April 27

Monday, April 27th

Good morning, Good Morning,

Yesterday morning the priests of the diocese were informed that one of the confreres tested positive for the Covid-19.  Now all five priests of the rectory have been placed in quarantine.  Thus far the number of the priests in the diocese who have tested positive is two or three but those from the same rectories, or have been exposed to the virus in other places, are also called to self-quarantine, raising the number to 12 or 13.  Please pray for the many many people suffering from the Covid-19 both here at home and across the globe.  Lord have mercy on all of us.  Let us pray for one another.

Below you will find a recent letter from the Pope.  Two days ago, on April 25th, a letter went out to all the world where he has asked for two additional prayers at the end of our recital of the rosary during the coming Month of May.  I leave a copy of the papal letter to each of you.

Letter and Prayers of the Holy Father

to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

First Prayer
O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.

We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.

For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always
from every danger, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

Second Prayer
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realise that we are all members of one great family and to recognise the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
Young Marilyn Lee has written to me asking why I never say anything about Sisters. I told her I was going to wait until the next pandemic to say something about the religious. She said, “No, you may not be around for the next pandemic.” Well said. So, today we initiate some of the comments on the good sisters that have meant so much to all of us.

Young Marilyn Lee has written to me asking why I never say anything about Sisters.  I told her I was going to wait until the next pandemic to say something about the religious.  She said, “No, you may not be around for the next pandemic.”  Well said. So, today we initiate some of the comments on the good sisters that have meant so much to all of us.

Today’s letter is dedicated to my two nieces in religious life. Sr. Mary Margaret O’Brien, of the Dominican Sisters of Holy Eucharist (Ann Arbor, Michigan) https://www.sistersofmary.org/ and her sister Sr. Molly, newly arrived to the Benedictine Monastery in Virginia Dale, Colorado. http://www.walburga.org/

Allow me three stories.
First Story, in Southern Indiana, Terra Haute to be specific, my great aunt, Sr. Edmunda Day served as a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Their religious order originated in France at the end of the French Revolution. It had been a time of a cruel devastation for the Church where priests and religious were put to death in large numbers as well as churches and schools completely suppressed. In the continued suppression of the Catholic schools, that followed the revolution, many of the surviving religious left France. One such group was invited to Indiana by the Bishop of Vincennes. If Sr. Edumunda was alive today she would probably be around 130-140 years old. I give you the age range to explain this cute little story. https://blog.history.in.gov/tag/saint-mary-of-the-woods/

St Theodore Guérin. Founded Providence Sisters in USA in 1840
At the convent dinner one night, in Terra Haute, Sr. Edmunda complained about a certain third grade student who never spoke in class. Always quiet. Not a sound. He was a terrible student, failing every test. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong. His name for Jose. She pronounced it as, “Joas.” She would always say, “What’s wrong with you Joas?”
The sisters informed her of a large number of families that had just arrived from Mexico and the kid’s name was, “Jose,” Pronounced, “Hosay.” It was the mid to late 1920’s. What was the “Roaring Twenties” in America was the “Cristero War” in Mexico, a time of extreme persecution against Catholics…of which there was no shortage of in Mexico. Many families evacuated to America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristero_War
To this day the Sisters of Providence carry on the phrase, “What’s wrong with you Joas,” when they share some frustration in their religious life.


St. Philip Grammar School, Lafayette Hills, PA 7 years before my time.

The second religious of whom I well remember was a Sister of St. Joseph, Mother Emeline SSJ. She taught at St. Philip Grammar school, in Lafayette Hills, Pennsylvania. Lafayette Hills is a suburb of the City of Brotherly Love. She was my Kindergarten teacher and she carried a big tooth brush, about 12-14 inches in length, for disciplinary requirements. I don’t think she ever used it. We loved that little nun who introduced us to our early days of Catholic Education. She was the right teacher, at the right place, at the right time for all of us.

Fifteen years later, when I returned to Philadelphia, entering St. Charles Seminary for the Diocese of Arlington, I was informed by one of the Josephite sisters teaching at the seminary that Mother Emeline was still alive. I made the call, borrowed a car, and trekked up to Chestnut Hill College where Mother served as director of maintenance for all the facilities.

Four sisters met me at the door and ushered me into a magnificent parlor that reminded me an episode from the Twilight Zone TV series. Oriental rugs, large stuffed furniture, large fire place, and book shelves everywhere. All the motherhouse lacked was a flask of wine and violin set upon large coffee table. What was presented as the Mother House Parlor in real life was represented as Hell in the Twilight Zone. I don’t think Rod Serling ever met Mother Emeline.

Mother arrived and the four attendants sat at attention directly across the room. After a lovely chat Mother leaned forward to explain the presence of the four religious. It seems a month earlier a young man, identifying himself as former first grade student came for a visit. Quite by chance one of the sisters noticed him to be out of sorts and that he brought a gun with him. The police were called and himself introduced to the local hospital. It seems the young man thought the troubles of his life would simply go away if Mother Emeline would simply go away… permanently. If you know what I mean. That was my introduction to the religious in Philadelphia and their former students.

Now the rest of the story. I stayed in touch with the good Mother through the years, and later attended her funeral. In the homily I mentioned, “If Mother Emeline had known, when I was in Kindergarten, I would one day offer this Mass for her immortal soul… she would have been a lot nicer to me.” She couldn’t have been nicer, she wore her title well.

The third story involved a Sister of Mercy at Mercy Hospital, in Des Moines, Iowa. Her name was Sister Zita. After the Sunday morning Mass at St. Augustin church my father would allow some of our family to tag along with him when he went on rounds to see his patients at Mercy Hospital. We would sit in the doctor’s waiting room until his return. A few times we would sneak out and have wheel chair races across the hall and that’s when we got caught by the infamous, Sr. Zita. Each time we would get a lecture. How bad could that be? If she hit us, we were in hospital. Well, quite the opposite she would march is into the doctor’s waiting room and make sure we were each supplied with a carton of milk and chocolate donut. And they were big donuts.


Sister Zita was a nurse. She was a religious nurse, who was a religious. Each morning she would rise at 4:30 AM and go off to throw holy water on the babies born during the night. She would meet the mothers who had delivered and exhausted fathers… or, is it the other way around? Inevitably she would receive a cigar from each of the fathers. Gifts she would leave in the doctor’s waiting room before going back for the morning Mass. And then onto her daily duties.

There is no telling how many kids had the holy water thrown on them from the terrific little nurse nun, stationed at Mercy hospital for the better part of sixty years. They should have named a wing after her. I was honored to have her present when, while home after my ordination, I offered Mass for her and her fellow nurse sisters, in the Mercy Chapel. In a world of great suffering, as hospitals can be, Sr. Zita was the sparkle of God’s life and love for all to see.


Paradoxically, something light and heavy from Fr. Heisler’s culinary trust.  A project for the home kitchens for those locked down.  Tonight, after Night Prayer, at about 9:15 PM Chef Boy R Heisler created a carrot cake… in less than an hour.  You will find the recipe and other tantalizing desserts in the website below.  Bon Appetite!!


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