Saturday, January 07, 2023

A message for Alomgir

I have gotten a few cryptic (and ingenious) messages lately from someone who desires to convert to Christianity. Obviously, he/she is not in a position to do so openly, and in communicating has adopted an alias of a prominent politician. This is the only way I can think of to respond:

For Alomgir: I have no idea how to help you in your quest, other than to pray that Jesus send you the person who can guide you wisely along the path of the Gospel. I invite all NunBlog readers to pray for you and other Muslim background disciples of Jesus. You inspire us to follow Jesus with greater faith, hope, and love. "For freedom Christ as set us free," St Paul wrote. May you experience that truth, and so many we, in the depths of our hearts, minds, and consciences.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Come to Bethlehem! (Sign up for free!)

I mentioned that our concert program this year will be drastically reduced; the only venues we could schedule in are Boston and Charleston. But we still want the Word of God to reach people through music. So we are expanding the concert's theme into our newsletters for Advent into a "Come to Bethlehem" Advent retreat series. Before leaving for New Orleans, I recorded my spot.

Beginning November 22, each week's issue will feature:

    •  a theme that connects to the Bethlehem of our own lives
    • video reflection by one of our Sisters including several choir members)
    • song from our choir that matches the (video reflection.

If you already subscribe to my community's e-newsletter, you are all set. If not, this is your chance to sign up!

Advent series sign up: 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Now reporting from New Orleans!

So much has happened in the past several months: Let me start with what is the most dramatic for me, my transfer from Boston, where I have been for the past eight years, to our community in New Orleans. Yes, for the first time in 47 years, I am actually stationed in my hometown, in the very place where I discovered my Pauline vocation! Not only that: two of my siblings are within walking distance, which means that just about every day I have a walking partner (and no excuse not to exercise!). Our bookstore/convent is located in between two large, active parishes, both of which have adoration chapels. The schedule works out for me to walk home from Mass three days a week, and occasionally to walk to adoration for my rosary. (I go to the chapel that does not involve crossing a four-lane parkway.) 

I spent the last weeks in Boston packing books (only ten boxes worth; the rest, catalogued with the Library Thing app, are in a secure location in the motherhouse) and a few less important things, while also working with the choir on our Christmas concert and preparing an article on Bl. James Alberione for a periodical. I was working as well on a two-part workshop for another organization, but they dropped the ball, so I will develop that project later: It's a good topic, but I really needed the time for my other commitments!

The sisters in New Orleans welcomed me with open arms. Finally, the community consists of five members, the minimum recommended to support a healthy community life. As soon as I was in the door, I had a cooking assignment--one of the joys of life for me. The first available Sunday meant coffee and beignets, of course. (And a snowball in the afternoon.) Then the unpacking commenced.

This past week our Pauline Cooperators celebrated not only the feast of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo (Oct 19), but the Promises made by five new members: two in St. Louis on the 19th, and three here in New Orleans on Saturday. The three had all done the two year preparation online, having never met a Daughter of St. Paul until the sisters went to Texas a few weeks ago. They were excited to meet an entire community of sisters, plus a contingent of Cooperators, candidates, and volunteers. It was an incredibly beautiful Mass and ceremony: You could feel the Holy Spirit in the atmosphere! It was good for me to be able to meet the people who are the most involved with our mission in the area, too. (Plus, we had some great leftovers!)

While most of my office is now set up, I am still working out a system for my projects and trying to fine-tune a work schedule: when to write, when to research, when to blog, when to rehearse for the concert. Happily for me, there is another concert singer here (the superior, Sister Mary Martha), so coordinating practice will help both of us. 

The Christmas concerts this year will be quite limited: no streamed event, just one concert in Boston (at Fontbonne Academy on Dec. 9) and one in Charleston (Dec. 11). We had committed to Charleston years in advance for 2020 and, well, you know what happened. With the plans to pull out of the "Holy City" at the end of this year (we just closed our Chicago convent on Oct. 22 after 43 years, and Honolulu in July after 48), we couldn't cancel the concert, too. If you've never seen one of our Christmas concerts and you really need a vacation, I highly recommend you make a family trip to Charleston for the weekend! There are abundant ticket options, too (unlike the situation in Boston). 

