Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Second Sunday of Lent


The Second Sunday of Lent
February 25, 2018
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10

Lent is meaningful to us because it makes us confront the reality of suffering and death. It causes us to examine the tension we face with death always around us, and we realize we want to transform our ways and move closer to God. We hope that our actions, aligned with God’s grace, will transform us into the people we and God want us to be. The transfiguration of Jesus was God’s glory breaking forth from Jesus’ human form. We want God’s glory to break forth from our actions as well.

            Death reorients our choices. Abraham was faced with a peculiar choice when God asked him to obediently sacrifice his only son. He had a choice – to cut off the promise God gave him of a long life with many descendants or to follow what seemed like a nonsensical request by God. He chose what God specifically asked of him and because of that, God continued to bless him all the more.

            In the moments following the Transfiguration, Jesus tells his disciples that he has to obey God’s will, which involves suffering and death. Though the disciples found this message difficult to comprehend, the messianic suffering of Jesus was part of God’s plan. The transfiguration that occurred on top of the mountain would be a preview of the transfiguration all believers will receive during the resurrection of our bodies.

            In both stories, we notice that God is very near to Abraham and to Jesus. God blessed Abraham by saying, “Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly.” During the Transfiguration, God says to the disciples, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Both these incidences involved great risk, but because both men listened to God and obeyed God’s will, they were rewarded. The disciples are now asked to listen.

            Listening is the first and most decisive act of obedience. We cannot know God’s will unless we listen and listening involves more than using our ears. It means paying attention to the signs of the times. It means noticing how near God is to us and trusting that God is prompting us to make both easy and difficult daily choices in line with God’s will. It means learning to listen with our whole selves.

            Listening and acting upon what we hear is risky, but we have to look beyond the hardships as we realize God is always near. This is a God who abides. When we look to God’s interests above and beyond our own, God has the opportunity to bless us in ways we cannot anticipate.

            Above all this Lent, let us realize that the words of St. Paul are meant for us. “If God is with us, who can be against us.” The whole universe then is stacked in our favor. Jesus intercedes for us; God acquits us. In everything God has done for us, God promises to be close to us in all things – through hardships, suffering, and even death – and when we do so, we never do it alone.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 9) We have rebelled against you God and sinned, but you have remained faithful to us in the covenant. You, O Lord, have justice on your side.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 1) Wash yourselves clean and make justice your aim. Obey the commandments and take care of your neighbor.
Wednesday: (Jeremiah 18) The people of Judah contrived against Jeremiah to destroy him by his own words.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 17) Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. More tortuous than all else is the human heart. The Lord alone probes the mind and tests the heart. 
Friday: (Genesis 37) Israel loved Joseph best of all, which created resentment among his brothers, who later sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver.
Saturday: (Micah 7) God removes guilt and pardons sins and does not persist in anger.

Monday: (Luke 6) Jesus said, “Be merciful,” and “Stop judging because you will be judged by the way you judge.”
Tuesday: (Matthew 23) The scribes and Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Be wary of someone’s teaching if they have no integrity between their words and actions.
Wednesday: (Matthew 20) As Jesus went up to Jerusalem, he told his disciples, “Behold. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests, condemned to death, handed over to Gentiles, an crucified, and will be raised on the third day.”
Thursday: (Luke 16) A rich man dressed in purple garments died shortly after Lazarus, a beggar. In heaven, Lazarus was rewarded and the rich man was tormented in hell. He appealed to God to spare his family, but was told that they would not listen to Moses or to anyone who was raised from the dead.
Friday: (Matthew 21) Jesus told the parable of a vineyard owner, who entrusted the land to servants, but these men seized the land and possessed it. They killed the servants and the heir. When the owner returned, he cast the wretched men into a tormented death.
Saturday: (Luke 15) Jesus is accused of welcoming sinners and eats with them. He then tells the story of the prodigal one who was well received by his father upon his return. The one who was lost has been found.

