A Message from Our New Director

Sr. Marie James Hunt is still in need of a laptop and office supplies for the new National Office of the Cooperators. The sisters have set up a Flipcause page for donations at Pauline.org/Cooperators. If you would prefer to mail a check, please make it out to the Daughters of St. Paul and send it to Sr. Marie James at the address below. With gratitude, blessings, and prayers, from Sr. Marie James Hunt, fsp, 4403 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA 70006, (617) 543-8427 (cell).

Friday, November 9, 2018

Walking with Anne Shirley and Jesus

Prince Edward Island, home of Anne of Green Gables
It always amazes me when a good book transports you to faraway lands and lets you experience things from your wildest dreams.  I have always been an avid reader, but there are a few books/series of books that really capture my attention and imagination.  One such series is the Anne of Green Gables Collection.  When I was a little girl, I was captivated by the CBC video series that played on local television.  My older sister, Marie, is also a huge Anne fan and was most likely the one who originally got me hooked.  We would repetitively watch the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea VHS tapes throughout each year.  What does this have to do with books you say?  Well it wasn’t until about seven years ago that I met my real-life Diana Barry, and she introduced me to the book series, which is incredibly better than the movies, as is usually the case.

Many years before this introduction, I had the pleasure of going with my sisters
to Prince Edward Island, home of the author and setting of the book series.  I remember the almost tangible presence of this beloved, yet fictitious character that I felt there.  It was while touring the author’s childhood home that you would hear, “Which one was Anne’s bedroom?”, or “Look, there is the tree outside the window that Anne always talked about.” “I wonder which direction the Lake of Shining Waters, the White Way of Delight and the Violet Vale are from here?”  I found myself repetitively debating with myself that she wasn’t real, or was she?

Group photo in Emmaus, March 2018
Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Well, in March of this year I was blessed to visit the setting of the greatest collection of books ever written, the Holy Bible.  Yes, due to the incredible generosity of a friend and with the accompaniment of my Spiritual Director, Fr. Ed Riley, IGS, my good friend Joanie, my sister Celeste and 47 other pilgrims, I was blessed to go on a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Now I found myself in the setting of so many stories I had heard over the years. And again, as in Prince Edward Island, I began to understand far more completely all that I had ever read about the Holy Land. Now I was able to see the setting first hand.  I was blown away by all that I learned, and can honestly say I am still unpacking the blessings of that trip.

While there are differing opinions over the exact locations of certain events, it was undeniable that these were the towns in which our Lord was born, walked, grew, lived, died and rose.  The beauty of our pilgrimage took us in a chronological journey through Scriptures from Bethlehem to Nazareth and through to Jerusalem.  I can’t possibly capture this entire Pilgrimage in one blog post, but I will do my best to highlight the most powerful moments I experienced along the journey.  No longer were these just stories that I heard at every Mass about things that had happened in a land far away. They were right there in front of me to be experienced.

The journey began in Bethlehem, the town we know to be the birthplace of
Night in modern Bethlehem
Jesus.  I am sure the Bethlehem of Jesus’ time was much different from modern day Bethlehem.  There are now hotels with dozens of floors, and paved roads with buses in caravan, but even so there were glimpses into what it must have been like in those days long ago.  For instance, the fields of the shepherds are pretty much untouched, and you can visualize what it would have been like travelling on a donkey over that rough terrain at the end of a pregnancy.  One of my favorite places in Bethlehem was the Chapel of Shepherd’s Field where we sang a Christmas Carol within the domed chapel, enjoying the beautiful acoustics while giving praise to our Lord.  I appreciated the way the designer placed glass circles over the entire roof to symbolize the stars in the night sky when Jesus was born.  This reminded me of the Bottle houses in Prince Edward Island.
Valley of the Good Samaritan


We then went on to Nazareth and saw where Mary and Joseph grew up, where
their love began and where the Word first
became flesh at the Annunciation.  I was intrigued by this space where they lived their everyday normal lives.  One of my favorite movies of all time is The Nativity Story and I could easily adapt the setting to this space.  I could see dinner being made, carpentry being taught, and could almost feel the love and hear the laughter of those precious everyday moments.  It was amazing to me that the reason so many people settled in Nazareth was because the mountains were made of chalk and easily carved into.  Here would be the setting of the majority of Jesus’ earthly life.
Renewing vows in the wedding church at Cana


