Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks for my life!

Recently in Massachusetts, the state where I was born, there was a question on the ballot about "Death with Dignity". The details of the ballot question can be read at the following link.,_Question_2_(2012)

The question was defeated by a small margin but hearing about it and hearing the opinions of some friends and family members really alarmed me.
It seems that people believe their life is theirs and theirs alone. The opinions I hear against the measure were all about distrust of doctors, of the methods used etc. Others felt it would be a good thing, a compassionate thing. Why should they suffer? There was no mention of God or the commandment, "Thou shall not kill".

Without that knowledge that our life is a gift from God it becomes easy to look at life as a disposable commodity. So when life gets painful or inconvenient since it's my own I can end it. Or if I'm carrying a child, it's my body so I can end that life if I want to.
I know there's lot of rhetoric on this topic. But the value of life seems to be overlooked more and more. I am grateful to God for my life , the lives of my loved ones and for the gift of the life of our incredible universe.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pray the Rosary

I have acquired a few daily habits over the years. One of them is praying the rosary. The Rosary was not my favorite prayer as a kid! It was too long and boring and we had to kneel and listen to Cardinal Cushing on the radio think nasal and grating. Well I've gotten over that and now it's part of the daily routine.  In the rosary one can meditate on the different aspects of the lives of Jesus and Mary and place in Jesus' hands whatever needs, sorrows, joys and thanksgivings that arise in one's heart and mind.
The Rosary is a mobile prayer app. You can take it with you wherever you go. Which was part of its' original appeal. One didn't need to be in Church with the books required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

Through the years the Blessed Mother is the one to whom I would often turn for help in praying for others, especially people's  more serious needs.

Below are some wonderful resources for praying the rosary.

The one I use everyday is a podcast of the rosary found at this site:

No extra prayers just the rosary nicely lead by Fr. Michael McGovern of the Church of St. Mary, Lake Forest, IL

For a printed how to pray the Rosary: 
Busted Halo has a bunch of reflections on the Rosary as well as some questions and answers.
Since it's said St. Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady herself here the Dominicans site on the Rosary:

Our friends at Wikipedia have an interesting article:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Instruments of God

The Spirit of God wants to use you; you are His instruments. You are tools with which He is going to chisel out salvation for many souls. You are to work upon the lives of others. Fr. Thomas A. Judge, CM

Two instruments of God who had/have a profound effect on my life died this past month. One I've known since I entered the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity on September 17, 1978. The other I never met in person and I'm sure he had no awareness of my existence, yet his work as a Biblical scholar has influenced my thoughts and actions for the good.
Sr. Francis Michael Proulx died August 12.  Each of her mission responsibilities included cooking, housekeeping and maintenance responsibilities. Whatever she did she did with love. In one of her evaluations of her ministry she wrote: “I am happy...being here for my Sisters, my way of thinking is,  a well fed Sister is a better Missionary. Please God, I will be able to cook and serve God in this way.”
In so many ways Sr. Francis Michael paid attention to others. She noticed if you were happy or sad. Her caring included everyone she met in the providence of her daily life, our staff in the Motherhouse, doctors, nurses, people she knew from her contacts in local stores and her family. Till her last day she was helping people whether they needed a listening ear, referrals to counseling or a cheerful smile of encouragement.

Carlo Maria Martini died August 31st. Several years ago I became aware of Cardinal Martini because his book, "The Joy of the Gospel" was mentioned in a workshop that I was attending. Thanks to the speaker, a professor of Biblical Studies at the Seminary in Philly at the time, I gained access to a writer who combined his deep understanding of scripture with great knowledge of the everyday needs of Christians.
From the news reports Cardinal Martini was considered liberal or progressive. He gave an interview to an Italian daily Corriere della Sera. shortly before his death calling for the Church leadership to reform, "The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation," he said.
I must admit I do agree that the wounds left from the pedophilia scandals continue to fester. The response from Church leadership in many diocese has been lacking, leaving many of the wounds to victims and their families and others unhealed.
These two people, so very different in many ways were so very alike in that their lives were centered in Jesus.
He authored many such books and devoted much of his time to the youth and young adults of his Archdiocese, Milan, Italy. Another big favorite of mine is his book, "The Gifts of the Holy Spirit"

For the instruments they were in my life and the lives of many others I give thanks and praise to God.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    What I do

    Well it's 4:30 AM and I'm awake because I started to think about the events of yesterday. Which actually was pretty typical of what my days are like. So then why am I awake now? Maybe to just put it all in God's hands.

