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Today is the feast day of Pope St. John XXIII who was canonized in 2014.

What do we remember of him?  I think of him as a teddy bear of a man…concerned for others before himself, trying to build unity and peace wherever he went.

 

“For most people, the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the saintly pope’s name is the Second Vatican Council. Yet his pontificate and his priestly ministry left its mark on the church and the world in many different ways.  When the elderly pope opened the Second Vatican Council, tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was steadily escalating. Just days after the pope’s famous speech from his window on the opening night of the Second Vatican Council, a U.S. spy plane spotted and confirmed the stockpile of nuclear arms in Cuba; a discovery that would bring the world to the brink of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction.

This was a pope who had seen firsthand the disastrous effects of war. As a young priest, Father Angelo Roncalli served as a military chaplain in a hospital in Bergamo. He knew firsthand the devastation a conventional war could bring about; let alone a war where mutual destruction of both adversaries was assured. During the second world war Fr. Roncalli served as nuncio to various European and Balkan countries. He knew from experience there was always some way, some key to diffusing even the most delicate of political situations.

Tensions mounted as both sides reinforced their stock of weapons waiting for the other to “blink” first. Finally Pope John XXIII decided it was time to step in. On October 25, 1962 the pope took to the airwaves of Vatican Radio with a message titled For Peace and Fraternity Among Mankind. He did not name the world leaders he hoped to address, he did not invoke his papal authority. The pope simply gave voice to the fears of every man, woman and child who had been following the developments off the coast of Cuba. “May they, with hands on their chest, hear the anguished cry that rises up to the heavens from all corners of the earth, from innocent children and the elderly, individuals, communities: Peace, Peace!”

This message, this plea for peace delivered as spokesperson for all of humanity had the intended effect. Scholars agreed it gave the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and United States President John F. Kennedy a graceful way out of the standoff without the appearance of having chickened out. Within days, the Cuban Missile Crisis was over. Nuclear war was averted.”

 

When John XXIII died in June 1963 he was mourned around the world as “Il Papa Buono” (“The Good Pope”). He left his personal “fortune” to the surviving members of his family — they each received less than $20.

Wrtten by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

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Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi whom we associate with animals, peace, poverty, Brother Sun and Sister Moon!  St. Francis, as we know, is the chosen patron of our Pope whose life of simplicity and mercy has touched so many.  There is still work to be done in our world, especially in the realm of peace!  Am I a peace-keeper in my family, in my neighborhood, in my world?  What more can I do to create a spirit of peace?  Just this morning, a teacher in our preschool, in speaking of one of our sisters, said that Sister knows how to calm a fretting child just by her presence!  Could this be said of me in relation to a distressing situation, a misunderstanding, fear or anxiety?  Maybe today would be a good day to take as our mantra:  “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

A prayer for vocations

 

Loving and Generous God,
it is You who call us by name
and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love
and Service of our Church
as we experience it today.

Give us the energy and courage
of Your Spirit
to shape its future

Grant us faith-filled leaders
who will embrace Christ’s Mission
of love and justice.

Bless the Church of Los Angeles
by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends
who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.

Inspire us to know You better
and open our hearts
to hear Your call.

We ask this through our Lord.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

 

 

 

What might a writer, a politician and a scientist have in common?  In this case, thoughtful insights about gratitude!

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  (Thornton Wilder)

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” (John F. Kennedy) 

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” (Albert Schweitzer)

 

We may not be perfect in everything we do, but the one thing we can always do is be grateful!  We can always find something to complain about, someone to disagree with, but negativity usually hurts us more than it does the “problem” person, situation, etc.  If we can somehow learn to counteract every negative inclination with an attitude of gratitude, perhaps we will be happier people, more content with the good things in life, less anxious about those things/people we cannot change.  We know the old adage about the empty or full cup. I can choose to be empty or full too….I can choose how I am going to begin the day:  “Good morning, God” or “Good God, it’s morning!”  Can I concentrate on my daily “treasures” and really be ALIVE like Wilder suggests?  Can I live a life of appreciation, showing it in everything I do?  Am I conscious of the good people in my life who have helped make me who I am?  Do I try to be a “spark” in the lives of those I meet each day by a genuine smile, a loving word, a gentle touch?  May this week be a week filled with the gift of gratitude—and may the words “Thanks be to God” be on my lips and in my heart!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul grech S.N.D.

 

I received the following as an email…and in the directions was told to pass this on to eight people I would want to “sit at my table.”  I am sharing this with all of you also…all of us are getting older (!) whether we are 14 and counting down the days until we hit “sweet sixteen”, or just on the brink of 21, or bemoaning the 30-mark, or the big 4-0, or becoming a senior citizen (at whatever age it might be defined), or having to blow out more candles than we can comfortably count…..we are getting older!  And so…the following has a message for each and every one of us!

 

“Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.”

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

 

“Today may there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

What Is Your Value?

 

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked. “Who would like this $20 bill?”  Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you – but first, let me do this.”  He proceeded to crumple the 20 dollar note up. He then asked. “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.

 

“Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?”  Still the hands went into the air.

 

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

 

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.  Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but by …WHO WE ARE.  You are special – don’t ever forget it.

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

 

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.  Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water!  She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”
He said … “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.  Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all.  Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words…”Paid in full with one glass of milk”

(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God, that Your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands.”

 

“Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for ME!”

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.