Sunday, December 19, 2010


This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Looking at Joseph 2000 plus years later, we might think well of course he'd do the right thing by Mary and when he was guided by his dream follow up by trusting the angel's words to him about her. But he didn't know the ending that we know. His decision was made based on his relation with God and most likely with Mary. This is the thing about making decisions we don't always know the outcome.

Joseph could have done the easy thing; the morally acceptable and legally approved thing. Let Mary be shamed, probably stoned for adultery and get on with his life. But no, his intention was to act righteously with generosity and mercy. And after being visited by the angel in his dream his response was to do as the angel of the Lord told him.
He thought only to do the right thing. We don't know what this meant to Joseph. Yet his decisions, his actions and his treatment of Mary and Jesus have impacted believers throughout the ages. 

Joseph would probably not have been invited to the talk shows of his day, or wherever famous people of his age
were extolled. He was just a regular guy with a regular job trying to do the right thing and trying to be just and merciful. Not famous just essential.
Art by Sr. Richard Mehren, CSJ
These are the people we don't often hear about. Hopefully everyone has someone like this in their life. 
These men, women, youth and children who through grace and training act with integrity, justice and mercy.
Like Joseph they don't talk a whole lot but their actions say it all.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Life is a Gift of God

I've come to know that following Christ is all about how you are, how you act every day. That's the thing about Jesus. His teachings attract people for sure but when I think of why I love Jesus the first thing that comes to me is the way he is with people in the scriptures.

I've been thinking of one of Jesus' followers who recently died. Sr. Ann Miriam Gallagher, MSBT was well loved by many. Here's some of the comments people have made in the wake of her death:
  • Her smile and spirit could light up a room. 
  • Sr Ann was a gift to everyone she touched. I am honored to have known her and worked with her.
  • Sr Ann came into my life when I truly needed spiritual guidance and a friend I could trust.
  • Sr Ann was a gift. She made my faith real to me.
  • Simple gifts are what you teach. And you place them right in reach. Within each of us. And we will never be the same.
  • I feel privleged to have known her.
  •  She was the kindest person I have ever known.

She lived her life as a person who believed in God and in the resurrection of Jesus. Armed with this faith she added own gifts of person and disposition and shared her joy in God's goodness with others
in the most ordinary yet uplifting ways. She was ever about lifting people up of pointing out the good, the holy and what was of God.The thing is, she did it in such a down to earth way. She was life giving in a way that inspired you to be your best self. Always, she sought to try & understand people.

We do miss you Ann. It helps me to remember that our life is a gift from God. The people in our lives are gifts freely given to us, yet not to be possessed. So I try to let go and rejoice in your being home. Perhaps in your new mode of life you can help us who knew you to be life-givers in our daily life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What would you be doing that's so important anyway?

"it is love alone that gives worth to all things" Teresa of Avila
The other day a few of us were discussing some of the events going on in the life of our families. All of us have parents, siblings, in-laws, nephews, uncles, aunts etc. in all the stages of life with all the challenges of those stages.
We were focused on the topic of raising children and some recent hair raising stories our family members had mentioned to us, requesting prayers for their child. At the end of this sharing someone said "we're spoiled we don't have to deal with that."
It's true, one of the benefits of being a vowed religious is we don't get married, have children and suffer the difficulties that vocation can entail. Well, nor do we enjoy the great benefits and joys of the married vocation either. Later I thought about how we were glad that we didn't have to deal with the pains of parenting. I wonder if when people look at our life from the perspective of married life?
Do they think, Thank God I don't have to deal with that! One thing I know from years of experience working with families and with sisters, priests and brothers; life is composed of both joy and sorrow and mostly the  ordinary.

Living out one's vocation is mostly about the ordinary I think. I see my nieces and nephews with their kids and it's a pleasure to see how they cherish the daily stuff of their lives. It's also a witness and reminder to me to cherish the daily stuff of mine. 

Many years ago one of my siblings, no names here, was complaining to my mother about life as a spouse and parent. My mother, 
Vera was her name and she was a truth teller for sure, said," what would you be doing that's so important anyway"?

Phew, it seemed a bit harsh at the time, but it's true, life is not like the movies or TV where everyday is a big drama. 
This day that I have, this is my important thing I have to do, even if it involves the ordinary tasks of life, like doing the laundry, which for me is imperative, or I won't look presentable for the rest. 
So I pray to have the grace of being present to the people, the tasks and the thoughts God gives me today. May I cherish them and give thanks to God for them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Blessed Mother

Our Lady of Grace
Yesterday was September 8th the day Catholics celebrate the birth of Mary. Now we don't know if it's her 'real' birthday but we celebrate the fact that such a faith-filled follower of Christ was born.

Recently a distant relative who is an evangelical christian decided to play the "let's go pepper the family nun with irritating questions about a cherished belief" game.

I say this because I often get stuck at family and other gatherings having to listen to people challenge the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Usually I don't mind and take it as part of the territory.
This recent one kind of got to me because it was at the lunch after the funeral of my oldest brother John.  I was a bit numb and having to listen to a someone telling me that we shouldn't pay so much attention to Mary
and why do we anyhow was to say the least trying.

