Monday, September 16, 2019

Sept. 22, 2019 Choose your Master

September 22, 2019   Choose Your Master    Year C
Reading I: 
Amos 8:4-7

Psalm: 113

Reading II:  1 Timothy: 2:1-8

Luke 16:1-13
or 10-13

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples: “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon.” (Luke 16:13)

Jesus does not say that money is bad in itself. It is needed for life and survival. However, one needs to know what is enough and not focus on amassing a large fortune.

If we consciously choose our Master, we have a clear path by following the example and teachings of Jesus. While we make use of money for the good of our families and ourselves, we should also refrain from hoarding it or spending it on unnecessary, expensive items. In addition, we should be aware of and generous to, others who do not have enough.

Our Master taught us to love God, our neighbors and ourselves. What we share is not limited to our money and possessions. We also have the gifts of time and talents to share.  

The are many lonely people who do not have enough human interaction because of age, health, or incarceration. Taking some free time to spend with an elder who has lost most of his or her family and friends, can cheer them up. Also, helping with shopping or something he or she can no longer do is a real blessing.

Visiting the sick or taking the time to send a card or a helpful item, can lift a person’s spirit. This is especially true when a person is young and facing many years of missing out on the things that young people typically enjoy doing.

Visiting the imprisoned is an affirmation of their humanity. When I had the experience of teaching English to some women in prison, I was struck by the fact that the women had made scrapbooks with the poetry they had received. Before this experience, I had never met anyone who had been in prison. Through this experience, I learned to see the prisoners as people with feelings and needs like my own.

Besides the gift of time, there is also the sharing of talents with others. While teaching at Aquinas College, I had a drama club which put on a humorous play. After the performance, The mother of one of the students came to me to tell me that she had, had a difficult year. She shared that enjoying the play with her son performing was a great blessing.

Hairdressers, who go out of their way to share that talent with those who are homeless or shut-ins, are examples of sharing one’s talents. Listening to their customers sharing their joys and problems is also a gift they have to offer.

People with computer expertise who take the time to help those who are still learning are also sharing both their time and talent. Sometimes, it also requires the gift of patience.

Let us persevere in our choice to live with open hearts and hands, like our Master Jesus. In that way, we will avoid the temptations to make money our master.
 Reflection Question:  Ask the Lord, your Master, how he would like you to share this week.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Elige tu Maestro

En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús les dice a sus discípulos:  Ningún siervo puede servir a dos señores. Odiará a uno y amará al otro, o se dedicará a uno y despreciará al otro. No se puede servir a Dios y a Mammón”. (Luke 16:13)

Jesús no dice que el dinero es malo en sí mismo. Es necesario para la vida y la supervivencia. Sin embargo, uno necesita saber qué es suficiente y no centrarse en acumular una gran fortuna.

Si elegimos conscientemente a nuestro Maestro, tenemos un camino claro al seguir el ejemplo y las enseñanzas de Jesús. Si bien utilizamos el dinero para el bien de nuestras familias y de nosotros mismos, también debemos abstenernos de acumularlo o gastarlo en artículos innecesarios y caros. Además, debemos ser conscientes y generosos con otros que no tienen suficiente.

Nuestro Maestro nos enseñó a amar a Dios, a nuestro prójimo y a nosotros mismos. Lo que compartimos no se limita a nuestro dinero y posesiones. También tenemos los dones de tiempo y talentos para compartir.  

Hay muchas personas solitarias que no tienen suficiente interacción humana debido a la edad, la salud o el encarcelamiento. Tomar tiempo libre para pasar con un anciano que ha perdido a la mayoría de su familia y amigos puede animarlos. Además, ayudar con las compras o algo que ya no puede hacer es una verdadera bendición.

Visitar a los enfermos o tomarse el tiempo para enviar una tarjeta o un artículo útil puede elevar el espíritu de una persona. Esto es especialmente cierto cuando una persona es joven y enfrenta muchos años de perderse las cosas que a los jóvenes generalmente les gusta hacer.

Visitar a los presos es una afirmación de su humanidad. Cuando tuve la experiencia de enseñar inglés a algunas mujeres en prisión, me sorprendió el hecho de que las mujeres habían hecho álbumes de recortes con la poesía que habían recibido. Antes de esta experiencia, nunca había conocido a nadie que hubiera estado en prisión. A través de esta experiencia, aprendí a ver a los prisioneros como personas con sentimientos y necesidades como la mía.

Además del don del tiempo, también se comparten talentos con otros. Mientras enseñaba en el Aquinas College, tenía un club de teatro que hacía una obra de humor. Después de la presentación, la madre de uno de los estudiantes vino a decirme que había tenido un año difícil. Ella compartió que disfrutar de la obra con su hijo fue una gran bendición.

Los peluqueros, que se esfuerzan por compartir ese talento con aquellos que no tienen hogar o están encerrados, son ejemplos de compartir los talentos de uno. Escuchar a sus clientes compartiendo sus alegrías y problemas también es un regalo que tienen para ofrecer.

Las personas con experiencia en informática que se toman el tiempo para ayudar a quienes todavía están aprendiendo también comparten su tiempo y talento. A veces, también requiere el don de la paciencia.

Perseveremos en nuestra elección de vivir con los corazones y las manos abiertas, como nuestro Maestro Jesús. De esa manera, evitaremos las tentaciones de hacer del dinero nuestro maestro.
 Pregunta de Reflexíon:   Pregúntale al Señor, tu Maestro, cómo le gustaría que compartas esta semana.

