Wednesday, January 24, 2024

New Beginnings


    
     
I am Stephanie Morris, formerly the Director of Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and an Associate of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (ASBS). Sister Annette Marie O’Donnell had begun this blog as “Companions on the Journey” but has retired from actively writing. St. Katharine said we are all typewriters in the hands of the Lord; it has been a pleasure and privilege for me to serve as St. Katharine’s typist for many years.

The year started with readings from Luke’s Gospel (chapter 2, verses 22-38) about the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple. Anna and Simeon recognized the Holy Family, that their Infant was the Messiah. How did they see that special aspect of this particular family, among the thousands of families who presented babies over many years? St. Katharine noted that “activity follows from the spirit of prayer.” Their prayer life enabled Simeon and Anna to see beyond surface qualities and to see the God in them. Perhaps our prayer life could help us to see beyond the superficial, to see the God in others.

         Saint Katharine’s activities followed from her spirit of prayer. As a young woman, Kate had considered entering religious life, favoring a cloistered community. A cloistered community allowed the reception of Communion daily. But Kate also wanted to work on behalf of the African and Native American peoples. How could she have daily Communion and an active apostolate among the African and American peoples? After much discussion with her spiritual director, Bishop James O’Connor, Kate prayed and adopted the path of founding her own religious community with daily Communion and an active apostolate. On February 12, 1891, after a period of religious formation with the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh, Kate pronounced her vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and “to be the Mother and Servant of the Indian and Negro Races.” On that day, Miss Catherine Mary Drexel became, in religion, Mother Mary Katharine, foundress and Mother General of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for the Indian and Colored People.

         This February may we continue to pray for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and their ministries.

         In Bensalem, we have just completed our “Unity Week.” Different houses of worship hosted a brief presentation, e.g., on Rev. Martin Luther King, followed by light refreshments. Saint Katharine said, “Working for social justice can take many paths.” For the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, education was their primary ministry path.

         Lent will be upon us soon. In 1911, Saint Katharine wrote to the Sisters at St. Catharine’s, proposing that the Sisters undertake “to Fast interiorly.

                  To Fast from uncharitable thoughts and words,

                  To Fast from unkind, ungentle, want of meekness in words to each

                           other and the children…

                  To Fast from distractions at prayer or deliberate venial sin.

Then if there be failure in any of these to say a certain aspiration for each kind of failure in going around, or in the chapel without taking extra time, and offering these prayers for the souls in purgatory that they may aid and bless our old and new Missions. Won’t you all join this Fast and penance?”

         Perhaps we could try to think a moment, remembering that God hears our every word, before we speak. Not easy, but we can try.

         We don’t have to do huge things; not all of us can go on a long pilgrimage to Rome or to the Holy Land. Indeed, Saint Katharine tells us “It is downright folly to be waiting for an opportunity of doing something great; little duties, ordinary actions, well done, are already achievements.”

         Like the baby steps the Infant Jesus took after His birth, we could continue to try to take small steps in deepening our spirit of prayer, one day at a time.


 Stephanie Morris, ASBS

January 16, 2024

 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Walking with Saint Katharine

 


    Welcome to the new Liturgical Year (cycle B) and happy 2024!

I am Stephanie Morris, formerly the Director of Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and an Associate of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (ASBS). Sister Annette Marie O’Donnell had begun this blog as “Companions on the Journey” but has retired from actively writing. St. Katharine said we are all typewriters in the hands of the Lord; it has been a pleasure and privilege for me to serve as St. Katharine’s typist for many years.

          By now, I am sure you have completed all your Christmas shopping, cleaning, card writing, etc., etc. Have you prepared your gifts for the Christ Child whose birthday we celebrate? Have you cleaned your soul and spirit to feel the joy and peace that the Infant King of Peace brings?  For many of us with an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table, peace, joy, and gaiety are not our first thoughts each morning. St. Katharine suggests that if your heart is filled with pain and worry, move these out and let the Infant King of Peace come to console you.

          He comes to you each time you receive Holy Communion, to console, comfort and support you. Perhaps this Christmas season you can step back and take a little extra time to talk with Jesus, to listen to His words assuring you of His love and support. You don’t have to gift wrap your gift to Jesus and to His Mother; they are happy just to hear from you. Give them your pain and worry; they will give you their love and support.