Well I know some people are so incredibly self centered and lacking in social development they just can't help themselves. Sigh!

Anyhow I offered up a prayer asking for the Blessed Mother's intercession once again and listened.
After a while I gave my simple little summation about her

She believed and trusted in God
She gave her life over to God
She gave up her son to God
She believed in Jesus call as the Son of God
Jesus on the Cross gave her to us as our Mother

He paused about one second, then clearly not having listened, shook his head and started telling me how all these people here we're clueless about the evil in their lives and surely damned, etc. etc. etc.
My response was this was I was putting my money on Jesus the Son of the Living God having overcome all evil. These so-called evil people had been generous enough to come to the Funeral Mass and burial of my brother so I figured they had some link to the goodness of God. At that I excused myself as I could feel my impatience winning out over my numbness. Thanks Blessed Mother for your help once again.
I'm sure glad you're around.

The center and sun of the spiritual life

Today's Saint is St. Pius X. Pope from1903 - 1914 he is known for his advocacy of frequent reception of communion for adults and sacramental preparation for children. The founder of my community Fr. Thomas A. Judge was greatly influenced by the writing of Pius X and taught his followers of the important of frequent reception of Holy Communion and of instructing children regarding the faith.

Being able to go to Mass and receive Communion was a big deal in my family and I can well remember when I was old enough to do so. My Mother told us stories of her Father who was brought up at a time when receiving the Sacrament was reserved to once a year. As an adult he would go to Saturday confession during the Easter Season, then for the rest of the day his kids were forbidden to talk to him or make much noise so they would not cause him to sin before he went to Mass and Communion on Sunday. He regarded his children's practice of confession and communion every two weeks as nearly scandalous.
She always felt that he would have been a happier man if his beliefs had not been so rigid and guilt ridden.

I can't even imagine receiving Communion only once a year. For me trying to live as a follower of Jesus is possible because of the gift of the Eucharist. The real presence of the Christ is at the center of my life.

Here's a link to what some others say about what the Holy Eucharist means to them:

The Blessed Sacrament is the center and sun of the spiritual life. It is the food of our starved and
parched souls. Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Seek good and not evil, that you may live

Seek good and not evil,that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;

We were challenged at Mass today as the priest suggested that we are kind of lackadaisical about evil.
Everybody seemed calm at hearing him and I thought, "wow all these women who are regular prayers, have done so much good for others; are doing so much for others all in the name of God, Father, Son and Spirit. Could it be we are accepting of evil?"

 It's true there is so much going on in our world that is touched by evil for example:

child abuse
trafficking of human beings
corruption in business and government
drugs and all that goes with them
gang activity with all that goes with that
lack of food, shelter, health care for so many, while some are super rich.

I'm not going to belabor this list although there's lots more.

It can seem so overwhelming that it's hard to know where to start.
I can only think that I start right in my own daily life and with my own daily choices.
Evil is not a huge foreign thing out there taking over people's wills and forcing them to do wrong.
"They" are not evil but their actions are.
Hating evil and loving good means being conscious of all the many choices 
to do good, to speak what is good, to hold up the idea of the good.

The temptation to choose the evil action, to say the evil words, to not do the good can be so very strong. We cannot choose the good without God's grace.

Any triumph of good over evil is possible because of Jesus Christ., who gave His life for us on the cross. Jesus by His death on the  cross and His resurrection overcame sin. 
The Cross is our constant reminder. In the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is victory over sin and evil, but at great sacrifice. The Cross is our constant reminder that it costs us to make the choice for good. 

The Cross is a sign that provokes us to love, to worship, to gratitude, to thanksgiving, to service. But for the mysteries of that Cross our destiny would be too hideous to think about. The Cross is our hope, our joy, our peace and consolation. It is a blessed pledge of a happy future, a happy eternity. We cannot look upon that Cross without knowing that thereupon was paid the price of our soul's salvation.  Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mystery of the Trinity

As Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity we, of course, are attuned to all mention of the Trinity. According to our rule of life the first thing we seek to do with our lives is to glorify the Triune God. 
So Trinity Sunday is a big deal for us. 
I came across the following quote while on retreat at our beautiful retreat house in Alabama, aptly named Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat.

By mystery we do not mean something that is so beyond our knowledge and understanding that we might as well not bother to even think about it.
Rather it a mystery is a truth so profound, so full that it continually must be unfolded,revealed, made known  and even with all that reflection and prayer and study for all the ages, the fullness of what the mystery of the Trinity contains can never be exhausted! - working on finding the source for this-

 We cannot reach the end of God. There is always newness, always another lesson of love to be experienced.  We experience the love of those close to us through their presence and through their actions. So too with the Trinity. When I think of the actions of the Trinity right away three stand out, creation, my existence and the Eucharist. During the Eucharistic prayer there's a beautiful prayer said by the priest, an invocation of the Holy Spirit called the epiclesis.

In the epiclesis, the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit or the power of his blessing on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so that those who take part in the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit   
Catechism of the Catholic Church.

