Saturday, December 26, 2015

St. Stephen's Day

 Psalm 119:169-176
XXII (Tau)

Lord, let my cry come before you:
teach me by your word.
Let my pleading come before you:
save me by your promise.

Let my lips proclaim your praise
because you teach me your statutes.
Let my tongue sing your promise
for your commands are just.

Let your hand be ready to help me,
since I have chosen your precepts.
Lord, I long for your saving help
and your law is my delight.

Give life to my soul that I may praise you.
Let your decrees give me help.
I am lost like a sheep; seek your servant
for I remember your commands. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: — as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.

Image: Chapel - Newark Abbey, Newark NJ

Monday, November 30, 2015

"How Long We Wait" by Thomas Merton


How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time,
Like sentries on a tower.
How long we watch, by night, like the astronomers.

Heaven, when will we hear you sing,
Arising from our grassy hills,
And say: “The dark is done, and Day
Laughs like a Bridegroom in His tent, the lovely sun,
His tent the sun, His tent the smiling sky!”

How long we wait with minds as dim as ponds
While stars swim slowly homeward in the water of our west!
Heaven, when will we hear you sing?

How long we listened to the silence of our vineyards
And heard no bird stir in the rising barley.
The stars go home behind the shaggy trees.
Our minds are as grey as rivers.

O earth, when will you wake in the green wheat,
And all our Trappist cedars sing:
“Bright land, lift up your leafy gates!
You abbey steeple, sing with bells!
For look, our Sun rejoices like  a dancer
On the rim of our hills.”

In the blue west the moon is uttered like the word:


** Photo: Fields, Holy Trinity Monastery - Petersham, Mass. © Brian Murphy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Red Rose

“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enameled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our lord's living garden."  

St. Therese, The Little Flower

Friday, September 11, 2015


As I write these words - the morning temperature is 84*F. – and in a few hours, the temperature will be well into the 90’s. September days like these make it hard to believe that the summer season is almost gone. I would like to see the summer stay a bit longer, but God has other plans.
How wonderful are all the earth’s seasons. They bring us to a deeper awareness – an awareness of nature’s wondrous cycle of life and death. If we are open to it, we will notice the cycles of the seasons mirrored in our own lives, in our disappointments, our struggles, and our triumphs. These cycles also mirror the dying and rising of Our Lord.

Soon we will be entering the colorful and transitional season of autumn - the season of cool early mornings, cloudless skies, and nights that fade like a softly sung hymn. This is the season of apple picking, pumpkins, the smell of burning leaves and wood smoke - crows, cardinals, jays, hawks – the Feast of St. Francis, All Saints Day - and scary Halloween.  Author Lee Maynard says “I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” I must agree with Mr. Maynard - Autumn is my favorite time of year.

“Autumn is really the best of the seasons; and I'm not sure that old age isn't the best part of life. But of course, like autumn, it doesn't last.”
―C. S. Lewis

This autumn season has special meaning for me - as I will be celebrating two important events. This October I begin my 60th year on God’s good earth. I must admit that, these days before I turn 60, this is a little harder than all those other birthdays. Still, I realize there is a call within this birthday that seems to be of the Spirit – I am invited to look at my life and focus anew. My godson Simon answered the call of Christ. This October he will enter St. Mary’s “Benedictine” Abbey in Newark as a postulant. I pray for Simon as he transitions into the Benedictine life.

The undulating wood slopes down to the rhythm of mountain streams. To me this rhythm is revealing You, the Primordial Word. How remarkable is Your silence.”   From the poem “The Stream” – by Karol Wojtyla, St. Pope John Paul II

I find autumn to be the perfect season to escape into silence - to make a retreat - to find a quiet place to seek God, to hear God, in solitude, in stillness, in the beauty of nature. Blessed Mother Teresa said “In the Silence of the Heart, God speaks.” Many of us find it difficult if not impossible to “get away.” We are all so busy. Still, why not head to your local park. My favorite park is Brookdale. Even here, the wonders of the autumn season fill our eyes with beauty, our hearts with wonder, and our lips with prayers of praise of our God. (Bring your camera – it will cause you to look even deeper into the Divine art of God)

 I hope are inspired to seek God in his Creation - to see Him reflected in all its beauties.

