Monday, December 9, 2019

Dec. 15 Third Sunday of Advent A

December 15, 2019   Third Sunday of Advent  A

Reading I:  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146 
Reading II:  James 5:7-10
Gospel:  Matthew 11:2-11

This Sunday is often referred to as "Gaudete Sunday."  This is due to the fact that the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass begins with the word 'Gaudete,' which means 'Rejoice.' We begin with the beautiful prayer: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). We are halfway through the Advent Season.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we are given hope about the coming of our Savior.  Isaiah even says that the desert and the dry land will rejoice. Psalm 146 continues the theme of God's faithfulness securing justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.

James, in the second reading, calls us to be patient as we await the Redeemer's coming. He reminds us how the farmer practices patience waiting for the precious fruit of the earth. He also gives examples of the patience and hardships of prophets who spoke on behalf of  God, reminding the people of  the Lord's commands.

In Matthew's Gospel, we find John the Baptist in prison. John, who had dedicated his life to preaching repentance for sin and pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God, was confused. He had been preaching about a God of retribution, echoing the prophet Amos. Now he is hearing that Jesus is preaching a God of love and mercy and healing people.

John sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus directly:"Are you the one to come or should we look for another?" John replies:

           Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their 
           sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead 
           are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And  
           blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."  (Matt. 11:4-6)

This response was even more confusing to John. Jesus was speaking out of the tradition of the prophet Isaiah and almost quotes him verbatim. He is stressing that the Lord is a God of love and mercy.

Although God is loving, merciful and just, it is difficult for us humans to wrap our finite minds around our infinite God. We have some who emphasize the justice of God and others his love and mercy. When God calls us home, we will have a better understanding. 

In the meantime, when we are way off track, God sends us messages through his Saints. For example, he appeared to St. Margaret Mary and showed her his Sacred Heart, a heart of love and mercy. That brought about the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Also, more recently we have the visions of St. Faustina with the Divine Mercy Image and devotion.

John the baptist,who was highly praised by Jesus, did the correct thing in sharing his confusion with Jesus and listening for his response. He gives us an example of how to deal with our own questions and confusion.

Reflection Question:  When you are confused or having doubts, do you go

to Jesus with them?  He understands. As a human he even said during his
Passion: "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?"

Spanish Translation
Tercer domingo de adviento

Lectura I: Isaías 35: 1-6a, 10
Salmo 146
Lectura II: Santiago 5: 7-10
Evangelio: Mateo 11: 2-11

Este domingo a menudo se conoce como "Domingo Gaudete". Esto se debe al hecho de que la Antífona de entrada para la Misa comienza con la palabra 'Gaudete', que significa 'Alégrate'. Comenzamos con la hermosa oración: "Regocíjate siempre en el Señor; nuevamente digo regocíjate. De hecho, el Señor está cerca" (Filipenses 4: 4-5). Estamos a mitad de la temporada de Adviento.

En la primera lectura del profeta Isaías, se nos da esperanza acerca de la venida de nuestro Salvador. Isaías incluso dice que el desierto y la tierra seca se alegrarán. El Salmo 146 continúa con el tema de la fidelidad de Dios asegurando justicia para los oprimidos y comida para los hambrientos.

James, en la segunda lectura, nos llama a ser pacientes mientras esperamos la venida del Redentor. Nos recuerda cómo el granjero practica la paciencia esperando el precioso fruto de la tierra. También da ejemplos de la paciencia y las dificultades de los profetas que hablaron en nombre de Dios, recordando al pueblo los mandamientos del Señor.

En el Evangelio de Mateo, encontramos a Juan el Bautista en prisión. John, que había dedicado su vida a predicar el arrepentimiento por el pecado y señalar a Jesús como el Cordero de Dios, estaba confundido. Había estado predicando sobre un Dios de retribución, haciéndose eco del profeta Amós. Ahora está escuchando que Jesús está predicando a un Dios de amor, misericordia y sanando a las personas.

Juan envía a algunos de sus discípulos a preguntarle directamente a Jesús: "¿Eres tú el que viene o deberíamos buscar a otro?" John responde:

Ve y dile a John lo que oyes y ves: los ciegos recuperan su la vista, 
el caminar cojo, los leprosos se limpian, los sordos oyen, 
los muertos son criados, los pobres tienen la buena noticia 
proclamada a ellos. 
Y bienaventurado el que no se ofende de mí "(Mateo 11: 4-6)

Esta respuesta fue aún más confusa para John. Jesús estaba hablando de la tradición del profeta Isaías y casi lo cita textualmente. Él está enfatizando que el Señor es un Dios de amor y misericordia.

