Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oh, Lord, "It's Hard To Be Humble"

John William Waterhouse, "The Annunciation"
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1:38

One has only to look to Mary to see that it is in her humility, in her emptying herself of her own will and cooperating with God, that she was regarded so highly in the eyes of God to bear his son.

"...for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.  For behold. henceforth all generations will call me blessed: for he who is might has done great things for me, and holy is His name." Luke 1:48-49

Yes, but Mary was born sinless, you say.  True enough, As the sinless Mother of God, Mary did not fall into the sins of pride that we must battle daily.  But, we have other models to whom we can look for guidance.

Throughout history, women have played significant roles in the life of the Church, and their common denominators are humility, love and service.  Through their willingness to be the clay in the hands of the Master, God has accomplished in them far more than they could have done on their own.

St. Catherine of Siena--the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church, counseled Popes during one of the most turbulent periods in Church history. 

St. Teresa of Avila-another Doctor of the Church, whose "Way to Perfection" and "The Interior Castle" have become staples of Catholic spirituality.

St. Bernadette Soubirous, a sickly, humble peasant girl who, in cooperating with Christ through His Blessed Mother, will be forever connected with the thousands of miracles at Lourdes.

St. Therese of Lisieux, a young nun who wanted to please God in "little ways" each day, and sends roses to those believers who pray for her intercession.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who left her somewhat comfortable role as a teacher to begin the Missionaries of Charity and to serve the poorest of the poor. 

Not one of these women sought power, fame, or glory.  Each was fixed on doing the will of God, on surrendering their will to cooperate in God's plan for their life.  In so doing, these women will forever be esteemed in the eyes of the Church and millions of pilgrims making their journey toward God.

While we have come to know these women as saints of heroic virtue, we also know of their humanity and their struggles in faith.  With the exception of Mary, who was born sinless, we can find some of the struggles we experience in our own lives in the lives of these women; struggles with spiritual desolation, temptations, and frustrations.

But it is in their humility, their willingness to serve the Master, that allowed God to do great things in them and through them.  Humility is one of the most difficult of the virtues to master, for the temptation of pride is all around us.  It also takes great humility to be obedient, as these women were.  In the "Dialogues," St. Catherine of Siena writes of this: "A soul is obedient in proportion to its humility and humble in proportion to its obedience."  Wow, there's something to think about!

In our Pauline family, we have Mother Thecla as a model of obedience, humility, and docility. "Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, saw Mother Thecla as a docile instrument in the hands of God, and a faithful collaborator in the development of the Pauline Family. A woman who obeyed “in an always more intelligent way,” he said of her: “Everything was for God; everything was of God; everything was in God, whom she desired and loved above all things. I think this is the most beautiful testimony she gave us, because she never resisted the will of the Lord” (Fr. Alberione, 02.12.1964). Her deepest desire was to lovingly adhere to the divine plan in a spirit of total docility." (Daughters of St. Paul--FollowMotherThecla)

As the song says, "Oh, Lord, it's hard to be humble, but I'm doing the best I can."  I have found the Litany of Humility, written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X, to be of great help in reminding me of all the little ways in which pride can creep into my interactions and keep me from developing a truly humble soul.  I have a long way to go.
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Bernadette Boguski, Development Director at the maternal and prenatal care center, Womankind, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio, has been a Pauline Cooperator for the past twenty years and is a regular contributor to this blog.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marian Devotion for Today's Apostles

May is a wonderful month filled with hope, much promise and new life. Spring flowers burst forth with their splashes of color; fresh green leaves cover the trees. Birds sing happily in their branches, and bright blue skies stretch high overhead. Life and hope are present everywhere. For us Catholics, this life and hope we find in May includes Mary. In fact, for us May means Mary!

We love our Rosary processions and May crownings in her honor. There are special Marian hymns sung at Mass and vases of flowers placed by her statue. For us Paulines May also is a month in which we turn our gaze more closely to Mary, Queen of Apostles. Why do we honor Mary under this title, and what does this devotion say to our/my daily life?