Your friend in Christ,

Deacon Brian

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tens of thousands protest at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country

Hundreds of demonstrations were held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. this weekend with protesters calling on the federal government to stop funding the abortion giant.  

After videos were released last month showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing their fetal tissue donation program in graphic detail, the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League called on a national day of protest.

Eric Scheidler, the group’s executive director, said that “with 240 out of 342 cities reporting” over 58,000 people turned out to protest Aug. 22.

“Great day! Except for Planned Parenthood!” he tweeted that evening.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Archbishop Charles Chaput speaks out on Abortion


Of the many struggles plaguing modern society, none can be equated with the blatant taking of innocent human lives, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said regarding the latest investigative videos of Planned Parenthood.

“Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide,” he said in his
August 10 column for Catholic Philly.

“Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence. The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that.”

In a series of five videos released thus far by the Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood officials casually discuss prices for various aborted baby body parts and how abortion procedures may be altered to ensure intact organs and even “intact cadavers.” One video shows a medical assistant looking through body parts from an aborted baby before proclaiming, “Another boy!”

The videos have raised questions of whether the organization is harvesting and selling organs from aborted babies.

Planned Parenthood has maintained that its actions are legal. However, the videos have prompted widespread outrage, nationwide rallies, congressional investigations and calls to defund the organization, which receives more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer money annually.

While today’s world is filled with many social ills – which are connected and must all be acknowledged and addressed – there is a natural hierarchy to these problems, because some are foundational to human life itself, Archbishop Chaput said.

One common argument against the pro-life movement – of which Catholics make up a large contingent – is that they are merely pro-birth; they do not care about the needs of the child or the mother once the child has been born. That understanding is mistaken, the archbishop commented.

“It makes no sense to champion the cause of unborn children if we ignore their basic needs once they’re born,” he said. “Thus it’s no surprise that – year in and year out – nearly all Catholic dioceses in the United States, including Philadelphia, devote far more time, personnel and material resources to providing social services to the poor and education to young people than to opposing abortion.”

The Catholic Church is one of the largest charitable organizations in the world. Although it is difficult to quantify exactly what percentage of social services are rendered by the Church in the United States every year, a 2013 report by Forbes ranked Catholic Charities alone as number five in the nation. And this doesn't account for other Catholic charitable organizations such as Christ in the City, St. Vincent de Paul societies, and soup kitchens or other charities run by religious orders or local parishes. 

However, it is correct to prioritize the right to life as the foundation for all other rights, Archbishop Chaput noted.

“But of course, children need to survive the womb before they can have needs like food, shelter, immigration counseling and good health care.  Humanity’s priority right – the one that undergirds all other rights – is the right to life,” he said.

And while being opposed to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse anyone from caring about other social injustices, such a poverty and violence, there is a right ordering of moral priorities, Archbishop Chaput said, which is the reason the United States’ bishops released their 1998 pastoral letter, “Living the Gospel of Life.”

“Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care . . . But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. 

Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community” (Living the Gospel of Life pp. 22).

Another common argument against the mainstream pro-life movement is that politics can never provide a solution to the problem of abortion, and therefore political involvement is a waste of time.

“In practice, politics is the application of moral conviction to public discourse and the process of lawmaking. Law not only constrains and defends; it also teaches and forms. Law not only reflects culture; it shapes and reshapes it. That’s why Christians can’t avoid political engagement,” Archbishop Chaput said.

While political action is never the main focus or goal of faith, Christians have a duty to defend life that “inescapably involves politics.”

“Thus the recent Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood was not only right and timely, but necessary. And the failure of that measure involves a public failure of character by every Catholic senator who voted against it,” he said.

At the end of his statement, Archbishop Chaput urged everyone to read “veteran ‘pro-choice’ voice” Ruben Navarette, Jr.’s
August 10th column in the Daily Beast, in which he honestly questions his pro-abortion stance after his revulsion at what is shown in the videos.

The column’s strongest lines, Archbishop Chaput said, are when Navarette quotes his pro-life wife.

“Those are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children – his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.”

Archbishop Chaput’s response: “Amen.”

Sunday, August 2, 2015

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015


Pope Francis has urged the faithful to look beyond material needs and turn to Jesus who is.....

                                            “the Bread of Life”

The Pope’s words came as he addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus.Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of the crowd that went looking for Jesus, not because they saw the signs but because they had eaten the loaves of bread and were filled, Pope Francis pointed out that those people gave more value to the bread than to He who gave them the bread.

