Our Faith Journey
Welcome to “Our Faith Journey” Blog.
This blog is an opportunity to share with our Ursuline School community that which is most important to us -- our faith journey. Each of us is on a journey and we hope that you enjoy reading the reflections of our faculty, staff and students.
Today we listened to the Parable of the Vineyard Owner at Mass. This parable is truly about justice and compassion but not in the way we think it would. After working in the hot sun all day the workers are tired, hot and exhausted after a long day. Imagine how they felt when the ones who came later and worked less received the same wage that they did. Our human instinct tells us we should be angry, envious and maybe even jealous of those late comers. But our loving God does not operate that way. God treats all people the same and calls us to do the same. God’s mercy and justice go hand in hand and is always there for us and is far beyond our human comprehension. May we always trust in God’s abundant love and mercy and show it to others at all times.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Pio of Pietreclina fondly referred to as Padre Pio. As we celebrate his feast let us pray:
O Lord, we ask for boundless confidence and trust in your Divine Mercy, and the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and that of your Church. Help us to love you with a pure and contrite heart, and to humble ourselves beneath your cross, as we climb the mountain of holiness, carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory. May we receive you with great faith and love in Holy Communion, and allow you to act in us as you desire for your greater glory. O Jesus, most adorable Heart and eternal fountain of Divine Love, may our prayer find favor before the Divine Majesty of your Heavenly Father. Amen – St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Today we observe Peace Day here at school. The Social Studies classes are gathering around the Peace pole out on the lawn and prayers are being offered for peace throughout the world. At this point in time, in several parts of the world, peace is very fragile and hopefully by uniting in prayer peace can be achieved. With the UN meeting this week, world leaders are trying to make our world a better place. Let us join with them as we remember the Prayer of St. Francis...Lord, make me an instrument of your peace......
Every once in a while, we get an email, a text, a card or letter or even a phone call that comes most unexpectedly. I had that happen to me today when I received and email from a former student thanking me for my guidance and care over her years in high school. She went on to say how much she misses me now. I must say that I was most touched by this and it came in the midst of a feverish day of activity in trying to get things done. It is during times like this that we don’t often realize the impact we have upon others. Perhaps it is a simple smile, a hello in the hall, or some other human connection that touches people in the core of their being. Take time today to greet people, open a door for them or write a note telling someone how grateful you are for their presence in your life.
Today we remember with great love, Richard Dalby, a member of our faculty who died over the weekend. Yesterday, many of our faculty gathered together in the school chapel to pray for Rick and to support each other in our loss. Many students have written about him in the last few days and there is no doubt that he touched many of their lives in ways that we will never know. He was kind, he was passionate about teaching and music, he was funny and his one-liners and puns were famous. No matter the ache in his own heart, he always reached out to others.
In our daily lives, let us try to imitate the example provided to each one of us by Rick.
Today the Gospel reading centered on the theme of forgiveness. When we forgive another person we are responding to Jesus’ call to follow him. Forgiving another person is not the easiest things to do as we often get caught up in wanting to “settle the score.” It takes a lot of energy to forgive but have you ever thought about how much lighter you feel when you are in right relationship with another person. When we are in right relationship we feel good and we are able to see things in a clearer way. Jesus says in the parable that we should forgive seventy times seven times. I do not think he was literally meaning 490 times. What he meant was that our forgiveness of one another must be great. Let us continue to respond with great faith and be willing to forgive with great magnitude.
In today’s gospel, St. Luke tells us to build a strong foundation. During this past week, many people commented on how tired they were and I realized that I was right there with them. When I read this Gospel this morning the call to building a solid foundation became more and more clear. As children, we are taught our prayers giving us a foundation in our faith. As we grow and mature we deepen that faith through many varied experiences. We grow through personal prayer, attending Mass, service opportunities and the inspiration of others. May we always continue the journey open to the Lord’s inspiration to love one another as he has loved us.
Each of us carries some sorrow in our hearts. It may be the loss or sickness of a loved one, loss of a job or a family split. Mary, too, experienced great loss in her life. Her Son. who she loved deeply, was misunderstood and crucified before her eyes. We never know what sorrows people are carrying in their hearts that they cannot share. Let us try to grow in compassion and understanding of each other so that all may know they are being supported by us. We do not have to use words but if we are sincere, our friends will know they are being held in our hearts.
Today is the Feast of the Holy Cross. As you know, the Cross is one of the most widely recognized symbols in the entire world. For Christians, it is a reminder that Jesus died on the Cross to redeem each and every one of us from the effects of sin and to gain heaven as a reward for living a good life as children of God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not person but might have eternal life. John 3:16.
