Monday, December 31, 2018

World Day of Peace Message 2019: Peace Be to this House!

As we celebrate the 52nd World Day of Peace on January 1, 2019, let us reflect on the message of  Pope Francis (available here):

"In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them, 'Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you' (Lk 10:5-6).

"Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ's disciples.  That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.  The 'house' of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent in all their diversity and history.  It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination.  But it is also our 'common home': the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

"So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: 'Peace be to this house!'"
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"[Peace] entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:
  - peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of St. Francis de Sales, showing 'a bit of sweetness toward oneself' in order to offer 'a bit of sweetness to others';
  - peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;
  - peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God's gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

"The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Savior and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind: 'He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.  He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit.  He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; . . . for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever' (Lk 1:50-55)."

Happy new year and blessed World Day of Peace to all!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Let Us Go Now to Bethlehem

In his homily for Christmas Eve 2018 (available here), Pope Francis prayed, "'Let us go now to Bethlehem' (Lk 2:15).  With these words, the shepherds set out.  We too, Lord, want to go to Bethlehem.  Today too, the road is uphill: the heights of our selfishness need to be surmounted, and we must not lose our footing or slide into worldliness and consumerism.  I want to come to Bethlehem, Lord, because there you await me.  I want to realize that you, lying in a manger, are the bread of my life.  I need the tender fragrance of your love so that I, in turn, can be bread broken for the world.  Take me upon your shoulders, Good Shepherd; loved by you, I will be able to love my brothers and sisters and to take them by the hand.  Then it will be Christmas, when I can say to you: 'Lord you know everything; you know that I love you' (cf. Jn 21:17)."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Strength of a Vocation

Pope Francis' new book, The Strength of a Vocation: Consecrated Life Today is now available in English! According to this report from Vatican News, among the themes in this book-length interview, "Pope Francis tackles above all the theme of vocation and the missions of consecrated persons, taking into account the difficulties the Church is facing in this day and age." 

Monday, December 3, 2018

December Issue of Stop Traffickig

The December 2018 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here.  This month's issue focuses on the vulnerability of those forced to migrate.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


Today, we remember in a special way the four women -- often called "the four churchwomen" -- who were murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980:  Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan.  Last year, Global Sisters Report ran this story on these four women. It's worth taking a few minutes to read this in their memory and in honor of those who continue to serve God's people in El Salvador.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Daily Reflections for the Season of Advent

Click here to access Daily Reflections for the Season of Advent 2018, published by the West Virginia Institute for Spirituality.  This booklet includes a reflection written by our very own Sister Mary Irene Sorber, SCC (see December 8). 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Advent Calendar: Rejoice and Be Glad!

The Office of Peace and Justice of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth invite us to journey with Pope Francis this Advent by focusing on the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation, Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in Today's World.  Click here to access the Peace and Justice page on the Sisters' website.  Click on "Advent Calendar" on the right to access a pdf of the entire calendar, which contains practical suggestions for living holy lives this Advent. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

For Your December Calendar

Here are some dates you may want to remember in December:

December 1:  World AIDS Day
December 2:  Remembrance of the martyrdom of four churchwomen in El Salvador, 1980;
Advent begins
December 3:  International Day of Persons with Disabilities; Hanukkah begins
December 6:  Feast of St. Nicholas
December 8:  Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
December 9:  Feast of St. Juan Diego
December 10:  Human Rights Day
December 12:  Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 16:  Christmas Novena begins;  Las Posadas begins; Simbang Gabi begins
December 17:  Birthday of Pope Francis
December 18:  International Migrants Day
December 25:  Christmas Day
December 26: Kwanzaa begins

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Whatever God does with me is well done.  In every dispensation of Providence, whether it bring joy or sorrow, I will exclaim, 'Thanks be to God'" (Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, 1845).

Pauline von Mallinckrodt (1817-1881) founded the Sisters of Christian Charity in Paderborn, Germany in 1849.

Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt

Sunday, November 18, 2018

World Day of the Poor: To Cry, to Answer, to Free

The message of Pope Francis (available here) for the second commemoration of the World Day of the Poor begins:  

"'This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him'" (Ps 34:6).  The words of the Psalmist become our own whenever we are called to encounter the different conditions of suffering and marginalization experienced by so many of our brothers and sisters whom we are accustomed to label generically as "the poor."  The Psalmist is not alien to suffering; quite the contrary.  He has a direct experience of poverty and yet transforms it into a song of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.  Psalm 34 allows us today, surrounded as we are by different forms of poverty, to know those who are truly poor.  It enables us to open our eyes to them, to hear their cry and to recognize their needs."

Continuing his message, Pope Francis considers the importance of the three verbs that describe the poor man in his relationship with God -- "to cry," "to answer" and "to free."  He concludes the message:  "Let us not squander this grace-filled opportunity.  On this day, may all of us feel that we are in debt to the poor, because, in hands outstretched to one another, a salvific encounter can take place to strengthen our faith, inspire our charity and enable our hope to advance securely on our path towards the Lord who is to come."

