Tuesday, April 7, 2020

THE SECOND "SISTER"



MARY SALOME is the young woman dressed in green, and supporting the Virgin Mary with her hands. Rogier paints her face as almost identical to that of the Virgin Mary, perhaps to show they are related by blood? Tradition tells us she is the sister of the Virgin Mary.  Mary Salomé’s head and part of her body are covered by heavy, olive-green velvet.  Her outfit is not as austere as her older sister's,  perhaps to denote some wealth? She  is also painted as much younger.  Interesting to note that both the Virgin Mary and her "older sister", Mary Clopas, have their hair covered, but Mary Salome  has lovely tresses showing.

St. Mary Salome was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the apostles John and James the Greater. Known as the “Sons of Thunder”, these two great men were among the first to be chosen by Jesus to follow Him. 


She would be one of the “three Marys” to follow Jesus and minister to Him and His disciples. Thought to be the financial source for their travels, Mary Salome, along with Mary Magdalene and others, would give all they had to further the works of Jesus and His followers.

Mary Salome was a witness to the crucifixion, entombment and was mentioned by St Mark as one of the women who went to anoint the Lord’s body, finding Him to be resurrected. In the Gospel, Mary Salome asks what place her sons will have in the Kingdom. Jesus tells her that it is the Father who decides and that they will have to follow His example and earn their place in paradise.

Her grief seems more subdued  than that of Mary Clopas, though no less  piercing. One wonders what these holy women, His "aunts" were experiencing? To have walked with Him, perhaps His whole life, thinking He was the Savior of His people, and to have it all end so tragically! 




Sunday, April 5, 2020

HOLY WEEK 2020- A SISTER TO THE VIRGIN MARY


During Holy Week, I want to concentrate on the women who followed Jesus to the end, by looking at the painting of Rogier van der Weyden, who is called the “Master of Passions”.

Rogier's genius was portraying emotion in a contained state reflective of his northern temperament, a gift recognized within his own lifetime.  He was a master,  unsurpassed in his ability to combine color and light, shapes and  arrangement of composition, giving us a dramatic sense of being one with the characters in his art.  
Descent from the Cross
Born in Tournai, Holland in 1400, Rogier van der Weyden trained under the most important painter of that city, Robert Campin.  By 1435 Rogier had moved to Brussels, where he was named official city painter, a position created for him that he would hold for the rest of his life.  He died in 1464 and yet today, over six centuries later, his dramatic style holds our attention.

“His religious figures suffer, mourn, bear witness or simply exist with dignified pathos, their controlled and restrained yet eminently expressive sentiments made real through subtle facial expressions, the dramatic twisting of hands and fingers, even the rhythmic torment of the folds of a garment”. (Scott Walker art historian living in Paris)

His Descent from the Cross or Deposition (1435)  is perhaps his most famous work.  We see Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea having removed the body of Christ from the cross and lowering it carefully to the ground on a white shroud. Mary His Mother falls into a faint, supported by St John and a holy woman.  In its compact composition, purity of color and intensity of emotion, Rogier’s Descent From the Cross  is often said to be one of the greatest religious paintings in the history of Western art.


The woman to the far left of the painting is  MARY CLOPAS, said to be a half sister to the Blessed Virgin.  “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas...”  (John 19:25)

How clear are we today, as to the true identity of this Mary?  By examining and comparing the Crucifixion scene as described by the different Gospel writers, most biblical historians have concluded that the Mary of Clopas found in John’s Gospel was likely the same as “Mary, the mother of James and Joseph” found in Matthew’s Crucifixion narration as well as “Mary, the mother of the younger James and of Joses” found in Mark’s version. Mark further explains that Mary of Clopas was one of the women from Galilee who had often accompanied Jesus during his mission and assisted him in his works.

 We must also remember that in the Biblical sense any relative was called sister or brother, when in fact they were often cousins. So this Mary could have been a cousin to the Virgin Mary or even a sister-in-law, on either side.  Whoever she was, Rogier certainly gives her a memorable place in this masterpiece, as she copiously weeps into her veil.

