Grata Franciscus Pontifex – Karibu Papa Francis

Grata Franciscus Pontifex – Karibu Papa Francis  That was the headline today, published in Latin and Swahili, from one of Kenya’s main newspapers, welcoming Pope Francis on his first trip to Africa.  Our Holy Father was received in Nairobi today, beginning his intense three-country tour of Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, which will conclude on Monday.  The Vatican has said that his itinerary for visiting the Central African Republic is subject to change, or even cancellation, depending on the situation there, where violence between Muslims and Christians has been particularly brutal.  On the flight to Kenya this morning, when asked by a reporter if he had security concerns, the pope joked that was more worried about mosquito bites.

Please pray for the safety of our Holy Father, and for a fruitful visit.  The Church is thriving in Africa, and millions of faithful are expected to turn out for his visit.  Here is the official prayer from the Kenyan bishops, which they have asked all the faithful to pray:

Almighty and ever-living father, You chose your servant Pope Francis as the successor of Apostle Peter and Shepard of your flock.

Look favourably, we pray, on his pastoral visit to our nation Kenya. Inspire us to receive him well.

May your Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts to be generous and receptive to his message and encouragement.

Grant that he may be for us, your people, a visible bond of unity which brings healing and reconciliation, love and peace; So that in you, the Shepard of Souls, all may know the truth and attain eternal life. 


Click here for the Pope’s address to the Nairobi State House.

What’s an Athenaeum?

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Happy World Mission Sunday!  And how appropriate that today the parents of St. Therese, the patron saint of missionaries, were canonized by Pope Francis.  Louis and Zelie Martin blogger-image-905881962are the first married couple in history to be canonized at the same time.  We thank God for their beautiful witness to the joy of family life.  Their example and intercession is needed now more than ever, as families struggle to survive amidst a culture of death.  In a recent interview Pope Francis said Louis and Zelie were, “a couple of evangelizers that witnessed the beauty of faith in Jesus, within the domestic walls and outside.”  This is the call of each and every family.  As the Synod on the Family draws to a close let us continue to pray for the Church, as the Bishops and the Holy Father discern how best to help support and protect families in a world hostile to the virtues of family.

Looking for a good book?  12079082_10153061607962301_1849711086471367688_nYesterday we went live with the Athenaeum page on our newly revamped website.   What’s an athenaeum?  it’s like a library or a reading room, but it sounds fancier.  Here you will find a plethora of books, periodicals and media resources.  These pages will continue to grow, so keep an eye on them.  To start with, we gave you the wonderful books from Fr. John McCloskey’s Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.  If a book looks interesting, click on it to find a retailer.  In the cases where a book is available to read free online, the link will take you there.  As we were doing the final check on the pages yesterday we kept finding books we can’t wait to read.  We hope you find something that you may never have considered before.  Happy reading!

Pope Francis Reflects on His Apostolic Trip to Cuba & US

Just a few days ago we watched our Holy Father, Pope Francis, leave our land and return to the Vatican.  Pondering all the graces he brought to our country, the love of Christ that he showed to the thousands of people, from every walk of life, from many different creeds, it’s still just as moving to think about today as it was last week.  We pray that many seeds of faith, hope, and charity were planted by his visit to the United States.

In his General Audience today Pope Francis reflected on his visit to Cuba and the US.   Continue reading

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

We love you Holy Father!  Thank you for strengthening us, encouraging us, and blessing us with your presence.  Come back soon!  We will miss you!FullSizeRender-19

Lord Jesus, shelter our Holy Father the Pope under the protection of Your Sacred Heart. Be his light, his strength and his consolation.



Our DC Sisters are listening to the Holy Father live and in person right now! Sisters, we are so happy for you!  Sr. Marie St. John just sent us this picture of the Holy Father giving the homily.IMG_0995

L to R: Sr. Inez, Sr. Marie St. John, Mother Angela, Sr. Rita

L to R: Sr. Inez, Sr. Marie St. John, Mother Angela, Sr. Rita

She also sent us this picture earlier today, as they were waiting in the blazing sun for Pope Francis to arrive.  And she called in to our radio show!  We had a blast talking to her, you can listen to the clip below.  Thanks for calling, Sister, you made our day!