Aunque Dios es amoroso, misericordioso y justo, es difícil para nosotros los humanos envolver nuestras mentes finitas alrededor de nuestro Dios infinito. Tenemos algunos que enfatizan la justicia de Dios y otros su amor y misericordia. Cuando Dios nos llame a casa, tendremos una mejor comprensión.

Mientras tanto, cuando estamos fuera de camino, Dios nos envía mensajes a través de sus santos. Por ejemplo, se le apareció a Santa Margarita María y le mostró su Sagrado Corazón, un corazón de amor y misericordia. Eso provocó la devoción al Sagrado Corazón. Además, más recientemente tenemos las visiones de Santa Faustina con la Imagen y la devoción de la Divina Misericordia.

Juan el bautista, que fue muy alabado por Jesús, hizo lo correcto al compartir su confusión con Jesús y escuchar su respuesta. Nos da un ejemplo de cómo lidiar con nuestras propias preguntas y confusión.

Pregunta de reflexión: cuando estás confundido o tienes dudas, vas a Jesús con ellos? Él entiende. Como humano, incluso dijo durante su Pasión: "Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿por qué me abandonaste?"

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our Lord often told his disciples “Do not fear.”  Mother Katharine often encouraged her Sisters not to fear in beginning a new mission or traveling far from home. If we have the Lord with us, as after Holy Communion, how can we fear? Ask the Lord to direct us, to show us the path He wishes us to take. Still confused? Go to Mary, the Blessed Mother. As Mother Katharine said, “In your doubts …. go to Mary as to your Mother. Speak to her familiarly as a Mother.” As a child, did you ever go to your father or mother when you were afraid, as during a severe storm or before an exam? The Blessed Mother has CENTURIES more experience and wisdom than our earthly mothers had! Go to Mary; ask her to spread her mantle of blue around you to shield you from your fears. Then, with the strength and grace received from Our Lord and the Holy Spirit, go forward.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Today’s readings are sprinkled with hope and anticipation rooted in patient waiting. Henri Nouwen, in a reflection entitled, “Radical Waiting” writes, “Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
In my younger years, I’d play this game with God, “Lord, if this is really your will, or if it is the right thing to do, give me a sign. Oh, and please do so by 2PM, before I have to pick up the kids from school.” Sometimes, I’d even be so bold as to suggest the sign!  Such bargaining, of course, was self-serving – feeding my controlling ego. I was so busy talking and moving on to the next order that I probably missed many revelations. Patient, expectant waiting was not part of my agenda. Thankfully, my relationship with God has deepened and moved in the direction of “Thy Will be done”, in Your Divine timing. Today’s questions come from a revering, sincere heart desirous of doing God’s will.
The insight given in the Gospel of St. John the Baptist makes John approachable. In his vulnerability, I recognize my own doubts and questions.  John dedicated himself 100% - a total giving of himself to Jesus and his mission – so it makes sense that John would want Blessed Assurance that Jesus is “The One.” Jesus and John shared a reciprocal love so much so that I believe Jesus felt John’s confusion.
I faced the challenge of seeing God in a different perspective when my youngest son came home from first grade (22 years ago) with his religion book. It was a story like book that spoke of kindness, forgiveness, love…what! I was shaking. How will my child learn about right from wrong, purgatory and hell? What on earth happened to the Baltimore Catechism where sin is clearly shown as black marks on a white milk bottle?  What seemed like sacrilege in that moment was my invitation to see the judgmental God that I learned about in the light of tenderness and compassion. As that year progressed, I came to realize that my life decisions had been based on fear of God rather than on love of God. A loving God is much more accessible. A loving God is open to my questions and concerns because we both desire the closeness for which I yearn.
So on this Gaudete Sunday, I pray and await the peace and joy of Christmas Day and anticipate the new ways that God will work in and through me as I continue along my spiritual journey in the year ahead.  As I receive the Eucharist today, my soul rejoices that my Savior loves me so much that he makes His home in the crib of my heart.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dec. 8, 2019 The 2nd Sun. of Advent/ Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception 

Reading I: 
Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm:  72

Reading II:  Romans 15:4-9

Matthew 3: 1-12

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated each year on December 8. It commemorates the special privilege of being conceived without original sin. It was fitting that the future Mother of Jesus would be sinless from conception. William Wordsworth in his poem: “The Virgin,” hails her as “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”

Last week, we focused on the Father’s love shown by his sending his only begotten son to redeem us. Then we focused on the love and sacrifices made by Jesus, Mary and Joseph during the birth, life and death of our Savior.

