A Delightful Blessing of the Animals

A Delightful Blessing of the Animals

A Delightful Blessing of the Animals

Even the skies brightened a bit when the animals showed up.

When we think of St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order, many of us think of icons or illustrations or statues of him surrounded by animals or birds. It is written that he loved all God’s creation and even preached to the birds. With his feast day on October 4th, the first weekend of October is often the time when Blessings of the Pets or Farm Animals is held. That was certainly the case here at Our Lady of Hope as we gathered on the lawn next to St. Joseph’s Church on Saturday afternoon. Frs. Jack, Brian and Paul all reminded us through prayer of the connection of our care for our pets, who depend on us, to our care and concern for our vulnerable neighbors, which was especially part of St. Francis’ message 800 years ago.

With that in mind, we share the Peace Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
were there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
were there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Let each of us emulate St. Francis of Assisi in demonstrating our love and care for all God’s creation.

Special Collection for Christo Rei Parish in Haiti

Special Collection for Christo Rei Parish in Haiti

Special Collection for Christo Rei Parish in Haiti

In keeping with Catholic social justice principles, we will be having a special collection for Christo Rei Parish – Christ the King – in Morne Rouge, Haiti at all Masses on the weekend of September 10 & 11.

Members of our Social Justice and Peace Commission will be at church entrances with more information, photos of the parish’s works, and to receive your generous offering. Every gift helps, no matter the size. Funds raised, from all sources, feed students in their parish school a morning bowl of rice and beans – food to soothe hunger with nutrients essential to concentrate at school. 50 % of what is raised covers teachers’ salaries. Then, remaining funds help pay for fuel, support catechist and sacristan needs, and a bit for the pastor. If you’d like to know more about this mission, please touch base with Ursula or Bill through the parish office, or directly.

Checks can be made out to OLH with Haiti Project in the memo. Thank you for your consideration and spirit of generosity and your faithful prayers for the concerns of Christo Rei Parish.

19th Annotation Ignatian Retreat

19th Annotation Ignatian Retreat

19th Annotation Ignatian Retreat

The Ignatian Spirituality Partnership of Maine is offering a retreat that aims to offer a “blueprint” for prayer to help people discern God’s presence in their lives. This 19th Annotation Ignatian Retreat will be offered virtually via Zoom starting this October and running through June 2023. Established in 2018, The Ignatian Spirituality Partnership of Maine is designed to assist anyone interested in sharing and promoting the Ignatian spiritual vision. Members of the partnership include the Jesuit Community of Maine (Cheverus High School, Our Lady of Hope Parish), the Sisters of St. Joseph in Winslow, the Sisters of the Presentation in Biddeford (Marie Joseph Spiritual Center), the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, and the Maine Ignatian Volunteer Corps, clergy and lay people of serveral Christian traditions who have been trained in Ignatian Spirituality.

Also known as the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life, the heart of this retreat is daily prayer. Participants need to make a commitment to praying daily with the retreat materials for about 30 minutes each day, attending a virtual Zoom meeting with the whole group on the first Wednesday evening of each month, and attending a monthly meeting with a spiritual director/prayer guide either in person or via Zoom.

“This retreat is designed for people who have had some experience praying with Scripture, and who have had experience talking with someone about their prayer,” notes Fr. Paul Sullivan, SJ, one of the retreat prayer guides and pastor of Our Lady of Hope. “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola can be transformational.”

In four stages, referred to as “weeks,” participants contemplate various aspects of their lives, as well as the Life, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus. Leading and encouraging women and men to make the journey of the Exercises is a key priority of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) globally and for its partners in mission today. “God continues to invite each of us into a deepening relationship, to ongoing conversion. We belive that by embracing this invitation, we embrace our God who calls us to act in new, bold ways that reconcile our world – bringing about justice, peace, and compassion,” states Fr. Arturo Sosa, SJ, superior general of the Society of Jesus.

Jane Hartwell, Partnership member and co-coordinator of the retreat, notes that 2022-2023 will be the fourth time time we have offered this opportunity for retreat. “We have over 50 women and men, from Frenchville to the New Hampshire border who have now shared this experience. We hope that you might join us this year.”

Space is limited, for a most fruitful experience for participants. So if you’d like more information or to register for this retreat, visit ignatianme.org. Once registered, organizers will arrange for an in-person or online meeting to talk more about the retreat and pair you with a spiritual director/guide.

The Jesuit Way of Making Decisions – The Discernment of Spirits

The Jesuit Way of Making Decisions – The Discernment of Spirits

The Jesuit Way of Making Decisions – The Discernment of Spirits

It is impossible to have a perfect knowledge of God’s will. We know that.

The discernment process will not give us absolute, intrinsic insight into God’s will. It is not a crystal ball that allows us to see into the future, or into the soul of another. We do not get to know the mind of God with certainty.

