The Common Bond of a Special Devotion to Saint Joseph

stained-glass-window-saint-Andre-Bessette-3The late Mayor Tom Menino and Saint Brother André Bessette , C.S.C. had something in common. A devotion to Saint Joseph. Brother André said, “Go to Joseph! He is a powerful friend in heaven!” Mayor Menino prayed the Prayer to Saint Joseph for Families every day.

Prayer to Saint Joseph for Families
Joseph, strengthen in our family every bond of love which unites us—the marriage bond, the love of parent and child, the bond of mutual love among us all.
Joseph, protect our family from every danger from without and from every threat to peace, unity and harmony within.
Joseph, teach us to be kind and loving to one another, careful for one another, tolerant of one another, forgiving towards one another.
Joseph, may contentment with our lot and joy in each other abound in our house, as we seek faithfully to serve and greatly love God.
Joseph, be yourself a father to our family and pray Mary be a mother to us. Amen.
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How Are You?

waiting-in-doctors-officeThis week I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office while accompanying friends to their appointments. I had my iPad with me so I could keep myself occupied.

While I was playing some games and checking Facebook, I would frequently hear the nurse come out and call someone’s name. Then the nurse would say, How are you today? Everyone responded fine, great, OK or awesome.

After some time of listening to this taking place with various people, I began to chuckle. Everyone in the waiting room had some sort of issue or they would not be there! You could hear them cough, sneeze, complain to their companion of this pain or that hurt. The conversations were all centered on their health. But when the nurse came out and greeted them, everyone said fine, great, OK or awesome.

This got me thinking about how we respond to people when they ask us, How are you? Often times we say, Fine. But when we honestly respond, it is amazing how we catch others off guard and they don’t always know how to respond to an honest answer!

It is worth trying this out with others. “So how are you?” “Not so well today.” And we find the other person responding, “Oh that’s great!” This happens because we are conditioned to respond in a certain way.

Communication happens all the time. Sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative. The important part of communication is our ability to listen to others and not anticipate their response. Sometimes we are conditioned to hear an answer because of who the person is and we do not allow the words of the other person to sink in.

All this pondering about the question - how are you? - got me thinking about how we approach God in prayer. We don’t want to seem like we are complaining all the time but we can find ourselves saying, Lord, please help me with this person as she is trying my patience. Or, God why is this or that happening to me right now in my life?

During this season of thanksgiving, let us pause and listen to the responses of others and of God in our lives. May we be more attentive to the question, How are you? And may we be more attentive to how we respond this to question. Communication is about both speaking and listening.

Have you ever given this any thought? Please share your experiences and insights about this with us.

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Topics: prayer, inspiration, communication

Reflections on All Souls

time-to-seek-or-give-forgiveness-1For many years I phoned my grandmother faithfully every Sunday night unless I was on the road and then I would let her know that I wouldn’t be able to call. We both enjoyed these calls.

One Sunday, for a number of reasons which made sense at the time, I didn’t call her and hadn’t warned her. At 7:30 the next morning I received a call that Grandma had died during the night. Of course I felt so miserable that I hadn’t called and could picture her waiting to hear from me. There was no way to fix this.

During this month as we focus on those who died, I think it’s important to remember that the deceased have simply moved on before us. They are not gone forever, rather they are just not physically present to us.

It is not unreasonable then to realize that there is no reason we can’t continue to talk with our loved ones. Not only are we able to ask their forgiveness for the things we suffer remorse but we are also able to forgive them. Whenever I say this, I feel people shudder. “How could I forgive the dead? There is really something wrong with me that I continue to feel angry or upset.” Yet we know we do carry such grievances. It just seems more difficult to resolve them with the dead … yet it is vitally important that we do so.

Hanging on to these grievances do not hurt the deceased, they hurt us. They invade other relationships making us less trusting, or leading us to hold back in loving and/or growing.

So, whether we need to seek or give forgiveness, let us focus on the conversations we must finish with those who are gone from this world. Speaking from the heart we can move on to a different and healthier relationship with them until we meet again. Perhaps now is the time.

