Posted by: sisterbernice | April 22, 2011

Suffering: Good Friday

I have spent the past year praying every Friday.  What is praying? Beyond saying words to God, it is also thinking, contemplating, listening.  What have a I heard? thought? contemplated?  Suffering.

I normally avoid suffering.  I run from it.  I have during the year.  But, the year ends on the day of ultimate suffering.  I cannot run.  How did the Lord bear his suffering?

Whether one is religious or not, Good Friday confronts everyone with an innocent man who is made to suffer in multiple physical, emotional and spiritual ways.  Jesus did live, he did suffer.  You can deny his divinity but not the life.  Some try but truly the archeologists can date the stories to a time period.  In that time period people would have known what was the truth and what wasn’t.  The gospels are valid histories.  So, we know a man suffered horribly.

Today will  not be the last day I contemplate and pray for the victims of sexual abuse but today is the last Friday to write about it.  How could servants of God do this to people?  We only have to look to Annas and Caiphas for answers about power, ego, and sin.  A different sin but the end is suffering, death.  How victims suffered and continue to suffer.  They were physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually hurt, then they weren’t heard, weren’t believed.  The same was, and is, true about Jesus (today’s readings are here).

Death comes in many different ways-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  The abuse brought suffering and death.  For some, it has brought rebirth.  My prayers are about rebirth.  I can’t “undo”.  I can pray.  While I would like all to find their way back to Jesus, and if possible, the Church, I know that might not be possible.  Healing is possible.  Healing is rebirth.  Anger is not a sign of healing, nor is hate, nor is depression, nor avoidance, etc….  I may not have always comtemplated aloud well in my posts, but my prayer is real. It’s really simple, even though I made it hard:

Suffering Lord, heal the souls who suffered at the hands of your servants.

Remember the three of most powerful weapons you have at your disposal.

Forgive

Pray – especially, the Rosary:  http://www.comepraytherosary.org/

Seek out Jesus and talk with Him. Here is a link about Eucharistic Adoration, take the time to find a place and go:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnSYBiiyPyw&feature=related

Posted by: sisterbernice | April 15, 2011

Friday #6: Heading to Good Friday

Good Friday is almost upon me.  It will be my final post.   I began this journey at the request of the Holy Father who in his letter to the Irish asked us to give up our Friday penances for this cause.  I have tried to be faithful to my task and hope that the Lord has made use of my meager offerings.

It never ceases to amaze me about how much of the sex abuse scandal gets its headlines on a Friday.   Today we were treated with pedophile Bishop Roger Vangheluwe from Belgium who obviously has not a clue about his evil sickness.  It is evil.  The acts of the pedophile abusive priests are evil.  We need to pray to help create a climate of belief that will penetrate hearts, minds and souls to stop it.  We also need to pray for healing of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual terror this has caused in individual’s and families’  lives.

I don’t think the bishops are evil (unless of course they were the abuser. How much more does a bishop who is also the abuser have to answer!).  As I have said before, I find the bishops to mirror ourselves which is why we call for blood.  They looked the other way, hoped it would stop, passed the problem along.  How often do we do the same?  I am not after their blood.  If you are a believer, you either pray for their change of heart and direction so that you can see a reformed man or you pray and believe that the Lord will impose his justice.  The Lord has threatened those who harm the little ones.  How much more does the bishop have to answer!

Pray that bishops always have courage to do the right thing – it takes courage. Look at the bishop as you, as your brother – beg forgiveness for him.  He is us.

Don’t be offended by this last statement but think about the times you didn’t intervene in someone’s life, when you passed the problem off, etc.  I know I have. Pray for me.  And, pray for the offender.  Whether we like it or not,  God is love, his mercy and goodness are infinite.

I don’t know which reading to pick today to share.  All three have import.  They can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/nab/041511.shtml.  Given that this is the second last entry I will leave this as the contemplation for the day because it is personal to me and helpful to anyone who reads.   I offer the last two stanzas of the responsorial psalm (Ps 18):

R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears

AMEN.

Posted by: sisterbernice | April 8, 2011

5th Friday in Lent

Today I found the Responsorial Psalm to be the reading that inspires me (readings can be found here).

