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A rabbi and a soapmaker went for a walk together.  The soapmaker said, “What good is religion?  Look at all the troubles and misery in the world after thousands of years of teaching about goodness, truth and peace—after all the prayers, sermons and teachings.  If religion is good and true, why should this be?”

 

The rabbi said nothing.  They continued walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter.  Then the rabbi said, “Look at that child.  You say that soap make people clean, but see the dirt on that youngster.  Of what good is soap?  With all the soap in the world, the child is still filthy.  I wonder how effective soap is after all.”

 

The soapmaker protested and said, “But, Rabbi, soap can’t do any good unless it is used.”

“Exactly,” replied the rabbi.  “So it is with Judaism, or any other religion.  Faith is ineffective unless it is applied and used.”

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

“ Most of us have probably shared lots of stories about everyday life, but [what about] sharing stories of faith with and for others—to pass on to children, to possibly inspire others or be inspired by others?  Maybe not, but NOW is the time.”  It would be wonderful if families, couples, faith sharing groups, and so on, would take the time to share stories of faith.  Hearing someone else’s story might remind us of our own journey in faith and might help us appreciate the gift of faith that has been given to us!

 

Some questions to inspire sharing faith stories:

  • How has the way you saw God as a child changed and/or remained the same through the years?
  • Did a particular person in your childhood have any impact on your own faith?
  • How has success, failure, illness or death played a role in your life of faith?
  • When have you felt closest to God in your life?

 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, something as simple as sharing a faith story with others may not change the world, but help us to know when and where to tell our stories so that others may be encouraged or inspired.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

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

 

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.