Sunday, May 3, 2009

Centuries of Service: Immaculate Conception Convent, Hamburg, NY April 27 - May 2, 2009

May 3, 2009

Peace and Good,

I preached a retreat for a group of sisters this past week. They were mostly from the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, but a number of other sisters from other communities also joined us. I feel a special bond with these sisters, for they are the ones who taught me in grammar school. In fact, one of the sisters whose example was a great influence on my vocation, Sister Vincentia, was there.

As I looked around the room, I realized that the years of consecrated life, if added all together, would take us back to the times of Jesus (if not before). It is humbling to share my gifts with them. Yet, it is also such a joy because they have given us so much, I truly feel that we owe them whatever we can repay in return.

The retreat was on the usual theme for this year, the letters of St. Paul. I preached on the readings for the day which worked out well since the first readings were from Acts. I notice in one of them something that I had never seen before. Remember when St. Peter heals Tabitha. I had always realized that this miracle and the one that precedes it were ways that St. Luke could show that the apostles were carrying on the ministry of Jesus (with his authority). But I never before realized how much this miracle reminds one of the healing of the daughter of Jairus. Remember what Jesus says to raise her, "Talitha qoum!". What would Peter have said to raise Tabitha. Most probably "Tabitha qoum!" Like Stephen who forgives those killing him just as Jesus did, so also Peter is doing just what Jesus did.

I finished a couple of tapes in the car. (I'm always listening to books on tape when I travel.) The first one was Truth or Dare by Joyne Ann Krentz. I was simply a detective novel (a bit more sex in it that I prefer). Yet, they talk about the ability to sense things below the surface of things. Krentz speaks of it in terms of psychic ability, but I do believe that we have an ability to sense things. I have heard many stories of people having a sudden feeling of dread, and finding out shortly afterward that someone was ill or in an accident. Or else you think of a friend and the phone rings and your friend is on the line. How did that happen? I think love and prayer and hope and even conversion are communicated at this level (as, I suppose, is sin, for when we sin we close ourselves off to others). Whether people know things intellectually or not, at some level they can sense it. There is never a wasted prayer or act of love or sacrifice.

The other book was much darker but also better written. It was a Holy in the Universe by Mary McGarry Morris. It is about a man who commits a murder when he is very young and gets out of prison many years later. It deals with the struggles and fears of adjustment to his freedom, the crime ridden old neighborhood in which he tries to live, the expectations of others, etc. Some of the characters, like the child of a crack mother, leave your heart broken. There is one redeeming character, Dolores, who always hopes, always sees the best in others. Some of the source of her outreach is a neurotic need to be loved, but even so she uses that brokenness to heal others.

I am giving a retreat to a group of Air Force chaplains at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago this week.

God bless and Shalom,

fr. Jude


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