Joseph and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple

Joseph and Mary find Jesus teaching in the Temple

And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:50) In this last Sunday devotion to St. Joseph and the last time that we hear of St. Joseph in sacred Scripture, we locate him finding Jesus in the temple. Joseph and Mary find their son, after three days of heart-wrenching searching, in the temple. When they find Jesus, he is teaching of the Father.

This last devotion happens to fall on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. We have journeyed in this holy season of grace searching to find Jesus in a more personal way, to be closer to Him and to listen to Him speak to our hearts of the Father. In the temptation story in the gospel , we hear Jesus state to Satan: “It is written: the Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” (Mt 4:11) Jesus faithfully, continually, constantly points to the Father. Jesus is the way by which we come to know the Father whom we desire to worship and serve.

St. Joseph shows us that we need to continue searching until we find Jesus. We don’t know the agony St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother experienced in their three days of searching for the child of God that had been given to their care. We have in them examples of prayerful perseverance and sustaining hope that can encourage us in our journey of faith.

O faithful spouse of Mary, Mother of God, we ask your intercession in this time of discernment that we may be filled with perseverance in our prayer, worship, Lenten practices and seeking of Jesus. By your example, St. Joseph, may we come to know that fidelity and humble obedience to the Father’s will are ways of living with Jesus Christ. St. Joseph, you have led us through this holy season of Lent; be our constant companion, encouraging us by your courageous willingness to do whatever the Father asked of you.

Pray for us, blessed St. Joseph,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
Almighty God,
In your infinite wisdom and love
you chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven,
particularly as we discern our chosen-ness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Note: On March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, we will join billions throughout the world in celebration of the installation Mass of the Holy Father Pope Francis. The fatherhood of St. Joseph and of Pope Francis is food for meditation on this day. As St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis is the earthly father of the Church, the Bride of Christ. Both men are chosen by God to be fathers; one the father of His Son, Jesus who is Truth; and the other, the father of His Church which is the “pillar and bulwark of truth.” (1Tim 3:15) Thanks be to God for His love and mercy that provides for us such a mystery of salvation.

In his recent weekly column, Archbishop Charles Chaput, spoke of public witness and Catholic citizenship.  This is obviously timely and well-placed right before early voting begins in our nation.  He ends his column with this encouragement: “In the end, the heart of truly faithful citizenship is this: We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation.”  The whole column is relatively brief and worthy of a few minutes to read it fully. It can be found at: http://catholicphilly.com/2012/10/archbishop-chaput/weekly-message-from-archbishop-chaput/public-witness-and-catholic-citizenship/

In his column, although highlighting the upcoming important election, he reminds us that being Catholic is a way of life, not just a position on a political issue or candidate.  Our faith calls us to transform the world, to ‘go and make disciples’ by making Jesus Christ known wherever we work and live.  This is particularly true of the lay faithful.  In this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us of the richness of our Catholic faith found in the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In the Decree On The Apostolate Of The Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem, solemnly promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, on November 18, 1965, we read: A vast field for the apostolate has opened up on the national and international levels where the laity especially assist with their Christian wisdom. In loyalty to their country and in faithful fulfillment of their civic obligations, Catholics should feel themselves obliged to promote the true common good. Thus they should make the weight of their opinion felt in order that the civil authority may act with justice and that legislation may conform to moral precepts and the common good. Catholics skilled in public affairs and adequately enlightened in faith and Christian doctrine should not refuse to administer public affairs since by doing this in a worthy manner they can both further the common good and at the same time prepare the way for the Gospel. 50 years ago, the Council Fathers began the encouragement of the laity’s involvement in the public square, telling us that this is our call to service of Christ and His church.   In this Year of Faith, let us prayerfully study our faith, renew our baptismal commitment and be salt of the earth.

 

 

 

More on Year of Faith:  http://www.vatican.va/special/annus_fidei/index_en.htm

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/

http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/newsletter.php?id=4

 

 

Gloria and praise to our Lord God Almighty!  He has given us one of our own, Very Rev. Msgr. Joseph Strickland, JCL, as our new bishop.  Bishop-elect Strickland generously tells the events of the past two weeks on his blog: http://therunningpriest.blogspot.com/2012/09/it-all-started-with-phone-call.html and more can be found at the Diocese of Tyler website: http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/

Bishop-elect Joseph E. Strickland, JCL and the Holy Father Benedict XVI

We give reverent and joyous thanks to our Lord for this gift to our diocese, to Holy Mother Church, to East Texas and to the Daughters of Divine Hope.  Our merciful Lord, in his Divine Providence, has chosen and called forth a faithful servant who was present when Bishop Corrada first articulated the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that lead to the formation of the Daughters of Divine Hope.

