Monthly Archives: February 2019

Wisdom Enough

Do we have enough wisdom to make our way in life? According to St.  Ephrem, we have more than enough. Christ, the Wisdom and Power of God, has come.

The trouble is that often enough we want more wisdom than we need or can take in. We want to know it all.  Drawing on God’s wisdom, St. Ephrem says, is like drinking from a great spring of water. You can only drink one mouthful at a time. The spring is never exhausted, but you can’t drink it all. That’s not the way we’re built.

But we want to know it all, and so we become dissatisfied with the wisdom we have at the moment, or think there is nothing more to draw on.

This is not just a problem affecting only our spiritual life; we see it in our world today with all its needs and challenges. One temptation is to throw up our hands and say we can do nothing; another is to think we can solve our problems with one sweeping action.

Keep drinking from the spring, St. Ephrem says:
“What you could not take at one time because of your weakness, you will be able to take in at another if only you persevere. So do not foolishly try to drain in one draught what cannot be consumed all at once, and do not cease out of faintheartedness from what you will be able to aborb as time goes on.”

St. Gabriel Possenti, CP


St. Gabriel Possenti, whose feastday is today, was born on March 1, 1838, the 11th child of Agnes and Sante Possenti, governor of Assisi, Italy. Gabriel was baptized Francis after that city’s famous patron. He had everything a privileged child could hope for.

In 1841, the Possentis moved to Spoleto and Gabriel fell under the spell of that city’s bright social world. Spoleto was influenced by the Enlightenment, a movement that preferred what’s new to what’s old.

Lively, headstrong, intelligent, he was educated by the Christian Brothers and the Jesuits. Popular, usually head of his class, he embraced the city’s latest fashions, plays, dances and sporting events. Gabriel was charmed by it all.

Yet, something else kept calling him. A year after moving to Spoleto his mother Agnes died. Her death and the death of two brothers and three sisters made him think seriously about life. A couple of times he almost died himself. He heard Jesus calling him to give up everything and follow him, but then the call seemed to fade away.

In the spring of 1856, a fierce cholera epidemic struck Spoleto and Gabriel’s favorite sister died in the plague. Overwhelmed by the tragedy, the people of the city processed through the streets with an ancient image of Mary, praying that she intercede to stop the plague and help them bear their heavy cross.

It was a transforming experience for Gabriel, who was drawn into the presence of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. Passing the familiar mansions where he partied many nights, the theater and opera that entertained him so often, he realized what little wisdom they offered now. He took his place at Mary’s side and at her urging joined the Passionist Congregation.

In a letter home, Gabriel described his new life as a Passionist to his father: “ I would not trade even fifteen minutes here for a year or any amount of time filled with shows and other pastimes of Spoleto. Indeed my life is filled with happiness.”

Gabriel died on February 27, 1862 and was canonized in 1920. He’s a saint for young people looking for the pearl of great price, but sometimes in the wrong place. May St. Gabriel help them find it in the right place. Interested in becoming a Passionist?

Lord God,

you hide your gifts “ from the learned and clever,

but reveal them to the merest children.”

Show your love to the young of today,

and call them to follow you.

Give them the grace you gave St.Gabriel,

grace to know you as good.

grace to judge life wisely,

grace to be joyful of heart.


Forgetful Listeners

One thing that happens to us all–more so as we get older–is we forget. We forget where we put things, what we’re supposed to do –even what day it is. We are forgetful people.

There are many degrees of forgetfulness. There’s a natural forgetfulness, but also there’s a spiritual forgetfulness.

They tell a story about one of the early desert saints– John the Short. John had a good spiritual guide to whom he went for advice; he listened carefully to everything he was told, but then as soon as he went out the front door he forgot everything that was said. It happened again and again. Finally, John gave up and stopped going.

One day his spiritual guide met him and asked where he’d been. John said it’s no use. “I don’t remember what you tell me.”

His guide told him to come into his house and he took him into the room where they prayed. There was one candle lit in the room, but all around were other candles unlit. “Take the light from the one candle and light all the others,” he tells John. Soon the room was filled with light. “Now take a look at the candle that lit all the rest; is it’s light in any way diminished because it keeps giving its light away?”

