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Our Faith Journey

Welcome to “Our Faith Journey” Blog.

This blog is an opportunity to share with our Ursuline School community that which is most important to us -- our faith journey. Each of us is on a journey and we hope that you enjoy reading the reflections of our faculty, staff and students.

5 New Saints

Yesterday, Pope Francis canonized England’s Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and four women saints at the beginning of a festive Mass in St. Peter’s Square, October 13, attended by 50,000 people from all continents.

The four women are: Italy’s Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911), founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus; India’s Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Brazil’s Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992); and Switzerland’s Margherita Bays (1815-1879), a laywoman. The first three spent their lives working for the poor.

Noting that three of the new saints canonized this Sunday were religious women, the Pope said they show us that “the consecrated life is a journey of love to the existential peripheries”. Laywoman, Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, “speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving”.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by quoting Saint John Henry Newman, who described the holiness of daily life in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretense... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man”

Let us ask God to be like that, said Pope Francis: “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom.

Posted by schifinp on Monday October 14
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Healing of the Ten Lepers

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.  They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master!  Have pity on us!"  And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"  Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." Luke 17: 11 – 19

Today’s Gospel is the familiar story of the healing of the ten lepers.  Even though ten were healed only one returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  This leaves Jesus wondering where the other nine were.  God has been alive and present in all of our lives.  Always ready to heal and make whole our God often wonders where we have gone. We forget to see God’s action in our lives.  Often we are not willing to allow God to heal what needs to be healed in us.  We are afraid to surrender to God what needs to be healed.  God is always present to us and is willing to perform both the small and extraordinary miracles we need to experience.  May we always be open to allowing God to heal those places that we are most unwilling to share with Him.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday October 13
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Columbus Day

On October 12, 1492, after a perilous, two-month journey across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, Christopher Columbus and his crew aboard the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria landed in what is today The Bahamas.  This watershed voyage ushered in the Age of Exploration, changing the course of history and setting the foundation for development of our Nation.  Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit.

While Columbus sailed from the port of Palos under the Spanish flag, he took pride in the fact that he was a citizen of Genoa, Italy.  The celebration of Columbus Day is an appropriate opportunity to recognize those who claim Italian heritage and to carry forth the legacy of generations of Italian Americans who helped shape our Nation. 

Columbus’s daring voyage to the New World brought two continents together, enabling a global perspective for the first time.  The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration.  On Columbus Day, we draw inspiration from this intrepid pioneer’s spirit of adventure.  May we always seek to enkindle the spirit of adventure and global discovery in all we do.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday October 12
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International Day of the Girl

Since 2012, October 11th has been officially recognized as the International Day of the Girl, a time when the world can take stock of the position and value of girls in our everyday lives, and think  about the ways in which we can all come together to better support them.  And so we pray…

O God, send forth your light and your truth to all families gifted with the girl child that they may rejoice at every gift of life. That every girl who feels rejected may experience restoration of her dignity and self-worth and be emotionally strengthened to live life to the fullest.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Posted by schifinp on Friday October 11
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A Prayer for Hope

A Prayer of Hope

There are Christians

Who have hysterical reactions

As if the world had slipped out of God's hands.

They are violent

As if they were risking everything.

But we believe in history.

The world is not a roll of the dice

On its way toward chaos.

A new world has begun to happen

Since Christ has risen?

Jesus Christ,

We rejoice in your definitive triumph

With our bodies still in the breach,

Our souls in tension;

We cry our first "Hurrah!"

Till eternity unfolds itself.

Your sorrow now has passed.

Your enemies have failed.

You are the definitive smile for humankind.

What matter the wait now for us?

We accept the struggle and the death,

Because you, our love, will not die!

We march behind you on the road to the future.

You are with us. You are our immortality?

Take away the sadness from our faces;

We are not in a game of chance?

You have the last word!

Beyond the crushing of our bones,

Now has begun the eternal "Alleluia!"

From the thousands of openings

In our wounded bodies and souls,

There now arises a triumphal song!

So teach us to give voice

To your new life throughout the world,

Because you dry the tears of the oppressed forever?

