Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Everyone can be an artisan of peace."

In his message for tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the celebration of the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis said:

"All of us want peace.  Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.  In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home.  Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace."

The full text of the message is available here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 5

Since Christmas Day, we have been reflecting on the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass in which he invited us to be challenged by the child in the manger.  Today, we provide the final excerpt of this homily:

"That night, the shepherds understood this.  They were among the marginalized of those times.  Yet no one is marginalized in the sight of God, and that Christmas, they themselves were the guests.  People who felt sure of themselves, self-sufficient, were at home with their possessions.  It was the shepherds who 'set out with haste' (cf. Luke 2:16).  Tonight, may we too be challenged and called by Jesus.  Let us approach him with trust, starting from all those things that make us feel marginalized, from our limitations and our sins.  Let us be touched by the tenderness that saves.  Let us draw close to God who draws close to us.  Let us pause to gaze upon the crib, and relive in our imagination the birth of Jesus: light and peace, dire poverty and rejection.  With the shepherds, let us enter into the real Christmas, bringing to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds, our sins.  Then, in Jesus, we will enjoy the taste of the true spirit of Christmas:  the beauty of being loved by God.  With Mary and Joseph, let us pause before the manger, before Jesus who is born as bread for my life.  Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us simply tell him:  Thank you.  Thank you because you have done all this for me."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 4

We continue our reading of the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass:

"Yet Christmas has above all a taste of hope because, for all the darkness in our lives, God's light shines forth.  His gentle light does not frighten us.  God, who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, by being born poor and frail in our midst, as one of us.  He is born in Bethlehem, which means "house of bread."  In this way, he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters our life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love.  He does not come to devour or to lord it over us, but instead to feed and serve us.  There is a straight line between the manger and the cross where Jesus will become bread that is broken.  It is the straight line of love that gives and saves, the love that brings light to our lives and peace to our hearts."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 3

We continue to reflect on the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass:

"The mystery of Christmas,which is light and joy, challenges and unsettles us, because it is at once a mystery of hope and of sadness.  It has a taste of sadness inasmuch as love is not accepted, and life discarded.  Such was the case with Joseph and Mary, who met with closed doors, and placed Jesus in a manger, "because there was no place for them in the inn" (v. 7).  Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference.  Today, too, that same indifference can exist whenever Christmas becomes a holiday with ourselves at the center rather than Jesus, when the lights of shop windows push the light of God into the shadows; when we are enthused about gifts but indifferent to our neighbors in need.  This worldliness has kidnapped Christmas; we need to liberate it!"

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 2

It is possible that in the bustle of the Christmas season, we might not have the time to reflect on the entire  homily of Pope Francis from Midnight Mass (suggested in yesterday's post).  So, perhaps a few sentences at a time would be better:

"With this sign the Gospel reveals a paradox.  It speaks of the emperor, the governor, the high and mighty of those times, yet God does not make himself present there.  He appears not in the splendor of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in simplicity of life; not in power, but in astonishing smallness.  In order to meet him, we need to go where he is.  We need to bow down, to humble ourselves, to make ourselves small.  The newborn Child challenges us.  He calls us to leave behind fleeting illusions and to turn to what is essential, to renounce our insatiable cravings, to abandon our endless yearning for things we will never have.  We do well to leave such things behind, in order to discover, in the simplicity of the divine Child, peace, joy and the luminous meaning of life."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Challenged by the Child in the Manger

Mallinckrodt Convent, Mendham, NJ
During Midnight Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Pope Francis said, "Let us allow the child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also be challenged by all those children in today's world who are lying not in a crib . . . but in squalid mangers that devour dignity.  Children who hide underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of large cities, in the hold of a boat overladen with immigrants . . . Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by those children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one relieves their hunger, by those who hold in their hands not toys, but weapons."  Find the complete text of this homily here.

As we continue to allow ourselves to rise to the challenge of the Child and of all children, may we have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

December Issue of Stop Trafficking

The December 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- providing educational materials to be used during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January 2017 -- is available here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Reminder: Prayer and Solidarity with Families of Immigrants

As we reminded you in this post two weeks ago, the USCCB has asked us to focus on the plight of refugees and immigrants on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Click here for more information from the USCCB website.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Prayer and Solidarity with Families of Immigrants

A message from the USCCB:  A Day of Prayer with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants will take place across the United States on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It will be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears and needs of all those families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.  Click here to find more information and materials on the USCCB website.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Welcoming the Light

The West Virginia Institute for Spirituality (WVIS) has prepared an Advent reflection booklet, "Welcoming the Light."  Click here to access the booklet. Thanks to WVIS for sharing these daily reflections, and to Sisters of Christian Charity Gale Pankowski and Mary Irene Sorber for preparing reflections.

