Sunday, June 4, 2017

A New People, A New Heart

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-4


Today concludes the Easter season, the fifty days that, from Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost, are marked in a particular way by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is in fact the Easter Gift par excellence.  He is the Creator Spirit, who constantly brings about new things.  Today’s readings show us two of those new things.  In the first reading, the Spirit makes of the disciples a new people; in the Gospel, he creates in the disciples a new heart.

A new people.  On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came down from heaven, in the form of “divided tongues, as of fire… [that] rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages” (Acts 2:3-4).  This is how the word of God describes the working of the Spirit: first he rests on each and then brings all of them together in fellowship.  To each he gives a gift, and then gathers them all into unity.  In other words, the same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.   First, in a way both creative and unexpected, he generates diversity, for in every age he causes new and varied charisms to blossom.  Then he brings about unity: he joins together, gathers and restores harmony: “By his presence and his activity, the Spirit draws into unity spirits that are distinct and separate among themselves” (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, XI, 11).  

…The second new thing brought by the Spirit: a new heart.  When the risen Jesus first appears to his disciples, he says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (John 20:22-23).  Jesus does not condemn them for having denied and abandoned him during his passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness.  The Spirit is the first gift of the risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins.  Here we see the beginning of the Church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness.  Because forgiveness is gift to the highest degree; it is the greatest love of all.  It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens.  Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh…. 

The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins.  Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come!  Like water, we need you to live.  Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us.  Amen”.

Pope Francis
Homily, Pentecost  2017

For the complete text please visit:


May God, the Father of lights,
who was pleased to enlighten the disciples' minds
by the outpouring of the Spirit, the Paraclete,
grant you gladness by His blessing
and make you always abound with the gifts of the same Spirit.

May the wondrous flame that appeared above the disciples
powerfully cleanse your hearts from every evil
and pervade them with its purifying light.

And May God, who has been pleased to unite many tongues
in the profession of one faith,
give you perseverance in that same faith
and, by believing, may you journey from hope to clear vision.

Solemn Blessing for Pentecost


Come Holy Spirit,
create us anew.
Fill us with the fire of Your Love.

May our thoughts, words and deeds
reflect Your Love to each person we meet.

May we boldly use each of Your Gifts
to renew the world in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; 
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, 
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
"Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
'He has been raised from the dead, 
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.'
Behold, I have told you."
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, 
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me."

Matthew 28:  1-10


Blessed Easter to you and your loved ones!  I hope your Easter Sunday was filled with the joy of being with family.  May you experience the fullness of peace of our Risen Lord throughout the Easter season.

My sister and I prepared traditional Slovak foods with recipes from our Mom and Grandmother, Baba, including pascha (bread), cheese, butter, kielbasi, ham, eggs, horseradish, etc.  The basket was our grandparents'; our Mom embroidered the special cloths which line and cover the basket.  A local parish offers the Blessing of Easter foods on Holy Saturday at noon and it is beautiful to see multiple generations of people of Eastern European descent gather for God's blessing upon their celebration.


You were especially remembered in prayer during a recent Pilgrimage to Italy which included Mass at holy sites in Assisi, Siena, Padua as well as Rome.  

Our group was privileged to received preferred seating and be near to His Holiness Pope Francis at a General Audience held in Saint Peter's Square.  Our Holy Father bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon us and upon each of you.


Friday, March 24, 2017

“Do The Work of an Evangelist.”

Karen with Cardinal Keeler
Saint Peter's Square, 1996

On March 23, 2017 God called home Cardinal William Keeler, a “wise and gentle pastor.”

Our Holy Father Pope Francis wrote beautiful words of condolence to those who mourn the late Cardinal.  Countless eloquent words of tribute are posted on the Archdiocese of Baltimore website.  I hope you will indulge me in some simple but heartfelt words in memory of a dear friend.

My first interactions were with then Bishop Keeler of the Diocese of Harrisburg.  He certainly lived the words of his episcopal motto, “Do The Work of an Evangelist.”  I cannot remember ever seeing him eat dinner at large diocesan gatherings as he spent the entire meal time going around the room to every table and greeting each person, usually by name.  He had an enviable gift for remembering names (without needing a name tag!) and other details about those whom he met.  He was a great correspondent, especially good at keeping in touch after he became Archbishop of Baltimore, testified by a large collection of hand-written notes in my possession.  He appreciated updates on the health of friends as he promised his prayers for them.
Karen and Terry with Cardinal Keeler
Cardinal's Residence Chapel, celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary

Cardinal Keeler was generous in his support and encouragement of my service to the Church, whether in the National Council of Catholic Women, World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, or in the parish and diocese.  One day Cardinal Keeler took me by the hand to introduce me to another Cardinal, whom he also took by the hand and, referring to an upcoming Vatican event, said, “You need Karen at that meeting.”   Not long afterwards the official invitation arrived from the Vatican: I did attend and speak.
Cardinal Keeler welcoming WUCWO Executive Committee Members
Santa Maria degli Angeli, Rome
Cardinal Keeler graciously interceded for me to meet Pope John Paul II on multiple occasions.  A humble man who never forgot his simple roots he once told me about having dinner with His Holiness and thinking to himself, “What is a boy from Lebanon (PA) doing at the Vatican eating with the Pope?”  He proudly shared a photo he took with his own camera of Pope John Paul II looking out a helicopter window at stadium overflowing with faithful awaiting his arrival during a visit to the USA. 