          Perhaps in the New Year of 2024, we can begin to dwell more on the gifts from Jesus and less on our own worries. Like the Magi, we can welcome the Infant King with the gifts of our talents, our worries and our
prayers. And then, like the Magi, we can show the gift of peace that the Infant King of Peace gives to us.

          The Infant Jesus came as a tiny baby, born in a stable, to unite Himself to our humanity and to unite our humanity to His divinity. May we feel empowered by the strength of God in the coming days and share this strength with those whom we meet.

Stephanie Morris, Ph.D., ASBS

December 15, 2023

Monday, November 27, 2023

SBS Blog November 2023- Thanks be to God!



November is a special time for many of us. We remember our veterans and we pray for our beloved dead. Saint Katharine reminds us that when we receive Holy Communion, we are united in a special way to the Mystical Body of Christ. We, the Church Militant, are joined spiritually to the Church Suffering (those awaiting admittance into the Beatific Vision) and the Church Triumphant (those enjoying full union with God in heaven). We still miss our beloved dead but can share our prayers and hopes with them.

This month is also Black Catholic History and Native American Heritage Month. Mother Katharine would have celebrated the achievements of Black and Native American Catholics every day. Her fourth vow, and that of many of the earliest Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, was to be the “Mother and servant of the Negro and Indian People.”  Kate Drexel and her sisters Elizabeth and Louise helped to fund the Mother Church of Black Catholics in Philadelphia, St. Peter Claver Church. As a novice, Sister Kate received a letter from Father Augustine Tolton in 1890 and Mother Katharine received another in 1891. In the second letter, Father (now Blessed) Tolton thanked her for her gift and told her that it had taken the Catholic Church in America 100 years to raise up someone like her. Fr. Tolton was pastor of St. Monica’s Church in Chicago. In 1912, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament would teach at St. Monica’s.

Kate Drexel helped to fund St. Catherine’s Indian School in 1887. SBS would teach there as of 1894.

Mother Katharine encouraged graduates of Xavier University of Louisiana and of St. Catherine’s to be leaders among their own people. Normal school graduates from Xavier taught in many of the rural schools in the South that Mother Katharine and the Sisters had opened, providing Black role models for the students. One such student to have benefited from this pattern was Dr. Francis Norman, former president of Xavier University, America’s only Black Catholic university. In the Southwest, Navajo people teach at St. Michael Indian School. They teach Navajo culture, language and crafts.

Native languages were permitted in SBS schools, unlike in the government schools where students were often punished for speaking in their first language. Mother Katharine noted hearing a Navajo boy chanting in his first language while going about his work. Mother Katharine also funded translations of Bible stories and catechisms into Native languages. Yes, the students were taught in English; the variety of cultures present in a classroom (e.g., Hopi, Apache Navajo) made it necessary.

Education was for Mother Katharine and for the SBS the primary mission of education has a ripple effect. Teaching a classroom of students meant a classroom of young people who could go out into the world and be leaders. In this manner, the SBS education ministry was expanded through the ministry of their students.

Thanksgiving is a special day. Mother Katharine observed that “The ordinary soul does not do enough thanksgiving. For all eternity I shall sing the mercies which we ought to begin on earth. … We owe thanks to anyone who does good to us. That is justice and gratitude.”

Mother Katharine’s birthday was November 26, 1858. The Catholic Church only celebrates three birthdays: the Blessed Mother’s on September 8, St. John the Baptist’s on June 24, and, of course, Christmas, December 25. Most feast days honor the person’s entrance into eternal glory. But we can still remember Mother Katharine on her 166th birthday!

Advent is fast approaching and with it a sense of urgency and expectation. Christ the Newborn King is coming, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. Christ the King comes in a spirit of poverty to invite us to join Him, not necessarily as a Warrior King but as a Prince of Peace. May you find Christ’s peace in your homes this season.

Stephanie Morris, ASBS

November 20, 2023

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Symbol of Love: October 2023






October: Symbol of Love 

October has been a month filled with many feasts and memorials. It began with the feast of the Little Flower which is also the anniversary of the canonization of St. Katharine Drexel. Perhaps the corner stone of the many feasts was that of Our Lady of the Rosary.