Let us take up the little crosses that come our way in life so that accepting them we might gain life.
Today we celebrate the feast of the holy names of Jesus and Mary. Why do we do this? Does it seem strange to you? People are usually very proud of their name and consider them special. Names help us to identify people. When I was growing up, we always bowed our heads when the name Jesus was said as a sign of the great respect He is owed as the Son of God. We do not bow our heads when Mary's name is mentioned but we become aware of how special she is as the mother of Jesus.
Have a great day.
At our Opening of the School Year Liturgy, Msgr. Dennis Keane prayed the following blessing upon our students. May they always know the tremendous blessing they are to our school community.
O God of all the universe, we praise and thank you for these young women who comprise the student body of The Ursuline School. We pray your blessing upon them and ask you to be with them as they begin this academic year. May the constant prayers of St. Angela bring forth abundant graces in their lives. In imitation of her kindness and wisdom, may they remain faithful to the truth, you have revealed to us in Christ and allow his divine light to radiate through them in all they do and say. Amen
Almighty God, it’s tempting to cry out “Not now! Not another storm!” But as many frustrations wander our minds while watching Hurricane Irma grow in strength and etch closer to our coasts, still we humble ourselves before your will. We ask for your shelter in yet another storm.
We appeal to you to divert this storm back out to sea. But already it has caused absolute tragedy and devastation for our Caribbean neighbors. Grant peace to the families of the ten precious lives reported lost thus far. Heal their loved ones’ broken hearts. Rescue those men, women, and children still stranded by the rain waters.
Lives are still at risk as the storm approaches Florida’s coastline. Please give courage and wisdom to those working to board up house windows, pack precious belongings, and decision-making on behalf of their families. Thank you for the local clergy and lay leaders who will minister to affected communities. Grant energy and wisdom as your servants meet their neighbors’ physical and spiritual needs.
Help us think of others before ourselves. Shield us from apathy when our ears hear news of more flooding, demolished homes, devastated families, exhausted rescue crews, and lost lives. As the waters recede, stir our hearts and mobilize our efforts to tackle destruction and devastation at home and abroad.
Show us once again how to lovingly and justly respond to the victims of a catastrophe.
Today we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – her birthday. Reading through the genealogy of Jesus causes one to reflect on their own their heritage. Jesus’ heritage traces all the way back to Obed who was the father of Jesse. As we look at Joseph, her husband, we see how they followed God’s call and plan with an openness of heart and mind. They are wonderful examples for us as we are called to the same openness. Jesus often calls us out of our comfort zones and invites us to take the risk of following him. Our reward for doing so is the certitude of heart that we will with Jesus one day in the kingdom of Heaven.
Yesterday and today the halls of Ursuline are resounding with the voices of our young women returning to school. We can measure the excitement in those voices and can feel the hope that each girl has for this new school year. Yet we also sense the hesitation and a little bit of fear in the new students and even the old for what the year will bring. For these young women coming to a new school or starting the college process can be a daunting thing. Let us pray for each student and ask the Holy Spirit to fill them with confidence and joy as well as peace.
St. Angela in her First Counsel wrote:
“Therefore, pray God to enlighten you, direct you and teach you what you are to do for love of God in regard to this responsibility; for there can be no nobler one than that of being a teacher of the children of God. Remember, then, the respect you owe them, because the more you respect them, the more you will love them; and the more you love them, the better you will watch over and care for them; and it will be impossible for you not to have them all engraven in your hearts night and day, each one individually, for this is how true love acts. Nor should you worry about this responsibility. Instead you should greatly thank God that you are permitted to be one of those who are allowed to exhaust themselves in guiding and looking after such a precious charge. Have hope and firm faith in God who will help you in all things.”
As the new school year begins let us recall Angela’s words and know that she is still with us today!
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa, the foundress of the Missionaries of Charity is known by her sari with the blue stripe on it. As a young child her family faced financial hardship when her father died. She was a woman of tremendous faith who saw the poverty in the streets of Calcutta and promised to do whatever she could to help others. Mother Teresa was a friend of the rich and poor and modeled compassion, care and concern for others in all she did. May we remember her by reaching out to others and showing care and compassion in all we do.
Today we celebrate Labor Day. The first Labor Day was held in New York City on Nov. 5, 1882. Its purpose was to celebrate the labor movement’s social and economic achievement that contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. Later it was moved to the first Monday in September. This day gives us a moment of reflection on the dignity of labor, especially as it relates to the common good and the Gospel’s demand for justice.
