Life

A call to action on the ROE Act
Hello and welcome, In light of the present makeup of the Supreme Court, the national debate on abortion has generated a great deal of legislation to restrict abortion in some states and to attempt to enshrine abortion in state law other places. This is what we are currently seeing in Massachusetts with the proposed ROE Act. However, the ROE Act does not seek to simply maintain the status quo of what is allowed under the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision but seeks to radically expand access to abortion in Massachusetts – even to the point of allowing young girls to receive an abortion without parental or judicial consent. In response to this, this week the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, representing the four dioceses of Massachusetts, issued a document providing information on the ROE Act and urging people to contact their legislators to express their opposition to this proposal. I have asked that this information be included in the bulletins of every parish in the Archdiocese of Boston this weekend, and I have also issued a letter to the people of the archdiocese that I have asked to be read at all Masses. I would like to share my letter and the document from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference with you here: January 19, 2020 My Dear Friends in Christ, As we proceed with the New Year in the life of the Church allow me this opportunity to bring to your attention two very serious and deeply troubling legislative bills being considered by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Massachusetts State House. If enacted into law these proposals would significantly expand abortion access in Massachusetts beyond what is currently permitted. The proposed legislation goes far beyond the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court. I urge you to learn about the specific details of the proposals by way of information provided in this week’s bulletin insert. With your help and the help of your family, friends and neighbors, we must make every effort to ensure that these bills do not become law in Massachusetts. Your voice and the voices of all opposed to unprecedented expansion of abortion will make a difference. It is of critical importance that the women and men who represent us in the Legislature know where we stand on the protection of life. With the assurance of my prayers for you and all your loved ones, I remain, Devotedly yours in Christ, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley Archbishop of Boston Let Your Voice Be Heard — Again! Say NO to Expanded Abortion Access Thank you to everyone who has already contacted State Senators and Representatives expressing opposition to the proposed laws that would dramatically expand abortion rights in Massachusetts. Now, as the state legislature enters its final six months of the session, it is time to speak out again. The Facts The two bills under consideration (H. 3320 and S. 1209) would: 1) Expand abortion access, including late-term abortions, during the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason. 2) Eliminate requirements that late-term abortions be performed in a hospital. 3) Eliminate the requirement that provides medical care to a child who survives an abortion attempt. 4) Eliminate the requirement that a minor under the age of 18 have the consent of a parent, guardian, or the courts. 5) Expand state funding for women who cannot afford the procedure. To be clear – these bills would significantly change Massachusetts law. This is not about Roe v. Wade. How can you help? Contact your legislators, let them know you are a Massachusetts voter, and say NO on Abortion Expansion! Log on to www.macatholic.org and follow the links to find contact information for: • Your individual State Senator and Representative via address and zip code link. • Members of the Joint Committee on Judiciary who control the fate of H. 3320 and S. 1209. For individuals without internet access, please call the Massachusetts Catholic Conference at 617-746-5630 for legislative contact information. “We, the Roman Catholic Bishops of the four Dioceses of Massachusetts, call on our elected officials to carefully consider the consequences that these bills would bring to the lives of infants, parents, families and the citizens of the Commonwealth. We urge all people of good will, regardless of what faith they practice, to vigorously oppose these extreme measures.” Friday, I went to Regina Cleri to visit Father John Doyle, whose health was failing. His niece was there with us and we had an opportunity to pray together. Sadly, just a couple of days later, on Sunday, he passed away. Father Doyle will long be remembered for his tireless commitment to working for the poor and marginalized. Beginning in the early 1960s, he spent 24 years ministering to the poor of Bolivia with the St. James Society. There, he was known for going wherever the people most in need were — whether that be in the remote villages or in the city slums. When he returned to Boston in the late 1980s, he brought with him that same spirit of service, working to promote social justice, particularly for the poor and immigrant communities, first in Brockton and later in Dorchester. Even in his retirement, he continued to help the immigrant communities of St. Gabriel’s in Brighton and then Most Holy Redeemer in East Boston by celebrating the Spanish Mass for them and hearing confessions. He certainly had a great impact on so many people, and his death is a great loss for the archdiocese. My visit to Regina Cleri gave me an opportunity to see some of the latest renovations in the common area. Of course, regular readers will remember that a few months ago we celebrated the completion of the beautifully renovated chapel. They continue to add more rooms and to update the facility. These renovations have been such a great blessing for our retired priests and we are happy that we are able to continue making improvements to Regina Cleri. Saturday, I went to Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlborough to bless the renovations to their church. Almost exactly a year ago, there was a very serious fire in the sacristy that destroyed the sacristy and led to a great deal of smoke and water damage in the church. As a result, the upper church was closed for nearly a year. They were able to complete the repairs in time for the Christmas Masses, and I was happy to come just a couple weeks later to rededicate the church. The renovations came out very well, and the church looks beautiful. It was also a very fitting occasion to install the parish’s new pastor, Father Steven Clemence. We were very happy that his parents and his brother, William, who is also a priest, were able to be with us along with several of Father Steven’s classmates and neighboring pastors. Immaculate Conception is a very diverse parish, so the Mass was trilingual in English, Portuguese and Spanish. It was very encouraging to see, on a Saturday afternoon, a church that was filled with many young people, families, and children from the parish school. At the end of the Mass, they presented me with two very nice gifts — a picture of the school’s crest signed by all the students and a beautiful painting of my coat of arms prepared by one of the families of the parish. Afterwards, there was a reception in the school, and I was very pleased to be able to greet the people. Each year, the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master organize a dinner for the sisters and several priests at their house on West Street in Boston. We began with Vespers, and afterwards, the sisters served a lovely dinner. After dinner, as he does each year, Father Paul Rouse played the piano and led us all in singing Christmas carols. The Sister Disciples are such an important presence in the archdiocese — both at the Pastoral Center and Regina Cleri, as well as their house on West Street. Their ministry of providing wonderful liturgical vestments, the special care they give our retired priests and the ministry of presence that they practice, as well as their special commitment to Eucharistic adoration, are a great blessing for our archdiocese. Also, I want to mention that in this past week we were very happy to learn that one of our Capuchin brothers at Capuchin College, Brother Andrew Corriente, was announced as the winner of ABC’s “The Great American Baking Show.” I have been the beneficiary of his culinary talents because whenever I go to Washington I, of course, stay with the friars at Capuchin College. If I am lucky enough to be there on somebody’s birthday, Brother Andrew is always the one who bakes the cake — and it is always spectacular. So, I can understand firsthand why the judges were so impressed at his abilities! Needless to say, the friars are all very happy for his notoriety but even happier that they continue to enjoy his wonderful baked goods! Finally, this coming Monday is, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I would like to share with you here a statement from the president of our bishops’ conference, Archbishop José Gomez, calling on all of us to honor the memory of Dr. King by working to promote tolerance, equality and justice for all people in our nation. As our nation prepares to commemorate the life and witness of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are grateful for his courageous stand in solidarity with all who suffer injustice and his witness of love and nonviolence in the struggle for social change. But we are once again painfully aware that we are still far off from his dream for America, the “beloved community” for which he gave his life. We have come a long way in our country, but we have not come nearly far enough. Too many hearts and minds are clouded by racist presumptions of privilege and too many injustices in our society are still rooted in racism and discrimination. Too many young African American men are still being killed in our streets or spending their best years behind bars. Many minority neighborhoods in this country are still what they were in Rev. King’s time, what he called “lonely islands of poverty.” Let us recommit ourselves to ensuring opportunity reaches every community. In recent years, we have seen disturbing outbreaks of racism and prejudice against other groups. There has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks and also ugly displays of white nationalism, nativism, and violence targeting Hispanics and other immigrants. Such bigotry is not worthy of a great nation. As Catholics and as Americans, we must reject every form of racism and anti-Semitism.  Racism is a sin that denies the truth about God and his creation, and it is a scandal that disfigures the beauty of America’s founding vision. In our 2018 pastoral letter on racism, my brother bishops and I stated: “What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.”  Let us honor the memory of Rev. King by returning to what he called “the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage.” Let us commit ourselves once more to building his “beloved community,” an America where all men and women are treated as children of God, made in his image and endowed with dignity, equality, and rights that can never be denied, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the place they were born. The U.S. Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter on racism, “Open Wide Your Hearts: The Enduring Call of Love,” and other resources from the Ad Hoc Committee on Racism can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Of Note–January 2020