St. Katharine called the Rosary a “symbol of love.” In each of the mysteries of the Rosary, we see the Messianic mission of Jesus and the role His Mother played in His Mission. From Her Annunciation (and becoming the Mother of Jesus), to His death and Resurrection, and to her presence at the Descent of the Holy Spirit and her own Assumption and Coronation as Queen of Heaven.

The Nativity of Jesus should echo the joy families feel at the birth of their child. Perhaps we could remember to pray for those families who are struggling to raise a family or support a family member with special needs.

The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and Mary with the “the rush of a mighty wind.” The Holy Spirit came to us at our Confirmation in a much quieter manner. As St. Katharine reminds us, the Holy Spirit is ever with us – “the presence of God.”

Sometimes we feel as though we are walking the Way of the Cross with Jesus. Perhaps He has given us a splinter of His Cross to bear, that we might act like Veronica or Simon of Cyrene helping Him to carry His Cross.

Our Lady of Fatima asked the children to pray the Rosary, to pray for peace. We need those prayers now as strongly as the world needed them in the early part of the last century.

November will soon be upon us with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. St. Katharine is a canonized saint but she reminds us that we are all called to be saints. How do we do this? By following daily the path God has laid out for us, whether it be in doing little acts of charity or by doing bigger kindnesses. With God ever present within us, we can ask for His help to do what needs to be done.

November also brings Thanksgiving Day. St. Katharine did not write special “Thanksgiving Day” letters because each day was Thanksgiving Day for her. “Eucharist” is Greek for Thanksgiving. Each time she received Holy Communion, St. Katharine gave thanks. We can do that also.

Stephanie Morris, ASBS

October 15, 2023

Thursday, September 7, 2023

New Beginnings - September 2023

 


September – New Beginnings

September frequently means the beginning of school, at many levels. Maybe it means the beginning of a new job. It is also the beginning of the Autumn season. Maybe it is a good time to step back a little and prepare for these new ventures.

Education was a very important ministry for the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Mother Katharine saw education as a means of social justice. She urged the Sister-Teachers to be so filled with zeal for Jesus that they instill a spark of this zeal in the hearts of their students. These students, these “Lay Apostles,” can take this spark into the market place, setting off “Celestial Fire Works.”

Maybe September is a good time to renew our spiritual life. Some of the feast days this month include the Nativity of Our Lady, the feasts of St. Peter Claver, The Most Holy Name of Mary, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Matthew, St. Pius of Pietrelcina, St. Vincent de Paul, and the feast of the angels Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

Our Lady of Sorrows has been through it all, losing her husband and watching her Son be killed. She understands all of our sorrows, as only a mother can. Talk to her, ask her how to deal with problems.  Sometimes we share in Jesus’ sufferings when God gives us a “splinter” from Jesus’ Cross. At times we can act as a Simon of Cyrene or Veronica to help another carry his/her cross.

St. Vincent de Paul is the universal patron of all works of charity. This would be a great time to check your closets and give clean, useable items of clothing to those who could benefit from these.

When you see the beauty of the autumn colors, do you thank God for letting you see the beauty of His creation? Mother Katharine remembered that her father called trees a “picture gallery” in which he saw the beauty and love of the Divine Artist.

Have you gotten your car checked for winter driving yet?  What about a check up of your spiritual life? Mother Katharine urged all to see each Communion as a “real event” in our life. Each Communion can be “the beginning of a life of perpetual communion” with Jesus.

May the new beginnings this month be a time of spiritual enrichment for all of us.

Stephanie Morris, ASBS

August 28, 2023

*** Stephanie Morris, Ph.D., A.S.B.S. is the sole contributor to this blog as of June of 2023 ***

Friday, July 28, 2023

Mary, our Mother; Jesus, our Brother - August 2023

 


Feast of the Assumption, 2023

August has several special days, for example, the Feast of the Transfiguration and the Feast of the Assumption.

At the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw the glorified Jesus. Perhaps it was a sort of “pep” talk prior to Jesus’ Passion. Has Jesus ever given you a special moment, an uplifting of your spirit when you were feeling overwhelmed?