Catholic Relief Services has provided resources for the World Day of the Poor (available here).  These resources include advocating on behalf of those who live in poverty, raising money for the poorest and most vulnerable and praying for global solidarity.  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Prayers for East African Jesuits

In the early morning hours of November 15, Viktor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ, a Kenyan priest, was murdered in the South Sudan residence where he lived with four other Jesuits.  Click here for more information on the America magazine website.

This happened the day before the anniversary of the martyrdom of six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter on November 16, 1989 in El Salvador (the "Martyrs of El Salvador"). 

We remember Rev. Odhiambo, his family and the East African Province of the Jesuits in our prayers. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

An Epidemic, A Crisis, A State of Emergency: The ALTO Response

Over and over, we hear that there is an opiod epidemic, an opiod crisis and/or an opiod state of emergency.  News reports seem quick to blame providers for this.  However, they offer few reports about solutions to controlling the very real pain that patients experience without being prescribed highly-addictive opiates.

The Emergency Department at St. Joseph's University Medical Center, Paterson, NJ -- the busiest Emergency Department in the State of New Jersey -- is the first in the United States to pilot the "Alternatives to Opiates" (ALTO) program to give providers options they can use to effectively alleviate pain without resorting to highly addictive medication. 

From the website:  "Launched in January 2016 in the Emergency Department at St. Joseph's University Medical Center, the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program utilizes protocols that primarily target five common conditions:  renal colic, sciatica, headaches, musculoskeletal pain and extremity fractures. . . . Initial results of the St. Joseph's ALTO program are very promising. Up to 75% of patients have achieved adequate pain relief with alternative therapies and there has been a decrease in opiod use by 50% since the inception of the program."

Click here for more information about this program.  Congratulations to St. Joseph's Health (a sponsored work of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ) for its innovative response to this crisis.  May God bless your mission to "sustain and improve both individual and community health, with a special concern for those who are poor, vulnerable and underserved."

Friday, October 26, 2018

Migrant Caravan and Catholic Social Teaching

Click here to read the America Magazine article by J.D. Long-Garcia, "The migrant caravan through the eyes of Catholic Social Teaching."  This article is a timely reminder about the principles of Catholic Social teaching on immigration:  People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families; a country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration; a country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Annunciation House

Are you familiar with Annunciation House?  As a house of hospitality located in El Paso, Texas -- very close to the U.S./Mexico border -- Annunciation House provides basic services and accompaniment to the poorest of the poor, especially migrants and refugees.  Annunciation House has been accepting upwards of 750 refugees per week, and they are planning to serve a huge number of refugees who are currently in Border Patrol custody. 

This week, Annunciation House will be renting two small hotels for use as temporary hospitality centers.  The use of these hotels will allow them to increase their hospitality capacity to 1,100 per week.  They are currently recruiting volunteers for intakes, travel arrangements, transportation, clothing bank, and other needs. They are looking for donations of hygiene items, new underwear, winter coats, among other items. 

For more information, please visit their website or email them at or call them at (915) 545-4509.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

ALICE Report

Are you familiar with the United Way's ALICE Report for New Jersey?  ALICE -- an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed -- refers to households with incomes above the poverty level but who struggle to afford basic household necessities.  This year's ALICE Report (available here) was released last week.  It is worth noting that, in 2016, over 1.2 million households in New Jersey -- 38.5 percent -- could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and technology.  This is a 15% increase as compared with 2010. Additionally, the basic cost of living increased 28% between 2010 and 2016.  See the ALICE Report to delve more deeply into these and other statistics. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sunday's Canonizations

On Sunday, October 14, six "Blesseds" will be canonized in Rome:

Archbishop Oscar Romero,

Pope Paul VI,

Maria Katharine Kasper, founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ,

Nazaria Ignazia de Santa Teresa de Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church

Francesco Spinelli, diocesan priest and founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Holy Sacrament

Vincenzo Romano, diocesan priest. 

So much information is available about these soon-to-be canonized saints.  Follow the links above to learn more about them.  Also, remember that we have previously recommended the "People of God" series from Liturgical Press, which includes biographies on Pope Paul VI, Oscar Romero and Rutilio Grande (who figures prominently in Romero's story). 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October Issue of Stop Trafficking

The October issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- highlighting how financial institutions, hospitals, hotels/motels and housing needs both foster and prevent human trafficking -- is available here

Monday, October 1, 2018

Praying for the Synod

Let us remember to pray for the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment from October 3-28.  Click here to visit the web page for the Synod.  Here is a prayer for young people and the Synod.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for this week's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Reminder: 40 Days for Life

Just a friendly reminder that "40 Days for Life" begins September 26.  More information, including the sites local vigils across the country,  is available here

Friday, September 21, 2018

ACS Prays for Peace

Thanks to Sister Joseph Spring for sharing the following:

Students of Assumption College for Sisters Celebrate the International Day of Peace

On September 21,  international resident students of Assumption College for Sisters (ACS), Denville, gathered in the convent chapel to participate in a special prayer commemorating the International Day of Peace.  The altar was surrounded by flags representing the countries of origin of the resident students.

After an explanation of the day was given by Sister Joseph Spring, President, students alternated in reading quotes of peace from many people around the world and throughout history. At the conclusion 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 achieved.

