Wednesday, October 5, 2011

God delegates!

Today’s Gospel contains St. Luke’s version of the Our Father. In this version we hear, “Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come…” St. Matthew says, “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, reminding us that the Kingdom is not totally other worldly. The kingdom begins here and now. A priest once shared that while on a plane the person next to him told him he was an atheist. He said he couldn’t believe in a God, who with all the suffering and sorrow in this world would leave his work to human beings. But, yet, isn’t it wonderful that God would trust us so much that he would leave the building up of the kingdom to us. He did, after all, leave us the example of his Son. We get into trouble when we don’t follow that example!

Jesus said, “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you to go and bear fruit that will last.” (John 15,16) Of course in John 15, 5 he says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

A friend of mine who is an avid NCIS fan said she noticed that when they answer the phone they identify themselves as “Special Agent…” What if we all thought of ourselves as God’s Special Agents, entrusted with the building up of God’s Kingdom here on earth NOW? We don’t have to do it alone!

What are you going to do today to build up the Kingdom?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Feast of Feasts!

It seems we are in the midst of a “feast of feasts”. Tuesday was the feast of St. Vincent dePaul, a very important part of our spirituality because our Founder, Father Thomas Judge, CM, was a Vincentian priest. We call the Vincentian priests and Brothers and the Daughters of Charity our “cousins”.
Yesterday was the feast of the Archangels, Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. Today is the feast of St. Jerome.
St. Jerome has become a favorite of mine. My first mission in Mexico was in a town called San Jeronimito. St. Jerome was the church’s patron and a large image of him hung in the front of the Church. The patronal feasts are celebrated with gusto in Mexico. Our arrival on the mission coincided with the feast. The people of San Jeronimito had never had Religious in their parish, which consisted of well over 50 chapels spread out over a large area. We received a grand welcome from them and the pastor. The Bishop even drove from Acapulco to celebrate and also welcome the new Sisters. This feast always brings back the memory of that wonderful day.
San Jeronimito, in the state of Guerrero, was a place in peril in many ways. It was touched by drug trafficking. While the town is on the coast, nearby mountainous areas were the scene of marijuana crops. I often heard the cry, “grow marijuana or starve to death”. I met many people who made courageous choices; the ones who chose not to grow marijuana as well as those who spoke out against the trafficking and ensuing violence. Some outspoken priests and religious as well as others lost their lives. All this happened close to 20 years before today’s drug-related terror and publicity.
San Jeronimito was in peril also because there was another war going on, the war against Catholicism. This may sound like a dramatic statement; however, San Jeronimito and the surrounding areas were dominated by religious sects. Catholics were a minority and were bombarded by visits from proselytizers holding Bibles and pointing to verses to prove that Catholics were wrong about just about everything. I might add that some of these groups had their own bibles. The verses in these bibles were and are changed regularly to accommodate their teachings.
The people were bewildered and would approach us asking us to teach them about the bible. I felt so inadequate with my very limited biblical knowledge. Around the same time I had been invited to study theology and wasn’t sure which area to choose. That quickly became a no-brainer. My desire to know more about the bible was fueled by these people so poor they had to scrimp and save to purchase one, but did so with such love and desire for the Word of God.
Returning to school was not easy after being away so many years. But, I became a highly highly motivated learner. Besides, I had my patron! In my first semester when I became acquainted with the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, I saw the quote: “Love the holy Scriptures, and wisdom will love you. Love wisdom, and she will keep you safe. Honor wisdom and she will embrace you.” (St. Jerome) St. Jerome also said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” An assiduous scholar, he is known for his translations of the Bible, particularly translating the Old Testament from the original Hebrew to Latin as well as for his work correcting some of the Latin in the New Testament. He is also known for his sometimes irascible nature and even had the chutzpah to take on St. Augustine when he didn’t agree with him. That didn’t diminish Augustine’s respect for him. He said, "What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."
He was also a great supporter of women in their desire for knowledge and holiness. His own quest for holiness is also inspiring.
St. Jerome is called the Father of Biblical Science. He is the patron of biblical scholars, researchers, translators, librarians, and probably more, including those of us who have occasional grumpy days! I’m really grateful he was the patron of San Jeronimito.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Beginnings

It is incredulous, almost overwhelming, to think that we are in a new month. It’s not just a new month, but for many a new year as they return to school. September 1 also says summer is just about over.