 

The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven

“And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3

“And the dead in Christ will rise first and so we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.

Mother Katharine urges us that: “During this Octave of the Assumption often think of the joys of heaven and that these are to be yours. Make it yours by corresponding with every grace.”

         Clearly Jesus did not want His Mother to be left alone on earth; He brought her home to Him in heaven.  This privilege can be ours, if we are faithful to our prayers and to the graces God sends us.  Jesus honored Mary as His Mother on earth. On their return from Jerusalem, we learned that Jesus went home with Mary and Joseph and was subject to them.  At the wedding feast at Cana, Mary told Jesus that they had no wine. He basically said, “So what? It’s not my turn, yet.” We don’t know what happened between Mary and Jesus next. Did she give Him the “Mother” look? We do know she spoke to the waiters and then Jesus turned the water into wine. Do we think Jesus will ignore any request from His Mother now that she is with Him in heaven?

 

In saying the “Hail Mary” we end the prayer by saying: “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” Mary is our mother; she will not leave our side if we call out to her.

 

Stephanie Morris, Ph.D., A.S.B.S.

*** Stephanie Morris, Ph.D., A.S.B.S. is the sole contributor to this blog as of June of 2023 ***

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

July 2023, Happy Feast Day!



July 14 is the feast day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), the Lily of the Mohawks. Her mother was Algonguin and her father a Mohawk chief. Her parents had died from small pox when she was a child; Kateri’s face was scarred by small pox. Her uncle’s family adopted her. Kateri was baptized by Jesuit missionaries when she was about twenty years old. Her uncle did not approve of her becoming a Christian. Kateri went about her duties, praying while she was working in the fields. When she would not work on a Sunday, she was told she could not eat that day. Kateri escaped to Canada where she could live as a Christian. Shortly after her death in 1680, Kateri’s face, pockmarked by small pox scars, became clear and luminous. In 1904, Mother Katharine visited Caughnawaga, Quebec, near Montreal, where Kateri had lived, visiting Kateri’s shrine. In 1937, Mother Katharine wrote that the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha would show that there is no distinction with God as to persons and that no race had a monopoly on sanctity. Mother Katharine hoped that at that time all would be truly seen as the children of God. Pope Benedict XVI canonized Saint Kateri on October 21, 2012, the first Native American saint in the United States and Canada.

         July 16 is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On that day in 1891 Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan of Philadelphia blessed the cornerstone of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The inscription on the cornerstone read: “and it shall be in the place where it was said unto them, you are not my people; there they shall be called the sons of the living God” (Romans 9:26).

         On that day but in an earlier, private ceremony, the Archbishop blessed the new habits of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. They had been wearing the habit of the Sisters of Mercy while in Pittsburgh; now they wore their own habit.

         July 26 is the feast day of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Their efforts to raise Mary in a faith-filled environment led to her “Fiat,” Mary’s acceptance of her role as the mother of Jesus.

         Family life was important to Jesus; He spent thirty years as a member of the Holy Family, hidden from public view. Mother Katharine called Jesus’ home “His first apostolate.” By living the life of an ordinary family member, Jesus sanctified “the ordinary way of family life.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the family the “original cell of social life” (#2207). As children we first learn how to interact with others within our family. Education in the faith begins when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life (#2226). We begin to learn how to be Christian within our family.

         This summer may our families continue to cultivate the seed of a deep faith and confidence in God. May we truly see all people as children of God.

Stephanie Morris, ASBS

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Month of The Sacred Heart

 This blog has been written by Sister Annette Marie O’Donnell for many years. She is now stepping back and has invited me to step forward. Thank you, Sister Annette Marie, for your hard work and insights. I am Stephanie Morris, Ph.D., and ASBS, formerly the Director of the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Mother Katharine once said that we were “typewriters” in the hands of the Lord. It has been my privilege to have been her “typist” on occasion. I hope to share some of Mother Katharine’s insights with you.

June is a busy month – graduations, Father’s Day, weddings! Congratulations to all the grads, dads, and newly-weds! Congratulations also to those who may have received their First Holy Communion recently. A big thank-you to all those who instructed or guided people in these achievements. June is also the month of the feasts of the Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi and the month of the Sacred Heart!

