Monday, September 30, 2019

October 6, 2019 Lord, Increase Our Faith

October 6, 2019    The Gift of Faith

Reading I:  Habakkuk

Psalm:  95

Reading II: 
2 Timothy

Luke 17:5-10

While it is important that we give thanks to the Lord for all that He has given us, gratitude for the gift of faith is especially important. Faith is the foundation on which one's life is lived. It is like an anchor in a sea which steadies the person during the calm and beautiful seasons and the turbulent storms of life.

This was brought home to me forcibly when I was a campus minister at Aquinas College, Newton, Massachusetts. One young woman who became involved in the campus ministry activities shared with me that she felt cheated because her parents had not introduced her to any religion. She went through her childhood and teens without the blessings of faith.

The situation was that her father was a nominal Catholic and her mother had been brought up Protestant. Since this student had no knowledge of either religion, the parents themselves probably did not attend church. It is no wonder that she felt cheated. As the student became more involved in the campus ministry program at the College, she took instructions and was received into the Catholic Church.

One of the best gifts we can share with another is our faith. That is true of parents who are called to prepare the child for life. We cannot be with our children to support them all their lives. Also, none of us are going to live forever. How grateful our children will be if we have introduced them to a loving Lord who will be with them forever.  

There are many adults who are seeking for meaning and purpose in their lives. By sharing Scripture, giving example of authentic Christian living, and reaching out to these seekers, we fulfill the call to each of us to spread the faith in our circumstances.

When I was in high school, I worked in a department store in the summer. The Franciscans had a chapel nearby and a Mass every day at noon. I used to go to Mass during my lunch break.  Another teenager who worked with me asked if she could come to Mass with me. 

After a while, my coworker decided that she wanted to be baptized. However, she knew that she would be evicted from her home if she attempted it at that time. I lost contact with her because I entered the convent after high school. However, I assume that when she was out on her own, she might have fulfilled her dream.

Sometimes, people are shy about inviting people to Church. A Sister, who was a convert, shared with me that when she wanted to attend a Mass in a Catholic Church. She waited and waited for an invitation to no avail. Finally, she invited herself. Eventually, she took instructions, was baptized and later became a Sister of the Blessed Sacrament. It is sad to know that she had to invite herself.

If we have the blessing of friendship with Jesus, introducing Him to others is the best gift we can give them. Let us be alert to opportunities to share the treasure of that relationship.

  Reflection Question:   Give an example in which you or others have led a person/people to Jesus.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Señor, Aumenta Nuestra Fe

Si bien es importante que demos gracias al Señor por todo lo que nos ha dado, la gratitud por el don de la fe es especialmente importante. La fe es la base sobre la cual se vive la vida. Es como un ancla en un mar que estabiliza a la persona durante las estaciones tranquilas y hermosas y las tormentas turbulentas de la vida.

Esto me lo trajeron a la fuerza cuando era ministro del campus en Aquinas College, Newton, Massachusetts. Una joven que se involucró en las actividades del ministerio del campus compartió conmigo que se sintió engañada porque sus padres no le habían presentado ninguna religión. Ella pasó por su infancia y adolescencia sin las bendiciones de la fe.

La situación era que su padre era un católico nominal y su madre había sido criada como protestante. Como este estudiante no tenía conocimiento de ninguna de las religiones, los padres probablemente no asistieron a la iglesia. No es de extrañar que se sintiera engañada. A medida que la estudiante se involucró más en el programa de ministerio del campus en el Colegio, recibió instrucciones y fue recibida en la Iglesia Católica.

O Uno de los mejores regalos que podemos compartir con otros es nuestra fe. Eso es cierto para los padres que están llamados a preparar al niño para la vida. No podemos estar con nuestros hijos para mantenerlos toda su vida. Además, ninguno de nosotros va a vivir para siempre. Cuán agradecidos estarán nuestros hijos si les presentamos a un Señor amoroso que estará con ellos para siempre.