And death will disappear

- Luis Espinal, S.J.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday October 10
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Martha and Mary

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Luke 10: 38 - 42

Today our Gospel shares the familiar story of Martha and Mary.  In this story Martha is busy about many things and is complaining to Jesus that Mary is not helping her.  Jesus tells Martha not to worry and fret about things that Mary has chosen the better part.  On any given day we can be either Mary or Martha in our daily living.  We seek to get many things done so that we have time for other things.  There are times when we seek to take some time to nurture our relationship with Jesus.  No matter which character we may be displaying we need to remember that what is important and essential is that we take time to spend some time with Jesus and nurture our relationship.  We can be either Martha or Mary it does not matter as Jesus loved them both equally.   Let us take time today to be present to others and therefore share Jesus' love with all people.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday October 8
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Feast of the Holy Rosary

Today the Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary by celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted to honor Mary for the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. Pope St. Pius V and all Christians had prayed the Rosary for victory. The Rosary, or the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the best prayers to Mary, the Mother of God.  The purpose of the Rosary is to help keep in memory certain principal events in the history of our salvation. There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the five Joyful Mysteries (said on Monday and Saturday), the five Luminous Mysteries (said on Thursday), the five Sorrowful Mysteries (said on Tuesday and Friday), and the five Glorious Mysteries (said on Wednesday and Sunday). As an exception, the Joyful Mysteries are said on Sundays during Christmas, while the Sorrowful Mysteries are said on the Sundays of Lent.  The rosary is a meditative prayer and has given a great deal of consolation to many over the years.  May we take time during this month to pray the rosary often for the needs of our world and our families.

Posted by schifinp on Monday October 7
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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."  The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.  "Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?  Would he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat?  Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.  You may eat and drink when I am finished'?  Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  So should it be with you.  When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”     Luke 17: 5 – 10

In today’s Gospel, St. Luke tells us that there is no great virtue in doing what we are supposed to do.  If we only did what we felt like we certainly would not be fulfilling Jesus’ call to care for others and do our best.  Often we do not always feel like we are doing enough or giving our best.  We live life based on the evaluations of others.  There are times when we give it our best shot and are left to feel like we have not done anything special.  Jesus encourages us to push ourselves a little harder and do more than merely meet our obligations.  Let us take time each day to remember that Jesus calls us to do our best and remember that if we do things for the right reasons we will more than what is merely required.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday October 6
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Lead a New Life

On Wednesday, October 2nd the members of the Ursuline General Chapter had an audience with Pope Francis.  His message to them is inspiring for all of us.

Pope to Ursulines: “Make new life” by attracting people to Christ By Robin Gomes

Today, no one can say any more: "This does not concern me". The problems of others are our problems, my problems. They no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. Pope Francis made the point to the Ursuline Sisters, officially known as the Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula.

Our problems, my problems

Commenting on the theme of their General Chapter – “A Global Community moving into new life” – the Pope said, “We find ourselves in a time increasingly interconnected and inhabited by peoples who have come to be part of a "global community". “Today,” he said, “no one can say any more: "This does not concern me".  “The protection of human rights, the conquest of freedom of thought and religion, the evangelization of the distant and the near - beginning with oneself -, social justice, the protection of the environment and the common search for sustainable development, the advent of a humanistic economy, of a policy that is truly at the service of man,” the Pope said, “are not ‘problems of others’, but they are our problems, they are my problems; they no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. In this regard he pointed to the burning of the Amazon forest saying it is not just a problem in that region, it is a global problem. The migration phenomenon does not affect only some states, but the international community, and so on.

“Make new life”

In the face of this, the Holy Father urged the Ursulines to focus on the hope expressed in the second part of their theme: "Let us go towards a new life", that echoes the words of their foundress, Saint Angela Merici: “Make new life. ”The Pope said it is possible to make new life by “opening the doors to Christ and imitating him in charity, that is, in His becoming a neighbor to every man and woman of every language, people and nation with great respect for the diversity of the other, both cultural and religious”. n their charismatic originality, he said they are called to "make new life", to bring a breath of new life to the ends of the earth, knowing how to be with responsibility in the midst of different peoples, nations and cultures, so that the message of faith, hope and charity that you bring may attract people to Christ.

