Saturday, September 26, 2020


FATHER FRANCIS MARY of the CROSS JORDAN, founder of the Salvatorians, will be beatified May 15, 2021, at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome


The future Blessed was named Johann Baptist Jordan after his birth in 1848 in Gurtweil, a town in the modern-day German state of Baden-Württemberg  at the edge of the Black Forest.  Due to his family’s poverty, he was not at first able to pursue his calling to be a priest, working instead as a laborer and painter-decorator.

But stirred by the anti-Catholic “Kulturkampf,” which attempted to restrict the Church’s activities, he began to study for the priesthood. 

On July 21, 1878 Johann was ordained a priest in Freiburg, Germany. Because he was known to have a gift for languages, he was sent by his bishop to Rome for advanced language studies, becoming fluent in Syrian, Aramaic, Coptic, Arabic, Hebrew and Greek. 

Still, he was sensing that something else was in store for his future. He began thinking about ways to renew spirituality and restore interest in religion. In September 1880, Father Johann met privately with Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican, where he outlined his plan to begin a society devoted to spreading the teachings of the faith. The Pope gave  his blessing to move forward with his plan

He believed that God was calling him to found a new apostolic work in the Church. Following a trip to the Middle East, he sought to establish a community of religious and lay people in Rome, dedicated to proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the only Savior.  


Working several years with Therese von Wüllenweber, now known as Blessed Mary of the Apostles since her 1968 beatification, they founded a community of women in their shared cause. On December 8, 1888, Father Jordan witnessed Therese profess her vows, which marked the beginning of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Savior.  Therese was known in her religious community as Mother Mary. Together, members of the men’s and women’s communities became known as “Salvatorians,” derived from the Latin word salvator, meaning “Savior.”

Father Francis and Mother Mary shared a vision to bring lay women and men into their work and mission as well, but at that time it didn’t fit the vision of the Church. Not until after the Second Vatican Council closed in 1965 was the dream of Father Francis and Mother Mary fully realized. In the early 1970s, the first Lay Salvatorians made their formal commitment. 

Today, more than two thousand Salvatorians around the world continue the mission of Bl. Francis and Bl. Mary: To proclaim the goodness and kindness of Jesus, the Divine Savior, by all ways and means the love of God inspire

In 1915, the First World War forced him to leave Rome for neutral Switzerland, where he died in 1918.

In 2014, two lay members of the Salvatorians in Jundiaí, Brazil, prayed for Father Jordan to intercede for their unborn child, who was believed to be suffering from an incurable bone disease known as skeletal dysplasia.

The child was born in a healthy condition on Sept. 8, 2014, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the anniversary of Jordan’s death. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2020



This week we celebrate the feast of St. Padre Pio and it is no coincidence that an Italian archbishop has opened the cause for beatification of a Capuchin friar and spiritual son of St. Padre Pio.

In 1944, the future FRA MODESTINO, born in 1917 to farmers in the area of  Pietrelcina, went to San Giovanni Rotondo and spent two weeks with Padre Pio.


He confided to him that, during his military service in Rome, he had often gone to pray in the church of St Frances of Rome, where he had developed an ancient religious vocation and had decided to enter a Benedictine community in the capital. Padre Pio replied that the Lord was not calling him to serve him in the Benedictine Order, and faced with the insistence of the young man from Pietrelcina, he said: “If you want to go to Rome, go. But a very ugly disaster has been reserved for you ”.

Three years later, in fact, that abbey was stormed by some young robbers who entered through the window and, to take possession of 15,000 lire, stabbed the abbot to death under the eyes of his lay brother and left the latter tied up and gagged. By the time the rescuers arrived, he was dead. “That fate, said Fra Modestino, was reserved for me”.

 Then Padre Pio ordered him to return home and move for some time to San Giovanni Rotondo. He stayed there for a whole year. Thus he had the opportunity to know the intimate relationship that bound the Friar to the Lord and decided to become a Capuchin too. At the moment Padre Pio welcomed the news with an exhortation: "Paesano (countryman), do not make me look bad!". 

Fra Modestino was a Capuchin who lived for 28 years alongside Padre Pio. Every day he welcomed hundreds and hundreds of pilgrims, who spoke with him, for a prayer of intercession and for a particular blessing precisely with the imposition of the crucifix of Padre Pio on the forehead.  Padre Pio gave him that crucifix making him responsible to carry in his mission. He also wore a Padre Pio glove, which  pilgrims touched. Padre Modestino was said to be the heir of Padre Pio.

