Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holmily II Perpetual Help Triduum

No Longer Places of Sacrifice, But People...

Mary, the Altar of Sacrifice

Main altar St. Mary's Church, Annapolis, Maryland Redemptorist Parish

Here is a summary, really a pale reflection, of Fr. Bruce Lewandowski's second homily during our Triduum for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Readings:Romans 12: 9-16, Isaiah 12:2-2,4,5-6, Luke 1:39-56 (Visitation)


In my neighborhood of Philadelphia it is not uncommon to see shrines set up on this or that corner, in front of an old building or near a vacant lot. They usually mark the locations of a tragic death, a tragic loss of life. It may have been a drug deal gone wrong, a drive-by shooting or a terrible auto accident. These shrines take on the appearance of altars complete with flowers, votive candles, food or other offerings. It is also common to find shrines like this in the homes of Hispanic-Americans to help the family to remember the deceased among family and friends.

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life.

Taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

that others might live."

(Fr. Bruce punctuated his homily by singing this verse.)

So in my neighborhood, at the corners of C and Cambria, at D and Somerset, at B and Lehigh I find altars. They are not unlike the altars of Goshen, Bethel, Gilgal, Carmel, Horeb - all altars of Israel - places in the Hebrew scriptures - places to remember God's presence with the people and God's action among them. Associated with these altars are people like Cain and Abel, Elijah at Carmel and Abraham and Isaac.

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life,

taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

that the world might live."

We can really get caught up in the story of Abraham and Isaac. It is so dramatic. We wait to hear how Isaac will be spared and sigh with relief when the ram is caught in the thicket and can be used for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. For us Mary is the new Abraham. What is promised to the patriarch ("I will make your descendants more numerous than the sands on the seashore or the stars in the sky...") is fulfilled in the matriarch. Abraham hoped for salvation. Mary sees hope and the promise fulfilled as she describes in her Magnificat.

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life,

taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

that the world might live."

There are no altars in the New Testament. No altars like that at Bethel, Gilgal or Horeb. But there is a new altar in the visitation story. Mary is the altar at which Elizabeth and John the Baptist worship. Our Mother of Perpetual Help is the altar, Jesus is the sacrifice. Mary is the altar on which Jesus is sacrificed. She does what Abraham couldn't, doesn't do....sacrifice her son.

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life,

taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

so that the world might live."

The opposite of selfishness is sacrifice. We keep a large jar of candy at the ready in our office in the rectory. The candy can keep children happy while parents enroll them in school or religious education or arrange a baptism. One day a woman came in with two little girls, the oldest about 6 and the other about 3 or 4. They knew the routine so they were ready for candy. But there was only one piece left. I handed it to the mother who handed it to the oldest girl. This six year old unwrapped the candy, put it to her lips, opened her mouth, put it between her teeth and bit off half of the piece of candy and handed the remaining piece to her little sister. She gave up some of her own so that her sister could have more. The Redemptorist, F.X. Durwell said that we would never be real Redemptorists until we had become ourselves the altar of sacrifice - letting go, giving up.

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life,

taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

that the world might live."

Jesus comes from Mary, is given by Mary. Go with less so others can have more. Take, Bless, Break, Pour, Eat, Drink, Go...... It's dangerous to pray to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. She will demand of us what was demanded of her son... suffer and die for the salvation of the world. Take, Bless, Break, Pour, Eat, Drink, Go....

"I myself am the bread of life. You and I are the bread of life,

taken and blessed, broken and shared by Christ

that the world might live."

So we no longer have Goshen, Bethel, Gilgal, Carmel, or Horeb. But Mary, and Sr. Mary Jane and Sr. Paula, and Sr. Peg, and Sr. Moira, and Sr. Lydia - all of the sisters of this community and all of you are altars. Be the altar of sacrifice - so that the world might live.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homily I - Perpetual Help Triduum

Father Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR
with Sisters, Lydia, Moira, Paula and Maria Paz
of Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery
of Redemptoristine Nuns

Yesterday I promised a bit more about Fr. Bruce's wonderful homily last evening. He has provided me with the barest outline. I hope that even this will offer something for you to contemplate and extend the blessing of our Novena and Father's presence with us.