When I talked to my Grandma about not calling and other slights I imagined, I found myself comforted in my spirit by her closeness and love. May this be true for all.

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Topics: death, forgiveness, feast days

The Family of Jesus


Pope Francis has said: "Still today some say: 'Christ yes, the Church no.' Like those who say, 'I believe in God but not in priests.' But it is the Church herself which brings Christ to us and which brings us to God. The Church is the great family of God's children. The Church is the family of Jesus."

There are many families that love Christ, love the Church and are great models of the domestic church. This beautiful family is clearly an example of a strong domestic church living Father Peyton’s well-known phrase, the family that prays together stays together. They were at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and graciously allowed me to photograph them last November. Pictured here … living, travelling and praying together … are their grandfather, mother and father, and all the children who were praying at the shrine.


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Topics: Our-Lady-of-Guadalupe, Pope-Francis, family

Autumn Leaves


The grandeur of God is reflected in the stunning
beauty of autumn leaves of oaks, maples, chestnuts, birches and hawthorns. Near the end of the season here in New England, leaves reach their peak of splendor.

“Old age is the seat of life’s wisdom. The old have acquired the wisdom that comes from having journeyed through life, like the old man Simeon, the old prophetess Anna in the temple. And that wisdom enabled them to recognize Jesus. Let us pass on that wisdom to the young: like good wine that improves with age.” Pope Francis.

In our throwaway culture we can forget that the time of tranquility and prayer, the time of grandparents, is like the leaves at the end of the season, filled with the radiance, the beauty and the splendor of God’s grandeur. Cherish, love and listen to the wisdom of the elderly! They are God’s gift to us all.


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Topics: aging, inspiration, Pope-Francis, autumn

Shadow of her Former Self

eyes-of-heart-be-enlightened.jpgWeek after week as I sit with my hospice patient, a lady goes walking by the window. She always makes it three times around the complex while I’m visiting.

In the winter she wore a mad bomber hat and thick boots. Each step was slow and deliberate. She did not want to fall. This summer she wore jogging shorts and a tank top, her dyed black hair tied up in a pony tail.

She takes long strides; head up and with the mission of a woman of thirty but she is an easy 80 and only a shadow of her former self.

It’s almost amusing. If she were 30, no one would think anything of it but at her age, it’s puzzling that she dresses this way.

My 92 year old grandmother used to say, “How did I get to be this age? I don’t feel old.” I could presume my jogging star might say the very same thing.

When I was in my 40s it seemed a common question was, “Are you dressing your age?” I don’t hear anyone asking that question now. It’s just as well. When I was 40 I couldn’t imagine what was appropriate since I didn’t feel a day over 20.

I’ve been amused by this lady, puzzled, sympathetic and of course judgmental since I think she is not dressing her age. I’ve been so busy looking at the externals that I’ve missed the obvious. She is at 80, trouping along as if she were 30!!! Now that is something to think about, to praise, to commend, to take her example to heart and to remember that not only are we as young as we feel, our spirits can continue to bloom and praise God regardless of our ages. It is His Shadow that we rest in, His light that continues to shine through us at any age.

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Topics: aging, inspiration

Evangelization and Family Life

There are exciting and interesting events taking place in Rome over the next two weeks.

Pope Francis opened the Synod on the Family with a Mass on Sunday, October 5th, at the Vatican Basilica. He and the Bishops/Cardinals are gathering to meet with representatives of families from all over the world.

Holy FamilyThese meetings will give all participating an opportunity to reflect, pray and discuss what families are encountering in all aspects of life today. We, here at Holy Cross Family Ministries, are watching the Synod deliberations closely. We believe very strongly that the family that prays together stays together, a message our founder, Servant of God Patrick Peyton, C.S.C, made known throughout the world many years ago.

Today, in our world, in our society and in our Church, the spiritual well-being of families is being attacked by violence, poverty, abuses and the lack of faith and belief in God. Father Peyton’s message is still very important and inspiring for us today.

During these next two weeks I invite you to join us at the Father Peyton Center when we gather to pray the Rosary at 11:30 am and Mass at noon each day, Monday through Friday.

