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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.

St. Patrick's Breastplate, by Sr. Pat

St. Patrick's Breastplate is a popular prayer attributed to one of Ireland’s most beloved patron saints. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in 433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. The term breastplate refers to a piece of armor worn in battle. This is the part of the prayer that is most popular and familiar for people.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Let us pray for all people who celebrate this day. May all be safe and enjoy their day.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday March 17
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Belief, by Ella Mbanefo '22

With the March Madness season right around the corner, I have been thinking about basketball a lot more and it made me think of two quotes by Stephen Curry. The two quotes I chose are, “Doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have or don’t have…all you need to have is faith in God and a relentless drive and the will to do whatever it takes to be successful at whatever you put your mind to” and “I can do all things.” I found these quotes intriguing because they express the success that Stephen Curry has from God. Knowing that God is always there helps Stephen realize that God is there in the good times and bad. Both quotes show that people can do anything through God because he always loves us. Especially during the time of Lent, belief in God is very important. Stephen Curry is a true model of respect and belief in God, especially on the basketball court.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday March 15
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Honoring Parkland

Many students and faculty at The Ursuline School joined in the #nationalschoolwalkout at 10 a.m. in a prayerful action to honor the Parkland victims, as well as to promote national awareness of school safety and prevention of school violence. The student planning committee offered a prayer for all students who have perished in school violence and all those affected by those tragedies. The group stood in respectful silence for 17 minutes. Then, students spoke aloud the names of each of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The walkout ended with the Prayer of St. Francis.

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday March 14
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Snow, by Sr. Pat

Today we are having our third nor’easter in a week’s time. It is slated not to be as bad as the previous storms. Right now, we are just having snow which is supposed to stop sometime this morning. The snow always looks so beautiful on the grassy surfaces. I always love looking at the snow as it gently falls on the ground. Watching the snow is as beautiful in my mind as watching the ocean. Watching nature so often reminds me of God’s presence for it is calming and relaxing. God calls us to return to him in many ways in nature, in one another, and in prayer. Perhaps today we can all take time to reach out to others and help them in whatever way they need. It may be a kind word, a gentle smile, or a donation to world hunger. Many people are in need and we can make the decision to respond or do nothing. Hopefully many of us will choose to respond.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday March 13
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Anticipation, by Sr. KM

Many of us live our lives in anticipation of something in the future. Will it snow tomorrow? Will we get enough to have the day off from school? Can't wait until Friday when I have a date...etc. That's great and it leads to the excitement of the event. But we can't always live like this-in anticipation of future happenings. For if we do we can miss the gifts and opportunities of the present moment-of what our God has planned for us for this day. It would be wonderful if we could live in the present and not wish our lives away but that is hard. The present moment sometimes is not pleasant but it can help us to grow if we embrace it. Have a wonderful week and live each moment today as best you can.

Posted by schifinp on Monday March 12
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Fourth Sunday of Lent, by Sr. Pat

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. John 3: 14 – 21

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is what was once called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means “Rejoice” in Latin. In the entrance antiphon we hear “Rejoice, Jerusalem!” We are just a bit more than half way through the Lenten season. This day we hear the familiar “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This passage is one of the most often quoted passages. It gives us both hope and challenge. God does indeed love each and every one of us as we are and challenges us to continue to grow into the person we are meant to be and this is a great reason to rejoice!.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday March 11 at 01:00AM
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National Catholic Sisters Week, by Sr. Pat

National Catholic Sisters Week will be celebrated from March 8 - 14 as part of National Women’s History Month. It is intended to shine a national spotlight on the good works and good will of Catholic sisters. It recognizes past and present sisters, from the movers and shakers pressing the front lines of social change to the faithful praying in cloistered chapels. This is a great time for all of us to pray in thanksgiving for all women who answer the call to religious life. Let us remember with grateful hearts all of the women who were such models of faith for us and who always saw the best in us!