Readings: Hebrews 5:7-9, Psalm 31, Luke - Presentation of Jesus in the Temple


During the years I spent on the island of St. Lucia I luxuriated in the sun, the warmth, the water and the fruit. But there was another side to life there - a great deal of violence. Once I was called to the hospital by the family of a young man who had been shot and was not expected to live because the rudimentary hospital in St. Lucia could not possibly provide the surgery necessary. I comforted the young man, a victim of gang vengeance, blessing him with an icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help. Everyone was so afraid - I was afraid. The next morning I returned to the hospital. The bed was empty and I assumed the worst but asked the nurse about the young man. I was told, "Oh, Father he went home - home with his mother. The bullet moved away from his vital organs to a place where it could be easily removed. We sent him home." Then I was really afraid. This was the fear of God, that wholesome fear that comes from utter and total awe.

Think of a time when you were afraid. What did you fear? What are you afraid of now? For most of us the worst fear is the fear of death, our own death and the death of those we love.

Tonight's Gospel story is about Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple for his presentation to the priests. There is lots of fear in this story. Mary and Joseph are filled with that holy fear as they fulfill the prescriptions of the Law. Simeon is afraid that he will not live to see the salvation of Israel. Mary must have been struck with fear at Simeon's prediction that a sword would pierce her heart.

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help could also be called "Jesus of Many Fears." We do not often think of Jesus being afraid. After all Jesus is all-powerful; he turns a few loaves of bread and some fish into meals for thousands; he is not afraid of men ready to throw stones at the woman caught in adultery: he is not afraid of Lazarus already dead and buried.

But we do know that he must have experienced fear. He must have asked himself, "Am I the one and if I am what does that mean for me?" "Will I have the strength to do what must be done?" "Will I fail?" "What happens after death?" "What is my fate, my destiny, my future?" "What is the will of my Father?" I see the cross, the nails and the lance!" Just like us he knew fear, many of the same fears we experience.

But there is good news. For me the good news was delivered on June 17, 1967, the day on which I was baptised into Jesus Christ. Because of our Baptism we do not have to be afraid. After all, we are dead already. In Baptism we died in Jesus Christ which means that we will live forever, saved from sin and death, to share in everlasting life.

Mary of Perpetual Help holds us as she did Jesus and says, "Do not be afraid. I will help you. Don't be afraid! I will calm your fears."

Freedom from Fear - Day OLPH Triduum

Around 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon Father Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR rang our front door bell. He wanted to let us know that he had arrived at Mt. St. Alphonsus and was 'reporting for duty' as our celebrant and homilist for the Triduum of the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Of course, he was also very thoughtfully offering us the opportunity to fill him in on plans, music, etc. for our Liturgy scheduled for 7:30pm.

Srs. Lydia, Moira, Fr. Bruce, Srs. Paula, Maria Paz

About 30 guests joined us for that Liturgy in our chapel lovingly decorated with floral arrangements by our Sr. Maria Paz. The Liturgy was enhance by organ accompaniment offered by our friend and gifted musician Robert Moore.

Sr. Mary Jane in animated conversation with faithful followers of the Novena

The priests of the Redemptorist Congregation have a reputation for exceptional skills as homilists. They are, after all, known first and foremost as missionary preachers. That is why we are so grateful that each year we are able to have a Redemptorist as our celebrant/homilist for this Triduum of Masses. Last evening Fr. Bruce underscored this gift so evident among our Redemptorist brothers.

Fr. Bruce greeting old friends

Fr. Bruce's central topic was our most basic human fear, the fear of death. It was my plan to offer here a summary of each of his homilies. How I wish his words were available to me in digital format so that I could easily reproduce them. That not being the case Fr. Bruce has promised me some of his notes today. So I will have to publish them later on. But I can tell you that, as the kids say, we were blown away. Is that enough of a tease? Sorry I cannot do better at this moment. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Novena 'Community'

Our annual Novena in honor of our Mother of Perpetual Help is a community builder on many levels. First, it builds up the Body of Christ as an opportunity for devotion to our Blessed Mother in the context of worship, especially in the context of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Second, it always serves to build up our own small contemplative monastic community as we prepare for and take part in the Novena but also as we interact with those from the local neighborhood who come to join us. Another large part of this level of community building is receiving the many petitions mailed to us for the Novena. These are read and prayed over. And every one receives a personal response from one of our sisters. Some of the petitions are accompanied by a monetary offering. This year we are well aware of the financial difficulties being endured by so many. So we have been humbled by the generosity reflected in offerings no matter the size. Hearts are so big, gratitude to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is so great. We know too, because people tell us, that our life of prayer is deeply appreciated by those who chose to contact us. Novena time or not, we receive prayer requests throughout the year by every possible means of communication.