First of all for Marian devotion to be authentic it must be apostolic; it must lead to action. This was a key insight of Blessed Alberione. He understood that Mary was first and foremost an apostle, because she stepped into history in order to give Jesus to us, to give birth to him and form him in us. This presence of Jesus in us is essential to our mission of evangelization, for “how can we give what we do not have?”

In his sermons on the Queen of Apostles (p. 234), Alberione writes: “On December 8, 1919, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the clerics and aspirants came to me to ask under what title we would invoke Mary and what would be our devotion, e.g. Help of Christians, Mother of Divine Grace, Mother of Good Counsel, etc. I had already given thought and prayer to this and so my answer was: “invoke Mary under the title of Queen of Apostles; first, for the sanctification of apostles; second, that those who were helping the apostles would receive their reward; and third, that both apostles and faithful would be all together in heaven.”

Practically speaking how do we Paulines live out this devotion to Mary, Queen of Apostles?  For Alberione Marian devotion was not so much a matter of particular practices, i.e., the Rosary (though he was greatly devoted to the Rosary and wrote a number of Marian prayers). It was more a matter of living in a Marian climate, living in Mary’s presence, doing everything with her.

Mother Thecla lived out this teaching and encouraged us, her daughters, to do the same. In one conference she advised the sisters, as she often did, to “willingly keep yourselves securely beneath the mantle of our heavenly Mother and never come out from under it” (vol. 1, p. 51). And again: “Let us let the Blessed Mother lead us by the hand. If we do not hold back she will lead us to Jesus.” (vol. 2, p. 56). The wording might be seem childish to some, but it reveals where she solidly placed her trust.

Expounding on this aspect of our devotion to the Queen of Apostles, Alberione wrote to the Pauline Family: “The Pauline Family strives to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, fully in the spirit of St. Paul, under the gaze of the Queen of Apostles.”  So the phrase, “under the gaze” of Mary, along with “in her presence” and “under her direction,” indicates his approach.  He placed everything under the gaze and direction of Mary. The goal was to “live in her presence,” doing everything through, with, and in her, so we would in turn, do everything through, with, and in Christ.

Thus the goal of Marian devotion and, in particular, of devotion to the Queen of Apostles was and always is devotion to Jesus: “To Jesus through Mary” and “It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me” (Gal. 2:20). True devotion always has a Christocentric focus. The goal is always “to live in and of Jesus” in order to “give him to souls.”

But this devotion to Mary, this striving to do all with her, to live in her presence takes effort. It’s not easy nor is it automatic. We have to find ways to help ourselves. Besides praying the daily Rosary and formally consecrating or entrusting ourselves to Jesus through Mary, Alberione suggested saying three Hail Marys at the beginning and the end of each day for the grace of perseverance. This ancient practice puts Mary as a type of “bookend” on our day and it is good practical advice. Nor is it only a centuries-old devotion. Two years ago, the Knights of Columbus of Newtown, CT, initiated a Three Hail Marys Drive in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings: for the children and their families, for the first responders and teachers, and for the town. In this way they adapted the practice, making it also a means of outreach.

These approaches are helpful, for we have asked Mary to be with us in our day-to-day activities and to assist us–even if at times we forget her in the midst of our many commitments! And she will. She will see our good will and provide for us just as she did for the couple at Cana, gradually transforming us into Jesus, more aware of the needs of others, willing to freely give the faith-gift we have received.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!
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Sr Laura Rhoderica Brown has been a professed member of the Daughters of St. Paul for 30 years. She has worked for many years in a number of Pauline Books & Media Centers around the country, as well as in parish outreach and evangelization. She is currently assigned to the FSP community in St. Louis where she also serves as the regional coordinator for Pauline Cooperators.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Facing Fear with Easter Faith

Bartolomeo Rigossi da Gallarate
The Resurrected Christ Appearing to the Marys 
“Let nothing disturb you, nothing make you afraid” (Teresa of Avila’s Bookmark).

This past Holy Thursday Louis Jordan was rescued after being lost at sea for sixty-six days. He says he survived by capturing rainwater in a bucket, snagging little fish to catch bigger fish, and praying to God. Frank Jordan, his father, an experienced sailor, remained optimistic that his son would turn up. “With God, all things are possible,” he told friends and family three days later on Facebook.