Pope Francis has said, “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.” He continues the long tradition of Catholic Social Teaching which articulates concern for the laborer and the pursuit of the common good in society. Let us pray today for all who labor and for all who seek just and equitable compensation for all people.
On this day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey let us pray a prayer for all victims of this hurricane.
Lord, You who calmed the storm at sea, quiet the fears, ease the pain, tend the grief, and light the darkness of Your children in Texas and Louisiana. In stunned silence, be their voice, in rages against the night, be their balm, in bewilderment, be their hope. Lead rescuers to the lost, and shelter the waiting. Sustain those who work to make life's necessities spring forth in this desert of gloom. Blanket the weary with your tender touch. Shake us from our comforts to share our brothers and sisters sorrow and let us pray them into new life. We ask this in the name of Jesus who suffered and died for our sakes. Amen.
This is traditionally the last weekend of summer a time when merchants are hoping for good sales and a profitable weekend. It is a bittersweet time for sure. Our country is still in the midst of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the weather does not seem promising and many are focused on the upcoming school year. As we try to enjoy these last days let us take a moment to set some goals for the days ahead. Perhaps it will be to pray more or to get more exercise or rest. Whatever the goal let us recall the many blessings our God has given to us. We have much to be thankful for and much to pray for. May our God continue to guide and protect us along the daily journey of life.
I received the following from the Catholic Climate Covenant and wanted to share it with all. Friday, September 1st is World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, celebrated by the Orthodox Church since 1989 and by the Roman Catholic Church since 2015. It is also the beginning of the Season of Creation, which ends on October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis.
On Friday, September 1st let us take a moment to appreciate and give thanks for God’s gifts of nature. Join with Christians around the world praying for creation. Together with Pope Francis, pray for our common home:
A Prayer for Our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
-From Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’
Today we remember St. Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne and her Sisters are known throughout the world for their care of sick and elderly poor men and women. They do marvelous work with the elderly in their nursing homes and treat each person with the dignity God meant them to have.
Each of us has the opportunity to interact with older people. Time and busyness often prohibit us from spending time with elderly friends and relatives. Take a few minutes to reach out to the older generation and you will reap great rewards.
John the Baptist spoke out about the injustices of his time and knew the price he could do for doing so. As a result he paid the ultimate price and was beheaded by Herod. After hearing the news of his cousin’s death, Jesus, withdrew to a deserted place to pray and mourn the loss of John. Jesus knew what was ahead of him and went to pray for the strength to continue the mission.
Our world in many ways if faced with very difficult and heart wrenching stories. We are shaken by senseless violence and often feel powerless in the face of opposition. As followers of Jesus, we need to remain faithful. We need to be willing to make the changes needed to follow the good news. Our call is to be agents of change in any way we are able to.
As we answer God’s call to be agents of change we will be strengthened by our faith. Our God of abundant love will always light the path for us. Let us face this challenge with the same perseverance that John had.
The news is flooded with images of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. We have seen live rescues, devastation and heartbreaking images. There is tremendous need and many are searching for ways to respond. Everyone wants to do something. Right now the best thing we can do is pray for those who are affected as well as for those who are involved with the rescue efforts. Until we know what is needed the greatest gift we can give is our prayerful support and be attentive to what will be needed once the rain stops. May our loving God protect all in Harvey’s path.
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Mathew 16: 13 – 20
Today’s gospel happens to be a personal favorite of mine. It is the gospel that I used for my religious profession some thirty years ago. The question that Jesus posed to Peter is one that we often struggle to answer. I believe that it is Peter’s response that gives us hope to persevere in the quest to follow Jesus. Peter is the disciple who Jesus loved and chose to be our first Pope. I don’t believe that Peter ever thought that Jesus would make him the leader of the new Church. Peter proved his love and admiration of Jesus many times and at other times seemingly came up short. As we look at this question today let us take time to formulate our response to Jesus’ question of who do you say that I am?
Today’s scriptures speak to us of caring for our neighbor and the stranger in our land. Ruth was a foreigner in a distant land and she was treated with love, care and respect. She had no material possessions and was struggling. Boaz reached out to her and made sure that she had what she needed and that she was protected. This scripture story is so important in our world today. Many people face the same situation that Ruth did and we need to examine our response. Are we willing to help or are we turning a blind eye? Recently, the HOPE Soup Kitchen had collected school supplies for the disadvantaged children in the New Rochelle area and someone stole many of the items. Rather than responding in anger they simply went on and many people reached out and helped replace the stolen items. Backpacks were being prepared for the upcoming school year. May we be like Boaz and the many people who reach out and help the stranger in our land.
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