Friday, November 18, 2016

November Issue of Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The November 2016 issue of Stop Trafficking -- highlighting various forced labor abuses -- is available here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the elections in the United States.  Now that the election has taken place, today's intention is "May the leaders elected this week be guided by the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their positions."  The bishops also invite us to fast and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention.  Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions: Election Day Edition

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the upcoming elections in the United States. Because today is election day, the bishops have asked us to pray and fast "for a peaceful, just and faith-filled election." Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mercy is the antidote to fear

In his address to the participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements on Saturday, November 5, Pope Francis reiterated his message of mercy.  A notable quotation from this address is, "Mercy is the antidote to fear . . . and it is much better than antidepressants . . . much more effective than walls and gates, alarms and weapons. And it is free.  And it is a gift of God."  The full address is available here, only in English or Italian right now.  An article about the address is available here.

For those who read Spanish, here is the paragraph from which the quotation referenced above was taken:
Al miedo se lo alimenta, se lo manipula… Porque el miedo, además de ser un buen negocio para los mercaderes de las armas y de la muerte, nos debilita, nos desequilibra, destruye nuestras defensas psicológicas y espirituales, nos anestesia frente al sufrimiento ajeno y al final nos hace crueles. Cuando escuchamos que se festeja la muerte de un joven que tal vez erró el camino, cuando vemos que se prefiere la guerra a la paz, cuando vemos que se generaliza la xenofobia, cuando constatamos que ganan terreno las propuestas intolerantes; detrás de esa crueldad que parece masificarse está el frío aliento del miedo. Les pido que recemos por todos los que tienen miedo, recemos para que Dios les dé el valor y que en este año de la misericordia podamos ablandar nuestros corazones. La misericordia no es fácil, no es fácil… requiere coraje. Por eso Jesús nos dice: «No tengan miedo» (Mt 14,27), pues la misericordia es el mejor antídoto contra el miedo. Es mucho mejor que los antidepresivos y los ansiolíticos. Mucho más eficaz que los muros, las rejas, las alarmas y las armas. Y es gratis: es un don de Dios.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the upcoming elections in the United States.  Today's intention: "As we approach the polls, may we understand and embrace the principles of our Faith that should guide our political engagement."  The bishops also invite us to fast and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention.  Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the upcoming elections in the United States.  Today's intention: "May we keep in mind the gift of religious freedom and our duty to defend and exercise it as faithful citizens."  The bishops also invite us to fast and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention.  Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the upcoming elections in the United States.  Today's intention: "May there be a transformation of politics to focus on the dignity of the human person and the common good."  The bishops also invite us to fast and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention.  Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The October 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- highlighting the growing sexual exploitation of children throughout the world, especially on the Internet -- is available here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Special Prayer Intentions

The USCCB has adapted its usual Friday Call to Prayer to include intentions for the upcoming elections in the United States.  Today's intention: "May Catholics recall all aspects of Catholic Social Teaching as they consider their votes."  The bishops also invite us to fast and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for this intention.  Click here for more information and/or to sign up for weekly reminders from the USCCB via email or text message.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Revisited

We continue our thoughts and prayers for all those affected by Hurricane Matthew.  As we reminded you previously, donations to help relief efforts can be made to Catholic Relief Services.  Additionally, the Catholic Medical Mission Board is accepting donations.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Prayers Before the Election

You will recall that in August we added the U.S. Presidential Election as an intention on the 11th of the month, our traditional day of prayer and fasting for peace.  This month,  we share this prayer (click here) prepared by the SCC  Western Region for the 11th of October, focusing on Responsible Citizenship.  On October 11 -- less than one month before the election -- perhaps we could commit to praying this brief prayer together.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

R-1 Update

Did you sign the petition asking for an extension of the law to allow religious workers (that is, holders of R-1 Visas) to obtain U.S. Permanent Residence?  Good news:  The law has been extended.  Maybe not good news:  It is only extended through December 9, 2016.  Click here for more information and to sign up to receive updates.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

Although the extent of the devastation of Hurricane Matthew is not yet know, Catholic Relief Services is already "on the ground" in Haiti and will be helping wherever Matthew's devastation is experienced.  Click here if you would like to contribute to the efforts of Catholic Relief Services.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Respect Life Month

Each year, the USCCB designates October as Respect Life Month.  Drawing on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, this year's theme is "Moved by Mercy."  Today, the first Sunday in October, is designated "Respect Life Sunday."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the statement (available here) for this year's Respect Life Program, in which he states, "When we let our hearts be moved by God's mercy, it shapes everything. . . . From each tiny child waiting to be born to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection."

Materials and resources for individuals, parishes and schools -- including social media kits, brochures and other items -- are available here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reminder: R-1 Visa

As we shared with you last week, an important law that allows religious brothers, sisters and lay workers to become permanent residents expires on September 30 unless Congress acts.

If you wish to do something about this and you have not done so yet, click here to return to last week's post containing information about how to urge your elected officials to act on this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why Are So Many Mexican Priests Being Killed?