Conversion and witness

He asked the nuns, to seek through a climate of prayer, the appropriate instruments to pursue their individual and community objectives without losing sight of the vast horizon of humanity for which Jesus gave His life. This task, he said, requires a pastoral conversion of structures, so that they become ever more mission-oriented and "outgoing", to encourage the response of all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. For this, a coherent witness is needed, beginning from personal conversion. In this context, the Holy Father particularly encouraged the Ursulines to continue with enthusiasm in their special charism of educating the young, especially in thinking critically and discerning the pros and cons of the means they use, so they mature in values. Serious human growth in the awareness of values, the Pope said, is only possible by combining education with the proclamation of the Gospel, which is done primarily through personal witness.--Vatican News

Posted by schifinp on Saturday October 5
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Feast of St. Francis

The Prayer of St. Francis is beloved by many, but what many do not know is that it actually was not penned by St. Francis himself. The prayer was first written in the French Catholic newspaper, La Clochette, in 1912. It was written in a time of fear when war was imminent and what people needed most from each other, their church, and their faith was hope.

The prayer was associated with St. Francis because of an Assisi postcard that featured both St. Francis and the prayer. It resurfaced during World War II and during the Cold War as an instrument of peace.

The prayer has continued to be a message of peace and hope to this day.

St. Francis found the base of his love and hope for humanity among those who had very little hope left to give. He created love for others and was fed by his love of and from God.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

Posted by schifinp on Friday October 4
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Rain

Today is one of the few days in October when there is no Saint for the day. So, I am thinking of this dark, rainy day that is such a change from the beautiful days we had in September.  A downer, right? Not really. I have been looking at the dryness of the trees and the ground and have realized how much we need the rain to nourish the earth before we slip into winter.  Our God is good and has provided his creation with what it needs, as always.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday October 3
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Guardian Angels

Today, we honor our Guardian Angels!  Guardian Angels are those who traditionally take care of our needs.  These are mediators of God’s grace and love.  Our Guardian Angels are those who take care of us and help us to grow in our faith.  They are messengers from God who help us to get into Heaven.  Ever since I was a young child I have prayed the traditional prayer:  Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.  It is one of the first prayers I learned from my mother.  As I prayed it today I was grateful for all those who have been Guardian Angels in my life.  I am so grateful for the gift they are and continue to be in my life.  Let us take time today to thank our Guardian Angels for their love, support and guidance each day.

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday October 2
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St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux lived and taught a spirituality of relationship. She was born in France and was the youngest of five daughters.  As a young child she was easily put into tears and experienced tremendous loss.  Her desire to enter religious life was so strong that she first tried to enter at the tender age of 15.  At first she was refused and ultimately was accepted at the age before her 16th birthday.  She tried to relate to everyone and everything intently and with love. Her spirituality was a manner of doing the ordinary with extraordinary love. “What matters in life,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love.” She believed that just as a child becomes involved in what attracts her, we should also have a childlike focus and a totally attentive love. She described her life as a “little way of spiritual childhood.” The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, Story of a Soul.  St. Therese is a Doctor of the Church.  Let us imitate her little way by doing small things with great love.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday October 1
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World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The Church has been celebrating the World Day of Migrants and Refugees since 1914. It is always an occasion to express concern for many different vulnerable people on the move; to pray for the challenges and increase awareness about the opportunities that migration offers.

In 2019, the World Day will be celebrated on September 29th The Vatican’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees.  The theme for this year’s celebration is, “It is not just about migrants.” Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, spoke about the celebration:

“This year’s theme for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is an opportunity to look at the migration issue from the lens of humanity, of caring for and walking with our brothers and sisters. The World Day for Migrants and Refugees reminds us that it is not about where people come from but their unique God-given human dignity.” Vásquez noted. “It reflects our call as people of faith to welcome our brothers and sisters, promote their well-being, protect them from cruelty and human indifference, and assist in their integration into our community.”

Pope Francis chose the theme “It is not just about migrants” to show our blind-spots and make sure no one remains excluded from society, whether a long-time resident or someone newly-arrived.

Support for migrants and refugees is particularly vital in this moment as the world is in the midst of the greatest global forced displacement crisis on record. We must continue to embrace love for our neighbor to counter the growing throwaway culture which disregards the human dignity of migrants and refugees.”

Posted by schifinp on Sunday September 29
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Who do you say that I am?

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.  Luke 9: 18 – 21

In this gospel, Jesus, ask His disciples and important question.  Jesus is asking who people say that He is.  The disciples give the expected answers.  Jesus asks us the same question and our response is crucial to our relationship with Jesus.  We need to respond with the same certitude of the disciples.  Our response needs to be the same counter-cultural stance that the disciples had.  We need to be willing to trust that Jesus will sustain us through it all.  Jesus promised to be with us always until the end of time.  When we persevere our faith strengthens and we are able to be Christ for one another.