Three days after Holy Thursday we had THE MOST amazing rescue story to tell the world. We were rescued from fear. That first Easter morning two women standing at Jesus’ empty tomb were tossed about by torrents and waves of fear (Ps. 42).  “Where is the one we seek?” they asked. “Do not be afraid,” an angel replied. “I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen....go quickly and tell his disciples (Mt. 28:5-6).

These words, “Do not fear,” are woven throughout Scripture, from Genesis to the Resurrection. They always herald good news and announce a mission. As the women hurry away from the tomb they meet Jesus, “Do not be afraid,” he says, and again a mission is announced, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Mt. 28:20).

One acronym for fear is “face everything and run!” When Jesus told the women “go” he didn’t mean “run the other way.” His Spirit empowered them to share the good news that we need not be afraid. There are times, says Rowen Williams in Sojourners, that “We want to stand still and be reassured, rather than moving faithfully with Jesus along a path into new life whose turnings we don't know in advance. ‘Do not cling to me,’ Jesus says to Mary and to us; instead, ‘go and bring others along on the journey’”(John 20:17).

One of the first stories newcomers to our Pauline life read is the autobiography of the founder, Blessed James Alberione. One chapter in particular relates the second founding moment. The first foundations in 1914 were already miraculous. The mission of evangelization with the media was challenging in many ways. Fr. James had committed to buying a printing plant when the first declaration of war came. Now his health was precarious, and creditors demanded money. He was afraid of being gravely imprudent: summoning people for a mission, with the danger of abandoning them halfway down the road.

In June 1923 a dark cloud seemed to cut down all his dreams as they dawned. Fr. Alberione became seriously ill; the diagnosis of the doctors did not offer much hope. Contrary to all expectations, Fr. Alberione miraculously recovered. Later that year, he said he had received, probably even before his illness, a confirmation of his lifes mission in words he heard in a dream or in a revelation of the Divine Master”;  these made their way into Pauline chapels all over the world: Do not be afraid; I am with you. From here (the Eucharist) I want to enlighten. Live with a penitent heart” (See www. alberione.org).

Easter turns fear into faith and faith into evangelization as we:
  1. turn our eyes away from the seductive image of a settled soul with nothing more to learn or to repent of and “live with a penitent heart”;
  2. keep our eyes on Jesus and follow his gaze—towards the heart of God, especially in Eucharistic adoration and reading scripture;
  3. stop clinging to personal comfort and start trusting that God is with us on the journey. Or as Pope Francis encourages us: “Boldly take the initiative, go out to others, and seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast” (Evangelii Guadium, 24);
  4. own our weaknesses by trusting in God's mercy and frequenting the sacrament of confession;
  5. resolve to follow the risen Jesus into the unknown depths of Gods life. Pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten, guide, strengthen, and console.
The best acronym for fear is “false evidence appearing real.” Easter gives us true and real evidence for not being afraid. The Apostles were afraid at first. In The Scriptures, The Cross and the Power of God, Tom Wright tells us what happened next:
“They had every reason to be afraid: An earthquake; an angel; guards struck down as though they were dead….As Jesus goes to the cross, heaven and earth, God’s space and our space are drawn together in a new way. The events that are unfolding carry cosmic significance. Jesus has gone to his death bearing the weight of evil, the evil that has infected and corrupted human life and the whole world, the evil which is symbolized both by what we call human evil, not least the evil of arrogant human empire, and by what we call natural evil, the waves and storms of the physical world. Now here, with the defeat of evil and death in the cross, the earthquake and the angel are, strangely, just what we ought to expect. And the guards, symbolizing here the political and military powers for whom they are working are struck dumb. Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas and their henchmen don’t belong in this new world, the new world where heaven and earth have come rushing together in a fresh way, a fresh celebration, a worked full of new possibilities, new power which leave the powers of the world lying helpless on the ground. Don’t be afraid! God’s new world has begun, and you’re invited to be part of it. That is what Easter is all about. That is what baptism and confirmation are all about.”
God’s new world has broken into the old one. God’s new creation happens through God’s renewed people. We are resurrection people. Our Easter greeting, “Christ is raised! He is truly risen! He is with us” is our “go and tell.”