This week we are looking to the Second Coming of Jesus as Judge. It is often referred to as the Parousia, a Greek word meaning an arrival or coming. It was usually used in reference to a King or Emperor. Since Jesus Christ is our King we use it to describe his coming as our Judge at the end of time.

The Second Coming will be a public judgment. We do not know exactly how this will all happen since our minds are limited. However, if we trust in Jesus, we will not be fearful. We know that he is just, but he is also merciful, as seen in his interaction with people in his human lifetime.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has an excellent explanation of the Last Judgment
# 678-9
                  Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus
                  announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will
                  the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to                         
                  light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s
                  grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude about our neighbor
                  will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.  On the
                  last day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the
                  least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

                 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment
                 on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the
                 world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given 
                 “all judgement to the Son. Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to
                  save and to give the life that he has in himself.  By rejecting grace                     in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s
and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting
                 the Spirit of love.”

It is important to ask daily for perseverance in God's grace. By saying the “Hail Mary,” we ask our heavenly mother’s help:
                         Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
                         Blessed are you among women, and blessed is
                         the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
                         Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
                         now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

  Reflection Question:   In the midst of the busyness and demands our daily lives, how can we remember to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción

La fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción se celebra cada año el 8 de diciembre.  Conmemora el privilegio especial de ser concebida sin pecado original. Era apropiado que la futura Madre de Jesús no tuviera pecado desde la concepción. William Wordsworth en su poema: “La Virgen,” la aclama como “El alarde solitario de nuestra naturaleza contaminada”.

La semana pasada, nos enfocamos en el amor del Padre demostrado al enviar a su hijo unigénito para redimirnos. Luego nos enfocamos en el amor y los sacrificios hechos por Jesús, María y José durante el nacimiento, la vida y la muerte de nuestro Salvador.

Esta semana estamos viendo la Segunda Venida de Jesús como Juez. A menudo se le conoce como la parusía, una palabra griega que significa llegada o venida. Por lo general, se usaba en referencia a un Rey o Emperador. Como Jesucristo es nuestro Rey, lo usamos para describir su venida como nuestro Juez al final de los tiempos.

La segunda venida será un juicio público. No sabemos exactamente cómo sucederá todo esto ya que nuestras mentes son limitadas. Sin embargo, si confiamos en Jesús, no tendremos miedo. Sabemos que es justo, pero también es misericordioso, como se ve en su interacción con las personas en su vida humana.

El Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica tiene una excelente explicación del Juicio Final. # 678-9
                  Siguiendo los pasos de los profetas y Juan el Bautista, Jesús
                  anunció el juicio del último día en su predicación. Luego será
                  la conducta de cada uno y los secretos de los corazones serán llevados
                  a ligero. Entonces será la incredulidad culpable que contó la oferta de
                  Dios gracia como nada sea condenado. Nuestra actitud hacia nuestro
                  prójimo revelará la aceptación o rechazo de la gracia y el amor divino.
                  Sobre el último día Jesús dirá: “De cierto te digo, como lo hiciste a
                  uno de los 
menos de estos mis hermanos, me lo hiciste a mí”.

                  Cristo es el Señor de la vida eterna. Derecho completo a emitir un
                  juicio definitivo en las obras y los corazones de los hombres le
                  pertenece como redentor de la mundo. Él "adquirió" este derecho
                  por su cruz. El padre ha dado “Todo juicio al Hijo. Sin embargo,
                  el Hijo no vino a juzgar, sino a 
salvar y dar la vida que tiene en sí
                  mismo. Al rechazar la gracia 
en esta vida, uno ya se juzga a sí
                  mismo, recibe de acuerdo con 
funciona, e incluso puede
                  condenarse por toda la eternidad al 
rechazar el espíritu de amor ”.

Es importante pedir diariamente perseverancia en la gracia de Dios. Al decir “Ave María,” le pedimos ayuda a nuestra madre celestial:
                          Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor está contigo.
                         Bendita eres entre las mujeres, y bendita es
                         El fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
                         Santa María, madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores.
                         ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén.

  Pregunta de Reflexíon:   En medio del ajetreo y las demandas de nuestra vida cotidiana, ¿cómo podemos recordar prepararnos para la segunda venida de Jesús?


Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

We can prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus by preparing for Jesus’ Coming to us every time we received Communion. By being mindful of the present moment, and by being the best Christian we can be every day, we are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. St. Katharine often advised the Sisters to live in the present moment and not to dwell on past missteps. We can do this by living in the present moment with its opportunities to hear the call of Jesus.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

What comes to mind in answer to your question is to develop the habit of praying the Morning Offering daily upon rising. This beautiful prayer is offered through Mary Immaculate who will clear it of any weakness or messiness and deliver it to Jesus. Our entire day – prayers, works, joys and sorrows – is offered as a prayer. Whatever our schedule, this is one way to always be connected to Jesus. We are always in a state of preparedness. 
Author Gary Zimak reminds readers that when we take this offering (of our daily thoughts, words and actions) to Jesus and ask Him to use it for His intentions (think Salvation of all mankind), our offering “will bear great fruit not only in our own lives, but in the lives of countless others. By making this presentation to Christ, we are essentially joining our lives to His mission. When the sacrifice of Jesus to His Father is made present in each of the Holy Masses around the world, we are now hanging on the cross with Him. Everything that we do and experience becomes part of the offering of Christ. There can be no more powerful sacrifice and, by virtue of this simple prayer, we are a part of it.” 
Soon, without even thinking about it, our actions will mirror those of Jesus. We will become keenly aware of when we step outside of His loving boundaries and quickly return to living His precepts and experiencing His grace. Our priorities become clearer and there is a “knowing” of what things really need to be done. We grow more compassionate and tolerant toward others. We go about our busy days aware that the Presence of God is within us and around us. When we are in such communion with God, His Presence also expresses through us to others. Life acquires a rhythm that is more balanced and peaceful.
When the chaos and frenzy feels unrelenting, pause, take a single intentional breath, and remember that God is with you because you dedicated your all to Him this day.
I am including a version of the Morning Offering shared by Gary Zimak:
O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in thanksgiving for your favors,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Dec. 1, 2019 First Sunday of Advent

December 1, 2019   First Sunday of Advent   Year A

Reading I: 
Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm:   122

Reading II: 
Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:37-44

Here we are at the beginning of a new liturgical year: the first week of Advent.

Advent means “coming” and we are about to focus on the many ways God comes to us. We will begin by looking back at the coming of Jesus to be with
us and to share our human experiences of joy, sorrow, and pain.

The “comings” are expressions of God’s love for us. In John’s Gospel, he reminds us “...God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16)

The comings into the hearts of Christians inspire Christ-like love and concern for others, especially during the Advent and Christmas Seasons. There are gifts and visits to loved ones. There are meals for the homeless. Toys are collected for less fortunate children. There is Christmas entertainment for senior citizens. Visits to the home-bound help to dispel loneliness. All these expressions of love create the Christmas Spirit, bringing happiness to many.

On the other hand, there are those who suffer greatly during this time, while grieving over the loss of loved ones through death or broken relationships. It is a time when thoughtful family members and friends can help by giving some extra attention to those in need of comfort.

The Advent and Christmas Seasons also provide opportunities to begin to mend strained relationships within families and with others. Sending a Christmas card or gift might break the ice which has kept individuals apart.

Finally, Advent is a time to remember that Jesus said that “Whatever you did to the least of your brethren you did it to Me!” (Matthew 20:40). Be prepared for the coming of Christ in a needy person whether emotionally, physically, or financially. Let us also invite him to come and be born in our hearts. 
Come, Lord Jesus!

 Reflection Question:  How can I keep myself alert to the coming of Christ to me today?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Primer Domingo de Adviento 

Aquí estamos al comienzo de un nuevo año litúrgico: la primera semana de Adviento. Adviento significa “venir” y estamos a punto de enfocarnos en las muchas formas en que Dios viene a nosotros. Comenzaremos recordando la venida de Jesús para estar con nosotros y compartir nuestras experiencias humanas de alegría, tristeza y dolor.

The viene son expresiones del amor de Dios por nosotros. En el Evangelio de Juan, nos recuerda “...Dios amó tanto al mundo que dio a su único Hijo, para que todos los que creen en él no mueran, sino que tengan vida eterna”. (Juan 3:16)

Las venidas a los corazones de los cristianos inspiran amor y preocupación por los demás como Cristo, especialmente durante las temporadas de Adviento y Navidad. Hay regalos y visitas a seres queridos. Hay comidas para personas sin hogar. Se recogen juguetes para niños menos afortunados. Hay entretenimiento navideño para personas mayores. Visitas a la ayuda domiciliaria para disipar la soledad. Todas estas expresiones de amor crean el espíritu navideño, trayendo felicidad a muchos.

Por otro lado, hay quienes sufren mucho durante este tiempo, mientras lloran por la pérdida de seres queridos a causa de la muerte o las relaciones rotas. Es un momento en que los familiares y amigos reflexivos pueden ayudar prestando atención adicional a aquellos que necesitan consuelo.