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

We can be open to any opportunity that God sends us to share our God-given talents with others. Mother Katharine noted that “There is nothing little in what is done for God.” A smile, a phone call, a meal, a drive or mailing a card may seem little but could bring great joy to the recipient. We can always pray for someone; a few minutes’ meditation or plea to God could be a great source of grace.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

After a long day of working in the apartment, mom, her neighbor, Dave, and I were looking forward to sitting down for dinner in the main dining room to just relax and enjoy a meal. We were seated at a table that accommodates four people and we were happy to have the extra space that the empty seat provided. As we began to order, a server tapped me on the shoulder and asked if it would be okay if she sat a resident at the empty place. My response was, “of course,” in spite of the desire to remain a threesome.

We welcomed Sara, a stylishly dressed woman, who was probably in her mid to late eighties. After introductions, we began chatting and it quickly became apparent that Sara had some level of dementia. After turning down the server’s offer of a piece of bread, she questioned why the attendant did not give her bread like the rest of us. Ordering from the menu was a challenge for her but the kind server guided Sara through the selections. Sara was unable to remember any conversation, asking the same questions repeatedly only moments apart. She shared with us a story of how, just a few days ago, she woke up and could not find her husband. She looked all through her apartment and up and down the hallways. Finally she found a staff member and expressed her concern for her missing spouse. Her husband had died seven years ago. She said she felt embarrassed but that it felt so real. We assured her that her reaction was probably natural given the long decades that she was married. We genuinely enjoyed our meal and our company and so did Sara.

We chuckled a bit about the repetitive questions and I teased Dave about how Sara was flirting with him, but there existed an unspoken sense that each of us received a gift to dwell on. I believe that the Lord intended for Sara to join us that evening to give us the opportunity to extend friendship and encouragement to her and for us to individually receive a unique lesson through her innocent presence.

I gained a broader insight into Jesus’ instruction to release our attachments to things. Status and possessions lose their significance in the “autumn season” of life, yet we spend so much of our life seeking recognition and accumulating material items. I also realized that, in spite of confusion and forgetfulness, one’s life continues to bear fruit. Life is precious at any stage, any age. Acceptance, patience, and humor are valuable virtues to cultivate to sustain human connections.  Most importantly, open hearts and gentle hugs can love away one’s feeling of diminished worth, while reinforcing one’s value. 

Considering the amount of time I will be spending at the retirement community where my mother will soon move, I believe that the Lord is grooming me to share His Love and compassion with the residents whom I’ll have the opportunity to converse with.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sept. 15, 2019 Our Merciful Lord

Reading I:  
Exodus 12: 7-11,11, 13-14

Psalm:  51

Reading II:  1 Timothy 1:12-17

Luke 15:1-32

In today’s Gospel we hear three parables about God’s great mercy.  They illustrate three special characteristics of that mercy in each of the parables. God’s love is personal, constant, and emotional.

First, we become aware that God’s merciful love is extended to each person as if he or she were the only person in the world. His relationship with each of us is unique. He would have given His life and suffering for the salvation of each of us even if the individual were the only person in need of redemption.

In each parable we find an intense search happening. In each of these instances, the love of the one being sought remains constant. In the “Parable of the Lost Sheep,” we see the shepherd leaving the 99 behind and searching through difficult and dangerous places until he finds the lost sheep. 

In the “Parable of the Lost Coin,” the woman forgets about everything else and devotes herself to searching for the lost coin. It must have been very important and valuable to her. It could have been all she had left on which to live.

In the “Parable of the Prodigal Son,” the loving father watches constantly for the return of his son.  As soon as he gets a glimpse of him from far off, he runs to embrace him and welcome him home.

Finally, there is joy expressed in the shepherd carrying the sheep home to rejoin the rest of the flock.  We often see the illustration of the shepherd with the sheep on his shoulders. He doesn’t make the sheep walk through the bushes or climb the rocky mountain slopes. He carries him home, although he might be exhausted himself.

The father of the prodigal son is so happy that he prepares a great feast to celebrate the son’s return. There is no mention of the hurt that the father experienced in the way he was treated by the son. There is only rejoicing that he has returned.

Similar themes are found in a poem by Francis Thompson:

The Hound of Heaven 

I fled Him down the nights and down the days, I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears

I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
Adown titanic glooms of chasmed fears
From those strong feet that followed, followed after But with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest me.
I pleaded, outlaw--wise by many a hearted casement, curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities, For though I knew His love who followed,
Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,

I should have nought beside.
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to. Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.

This is just a taste of the poem. You might like to read the whole poem sometime.

 Reflection Question:   What is one aspect of God’s love which touches you deeply?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Nuestro Misericordioso Señor

En el Evangelio de hoy escuchamos tres parábolas sobre La gran misericordia de Dios. Ilustran tres características especiales de esa misericordia en cada una de las parábolas. El amor de Dios es personal, constante y emocional.  

Primero, nos damos cuenta de que el amor misericordioso de Dios se extiende a cada persona como si fuera la única persona en el mundo. Su relación con cada uno de nosotros es única. Hubiera dado su vida y sufrimiento por la salvación de cada uno de nosotros, incluso si el individuo fuera la única persona en necesidad de redención.

En cada parábola encontramos una búsqueda intensa sucediendo. En cada uno de estos casos, el amor del que se busca permanece constante. En la “Parábola de las Ovejas Perdidas,” vemos al pastor dejando atrás al 99 y buscando en lugares difíciles y peligrosos hasta que encuentra la oveja perdida.

En la “Parábola de la Moneda Perdida,” la mujer se olvida de todo lo demás y se dedica a buscar la moneda perdida. Debe haber sido muy importante y valioso para ella. Podría haber sido todo lo que le quedaba para vivir.

En la “Parábola del Hijo Pródigo,” el padre amoroso observa constantemente el regreso de su hijo. Tan pronto como lo ve desde lejos, corre a abrazarlo y darle la bienvenida a casa.