I will always give thanks to God for the gift of the ministry and friendship of Cardinal Keeler.  The witness of his faith and his care for others drew people to him and, most of all, to the Lord.  During my last visit with His Eminence, a mutual friend and I shared our memories of many special times with the Cardinal.  At that point he was not able to speak to us, though he tried valiantly.  We knew he was pleased with our presence and remembrances.    

The Cardinal will be greatly missed by many, but the Lord has surely said, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.

The following is the full text of the telegram of condolences following the death yesterday, 23 March 2017, of His Eminence Cardinal William Henry Keeler, of the title of Santa Maria degli Angeli, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, United States of America. sent by the Holy Father Francis to His Excellency William Edward Lori, archbishop of Baltimore.

Telegram from the Holy Father

To the Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal William H. Keeler, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. With gratitude for Cardinal Keeler’s years of devoted episcopal ministry in the local Churches of Harrisburg and Baltimore, his years of leadership within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and his long-standing commitment to ecumenical and interreligious understanding, I join you in commending the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn the late Cardinal in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.


For more information please visit: 
For more information about Cardinal Keeler please visit the Archdiocese of Baltimore website:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Psalm 51:  3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17


Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply….

Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis 
For Lent 2017


Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
First Sunday of Lent


You are especially in my thoughts and prayers as we travel this Lenten journey.  Each year we are given a new opportunity to turn away from sinfulness, follow Jesus more closely, and share with others the gift of our faith.  Let’s pray for each other to receive with open arms the blessings which the Lord has chosen just for us.

What is the Lord calling you to do differently this Lent to more fully experience the mercy and compassion found in His Sacred Heart?

Can we more joyfully and patiently conform our will to God’s will?

How is the Holy Spirit inspiring you to renew your own prayer life as well as to encourage others on their spiritual journey?

Thanks be to God for the witness of your faith-filled journey!


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Gift of Life

God our Creator,
we give thanks to you, who alone have the power
to impart the breath of life
as you form each of us in our mother’s womb;
grant, we pray,
that we, whom you have made stewards of creation,
may remain faithful to this sacred trust
and constant in safeguarding the dignity of every human life…
Day of Pray for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

All are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 
Declaration of Independence

The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is 5:20).

Pope John Paul II
Evangelium Vitae, 58


Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.

Pope Francis
Evangelii Gaudium, 213


Not just on this Day of Prayer, but each and every day, we give thanks to Our Creator for the unalienable right to life.

Have you, like me, been bothered to hear recent angry chants of “women’s rights are human rights”… thinking that the chanters were blatantly ignoring the fundamental right to life?   Are you saddened by those promoting self-serving destruction?  How can we put an end to the duplicity of demands for inclusivity and tolerance to the exclusion and detriment of persons who aspire to moral values?

I am reminded of the peer pressure of my distant teenage years.  I can still hear my parents saying, “if ‘everyone’ is doing something (fill in the blank), it doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean that you have to do it also.”  You and I need to be the voices of wise, loving parents guiding and praying others away from the pressures of the evil one which are rampant in today’s world.  Acts of loving kindness can conquer anger and selfishness, by the grace of God.

People of faith, hope and love… all people of good will:   Be steadfast in your belief that human rights and dignity are bestowed on each and every person from conception to natural death.   Celebrate that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.  We will find peace and joy when we embrace God’s will.

Thanks be to God for the gift of His love!


Friday, December 23, 2016

And We Saw His Glory

And the Word became flesh 
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory, 
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

May our newborn Saviour grant you
the gift of Love,
the blessing of Hope,
and the fullness of Peace.
May our lives proclaim His glory.

Blessed Christmas
Joyeux Noël
Feliz Navidad
Fröhliche Weihnachten
                                                 In Christ Jesus,


Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Bud Shall Blossom

His Holiness Pope Francis, on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at the General Audience, urged the faithful to open their hearts to the Good News of the Saviour’s birth.
Pope Francis recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “the Lord himself will give you a sign: the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel” and also “a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”
He said that the sense of Christmas transpires in both of these verses: “God fulfills his promise by coming in the flesh, (…) and He gives his people a new hope for humanity: eternal life”.
Christ, by coming in the flesh, has opened the way for us to ascend to the Father.
“When we prepare the Christmas crib in our homes and churches let us be attentive to the message of hope it embodies”.   With our gaze on the nativity scene that takes us to the little town of Bethlehem, the Pope said we can see revealed God’s love for each of us, however small or lowly:
We see it in Mary, who trusted in God’s word: “She is the Mother of Hope”.
Next to Mary is Joseph, the man of hope, who gave Jesus his name, which means “God saves”.  
In the crib we see the joy of the shepherds who represent the humble and the poor who were awaiting the Messiah.  They were the ones, he said, to receive with joy the peace proclaimed by the angels.
“Dear brothers and sisters: every time we say ‘yes’ to Jesus a bud blossoms into hope.  May we trust in this bud of hope” and open our hearts to the Good News of the birth of Jesus who came to save us”.