Las temporadas de Adviento y Navidad también brindan oportunidades para comenzar a reparar las relaciones tensas dentro de las familias y con los demás. Enviar una tarjeta de Navidad o un regalo puede romper el hielo que ha mantenido a las personas separadas.

Finalmente, el Adviento es un tiempo para recordar que Jesús dijo que 
¡Lo que sea que le hiciste al menor de tus hermanos me lo hiciste!” (Mateo 20:40). Prepárese para la venida de Cristo en una persona necesitada, ya sea emocional, física o económicamente. Invitémoslo también a venir y nacer en nuestros corazones.
¡Ven Señor Jesús!

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:  ¿Cómo puedo mantenerme alerta a la venida de Cristo a mí hoy?


Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

Do you have a special place for thinking of God? I can sit in a quiet corner of the church after Mass and wait for God to speak to me. Did a special phrase in today’s Mass call out to me? The words of the Consecration, “This is My Body, given up for you,” calls me to “give up” my aches and pains in atonement for my sins or for the anger so prevalent in the world today. St. Katharine noted that “Grace must find calm to grow.” We need to find a calm, quiet spot or moment to permit grace to grow in us.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Preparation for the Christmas season always shifts me into high gear. Cleaning, decorating, writing greeting cards, shopping for food and gifts, meal planning, party going, baking and cooking…I’m feeling exhausted just writing these chores down. For as long as I can
remember, my holiday mantra is “there is never enough time.” My recurring pattern is one of accomplishing tasks; I’m a woman on a mission. However, it’s the wrong mission. The season of Christmas is about welcoming Christ into our hearts.

It takes focused attention to not fall into the throes of consumerism – our culture’s idea of Happy Holidays with all the outward dazzling sights and sounds- and to prepare to nurture our Spirit by turning within to clear the clutter in our hearts and souls to create the space to receive Christ anew with His offering of peace, light and life. 

Christ presents Himself to me in the homeless person, the grieving individual, the lonely elderly man or woman whom I might not notice as I rush past them with my arms and head full of stuff, anxious to check off another task on my “to-do” list.   Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus is about love, and His love is meant to be shared.

I genuinely appreciate your blog as we enter into Advent. I am going to make a sincere effort to slow down enough to notice the opportunities that come to me – to acknowledge the homeless person, comfort the mourning one, to listen to the pain of the old man or woman. The daily practice of meditating on the ‘reason for the season’ will help me transition from “doing to being” so I’ll have a gift to offer the Christ Child. This is truly the most important Advent preparation that matters and endures.

Monday, November 18, 2019

November 24, 2019 - Feast of Christ the King

November 24, 2019    The Feast of Christ the King

Reading I:  2 Samuel 5:1-3

Psalm:  122

Reading II:  Colossians 1:12-20

Gospel:  Luke 23:35-43

As we celebrate the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, we focus on Jesus, our King and that of the whole Universe. How blessed are we to have such a loving and compassionate King!  How awesome that this King not only became one of us, but also was willing to die an ignominious death to redeem us sinners!!!

It is noteworthy that the Feast of Christ the King is celebrated close to our Thanksgiving Day each year.  In addition to our usual expressions of gratitude for our many blessings, it is also a reminder to thank our God for the gift of Jesus, our Savior and our heavenly King.

I can recall a time when praying the “Our Father,” I would feel frustrated as I said: “Thy Kingdom come.” While I wanted to help to bring about the Kingdom of the Lord, I was very aware of the enormity of the task and my own limitations.

The Good Shepherd led me by small steps. First, He let me know that I could make him king of my heart.  This simply meant choosing to do His will rather than my own. This was not always easy, but with His help it was possible.

Then, I realized that I could teach others about Jesus in both formal and informal ways. I taught children, teens and adults in religion classes, CCD, theology courses, and campus ministry. Informally, as a teenager in my first job
in a Jordan Marsh Department Store, my participation in the midday Mass at the Franciscan Shrine in Boston, caused a fellow worker to ask to join me and begin her study of the Catholic faith.

As I became more aware of needs outside my familiar world, the Lord led me to share the faith in cities and Indian Reservations. There I also deepened my own understanding of Jesus by being introduced to new cultures and their ways of worship. This greatly enriched my faith also.

Finally, now that I am physically limited there are more ways to share about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Besides praying for the Kingdom of God to come, each time we say the “Our Father,” we have the opportunity to share about Jesus. through the Internet. Today, this blog Companions on a Faith Journey, brings reflections on the Lord and comments by others to people all over the world.  Praise the Lord for giving some people the intelligence to make this a reality for us. What an awesome God we have!!!