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 previous 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."

Pictured here from left to right are the international resident students who have come to Assumption College for Sisters for the first time this year:  Sister Maria Hoa Thi An Bui, SPP (Vietnam); Sister Maria Atai Agnes Ongodia, IHMR (Uganda);  Sister Yosari Magdalena Menjivar Diaz, OMO (el Salvador); Sister Donatha Gerard, FSSB (Tanzania); Sister Maria Jesca Lucy Alitubeera, IHMR (Uganda); Sister Maria Yen Thi Hai Cao, SPP (Vietnam).

Assumption College for Sisters is a two-year Sister Formation College, the only one of its kind in the United States.  For more information, visit

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for this week's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

International Day of Peace

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed on September 21.  The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among nations.  Would you like to share with us (in the comment section) how you will observe the International Day of Peace?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for the prayer from the USCCB for this week's Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

This is My Wish

Today as we pause to remember those who were/are affected by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, let us remember our commitment to bringing peace on earth, beginning with ourselves.  "Voctave," an 11-member singing group from central Florida, has recorded "This is my Wish/Let There Be Peace on Earth" (video is  here and embedded below).  The four minutes it takes to listen to the song could be our prayer for today:  "This is my wish, my wish for the world, that peace would find its way to every boy and girl.  This is the time, the time for harmony.  Let love be the song that everybody sees. Fill the air with joyful noise, ring the bells and raise your voice:  Let there be peace on earth, . . ."

Monday, September 10, 2018

Prayers for 9/11

As we pause to remember the anniversary of the terror attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, we renew our commitment to non-violence in our world.  Some prayer resources for 9/11 are available here ("A Prayer of Remembrance, Comfort and Hope") and here (from the USCCB).  On the 11th of each month, the Western Region of the Sisters of Christian Charity provides a prayer/reflection for an end to violence (available here).

Some general intercessions suggested by the USCCB:
  • For the Church, that she may continue to provide care and healing for all, especially those affected by the attacks on September 11, 2001, . . . 
  • For all victims of violence and terrorism around the world, and for their families, that they may find comfort and peace, . . . 
  • For the safety of our service men and women abroad, for civil servants who protect us and keep us safe, and for all who live with war and violence, . . .
  • For our leaders and for the leaders of nations, that they may work together to address the problems that provide fertile ground for the growth of terrorism, . . . 
  • For the ability to forgive and for an end to hatred, beginning in our own hearts, . . . 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for today's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The September issue of Stop Trafficking is available here

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Labor Day Statement and Prayers

The Labor Day 2018 Statement of the USCCB, "Just Wages and Human Flourishing," is available here.   Prayer aids and supplemental materials for Labor Day are available here.  Some of the intercessions provided at this link are:

We pray for the men, women and children who must work in jobs that ignore the dignity of their personhood.

We pray for men and women who are not able to find jobs, for their continued perseverance and determination as they continue to seek ways in which to participate in God's creation and work.

We pray for the men and women who own companies, who lead companies and who make decisions regarding safe work conditions and adequate wages, that they will act in the best interest of their laborers.

We pray for union leaders, national and local, who are responsible for speaking for workers, that they may be guided by the grace and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to be servant leaders.

We pray for men, women and children who suffer from our lack of solidarity in their daily struggle to survive.  May we be aware of our responsibility to be in relationship with our brothers and sisters in the world.

We pray as we are reminded that it is right and just to receive a fair wage for work, that we may strive to promote dignity and respect for all in the workplace.

We pray for those who have lost their lives while working, that they might be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom and that their families might be comforted and find security.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Prayer for the Care of Creation

Four years ago, Pope Francis established the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation with this letter.  On September 1, we join with our sisters and brothers throughout the world in praying for the care of creation.  The USCCB website has many prayer suggestions here.

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for this week's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

For your September Calendar

Here are some dates you may want to remember in September:

  • September 1: World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
  • September 3:  Labor Day
  • September 5: Feast of St. Teresa of Kolkata
  • September 8: International Literacy Day
  • September 9: Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset
  • September 11:  Anniversary of Terrorist Attacks on the United States (2001)
  • September 15:  National Hispanic Heritage Month begins
  • September 18: Yom Kippur begins at sunset
  • September 21: International Day of Peace
  • September 26: Feast of Blessed Pope Paul VI
  • September 27: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul

Friday, August 24, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for today's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Feast of St. Alberto Hurtado

Today we join with our Chilean sisters and brothers in celebrating the feast of St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ.  A few items that might help us learn more about him are located here and here.  Remember, too, that we shared with you a story on the Holy Father's visit to Padre Hurtado's shrine in January 2018 (here).  A prayer attributed to him is available here.

Friday, August 17, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et Exsultate

"Ultimately, the lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us, for no room is left for bringing about the potential good that is part of a sincere and genuine journey of growth.  Grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once.  That kind of thinking would show too much confidence in our own abilities.  Underneath our orthodoxy, our attitudes might not correspond to our need for grace, and in specific situations we can end up putting little trust in it.  Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift.  Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively.  If we reject this historical and progressive reality, we can actually refuse and block grace, even as we extol it by our words" (50).