There is also a book coming down the pike after being in limbo for quite some time. It's based on retreat meditations I preached for the sisters several years ago. More about that when the time is right! 

Meanwhile, my transition to a small community continues. Please pray for me, for us, and for vocations! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Chicago, here I come!

A few months ago I mentioned the consolidation of several of our Pauline locations in the US, downtown Chicago being one that will be closing before year's end. That time is fast approaching: Our Michigan Avenue bookstore will be closing on September 24. A month later, on the feast day of Pope John Paul II, the convent will officially close. That's especially poignant for us, because the sisters arrived in Chicago in 1979, just in time to unfurl an enormous banner down the facade of the building to greet Pope John Paul on his motorcade down Michigan Avenue.

Several of us who served in Chicago will be coming in for the Mass of Thanksgiving on September 10 at Assumption Church (downtown on Illinois Street). I was asked to be the cantor for the Mass, which is scheduled for 10:00, to be followed by a reception. I hope that any NunBlog readers in Chicagoland will find a way to participate, to tell us what the Pauline mission has meant in your life, and to promise us your prayers as we move into a new (and unknown!) future where the media world is so much more challenging than it was in the 70's.

Friday, April 22, 2022

A Catholic thought for Earth Day

There's nothing new or New Agey in the Catholic tendency to see all creation as a kind of Temple: a house built by God and for God; a dwelling-place where God "rests the soles of his feet" (Ez 43:7). When God chose a people for himself and committed to remaining among them, he gave Moses explicit instructions about how to go about constructing a "tabernacle" or tent that would be God's dwelling-place. It was, as it were, a symbolic representation of the universe itself: the heavens and the earth. The same instructions were followed, with due adaptations, when Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem. Made of cedar, with doors of olive wood and fir panels as flooring, the Temple featured angels, palm trees, flowers and fruits carved into the walls and columns (and covered with gold). An immense bronze tub, called the "sea" represented all the waters of the earth. Embroidered with constellations and cherubim, a brocaded curtain of dark blue, red and purple set off the unapproachable Holy of Holies from the sanctuary the way the night sky seems to "wall off" the impenetrable Heavens from the earth. Even now many church buildings echo this sacred architecture, though the "Temple veil" separating Heaven and earth was torn, once and for all, from its inaccessible top all the way to the floor, at the death of Jesus.
"The Lord's is the earth and its fullness; the world and all its peoples. It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm" (Psalm 24). 
The Temple has disappeared, as Jesus said it would, since we by baptism have become "living stones" of a new, no longer symbolic Temple. But the earth retains its value as a signpost for us Temples of the Holy Spirit.
"In the cosmic Temple, man is not living primarily in his own house, but in the house of God. That is why he knows he should revere those creatures who do not belong to him, that he can lay hands on nothing without permission. All is holy; the trees are heavy with sacramental mysteries."
Jean Cardinal Danielou, SJ

Thursday, April 21, 2022

#MediaNuns are #OntheMove

If you subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media, you already know: The Daughters of St Paul of the US and English-speaking Canada province are on the move. This means that some pretty big changes are ahead, changes that will reshape our physical locations around the United States so that we can be more nimble in our mission while continuing to live the religious life in all its vigor. 

In the video, you can listen to our provincial superior explain the basic outline, including the details of which locations will be closing and which will be receiving more sisters. It is so painful for us to even think of leaving cities and communities where we have been established (on average for 40 years) that we kept testing alternative approaches. Finally, though, the Holy Spirit has managed to make it crystal clear: We are to be like Paul, on the move for the sake of the Gospel. This has united all of the sisters. Plus, we are looking forward to being able to spread our creative wings a bit more than has been possible to us heretofore.

For more information, there's a website with information and FAQs (the header on that page shows me at age 23 in St Louis!); I hope you will also subscribe to our newsletter to stay abreast of all that is coming. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Venerable Father Antonini video (fixed!)

