Thursday, December 10, 2009
There are times that this love is felt in prayer, or witnessed in the perfect Love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; brought to us in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and then there are times that we are humbled by this perfect love, being expressed by grace, in places we might least expect it.
I had the honor last weekend of bringing Christmas Cards into our local Regional Youth Detention Facility. In the past we had sent cards and ornaments to the youth; but I had not yet had any direct contact with any of them. Arriving with Cards, cookies, mints, red tablecloth, and a mix of 3 hrs of Christmas music in tow - I arrived Saturday to share something I thought would be a kind thing to do, and I was so happy to do it.
What I witnessed were some of the kindest, well-mannered, attentive middle and high school youths that I had yet met. All of them greeting me with kindness, smiles, handshakes, and sincere thanks. I knew that it is entirely possible that the 96 youths now staying at the facility will likely not spend Christmas with their families, and wanted to perhaps bring an opportunity to share a bit of the Christmas preparations they might miss this year. Each card was Christ centered, with pictures of the holy family, doves, wise men etc. And, the youths spent time creating what appeared to be genuine "Love" notes to their families, with pictures, and well thought out messages.
Then, in one of the younger groups, there was a young man who was perplexed who to send one to. Clearly all situations are different, and he was not going to be able to send a card to "family". He wanted to know how he could get his card out. I explained he could write it to whomever he wished. "Well," he said, "I just want to get it to a kid..."; "Ok. ", I stated." Do you mean another youth here?". "No," he said, "like a homeless kid or something...,". With that statement, I saw it, a perfect Love from our Lord, coming with the help of His grace, through another soul like mine, imperfect, to reach another one of His loved children. It was very touching, and I now have sent a bundle of cards out in the mail to homes all over the region - and 1 card is waiting in my car to find a child, without a home, that says "Happy Christmas".
When you are preparing your homes this season, and baking, sending out year end gifts to charities, please remember our Youths, that maybe have not had the greatest start - but, are making every great effort, through the love and grace of those around them to turn their situations around. A very simple thing that everyone can do is this...as you need to perhaps clean out bookshelves and game closets; consider taking gently used games, puzzles, magazines, and books to your nearest Youth Detention Facility. The time spent on vacation from schoolwork is very precious for many of us, however turns idle and frustrating to these youth that really wish they were home for the holidays.
I wish you all the most beautiful advent season of preparation, a yearning for a renewed hope and love in the Lord, for His perfect Love.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Certainly, if I see a family tragically experiencing the loss of a parent, or even child, or see a person struggle with a disability, or even in this economy have faithful friends facing the loss of their home; there is no doubt I am flooded with compassion. I have sat beside friends dying in hospice, helping them out with whatever they need at any given moment because of the overwhelming love I feel for them, no doubt; "the compassion of Jesus at work"...
But, Jesus seemed to have compassion for anyone, in any given circumstance. I don't know that I can ever see Jesus give up on anyone because they, "brought it upon themselves". Of course, we have free will, but our Lord is always the one with compassion for us - no matter what we do. That can be a tall order, if I try to do that by myself. Those in the worst circumstance would be given the same compassion, as say our dearest friend - if it were "the compassion of Jesus at work in me".
For example, a humbling experience this week gave me a very clear picture of perhaps a less than desirable circumstance...and it brought me to the realization that I may deep down be a little selective at where and how my compassion is shared. Those that perhaps have found themselves in addictions or homeless with nowhere to go; yes of course have my compassion in thought - (pity perhaps?) - but, this is not the compassion of Jesus at work... Would Jesus not continue to give love over and over again, effortlessly...would he not hold the hand and cool the brow of the addict suffering withdrawals? There are so many suffering by themselves, that don't have the comfort of supportive family and friends...please join me in prayer for them and pray in Thanksgiving for all the homeless shelters and the caring people that run them; that truly show mercy in the compassion of our Lord, Jesus, at work in their ministry.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II
canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th
canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people
braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets.
They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity.
"This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He
also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with
love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of
sanctity."Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to
intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II.
In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and
asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she
had been cured of her life-threatening disease.
Born Francesco Forgione, Padre
Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and
1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.At
the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was
ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to
have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in
San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.On
September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had
a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet
and side.Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church
authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in
1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not
permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain
of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after
1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before
1924.Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but
busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m.
Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning
break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also
heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day;
penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of
them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never
mentioned.Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a
fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a
committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the
hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there
and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of
Suffering" has 350 beds.A number of people have reported cures they believe were
received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses
came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.One
of Padre Pios sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated
prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about
world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to
Church authorities to decide.
He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified
Comment:At Padre Pio's canonization Mass in 2002, Pope John Paul II
referred to that day's Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) and said: The Gospel image of
'yoke' evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo
endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the 'yoke' of Christ and
indeed how light the burden are whenever someone carries these with faithful
love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows,
if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of
holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I read an interesting article from the latest issue of "God's Word Today", about the virtue of mercy. When I think of virtues, often I think of something positive like a characteristic that a Saint would have that is admirable.