Let us pray for all women religious this week. Loving God, thank you for giving us Catholic sisters, who have built schools and hospitals and shelters upon the strength of their convictions. We celebrate their good work during this week dedicated to Women Religious and ask for your grace to strengthen and sustain all women religious. Bless their hands that fold in prayer and sow seeds to build the Kingdom of God. Please open our minds and hearts to learn all we can from Catholic sisters. Help us to follow their example, dedicating our lives more fully to You. We ask this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. Amen

Posted by schifinp on Friday March 9
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International Women's Day, by Sr. KM

Today is a special day here at Ursuline School. It is International Women's Day! No better place to celebrate than in a school filled with over 780 young women. It is a great day to remember the great women in our lives-grandmothers, moms, aunts, cousins, sisters, teachers, friends. Women are unique for their gift of compassion and unconditional love for us-great gifts for each of us to imitate.

There have been many, many extraordinary women in our world and they have had untold influence on the history of this world. If you have a chance today, get on to the Internet and read a short biography of one of your favorite women. And don't forget to thank the special women in your life for all they mean to you.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday March 8
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A Prayer for Women Leaders, by Sr. Pat

This morning, in honor of Women's History Month we prayed a prayer in praise of women leaders. I would like to share that prayer with all this day.

A Prayer for Women Leaders Around the World

Praise to you, women leaders of the seven continents, for your many works of justice.

Praise to you, women leaders of Asia, for confronting trafficking of women.

Praise to you, women leaders of Africa, for raising your voices to stop AIDS.

Praise to you, women leaders of Europe, for your peacekeeping.

Praise to you, women leaders of North America, for confronting economic inequities and racism.

Praise to you, women leaders of South America, for struggling against U.S. domination of your land.

Praise to you, women leaders in Antarctica, for your scientific research.

Praise to you, women leaders of Australia, for supporting indigenous cultures.

May our loving God continue to bless women leaders each day. Amen

- Diann Neu

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday March 6
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Civic Engagement, by Sr. Pat

Today I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Student Leadership Conference: Civic Engagement: A Catholic Lens – a Conversation on Civic Engagement through the Lens of Catholic Social Teaching, sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York. I had the pleasure of accompanying eight members of the class of 2018. The purpose of this gathering was to engage Catholic high school students in a thoughtful conversation examining our moral obligations concerning civic engagement and public service through the lens of our Catholic faith. It was a most inspirational experience as students from 37 schools gathered together to listen, discuss and articulate what is most meaningful to them. The panel of six – a moderator, a keynote speaker and four panelists all engaged in a lively discussion with their audience. There was time for a several questions and the students responded very well. Their one concern was that it wasn’t long enough. They wanted to continue the discussion. As I journeyed with them I had a profound sense of hope for our future. Listening to these young people was a most uplifting experience and I found myself most proud of them all.

Posted by schifinp on Monday March 5
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Third Sunday of Lent, by Sr. Pat

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." … While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. John 2: 13 – 25

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Lent. Our Gospel today shows a picture of Jesus that we are not all too familiar with. The picture of Jesus is one of anger and almost rage. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus were to come to my home what would he encourage me to get rid of. Would it be my music collection, my to do list, the things I worry about? Would he tell me to slow down and take time to relax? Perhaps this Gospel is a call for each of us to look at the many things that draw us away from God. Lent is a good time to look at our relationships and see where we can draw closer to God. As we live this Third Sunday of Lent let us take time to spend some quiet time with our God and strengthen our relationship with our God who loves us more than we can ask for or imagine!

Posted by schifinp on Sunday March 4
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Mother of the Church, by Sr. Pat

Today, Pope Francis announced a new feast for the Catholic Church devoted to Mary as the “Mother of the Church,” to be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost. This feast honors Mary as she became the Mother of the Church as Christ entrusted her to the beloved disciple. This new decree, means that this is an approved feast for the universal Church. It will not become a holy day of obligation as it is a lesser feast. Translations of the texts will be published and made available soon.