Posted by schifinp on Friday September 27
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Sharing the Good News

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, nor let no one take a second tunic.  Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.  And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."  Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.  Luke 9: 1-6

Today’s Gospel encourages us to proclaim the Good News, but not to force it on anyone who doesn’t want the peace Christ brings. In this gospel story Jesus gives the disciples authority to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal those who were sick.  Some of the people would be willing to hear the message and others would not.  Jesus tells them to have confidence and persevere in the mission at hand.   If the people listen they are to bless them if not they are to shake the dust off their feet when the leave.  Their job was not to force people to believe but rather share the Good News.  This is what we are all called to do.  So let us share the Good News with great joy and be surprised by God’s action in our lives.

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday September 25
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Hearing and Acting

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd.  He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you."  He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."  Luke 8: 19 – 21

There is something about this gospel that makes me feel really good.  I am always struck by Jesus’ simple yet profound response.  As Jesus speaks I can see Him speaking to a crowd and I am able to see myself standing there and listening.  As Jesus assures the disciples that His mother and brothers/sisters are those who hear the word of God and act on it.  There are days when it is easy to do just as Jesus says and then there is the rest of the time when it seems impossible to do as He says.  Our humanity tends to get in the way and we are prevented from hearing Jesus’ invitation.  We miss the opportunity to respond and act.  Each day we need to remember to be open to Jesus’ invitation and be ready to act on it.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday September 24
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Praying for Peace

As we continue to look at the need for peace in our world let us reflect on:

We are all called to develop the global common good and support the struggles of our sisters and brothers in the human family wherever they stand against injustice.

Solidarity “is the firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #193)

Pope Francis has recently given fuller voice to environmental concerns that have been a part of Catholic social teaching since the 1960s.

“Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #466)

 

Let us pray:

Free me, Creator God, from sin, from fear;

Free me from all forms of hate;

Free me from anger and violence.

Free me to love all my neighbors;

Free me to love the gift of Creation;

Free me to love with compassion and courage.

Free me to listen to your wisdom;

Free me to pay attention to the earth;

Free me to discern where my voice is needed.

Free me to follow your prophets, ancient and new;

Free me proclaim a graced-filled vision of peace;

Free me to walk the journey to Justice.  Amen.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday September 22
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A Prayer of Oscar Romero

As we celebrate International Peace Day let us take time to reflect on the following prayer by St. Oscar Romero.

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.  The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision.  We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.  Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.  No statement says all that could be said.  No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.  No program accomplishes the Church's mission.  No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise.  We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.  We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.  We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday September 21
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Peace Day 2019

International Day of Peace Observance

September 20, 2019

 

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 because they understood that it would not be possible to build a peaceful world if steps were not taken to achieve economic and social development for all people everywhere, and ensure that their rights were protected.  The Sustainable Goals cover a broad range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice.

Sustainable Development Goal 13 “Climate Action” is a call for immediate action by all to lower greenhouse emissions, build resilience and improve education on climate change.  Affordable, scalable solutions such as renewable energy, clean technologies are available to enable countries to leapfrog to greener, more resilient economies.

The 2019 Theme:  Climate Action for Peace draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.

Climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.

Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to combat climate change. Speaking to young Māoris and people of the Pacific islands in New Zealand in May, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “nature does not negotiate” and emphasized four key measures that Governments should prioritize in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050: tax pollution, not people; stop subsidizing fossil fuels; stop building new coal plants by 2020; focus on a green economy, not a grey economy.

On 23 September, the United Nations is convening a Climate Action Summit with concrete and realistic plans to accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement. The Summit will focus on the heart of the problem – the sectors that create the most emissions and the areas where building resilience could make the biggest difference – as well as provide leaders and partners the opportunity to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition.

In the lead up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September, the United Nations calls upon all to take action to tackle climate change. Every human is part of the solution - from turning off the lights to taking public transport, to organizing an awareness raising campaign in your community.

Young people are stepping up to the challenge - close to half a million youth around the world have taken action on climate change in their homes, schools and communities. According to UNFCCC, they are key actors in raising awareness, running educational programs, promoting sustainable lifestyles, conserving nature, supporting renewable energy, adopting environmentally-friendly practices and implementing adaptation and mitigation projects.