To me that's a great example of the Trinity in action. The Triune God is amazing, so awesome and beyond my understanding in some ways, but in many ways quite clear.  

Monday, April 26, 2010

Christ is Risen!

It is all about Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the reason for all the fuss.
" Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God's people!
For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!
This is night, when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night, when Jesus broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride."
From the Easter vigil exultet, one of my all time favorites!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Devotional Knowledge and the Incarnation

 This past Thursday was the Feast of the Annunciation. It’s always a big day for us as our founder Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM  cherished the  day in which the  “Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”.
This is the big salvation event when God gives the gift and grace of himself to Mary and to us. Knowledge of the mystery of the Incarnation; to know that God is with us and loves us so much that He became a part of us in the Lord Jesus was central to Fr. Judge. He urged that our knowledge of that mystery be a devotional knowledge. Devotional knowledge of the Incarnation means you know and understand the Incarnation (as much is as humanly possible). But it doesn't end there; that knowledge animates, inspires and bears fruit. You try to regularly pray about the Incarnation and put its meaning into practice. There is an end product that shows up in your behavior and actions.

Fr. Judge said, “The answer must be individual and personal. It may work around our
practice, it may bring us out of bed more promptly in the morning. It may make us more zealous in our morning  prayer and meditation, it may make us more alert and Eucharistic in the chapel and at the altar... It may increase fraternal charity in our relations with one another. It may show us more zealous and urge us to strive for a better knowledge of the value of the human soul and make us
forget ourselves that we may think more of God and do more for His honor and glory. In other words, its expression may be a greater piety and zeal or fraternal charity or self-sacrifice.”

Our Blessed Mother Mary, as a young, poor but faithful woman was able to place her trust in God’s gracious gift of love and accept this amazing gift of being the mother of the son of the Most High. She is certainly our model in how to respond wholeheartedly to our Lord.

For the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Annunciation is the day we make perpetual profession of vows or final vows. We also renew our vows every year on March 25th. This year the Feast was particularly joyful as our Sr. Christine Ma made Perpetual Profession of Vows and Sr. Janet Santibanez renewed her vows for one year.

Such a day reminds me of the “inexhaustible reservoir of God’s love for us”. It underscores the great graces God showers upon us.

For more on the Annunciation try Creighton University's Catholic Comments podcast at:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Open to Transcendance

A few weeks ago I read the article "Open to Transcendance" on the St. Louis University Liturgy site:  http: //   It's been on my mind ever since.

 The other day while flying I sat next to a woman who had lost all her material possessions in Katrina. Her home and her business were destroyed. I had the great grace to hear her journey from  anger and sadness  in the wake of her loss to joy and trust in God. She credits her change to the time she spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Over a few weeks the presence of the Lord gave her peace.

Her then temporary home in the city where she moved for refuge after Katrina happened to be very near a Church with 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. She knows this to have been no accident. She recognizes that she is not the one in control and that she is powerless. And that is okay with her as she knows that she can trust in God to lead her everyday.

I hope to continue to keep both the article and "the lady on the plane" in mind during Lent and beyond.  I hope to keep their knowledge that it is only by God's great love and grace that I have life.
As Paul said: "But by the grace of God I am what I am.." 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

...every economic decision has a moral consequence.

We had an electrical problem Sunday morning which caused two of our three buildings on Solly Ave. Philadelphia to be closed. So those of us who live in the two closed buildings moved to the spare rooms at our Motherhouse building. This is where our retired sisters live and where the main chapel and dining room are. We had  all we needed and more.
It was inconvenient, but how fortunate we are to have a place to go. In light of the situation in Haiti the inconvenience becomes a mere trifle.

I know life is unfair but it seems to me that we need to do much better at making our earthly existence more equitable. The plight of the Haitian people, who had bare subsistence before the earthquake and have had that destroyed, cries out to us.

I've been gradually reading Caritas In Veritate, the most recent encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. It's not exactly an 'easy read' but well worth the effort. I am reading it a section at a time as its’ density takes some time to digest.
In Chapter 3  Fraternity,  Economic and Civil Society, Pope Benedict reminds us that God is our source, our creator, the reason we exist. We cannot divorce any human activity from that basic truth. Everything we do needs to connect to that truth. He says "every economic decision has a moral consequence."
 Economic activity seems to be carried out by many without that connection. Applying this connection to our own lives means we must be much more conscious about so many of the seemingly small economic choices we make every day.  It means being generous with our wealth, attending to the source of the goods we buy and being mindful of the impact of our economic choices.

Does the soft cotton shirt I have come from child labor in India?  What’s it mean to that child if I don’t buy it? Finding out the answer to that question means some research and I want to just ignore it as I’m busy. But now I think I can’t ignore it.

The inequalities of this world which we see so evident in the earthquake in Haiti surely cry out to heaven of our self-centered greed and selfishness. Haiti's people and land have been raped over the centuries leaving the country with little to withstand natural disasters.
All those little decisions made by many people over the centuries have so negatively impacted the people of Haiti.

With this awareness that every economic decision has a moral consequence I know I don’t want my little choices to be part of anything of that nature.This is going to mean some changes.