Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Heart on Fire

During 2018,  the Society of the Sacred Heart is celebrating the bicentennial of the arrival of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne in the New World. To commemorate the occasion, Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, has written Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: A Heart on Fire Across Frontiers (copyright 2017, Society of the Sacred Heart).  Although it is brief (67 pages), the book offers a good overview of Saint Philippine's life and the struggles involved in bringing the charism of the Society to the United States. 

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
In the conclusion of the book, Osiek states,  "Philippine's life was one of courage, vision and generosity.  With open heart, she faced and overcame incredible obstacles in order to bring the love of Christ to those who did not know it.  Two particular characteristics should make her beloved by those who struggle in the same way.  First, though she wanted to accomplish her life's work in younger days, obstacles of all kinds prevented her from following the call of God until she was well into middle age.  Those who struggle to follow God's call for them and are prevented through many years will find in her a companion and friend.  Second, though her zeal and love could overcome great difficulties, she was never able to learn the language that, after her own, would have been the most helpful for her mission.  In our multicultural world, those who find their effectiveness hindered by lack of ability in languages should know that she shared their frustration and can be present as encourager and friend" (64).

Those familiar with the history of the Sisters of Christian Charity will recognize the significance of the Society of the Sacred Heart to Pauline von Mallinckrodt.  Prior to the founding of the Sisters of Christian Charity, Pauline was looking to place the blind children under the care of a religious order of Sisters and to enter the order which would consent to care for the blind.  One of the orders she visited in this quest was the Society of the Sacred Heart.  In her Autobiography, Mother Pauline wrote, "I spent about three weeks with the Ladies of the Sacre Coeur and I consider this experience one of the great graces of my life.  The superior-general, Madame Barat, is a very spiritual and intelligent lady.  Among her spiritual daughters, too, there was evidence of much beautiful virtue, culture and refinement -- all of which served greatly to my instruction and edification."

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat
"Madame Barat"  -- Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat -- founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800 and was its superior general for 65 years.  In 1818, she sent five Sisters (including Rose Philippine Duchesne) to the United States.  We join with the Society of the Sacred Heart in celebrating the bicentennial of the arrival of their Sisters in St. Charles, Missouri, beginning a legacy that has extended to 41 countries through the work of over 2,500 sisters, who strive to "deepen the understanding of God's love and reveal it to the world through the service of education" ("Brief History," RSCJ website).

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Prayer for International Women's Day

Please click here for a prayer from Education for Justice for International Women's Day (celebrated annually on March 8).

Sunday, March 4, 2018

March Issue of Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The March 2018 issue of Stop Trafficking -- focusing on how slave labor is part of our seafood supply chain -- is available here.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church

Today the Vatican announced that the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church will be added to the General Roman Calendar -- which means it will be celebrated by the whole Roman Catholic Church -- on the Monday after Pentecost (May 21 this year). Click here for more information from the Catholic News Agency.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

National Call-In Day

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a call to U.S. Catholics and people of good will across the nation to take part in a "Call-In Day' on February 26 for the protection of Dreamers -- protecting them from deportation, providing them a path to citizenship and avoiding damage to existing protections.  Click here for more information about participating in the National Call-In Day.

For your March Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember in March:

  • March 8 - International Women's Day
  • March 21 - International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • March 22 - World Water Day
  • March 25 (Palm Sunday) - International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • March 29 - Holy Thursday
  • March 30 - Good Friday
  • March 31 - Easter Vigil

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Barking to the Choir

Perhaps you remember the 2010 book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle, SJ.  In 1988, Father Boyle (with the assistance of many others) founded Homeboy Industries as a way to intervene in the increasing gang violence in the Los Angeles area.  Since then, Homeboy Industries has grown exponentially and "serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking to leave gang life, for whom barriers and challenges are great, and for whom there is virtually no other avenue to enter the mainstream" (from the Homeboy Industries website).  Visitors to the website are met with this audacious claim:  "Hope has an address."

Now, Father Boyle has published Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, which just might be the book you'd like as a companion during the rest of your Lenten journey.  Continuing to tell the stories of Homeboy Industries and the variety of people who find refuge and transformation there, the author challenges us from the beginning of the book.