Friar Modestino was also a witness in the cause for the beatification of Padre Pio.

 He died in  at the age of 94 in 2011.

Monday, September 21, 2020




Our Lady of the Rock’s Foundress and Prioress for 43 years has
retired and the new Prioress appointed by Abbess Lucia is Mother Noella Marcellino. 


What is amazing is both are “cheese nuns”.  Nov. 28, 2013, I wrote of the West Coast Cheese nun, our own Mother Therese, mentioning the “famous” cheese nun, Mother Noella. 

Mother Therese has given of herself to this foundation from its first days.  She willingly accepted the mission to leave her native Connecticut and her close family ties to travel over 3,000 miles to the unknown.  Her gentle spirit was welcomed by the islanders and old timers, who were suspicious of anything that smacked religion. 

Her love of animals is legend.  She has often been called the St. Francis of our Order.  She has raised prize Scottish Highland cattle, rare breed chickens, Jersey cows and been the general overseer of the monastery farm.  She started the dairy, which was the first raw milk dairy in the state (cows milk)  and later was helpful in  helping others get certification.

To the Community she has been Mother, counselor, infirmarian, cook, singer, and a stabilizing force.  She stands only 4'11"  but is mighty in her strength, which comes from her heritage.  She has taken this foundation from three to where it is today, graciously handing over the baton to Mother Noella.  She will remain on Shaw and we pray her remaining years be gracefilled and gentle!

  Prioress Mother Noella  with Mother Therese

Sunday, September 20, 2020


National Hispanic Heritage Month is a period from 15 September to 15 October in the United States for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.


Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the United States today, and generations of Hispanic Americans have consistently helped make our country strong and prosperous. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month, with roots going back to 1968, celebrates the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period. Columbus Day in Mexico (Día de la Raza) is on October 12.

Well, I am not Hispanic, nor do I think anyone in my lineage came from anywhere near south of the border.  What I do know is my favorite cuisine is Mexican* and having grown up in S. California I ate the best.  Every Thursday my  Father took us to Joe’s - not the  name of the restaurant, which fails me- but the owner/chef Joe and his family. It was the best food you could get anywhere. By my family’s standards it was a bit of a “dive” with maybe 8 tables, but could Joe cook.   Once in awhile we would go to a "fancy" place, but none compared with Joe's. I always started my meal with the albondigas- and to this day I can still taste it- and have never had another like it-  It was pure rich broth with those small meatballs.  Today so many adulterate it with vegetables and other things not necessary.

I am not sure if Joe is the most common Hispanic name, but my Father had a man working for him, also a Joe, who every year at Christmas made the traditional tamales.  And that was his gift to us.  Until recently I have not have a tamale that good.  Now there is a family near us on the mainland doing fresh ones daily- take your pick, pork or beef! 

Of course this was all before the introduction of the Tex-Mex, which maybe has adulterated good Mexican cooking.  I not only love to eat Mexican cuisine, but I love to cook it.  I have been called the best “Mexican” cook north of the border (of California that is.), which is sad, as I feel so many of the local restaurants feel “gringos”  want things out of the cans- and not homemade, take the refried beans for instance!

Some years ago, I found 1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore. It is a comprehensive guide to accessible Mexican home cooking offering recipes of traditional fare from all the regions of Mexico, as well as dishes inspired by the nueva cocina of today's top Mexican chefs.  The author shares the cultural and culinary heritage of the people and food of Mexico from her perspective as a traveler and impassioned enthusiast of the country. Mark Miller, owner of Coyote Café (New Mexico) called it the Joy of Cooking for the Mexican kitchen.

I realize that as in our own country, there are many ways to do one dish, so in Mexico. One example is the corn vs flour tortilla.  If the flour was around 50+ years ago, I never saw it.  I tell people " where my people came from we only ate corn!"   To this day, my favorite breakfast is a corn tortilla with cheese and chili and coffee. I love things spicy and a bit edgy with heat, but unfortunately live with a community of wimps, so have to tame it down.  But the bottle of hot sauce sits at my place!  Ole, Ole!

So during this month, especially when so many are still staying close to home, try some new Mexican dish, like a Mole, the dark, rich, chocolaty sauce which is one of Mexico’s most famous and celebrated sauces- no it is not a dessert. It comes from the states of Puebla, Oaxaca, and Tlaxcala.  

Or maybe Pozole, a traditional Mexican stew with hominy, pork, and a spicy red chile sauce. Go online and find some recipes.  One thing, ingredients always easy to find.