Summer is a time for refreshment and renewal, a time when supposedly things slow down a little. It’s an opportunity to reflect on how we are living our lives. Things were anything but slowing down for us. Among many other things I was getting set to return to Mexico for a mission week with young women interested in our Community as well as other vocation promotion work. Then suddenly my life came to what seemed like a screeching halt. I needed several tests and ultimately a biopsy, I soon learned how interminable a week can be when you are waiting for results realizing that your life could change dramatically.

I didn’t get to go on vacation or retreat this summer. That will have to wait. But I did get some time for reflection. Health crises can remind us of how much we take for granted.

I have always been grateful for my good health, but will now be even more so. I also had a chance while waiting in hospitals and doctors offices to think about how many people don’t always get good results. Their lives do change dramatically. Not only theirs, but their loved ones as well. I also thought of how many people have neither adequate health care nor the insurance to pay for it.

In some ways I begin the Fall with a sense of newness. Thank God my biopsy was negative, and I have a whole new sense of gratitude for my health and for the support I received.

I’m also beginning this new month by having been able to return to Mexico. This weekend we’ll have a discernment retreat with our ST brothers at their novitiate in Huitzila, possibly a new beginning for the young men and women who will be attending as they discover their calling in life. Please keep them and the Team in your prayers.

There’s so much to be grateful for.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sixty Years of Fidelity!

August 5 is very special day for many Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. It’s the anniversary of the day they entered the Congregation, or as we say their “entrance day”.
Today I was privileged to celebrate with one of our Sisters who is a dear friend. Sister Catherine Francis, MSBT celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of her entrance to the Community.
Sister is now missioned to St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham, Massachussetts where she is responsible for ministry to the homebound parishioners.
As you know, part of our charism or gift to the Church is encouraging an apostolic spirit in the laity. Sister Catherine has spent many years doing precisely this. One of her assignments was working with several of our priests and Brothers as they went about the various missions assisting members of both congregations with practical means for carrying out this aspect of our charism.
Sister also worked in several dioceses in Parish Social Ministry travelling from parish to parish enabling all to live out their baptismal call to holiness and ministry, particularly the social dimension, service to the poor and abandoned.
Today the pastor asked Sr. Catherine to be a Eucharist Minister in the Mass. In accord with her strong belief in lay ministry, she would have preferred that one of the parishioners do this. Frankly, I was pleased that he asked her. The Eucharist is such tangible sign of Christ’s love for us. Sister Catherine Francis has spent the last sixty years inviting so many, laity, religious and clergy to live out and be Christ’s love and presence in the world. The Eucharist is the “sun and center of our apostolic life”, and this has certainly been the case with her.
Congratulations and thank you, Catherine, for being a “wisdom figure”, an example par excellence of faithfulness and a wonderful mentor. May God gift you with many more years of love and service. It was a joy and a privilege for me to receive the Blood of Christ from you today.
It is no small coincidence that Sr. Olivia and I were here in Wareham to begin a discernment weekend for young women who might be considering religious life. Please pray for this and that there may be many more “Sister Catherines” in the future.

Friday, July 22, 2011

St. Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the more prominent women of the New Testament. Many hear her name and immediately think she was quite the sinful woman before she met Jesus, but not all scripture scholars agree that she was that infamous woman. Part of the problem is that the name Mary is mentioned a number of times in the Gospels. Perhaps Mary was as common a name in Jewish families first century Palestine as it had been in Irish (and other) Catholic families. In my own family we have had more than a few women by the name of Mary!
In the Gospels we meet Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Some have said she and Mary Magdalene are the same person. There are times when we meet her and her name is quite obvious: in the Gospel of St. Luke (8,2), she is the woman “from whom seven demons had gone out”. We meet her at the cross (Mt 27,56; Mk 15,40; John 19,25); at Jesus’ burial (Mt 27,61; Mk 15,47); at the Resurrection (Mt 28,1-10, Mk16, 1-9; Lk 24,1-12). Then there is that beautiful encounter between her and Jesus in St. John’s Gospel(Jn 20,1-18) where after the Resurrection she is weeping because the tomb is empty, and she fears “they have taken my Lord away”(20,13).
Mary saw Jesus but didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name. I have pondered this passage frequently. Very often those we love have special names for us, or even a certain way of saying our name. Most people who have lost parents and other loved ones say they really miss their hearing that person’s voice. I can agree with that. So, we can imagine what joy it must have been for Mary to hear Jesus say her name one more time. Have you every thought how Jesus might call you, how he might say your name?
Whatever we don’t know about this great saint, we do know that she was a loyal disciple of Jesus. She was one of the women who left everything to follow him. She was one of his supporters. St. Luke (8,3) tells us she was one of the women who provided for Jesus and “the twelve” out of their resources. She was courageous. She stood by Jesus at the foot of the cross when many others hid. She was fearless and caring, especially shown when she went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. She was a trusted disciple. Jesus revealed his Resurrection and entrusted to her the mission of giving that news to the Apostles.
Mary Magdalene is truly one “who found him whom my soul loves” (Song of Solomon 3,4). What a wonderful example for all of us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Discerning Your Call