The Novena mail and the people who attend our Novena Masses help to extend our community beyond the monastery walls. Since the beginning of the monastic movement, early in the 3rd century, these communities , although enclosed, were open to those around them, to those who traveled to visit them, to those who came for alms, food, or medical care. The enclosure was created to protect the life of prayer but not meant to isolate those who were praying.

When this community decided to make the Perpetual Help Novena a public event about 25 years ago there was an evening Mass every day of the nine day Novena. I remember those days and attended regularly. But in the late 1990s, as the demolition of our old monastery approached and the requirements of moving into a new one loomed large, the nine days of evening Masses preached by the same Redemptorist became impossible to consider. For the last eight years, we've had evening Masses and a particular priest as celebrant and homilist for only the Triduum of the Feast, June 25-26. A few people come to our early morning masses on the first days of the Novena. A couple we'd never met before has been coming this year and thus we have made new friends. They have found a welcoming community they would not have known about except for the announcement of our Novena in their parish bulletin. So the intimacy of those morning Mass makes for a very warm atmosphere.

In this way another level of community building goes on. We enlarge the community of friends - people we can call friends of the monastery - people who have found a welcoming place in our contemplative atmosphere. We hope they know this mutual blessing. In all of this our Blessed Mother must be pleased.

So for the next three days, the Triduum of the Feast, Fr. Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR will be the celebrant and homilist at our Masses. Saturday's Mass will be at 2:00pm in the afternoon. We hope for a good turn out. It is usually an occasion on which we see many old friends and make new ones too. We hope that this siege of dark rainy weather will clear and allow for our tradition of refreshments outdoors following the Mass. But, whatever the weather, we know that our Mother of Perpetual will be honored and that our community building at every level will be pleasing to our loving God.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Deciphering an Icon

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

A Traditional Eastern Icon
with Layers of Theological Meaning

This image was so present in my childhood and youth - pre-Vatican II Italian immigrant Catholicism with a little Irish influence thrown in by the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught me in high school. Although I regularly attended Tuesday night Novena to OLPH, Miraculous Medal and the Infant Jesus of Prague at our parish Church, I was not attracted to what I thought was a rather dark and odd style of the Perpetual Help image. I knew nothing of the ancient tradition of icons in the East. Many years later, when I found this Mary ubiquitous in places Redemptorist or Redemptoristine I was rather confused. How come this madonna of my Italian-American culture was so revered by these non-Italians? Little did I know. But now you know the story.

My ignorance of the tradition of icons in the East also kept me from full appreciation of this image as a theological text, which is what all those rather odd, out of perspective icons really are.

Once again I will borrow material from information provided by the Perpetual Help Center. Have been asked to correct misinformation given yesterday. That center is no longer located in the Bronx but is operating out of the new Redemptorist Office for Mission Advancement (ROMA) in Baltimore. The link brings you to that site.

The Picture's Meaning

Take another look at the icon at the top of this article. Frightened by the vision of two angels showing Him the instruments of the Passion, the Christ Child has run to His Mother, almost losing, in His haste, one of the tiny sandals. Mary holds Him in her arms reassuringly, lovingly. But notice her eyes. They look not at Jesus, but at us, expressing her plea to avoid sin and love her son.

The small hands of Christ are pressed into Mary's, as a reminder that, just as on earth He placed himself entirely in her hands for protection, so now in heaven He has given into her hands all graces to distribute to those who ask for her assistance.
This is the principal message of the picture. A Byzantine icon, however, is replete with other symbols.

Greek letters at top left and right - Greek initials for "Mother of God" (Theotokos)

Star on Mary's veil - She is the star of the sea ...who brought the light of Christ to the darkened world ... the star that leads us to the safe port of heaven.

Greek Initial above left angel - stands for St. Michael the Archangel. He is depicted as holding the lance and the gall-sop of Christ's Passion.

Mary's Mouth - is small for silent recollection. Mary ponders everything in her heart.