Hay muchos adultos que buscan significado y propósito en sus vidas. Al compartir las Escrituras, dar ejemplo de la auténtica vida cristiana y llegar a estos buscadores, cumplimos el llamado a cada uno de nosotros para difundir la fe en nuestras circunstancias.

Cuando estaba en la secundaria, trabajaba en una tienda por departamentos en el verano. Los franciscanos tenían una capilla cerca y una misa todos los días al mediodía. Solía ​​ir a misa durante el almuerzo. Otra adolescente que trabajó conmigo me preguntó si podía venir a misa conmigo.

Después de un tiempo, mi compañero de trabajo decidió que quería ser bautizada. Sin embargo, sabía que sería desalojada de su hogar si lo intentaba en ese momento. Perdí el contacto con ella porque entré al convento después de la secundaria. Sin embargo, supongo que cuando estaba sola, podría haber cumplido su sueño.

A veces, las personas son tímidas acerca de invitar personas a la Iglesia. Una hermana, que se había convertido, compartió conmigo cuando quería asistir a una misa en una iglesia católica. Ella esperó y esperó una invitación en vano. Finalmente, se invitó a sí misma. Finalmente, ella tomó instrucciones, fue bautizada y luego se convirtió en Hermana del Santísimo Sacramento. Es triste saber que tuvo que invitarse a sí misma.

Si tenemos la bendición de la amistad con Jesús, presentarle a los demás es el mejor regalo que podemos darles. Estemos atentos a las oportunidades para compartir el tesoro de esa relación.

  Pregunta de Reflexión:   Dé un ejemplo en el que usted u otras personas hayan llevado a una persona a Jesús.


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

Habakkuk noted the cries of the people: “How long, O Lord? How long must we suffer?” Our Lord responded: “the vision still has its time.”  Mother Katharine noted that we should “Follow each day of the call – not ahead of it.” We can’t hold God’s plans to our stopwatch. We should try to be patient. God’s plan may not seem like an easy or quick one now, but it does lead to our salvation.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Rick Warren writes, “Faithful People Share their Faith.”

He bases that statement on the passage from Matthew’s Gospel in which the friends of a sick and paralyzed man, desiring his healing, brought him to Jesus by lowering him on his mat through an opening in the roof of a house where Jesus was staying.

Warren extends an astute invitation to all of us:
Warren draws attention to the wording in Matthew 9:2, “When Jesus saw their faith.” “It was not the paralyzed man’s faith that led to the healing—it was the faith of his friends.When Jesus saw that these friends cared enough to bring their paralyzed friend, he said, ‘Those guys have great faith. They’re not just asking; they expect me to heal their friend,’ and he did.” 

“You have friends who are spiritually paralyzed and can’t get to Jesus. They are paralyzed by fear, guilt, doubt, pain, or maybe even resentment over being hurt in some church in the past. They are paralyzed, and they can’t get to Jesus on their own.”

“God is watching to see if you will be faithful enough to bring them. And if you are, God will honor your faith. He’ll not only heal your friend; he’s also going to bless you. It’s a blessing of faith… as long as we keep bringing spiritually paralyzed people to Jesus, God will bless them and enrich our lives.”

I’m sure we would all like to be part of that win-win offer. For me, it means being open to opportunities to share my faith and releasing my fear of not knowing the right thing to say and of rejection. The Holy Spirit is working in and through my efforts so I really don’t have any reason not to extend an invitation to someone to join me in getting to know more abundantly the love of God.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sept. 29, 2019 The Temptations of the Rich

Sept. 29, 2019 -  The Temptations of the Rich    Year C

Reading I:  Amos 6: 1a, 4-7

Psalm:  146

Reading II:  1 Timothy 6:11-16

Gospel:  Luke 16:19-31

In the “Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus,” Jesus points out the temptation of the advantaged to focus on self-gratification and ignore the needs of the poor. Jesus warns them of the consequences.