Modern fishermen on
the Sea of Galilee
We also visited the locations of the Wedding Feast at Cana, where I was in awe of the size of the stone jars that the servants filled with water at Jesus' command. He turned a great deal of water into wine!  I was struck for the first time not only with the magnitude of fault I normally place on the Apostles for not following easily when He was right there, but also the magnitude of how He changed everything they understood to be important.  How blessed I am to have the years of Church history to fall back on to support His claims!  And yet I too fall short of what He is calling me to.  We visited the location of the sycamore tree of Zacchaeus, the Spring of Elisha that still flows today in the oldest city in the world, the home of Martha and Mary, the spot of the temptation in the desert, and the river Jordan.  At each space I felt the lives I had heard time and again in stories take breath and come alive in a way they never had before for me.

Finally, our journey took us to Jerusalem.  We were blessed to walk down the hill of Palm Sunday-- I am so grateful it wasn’t up instead.  We saw the Tomb of David, the Garden of Gethsemane, and finally we made our Way of the Cross. We marveled to pass the Roman marble courtyard of Pilate’s home where Jesus would have walked, the same marble from 2000 years ago still there.  I was in awe of the close proximity of the shops to the Way, and how difficult it was to navigate through the streets. I was thankful that I wasn’t facing an angry, jeering crowd while carrying a cross.  Finally, we arrived at the Holy Sepulchre, and I have to say this is where God answered my greatest of prayers, far above my expectations.
Celebrating Mass where Jesus walked
Before we left on this pilgrimage, I heard that the Holy Sepulchre was closed to the public and was a bit disappointed but still put in my prayers to get to see this holy place. As we arrived, the tour guide informed us that not only would we see it, but we were to celebrate a Mass there!  Next there was confusion and uncertainty as to whether we would be able to get into the chapel where our Mass was to be.  Another prayer request was sent-- and there was a back door we were allowed to pass through.  The third prayer request came when I heard that the steps to where the Cross holding Jesus once stood were closed. Suddenly the way to the steps opened up for just our group to ascend.  God kept reminding me not to get too fixated on my prayer requests; every time I prayed for something at arm’s reach, He provided me with something far above my ability to dream!

I, along with Father Ed, decided to try bringing
Renewing baptismal vows
in the River Jordan
those back home along with us on the pilgrimage. Those who were not able to physically attend could participate spiritually, through a blog that I tried to post to every day.  This blog was so rewarding to me because it afforded me the opportunity to unpack the gloriousness of what a relationship with Jesus looks like, each day.  I had the chance to see where Jesus-- whom I talk to, adore, receive, and try to imitate-- chose to live His earthly life and set down the roots of the great Vine of which we are all now a part.  There is no doubt that there are times where being connected to the Catholic Church is a struggle, especially in times of scandal like we have been recently experiencing. But I find courage in Scripture and in these stories of real life people and real life places that have come so alive to me since the pilgrimage. Then (as now) mistakes were made, sometimes heinous and seemingly unforgivable, but we have a Savior Who came for just that reason.  I pray that God continues to allow us to walk where He walked, and see every situation and person through His eyes of Love.
___________________________________________________

Christine Dufresne has been a Pauline Cooperator for four years. Originally from New Bedford, MA, she served at a mission in Kentucky for 16 months before settling in Waltham, MA. In addition to being a foster parent, she has been working with children in various ways for the past 20 years, helping with the children's program on retreats and with the Holy Family Institute group in Boston, and is currently a nanny for several families. She serves as a Eucharistic minister in her home parish of St. Mary’s in Waltham and visits the hospital monthly to bring Scripture and Communion to patients in the eating disorders and behavioral management wards.  Most recently she has graduated with her Associated Degree and has gone on to pursue her Bachelor's and Master's in the Human Services/Social Work fields.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Half measures or whole measures: What Would Alberione Do?