As you know my present work is to help people discern their calling in life. You might notice I didn't just say young people. I receive mail from people of all ages who are are trying discern where God is leading them. Some are in their 40's, 50's and 60's. I recently received an email from a woman who is 70. You might say they are responding to a "mid-life crisis" or they are wondering what to do now that they are retired. I am convinced it is more than that. Whether you are at the point in life that you can make a major decision or if you are at the point where a major shift in your life style would be difficult for you as well as for those around you, you have a call.
Each day of our lives God is inviting us to something more, whether it's responding to God's invitation to a deeper life with Him, or being more attentive to the needs of those around us, or perhaps living more wholeheartedly the vocation and career we have. Life is an adventure, and a sure way to enjoy it even more is to take a few quiet moments each day and ask God to reveal to you His ideas of how you might best live out the day.
Perhaps you could share some ways you've felt "called" recently, whether it involved a major life change or another that has truly affected your life.
Sr. Olivia, my coworker, recently pointed this video out to me which I think is so well done, and shows us that "vocation" is not an either/or. No, it is much more inclusive. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Happy Feast of Pentecost! In our Community we have been preparing for this feast for the past nine days by praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit. The time of the Pentecost Novena has always been a rather solemn occasion in our Motherhouse. Until several years ago when we had more young Sisters in Formation we had Eucharistic Adoration 24/7 for the nine days preceding the Feast of Pentecost. Young and not always so young Sisters took those after midnight hours. This year was very special, too. We invited people from the neighborhood to join us in our prayer. It was a very edifying experience for all.

We do have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every day from around 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. During the Novena the time was extended until 9:00 p.m. As we took our turns in Chapel we remembered our families, friends and benefactors in a special way.

Our Founder, Father Thomas Augustine Judge, CM, had great devotion to the Holy Spirit. This is an important part of our spiritual heritage. Article 11 of our Rule of Life says, "We are to make the Holy Spirit better known and loved. By steadfast prayer in our Cenacles we seek to attract the Holy Spirit so that our own hearts may be enkindled with God's love and that we may spread this fire to others. We ask to be filled with the gifts of the Spirit, wisdom and fortitude especially."

There is so much that could be said about the Holy Spirit, but anyone that I know who has this devotion has had powerful experiences of his presence. Let us pray that Holy Spirit continue to lead, guide and enlighten us in all that we are about so that we may attain the holiness to which we have been called.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Holy Spirit Novena Day 9

Day Nine
The fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control.

Finally, we beg you in Jesus Christ, that as you learned from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are now doing, you will do so more and more. (1 Thes 4:1)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
What is the big thing you are going to do for your Savior? Choose some specific work of self-control, self-renunciation, or detachment: an act that is contrary to the spirit of the world. Do something which will mark off for you another chapter of progress in the spiritual life. In all things let it be a closer following of Him, a more cheerful taking up of His cross. (p. 21)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. How have I grown spiritually over the years? How is my behavior a witness to my commitment to follow Jesus?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Holy Spirit Novena Day 8

Day Eight
The fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness.

But a Samaritan came by, and when he saw the man, he had compassion, and went to him, and bound his wounds, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Lk 10:33-34)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
The love of Christ urges us. In other words, we are doing it for Him. We see Him in them—in their souls created to His Image and likeness. We minister to Him. Surely, that was a soiled face that Veronica ministered to. It was blood-stained and dirty. But it was the face of Christ. (p. 9)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. Today, where am I being called to respond with gentleness?

Holy Spirit Novena Day 7

Day Seven
The fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness.