Finalmente, hay alegría expresada en el pastor que lleva a las ovejas a casa para reunirse con el resto del rebaño. A menudo vemos la ilustración del pastor con las ovejas sobre sus hombros. No hace que las ovejas caminen a través de los arbustos o escalen las laderas de las montañas rocosas. Lo lleva a casa, aunque él mismo podría estar exhausto.

El padre del hijo pródigo está tan feliz que prepara una gran fiesta para celebrar el regreso del hijo. No se menciona el dolor que experimentó el padre en la forma en que fue tratado por el hijo. Solo hay regocijo de que haya regresado.

Temas similares se encuentran en un poema de Francisco Thompson:

El Sabueso del Cielo

Lo huí por las noches y los días, lo huí por los arcos de los años.
Lo huí por los caminos laberínticos
De mi propia mente, y en medio de las lágrimas.
Me escondí de él y bajo la risa.
Hasta las esperanzas vistas que aceleré y disparé precipitada
Adopta las tinieblas titánicas de los miedos abatidos
De esos pies fuertes que siguieron, siguieron después Pero con persecución sin prisas y ritmo imperturbable, velocidad deliberada, instancia majestuosa,
Golpearon, y un latido de voz,
Más instantáneo que los pies:
Todas las cosas te traicionan, quien me traiciona.
Supliqué, fuera de la ley, sabio por parte de muchas personas de corazón, con cortinas rojas, enredadas con obras de caridad entrelazadas, porque aunque conocía su amor que lo seguía,
Sin embargo, ¿estaba adolorido por temor a tenerlo?
No debería haber hecho nada al lado.
Pero si una pequeña ventana se abriera por completo,

La ráfaga de su enfoque lo enfrentaría. El miedo no debe evadirse como el amor persigue.

Esto es solo una muestra del poema. Puede que quieras leer el poema completo alguna vez.

  Pregunta de Refelexíon:    ¿Cuál es un aspecto del amor de Dios que te conmueve profundamente?

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

Mother Katharine urged the Sisters to: “Let your heart delight in the love God has for you, personally, individually.” God loves us whether we are like the wayward younger sibling or the dutiful but resentful older sibling. He knows our foibles, our strengths, our hesitations and our hopes. God loves us during our good days and our other days. He hopes that we will come to Him, to try to be the gifted person He created us to be.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
A couple of weeks ago, a 16-year-old boy was shot on my block. He collapsed within a few feet of his home, which is a few doors down from me. An investigation revealed that prior to the shooting, this boy robbed three individual people at gun-point two blocks up the street. His third victim had a gun and chased the boy until he was within shooting range. The teen is in critical condition. You can imagine the stories, opinions and judgments that neighbors expressed, as this is yet another incidence of increasing violence in the neighborhood. Yet, I cannot help but think that this boy must have been terribly confused or desperate to make such a poor decision. I feel compassion rather than anger because his behavior may have been a cry for love. What really engages me is the fact that in spite of his criminal behavior he was running toward home. In response to your question about God’s love, I am touched most deeply by the constancy of God’s love. When I think back over all the mistakes I made and all the complex motives which I used to justify them I cringe. I sinned many times with intention. While I didn’t bear arms, I certainly wounded my relationship with God and held myself victim to fear and thoughts of rejection. Once I realized the shallowness of my decisions I humbly headed “Home” where I experienced the mercy and unconditional love of God. The ”Welcome Home” experience touched my heart so deeply that I began to understand the grace that comes from repentance. My soul encountered the immense love of God and I found myself transformed into a witness of this love. I pray that my young neighbor recovers from his injury and that he will receive the love and support he will need to confess, repent and experience the mercy of God that will forever change his life.

Monday, September 2, 2019

September 8, 2019 Challenge to Total Dedication

September 8, 2019  Challenge to Total Dedication

Reading I: 
Wisdom 9:13-18 b

Psalm:  90

Reading II:  Philemon
9-10, 12-17


In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges His followers to total dedication to God and His mission.  However, the terminology He uses can be confusing unless put into context. Jesus says: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus couldn’t mean that literally because his whole message was to love.

Sometimes in Jesus’ time, as well as our own, we exaggerate in certain circumstances to emphasize a point.  Most likely you or one of your teenage friends expressed his or her concerns, by saying something like: If my mother or father catch me smoking, they would kill me! Although the teen might be strongly disciplined, it is very unlikely that he or she would be killed.

As I reflect on the cost of discipleship on the anniversary of my own entrance into the convent many years ago, I have a more comprehensive understanding of the sacrifices involved. Whether it be a vocation to the priesthood, consecrated life, marriage or single life, the sacrifices involved in each person’s calling, impact not only the individuals, but also their families and friends. Sometimes, those sacrifices are more costly to other people.

On a personal note, my parents were to have very limited contact with me.  Also, being an only child, any prospect of having grandchildren was gone. I can still remember my mother’s generous words: “I don’t think you would be happy anywhere else.” I was deeply aware of the sacrifice she was making at that time.

The families and friends of those in other lifestyles are also called to accept changes and adjust to the new circumstances to which the individual feels called. Once, I had a religious brother come to speak to my high school class on vocations. He shared the struggle he experienced when he proposed the idea of his joining the brotherhood. His father objected strongly because he wanted grandchildren from this son even though he had other children to provide them for him.

Friends can also have to make sacrifices of less contact whether it is because of distance or responsibilities of marriage or for other reasons. Basically, we all need to be respectful and open to the call to discipleship of our family and friends. Our willingness to let go and adjust to the new
circumstances is our sacrifice. 

