Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving: Living the Magnificat; a Eucharistic Life

"My Soul Glorifies the Lord."
Note the Eucharist behind Mary.
"Gratitude is an act of humility: it acknowledges that what it has does not belong to it, but is gratuitously given….” Blessed James Alberione 

The Magnificat is the ultimate song of humility and thanksgiving. Alberione would often say, “Everything is from God; everything leads us to the Magnificat.” This year we sang a year full of Magnificats during the centenary celebrations of the Daughters of St. Paul. The opening of the Pauline Family centenary in 2014 began a continuous Magnificat as each community and institute of the Pauline Family in turn celebrates 100 years. The Pauline Cooperators will celebrate in 2017. Magnificat! 

We glorify the Lord who has looked on his humble Pauline servants in his mercy. This coming year of Mercy will also be a year of Magnificat, beginning on a feast day of Mary, the Immaculate Conception. Paulines join the Church in this extraordinary Jubilee by telling the Gospel of Mercy through the means of communication, in our witness, and through our prayers. At the opening of the Daughters of St. Paul centenary the sister's Superior General expressed thanksgiving in a letter written in the style of Alberione and Mary. Sr. Anna Maria Parenzan recalls our littleness and poverty and then moves into a heartfelt Magnificat. 
“Our Centenary offers us the opportunity to celebrate the memory of the marvels the Lord continues to work through our poverty and littleness. Contemplating the international and universal face of our Congregation, we see how much the Pauline charism has been enriched by the contribution of such a diversity of cultures! We note the continual developments in the field of technology, which give an always new face to our mission and which challenge us to always start afresh, with the faith that marked our beginnings. We think of the strength and courage of [Paulines]: especially those who live in perilous socio-political situations and those who dedicate themselves without reserve to the Lord through illness and advancing age, transforming themselves into ‘living Gospels.’”
She concludes her letter by mentioning the great gift of the Pauline Cooperators.
“One of the signs of the future among us is a more vibrant awareness of the role of the Pauline laity. We are coming to understand what the Founder underscored in 1958: “Don’t you think we need to leave behind us persons who will continue the apostolate? By yourselves, you work too hard. I hope you will strive a little harder to find [other] apostles.” (1) 
 On the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Pauline Family Blessed Alberione said:
"Live the Pauline Life in Habitual Joy."

" …The date August 20, 1914 is remembered in all our Houses by means of solemn events, [Eucharistic] expositions, inaugurations, etc. But above all [it is commemorated] through the preparation and holding of days of prayer marked by thanksgiving, praise of God and proposals for the Pauline life and apostolate. Our fiftieth anniversary! We can compare it to the beginning of a discourse; a path that has been pointed out and can now be securely followed. The tracks were established in the Constitutions and put to the test and consolidated through experience. Our journey in time will be happy if the Institute as a whole and the individual members of it keep to those tracks with humility and faith in Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, under the protection of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and following the example of St. Paul, who used technical instruments more than any of the other apostles, that is: the letters which he associated to his words. To fully live the [Pauline] life in habitual joy, is a foretaste of eternal joy!" 
"The life of each of us, and the life of the whole Institute, is an ongoing story of grace upon grace…for sanctification and spirituality in Christ; an apostolate suited to the needs of the times, and always more shining vistas of heaven…. A reminder to everyone: the works of God are performed by people of God." (2)
Eucharistio is a Greek verb used to mean to thank, to give thanks, to be thankful, to be grateful. St. Paul in Colossians 3:17 writes, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” 

Let us live a Eucharistic life of Magnificat. 
"An ongoing story of grace upon grace."


(1) Sr. Anna Maria Parenzan Rome, 5 February 2015 Opening of the FSP Centenary Year.
(2) Homily, Cf. San Paolo, n. 6, July-August1964, in CISP, p. 207, 210

Photo Credit Alberione and Paul:

Sr. Margaret Kerry, FSP, celebrates 40 years of life and mission as a Daughter of St. Paul. With a Masters from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, she gives presentations on the vocation and mission of the laity, media literacy, and evangelization. She directed the Association of Pauline Cooperators for 15 years and was creative editor of The Pauline Cooperator magazine. An author (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross), Sr. Margaret is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Join us in the Novena of Blessed James Alberione, leading up to his feastday, November 26!
(He died November 26, 1971.)

