Tuesday, July 23, 2013


      Six of our sisters had a wonderful experience of a directed retreat last month.  A retreat director from New Jersey came and directed them for a week of prayer and reflection.  The retreatants kept silent during the day and ate their meals in another room across from the main dining room.  Each one has shared that it was a good experience for them.
     In a couple of weeks many of our sisters will participate in a conference retreat.  The director will give talks in the morning about being Vessels of Hope and about Pope Francis.  Silence will also be observed during this retreat.  A penance celebration will also be included during the week.  The sisters will have the opportunity to conference with the retreat director if they so choose.
      I will be leaving for New Jersey next Monday for my annual directed retreat.  I look forward to this time to spend in quiet, prayer, and reflection.  It is a time to deepen my relationship with Christ and renew my prayer life to strengthen me for the rest of the year. 
     Please pray for all the sisters and for me during this time of retreat.


     How important to you is the Word of God?  Do you let other things get in the way of spending time with the Word?  Both the first reading (Gen. 18:20-32) and the Gospel, (Lk 10:38-40) from Sunday focus on hospitality.  How we treat guests who come to our home is an important quality of service.  For now, however, I would like to focus on the Gospel about Jesus' visit to Martha's and Mary's home in Bethany.
     During his visit, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his every word.  I imagine Martha sticking her head out of the kithchen trying to get Mary's attention to come help her with preparing the meal, or perhaps she is beckoning Mary to come.  Finally, in frustration, Martha says to Jesus, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?"  Then, I love what she does next.  Martha tells Jesus what to do! "Tell her to help me."
     Jesus tells Martha that she is worried and anxious and that Mary has chosen the better part.  Martha has chosen service over listening to the Word.  In our lives today we can get so caught up in many things that keep us from, or that intice us to choose doing rather than spending time with Christ.  There is nothing wrong in what we "do," it is how much time we spend doing it.  Finding a balance between work, play, service, rest, and prayer is not always easy.  A spiritual director I once had said, "Pray first and everything else will get done."  I find that if I have more time to do something, it will take me longer to do that task and I can get distracted from doing it.  If I pray first, then later I am more focused on the getting the task done in less time.  When my tasks or work is done, then I have time to do other things or rest.
     I think we all have our Martha days and our Mary days.  However, it is crucial that we find that balance.  By doing so, we may prevent ourselves, while we are working, from feeling anxious about not spending enough time with the Word; or feeling anxious when we are with the Word and unfocused because we are worried about what we need to do. 
     Put praying and spending time with the Word first on your calendar or list of thinkgs to do.  Make it non-negotiable.  Our prayer and spending time wth Christ will deepen in us and lead us to service.  We will be at peace and bring joy to others.  We will receive the grace we need to serve the people of God.
      How important to you is the Word of God?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


In today's gospel from Jesus' discourse at the last meal that he ate with his disciples, Jesus said that the disciples were the Father's gift to him.  We too are a gift to Jesus from the Father.  Imagine that!  I offer you a reflection for yourself.
Close your eyes and relax.  Breathe slowly and evenly.  Ask the Holy Spirit to be with you and open your heart to receive all that God desires to give you in this time of reflection.  When you are ready, imagine God the Father bringing you to Jesus and offering you to him as a gift.  What is Jesus' response? Listen to Jesus tell you how you are a gift to him. What is your response?
Then, reflect on how Jesus is a gift to you and tell him.  What is his response?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