While I did not grow up rich, I did grow up in an all-white neighborhood. My father had a secure job as a postman, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. I never knew anyone personally who was hungry. Also, I had not witnessed violence.

When television showed the attempts of people trying to prevent the integration of the University of Mississippi, I began to understand the situation of African Americans. This remains an indelible memory because it was an eye-opener for me. God was making me aware of those who were being oppressed.

Later, when I was teaching in New Orleans, Louisiana, at Xavier University, a historically Black, Catholic Institution, I learned even more. Every night on the news, we would hear about young black men being murdered. Nothing seemed to be done about it.

One Sister shared with me that the Sisters had received a desperate call from the mother of one of the Xavier students. Her son and friends were driving and took a wrong turn into a white neighborhood. The police pulled them over and took them to the police station. The young man called his mother to tell her where he was. She was terrified. Even though she knew they had not done anything wrong, their names would be put in a book, and they would be considered suspects whenever there was trouble in the future. Some of the Sisters went down to the station and would not leave until the names of the young men were taken out of the book. Only God knows if they were put back in when they left. The Sisters did what they could.

Another Sister in an elementary school shared that there was a valuable movie which she wanted her students to see. When she attempted to bring the children into the theater, she was told that she could come in (She was white), however, she couldn’t bring her black students into the theater. After arguing on behalf of the children, the Sister was allowed to take them up to the balcony where they would not be seen.

When I attended an English Teacher’s Convention, my awareness of the plight of Native Americans was heightened when the guest speaker read a lament from Chief Joseph who had promised his father on his deathbed that he would never sell the land in which his father’s bones were buried. The Government came and took the land. Chief Joseph was heartbroken that he was not able to keep the promise to his father. I came away believing that we needed Native lawyers to be able to defend their interests.

Later, I read the story of an educated Native woman who went to a clinic because she was having health issues. She was told that she needed a hysterectomy. She knew that was not her problem, so she had an investigation made which revealed that any woman who went to the clinic was automatically told she needed a hysterectomy. Basically, it was an attempt at genocide. I was convinced that we needed Native health workers.

I realized that a good way to help these oppressed people was to provide them a good education so that they could hold positions to assist their own people. St. Katharine Drexel also believed that a good education would help both groups. Therefore, she established many schools for them. She also founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to staff the missions, schools and provide social services for the people. It has made a difference. However, progress needs to continue.

On the other hand, with the media coverage of the cruel treatment of Latinos, Muslins, and immigrants from many countries, none of us can be ignorant of the situations of the needy, unless we choose to be. The whole situation is actually overwhelming. Also, it is very frustrating because good laws, like common-sense gun control, etc., are being blocked.

However, it is helpful to know that there are still good Samaritans who are volunteering to help situations, like those helping in the search and rescue efforts in the Bahamas. I heard of a man who purchased thousands of dollars of supplies in a Walmart for the Bahamas, but wanted to remain anonymous. We may not be able to contribute in these manners, but we do need to keep our eyes open for those who have needs which we can address.

In Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 25), there is a description of the Last Judgment in which the King says that whenever you refused to help one of these least ones, you refused to help me. He goes on to say that those will be sent off to eternal punishment, but that those who reach out to neighbors in need will enjoy eternal life.

 Reflection Question:   With my unique gifts and resources, whom can I help this week?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Las Tentaciones de Los Ricos

En la "Parábola del hombre rico y Lázaro", Jesús señala la tentación de los favorecidos de centrarse en la autogratificación e ignorar las necesidades de los pobres. Jesús les advierte de las consecuencias.

Si bien no crecí rico, crecí en un vecindario completamente blanco. Mi padre tenía un trabajo seguro como cartero y mi madre era una ama de casa. Nunca conocí a nadie personalmente que tuviera hambre. Además, no había presenciado violencia.

