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Showing posts from August, 2013

One year on...life’s gifts unfolding!

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This time last year I had just moved to Ottawa, the city that I continue to call ‘home’ for the next year.  I continue to carry a verse from Proverbs throughout the journey: "The human heart may plan a course but the Lord makes the steps secure".

Looking back there is so much to be grateful for. It has been a wonderful though challenging year! Here's 10 highlights:
1)    The birth of my little nephew Isaac on the first day of the Year of Faith! I am counting the days until I see him for the first time, and to see my beautiful nieces and nephews who are growing up so fast.
2)    Getting to know the sisters in the communities here in Canada and in the States. I continue to be grateful to them for making me feel very welcome.
3)    Making wonderful new friends and acquaintances from the four corners of the world. You have been true pilgrims with me along the way.
4)    Discovering  new things about myself and my personality which I am called to welcome as a gift from G…

Playing with fire

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Today’s Gospel is not the easiest to understand. It contains uncomfortable words. Cutting words. Words we are inclined to cut out of our Bibles as we stay with warmer sentiments and more harmonious thoughts. At first reading, it seems that Jesus want to bring fire to the earth, disrupt and divide families. Yes, there are occasions in the Bible when ‘bad’ fire did fall from heaven. Fire and brimstone fell from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25) and destroyed those towns and all who lived there. One of the ten plagues against Egypt was fire and hail from heaven (Exodus 9:3). The prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven that incinerated soldiers sent from wicked King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:9-17). Lightning is sometimes described as fire from heaven in the Bible (Psalm 27:9; Psalm 144:5-6). All of these fires from God, however, were destructive fires. And it is the destructive and consuming force of fire that we usually think of when we think of fire. But Jesus says, “how I…

No greater love!

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Today, the liturgical calendar offers us the memorial of the great saint and martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe. During my time in Poland, I was blessed to be able to visit Niepokalanów, the friary which he founded and guided upon returning to Poland after his priestly ordination. They have a very informative website here. I remember being struck by the peace of the place and it was a very poignant moment visiting and praying in the study and room where St. Maxmillian lived. I also recalled how this is where, during the Second World War he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. The place was pregnant with the history of our times. I was also surprised to discover that the friars who live there work as firemen for the city. In the early days the Friars operated a printing press printing journals and books to promote our Lady. Often the Nazis would set fire to the books and then prevent the fire en…

Everything is grace!

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God works in mysterious ways! On the feast of St. Clare whose memorial we hold today albeit somewhat silent because of the Sunday precedence, I had the opportunity to attend a monologue based on the life of St. Therese. I confess I didn’t really know what to expect. An hour of just one person talking! For a self-confessed multi-tasker, this seemed intense just to have to focus on one thing and one person though essentially that is what we do when we come to prayer. The performance was originally written in French and later translated to English. It has been performed about 500 times and seen by 100,000 people around the world written and directed by Michel Pascal. Check out his impressive bio here. The performance is based on St Therese’s writings, which recount her life from her childhood days to her life in the Carmelite monastery. According to Pascal, the play portrays the saint’s life of simplicity and openness, and aims to touch audiences, inviting them to discover inner peace i…

Snow in August!?

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No, the weather has not gone mad, well not completely anyway! On August the 5th we celebrate the liturgical memorial (optional in many countries) of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. The feastday is also known as the feast of our Lady of the Snow or Santa Maria ad Nives, or at the snow, from a popular tradition that the Mother of God chose this place for a church under her invocation by a miraculous snow that fell upon this spot in summer. A wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site.

The Basilica of St. Mary Majors is a basilica that I know very well. During novitiate I had my apostolic experience in our community there which serves among other things the Liturgical Apostolate Centre which used to be on Via Liberiana, right beside the Basilica. The new Liturgical Centre is now found a few hundred metres down Via Merulana at Largo Brancaccio, 57.…

Fireworks and bright lights!

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One of the most prestigious fireworks competitions is the Montreal Fireworks Festival so since my arrival here 10 days ago I have been able to watch three different pyrotechnical shows from the comfort of our balcony here. Montreal is really the city of firework connoisseurs. The festival is a generous litany of pyromusical displays involving careful synchronization of the fireworks to a musical score prepared by a different country every three days for the whole month of July. The grande finale was yesterday evening and involved a pyromusical display in tribute to U2. The local radio livestreams the music so equipped with the radio on my mobile phone I was able to follow everything! Well done to Italy who claimed first prize in the competition!

Used for aesthetic, cultural, and religious purposes, fireworks are a breathtaking experience. There is something about fireworks which fascinate me. I have been spoiled here in Canada because Ottawa is no stranger to fireworks either and fo…

Reading makes saints!

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St. Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei, once said: “Reading has made many saints!” This is what came to mind today as I reflected on the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola and how a book changed his life. Ignatius was a solider in the Spanish army fighting against the French when a cannon ball and a series of bad operations ended his military career in 1521 and left him confined to bed for a long recovery period.  It was not pain that brought him suffering, it was the boredom. During his days of recovery he asked for books on chivalry, his favourite reading, but there were no such romances in the Loyola castle. So instead he was given the only books in the house -- one was a Life of Christ by Ludolph, a Carthusian monk, and the other was Flos sanctorum, a collection of lives of the saints. Iñigo set about reading them, and as it happened, this was the most important reading he would ever do. During his convalescence Iñigo reflected on the books he read and went on to question his for…