After Jesus’ death we read that Mary of Clopas and her sisters from Galilee wanted to anoint His body with spices. However, the Sabbath was rapidly approaching, so the women put off the anointing until very early Sunday morning and only then did they go to the tomb to tend to the chore. 



As Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and Salome approached the tomb, they were startled to see that the stone used for closing the burial location had been moved. As they entered the tomb, they were further amazed to see an angel of God sitting at the tomb (two angels according to Luke and John). This angel told the women that Jesus had been raised and instructed them to go tell the disciples that Jesus was alive.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

OUR FRIEND IN A TIME OF ALONENESS

Georges Rouault

People today find it hard to be alone. We are used to being surrounded by others in the workplace, at school, extended family, shopping, etc.  Yet with this pandemic which has taken away so much of our daily freedoms, there is  a loneliness epidemic. We are not allowed to visit elderly parents, to be with loved ones as they die, or even bury the dead. Strangely, in a time when we are more connected than ever through the media, there is a terrible feeling of isolation. Not having loved ones around who can share a vulnerable conversation can make people feel even lonelier.

This is the time for us to find friendship in Christ, who has given Himself to us as the greatest friend we can have.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15: 12-15) 


The cross proved to us, Jesus' love for us.  
He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He loves us more deeply than anyone else ever could. We are closer to His heart than any earthly friend we could ever have.

Rouault- Jesus with His Apostles
Jesus chose us as friends, He died for us as friends and He will remain our friend  for all eternity. The hymn*  “ What a friend we have in Jesus” could never be more true!

The Catholic Church has also given us the example of the saints, who are also our friends.  Find one that can be with you as we all  experience this imposed isolation


* "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" is a Christian hymn originally written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother, who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. He originally published the poem anonymously, and only received full credit for it in the 1880s.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

HELPING THE HOMELESS


Pope Francis prayed Tuesday for all those who do not have homes to go to during the coronavirus pandemic, that people may be aware of this reality and that the Church will welcome them.

Homeless -  George Rossidis
“Let us pray today for those who are homeless, at this moment when we are asked to be inside the house, so that society will become aware of this reality and help, and the Church welcome them.”

In other parts of the world Bishops are stepping in to alleviate the suffering of the poor. 

 “I have decided to open up our seminary for the homeless while our seminarians are gone due to the Corona restrictions,” said Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. “We want to offer warm meals and access to restrooms and showers to those who have nobody to turn to these days in Cologne.”

Those who live on the streets or in shelters are at  a high risk of catching any disease, especially one as virulent as the coronavirus.

Bishop Terence Drainey of Middlesbrough, England, calls on Catholics “to keep the poor, vulnerable, and isolated members of our community at the forefront of our minds at this difficult time”.

He offers concrete guidelines and advice about how to care for neighbors and those in need during the pandemic. 

Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, of  the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo,,  has offered the city a community center, House of Prayer, to lodge homeless who get the coronavirus.

The House of Prayer "is already used for activities with the city's homeless population and also provide meals. "It is not a hospital, so it needs to be adapted, with beds, etc., but it is a viable place to put those who have nowhere to go," he added. Church officials said the home would be able to accommodate 50 hospital beds.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the need to help  the homeless and poor is increasing, and Catholic charities are working overtime. Their work is an example to the world of how we can put the Gospel into action as missionaries. 

People ask us how they can help us, but we are not in need here in our  small isolated paradise.  I tell them find a way to help those who are desperate.  Call your local Catholic charity and make a donation- no matter how small.  It will buy  food and shelter for those in greatest need.

Homeless - Rosanne Gartner
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  James  2:15-16

Monday, March 30, 2020

A FRIEND TO CHILDREN AND NUNS HAS DIED


Our friend, TOMIE  de PAOLA, children’s author, died today at age 85.
He was badly injured in a fall last week and died of complications following surgery.