This is truly an exciting new feast and one that will certainly help awareness of Mary’s importance in the Church.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday March 3
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Nor'easter, by Anonymous

Nor’easter is the word that is controlling everyone’s thoughts and feelings today. Several school districts closed early this morning while others are still in the process of closing. Whatever the reality the weather is certainly dominating the news today. We are seeing reports of massive storms in Europe from the Siberian front and the east coast of the US is being besieged with wind, rain, ice and snow. In the midst of it all there is a certain beauty that emerges when ice forms on the trees, snow covers the grass and wind causes trees to sway. In some way this symbolizes our relationship with God at times. At times our relationship is stormy and at times it is full of sunshine. As we look at our weather today let us remember that the sun will emerge after the storm.

Posted by schifinp on Friday March 2
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March 1, by Sr. KM

Today is March 1 which means that we will celebrate Easter Sunday one month from today. How is your Lenten journey going? I hate to admit it but mine has become a little off the beaten path and it is time for me to start again in the right direction. That's the great thing about the God relationship-there is always room to start over.

So try to take a few moments today and to start again. Our God is ready to say, "welcome, glad you came."

Posted by schifinp on Thursday March 1
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Kindness, by Sr. Pat

A friend of mine shared this with me from America Magazine a few minutes ago and I thought it was perfect for our blog today. “You need three things to be successful in life in the only way that truly counts,” Mister Rogers said. “The first is kindness. The second is kindness. And the third is kindness.” That may sound naive, but it is just the opposite. It is our only realistic hope if we want not merely to inhabit the world but live in it as God intended, as neighbors of one and all. What a wonderful message for a beautiful day. Let us live this message in our daily living not only during the season of Lent but everyday!

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday February 28
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Setting Things Right, by Sr. Pat

Throughout the Lenten season our loving God invites us to set things right. In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah we hear the invitation to make the right choices. The Lord provides the invitation and we have the opportunity to accept the invitation or dismiss it. We are invited to cast away all our misdeeds so that we can make for ourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Lent is the time to focus on making for ourselves a new heart and a new spirit. As such, it is about more than just ceasing to do evil and learning to do good. Our God desires faithfulness, compassion and fidelity. Each Lent is a new call to renewal – a time to hear the word of God and live it. Let us this Lent embrace a spirit of setting things right with our God of love.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday February 27
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Mercy, by Sr. Pat

Jesus said to his disciples: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." Luke 6: 36 – 38

Today’s Gospel we get the answer to what we are called to be as Christians – compassionate, caring human beings. In our daily lives there is a great temptation to be judgmental and angry at situations. Violence, angry words, and mass killings have become so prevalent in our daily living. As we respond to Jesus’ call there is no way to follow unless we allow God’s grace to make it all happen. Jesus calls us to use our time and talents in our dealings with others. We are called to give freely and be a blessing for others. Jesus always keeps his promises. Let us remember to trust and have faith that all shall be well.

Posted by schifinp on Monday February 26
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Where are your eyes?, by Sr. KM

Today we had one of my favorite Gospel passages-the Transfiguration--where Jesus takes a few of the disciples to the mountain with him and he was glorified in their presence. My favorite part is when the disciples looked up and saw "only Jesus." Lent is a great time to step aside and go to the mountain to spend some time with Jesus. Direct your eyes so that you are able to see clearly what is being asked of you and how you can give back to the Lord for all his goodness to you

Posted by schifinp on Sunday February 25
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Clearing Up and Out, by Sr. KM

During this time of year we are asked to fill the POD at the back of the gym with our usable but unwanted items. They will be sent to people in Nicaragua who have many needs. So we clear up and out of those unwanted items and give them over to others. So too, during Lent we clear up and out of those unwanted pieces of ourselves that need to be given over and removed from our lives. A few minutes of contemplation will help us to look over our unwanted parts of ourselves that need to be pruned away.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday February 24
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Chair of St. Peter, by Sr. Pat

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 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." Matthew 16: 13 – 19

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Peter responds to Jesus’ question of his identity rather emphatically, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This revelation was made known to Peter by God as no one else knew Jesus’ true identity. We honor St. Peter for his fidelity and sense of purpose this day. This is one of my most treasured Gospel passages as it was the Gospel I used at my religious profession. It was a question I often pondered as I prepared for my profession day. Over the years I know my response has deepened and has become a certitude of the heart as well as the mind. May each one of us take time to ponder this questions in our own hearts and let the answer be a blessing.