“No, it isn’t, and neither am I by giving light to you again and again. That’s what we all have to do here in the desert: to remind each other, because we forget.

That’s what God does for all of us. He reminds us, again and again. “Remember the deeds of the Lord,” the psalms say. How often we hear that word “remember.” How many times does God repeat. “Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you.” How many times do we hear words like that. How many times does Jesus take a child and put him in our midst and remind us to be children? How many times does he say “Do this in memory of me.”

Some people say prayers are only routine. They’re not. We say them because we forget. We’re “forgetful listeners.”

February 27–March 3

We’ll be reading from the Book of Sirach at Mass from this Monday till Ash Wednesday, March 6. Sirach is a grandfather’s advice to his grandchildren, filled with encouraging words of faith.

February 27th the Passionists celebrate the Feast of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, a young Italian saint who’s a good example for young people. 

March 1st the Passionists get ready for Lent by celebrating the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Like the rainbow God chose to promise life and mercy to Noah, the Passion of Jesus is a sign of God’s love for the world. May it be always in our hearts.

FEBRUARY 25 Mon Weekday

Sir 1:1-10/Mk 9:14-29 (341)

26 Tue Weekday

Sir 2:1-11/Mk 9:30-37 (342)

27 Wed St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin

Gen 12, 1-2,4/Mk 10,17-21

28 Thu Weekday

Sir 5:1-8/Mk 9:41-50 (344)

MARCH 1 Fri Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ

Gen 22,1-18/Rom 5,12.17-19/Mt 16, 21-27

2 Sat Weekday

Sir 17:1-15/Mk 10:13-16 (346)



Sir 27:4-7/1 Cor 15:54-58/Lk 6:39-45 (84)

The Book of Sirach

Christ, the Teacher… Catacombs, Rome

We’re reading from the Book of Sirach weekdays at Mass until Ash Wednesday, March 6th. It’s always helpful to look into the background of the books of scripture and ask when, for whom, and why were they written.

The Book of Sirach was written by a Jewish sage in Jerusalem around 200 BC in Hebrew and was translated into Greek sometime later. Sirach was a writer who loved his Jewish tradition and wanted to pass on its wisdom to a generation that might be saying: “We don’t see anything in it for us any more.”  Judea had come under the control of Alexander the Great and his generals who introduced their Jewish subjects, sometimes forcibly, to Hellenistic culture. They were succeeded in 64 BC by the Romans.

The Book of Sirach seems to be a grandfather’s attempt to speak to grandchildren in danger of abandoning their own tradition as they experience a powerful Greco-Roman influence in the world of their time. Sound like today? 

Sirach often speaks of the “fear of the Lord.”  He’s not saying be afraid of God, but keep God who is all powerful and all wise before you always. Don’t get lost in yourself or your experiences of life.

What does Sirach do? He speaks strongly of the presence of God who’s everywhere, of a wisdom found in the world and our experience of daily life. Learn from your experience of life, he tells his descendants; your religious tradition and its heroes will help you.

Sirach isn’t saying either to be afraid of life. Life’s not easy, but Sirach sends the younger generation out into the world to find wisdom there. Learn from life, he says, as those before you have done. As I have done.  

“Trust God and God will help you;

trust God, and God will direct your way;

turn not away lest you fall.

Fear God and grow old therein.

You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy,

and your reward will not be lost.

You who fear the LORD, trust him,

for lasting joy and mercy.

You who fear the LORD, hope for good things,

You who fear the LORD, love him,

Study the generations long past and understand.”

and your hearts will be enlightened. (Sirach 2, 1-11)

The Chair of Peter

Holy Spirit


The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter has been celebrated on February 22nd  in the Roman Catholic Church since the 4th century. On this day the ancient Romans remembered their dead, and so today we remember the Apostle Peter.

The chair’s a teacher’s chair, not a royal throne. It has a symbolic place behind the main altar of Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica.  A window bearing the symbol of the Holy Spirit casts its light on the chair and those who sit upon it, Peter the Apostle and those who succeed him.

Today’s a good day to look at our present “chairman” Pope Francis ,who became pope on March 13, 2013 and ask God to keep him strong and faithful as a teacher of the church.

Today is a good time to visit that great church built over the tomb of Peter.