He explained that before this spiritual blindness, Jesus highlights the need to look beyond the gift and discover the giver. God himself – the Pope said – is the gift and is also the giver.

Jesus invites us – the Pope continued – to be open to a perspective which is not only that of daily preoccupation and material needs; Jesus speaks to us of a different kind of food, food which is not corruptible and that we must search for and welcome into our lives.

He exhorts us not to work for food that perishes but “for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give us” he said.

With these words – Pope Francis continued  – He wants us to understand that beyond a physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger – “we all have this hunger” – a more important kind of hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food.

“It is the hunger for life – the hunger for eternity – that only He can satisfy because He is the bread of life” he said.

And pointing out that the true meaning of our earthly existence is to be found at the end, in eternity, Pope Francis said that to be open to meeting Jesus every day of our lives will illuminate our lives and give meaning to small gifts, sufferings and preoccupations.

And quoting from the Gospel of John, the Pope said “Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”.

“This – he said – refers to the Eucharist, the greatest gift that fulfills body and soul”.

To meet and to welcome Jesus, “the bread of life” – Pope Francis concluded – gives meaning and hope to our lives that are sometimes tortuous; but this “bread of life” – he said – also gives us the duty to satisfy the spiritual and material needs of our brothers.

To do this – he said- we must announce the Gospel everywhere, and with the witness of a fraternal attitude of solidarity towards our neighbor, we can make Christ and his love present amongst men.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Psalm 18 (19) The Glory of God

The skies tell the story of the glory of God,
  the firmament proclaims the work of his hands;
day pours out the news to day,
  night passes to night the knowledge.

Not a speech, not a word,
  not a voice goes unheard.
Their sound is spread throughout the earth,
  their message to all the corners of the world.
At the ends of the earth he has set up
  a dwelling place for the sun.
Like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
  it rejoices like an athlete at the race to be run.
It appears at the edge of the sky,
  runs its course to the sky’s furthest edge.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.

Friday, July 17, 2015

St. Joseph's Abbey Stained Glass Window

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
God favored me, His lowly servant,
and from this day
all generations will call me

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"My Ideas About Nuns Were So Wrong." by Danielle Medearis - from The Litttle Sisters of the Poor Blog

Here is a wonderful witness to the Little Sisters of the Poor, written by Danielle Medearis.

**** I pulled the article out of the:


I’m not sure exactly where the vague preconceived image of religious life I possessed before coming to work as an intern this summer at the Jeanne Jugan Residence (Bronx, NY) originated, but after a month here, the one thing I’m positive of is it was quite wrong. Perhaps from a combination of old movies, Sister Act, and the Sound of Music, my idea of a nun before traveling to the Bronx to work with the Little Sisters of the Poor was a woman with a solemn face, grave eyes, constantly carrying around a ruler and reminding others not to sing in the abbey.

This idea was quite wrong.

From the moment the Little Sisters picked me up, discussing traffic problems in New York accents and shaking their heads at the construction they had had to get through on the Whitestone Bridge, I understood that I really had no idea what the true nature of religious life was like. My summer here with the Sisters has taught me it is one of profound joy. Rather than a life of restriction and sacrifice of freedom, the Sisters here live as freely as anyone I’ve ever met. They possess true freedom, which is the ability to not simply do what you want, but to be able to do what you ought.

To me they seem to have this radiating joy, which touches everyone around them and gives them, too, a taste of this freedom par excellence. People become better around the Sisters — happier, kinder, and more prone to charity. It’s like you can see God’s love flowing out of them into the lives of those they come in contact with, and from there you just watch as that Love transforms. I had the privilege of going to the Hunt’s Point produce market with the sisters this past week, and it was lovely observing the faces of the men who gave freely and regularly to the Sisters when they approached, and equally lovely to see the Sisters speak to the men with such affection and personal attention. Some men asked for prayers, some joked that they hoped this extra box of food would help propel them to heaven, and some welcomed the Sisters with a laugh saying, “Look it’s my best customers!” (The Sisters, as part of the order, beg for food for their residents, so all of the men whom they did business with were providing the food for free). The sisters may not have given anything of monetary value to these men, but it would be a completely untrue statement to say they did not receive anything from the Little Sisters, because the Love of God was flowing through them at every stop; you could tell immediately when it reached the men, because their faces just lit up.

