All to often when we talk about finding a calling in life but not so often that we can have a calling within a calling. This one is pretty cool since it involves NASA and nuns. An former aerospace engineer and current professor at the University of Prince Edward Island is taking a sabbatical and becoming a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame. The CBC has a unique interview up as well so if you have some time take a listen. Sure she didn’t really work for NASA but for a company that worked for NASA but we’re all suckers for alliterations. The link between faith and science is real and not as weird as it seems. I mean the Vatican has it’s own science focus, with Guy Consolmagno, SJ the director of its Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. However many people swear that the Church doesn’t know anything about science or the fact that a bunch of huge topics come from Catholics. Genetics comes from Gregor Mendel who was an Augustinian monk, Big Bang Theory was proposed by Fr. Georges Lemaitre, the list goes on and even just Catholics in general they’ve had the first steps. From geology and astronomy to zoology and medicine Catholics have made and continue to today to make impact in all fields of science.
In the past I think I’ve mentioned Scapulars, the brown one is the most common. The scapular comes from the monastic scapular which started as like an apron and is mentioned in the Rule of Benedict, as time has progressed the scapular has become a part of the habit of many monks and nuns. It is typically the outer most layer and goes from shoulder to shoulder and often covers the front and back. This is often described as the yoke of Christ and shows obedience. In the Middle Ages this was made smaller and the oblates (monks and nuns in society wore them), this lead to the development of the third orders where lay faithful would follow the Rule of the order and support them. These individuals would sometimes wear a tertiary habit like a scapular and overtime it became a high honor and great privilege to be granted a small cloth attached by bands which one wore over the torso. This is the basic devotional article which we have today.
The most common of the scapulars is the Brown one of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it is worn by the Carmelites and by a great many of people around the world. The Vatican recognizes many different color scapulars, Brown, White, Blue, Red, Black and there are even some scapulars that combine the other scapulars together into one. As Our Lady of Fatima told the Children “The Rosary and the Scapular are inseparable.” This is why it is important, if you don’t wear a scapular it isn’t that bad it is just another devotional aid that people use. If it is at all possible make an effort to try to lead a more spirit filled life, by adding praying the Rosary or wearing a scapular.
This week the readings come from the Prophet Isaiah 66:10-14c; Psalm 66; Paul’s letter to the Galatians 6:14-18 and Luke’s gospel 10:1-12, 17-20.
This week we hear Jesus commission his 70/72 followers to go out saying “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” he continues saying “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” The world is a tough place but we are sent out in pairs now these were the apostles and disciples who were sent out. We should feel like this commissioning is spoken to us as well today as it is the same today as it was back then, the world is like a pack of wolves and we are the sheep. Let us go out proclaiming that the Kingdom is at hand bringing only ourselves and accepting the kindness of other for places to stay and food to eat. This is what the mendicants do to this day, they beg for their daily bread and funding. If we have the resources let us offer some help to some religious order. Let’s be willing to follow this mission and remember what Jesus says in verse 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” This is how we should be approaching the world accepting the help of others and if we don’t get any leave and try someplace else.
“Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.”
Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.
Today we turn our focus on all those who we often forget about, the priests and the men and women religious. Perhaps we could pray for an increase in religious vocations. These men and women have an important role as many have taken a role in education others in health care. Many of the Saints are religious men and women so we can look to them and those living as examples of how to live our lives.
Netflix has another wonderful food series with Michael Pollan’s Cooked. I’ve been a fan of Michael Pollan, the food writer that has written a lot about food in the past decade for . His focus has been food since The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006). I’ve read his books In Defense of Food (2008) and Food Rules (2009) which offers three simple dictates, Eat food(that your grandmother would recognize as food) mostly plant, not too much. In Cooked he looks at the process of cooking through the elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and adds that we should be cooking the food that we consume with family.