While this Blog is about the great foods Hispanics enjoy, don’t forget their saints, especially the new ones!  Sometimes I wonder if it is because I was born on the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, that while I am 100% non - Hispanic, I have a bit of Mexican in my heart!

* While I here mention Mexican,  I am also addicted to Peruvian (having been there twice for extended stays) which is considered the Parisian cuisine of South America.

Image is San Pasqual (by our dear friend Arturo Olivas) patron of the kitchen

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


T. S. Eliot, in his poem ( 1925)  “The Hollow Men,” wrote, “This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper.”  If this is true, we are far away from the end, as our world seems to be rushing towards a cataclysmic ending. Riots breaking out all over our cities, people killed, monuments toppled, buildings burned, a killer virus, and people afraid to venture far from home -  not to mention climate change, natural disasters and wild fires ravaging mother nature.

The Great Day of His Wrath-  John Martin 1852

I have been hearing  “the end is coming" since I can remember, but the story of apocalypse is as old as time itself. Whenever we are in crises, prophets arise to interpret unprecedented or shocking events. I suppose if we go back through history, we will find that the bad times were a presage to good times- that what seems like a meltdown of society, of culture, of all that we hold dear, is really a wake-up call to faith, a sign of God’s coming judgment or both.  Jesus even told His disciples, “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is” (Mk 13:33). 

In these most uncertain times we are finding great cracks in what we thought to be stable, unshakable. We thought we had, for the most part, overcome racial discrimination, only to find we have failed miserably.  We thought our economy could only get better, that our children  would have a better future, and on and on.

It seems our whole world, especially our own country, has been turned upside down!  Now we are looking for some sort of "new norm".
Father Rupnik
We know one thing for certain: we do not know what will come next. This uncertainty and lack of foreknowledge must not stop us from  living our lives to the fullest- of finding new ways  to be better- to be holy. The best way is to care for each other and connect in the many ways that we can and through the Eucharist.  While we may ponder the uncertain future, we have the presence of Christ with us in the Eucharist.
Why wait for His coming when He is already here?

We must be grateful for the days that come, no matter how dark or dire they seem to be. We may not be able to celebrate the Mass in church in person, but our every day and every action must become an offering on the spiritual altar of our lives.  

Saturday, September 12, 2020


I came across this at  Aleteia (a wonderful Catholic site) - A thoughtful prayer composed by the sweet actress Jennifer Garner, as parents, teachers and school officials struggle with what to do next.

Jennifer with her 3 children

Thank you for the gifts and lessons of this summer. God bless teachers, faculty and administrators as they guide us through this big question mark of a school year.

Bless the parents trying to make it all work. And the children who are learning to make the best of things in ways we couldn’t have predicted. 

Help us remember we hold each other in our hands. And please God, preserve our collective sense of humor. Amen.


In a letter to the leaders of the world’s episcopal conferences, the head of the Vatican’s office for worship and sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, said that Catholic communities should return to Mass as soon as it can be done safely, and that the Christian life cannot be sustained without the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Christian community of the Church. Here are some of his words:

We cannot be without the banquet of the Eucharist, the table of the Lord to which we are invited as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to receive the Risen Christ Himself, present in body, blood, soul and divinity in that Bread of Heaven which sustains us in the joys and labors of this earthly pilgrimage.

We cannot live as Christians without participating in the Sacrifice of the Cross in the which the Lord Jesus gave himself unreservedly to save, by his death, humanity which had died because of the embrace of the Crucified One all human suffering finds light and comfort.

The Church bears witness to hope, invites us to trust in God, recalls that earthly existence is important, but much more important is eternal life: sharing the same life with God for eternity is our goal, our vocation. This is the faith of the Church, witnessed over the centuries by hosts of martyrs and saints.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


With all the racial tension/discrimination in our country, I am trying to find saints to pray to- who suffered either directly (Thea Bowman) or through those they cared for.

Our saint today  was one such man. ST. PETER CLAVER was a Jesuit missionary from Spain during the 17th century, who was appalled by the slave trade and the living conditions of enslaved people.

This holy man saw the  slaves as human beings, not animals, deserving the same respect and dignity that was given to anyone else believing that each one needed to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He cared deeply about them and the salvation of their souls, exhorting them not to lose hope.

In caring for victims and survivors of slavery, he understood the need to address their physical needs thinking that providing food and medicine was often more effective to communicate the love of God than just preaching. He was quoted as often saying "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."