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

This Week in Jesuit History

·       Feb 25, 1558. St Aloysius Gonzaga received tonsure at the Lateran basilica. Within the next month he would receive the minor orders.
·       Feb 26, 1611. The death of Antonio Possevino, sent by Pope Gregory XIII on many important embassies to Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Germany. In addition to founding colleges and seminaries in Cracow, Olmutz, Prague, Braunsberg, and Vilna, he found time to write 24 books.
·       Feb 27, 1767. Charles III banished the Society from Spain and seized its property.
·       Feb 28, 1957. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps began.
·       Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·       Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·       Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.

El segundo domingo de Cuaresma

El segundo domingo de Cuaresma
25 de febrero de 2018
Génesis 22: 1-2, 9-18; Salmo 116; Romanos 8: 31-34; Marcos 9: 2-10

La Cuaresma es significativa para nosotros porque nos hace confrontar la realidad del sufrimiento y la muerte. Nos hace examinar la tensión que enfrentamos con la muerte siempre a nuestro alrededor, y nos damos cuenta de que queremos transformar nuestros caminos y acercarnos a Dios. Esperamos que nuestras acciones, alineadas con la gracia de Dios, nos transformen en las personas que Dios y nosotros queremos que seamos. La transfiguración de Jesús fue la gloria de Dios que brotó de la forma humana de Jesús. Queremos que la gloria de Dios también salga de nuestras acciones.

La muerte reorienta nuestras elecciones. Abraham se enfrentó a una elección peculiar cuando Dios le pidió que sacrificara obedientemente a su único hijo. Tenía una opción: cortar la promesa que Dios le había dado de una larga vida con muchos descendientes o seguir lo que parecía una petición sin sentido de parte de Dios. Eligió lo que Dios le pidió específicamente y por eso, Dios continuó bendiciéndolo aún más.

En los momentos posteriores a la Transfiguración, Jesús les dice a sus discípulos que debe obedecer la voluntad de Dios, que implica sufrimiento y muerte. Aunque los discípulos encontraron este mensaje difícil de comprender, el sufrimiento mesiánico de Jesús era parte del plan de Dios. La transfiguración que ocurrió en la cima de la montaña sería un adelanto de la transfiguración que todos los creyentes recibirán durante la resurrección de nuestros cuerpos.

En ambas historias, notamos que Dios está muy cerca de Abraham y de Jesús. Dios bendijo a Abraham diciendo: "Porque actuaste como lo hiciste al no privarme de tu amado hijo, te bendeciré en abundancia". Durante la Transfiguración, Dios les dice a los discípulos: "Este es mi Hijo amado. Escúchenlo". Ambas incidencias implicaron un gran riesgo, pero debido a que ambos escucharon a Dios y obedecieron la voluntad de Dios, fueron recompensados. Ahora se les pide a los discípulos que escuchen.

Escuchar es el primer y más decisivo acto de obediencia. No podemos conocer la voluntad de Dios a menos que escuchemos y escuchar involucre más que usar nuestros oídos. Significa prestar atención a los signos de los tiempos. Significa darse cuenta de cuán cerca de Dios está para nosotros y confiar en que Dios nos está impulsando a tomar decisiones diarias fáciles y difíciles de acuerdo con la voluntad de Dios. Significa aprender a escuchar con todo nuestro ser.

Escuchar y actuar sobre lo que escuchamos es arriesgado, pero tenemos que mirar más allá de las dificultades ya que nos damos cuenta de que Dios siempre está cerca. Este es un Dios que mora. Cuando miramos los intereses de Dios más allá de los nuestros, Dios tiene la oportunidad de bendecirnos de maneras que no podemos anticipar.

Sobre todo esta Cuaresma, démonos cuenta de que las palabras de San Pablo son para nosotros. "Si Dios está con nosotros, ¿quién puede estar en contra de nosotros?" Todo el universo está apilado a nuestro favor. Jesús intercede por nosotros; Dios nos absuelve En todo lo que Dios ha hecho por nosotros, Dios promete estar cerca de nosotros en todas las cosas, a través de las dificultades, el sufrimiento e incluso la muerte, y cuando lo hacemos, nunca lo hacemos solos.