". . . We cannot celebrate this free gift of the Lord's friendship unless we realize that our earthly life and our natural abilities are his gift.  We need to 'acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace.  This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of its own creativity or freedom'" (55).

"Some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities.  The result is a self-centered and elitist complacency, bereft of true love.  This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church's liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programs of self-help and personal fulfillment" (57).

"Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channeled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the working of grace" (59).

"Amid the thickets of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother.  He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands.  He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces.  For in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenceless and those in need, God's very image is found.  Indeed, with the scraps of his frail humanity, the Lord will shape his final work of art.  For 'what endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear?  Surely these two:  the Lord and our neighbor.  These two riches do not disappear" (61).

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for today's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

August Issue of Stop Trafficking

The August issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here.  This issue highlights the role money plays in various types of human trafficking and in efforts to find perpetrators.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for today's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

Click here for today's prayer from the USCCB for the Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life.

Monday, July 30, 2018

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

On July 30, the United Nations observes the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.  Information about this observance is available here.  Materials from the Anti-Trafficking Program of the USCCB are available here.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

For your August Calendar

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

August 2 - Feast of St. Peter Faber
August 6 - Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima (1945)
August 9 - Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki (1945)
August 9 - Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
August 11 - Feast of St. Clare of Assisi
August 12 - International Youth Day
August 14 - Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe
August 15 - Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 21 - Anniversary of the Founding of the Sisters of Christian Charity (1849)
August 23 - International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition
August 27 - Feast of St. Monica
August 28 - Feast of St. Augustine
August 30 - International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Friday, July 27, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et exsultate:

"Here I would like to mention two false forms of holiness that can lead us astray: gnosticism and pelagianism, . . . whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying" (35).

"Gnosticism presumes 'a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings'" (36).

"Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the Church it has always been clear that a person's perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity" (37).

"When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road. . . . If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.  This is the part of the mystery that a gnostic mentality cannot accept, since it is beyond its control" (41-2).

"It is not easy to grasp the truth that we have received from the Lord. And it is even more difficult to express it.  So we cannot claim that our way of understanding this truth authorizes us to exercise a strict supervision over others' lives" (43).

"The questions of our people, their suffering, their struggles, their dreams, their trials and their worries, all possess an interpretational value that we cannot ignore if we want to take the principle of the incarnation seriously.  Their wondering helps us to wonder, their questions to question us" (44).

"A dangerous confusion can arise. We can think that because we know something, or are able to explain it in certain terms, we are already saints, perfect and better than the 'ignorant masses.' . . . In point of fact, what we think we know should always motivate us to respond more fully to God's love.  Indeed, 'you learn so as to live; theology and holiness are inseparable'" (45).

"[Saint] Francis recognized the temptation to turn the Christian experience into a set of intellectual exercises that distance us from the freshness of the Gospel.  Saint Bonaventure, on the other hand, pointed out that true Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbor: 'The greatest possible wisdom is to share fruitfully what we have to give. . . . Even as mercy is the companion of wisdom, avarice is its enemy'" (46).

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

50 Years After Humanae Vitae

On the 50th anniversary of Humane Vitae, Blessed Paul VI's Encyclical Letter on the integrity of love and the appropriate means of family planning, we would like to share recent essays:
  • From First Things: George Weigel's "Affirming and Celebrating Humanae Vitae," available here.
  • From America: Holy Taylor Coolman's "50 Years after Humanae Vitae, We Still Buy into the Myth of the Self-Made Man," available here.
  • From National Catholic Reporter:  Michael Sean Winters' "In Defense of Humanae Vitae," available here.
  • From National Catholic Register: Joseph Pronechen's review of Daniel DiSilva's documentary, "Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae," available here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life

The Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB urges participation in a Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life from Friday, August 3 through Friday, September 28.  More information is available here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et Exsultate:

"Do not be afraid of holiness.  It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy.  On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self.  To depend on God sets us free from every form of enslavement and leads us to recognize our great dignity" (32).

"To the extent that each Christian grows in holiness, he or she will bear greater fruit for our world" (33).

"Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God.  Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit.  Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God's grace.  For in the words of Leon Bloy, when all is said and done, 'the only great tragedy in life is not to become a saint'" (34).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Congratulations, NativityMiguel School

We are happy to share this article from the July 16 Scranton Times-Tribune, "NativityMiguel school marks milestone with summer session," by Sarah Hofius Hall. 

What is the milestone?  The 2018-19 school year marks the first time the school -- having begun with only grade 5 in 2015 -- will be offering grades 5 through 8. 

Why is the milestone being marked now?  NativityMiguel Scranton recently began its summer session, which is an "unofficial start" to the 2018-19 school year. 

Why are we so happy to share this? NativityMiguel Scranton is co-sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton.  Several SCCs were involved with other religious communities and benefactors to make this dream a reality.  Sister Maria Angeline Weiss, SCC, currently teaches at NativityMiguel Scranton.  Additionally, we believe in the school's mission: "To provide a holistic, financially accessible and integrated education to students of all faith who are in grades five through eight and whose potential is underserved because of academic, social and financial challenges.  Through the shared commitment of community and educational leaders, the school offers an academically rigorous, extended-day, year-round program which empowers students to greater achievement in high school, college and future employment."