Ps 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23

R.(19a) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

The suffering of the abused will not be forgotten by many of us, and God will never let it be forgotten.  May all who suffer in Ireland and elsewhere know this even when your neighbor is clumsy in how he or she expresses their care and concern.  I know that I can never bring comfort to those who are abused.  I am sure sometimes my blog doesn’t sound like that’s what I am trying to do.  Sometimes I am trying to do too much.  This psalm captures what I have been trying to say – trust in the Lord – He is close, he can heal.  He loves.  You can trust him even when you can’t trust others.  Suffering does have meaning.  Should you read today’s first reading which is speaking of putting the son of God to the test, these lines will stick with whoever is the innocent victim of evil:

“These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.”

Have hope – the innocent soul is rewarded.

Posted by: sisterbernice | April 1, 2011

Fool’s Friday, Friday in Lent #4

Believers are often regarded as fools.  It is such a joyful foolishness – one that can help transcend anything – if we let God into our lives.  Priests often don’t have God in their lives. In the abusers I think evil replaced God.  When we really don’t invite God to be in the center of our lives, evil has an opening.  Readings today can be found here – The Gospel is what it is all about:  http://www.usccb.org/nab/040111.shtml

Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions

Let us ask the Lord for his help, forgiveness and healing.  Let us love God with all are hearts, minds and souls.

I am out of town so no adoration today but rosary and all other prayers are on the agenda!

Posted by: sisterbernice | March 25, 2011

Hail Mary – Friday #3

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation.  Several times, in particular in his Letter, the Pope has entrusted the Church to Mary.  Many of us have a devotion to the Blessed Mother.  Why?  Each of us has different reasons but one of them is she’s “mother”.  We all need a mother and mothering.  Take a moment to thank her for her “yes” and also ask her for help.  I do.

So, I can’t think of anything more fitting than to be very simple today and leave us contemplating two prayers – the Hail Mary and the Magnificat.  If you’d like to read today’s readings, they are here: http://www.usccb.org/nab/032511.shtml

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lords is with thee. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb – Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Magnificat from http://www.wf-f.org/Magnifi.html

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Posted by: sisterbernice | March 18, 2011

Hard Stuff – Friday in Lent #2

Today’s reading presents some hard thoughts for us to ponder.  In the first reading (here), we come to realize that some of the abusers might end up forgiven by God.  Have we thought of that?

Ez 18:21-28:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

This is difficult but it is true and in the Gospel – Jesus confirms this and provokes more:

Mt 5:20-26:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Will you go and reconcile?  Will you reconcile with whoever has hurt you?  including the Church?

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.  Do we reflect much anymore on St. Patrick?  Perhaps we should – check out the Breastplate prayer here:  http://www.allsaintsbrookline.org/celtic/breastplate.html

Contemplate its beauty.  Here is one of the more famous, recognizable parts:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me

Posted by: sisterbernice | March 11, 2011

Lent 2011-Friday #1

I am in the countdown toward the end of this blog.  Although I will keep the blog up, after Easter I will no longer make weekly entries.  This whole effort has been a response to the Pope’s call for the Church and its members to do the following (from his letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland)

The Pope wrote

“I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.”

I’m an American Irish Catholic who took this to heart because I believe in the power of prayer and the spiritual dimension of the problem and its solution.  I can’t help but wonder if the Irish Church put any of this into practice.  It would be understandable if people didn’t.  They are disillusioned.  Some blame the Pope and think he is one of the bishops who did nothing.  I disagree with that analysis.  I think he has sacrificed himself in this, it has been his Calvary.  He is not omnipresent or omniscient, he is all too human but his faith does lead us to Christ.  But we must go there – he cannot do the heavy lifting no matter how many people try to martyr him about this.

But he has shown us the way, if we believe.

I haven’t always been as fervent as I should be in this endeavor but the Lord knows and understands me and my flaws.  I ask him during Lent 2011 to renew the Church but also to heal the victims and their families.  Here is what the Pope said in his letter to the victims – he does say the word “sorry” which so many people say he has not or will not.

“6. To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.”

Lent is a time to prepare for Easter by remembering the Lords suffering and sacrifice.  It is a time when we recognize our own sinfulness and ask for forgiveness.  During this Lent, let us remember the Lord’s suffering, how he is near, how he understands.  Let us forgive our brother and sister and bring him into our hearts and allow his mercy to heal us.