Let us acknowledge that we are all God’s children and the call of each individual is special. Whatever our lifestyle we all have a vocation to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves. A friend of mine prioritized and lived it in the following way:
J esus first
O thers second
Y ourself last

 Reflection Question:  How can remembering to put God first enable us to let go of our loved ones when he gives them a special calling or when he finally calls them home?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Challenge to Total Dedication

In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges His followers to total dedication to God and His mission.  However, the terminology He uses can be confusing unless put into context. Jesus says: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus couldn’t mean that literally because his whole message was to love.

A veces, tanto en el tiempo de Jesús como en el nuestro, exageramos en ciertas circunstancias para enfatizar un punto. Lo más probable es que usted o uno de sus amigos adolescentes hayan expresado sus preocupaciones diciendo algo como: Si mi madre o mi padre me pillaran fumando, ¡me matarían! Aunque el adolescente podría ser muy disciplinado, es muy poco probable que lo maten.

Al reflexionar sobre el costo del discipulado en el aniversario de mi propia entrada al convento hace muchos años, tengo una comprensión más completa de los sacrificios involucrados. Ya sea una vocación al sacerdocio, la vida consagrada, el matrimonio o la vida de soltero, los sacrificios involucrados en el llamado de cada persona impactan no solo a las personas, sino también a sus familias y amigos. A veces, esos sacrificios son más costosos para otras personas.

En una nota personal, mis padres debían tener un contacto muy limitado conmigo. Además, al ser hijo único, desapareció cualquier posibilidad de tener nietos. Todavía recuerdo las palabras generosas de mi madre: “No creo que seas feliz en ningún otro lado”. Estaba profundamente consciente del sacrificio que estaba haciendo en ese momento.

Las familias y amigos de aquellos en otros estilos de vida también están llamados a aceptar cambios y adaptarse a las nuevas circunstancias a las que el individuo se siente llamado. Una vez, tuve un hermano religioso que vino a hablar con mi clase de secundaria sobre las vocaciones. Compartió la lucha que experimentó cuando propuso la idea de unirse a la hermandad. Su padre se opuso enérgicamente porque quería nietos de este hijo a pesar de que tenía otros hijos para dárselos.

Los amigos también pueden tener que hacer sacrificios de menos contacto ya sea por la distancia o las responsabilidades del matrimonio o por otras razones. Básicamente, todos debemos ser respetuosos y abiertos al llamado al discipulado de nuestra familia y amigos. Nuestra voluntad de dejar ir y adaptarnos a lo nuevo las circunstancias son nuestro sacrificio.

Reconozcamos que todos somos hijos de Dios y que el llamado de cada individuo es especial. Cualquiera que sea nuestro estilo de vida, todos tenemos una vocación de amar a Dios, a nuestro prójimo y a nosotros mismos. Un amigo mío priorizó y lo vivió de la siguiente manera:

J esús primero
O tros segundos
Y ourself last - Ustedes mismos duran

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:  ¿De qué manera el recordar poner a Dios primero nos permite dejar a nuestros seres queridos cuando él les hace un llamado especial o cuando finalmente los llama a casa?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
Mother Katharine told the Sisters that the spirit of the congregation was the “spirit of the Eucharist – the total gift of self.” We give ourselves when we let the Holy Spirit work through us to do what God wants to be done. We don’t have to work hard to change our lifestyles; we just have to open our hearts to the spirit of God speaking to us.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
This blog took me back to a treasured time past when, as a first-time young mother, my sweet infant son enraptured me. So pure and innocent, I felt as though I was seeing the face of God when I gazed at this precious being. Nurturing my baby satisfied my needs to the depths of my soul. Then, what seemed like overnight, my little angel started with the “no” word and life changed. 
It doesn’t take long to realize that a child has his or her own path to pursue. My role quickly shifted from caregiving to policing as I tried to keep his environment safe for him to discover and explore. Somewhere in this transition, my desire to control set in. At about that time, a song by Barbara Streisand, entitled “If I Could,” became popular. The words to that song helped me to strip myself of the illusion of ownership and gain a broader awareness of authentic parenting.
Barbara Streisand sings of wanting to protect her son from sadness, to give him “courage in a world of compromise,” to teach him “all the things she never learned,” help him “cross the bridges that she burned,” and “shield his innocence from time.” The words that really touched my heart were, “But the part of life I gave you isn’t mine…I’ve watched you grow so I could let you go.”
The letting go, for me, was difficult. However, the years went by and my baby made it through the terrible twos, the know-it-all teens, and achieved manhood. Today he is a devoted dad to his own children. My mantra now is, “Let go and Let God.” It is a good one, too, because my youngest son is still trying to find his way and I have learned that his journey is uniquely his. As the song continues, “My yesterday won’t have to be your way.”
Each of my sons has his own identity. It is interesting observing their choices and listening to their reasoning. I may not agree with them, but I respect their process. I am at peace knowing that we do share the same “true” identity as beloved of God, created by God for God. My role as mom at this stage is to remind them to be faithful to that identity and to encourage them to hold as sacred their relationship with God.  My ultimate dream is that when they are called Home, they will return to the Love that breathed them into existence. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Sept. 1, 2019 Gratitude and Humility

September 1, 2019  Gratitude and Humility
Background photo by: Carl Attard 
Reading I:  Sirach 3:17-18, 28-29


Reading II: Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24a

Luke 14:1, 7-14

When I first went to teach at Xavier University in New Orleans, a historically Black, Catholic University, founded by St. Katharine Drexel, Sr. Ivan took me to visit the rural areas from which some of the students came. I shall never forget my visit to Church Point, Louisiana.

Sister brought me to visit an elderly couple who lived in a small, modest house. I was so impressed with the joyous, grateful expressions of the couple as they praised and thanked God. It helped me understand better the beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Later on, I became a volunteer in the campus ministry program, and I participated in a student retreat. To my surprise during shared prayer, I heard students thanking God for waking them up in the morning. Not being a morning person, I had never even thought of thanking God for waking me up in the morning. Sometimes, students can teach their instructors.