Pope Francis reminds us that Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love(Evangelii gaudium, 265).


“Be not afraid, I am with you.”
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Painting: Getty Trust. Bartolomeo Rigossi da Gallarate, illuminator (Italian, active about 1460 - 1480), Initial N: The Resurrected Christ Appearing to the Marys, Italian, about 1465, Leaf: 15.1 x 14.6 cm (5 15/16 x 5 3/4 in.), Ms. 49, recto.
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Sr. Margaret Kerry celebrates 40 years of life and mission as a Daughter of St. Paul. With a Masters from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, she gives presentations on the vocation and mission of the laity, media literacy, and evangelization. She directed the Association of Pauline Cooperators for 15 years and was creative editor of The Pauline Cooperator magazine. An author (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross), Sr. Margaret is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at mkerry@paulinemedia.com.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

St. Joseph the Communicator?

It’s odd to think of the most silent figure in Scripture as a master of communication—until we remember that Joseph lived in a family. It’s no wonder, then, that the communicative Pauline Family relies so much on him. The Pauline family is not only a religious community, but an organic family where every member and institute has a role to play—the head and hand are both needed for the body to work. As a member of the Holy Family Institute, I live in two families—biological and religious. Both families offer great solace and enormous challenge: At the end of the day, communication is the fundamental source of great joy and often, unfortunately, great sorrow. I know from our family disagreements over the years that human words can so often be a source of injury—nothing is said so “rightly” as to be misunderstood very “badly”! Sadly, the same can be said for those in consecrated life—human weakness isn’t deposited at the door of a convent or monastery on entrance day. 

In his address for the 49th World Communications Day, to be celebrated on May 17, Pope Francis offers great insights on communication in the family—communication which can serve as a “privileged place of encounter with the gift of love.” In the initial part of his message, the Holy Father makes an analogy of how we come into the world in our mother’s womb, and then persist after birth in the womb of the family—a womb made up of various interrelated persons. Quoting his own encyclical on evangelization, he reminds us that the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences” (Evangelii gaudium, 66). 

Our Holy Father has in multiple forums warned Christians of the danger and harm of gossip and harsh language.  This kind of speech can particularly violate the good of relationships, fracture lines of communication, and violate integrity.  In our biological family, Church family, and vast human family, this needs to considered at all times.  In a recent papal address in Naples, Francis compared gossip to an act of terrorism—leaving destruction in its path. Paulines are particularly committed to making our words a reflection of the Word. We are keenly aware of the importance of communication in all forms in creating a civilization of love. 

It’s no accident that the Pope, a gifted communicator, would look to Joseph to share the Word with the world. Inaugurated on St. Joseph’s solemnity, he challenged the world that day to embrace Joseph’s tenderness, and later, in tribute to this oft-overlooked cooperator in our redemption, he included his name in the Liturgy’s Eucharistic Prayer. Again in his message for this year’s World Communications Day, our Holy Father states that the greatest challenging facing us today is to “learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.” It has been said that in the modern age there is a great deal of information exchange and very little true human communication. A quick look at today’s social media would serve as evidence enough to confirm that impression. 

That is what makes the Pauline approach to modern media so appealing. In our Pauline theology and spirituality, we are privileged to learn that, in our efforts to communicate the Gospel message, our personal life, if lived in sanctity, is the greatest gift to all. Personally, I find profound inspiration in praying for those who experience the Pauline media we extend to everyone we serve. Blessed James Alberione was astutely aware that the success of Pauline apostleship is firmly found in piety and prayer, not in machines or marketing. In the Secret of Success he has us acknowledge that we are called to “carry out the apostolate of the media of social communication in a holy manner.” Then, in order to do that, he has us promise Jesus Master only one thing: “to seek only and always your glory and peace to all people.”

An important virtue in our work of communication, whether in families or in public ways, is to acquire a sense of prudence. Blessed Alberione, in his work entitled  Living our Commitment, states that “some concentrate on everyone but themselves, criticizing right and left.  But the prudent look to acquiring as much merit as they can….Prudence takes care to walk the middle road, being neither too fearful or too trusting.” I find his spiritual advice on target. Our words should challenge, but not injure—heal and not divide.