Mexico, a country whose population is 81% Catholic, has seen its third murder of a Catholic priest in a week.  Further, since 1990, 52 priests have been killed in Mexico -- 40 of those just in the last 10 years.  So, we ask not only, "Why are so many Mexican priests being killed?" but also, "Why is there seemingly so much silence around the murder of so many Mexican priests?"   While prevailing wisdom is that the priests are murdered because of their solidarity with the poor, it seems that the government is attempting somewhat of a smear campaign against them.  We would do well to read several reports and opinions rather than rest on what we might read from one source.  One example is available in Christianity Today (here).  Another is the National Catholic Register (here).  Still another is the Catholic Herald (here).

Whatever the source of information, this much is true:  Priests who work with the poor -- in Mexico and elsewhere -- are being murdered.  Sisters who work with the poor all over the world are being murdered.

Please pray for these priests and sisters, their families, communities and countries.  Pray, too, for a conversion of heart for those who perpetrate these atrocities.

This Day Last Year: Pope Francis in Philadelphia

A year ago, Pope Francis was visiting the United States.  How quickly the year has gone by!  As we reported then, several Sisters of Christian Charity volunteered at and otherwise attended the World Meeting of Families and the Mass. Click here to read a reflection on last year's Mass on the Parkway with Pope Francis and here to see a few photos of our time there.  

Shortly after the Holy Father's departure from the United States, the universal Church began the commemoration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  During the year since the papal visit here and the almost 10 months since the opening of the Year of Mercy, how have we been doing?  Let's use today's anniversary to renew our hearts toward being merciful.  If we are unable to do this, the visit was nothing more than that of a head of state and the Jubilee of Mercy is nothing more than any other year in our lives.

SCCs meeting on the Parkway in Philadelphia last year.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Free Rice and Lazarus

The gospel for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time reminds us, among other things, to feed the hungry in this world. Is there a "Lazarus" lying at our door? What are his or her sores? How can we help? What have we done for the hungry lately? One very easy way to help the hungry -- as this blog has reminded us numerous times -- is to spend a few minutes each day on the website,  For each correct answer you give on this site, sponsors donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program to help end hunger.  In the amount of time it is taking you to read this message, you can answer questions on English vocabulary, art, science, history or several languages.  If you have previously visited but have stopped, now might be a good time to start again.  If you have never participated before, it is easy:  Click here!

Friday, September 23, 2016

R-1 Visas: Important Message

Our provincial leadership has asked that the following message (from RCRI via LCWR) be shared with our readers:

An important law that allows religious brothers, sisters, and lay workers to become permanent residents will expire September. 30 -- unless Congress acts!

We have until September 30, 2016 to convince Congress to extend the non-minister special immigrant religious worker visa provisions. It is this provision that permits non-ordained religious workers to become legal permitted residents of the United States. If this provision doesn't get extended, thousands of religious brothers and sisters and non-consecrated lay workers will be forced to leave the U.S when their R-1 visas expire.  As you know, non-minister religious workers play an important role in the life of the Church and in ministry to those in need.
The Immigration and Nationality Act allows qualified "special immigrants" to come to the United States and work in their religious ministries. The religious worker section of the law was originally enacted in 1990 and has been renewed multiple times, but has never been made a permanent law. Rather, the law has a "sunset provision" meaning it must be renewed every few years by Congress. In 2015, a permanent solution was proposed. Unfortunately, that version failed and a one-year extension was granted.
  • In 1990, Congress enacted a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministries in the United States.
  • Instead of enacting a permanent solution, Congress has just extended the law each time it is due to expire.
  • Last year, the law was extended for one year and expires September 30, 2016.
  • After September 30, religious workers will no longer be able to get green cards and will be forced to leave the U.S. when their R-1 visas expire.

  • Sign a petition asking Congress to extend the law allowing non-clergy workers to get permanent residence and continue their ministry in the United States.
  • Send a letter to your members of Congress. Please edit the letter to make it as personal as possible.
  • Call your members of Congress-Representative and Senators
o    US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121
o    Suggested Message:  Here again please edit the message to make your call    as    specific to your congregation as possible.

I'm a constituent and a Catholic sister.  I'm calling to ask Congress to enact a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministry in the United States. We need a permanent solution-another extension is not enough.
After September 30, religious workers will no longer be able to obtain green cards and will be forced to leave the U.S. when their R-1 visas expire. This program has been of great benefit to our religious community and the vulnerable populations we serve. Without the Non-Minister Permanent Residence program, religious institutes like ours, will be unable to bring our own sisters to this country to staff our religious institutions and attend to the urgent needs of the people we serve.
Can I count on the Senator/Representative to support the enactment of a law allowing non-clergy religious workers to obtain permanent residence (green cards) to work in their religious ministries in the United States?
Remember, the deadline for the law is September 30, 2016, so time is of the essence.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Assumption College for Sisters Celebrates the International Day of Peace

Thanks to Sister Joseph Spring, president of Assumption College for Sisters, for sharing the following:

On September 21,  international resident students and several faculty of Assumption College for Sisters. Denville,  gathered in the convent chapel to pray a special Evening Prayer commemorating the International  Day of Peace.  The altar was surrounded by flags representing the countries of origin of the resident students. At the beginning of the prayer, ACS faculty member, Jean Wedemeier, explained and distributed mission rosaries that she herself made, reminding the students and those assembled, that only through prayer will world peace be attained.

