St. Padre Pio

Feastday: September 23

Patron of Civil defense volunteers, Adolescents, Pietrelcina, Stress relief, & January blues

Birth: 1887

Death: 1968

Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Within a month of his ordination, (September 7, 1910), as Padre Pio was praying in the Piana Romana, Jesus and Mary appeared to him and gave him the wounds of Christ, the Stigmata. For Padre Pio’s doctors, the wounds created much confusion. He asked Jesus to take away “the annoyance,” adding, ” I do want to suffer, even to die of suffering, but all in secret.” The wounds went away and the supernatural life of Padre Pio remained a secret…for a while.

On November 28, 1911, Padre Agostino, who was a contemporary, friend, and confidant, was advised that Padre Pio was ill. He rushed into Padre Pio’s room to care for him. Padre Agostino observed what he thought was a dying man and rushed to the chapel to pray. When he finished praying, he returned to Padre Pio’s room and found his friend alert and full of joy.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

“You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Luke 16: 13 How many times have we heard this saying? Jesus was very clear about the consequences of our choices. We have to determine what is “mammon” – all that distracts us from the following of God and aiding the poor. “…you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land…never will I forget…” Amos 8: 4-7 This is a pretty frightening pronouncement.  Hence, it is important to know the stumbling blocks – money, power, position and possessions.  None of these things are evil in themselves.  It is how they are used that determines the culpability. In fact, if we have them, so much good can be accomplished.

1 Timothy 2: 1-8 gives us a wonderful petition. “…I, Paul, ask that supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity…” This is an excellent prayer during this time of preparation for Elections.

This week we honor the Korean martyrs of the early 19th century – Fr. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest and saint, Paul Chong Hasang, a married man and some 68 others who died for the faith.

In the late 19th century a Chinese priest made his way secretly into Korea. He found over 4,000 Christians who had never seen a priest.

“We marvel at the fact that the Korean Church was strictly a lay Church for a dozen years after its birth. How did the people survive without the Eucharist? It is no belittling of this and other sacraments to realize that there must be a living faith before there can be a truly beneficial celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs of God’s initiative and response to faith already present. The sacraments increase grace and faith, but only if there is something ready to be increased.” Franciscan Media

St. Matthew, Apostle, is a good example of a man of faith who was waiting for an increase in his faith when he invited Jesus to his home.

St. Pius of Pietrelcina is better known as Padre Pio, a great mystic, stigmatist and an Italian OFM Capuchin priest of the 19th-20th centuries.  He was also a healer and miracle worker, whose blessings continue to today.

Let us pray for an increase of our faith and be thankful for the presence of the Eucharist – Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK September 11- 17, 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
September 11- 17, 2016
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF Director

Today we recall with prayer all the first responders and those thereafter at the World Trade Center in New York City fifteen years ago.  The many victims, the survivors and their families are held in our hearts.  The people of New York, the United States and the world are in need of continued prayer so that revenge and hatred may not eat up their lives.  We even pray for our enemies and their conversion.  Jesus said from the Cross, “Father, forgive them.  They know not what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

In the reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 St. Paul acknowledges his sinfulness. “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated, because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.” Who are we, sinful as we are, to condemn and judge others for their failures and atrocities?  We are to heap coals of love and prayer upon them, so that, they too, may experience the mercy of God.

In Luke’s Gospel 15: 1-10 we see the wonderful story of the lost sheep.  The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine and goes in search of the lost one.  Jesus uses this analogy to show his rejoicing in the repentance of the one sinner over the ninety-nine righteous people.  So, are there really any “righteous” people?  I think not.  We are the one sinner, the one lost sheep that God is always seeking.  We are always in need of mercy, just as are our enemies.

This week is chucked full of reasons to celebrate.  Monday is the Holy Name of Mary.  In my religious congregation, the Felician Franciscan Sisters, we each bear some form of Mary’s name. We have a great love and devotion to Jesus’ Mother Mary, who is also our Mother.

St. John Chrysostom’s feast falls on Tuesday. He was born in Turkey in the 4th century. He was an Archbishop of Constantinople and most noted for his writing and preaching against the abuse of power both religious and secular. His name means – “golden mouth or tongue.”

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross commemorates the story of the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine in the 4th century. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built in Jerusalem on the sight of this discovery and a piece of this Cross, “the wood of our salvation,” was housed within it.

The Blessed Mother appears again on our calendar – Our Lady of Sorrows.  She represents all those mothers who have lost children throughout the ages.  Her tears of sorrow at the torture of her Son, Jesus, resonates in the souls of all Christians.  We are part of the cause of this sorrow, because of our sinfulness.  Through our repentance, let us call for mercy and forgiveness.

Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, were great friends during the 3rd century. Cornelius was the twenty-first Pope, who was strongly confirmed by Cyprian, Bishop in Carthage.  Cornelius believed in mercy and forgiveness for apostates who repented.  Others strongly opposed this pronouncement, and said that he was too indulgent, but he held fast to this position.  Both of these early Fathers of the Church were martyred.

And, finally, we have St. Robert Bellarmine, an Italian Jesuit of the 16th century, who is one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation and strongly supported the tenets of the Council of Trent.

 

This week of memories will, hopefully, bring us manty blessings of mercy from God.

 

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

August 29, 2016 – Reflection for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 29, 2016 – Reflection for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Every Age, Emmanuel– God-With-Us

This week’s psalm refrain reminds us to keep hope alive and not give up when crosses seem too much to bear. “In every age, O God, you have been our refuge.” (Ps. 90) In every age of Jewish history, with all its trauma, infidelities, and triumphs, God was their refuge. Throughout the ages of the Church, checkered with periods of light and dark, God remains our refuge. In our individual lives, from infancy to old age, if we seek God in all our life’s experiences, carrying the crosses of circumstance and even of ourselves (both burdensome and beautiful) God is our refuge, is here with us, even when we doubt it.

It is still August as I reflect on these readings, and very recent events occupy my thoughts: the Pax Christi USA conference, connecting with people striving to be peacemakers; floods ravaging Louisiana towns; Milwaukee exploding in violence where needs have been ignored; an Imam shot to death on a New York street after leaving a mosque; young Olympians using their talents, strength, and hard work to compete for medals for their home countries and perhaps make new friends from other countries; a major earthquake destroying lives and towns in central Italy. So much life and death, exuberance and grief, humanity and hate, on this planet in two short days. Before September 4th there will be more stories of suffering, of tragedies. We seek refuge in God, yes, but not refuge that merely comforts us and turns us away from the world’s pain.

Carry your cross, Jesus says in Luke’s gospel, and unite it with the suffering of others, not only people close to you but those whose stories appear in the daily news. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart,” prays the psalmist. In the wisdom of his old age, Paul pleads on behalf of Onesimus, a slave imprisoned with Paul who has become Paul’s “own heart.” The refuge offered by God comforts, strengthens, enlightens, assures, gives courage to carry the day’s crosses. And on Labor Day, let’s remember especially all underpaid workers and those seeking employment.

Suggested action: Identify individuals and communities in need of God’s refuge; pray for them.

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy and Member Relations

Suggested Petitions:

With gratitude let us pray for the ways and times God has been our refuge, we pray…
With renewed commitment, let us shoulder our daily crosses, we pray…

Prayer: St. Augustine of Hippo

Lord, our God, we are in the shadow of your wings.
Protect us and bear us up.
You will care for us as if we were little children, even to our old age.
When you are our strength, we are strong;
but when we are our own strength, we are weak.
Our good always lives in your presence,
and we suffer when we turn our faces away from you.
We now return to you, O Lord,
that we may never turn away again.   

Amen

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK August 28 – September 3, 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
August 28 – September 3, 201620130205-162904.jpg
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF  Laredo, TX

Humility is the great theme of this Sunday’s readings.  In Sirach 3: 17 a blessing of humility is seen. “…conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts…”  In Luke 14: 1, 7-14 Jesus tells the Parable on Humility in which he states, “…everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted…”

So, what is this humility business all about?  It doesn’t sound very appealing and no one wants to be a door mat. When did we ever start thinking of humility as a door mat?  It’s more like a bear hug of love and generosity.  Right relationships are so hard to develop.  It is easier to think of one’s self better than everyone else.  Though at other times our self-image is so poor, we have to put other’s down to feel good about ourselves.  Neither of these attitudes will lead to healthy relationships.

If we are to be humble, we have to have a good sense of ourselves and our worth in God’s eyes.  This means we recognize the gifts that are God-given, we are thankful for these gifts and we use them to the benefit of others.  We realize that each person is gifted and recognize this blessing.  We invite others into our circle of sharing and build them up with praise and recognition.  There is no oppression of others because of their race, religion, opinions, culture, etc. Everyone will sit at the circular table in the Kingdom of God.  There is a reason why God made our earth in the shape of a ball. It reminds us that we all fit together on this “solid circle.” It is only we who set up the barriers, fences and boundaries.  Humility opens them.

On Monday we recall Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.  He was the first to recognize the presence of God in human form, while they were both in the womb.  I often wonder if they played together as children.