For some reason I had it in my head that the sisters would not laugh much, and be quite serious most of the time, but instead they laugh at everything, and are constantly joking around and kidding with one another. Sharing meals with them has become a weekly highlight for me, because they remind me so much of my family at home during dinner, discussing the day and telling jokes, recalling past funny stories. Strange and simple as it is, what struck me strongly during my first few days with the sisters was how, well, normal they were. They did regular people things like play card games and drink coffee and eat chocolate cake, and they didn’t seem like they were deprived of any happiness; quite the opposite, the sisters have happiness in everything.

I think that’s again part of the freer, not less free, discovery I made.

Being around so many living conduits of God’s love and compassion, it’s no surprise that I’ve enjoyed my time here thus far at Jeanne Jugan Residence. Each day brings new opportunities to practice this art of letting God shines through in every action you do, in having joy in every small task you undertake (and I undertake many, many small tasks). And due to the fact that I find most of my days are devoted to the task of finding more ways to put joy and love into them, I think it’s no surprise that I am happily looking forward to the rest of my time here.

*** As you may be aware, the Little Sisters of the Poor are under attack by our own government, who wishes them to deny their faith. This attack is on all Christians - and all good fair minded citizens of these United States.  Let us pray for these beautiful sisters, these holy instruments of God.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, The Lily of the Mohawks

Only known portrait from life of Catherine Tekakwitha,
circa 1690, by Father Chauchetière
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, given the name Tekakwitha, baptized as Catherine and informally known as Lily of the Mohawks (1656 – April 17, 1680), is a Roman Catholic saint who was an Algonquin–Mohawk virgin and laywoman. Born in Auriesville (now part of New York), she suffered from smallpox as a young child, which scarred her face and greatly weakened her eyes. She converted to Roman Catholicism at age nineteen and was renamed Kateri. She settled for the remaining years of her life at the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal in New France, now Canada.

Tekakwitha took a devout vow of perpetual virginity. She was baptized in honor of Saint Catherine of Siena. Upon her death at the age of 24, minutes after her death, witnesses say her scars vanished and she appeared radiant and beautiful. Known for her virtue of chastity and mortification of the flesh, as well as being shunned by her tribe for her religious conversion to Catholicism, she is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Roman Catholic Church, and the first to be canonized.

Lord God, You called the virgin Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, to shine among the American Indian people as an example of innocence of life. Through her intercession, may all peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation, having been gathered into Your Church, proclaim your greatness in one song of praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli's Letter On the Recent Supreme Court Decision

Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

The recent Supreme Court decision “Obergefell et al. v Hodges” has now redefined the legal definition of marriage in our country.

Responding to the cultural trends of the last sixty years, the judges have made a decision that will affect not only those individuals who decide to enter same-sex unions, but every citizen and institution within the nation.

This decision rejects the understanding of marriage that has been held across the millennia by people of every race and religion. The consequences of this decision will have long-range effects in politics, economics, education, and, in no small way, religious freedom. The adverse consequences of this decision will become more and more evident in the days and months ahead in terms of our Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, charitable institutions and churches.

As your bishop, I take serious my responsibility to safeguard and pass on to you the teaching of Jesus that has been handed down to us by the apostles in the deposit of faith. Therefore, I ask you to always keep in mind, as faithful Catholics, the following truths of faith.

First, as believers, we abstain from judging the consciences of those who choose to live in lifestyles contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Only God sees the heart and judges rightly each human person. As a consequence, we speak charitably and compassionately of all people, even those who disagree with us on fundamental truths of the natural law.

Second, precisely because we are people of reason and faith, we hold that there is objective truth about the human person and the world. Objective truth is founded on God’s design for creation and independent of the political and cultural trends of any age.

Third, without a doubt, the objective truth about family, as intended by God, is a most fundamental, objective truth for the good of all society. From the very first pages of Genesis, we learn that God created us in his own image and likeness, male and female, he created us. (cf. Gn 1:27). In the beauty of God’s creative design, marriage is based on the complementarity of man and woman. As Pope Francis has said, “the removal of difference, in fact, creates a problem, not a solution.”

Courts and constitutions may change the legal definition of marriage. But, they cannot alter God’s loving plan inscribed within the natural law.