Escritura para la misa diaria

Primera lectura:
Lunes: (Daniel 9) Nos hemos rebelado contra ti Dios y hemos pecado, pero tú has permanecido fiel a nosotros en el pacto. Tú, oh Señor, tienes justicia de tu parte.
Martes: (Isaías 1) Lávense y hagan de la justicia su objetivo. Obedece los mandamientos y cuida a tu prójimo.
Miércoles: (Jeremías 18) La gente de Judá ideó contra Jeremías para destruirlo por sus propias palabras.
Jueves: (Jeremías 17) Maldito es el que confía en los seres humanos. Más tortuoso que todo lo demás es el corazón humano. Solo el Señor prueba la mente y prueba el corazón.
Viernes: (Génesis 37) Israel amaba a José lo mejor de todo, lo que creó resentimiento entre sus hermanos, que más tarde lo vendieron a la esclavitud por veinte piezas de plata.
Sábado: (Miqueas 7) Dios quita la culpa y perdona los pecados y no persiste en la ira.

Lunes: (Lucas 6) Jesús dijo: "Sé misericordioso" y "Deja de juzgar porque serás juzgado por la forma en que juzgas".
Martes: (Mateo 23) Los escribas y los fariseos se han sentado en la silla de Moisés. Tenga cuidado con las enseñanzas de alguien si no tienen integridad entre sus palabras y acciones.
Miércoles: (Mateo 20) Cuando Jesús subió a Jerusalén, les dijo a sus discípulos: "He aquí, el Hijo del Hombre será entregado a los principales sacerdotes, condenado a muerte, entregado a los gentiles, crucificado, y resucitado". en el tercer dia."
Jueves: (Lucas 16) Un hombre rico vestido con ropas moradas murió poco después de Lázaro, un mendigo. En el cielo, Lázaro fue recompensado y el hombre rico fue atormentado en el infierno. Hizo un llamamiento a Dios para que perdonara a su familia, pero le dijeron que no escucharían a Moisés ni a nadie que haya resucitado de entre los muertos.
Viernes: (Mateo 21) Jesús contó la parábola del dueño de un viñedo, quien confió la tierra a los siervos, pero estos hombres tomaron la tierra y la poseyeron. Mataron a los sirvientes y al heredero. Cuando el dueño regresó, arrojó a los miserables en una muerte atormentada.
Sábado: (Lucas 15) Jesús es acusado de dar la bienvenida a los pecadores y de comer con ellos. Luego cuenta la historia del pródigo que fue bien recibido por su padre a su regreso. El que se perdió ha sido encontrado.

Santos de la semana

1 de marzo: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), era de una rica familia de banqueros de Filadelfia y ella y sus dos hermanas heredaron una gran suma de dinero cuando sus padres murieron. Se unió a las Hermanas de la Misericordia y quería fundar su propia orden llamada Hermanas del Santísimo Sacramento para trabajar entre los africanos y los nativos americanos. Su herencia financió escuelas y misiones en todo el sur y en reservas. Un ataque al corazón en 1935 la envió a su retiro.

Esta semana en la historia de los jesuitas

"25 de febrero de 1558. San Aloysius Gonzaga recibió tonsura en la basílica de Letrán. Dentro del mes siguiente recibiría las órdenes menores.
"26 de febrero de 1611. La muerte de Antonio Possevino, enviada por el papa Gregorio XIII a muchas embajadas importantes en Suecia, Rusia, Polonia y Alemania. Además de fundar colegios y seminarios en Cracovia, Olmutz, Praga, Braunsberg y Vilna, encontró tiempo para escribir 24 libros.
"27 de febrero de 1767. Carlos III desterró a la Compañía de España y confiscó su propiedad.
"28 de febrero de 1957. Comenzó el Cuerpo de Voluntarios Jesuitas.
"Mar 1, 1549. En Gandia, la apertura de un colegio de la Sociedad fundada por San Francisco Borgia.
"Mar 2, 1606. El martirio en la Torre de Londres de San Nicolás Owen, un hermano apodado" Pequeño Juan ". Durante 26 años construyó escondites para sacerdotes en hogares en toda Inglaterra. A pesar de la severa tortura, nunca reveló la ubicación de estos. lugares seguros
"Mar 3, 1595. Clemente VIII elevó al Padre Robert Bellarmine al Cardinalate, diciendo que la Iglesia no tenía su igual en el aprendizaje.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It is O.K. Let Go.