    
Sermon on  the Mount by Carl Bloch,
public domain image (creativecommons.org.)
 
This week, on October 29, the whole Pauline Family celebrates our major feast, that of Jesus Master, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. How do we do this? If possible we prepare with the novena; we gather together for a solemn celebration of the Holy Eucharist; we might attend a weekend retreat; and of course, we have a family party. These are some of the ways we come together to commemorate the day of Jesus Master. If He is our Everything, we need to ask a personal question: “What am I doing to celebrate my Master?” Here is a recommendation our founder, Blessed James Alberione, made in 1958:

"Let there be not only external observances, but let our whole being go to God and our whole person graft itself to Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life. Only then can we say: Jesus Christ lives in me.”
Father Alberione was not a man of half measures. He always saw the broader picture. His vocabulary consists of words such as whole, entire, complete. He was a man who lived the Pauline mantra: Jesus Christ lives in me. Alberione had opened himself up to God. He let his whole being go to God. What does that mean? It is something simple; something so uncomplicated, and this is why it seems so huge and almost unattainable. The directions our founder gives are very clear and to the point. He says we need only let our whole being go to God. Generally we use this phrase when speaking of someone who died: they went to God, we say. In a sense, Alberione is recommending a kind of death to us. Let go and let God! In other words, God becomes all for us. Just think of what makes up our whole being. Are there any areas of life that we try to keep in reserve for other purposes? You might be tempted to think I am pushing the founder’s thought too far. Are we playing impossible mental games with his quote? No, because he continues on to explain how we bring this openness down into our everyday life. He says we let our whole being go to God in the same way that Jesus did in His earthly life. The founder tells us to let our whole person graft itself to Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life. How is this done? We do it in the same way we might prepare for a new job. We shadow the one we are learning from. Sometimes we go a step further and attach ourselves to someone we want to emulate. In the case of Jesus we become his disciples. Alberione said:
Disciple, from the Latin discere, means one who is learning; and, in our case, “learning from him who is Wisdom, the Truth and the Way, Jesus Christ.”

Christ & his disciples at table, 15th
Century illuminated manuscript, made
available from National Library of Wales.
The most effective way to shadow Jesus and to attach ourselves to Him as disciples is to read the Gospels and purposefully place ourselves in every incident that the Evangelists relate. Take every Gospel instruction personally. Share every heartbeat and breath of the Master. Then it will become so much more our personal identity and, like our model of discipleship, St. Paul, we can say: Jesus Christ lives in me. We will find our mind, will, heart, our whole being acting and reacting as a Pauline. We will live the Christian life as wholeheartedly as Paul, just as Blessed James envisioned. This was his intention in teaching us to honor Jesus as our Master, our Way, Truth and Life. _______________________________________________
Sister Mary Lea Hill, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul since 1964, has enjoyed communicating the faith through a variety of apostolic assignments. Her skills as a story teller were honed as director of audiovisual productions when Pauline Books & Media first produced animated features in the early 80s. An editor and author for many years, Sister Mary Lea has written several books, including Prayer and You, Blessed are the Stressed, Saints Alive: The Gospel Witnessed, Saints Alive: The Faith Proclaimed, and the best-selling Basic Catechism (co-authored with Sister Susan Helen Wallace).

Friday, October 26, 2018

LIVING JESUS MASTER -- WAY, TRUTH AND LIFE

   
   
     In a spiritual sense, I am very new to the Pauline way of life, especially when compared with the other writers of this blog.  Writing as a Catholic millennial, I am very in touch with the Pauline desire to spread the Gospel message through media; but as a religious order and way of life, I still have much to learn.  I love how the Church is diverse enough in Her understanding of people to allow congregations, parishes, and religious orders to celebrate their own feasts and traditions.  I delight in having the chance to reflect on the Pauline Feast of Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life.  Each of these Gospel titles is given by Christ Himself and each has something specific to say to the life of media in our culture where ‘dumpster fire’ describes the current state-of-affairs.
   