As we take the time to thank the Lord for all his gifts, especially our King and Savior, Jesus, let us also be alert to the many opportunities available to us to bring about his Kingdom in our world today.  As we read in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus before he ascends into heaven, says to the disciples:
       I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go 
       then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples:
       baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
       Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded
       you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age. 
                                                                             (Matt. 28:18-20)

 Reflection Question:   How can I make Jesus known formally and/or informally?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Fiesta de Cristo Rey

Mientras celebramos el último domingo del año litúrgico, nos enfocamos en Jesús, nuestro Rey y el de todo el Universo. ¡Cuán bendecidos somos de tener un Rey tan amoroso y compasivo! ¡Qué asombroso que este Rey no solo se convirtiera en uno de nosotros, sino que también estuviera dispuesto a morir una muerte ignominiosa para redimirnos de los pecadores!

Es de destacar que la Fiesta de Cristo Rey se celebra cerca de nuestro Día de Acción de Gracias cada año. Además de nuestras expresiones habituales de gratitud por nuestras muchas bendiciones, también es un recordatorio de agradecer a nuestro Dios por el regalo de Jesús, nuestro Salvador y nuestro Rey celestial.

Puedo recordar un momento cuando rezaba el “Nuestro Padre”, Me sentiría frustrado cuando dije: “Venga tu reino”. Si bien quería ayudar a lograr el Reino del Señor, estaba muy consciente de la magnitud de la tarea y mis propias limitaciones.

El Buen Pastor me guió por pequeños pasos. Primero, me hizo saber que podía hacerlo rey de mi corazón. Esto simplemente significaba elegir hacer su voluntad en lugar de la mía. Esto no siempre fue fácil, pero con su ayuda fue posible.

Entonces, me di cuenta de que podía enseñar a otros acerca de Jesús de manera formal e informal. Enseñé a niños, adolescentes y adultos en clases de religión, CCD, cursos de teología y ministerio universitario. Informalmente, cuando era adolescente en mi primer trabajo en una tienda departamental Jordan Marsh, mi participación en la misa del mediodía en el santuario franciscano de Boston hizo que un compañero de trabajo pidiera unirse a mí y comenzar su estudio de la fe católica.

A medida que fui más consciente de las necesidades fuera de mi mundo familiar, el Señor me llevó a compartir la fe en las ciudades y las reservas indias. Allí también profundicé mi propia comprensión de Jesús al presentarme a nuevas culturas y sus formas de adoración. Esto enriqueció enormemente mi fe también.

Finalmente, ahora que estoy físicamente limitado, hay más formas de compartir sobre Jesús y el Reino de Dios. Además de orar para que venga el Reino de Dios, cada vez que decimos el  “Padre Nuestro”, tenemos la oportunidad de compartir acerca de Jesús. a través de Internet. Hoy, este blog Compañeros en un Viaje de Fe, trae reflexiones sobre el Señor y comentarios de otros a personas de todo el mundo. Alabado sea el Señor
por dar a algunas personas la inteligencia para hacer esto realidad para
nosotros. ¡Qué Dios tan asombroso tenemos!

Mientras nos tomamos el tiempo para agradecerle al Señor por todos sus hijos, especialmente a nuestro Rey y Salvador, Jesús, también estemos atentos a las muchas oportunidades que tenemos disponibles para lograr su Reino en nuestro mundo hoy. Como leemos en el Evangelio de Mateo, Jesús antes de ascender al cielo, les dice a los discípulos:
       Se me ha dado toda la autoridad en el cielo y en la tierra. Ir
       entonces a todos los pueblos de todas partes y hazlos mis discípulos:
       bautízalos en el nombre del Padre, el Hijo y el Santo
       Espíritu, y enséñales a obedecer todo lo que he mandado
       tú. Y estaré contigo siempre, hasta el fin de los tiempos.
                                                                             (Mateo 28: 18-20

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:   ¿Cómo puedo hacer que Jesús sea conocido formalmente o informalmente?


Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

Making Jesus known “formally” might involve actively speaking or writing about Jesus and our Catholic faith. This can be a big challenge to introverts. Making Jesus known “informally” might be as simple as being Christ-like. Would Christ use the same words we do when we are angry or suddenly hurt? How would Christ or the Blessed Mother respond when meeting a friend or acquaintance who was in pain? Jesus is with us always and the Holy Spirit is also present to provide us with the special words that might comfort or support the friend in pain. Mother Katharine said all our good thoughts come from God. So don’t worry about what you might say; let Jesus speak through you with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Regrettably, I am not much of an evangelizer. However, as a result of participating in your weekly Scripture Sharing gathering over the years, I have grown comfortable with witnessing to God’s abundant blessings and Spirit’s undeniable guidance in my life. Bible study has enhanced and expanded my understanding of Jesus’ teachings. It has also lead me to a greater appreciation of God’s word.