Cuando la televisión mostró los intentos de las personas que intentaban evitar la integración de la Universidad de Mississippi, comencé a comprender la situación de los afroamericanos. Esto sigue siendo un recuerdo imborrable porque fue una revelación para mí. Dios me estaba haciendo consciente de aquellos que estaban siendo oprimidos.

Más tarde, cuando estaba enseñando en Nueva Orleans, Luisiana, en la Universidad Xavier, una institución católica históricamente negra, aprendí aún más. Todas las noches en las noticias, escuchábamos sobre jóvenes negros asesinados. Nada parecía hacerse al respecto.

Una hermana compartió conmigo que las Hermanas habían recibido una llamada desesperada de la madre de uno de los estudiantes de Xavier. Su hijo y sus amigos estaban manejando y tomaron un giro equivocado en un vecindario blanco. La policía los detuvo y los llevó a la estación de policía. El joven llamó a su madre para decirle dónde estaba. Ella estaba aterrorizada. Aunque ella sabía que no habían hecho nada malo, sus nombres se pondrían en un libro, y se los consideraría sospechosos cada vez que hubiera problemas en el futuro. Algunas de las hermanas bajaron a la estación y no se irían hasta que los nombres de los jóvenes fueran sacados del libro. Solo Dios sabe si fueron devueltos cuando se fueron. Las hermanas hicieron lo que pudieron.

Otra hermana en una escuela primaria compartió que había una película valiosa que quería que sus alumnos vieran. Cuando intentó llevar a los niños al teatro, le dijeron que podía entrar (era blanca), sin embargo, no podía traer a sus estudiantes negros al teatro. Después de discutir en nombre de los niños, a la Hermana se le permitió llevarlos al balcón donde no los verían.

Cuando asistí a una convención de maestros de inglés, mi conciencia de la difícil situación de los nativos americanos aumentó cuando el orador invitado leyó un lamento del Jefe Joseph, quien le había prometido a su padre en su lecho de muerte que nunca vendería la tierra en la que estaban enterrados los huesos de su padre. . El gobierno vino y tomó la tierra. El jefe Joseph estaba desconsolado porque no pudo cumplir la promesa a su padre. Salí creyendo que necesitábamos abogados nativos para poder defender sus intereses.

Más tarde, leí la historia de una mujer nativa educada que fue a una clínica porque tenía problemas de salud. Le dijeron que necesitaba una histerectomía. Sabía que ese no era su problema, por lo que hizo una investigación que reveló que a cualquier mujer que fuera a la clínica se le dijo automáticamente que necesitaba una histerectomía. Básicamente, fue un intento de genocidio. Estaba convencido de que necesitábamos trabajadores de salud nativos.

Me di cuenta de que una buena manera de ayudar a estas personas oprimidas era proporcionarles una buena educación para que pudieran ocupar puestos para ayudar a su propia gente. Santa Katharine Drexel también creía que una buena educación ayudaría a ambos grupos. Por lo tanto, ella estableció muchas escuelas para ellos. También fundó las Hermanas del Santísimo Sacramento para el personal de las misiones, las escuelas y proporcionar servicios sociales para la gente. Ha hecho la diferencia. Sin embargo, el progreso debe continuar. 

Por otro lado, con la cobertura mediática del trato cruel a los latinos, musulmanes e inmigrantes de muchos países, ninguno de nosotros puede ignorar las situaciones de los necesitados, a menos que lo decidamos. Toda la situación es realmente abrumadora. Además, es muy frustrante porque se están bloqueando las buenas leyes, como el control de armas con sentido común, etc.

Sin embargo, es útil saber que todavía hay buenos samaritanos que se ofrecen como voluntarios para ayudar en situaciones, como los que ayudan en los esfuerzos de búsqueda y rescate en las Bahamas. Me enteré de un hombre que compró miles de dólares en suministros en un Walmart para las Bahamas, pero quería permanecer en el anonimato. Es posible que no podamos contribuir de esta manera, pero necesitamos mantener nuestros ojos abiertos para aquellos que tienen necesidades que podemos abordar.