Flags of the various countries represented by the students were depicted surrounding a globe placed in front of the altar.  Pictured here are the international resident students who have come to Assumption College for Sisters for the first time this year:  Sister Maria Lien Phung, LHC-NT,Sister Ana Leticia Castro Osorio, OMO, Guatemala; Sister Domitille Ndayisenga, BM, Burundi; Sister Cecilia Foleng, STT, Cameroon; Miss Angela Ionnone, Italy; Sister Anna Ngoc, LHC-NT, Vietnam; Sister Mary Elizabeth Pajoc Siney, OMO, El Salvador.

The International Day of Peace was created in 1981 when the United Nations resolved to observe September 21 each year for the purpose of fostering peace throughout the world through focusing on common goals, alleviating tensions and recognizing causes of conflict. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has used the International Day of Peace to call for a nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. UN member states have also been urged to commemorate the International Day of Peace with a global ceasefire in any sort of warfare that they are engaged in.  By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of humankind to work in cooperation for this goal.

To inaugurate the day, the "Peace Bell" is rung at UN Headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the Diet of Japan, and is referred to as "a reminder of the human cost of war." The inscription on its side reads: "Long live absolute world peace."

Assumption College for Sisters is a two-year Sister Formation College sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let Peace Fill Our World

We need a Day of Peace . . . perhaps now more than ever!  (Email subscribers, please click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

International Day of Peace

How will you commemorate the International Day of Peace tomorrow?  Many resources are available.

Click here for coverage of the interreligious World Day of Prayer for Peace, which Pope Francis is attending today in Assisi.

Click here for prayer resources from the World Council of Churches.

Click here to learn more about -- and to pray -- the Universal Prayer of Peace (also known as the "World Peace Prayer"), which is:

Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth;
lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust;
lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.

Send us photos of your Peace Day celebrations and we will post them here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The September 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- highlighting the complex issue of allowing a society to use prostituted women for profit -- is available here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

More "Saint News"

Just yesterday, we told you about the new book, Blessed Among Us, by Robert Ellsberg, featuring Mother Pauline on April 29.

Thanks to Sister Joseph, we were informed about another recent daily reflection book which contains a brief biography of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt.  The book is 365 Days with the Saints: A Year of Wisdom from the Saints by Carol Kelly-Gangi, who is the sister of Barbara Kelly-Vergona, the Registrar of SCC-sponsored Assumption College for Sisters.  The Blessed Pauline entry can be found on April 30.

This is yet another way of making Blessed Pauline's life more widely known during this Year of Mercy and the year of preparation for her 200th birthday (June 3, 2017).

Blessed Among Us: Blessed Pauline

If you are familiar with Give Us This Day, a monthly publication with daily prayers and readings, then you are familiar with the work of Robert Ellsberg, who has provided the daily  "Blessed Among Us" feature in that publication for the past five years.  In these daily inspirational excerpts, we read about the lives of those who are included in the official canon of saints and others who are also among the "great cloud of witnesses."

Last month, Liturgical Press released a compilation of Ellsberg's daily reflections.  Appropriately titled, Blessed Among Us: Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses, this book provides biographies of  two "saintly witnesses" per day.  What a great way to direct our lives toward acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with God!

Especially noteworthy to the Sisters of Christian Charity and those familiar with the community is April 29, where a brief biographical sketch of Pauline von Mallinckrodt is included.  How appropriate that this book includes the Founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity during the year in which we prepare to celebrate her 200th birthday.  It is wonderful that Mother Pauline will be more widely known through this publication.  Thank you, Robert Ellsberg and Liturgical Press!

Blessed Pauline, we pray to you:  Lead us to God!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Septembers Later

The History Channel has produced a show about 9/11 entitled  "15 Septembers Later."  It consists of interviews with political figures, photographers, first responders, and others.  Looking back at 9/11 from a "15-years-later" perspective, here's what some of them had to say:

"[9/11 was] . . . an extraordinary demonstration of compassion and generosity and volunteerism and the best of who we are as human beings. . . ."

"Fifteen years later, it's how we view that event -- that it's not simply looking back, but it's also looking forward. . . ."

"Courage and fellowship and honor and integrity can come from anywhere and everywhere.  It's inside all of us.  [We should not wait for] some moment or crisis in history to draw it out of us, but [we should] tap into it every day."

Today, as we pray in remembrance of that day and the lives that were lost, we also reflect on who and how we are now.  Do we daily tap into the courage, fellowship, honor and integrity that the world needs in 2016?  Do we look and pray forward in hope that the world we are forming and passing on to future generations will be one of peace?

"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!"