Here's an excerpt from page 2: "Human beings are settlers, but not in the pioneer sense.  It is our human occupational hazard to settle for little.  We settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness.  We settle for the fear-driven when love longs to be our engine.  We settle for a puny, vindictive God when we are being nudged always closer to this wildly, inclusive, larger-than-any-life God.  We allow our sense of God to atrophy.  We settle for the illusion of separation when we are endlessly asked to enter into kinship with all..  The Choir has settled for little . . . and the 'barking,' like a protective sheepdog, wants to guide us back to the expansiveness of God's own longing."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Fragile Joy Returns to Iraq"

Timothy Radcliffe, OP, has written this article, "Fragile Joy Returns to Iraq," about the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine in Iraq, whose "endurance, commitment to education and to care of the sick, and above all,  joy, is a sign of hope in our Lord who never deserts us."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Day of Prayer and Fasting

Friday, February 23 has been designated by Pope Francis as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Whole World.  Resources for this day (including additional intercesssions for the Prayer of the Faithful) are available on the USCCB website.  Here is a prayer that is found on that site:

Heavenly Father,
you tell of a time when the lion and lamb lie down together,
and swords will be turned into plowshares,
a time when all divisions will be healed.

Be with the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan
in their hour of suffering.
May your Spirit of Love comfort them and kindle in their hearts
a hope for true peace, mercy and reconciliation.

Be with the leaders who hold the future of these countries in their hands.
Open their minds and hearts to your Spirit of Peace
so that they may work to build societies that respect the rights of all.

Ever Living God, may our heartfelt prayer and fasting
help bring peace and justice
to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and to all the World.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lenten Calendar

The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ offer this calendar for our Lenten consideration.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Prayers for World Day of Social Justice

World Day of Social Justice is commemorated annually on February 20.  This year's theme, as noted by the United Nations, is "Workers on the Move: The Quest for Social Justice."  The Sisters of Mercy have published a brief prayer service for this day (available here) and Education for Justice has provided this prayer for the day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ash Wednesday

Here are some thoughts from  Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (1817-1881) that may help to guide our Lenten journey:

"When we behold our own weakness, let us look up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  He offered Himself in atonement for our sins and shares with us the treasures of His Heart.  Our good works and virtues have value only through Him.  In the Heart of Jesus we find the fountain of love that was the source of all He did during His entire life.  Let us mold ourselves entirely according to this model.  In the various circumstances and happenings of our life, let us always ask, "How would Jesus have acted?"  Let us do likewise and imitate His meekness, His humility, His love, His mildness, His spirit of penance.  Now, during the holy season of Lent, we want to think of His fasting, especially His spirit of fasting.  Jesus will be pleased to find hearts that with Him think of the sinners whom He loves so much.  But how He must feel when He sees those who act as if He had never done anything for them.  Heart of Jesus, help me to grow in the knowledge of Your love that I may love You more and more.  Dearest Mother Mary, help me to imitate more and more the virtues of the Sacred Heart.  Amen"  (February 22, 1855).

Monday, February 12, 2018

Message of Pope Francis for Lent

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is on February 14.  The Holy Father's Lenten message is available here.  Its theme is: "Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold" (Mt 24:12).  In his message, Pope Francis urges the members of the Church to "take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.  If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!  He constantly gives us the chance to begin loving anew. . . . By listening to God's word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Prayer for the 11th of the Month

As we remember our day of fasting and prayer for the 11th of the month, we pause, reflect and pray that "God will guide our feet into the way of peace."  Click here to visit the SCC Western Region's website which contains a prayer for this intention.

Friday, February 9, 2018

World Day of the Sick 2018

Sunday, February 11 will be the 26th World Day of the Sick.  The message of Pope Francis for this day is available here.  Other resources from the Catholic Health Association can be found here.  The Holy Father's brief message for this day concludes: 

"To Mary, Mother of tender love, we wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul, that she may sustain them in hope.  We ask her to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters.  The Church knows that she requires a special grace to live up to her evangelical task of serving the sick.  May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.  May the Virgin Mary intercede for this Twenty-sixth World Day of the Sick; may she help the sick to experience their suffering in communion with the Lord Jesus; and may she support all those who care for them."