Typically, those who take part in these groups are at varied levels of knowledge, experience and lifestyle, providing much to share.

Additionally, for those readers who, like myself, are uncomfortable with actively preaching the Gospel and talking openly about Jesus, I share the quote – attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” Most of us have daily contact of some sort with others. Our words, behaviors and actions speak loudly. When we express patience, kindness and caring we share Jesus’ message of God’s love to those we encounter. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

November 17, 2019 Amid Trials, God Gives Strength

Nov. 17, 2019   Amid Trials, God Gives Strength   Year C

Reading I: 
Malachi 3:19-20a

Psalm:  98

Reading II: 
2 Thessalonians

Luke 21:5-19

Pope John Paul II called the twentieth century the “century of martyrs.” Although persecution of Christians has been ongoing throughout our history, during the twentieth century, there were more Christians killed for their faith than in all the other centuries combined.

Even today, while in many parts of our world people die rather than deny their faith, we, in the United States, have been blessed to live in a country that supports freedom of religion. While we have not had to lay down our lives to defend our faith, we need to practice it, appreciate this gift, and take advantage of the help offered us to strengthen our faith. We need to listen attentively to St. Paul when he encourages his followers in his letter to the Romans 8:35-39:

      What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or
      distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the
      sword? As it is written:
            ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked
             upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’
      No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him
      who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor
      angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor
      powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able
      to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These days, we may need to be ready to defend our faith from those who will ridicule our faithfulness at a time when the practice of religion is declining. As the scandals of Church leaders were revealed, many became disillusioned, especially young people who were abused by clergy or youth leaders.

As time has gone by, the abuses of many powerful people have come to light. This widespread problem is finally being addressed. However, the abuse by trusted clergy has had a devastating effect on young people. Even sons and daughters of very devout Christians have turned away from religious practices. Grandparents suffer greatly when their children do not have their grandchildren baptized or brought up with religious instruction.

While some grandparents take on the responsibility to share their faith with their grandchildren, others are not allowed to do that by the parents. All they can do is give a good example and pray for their loved ones. Perhaps later, the young ones will search on their own and find the Lord who will then be their Shepherd accompanying them on their life’s journey.

Sometimes, there are friends and coworkers who will challenge those who
continue to practice their faith, in spite of the failures of their clergy. These faithful understand that the purpose of prayer, Bible study, and attending Masses or religious services is to grow their relationship with God. The Lord is their anchor in the peaceful times and storms of life.

Although the types of suffering for the faith may vary, if offered to the Lord, He will give the strength to bear them. Psalm 62 line 2 is a great comfort:

           “He only is my rock and my salvation,
            My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”

  Reflection Question:  If I have a friend or relative who has turned away from religion, what can I do?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Amid Trials, God Gives Strength

El Papa Juan Pablo II llamó al siglo XX el “siglo de los mártires”. Aunque la persecución de los cristianos ha estado en curso a lo largo de nuestra historia, durante el siglo XX, hubo más cristianos asesinados por su fe que en todos los otros siglos combinados.

Incluso hoy, mientras que en muchas partes de nuestro mundo la gente muere en lugar de negar su fe, nosotros, en los Estados Unidos, hemos sido bendecidos de vivir en un país que apoya la libertad de religión. Si bien no hemos tenido que dar nuestras vidas para defender nuestra fe, debemos practicarla, apreciar este regalo y aprovechar la ayuda que nos ofrecieron para fortalecer nuestra fe. Necesitamos escuchar con atención a San Pablo cuando anima a sus seguidores en su carta a los Romanos 8: 35-39:

      ¿Qué nos separará del amor de Cristo? Angustiará, o
      angustia, o persecución o hambre, o desnudez, o peligro, o el
      ¿espada? Como está escrito:

            Por tu bien, estamos siendo asesinados todo el día; nos miran
             como ovejas para ser sacrificados’.
      No, en todas estas cosas conquistamos abrumadoramente a través de él.
      quien nos amó Porque estoy convencido de que ni la muerte, ni la vida, ni
      ángeles, ni principados, ni cosas presentes, ni cosas futuras, ni
      poderes, ni altura, ni profundidad, ni ninguna otra criatura podrá
      para separarnos del amor de Dios en Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor.