A clip of "Fifteen Septembers Later" is available below.  (Email subscribers: Please click here if you do not see a video embedded below.)  The entire show is available on the History Channel's site until October 11, 2016.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Prayers Before the Election

You will recall our suggestion in August that we add the intention of the Presidential Election of the United States to our prayer and fasting on the 11th of the month.  Click here to re-read that post and to receive suggested prayers and other resources for September 11.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In Our Son's Name - Screening and Discussion

You are invited to join the Peace Center at St. Joseph Shrine on the International Day of Peace, September 21, at 7 pm for a screening of the documentary, In Our Son's Name.  The screening and discussion will take place in the retreat room at the Shrine of St. Joseph, 1050 Long Hill Road, Stirling, NJ  07980.  According to Pax Christi New Jersey:  "This documentary is an intimate portrait of Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, whose son, Greg, dies with thousands of others in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011.  The bereaved parents choose reconciliation and nonviolence over vengeance and begin a transformative journey that both confirms and challenges their convictions.  They speak out against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, publicly oppose the death penalty of avowed 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and befriend his mother.  As their search for meaning evolves they speak out against anti-Muslim actions and find peace in working with prison inmates."

More information about the documentary is available here.

More information about the event at St. Joseph Shrine is available here.

Resources for Commemorating the Anniversary of 9/11

As we remember the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, liturgical and other resources are available here and the USCCB's "Liturgical Considerations" for September 11 are available here.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Haiti, Bolivia, US, Argentina, Yemen . . .

As we continue to celebrate the canonization of a woman religious this past weekend, we should remember those women religious who are being brutalized and murdered around the world:

  • On September 2, Sr. Isa Sola, RJM was shot and killed in a robbery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
  • On August 30, an 81-year-old Bolivian nun was kidnapped and raped.
  • On August 25, Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held were stabbed to death in their home in Mississippi.
  • On August 24, a group of Missionaries of Charity was beaten and robbed in Argentina.
  • On March 4, four Missionaries of Charity were murdered in Yemen.
Should you wish more details, consult this article from Crux.

Our blog reported on these atrocities when each occurred.  However, when they are put together in a list like this, we are more deeply affected not only by what happened, but by how little these things are reported in the news.  Women religious around the world seem to be facing an increasing amount of violence, including murder. Are your local news outlets aware of this?  If they have not been reporting this news, perhaps it is time to make them aware.  

Let us continue to pray, pray, pray for those Sisters who have been attacked, for their attackers, and for the conversion of the hearts of those who would consider perpetrating these atrocities in the future.  

Happy Labor Day

Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami has released this Labor Day 2016 statement.  According to the USCCB, "This statement draws attention to Pope Francis' recent address to the US Congress, in which he highlighted the connection between economic pressures and stresses on the family.  Archbishop Wenski in particular laments the struggles of those in communities with elevated rates of poverty, substance abuse, and the dissolution of the family.  'The Church weeps with all of these families, with these children, whose homes and worlds are broken,' Archbishop Wenski said."

This Labor Day, let us pray in the same way Archbishop Wenski chose to end his statement:

"Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!  (Psalm 90:14-17)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Comforting, Praying and Mother Teresa

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is being canonized today.  (The Mass began at 4:00 am EDT and is being replayed on EWTN if you missed it.)  During the past week, we have been reflecting on A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve, a newly-published book edited by Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC and published by Image.  Because the book is based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we end our reflections with "Comfort the Afflicted" and "Pray for the Living and the Dead."

p. 280 - "In England, Mother has started a small group, a listening group, and they go to these old people, ordinary old people's houses, and they just let them talk and talk and talk.  If only [they have] just that one person to listen, they go there.  Very old people love to have somebody to listen, even if they have to tell the story of thirty years ago, but it is good to listen, and I think it is a very beautiful thing. . . . Once you start visiting those places, these people, you will very soon find that maybe a little thing will please that person, and that little thing you can [do for them]. . . . You can find out what they need, go once and see, then you find out -- a book, a card, only that simple contact with them."

p. 308 - "To be able to love the unloved, to be able to give [love] in your heart to the unwanted, unloved, uncared for, [we need to begin to love] at home.  And how does it begin?  By praying together.  For the fruit of prayer is deepening of faith.  Then I believe that really whatever I do, I do it to God Himself, the deepening of faith.  And the fruit of faith is love, God loves me, I love my brother, my sister.  Doesn't matter [what] religion, doesn't matter [what] color, doesn't matter [what] place, my brother, my sister, created by God Himself -- same hand -- and then the fruit of love must be action, must be service, I do something. . . . Pray together, really have the courage to do something beautiful for God, and whatever you do to each other, you do it to God."