    Mornings I usually start with a walk. I have some prayer podcasts that I regularly download so as I walk I pray the rosary with listen to a reading and reflection from the daiIy Mass that the British Jesuits do, called "pray as you go" Next is Mass, breakfast prayers and work. So that's how I started off yesterday. The opening song for was "You Lord Are in this Place" by Keith Duke, a kind of harmonic chant about the presence of God filling all aspects of life.
    In our offices, known as the Generalate, there's five of us in a wing of our Mother Boniface Center. It's named for our first General Custodian, Mother Boniface Keasey, a beautiful, holy and courageous woman.

    Sometimes our Sisters wonder what we do. Well yesterday was Tuesday. First I answered some phone messages. A couple from our sisters about how to fill out an online survey we sent them and some financial questions. That took an hour or so. Then it's on to e-mails. A couple of Sisters are coming to Philadelphia after many, many, many years of ministry. They're anxious about packing and how to close their Cenacle. So I answered some questions about that. They're also worried because some Parishioners asked them about the LCWR investigation by the Bishops. One of the Sisters hoped we would remain part of the Church. I assured her we would! I feel bad that this Sister after over 60 years of a life of dedication to God, the Church and God's people should have to worry about this. We are cursed with living in interesting times.

    Then I call another Sister to make a date to talk. Her position was eliminated by the recent layoffs from the Archdiocese. Alternate sources of income are hard to come by but the priests and other folks with whom she works are looking into it. It's getting harder for us to serve the people we want to. The parishes of the poor just don't have the money to pay us and unfortunately we can't afford to work for nothing. Maybe we'll hit the lottery. Oh yeah you have to buy a ticket.

    After lunch I worked on to photo formatting, a project started in June! Maybe it will get done before August. More calls to our sisters, an e-mail or two then some filing of papers. It's an exciting job which I usually leave till the piles get to me.

    The last couple of hours are spent in more individual meetings with sisters.
    One is going off to school so we discussed the details of that upcoming adventure for her. Then I visit with another sister who is recovering from back surgery.

    Usually we on the General Council meet together for 3 -5 days to report on our activities, updates on various sisters who are in some kind of transition and plan together for the future of our community. July however is one of the two months we don't meet as its a month for retreat and vacation.

    We often eat at our Motherhouse. We have a great food service so it makes sense to eat there and enjoy the company of our sisters. The five of us have evening prayer together at 7 PM. We five live in the oldest building on our grounds. A big, old mansion type building which is regarded as beautiful by many. Our chapel on the first floor has beautiful old windows. In July its a bit warm as we're in Philadelphia. The rest of the evening is spent with a little TV, then some reading and bed. Not too thrilling except that I get to support the sisters who are trying to
    carrying out their small part of building up the Kingdom of God.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    From our beginnings as a group the Missionary Cenacle Family has had a devotion to God the Holy Spirit. Our founder Fr. Judge imbued the earliest members with the necessity of constant prayer especially to the Holy Spirit. This would help us to be more under the influence of the Holy Spirit and to make sure our actions were under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and not our own desires or blind judgement.

    Recently I came across this quote which sums up my  belief in the Holy Spirit,
    The Spirit of God is like our breath.  God's spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves.  We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a "spiritual life."   It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy.  It is the Holy Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy.  Let us always pray:  "Come, Holy Spirit, come."

    Henry Nouwen

    Although I knew about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost as we said pre-Vatican II from my earliest memories, it was my sister Terry who first taught me that the Holy Spirit would offer guidance and oh so many other gifts to stir our daily living in God's direction.
    Asking for the Spirit's guidance and power in daily decisions and actions has become a habit. I know it's given me the power and drive to do so many things that I would never dare do on my own, from quitting smoking 30 years ago, daring to speak Spanish, however badly accented, to being able to make decisions about my life and those of others as a member of our General Council. For me the important thing is the daily prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit. So many times a thought or idea has come to me that I know did not exist in my mind beforehand. When those thoughts and ideas prove to be part of  a plan or project with good fruits it is plain that the Spirit is at work.