Unfortunately, John died a gruesome death of beheading as a young man.  Jesus bitterly mourned the loss of this holy man. Let us remember the modern martyrs in Syria and other war torn areas of the world.

St. Gregory the Great, celebrated on Saturday, is a Doctor of the Church and the most influential Pope of the Medieval Ages.  He revised the Liturgy of which many parts are used today in the Mass.  Being a monk, he was very interested in the music of the Mass and is today known as the author of Gregorian Chant. He set up Church discipline, finance, leadership and organization.  Is it any wonder, that he is called, “Great?”

Have a happy, humble week,
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Laredo, TX

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board of Directors

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Who has the Right of Way?

Recently, while taking a routine driver’s awareness course for my community, I came across this phrase, “You only have the right of way if the other driver gives you the right of way.” I have thought of this many times when I encounter aggressive drivers on the road. One unexpected consequence of remembering this phrase is feelings of peacefulness and calm while driving.

Our readings this Sunday remind us that when we try to follow the nonviolent Jesus our world and values will be turned upside down. Power, pride and social status were just as important to people in biblical times as they are today. Self-sufficiency, ambition and egoism are values ingrained in the social structures of our culture. Advertising and our economic system thrive on greed and self-absorption. We probably can all think of a time when we may have been personally humiliated by assuming “the place of honor at the table.”

Saint Francis wanted his followers to be “minores,” to differentiate them from those who have wealth and power. Francis wanted his followers to always be aware of their total dependency on God. The good we possess is a gift from God and the good that we do is only through God. We may wince at words such as dependency or minority and may tend to avoid any situation where we may be given “the lowest seat at the table.” We can only practice humility on a daily basis with God’s help. In her book the Humility of God, Ilia Delia writes that Saint Bonaventure describes the humility of God as God “plunging in the darkness of humanity to meet us where we are, in our violence.”

Gandhi taught that “the spirit of nonviolence necessarily leads to humility.” How different would our homes, our roads, our society, our politics be if we each practiced nonviolence, attempted to respond to situations in a nonviolent manner, for even an hour each day? The Franciscan Action Network website offers suggestions on active nonviolence.

Thomas Merton wrote that when he made the decision to try to act in a nonviolent manner he began by closing doors gently. Perhaps we can begin by remembering that when driving “you only have the right of way if the other driver gives you the right of way.”

This week: Try to close doors softly and be conscious of any aggression while driving.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board of Directors

Suggested Petitions:
May we have the humility to take the lowest seat at the table and the strength of heart to approach every situation with non-violence, we pray…

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God.” May we strive to be peacemakers and Children of God, we pray…

Collect Prayer:

God of might, giver of every good gift,

Put into our hearts the love of your name,

So that, by deepening our sense of reverence,

You may nurture in us what is good

And, by your watchful care,

Keep safe what you have nurtured.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever.

 

Amen

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK August 14-20, 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

August 14-20, 2016

Another school year has commenced at St. Augustine High School in Laredo, Texas, so we resume the “Thought for the Week from St. Augustine Spirituality Center.”

This week’s readings show us the prophet, Jeremiah, experiencing rejection by his own people, because of words they don’t want to hear. Jeremiah 38:4-6, 38-10   In our world today many people do not want to hear God’s Word either.  Many things become their gods – money, power, abortion, war, greed, lying, etc.  At times we feel helpless, like Jeremiah. Our words and values fall on deaf ears and we suffer the loss of Christina values.  However, it is important to continue to stand strong for right relationships (justice) and increase our prayer.

Hebrews 12:1-4 uses the wonderful image of running. “…persevere in running the race that lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.” We know that exhaustion can set in very quickly in running. So, we prepare ourselves with the tools that strengthen our spiritual life – prayer, fasting (from negativism, selfishness, gossip, harsh words, the list is endless) and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The support system is extensive – Jesus and other like-minded runners. In this we can rejoice.

In Luke 12:49-53 Jesus came “to set the earth on fire” with his love, mercy and values.  As the Gospel explains, Jesus’ way will even divide families.  These divisions will be many and tremendous compassion, mercy, non-judgement and forgiveness will be required.  Making the first step toward reconciliation and conversion is a challenge.

Monday celebrates the Assumption of Mary. Since Mary was born immaculate, so that the devil would have no power over Jesus, it stands to reason that she was not subject to original sin.  For this reason, she was not subject to death, so when her time on this earth came to an end, she was taken to heaven body and soul by God. Some of the early Church writings claim that when they opened Mary’s tomb, her body was gone and only her clothes remained. This gives us another reason to throw a party.

Have a week full of the love and mercy of God,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director