When we think about our parish, we know that we do not have the resources to do everything we might imagine we want to do at Our Lady of Hope – all of the programs we want to run; all of the renovations and upgrades to buildings we want to do; and the help we want to provide to those in need in our midst. In fact, we know that we need to make careful decisions even among the things that we need to do because we do not have the resources even to do everything that needs to be done.

The discernment of spirits is a process for deciding among good options. The discernment of spirits is different from other decision making processes because it seeks the will of God.

In an essay entitled, “Discernment and Board Formation,” John Whitney, S.J. describes discernment as “the prayerful, reflective, reasoned search for the movement of God’s spirit within one’s own heart and within the heart of the community.” The discernment process leads us to examine our own attractions and desires to what draws us closer to God; draws us away from God. We pay attention to our experiences of consolation and desolation. We also pay careful attention to the experiences of consolation and desolation of others because the process of discernment we are engaged in at Our Lady of Hope is a communal discernment.

The discernment of spirits is a process of choosing between competing goods. Since the answer of which option serves the greatest good – or is the will of God – is not self-evident, we can expect that there will be disagreements about what is the greatest good in a particular situation. Disagreement or conflict is not a sign of poor discernment but a call for us to discern well.

This call to discern well carries with it some assumptions – including:
– A presumption of good will in those with different opinions. This presumption requires spiritual maturity and humility and is not easy to achieve.
– Members of the community will contribute the fruits of their own prayer and the movement of spirits they experience with candor and trust when invited into the process.
– Some members of our community, specifically the Pastoral and Finance Councils have committed to a more in-depth engagement with the details of budgets, needed maintenance, and other considerations. Consequently, they have committed to the discernment process in a new way.

Ultimately, this process is consultative – in other words – we are gathering data for the decision, but the decision itself will be made by either Fr. Paul Sullivan, S.J. in his role as pastor or by the bishop of the diocese.

We hope that the discernment process we have been engaged in for several years now will continue to be open and collaborative – that you will feel free to share the movement of spirits in your own life. Ultimately, recognizing that the discernment process has been about choosing between competing goods – that we accept the decisions made as a community.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

In Times of Stress and Worry

In Times of Stress and Worry

In Times of Stress and Worry

We know that not every day in life is easy.

There are times of struggle or uncertainty or fear. A recent weekday Gospel dealt with such times.

The friends of Jesus were in a boat out on the lake and the winds got strong, the boat was rocking and they felt they might sink. Jesus was, somehow in all this commotion, asleep, and they cried out to him in fear. The story tells us Jesus awoke and calmed the seas and winds and told his friends, do not be afraid.

“Who is this man? The story asks, that he has such power.” This story may have happened as the Gospel writer tells us, but it is also meant to be about us.

Sometimes life gets rough, and we are filled with fear or grief. What to do? As friends of Jesus we can do what his friends did in that boat. We can speak with Jesus (or the Holy Spirit or the Father), and in all honesty, tell God our fears. Not so much describe the problem (“my boat is sinking”) but tell God what is in your heart (“I am scared to death”).  Find those words that really say how it is with you. Speak them.

And then listen.

Jesus does not claim to be a magician, always making things “right” in our lives. He promises always to be with us, even, maybe especially, in times of stress, danger, fear, or grief.

As Bishop Desmond Tutu put it “Victory is Ours. Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death; Victory is ours through Him who loves us.” This is the Christian proclamation of faith.

Ignatius invites us to speak with Jesus as you would speak with your closest friend.

Fr. Paul SJ

Society of Jesus Statement on Supreme Court Decision

Society of Jesus Statement on Supreme Court Decision

Society of Jesus Statement on Supreme Court Decision

Society of Jesus in the United States Welcomes Overruling of Roe v. Wade
June 24, 2022

The Society of Jesus in the United States welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade. Abortion is a massive injustice in our society, and today’s ruling is a critical step toward the legal protection of all unborn children. As we wrote in our 2018 pro-life statement Protecting the Least Among Us, “The most fundamental building block of a just social order is respect for human life. Until men and women individually and collectively make a profound commitment to the value and dignity of all human life, we will never find the true peace, justice and reconciliation God desires for us.”

We also affirm our belief that building what Saint John Paul II called a “culture of life” requires a stronger social safety net than our country has today. To be truly pro-life, we must support all women, expectant parents and their children by advocating for policies like universal health care, paid parental leave and a more equitable distribution of our country’s abundant resources.

We approach this topic as pastors, scholars, social activists and educators. No part of our ministry is removed from the essential work of promoting and protecting the dignity of every child of God. We pray that the Lord might continue to inspire our efforts and to help us always see the face of Christ revealed in each person, both before their birth and after it.

This statement is published by the Jesuits, on their website . We have reprinted it here in full.


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