Congratulations to everyone at NativityMiguel Scranton!

Friday, July 13, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts from Gaudete et Exsultate

"Holiness is also parrhesia: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. . . . Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesia" (129).

"Blessed Paul VI, in referring to obstacles to evangelization, spoke of a lack of fervor (parrhesia) that is 'all the more serious because it comes from within.'  How often we are tempted to keep close to the shore!  Yet the Lord calls us to put out into the deep and let down our nets (cf. Lk 5:4)" (130).

"Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us on mission.  We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier.  Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission" (131).

"Parrhesia is a seal of the Spirit; it testifies to the authenticity of our preaching.  It is a joyful assurance that leads us to glory in the Gospel we proclaim" (132).

"We need the Spirit's prompting, lest we be paralyzed by fear and excessive caution, lest we grow used to keeping within safe bounds.  Let us remember that closed spaces grow musty and unhealthy" (133).

"Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven.  It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations.  We can resist leaving behind a familiar and easy way of doing things" (134).

"God is eternal newness. . . . Unafraid of the fringes, he himself became a fringe.  So if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find him there; indeed, he is already there.  Jesus is already there, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, in their wounded flesh, in their troubles and in their profound desolation.  He is already there" (135).

"We need to open the door of our hearts to Jesus, who stands and knocks.  Sometimes I wonder, though, if perhaps Jesus is already inside us and knocking on the door for us to let him escape from our stale self-centeredness" (136).

"Let us allow the Lord to rouse us from our torpor, to free us from our inertia.  Let us rethink our usual way of doing things; let us open our eyes and ears, and above all our hearts, so as not to be complacent about things as they are, but unsettled by the living and effective word of the risen Lord" (137).

"The saints surprise us, they confound us, because by their lives they urge us to abandon a dull and dreary mediocrity" (138).

"Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to hesitate when the Spirit calls us to take a step forward.  Let us ask for the apostolic courage to share the Gospel with others and to stop trying to make our Christian life a museum of memories.  In every situation, may the Holy Spirit cause us to contemplate history in the light of the risen Jesus.  In this way, the Church will not stand still, but constantly welcome the Lord's surprises" (139).

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day with gratitude for those who founded and have sustained the United States of America, we also remember the services being performed at our country's southern border.  As we noted in a recent post, Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ, and everyone at Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley are working tirelessly to serve refugee families.  Please continue to pray for everyone working at the border.  A link is provided here should you wish to donate to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter: TIP Report

The July 2018 issue of Stop Trafficking is available here. Because the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) was released by the U.S. Department of State a few days ago, the Report is the focus of this issue of Stop Trafficking.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"God on the Border"

You may recall Sister Norma Pimentel, of the Missionaries of Jesus, who was part of a "virtual audience" with Pope Francis presented by ABC News in September 2015.  Sister Norma is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and an advocate for immigrants and refugees.  Recently, she received the Laetare Medal at the 2018 Commencement Ceremony of the University of Notre Dame. 

In a June 29 Washington Post editorial, "God on the Border," columnist Karen Tumulty profiles Sister Norma's work with Catholic Charities' Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. (Click here to read the editorial.) The Center provides a place of dignity and hope for those who are attempting to find a safer life in the United States.  We pray for all those who work at the border, especially for Sister Norma and the staff of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Family Separation

The USCCB's Justice for Immigrants website provides a wealth of information about family separation at the US border -- What are the facts? What can we do to help?  What about legislation and the Executive Order?  Click here to access the site, which includes the following "Prayer for Immigrant Children":

Loving Father, 
in your infinite compassion,
we seek your divine protection for refugee children
who are so often alone and afraid.

Provide solace to those who have been witnesses to
violence and destruction,
who have lost parents, family, friends, home, and all they cherish
due to war or persecution.
Comfort them in their sorrow,
and bring help in their time of need.

Show mercy to unaccompanied migrant children, too, Lord.
Reunite them with their families and loved ones.
Guide those children who are strangers in a foreign land
to a place of peace and safety.
Comfort them in their sorrow,
and bring help in their time of need.

Show us how we might reach out to these precious and 
vulnerable children.
Open our hearts to migrant and refugee children in need,
so that we might see in them your own migrant Son.

Give us courage to stand up in their defense
against those who would do them harm.

For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts of Gaudete et Exsultate:
". . . Your personal mission is inseparable from the building of the kingdom. . . . You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavor" (n. 25).

"Everything can be accepted and integrated into our life in this world, and become a part of our path to holiness" (n. 26).

"There are times when we are tempted to relegate pastoral engagement or commitment in the world to second place, as if these were 'distractions' along the path to growth in holiness and interior peace.  We can forget that 'life does not have a mission, but is a mission'" (n. 27).

"Anything done out of anxiety, pride or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness" (n. 28).