In the early years of his priesthood, Bishop-elect Strickland was assigned to Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, TX, which was my home before the establishment of the Daughters of Divine Hope.  Our paths crossed in various diocesan ministry activities through the years.  In the spring of 2008, he was present at the luncheon with Rev. Gavin Vaverek, Bishop Corrada and I when Bishop Corrada asked, “Have you ever considered being a foundress?”  This question, an echo of “Do you love me?”, brought us to the formation of this nascent community.  Bishop-elect Strickland has continued from that day to be a part of the discernment and formation process.  He knows who we are and what our gracious Lord has entrusted to our care. We ‘walk in faith’ and continue on the path laid before us.

We pray that Bishop-elect Joseph Strickland will abide in deep joy, confident in the graces of ordination and our Lord’s mercy, and will be blessed with courage, strength, wisdom and right judgment.  We pray that as he becomes our shepherd and receives the authority as a successor of the Apostles to teach, to govern and to sanctify, we will be a humble and faithful flock, offering our gifts in working with him to build the Kingdom of God.

Bishop-elect Joseph Strickland

All honor, glory and praise to our God for His faithful care of His people.

In Christ our Hope,

Mother Susan Catherine

30 September 2012

26th Sunday Ordinary Time

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, Most High.  To proclaim your love in the morning, your faithfulness in the night.  For you make me jubilant, Lord, by your deeds; at the works of your hands I shout for joy.  How great are your works, Lord! How profound your purpose!” (Ps 92: 2-3, 5-6)

Dear Friends in Christ, it is with great happiness I share with you the past six months of the Daughters of Divine Hope.  One of the many joys in establishing this new community is the beginning of tradition.  On January 4 and 5, we celebrate the feast days of two of our patrons, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Bishop John Neumann…… (newsletter found here:  http://www.daughtersofdivinehope.org/newsletter.pdf )

 

 

‘The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad.  The heavens proclaim God’s justice; all peoples see his glory.” (Ps 97: 1,6) (Readings for June 21, Thursday, 11th week ordinary time)

We begin the Fortnight for Freedom with a call to rejoice!  Our Lord is king; let the earth rejoice! Our Lord is king!  a battle-cry of justice that fills our hearts with holy zeal, hope and the courage to persevere.  Justice and liberty are soul mates residing in charity.  Our Lord’s justice prevails and in his justice he endows us with liberty so we may freely respond to his love.  God so loved us that he created us in his image; this is the source of our freedom.  Our liberty resides in our human dignity which comes from our being created by God.  God created us in love and for love.  Therefore, he gives us freedom to respond to this love and justice requires that we freely do so.  We rejoice because we know that our liberty is given to us by God and that his justice will prevail. This gives us hope to make difficult choices when our liberty and the ability to respond in love are threatened.

Today is the memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga.  Born in 1568 to Italian nobility, he chose to freely give up his birthright to enter into the Society of Jesus.  He professed vows in 1587 at the age of 19.  In 1591, plague broke out and he chose to care for the poor who were dying from this terrifying disease. He succumbed to the plague this year at the age of 23.  This is the love that freely responds to the love of God.  By his example, we are inspired to follow our conscience and we are reminded of the people throughout the history of the Catholic Church who have chosen to care for the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and the marginalized. http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/staloysiusgonzaga.asp

We are called together in these fourteen days to be one in prayer, fasting and almsgiving in defense of our religious liberty.  We are called to be one in heart speaking up for those who are poor, sick, vulnerable and marginalized.  Let us today pray for our nation and for us that we may rightfully defend the dignity of every human person.

“He who wishes to love God does not truly love Him if he has not an ardent and constant desire to suffer for His sake.” (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)

Today we pray for the Overturning of the HHS Mandate

Thursday June 21 – St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Almighty God we humbly bow before You, Who are all powerful. We turn to You in this hour of great need, full of faith and with great confidence in You Who can do all things. Through the intercession of St. Aloysius of Gonzaga, who lived the virtue of purity in a remarkable way, we ask you to overturn the HHS Mandate which is now law and which forces all Catholic Institutions to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Deliver us, O Lord, from all evil. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. http://www.religiousliberties.org/prayers.asp

 

 

The below meditation, based on the readings for Sunday, Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year B, particularly the parable of the mustard seed found in Matthew’s Gospel, appropriately ushers us into this week where we will begin the Fortnight for Freedom.   The Fortnight for Freedom is a call by the United States Catholic Bishops for all peoples to unite in 14 days of prayer, education, awareness and action concerning  the growing assault on the dignity of the human person, which is now manifest in the government’s infringement on religious liberty.  More information can be found at these sites:

http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/index.cfm

http://www.religiousliberties.org/

Copyright United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Christians and all people of good will can join together in upholding the basic rights of the human person endowed by our Creator.  It is the government’s role to protect these rights, not to infringe upon them.  May this meditation be a source of inspiration, contemplation and action. May God bless our country and bless all who work for religious freedom, justice and peace.