Today's reflection:  Am I afraid to get involved in other people's suffering and thus keep my distance?  Do I use the advice "not to get too involved or too personally affected" as an excuse not to help someone who is suffering deeply?  Can I "love until it hurts," forgoing something of my own comfort, convenience, and enjoyment in order to help someone in need?  How can I cultivate greater sensitivity to others' sufferings?  Can I look for someone in my community or family, among my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, who is afflicted in some way and offer a small gesture, a word of comfort or a smile that will make their day brighter?  Can I do it in a way that is discreet, respectful, and nonintrusive?  (p. 303)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Bearing Wrongs, Forgiving Offenses and Mother Teresa

In preparation for Mother Teresa's canonization on  Sunday, we consider the book, A Call to Mercy.  Today we reflect on excerpts from the chapters, "Bear Wrongs Patiently" and "Forgive Offenses Willingly."

p. 224 - "How very often very small misunderstandings -- repeated -- become a cause of so much suffering.  In the name of Jesus and for the love of Jesus, accept these little gifts from Him.  Look up at that little hurt and see the gift of Jesus only.  He . . . accepted so much suffering and humiliations because He loved you.  Will you not accept the little correction or hurt because you love Him?"

p. 252 - "To be able to pray we need to forgive.  Then our hearts will be free to pray.  And we must really pray and make many sacrifices to make peace in our own house first.  We cannot work for peace, nor give peace, if we do not have that peace in our own hearts.  That is why many things are made to destroy life; it is because peace is destroyed in [our] own hearts.  Just as we love in action, so we also have destruction in action."

Reflection for today:  Do I make connections with the wrongs I bear and the wrongs Jesus bore for me on the Cross?  Do I consider the immense wrongs done to the poor, the humiliations and privations?  What are the wrongs done to me in comparison to the wrongs they suffer?  Am I aware that I might be doing something that can be an annoyance or a bother to others?   Do I realize that I might lack thoughtfulness toward others, that I might be trying to them (for example, having a loud conversation when someone is trying to work or study, being too noisy when someone is trying to rest)?  Am I so busy with myself that I cannot think about others' needs?  How do I react when others show a lack of thoughtfulness toward me?  What wrongs can I bear patiently, including those small offenses, which Saint Therese of Lisieux called "pinpricks," that do no more than produce personal discomfort or inconvenience for me?  Can I accept that I am being overlooked?  That I am not given due consideration? (p. 247)

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Doubtful, the Sinners and Mother Teresa

In preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa on Sunday, September 4, we continue providing excerpts from the recently-published A Call to Mercy.  Today's chapters focus on "Counsel the Doubtful" and "Admonish Sinners."

p. 168 - Mother Teresa had a notable gift to be able to set at peace a "restless and troubled mind."  Her method was simple:  first she would listen.  She would listen attentively to the account being related to her, but even more she would listen to the pain and confusion that accompanied it. . . . Constantly aware of her own weakness, especially her interior darkness, she assumed a humble and unpretentious attitude toward all.  This attitude helped many to be completely open with her and to experience her compassion.

p. 188 - "Hate the sin, love the sinner" was a principle much ingrained in Mother Teresa's manner of dealing with people.  She knew very well how to separate the sin from the sinner, the wrong from the person who did it, always respecting the person's dignity in spite of the fault committed.  This uncommon ability was at times misunderstood and taken as leniency or a lack of courage.  Yet she would not miss an opportunity to correct the wrong.  This she would do, though, without condemning the wrongdoer; rather, she would encourage the person, calling them to repentance and a change of life.  She was not correcting others because their wrongdoing was annoying or affecting her, but out of love for God and for the sinner himself.

Today's reflection:  Am I open enough to seek and accept the counsel of others when I am in doubt, in confusion, in darkness?  Do I act impulsively in a situation where I lack clarity, or do I seek the advice of others?  Am I humble enough to consider others' advice and to take it into account?  Am I willing to listen to others?  Do I take time to listen? Am I patient with others who are in doubt and in darkness?  Is the advice that I offer the fruit of my prayer, my reflection, and my intention to do the best for the person in need?  Is my advice mixed with my own agenda or does it reflect a lack of real concern? (p. 186)

An invitation:  You are welcome to attend a presentation on "Mother Teresa: A Saint of Mercy" at Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Parish in Andover, NJ on Sunday, September 4.  Click here for more information.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Suggesting that Christians add "care for our common home" to the traditional corporal and spiritual works of mercy, Pope Francis issued his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  Click here to access the letter.  (Scroll down for English.)

The Dead, the Ignorant and Mother Teresa

We continue our journey through the beatitudes in preparation for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, using A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, and published by Image Press.  Today's reflections come from chapters seven and eight, "Bury the Dead," and "Instruct the Ignorant."  (Click here for more information on the canonization and the book.)

p. 130: "There was a man dying, and he didn't want anything.  He said, 'Just hold my hand and with my hand in your hand, I am ready to go.' There he sat, lying there all cold, only his face with still bright, but that's all that he wanted.  He didn't want me to say anything or do anything, only to just sit on his bed and hold his hand, and he felt quite ready to go."

p. 150:  "In London, there are big boys and girls who have not made First Communion there, in the area where we are.  The sisters have been trying and trying to get the family together, the young people together to prepare them for First Communion.  Then one day the mother of one family said, 'Sister, why don't you teach me? I have a better opportunity when they come home in the evening together.  My children are there, my husband is there. I will teach them.' And so Sister taught her, and now even the husband comes . . . to be present at the lessons that the wife is giving to the children."