Read his biography, "James Alberione--Marvel of Our Times" free online!

Lord, glorify Blessed James Alberione in your Church.
Let him be for all of us a light, guide and support in the work of our sanctification
and in our apostolate. Open the way for evangelization through the media
so that the presence of Jesus Master, the Way, Truth and Life
may shine on the world through Mary, Mother and Queen of Apostles.
Grant me the grace I am praying for at this time.....

            Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Pope John Paul II at Fr. Alberione's tomb

Sr Helena was going to be an ornithologist, but God zapped her and she now belongs to the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation of religious women dedicated to spreading God's Word through the media: She gives workshops to teens and adults on Media Literacy, Philosophy, and Theology of the Body. She is a movie reviewer for LifeTeen & the diocese of Evansville, IN (6 yrs for "The Catholic New World," Chicago's Catholic newspaper). She is finishing an M.A. in Media Literacy Education; has a B.A. in philosophy and theology from St. John's U, NYC; and has a Certificate in Pastoral Youth Ministry from the Center for Youth Ministry Development, Naugatuck, CT. She studied screenwriting at UCLA and Act One, Hollywood. She is the writer/producer of and a co-producer on

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lessons from Nature

I am a Kansas girl, born and raised until my job with AT&T transferred me to St. Louis, MO.  Away from home, my family and friends, I had to branch out of my comfort zone to make new friends.  I found many new friends through an Encounter with Christ on a Cursillo Weekend and learned the importance of staying connected with Christian friends.  I now rely upon my friends to help support me in prayer and rely on their encouragement to keep me grounded in Christ.   I no longer try “to do it alone” but instead I root myself in Christ, surrounded by other Grace-filled Christians.

I want to share a lesson I have learned from nature, particularly from some of the tallest giants of nature, the Redwood trees of California.  The huge redwood trees of California are amazing. They are some of the largest (and some of the oldest) living things on earth and are the tallest trees in the world. Some redwoods are 300 feet high (to put into perspective, 300 ft = 100 yards = the length of a FOOTBALL field tall!!). You might think that trees so large must have a tremendous root system that reach down hundreds of feet into the earth, but that is not so! The redwood trees grow only in groves with their roots intertwined laterally barely under the surface of the earth.  They are connected and interlocked with each other so that when the storms come, the winds blow, and the lightning flashes, and yet the redwoods stand together firm and tall.   In addition to the joint strength of their interlocked roots the Redwood trees also release upwards of 500 gallons of water into the air each day to help create a moist fog that provides the other trees and plants in the forest the water / humidity needed to thrive. A single tree would never survive alone; rather they grow in small groups and they support and protect each other and improve the environment where they are planted. I really like this analogy of the Redwood Trees being my guide.

 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10

I am from a big family, one of 7 kids.  While growing up, family vacations were fun but were typically limited to camping.   With 7 kids, we had to stay organized to make sure the chores of the campsite were done quickly and done well.  My dad was a Boy Scout Leader and he used the techniques of a scout troop to keep us on task.  He would partner us up in teams, an older kid paired up with one of the younger kids.  He also divided the work into several tasks.  Dad had a mantra that was repeated and drilled into us every camp out.  He never failed to tell us, “Leave it better than you found it”.  With this simple phrase, we knew that whichever task was assigned, we were to partner together to pick up trash, scope out where the tent would be placed and then clear out all of the rocks on the ground, organize the small twigs and kindling and stack small limbs and branches neatly for
the evening campfire, and most important, keep the lid down and locked on the food box to keep the ants and other critters out.   When it was time to pack up and head home, we had to repeat the entire process, that is, again, pick up trash and organize any remaining limbs or wood into piles so all was neat and clean for the next campers to come behind us. He said the next family might arrive after dusk and will not want to trip over rocks and loose tree limbs; most importantly, they will much appreciate our efforts to leave the campsite ready for their immediate use if they need to set up a camp in the dark.  We would never even get a chance to know or see who benefited from our actions, but we could feel good just knowing that WE LEFT IT BETTER THAN WE FOUND IT!
So now I encourage you today to follow this simple advice in your own lives.  Cling to your Christian support system.  Seek out people who are rooted in Christ and who are ready to “lock arms” to support you from the ground up.  Also, look in every situation you encounter to leave the space, the surroundings and the people better than you found them.

Patti Anderson lives in St. Louis, MO and is currently in the formation process for becoming Pauline Cooperator. She and her husband, Andy, are blessed with two sons and a daughter. Patti retired from AT&T after a 34 year career.  She loves to volunteer at the St. Louis Pauline Book center and assists the Daughters of St. Paul with outreach at numerous Parish and Conference Book Exhibits each year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pauline Sanctity, from A to Z

Pauline Saints. Photo collage credit: Jeffrey Matthews
November 1 marks the Solemnity of All Saints, popularly known as "All Saints Day". This day celebrates the countless men and women through the ages – known and unknown-- whose final destination is heaven. What better time to construct an alphabet of Pauline sanctity, to remember all the saintly Paulines who have gone before us?

Blessed James "Giacomo" ALBERIONE (1884-1971) is our Founder. Without “Primo Maestro”, there would be no Pauline Family. Alberione is the tree planted at the end of the 19th century whose branches are sunk deeply into the 20th & 21st centuries & beyond. 
The Pauline APOSTOLATE, founded by Blessed Alberione, is a modern attempt to imitate St. Paul -- who was “all things to all men”-- by using every contemporary means of communication to share the good news of Jesus Christ. 
B is for Venerable Andrew BORELLO (1916-1948), one of the earliest Pauline heroes. Blessed Andrew was orphaned as a child, moved from home to home, and suffered much adolescent anxiety while persisting in faith. He found a home at last at age twenty as a religious brother in the Society of St Paul. At the age of thirty-two, Brother Andrew offered his life “as a sacrifice to God for the perseverance of consecrated vocations.” Six months later he died of tuberculosis, a peaceful death with a smile on the young brother's face.
C is for Venerable Canon CHIESA and the Association of Pauline COOPERATORS.
Canon CHIESA (1874-1946), the "godfather" of the Pauline Family, was a devout priest of gifted intellect who served as spiritual director for James Alberione in his youth, and later worked with the Founder for fifty years as a teacher for the Society of St Paul. 
The Pauline COOPERATORS were the first group of lay helpers envisioned by the Founder, and remain the only association that is not a secular institute. Cooperators make a Promise rather than profess the evangelical counsels (see “I”.) They are an integral part of the Pauline Family. 
D is for DAUGHTERS of St Paul, one of the five religious institutes founded by Blessed Alberione. The secular world knows these vibrant sisters well. "Media nuns", "singing nuns", “Facebook and Twitter nuns” – the DAUGHTERS are the public feminine face of Father Alberione's unique vision of  modern evangelization. 
E is for EUCHARIST, the source and focal point of the Pauline Family. Every consecrated religious in the Pauline Family commits daily to an Hour of Adoration. Secular Paulines strive to do the same. All Pauline events include access to the Blessed Sacrament if at all possible.
F is for Tametsi FUTURA, an encyclical of Pope Leo XIII which exerted a powerful influence on the young James Alberione. Released on November 1, 1900, this encyclical was a “state of the Church” address which looked to the future and the challenges of the coming century. Sixteen year old James Alberione meditated on it extensively on the Night Between the Centuries (see “N”.) 
G is for Blessed Timothy Joseph GIACCARDO, the first priest of the Society of St. Paul and Father Alberione's right-hand man. His religious name was taken in honor of Paul’s great co-worker, St. Timothy. Blessed Alberione hoped that he would succeed him as head of the Pauline Family, but it was not to be. Blessed Timothy died at the age of fifty-two after working intensely for the establishment of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. The ailing priest celebrated his last Mass on the morning of January 12, 1948; that same morning, Pope Pius XII gave the long sought after approval for the Pious Disciples. 
H is for the HOUR of Eucharistic Adoration each consecrated Pauline religious makes with Jesus Master every day. (See “E”.) 
I is for the four secular INSTITUTES founded by Blessed Alberione: the Institute of Jesus Priest, the Institute of Gabriel the Archangel, the Institute of Our Lady's Annunciation and the Institute of the Holy Family. The secular institutes are all organized similarly, with members taking private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (the “evangelical counsels”) as appropriate to their state of life. They also make a promise of fidelity to the Pope. The institutes are aggregates to The Society of St. Paul, and an integral part of the Pauline Family.
J is for JESUS Master, Way, Truth and Life. “Everything is here,” wrote Blessed Alberione, “to live Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life and to perform the charity of Christ to those populations who are deprived of him and hungry for him; let us, in fact, give the total Christ, Way, Truth, and Life... [so that] our people can say: ‘We do not have either gold or silver: we give you instead what we have: Jesus Christ, his morals, his means of grace and supernatural life’.[1]"
K is for Thomas a KEMPIS, not a Pauline per se but 15th century author of The Imitation of Christ, arguably the most influential and widely read spiritual book after the Bible. Pauline Books and Media has brought out a beautiful new translation of this timeless classic, edited and with an introduction by Sr. Mary Lea Hill, FSP. 
L is for Pope LEO XIII, whose papacy from 1878 to 1903 framed the Church’s response to modernism and greatly influenced the young James Alberione.
M is for MARY, Queen of Apostles, who gives Jesus to the world and acts as MOTHER and MENTOR to every person formed in the charism of the Pauline family. Of this great mother the Founder wrote: “Pauline discipleship is to be wholly grafted onto Mary, who will form Jesus Christ in everyone[2].”
N is for the NIGHT Between the Centuries, or December 31, 1900. Sixteen year old seminarian James Alberione stayed in prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament throughout the night, meditating on what Pope Leo XIII had written in Tametsi Futura about the needs of the people of the coming century. This was the gestation of the Pauline apostolate.
O is for the OPENING lines of Tamesti Futura (see “F”), which aptly anticipate young James Alberione’s meditations on the Night Between the Centuries: “The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and long-standing causes of evil, of both a public and a private nature. Nevertheless, the close of the century really seems in God's mercy to afford us some degree of consolation and hope. For no one will deny that renewed interest in spiritual matters and a revival of Christian faith and piety are influences of great moment for the common good.”  
P is for PIOUS Disciples of the Divine Master, also known as the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, one of the of the five religious institutes founded by Blessed Alberione. The Pious Disciples promote liturgical and artistic formation “so that the Christian community may live, pray and celebrate in dignity and beauty, and attain full communion with God, with others and with creation.[3]”
Mary, Queen of Apostles. Credit: Pauline Books & Media
Q is for Mary QUEEN of Apostles, again. Our Lady’s importance to the Pauline Family cannot be emphasized enough. Pauline depictions of Mary, Queen of Apostles show her holding the Divine Child facing outward, his arms open to the world.