Not only did he treat each with great dignity and compassion, he also protected them and interceded for them when he saw them being abused.  He tried to soften the hearts of traders toward their human cargo and  brought the slaves refreshment as soon as they reached port.  He insisted that European nobles line up behind them at his confessional.  By his own (probably conservative) estimate, St. Peter baptized 300,000 men and women. He ministered to them for 40 years  in Cartagena on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

St. Peter Claver shows us that our actions speak louder than words. If we want true racial equality in the world, it must first begin with ourselves and how we treat others whom encounter on a daily basis.

Monday, September 7, 2020


Too often in the past, we have heard about the wrong doings of priests, while the majority who have dedicated their lives to Christ and his people go unnoticed, except by their flocks.  Mundelein Seminary ( the largest priesthood preparation program in the United States) is giving us  a glimpse into the lives of some priests- I have nominated a priest I have known for 50 years through our abbey in CT.   (See Blog "Christ in the Streets 4/19/20)

Msgr. Robert Tucker, Litchfield CT (who I nominated)

As COVID-19 has changed so much about the way we live in 2020, the Church has remained an essential source of hope, inspiration and support. Heroic priests across the country have answered the chaos of the pandemic with extraordinary creativity and resolve to continue serving as a bridge between Christ and his people.

Mundelein Seminary is collectively honoring these priests with our 2020 In Service of One Another Catholic Humanitarian Award.
The award presentation will be streamed on their website on September 17.

Go to their website to view some of the priests nominated already.

Friday, September 4, 2020


In recent Blog, I mentioned the Rue of St. Benedict and how he can influence families in education of their children. I found this recently written by  Prior Mark Kirby, OSB,  of  Silverstream monastery, in Ireland.  (VULTUS CHRISTI September 18, 2019).

If you were or are attracted to Carmel, to Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, or to Saint Thérèse and her Little Way, know that nothing of their teaching is missing from the Rule of Saint Benedict: purification of the heart, ceaseless prayer, secret exchanges with the Word, the Divine Bridegroom, and participation by patience in the Passion of Christ.

If you were or are drawn to Saint Dominic, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Catherine of Siena, know that the Rule of Saint Benedict calls you to the joy of the Gospel, to the love of chastity, to the quest for Truth, to confidence in the mercy of God for sinners, and to the ceaseless prayer of the heart represented by the Holy Rosary.

If you were or are fascinated by the Little Poor Man of Assisi, the Seraphic Saint Francis, know that the Rule of Saint Benedict offers you complete disappropriation to the point of having neither your body nor your will at your own disposal; that the Twelfth Degree of Humility is configuration to the Crucified Jesus; and that the adorable Body of Christ, the Sacred Host, shows you the perfection of monastic holiness in silence, hiddenness, poverty, and humility.

If you were or are charmed by Saint Philip and the Oratory, know that the Rule of Saint Benedict calls you to good cheer, to gentlemanly courtesy, to an ever greater infusion of the charity of God, that is the Holy Ghost. 

All of these virtues, qualities, and gifts are found in abundance in the Holy Rule. Why do I say this? I say it because Saint Gregory the Great authorizes me to do so when he tells us that Saint Benedict, the vir Dei, was filled with the Spirit of all the just. Saint Gregory says:

The man of god, Benedict, had the spirit of the one true God, who, by the grace of our redemption, hath filled the hearts of his elect servants; of whom Saint John saith: “He was the true light, which doth lighten every man coming into this world,” [John 1:9]. Of whom, again, we find it written: “Of his fullness we have all received,” [John 1:16]. (Second Book of the Dialogues, Chapter 8).

The Holy Rule is, according to Bossuet, a mysterious abridgment of the Gospel, and the Gospel is the wellspring of every variety of holiness and of a torrent of graces that irrigates the Church by means of countless rivulets in every age and in every place. The son of Saint Benedict may rightly say with Saint Thérèse, Je choisis tout, “I choose all,” because in submission to the Holy Rule, he places himself in the school of the Lord’s service, he enrols in the army of the Lord Christ, the True King. Saint Benedict himself concludes the Holy Rule by saying:

Whoever, therefore, thou art that hasteneth to thy heavenly country, fulfill by the help of Christ this least of Rules which we have written for beginners; and then at length thou shalt arrive, under God’s protection, at the lofty summits of doctrine and virtue of which we have spoken above. (Chapter 73)

                                                              Prior Mark Kirby, OSB, VULTUS CHRISTI September 18, 2019

Wednesday, September 2, 2020


“The Eucharist brings us the Father’s faithful love, which heals our sense of being orphans. It gives us Jesus’ love, which transformed a tomb from an end to a beginning, and in the same way can transform our lives. It fills our hearts with the consoling love of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us alone and always heals our wounds.”  