Reflection for today:  Are there areas of my life, especially my spiritual life, where I need to realize and recognize my ignorance and take steps to learn?  Am I obstinate in my attitude of superiority and unwillingness to learn and improve?  Do I have the courage to stand for what I know is right and true, in spite of contrary opinions around me? Is my stubbornness and unapproachability an impediment to spreading Gospel truths and values?  Do I teach not only with my words, but with my example, with the spirit of doing good to others? (p. 165)

AN INVITATION:  On Sunday, September 4, you are welcome to attend a presentation -- "Mother Teresa: A Saint of Mercy" at Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Parish in Andover, NJ.  Please click here for more information.

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.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy Feast Day, St. Ignatius!

Although the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time supersedes the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola liturgically this year, perhaps we could take a moment to remember St. Ignatius on July 31, his Feast Day.  A good way to do this might be to spend a few minutes learning more about the works of the community founded by Ignatius, the Society of Jesus.  This link contains reflections on "Ignatian Ministry," as well as detailed information about the various social justice ministries in which the Jesuits are involved throughout the Provinces of the United States.  None of the reflections will take very long to read; all will provide food for thought and prayer.  By spending just a few minutes of our time reflecting on the role of Jesuits today, we could come a bit closer to that Jesuit ideal of being "men and women for others."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rev. Jacques Hamel, rest in peace

Nice, Munich, Fort Myers, Tokyo . . . and Normandy.  What do these locations have in common? Each has been the site of atrocious acts by terrorists during the past two weeks  -- yes, in only two weeks' time.  We could travel back through the calendar and add so many more names, not only of cities, but of the people whose lives were affected by other people with weapons.  Yesterday's murder of Rev. Jacques Hamel while he was celebrating Mass in Normandy, France (and the injuring of another person) is more than just another horrifying act.  As Catholics who participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass frequently, this murder hits us where we live.  This does not minimize the other attacks for us, but makes them more real.

Again, we ask, "What can we do?"

We continue to pray and to be people of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.  We pray, as does Pope Francis that "the Lord will inspire in all thoughts of reconciliation and fraternity in this new trial."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day of Prayer for Peace in our Communities

Given the recent incidents of tension and violence in communities across the United States, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has invited all dioceses across the country to unite in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on September 9, the feast of St. Peter Claver.  More information is available here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable

"CST 101" is a 7-part video series presented by the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services on Catholic Social Teaching.  The first installment, released on July 21, 2016, is available here (and is embedded below).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Remembering Mother Pauline's Final Vow Day

As you may know, the Sisters of Christian Charity have been preparing for the commemoration of the 200th birthday of our Founder, Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (June 3, 1817 - April 30, 1881).  There are other commemorations that happen along the way, too.  For example, today -- the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel --  is the 150th anniversary of Mother Pauline's final vow day.  On the occasion of the first final profession in the Congregation in 1866, Bishop Conrad Martin said the following, which bears repetition and reflection today.  This is why and how we do what we do:

Speak then in the simplicity of your hearts:  “O great and almighty God!  Lord of heaven and earth!  From you I have received all that I am and all that I have, and I can give to you  nothing in return, O Lord, but what I have received from you;  but just this, O great God, is your boundless mercy, your goodness and love, that you will graciously accept from me what necessarily belongs to you as a voluntary gift, as a sacrifice, so that you can reward me therefore most magnanimously.  Behold, O Lord, with the greatest joy and willingness I offer you all that I am and all that I have for now and for all eternity.  I offer you every possible and every probable part that Ι might possess of the things of this earth, her goods, her honors, her pleasures;  I offer you also the part, which I may legitimately have.  My purpose for offering this to you is, that I might be like unto you, my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who although you are the Master of heaven and earth, have chosen poverty as your Bride and have voluntarily preferred pains and sufferings to the glory and magnificence of this world.  I offer to you and sacrifice to you my body with all its members, so that, in a small measure, at least, I might be like unto my Savior, Who sacrificed His tender and pure Body as a holocaust for me on the Tree of the Cross.  I sacrifice to you, O Lord, my soul with all its powers, especially my heart and my will in imitation of you, O my Savior.  You came on this poor earth to serve and not to be served;  You were obedient not only to your heavenly Father, but to human beings also and even to poor, sinful mortals, yea, even to the greatest criminals, and this unto your death upon the Cross.  All this, O Lord, I offer you now and forever, as I would in the face of death and in the presence of all angels and saints in heaven.  I unite this my offering with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, so that it maybe pleasing and acceptable to the heavenly Father."

Friday, July 15, 2016

Laudato Si Webinar

Catholic Climate Covenant is sponsoring a webinar, "Laudato Si: A Framework for Climate Justice" on Monday, July 25 from 3:00-4:00 pm (EDT). Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Liberating a Continent

The documentary film, Liberating a Continent:  John Paul II and the Fall of Communism, was recently released to good reviews.  From the film's website:  One of history’s greatest examples of the triumph of spiritual power over violence and oppression is vividly recounted in Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism, a new documentary film that poignantly captures the intricate role played by John Paul in the collapse of Communism and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe.