In Christ our Hope,

Mother Susan Catherine Kennedy

Difficulties ought not to discourage us. [1]

The Apostles and first Christians faced a society threatened in its very foundations; a society well-nigh impossible to have ideals.  St. Paul describes Roman society and the pagan world as places where the natural light of reason had been darkened in many ways, especially in regard to the dignity of the human person.  He goes on to say: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

                For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.  They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice.  Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they were gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom 1:24-26, 29-31) Working from within society, Christians changed it.  There the seed fell, then spread to the whole world. Although it was a small seed it carried a divine power, because the seed was Christ’s.  The first Christians who came to Rome were not different from ourselves, and with God’s help were able to do an effective apostolate, working shoulder to shoulder, in the same jobs as everyone else, facing the same problems, obeying the same laws, unless they were directly contrary to the law of God.  Truly the first Christians in Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome were a tiny mustard seed seemingly lost in a huge field.

Although our society seems at times to be like the one described by St. Paul, we ought not to lose heart at meeting obstacles.  God counts on us to transform the place where we live and work.  Although what we can do may seem small and insignificant, like the grain of the mustard seed, let us not neglect to do what we can, because God counts on the contribution.  With our prayer and sacrifice He will ensure that there is growth and fruit.  That ‘little’ we can do may be advising a colleague or a friend to read a particular book; or be attentive to a client, fellow passenger or workmate; or giving a helping hand when needed; or praying for a sick friend or a neighbor’s child, and asking that they pray for us; or helping someone go to Confession.  And always living a cheerful, honest life.  Everybody should be discreetly, quietly, and daringly apostolic.  This can be so if we remain united to God, if we reject a comfort-loving existence, if we overcome lukewarmness and discouragement.  The time in which we are called to live demand especially that we feel deeply obligated to be always zealous and enthusiastic.  We will be so only if we struggle.  Only the person who makes a strenuous effort is suitable to bringing the world peace, the peace of Christ.

From the first Christians we must learn not to be inhibited by human respect, not to be afraid of what others will say.  Rather must we be concerned to make Christ known no matter where we find ourselves, very much aware of the treasure we have found, of the precious pearl we have located after much searching…. These times will be excellent moments to show Christ our love, forgetting about what others think, and not being swayed by public opinion. God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.  Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, St. Paul said to Timothy. (2 Tim 2:7-8)….this is the way it has always been in the things of God, from the beginning of the Church to our day… We will not lack God’s help.  He will turn the little we can do into a great power for good.


[1] Fernandez, Francis, In Conversation with God, London, Scepter Pub., 2005, Vol. III, 89.2-3.

Christian Citizenship

January 26, 2012

Sadly, citizens across our nation just commemorated the tragic Supreme Court decision that sanctioned the killing of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society, the unborn. In the 39 years since this decision, over 50 million infant people have been killed and their families’ lives changed forever.

This decision, and the subsequent acts flowing from it, has divided a nation that only half a century ago stood united in the protection and defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not only here but around the globe. Now we have a festering, gaping wound in our country, oozing pus throughout society as seen in the growing national policies that question the value of the lives of the elderly and the handicapped. Our government poured salt into that wound on January 20, when the Department of health and Human Services announced that nearly all employers will be forced to cover drugs and procedures that violate their conscience in their health plans. These include contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients. (More info: see http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/respectlife.htm). This is a direct assault on respect for conscience and religious liberty. As our government sanctions the killing of innocents, it now attacks the very core of the person and the heart of our nation.

St. Peter, in writing to the Gentiles in Asia Minor, called them to be good citizens and thus show themselves to be Christians by the witness of their lives.

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king. (1Pet 2:13-17)

At the time of St. Peter’s writing, the leaders and authorities were appointed or usurped authority by military power. But in our country, the authorities and their policies are by our choosing – we elect them, from the White House to city hall. Therefore, our responsibility and duty as Christians is greater than what Peter asked of the Gentiles in the early church. We are all called and will answer for our participation in the political process that defines this nation. This is part of our response in love to Christ’s sending us forth into the world to proclaim His good news.

This duty is not simple or easy; it requires study, discipline, diligence and prayer. It is hard work, but work worthy of the dignity of the human person. We are called to act in conformity with our conscience, to put leaders in place that will uphold the laws of God, the giver of all authority, which our fore fathers acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them..” (Opening paragraph of the Declaration)

To undertake this sacred duty, we have first the responsibility of forming our own moral conscience.