“Every time we receive Him, He reminds us that we are precious, that we are guests He has invited to His banquet, friends with whom He wants to dine. And not only because He is generous, but because He is truly in love with us. He sees and loves the beauty and goodness that we are.”

                                                                    Pope Francis- Homily Corpus Christi , 2020

Sunday, August 30, 2020


I recently came across this video, which is sure to delight. The Franciscan Mission of Legnano in Italy is bringing joy to the locals in dance.

Dancing together to the contemporary song “Jerusalem”, the religious  show off some nifty footwork and coordination. The friars and nuns are wearing their sandals, and habits, and their joie de vivre spreads around the crowd.

Dance is an art which expresses human feelings, especially joy.
Even among the mystics, we find intervals of dancing as an expression of the fullness of their love of God. (St. Theresa of AvilaSt. Philip Neri, St. Gerard Majella)

Una Kim-  Monk Dance
The dance can turn into prayer which expresses itself with a movement which engages the whole being, soul and body. 

It’s not the first time the Mission Legnano has taken to the streets to spread some joy. Their aim is to follow in the footsteps of Christ by bringing friendship, peace, and comfort to the streets. Watch these joyful Italian religious men and women using dance to express their love for Jesus Christ and their community.

Friday, August 28, 2020


In my last Blog I mentioned how important it is to give our children a knowledge of the saints but it is also  important for adults- parents- to have some guides as they go through these uncertain times in educating their children in the faith. Yesterday was the feast of SAINT MONICA a who should be an inspiration to all mothers, especially those whose children have lost their way. Today is the feast of the son she saved.

Born in Tagaste (in Algeria) around 330, St. Monica was raised in a Christian family, but married Patricius, a pagan who served on the City Council of Tagaste. Augustine was the couple's eldest son. Monica was a good mother, but Augustine, as a young man, did not follow her example of Christian faith. Monica prayed continually for her son, as well as for her husband. Both eventually become followers of Christ.

Monica, in her fervor to see her son truly come to know the Lord, at times exhibits a lack of trust that God will bring good even out of Augustine’s mistakes and failings. Throughout Confessions, Augustine describes many of his mother’s admirable qualities and gifts including her sincere faith and vast wealth of patience. However, his writing also unveils the fear and worry she lived with wanting to keep watch over her son at all times, and thereby, to a certain extent, desiring to control the course of his life. Even from the earliest days of Augustine’s life, Monica seeks to protect him from any potential dangers to his faith. In his youth, his mother decides not to have him baptized because “if [he] continued to live, [he] should defile [him]self again with sin and, after baptism, the guilt of pollution would be greater and more dangerous” (Confessions 1.11).

St. Monica cried many times over her son’s transgressions, but received affirmation from God on several accounts.

She had a dream in which she wept over her son, and a figure told her that he was still with her. In his autobiography, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, St. Augustine wrote, “that it was my soul’s doom she was lamenting…” The figure told her to be at peace, and “see that where she was there I was also.”

She also received encouragement from a local bishop, who told her that “God’s time will come.” He added, “Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

Augustine credited his mother with planting the seeds of faith in his heart. He called his conversion a return to the faith which had been instilled in him as a child. When Augustine and his friends would get together for philosophical discussions, Augustine would invite his mother to join them. Her wise comments helped nurture the faith that had begun to grow in Augustine's heart.

The conversion of Augustine, whose earlier ways had caused many tears, brought particular joy to Monica. She was present at his baptism. On her way back to Africa with Augustine, she died at Ostia, near Rome, probably some time in October, 387. Her remains are at the Church of Saint Augustine, Rome.  She is an example of the mother who never gives up hope.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


As many schools are deciding to keep children home this fall, using Zoom or Google Classroom to interact with their students directly, it means that parents are being forced to be more involved in their children’s education.  This is an added stressor, especially to parents who feel ill equipped to teach their children. Social media is filled with people sharing their experiences of what it is like to stay at home during this pandemic.

I will not use this space to tell you how to educate your child, but rather  look to the lives of the saints to see how they took responsibility for their child’s growth. What an opportunity parents today have to form their children in the faith.