"The presence of constantly new gadgets, the excitement of travel and an endless array of consumer goods at times leave no room for God's voice to be heard.  We are overwhelmed by words, by superficial pleasures and by an increasing din, filled not by joy but rather by the discontent of those whose lives have lost meaning.  How can we fail to realize the need to stop this rat race and to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God?  Finding that space may prove painful but it is always fruitful.  Sooner or later, we have to face our true selves and let the Lord enter.  This may not happen unless 'we see ourselves staring into the abyss of a frightful temptation, or have the dizzying sensation of standing on the precipice of utter despair, or find ourselves completely alone or abandoned'" (n. 29).

" . . . [We] tend to absolutize our free time, so that we can give ourselves over completely to the devices that provide us with entertainment or ephemeral pleasures.  As a result, we come to resent our mission, our commitment grows slack and our generous and ready spirit of service begins to flag. . . . We need a spirit of holiness capable of filling both our solitude and our service, our personal life and our evangelizing efforts, so that every moment can be an expression of self-sacrificing love in the Lord's eyes.  In this way, every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness" (n. 30-31).

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

For your July calendar

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

  • July 4 - Independence Day
  • July 14 - Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
  • July 22 - Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
  • July 30 - World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
  • July 31 - Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Summer Reading Recommendations

As we have done in previous years, we will provide occasional summer reading recommendations with social justice themes.

Our first recommendation is Rutilio Grande: A Table for All by Rhina Guidos (copyright 2018).  According to the Education for Justice description:  "This new biography looks deeply into the life of [Servant of God] Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ, whose passion for justice for those in poverty shaped Blessed Oscar Romero and many others during the long oppression and conflict in El Salvador."  A reading guide for this book is available here.

This book is a timely addition to our knowledge of the life and work of Oscar Romero, whose canonization will happen in the fall.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue to share excerpts from Gaudete et Exsultate:

"At its core, holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life.  It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord's death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and rising anew with him.  But it can also entail reproducing in our own lives various aspects of Jesus' earthly life: his hidden life, his life in community, his closeness to the outcast, his poverty and other ways in which he showed his self-sacrificing love" (n. 20).

"In the end, it is Christ who loves in us, for 'holiness is nothing other than charity lived to the full'" (n. 21).

"What we need to contemplate is the totality of [the lives of the saints], their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person" (22).

"This is a powerful summons to all of us.  You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission.  Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you.  Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received.  Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today's world" (n. 23). 

"Let yourself be transformed.  Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission.  The Lord will bring it to fulfillment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens" (n. 24).  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 1: Religious Freedom Week

You will recall from our previous post that Religious Freedom Week begins today.  The daily resources from the USCCB are available hereToday's reflection is:

"On this feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, we remember these saints who were martyred in 1535 for standing up for the sanctity of marriage and the freedom of the Church in opposition to England's King Henry VIII.  In our country today, the Church faces challenges to her freedom to serve in healthcare, child welfare services and education.  While we seek to be faithful to Christ by serving our neighbors, ignoring conscience cannot be the condition placed on people of faith for service in the public square.  Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher show us what faithful service looks like.  They loved and served their country.  Yet they rightly recognized that they were being forced to choose between the Church and the king.  They were faithful to the Church.  May their example continue to illuminate the path for us, as we seek to faithfully serve our Church and country."

Prayer: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, pray for us, and for the protection of religious freedom in America and around the world.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 20: World Refugee Day

"New Together" is a Public Service Announcement for World Refugee Day 2018.  At only 1:15 long, it is a very simple, moving message to help us recommit to our prayers and actions for refugees.  (The video is embedded below.  Email subscribers who do not see a video below, please click here to view it on YouTube.)

Today, and every day, let us pray for refugees:

Sheltering God,
You were born in flight,
Your parents anxious and given no rest.
The manner of your birth calls me to
Open-heartedness and sensitivity to the strangers in our midst.
Help me not to flee your challenge.
The violence of the present time teaches me fear of the stranger,
Reluctant to reach out to those who are different.
Grace me this day as I seek
To see you in the faces of those uprooted,
Weary, as they seek refuge and peace.  Amen.
(Copyright, Education for Justice)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fortnight for Freedom/Religious Freedom Week

Remember that the USCCB's "Fortnight for Freedom" campaign runs from June 21-July 4.  Prayer resources and reflections are available here.  Within the Fortnight is Religious Freedom Week, which begins on June 22 (the Feasts of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher).  Resources for Religious Freedom Week are available here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue reading through Gaudete et Exsultate:

"To be holy does not require a bishop, a priest or a religious.  We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer.  That is not the case.  We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves" (n. 14).

"Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation.  Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23)" (n. 15).

"This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures.  Here is an example:  a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts.  But she says in her heart: 'No, I will not speak badly of anyone.' This is a step forward in holiness.  Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love.  That is another sacrifice that brings holiness" (n. 16).

"At times, life presents great challenges.  Through them, the Lord calls us anew to conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives. . . . At other times, we need only find a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing. . . . [Quoting Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan]: "I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way'" (n. 17).

"I this way, led by God's grace, we shape by many gestures the holiness God has willed for us, not as men and women sufficient unto ourselves but rather 'as good stewards of the manifold grace of God'" (n. 18).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I was a stranger . . .