If you are not able to join us in person, I invite you to submit your prayer intention for the Synod and for families on our website so we can pray together.

If you are interested in following the meetings and receiving daily highlights from the Synod, I invite you to visit Salt and Light TV and click on Synod.

Please join us in our prayer that Servant of God Patrick Peyton and Mary guide those present at the Synod … that the sacred gift of family life may be strengthened through this experience … and that all families grow in their love for the Lord and each other.

And may God bless your family!

Watch this video to learn more about what a synod is and how it works:

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Topics: prayer, the-family-that-prays-together-stays-together, Synod on the Family

October 7: Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Millions and millions of us, all over the world, have known the love of God and the power of prayer with Our Mother Mary through her Holy Rosary. So we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary to contemplate how the Rosary is a chosen school of prayer of the Church and the world in moments of great challenge.

The prayer of the Rosary had become very popular over previous centuries and in 1569 Pope Saint Pius V gave it official approval in a form close to how we pray it to this day. As a Dominican Friar he himself had a great love of this prayer.

Many popes since Saint Pius V have expressed their great love of the Rosary and called the Church to pray it every day and especially in times of trial. Among those Popes who have really loved the Rosary, Pope Francis is certainly high on the list! Let us now, Rosary in hand, join him in his CAMPAIGN OF PRAYER FOR PEACE!

We commend ourselves and our world now TO HIM, through Holy Mary, Mother of the Church. OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY, PRAY FOR US!

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Topics: pope, Mary, rosary, feast days

We are Called to Witness

The National Council of Catholic Women
met this past week in Grand Rapids, Michigan to focus their attention on how the membership is called to be voices for Catholic Women. The event was energizing and prayerful … with plenty of laughter too.

I am moved to share this experience with others after having participated in this convention.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations thinking, Am I the only one who believes in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and the empowerment of women in our church and world? At times, we can sense that we are alone in our beliefs, thoughts and lived experiences. This was not the case at the NCCW Convention.

The event was highlighted by positive and inspirational speakers such as Teresa Tomeo, host of Catholic Connection, who shared the story of her faith journey through her work in media. She cited many experiences where her faith gave her the courage to be a voice for the faithful, especially a voice for Catholic Women.

All of the workshops, keynotes and homilies from the various bishops who shared the week with us, women_in_prayer_NCCW2014gave us inspiration and confidence to witness our faith to those whom we encounter and to find God in all situations. Their messages were of hope, joy and love of the Lord. As women in the church … as women who are called to nurture … and as women who are involved in generating life all around … this time together deepened our call to be voices of faith, voices of justice, voices of compassion and voices of a loving and gentle God, who desires daily to be a part of our lives.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on this topic with Salt and Light producer Alicia Ambrosio. Check out my interview with Salt and Light TV on Vatican Connections.

What has been your experience of living the faith as a woman in the church? Do you take time to nourish your relationship with God on a daily bases? If so, how? Please let us know. We could all benefit from sharing our ideas about this with one another.

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Topics: inspiration, NCCW, women

September 15: The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows


Cross marking the grave of 200,000 victims of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

“Mother Mary, you know what it is to see your Child suffer and die, help my suffering child.” Certainly over the centuries this has been a very common prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows. It was around the 12th century, when the Black Plague took about a third of the population of Europe, when this particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin became very common. In some ways it was a time like our own: "the High Middle Ages", when big steps in knowledge and culture were being taken, was also a precarious time of disease, massive poverty and war.

As people, in their suffering, identified with Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, they also trusted that she can truly do something to help!

Scripture, particularly the Gospel of Saint John, shows us that from the time when she said YES and became the Mother of God, Mary was completely united, heart to heart, with her Son to the point that she shared in His Passion. Finishing the work of Salvation on the Cross, He gave Mary to us to be the Mother of all who believe, the Mother of the New Creation. This is not simply some abstract idea: she IS the Mother of our faith, helping us on the journey, surrounding us with God's love and grace in very concrete ways!