Let’s face it, we are all busy, modern women and we just don’t have the time or the energy to vet or read everything the Catholic blogosphere has to offer. We have streamlined that for you and offer you the most worthy, relevant reads that will keep you informed and in-tune without wasting your precious time. Each month, on the first Friday, you can find Of Note filled with posts that are inspiring, knowledgeable, cover current events, and liturgical living. The post Of Note–January 2020 appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Becoming a little Blessed Mother
3 minute read“You are the closest thing I know to the Blessed Mother on earth.” How was I supposed to receive that? An impossibly flirty pick-up line, every Catholic girl’s dream compliment, or a call to my far-from-immaculate self to be something more? Somewhere deep down, we all know that’s what we’re called to be as young Catholic women: icons of the Blessed Mother here on earth. I recall hearing that St. Louis Martin affectionately nicknamed his wife Zelie “my little Blessed Mother.” Now I don’t know if Louis’ term of endearment is fact or fiction, and the thought sure is sweet, but their example doesn’t really make this any more achievable for me. Hardly! They are both saints themselves and parents of none other than the seraphic St. Thérèse of Lisieux. To see myself as virtuous and holy by the grace of God is challenging enough; to see myself as a little Blessed Mother seems near impossible. Enter our second Louis: feisty medieval preacher and renowned advocate of Marian devotion, St. Louis de Montfort. He details the virtues of Mary in his classic “True Devotion to Mary,” listing the following 10 qualities: profound humility, lively faith, blind obedience, constant prayer, universal mortification, surpassing purity, ardent charity, heroic patience, angelic sweetness and divine wisdom. Once more, I’m overwhelmed by the impossibility of the task. If that is what it means to be like Mary, I have an eternity to go. My interior monologue begins again. Obedience is hard enough, and I’m supposed to demonstrate blind obedience? Sure, I’m practicing moments of mortification (does not eating sweets on Mondays count?), but it’s supposed to be universal! What is that even supposed to mean? Universal as in “it absorbs every aspect of my life” or as in “it impacts the entire world?” Knowing Louis de Montfort and the Blessed Mother, probably both. This feels unachievable. The task is so large I almost give up. But I decide to start. I take a pretty, old jar, decorate it my way, write each virtue onto its own small slip of colored paper, fold them over and drop them in. My Mary jar. My call to be like her. Every morning I reach in and pull out one tiny slip of paper. Every morning I make some resolution to follow her in that virtue today. Maybe it’s a little prayer, a miniscule sacrifice, a moment of silent meditation on her virtue. Today’s virtue: angelic sweetness. I glance at my Bouguereau image of her innocence and whisper a prayer that my words today would be only honey. My day goes on, and when my brother yells at me from the other room, I take a deep breath and wait to reply. I begin to realize that I’m not supposed to be the Blessed Mother. I’m supposed to be a little Blessed Mother. And littleness doesn’t refer to my size, it refers to my attitude. It slowly dawns on me that I can’t imagine being a “Blessed Mother on earth” because I equate her qualities to queenly splendor, miraculous apparitions and all-powerful intercession. I’ve forgotten that she is first of all small — small in her humble heart, submissive attitude and absolute trust in the Father. Unachievable is right. It is all unachievable. But it is when I realize my own littleness to accomplish my call that I’ve finally learned it right. Unachievable by my power but possible with his grace. This time my eyes close in silent appreciation, and I feel a smile spreading. Louis has it right. There’s no place too little to start to be like her — for more than anything, I have to choose to be small. A little Blessed Mother. Now that that’s settled, I have only one question remaining. To whom did Joseph compare Mary? Ruth, Esther, Judith? Loyal daughter-in-law. Fearless queen. Gorgeous warrior. Yes, I’m glad I don’t have to live up to all that. I’ll stick with the little Blessed Mother. Mary’s most glorious moment of fame is forever simple, my call forever clear: to be a girl who said yes. Maria Mellis is a high school English teacher in Clarkston, Michigan, as well as a pianist and parish music director. She has spent time living and teaching in Poland and loves to bake, to play soccer and volleyball, and to write poetry in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. She is passionate about the daily opportunity that each one of us has to encounter God in the most ordinary of moments and is continually inspired by the incredible teens she has the privilege to teach. The post Becoming a little Blessed Mother appeared first on RADIANT.
Epiphany celebrations
Hello and welcome! Thursday, I had dinner with Father Antonio Nardoianni from St. Leonard’s Parish in the North End, who announced in December that he would be leaving St. Leonard’s and will move on to minister in Canada. In his 15 years as pastor, he did extraordinary work at St. Leonard’s — renovating the church, helping to bring new life to the parish and providing wonderful pastoral service to the people of the North End. We wish him all the best in his future ministry. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by many! Friday, I went to The Carmelite Chapel in the Northshore Mall to celebrate a Mass to mark the chapel’s 60th anniversary. The Carmelite Chapel was the first mall chapel in the United States and was an initiative of Cardinal Richard Cushing, who is well known for having established several “workers chapels” around the Boston area. This was a very important initiative to bring the sacraments close to the people where they live and work. Besides the chapel in the Northshore Mall, he established chapels in the Prudential Center Mall in Boston and the Westgate Mall in Brockton. In addition to that, there are, of course, the Seaport Chapel in South Boston and Our Lady of the Airways Chapel in Logan Airport, which was also the first of its kind. We are very grateful for the Carmelite Friars’ long ministry at the Northshore Mall, and now a new group of Carmelites from India is continuing the wonderful ministry that Father Herb and the American Carmelites carried on for so many years. The chapel is a great spiritual oasis. So many people go there for Mass, confession or just to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We are very grateful to Father Jilson George and the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate who are now staffing the Chapel. The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate belong to the Syro-Malabar Rite, which, after the Ukrainian Catholic Rite, is the largest Eastern Rite in the Catholic Church and traces its roots back to St. Thomas the Apostle. In fact, when the Portuguese explorers arrived in India, they were very surprised to find that there were already Catholics there, thanks to those who had passed on the faith for many centuries. We celebrated the Mass there on the feast of St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who is the founder of their Carmelite community in India. Their presence at the chapel is a reminder of the catholicity of the Church and that the Latin Rite is not the only rite of the Church. Friday evening, I went to St. Bridget’s Parish in South Boston for the celebration of Father Bob Casey’s birthday. It was a lovely dinner attended by many priests. As he does every year, Father Paul Rouse provided wonderful music for the evening and led us all in singing Christmas carols. On Saturday, I was very happy to join our Ge’ez Rite Catholic community at the cathedral for their celebration of Christmas. They arranged to have a Capuchin friar from Denver, Father Amlesom Gaim Gawed, come to celebrate the Mass with them. With Father Amlesom and Olga, one of the leaders of the local Ge’ez community whose brother happens to be the provincial of the Capuchins in Ethiopia They have a very interesting liturgy. When they distribute Communion, three people follow the priest — one holding an umbrella, another with a candle and another with a bell. (We would need a lot of extraordinary ministers to do that in our Latin Rite Masses!) After the Mass, they sing Christmas carols. The staffs in their hands represent the staffs of the shepherds of Bethlehem. Sunday, I went to St. Joseph Church in Somerville, for the 150th anniversary of the St. Joseph’s community. The Mass was originally scheduled to be held in October but, unfortunately, I was unable to attend because of the Synod on the Amazon. St. Joseph Church, along with St. Ann’s and St. Catherine’s, is now part of the recently formed St. Louis and Zelie Martin Parish. The relics of the saints that the parish recently received were placed in front of the altar for the Mass. Of course, the pastor Father Brian McHugh and leaders of the parish were there with us for the celebration. The Haitian community was also there in very large numbers, so the celebration was bilingual. Afterwards, there was a very lovely reception for the parishioners. Then, that evening, I went to St. Joseph Parish in Lynn to celebrate the rite of candidacy for five seminarians from our Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Candidacy is one of the steps leading up to ordination and replaces what was formerly tonsure, the shaving of a man’s hair by the bishop and marking his entrance into the clerical state. Today, the Rite of Candidacy is a public declaration by the men that they are going to continue preparing themselves spiritually, academically, and humanly for ordination. Of course, it was also the feast of the Three Kings, so the Spanish Mass was standing-room-only. After the Mass, we went to the parish center for a reception. There, we were visited by the Three Kings. There was great excitement, and it was just a fabulous time! Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Talking sense about he Mitten of St. Padre Pio
For some years following his ordination to the priesthood in August 1910, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina felt severe pains in the centre of his hands, his feet, and his side. While he kept the pains and the discomfort to himself, he did confide in his spiritual director about all supernatural matters occurring in his life. In September 1918 while at prayer before the cross in the choir (or chapel) of the friars in the convent of San Giovanni Rotondo, he became aware that his hands and feet were bleeding and also a wound had developed in his side, and this too was bleeding heavily. The friars came to his assistance and the wounds were covered and cleaned, and creams applied and covered with bandages. The trouble was the wounds didn’t heal and fresh blood came from them every day and especially on Fridays. Seven hundred years before, St. Francis of Assisi had the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ crucified in his hands, feet, and side. Deep down, Padre Pio knew that these wounds or ‘stigmata’ were a game-changer in his life and among the friars and those who he ministered to. Now, he was not going to be able to hide and now he would surely be an object of curiosity. Over the years, there were formal investigations into the phenomena and during the 1930’s, the superiors of the Capuchin Order, on the advice of the Congregations for Religious in Rome asked that he step aside from ministry. In these years, he could not say Mass publicly or hear confessions. Following the permission of his superiors, when he could resume public ministry, he wore brown fingerless mittens on his hands which covered bandages to keep the wounds clean. Even though the wounds never dried up, the flesh around them was clean and bright and the blood emitted a fresh almost perfumed fragrance. Sometimes the scent was very powerful