As a young woman (before entering religious life), Kate reminded herself: “Do not let a day pass in the month of June without saying a fervent prayer to the Sacred Heart.” The color of the Sacred Heart is red, the color of fire and love. The Sacred Heart is alive and afire with His love for us. He can’t wait to pour His love upon us, with all the graces we need. We could all value Kate’s reminder to pray to the Sacred Heart.

“Corpus Christi” – the “Body of Christ.” My church – St. Ephrem Church, Bensalem, PA – is so arranged that the shadow of the Cross falls on the altar and the tabernacle. The priest literally stands in the shadow of the Cross when he says Mass. Christ comes down from the Cross to the altar and then to us.


Do we think of this when we receive Holy Communion?


Thursday, May 11, 2023

May 2023 Blog - Our Mother Mary

 

May 2023 - Our Mother Mary

 


When we think of the month of May, Mother’s Day stands out. This is well deserved when we consider all the sacrifices, caring, and concern that we associate with mothers. God gave mothers the strength and compassion needed for their calling.

Jesus gave us many special gifts: He shared His Father with us when he taught us to pray the Our Father, He sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and guide us. Finally, on the cross, he shared with apostle John and us: His own beloved Mother.

Through the centuries, devotion to Our Mother Mary has been fostered through Icons (images of holy people) and apparitions (appearances) of Mary in troubled times. Let us focus on some of the devotions in honor of Mary the Mother of Jesus.

With Ukraine and Poland much in the news, let us study the Icon: Our Lady of Czestochowa also referred to as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The people of Ukraine and Poland have great devotion to Mary, depicted in this Icon. 

While there are many legends about the origin and history of the Icon, what is most important is her message. The image is of Mary holding the Child Jesus in her left arm. She directs attention away from herself by pointing to Jesus with her right hand. The Child Jesus faces the viewer and extends His right hand in blessing while holding a book of the Gospels in His left hand. Mary is referred to as “One Who Shows the Way.”

The Icon has been honored in many ways: King John II Casimir Vasa proclaimed Our Lady Queen of Poland. Several Popes have recognized the Icon including Pope Clement XI in 1717, Pope Pius X in 1910, Pope John Paul II in 1978, Pope Benedict in 2006, and Pope Francis in 2016. In addition, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and Belarus have a special devotion to the Madonna of Czestochowa.

The Black Madonna Icon is now housed in the Monastery of Jasna Gora (English: Bright Mount) in Poland. It is said to have miraculously saved that monastery from a Swedish invasion in 1655.

In the United States, there are two shrines: The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. There is also a shrine in Garfield Heights in Ohio.

Through the centuries, Jesus has sent His Mother to appear at difficult times to be a comfort to those who are suffering. During an especially painful time in 1531, our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity, on Tepeyac Hill, now in a suburb of Mexico City. She asked that a shrine in her honor be built there.

However, when Juan Diego brought her message to the bishop, he doubted the reality of the apparition. Therefore, he demanded a sign before he would build a church there. When Mother Mary appeared again, Juan Diego was upset because he could not convince the Bishop of the reality of his vision. Gently, she spoke these endearing words: "Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed .... Am I not here who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection?" (Juan Diego was a grown man, the diminutive 'my little son' was an expression of affection).



Our Lady then instructed Juan Diego to pick some roses on the top of the Hill and bring them as a sign to the bishop. (It was December when that type of rose would not normally bloom). Juan Diego carried them to the Bishop in his tilma, (poncho). When he opened the tilma, the roses fell to the ground. Printed on the tilma was a picture of Our Lady as she had appeared to Juan Diego. 

The bishop fell to his knees and ordered the construction of the Shrine which is visited daily even now and contains the tilma with the imprint of the picture of Our Blessed Mother.  


Our Lady of Guadalupe is credited with the ending of a deadly epidemic of hemorrhagic fever which ravaged Mexico City from 1736 - 1737. Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego and declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas. 


Might she not help us in the deadly pandemic which we are experiencing now? Let us pray to her who is our Mother too.


On March 27, 2022, Pope Francis made the following Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on behalf of our world, especially Russia and Ukraine, asking for an end to the war and peace in our World.