Conscience is the voice inside the heart of every person that calls us to do good and to avoid evil. It is the law of truth present in each heart that aids each person to make prudent decisions congruent with the moral good. A person has integrity when he or she acts in accordance with his or her conscience. Within the conscience, a person judges an action to be good or evil; then, entrusting in hope and the promise of forgiveness, sets about to right their course toward the good. Conscience is the inner core, the seat of truth in each person. Therefore, man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”(Dignitatis Humane, The Declaration on Religious Liberty, 3)

Forming our conscience is a life-long endeavor of studying sacred scripture and the teaching of the Church, of participating in sacred liturgy, of seeking guidance from the wise and learned and of being aware of the church’s collective wisdom on current issues. As Christ sent his disciples out into the world to proclaim the kingdom, so we are sent forth. In our country, this calls us to engage in the political process, to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square and into the political, economic and social policies that define our nation. In doing this, we have an obligation to take into account the moral stance of politicians and other authorities. What is the foundation of the character of the person? What do they allow, what do they promote and encourage, and what do they stand for? Within the judgment of our well-formed conscience, can we support this particular person?

To fulfill this Christian duty, we need to be informed. What are the major issues that call us to take action and to take a stand? Our bishops, in their role of shepherds, have identified some: health care, education, immigration, just economy, debt, jobs (See http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/ and http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/) Most of us would identify the same issues as ones demanding our involvement.

Our voice is critical for the future of our nation and is our mandate from Christ to bring his message into the world. We are a people of Hope, and that Hope is much needed to overcome the discouragement, despair and apathy that takes root when a government sanctions the killing of the most vulnerable and infringes on the right of conscience and religious liberty of each person. Deep in the soul of each person, is the desire to know the face of Truth. With this desire is the freedom and right given by God, not by man, to the life and liberty necessary to seek, to know and to live in Truth. We are called to be people of Truth; loving God and living in his joy; proclaiming life and bringing his hope. By his grace and armed with knowledge, may we boldly undertake our responsibility as Christian citizens.

Our fore fathers had a profound sense of the rights given by God and the citizen’s responsibility in relationship to these rights. They captured that sense in the beginning of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

May the teaching of St. Basil the Great (+379) help us call to mind our sacred dignity and our response to this great goodness: ”

There is one gift that no thoughtful man can pass over in silence. God fashioned man in his own image and likeness: he gave him knowledge of himself; he endowed him with the ability to think which raised him above all living creatures; he permitted him to delight in the unimaginable beauties of paradise, and gave him dominion over everything upon earth…Nor was he content merely to summon us back from death to life; he also bestowed on us the dignity of his own divine nature and prepared for us a place of eternal rest where there will be joy so intense as to surpass all human imagination. How, then, shall we repay the Lord for his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires.” (Office of Readings, Tuesday, 3rd week Ordinary Time)

In Christ our Hope,

Sr. Susan Catherine, DDH

25 January 2012

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton became a patron of the Daughters of Divine Hope on January 11, 2011 when we were generously given a relic of her by Fr. Jesudoss Thomas, a priest in the Diocese of Tyler.  Today we celebrate the feast day of this first native born citizen of the United States to be canonized.  St. Elizabeth, a mother and widow who formed a religious community under the guidance of Bishop John Carroll, is a model patron for our nascent religious community.  Her feast day is set next to that of another patron, St. John N. Neumann, the first bishop from the United States to be canonized.

Tonight women from throughout the Diocese of Tyler will gather at our convent for the celebration of Holy Mass. Following Mass we will join together for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and night prayer, which begins continuous adoration and prayer until evening Mass on the feast day of St. John Neumann.  During these 20 hours, we will be praying for the bishops of the United States and Puerto Rico.

 Our Lord has asked that the Daughters of Divine Hope care for his priests.  Praying for our bishops is His holy will, for it is through the Successors of the Apostles, that our priests are called, formed, ordained, shepherded, encouraged, strengthened, united……  

In this apostolate work of prayer and fasting, we are encouraged by the words of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: “And what was the first rule of our dear Savior’s life?  You know it was to do the Father’s will.  Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills; and, thirdly, to do it because it is his will.” (Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours)

 Through the intercession of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, we pray that our bishops will be hearlds of the truth and courageous shepherds of those in their care.  May they be blameless in the Lord’s sight; ministering day and night to all in need.  May they always gain the favor of the Lord. Amen.

O God, who crowned with the gift of true faith Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s burning zeal to find you, grant by her intercession and example that we may always seek you with diligent love and find you in daily service with sincere faith.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect of the Mass)