Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reminder: World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

As this blog reminded us previously, September 1 (tomorrow) is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  Resources are everywhere!  Click here to access the USCCB's resources.

The Sick, the Imprisoned and Mother Teresa

As the Church prepares for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta on Sunday, September 4, we continue our journey through the beatitudes as reflected upon in A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve (Image Press, 2016).

pp. 82-3: "'I was sick and you visited me' were the words of Jesus.  So many of our poor just long for a visit from someone.  When you talk to them, put all your love and sweetness into your words -- or rather ask Jesus to speak through you. [The proof] that Christ was divine, that He was the expected Messiah, [is] that the Gospel is preached to the poor -- the proof that this work is God's work is that the Gospel is preached to the poor.  Pray and thank God for having chosen you to live this life and do this work."

pp. 110-1:  "Mother Teresa visited prisoners and took great care of them.  She did so without prejudice toward anyone, without looking down on anyone, without condescension, but rather with great respect for each person and with great hope.  She was always ready to offer someone another chance (and not just a second chance!).  She approached each one, independently of the reason for which they were sentenced, precisely with an attitude of mercy, which was partly the fruit of her own conviction that 'there, but for the grace of God, go I,' and partly the fruit of her compassion for this particular suffering person."

Reflection for today:  What is your attitude toward prisoners? That they deserve to be where they are or that it could be me? When I see or hear about a prisoner, do I think: "What could he or she have done to be there?" Or do I see a child of God, my brother, my sister?  Is there a way I can participate in this work of mercy? For example, could I join a volunteer program or help in some rehabilitation program, and so forth? If I am "imprisoned" in my own prejudices, what concrete steps can I take to learn the truth and correct my mistaken thinking?  Am I imprisoned in my own egoism and pride?  Can I get out of myself and offer a helping hand to someone who is in a more difficult situation than I am?  Can I have a kind and positive attitude toward someone who is "imprisoned" by addiction?  Am I able to approach them and by my understanding love give peace and joy? (p. 125)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Naked, the Homeless and Mother Teresa

You will recall that on Sunday we introduced Mother Teresa's new book, A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC.  In preparation for her canonization on Sunday, September 4, we are sharing excerpts of the book this week.  Since the book is divided into chapters based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, today's reflections come from chapters three and four, "Clothe the Naked" and "Shelter the Homeless."

pp. 41-2:  "There is nakedness for that human dignity, for that respect of the Divine that is in each one of us.  Because God has created us for greater things, to love and to be loved.  And so when we take away the dignity of that human being, we are destroying in him that divinity that is in him."

p. 51:  "It may be if you go to the station and it may be if you visit some of the very poor areas, you will find people who are sleeping just in the park or you will see them sleep in the street.  I have seen people in London, I have seen people in New York, I have seen people in Rome sleeping out in th street, in the park, and this is not the only kind of homelessness -- that is terrible, terrible to see in the cold night, a man, a woman sleeping on a piece of newspaper in the street.  But there is much greater homelessness -- being rejected, being unwanted, being unloved."

Reflection for today:  When I meet a homeless person on the street, do I just cross to the other side to avoid an unpleasant experience?  Can I acknowledge that person?  Can I greet him or her with a smile and listening ear?  Or do I feel superior and have sentiments of self-righteousness as I reject, or worse, despise the person on the street?  In what way can I open my hear to someone in my own home, my family, my community, my workplace, or my neighborhood?  What small act of kindness can make my home a place where my family members, relatives, friends, or co-workers feel accepted, appreciated, loved, and welcomed?  Having a welcoming smile that makes those who approach you feel accepted might be an excellent way to practice hospitality (pp. 75-6).

Click here for more information about Mother Teresa's canonization or about A Call to Mercy.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Hungry, the Thirsty and Mother Teresa

You will recall that yesterday we introduced Mother Teresa's new book, A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC.  In preparation for her canonization on Sunday, we are sharing excerpts of the book this week.  Since the book is divided into chapters based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, today's reflections come from the first two chapters, "Feed the Hungry" and "Give Drink to the Thirsty."

p. 2 - "Mother Teresa is not known for setting up great programs that resolve world hunger (worthy and necessary as they are) but for 'feeding the hungry,' one by one, one at a time.  Yet in doing so she made a great difference first in the lives of these individuals, and ultimately in the world."

p. 28 - [Mother Teresa's own words] "He is saying: 'I am hungry. I am thirsty. I have no place.  I have nobody.  You did it unto Me.' I am always saying that we are not social workers, but contemplatives in the heart of the world.  In the heart of the world we are feeding Jesus who is hungry.  We are giving the water of mercy to our people, to Jesus."

Today's prayer:  Mary, Mother of Jesus, you were the first one to hear Jesus cry, "I thirst." You know how real, how deep is His longing for me and for the poor.  I am yours -- Teach me, bring me face-to-face with the love in the Heart of Jesus Crucified.  With your help, Mother Mary, I will listen to Jesus's thirst and it will be for me a WORD OF LIFE.  Standing near you, I will give Him my love, and I will give Him the chance to love me and so be the cause of your joy.  And so I will satiate the thirst of Jesus. Amen. -- Mother Teresa (from p. 33 of A Call to Mercy)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mother Teresa: A Call to Mercy

As the Church prepares for the canonization of Mother Teresa on Sunday, September 4, we are reminded that it is no coincidence that her canonization occurs during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  In his introduction to the book he edited, A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve, Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC -- the postulator of Mother Teresa's cause for sainthood -- writes:

"Interestingly, mercy is not a word that Mother Teresa employed frequently in her spoken or written word. . . . The canonization of Mother Teresa is most appropriate during this Jubilee of Mercy because she epitomized so well what it means to accept Pope Francis's invitation to the Church:  that we 'enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy' (Misericordiae Vultus, 15). In meeting her, the poor indeed had the opportunity to meet God's mercy.  They met a person who loved, who cared, who had compassion and the ability to understand their pain and their sufferings.  In her wrinkled face, the poor -- and all those who met her -- had a chance to 'see' the tender and compassionate face of the Father's love for us.  They knew that she understood them, that she was one with them" (xiii-xvi).