Doing Our Part

00.159.134_PS1Here is a great homily our priest friend, Fr. Matthew, preached on today’s Gospel (John 6:1-15):

I am sure that you have all heard the story of the man who for years prayed to God asking that he might win the lottery, and, when nothing came of it, he complained bitterly, only to hear a voice from Heaven say ‘John, you have to meet me half way, at least buy a ticket.’ While fictional, it does demonstrate the theme of today’s readings: God works, God loves, God performs miracles, but, we have to do our part for that to happen. As a saint once said ‘pray as though it all depends on God, but work as though it all depends on you.’ Although we might be tempted to think that this is strange or wrong, it is actually quite beautiful. There has always been in the Church this tension between grace and free will. There have always been errors on both sides. In the early Church we had Pelagianism, which held that we could save ourselves through our own efforts, and then, as time went by, we had the opposite view in many different forms, culminating in the many forms of Protestantism, namely that we were so corrupted by original sin that absolutely no good whatsoever could come from us. Both of these views are tempting, and both are wrong. We cannot save ourselves, but, neither are we so corrupt as to be incapable of doing good. As St. Augustine said ‘God who created you without you will not save you without you.’

Our Gospel is amazing because it shows us the way in which Jesus’ love and concern is for the whole of the person, not only the soul. Of course he wants to save us, that is the whole reason that he came and lived amongst us; however, in taking on our human nature, really and truly, not merely as a costume that an actor might wear, he experiences in his own person, the limitations of humanity. Jesus knew what it was like to feel hunger, thirst and exhaustion. That is how he understood that the crowds who had journeyed so far to meet him were starving, not only starving for the Word of God, but also for bodily food. Then we have the next beautiful element of the Gospel: Jesus does not just go ahead and feed them, he asks for co-operation from the Apostles and from the crowd. Even though they are clueless and lacking in faith, remarking that they have not enough money to buy food for all, Jesus still works a miracle, because, the little they are able to do, they in fact do. This is always the way with Jesus: what we have is nothing compared to what he has, and yet, he expects us to do our part, in order that he might do his part.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has proclaimed an extraordinary Jubilee Year, the Year of Mercy, which will begin on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, who also happens to be the Patroness of these United States. We should all be grateful to our Holy Father, who is so concerned for our salvation, just like Jesus, whose representative he is, and do all that we can to prepare for this. The Pope has won hearts with his simplicity and his care and concern for the poor and the outcasts, like Jesus, he knows that salvation involves the whole person, not only the soul, but he is just as concerned for the spiritual health and well-being as he is the material well-being, even though, if you limit your knowledge of Francis to what the media says, you would never know that. The Church has long had a list of 14 Works of Mercy: seven corporal and seven spiritual. They are as follows:

The seven corporal works of mercy:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To shelter the homeless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The seven spiritual works of mercy:

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

Both of these lists are important, because, as an Italian Bishop who was formerly the Superior General of his religious order that took care of the orphaned and the sick once said to me, remarking on today’s Gospel ‘Matthew, you cannot save a soul with an empty stomach, even Jesus feeds the crowds before he preaches to them.’ The corporal works of mercy are like the role of John the Baptist: they remove the obstacles to receiving Jesus, they prepare the way of the Lord. Here and now, on Beaver Island, there are those who are hungry and those who thirst, those who have not got the proper clothes, or shelter, those who are sick and have so many more needs. I ask you in the name of Jesus, please do not turn your backs on those who are less fortunate than you are, sometimes God has the face of a beggar. Remember that we are all sons and daughters of God the Father, but some of us have to live in conditions that are unworthy of our Royal status. Do not be afraid to deny yourself a bit so that someone else can have more.

While you are thinking about the way in which salvation embraces the whole human person, even the basic bodily needs, never forget that we are not only our bodies, we are also our souls, and so, as Pope Francis has so often stated ‘the Church is not a Non-Governmental Organization, or a Charity, it is so much more.’ Do look after the material needs of those around you, because they are important, but don’t stop there. There are plenty of people and organizations that minister to the body, as Catholics we have a particular calling to minister to the soul as well. The spiritual works of mercy are in many ways tougher than the corporal, because you could be a bad person and still do charitable things, but, unless your faith is strong, and you are well-formed, you cannot instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, or admonish sinners in a way that is not harsh and judgmental. Also, unless you are very united to Jesus, you cannot possibly bear wrongs patiently or forgive offenses willingly. Fear not, you don’t have to do this alone. Jesus himself will feed you with the bread of life, his flesh and blood, which we will be reflecting on over the next several weeks.

Trinity Sunday

MedievalAbstraction5Today we celebrate the central mystery of the Christian faith, and one that sets us apart from every other religion: the Holy Trinity – One God in Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Our religious order also celebrates the tradition of renewing our vows communally on this day. We think of today’s feast as the gateway to a slew of solemnities and feasts which occur after the close of the Easter season: Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. John the Baptist, and Sts. Peter and Paul.  In the monastery all these celebrations can be a little exhausting, but we are grateful for the wisdom of the liturgical calendar, which gives us times of “ordinary” joy, and times of extraordinary joy.

Here is the Holy Father’s Sunday Angelus address from earlier today, speaking about the feast of the Holy Trinity:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good Sunday!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, that reminds of the mystery of the one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the communion of Divine Persons who are with one another, for one another, in one Continue reading