This year, the International Day of Peace Student Observance, to take place on 20 September 2019 at United Nations Headquarters, will provide a platform for young people to showcase the projects that they have undertaken to fight climate change and promote peace. People from all over the world will call on governments to take urgent action on climate change.  The movement is being led by teenagers, many of whom like Greta Thunberg are organizing and participating in weekly climate strikes -- skipping school each Friday to highlight the existential threat posed by climate change.

Posted by schifinp on Friday September 20
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Living Like Jesus

Jesus said to the crowds: "To what shall I compare the people of this generation?
What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,
'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.  We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.'
For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, 'He is possessed by a demon.'  The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said,
'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'
But wisdom is vindicated by all her children."  Luke 7: 31 – 35

Today’s Gospel is one of those that is rather paradoxical.  Jesus speaks to a group of people who were attached to the status quo.  They were not able to clearly see the coming of the kingdom.  The people acted in childish ways and were resistant to Jesus’ message.  The image of a two year old who has just learned the word “no.”  In this passage we have the paradox of people who were able to say “yes” to Jesus and those who followed John the Baptist. In this passage we see the importance of looking to Jesus for wisdom and guidance.  We live in an age where there are many forces trying to pull us in many directions.  Our hearts need to remain focused on Jesus so that we can be open to following Jesus with our whole being.  We need to act in the way the song, We Are Called tells us.  “We are called to act with justice.  We are called to love tenderly.  We are called to love one another; to walk humbly with God.”

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday September 18
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Great Faith

In today's Gospel reading we have the story of the centurion whose servant was ill.  His servant was on the brink of death and he knew that Jesus could help him.  The centurion was Roman which means he would be the total opposite of the followers of Jesus.  Yet for some reason this centurion admits to Jesus that he accepts His authority.  The centurion believes that Jesus can help His centurion but is not able to allow Jesus to come to his home.  He tells Jesus that He could heal his servant from a distance.  Jesus realizing the centurion's desire and deep faith heals the servant.  This is the faith that Jesus longs for us to have.  May we try to be like the centurion in today's Gospel and be open the Jesus' invitation to follow and believe.

Posted by schifinp on Monday September 16
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Heartbeats Part Two

Risk-Takers in the Spirit of St. Angela from Heartbeats

Throughout these next months, we hope to highlight some followers of Angela who have taken her spirit of risk-taking to heart. This month, with the help of Emily Clark’s Masterless Mistresses*, we revisit the story of the “intrepid” (Clark’s word) women who brought Ursuline life and ministry to New Orleans in 1727.

“In August 1727, twelve French Ursuline nuns disembarked the ship that had carried them across a treacherous Atlantic, dodging pirates and sandbars to land them safely on the southern coast of the colony of Louisiana. Driven by missionary enthusiasm, they had made the voyage to establish a convent in the capital of the French colony of Louisiana. Life aboard the oceangoing Gironde had been uncomfortable, but now the women encountered the novel adversities and dangers of colonial life. Shallow, rough-hewn pirogues waited to carry them from the mouth of the Mississippi to the settlement of New Orleans, small boats dwarfed by the mighty, muddy torrent that spread out before them. Hiking up heavy black serge habits, they scrambled onto precariously balanced mounds of luggage and bedding and commenced a steamy six-day paddle upriver…The palisades successfully deflected the alligators and snakes that roamed the hot, damp Louisiana nights, but the subtler perils of the swamp took their toll. Summer torrents and swarming insects mocked the limitation of the nuns’ strange New World cells, and they passed sleepless nights of tormented swatting and scratching in sodden  habits. The women caught cold, their mosquito bites festered, their faces and legs welled. Marie Hachard’s youthful candor overrode religious solemnity when she reported to her father that ‘these little troubles bothered us at the time,’ but she recaptured the proper missionary spirit when she averred that ‘the ardent desire that we had to arrive at this promised land made us endure our trials with joy’ (From Rouen to Louisiana: The Voyage of an Ursuline in 1727). The women embraced the dangers and discomfort of colonial Louisiana as the missionary’s due, a welcome signal that their longed-for colonial adventure in the name of God had finally begun.”

*MASTERLESS MISTRESSES: THE NEW ORLEANS URSULINES AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW WORLD SOCIETY, 1727-1834 by Emily Clark.

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Copyright © 2007 by the University of North Carolina Press.