He worked on over 270 books in more than half a century of publishing. Nearly 25 million copies have been sold worldwide and his books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu issued a statement, praising Tomie as “a man who brought a smile to thousands of Granite State children who read his books, cherishing them for their brilliant illustrations.”

At age 4, Tomie knew he was going to be an artist and author and  told people so. He received a lot of encouragement from his family. “They gave me half of the attic for my ‘studio.’ Now, how neat is that?” he said.

His family, in turn, became central characters in a number of his autobiographical books, such as “26 Fairmont Avenue,” about growing up in Connecticut during the Great Depression, and “The Art Lesson,” about reaching a compromise with his art teacher on drawing in class. Tomie wrote about doodling on his bedsheets and on his math work in second grade, telling his teacher he wasn’t going to be an “arithmetic-er.”

Tomie worked in his 200-year-old barn in New London (NH), which houses his studio and library. It includes wall niches displaying folk art and a corner with a chair facing a small altar, where he meditated. Native American, Mexican and early American folk art decorated his nearby home.

He loved receiving letters from children with questions about his life and books, often taking the time to chat with them at book signings and other events. It was always important to him to keep that voice active.

“I just keep the inner critic,” he said in an interview. “Don’t let the little 4-year-old get jaded. I listen to him. He stands beside me and says, ‘No, I don’t like that.

In 2000 he received a Newberry Honor Award  and in 2011 a lifetime achievement award from the American Library Association. The Pratt Institute  (from which he graduated) honored him with an honorary doctorate in 2009 and the New Hampshire Institute of Art honored him with an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in 2018.

Holy Twins

While “Strega Nona” is perhaps his most famous book, my favorite is “Holy Twins”  about St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica.

At the time of his death he was working on a mural for a new building at our Abbey in CT. He will be sorely missed by children and nuns!


THE CHILD IN EXILE

Karoly Roka (d. 1999)

When I was a small child I hated naps, and yet each day my younger brother and I were relegated to our rooms for “quiet  time”.  For me it was a special time to talk to my animals and to dream. While I certainly was not aware of it as a young child, it was preparing me for a love of silence and a place to tap into my interior life. It was a time to be alone with myself and not fear that aloneness.

In this time of imposed exile from the world it can be a time for children, who are so used to a “go-go” life, to be exposed to some quiet. Certainly any parent can appreciate the need to spend an hour or so in silence in the middle of the day.

This is a time for children – as well as adults- to learn to be comfortable in silence.  It is also a time for parents to  allow children to just be children and not mini adults!  It is important to remember that the routine of a child needs much more room for play than most adults realize. 

It is the time for play- as the child likes it- not as the parent thinks it should be. Play is when the child grows, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Therefore it is up to the parents to give structure for the child. The child plays while the adult works, but the child also learns how to be like the adult. 


Karoly Roka
As the days, weeks and even months loom ahead with an unknown time limit, parents need to rethink how  they can re structure  their children's lives, in a creative spiritual way.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

URBI ET ORBI IN A TIME OF WORLD CRISES


From the Holy Father’s UBI  ET ORBI  March 27, 2020
            (Only time ever given outside of Easter and Christmas



Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).




The miraculous crucifix at which Pope Francis prayed Sunday for an end to the coronavirus has been taken down from its altar and transported to St. Peter's Square, so it can be present on Friday during the pontiff's benediction "Urbi et Orbi."

The crucifix was removed from the Church of San Marcello al Corso by Vatican personnel Wednesday evening, and is expected to be installed temporarily at St. Peter’s Square on Thursday, according to Vatican journalist Francesco Antonio Grana.

The crucifix was venerated as miraculous by Romans after it was the only religious image to survive unscathed from a fire that completely gutted the church on May 23, 1519.

Less than three years later, Rome was devastated by the "black plague."

Upon the request of Rome’s Catholics, the crucifix was taken in procession from the convent of the Servants of Mary in Via del Corso to St. Peter’s Square, stopping in each quarter of Rome.

The procession continued 16 days, from August 4th to the 20th, 1522. When the crucifix was returned to St. Marcellus, the plague had disappeared from Rome.