and smelt of roses, or fresh flowers. Padre Pio never removed the mittens except on the altar when offering Mass each day. The friars who assisted him dressed his wounds daily with clean bandages and gave him fresh mittens to wear. This process was repeated daily until the autumn of 1968 when it was noticed the wounds began to heal and fresh skin formed around the area where the wounds were. Padre Pio died late into the night of the 22nd of September 1968. As Catholics, we have had an ancient tradition of the veneration of saint’s relics. From the early Church; relics, medals, and pieces of cloth associated with a saint have been kept in churches. This practice can be viewed as quaint, or downright silly by some. I’ve met people who are even completely put off by this pious practice. However, for many people, the veneration of the relic of a saint can connect us to the Divine. In the secular world, many people love to own or treasure the jersey of their favourite sports star or the musical instrument or tour jacket of their favourite rock star. I remember the fuss when one of the Rhinestone Jackets of Elvis Presley was brought onto the Late-Late Show on RTE Television and it was handled by special velvet gloves so as not to dirty or damage it, such was its value.Over the years since his death, people have desired to venerate items that Padre Pio blessed, or owned. No matter what piece of cloth or medal that was touched off the saint, to venerate and be blessed by one of the brown fingerless mittens is a great consolation for so many people. People will go to great lengths and travel far and wide to be blessed with ‘the glove’.In the Irish Office for Padre Pio at the Capuchin Friary, Church St, Dublin 7, we have some of the mittens that Padre Pio wore, They were given over the years by capuchin friars like Fr. Alessio Parente, and Fr. Gerardo Di Flumeri who assisted him and knew him personally in the Friary of San Giovanni Rotondo. As best we can, we can arrange for one of them to be brought to bless sick people at home or in hospital which is a source of consolation to the patient and their families. Please remember that it is crucial that the patient needs to agree to this blessing, and it is very important that next-of-kin also agrees. It is especially important that this is allowed by the nurse-in-charge and chaplaincy/pastoral care and within the hospital visiting hours and not while there are visiting restrictions. In the case of sick children, extra arrangements will need to be made. Parents/guardians will need to give permission. The relics of saints and the mitten of St. Padre Pio do not have curative powers. There is no material in the glove that heals people. Nor is there a guarantee that any sick person will get better the moment they are blessed by the glove. In most cases, patients in hospital get better thanks to the care of the nursing, medical, and care staff and thanks to treatment and medication. The blessing with the mitten of Padre Pio can offer consolation to a sick person and it helps us to focus on the fact that Padre Pio will always pray for that person and all who are sick. He was someone who had a special love for the sick and suffering in his life.There is no doubt that from time to time there have been unexplained healings and even miraculous healings through the blessings with the relic of a saint and St. Padre Pio. These have been well documented over the years. It is the faith of the people which helps greatly in the belief that a person will be healed sometimes against the odds. I believe that prayer and faith can be integral to the care of the patient in hospital, because one part of the outreach to the patient in hospital comes from the chaplaincy/pastoral care team. In the Irish Office for Padre Pio, now located in Capuchin Friary, Church St, we are in the process of updating the lists of the people around the country who have access to a relic of St. Padre Pio or a mitten he wore. I myself have been invited to travel to some Churches to join with Padre Pio prayer groups and people will come along in great numbers to be blessed by the mitten. Please note, I am a full-time parish priest and within reason, I can’t commit to attending these prayer groups countrywide regularly but within this I will do my best. Padre Pio is a saint for our time. He died in 1968 and was canonized saint in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, now himself a saint. We can hear his voice in recording, we have movie footage of him, and we have colour photographs of him. As I have said, we have relics and medals of his and some mittens for veneration. The National Shrine of St. Padre Pio is in the Capuchin Friary, Church St, Dublin 7 where there is a first-class relic of the saint set into the shrine. While we make every effort to make the relics available, people seem to favour the mitten above all else. Padre Pio was never a mean-spirited man in life and therefore if a person can’t venerate one of the mittens he wore, it doesn’t mean you only get half a blessing or a partial favour. And remember, it is not Padre Pio who is the healer, it is Jesus Christ who is the healer. Receiving the Sacraments is the most powerful of all blessings and Padre Pio spent his whole life witnessing to this. Fr. Bryan Shortall ofm.cap. National Director of the Padre Pio Apostolate.
Priests Are People Too
 It takes a special man to answer God’s call to the priesthood. In a world that glamorizes power, pleasure, and self-indulgence, it’s difficult to understand the courage, sacrifice, and self-denial it takes to promise to live out a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience for the good of others. Whether people think they’re fools […] The post Priests Are People Too appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
It’s time to fight burnout
4 minute readThings had been getting worse all spring. I snapped at my boyfriend almost every time we were together, blaming hunger or fatigue for my attitude, and wondered if the constant irritation was a sign we shouldn’t be together. One night in June, I called my best friend in a panic. I told her I wasn’t sure if I loved my boyfriend anymore. Then she spoke the words that changed my life. “Do you feel anything at all right now?” My body felt frozen, my mind swirled wildly, and I realized: I didn’t. I had no emotions left. I was numb. This, my friends, is what we call burnout. Let me give you some context. I was in a serious long-distance relationship, so my weekends were spent with my boyfriend in one town or another, and I crammed the rest of my life into five days a week. I got up at 5 a.m. to put in an hour of freelancing before getting ready for work. Evenings were filled with more work, young adult groups, baking or “unwinding” with Netflix, and I usually crawled into bed around 11. Oh, and did I mention I was praying the Magnificat three times a day, plus Morning, Midday, Evening and Night Prayer from the Divine Office, plus half an hour of lectio divina? Not to mention participating in WeightWatchers, exercising twice a week and walking 10,000 steps a day. (We won’t mention how often my day fell short of this ideal I’d set.) I was living the American Catholic dream. Man, I was proud of my life — right up until I realized just how deep in trouble I was. I’d been slowly realizing that something was wrong. After reading and identifying with an article on burnout, I knew I was overcommitted and under-maintained, and a couple of anxiety spirals had terrified me. But until I heard my friend’s words, I hadn’t admitted I was sick. When you come down with a bad cold, you have two options: push through with the help of cold medicine and a couple extra boxes of Kleenex; or stay home, eat chicken noodle soup and watch cheesy rom-coms until you feel better. Those of us who are most likely to end up in burnout probably fall into the first category. And that tends to be how we treat burnout, too — if I just push through, if I make it through this week’s obligations, I’ll be fine. I’ll slow down after the holidays. I’ll feel better when this project is done. There’s a problem with that. A cold will run its course in a few days, one way or the other. Burnout is a long-term diagnosis. It will not get better without treatment. I’m not sure what the next stage after burnout is, but given the experience of the friend whose wisdom pulled me out, there’s a decent likelihood of some level of breakdown. Since I can’t be your personal burnout recovery coach, here are some tips I’ve learned along my own journey: Decide that the next month is Burnout Recovery Month. Start today. You are sick and need to heal. Make sleep a priority. Get eight hours of sleep per night, and keep to a routine. Schedule half an hour before bedtime to wind down, putter around and shut off all electronics. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning. (Bonus tip: I found that syncing my body with the sun helped a lot — I would turn down the lights as evening fell, and use candles or dim lights for the last couple hours after bed.) Assess your current outside-of-work activities. What are you in charge of/have responsibility for? Ask someone to take over that for the next month. Don’t ever feel the need to explain that you are in burnout. You are sick. That is your reason. If you can, don’t even show up at anything for a month. And above all, don’t let yourself feel guilty about it. You’ll be back to full strength soon enough. Evaluate your prayer life. Are you sacrificing quality for quantity? Check with your spiritual director or a friend and make sure you keep the essentials, but cut out all the extra devotions that are not bringing you life. Mass, Rosary, 20-30 minutes of daily lectio divina. That’s it. Add weekly adoration only when you feel like you can manage it, or go to adoration but don’t beat yourself up when your mind wanders or your eyes close. A half hour of loving meditation will draw you closer to God than will extra devotions prayed with an empty heart and a tangled mind. What do you have in your schedule that you are “supposed to be doing” but can’t and then feel guilty about? For me, it was trying to lose weight. I needed to relieve myself of that internal sense of obligation, and just unsubscribing to WeightWatchers felt like a weight lifted. Maybe you feel like you must cook all your meals. If so, switch to frozen food just for the next few weeks. Look at your hobbies. What have you been doing under a time crunch or for someone else? Set them aside for now. If you truly enjoy them, you’ll be able to get back into them later with no trouble. One last note: Burnout is a roller coaster. Be gentle with yourself. This is a process of detoxing and building new healthy habits. You’ll likely slip back close to burnout again, but when you do, just remember “sleep and prayer.” This is your new mantra. You feel overwhelmed, reason clouded by emotions you don’t understand? Time for another week of having absolutely no priorities besides getting eight hours of sleep and making time for half an hour of really focused prayer. If this sounds like you, spend January — and maybe February and I highly recommend March, too — detoxing from burnout. You’ll discover that you’ll think more clearly, love more joyfully, give more generously. You’ll find hidden strength within yourself. You’ll come out on the other side of Easter in possession of yourself and maybe even a new you, in the best way.   Rebecca Willen serves as Associate Editor for Our Sunday Visitor’s trade books, a role she describes as “book midwife” — ensuring the happy delivery of a healthy new book in the OSV family. Rebecca is under first promises as a Lay Dominican and is engaged to be married in May. Out of the office, you can usually find her singing, baking or reading. The post It’s time to fight burnout appeared first on RADIANT.