Sculpture of Mary with the body of Jesus in Le Mans, France

For almost 900 years people have celebrated this feast on September 15, the day after we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This day we renew our awareness and gratitude that the Sorrowful Mother is indeed the Mother of Mercy and the Mediatrix of Grace . She only waits for you to let her in, together with her Divine Son, any day and each day.

Holy Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, we join with you in prayer, remembering all our loved ones, especially those most in need of the Lord's love and healing. Help us to unite ourselves, like you, with Christ on the Cross so as to share in his Resurrection.

Please share your prayers with our worldwide prayer community. Click here for the Family Rosary prayer intentions page. Let us keep one another in prayer.

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Topics: Our-Lady, Devotion

Miracle Man of Montreal

St. André Bessette was known by hundreds of thousands as the Miracle Worker.

Crutches line the walls of St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, Quebec

Alfred Bassette entered the Holy Cross Novitiate and took the name Brother André. He was assigned the role of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, Quebec. He was given many duties and one was to tend to the needs of those who visited the college.

After a while, many visitors began to experience healings after praying with Brother André. His reputation grew, the crowds increased and more cures were reported.

When people visited with him, he would listen to them and pray with them. He would also take oil from the lamp that illuminated the room and rub it on their sores or areas where they experienced pain. St. André would always encourage people to ask St. Joseph to intercede for them and to ask for healing through St. Joseph.

Brother André’s desire to increase devotion to St. Joseph inspired him to found a shrine dedicated to this favorite saint. Today St. Joseph’s Oratory stands tall on Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec.

Brother André became known as the “Miracle Man of Montreal” and thousands of miraculous healings have been attributed to his intercession over the decades. The walls of St. Joseph’s Oratory are lined with crutches of those who were healed and St. André always gave credit to God and St. Joseph’s intercession as Jesus’ earthly father.

He died on January 6, 1937 and was canonized on October 17, 2010. On that day the Church recognized that God chose a very simple man for a remarkable life of service to the Church.

This coming Sunday, September 14th, people will gather to pray the Rosary and to celebrate a Mass of Healing at St. Joseph’s Chapel in North Easton, MA. There will be the opportunity to view the relic of St. André and to be anointed with St. Joseph’s oil.

All are welcome to attend this very special event.

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Topics: saints, mass, Brother André



The other night my husband and I were out to dinner with another couple. While we were waiting to be served, my dear friend Pat said, “I was on my way to my meeting but I got a late start.” I turned to her and said (as only true friends can say), “That will have to be your epithet, ‘I got a late start.’” She burst out laughing.

We laughed so hard our husbands stopped their conversation to hear what was going on.

Then she asked what mine would be. I said it would have to be, “I’m not finished yet” since that seemed to be a theme of mine throughout life, especially each night at bedtime. We joked about what our husbands’ could be.

How many of us have themes that run through our lives. It’s just a little thing and yet we repeat it over and over in what we say and do. Another friend often says, “We are always being prepared for what we are being prepared for.” And still another is forever saying, “It’s all good!” In themselves these sayings also say something about who we are or our stance toward life.

While at the Notre Dame Summer Retreat last August, Beth Mahoney was describing a paper she recently read. According to this, the original Gospel verse from Luke wasn’t, “Hail Mary, full of Grace” but rather, “Hail, Full of Grace.” The Full of Grace described who she was as a person. This was probably what brought me to thinking about epithets.

What would you be called by an angel coming to greet you? Share it with us. We would be happy to hear your ideas about what your most common saying is.

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Topics: Mary, epithet, Notre Dame Summer Retreat

The Francis Effect

For 17 months we have witnessed and lived the journey with Pope Francis as our leader and guide. It seems no matter where I travel - be it a classroom, parish setting or national organizational meetings - I am constantly asked this question: What do you think of Pope Francis?

This past week I attended the J.S. Paluch Vocations Seminar in Chicago. This gathering was energizing, fruitful and inspiring as we discussed the effects Pope Francis has had on the world. We also discussed his effect on vocations within the church and about the upcoming year on Consecrated Life.

Father Rosica, CSB

During the session we heard from Father Tom Rosica, CSB, who reminded us of the challenges Pope Francis puts forth: globalization of indifference, challenges and temptations of the Church, making the Gospel message an ideology, functionalism and clericalism, just to name just a few.