Posted by schifinp on Thursday February 22
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Enjoying Beauty, by Sr. Pat

Today was an incredibly beautiful day! It was a May day in the middle of February. The temperature broke a former record and it is hard to believe that last Saturday we were shoveling snow. Today people were out in their shorts and tee shirts enjoying themselves. I took advantage of this day and went to Bear Mountain State Park with a friend of mine. As a child we would go there in the summer as a family and have a picnic so today was full of memories for me. I realized how beautiful and relaxing being out in nature is. We walked and then sat by the water. The water was mostly frozen but you could see where new life was burgeoning forth. Being out in nature today reminded me of how important it is to take time to pause and be. When we pause and stop for even a brief amount of time we have the opportunity to recharge our inner self and refocus our lives. Lent too gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect. As we continue our Lenten journey let us take time to recreate and renew our spirits.

Posted by schifinp on Wednesday February 21
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Praying for Forgiveness, by Sr. Pat

Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

"If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." Matthew 6: 7 – 15

This is a perfect reading for today. So often we find ourselves struggling to pray, to find the “right” words, to help another person feel some relief. Jesus gave us the perfect prayer to say all the time. Yet this prayer if filled with powerful statements. We thank God for all the good He has done for us and then we get to the challenging part – forgiveness. These days have been a call to great forgiveness yet we still struggle. It is easier to say the words than to truly forgive another person or ourselves for that matter. As we live into the Lenten season let us strive to be open to forgiving past or current hurts and allow the love and grace of God to fill our lives.

Posted by schifinp on Tuesday February 20
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President's Day, by Sr. KM

This day we celebrate some of the most prominent men in the history of this country. They are not without some controversy in some areas but have certainly given us the foundations of our wonderful country. With the shooting in Florida, it is time for us to band together as a country to get some of these gun laws changed and to support the young people in our schools. They are the future of our nation and deserve all of our love and care. One way we can support our young people is through our prayer with and for them. It is important to let them know that they are loved by their God and by us.

Posted by schifinp on Monday February 19
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Jesus' Temptation, by Sr. Pat

Today we hear the familiar reading of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. It is hard to understand that he fasted for forty days and nights in the heat of the desert. In the 1970’s there was a movie called The Poseidon Adventure that had many famous actors and actresses in the cast. The plot was a cruise ship was in peril and only a small group would survive. As they encouraged one another to keep moving on some faced serious struggles and others did not make it out alive. They needed to rely on one another to make it to the top of the capsized ship. As we reflect on Jesus’ journey in the desert let us remember that he did not make the journey alone for God was always by his side. Let us recall that there is a morning after and that as we journey this let we will all get there because we have special people in our lives who help us along life’s journey and are there for us in good times and in bad.

Posted by schifinp on Sunday February 18
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Innocence and Wonder, by Sr. Pat

Today I had the experience of watching total innocence and childhood wonder. My friends had asked me to watch their three year old twin sons for a few hours. It seemed best to take them for a car ride as they did not want to just stay home. As we drove there was an unending series of questions from the back seat and then it got very quiet and I now had two sleeping passengers. They slept for a good hour and when we arrived at our first location they woke up as quickly as they fell asleep. We were going to have lunch at a diner. They were so inquisitive at all the sights and sounds around them and asked more questions. Once their food came they began to eat and were having a really nice time. We then stopped at the store and the fun began – they wanted everything. I purposely avoided the toy aisle as I am not good at saying “no” to them. What was so nice was how sweet they were to others – saying hi and please and thank you. I thought of all the events of this past week and was struck that they have no clue as to what has happened in our world. Today was one of those days, slightly busy but full of grace which makes it all worth while.

Posted by schifinp on Saturday February 17
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