There is a saying that our pride dies 10 minutes after we do. We humans beings tend to struggle with pride. If we work on becoming humble, there is the possibility that we will become “proud of being humble.” Then, what is the solution?

It is important that we look up to God and realize that all we are and have, are gifts from Him. Also, our brothers and sisters have gifts from God which we need to acknowledge and value. It is crucial that we take time to thank the Lord. If we do not do this, we can begin to attribute our success or goodness to ourselves.

The word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving.” “Eucharist” is another name for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we participate at Mass, we are thanking God for all his gifts and for the Lord's offering himself for our redemption. Sometimes we forget this. We hear people say they don’t get anything out of Mass, especially if the priest is not a good preacher. We go to Mass to give honor and worship to God and receive his strength to live holy lives. Whether the sermon is good or not, our participation is our gift back to God.

We can also thank God on a regular basis in our everyday circumstances. Some people have a Thank You Journal in which they record a comment about someone or something for which they are grateful each day. They try to write something different each day.

What is written in the journal usually begins with family, friends or other common things for which they are grateful. Gradually, the gratitude can become for the little things like seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset, hearing a meaningful song, feeling a cool breeze on a hot day, tasting a delicious piece of fruit or smelling a lovely flower.

The practice of being grateful not only helps us develop humility, but it also increases our happiness. With a positive, grateful attitude, we can better navigate the up’s and down’s in our own lives. In addition, we can better help our brothers and sisters in their circumstances.

 Reflection Question:   How can I develop an attitude of gratitude?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Gratitud y Humildad

Cuando fui a enseñar por primera vez a la Universidad Xavier en Nueva Orleans, una universidad católica históricamente negra, Sr. Ivan me llevó a visitar las áreas rurales de donde vinieron algunos de los estudiantes. Nunca olvidaré mi visita a Punto de la iglesia, Louisiana.
La hermana me llevó a visitar a una pareja de ancianos que vivía en una casa pequeña y modesta. Estaba tan impresionado con las expresiones alegres y agradecidas de la pareja mientras alababan y agradecían a Dios. Me ayudó a entender mejor la bienaventuranza Bienaventurados los pobres en espíritu”.

Más tarde, me hice voluntario en el programa de ministerio del campus y participé en un retiro estudiantil. Para mi sorpresa durante la oración compartida, escuché estudiantes agradeciendo a Dios por despertarlos en la mañana. Al no ser una persona madrugadora, nunca había pensado en agradecer a Dios por despertarme por la mañana. A veces, los estudiantes pueden enseñar a sus instructores.

There is a saying that our pride dies 10 minutes after we do. Los seres humanos tendemos a luchar con orgullo. Si trabajamos para volvernos humildes, existe la posibilidad de que nos volvamos orgullosos de ser humildes”. Entonces, ¿cuál es la solución?

Es importante que admiremos a Dios y nos demos cuenta de que todo lo que somos y tenemos, son dones de Él. Además, nuestros hermanos y hermanas tienen dones de Dios que debemos reconocer y valorar. Es crucial que tomemos tiempo para agradecerle al Señor. Si no hacemos esto, podemos comenzar a atribuir nuestro éxito o bondad a nosotros mismos.

La palabra Eucaristía significa Acción de gracias”. “Eucaristía” es otro nombre para el Santo Sacrificio de la Misa. Cuando participamos en la misa, estamos agradeciendo a Dios por todos sus dones y por el ofrecimiento del Señor por nuestra redención. A veces olvidamos esto. Escuchamos a personas decir que no obtienen nada de la misa, especialmente si el sacerdote no es un buen predicador. Vamos a misa para honrar y adorar a Dios y recibir su fuerza para vivir vidas santas. Si el sermón es bueno o no, nuestra participación es nuestro regalo de regreso a Dios.

También podemos agradecer a Dios regularmente en nuestras circunstancias cotidianas. Algunas personas tienen un diario de agradecimiento en el que registran un comentario sobre alguien o algo por lo que están agradecidos cada día. Intentan escribir algo diferente cada día.

Lo que está escrito en el diario generalmente comienza con familiares, amigos u otras cosas comunes por las que están agradecidos. Gradualmente, la gratitud puede convertirse en pequeñas cosas como ver un hermoso amanecer o atardecer, escuchar una canción significativa, sentir una brisa fresca en un día caluroso, probar una deliciosa fruta u oler una flor encantadora.