This week, we will provide excerpts of previously unpublished material contained in this book (published on August 16, 2016), whose chapters are arranged according to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  For more information on the canonization and the book, go to the site of the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center (click here).

Friday, August 26, 2016

Something Beautiful for God: Sister Paula and Sister Margaret

The video embedded below features the beautiful ministry of Sister of Charity of Nazareth Paula Merrill and School Sister of Saint Francis Margaret Held, who were murdered in Mississippi on Thursday.  During the four minutes it takes to view this video, please remember to pray for all involved.

(Email subscribers: Please click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)

Paula Merrill, SCN from Sisters of Charity of Nazareth on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prayers for Sister Margaret and Sister Paula

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth announced (here)  the deaths of Sister Paula Merrill, SCN and School Sister of Saint Francis Margaret Held. Both Sisters were Nurse Practitioners in Durant, Mississippi and were found dead in their home there.  According to this article in America Magazine, early reports indicate that the Sisters were victims of robbers, as their home was broken into and their car was stolen.

Please pray for them, for their religious communities and their families, for those with whom and for whom they ministered, and for the perpetrators of this act of violence.

Eternal rest grant unto Sister Margaret and Sister Paula, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen

Rosary for Italian Earthquake Victims

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, has invited all Catholics to unite in prayer with Pope Francis for the victims of the earthquakes in Italy and for those suffering due to natural disasters.  Click here for more information.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Online Book Club: Laudato Si

Have you spent the last year with the good intention of reflecting on Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment,  Laudato Si?  Perhaps the Boston College Online Book Club can help you "make good" on that intention.  Click here for more information about this four-week endeavor.

Providentially, a portion of this book club's discussion falls within the "Season of Creation" you heard about here last week.  So, perhaps you'd like to commemorate the World Day for Creation (September 1), the Season of Creation (September 1- October 4) and the International Day of Peace (September 21) followed by four weeks of online discussion (September 21 - October 25) on Laudato Si.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to help Baton Rouge

We have seen and heard reports about the devastating flooding in Louisiana and we ask, "What can we do?"  Certainly, and always, we pray.  Additionally, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge offers ways to help.  Click here to learn how to donate or volunteer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Season of Creation

As readers of this blog recall, last year Pope Francis announced a World Day of Prayer for Creation to be observed on September 1 each year.  By doing this, the Roman Catholic Church joined with other Christian churches so that about 2.2 billion Christian are invited to pray for creation on September 1.  In recent years, many Christian churches have been celebrating the "Season of Creation," between September 1 and October 4 (Feast of St. Francis of Assisi).

Would you like to observe this season, as well?  Click here to access the Season of Creation website, where there are many materials to assist in this prayerful commemoration.  Do you have ideas that you would like to share?  Please let us know so we can share them with the readers of our blog.  Thank you!

Friday, August 12, 2016

CST 101: Life and Dignity of the Human Person

"CST 101" is a seven-part video series presented by the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services on Catholic Social Teaching.  A few weeks ago, we shared the first installment (which was "Option for the Poor and Vulnerable).  Today, we bring you "Life and Dignity of the Human Person."  (The video is available here and is embedded below.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Prayers before the Election

As readers of this blog are aware, it is our communal practice to pray and fast for peace on the 11th of each month.  During the months leading up to November 8, could we add the intention of the U.S. elections when we pray and fast on the 11th of the month?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Pray this "Prayer Before an Election" suggested by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • Reflect on portions of "A Revolution of Tenderness: A 2016 Election Pope Francis Voter Guide" (available here), especially considering the questions at the end of each section.
  • Fast from critical thinking and violent words, especially toward/about people on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
  • Fast from mindless entertainment and spend some time in worthwhile reading. 
  • Fast from overuse of electronic media.
(Thanks to the Sisters of Charity for sharing many of theses suggestions.)

Friday, August 5, 2016

August 6

On August 6, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, directly killing 80,000 people and injuring 35,000 more.  On August 6, 2016, let us pray together that nuclear weapons become ancient history.  From Pax Christi USA:

O Cosmic Christ of the Universe,
Hear our prayers and petitions for peace in these times of chaos and fear.
You, who have endowed us with the capacity for love, compassion and generosity,
lead us toward global harmony and nonviolence,
away from the false security of war, violence and nuclear weapons,
away from the holocaust of the human race and massive global destruction.
Through your eternal grace,
inspire our voices to call for the dismantling of nuclear factories and bombs of death,
inspire our hearts with the desire and intention for global nuclear disarmament,
and transform our spirits into peacemakers of Christ, for "Blessed are the peacemakers."  Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August Issue of Stop Trafficking

The August 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- highlighting global corporate business models that promote profits at the expense of workers -- is available here.