The crucifix has since processed to St. Peter’s Square every Roman Holy Year - around every 50 years- and the crucifix has engraved on its back the names of each pope to have witnessed those processions. The last name engraved is that of Pope St. John Paul II, who embraced the crucifix during the “Day of Forgiveness,” during the Jubilee Year 2000.

ANOTHER LAGOTTO


Interns Maggie & Brittnee bringing Bella home to us

In the midst of imposed isolation we have another new member of the community and Winnie has a new playmate.  Our new puppy Bella joined us at ten weeks, younger than our Winnie came to us, but we felt she should come before the virus crises gets worse.  Needless to say we all love her and she is as sweet tempered as Winnie.  She is also a roan and will eventually look like Winnie. (See Blog 9/8/19 for info on this breed).



Bella's sire Armani

Like small children two are easier than one as they can entertain each other, though Winnie is quite independent and spends hours playing on her deck. After one day the 12 pound pup showed us her true nature as a water dog by jumping into a koi pond. Even the drinking bowls have suffered from her baths.

Friday, March 27, 2020

ANOTHER PLAGUE PATRONESS

A German cathedral has dug out its collection of relics related to the little-known SAINT CORONA, said to be the patron saint of resisting epidemics, amid the growing coronavirus crisis.

Aachen Cathedral, near Germany's borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, is polishing relics found in its treasure chamber to go on show once the pandemic has passed.


 The coronavirus crises is said to have tweaked public interest in the Christian martyr, who is believed to have been killed by the Romans during the reign of Marcus Aurelius some 1,800 years ago. 

The cathedral had planned to display St Corona's shrine this summer as part of an exhibition on gold craftsmanship before the outbreak began in China in December. 

No one knows when the opening will be,
but experts are now painstakingly cleaning the gold, bronze and ivory shrine, which has been hidden from public view for 25 years, in preparation for when it can be publicly viewed.


Legend has it  that Victor was a Roman soldier of Italian ancestry, serving in the city of Damascus in Roman Syria during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. He was tortured, including having his eyes gouged out. While he was suffering from the tortures, the sixteen-year-old wife of another soldier,  Corona,  comforted and encouraged him. 
For this, she was arrested and interrogated. According to the passio of Corona, which is considered largely fictional, Corona was bound to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released.Other sources state that they were husband and wife.
St. Victor of Siena
St. Corona
As a result  of her death, she is the patron of lumberjacks. She also became a patron saint for resisting any epidemic.  At this point the world needs all the intercessors it can get!


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

HOLY HOUR IN THE HOME


Even in one’s home during this time of self- isolation, one can make a holy hour.  Set aside a small area in one room, before the crucifix or holy picture. It can be a quiet time for spiritual reading, alone or with the whole family. It can be a time to pray the rosary, or a time for quiet reflection and prayer.

When Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen was a young priest, he promised Our Lord to make a Holy Hour daily before the Blessed Sacrament, a promise he kept for his sixty years as a priest.   It was during his daily Holy Hour that he learned to listen to the Heart of Jesus and accept the gift of Divine Friendship and he often preached the benefit of Eucharistic adoration.  

 “I keep up the Holy Hour to grow more and more into His likeness… Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain.

The Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. ‘Could you not watch one hour with Me?’ Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.

The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him and to ask such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him. One of the by-products of the Holy Hour was the sensitiveness to the Eucharistic Presence of Our Divine Lord.”
                        (Treasure in Clay, The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

DEATH BEFORE OUR EYES



Gustav Klimt-  Death & Life
Here it is already Laetare Sunday (Rejoice Sunday) and yet how many of us feel like rejoicing with the state of our world, our country, our community and family? But if we look to the reason for this day, we have plenty to rejoice about- namely the giveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

And yet, that human side of us looks to what is taken away- basically our freedom- to go to work, to school,  travel, etc. Even more important we can’t go to Mass, we can’t visit family and dear friends.  Our routines are disrupted and we  are being challenged as never before. No matter what we offered for Lent, it could not begin to compare to the challenges we now face. Part of that is facing death. St. Benedict tells us in his rule, we need to keep death daily before our eyes.  A gruesome thought?  Not if one understands that we must keep our sights on eternity.  If our small minds could comprehend what awaits us in the other life, we would rejoice, rather than cower in fear.