La práctica de ser agradecidos no solo nos ayuda a desarrollar la humildad, sino que también aumenta nuestra felicidad. Con una actitud positiva y agradecida, podemos navegar mejor los altibajos en nuestras propias vidas. Además, podemos ayudar mejor a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en sus circunstancias.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:    ¿Cómo puedo desarrollar una actitud de gratitud?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that all we have or enjoy is a gift from God. How, then, can we not be grateful for seeing nature’s beauty or the face of a friend? Even if we are having a “bad day,” there is usually something for which we can be grateful – a reassuring smile or a prayer from a friend. You may have heard the phrase, “glass half-full or glass half-empty.” If we can take a moment, we can visualize the glass as half-full of the day’s events and half-full of God’s loving, merciful presence.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
The foundation of my attitude of gratitude is based on reminding myself that God is ‘All in All’. It has been a maturation of faith process for me. I considered myself a grateful person – I would thank God for all those wonderful things in life: my children, my friends, morning coffee, the sunshine and flowers, my pet, my job, all those people and things that brought me security, comfort and joy. Then one day, I read an article about being grateful for the unpleasant moments, the difficult people in life, the failures and challenges. This perspective was a real game-changer for me. I never appreciated how sweating the hard stuff could lead to such spiritual growth. Once I was introduced to that principle, I started looking for validation of the truth it held. Henry Nouwen wrote, “As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.” He went on to state that when we look back at everything that has brought us to where we are now we will see in it the “guiding hand of a loving God.”
I can honestly say that it has been the challenges that had me kicking and screaming that have contributed to my current level of spirituality. And this is the life-changer – that gratitude is, as Nouwen writes, “a discipline that involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint...The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort.”
I have experienced firsthand the movement of grace when we open ourselves to cooperation with God in challenging circumstances. Assuming the role of caregiver for my mother has been the most difficult life task to date for me. Our mother-daughter relationship since early on has been marked with boundaries, distancing and tensions. It has been 23 years and counting that she has depended on me for graduating levels of support and I have prayed my way through all these years – every visit, conversation and task. I was riddled with resentment and guilt and was never at peace. I prayed to be able to forgive so I could let go of the past and return to love. Today, I find myself giving thanks for healing and transformation. I am truly grateful at where I have arrived. I’m happy for mom’s plans to move to a new community and I’m enjoying getting her set up in her new apartment. It took 23 years of discipline to break through layers of perceived judgments. I am grateful for all those purifying obstacles along the journey.
I have tweaked my Morning Offering to thank God in advance for the graces and blessings my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of the day will bring. I’ve learned from experience that if I express gratitude every day, I will be amazed by the outcome.

Monday, August 19, 2019

August 25, 2019 The Lord’s Loving Discipline

Reading I:
Isaiah 66:18-21

Psalm: 117

Reading II: 
12:5-7, 11-13

Luke 13:22-30

In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus traveling toward Jerusalem where He will soon be paying the ultimate price for our redemption on the cross. While teaching and preaching to people, He is aware that this will be His last opportunity, in His human form, to impress upon them the importance of 
taking His words seriously if they wish to join Him in heaven when they die. Just associating with Him will not be sufficient to gain a heavenly reward.

The second reading, the Epistle (letter) to the Hebrews, reflects upon the ideas in Proverbs 3:11-12 in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The unknown author (possibly Priscilla or Barnabas) says: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by Him, for whom the Lord loves, He disciplines.”  The writer notes that discipline can seem painful, but its fruits are peace and holiness.

In his preaching, Jesus calls for faith in Him, repentance for sin, and observance of His Commandments, especially his commandment of love. Jesus has designed a special path for us to follow to lead us to our heavenly home with Him. He asks that His followers make a firm commitment to follow that path so that when they knock on Heaven’s Door, it will be opened for them.

Jesus said of Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” The more we spend time with Jesus in Bible study and prayer, the more we learn about Him and how to live our own lives.

I have a favorite story called The Great Stone Face, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is about a little boy, named Earnest, who lived by the White Mountains in New Hampshire where there was a formation on the side of a mountain which resembled a man’s strong, benevolent face.

There was a prediction that someday a man with a face resembling this stone face would come and help the little town. For years, people waited and sometimes mistakenly thought that the man had come, only to be disappointed. Little Earnest in the meantime used to study the face regularly and grew into a young man. Finally, his resemblance to the Great Stone Face became recognized.

I had the privilege of seeing the “Old Man of the Mountain” image on the side of the mountain before it had to be taken down because it was posing a danger of pieces falling and injuring people. It always reminded me that if we study Jesus on a regular basis, we can end up resembling Him.

Most of us at one time or another have been asked by a well-meaning person: “Are you saved?”  Expecting a “Yes” or “No” answer, they are often surprised when a Catholic responds, “I am trying to live a good Christian life, and Jesus will be my judge.” While we know that Jesus understands our weaknesses and is very merciful, still He expects us to take His words seriously and do the very best we can.

 Reflection Question:  How can I make time to regularly study Jesus in the Bible so that I can develop a personal relationship with Him, and then grow to become like Him?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La Disciplina Amorosa del Señor

En el Evangelio de hoy, encontramos a Jesús viajando hacia Jerusalén, donde pronto pagará el precio máximo por nuestra redención en la cruz. Mientras enseña y predica a las personas, es consciente de que esta será su última oportunidad, en su forma humana, para inculcarles la importancia de tomar sus palabras en serio si desean unirse a Él en el cielo cuando mueran. Solo asociarse con Él no será suficiente para obtener una recompensa celestial.

La segunda lectura, la Epístol (carta) a los Hebreos,  reflexiona sobre las ideas en Proverbios 3: 11-12 en las Escrituras Hebreas (Antiguo Testamento). The unknown author (possibly Priscilla or Barnabas) says: Hijo mío, no desdeñes la disciplina del Señor ni te desanimes cuando sea reprendido por Él, a quien el Señor ama, Él disciplina”.  El escritor señala que la disciplina puede parecer dolorosa, pero sus frutos son la paz y la santidad.

En su predicación, Jesús pide fe en él, arrepentimiento por el pecado y observancia de sus mandamientos, especialmente su mandamiento de amor. Jesús ha diseñado un camino especial que debemos seguir para llevarnos a nuestro hogar celestial con Él. Pide que sus seguidores se comprometan firmemente a seguir ese camino para que cuando llamen a Heaven's Door se les abra.

Jesús dijo de sí mismo: “Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida”. Cuanto más tiempo pasamos con Jesús en el estudio de la Biblia y la oración, más aprendemos acerca de Él y cómo vivir nuestras propias vidas.

Tengo una historia favorita llamada La Gran Cara de Piedra, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Se trata de un niño pequeño, llamado Ernesto, que vivía junto a las Montañas Blancas en New Hampshire, donde había una formación en la ladera de una montaña que se parecía al rostro fuerte y benevolente de un hombre.