I don't know what happened to the code on yesterday's post that the video didn't go through, but I fixed it this morning, so here is another opportunity to learn about Venerable Bernardo Antonini, that lovable missionary to Russia whom I am recommending as a timely intercessor:

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

An Intercessor for Russia and Ukraine?

The news from Russia and Ukraine is so worrisome, especially with hints from both sides that churches are likely to be bombed during Easter services (which, for the Orthodox, will be this weekend). That led me to think of dear Msgr. Bernardo Antonini, who died during Holy Week, as the perfect intercessor.

Venerable Bernardo Antonini was a priest of the Diocese of Verona, a member of the Pauline Family (Institute of Jesus the Priest), and for the last twelve years of his life, fullfilling a lifelong dream, a missionary in Russia. During his years there, Antonini was like another Paul: he carried out a media apostolate, founded the Queen of Apostles Seminary (in Moscow), and organized events for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, traveling across the continent for the sake of the Gospel. The interactive map of his visitations across Russia, into Ukraine (western Kyiv), and into various regions of the former Soviet Union is enough to make your head spin. (Most glorious of all, those visits are still bearing fruit!)

He died quietly in Kazakhstan on Tuesday of Holy Week 2002, after the Chrism Mass. 

A year and a half ago, when the world was pretty much under lockdown, the Pauline Spirituality Center in Rome interviewed by Zoom people who had known this man of God on the occasion of an important stage in the canonization process of Msgr. Bernardo Antonini, . I was so impressed by what I heard that I took it on myself to do an audio translation of the entire video (except for the clip from Italian TV, which far surpassed my ability to keep up). You can listen to the whole thing yourself in the YouTube video below. You can also read an article from a 2010 issue of our Cooperators' magazine.  

Here is my (unofficial) translation of the prayer for his intercession (taken from the website, should you wish to offer this prayer for the countries and peoples he loved:

Most Holy Trinity,
We thank you for having given us, in your servant Father Bernardo Antonini, the shining example of an ardent and active priest who put all of his special gifts at the service of the Church. In joyful obedience, he used every possible media to spread the light of the Word, and with all of his strength gave witness to your love for every creature.
We ask you to glorify this faithful minister of yours even here on earth, and, through his intercession, to grant us the grace that we ask:
Glory Be...

Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles,
Grant that we, too, following your devoted son Father Bernard, may be always ready and available to serve God and neighbor.
Hail, Holy Queen...


Monday, March 21, 2022

Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Mary

On March 15, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25, during a celebration of Penance in St Peter's Basilica. The consecration will also be carried out simultaneously in Fatima by the "Papal Almoner," the Cardinal who is especially charged with being the Pope's hand of mercy to the needy. 

This will be happening at 5:00 p.m. Rome time, so it is eminently doable for us in the US to follow in real time on the Vatican's live stream. I suggest joining in from wherever you are to pray the Rosary or renew your personal consecration to Mary for all of the needs of humanity today, but in a special way for an end to the unfathomable situation in Ukraine.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Meat Friday

Friday, March 25, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. Solemnities are the feast-day equivalent of Sunday; when they fall on a Sunday in Ordinary Time, the usual prayers and readings give way to the Mass of the Solemnity. 

When a Solemnity falls on a Friday, as Annunciation does this year, the common rule of Friday abstinence from meat does not apply, even during Lent. 

Here’s what Canon Law says:

 “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church” (CIC 1250);  “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities” (CIC 1251).


Some Catholics on social media jokingly highlight the coming Solemnity and the exceptional nature of its observance by referring to the exception as a “meat Friday.”  Enjoying a special meal on a Solemnity is a form of liturgical living; it lasts the body share in the joy of the great mystery the Church celebrates on that day. And the Annunciation is one of the biggest Solemnities there is: It is the day that marks the Incarnation of Christ in Mary's womb!

On a separate, but related note:

The Holy Father has asked the Bishops of the Universal Church to join him (in real time) in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday. As soon as the prayer of consecration is made public, I will post it (or a link) here. In the meantime, Bishop Robert Reed, auxiliary bishop of Boston, has posted a lovely prayer in preparation for that occasion: