Follow Lenten pilgrimage 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Forgive us our trespasses? Easier said than done.

Bitterness, it has been said, is the pill we swallow hoping the other person will die. Forgiving those who trespass against us can be a challenge. In certain circumstances, it may feel as if the task is impossible. God would never ask the impossible. His will for us is always for our good. Perhaps letting go of anger, bitterness, or a desire for revenge over the offense of others may not feel good at the time; it is truly the path to the freedom and abundant life Jesus longs to give.

Unfortunately, there are opportunities to be hurt in every relationship we are willing to engage in. Work, school, home, church – every time we say yes to growing closer to a person (regardless of the degree), we also say yes to the possibility of being hurt. It is the risk we take to reap the glorious rewards of having relationships with other people. Although we might not fully comprehend the why behind God’s call on us to forgive, the Lord makes it clear in the prayer he gives us that in order to be forgiven ourselves, we must forgive. 

St. Paul offers a better way to finding peace, despite the circumstances of our relationships.  In his letter to the Ephesians, he gives us tasks for acquiring peace within our hearts. Admittedly, these aren’t easy:
From Commentary on
Ephesians, public domain.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31:32 NLT

Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is a decision. It is not a feeling. It sometimes requires perseverance and you may find yourself enduring many trials, suffering, and sacrifice. Often we are holding onto memories and moments that the offender has long since forgotten. We prolong and do not seek relief from the hurt, causing us to remain a victim and continue to suffer. St. Paul teaches:

“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.‘” Romans 12:17-20 NLT

After months of stewing over the behavior of one of my relatives, I finally got up the nerve to meet with them and hash things out. I went on and on--probably for 15 minutes or so--about the incident that had left me so devastated.  When I finished, they looked baffled. They had absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of the incident at all! What!?! ARE you kidding me!! YOU mean to tell me ... I missed hours of sleep, allowed this to consume my thoughts for months, and you don’t even REMEMBER IT!

This fueled my anger even more, mostly at myself for being so foolish. I had allowed my feelings to imprison me and the situation to take over my life. They moved on, while I had remained stuck.  How many blessings have I missed being locked in the past?

Hence, it is far healthier, spiritually and mentally, to give those events and emotions over to God. Still we struggle, believing that letting go of the pain means letting the offender off the hook. Trust me. God hasn’t missed it and His Word assures us that He will serve justice– not in our time or way but His. Ironically, it is the awareness of His just punishments that should bring us to pity for those who offend us. It is that awareness that should bring us to our knees begging God’s mercy upon them. 
Instead of holding grudges or plotting confrontation, our time is better spent praying for that person. Not praying for what we may wish done, “Dear God, change them,” but for their well-being and blessing. To pray for them with a heart of one who remembers all the mercy that has been shown to them. Our prayer instead, “Dear God, bring them every blessing and grace they need to live in accordance with your will.”

If nothing else, as we are reminded in the Scriptures, our kindness will baffle them. Our surrender of the pain and bitterness to God will set us free. Whoever the Son sets free, scripture tell us, is free indeed. Finally, in forgiving we are not only showing them Christ's more perfect way, but also keeping right with God.
All rights reserved, Allison Gingras 2018
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You, where she blogs, shares and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God! She shares these with great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor. Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Between the WINES Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Interview with St Paul Biographer NT Wright

St. Paul the Apostle

Anglican bishop and biblical scholar NT Wright is noted for writing for both academic and popular audiences. After releasing his magisterial nearly 2000-page Paul and the Faithfulness of God in 2013, Wright has just released a biography of St. Paul. Wright is known for rooting his scriptural analyses deeply in the historical and cultural settings of New Testament Judaism. In this book he tells the story of Paul as a person, not just analyzing the theology of his letters.

Pauline collaborator Kristen Filipic is engaged with the Christian Humanist Radio (podcasting) network. In this episode of Christian Humanist Profiles, Nathan Gilmour discusses this new book with the author NT Wright.

Christian Humanist Profiles: Paul, A Biography


Kristen Filipic has been involved with the Pauline family since 2010 and completed the Cooperator Formation program in 2014.  She is a native Midwesterner but has lived in Boston for the last twelve years, where she works as a civil rights attorney.  She serves as a lector and a Bible study leader in her home church.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Expressing The Divine Mystery in Your Life

The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) reminds us that “the future is in the hands of those who can give tomorrow’s generations reasons to live and to hope.” “The mystery of the human person is truly only understood in the mystery of the Incarnate Word” (Gaudium et Spes, 22.)  Jesus is the Way on our journey, the Truth of the Father and of who we are, the Life that gives us meaning. How do we translate “becoming Christ” into everyday life? How do we discover the secret of happiness that will give tomorrow’s generation reason to live and hope? How do we express the Divine Mystery in our life?

Happiness in our media culture is equated with the individual pursuit of happiness, with secularism and with religious indifference. Freedom is considered absolute self-determination. In many ways, it is no longer connected with the fulfillment of moral duty, virtue or the search for a personal relationship with God. Yet Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his or her life will lose it” (MK 8:35). The living and true God revealed to us by Jesus is not a solitary God–all God’s happiness and joy is the happiness and joy of mutual giving. The most expressive images of the divine mystery are concern for others' well being and forgetfulness of self because of that concern.

There is a longing in every person for the numinous. The Enlightenment promised that science and reason would have all the answers for living full and mature lives. While it helped define the rights of the human person, it also gave way to individualism and materialism. This period also also gave birth to Jansenism and Quietism. The latter avoided mysticism and the former overrated it. Because a dichotomy was created between ascetic practice and mysticism, the word “spirituality” was adopted to describe the spiritual life in all its integrity. Peter Feldmeier, a contemporary writer, says that the word spirituality is used widely and wildly today. It does not always express reliance on God Who “breaks into our life". Feldmeier writes, "There’s a lot of fake borrowing from other religious traditions, a lot of syncretism with no sense of coherency. There’s a lot of cheap spirituality with no transformation.[1]," True Christian spirituality builds a relationship with God through a life-long process of transformation through continual conversion. It informs how we pray, the values we cultivate, and our goals.

Spirituality is sometimes associated with the ascetical life. The word asceticism comes from the Greek word for training athletes, askesis. Besides training for the Olympic games, asceticism was required for anyone taking up the pursuit of wisdom. St Paul recommends that we train like athletes to win an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Asceticism fell into disfavor in recent times because of a misunderstanding of what “self denial” means.  A true understanding of asceticism means to “risk” answering the call to follow Christ. It means love, as much as love resides in the will and not in the feelings. Christian love is agape – the love Jesus shows us. Asceticism as denial of self is saying “yes” to living the life of Jesus and “no” to certain ways of thinking, acting and being. “If we have died with Christ we believe we shall rise with him” (Rom. 6:9).  We don’t “get rid of sin” and then become a Christian. We are identified with Christ and lose the appetite for sin. We are not embracing an ethical philosophy but the person of Jesus Christ.

The Christian spiritual life, says Fr Charles Bernard[2], is “the integrating factor of the Christian life, which, like all life, is necessarily subject to the laws of growth and development. In this context, the spiritual life has been described as a journey. Early Christians called themselves “followers of the Way.” The word disciple is linked to the verb “follow” over 70 times in the gospels.

Disciples are:
-       Called by Jesus. They don’t just sign up.
-       Everyone is called.
-       The response to this call radically changes a person’s life and    ultimately finds its fullest expression in the cross of Jesus.
-        The relationship of the disciple to Jesus is one of teacher to student  “Only one is your teacher, the Christ.” But it is more than that. It is to     adhere to Jesus as a person. Jesus doesn’t say follow his teaching     but to follow him.
-          To be a disciple is to share in the ministry of Jesus
-          To be a disciple of Jesus is to love as Jesus loves: “Love one another    as I have loved you. Not one has greater love than this, to lay down      ones’ life for another” (Jn 15:12-13).[3]

Pauline Spirituality is a unique expression of the spiritual path we take to imitate Christ as Paul imitated Christ.
The heart of the Pauline spirituality is Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life. Living in him, we enthusiastically proclaim his Gospel. Our spirituality is complete because it leads the whole person mind, will, heart, body and physical energies to God. We are striving to reach the same goal as the Apostle Paul: "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me". To attain this objective, we draw light and support from the Eucharist, the Word of God, daily prayer and fraternal communion all of which give us the strength we need to carry out our many-faceted apostolate. They are also the fonts that help us discern the signs of the times so as to respond to the needs of the Church and world. Modeling ourselves on Mary, whom we honor as the Queen of Apostles and of every apostolate, we bring Jesus to all humanity with great fervor, proclaiming the Truth that saves, the

Way that leads to the Father, and his Life of grace.[4].

[1]Interview with Peter Feldmeir, U.S. Catholic,
[2] Bernard, Charles, S. J. The Nature of Spiritual Theology, Compendium of Spirituality, Alba House: New York
[3] Cunningham, Lawrence S.; Egan, Keith J., Christian Spirituality: Themes From Tradition, Paulist Press:  New Jersey, 1996
[4] Pauline Spirituality,
Sr. Margaret Charles 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 Charles is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Paulines in the Footsteps of JESUS -- Follow along!

Photo of Israel desert contributed by Kristen Filipic


During this beautiful season of Lent, Jesus Master invites us into living His Way, Truth and Life more deeply. We might think of it as a forty day pilgrimage to freedom and joy like no other, under the gaze and intercessions of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles, St. Paul and Blessed James. It is for this reason that we might let our Pauline Spirituality guide us in the choices we’ve made in the traditional manner of increased prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving.

Lent is a great time to - gulp - “double-down” on our Pauline prayers. Maybe our recitation of the daily Pauline Morning Prayers have been more like this springtime weather - ‘luke-warm’ and not as passionate as the summer heat we look forward to! Not bad imagery for those who’ve come through a difficult winter, especially since the very word Lent means ‘Springtime’ in the English translation. Might there be a prayer or two that we’ve overlooked in an effort to be ‘efficient’ in our daily life? Might we have forgotten that our prayers benefit all of our Pauline sisters and brothers throughout the world? Our Lady, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!

Often our fasting can be challenging and even arduous if we have certain dietary needs, food allergies or medicinal needs. Yet, our fasting need not be restricted to food, TV or radio. It might be applied to our speech, our gossip, our fear or our worries. St. Paul would fast often and he knew the power of this practice, even too breaking the bonds of the evil that surrounded him (cf. Mt 17:21). Our desire to fast is to be holier and happier for being ‘lighter’ of those things that weigh us down: fear, worry, and - at times - our disbelief. What can we fast from? How much might we willing let go of for the LORD? Is there something too ‘impossible’ to fast from today? St. Paul, pray for us!

Many will say, “No need to look for a Lenten penance - it’ll find you!” So true, and yet we as Paulines recognize that we want to accept more joyfully our penance for the fruits of the Apostolic work of  proclaiming Jesus Master as LORD. Our penances may vary and be very different: disappointments, delays, difficult conversations, set backs, even ... pebbles in our shoes. So many daily opportunities to reflect back on the life of Christ, knowing that His Passion was endured for us, present themselves to us if we ‘keep an eye out’ for them.

Blessed James endured many penances for the growth of the Pauline Family and, therefore, for each of us. What might I accept for such a great need this Lent? What is already in my vocation and work that I will more freely endure or accept? How might we let Christ be more formed in us this Lent through our penances? Blessed James, pray for us!

And, almsgiving. Almsgiving isn’t always as easy as placing money in the basket or giving to a local food pantry, most important as this is! Almsgiving is giving of ourselves: our time, our attention, our ear - and yes, - our gifts and talents. The gift of alms allows us to show our deepest gratitude to the LORD for what he has done for us in complete gratuity. It also compels us to trust in HIM more and more each day: “JESUS, I Trust in You!” Quite often our first thought is, “What might this cost me? Can I afford this? How will this effect me?" Yet, there are numerous Pauline saints who are interceding for us right now that this be our best Lent ever, so let it be! All Ye Pauline Saints, pray for us!

And yet, the ‘age old’ pilgrimage of numerous believers throughout the centuries has been to the very places JESUS Himself prayed, fasted, did penance and gave alms: the Holy Land! Though very few Christians have ever been able to make this grand pilgrimage, this coming Third Week of Lent, Deacon Tom Burke (Cooperator), Christine Dufresne (Cooperator) and I (IGS) will be privileged to be on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will carry each of you in the Pauline Family in our hearts, our intentions and in our daily Masses in the holiest places on earth.

To possibly aid you in making this ‘visual’ pilgrimage with us, we have set up a blog (so Pauline!) for pictures and little stories of our pilgrimage so you can join us. You can view and sign-up for e-mail notifications (you must view on a pc or in web version on phone to enroll in email notifications) of our daily entries at Please tell you friends and family members!

So may you have a most blessed Lenten Journey and may the intercessions of Our Lady, St. Paul, Blessed James and all of the Pauline Saints nourish your Lenten pilgrimage wherever you live and ‘virtually’ in the Footsteps of Jesus!
Fr. Ed Riley was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He was assigned to three different parishes in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010, when he was appointed to the Faculty of Saint John's Seminary, Boston, where he is Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation. He is also the Spiritual Director & Liaison in the Archdiocese to Homeschooling Families as well as the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima (Boston Division). He is temporary professed in the Pauline Family Institute of Jesus the Priest