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Prayer on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita, you were sold into slavery as a child and endured untold hardship and suffering.  Once liberated from your physical enslavement, you found true redemption in your encounter with Christ and his Church.  O St. Bakhita, assist all those who are trapped in a state of slavery; Intercede with God on their behalf so that they will be released from their chains of captivity.  Those whom man enslaves, let God set free.  Provide comfort to survivors of slavery and let them look to you as an example of hope and faith.  Help all survivors find healing from their wounds.  We ask for your prayers and intercessions for those enslaved among us.  Amen.

For more information and resources, visit the website of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

St. Bakhita Day Webinar

On Wednesday, February 8 at 1 pm (EST), the USCCB is hosting a webinar to "learn how parishes around the country are combatting human trafficking and how you can do the same."  Click here for more information about attending the webinar.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The daily "havoc" of grace

On Friday, February 2, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and marked the 22nd World Day for Consecrated Life.  The text of his homily is available here. An excerpt of the homily follows:

How good it is for us to hold the Lord "in our arms" (Lk 2:28) like Simeon.  Not only in our heads and in our hearts, but also "in our hands," in all that we do: in prayer, at work, at the table, on the telephone, at school, with the poor, everywhere.  Having the Lord "in our hands" is an antidote to insular mysticism and frenetic activism, since a genuine encounter with Jesus corrects both saccharine piety and frazzled hyperactivity.  Savoring the encounter with Jesus is also the remedy for paralysis of routine, for it opens up the daily "havoc" of grace.  The secret to fanning the flame of our spiritual life is a willingness to allow ourselves to encounter Jesus and to be encountered by him; otherwise we fall into a stifling life, where disgruntlement, bitterness and inevitable disappointments get the better of us.  To encounter one another in Jesus as brothers and sisters, young and old, and thus to abandon the barren rhetoric of "the good old days" -- a nostalgia that kills the soul -- and to silence those who think that "everything is falling apart."  If we encounter Jesus and our brothers and sisters in the everyday events of our life, our hearts will no longer be set on the past or the future, but will experience the "today of God" in peace with everyone.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Halftime Challenge

You will recall from the Super Bowls of the past few years the social media campaign, the Halftime Challenge, whose purpose is to spread the message of abolishing modern-day slavery.  Since the Super Bowl will occur this Sunday, February 4, we draw your attention once more to the Halftime Challenge.  Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for February

The February issue of Stop Trafficking is available here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

15 Ways You Can Help Combat Human Trafficking

Just a reminder as we wind down National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month:  The US Department of State has provided a list of 15 ways to help combat human trafficking (available here).  No matter where we are, no matter our ministry, we can find at least one way to assist in human trafficking prevention efforts by referencing this list.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

For your February Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember during the month of February:

  • African American History Month
  • February 8: International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
  • February 11:  World Day of the Sick
  • February 14:  Ash Wednesday
  • February 20: World Day of Social Justice

Friday, January 26, 2018

Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed

Happy Catholic Schools Week (January 28-February 3) to everyone involved in Catholic education throughout the country!  This year's theme is "Catholic Schools: Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed." 

We send special prayers to all Sisters of Christian Charity who minister in Catholic education, their colleagues and their students.  Click here to find a listing of the schools and colleges where the Sisters of Christian Charity from the Eastern Province minister. 

To learn more about Catholic Schools week, visit the website of the National Catholic Education Association

9 Days for Life: Day 9

Today's intercession:  For God's peace to fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 8

Today's intercession:  For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 7

Today's intercession:  May those who long for a child of their own be filled with trust in God's loving plan.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 6

Today's intercession:  May those near the end of their lives receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Monday, January 22, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 5

Today's intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope and healing in Christ.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 4

Today's intercession: May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift, and is worth living.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 3

Today's intercession: For victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Click here for today's reflection and actions.

Friday, January 19, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 2

Today's intercession:  For an end to abortion.

Click here for today's reflection and actions. 