Había una predicción de que algún día un hombre con una cara similar a esta cara de piedra vendría y ayudaría a la pequeña ciudad. Durante años, la gente esperó y, a veces, erróneamente pensó que el hombre había venido, solo para decepcionarse. Mientras tanto, Little Earnest solía estudiar la cara regularmente y se convirtió en un hombre joven. Finalmente, su parecido con el Gran Rostro de Piedra fue reconocido.

Tuve el privilegio de ver esta imagen en la ladera de la montaña antes de tener que desmontarla porque representaba el peligro de que se cayeran piezas e hirieran a las personas. Siempre me recordó que si estudiamos a Jesús regularmente, podemos terminar pareciéndonos a Él.

La mayoría de nosotros en un momento u otro nos ha preguntado una persona bien intencionada: “¿Estás salvado?” Esperando una respuesta de “Sí” o “No” a menudo se sorprenden cuando un católico responde: “Estoy tratando de vivir una buena vida cristiana, y Jesús será mi juez”. Si bien sabemos que Jesús entiende nuestras debilidades y es muy misericordioso, todavía espera que tomemos sus palabras en serio y hagamos lo mejor que podamos.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:   ¿Cómo puedo hacer tiempo para estudiar regularmente a Jesús en la Biblia para poder desarrollar una relación personal con Él y luego llegar a ser como Él?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
Do you have a few quiet moments with your cup of coffee or tea, when you might think about this week’s menu or draft a memo? Could you start these quiet moments with a brief review of that day’s scriptural readings or with a psalm? You can find the daily readings on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; this site has audio versions – they will read the scripture to you. Do you have some sacred songs on your playlist? Do you have a few favorite hymns? Can you spend a few minutes thinking about some of the special meanings a phrase or refrain has for you? God has given us 24 hours today; can we give Him a few extra minutes?

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I have mentioned before how very much I cherish my morning time alone with the Lord, my “Jesus and Java time” as I like to refer to it. My day starts around 4:00 am, and it always goes much better when I start the day nourished with reflection on His Word. My Type A personality drives me to cling to schedules, and sometimes it is obsessive. But when it comes to creating space to optimize my prayer time, my routine grounds me. What works for me is to set aside a specific time and place each day, to have my Bible and devotionals in place, and to set my intention every time I begin.
My kitchen table is the meeting spot where I connect with Jesus each morning. It is quiet, comfortable, and I find that sitting upright in a hard-back chair keeps me focused and alert. My Bible and daily devotionals remain on the table just fingertips away. My intention is to hear the message, relevant word or phrase that God wants me to hear for that day. My day is off to a gentle, peaceful start…and then my morning commute begins. During my drive to work, I play a CD of the Rosary that keeps me prayerful as I navigate through the morning rush hour. Instead of cussing at those aggressive drivers that cut me off, pass me by or plant themselves firmly on my bumper, I assail them with a Hail Mary. Now take that and have a blessed day you maniac!
The morning readings often come to mind during the day, and, as a result of long-term adherence to this spiritual practice, I am more conscious of Christ’s Presence in my life and in the world. Conversation with the Lord, while driving to work, performing tasks at the office, carrying out household chores and errands, and any activity in which I am involved, is comfortable. I ask Jesus how He would like me to handle situations. This practice helps me to respond respectfully and responsibly to people and circumstances. My desire is to be more Christ-like in all my interactions.
Episcopal priest Matthew Fox writes: “There is something in everyone …that waits, listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself and if you cannot hear it, you will never find whatever it is for which you are searching.”  I believe this to be true and regard the process of waiting and listening as moving toward becoming the person I was created to be. For me, entering into solitude is a necessity if I am to quiet the chatter in my mind long enough to allow for connecting with and befriending Spirit who will guide me ever closer to Jesus and to my
true self.

Monday, August 12, 2019

August 18, 2019 Challenges of Jesus

August 18, 2019   Challenges of Jesus - Year C

Reading I: 
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Psalm:  40

Readings II:  Hebrews 12:1-4

Gospel:  Luke 12:49-53

Are you ever surprised that sometimes when you look at a situation, yet another person sees the same thing, but interprets it very differently from you? Well, this is not something new.

Jesus, Himself, had that same experience. In the Gospel of John (7:41). Jesus was preaching to some people who were so impressed that they believed Him to be long-awaited Messiah. Others in the group did not believe that He could be the Christ because He came from Galilee, and they argued that He was supposed to come from Bethlehem.

When Jesus cured a blind man on the Sabbath (Jn 9:16), some claimed that if He wouldn’t observe the Sabbath, He couldn’t be from God. On the other hand, other people believed that He had to be of God to be able to perform the miracle. 

In spite of the fact that Jesus’ mission was to bring about a Kingdom of His Father, characterized by unity and love, He experienced discord. Jesus strove to be a unifier. His message was one of love. It must have been so painful for Him to have Himself, His preaching and compassion misunderstood. 

Jesus expressed His grief in the following words: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you refused.” (Mt 3:37) When I had the privilege of sitting on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane overlooking Jerusalem, those words came to me and touched me deeply.

Division can be very painful. Today, devout parents who brought up their children with faith grieve when those children turn away from their faith. The pain of seeing their beloved grandchildren deprived of what is so important for their long-term happiness is difficult to witness.

There is a normal tendency for teens and young adults to assert their independence in a variety of ways. I can recall when I was in high school that I decided that I would not be a Catholic just because my parents were. I read books on apologetics (defending the faith) which led me to embrace the faith personally. Of course, the Holy Spirit also was guiding me.

However, today there is also the disillusionment from scandals related to clergy misconduct and some peoples’ sense that they do not need God. Sometimes, they are brought back to faith when they mature and realize the weakness of human nature and/or they have hardships which make them turn back to God for help.