The hospice nurse called us this morning to let us know that my mother has hours left on this earth because she has been unresponsive and has not been hydrating. Her breathing is slow and her body is giving out. That is clear. We spent time with her all day to hold vigil.

I arrived to meet the social worker and the Sister of Mercy, who had been attending to my mother's needs. They were very kind and they showed concern for our family and our mother. They have done well in comforting my mother.

I told my mother that it is very fine for her to let go and to transition into the next world, where there would be no weeping and no tears. It is a place where fear no longer exists and God's mercy takes care of every concern of hers. God would see to it that she would go gently into the next world and she would have the freedom that she always wanted. So many arms would be there to welcome her and to embrace her warmly and the only tears she would have would be the ones she shed when she realized how beloved she was and is to very many people. She would be reunited and restored to her most loving relationships and that God would offer her the type of perfect love that we seek on earth, but is only achieved in the life to come.

I said the usual goodbyes that I have uttered so often, but it always seems like they are fresh word: I love you. I'm sorry for the ways I hurt you and I ask for your forgiveness. You also are forgiven and our relationship is completely reconciled through God's mercy. And thank you. Thank you for being my mother, my sister in the faith, a daughter of God, a friend as well. 

Months ago, she talked about the train conductor coming to take her for a trip on the train. I told her that Christ is the conductor and he paid for her ticket and he knows where he is taking her. He will never let her slip from her grasp and he will never let go of her hand. He is excited because he wants to show her to the people he has gathered in heaven. The train is moving into the light and the darkness has passed. 

Just then, Sr. Pat stood closer and we were bemused because on the music channel, "Climb Every Mountain" played in the background. One more hill to go, Mom, and then you'll arrive in the place reserved for you.

My family started to arrive and we began lots of different conversations. We played songs for her. We sang. We told stories. We held her hand. Hours passed.

I excused myself so I could attend the wake of a colleague's brother in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a long ride but we just show up for one another. I returned back to the nursing home three hours later and more family members arrived.

I must look like quite a sight. I'm applying chemotherapy lotion for precancerous skin blemishes that many Northern Europeans get. My face is blotchy and tight and my face, head, neck, and arms are on fire. It is painful to shave, and it is worse if I do not shave. This too shall pass. 

As most of the family gathered, we prayed the church's commendation for the dying. My brother said he would return, but as we were not sure when, we went ahead with service. Everyone enjoyed the fragrant oil that I picked up in Jerusalem. Even the nurse joined us in prayer, and even the young ones participating in the prayer of saying goodbye.

After an exhausting day, we retired late at night with the assurance that the nursing staff would keep us posted throughout the night watch. 

Rest well, dear woman. You are free to go. 

The Vigil Begins

My mother's heart rate and breathing has slowed. Her pulse of oxygen is low and she is no longer responsive except for some facial movements. She still responds to our voices. The signs are fairly clear.

I am now heading out to see her where we will wait in vigil.

I'm grateful for your prayers for Connie Costantini Predmore. May she pass peacefully and be at rest soon.

Photo: A Garden

Spirituality: A prayer for St. Anthony.

This note is from the grandson of a friend who was buried the other day. She had a devotion to St. Anthony and her grandson explains the meaning. 

To those who did not know what St. Anthony meant to Nana...

I am not a well-rehearsed religious person, however I have always been able to remember one prayer since I was young, thanks to my Nana and her good friend my Aunt Kathy. The prayer of St. Anthony was taught to me to help me find toys that I had lost when I was young.

The prayer of St. Anthony goes as follows:

Dear St. Anthony, please come around, Something is lost and can’t be found.”

After saying it Nana would make me spin around three times and repeat the prayer. The first time I was taught the St. Anthony prayer, My Aunt Kathy was babysitting me and when she first had me do it I remember thinking it would never work. I’d looked everywhere and nothing was going to change that. But Kathy and Nana both taught me to be patient and trust them, and after completing the prayer Kathy told me to go look once more. Within minutes I had found what I was looking for. It was amazing and this same experience happened once again when I asked Nana in New Hampshire to refresh me in the St. Anthony Prayer. Nana had taught this prayer to many of her grandchildren and extended family and friends.