The ‘Hidden Life’ Within Every Marriage
Terrence Malick has created a film about an extraordinary marriage. A Hidden Life is a moving film for many reasons, and one of them is that it gives us a vision of married love that is stronger than the Nazi Third Reich. Franz and Franziska Jägerstätter were poor farmers in the Austrian Alps when Hitler … More → The post The ‘Hidden Life’ Within Every Marriage appeared first on For Your Marriage.
Beginning the New Year
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A Reflection on the Presentation
The typical sin offering was a lamb and a turtledove, but because of their poverty Mary and Joseph were allowed to make a sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or pigeons. It shouldn’t pass our observation here that Mary was indeed presenting and giving her son to God, following the Jewish precept of offering the first born son to the service of God. This offering would be fully manifested 33 years later when He would become the unblemished lamb sacrificed as expiation for the sins of all mankind. The post A Reflection on the Presentation appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Being bold in prayer
4 minute read“God doesn’t want wimpy prayers.” I remember the moment clearly. Sitting on the carpet floor in the retreat space, my pen paused over my notebook as the speaker’s words settled into my mind and grabbed my soul. “God doesn’t want wimpy prayers,” she repeated. I was a junior in college attending a retreat about the Holy Spirit, specifically the gifts and charisms he can bestow on the faithful if only we ask. But as I was listening to the retreat speaker, I was shaken by that one sentence. If God desires us to be bold in prayer, why do we hold back? Growing up, the Faith always came easily to me. For one reason or another, I never doubted that God was real or that he loved me, and I slowly began practicing the faith of my parents until it became my own. I did everything “right”; I was a Youth Group kid, I attended the March for Life and Steubenville Conferences, I went to a Catholic college and became involved in campus ministry, pursued a regimented prayer life and even landed a job related to my faith post-graduation. Taking a deeper dive into my interior life, I tried to cultivate a disposition of openness to God’s will, imitating Christ’s own obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane where he uttered to the Father, “not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Whenever I prayed about the most sensitive desires of my heart, I followed the formula: “Lord, this is the desire of my heart, but only if it is your will.” These prayers were good, but there was something missing. Recently, I remembered the advice from the retreat speaker. “God doesn’t want wimpy prayers.” Instead, God wants us to be bold in our requests. He doesn’t want us to over-qualify them or be afraid of being honest with our hearts. St. Teresa of Avila is known for saying, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of him.” This means that when we don’t pray with honesty, when we don’t lay out the desires of our hearts, we are doing God a disservice. In essence, it shows that we don’t trust that he can bring about marvelous deeds in our own lives. And that was the problem — distrust. While my prayer seemed to show an openness to God’s will, there was a part of me that whispered it in fear, afraid that this small act of openness would mean my desires would be thrust aside for something else. In my head I knew God desired good things for me, but deep down there was a wound of doubt and distrust in God’s goodness, a wound that goes back to the Garden of Eden. So often, out of fear of getting hurt, we hide our hearts or hold back from bringing everything to God, who already knows our hearts more intimately than we know them ourselves. But if we look back over our lives, how many times has God proved to us that he is trustworthy, that he desires to give us good things? And how much more would he give us if only we would ask? Now, rather than ending my prayers with, “But only if you will it, Lord,” I take comfort in the knowledge that he knows my heart and my desire to follow his will. Instead of adding these words with my head down, afraid they won’t be heard, I look bravely into the eyes of my loving Father, knowing I can ask without fear. Because for me, not saying those words is an act of trust. It is an act that he can — and desires to — bring about great things in my life. And so I ask great things of him and lay out my heart, raw and real and messy before the God who loves me. Maybe you don’t need to pray those words. But maybe you do. Maybe they are the release you need, the ability to pray with trust. Sisters, whichever way leads you to deeper communion with our heavenly Father, pray that way. But above all, be honest and bold in your prayer. He gives us desires and hopes and dreams so that we may turn to him, for, in the end, he is the only one that can fill the chronic longing of our hearts. He aches to give us glimpses of the fulfillment we will only truly find in him when we reach our heavenly home. Dear sisters, sometimes the only thing God wants us to do is boldly ask. Yes, sometimes he may say no or ask you to wait patiently amid the delay. And these answers may sting for a time. But how can he direct us if we don’t trust him with these desires? The new year is a great time to reevaluate where we stand with God. Are we walking in the way of trust? Are we being honest with ourselves or God in prayer? Or are we holding back out of fear? So this year, be bold. God doesn’t want wimpy, half-hearted prayers; he wants confident, fearless requests rooted in the knowledge that he is a trustworthy, loving God. Be honest with God, and ask great things of him. Ava Lalor is editor for Radiant magazine and assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor. She is a midwestern girl with a heart for supporting people’s stories. She also is a Jane Austen enthusiast, chai tea addict, grammar activist, amateur painter and gal pal to St. Thérèse. Follow her on Instagram @avalalor. The post Being bold in prayer appeared first on RADIANT.
HOW TO SET GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM – WITH GOD FIRST!