How am I being called to be a risk taker?

Posted by schifinp on Saturday September 14
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Heartbeats

In the northern hemisphere, we are beginning the journey from summer into fall. Schools are back in session, and we begin another series of Heartbeats, reflecting for the next few months on St. Angela as Risk-Taker, and on how we are called to live the risk-taking facet of her spirit and charism in our own lives.

St. Angela Merici, Risk-Taker

At the heart of risk-taking is a willingness to move beyond the safety and security of the familiar into the unknown. Reflecting on risk in Angela’s life, we see that sometimes the invitation to risk came from people, situations, and forces outside of her. At other times, the call to risk came from inside, from the Spirit speaking in the depths of her own heart and urging her forward. Either way, we see her as a risk-taker in her willingness – again and again – to make that journey from the familiar to the unknown:

• As an adolescent, leaving her home in Desenzano and all that was dear and familiar, moving to Salo to live with relatives after the deaths of her sister and parents;

• As a young woman, returning to Desenzano, opening herself to a vision and a call from God to found a company of consecrated women, a vision and a call that came without roadmaps or strategic plans as to when and where and how she was to do this;

• In her 40’s, leaving Desenzano for Brescia, a new city, to go and minister to a grieving widow and mother in need of comfort and assistance;

• In Brescia, opening herself to the realities of war, poverty and need, and to the unexpected ways people began approaching her for guidance, counsel, and reconciliation;

• Setting out on pilgrimage time and again, facing the dangers of travel, sickness, and war that were all part of the pilgrimage experience in Angela’s time.

Perhaps, though, where we see Angela as the ultimate risk-taker is in the foundation of her Company of St. Ursula. For in that act, she moved far beyond what was the expected and accepted place of women in both the society and the Church of her time – marriage or the cloister. She envisioned a new kind of consecrated life for women, founding a company whose members were to live “in the world” and serve in whatever ways they were most needed. If we can imagine ourselves in Angela’s 16th century Church and world, we can truly appreciate the risk it was for her to even conceive of this vision of consecrated life, let alone bring it to reality. Because she risked, we are here today, sharing her spirit, called in our own lives to be risk-takers.

We must always take risks. That is our destiny. T.S.Elliot

 

Posted by schifinp on Friday September 13
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Opening School Liturgy

Today we celebrated our Opening of the School Year Liturgy.  At this Liturgy Mrs. Davidson read the following Call to Worship.

Good morning and welcome to our opening of the school year liturgy.

We are joined today by members of the Class of 1985. Today they are here, to remember their friend and classmate Helen Crossin-Kittle, the only Ursuline alumna who was among those lost on that terrible day 18 years ago. We welcome Helen's husband and family to our celebration.  We remember in a special way as well the members of the Ursuline family who perished on 9/11 – the relatives and friends of our Ursuline school community. We symbolically honor and remember their lives and ask for God’s special blessing of peace upon their families as Mr. Monacelli carries in the American Flag.

Today we are grateful for the donation by a parent of a six-inch piece of steel from the World Trade Center Towers and an oak sapling which will be blessed at the beginning of our Liturgy. Ursuline is proud and honored to have been selected as a home for this sapling from The World Trade Center Oak Project.

Forty-one oak saplings - from acorns collected from the oak trees surrounding the September 11 Memorial in New York City and raised in Michigan - are being donated and delivered to families, first responders and other organizations in the New York area this week as living memorials. Out of the destruction will come new life in this tree.

We have also received the gift of a book For Goodness Sake:  An Inspirational Memoir by Pamela Bundschuh Koch '68 which will be brought up in our offertory procession today.  This is the story behind the St. James 9/11 bereavement support group that came together to share their grief and help one another.

As we start the new school year, we have many hopes and dreams.  Ursuline is a place where all are welcome.  Just as Jesus chose his apostles, we too are called to be men and women of integrity, courage and compassion.  As part of the Ursuline community we are called to accept, love and respect each other. 

As we commission The Ursuline School Peer Leaders, Peer Mediators and Peer Ministers today we pray for God’s blessing on them as they model the Ursuline motto “Serviam.”

St. Angela Merici, Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters encourages us always to remain united of one heart and one will.  Let us model St. Angela’s words in all we do in the year ahead as we make Ursuline a community where all are welcome and everyone matters. 

Posted by schifinp on Thursday September 12
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