This season of Lent, like no others,  is a time to reflect  about how we live as a community as we strive  to protect each other from illness. Our island of 100 people is working hard to assure that everything is in place to prevent the virus and to assist anyone who comes down with it.  

Americans have a great heart when it comes to helping others in times of crises- like 9/11-  but soon we get back to our old, comfortable, though not always spiritually productive ways!

This is a time of “quarantine”  when there is more time to pray - for those who have died,  for those who are sick and those living in great fear, for all the  health care workers who are risking their lives for others, and we need to pray  for one another, especially those who have no faith.

We need to turn our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ to help us “through the desert” during this time of Lent.  We need to ponder that we are still wandering and confused in these times of Lent as Moses and the Jews were in the desert for 40 years and Jesus who was praying in the desert for 40 days.

Death & Maiden- Egon Schiele

 Adrienne von Speyr, a Swiss medical doctor and mystic who died in 1967, says “Lord, because we take Your death so lightly that we rarely even think about it,  the thought of our own death is also strange and distant.  Even when stern messengers forewarn us,  we manage to stifle the thought of our death and to go on living as if our earthly existence would never end.”
“Let us die as believers  whose faith also shines upon the others  who assist at our death, brings them help now, and perhaps later, when their own hour comes, gives them consolation.”




Friday, March 20, 2020

PRAYER FOR THE DAY


It is amazing to me, that when our world is so turned upside down, people are still so focused on material or worldly concerns.  Even our Church seems to have abandoned us by closing doors in some areas, but if churches stay open for adoration and prayer, how many will venture out for fear?  We seek answers to the crises from science and politics rather than from God, yet this should be a time when we focus on God, keeping our eyes on Him, who is our true salvation!


Only He has the key and answer to our future. We must be open to change, new life and even death.


Some deep thoughts for the day by a very holy Benedictine.

When all seems overturned, to the point of my feeling almost overwhelmed; when I don’t know where I stand; and when I meet with opposition everywhere, in the minds of others, and in my dealings, I withdraw to the Most Holy Sacrament, or into my own interior, and I remain there for some time like a person who doesn’t even exist, and while I am plunged deep into my own nothingness, God works His own operations and attends to His doings, and I see, afterwards, that all [that He does] succeeds. In truth, one must abandon oneself to God. . . .

God has given me a tenderness and I don’t know what else for souls who are afflicted and in travail, which makes them always present in my mind; I am incapable of not caring for them so long as their sufferings last. It seems to me that God made me for such souls. Ah! If only they knew their good fortune! I am certain that more will be saved by that way than by consolations. This [way of consolations] is a snare into which many fall because a great humility and much fidelity are needed to receive these gifts without claiming anything for or attributing anything to oneself. I esteem souls that are so consoled, but I do not envy them. (Mother Mectilde de Bar, A letter of 1671)


Servant of God Mechtilde of the Blessed Sacrament, born Catherine de Bar (1614 - 1698) was a French nun, the founder of the order of Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A PRAYER FOR THE DAY


Capable Flesh    St Irenaeus 


William Blake- Creation of Eve
"The tender flesh itself
will be found one day
— quite surprisingly —
to be capable of receiving,
and yes, full
capable of embracing
the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.
For even at its beginning
the humble clay received
God's art, whereby
one part became the eye,
another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.
Therefore, the flesh
is not to be excluded
from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates
all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,
we are told, in weakness —
            made   perfect in the flesh."




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

WE ARE RESILIENT!


Gigi is an Oblate of Our Lady of the Rock and has a home here on Shaw Island.  This is from her Blog which she kindly said I can use as I felt some useful info.  Everyone is so concerned about supplying toilet paper that one wonders what their pantries at home look like?