As Catholics, therefore, we are committed to the teaching of Sacred Scripture faithfully handed down to us by the Church that marriage is, by God’s design, a union between a man and a woman, open to life, in a lifelong commitment of fidelity and mutual love. That is God’s gift of marriage that we cherish and seek to protect.

Fourth, the laws of a nation are good or bad only insofar as they are in accord with God’s plan for his creation. Human laws are fallible and change. In 1857, the Supreme Court of this nation upheld slavery. Clearly, a bad decision condoning an evil. Because a court tells us something is good does not make it good. We, as believers, are ultimately responsible to a higher authority.

While accompanying, with patience and love, others, even members of our own families, who do not accept the Church’s teaching on marriage, as believers, we cannot cease to support and promote God’s sacred plan for marriage. Please keep in mind that, by our own fidelity to what is good in God’s eyes and by the witness of our lives, we are of invaluable benefit for all of society.

In the days ahead as we face many challenges to our faith and, perhaps, even persecution, I pray that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rm 15: 13).

Invoking God’s blessing on each of you and your families, I remain,

 Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, S.T.D., S.S.L., D.D.
Bishop of Paterson
* This letter is out of the DIOCESE OF PATERSON website. Well worth the read !

Friday, June 26, 2015

Catholics Must Maintain Witness to the Truth of Marriage

Out of EWTN

Catholics are called to witness to the truth of marriage despite the Supreme Court of the United States recognizing a legal right to same-sex marriage, the nation's bishops said on Friday.

“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S bishops conference, in a June 26 statement for the conference.

“Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” Archbishop Kurtz added. “As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”

In a 5-4 decision on Friday, the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that under the Fourteenth Amendment, states must grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

The Fourteenth Amendment protects the rights of all citizens to “life, liberty, or property” under due process, and guarantees them “equal protection of the laws” in the states. In this case, the court ruled that state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman deprived same-sex couples of their right to legally marry.

The ruling overturned a November decision by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld traditional marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Same-sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states.

Although the Court recognizes a legal right to same-sex marriage, Catholics must teach and bear witness to true marriage, the bishops insisted.

“The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female,” Archbishop Kurtz reflected.

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.”

Despite the ruling, Catholics should continue to preach the truth about the nature of marriage with “faith, hope, and love” for all persons, and asked “all people of good will” to join Catholics in supporting this proclamation and respecting Catholics’ “freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth”


“It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this [same-sex marriage] is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.  -  St. John Paul II

Lake George New York

"Lake George is without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw; formed by a a contour of mountains into a basin thirty-five miles long and from two to four miles broad, finely interspersed with islands, its water limpid as crystal and the mountainsides covered with rich groves of silver fir, white pine, aspen and paper birch down to the water, here and there precipices of rock to checker the scene and save it from monotony. An abundance of speckled trout, salmon trout, bass, and other fish with which it is stored, have added to our other amusements the sport of taking them."

—Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mother Teresa’s Successor, Sister Nirmala Joshi, Home to God at 81

OUT OF CNA - Catholics around the world are mourning the death of Sister Nirmala Joshi, who passed away Tuesday. Sr. Nirmala had succeeded Blessed Teresa of Calcutta as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, serving in that capacity from 1997 to 2009.

Sr. Nirmala, who was 81, had suffered ill health for some years, and was hospitalized and then brought home a few days ago, dying at a Missionaries of Charity home in Kolkata in the early hours of June 23.

“All people in India and especially the Archdiocese of Calcutta is saddened with this great loss of Sr. Nirmala Joshi, who was very close and dear to us,” Fr. Dominic Gomes, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, told CNA.

“She was simple, humble and emanated a strong spirituality of faith,” Fr. Gomes added. “Her exemplary life was an inspiration to the younger generation in the congregation and to people around the world.”

The body of Sr. Nirmala is lying in state at St John's Church in Kolkata's Sealdah district, and will be taken to the Missionaries of Charity's Mother House in Kolkata tomorrow. The funeral Mass will be said at 4 pm local time on Wednesday, and then interred at St. Johns cemetery.

Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta, who had visited Sr. Nirmala a fortnight ago when she had regained consciousness, has expressed his deep sadness and grief at her death, saying, 'she was a great soul.”

He praised her work, noting that “she never talked about herself; she was more about how to support peace, to be helpful to the poor … she had a deep union with Jesus and she was a gentle apostle of peace until the end.”