Red Tunic - the color worn by virgins at the time of Christ.

Dark Blue Mantle - the color worn by mothers in Palestine. Mary is both Virgin and Mother.

Christ's Hands - turned palms down into his mother's, indicate that the Graces of Redemption are in her keeping.

Golden Crown - appears in some versions of the icon. A jewel crown was place on the original picture by order of the Holy See in 1867. It was a token of gratitude for the many favors granted by Mary under the title of "Perpetual Help." The crown was removed in a recent restoration so that the integrity of the original icon form be preserved and honored.

Greek Initial above angel on right are for St. Gabriel the Archangel. He holds the Cross and the nails of the Passion.

Mary's Eyes - are large for all our troubles. They are turned toward us always.

Greek Initials below Gabriel are for Jesus Christ.
Mary's Left Hand - supporting Christ, comforting the one who belongs to her. Her left hand is open toward us ready to support us in our needs.

Mary's Right Hand - directs us to Jesus, points to Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Falling Sandal - perhaps the symbol of a soul clinging to Christ by one last thread. But also, Jesus has run to his mother is fear for comfort and protection with such speed that he has lost his shoe. We too are to run to Perpetual Help with such abandon.

Background - the gold is symbolic of Heaven where Jesus and Mary are now enthroned. The gold also shines through their clothing, showing the heavenly joy they bring to tired human hearts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our Mother of Perpetual Help

A "FAQ" Article for
Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Each year our special devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of 'Perpetual Help' has been featured here. For many Catholics of a certain age this image of Mary is a very familiar one but often its history and the reason for its special significance to the Redemptorist family remains a mystery. The story provided here should fill in many gaps. It has been provided by the Perpetual Help Center, Bronx, New York.

Painted in tempera on hard nutwood, 21 inches by 17 inches the original picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is one of many copies of the famed Hodeguitria of St. Luke (the picture of Our Lady, reputedly painted by St. Luke, venerated for centuries at Constantinople as a miraculous icon, destroyed by the Turks in 1453). Although one of many copies, is it the one copy singled out by the Blessed Mother herself as the means of special favors. Today it is enshrined above the high altar in the Redemptorist Church of San Alfonso in Rome, Italy. How it got there is a long story.

At the close of the 15th century, a merchant stole the picture from its shrine on the island of Crete. He miraculously survived a tumultuous sea voyage and finally brought the icon to Rome. There, before he died, he gave it to a Roman friend, begging him to have it placed in a worthy church. The friend did not do so.

Our Lady then appeared, urging the Roman to comply with the request, threatening him even with death. At his wife's word, however, the man chose to ignore the apparition. He died shortly afterward. Not to be refused, Our Lady appeared to the little daughter of the family, "Go to your mother and grandfather," she commanded, "and say to them: 'Holy Mary of Perpetual Help warns you to take her from your house; else all of you shall soon die.' " The girl relayed the message to her mother. Panic-stricken, the woman promised to obey.

Our Lady then told the little girl just where the picture should be placed: in the church "between the basilica of St. Mary Major and that of St. John Lateran." In solemn procession, on March 27, 1499, the icon was carried to that church, the church of St. Matthew the Apostle. The dame day a miracle occurred; a man's arm, crippled beyond use, was completely restored.

For 300 years, the picture hung over the main altar in the church of St. Matthew the Apostle, loved by all, renowned far and wide for miracles. Then came June, 1798. Napoleon entered Rome. The church of St. Matthew was leveled to the ground. The picture disappeared. For 64 years it remained hidden, almost forgotten until one day at recreation, in the Redemptorist house in Rome, one of the Fathers mentioned having read, in an old book, that their present church, San Alfonso, was built on the ruins of St. Matthew's, where once was enshrined a miraculous picture: Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The named startled Father Michael Marchi. He recalled, as a boy, having served Mass in the oratory of the Irish Augustinians at Santa Maria in Posterula. There he had seen the picture because an old Brother had pointed it out to him.

Some months later, in February, Father Francis Blosi, S.J., preached on "the lost Madonna of Perpetual Help," told how it was Our Lady's wish that the picture be enshrined in the church "between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran." Word got back to the Redemptorists. Word got back to the Redemptorists. The Superior General was informed. But he waited three more years. He wanted to be certain.