Father Rosica explained: “Everything the Pope is doing now is not just an imitation of his patron saint who loved the poor, embraced lepers, charmed sultans, made peace and protected nature. It’s a reflection of the child in Bethlehem who would grow up to become the man of the cross in Jerusalem … the Risen One that no tomb could contain … the man we Christians call savior and Lord. Pope Francis has given us a powerful glimpse into the mind and heart of God.”

We also had the opportunity to view an extraordinary documentary on the life of Pope Francis produced by Sebastian Gomes entitled: The Francis Effect. I highly recommend this film as an educational tool for schools, parishes, families and for anyone who is interested in learning more about this man, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Bishop of Rome – Pope Francis.

Sebastian Gomes

Pope Francis has given us much to think about concerning our daily lives. His simplicity, tenderness, kindness, prayerfulness and his ability to reach the depths of our hearts is such a gift to us. How do you live the “Francis Effect” in your life?

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Topics: Pope-Francis, vocations, movie

Being about the Work of My Father


These words were spoken by Jesus to his mother when she found him in the temple. Jesus was sitting amongst the teachers listening to them and asking them questions.

How true is this about us? Are we found in church listening and asking questions after the priest has given a homily?

Jesus’ revealing lesson to us is something that touches all families. It is the struggle between remaining obedient to what God is calling us to live and the expectations of our family members. Oftentimes our parents, spouses, family and friends have thoughts and dreams of what we should be involved in, what path of life we will walk or even what kind of job we should take in the future.

Jesus had this experience too. He had to manage being obedient to his heavenly Father and to his earthly parents (Mary and Joseph). During all of these moments throughout his life, we hear that his mother Mary kept all these things in her heart.

No matter where we find ourselves in life, we are constantly trying to remain faithful to what God is asking of us. The challenge is for us to know how to balance the reality that we live in here on earth while at the same time respond to the call to follow God and listen to him.

The children at the Notre Dame Summer Retreat heard about this from Father John Phalen, C.S.C. when they acted out the gospel of the Sermon on the Mount.

What are some of the obstacles you have faced when making decisions that you believe will help you live the life God is calling you to? How does that fit with your parent’s, spouse’s or friend’s desires for you? How have you reconciled this call to follow Jesus in your everyday life?


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Topics: Mary, the-finding-in-the-temple, joyful mysteries

The Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady Celebrated August 15 A Simple Way to Happiness: Following Our Lady

The-Coronation-of-the-Blessed-Virgin-from-Sacred-Heart-Basilica-University-of-Notre-Dame.jpeg-1Believe in the Lord, trust and say “yes” to where He is leading you! This is the simple way to a life of happiness and peace (even in the middle of challenges). This is what our Mother Mary shows us with her life and it is her Assumption into heaven that shows us where a life of grace takes us.

In the early centuries of the Church, theologians began to contemplate the eternal life that the Lord promises to those who live their faith in Him. They soon realized that they could get a glimpse of heaven by reflecting on Mary's extraordinary entrance into it.

In 1954 then Pope Pius XII declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. The Dogma of the Assumption was formally defined just 60 years ago, but it is a very ancient part of our faith. This is a completion of what was begun in her at the moment of her Immaculate Conception. Conceived without sin, she lived a life of total faith and perfect discipleship. Befitting such a beautiful life, at the end of her time on earth, she—the one whose very flesh the Lord Himself shared—was taken body and soul into the fullness of eternal life.

She is the Mother of God and in the Feast of the Assumption we contemplate her beauty. She shares total communion with God, body and soul, in a unique way. Yet in her we see the promise for us all - and the beauty of each person who also tries from his heart to live in faith and discipleship.

Let's let the Holy Spirit come upon us too, so that He can lift us up more and more into a life of communion with God, even as we still walk this earth.

As the early Fathers of the Church contemplated Mary gloriously assumed into heaven, they realized that God did this so that, fully united to Him, she could be fully our Mother of Mercy and our great Intercessor.

Holy Mother help us on our journey into God!  





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Topics: feast-day, Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

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