En el Evangelio de Mateo (Capítulo 25), hay una descripción del Juicio Final en el que el Rey dice que siempre que se negó a ayudar a uno de estos menos importantes, se negó a ayudarme. Continúa diciendo que aquellos serán enviados al castigo eterno, pero que aquellos que se acerquen a los vecinos necesitados disfrutarán de la vida eterna.

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:   Con mis dones y recursos únicos, ¿a quién puedo ayudar esta semana?

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

I don’t know how I will be able to help anyone this week because I don’t know what this week will bring me. If I am open to the opportunities God sends me, then I will know how to respond. As Mother Katharine pointed out, God gave us three very valuable gifts: Faith, Hope, and Love. If we believe that there is good in each person, then we will see God in that person. Loving God, we will be open to loving the person before us and this love will tell us how to serve that person. I trust that God will send me the grace to be able to respond to the request or plea that God sends me today.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Regrettably, I see myself in the rich man. It is not that I am living in wealth and luxury, but I have been complacent (and apathetic) more times than I like to admit when it comes to recognizing and responding to the needs of others. I think that the rich man is so comfortable in his surroundings (probably with servants who take care of his every desire) that he doesn’t look beyond his immediate environment. All his needs are being met; there is no reason to go outside. Consequently, he doesn’t know, or maybe he really does not care, that Lazarus lies starving on the other side of the gate.
I live in the city where housing is very close. My daily life is very full, and when I get home at the end of the day I typically don’t go outside; rarely do I check to see what lies on the other side of the gate. Thus, I do not connect with my neighbors often, many of whom are slaves to the same busy routine. I did not know that my neighbor across the street was depressed until the flashy sirens of the police cars and ambulance caught my attention. They were responding to a call that my neighbor was found unresponsive after attempting suicide. I did not know she was suffering. How could I if I never venture outside my comfort zone? What hunger raged in the depth of her being? Dare I ask?
When we risk knowing another, we may very well recognize needs. If we see unmet needs, do we not have a responsibility to take an action – to give something of ourselves? This can cause a fear of sorts – do I have enough time, skill, resources – to share? Depending on how we look at it, looking out for one another can feel burdensome. The flip side is that it can be one of the most rewarding of life experiences in which we make a lasting contribution to an individual, a family, to society. Would we ourselves not appreciate support when we are vulnerable?
In his book, “The Rhythm of Life,” Matthew Kelly writes, “There is no greater satisfaction than laying your head on the pillow at night and knowing you have touched another person’s life, made his burden lighter, taught her some infinite wisdom, made him laugh, allowed her to cry on your shoulder, lent him an understanding ear...made a difference.” In the chapter entitled, “Be The Difference That Makes The Difference,” Kelly suggests that every morning when we wake, ask ourselves the questions, “Whose day can I make today?” and “How can I make that person’s day?” Some suggestions are to write and send an unexpected letter, buy someone chocolate or flowers, bake cookies, tell someone you love that you love them.
“These things may seem simple and external, but they reflect a much deeper quality in a person. Spiritually, we strive to be patient because God is patient, we seek to be kind because God is kind, we try to be humble and gentle because they are the ways of God, we seek to love and be loved because God is love...Yet above everything else, beyond everything else, before everything else ...God is a giver. He always gives. Giving is God’s life and existence. For God, giving is the perpetual motion of His being. It is an act of greatness because it is an act that emerges from the heart and mind of God”. Kelly writes that there is no surer way to share in the life, the power and the infinite joy of God than to give.
Your blog ended with the message from St. Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 25) instructing that those who reach out to neighbors in need will enjoy eternal life. Matthew Kelly reminds us that, “The good we do is never lost; it never dies. In other people, in other places, in other times- the good we do lives on forever.”
Caring and sharing is a choice. Let’s choose to “Be the difference that makes the difference!”

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.