R is for Venerable Mother Mary Scholastica RIVATA, the first Pious Disciple of the Divine Master. Beautiful and full of life, young Orsola Rivata was courted for marriage but turned instead to an intense period of prayer and discernment. Out of this she decided to follow Father Alberione into the consecrated Pauline life. Arriving at the Founder’s place, she visited the Blessed Sacrament and declared, “Lord, You alone are my all.” She heard a clear, sweet, interior voice respond, “It is here that I want you.” [4]
S is for SOCIETY of St Paul, SISTERS of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and SISTERS of Mary Queen of the Apostles, three of the five religious institutes founded by Blessed Alberione. 
The SOCIETY of St. Paul, founded 1914, was the first religious institute of the Pauline Family. Their Constitution includes the following welcome clause about the use of media: “Theirs is to be a fraternal and impartial service, a service that repulses the temptation to tranform these formidable media into instruments of power.[5]"
The SISTERS of Jesus the Good Shepherd (the Pastorelle Sisters), were founded in 1938 and now comprise 550 sisters present in nineteen countries scattered over five continents, “A small presence in the furrow of humanity, cultivated with joy and hope to be able to hand over one day to the Great Shepherd of the sheep (cf. Heb 13:20) the people whom he entrusted to us and who belongs solely to Him for all eternity.[6]”
The SISTERS of Mary Queen of Apostles (founded 1959), are the last of the religious institutes founded by Blessed Alberione. The mission of the Apostoline Sisters is “to raise and keep alive the attention to God’s call so that vocation becomes the main problem of every person, and also the most current and urgent in the Church.[7]”
T is for Venerable Mother THECLA Merlo, the first person to answer Father Alberione's call for workers in his new apostolate of the media. Mother Thecla also served as first Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul. Her prayer  echoes Mother Mary Scholastica's: "My God, you are always thinking about me. You are with me and around me. I am written on your hands. I surrender myself to you completely and forever.[8]”
U is for UNDAUNTED, an attribute that characterizes every single Pauline saint. 
V is for Venerable Maggiorno VIGOLUNGO , hand-picked at age twelve by Blessed Alberione to work in the new apostolate of the media. Young Maggiorno worked in the printing press with the other young teenagers who answered Fr. Alberione’s call. He died at age fourteen, just two years after he joined the Society of St. Paul. Blessed Alberione writes, of Maggiorno, that he "... passato come una meteora luminosa nel cielo della nascente Famiglia Paolina" - "… he passed like a bright meteor in the sky of the nascent Pauline Family[9]."
W is for the four WHEELS of Pauline Spirituality. Blessed Alberione taught that the whole “vehicle” of the Pauline family member runs on four “wheels”: sanctity, study, apostolate, and poverty[10]. The Association of Pauline Cooperators include the explication of the Four Wheels in their Statutes. 
X is for EXTRAORDINARY, a more than accurate description not just of Blessed James Alberione’s life, but that of all of the Pauline saints. May it describe the lives of all of us in the Pauline Family who follow in their steps. 
Y is for The Alberionian YEAR, April 4, 2003-April 4, 2004, proclaimed as a year of special sanctification for the Pauline family in anticipation of Blessed Alberione’s beatification on April 27, 2003. It marked the fortieth anniversary of the Founder’s own previous call for a year of sanctification in 1964. “Holiness assures fruit in the apostolate… when, as St. Paul says, ‘It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.[11]”
Z is for Zeal. Blessed Alberione was known for his apostolic zeal, and wrote often of its necessity in the apostolate: "True love of God rouses a person to pure, calm, ardent, constant and strong zeal.” [12] 