While we have been praying for the denuclearization talks in North Korea this week, there may have been a few items that we missed regarding immigration:
Please remain informed and prayerful regarding these and other life issues.  Remember the words of Jesus as passed down to us in the Gospel of Matthew: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Culture of Individualism

This morning, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, of the Diocese of Paterson, NJ, was a guest on Relevant Radio's "Morning Air" program.  Click here to listen to Bishop Serratelli's words on the "Culture of Individualism or here to read Bishop Serratelli's column, "The Loss of Freedom in a Culture of Radical Individualism."

Saturday, June 9, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue reading through Gaudete et Exsultate:

"'Each in his or her own way' the Council says.  We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable.  There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us.  The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7) rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them" (n. 11). 

"In times when women tended to be most ignored or overlooked, the Holy Spirit raised up saints whose attractiveness produced new spiritual vigor and important reforms in the Church.  We can mention Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Bridget, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Therese of Lisieux.  But I think too of all those unknown or forgotten women who, each in her own way, sustained and transformed families and communities by the power of their witness" (n. 12).

Monday, June 4, 2018

JPIC Newsbrief

Thanks to Sister Joanne for sending us this Newsbrief from the USG-UISG Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.  Click here to access the newsletter.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Pauline at 201

You may remember that last year we commemorated the 200th birthday of the Founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity,  Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (June 3, 1817- April 30, 1881).  In honor of Mother Pauline's 200th birthday, Sisters participated in mission trips to Uruguay, Argentina, the Philippines and the United States.  Additionally, spiritual preparations occurred for three years prior to the celebration and in last July's "Response 200." Several "Pauline 200" celebrations were held last summer, as well. 

Through these commemorations and celebrations, the Sisters of Christian Charity have been strengthened to continue carrying Pauline's charism throughout the world.  We are grateful to God for Blessed Pauline and for all of those on whose shoulders we stand.

Father in heaven, lead us in the way of  love as you led Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt.  Open our hearts to others, that loving them as your Son commanded, we may be one with them in your heavenly kingdom.  Amen.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

We continue reading through Gaudete et Exsultate, the Apostolic Exhortation promulgated in April:

"We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people.  That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.  Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community.  God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people" (n. 6).

"I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God's people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.  In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant.  Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God's presence.  We might call them 'the middle class of holiness'" (n. 7).

"[St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross] writes: 'The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night.  But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible.  Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions.  And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed'" (n. 8).

Friday, June 1, 2018

Stop Trafficking Newsletter for June

The June 2018 issue of Stop Trafficking -- highlighting the trauma suffered by victims of sexual exploitation and the issues involved in their treatment and healing -- is available here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

For your June Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember during June:

  • June 1 - Global Day of Parents
  • June 3 - Birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (1817-1881), Founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity
  • June 4 - International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
  • June 5 - World Environment Day
  • June 8 - Feast of the Sacred Heart
  • June 12 - World Day Against Child Labor
  • June 14 - Eid al-Fitr begins at sunset
  • June 15 - World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
  • June 17 - Father's Day
  • June 19 - Juneteenth (Emancipation Day)
  • June 20 - World Refugee Day
  • June 23 - Public Service Day
  • June 26 - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Friday, May 25, 2018

On the Call to Holiness in Today's World

In April, we introduced  Gaudete et Exsultate, the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation "On the Call to Holiness in Today's World."  Today, we will begin to share excerpts of the letter, whose goal is to "repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities" (n. 2).

"'A great cloud of witnesses' (Hebrews 12:1) impels us to advance constantly towards the goal.  These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5).  Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord" (n. 3)

"The saints in God's presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us. . . . Each of us can say: 'Surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God . . . I do not have to carry alone what, in truth, I could never carry alone.  All the saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me'" (n. 4, quoting Pope Benedict XVI).

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Rest in Peace, Sister Henry!

The Sisters of Christian Charity mourn the loss of Sister Henry Lambert, SCC, who died on Friday.  A tribute to Sister Henry from today's Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette ("Sister Henry Lambert: A City Servant and Sister of Mercy") can be found here and Sister's obituary can be found here.

As the founder of St. Anthony's Center and St. Anthony's Clinic in Williamsport, Sister Henry dedicated so much of her life to serving the "least" of our brothers and sisters.  She was known for her charitable works throughout Lycoming County, PA and beyond.  The picture below is taken from a very large mural in Williamsport, "Inspiration Lycoming," by Michael Pilato.  In the mural, Sister Henry is depicted cooking for the hungry she served every day for over 40 years.

Rest in peace, Sister Henry!  "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Stop Trafficking

The May issue of Stop Trafficking is available here.  This issue highlights how vulnerability among children leads to exploitation and sex trafficking.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Happy Feast of Blessed Pauline!

Faithful readers may recall that on April 14, when we celebrated the anniversary of the beatification of Pauline von Mallinckrodt, we referred to the homily of Pope John Paul II during the beatification liturgy in 1985.  Several of you expressed interest in reading the entire homily. 

We thought that today, when the Church observes the Feast of Blessed Pauline (1817-1881), it would be appropriate to share an English translation of the homily.  Through the wonders of technology and the kindness of Sister Adalberta in Germany, we are able to share the text, which appeared in an article in the May 13, 1985 issue of L'Osservatore Romano. Click here to access the article. 