Gigi is a professor at Western Washington University in Bellingham and the author of the newly published book  FOODWISE.

Western Washington University
Posted by GIGI BERARDI (ALLAWAY) on MARCH 14, 2020     FOODWISE BLOG

WE ARE RESILIENT

This has been a very challenging week, for sure, as institutions around the world, including in our own country, have implemented coronavirus-containment measures–and that includes cancelling a lot of events. As for my own institution, Western Washington University, I’m pleased that it is doing the sensible thing with isolation procedures for the entire community of students, faculty, staff. 

Certainly, the situation is changing daily, and in a month, much less two, things will be very different. What’s been happening recently just highlights this world of uncertainty and risk in which we live. There are ways to reduce risk, though, and build adaptive capacity and resilience. This is especially important around food, and I’ve included a link to an article on a “catastrophe” (subduction zone earthquake? Flooding? Coronavirus?) happening in our own corner of the world—the Pacific Northwest, and what we could due to plan for it: Our Pacific Northwest–food in times of disaster (downloadable for WWU).


Does the global food system have an Achilles’ heel? How regional food systems may support resilience in regional disasters:

        Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
             Rebekah Paci-Green and  Gigi M. Berardi, W University

Read it, if you like, that’s all part of being informed (yes, that “I” in WISE). But, if academic stories is not your thing, try this for a light-hearted response to coronavirus: Quarantined Italians sink to coronavirus
I know that information overload is a problem (a very FoodWISE theme), and that’s what we’re living with right now. But, I do think that information is very powerful, and it’s useful, too! I am quite interested, for example, in these articles.

This article looks at the decline of new cases in ChinaCases on the decline

This article essentially describes that the epidemic can be brought under control with a stringent enough response, and after a while: Lessons on containment




Monday, March 16, 2020

2ND SUNDAY of LENT- SILENCE IN THE RULE AND FAMILIES





The first word of St. Benedict’s Rule is Listen. But to listen, one must first not speak and be quiet. One must encounter silence. St. Benedict uses two words for that: silentium and tacituritas.

The first is literally closing your mouth, while the second is an interior attitude of docility, humility, and wonder. Both are necessary and both are possible.

This emphasis on silence is so that we can learn to listen to the Lord more acutely. Yes, He speaks through the Scriptures, but also in the depths of our heart. Silence allows us to step back from the noise and clutter in our lives in order to reflect on what is most important in our life. It clears the way for us to hear His voice speaking to our hearts.


St. Benedict says (chapter 42) we are called to strive for silence and in chapter 4, we are called to have a love for silence. So many who come to us today are seeking a more prayerful life for themselves and their families. I have three young women with children who want to be Oblates as they want their family to have a more balanced life. We already have young families relating to our monastery that are trying as much as possible in the chaotic world, to bring focus on the things which will bring us eternal life- prayer and love of Christ - into the lives of their children.
Tomie dePaola- Days of the Blackbird

“I see all these young children around me and they’ve got these huge backpacks on like little old workers—like worker ants—and they don’t have any time to sit and be quiet...  if I had two younger children, we’d take a walk, look at everything in nature, and sit on the bench and be quiet.” (Our friend Tomie dePaola)

FREEDOM FROM FEAR


Dr. Christina Lynch, a supervising psychologist for Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, told CNA (Catholic News Agency- a great site for Catholic daily news) that fear of the pandemic is normal.

Ljuba Adanja- Toronto, Canada
“Being frightened about something that we don't understand is normal. I think the first thing we have to do is normalize our emotions and realize it's okay. We all are uncertain. We don't know what the future holds. We fear the unknown. We want to be in control.”

“It's a very normal reaction to be fearful or concerned…[but] you don't want to fan the flame of that fear. So what are the steps that you can take, knowing yourself?”

“Breathing is one of the best self-calming tools we can have. You know, just relaxing and creating a habit twice a day to just take some deep breaths, close our eyes, hold our breath and exhale... You [may] pray a Hail Mary while you're holding your breath and then you calmly exhale.”