To obtain your own copy of Imitation of Christ click here to be directed to the Pauline Books and Media page.

Chart of the Pauline Family. Credit: Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP

[1] Alberione, James.. Prediche Primo Maestro (1954), 303.
[2] Alberione, James. Carissimi in San Paolo(collection 1933-1969), p.1338.
[3] The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master web page, Our Mission,
[4] Ibid, Mother Scholastica,
[5] Constitutions of the Society of St. Paul, article 75,
[6] Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd web page,
[7] The Sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles web page,
[8] Merlo, Thecla. Uncited reference from Mother Thecla Merlo, a slideshow presentation by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, FSP,
[9] Alberione, James. Maggiorno Vigolungo: Aspirante all'Apostolato Buona Stampa, 1961
[10] Alberione, James. Abundantes Divitiæ gratiæ suæ, 95.
[11] Alberione, James.. San Paolo, internal news bulletin of the Society of St Paul, January 1963
[12] Ibid.

Rae Stabosz has been a member of the Association of Pauline Cooperators since 2003. She and Bill Stabosz, her husband of 46 years, have six sons, three daughters, nine grandsons and seven granddaughters; they eagerly await the birth of grand #17. Rae retired in 2007 from the University of Delaware, where she was a technology and media specialist for 27 years. She is co-founder and past president of The Society of Catholic Scholars of Delaware and proprietor, since 2004, of the Pious Ladies Bookmobile.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Devotion to the Divine Master

     This past Sunday was the Feast of the Divine Master.  This devotion was given to us by Fr. Alberione, but what does the ‘Devotion’ to the Divine Master mean?  It is not simply the reciting of certain prayers or even occasionally lifting our thoughts to him.  For Alberione, ‘Devotion’ is ‘the giving of self’ to the Person of Christ. 'It means total donation of our whole self…, and it is to take the whole of the Divine Master in his light, in his spirit, in his examples and in his grace. It is to live in Him, through Him, with Him and from Him.’
     But how can we do this? Before we can ‘be Him and live Him’ we must know Him.  As a child, my images of Jesus were that of either the gentle and saccharine-looking Sacred Heart statue in our parish, or some rather solemn and almost stoic-looking pictures.  Actors, in preparing for roles of historical persons, study their characters, read about them and the things that they have written.  In reading the gospels and reflecting on them, we 'see' Jesus, and in doing this my image of him changed.
     The gospels do not depict him as an austere and removed person; rather he walked the dusty roads of Palestine with his disciples, teaching them as they traveled from town to town (Mt 9:35).  He was frequently surrounded by crowds of people (Lk 8:19; Lk 8:40), but he also sought times to be alone (Lk 9:18). He could feel compassion for a horribly deformed leper (Lk 5:12), yet I’m sure he could feel used when people were frequently asking him for ‘signs’(Mt 15:21 ff; Mt 12:38). He told humorous stories to get a point across (one about a judge being beaten down by an old lady, Lk 18:2 ff) and he used some ‘earthy’ language about latrines to explain what is truly sinful (Mt 15:17).  He became upset over injustice and rejoiced when good was done.  He loved children, sinners and saints, the poor and the affluent alike, eating with and being among them.  He knew what it was like to be rejected to the point of people wanting to throw him off a cliff (Lk 4:29), and he had special friends who were honored by his presence and whom he enjoyed being with (Jn 12:1).
     This ‘Person’ has not changed.  As he was
with his disciples then, so he wants to be with us now; and as our friends and loved ones frequently come to mind and we like to speak with them, so must Jesus become for us.  When I get up in the morning, do I at some point, as I stumble into the early hours of the day and look toward my work, speak to him about it?  When I’m caught in traffic or waiting in a line, do I take the opportunity to tell him about what’s on my mind, or simply direct my heart to him?  Mother Thecla, our co-foundress, used to say to even tell Him if your big toe hurts. This is how familiar he wants us to be with him! Several saints tell us that Jesus likes to speak ‘heart to heart’ with us. Do I give him a chance to do this?  Do I leave even a few short quiet spaces in my day for him to step into my heart and make his presence known?
     Speak to him simply about what’s on your mind, and then be still and listen. If you have a hard time starting, turn to Mary, who held many conversations with him. She always brings us to Jesus.  I would encourage you to read the gospels and become acquainted with Jesus as each evangelist presents him to us.  Reflect on his words.  Put yourself into each gospel scene, watching and listening to him.  As you open your heart to this wisest and kindest of Teachers, he will gently guide you into His Way.  He is the Teacher who will teach you the Truth of your own life and how it is bound to His Life and Death, and he will pour the grace of His Life into your soul.

‘Jesus Master is the Way that leads, the truth that enlightens, the life which sanctifies.' 
Blessed Alberione

Sr. Patricia Mary Maresca has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1983. Besides evangelizing door-to-door, she has served in several PBM Centers from coast to coast. She is now carrying out a second term in Boston as a provincial councilor.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Patient Lessons

This beautiful banner of the Divine Master was created by Sr. Chelsea Bethany Davis, FSP