I recently came across a young man on our island, visiting his grandmother. The father of three young children and getting his master’s in special education, he is concerned that we return to giving our children a path of morality and spirituality, which builds on their faith- faith that can take care of them in times of crises- such as pandemics.

We can take some advice from St. Benedict who in the prologue of The Rule of Saint Benedict writes:

Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: “If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:8).”

Therefore we intend to establish a school for God’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. … But as we progress in this way of live and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. 

Parents right now already have a lot on their plates, so even if they simply see this time at home as a way to pray together as a family or to talk about God at the dinner table, that’s important.  But this is a chance for parents to educate their children  in more than just the "three Rs". I do not pretend to think this is easy. Many parents have left the education of their children, especially spiritually, in the hands of others so are unsure of how to proceed in this.   For me the most important part of education, especially in young children, is to develop a love of learning. They can do the basics later, but if they are given the chance their rapidly growing minds can absorb more than we can dream of giving them. 

An interesting article I found recently was Jerry Windley-Daoust  “What does the Rule of St. Benedict offer families?”  A good example of a parent thinking! (Teaching Catholic  In the past I have also recommended the videos  of Father Mike Schmitz for teens.

I have stressed in this Blog the saints.  Now is the time to read about and discuss saints with children of all ages. Find a theme. Find the modern saints who have something in common with your child’s interests. Stretch their minds.  Inspire awe and wonder, knowledge and appreciation of Jesus and His saints.

Jacob Tate writes: …some of our greatest saints would be appalled at the thought of randomly assigned teachers, who may or may not be qualified, educating our children according to arbitrary, anti-religious government standards. St. Thomas Aquinas, for one, wrote that early childhood education should be a sort of “guided discovery” for the child. That phrase could be unpacked quite a bit, but I think anyone can admit that an army of six-year-olds in desks all day being taught what the current educational regime deems intellectually and morally appropriate for them looks quite different from “guided discovery.” (5 Reasons to Keep Homeschooling after COVID)

Saturday, August 22, 2020


Daniel Bonnell

What seems like eons ago, I started to present excerpts from our Seattle Archbishop’s pastoral letter given to us April 29 of this year.  No one knew then, how our lives would be changed by this virus, which seems to be roaming around like a lion seeking whom it can devour. 

Many are still not able to attend Mass, either because the liturgy has been suspended again, or because there is little room for all at the Masses, or simply because, as in the case of the elderly, they are afraid of contagion.

People write daily for prayers, for jobs, for their children, and sometimes for the seemingly hopelessness of our world today. But what a time to give ourselves to the redemptive work of Christ, to find our place in salvation history.  We are all guilty of telling the Lord we will carry our cross, we will offer up whatever He asks of us, but when the shit hits the fan- and it can be that bad- we moan and groan and wander around like lost children.

‘When it comes to the liturgy, it is not enough simply to be present, because we are not to be “silent spectators” or consumers, but devout collaborators with Christ in the holy work of redemption. Our active participation in the liturgy is a reflection of our active participation in the mission of Christ. Gathering time and again to celebrate the liturgy, we experience and participate in Christ’s self-offering in the Eucharist. And even as we share in the fruits of his sacrificial love, we are called to make that love the model of our own lives: We are called to offer ourselves for others. The liturgy is not only the model for our lives, but forms us to live our day-to-day lives with this same sacrificial love of Christ.”

Great food for thought, as this pandemic goes on and on and people become more and more restless and careless or fearful. I spoke with a priest recently who said that of the 800+ regulars who attended Sunday Mass before the pandemic, only about 250 fill four Masses.  Fear yes, and also a complacency that they can continue to stream Mass. So much easier and with little effort.  But what of the Eucharist?  

When our Archbishop has asked us to focus the year 2020-2021 on the Eucharist, I am sure he never had a clue how our lives would be changed- and how the loss of the Body and Blood of Christ would effect us.  The Church has been going through some major changes in the past five to ten years, but suddenly it is as if the Holy Spirit is sweeping through to cleanse even more. How many  of the faithful will remain? 

“The Eucharist strengthens our interior life, while transporting us beyond ourselves into a profound relationship with the Lord. This heavenly food fortifies us for this earthly pilgrimage until we find our true home in heaven. I recently received a lovely note from one of our women religious who made this concise observation: “Our home is not here. Our home is in heaven, and heaven is found in the Eucharist.” There is nothing else like the Eucharist on earth: Comparisons cannot do it justice! This is food and drink, but different from any other food and drink. This is a shared meal, but different from any other meal. In the Eucharist, God takes the humblest of our earthly offerings — bread and wine — and transforms them into something extraordinary, the very Body and Blood of Christ. In the presence of this awesome mystery, all we can do is humbly approach the Lord to receive what He desires to give us.”