I often forget that virtues are also a guideline that continues to help us enrich our everyday lives. That we might be able to actually live in knowing that we truly are striving to live and avoid the near occasion of sins. When I had received the above line, "Mercy is necessary for all to give, and to receive..." I loved the boldness of the thought..."necessary". Necessities are often described as a short list of absolute needs; shelter, water, food. But, mercy indeed is a spiritual necessity.
"We translate the Hebrew word hesed as mercy but it loses something in translation. Hesed is so rich; it would be better translated as kindness, self-giving, or unconditional love. From hesed flows forgiveness and compassion. Hesed is also translated steadfast love, indicating the everlasting quality of God’s love. "
Now, imagine using that translation in truly expressing mercy in forgiveness for example. In order to truly be forgiving, we completing remove ourselves from the equation, so to speak. The forgiveness flows because we have an unconditional love that truly surpasses all understanding. Therefore, this "mercy" is necessary. Because, if I would try to forgive, but still hold on to my own thoughts and/or opinions I may say I forgive on the outside - but still remain in a prison of un-forgiveness that continues to hold me captive. Hesed, or Mercy, is necessary for all to give, and to receive - because perhaps in this flows the dialogue of the true love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Is it possible for us to share mercy with "all"?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Mercy is the gift of His life from our humble savior, that we might spend eternity with Him...
Friday, August 21, 2009
I would love to share and reflect on some of those answers here, and I have learned of something today that is a beautiful example.
Mercy is feeling the pain of loved ones...
Not too long ago I learned of a dear friend, an incredible Mother, who was battling cancer. A cancer that had returned, which required immediate surgery, and chemo following. I have faith, there is no question that I do, and I did not question that we need to pray for a miracle...but, it still saddened me. I was so upset at the thought of the pain that she and her beautiful family were going to endure. She has stayed in such wonderful spirits, and yet all I could think for a while is how much I did not want her or her family to suffer. As I watch her still today with immeasurable faith, and strength, and peacefulness; I am inspired by her faith.
Then this morning I learned of a young lady, a teenager; that out of love for our mutual friend has shaved her head bald. Completely gone. Not for any other statement than for her to say, "I love you". Not a rebellious act, or "insane" act of a teenager; just an expression of love. The pain of cancer, the emotional pain as well, is being felt by so many - and what a profound way for someone to say, I love you and support you. Feeling the "pain" of others is often not thought of in daily busy lives - but, the next time you feel "saddened" by the news of someones pain, consider their pain, and perhaps how you can help them overcome that pain, if even in the least through prayer.
What does the pain of others feel like?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
There we were, in beautiful San Diego, at a golf resort. I could not believe it, I was going to have a chance to say, "Thank you" to this increadible yet humble woman for helping me understand the message of compassion and mercy. I had brought a gift to give her. Out of appreciation I had done a simple graphite drawing of the cross that she had made to wear in the prison. A cross that simply shows the passion, and unity of all of God's children in it's simplicity of nails, and wire. A very good friend introduced us quickly to Mother Antonia before the evening began. I will never forget how delicately she held my face in her hands, and asked for God's blessing on my husband and I. She held "my" face with such love in her bright smile, I was overjoyed. These hands had held the faces of many. The faces of the poor, the faces of the hurt, the faces of prisoners... the face of Christ. Every face to Sister Antonia is loved as the face of Christ. And my cheeks were now experiencing that same Love, that same compassion, that same mercy.
When has someone's "touch" helped you understand mercy?
Monday, August 17, 2009
I was born at Mercy Hospital. At Mass growing up I have always heard, "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy." I also had heard it or sung about mercy in the Psalms at Mass. So, it was a word that I could relate to from my experiences at church, "therefore", I had decided growing up, "mercy must be a good thing." So, thirty five years later I am learning how mercy is very much a part of our lives.
When I first started reading "The Prison Angel" by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, I had no idea the transformation my life was about to take.I had heard the word "mercy" so many times before, I had even taken a liking to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but I had not realized that mercy is a very large part of living out our faith.
Authentic mercy that we share with our sisters and brothers, because it has been given to each of us when Jesus died for our sins on the cross. If we then receive and experience mercy to it's very core when we receive the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and Eucharist; we desire to share the fullness of that mercy because of our Love in Christ.
Through this wonderful book I learned about Mother Antonia and how she authentically and selflessly shares Mercy day after day, with a love that unless it is felt is hard to understand, and yet so beautifully expressed by her actions. Mother Antonia lives in a 10 x 10 concrete cell in the La Mesa Penitentiary, where she has lived for the past 30 years. Mother Antonia provides not only spiritual guidance to the guards and inmates, but she also helps with basic material comforts for the prisoners such as blankets, toiletries, and medicines.
It is my hope that our project Mercy is... will spread the message of the Lord's incomprehensible mercy, that needs to be shared, experienced, and expressed.