As we approach the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, I suggest we reflect on and pray for virtuous communication through the intercession of this most important silent figure in Scripture. “Behold the faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord God has set over his household” (Antiphon for the first Wednesday of the month, Pauline Prayer Book). For me, Joseph is a model in my professional life, teaching me that speech is only of value if it informs or uplifts. Far too much time is spent on useless talk and egocentric speech. His conversations with Jesus were examples of fruitful human dialogue.  Blessed Alberione had  great devotion to St. Joseph and imitated him in his humility and commitment to labor. Joseph continues to intercede in a special way for all workers, and I pray in a special way for fathers.

May 1 and 17 both give us an opportunity to ask ourselves: How can I take a step forward in my commitment to authentically Christian communication? Paulines have a great heritage and future in the challenges of modern communication. The examples of their holy founders (Blessed, Venerable and unknown sanctified) continue to teach us about the right use of speech. It is a tremendous gift, that will be experienced for generations to come.
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Photo: Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP: Holy Family.
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Greg Burke has been a perpetually professed member of the Holy Family Institute for five years. He and Kimberly, his wife of 23 years, have four daughters. Greg works as a general internist and is Chief Patient Experience Officer in the Geisinger Health System, based in Danville, PA. Kim is a nurse and religious education coordinator. Greg also serves as president of the Harrisburg Guild of the Catholic Medical Assn. and was awarded the Benemerenti Medal for his service, by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Wake Up the World!”

Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM
On February 8, 2015 the religious of the Diocese of Fresno gathered at the Sacred Heart Parish in Fresno to celebrate the World Day of Consecrated Life. It was a beautiful morning freshened by some gentle rain. The Sisters arrived early to greet the parishioners, to socialize and also to display vocation materials. There were 70 Sisters from 25 congregations and institutes who participated in the Children/Life Teen Mass presided by Bishop Armando Ochoa and concelebrated by the parish priest Rev. Alejandro Ignacio, the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Rev. Dan Avila, and the homilist Rev. Larry Toschi, OSJ, from Bakersfield. The Mass was vibrant, but solemn, and well animated by a talented youth choir and various ministers. This was followed by delightful potluck meal at Nazareth House.

At the Opening Rite of the Mass, the Vicar for Religious, Sr. Invencion Canas, RAD, reiterated Pope Francis’ appeal to religious men and women to “wake up the world” with their testimony of faith, holiness and hope … with “prophetic and countercultural witness.” She also reminded us of the purpose of the World Day of Consecrated Life that was instituted by Saint John Paul II in 1997. Indeed, the diocesan event brought us closer to this threefold goal:

1. THANSGIVING: To thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life: What could be a better way than the Eucharist? As the Sisters were entering the church during the solemn entrance procession, one parishioner clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Thank you, Sisters! Thank you, Sisters!” I was deeply moved. The act of thanksgiving was directed not only to God, but also to the Sisters, whose consecrated life enriches and gladdens the Church with manifold gifts or “charisms” and by various expressions of apostolic charity and service.

2. FORMATION: To promote knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God: The homily of Fr. Toschi explained the meaning of consecrated life, the various vocation materials available for diffusion, and above all, the vision of 70 Sisters in the sanctuary–in full force. We all renewed our religious vows before the assembly, which positively impacted the parish community. That Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish was a formative moment not only for the parishioners, but likewise for the Sisters, highlighting the value of consecrated life. As we renewed our vows publicly, we felt the “beauty and holiness” of our vocation shining through and we prayed to be what we promised.

3. RENEWAL: To invite the religious to celebrate what marvels the Lord has accomplished in them, to discover by a more illumined faith the rays of divine beauty spread by the Spirit in their way of life, and to acquire a more vivid consciousness of their irreplaceable mission in the Church and in the world: The Sisters look forward to this annual event knowing that our journeying together brings enrichment, encouragement and mutual support. Through the “mysticism of encounter” with the Bishop, the clergy, the religious and the parish laity, we are able “to embrace the future with hope”.