Here are some excerpts of the Holy Father's homily:

"The spiritual message of the new Blessed, Pauline von Mallinckrodt, can be summed up in a very relevant and concrete philosophy of life: to follow Christ unreservedly in unshakable faith; to love God and lovingly to dedicate oneself to the most lowly and poor, for the sake of Christ.
. . .
Hers was a conscious and courageous faith.  It allowed her to endure pain, bitterness and many trials, and it showed itself in her complete and unreserved love for Jesus Christ and his Mother Mary.  Full of confidence and trust she left herself in their hands.  Striving for God and his greater glory she grew in grace, for she constantly drew strength from prayer in the context of a profound eucharistic life.
. . .
Her plans were daring; but she knew how to wait in quiet and humble restraint for the time which God would choose.  Her work grew successful, though only amid continual struggles and difficulties.  The time of its greatest growth also saw the coming of a destructive storm, persecution under the laws of the Kulturkampf.  But here too Mother Pauline showed her interior openness to the will of God and was ready and able to encounter trials, and make her Way of the Cross.

The life of Mother Pauline is an example to us.  In answer to the anxious unrest of modern man she shows us a way to inner peace: by courageously and trustingly seeing God in one’s suffering brother and sister.  Thus her message has relevance today too, for the search for God is always relevant."

Happy Feast of Blessed Pauline!

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

For your May Calendar

Here are some dates you might want to remember during May:

  • May 1:  International Workers' Day/Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
  • May 10: Feast of the Ascension
  • May 13: Mother's Day
  • May 15:  Ramadan begins at sunset
  • May 20: Pentecost
  • May 28:  Memorial Day

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Earth Day 2018

Click here to access resources for the 48th anniversary of Earth Day (today) from Catholic Climate Covenant.  Resources are also available here from the Catholic Health Association of the United States, where you will find a prayer from St. Basil the Great: 

Oh God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things; with our brothers the animals to whom you gave the earth as their home in common with us.  We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high domain of  humans with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to you in song, has been a groan of travail.  May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves, and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life.  Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Beatification Anniversary

On April 14, 1985 in Rome, Mother Pauline von Mallinckrodt was beatified by Pope John Paul II.  In his homily during Blessed Pauline's beatification, the Holy Father made special note of her love of God and of the poor and of her kindness, trust, faithfulness and self-sacrifice.  He also mentioned Blessed Pauline's exercise of humility and patience amidst her bold (some translators would say "audacious") plans, which were carried out among struggles and difficulties.  In the conclusion of his remarks about Blessed Pauline, Pope John Paul II noted that her message is always current: To courageously and trustingly seek God in our suffering brothers and sisters.

More information about Blessed Pauline is available here.

Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of the beatification of our Foundress, we pray that we may continue to follow her example:  Blessed Pauline, we pray to you:  Lead us to God!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Gaudete et Exsultate

As we reminded you last week, the new Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad:  On the Call to Holiness in Today's World) was released today at noon (Rome time).  It is available here.  Pope Francis explains that his goal in Gaudete et Exsultate is to "repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.  For the Lord has chosen each one of us 'to be holy and blameless before him in love'" (Eph 1:4) (n. 2).

If you are short on time to read the exhortation, America Magazine has provided "Top Five Takeaways from Pope Francis' Gaudete et Exsultate" (available here).  The "takeaways" are a good introduction, but they are not a substitute for reading the words of Pope Francis.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Rejoice and be glad

According to this press release from the Vatican Press Office, Pope Francis' newest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate ("Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in the Contemporary World"), will be released on Monday, April 9.  Click here for more information from Vatican News.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Stop Trafficking for April

The April issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Break Silence. Overcome Fear.

The Vatican News article available here reports on the Holy Father's homily at the Easter Vigil Mass.  During this homily, Pope Francis issued the challenge not to stand speechless before the events of Holy Week, but to overcome our fears and share in the mission and message of Jesus.

The Lord is risen, indeed!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

For your April calendar

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

  • April 1 - Easter Sunday
  • April 7 - World Health Day/Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide
  • April 12 - Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at sunset
  • April 22 - Earth Day
  • April 30 - Feast Day of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt (1817-1881), Founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity

Friday, March 23, 2018

Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero

Blessed Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, when he was assassinated while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980.  Recently, the Vatican announced that Romero will be canonized next year.  To remember his Feast Day (March 24) in a special way, we are sharing these readings that were collected to mark his beatification in 2015. 

We pray:
Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to your Word.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

World Water Day

World Water Day is commemorated annually on March 22.  This year's theme is "Nature for Water," exploring nature-based solutions to water challenges we face in the 21st century.  (Check out the World Water Day website for more information.)  

When faced with an overwhelming global issue, we sometimes feel helpless. However, there are small things we can do at home to contribute to a solution.  For example, the "Water -- Use it Wisely" website provides "100+ Ways to Conserve Water" to help make a difference in some of the small things we do each day.  Some of these tips include turning off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering your hands.  The water conserved by employing just a few of these tips can make a big difference!

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.