What can we do? In the meantime, we are to love them, pray for them, and give them the example of a truly faith-filled person. A favorite prayer of mine is “Lord, into your hands I commend __________’s spirit.”

 Reflection Question:  Is there someone who is struggling with faith issues for whom you can pray or offer help?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Desafíos de Jesús

¿Alguna vez te sorprende que a veces cuando miras una situación, otra persona ve lo mismo, pero lo interpreta de manera muy diferente a ti? Bueno, esto no es algo nuevo.

Jesús mismo tuvo esa misma experiencia. En el Evangelio de Juan (7:41). Jesús estaba predicando a algunas personas que estaban tan impresionadas que creían que era el Mesías tan esperado. Otros en el grupo no creían que Él podría ser el Cristo porque vino de Galilea y argumentaron que se suponía que debía venir de Belén.

Cuando Jesús curó a un ciego en sábado (Jn 9:16), algunos afirmaron que si no observaba el sábado, no podría ser de Dios. Por otro lado, otras personas creían que tenía que ser de Dios para poder realizar el milagro.

A pesar de que la misión de Jesús era lograr un Reino de su Padre, caracterizado por la unidad y el amor, experimentó discordia. Jesús se esforzó por ser unificador.  Su mensaje fue de amor. Debe haber sido tan doloroso para Él haberse entendido mal, su predicación y compasión.

Jesús expresó su dolor en las siguientes palabras: Jerusalén, Jerusalén, tú que matas a los profetas y apedreas a los que te son enviados. “Cuántas veces he anhelado reunir a tus hijos cuando una gallina junta sus polluelos bajo sus alas y tú te niegas”. (Mt 3:37) Cuando tuve el privilegio de sentarme en una roca en el Jardín de Getsemaní con vista a Jerusalén, esas palabras me llegaron y me conmovieron profundamente.

La división puede ser muy dolorosa. Hoy, los padres devotos que criaron a sus hijos con fe se afligen cuando esos niños se alejan de su fe. Es difícil presenciar el dolor de ver a sus queridos nietos privados de lo que es tan importante para su felicidad a largo plazo.

Hay una tendencia normal para que los adolescentes y adultos jóvenes afirmen su independencia de varias maneras. Puedo recordar cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria que decidí que no sería católica solo porque mis padres lo eran. Leí libros sobre apologética (defender la fe) que me llevaron a abrazar la fe personalmente. Por supuesto, el Espíritu Santo también me estaba guiando.

Sin embargo, hoy también existe la desilusión de los escándalos relacionados con la mala conducta del clero y la sensación de algunas personas de que no necesitan a Dios. A veces, vuelven a la fe cuando maduran y se dan cuenta de la debilidad de la naturaleza humana y / o tienen dificultades que los hacen volver a Dios en busca de ayuda.

¿Qué podemos hacer? Mientras tanto, debemos amarlos, orar por ellos y darles el ejemplo de una persona verdaderamente llena de fe. Una de mis oraciones favoritas es Señor, en tus manos encomiendo el espíritu de __________”.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:  ¿Hay alguien que está luchando con problemas de fe por los cuales puede orar u ofrecer ayuda?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
We can always pray for family and friends without giving God details of specific needs – He knows already. We just need to ask God to help them. We can assist those struggling with faith issues by being a good example of what a “faith-filled” person is/ does. Strengthen our own personal faith so that it shines like a lighthouse, radiating God’s love and mercy. If someone asks you a question about faith, listen to what and how they ask. Answer their question and guide them from what they know and feel to knowing God’s love and feeling God’s mercy.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I really appreciate the prayer you shared with us. I am one of the grieving parents you mention whose children have turned away from the faith.  Thus, I will name each of my sons in commending their spirits to Our Lord. What I find uplifting about this prayer is that I release my control of the outcome, trusting that God will meet the unique needs of each person for whom I pray. I include my mother, knowing that God knows my concern for her health and ease of daily living. I name my estranged sister hoping for healing and connection.  It is a wonderful prayer to whisper for all those for whom I have promised to pray. I am finding this aspiration very freeing to recite when I am feeling aversion toward leaders who abuse their status and make decisions that put the lives of innocent victims at risk.  I experience greater inner peace when, instead of complaining about someone or getting worked up about an issue, I offer that person or cause in prayer to Our Lord who loves us all unconditionally. 
In his recent series entitled, “Black Women Mystics,” Richard Rohr highlighted the writings of Dr. Diana L. Hayes, the first African American woman to earn a Pontifical Doctorate in Theology. Dr. Hayes writes, “This is our calling as Christian faithful: to recognize the Christ in everyone. And to reach out a hand of hope, to speak a word of love, to sing a song of happiness, to share a tear of joy or pain, to speak a word of praise, to murmur a prayer, to stand together against those forces that would divide us, isolate us, and block our flow toward home.”
Dr. Hayes cites Micah 6:8 as the basis for her belief: 
       You have been told…what is good
       And what the Lord requires of you:
       Only to do the right and to love goodness,
       And to walk humbly with your God.
As I journey through life, troubled by the appearance of darkness, and dismayed at the incomprehensible acts we commit against one another, it is easy to get drawn into the negative energy that surrounds me. It is, therefore, good to recall the Scripture passage from Micah often, knowing my peace depends on my ability to keep my focus on Christ’s Light and Love. Centered in Christ’s love, I am able to resist the temptation to react to the ill behaviors of others and recognize within them the suffering Christ. From a place of compassion, I commend their Spirit to the Lord, our true Source of hope and healing.
Imagine how lovely the global landscape would be if all Christians embraced and embodied the call to “recognize the Christ in everyone.”