[contact-form] With the start of a New Year less than a week away, we will soon be bombarded with inboxes full of promo ads and stores lining up displays in an attempt to catch our attention and activate that desire in us to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. While the ads and displays can be overwhelming at times, the desire to make resolutions can be a positive thing. I have always been a goal-driven person. The opportunity to stretch myself and expand my horizons as I set new goals for not only myself, but for my family and my marriage gets me excited! As I began thinking through and praying about new goals that I want to achieve in 2019, I became curious about what the actual definition of the word “goal” is. According to Wikipedia, a goal is “an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. … A goal is roughly similar to a purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.” After reading the definition of a goal, I reflected on what it takes to set and reach a goal, to attain something with “intrinsic value.” Here is what I came up with: GOAL G – God FirstO – Overcome ObstaclesA – Awareness of your strengths and weaknessesL – Long-haul, commit to it!     GOD FIRST: If we want to achieve anything in life, we need to put God first. When we seek His will and follow His plan, we experience a sense of fulfillment and authentic joy. As you set new goals this year, pray about them. Ask God to inspire your heart to create them. Perhaps one of your goals is a common one of simply becoming physically healthier. Would God want you to work towards this? Probably! When you set your course of action though, be mindful of the decisions you make and the actions you take to be sure to set the process of achieving your goal on the right track. Never compromise your faith and integrity to accomplish a goal.   OVERCOME OBSTACLES: Sometimes the greatest obstacle that we need to overcome to achieve our goals is the failure to believe in ourselves. If you struggle with this, perhaps your first goal should be to commit to learning how to love yourself, so you can believe in yourself and discoverer the incredible potential you have to do amazing things with your life in cooperation with God’s grace. Have certain people, situations, fears or excuses prevented you from achieving specific goals in the past? Be mindful of these things as you seek to envision the completion of your goals. Do you lack motivation? If so, what DOES motivate you? Figure it out and go there! What exact obstacles do you need to overcome to make your goals and dreams become a reality this New Year? As you “plan and commit to achieve” your goals, take a good look at the territory you will be traveling through to accomplish  them. Prepare yourself for the possible obstacles along the way.   AWARENESS OF YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: The more we know ourselves, the greater tasks we can take on. When we are aware of what our strengths are, we can best utilize them to achieve our goals. Likewise, when we are mindful of our personal weaknesses, we can make sure the strategy we come up with for reaching the goal that we want to achieve, takes our weaknesses into account. On the other hand, perhaps one of your goals this year is to strengthen an area of weakness — that is a noble goal! God wants us to be the best version of ourselves and this can only be achieved by knowing who we are at the core and actively working on strengthening the areas of our lives that are weakest in virtue. LONG-HAUL, COMMIT TO IT! – Setting goals is easy, but attaining them requires commitment, hard work and preparedness for the long-haul! Anyone who has successfully attained a goal will tell you that one of the key factors needed to reach your desired end, is being prepared for the journey before it even starts! To achieve a goal, you need to prepare physically, mentally and spiritually. Keep your eyes fixed on the finish line. Be realistic with your expectations so you do not set yourself up for failure, but rather for success!  Setting goals gives us HOPE for a fulfilling future and reaching them takes us to the next level of personal growth. As you set goals this year – be bold, have courage and trust in God’s plan for your life! (* Originally published on Catholicmom.com) The post HOW TO SET GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM – WITH GOD FIRST! appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
Celebrating Christmas
Hello and welcome! I hope you all had a blessed Christmas! During the monthly cabinet meeting last Friday, Bishop Reed brought relics from Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. The relics will be used for the new parish we created in Somerville which is being named for the Martins. Everyone venerated the relics at the beginning of the cabinet meeting. The Martins are one of the few married couples canonized in the history of the Church and we are very happy to have them as the patron saints of one of our parishes. Saturday morning, I celebrated the Funeral Mass at St. Mary of the Hills in Milton for Father Tom Foley, who had lived for many years at Regina Cleri. Among other things he worked for the diaconate program. He is from a very large family and had many nephews and nieces. His brother, who gave the eulogy, talked about how he had been the one to do all the baptisms, first communions, weddings and funerals in their family. It made me think of my own family and what a joy that is for a priest. Of course, there were quite a number of priests there from Regina Cleri and people who had been his parishioners. It was a beautiful service and I was so happy I was able to be a part of it. The next day, Sunday, I celebrated the Culture of Life Mass for the Knights of Columbus at the cathedral. The Knights organize this Mass, which is particularly centered around the theme of persecuted Christians. They brought a beautiful Madonna to the Mass, Our Lady of the Martyrs. Much of the state leadership of the Knights were present with their wives. Before the Mass they also distributed three or four thousand coats to children in the parish. This is a yearly activity that they have in the pre-Christmas season. On Christmas Eve we went to a safe house for women who have escaped trafficking or domestic violence. I visited the women and their children there. We’re very glad that the Archdiocese is able to participate in that kind of a program, which is so sorely needed in today’s world where so many women are in danger because of domestic violence and trafficking. From there we went to St. Peter Center in Dorchester to be with the Menino family, who every year organize an event to distribute toys to the children of the neighborhood, many of them Cape Verdean immigrants. This year they gave away, among other things, baby bicycles. It was an extraordinary event. Angela Menino, her son Tom and many other members of their family who have been doing this for many, many years were there to help distribute the gifts to the children. Then we went to Pine Street Inn to visit and pray with those who gather for the noon meal and to help serve that meal with the many volunteers who come to help that day. Of course, this is the 50th anniversary of Pine Street Inn, which is led by Lyndia Downie. Monsignor Frank Kelly was one of the founders, and many of our parishes have always been very supportive of this effort. As I always say, there wasn’t room at the inn in Bethlehem, but they’re making room in Pine Street Inn for all of those who are homeless in the streets of Boston. That evening I had the midnight Mass at the cathedral. It was just spectacular. The choir was superb and they gave a little concert before the Mass. There is a new crèche in front of the church as well as the crèche inside. The cathedral looked beautiful and we had huge crowds at all the Masses. It was very encouraging. On Christmas morning I went to St. Francis House. We always like to visit with the residents there and then we have a Christmas prayer service. Two of our seminarians, Gabriel Hanley and Aaron Sanz, were there to lead the Christmas carols. And then from St. Francis House we came back for the 11:30 Mass at the cathedral, which once again was very beautiful. The church was filled and the music was beautiful. People were very happy to be in the renovated cathedral. Last year we were downstairs, so it was quite a change. Many people who were seeing the cathedral for the first time were amazed. My Christmas homily was about homelessness, the homelessness of Christ in Bethlehem, the homelessness of the refugees in the world. I talked about the new monument that the Holy Father has placed in St. Peter’s Square to remind people of the over 25 million refugees in our world. And then I talked about the spiritual homelessness of people who are disconnected from a faith community. So I told the people there about the Eucharistic year and asked them to be part of our Eucharistic community. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Having a childlike perspective
4 minute readAfter four weeks of purple, penance and reflection, we’ve finally made it to Christmas! I love how Holy Mother Church gives us these days to prepare us opposed to just throwing us head-first into the grand mysteries. Slowly but surely, God had been cultivating our hearts to step out of our wonderfully ordinary lives and step into the extraordinary plans of God. Even better, the Lord gives us a personal invitation to enter into these mysteries at Christmas. The Incarnation teaches us how God sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world. The Father could have chosen any way to save his people and establish his kingdom on earth. In his infinite wisdom, he sent his messenger, Gabriel, to announce the conception of the Messiah to a poor peasant girl in Nazareth. After being miraculously conceived by the Spirit, Jesus developed in the womb like all of us. In the first month his tiny heart began to beat. By three months his tiny little toes and fingers were made. In her fifth month of pregnancy, Mary felt her child moving around and kicking in her immaculate body. And after nine months, the King of the Universe was born as a child on a cold winter night in a dirty barn. Although there is not an abundance to pull from in the Gospel Nativity narratives, there is so much mystery to unwrap in the infancy of Christ. Later in his earthly ministry, Jesus tells us how important children are: “‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’ Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them” (Mk 10:14-16). The kingdom of God isn’t just something to be attained in the distant future after our time on earth. The kingdom of God is here and now by grace. If being a child is essential to enter this kingdom, we ought to pay special attention to it. If God sent his only begotten Son into the world as a child, we ought to pay special attention to him. But let’s be clear: God doesn’t point to children because of their age. God points to children because of their perspective. By baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God. In the ancient world, there was no difference between biological children and adopted children. Knowing this, we can be confident that God truly desires to care for us, loving us in a way that we have never known before. This Christmas, we can use the mystery of the Incarnation and the Christ Child to remind us to enter into the mystery that we are true children of our heavenly Father. Find wonder of God Children are in awe of new discoveries, so they are naturally curious toward the good and the beautiful. This incredible sense of wonder leads the young one to delight in creation and their creators. Children love to play. Using their imagination, taking the ordinary and bringing it to life. A doll is not just stuffed stitching. In the mind of a child, it is a friend with a name and unique personality. Relationship with God is an exciting adventure! When we enter into prayer like a child, it becomes our playtime. We develop an awe in God’s majesty and his mighty deeds. We use our Chrtistian imagination to pretend like we are inserted into the scenes of Scripture and interact with Jesus as our best friend. Depend on God for everything A child trusts their mom or dad at their word and lacks any suspicion or doubt. What kind of parent would deceive an innocent child (cf. Mt 7:11)? Children completely depend on their parents with their whole life. Have you ever seen a child fall and scrape their elbow? Who do they run to, crying out for help? Children do not hide their wounds, but go to their parents to tell them exactly where it hurts. If we take on the likeness of a child, we too learn how to trust in God and completely depend on his power alone. When we are hurt — physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually — who do you run to? God is the most trustworthy physician, psychologist, lover and spiritual director. He created you and knows you better than anyone on the planet. When things go wrong, he has the remedy readily available for you. All you have to do is go to him. Practice humility Since children depend on everything from their parents, they own virtually nothing. Everything is given freely to them out of love, and anything can be taken away according to the rule of the parent. In their nothingness, they rely on their parents and trust they will provide for them: a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear (cf. Mt 6:25-32). A child who recognizes what little he or she has rejoices in little gifts. Since children are meek and simple, they are born into one primary identity — a son or daughter. Knowing who they really are, they are naturally unconcerned with trying to be something else and live content knowing they are loved and cared for. A baby in a room full of adults can offer little. How can a child ever return the favor to a parent who laid down their lives in order that the child could have it? It can only offer delight and love to the parent. A humble soul realizes its nothingness before God. Everything is a gift from him who is love. We owe God everything we have, but who can repay the price of redemption in full? (Hint: Only God himself on the cross!) Humility is not shunning our talents and gifts, but humility recognizes their sole source, praising him for his goodness. But humility also allows us to clearly see our weaknesses. In giving our weaknesses to Christ, we are made strong by him. Have confidence that you are a beloved child, and your heavenly Father has a vast kingdom awaiting you! By using our Christian imagination, we can meditate on how the Christ child entered into the world with these qualities, being our ultimate model and showing us the way.   Maddy Gross is passionate about serving the Church and leading souls close to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. She is finishing her degree in marketing at Ball State University in Indiana. Follow her on Instagram @_perpetual_joy. The post Having a childlike perspective appeared first on RADIANT.