Food for thought?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020


Always interesting what one finds on the internet when searching for something else. I came across an article about a nun, who should be better known than she is, as her contribution to modern science is phenomenal.

The discovery of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, was a groundbreaking step in understanding the building blocks of all living creatures. DNA is a molecule in each cell that bears the genetic instructions for the development and reproduction of living organisms, including viruses.

In 1962, Francis Crick (British), James Watson (American), and Maurice Wilkins  (New Zealander) received the Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule.  Yet this work could not have been done without the discoveries of other scientists, many of whose contributions have gone unrecognized.  A Dominican nun and a professor of chemistry at Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan was one of these unsung geniuses.  

SISTER MIRIAM MICHAEL STIMSON, O.P. (December 24, 1913 – June 17, 2002). Her obituary notes:

“Her early success in chemistry, working on early research examining cells, led to an invitation to lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was the second woman to lecture there; the first was Marie Curie, and the first woman invited to lecture at Notre Dame University.

She later received international recognition for her early work with the spectroscope, a tool used for analyzing chemicals, and wrote manuals for using the instrument.”

Sister Miriam also worked on wound-healing hormones, helping to create Preparation H. She established a research laboratory at Siena Heights in 1939, where she researched cancer for more than 30 years. Known at Siena as “M2,”Sister Miriam introduced undergraduate research and an addiction counseling program.

Sister’s most significant contribution in cancer research was her solution that unlocked the shape of DNA nucleobases. Jun Tsuji’s book “The Soul of DNA” records:

“For lack of knowledge of the DNA double helix, scientists were unable to understand the genetic roots of cancer, and subsequently they were unable to develop effective methods of treatment. In the early 1950s, scientists were on the verge of discovering the DNA double helix and unveiling cancer as a genetic disease. Stumped by the uncertainty regarding the shape of the DNA bases, the structural and functional “soul” of DNA, the male-dominated scientific establishment – from James Watson and Francis Crick to Linus Pauling – proposed models of DNA that were, in effect, inside out. In contrast, a woman, Sister Miriam Michael Stimson, OP, an Adrian Dominican sister and chemist, dared to imagine a solution to the DNA base problem. Using potassium bromide (KBr) to prepare the DNA bases for analysis by infrared spectroscopy, Sister Miriam Michael successfully developed a chemical method that affirmed the structure of the DNA bases and of the double helix itself.”

Sister Miriam saw her scientific work as a means of discovering truth that would lead us closer to God. Indeed, DNA investigations led prominent atheist philosopher Antony Flew to affirm God’s existence:
“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.”

 Marian Emma Stimson was born into a devout Catholic family in Chicago on December 14, 1913. She attended Sienna Heights College in Adrian, Michigan. In 1935, she joined the Adrian Dominican Sisters, taking the name Miriam Michael.

She received a B.S. in Chemistry from Siena Heights College in 1936. She continued her studies at the Institutum Divi Thomae in Cincinnatti, where she received her M.S. in 1939.

She then joined the chemistry faculty at Siena Heights College, while working toward her Ph.D. at Institutum Divi Thomae, which she completed in 1948.

She remained at Siena Heights College for most of her career, except for a stint at Keuka College in New York between 1969 and 1978. She started an undergraduate research program at the university. She chaired the chemistry department from 1948-1968 and served as director of graduate studies from 1978-1991.

Sr. Miriam Michael Stimson died of a stroke in Chicago on June 17, 2002.  Sister Miriam Michael believed that knowledge will lead us to God, “if we maintain a disposition of humility and love.”

