Monday, April 30, 2012

St. Catherine of Siena and the Truth

St. Catherine of Siena prayed to know eternal truth. St. Catherine was often challenged and at times ridiculed. She was even called an "ignorant little woman." One day a Franciscan scholar and an Augustinian Brother decided to challenge her as they felt it their duty "to speak to her so that she may see her errors.." The two theologians decided to question her, in the midst of a large group. And so the story goes:
Now Master Gabriele lived in his convent in the style of a cardinal. He had had the walls taken down between three cells to make himself a spacious room; his bed was provided with curtains and rugs of silk; he possessed books and many other things worth many hundred ducats. Catherine knew this and suddenly she upset all the snares which the Franciscan had prepared for her and told him to be ashamed of the life that he, a son of St. Francis dared to live. 'How is it possible for you to understand anything of that which pertains to the Kingdom of who live only for the world and to be honored and esteemed by men? Your learning is of but little use to others and only harms yourself, for you seek the shell, not the core. For the sake of Jesus Christ Crucified, do not live this way any longer'!
Her words struck the heart, mind and soul of the learned Franciscan. He took the keys from his belt and handed them to Catherine. He looked around the room and shouted, "Is there no one present here who will go to my cell and take everything he finds there and give it to the poor?"
Both of those learned men changed their lives dramatically from that day on. They both gave away all their possessions to the poor and lived humbly for the rest of their lives.
They had been challenged by a living saint and a doctor of the Church and by God's piercing truth.

O eternal Trinity, my sweet love! You light, give us light
You, wisdom, give us wisdom, You, supreme strength,
strengthen us,
Today, eternal God, let our cloud be dissipated so that we may
perfectly know and follow your truth, in truth, with a free and simple heart.
St. Catherine

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pope Benedict's Common Sense Down-To-Earth Advice

At the end of Pope Benedict's weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square, he gave some good common sense advice to the pilgrims present. Speaking in Italian, he offered prayers for those who have lost their lives in recent traffic accidents in Italy and sympathy for their relatives. He mentioned the need for people to "drive carefully and with a sense of responsibility." Let's hope and pray the pilgrims and the Italians heed his advice.
I've been to Italy twice, once in the 1970's with my cousin and another time with my son who accompanied me on a Italian pilgrimage during the Jubilee Year 2000.  I love Italy and can't wait to return. In the 1970's when I went with my cousin, we flew into Stuttgart, Germany where my cousin bought a brand new Mercedes Benz and we then drove it through Germany, Switzerland and Italy. I will never forget my cousin driving on the German autobahn, in a brand new car, driving close to a 100 mph. She was not alone, it seemed like everyone was driving that fast. There is no general speed limit on the autobahns only an advisory speed limit of 81 mph.  I was a teenager at the time and it was a thrilling experience and one I will never forget. The car was eventually shipped from Sicily, where we finally wound up, back to the United States.
It was a trip of a lifetime. But from my experience (and granted that was a long time ago), I think the Pope gave Europeans some very good and needed advice. Driving carefully and mindfully and with a sense of responsibility is not only a civic duty and common sense, but it can save lives.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fr. James Martin, S.J. Supports Nuns

Fr. James Martin, prolific writer and speaker has started a twitter drive, WhatSistersMeanToMe according to a HuffPost article I read. He's doing it to show support to nuns in the United States, (The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in particular) who have come under scrutiny of late by the Vatican.
I wonder why the Vatican didn't handle this delicate situation differently. Why does this have to play out in the media? Couldn't this of been handled behind closed doors with recommendations given to the Sisters in private, if officials in the Vatican thought changes should be made? How would Jesus have handled this matter? More compassionately I think. But anyhow, Fr. Martin wrote this to the Huffington Post in explaining his twitter campaign-
"Catholic Sisters are my heroes. In light of the Vatican's desire to renew and reform their main organizing body, The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, I think it would be a great time to speak a word of support for Catholic Sisters to acknowledge the hidden ways that these women have generously served God, the poor and served this country." In all respect to Fr. Martin, I don't think anyone is questioning the generosity of Catholic nuns. We've all benefited from their generosity, in many ways. I've read many supportive and encouraging tweets as a result of Fr. Martin's effort.
This morning I read an editorial in the "New York Times" supporting the Sisters as well. Titled "American Nuns, Conscience and the Vatican," it noted the "very fine work in schools, charities, prisons and impoverished neighborhoods being done by about 60,000 nuns across the nation.............The nuns clearly are caught in a classic crossfire of church doctrine, politics and hierarchical obedience. It would be a tragedy, far beyond the Church, if their fine work and their courageous voices were constrained."
I think some damage control is necessary. What would Jesus do to straighten this out?