Advent Masses and Gatherings
Hello and welcome! We were very pleased with the announcement earlier this week that the Holy Father has decided to remove the pontifical secret in cases of abuse. This is in keeping with the conference that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors organized last month in Rome to discuss the issue of the pontifical secret, the seal of confession, confidentiality and transparency. The purpose of the pontifical secret was never to hide crimes, but to guarantee confidentiality. However, there is always the potential for this to be abused, so the Holy Father has very wisely decided to take this step in order to assure greater transparency, which is so important. Friday morning, I presided at the funeral Mass of Father Gerry Dorgan at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Danvers, where he had served. Many members of his family, former parishioners and former students from his days at St. John’s Seminary gathered with us for the funeral Mass. Bishop Mark O’Connell gave the homily and Msgr. Fred Murphy offered a reflection on his life. Msgr. Murphy was a classmate of his, and many of his classmates were there, as well. Every time I visit St. Mary’s, I am always struck by the tabernacle there, which was created by sculptor Pablo Eduardo, whose father used to work as the editor of my Spanish-language newspaper in Washington, El Pregonero. He has been very much involved in liturgical art and statuary for Catholic churches. One of his latest works was for the new Christ Cathedral (the former Crystal Cathedral) of the Diocese of Orange, California. Of course, he is also well known as the artist who designed Boston’s Marathon Bombing Memorial. Friday evening, I attended the annual Christmas Gala for Catholic Charities Greater Boston. At the gala, the Knights of Columbus were honored for all they do on behalf of social justice and in the service of the poor and the needy. Saturday morning, I attended the annual Mass and breakfast of Women Affirming Life. We had a wonderful turnout this year for the gathering, which is organized by Marianne Luthin and our Pro-Life Office. Following the Mass, the state officers of the Massachusetts Catholic Daughters of the Americas presented me with a check in the amount of $10,000 for the Archdiocesan “Fund for the Unborn.” The Fund is administered by the Pro Life Office to provide support to mothers and babies served by its Pregnancy Help ministry. Over the years, the Catholic Daughters have been the largest donor to the fund – over $150,000 since 1999. The money is raised through its “Pennies for the Unborn” campaign where CDA members collect pennies and other spare change at different parishes and meetings. I thanked the CDA for their exceptional generosity and told them I appreciated that they presented it by check rather than bringing all the pennies they collected! The keynote speaker at the breakfast this year was Sister Bárbara Gutiérrez, who spoke to us about the significance and the symbolism of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Saturday afternoon, I went to the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston to celebrate Mass for our archdiocesan Encuentro Juvenil (Spanish for “Youth Encounter.”) For several years we have been holding these rallies for the Hispanic youth of the archdiocese, and it was a wonderful gathering of about 700 young people. Following the Mass, the young people heard several different talks, including one by Father Marcos Enrique. The shrine serves Hispanic as well as Portuguese speaking communities of the area, and we are very grateful for the wonderful work they do. During my visit, the pastor invited me to visit the Brazilian children who were holding their religious education classes at the shrine at the same time. In one of the classrooms, the children were preparing gifts for the homeless. It was very edifying to see these immigrant children so concerned about people in need in their community. Sunday, I celebrated our annual Catholic Appeal Advent Mass at the Pastoral Center. It is a way to recognize and thank benefactors and others who do so much to support the vital work of the Catholic Appeal. The Mass was followed by a brunch, at which we heard remarks by Father Eric Cadin, who spoke about his work with the university students and vocations. It was a very compelling talk, and I know the people were very encouraged by what they heard. That evening, I gathered with members of the Neocatechumenal Way from the Cathedral Parish, Immaculate Conception in Marlboro and Our Lady of the Assumption in East Boston who were completing one of the stages of their itinerary of formation centered around prayer. They had been participating in many months of catechesis and study in their parishes and were coming together for a brief rite to mark the conclusion of the stage. As part of the rite, each person was presented with a set of the books of the Liturgy of the Hours and they committed themselves to daily prayer. It is edifying to see so many laypeople embracing the breviary as a prayer-form in their lives. It is the official liturgy of the Church and, although it has traditionally been the prayer of priests and those in consecrated life, the Church is anxious to have the laity participate in the Liturgy of the Hours. So, this was a beautiful moment to see so many people committed to developing their interior life. Each year around Christmas, I like to visit with inmates in some of our local correctional facilities. So, on Monday, I went to MCI Framingham, the women’s facility for the state. The chaplain there is Sister Maureen Clark. She is doing just a wonderful job and has a fantastic team of volunteers who assist her. At MCI Framingham, I visited the women in solitary confinement and the hospital unit, after which we had an Advent Mass in the prison Chapel. After the Mass, I had a chance to visit with the women who are participating in the work release program at the neighboring South Middlesex Correctional Center. Tuesday, we had our annual meeting of the board of St. John’s Seminary. At the meeting, we formalized the appointment of the rector, Father Stephen Salocks, and the vice-rector, Father Tom Macdonald. Of course, they have been serving in those roles for several months now and they have done a great job. So, the Board of Trustees was very happy to endorse their appointment to those positions on a permanent basis. We look forward to holding their installation ceremony in the new year. Wednesday, I went to Mattapan for the groundbreaking of the new Cote Village development, which is a project of our Archdiocesan Planning Office for Urban Affairs in collaboration with Caribbean Integration Community Development. Bill Grogan, our new director of the Planning Office, has been working with government and private agencies to develop about 75 units of affordable housing, including several units for people transitioning out of homelessness. We were joined for the ceremony by Mayor Marty Walsh and Lieut. Gov. Karyn Polito along with many other community leaders. Thursday, we held our annual Advent Mass and Gathering for our employees here at the Pastoral Center. It was a very beautiful Eucharist with wonderful music organized by Richard Clark. After the Mass, we always hold a light reception for the employees featuring our annual gift raffle, over which Bishop Peter Uglietto presides with great enthusiasm. The gifts include things like small items and gift cards donated by different offices and local organizations, but the most coveted prizes are the indoor parking spaces at the Pastoral Center! It’s always a wonderful moment to be together with our Pastoral Center staff and their family members as we prepare for Christmas. Wishing you a merry and blessed Christmas, Cardinal Seán
The Road to Bethlehem & The Flight to Egypt
Two Incredible Moves Nothing goes together quite like military life and moving.  The longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere is one year.  My stuff hasn’t been in one place for more than a year since 2011. The transient life can really get under my skin sometimes.  There are times that I really […] The post The Road to Bethlehem & The Flight to Egypt appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
HOW TO FIND HOPE IN THE FACE OF LOSS DURING THE HOLIDAYS
The spirit of Christmas is in the air!  From the smell of freshly cut evergreens to stockings hung by the fireplace with care, from stores overflowing with people to the glittering lights – we are intensely aware of the season we are now in. As the popular tune goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  For people grieving the loss of a cherished loved one though, it can be the most painful time of the year.  Whether suffering from a physical or emotional loss, the onset of the holidays can evoke a wide range of feelings.  From loneliness to despair, from jealousy to anger – the sights, smells and traditions of the season frequently heighten the emotions of one grieving a great loss.  Losing a loved one is a deep and difficult alteration of life at any time, but the holidays can magnify the sense of loss and mourning.  Family gatherings and seasonal events become painful reminders of the loved one’s absence. You may just long for the season to be over, so the heightened pain can go away.  The pain of loss goes as deep as our love.  When we love deeply, we grieve deeply. I vividly remember celebrating Christmas the year my son Dominic died at the tender age of 4 months from SIDS.  He was scheduled to be baby Jesus in the Nativity play that year, but he was no longer with us to play that role.  I remember just looking at a manger that year, often caused a steady flow of tears.  The first year after a great loss is always the most difficult.  As time goes on and healing takes place, the pain becomes less and less intense. Last weekend as we were putting ornaments are on our Christmas tree, I observed how my two oldest children have an array of ornaments that were gifted to them over the years by my mother, while my younger three children have only a few ornaments, if any.  It was a simple, yet tender reminder to me of the loss of my mother 3 years ago. While the pain of that memory flooded my heart in the moment, I was able to continue in joy because I have had time to appropriately heal from the wound of her death. Furthermore, I am keenly aware of the blessings that have come from one of my greatest losses in my life.  Although the sting of losing a loved one never fully leaves us, the gift of time combined with the grace of God that gives us HOPE – allows the wound to heal instead of just being numbed. This Christmas season, if you are dealing with the pain of loss, remember that you are not alone and that there is HOPE! Hope does not remove the pain of loss, but rather gives purpose and meaning to the grieve you are experiencing.  Hope is the confident expectation that God CAN and WILL make something beautiful from your wound.  Allow yourself time and space to grieve and to heal.   Healing begins when you turn your pain over to God and ask him to walk with you on your journey from the pain of loss to the discovery of beauty in the ashes. God does not allow us to suffer without having a meaning and purpose for it.  With tears in my eyes as I write this, I know in the moment of such unfathomable pain it is difficult to see clearly and to believe that something beautiful can come from so much devastation, but it can, and it will – in time!   After traveling the road of loss numerous times in my own life through the death of both of my parents 5 months apart, the sudden death of a child, a painful divorce, and the loss of other close relationships – I have witnessed over time how God has used each loss to form me for that for which He created me – my mission here on earth.  Often God uses our deepest pain as the launching pad for our greatest calling. Suffering also has a way of carving out the fake in us to reveal our authentic self. As your heart navigates the season of loss amidst the season of hope, do not be afraid to reach out for support when the weight of the pain is too much to bear alone. Remember that it is OK to cry. Seek the wisdom and the empathy of those who have carried a similar cross. There is comfort to be found in sharing with someone who truly understands the ache of your heart.  If there are certain situations that you recognize will just be too raw to enter, if it is reasonable, politely excuse yourself. Your wound needs to properly heal, so treat it with care.  Perhaps you have an old wound that keeps resurfacing – indicating that it never properly healed in the first place.  Whatever the circumstances are, allow the Divine Physician, that little baby in the manger, Our Lord and Savior who came to save the world that first Christmas night – to tend to your soul, to heal your heart and to give you the greatest gift of all – the gift of HOPE! The post HOW TO FIND HOPE IN THE FACE OF LOSS DURING THE HOLIDAYS appeared first on Seasons of the Heart and Home.