Featuring the unique insights of intellectual and cultural leaders such as papal biographer George Weigel, esteemed Polish historian Norman Davies, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, John Paul’s lifelong assistant Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Reagan National Security Advisor Richard Allen, and many others–this inspiring film gives an inside look at the improbable downfall of one of history’s most brutal regimes.

Narrated by Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest) and with original music by Joe Kraemer (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Jack Reacher) this is the incredible story of one man’s unwavering faith born of deep personal suffering, his steadfast defense of the dignity of the human person amidst the horrors of Nazi and Soviet Occupation, and his unyielding belief in the spiritual unity of Europe. Liberating a Continent convincingly reveals how these convictions toppled an evil empire—and how they remain today the moral foundations for a prosperous and free Europe.

July Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The July 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- highlighting the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report -- is available here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Novena for Healing

Following a week of violence across the United States, the Knights of Columbus have called for a novena of prayer to heal the wounds and divisions afflicting this country.  They are inviting all "people of good will" to pray the Prayer for Peace attributed to St. Francis of Assisi from July 14 - 22.  Click here for more information from the Knights of Columbus website.

Prayer for Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Films for the Fourth and Beyond

Two years ago, Sean Salai, SJ, suggested 12 "Catholic" films for the celebration of the Fourth of July.  These films were chosen because "they celebrate American virtues while making us think critically about American vices.  They manage to inspire us as patriotic Americans, but without glorifying things which may give us a false sense of moral superiority."  Click here to view the list.  Do you agree with the choices?  Are there some films that you have not yet seen?  Perhaps the summer months would provide time to watch one or more of these films.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thank you, Sister Mariette!

One of the Sisters on whose shoulders we stand as Sisters of Christian Charity celebrated 85 years in the convent and her 101st birthday this week!  All we can offer in return is:  "Thank you, Sister Mariette Janson" for your years of dedicated service and your example of fidelity as a Sister of Christian Charity.

Click here  to view the video coverage of Sister Mariette's celebration from WBRE/WYOU in Central Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ASEC receives $15.3 million from Conrad Hilton Foundation

The African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) has received a four-year grant of $15.3 million from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support its Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program.  Click here for an article in Scranton's Times-Tribune with more information.  (Because Marywood University in Scranton plays a major part in ASEC, this grant is of interest to the Times-Tribune.)

The goal of ASEC is to contribute significantly to increased access to education in Africa by helping to educate women religious and enable them to acquire necessary professional credentials.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Father John Adeyi, Rest in peace

Father John Adeyi, a Catholic priest who was kidnapped in Nigeria in April, was found dead over the weekend.  Let us remember him -- and all religious who minister in dangerous places all over the world -- in our prayers.  Click here for more information.

Friday, June 24, 2016

USCCB Statement on Immigration Decision

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it had deadlocked in a case which would have protected millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and would have allowed them to legally work in the United States.  Click here to read the statement about this deadlock  by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.  Especially during this Year of Mercy, the last sentence of the statement is so poignant:  "People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status.  No matter how they got here, we cannot lose sight of their humanity without losing our own.  Let us pray for all of our immigrant brothers and sisters today."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fortnight for Freedom

From the USCCB:  Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom.  The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21 to July 4.  Click here to access materials for the Fortnight for Freedom.

Monday, June 13, 2016

How We Treat Each Other

The website of the city of Orlando, Florida contains multiple updates regarding the unspeakably horrific shootings that occurred there over the weekend.  The last sentence of this update by the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer,  reads:  "We will not be defined by the act of a cowardly hater.  We will be defined by how we respond, how we treat each other."  

As we sift through the layers of this tragedy, what an important thing to remember!  

We pray for the victims of this shooting, for their families and friends, for the people of Orlando and for those who are post-traumatically affected by this shooting.  We also pray for the shooter and for the conversion of hearts of those who would consider perpetrating such acts in the future.  

We are defined by how we treat each other.  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

June Issue of Stop Trafficking

The June 2016 issue of Stop Trafficking -- highlighting forced labor abuses and methods to correct these -- is available here.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pauline at 199

Today we celebrate the 199th birthday of the founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity,  Pauline von Mallinckrodt.  As readers of this blog are aware, the Sisters of Christian Charity are involved in three years of preparation for the commemoration of Mother Pauline's 200th birthday next June.  We have reported to you about the Pauline 200 mission trip to South America in July 2015 and to the Philippines in January 2016.  Additionally, weekly reflections are available on the SCC Generalate website.  Today, the Companions of Pauline around the world have committed to Eucharistic Adoration to pray for the intentions of the Congregation, the Church and the world.

In this Year of Mercy as we celebrate the birthday of Blessed Pauline, may we also remember her words in the First Draft toward the Constitutions of the Sisters of Christian Charity, written in 1849:  "Called and strengthened by God, the Sisters have chosen the vocation of Christian Charity, of mercy. . . . The Sisters should be merciful not only to those who love them, who are pleasing to them, to those from whom they receive or expect gratitude, but toward all who are in need of their care."

Let us remember Blessed Pauline today by being prayerful and acting mercifully!