Sr. Nirmala was in born in 1934 in Ranchi, capital of what is now India's Jharkhand state, to a Hindu brahmin family from Nepal who were serving the British during colonial rule. Her given name was Kusum, meaning “flower,” and she was the eldest sibling among eight girls and two boys. Her early education was at Christian schools.

She was inspired by Mother Teresa's humanitarian work, and was baptized. She later entered the Missionaries of Charity and took the name Nirmala, meaning “purity” in Sanskrit. She completed a master's degree in political science, and studied law as well. In the 1970s, she became head of the congregation's contemplative wing.

Sr. Nirmala was elected as superior general of the congregation just a few months before Mother Teresa's death in 1997, and pursued the founder's cause for beatification.

The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stated, “Saddened at the passing away of Sister Nirmala, who headed the Missionaries of Charity after Mother Teresa. Kolkata and the world will miss her.”


** I was privileged to meet Sister Nirmala on two occasions. Once, during her visit to the Missionaries of Charity mission in Newark, New Jersey, and on another occasion at the MC House in Washington, DC. She was a wonderful sister, a holy instrument of God. May God bless her forever.    

Deacon Brian Murphy

Saturday, June 20, 2015

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 4:35-41

Today’s Gospel from Mark brings to mind an event a number of years ago, when my family and I were on vacation in Ireland. My son bought the family tickets for a ferry ride to Clare Island, off the coast of County Mayo. Clare island is where Grace O`Malley, the tyrant of the ocean, resided and was buried in the 16th century. There is a lovely old abbey there, St, Bridget’s, that dates from the 13th century. That day was very windy, and I was hesitant, because - I do not like boats!  but I gave in. 

After boarding the ferry and taking our top deck seats, we began to move towards the island. Very soon this little ferry was in the midst of chaos – riding huge waves, one minute seeing the sky, next minute looking at water. The captain told us we would not sink, but best to go below and put on our life jackets. That was just great. On the bottom deck of the ferry were sitting two elderly nuns, who gave me a nice smile. They were calm; I was in a panic, thinking my life was all over…. “Oh you of little faith.”

Our story begins with Jesus, who is tired after a long day of preaching and teaching. He leaves with his disciples by boat – moving across the Sea of Galilee to the other side.

He sleeps soundly in the stern of the boat. As the boat moves out to sea, a violent storm comes up – the sea is rough - the winds are strong - the waves are high – they begin to break over the boat. I CAN imagine the terror the disciples were experiencing during the storm. Mark uses good symbolism here. The boat or bark - is an ancient Christian symbol of the Church, the vessel of salvation. You can find carvings of boats on the walls of the catacombs in Rome. Early Christians needed to disguise the cross. Since the ship's mast forms a cross in many of its depictions - it made for a good sign. The Boat holds the Disciples, and symbolically, all of Christ's Disciples, you and me. Jesus is also in the boat with us. Church Father St. Hippolytus wrote, "The World is a Sea - in which the Church, like a Ship, is beaten by the waves, but not submerged" in fact it has an expert pilot, Christ.” 

The boat, the Church, is being tossed around on the sea of disbelief, secularism, and persecution, martyrdom, institutional corruption, and scandal. Our American Church today is experiencing a perfect storm, a lack of priestly and religious vocations, attacks on the Sacrament of marriage, religious freedom, and attacks upon the dignity of the human person. Still, in the midst of the storm, the boat moves towards the other side, to that eternal safe harbor - with its cargo of human souls – a fulfillment of Christ’s promise.

The storm is raging. Jesus lies in the stern - asleep on a cushion. The storm seems to have no effect on him. More symbolism - the sleeping Christ stands for the power – and the presence of God within the Church. He is always the source of peace and serenity in the midst of the greatest storms. How many of us here today are in the midst of a perfect storm? I am sure many of us, myself included. Here we are together - in our Church – in our boat – and there is Jesus behind the altar in the tabernacle – resting in his humanity, the same as he was in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. He is our peace. He is what St. Teresa of Avila called our “Interior Castle.” Our place of safety.

The disciples are in a panic – anxiety is taking hold. They wake up Jesus and say to him “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.”?  Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind and said “Quiet, be still.” Here we witness the great display of power. Once Christ is awakened, He has the power to calm the storm. If Jesus can calm the storms of the sea with one word, he certainly can calm the storms in our lives.