Give and Take
Relationships often require give and take. We’ve been learning that during our engagement and now in marriage. Anna’s Take: About a year and a half ago, I asked Walter what he thought about me enrolling in a multimedia journalism certificate program. The catch was that I would have to take Saturday classes for two years, … More → The post Give and Take appeared first on For Your Marriage.
Embracing failure in Advent
4 minute readEvery year, Christmas comes. It may find me kicking and screaming, curled up in the corner frantically wrapping and sweating and wondering how it happened to come so fast. In fact, it too often does. And what of Advent, then? Well, those are the years when Advent is a nice idea, something that other people do. You know the people, the perfect Catholics. The ones with perfectly dressed children. The ones whose husbands do laundry. The ones who are organized. I used to subscribe to looking at Advent as a mini-Lent, a preparation for a big feast and a time of penance and sacrifice. Now, however, Advent has become something beautifully little. For me, the joy of Advent has been not in the lack, not in the silence, not in the anticipation. Because, I’ve found, there’s not much of any of those. During Advent, the world is rolling in nauseous excess and noise. During my first pregnancy, I was very pregnant during Advent. It seemed fitting, for in her wisdom, the Church has given us a pregnancy to kick things off at the beginning of the liturgical year. That year, I found myself looking at things with a new view. That year, I appreciated the kicks and the discomfort and the fact that Mary rode a donkey for nearly 70 miles while bursting with baby. It made me look at my own complaints about long car trips in a whole new way. Think of that moment when she and Joseph decided they had to go to Bethlehem — while she was super-pregnant, with nowhere to stay. Lest I get overwhelmed by how much there is to do in Advent, I need only remember this image: Mary, on a donkey, pregnant-to-breaking, with her husband walking beside her, and no hotel booked. Makes my Advent failures look small, even silly. Makes my mention of Advent feel inconsequential, really. But from what I’ve heard from others over the years, it’s not unusual to feel Advent as a time of failure. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the littleness that’s unique to Advent. Maybe that’s the focus I should start taking when Thanksgiving is over and Advent is suddenly upon me. It’s not about when we’ll decorate or whether we should sing Christmas songs before a certain day. It’s not about the gifts I need to buy and wrap and organize. It’s not even about our plans or how we’ll tri-locate when there’s a tournament and a party and a sick kid. So often, I get caught up in the details and I lose sight of the big picture. And, despite Advent being a little season full of big love, I find myself getting angry and stressed and overwhelmed by the big stresses I’ve imposed upon it. It’s about a baby in a manger. It’s about the salvation of my soul. It’s about so much more … and so much less. Less? Why, yes. The baby doesn’t need much — though you wouldn’t know it from the bursting baby industry. Give them some food, a warm snuggle, fresh diapers, and they’re good. Truly, they are. Content. Asleep. Growing. That baby in the manger — the king of the universe — isn’t asking for much from me. In fact, he’s asking for nearly nothing. While he wants all of me, that doesn’t mean he wants all the stuff I’ve been trying to shove into the season. The daily devotions? The extra parties? The keeping track and shopping and planning? None of that “more” is in what he asks of me. If I’ll sit down with him, Christ will be happy. If I look in the eyes of those people he’s so generously put in my life and be truly present, be truly active, be truly thankful, Christ will be content. If I make it to Christmas without a momtrum because of some small detail, Christ will coo happily. Every year, we get to welcome a king. It’s the gift God keeps on giving each of us. And, for me, there is a gift in the failure I experience. We’re kicking off our year, and I’m failing right out of the gate. That’s a beautiful lesson in either humility or stupidity, or maybe it’s meant to be a lesson in both. I’m going to fail. It’s part of fallen human nature. But in failing, I draw closer to my savior, I’m more willing to embrace his outstretched hand, and I’m more open to his love. In failing, I accept who he can make me, who he intends me to be, who I am not. Some would say, then, that the failure isn’t really a failure any more than the manger-as-a-crib was a failure. I think, in fact, it’s grace and opportunity, making me more into the woman God has in mind for me to be. And, for that, the failure is completely worth it.   When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up to read just one … more … chapter. She’s online at SnoringScholar.com The post Embracing failure in Advent appeared first on RADIANT.