    Last year one of our sister shared a reflection on the Holy Spirit which included this annotated prayer:

    When the Holy Spirit comes to live within a person, she cannot cease to pray because the Holy Spirit prays within her without ceasing. Whether she sleeps or is awake, the work of prayer is always in her heart. 
    While she is resting or sharing or working, the incense of prayer rises spontaneously from her heart. 

    This prayer of the Spirit is not limited by a determined time or place.It cannot be interrupted. Even the silence within a person becoming free is itself already prayer.

    Her thoughts are gently inspired by God.  The slightest movement
    of her heart becomes a voice which silently and secretly sings and
    chants in the presence of the faithful, loving Trinity!
    taken form St. Issac the Syrian – 7th Century

    May the knowledge and love of the Holy Spirit spread to every human being.

    For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’Acts 17:28

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Obedient Unto Death

    Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality 
    with God something to be grasped.
    Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

    CrucIfix Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat
    Photo by Sr. Nancy Walsh MSBT
    Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name
    which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    Phil. 2: 6 - 11

    Sometimes I wonder what kind of God is this that comes among us with such vulnerability? All the values of our society: to have things, to be important and powerful, to be in control, even to be well regarded by others seem unimportant in the life of Jesus. 

    The usual response to violence is to seek justice, even revenge. We want the one who hurt us to be hurt. 
    Jesus asks for forgiveness for his tormentors. 

    This rejection of power, this putting oneself in the hands of others is disturbing. For me it means I need to look at my motives everyday in order to follow this Jesus who gave himself over to us for love.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Religious Liberty, Catholic Institutions and the U.S. Government

    After graduating from Catholic University with my new degree in Social Work in 1990, I went to work at NYC Catholic Charities Family Services office in the lower east side of Manhattan. There were four to five MSBTs working there. We offered some counseling to families and individuals (non therapeutic), advocacy, budget advice, direct services, food and much, much more. 
    People knew we were Catholic and that we served everybody for free. Sometimes a woman would come in and tell me they were pregnant and couldn't handle another child for some reason. I would say to her, you came here to this office. Please tell me the name of this office. They would answer "Catholic Charities". I would then say " what do you think I'm going to say to you about your pregnancy?" Sometimes the woman would smile and say "I know sister" or say "I'm going to need help with getting what I need to have this baby" or "I need you to talk to my husband, boyfriend, mother, father, etc." We would always work with them to get the help they needed to have their baby and get the needed services be they counseling, financial assistance, referrals, etc. 

    Our clients were smart they knew if they were looking for services regarding birth control and abortion they did not go to Catholic Charities. They knew where to go for what service.

    Many such Catholic agencies and Institutions are staffed by lay people now. It seems to me that the days of such Institutions  are numbered. I believe the new guidelines about Medical, Educational and Service Institutions having to provide birth control services in employee health plans will mean big changes in Church run services.

    Recently in Philadelphia there was an announcement that many schools will be closing next year.
    The factor behind these closings is money. Not enough of it. But I wonder how many such Institutions will need to be closed now as Catholic Schools, Hospitals and Agencies will need to choose between disobeying Federal Law or God's Law.

    Secretary Sebelius said  "This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty," she said. "I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services."
    Well they may think it's an appropriate balance but I disagree. I think the disregard for religious liberty in this matter is unbalanced and will have significant consequences.
    I wonder if this means there will be fewer educational, health and service institutions run by religious groups? Maybe this will mean Church resources will have to be removed from such institutions and spent on more explicitly religious services such as religious instruction of children and adults. 
    Now I know many people think we Catholics are wrong if not crazy about this issue. But don't we have a right to honor what we know to be right? If you work for a religious organization don't you expect the organization to be run according to certain values and beliefs. 
    I think religious liberty is being severely challenged in the United States today. I know for myself I an not comfortable in either of the main political parties of the U.S. My beliefs about how I treat undocumented people is considered illegal in some states and now this Health Insurance & birth control issue forces institutional behavior which I consider wrong. What's next I wonder?