The Netflix series is four episodes each focusing on one of these. It begin with Fire and takes a look at Carolina Barbecue, in Water it looks at braising, in Air it talks about bread an in Earth it talks about fermentation. In each episode we visit with a person or group of people doings something. In the first episode we meet a pit master from North Carolina and a group of Martu in Australia and the discussion is about we started cooking and our brains grew as we could eat more calories quicker. In the second episode we go to India into a community kitchen and talk about cooking in pots. In the third episode we go to Morocco and a mill there talking about the how wheat runs the world and in a majority of the world they can’t grow enough wheat for themselves in their nations. In the final episode we met The Cheese Nun (Sister Noella Marcellino), some food scientists, touch on beer brewing and go to a cacao farm. The show offers some interesting opinions like that the rise of Gluten intolerance in America might be due to the over processing of wheat in America and the food industry in general. There are some cool bits about like how about a third of the food we eat in fermented (ketchup, cheese, hot sauce, chocolate, etc.) or how some anthropologists say that human became a civilization to brew/ferment alcohol while other say that it’s because of bread. I think my favorite quote from the whole show was “Eat whatever you want as long as you make it.” It did offer some unique experiences like I didn’t really know how chocolate was made so that we interesting for me and I liked the part with Sister Noella since it’s a unique call and cheese making is something that I would like to do at least once in my life.
Last week we talk about feeding a multitude of people, this week the amount of people changes and the focus is on bread. We begin in Exodus where the people of Israel were grumbling about how they are starving and would rather be back in Egypt where they had enough food to eat. The Lord heard this and said to Moses, “Tell them, in the evening you will eat flesh (quail) and in the morning you will have your fill of bread. So that you may know the I the Lord am your God.” In the evening quails covered the camp and in the morning after the dew fell as it evaporated it left fine flakes on the ground. They asked Moses what it was, and he replied that it was the bread that the Lord have given you to eat. Paul’s letter really doesn’t have a strong connection to the bread mentioned in the first reading and Gospel. Paul continues talking to the Ephesians and says that we all who have heard the message of Christ should become a new self one that is created in righteousness, holiness and truth.
This brings us to the Gospel of John and we pick up about ten verses from where we ended last week with the feeding of the multitudes. Jesus walks on water in the part that we skip. The people, those who came to the multiplication of loaves and fishes, saw that Jesus was no longer on that side of the sea and they headed to Capernaum to find Jesus. Jesus tells them to not to work for food that perishes but for food that gives eternal life. Someone in the crowd asks Jesus for some of this eternal bread, Jesus replies “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Just as the Israelites who grumbled for sustenance in the desert we have Jesus who is there to provide for us. This is why Paul says that we who have heard the message of Jesus should be new people as we no longer hunger. We should be able to recognize that we are given all that we need with from the Lord and we don’t need much more than that.
I stumbled on a documentary on YouTube about Young Nuns in Britain and it reminded me about that Lifetime “docu-series” The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns which was on last fall. Both of these are interesting looks at the religious life, which is a splendid idea as there aren’t many people who really know what the religious sisters do. The closest that most of us get to Nuns is The Sound Of Music and we hear bits Nuns in education or healthcare but that’s about it. There has been an increase of individuals that are going into vocations. If you have some time watch this or the thing from Lifetime I found them both to be very informative of what some individuals are doing and that there is a strong desire among some of the younger “JPII Generation” to go into religious life, so there is some hope for the future as there are more people actually interested in their faith.
Mother Teresa is finally going to be canonized. Mother Teresa and John Paul II are perhaps the most well known holy people in the past 50 years so it is about time that she is named a Saint. Mother Teresa will be canonized sometime in September 2016 about 19 years after she died this is rather quick for sainthood.
Beer: There is a cool video about the Trappist monks in Spencer. The Spencer Trappists are the only monastics in America who brew beer. Beer brewing is one of the long standing traditional things that monks did. In Europe this is huge thing and it is often considered some of the better beer in the world. Typically in American monks would be making fruitcake, fudge, cheese balls or something like that so the Spencer Trappist are really doing a good thing, I’ve read that a Trappist community in California has winery. It this trend continues it would be cool if like the Trappists in Kentucky started distilling. So many of the monastic orders in America are educational that having some monks that make things is pretty cool.
This week we celebrate a unique holiday\observance the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War which is observed on the eight and ninth of May. May 8 marks VE Day (Victory in Europe) when the Nazi’s surrendered. I hope that 70 years later we can reflect on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who made it back although some have died in the years since there are still some Veterans from the Second World War still alive today.
Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, SC (26 March 1901–8 May 1927)
Sister Miriam Teresa is only a blessed but is a relatively new one, this is her first feast day, Pope Francis declare her a blessed in October. She was born in New Jersey to Ruthenian (Eastern Slovakian) immigrants and was the youngest of seven. Teresa as she was named at birth received all the sacraments in the Ruthenian Rite one of the Eastern Catholic rites in union with the Church in Rome. She was a regular girl and after graduating high school in 1917 Teresa wanted to join the Carmelites but her mother was sick so she stayed and cared for her. After Teresa’s mother passed from the flu in 1918 she was persuaded by her family to go to college. Teresa enrolled at the College of Saint Elizabeth and majored in literature and in 1923 graduated with highest honors. She longed to become a religious sister in ’24 she prayed for direction in her life, that summer/fall she visited with the Discalsed Carmelites in the Bronx. Because of health problems the Carmelites suggested that she come back in a few years. With this rejection her family suggested that she go with a teaching order so she eventually joined the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. After the death of her father Teresa joined the order in 1925. A little over a year later Teresa fell ill and had surgery and this is where the story end. Teresa never recovered from this illness and in 1927 she made final vows “in articulo mortis” (danger of death). If you can read some more about her this week.
Darerca of Ireland (d. 5th century)
Darerca is a unique saint, but that may not be totally true. It seems that during the middle ages writers wove legends around her story and what we have now is a weird hodgepodge of facts and legends. According to writers Darerca was the sister of the great Saint Patrick, this is one of the things that many modern scholar believe to be untrue. She was twice married and had seventeen sons and two daughters all of whom became saints.
Mac Cairthinn, also Macartan (d. 506)
Macartan is a more reliable saint, he is known as Saint Patrick’s strong man because of his dedication to the young Irish church. He might have been the uncle of Brigid as well. According to legend Macartan heard of Patrick’s preaching and he left everything and went to find Patrick. When he finally heard Patrick preaching and was baptized and became the a constant companion of Patrick. Helping him where ever he went even carrying Patrick over rivers. Towards the end of Patrick’s life Macartan had gotten tired of carrying Patrick everywhere and asked if he could settle down and live out the rest of his life in peace near Patrick. They established a monastery in Clogher and it is said that Patrick gave Macartan his staff and a bunch of relics including the Domhnach Airgid.
Nicholas Owen, SJ, (c.1562-1606)
Nicholas Owen was the builder of the priest holes in England. Nicholas was born in a devout Catholic family when Catholics were in violation of the law. He was an apprentice joiner where he honed his skill at building, from here he entered the service of the Jesuits building priest holes in homes of Catholic families around England. It is widely rumored that he was the mastermind behind John Gerard’s escape from the Tower of London. Owen was eventually caught and he gave himself up as he hope to protect two priest who were hiding. Many catholic magicians consider Nicholas Owen the patron saint of Illusionists and Escapologists.
Margaret Clitherow (1556 – 25 March 1586)
Margaret is sometimes known as the Pearl of York. Not much is known about he early life but at fifteen Margaret was married to a butcher, who was a protestant but had a Catholic priest as a brother, and at 18 she converted to Catholicism. She became a friend of the persecuted Catholic population in the north of England. Her son became a priest and she held masses in her home. In the attic of her house there were secret passages to get out if the place were raided looking for Catholics. In 1586, Margaret was arrested for harboring a Catholic priest, she didn’t want to have her children testify about what was going on so she refused trial and was tortured. Margaret was crushed to death on Good Friday of that year,. After her execution Queen Elizabeth I wrote to those in York that she was shocked that a woman would be treated like this.
Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès (29 June 1832 – 23 March 1914)
The most recent saint the week Rafqa was born in Lebanon, she was baptized Boutrossieh (Petra the feminine for Peter,) and her family wasn’t that well off, her mother died when she was seven and at eleven her father sent her to work as a servant in a house in Damascus. When Rafqa returned she found that her father had remarried and the stepmother wanted Rafqa to marry the stepmother’s brother., while her aunt wanted Rafqa to marry her cousin. Rafqa wanted none of this and she decided to enter a convent she joined the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception or the Mariamettes. It is here where she took the name Anissa (Agnes) and at 30 she took her first temporary vows. This lasted for a while until 1871 when the Mariamettes merger with another order forming the Order of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at this time everyone was given the option to stay with the order, join a different order or become lay again. Rafqa decided to join a different order, she wanted to become a cloisterd nun rather than a teaching one, and the Baladita Order or the Lebanese Maronite Order of St. Anthony was a perfect fit. It is here that she finally takes the name of her mother Rafqa (Rebecca) and at 40 she found a place to stay. While in the Baladita Rafqa began suffering pain continuously from 1885 to her death.