Finally, on December 11, 1865, the whole matter was presented to Pope Pius IX. On January 19, 1866, the miraculous picture was brought once more to the site of its former glory, the church between the two basilicas, now that of San Alfonso. With this move the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists, were charged with the mission to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help whose image is venerated it the icon. Three months later, it was solemnly enshrined. And on June 23, 1867, it was crowned by an elaborate jeweled tiara affixed to the original icon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Mother of Mercy ......

There is one feast or a solemnity after another at this time in June. But for us these nine days are most special as the Novena in preparation for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on the 27th, next Saturday. Our community of contemplative nuns was founded under the protection of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and our monastery bears her name. This icon dominates our chapel and we rejoice to welcome many during these days to share our devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, under this title.

Should you wish to join us in the Novena, here is our simple prayer:

Novena Prayer
All: Holy Mary, help all in distress, encourage the fainthearted, console the sorrowful, be the advocate of all the clergy and religious, strengthen family life, bring peace to our world, intercede for all God’s holy people, let all feel your aid who implore your perpetual help.

Leader: Our Mother of Perpetual Help,
pray for us.

Response: That we may become worthy
of the promises of Christ.

All: O Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us your Mother Mary, whose miraculous image we venerate, to be our Mother ever ready to help us, grant we pray, that we who earnestly implore her aid may deserve to enjoy perpetually the fruit of your redemption. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Heart Mandala - HMP

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

God is LOVE

Melody: Ode to Joy, Beethoven
Text: Timothy Rees

God is Love, let heaven adore him;
God is Love, let earth rejoice;
Let creation sing before him,
And exalt him with one voice.
God who laid the earth's foundation,
God who spread the heaven, above,
God who breathes through all creation:
God is Love, eternal Love.

God is Love; and love enfolds us,
All the world in one embrace:
With unfailing grasp God holds us,
Every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking
Under sorrow's iron rod,
Then we find that self same aching
Deep within the heart of God.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Feast of the Body of Christ

A Poem for the

Feast of Corpus Christi

by Elizabeth Goral-Makowski,
Assistant Director of Redemptorist
Office of Mission Advancement

Corpus Christi 2009

It is an act of Love
to prodigally pour
oneself out
for the sake of faith
To be lead
where you cannot know
what or who
will be there
will be their
will be your own

It is an act of Love
to willingly unlock heart
open wholly
for the sake of faith
To be vulnerable
to the pain
to the joys
to the woes and glows
of others' hearts
including your own

It is an act of Love
to be
present Presence
for the sake of faith
To look beyond
yourself to
you to

It is an act of Love
to live in awe
longing Lord
for the sake of faith
To be Your Body, Your Blood
flesh of Your flesh
bone of Your bone
heart of Your heart

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Honoring the Mighty Hudson

Celebrating the


of the Discovery

of the

Hudson River


These days there are big doings up and down the beautiful Hudson River. Every town is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson and his shipmates on the Half Moon to the mouth of the river bearing his name. Memories of my elementary school days in New York City and fourth grade study of local history merge with the stories of Henry Hudson sailing into the now famous harbor formed by the estuary of the tidal river. In turn his story melded into that of New Amsterdam and peg-legged Peter Stuyvesant. That early settlement was preceded by knots of fur traders way up river eager for beaver pelts which seemed to endlessly flow from the forests and streams of the indigenous people.

The banners shown here are one contribution to the festivities contributed by artists of the Kingston area, including my son, Matthew Pleva. His work is the black and white effort at the top. My contribution was to sew the canvas banners using our factory grade sewing machines.

Other artists include:

Jane Bloodgood-Abrams
Hendrik Dijk
Dennis Connors
Robert Sweeney
Cynthia Winiker
Lynn Woods
Steve Ladin
Erik Richards
Cristina Brusca
Susan Ross
Iya Battle

The banners were photographed at their first exhibition in the atrium of the Holiday Inn in uptown Kingston. After an appearance at the Senate House Museum for the Discovery Dinner on June 13th the plan is to apply a weatherproof coating so they can be hung on lamp posts on lower Broadway, in the Rondout section of Kingston which borders on Rondout Creek an inlet of the Hudson River.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Icon of the Holy Trinity
Model for Right Relationship

Today is the feast of the great mystery of our faith - the trinitarian nature of the God worshiped by Christians who count theirs as one of the monotheistic faiths. Would seem to be a contradiction of terms there, an oxymoron, something like a double negative in which two things cancel each other out. However, for Christians this is the fullness of the mystery of their God who is a single being (if that term is not too anthropomorphic) possessing three natures. Rather than getting all tied up in the ancient Greek terms theologians use to explain it, I have come up with my own way of thinking about it. May I not enter into heresy!