     Jesus is the Master of all and He certainly came into a dumpster fire twenty centuries ago. The brokenness of humanity has, therefore, not changed.  The need of a Savior remains the same.  Christians who engage the Gospel in media, as well as all Christians, must have the same goal:  to make this same Master, Person and Savior known and loved by all.  If we have lost sight of this goal, we must regain it quickly or all our efforts are futile.


     According to the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t just show us the way.  He is the Way.  Beautiful rhetoric to be sure but what is tangible about this allegory?  Tangibility comes in the examples of Christ’s actions in the Gospels: feed the hungry, heal the sick and love the outcast.  Keep before you the vision of Christ in each simple action throughout the day. Remind yourself again and again of the Christ in the other person.  You needn’t seek out the extreme ways of service. Your Way is already set before you and you are asked to walk every single step.

     The same Gospel account also tells us Jesus is the Truth.  The Gospels,
however, seem to be frequently unclear about the truth.  Jesus speaks in parables and the disciples frequently misunderstand His meaning.  When He does speak clearly, “I will die and rise again on the third day” or “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever,”  his followers either assume another meaning or walk away entirely.  Jesus the Truth is a call to conversation with one another.  It is a call to acknowledge that we will not understand much and we do not know everything.  Keep before you the vision of Christ in each simple conversation throughout the day.  Remind yourself again and again of the Christ in the other person.  The pursuit of Truth requires deep humility and the ability to listen.

     This self-ascribed title of Christ saves the best for last: the Life!  One thing is brutally clear in the Gospels and, miracles of miracles, the disciples understood it.  Jesus Christ, three days after crucifixion, rose from the dead.  He came that we might have life and have it to the full.  The hallmark of a life fully lived is joy.  Anger, fear, hatred and jealousy all come from the Enemy.  When the Way is being walked and the Truth is being discovered, we become full of Life.  Keep before you the experience of Christ in each simple moment throughout the day.  Remind yourself again and again that the other person you see deserves the unmerited salvation you have received.  Christians can only share the Way and the Truth if the Life is burning within them.  In the current climate of division, hate, anger, and fear, a life burning with joy shines brightly, indeed.

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Kellen O’Grady is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings, Minnesota.  He holds a Masters in Catholic Studies and chairs the Association of Liturgical Ministers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  He has a reputation for enjoying the finer things in life from hipster cocktails to dance and yoga.

Friday, October 19, 2018


Saints Who Rode on the Four Wheels

Prayer, Poverty, Study, and Apostolate
In studying the works of the saints on this week’s liturgical calendar, we are transported into the lives of seven great exemplars whose spiritual practices and ministries provide excellent models for members of the Pauline family. They “rode on” what Blessed James Alberione eventually would describe as the four essential “wheels” needed to support participants in the Pauline mission: Prayer, Poverty, Study, and Apostolate.
Four lived strongly Pauline versions of traveling apostolates, reaching out to disparate populations among the nations of the world:
St. Luke (Saint Luc), Brooklyn Museum,
by 
James Tissot (1836–1902).

Saint Luke the Evangelist (Feast Day, October 18th), provided posterity with much of the biographical information about Saint Paul and was himself a companion to Saints Paul and Barnabas in much of their travels.

A millennium and a half later, French Jesuits made the ultimate sacrifice to spread the faith to native American peoples. Echoing Saint Paul’s travels to the Hellenistic world, a team of eight 17th century missionaries traveled from France to the New World. They were led by Fathers Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf (Memorial, October 19th).
And, on October 22nd we celebrate the life and apostolate of one of our own generation’s popes, Saint John Paul II.
Just as a side note, we also mention here a second contemporary pope: newly canonized this past week, Pope Paul VI. His memorial will be celebrated every year on September 26th. In authentic poverty of spirit, he was the first pope to discontinue the tradition of wearing a crown and, in sharing his diligent studies of the faith, has come to be known as the “Theologian Pope”.