Jesus said to the disciples “Why are you terrified, do you not yet have faith.”?

The disciples' persistently failed to grasp our Lord's teaching. It must have been a great source of trial and frustration for Jesus. How many of the disciples were at the foot of the cross? As far as faith goes, the disciples are a lot like us.

Our faith is shaken because we lack Trust in God. Trusting God can be extremely uncomfortable, even painful. The events this week in a Charleston, South Carolina shake us to the bone. Nine Christians shot and killed ... violence for the sake of violence. Where is God? Is He sleeping?  We don’t always know the ways of the lord, his mind, why his providence unfolds the way it does in the midst of suffering, hardship and loss.  We just don’t know. So, just like a child who does not understand what his parents are all about – the child trusts them, we must learn to be like children in our Trust of The Lord. The prophet Isaiah says “They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”  Isaiah 40:31

 Faith will lead to Trust. Have we fallen asleep in our faith? We must learn to wake up Jesus in ourselves. At baptism we became temples of the Holy Spirit. He resides in us – the problem is – we let him sleep. The storms in our lives bring on a fear that stops us in our tracks. Pope Francis says “A person who is afraid “does nothing, doesn’t know what to do.” He is focused on himself, overly concerned that nothing bad will happen.” Fear brings you to a self-centered selfishness and paralyzes you.” “A fearful Christian is a person who has not understood the message of Jesus.”

We must move from fear to faith, then to Trust. A strong faith allows us to trust in God and His providence. Renew our  life of prayer, read the scripture, the sacraments, a readiness to serve others out of love.

Our gospel story corresponds well with our first reading. Job was enduring a ferocious storm - he lost everything – children, home, health– When Job's life fell apart, he still found reasons to praise God, reasons that we also should embrace.

    That God is good and loving. (Job 10:12)
    That God is all-powerful. (Job 42:2; 37:5, 23)
    That God notices every detail of our life. (Job 23:10; 31:4)
    That God is in control. (Job 34:13)
    That God has a plan for every life (Job 23:14)
    That God will save us (Job 19:25)

Job held on to God's Word. He said, "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." (Job 23:12, NIV).
Job's trusting in the Lord was his vindication.

We are all going to endure storms in this life. Let us always know that God dwells within us in the person of Christ. He lives in us. 


Monday, June 8, 2015

The Watering Trough

Let the end of all bathtubs
be this putting out to pasture
of four Victorian bowlegs
anchored in grasses.

Let all long necked browsers
come drink from the shallows
while faucets grow rusty
and porcelain yellows.

Where once our nude forebears
soaped up in this vessel
come, cows, and come, horses.
Bring burdock and thistle,

come slaver the scum of
timothy and clover
on the cast-iron lip that
our grandsires climbed over

and let there be always
green water for sipping
that muzzles may enter thoughtful
and rise dripping. 

"Watering Trough" by Maxine Kumin

Photo by Brian J. Murphy, Ned O'Neill's Farm - County Kerry

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Something about a Horse

 Where in this wide world
Can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy,
Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is served with muscle
And strength by gentleness confined
He serves without servility;
He has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful,
Nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick,
Nothing more patient.

~Ronald Duncan, "The Horse," 1954

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

          My dad (T-L) and his pals - Camp Stewart Georgia 1941

On this Memorial Day, we pause to reflect upon our blessings as a nation and the high cost of those blessings, for the freedom we enjoy in this country, for opportunities to flourish, and for the security of our land, for those who have served in the armed services of our country, risking their lives for our liberty, for those who have given their lives in service to our country, sacrificing in such a costly way for the sake of others, for those who have given their lives, as did Robert "Midge" Kennedy (above bottom-right), so that those who live in other countries might experience freedom from tyranny......

and for a day set apart, not just for celebration, but also for solemn remembrance, as we consider the sacrifices of so many in our military.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blessed Mother Teresa - Firm Faith and Burning Charity

Jesus, you made Blessed Teresa an inspiring example of firm faith and burning charity, an extraordinary witness to the way of spiritual childhood, and a great and esteemed teacher of the value and dignity of every human life. Grant that she may be venerated and imitated as one of the Church's canonized saints.  
May we follow her example in heeding Your cry of thirst from the Cross and joyfully loving You in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, especially those most unloved and unwanted.