I like to think of these three natures as three expressions of the Godhead, of the ways in which God chooses to become manifest. And, as the French say, "Vive la difference!" God the Creator is the prime mover whose life force I can see at each dawn and sunset, whom I observe as the landscape greens itself ever more abundantly with each passing spring day, and whom I have felt and held in every baby whose very lusciousness invited kisses and caresses in my arms. This is also the God of power and might who led the Israelites out of Egypt and accompanied them in the long journey through the desert.

The Son came to reveal the face of the loving Creator, to give to that parental image the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of which it was so often deprived. In the gift of his humanity, his incarnation in human flesh, Jesus gave us a radical expression of divine accompaniment in both the sorrows and the joys of our lives. We have been told that Jesus experienced everything that we experience except sin. A careful reading of the Gospels, especially that of Mark, draws a picture of Jesus in his human nature as compassionate, familiar with the trials of this world, the challenges of living in family, community and organized society. And, although divine, willing to endure the human suffering sure to come because his was a radical teaching about the nature of God and the nature of love.

Here in the monastery, we frequently sing "Breathe on me oh, breath of God; your goodness fail me never." This is the Holy Spirit who breathes into me the life force, the grace, the strength and the wisdom to allow Thoreau's "better angels of our nature" to prevail in the choices I must make every day. It is to this Holy Spirit that I entrust my prayers for leadership in every segment of our society, in every country of the world.

The beautiful icon gracing the header of this piece is a modern version of the famous Russian icon of the Trinity written by Rublev. The icon endures as an expression of the relational nature of the mystery of our Trinitarian God. What better way could there be of showing relational being than at the dining table. In many cultures the act of eating together is distinctly sacred. To invite someone who is not a blood relation to share ones food is a great expression of human unity that flies in the face of what might separate us or even make us enemies. In this image there is ample room for everyone at the table; the food will be shared; no one will dominate the conversation. There will be a peaceful ebb and flow of one to the other; each withdrawing when called to acknowledge the other; each coming forward in response to invitation or offered opportunity. It is a generous fluidity.

Thus our Trinitarian God is a model for all relationship. The Christian way of life is all about relationship, relationship with oneself, with God and with others. Let us celebrate and meditate on this mystery, allowing that Trinitarian love to become our own personal model.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Family Event for Vocation Awareness

Rockland County
Family Vocation Day

Pentecost Sunday
May 31, 2009

"Many Gifts,
One Spirit"

St. Francis of Assisi
Church, Nyack, NY

(Slide Show Below)

What a pleasure it was to participate in this event! What cooperation by so many to bring it all together! What wonderful families we have living and growing in our parishes.

This was a collaborative effort by the Archdiocesan Office for Vocations to the Religious Life under the direction of Sr. Deanna Sabetta, CND and the Religious Vocations Directors of communities serving in the Archdiocese of New York. Much was added to the event by virtue of the generosity of Monsignor Edward Weber, Vicar for Rockland County, his staff at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, especially the Director of Religious Education, Nancy Doran and the Knights of Columbus, Cardinal McCloskey Council. Pastors of the 19 parishes in the county were asked to invite families to attend the event. We wish that more could have accepted the invitation. But this was a maiden voyage, a new effort to heighten parental awareness of their very important role in creating an environment, presenting attitudes of faith and encouragement that foster vocational discernment and support religious vocations where the Spirit may cause them to sprout.

For me personally, it was a great pleasure to be with so many committed religious and to be with so many families in which parents are clearly attentive to the needs of their children, want the very best for them and foster their growth in faith in every way possible. During the breakout sessions in which the kids of various age groups gathered together for activities especially designed for them, I had the great assignment of speaking to parents. I relate to them as a nun who can connect them to the modern experience of religious life and vocational call and also relate to them as an experienced parent who dealt with children and teens in this challenging culture.