Prayer & Study
Again, thinking in terms of Father Alberione’s “four wheels”, we also celebrate the lives of saints who modeled the highest levels of contemplative prayer and deep studies of our faith.
**On October 15th, we celebrate the memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila), a Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church, who is regarded as a theologian of note, especially with respect to her writings on the contemplative life and mental prayer. Her deep understanding of the power and potential of contemplative prayer led to her work with Saint John of the Cross to reform life in the Carmelite cloisters, making their practices more supportive of a true and fruitful contemplative life.
** October 17th is the memorial of the theologian, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr. Following is a little more biographical information about the lives and works of four of these great saints.

Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues
St. Isaac Jogues was a missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America for ten years until his martyrdom in 1646. Jogues and de Brébeuf, Jesuit priests, and their six missionary companions came to be known as "The North American Martyrs."

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
Included in the readings for this year’s memorial are Pauline passages from Galatians 5. That reading reminds us that the fruits of being alive in the Spirit are such virtuous human qualities as kindness, generosity, chastity, and patient endurance, along with such blessings as love, joy, peace, and faith.

Almost all of what we know about Saint Ignatius of Antioch is found in a series of letters he wrote. This correspondence is a significant part of the extant collection of writings which have survived from the Apostolic Fathers. His letters also provide some of the best examples of early Christian theology on such important topics as ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

There are a number of traditions, some more reliable than others, about this contemporary of Jesus and his apostles. Some say Ignatius, along with his friend Polycarp, were disciples of John the Apostle and were well-known to Peter, who personally indicated that Ignatius should be made Bishop of Antioch. Ignatius called himself Theophorus (God Bearer), an interesting title reminiscent of Saint Paul’s concept of “Christ lives in me”. Another interesting tradition holds that Ignatius was one of the children whom Jesus took in his arms and blessed, after rebuking the apostles to let the children come to him. 

Saint Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist is one of the four writers of the canonical Gospels. In addition to the Gospel of Luke, he is also believed to be the author of the Acts of the Apostles. These two books alone comprise almost a third of New Testament text. Although there has been some debate about the true authorship of these two books, there is a strong consensus among early Christian writers and historians, such as Jerome and Eusebius, that Saint Luke, physician and companion of Paul and Barnabas, is indeed the true author. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians refers to him in Greek as, “one who heals”. 

He is a patron saint to artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers. One final note: he is reputed to have had a great deal of contact with the Virgin Mary in the years following the Ascension. This is supported by the fact that his Gospel has so many unique passages, known as the Infancy Narratives, about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Tradition also tells us that he so loved Mother Mary that he painted numerous pictures of her, some of which are claimed to be still in existence.


This 20th century pope was both a world leader and a great evangelizer. In the early days of his papacy, he played a key role among other world leaders, including American President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher, in challenging the Soviet Union to roll back the Cold War and loosen its grip on Eastern Block countries, particularly his birth country of Poland.
John Paul II took papal travel in service of evangelization to new heights with his world travels, reaching out to many and varied groups. He is especially noted for his work with young people, especially through the World Youth Days he established, beginning in Vatican City in 1984. This work continues even after his death, with World Youth Days scheduled every two or three years, each time in a different country of the world. Countries hosting World Youth Days have included: Italy, Argentina, Spain, Poland, the United States, France, Germany, the Philippines, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Brazil. The 2019 World Youth Day will be held in Panama. There are also regional Youth Days held in between the global events.
Especially in these troubled times for the Church, it is particularly heartening to see the success of such youth events. With all this in mind, I close with a beautiful prayer of consolation and hope which we hear at every Mass, but with a message that is worthy of a slow, contemplative reading and which we should never take for granted:

“Lord Jesus Christ,
Who said to your Apostles:
Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.
Look not on our sins,
But on the faith of your Church, and
Graciously grant her peace and unity
In accordance with your will.”
____________________

Marie-Louise Handal is a Pauline Cooperator based in Manhattan, New York City. She is an educator and writer who has participated in organizing and hosting a number of Pauline Family special events, media presentations and educational programs in the New York Archdiocese and environs.

Her education includes a Master’s Degree from St. Joseph's Seminary, a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the New York Archdiocesan Center for Spiritual Development, a Master of Science in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Mathematics & Science from Hunter College. She is currently a candidate for the S.T.L. from the International Marian Research Institute, the American Branch of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum, Rome.