Looking back now, on Nanas life and the prayer of St. Anthony I have a new perspective on what its true meaning is. St. Anthony, focuses your attention for a moment on something other than your frustration, and anger of something that is lost. It forces you to remember, and rethink things. I believe Nana taught us this prayer since we were young to instill patience in all of us.

Our impatience with things we cannot find causes us to overlook things that are sometimes right in front of us. St. Anthony, I believe, reminds us of the big picture. I believe that my Nana wouldn’t want us to think of her as lost, but if you do find yourself feeling lost, I remind you that although she is no longer with us, Nana would tell you to look to St. Anthony once more. Take a moment and be patient and think for a minute about all that Nana was and I believe you’ll find the mother, sister, wife, friend, grandmother, and strong woman who was always there to support, give advice, laugh with, talk to, and love, will forever be found in all of our hearts.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Photo: A Snow-Covered Trail

Poem: Everyday Grace" by Stella Nesanovich

It can happen like that:
meeting at the market,
buying tires amid the smell
of rubber, the grating sound
of jackhammers and drills,
anywhere we share stories,
and grace flows between us.

The tire center waiting room
becomes a healing place
as one speaks of her husband's
heart valve replacement, bedsores
from complications. A man
speaks of multiple surgeries,
notes his false appearance
as strong and healthy.

I share my sister's death
from breast cancer, her
youngest only seven.
A woman rises, gives
her name, Mrs. Henry,
then takes my hand.
Suddenly an ordinary day
becomes holy ground.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Family Time

Family is visiting. Yesterday, my mother had a number of visitors during the day. My sister from Maine, two of her sons, and a grandson showed up around 2 p.m. My brother from Los Angeles came to visit with my sister, her husband, and their daughter. Mostly, my mother slept comfortable and soundly. Occasionally, she would awaken, and would fall back asleep mere seconds later. The morphine is keeping her comfortable.

We spoke to her, rubbed her hair, sang a few songs, and we ate a few freshly baked cookies I brought them. The nursing staff is incredibly compassionate to her and they offer us much consolation. They know the time is near, and they are concerned for our good health and self care.

After visiting her for a while, we decided to go to Worcester to have a cup of hot chocolate. My niece loves hot chocolate so we went to the Birchtree Bread Bakery in Kelly Square. It was a good atmosphere, very festive, and we had good laughs. My niece didn't want hot chocolate after all. Since it was only 4 p.m., I just ordered a cup of coffee for it was too early for my evening meal. Everyone else ordered a hot drink as well, but as we were leaving, everyone grumbled, "We are so hungry. Next time we'll have to eat here." Argh! "Well, if you were hungry, why didn't you order something to eat?" I felt so bad.

My sister and her entourage headed back to Maine, while I took the others out to a new Ramen take-out restaurant in Worcester, called Stix. They opened on Monday and the owner was urging us to try certain dishes. I ordered the Vegetarian Itame, while we also bought Soba noodles, Mongolian Beef, and two Ramen Dishes. Actually, the owner threw in an extra ramen, which was so wise because all the food was consumed quickly.

On Sunday, I went back to see my mother. She was even more restful than the day before. She received a new batch of medication only twenty minutes before we arrived. She did not open her eyes once during our visit, but her eyelids would move slightly as if they were trying to speak to us. 

After eating a few more cookies, we set off to visit the Worcester Art Museum. I wanted to bring them to the Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, but they get sold out in the afternoon. After the Museum visit, we had a coffee at the Bean Counter on Highland Avenue. I am giving my siblings a culinary tour of Worcester like they've never had before.

We drove back to the nursing home and I did not go in to see my mother because I needed to get home and do a few tasks before retiring for the night. It has been an incredible week for deaths and tragedies. One friend's older brother died this week. As he was waiting for his younger brother to join him to go to their brother's wake, we received the news that his younger brother suddenly died.

A colleague's brother died after a battle with a lengthy illness; a friend's father died and was buried on Saturday; that poor young boy died earlier in the week. His wake was so sad. It was amazing to listen to the Vietnamese chanting during the wake. They do take care of each other well. And, of course, seventeen of our children died horrifically in a Florida school. Lent has begun. 

Photo: Into the desert; tempted by wild beasts