One of the tweets read as follows-WhatSistersMeanToMe-

"They taught me what love was during a very dark time in my life"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Say It Ain't So-Tebow Booed in NY

Could it be possible that New York fans at Yankee Stadium booed Tim Tebow, who showed up at a Yankee game wearing a Yankee cap as he was shown on a giant video board? I can hardly believe the story. What was that about? Tim Tebow should be welcomed with cheers. He's a wonderful addition to the New York Jets and the New York scene. New York fans can be fickle it seems. Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager would have given him a warm welcome, but he didn't get a chance to see him. Tebow brought the Yankees luck, as they won on Sunday night.
Christians will always be persecuted. Jesus said so. You can never please everyone, some people will like you in life, others won't. Christians are suppose to build each other up, but that doesn't always happen. That's why when I speak to children about faith, I always tell them that Jesus is their best friend and the one true friend they can always count on. Recently I was in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn speaking to children preparing to receive First Communion and I asked them what the best thing about Jesus was. One little boy came up to the microphone and said in a loud voice, with much conviction, "Jesus loves me, NO MATTER WHAT!" That was the perfect statement.
I'm sure fickle NY fans haven't worried Tebow a bit. He has a lot to be grateful for. Besides his talent and his willingness to be a great Christian witness, on Easter Sunday he preached to a cheering crowd of over 15,000 people at a Protestant Church in Texas. He stressed that we should all put God at the center of our lives. He has his priorities straight so booing won't bother him for long.
Let's hope in the months ahead those boos turn into cheers.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Blessed Easter

A Blessed Easter and Easter Season to All

Today as I put my house back in order, after yesterday's Easter dinner celebration it will give me time to reflect on the beautiful gift that Easter Sunday was. The liturgy at my parish church was perfect, the choir extraordinary and the pastor's homily very good. He spoke in his homily about the book the entire parish was given at the beginning of Lent to read, "Rediscover Catholicism," by Matthew Kelly. Parishioners were asked to read the book during Lent, reflect upon the wisdom in it and then share it with someone else. Matthew Kelly is a gift to the Church- a great evangelizer and a good writer. He gets to the heart of matters in a clear and concise way. Yes, we should all try to become the best-version-of-ourselves and with Jesus' help, Scripture, Church traditions and rituals and the examples of the saints, it is possible and attainable this side of heaven. But it takes work and discipline and like all things worth having and striving for in life, effort is needed to stay the course. The book is challenging and though I've read in other places, a lot of what he's written, it's good to be reminded of it and it's easy reading.  It's a good book for Catholics to read in any liturgical season and I've heard of other parishes giving out the book, which is a great idea. Every Catholic Christian can become the best-version-of-themselves with and through Christ and with some good spiritual reading and prayer. 
At Mass I was given a reminder of  how important it is to stay focused in life on what's really important and not to worry about trivialities. In the pew in front of where my family sat, was a family with a young woman who was physically and mentally challenged. Her mother was very attentive to her during Mass, hugging her, wiping her face with a cloth when needed, trying her best to keep the young woman calm and relaxed. But the woman would make erratic movements from time to time and noises she couldn't control. Her sister sat next to them. When I would kneel during Mass, I was very close to the disabled woman as she sat back in the pew in front of me. So close that I could see that her life must be difficult and her mother's life too must not be easy at all. And though I'm sure they are blessed in many ways and the love between them was evident, it once again reminded me that some people have it more difficult than others in life. Perhaps they don't complain but it takes effort for all of them just to get through the day, just to get out of the pew, to receive Communion and leave the Church. Struggling with pride, love and hope. Coming to Church to receive Jesus and to receive hope. 
As I go about my day today, straightening up my house, planting some Easter plants, I'll say a prayer for that family, that they get inner strength from the love they have for each other, the commitment they have to their faith and from their prayers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jeremy Lin's Injury a Holy Week Trial

How sad that the talented Jeremy Lin has a torn meniscus on his left knee and will most likely be out for the rest of the season, until it heals. He will need surgery, recovery time and hopefully he'll be back on the court, with the Knicks, next season. I'm sure he's upset as well as his close knit family. And then there are the millions of fans in the U.S. and in China. The timing is a little strange, his extraordinary basketball career halted (for the time being) so close to the time when Christians reflect on the rejection, suffering and death of Jesus. An uncanny coincidence.
Jeremy and his family will handle this setback with the same deep faith, persistent prayer, patience and perseverance that they've handled every situation.
They are people of faith and they have an advantage because of that. Their belief in God and the "fruit" of their prayer life gives them inner strength and courage, in good times and bad. It's a proven fact that people who have faith and believe in God handle crisis' better, bounce back from disappointments and loss quicker, and have a great support group in their faith community.  Of course, Jeremy and his family will be able to count on the friendship, support and prayers of their family as well as their Church community. It means a lot and I know that from first hand experience.
I'm sure Jeremy Lin is able to put this all in perspective and realize it's a temporary set-back and trial (please God!). Everyone will storm heaven. After all, he's such a good role model for children, a great witness of faith for believing children (and adults) everywhere. I, for one, will be saying a prayer for him, for his quick recovery, while I'm in Church this week. Like other Christians, I will be spending a lot of time in Church this week.......
May you have a Blessed and Fruitful Holy Week.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)