Announcing the Year of Eucharist
Hello and welcome! Earlier this week, we announced that beginning on Holy Thursday of next year and running through Corpus Christi 2021, we will be observing a Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Boston. I want to share with you the letter that I issued with the announcement this week: December 10, 2019 Feast of Our Lady of Loreto Friends, A recent Pew Study entitled “What Americans Know About Religion” reported that only 31 percent of Catholics believe that the bread and the wine consecrated during the Mass actually become the body and blood of Jesus, and that only half of Catholics know of the Church’s teaching concerning the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In order to help people gain a better understanding of the Eucharist, on Holy Thursday 2020, the Archdiocese of Boston will begin a Year of the Eucharist. It is my hope and prayer that through this spiritual initiative we can invite and encourage our brothers and sisters to find the consolation of the Lord through participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and in times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. When my parents were married, my uncle Father Jerry Reidy gave them as a wedding gift Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic painting of the Last Supper. That painting hung in our dining room, and one of my earliest memories was my parents explaining to us that this painting depicted the first Mass, the first Eucharist. They made clear that is the reason we go to Mass, to partake in the same Eucharist that Christ shared with his closest followers at the Last Supper before he would suffer and die for us. My mother and father held the evening meal as a priority for our family; attendance was not optional. It was an institution in our house to gather around the table and it was there that we bonded with one another. We shared our experiences of the day. We would laugh together, would even argue with each other. The evening family meal was essential to our formation and it was where we discovered our identity. The same can be said of the celebration of the Eucharist. As Catholics, it is in the Eucharist that we learn our identity. At the table of the Lord, Jesus makes a gift of Himself to us because God loves us so much. Just as we discover our identity at the family table, it is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples of Christ. Growing up I remember many wonderful devotions that kept the Eucharist at the center of our lives as Catholics: the Forty Hours Adoration, Corpus Christi processions, and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. From an early age I knew the Eucharist is what distinguishes us from most other Christian churches, that the Body and Blood of Christ was actually, sacramentally, present in our Church. At the Last Supper, Christ gave us the priesthood so He could be present everywhere in the world, not just in Jerusalem, in every time and age. Through the Eucharist, we have direct contact with the Lord at the celebration of Mass and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. When we visit our churches at times other than the celebration of Mass, we can see the red glow of the sanctuary lamp and know that Jesus is there for us. He is always waiting silently and lovingly, ready to receive us and console us. The Capuchin Friars have a commitment to make two periods of meditation a day and I always do mine in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. For me, as Archbishop of Boston, my holy hour is late at night when the phones stop ringing. It is a time when I am renewed by the assurance of the Lord’s presence and His love for me, knowing He will guide me and give me the strength I need. Praying in the presence of the Eucharist, in adoration of the Lord, is a very important part of my daily existence; it is essential to perseverance in the vocation I have embraced. Before I became a bishop, I served as a priest in Spanish and Portuguese ministry where I learned many of the hymns I sing to the Eucharistic Lord during my Holy Hour. I also love the Latin hymns I learned in the seminary, the “Pange Lingua,” and the English hymn, “Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.” I memorized these hymns, and it is my hope that they can become a regular part of devotional practice at all our parishes, hymns that everyone learns by heart and sings together. As St. Augustine told us, singing is praying twice, because singing lifts our hearts to God and provides us with a glimpse of His beauty in the beauty of the music. Recent times have been very difficult for the Church and her people. In the Year of the Eucharist, we all have the opportunity to renew and strengthen our faith and our closeness to the Lord. If we center ourselves in the Real Presence of Jesus, in His friendship, then everything else will make sense. At the celebration of Mass, Jesus is there, waiting for us, inviting us to the table where He is making a gift of Himself to us so that we may have the strength to make a gift of ourselves to others. That is what human fulfillment is about. It is about love and giving of ourselves on behalf of others. That is the meaning of the Eucharist, it is love taken to the extreme. The more we understand that, the more we will want to be present to the Eucharist and the more the Eucharist will transform us. Discipleship is not a solo flight. Jesus sent people out two by two, not one by one, and spoke of the importance of “two or three are gathered in my name.” The Eucharist is where we gather as Christ’s family, where we can witness our faith to one another and grow in our capacity to love. The Eucharist gives us the strength to carry out our mission to transform the world, to work for justice, to serve the poor, to bring healing and reconciliation. But we can’t do these things unless we have the strength that comes from the intimate contact with God’s love that is given to us in the Eucharist. Discipleship also requires a plan. We need to ask ourselves what we can do, individually and with our families and friends, to prepare for the Year of the Eucharist. We can find the answer to these questions in times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in our churches. We can read and reflect on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. We can invite family, friends, and colleagues to join us at Mass and times of Adoration. We can reflect on the importance of receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, the difference that makes in our lives, and share that insight with those who are close to us. We don’t exist by accident. Our lives are a gift of God’s gratuitous love, and the Eucharist is the most profound symbol of His love for us. Jesus comes to us in humility, in littleness, so that no one need be afraid or unsure of His acceptance. He makes Himself present to us so that we can have the strength we need to live our mission in the Church as disciples of Christ. God created us and entered into creation in Jesus Christ so we could be close to Him, hear Him, know and love Him. The sacraments not only touch our lives, they mold our very being, and the Eucharist is the center of our sacramental life. That is why I am a Catholic. That is why I am a priest. Without the Eucharist, I would ask myself, “Is it worth it?” I know it is worth it, because Christ really is present in the Eucharist. May God bless you all abundantly with this assurance that Jesus will be with us always, even to the end of time. That is Jesus’ promise and He keeps that promise in the gift of the Eucharist. With the assurance of my prayers for you and all whom you hold dear, I am, Sincerely yours in Christ, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M., Cap Archbishop of Boston Each year, Msgr. Francis Kelley invites priests throughout the archdiocese for an Advent celebration at his parish, Sacred Heart in Roslindale. This year, it was held, appropriately enough, on the feast of St. Nicholas. There was quite a cross-section of priests gathered for the occasion and it was wonderful to see so many were able to be a part of the celebration. Saturday, I went to Emmanuel College to celebrate the Mass marking the closing of the college’s Centennial Year celebrations. Emmanuel was the first Catholic women’s college in New England, founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur one year before the 19th amendment was enacted, granting women’s suffrage. In recent years, it has become coed but, for most of its history, it was a Catholic women’s college. Many of the sisters, students and alumni were there, and the faculty were dressed for the occasion in their academic robes. The Mass was held in the gymnasium to accommodate the large crowd. It was a very beautiful celebration in thanksgiving for the 100 years of Catholic education at Emmanuel College. After many years of excellent service in the Vocation Office, Father Daniel Hennessey has now become pastor of two parishes in the archdiocese: St. Rose of Lima in Topsfield and St. Agnes in Middleton. He was installed as pastor in Topsfield on Saturday by Bishop Robert Hennessey, and it was my joy to go to St. Agnes to install him as pastor there on Sunday. There was a great crowd, and it was wonderful to see the whole community so excited to welcome their new pastor. That afternoon, I went to St. John the Baptist Parish in Quincy for the Mass of the Profession of Perpetual Vows of two Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, Sister Guadalupe and Sister Faustina. The celebration of the vows ceremony is very beautiful. The sisters were given various symbols including a cross, a ring and a lamp; and a crown of thorns was placed on their head. The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth were founded several years ago by Mother Olga Yaqob to promote consecrated life for women in the archdiocese, following the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the spirituality of Nazareth. Father Robert McCreary has been their spiritual director and he was with us for the Mass, along with a number of our other friars, as well. Of course, we are very pleased that the sisters have arrived at this important moment in the life of their ministry, where they have two perpetually professed sisters in the community. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless them with vocations to this wonderful charism. That evening, I had dinner with another group working in the archdiocese, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo at St. Clement’s in Medford. Their ministry includes teaching at local Catholic schools and, of course, running St. Clement’s Church.  It was a very nice opportunity to spend some time with them and to hear about the ministries that they are carrying out in the archdiocese. Monday, I attended the wake of Daniel Kennedy, Sr. at St. Joseph’s Parish in Needham, the parish from which we buried his son, Father Daniel Kennedy, Jr. Many of the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Kennedy were present with us for the prayer service at the start of the wake. Dan Kennedy was a very active parishioner at St. Joseph’s and a great supporter of St. John’s Seminary — he would come to every ordination of deacons or priests. He also published a beautiful biography of his son, Father Dan, who, although was a priest for such a short time, made a great impact on the entire faith community of the archdiocese. Tuesday, I gathered with our recently ordained priests for ongoing formation at the Pastoral Center. As I have noted, the group has greatly expanded this year with the ordination of 14 new priests. In fact, this was the first meeting for Father Francis Pham, who was just ordained less than two weeks ago. So, we had a cake to welcome him. It was also the first time we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Loreto in the calendar of the Church. So, after our lunch and a long discussion about the Year of the Eucharist and other aspects of ministry, we began our Holy Hour with the Litany of Loreto. Then, later that afternoon, we had our meeting of the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities. Of course, there were many reports about the different activities being carried out by Catholic Charities, and it is always very encouraging to see the great impact their service is making in our community. We are very grateful to Kevin MacKenzie, the chairman of the board, who is acting as interim president as the search for a new president continues. We are also very grateful to Debbie Rambo for continuing to serve part-time to assist Kevin in his new role. Wednesday, I went to South Boston to join the priests of the Central Region of the archdiocese for a morning of Advent recollection organized by the Episcopal Vicar of the region, Father Brian McHugh and hosted by Father Robert Casey at Gate of Heaven Parish. Father Ross, a Franciscan Friar from the Arch Street Shrine, preached for us, followed by a time adoration. We concluded our gathering with a nice luncheon together. Thursday afternoon, we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Church in the Commonwealth. As always, it was an opportunity to discuss different issues facing the Church in Massachusetts and hear reports from different committees as well as the director, Jim Driscoll. In the early evening, I went to our Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline for the annual meeting of the Board of Directors there. It was wonderful to hear reports of the seminary’s continued progress, and we are so grateful to the rector, Father Tony Medeiros, for all his fine work. Because the board meeting concluded around dinner time, I joined the board and the seminarians for a lovely meal, after which the seminarians regaled us with their musical talents. I was also very happy to bless the seminary’s lovely crèche during my visit. After the dinner, I returned to the cathedral in time to greet the parishioners who were holding a very elaborate celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Finally, my good friends Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, who through their creative work have done so much to help people throughout the world experience the power of prayer, are now providing us a groundbreaking perspective of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. On Jan. 1, 2020 Netflix will debut Roma and Mark’s latest production, “Messiah.” I highly recommend you view the following trailer and the film itself following its release. In a time when so many people seek to connect the circumstances of the world today with their search for faith, this film offers a gateway to understanding the truth of Jesus’ promise to be with us always, to the ends of the earth. Until next week, Cardinal Seán