We should all know by now that we need to wash our hands, limit our outside activities- here in Shaw most of us are just staying home-, etc.  But there are things as Catholics we can do to assuage some of this feeling of panic, like praying a Hail Mary when we wash our hands, which takes 20 seconds, the amount of time recommend to wash hands.


We can watch Masses and other spiritual devotions on line. I recommend going to YouTube for movies, conferences, retreats- they even have some old wonderful ones by Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen. Bishop Barron’s site and EWTN always have snippets of information that will nourish the soul.  Since many are hope now from work, be creative and don’t just idle away your time. Make it rather a time to face the Lord in a new way, maybe not preparing for your own death, but the death of others.


It is a time to PRAY!  And our theme this Lent of SILENCE fits here, as now there is less hustle and bustle.

Dr. Lynch says: “Maybe develop a habit of just spending five to 15 minutes every morning when you first get up. Maybe get up a little bit earlier and just pray, whether it's silent … reading scripture ... or praying a decade of the rosary.”

Dr. Lynch encouraged Catholics to see the spiritual opportunity in the weeks ahead.

“We're so used to being in control. This is a great opportunity to know that God's in control and to just give him more control and pray a prayer of trust to God every day.”

Friday, March 13, 2020

A BISHOP & CORONAVIRUS


 People should be more concerned about the epidemic of fear than the coronavirus outbreak, Bishop Pascal Roland of Belley-Ars has said.

“More than the epidemic of coronavirus, we should fear the epidemic of fear! For my part, I refuse to yield to the collective panic and to subject myself to the principle of precaution that seems to be moving the civil institutions,”  Bishop Roland wrote in a column at his diocesan website.

“So I don't intend to issue any specific instructions for my diocese. Are Christians going to stop gathering together for prayer? Will they give up going see and help their fellow man? Apart from measures of elementary prudence that everyone takes spontaneously to not contaminate others when you're sick, it's not advisable to add on more.”

Bishop Roland pointed out that during the great plagues of the past, Christians joined together in common prayer, ministered to the sick, attended the dying, and buried the dead. They did not turn away from God or their neighbor.
“Doesn't the collective panic we are witnessing today reveal our distorted relationship to the reality of death? Does it not manifest the anxiety-inducing effects of losing God?” he asked.

Bishop Roland said that “we want to hide from ourselves the fact that we're mortal, and having closed off the spiritual dimension of our life, we're losing ground. Because we have more and more sophisticated and efficient techniques available, we claim to master everything and we obscure the fact that we're not the masters of life!”

Coronavirus is an occasion to “remind ourselves of our human fragility,” the French bishop noted, saying that “this global crisis at least has the advantage of reminding ourselves that we live in a common home and that we're all vulnerable and interdependent and that it's more urgent to cooperate than to close our borders!”

The bishop observed that “it seems we've all lost our minds! And in any case we're living in a lie. Why suddenly focus our attention on just the coronavirus?”
He pointed out that in France the ordinary seasonal flu sickens 2-6 million people, and causes about 8,000 deaths.

Continuing, the bishop said that he has no intention of ordering “churches to be closed, Masses to be canceled, eliminating the sign of peace at the Eucharist, or imposing such and such a way of receiving Communion reputed to be more hygienic (that said, everyone can do as they want!) because the church is not a place at risk, but a place of health. It's a place where we welcome the one who is Life, Jesus Christ, and where through him, with him and in him we together learn to be the living. A church has to remain what it is: a place of hope!”

The Bishop of Belley-Ars asked, “Should you shut yourself up at home? Should you raid the neighborhood supermarket to stock up on reserves to prepare for a siege? No! Because a Christian doesn't fear death. He's not unaware that he's mortal, but he knows in whom he has placed his trust.”

“And a Christian doesn't belong to himself, his life is given, because he follows Jesus Christ who teaches 'For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.'”

“So let's not give in to the epidemic of fear! Let's not be the living dead! As Pope Francis would say: don't let them steal your hope!” Bishop Roland concluded.