En estos días, es posible que necesitemos estar listos para defender nuestra fe de aquellos que ridiculizarán nuestra fidelidad en un momento en que la práctica de la religión está disminuyendo. Cuando se revelaron los escándalos de los líderes de la Iglesia, muchos se desilusionaron, especialmente los jóvenes que fueron abusados ​​por el clero o los líderes juveniles.

Con el paso del tiempo, los abusos de muchas personas poderosas han salido a la luz. Este problema generalizado finalmente se está abordando. Sin embargo, el abuso por parte del clero de confianza ha tenido un efecto devastador en los jóvenes. Incluso los hijos e hijas de cristianos muy devotos se han alejado de las prácticas religiosas. Los abuelos sufren mucho cuando sus hijos no bautizan o educan a sus nietos con instrucción religiosa.

Mientras que algunos abuelos asumen la responsabilidad de compartir su fe con los nietos, los padres no pueden hacerlo. Todo lo que pueden hacer es dar un buen ejemplo y rezar por sus seres queridos. Quizás más tarde, los jóvenes buscarán por su cuenta y encontrarán al Señor, que luego será su Pastor que los acompañará en el viaje de su vida.

A veces, hay amigos y compañeros de trabajo que desafiarán a aquellos que continúan practicando su fe, a pesar de los fracasos de su clero. Estos fieles entienden que el propósito de la oración, el estudio de la Biblia y asistir a misas o servicios religiosos es hacer crecer su relación con Dios. El Señor es su ancla en los tiempos pacíficos y las tormentas de la vida.

Aunque los tipos de sufrimiento por la fe pueden variar, si se le ofrecen al Señor, Él le dará la fuerza para soportarlos. Salmo 62 línea 2 es un gran consuelo:

           “Él solo es mi roca y mi salvación,
            Mi fortaleza No voy a ser muy sacudido”.

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:  Si tengo un amigo o pariente que se ha alejado de la religión, ¿qué puedo hacer?


Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
It makes me very sad when someone I care about announces they are leaving the church. Frequently, the reason given is that organized religion is merely a tactic of power and control, and a means of getting money. The clergy sex abuse scandals are often cited as cause of declining attendance at Mass.  The church may have done some things that would make a critical person want to leave it. However, it is this same Church that contains in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God’s healing love. Henri Nouwen asks, “Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant, grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken…God’s promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.”
I believe. Therefore, I pray that these restless hearts will remain open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Whenever the opportunity presents, I ask about their relationship with Jesus, encouraging them to keep their connection to God alive even though they chose to “turn away from religion” as stated in your reflection question.  I listen to their reasons for leaving without judging. I hold them in a space of love, not lecture. It is really important to listen prayerfully because while some individuals may express anger and point fingers about who and what they perceive to be at fault, others may be silently suffering, feeling betrayed by the behaviors and actions of religious leaders whom they respected and viewed as models of the faith. 
These conversations are opportunities for us to be the caring presence we were created to be to reflect the love of God to our wounded brothers and sisters in Christ. At risk is the loss of a precious soul. “Losing our soul means losing touch with our center, our true call in life, our mission, our spiritual task. Losing our soul means becoming so distracted by and preoccupied with all that is happening around us that we end up fragmented, confused, and erratic.” Speaking from personal experience, I am in total agreement with Nouwen’s words.  If one forsakes their relationship with God, they will lose their true sense of self. That is a terrible tragedy for the truth of our being is that we are the Beloved of God.
Allen Hunt’s recent Dynamic Catholic Daily Reflection addresses the importance of being concerned for one another’s spiritual wellbeing. I share it here because I feel it fits this dialogue. “We need a community to help us reach our goal. Faith is not an individual journey; it’s a team sport. We need each other. We are on this journey together.”
Let us remind one another of the stepping-stones on the path: forgiveness, acceptance
and love.
We need to forgive others when they fail to meet our expectations. We need to forgive ourselves for the times we fail to behave as followers of Christ.  We need to accept others in their brokenness while acknowledging our own woundedness. Lastly, we need to love as unconditionally as our Source loves us.

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

People have been leaving the Catholic Church for generations. It hurts when a friend or relative turns his or her back on the Church. Trying to talk to them about this change can result in being hurt yourself when they call you names or insult the Church. They may have valid reasons for not liking the structure, the hierarchy of the Church; some Church leaders have made serious mistakes. If I have a chance, I tell them they are still welcome. I pray for them and hope that they will someday return to the active practice of their Faith. The best I can do is to be a witness, to practice my Catholic Faith openly and sincerely, and hope that someday they will want to reconnect with God through the Catholic Church.