Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of youth. On this day we also remember the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring, who took Saint Aloysius as her patron. His patronage was a good choice, because Sister Maria Aloysia spent her religious life teaching children and taking care of orphans. Let us pray today for youth that they may be kept safe through the summer months, that they grow in virtue, spend time in service and good deeds, and remember their friendship with God. May each day fill our children with joyous wonder!

 

My family prayed the rosary every night usually in the living room or traveling in a car. There was no thought of ever skipping the rosary, but when there was an exceptionally good program on TV, we prayed the rosary during the commercials. We learned there’s always time to get your prayers “in.”

Vacation time is upon us. In our relaxation and travels will we make time to pray and attend worship? Perhaps even doing a bit more for our spiritual lives? Look ahead to plan prayer in your vacation. I have often given students a calendar of their summer vacation. Students were encouraged to choose colors that represented how they might remember “There’s no vacation from your Christian vocation.” Yellow stood for prayer and worship, green for service and generosity, red for reading the Bible, and so on. It was my hope that often students would glance at the calendar as a reminder. “Oh yeah! I’m supposed to pray.”

 

At this time of year it’s hard to find a parking place in metroparks. The birders have returned, migrating to the parks to satisfy their passion to see a Waxwing or a Great Crested Flycatcher. There’s a thrill in seeing whether it’s birds, stars, meteors, rainbows, a five-star movie, or the pope. The oohs and ahs. The first one to spot the rare sight. The Resurrection stories are stories of seeing. “We have seen the Lord.” “He saw and believed.” “She turned around and saw Jesus standing there.”  “He saw the linen cloths by themselves.” Be on the lookout today. Something may remind you of the Risen Lord.

Recently a friend asked for prayers for her daughter. When this intention came to mind, I prayed a short prayer. Throughout this time I kept feeling the urge to do more. I decided to give this woman a Fatima rosary, along with a note about Our Lady of Fatima and the observance of the 100th anniversary of the appearances to the three children. She prayed the rosary, and two days later she had it in her hand when she told me her intention had been wonderfully answered. Both of us now pray prayers of thanksgiving for this answer to prayer so profound, yet so simple. I found myself reflecting “This is one miracle among many that happened today. Just an ordinary day in the life of God.”

 

May 13 is the 100th anniversary of the apparitions to the three children in Fatima. Our Lady of Fatima has been a strong Marian devotion for a century, especially praying for peace. Many have gone to Portugal to ask for Mary’s intercession at her shrine. Others have experienced her aid at home. Whatever Mary’s title, she answers. I wonder, though, about her favorite name. Would it be “Mother”? Mothers hear their own children’s voices in a crowd. We need not worry that our voice cannot be heard amid the millions of prayers addressed to Mary. Spend some time on this Mother’s Day with your mother Mary asking for peace in your heart, home and world. As the hymn says, “Our Lady of Fatima, we come on bended knee to ask your intercession for peace and unity.”

 

In late April I participated in the dedication of St. Joan of Arc Church in Toledo, Ohio. Many Catholics never have such an opportunity, and if they do, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime event. The experience is profound given the richness of the symbolism. What affected me the most was the dedication of the new altar built by Mr. Richard Anderson. Bishop Daniel Thomas poured chrism on the four corners of the altar. Then he smeared the consecrated oil over every inch of the altar, this anointing making the altar a symbol of Christ “The Anointed One.” After the church was anointed with crosses of chrism, making the building an image of the holy city of Jerusalem, incense was burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice ascends to God as an odor of sweetness, and the prayers of the People of God rise up pleasing and acceptable to the throne of God.

Before the Eucharist Prayer several women wiped the chrism with large towels later to be burned. (They also cleared the floor of chrism that had splashed during the anointing.) At that point Dick and Fran Anderson, along with two Sisters of Notre Dame, dressed the altar. A family brought in flowers, and other parishioners brought in candles. After the Mass the four who dressed the altar grabbed hands but said little to each other. What could be said after such a privilege?

 

The three of us living in Waterville ordered a take-out Chinese meal. Of course it came with fortune cookies. Mine read “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” Surprised that the little paper had something profound, I kept it. I’ve reflected that nothing will be changed if we don’t become aware of the need for change. Such awareness is something that I may not readily desire, having had so much change in my life during the past year. The second step takes my travel much farther through the journey to acceptance. Have I become aware of my need for change? Have I accepted that need? Am I transforming the changes in my life into blessings? Now that would be really fortunate!

Often the date of death is called one’s birthday into eternal life. Consequently the date of death sometimes becomes the day on which the Church celebrates canonized saints. If our foundress Hilligonde Wolbring (in religious life Sister Maria Aloysia) ever becomes canonized, May 6 could become her feastday. That date would be felicitous, because one week later on May 13 our congregation celebrates Saint Julie Billiart, our spiritual mother. The charisms of these two sisters are similar. Saint Julie often said “Oh, how good is the good God!” Sister Maria Aloysia and her co-foundress Sister Maria Ignatia Kuhling left a legacy of trust in the goodness and provident care of God. May the Sisters of St. Julie’s congregation, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and our congregation continue giving to the Church and the world a belief in God’s goodness. And may God be praised for God’s goodness!

 

Mary F. C. Pratt writes in her poem “Spring Beholding” that “bluebird, robin, forgotten songs come home.” When life is fraught with tension, when the burdens weigh us down, we forget to sing. But if we can even remember the musical line “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,” the memory of this doleful songs names the problem. And naming is half the battle. “OK,” we tell ourselves, “it’s just a burden; it’s not the end of the world. Find another song.” Search your repertoire for a song of hope, and sing. “Somewhere over the rainbow. . . .” “The sun will come out tomorrow. . . .” “Jesus Christ is risen today!”

Fish Fry

April 4th, 2017 | Posted by Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

During Lent, fish fry events spring up like weeds after a drought. Certainly this is advantageous for the church coffers and convenient for those abstaining from meat. But from a scriptural point of view, why stop eating fish after Easter? Didn’t Jesus prepare a breakfast of fish after he rose from the dead? Weren’t fish part of the resurrection feast? And didn’t Peter even stop to count the fish? 153 in one net nearly breaking! (John 21:1-14)  And didn’t eating a piece of broiled fish prove that it was really Jesus risen from the dead? (Luke 24:36-43) So if you’re a scriptural gourmet, keep the fish fry going throughout the Easter season.