As I’ve been praying the Novena to the Divine Master Way, Truth, and Life, I have been thinking back to recent patients and their families and the lessons they have taught me.
William was back in St. Louis after his first year away at college.  His mother was worried when she realized how much weight he had lost between spring break and the end of the school year.  He had been experiencing quite a bit of abdominal pain and diarrhea, but he thought it was from stress.  We discovered William had Crohn’s disease, and started him on medications.  Numerous medications failed to restore William’s health, and soon he developed a bowel obstruction and required surgery to remove a fairly long segment of small intestine.  He is doing remarkably well and is back at school.  He has transferred to St. Louis University to be closer to home as he begins more aggressive medical treatments to keep his Crohn’s disease in remission.  He receives IV infusions of Remicade in our office every eight weeks.  The nurses who administer his infusions are incredibly impressed by the Way William does not feel sorry for himself that his health and college plans have changed so drastically.  William is always positive.  He commented once that he believes everything happens for a reason.  Once while a nurse was apologizing for having to stick him a second time to start an IV, he commented that what he has gone through is nothing compared to what God allowed his Son to suffer for us.  William’s Way of dealing with his disease is to be grateful that he still has “the opportunity for a long healthy future on Earth and a great eternity in Heaven thanks to Jesus, so how can I possibly feel sorry for myself?”
Theresa is a fifty year-old wife and mother who came in for a screening colonoscopy last month.  She has no family history of colon cancer and had no symptoms.  I was surprised to find a very large cancer in her sigmoid colon.  The post-procedure conversation was not the cheery “see you in ten years for a routine follow-up colonoscopy.”   Instead, I had to tell her and her husband that their lives would change drastically over the next six months as we made plans for scans, surgery, and chemotherapy.  Theresa and her husband were obviously shocked by the news, but before they left they already displayed remarkable peace as they thanked all of us who had taken care of her.  She stated, “I am so grateful that I know the Truth of what is going on.  Before today I was under the false assumption that I was perfectly healthy.  The cancer was already there, and now I know about it.  We have a lot of work and prayers ahead of us, but now we know what we have to deal with.”
I met Lois last Sunday afternoon when I was on call at St. Luke’s Hospital.  Her husband Larry took care of her at home 24/7.  Lois had suffered a massive stroke a year earlier, and although she had been making progress thanks to Larry’s attentive care, she was admitted with aspiration pneumonia and another stroke that unfortunately had left her non-communicative and unable to safely swallow.  Larry had requested a GI consultation to consider placement of a feeding tube to allow him to continue to care for his wife at home.  The neurologist had explained to Larry that Lois had little to no chance of ever regaining the ability to understand words or communicate with the world in any manner.  A well-meaning niece upset Larry by suggesting he just “let Aunt Lois go, since she is essentially just a vegetable now.”  Larry explained to me that he was a retired pipefitter and not a doctor, but he knew a blood clot to the brain could not change his wife of thirty-seven years into a vegetable.  He could not stand the thought of her suffering with hunger or thirst or lack of other basic care.  Larry knew with all his heart that the gift of Life that God had given his wife was still present within her.  If God had not taken her Life, Larry was not going to do anything to unnaturally or prematurely end her Life.  We placed the feeding tube on Monday.  By Tuesday afternoon Larry was administering chocolate (her favorite flavor) Ensure through the tube like a pro, bathing her, and talking to her with the same love and respect I am certain he showed her when he was courting her nearly four decades earlier.
Each day in the Concluding Prayer of the Divine Master Novena we pray, “God, our Father, in your love you sent your only Son to be our Teacher and Lord.  May we ponder His teaching in order to better understand divine wisdom.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”
Without trying to evangelize, William, Theresa, and Larry have taught me the Way to live life with gratitude, the vital importance of knowing Truth, and cherishing the Life that God has given us and those we love.
So at the end of each evening’s Novena I have been silently adding, “…and thank you for the gifts of other teachers in my life who help to show me the light of life that can only come from and lead me to the Divine Master, Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Amen.”

The Divine Master Novena began on Friday, October 16th, in preparation for the Feast of the Divine Master on Sunday, October 25th. Don't hesitate to just jump right in, click here and start today.

Jeffrey E. Mathews, MD, has been a Pauline Cooperator since October 11, 2009. He and his wife, Carolyn, are blessed with three sons and two daughters. Dr. Mathews is a gastroenterologist in St. Louis, Missouri.  He likes to travel when able, and he has a love for languages. He has studied French and Chinese in the past, and he is currently studying to become more fluent in Spanish.