The following remark of Sr. Mary Eugenia Pia, PDDM, sums up the meaning of the celebration:
I’m sure to interpret the sentiments of gratitude of my Sisters in community as well as those in our diocese by thanking our Bishop Armando Ochoa for the initiative of celebrating the Mass for the World Day of Consecrated Life in a different parish every year. This year we joined the people of the Sacred Heart Parish for their 11 o’clock Mass on Sunday, February 8. The church was packed with youth groups and families … and the people looked so excited and happy to participate with all the religious. For me this way of celebrating together is one of the best vocational advertisements of our “witness.”

Let us continue to pray, work and enjoy together, according to our charism, by witnessing the “JOY OF THE GOSPEL” for we are signs of love and hope in today’s world, as Pope Francis encourages us!
Fr. Alberione envisioned the Cooperators praying for religious vocations, encouraging them, sponsoring them, and enjoying heaven with them. Is there still something you can do to make this vision a reality?
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Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM, finished her B.S. Pre-Medicine at the University of the Philippines and made her religious profession in the PDDM on December 8, 1984. She studied Liturgy at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (St. Anselm) in Rome and was the Liturgy Coordinator (Program and Events Committee) during the World Youth Day ’95 in Manila. Now based in Fresno, she continues to prepare the Lectio Divina pastoral tools that could be accessed on their website: www.pddm.us. She is a recipient of the Pope’s award: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

All Together One-of-a-Kind

In the post-Resurrection scene of the Gospel this coming Sunday (Lk 24:35-48), Jesus appears to the disciples and recalls for them what he had told them. He explains how his life and death was a fulfillment of what was spoken of the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures, and then calls the disciples “witnesses of these things.” Remember that Jesus is saying this to men who had deserted him in Gethsemani and to Peter, who had denied him three times.

The faith and trust that Jesus puts in these weak and fearful men is amazing, and he puts that same faith and trust in us. Through our Baptism we have been made children of God, heirs of the kingdom that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection opened to us. However, that Baptism also calls us to bear witness to the new life that God has begun in us. He puts this faith and trust in us because he himself makes available to us the grace and strength to carry it through, so that we may witness to him in all situations. 
  
In order to avail ourselves of this grace we need to foster the awareness of his presence, of speaking with him and calling on him in time of need. This was something the saints learned well. However, they each learned how to do it their own way, within the circumstances of their lives. In the book Secret to Happiness St. Pope John XXIII recounts how as a young man, he wanted to imitate St. Aloysius Gonzaga, asking himself what St. Aloysius would do in a given situation. He eventually realized this was not the way to become a saint and states, “I am not St. Aloysius, so I should not try to become holy the way he did, but rather according to my own way of being, my own character, my own circumstances.”

Even though we’re all Christians and all Paulines, God creates us individually. We’re each “one of a kind,” and each of us can give glory to God, have a relationship with God, and witness to him as no one else can, because in creating us, God made us with a love as he loves no other person.  Did you ever ask God to show you what your calling is? Your one-of-a-kind relationship and mission? The persons that we are and the circumstances that we find ourselves in are uniquely our own. As we bring ourselves and those around us to God by how we live and through our prayers, we imbue various situations with God’s grace.

This approach can make all the difference in the way we respond to each other. Recently I was driving on a busy rotary in Boston. The traffic was made worse by construction, and the lanes were disappearing and merging, causing abrupt stops and turns. A woman in another car leaned on her horn, and then threw her hands up in the air. At the time I was saying the Rosary, so a prayer for her and the ability to remain calm seemed to flow naturally. However, I know at other times my initial response might not have been so Christian.

Life is basically made up of small moments, and everything—even and especially what annoys us or makes us suffer—is an opportunity to grow in holiness.  It can be as simple as remaining patient with the annoyance of an ill-fitting piece of clothing, or saying a kind word to an irritating co-worker that can help us grow in grace. It is in consistently taking advantage of these “opportunities” that small links in the chain of God’s graces are forged. These strengthen God’s grace in us and help us to grow in virtue, live with God, and witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 
We will also then be “witnesses of these things.”
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Sr. Patricia Mary Maresca has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1983. Besides evangelizing door-to-door, she has served in several PBM Centers from coast to coast. She is now carrying out a second term in Boston as a provincial councilor.