to the United States, later this month.

The selected speakers, which included an undocumented teenager who had lost a soccer scholarship to college and a homeless mother of two, were all people who had struggled with adversity. The speakers were told beforehand they would get to share their story with his Holiness.

Throughout the hour-long event, Pope Francis consoled the speakers, many of whom shed tears as the Pontiff offered them words of praise, encouragement and advice.

“It’s true that there are difficulties on life’s path, many of them,” the Holy Father said. “Don’t fear the difficulties. Be prudent, be careful, but don’t fear.”

One of the most powerful moments during the event was when Valerie Herrera, 17, stepped up to speak.

Herrera, a senior at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, told Pope Francis she had struggled with vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that causes white blotches on the face and body, and had endured bullying through elementary and middle school.

"May I ask for you to sing a song for me?" he said in English. As Herrera hesitated, Pope Francis told her, “be courageous."

After a long pause and encouragement from the audience, Herrera sang, "Junto a Ti Maria (Next to You, Maria)."

When the applause died down, Pope Francis answered her question.

“What I hope for from youth is for you all not to walk alone in life,” he said. “Life is very difficult. It’s difficult to walk alone. You get lost. You get confused. You can find the wrong path or you can be walking around in circles, in a maze, or worst, you can stop because you get tired of walking in life. Always walk hand-in-hand with someone who loves you, someone who gives you tenderness.”

“In my country, there’s a saying, 'it’s better to be alone than to be in bad company,'” continued Francis, who is from Argentina. “That’s true, but walk accompanied... You have the strength to overcome. Don't be scared. Don't stop. There's nothing worse than a young person who has retired before his or her time. I don't know at what age people retire in the United States, but can you imagine a young person who's 25 years old, who's retired? Terrible. Always move forward with courage and with hope."

The pope praised Rosemary Farfan, 31, for caring for her two young daughters by herself. The family had been living at the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children, a program of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, but left in June to move into their first apartment.

“I know it’s not easy to be a single mother,” Francis said. “I know that people can sometimes look askance at you, but I’ll tell you one thing, you’re a brave woman because you’re capable of bringing these two daughters into the world.”

"You could have killed them inside your womb, and you respected life," the pope continued. "You respected the life you were carrying inside you, and God is going to reward you for that, and he does reward you for that. Don't be ashamed. Hold your head high. 'I didn't kill my daughters. I brought them into the world.' I congratulate you. I congratulate you, and God bless you."

Hundreds gathered at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, including Ricardo Ortiz, 19, who told Pope Francis that he had come to the U.S. from Mexico on a tourist visa when he was 4 years old. He said his father sometimes had difficulty finding work because he was undocumented. Then when Ortiz was around 17, he said his father had an accident and wasn’t able to work at all.

Choking back tears, Ortiz, who has three younger brothers, said, "That happening impacted my life in a very deep way. I had to become the breadwinner of the family. I had to be the person that supported our family... I never lost faith. I never lost the strength that my father and mother gave me."

Ortiz told the pope that eventually his father was able to return to work and Ortiz was able to graduate high school. He had even won a soccer scholarship to college, but the scholarship was revoked once the school discovered he was not a U.S. citizen. His father scraped together the money to send him to a community college instead.

Pope Francis, an avid soccer fan, expressed admiration for Ortiz and told him that "the match is played between friendship in society and enmity in society."

"We are all created for friendship in society. All of us bear responsibility for everyone else," the pope said. "And each one has to make a choice in his or her heart. And we have to help that choice to be made in the heart. .... Only closeness and giving of myself, all that I have to give, the way you gave everything you could as a boy, when you supported your family. Don't forget that."

Another surprising moment during the event is when the pope called out directly to Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Sister Pimentel runs a welcome center at Sacred Heart Church in response to the surge of immigrants being released by the U.S. border patrol. More than 23,000 immigrants have passed through the center.

The Holy Father singled Pimentel out in the audience and called her to the front.

“I want to thank you, and through you to thank all the sisters of religious orders in the U.S. for the work that you have done and that you do in the United States," the pope said. "It's great. I congratulate you. Be courageous. Move forward. Take the lead, always. I'll tell you one other thing. Is it inappropriate for the Pope to say this? I love you all very much."

The virtual audience was conducted ahead of Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the United States, when he will travel to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27.

When Marcus Alston, a 19-year-old who had lived on the streets of Los Angeles and on Monday was staying at Covenant House, asked the pope why his upcoming trip to the US was important, the Pontiff said he wanted to connect to Americans.

“There’s something very important for me, which is closeness,” Francis said. “For me it's difficult not to be close to people. When I approach people, as I'm going to do with you, it's easier for me to understand them and help them along life's path. That's why this trip is so important, for me to draw close to your path and your history.”