How are you called?   Do you get calls on your I-Phone or on your land line?  Do you know who is calling you before you answer because you have caller ID, or do you immediately recognize the one who is calling when he/she greets you on the phone? When the phone rings, my mother looks at her TV screen, which displays the name and number of the caller, to see who is calling her before she answers the phone.  How do you know when God is calling you and how do you recognize his voice?
There are many call stories in scripture:  the call of Abraham; the call of the prophets; the call of the disciples; and the call of St. Paul, just to name a few.  Today's Gospel from John 10:27-30 is just a small portion of the Good Shepherd passages.  Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice...and they follow me."  We can hear his voice through prayer and reflection, through scripture or in song, through other people or in spiritual readings, or by being still and silent.  Something in these may strike our hearts that gives us joy or peace, enlightenment or comfort.  It can fill us with deep love.
Jesus, our Shepherd, has a love deeper than ours.  I was caught by the line, "My Father who has given them to me...and no one can take them out of the Father's hand."  We are a gift given to Jesus by the Father.  His love, mercy, and compassion will always keep us close to his heart because we are precious gifts to him.  No one and nothing will take us out of His hands.  We are Christ's forever.
Today is World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  Please continue to pray that more men and women will listen to the voice of the Shepherd to follow him in the vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  If you feel that you may have a religious vocation and want to talk about it, get in touch with me at s.lfusco@ssjerie.org

Sunday, April 14, 2013


In today's Gospel from John 14:23-29, we find the disciples fishing after the death and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus first called the disciples, they were fishermen, and he told them to follow him and they will be catching men and women.  Jesus has died, and resurrected and still they go back to what they know, fishing for fish.
Jesus calls out to them from the shore.  The Beloved Disciple recognizes and believes that it is Jesus before any of the others.  I have read that whenever Peter and the Beloved Disciple are together, he is the one who believes first.  One example was when they ran to the empty tomb.  Scripture says that the Beloved Disciple out ran Peter and saw the empty tomb first and believed.  The love of the Beloved Disciple enables him to believe.  Like him, our faith must be rooted in love.  When the disciples got to shore, Jesus had bread and fish for them.  He gave them the bread and fish just as he had given bread and fish to the crowd then gave the Bread of Life discourse.  Once again Jesus is showing the disciples and us that he is the Bread of Life.
Next, Jesus asks Peter three times, "Peter, do you love me."  Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."  Each time Jesus directs Peter to tend to his flock and to follow him.  Who are the ones Jesus is asking us to tend?  Jesus continues to be present to us and feed us in the Eucharist.  With love we are also called to follow him.  Where do we, who believe and love Christ, bring his love to others?  How are we Eucharist for others?

Sunday, April 7, 2013


What are your fears?  Many people have different fears in their lives.  Some fears always remain with us and some fears we outgrow.  Fear can cause stress, sleepless nights, and other health problems.  While therapists, doctors, counselors, and others can help us manage our fears, we can always look in scripture.
In the reading from the Revelations and in the Gospel reading in today's liturgy we heard the words, "Do not be afraid."  John in a vision on the island of Patmos saw the resurrected Christ.  After falling over from shock at seeing Christ, John heard him say, "Do not be afraid.  Write down what you have seen."  Then in the Gospel reading, the apostles were in the upper room and Jesus appeared to them saying, "Do not be afraid. Receive the Holy Spirit..."   
Without counting for myself, I have heard that there are 365 places in scripture where the words, "Fear not," or "Do not be afraid" appear.  For me, trusting in God who loves me can help me through my fears. I can sit still and talk to Jesus or Mary.  I can pray and journal through something.  There are songs based on scripture that tell me not to be afraid, and when needed, I can talk to someone who I know cares and listens.
At Baptism we were given an "indelible mark" which says we belong to Christ.  Therefore, we can get our courage, strength, and hope from him.  He is the one we can always turn to.  We don't need an appointment.  We just have to show up. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


This evening I had the privilege to proclaim the reading from Romans at the Easter Vigil at my parish.  Romans 6:3-11 is my favorite reading. Why? It is the culmination of Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection.  It is why He came to earth, to destroy death. 
In this passage we hear that, "...death no longer has power over him." Because of this, death no longer has power over us also.  It does not hold us bound.  We will live with Christ.
This is also a comforting passage as I think of those who have gone before me in my family and in community.  I know that they are living the newness of life that God promises. 
Rejoice this Easter Season!  Christ is Risen! Alleluia.
Happy Easter.