Friday, August 14, 2020


Our dear friend Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B. retired earlier this year and so a new abbot was elected for Saint Martin's Abbey in Lacey, WA.  ABBOT MARION, the ninth abbot of Saint Martins, was born in Can Tho, South Vietnam, in 1976.
He is the second of four children of Thien Nguyen and Thu-Trinh Pham of Everett, Washington. When he was four, his family escaped South Vietnam by boat, was raided by sea pirates and eventually arrived in Thailand, where they lived in a refugee camp for three years. In the mid-1980s, the family began a new life in Washington, where Abbot Marion attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Everett and Bishop O’Dea High School in Seattle.
He did his studies in philosophy at Saint John Vianney Seminary and the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota and theology at the Gregorian University and the Angelicum while residing at the North American College. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Seattle on 12 June 2004.
Since priestly ordination, he has held the following offices: parish vicar of St Joseph parish in Vancouver, the cluster of St Edward parish, St Paul parish, St George in Seattle and Sacred Heart parish and Assumption parish in Bellingham, priest administrator, the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Bellingham. While there he was chaplain of the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at Western Washington University.
After receiving permission from Archbishop J. Peter Sartain in 2012, he entered as a postulant of Saint Martin’s Abbey, making his first vows on 15 August 2013, receiving the name Marion. He made final profession on 11 July 2016.
Abbot Marion reads and speaks Vietnamese, French, English, Spanish and Italian; his hobby is digital photography.
Abbot Marion was  a doctoral student in the Monastic Institute of the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and will finish his studies - on line.

Abbey Church
On August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Abbot Marion will receive the blessing as Abbot. Due to the coronavirus, it will be a closed ceremony, but one which we are sure will be a happy occasion for the monks.  We pray for this young new Abbot, that his road ahead be as grace-filled and fruitful as was Abbot Neal’s.

Monday, August 10, 2020


Sometimes something  in the news hits hard, like a stab in the heart or punch in the gut. In these turbulent times, especially in our own country regarding racism, prejudice and downright hatred, I think this story of one man trying to make right the injustices in his own town, hits close to home.  When I first read the story last week I wept, perhaps not tears, but something deeper in my soul, and everyone I showed the article to had the same reaction.

LASZLO BOGDAN was the 46 year old mayor of Cserdi, Hungary. He was known to be a charismatic and much-loved man, but what makes this story unique is, he was Romani  and two thirds of his town were “Gypsies”, a term I think as derogartory today as “Nigger”. 

Laszlo (Laci) was a man driven by a strong sense of personal responsibility as he organized the life in his small town,setting up work programs, eliminating crime, caring for the poor, building parks and green areas for all. His success was dubbed the ‘Cserdi miracle’.

In 2020, along with Gábor Iványi and Jenő Setét, he received the Wallenberg Prize, for ‘setting an example for humanism’ and his contribution to ‘peaceful coexistence of minority and majority society’. 

When asked about his success he replied: “It is difficult to determine what is the measure of credibility. I am neither the Dalai Lama, nor am I a Pope Francis…I merely try to offer sober messages and goals, so that people might understand that there is hope, not everything is lost.”

In a tribute on Facebook, Mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony recalled “the last time I was in Cserdi, I got a beautiful photo from Laci. The photo shows the oldest citizen of Cserdi, a beautiful elderly Romani woman. He said he was giving me this photo to always remind me that only very rarely do Roma live to such a beautiful age, and carry a lot of burdens even during their shorter lives. László Bogdán, the mayor of Cserdi, carried these burdens and more. His own, those of his village, and even the common burdens of all of us: poverty, exclusion, futility, dogmas.” 

Even Opposition leaders respected the man and mourned his loss. Klára Dobrev described  Laci as a role model: “The calm, soft-spoken man radiated strength, good sense of conscience, and a belief that it was worth fighting for. I learned a lot from him.” Another leader,  described his loss as a tragedy: “There is one less among those who want to bring peace and cooperation between Roma and non-Roma … without László Bogdán, there is one less proof that it is possible to run a settlement in such a way that everyone feels at home, regardless of skin color.” To ensure the legacy of László Bogdán does not pass, she called on all in public life to take responsibility to fight against exclusion, disadvantage, and domination: “It is a common tragedy that we have to continue this work without László Bogdán.”

Those close to him said that he was not ill, or at least had not spoken to anyone about health issues. He was full of plans, saw himself as an ambitious public figure with a promising future, a view shared by many across the country, including parliamentary parties who wanted him on their national lists for the next general election in 2022.  

With so much to look forward to it in hard for anyone who knew this brave man to know why he took his life. Perhaps he felt the future  was hopeless- that he was not doing enough, fast enough. Certainly anyone who experiences racism and discrimination as a part of their  daily life, is vulnerable, but to take on a whole village?

His name, Lazslo means “glorious ruler”. May the man who tried to better the lives of his people find peace in the Lord and may  the "Gypsy" St. Ceferino Giménez Malla (also known as El Pelé, "the Strong One") patron saint of Romani people,  greet him with open arms!

St. Ceferino