If God is for us, who is against us?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:31,35)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
We should be like a rock in the midst of an angry sea. The waves beat against it and over it, but when the waters have subsided and the calm comes, the rock is still there. And so it should be with our will. No matter how our mind seems divided, no matter how distracted we are, no matter whether we be in the clouds or in the shadows of darkness, this we should know: that we love God and we want Him. If you feel that, you are as that rock in the midst of the waters. (p. 200)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. When have I felt like a rock beaten by the waves? What trials has my faith already survived?

Holy Spirit Novena Day 6

Day Six
The fruit of the Spirit is Goodness.

“You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine before all, so that when they see your good works, they give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:14,16)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
Live more in the Presence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Realize more and more that every human being whom you meet is the living image of the Blessed Trinity. Respect and honor all as a consequence. (p. 3)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. Do I truly believe I am good? Is there someone I know who needs to see his or her own goodness?

Holy Spirit Novena Day 5

Day Five
The fruit of the Spirit is Kindness.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, in whom you are sealed for redemption. Let all bitterness and anger and slander be put away from you, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4: 30-32)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
We want kindness, we want love. We should learn from the Heart of our Divine Lord to be kind. What is your nature? Are your thoughts kindly? If your thoughts are not kindly your words will not be kindly. A kind person makes allowance, a kind person is considerate, a kind person isn’t looking to get something out of others. (p. 231)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. When have I received true kindness? When have I been kind to someone who I knew really needed it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fourth Day of Holy Spirit Novena

Day Four
The fruit of the Spirit is patience.

Be patient until the comin of the Lord. Look how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the fall and the spring rains. So you should be patient and not lose heart, for the Lord's coming is near. (Mt. 5:43)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
A patient person is a delight - like an anchor, like a solid rock. You always find patient people the same way. Their judgement is good because they think out of a calm tranquil mind. They take their time in judging things and analyzing things. (p. 306)

For reflection
In Baptism I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. When do I feel calm and tranquil? How does it affect my actions?

Third Day of Holy Spirit Novena

Day Three
The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace.

The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you." And after saying this, he breathed on them. (Jn 20:20-22)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
Recently, our Brothers on the farm were waiting for high winds to calm down so they might plands seeds in well prepared fields. One of them said, "If we sow this seed now it will be all blown away." That evening a calm came, the seed was sown and remained safe. So our souls must be calm if we are to receive the inspiration of the HOly Spirit. (p.323)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. What does the peace of God feel like? How does it ssend me forth?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Second Day of Holy Spirit Novena

Day Two
The fruit of the Spirit is Joy.

When I look at the sky, the work of your hands, the moon and stars which you made–what are we, that you think about us, mere mortals, that you care about us? Yet you made us little lower than angels, and crowned us with glory and honor. (Ps 8:3-5)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
As the sun gives life to the earth and enables plants to produce beautiful flowers of endless variety of color, form and fragrance, and fruits of a thousand different tastes, so the Holy Spirit, by the warmth and light He infuses into our souls, enables us to bring forth the celestial flowers and fruits of every virtue. (p. 83)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. When in my life have I felt joy? How can I share this fruit?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Novena to the Holy Spirit

Day One
The Fruit of the Spirit is Love.

"...but I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5:43)

Missionary Cenacle Meditations
During this novena I call your attention to the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, charity. Charity is the love of God, the love of our neighbor. The love of God demands us to do much for Him. How ardently I pray the Holy Spirit to infuse more into us the love of God. Pray often that you may have an abundance of this Fruit of holy Charity. Truly loving God you will surely love your neighbor. God’s love will make the burdens of life easy to bear. (p. 157)

For reflection
In baptism, I received the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is already mine. When in my life have I felt charity or compassion for someone who hurt or angered me?

A Great Tradition

Since 1913 our Community has maintained a perpetual novena to the Holy Spirit. Even though most of our Sisters pray this daily, missions are given an assigned time to pray the novena. This means almost one hundred years of an unbroken tradition!

During the nine days before Pentecost the enter Missionary Cenacle Family (Sisters, the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate, the lay branch, as well as our Brothers, and the Blessed Trinity Missionary Institute) prays a novena to the Holy Spirit.

Will you join us in this tradition?

I am afraid I am starting a day late, but if we begin today, we can finish on the actual Feast of Pentecost, next Sunday.

Our Sisters in Trinta have prepared a novena that provides a brief reflection from Sacred Scripture, a meditation from our Founder, Fr. Thomas Judge, CM and a we as a personal reflection.

I believe this novena is a wonderful tool for spiritual growth.