  

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns. We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives, and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbor’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war and by our sins, we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame, we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the Church and for all humanity. By God’s gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. At every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you, we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.

That is what you did at Cana in Galilee when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, the fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.
Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.
Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.
Queen of Heaven, restore God’s peace to the world.
Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.
Free us from war, and protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.
Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.
Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.
Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your Sorrowful Heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.

Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26). In this way, he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: “Behold, your Mother” (v. 27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history.  At this hour, weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice, and poverty.

Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church, and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The “Fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you, we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.

Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.

 

Blessings to all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers,

and all those who provide motherly care. 

 

Comments:

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D. Historian, Certified archivist, emerita

Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world. From Pope Francis’ “Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

From the cross, Jesus gave His Mother to be the mother of John the Apostle, and John (on our behalf) to be her child. Confident of this, in 1883, Kate (St. Katharine Drexel)asked the Blessed Mother to be her mother after the death of Emma Bouvier Drexel.

St. Katharine urged all to “go to Mary as their Mother.” She also prayed the Rosary for all involved in armed conflicts. St. Katharine urged all to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. Perhaps our meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries could include some of our current concerns.

The Agony in the Garden: Pray for those anxious about where they will go, will sleep if they will ever return to Ukraine.

The Scourging at the Pillar: Pray for those in areas under attack.

The Crowning with Thorns: Pray for those wearing a mantle of leadership, deliberating on steps to stop the aggression and aid the afflicted.

The Carrying of the Cross: Our Lord fell and needed help. Pray for those injured that they find support in Our Lord’s wounds and from the help of others.

The Crucifixion: Pray for those killed or injured in this conflict and in our cities.

Our Lady, Queen of peace, bring peace and justice to the whole world.

 

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Thank you for including Pope Francis’ Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the blog. It is such a beautiful appeal to Our Mother Mary on our behalf. That Consecration will serve as my Examen of heart and consciousness as I reflect on the daily contributions I make toward peace or toward disharmony.

I pray for peace yet so many times my thoughts reveal deep inner unrest. I recognize that I have strayed from the path of peace that Jesus desires. The more I hear of violence and destruction, the louder I hear the voice of fear. Fear makes for misery and I go about my day feeling broken-hearted, wanting to withdraw and grieve what once was. I am reminded by the Act of Consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart that it is my responsibility to seek the Presence of God in the midst of suffering humanity, to step out in faith, and to embody peace and love I want to see in the world. If I can uplift but one person today, I have acted as an agent of change. 

I turn to Mother Mary with the heart of a humbled daughter, seeking forgiveness and asking for her powerful intercession with Jesus for all the times I have chosen to ignore Him and be satisfied with my illusions, for the times I have not respected the garden of the earth, and for those times I chose indifference to others over my own selfish interests. 

I close with the sentiments of Pope Francis. Mother Mary, through your intercession, “may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days… May you, our ‘living fountain of hope,’ water the dryness of our hearts…You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace.”

May we receive the tender motherly love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary into our hearts this day and share it with all those we encounter.

 

Friday, March 31, 2023

April Holy Week - Easter 2023

 

April Holy Week - Easter 2023

 



Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

We are Easter people and "Alleluia" is our Song. Let us sing "Alleluia" 

here and now in this life, even though we are oppressed by various 

worries, so that we may sing it one day in the world to come, 

when we are set free from all anxiety.

-St. Augustine of Hippo




On Easter Sunday, there are choices given to the priests regarding the Scriptures to be read. Therefore, if you have heard a different Gospel from the one I have chosen, realize that it is just a different choice. I chose it since it seems to include what is contained in the others.

In today's Gospel from Luke, we find the risen Jesus joining two of his disciples on their way to 
Emmaus. When Jesus asked them what they were conversing about, they where talking about the recent crucifixion and death of Jesus. They were confused and troubled because they knew Jesus' body was no longer in the tomb. Had some people removed it? They had witnessed Jesus' miracles. Why had he not saved himself? 

Jesus responded: 
"Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Jesus then interpreted the prophets for them.