Let us remember the hundreds of thousands of people who will attend the "March for Life" in Washington, D.C. today, as well as those who will attend local marches throughout the country. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

9 Days for Life: Day 1

Today's intercession:  May a culture of life grow ever stronger in our communities.  Click here for today's reflection and action.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pope Visits St. Alberto Hurtado's Shrine

During his visit to Chile, Pope Francis visited the shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ.  For more information on this saint, click here to read an America magazine article on Padre Hurtado written by James Martin, SJ, in 2010.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reminder: 9 Days for Life

"9 Days for Life" is a digital pilgrimage of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person's life.  This year, the nine days run from January 18-26.  Click here to find more information from the USCCB, including the possibility of signing up for daily emails and/or texts.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holy Father in Chile and Peru

Let us pray for Pope Francis as he visits Chile and Peru over the next few days. Click here to view the updated schedule for the visit.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Reminder: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Here's your reminder that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on Thursday, January 18.  The theme for the week is "Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power" (Exodus 15:6).  More information is available here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Virtual Human Trafficking Summit

The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is sponsoring a Virtual Human Trafficking Summit on Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, from 8 am until 3 pm.  This is a Facebook live event, so just sign in to your Facebook account and search for njhumantrafficking.  Or, click this link, then sign in to Facebook.  The schedule is available on the website, so you can attend for the portion of the day that interests you most. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Second Attempt: Reflection for Human Trafficking Awareness Day

The previous post had an incorrect link, so we're trying again:

The Catholic Health Association of the United States has provided this prayer service for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11.

Reflection for Human Trafficking Awareness Day

The Catholic Health Association of the United States has provided this prayer service for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"Share the Journey" Webinar

The Share the Journey Campaign -- established to call attention to and inspire action on behalf of migrants and refugees -- will host a webinar on Friday, January 12 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM.  Click here to register for the webinar, which will highlight the efforts of several bishops, Catholic Charities agencies, parishes and other organizations to give life to this two-year initiative.  (What is the "Share the Journey Campaign"?  Click on this post from August to refresh your memory.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Let Us Imitate the Magi"

Click here to read the English translation of Pope Francis' homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, in which the Holy Father invites us to "imitate the Magi" by "looking upwards, setting out and freely offering our gifts." 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  Click here for prayer resources from U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  Included in these resources is a calendar that runs from January 11 to February 8, containing a prayer and intentions for each day.  (Remember that February 8, the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, is also the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Poverty Awareness Month

The USCCB has designated each January as "Poverty Awareness Month."  The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has provided this calendar with daily suggestions, reflections and challenges for Poverty Awareness Month 2018.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Resources for National Migration Week

"Many Journeys, One Family" is the theme of National Migration Week (January 7-14, 2018).  Resources -- including a toolkit with prayers, talking points and other suggestions for action -- are available here.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The January issue of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter -- available here -- provides educational materials to use this month, which is  Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Monday, January 1, 2018

World Day of Peace

Click here to read the message of Pope Francis for the 51st World Day of Peace, "Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace."

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Luke 2:19, 21

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart…When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

“Mary comes to the temple without attracting any attention. She has only the offering of the poor—a pair of turtle doves—yet she offers God. O admirable model! Such ought all our sacrifices be: of immense value before God, but hidden before the world” (Blessed Pauline, 1848).

Two mothers, both following the call of the Heavenly Father: In the Gospel of Luke, we see Mary, our heavenly mother, keeping all in her heart. She was obedient to the voice of the angel before the birth of her Divine Son. She continued to show her obedience by having him circumcised into the covenant of his earthly forefathers. Her silent obedience continued to the foot of his cross.

In the maxim quoted above, we see the love of a second Mother, Pauline. In her love and dedication to following Mary, she reflects on the part of the story not told in today’s Gospel. She, like Mary, would strive to follow the call of the heavenly Father in all simplicity, not calling attention to herself, but striving to offer even what may have seemed to the world to be the poorest of offerings within the context of the greatest sacrifice of the cross.

Today, as daughters of so noble a pair of Mothers, let us reflect: Are my sacrifices truly hidden, letting the holocaust burn to the last cinder, or do I try to save some of the remains, not willing to go to the cross? Let us bravely follow our Mothers, in silent, but great sacrifice.

We are grateful to the Sisters of Christian Charity who wrote the reflections that have touched our hearts and souls since the First Sunday of Advent, December 3.  May God bless you for your generosity in giving your time and talent to make these reflections possible.