Todays readings can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/nab/031111.shtml

The rosary can be found here: http://www.comepraytherosary.org/

I continue to do the novena and pray.

Posted by: sisterbernice | March 4, 2011

Confident in Prayer

Throughout the year, I have been surprised by coincidences on Fridays or news that comes out on Fridays.  Today’s coincidence is that March 4th is traditionally the beginning of the novena to St. Francis Xavier.  For many, this is meaningless in relation to the sex abuse crisis and/or Ireland’s experience.  For me, it is very important.  I haven’t done the novena in years but I did in the past.  I have always found it helpful.  I fell away from it because of my lack of joy in my modern Jesuit experience of Catholicism.  The Jesuits seem not to have notice they have lost their way as many of them criticize others about the same.

I decided to start and do the novena this year.  Perhaps I will learn to forgive the Jesuits for what I perceive as their  hypocrisy.  I need to do that.  In the novena,  I will pray for healing of the many.  But in particular, those who have been abused by Jesuits and for renewal of the Jesuits in their mission.  A link to basic directions to the novena are here:

http://www.catholictradition.org/novena-grace.htm

Today’s readings are here: http://www.usccb.org/nab/030411.shtml

The gospel seems most important to me.  Isn’t this appropriate to my efforts – the power of prayer  and confidence that the Lord will and for many has healed us?  The carts have been turned over, the reform has started – as has the persecution of victims and non-victims alike.  Will the Church die like the fig tree or will our faith renew it – that is the challenge.   And so, let us forgive so that we are forgiven (no one is innocent here) and let us confidently move forward in the Lord.
Mk 11:11-26

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.
He looked around at everything and, since it was already late,
went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”
And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem,
and on entering the temple area
he began to drive out those selling and buying there.
He overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who were selling doves.
He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.
Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written:

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?
But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it
and were seeking a way to put him to death,
yet they feared him
because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,
believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions.”

It is also First Friday – time for adoration along with all other prayers and devotional practices.

Today I will pray for Archbishop Dolan too- seems he is in the crosshairs.  It bothers me that Bishop Weakland and the others who actually were the problem don’t seem to be the object of the media criticism or Jeffrey Anderson’s hate.

Although my focus is broad, this Irish American prays for the Irish church, the home that nurtured generations of my family in a faith that has always sustained, even in times of tragedy and doubt (see today’s first reading)..  It is a faith not in an organization but in a person – the person of Jesus Christ.  We have forgotten that it is this relationship that is the most important.  He is our faithful friend, pray confidently to him in prayer.

Posted by: sisterbernice | February 27, 2011

Faithful Friend

When planning the trip we just came back from, I was sure that there would be internet access.  With technology in hand we left but – no wireless was available.  In many ways – a relief but in other ways unnerving.  We are too connected although no phone was a good thing after getting used to it.  So, this posting is really an apology for Friday as well as an explanation.

In addition to the struggle implied above, I learned once again about the faithfulness of the Lord.  He is near.  Friday’s readings can be read in many different ways and my commentary on Friday would have been different.  You can find them here.  They are on the themes of faith and faithfulness in relationships.  I just want to thank the Lord for being a trusted confidant and friend.  He is always there for me.  He is always there for you.

The week was eventful too in Ireland – Archbishop Martin and Cardinal O’Malley’s prayers and words about the crisis can be found here,  here and here

Friday’s readings:  http://www.usccb.org/nab/022511.shtml

Keep praying, I do. God really is near.

Posted by: sisterbernice | February 19, 2011

New Revelations, More than ever the need to pray

More revelations this week is actually a good sign even though it is depressing and continues to expose the horror of it all.  Today’s (Friday, I am posting in the morning but it is Friday’s reading), speaks to us.

http://www.usccb.org/nab/021811.shtml

Mk 8:34-9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
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.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”

The laity aren’t called to power, they are called to evangelize, to pray, to work toward holiness.  How can we expect holiness out of others if we don’t strive for it ourselves?  The first reading describes are plight.  We are in the hands of God.  We are children of God.  Let us behave in such a way and the Kingdom flourishes.

Gn 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another,
“Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.”
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that they had built.
Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down and there confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says.”
Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.
It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

I once again ask for your prayers.  AND, let us all pray, beg God for his mercy and healing. Amen

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