As evening approached, the disciples invited Jesus to stay with them. As they sat down for an evening meal, Jesus said a blessing and took bread, broke it and gave it to them. 
They then recognized Jesus and exclaimed,"Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" 

They returned to Jerusalem where they found the eleven and others who exclaimed that Jesus had appeared to Simon. 
Together they proclaimed that Jesus had risen. It was the appearances of Jesus in his risen body that had assured them that promise of a Savior had been fulfilled.

There are some parts of the Easter Liturgies which are special :

1. An ancient hymn called a "sequence" used to be sung to add to the ceremony of the gospel procession. Today it can be sung or recited at the Easter Masses. Let us take time to reflect on the beautiful words:

Praise the Pascal Victim

 

Christian, to the Pascal Victim

Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeems;  

Christ, who only is sinless,

Reconciles sinners to the Father

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: 

The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.

 

Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw, wayfaring.

The tomb of Christ who is living,

The glory of Jesus' resurrection;

Bright angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting.

 

Yes, Christ my hope is arisen; 

To Galilee he goes before you.

Christ indeed from death is risen,

our new life obtaining.

Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

Amen, Alleluia.

 

2. It is important to meditate on Renewal of Baptismal Promises so that they become more meaningful. Usually, this happens after the reading of the Gospel.

 

The Celebrant will say:

 

Dear brothers and sisters, through the Paschal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism, so that we may walk with him in newness of life.

And so, now that our Lenten observance is concluded, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church. And so I ask you.

 

1. Do you renounce Satan? I do.

And all his works? I do.

And all his empty show? I do. 

 

2. Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God? I do.

Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you? I do.

Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin? I do.


Since we are weak human beings, we need to ask the Lord's help to keep our promises. 
With his grace, we can be faithful.

 

 

Comments:

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
One past November I took a mini vacation to Savannah, Georgia. The trip was my first real get-away in forty years, so needless to say I was very excited. Savannah was no exception to the extreme weather conditions that most cities along the east coast were experiencing. I departed Philadelphia in blustery rain only to find it cold and stormy in Savannah. It poured three out of the four days I visited. Sunday, however, was a glorious day and I spent every daylight hour exploring the city. I was greeted by a resident who was walking her dog in one of the town’s historic squares. She quickly assessed that I was a tourist because I was taking pictures of everything. She commented that the one photo I must absolutely take was of the “Resurrection” trees lining the path. She went on to tell me that if these trees are deprived of water for just a few days, their lush green draping foliage turns brown and dries out. If I had visited the prior week, I would be observing dead looking trees. Thus, the blustery cold rain that dampened my sightseeing and lead to turbulent flights “resurrected” these trees to vibrant life. 

Naturally, I was thinking spirituality principles as this hometown lady related the nature of the trees. After all, we go through a similar transformation with every dark period we experience. If we invite Jesus to tread with us through the rainy days of life, we too will emerge renewed like the unique trees of Savannah.

Lent is a time dedicated to reflection and prayerfulness. Acknowledging my sinfulness, I petition God for mercy and strength. During these “examination of conscious” moments, I recognize patterns of behavior that deplete my spirit, deadening it to my soul’s needs. When in this withered state, I am incapable of noticing the needs of others. Worse, I am apathetic to the suffering of others.

Unless I refresh myself with “Living Water,” my soul remains parched. This lifegiving water, of course, is Jesus. I look to the cross and see there the greatest love of all time. Total gift of Self, given that I will have life. We are showered with abundant grace when we meditate upon Christ’s passion and death. Such contemplation puts things in perspective, opens the heart to forgiveness, and reignites within us the desire to move forward as a dedicated disciple of Jesus.

Raised from the depths of my self-imposed separateness from God, self and others, I am restored to life. My “resurrected” self reflects the light, love and oneness of Christ radiating in and through me.

Once again, I celebrate the joy of my “belovedness”, It is Easter!

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita 
Only one disciple on the road to Emmaus – Cleopas – is named; you might be the other. Does your heart burn when reading on listening to the Word of God? Does your soul sing “Alleluia” when you receive the Body and Blood of your Savior? How can you deepen your response to God’s Presence? A few quiet moments spent in gratitude, contrition, praise and petition might help to quiet our restless spirit and allow us to rest calmly in God’s loving embrace.