As a deer longs for water, so my soul longs for God. Yet, the mystery is that God is in me. He is closer to me than I am to myself and He is active - sometimes it is the Holy Spirit who inspires me in a conscious way; sometimes, it is Jesus speaking to me deep in my heart, or through Scripture; sometimes I am aware of the Father's embrace. I long for God and forget that He is in me, around me, and I can find Him always when I seek for Him. He is in the persons I meet, the tasks that present themselves daily, the events and circumstances of each day.
Sometimes I am so unaware of His Presence. Keeping a Journal is a great help. I should write something after prayer each day, but I usually do not stop to do that but I do write at least several times a week in my journal to note something that seems significant. It is not just about prayer; it is not a diary with events just noted; I guess it is some thought or reflection that seems worth noting down and I do remember things that I take time to write. It is not always easy to put one's interior life into words. I am grateful that silence is God's first language!
What is wonderful is that I can look at a picture and be lost in awe, wonder and praise. At the moment, Miami is having thunder storms. Last night the lightning was constant and lengthy just before I went to sleep. It was so bright that I had to get up to look at it. It reminded me of the electrical storms I experienced years ago in New Orleans that would light up the entire dormitory; the children would use it as an excuse to pull their beds out and surround my alcove. They said they felt safer that way. It was difficult for the one who came to wake me at 4:45 each morning to do so with all the beds blocking her way. One morning, she thought she heard me stirring, but I did not appear at morning office. I was still sound asleep! It is funny the things I remember after more than fifty years.
I have been thinking a great deal about what it means for me to keep reflecting on "Laudato Si". It is a reflection that must lead to action. At present I am going through it again and jotting notes as I read. This helps me to remember. I read the six chapters as soon as it came out, but only now am I going back to really try to deepen what the Holy Father is saying. I am struck by the deep and inter-twined relationship between God, us, and the earth.
We may be facing a really big storm and I feel we are not really ready for it. We have had too many good years so have rather forgotten how bad it can be when we get even the tail of some hurricane. I need to check the flashlights and get help with the patio furniture. When we lose power, we all suffer from the heat.
We have many opportunities to do humble and loving things each day. Mother Stuart says that these little opportunities for being humble and loving are like gold dust and we should have an enthusiasm for them. I am trying but seem to often lack that enthusiasm. Still, I believe that I keep trying to find joy in these little ways of helping others. Each day is a challenge. I am sure that is one of the reasons that St. Ignatius insisted so on a daily examen. We need to thank for all the people, events, circumstances in our lives and then see how we are responding to the calls of each day. We are to live united to Jesus in the daily tasks and know that we are walking with Jesus no matter what is asked of us.
We take the gift of water for granted. We have water all over America and we have running water that is so convenient in our homes. We do not know what it is like to need to walk long distances to find water. We even have washing machines with hot and cold water; showers with hot and cold water; dishwashers with water hot enough to clean our dishes and silverware, etc. And we take this for granted.
There are many in our world who have no running water; they have no clean water; they cannot drink the water they have. I had just a small experience in Chile. Although I visited two communities who did not have any running water, they did have rain barrels and were able to boil water to drink. I did not live in either of those communities but I was superior for two years in the poorest region of Chile and we did have a real problem with our water one of those years. Although Coquimbo is on the ocean, just a few blocks from our wooden house built by the priests next to the Church, there was real desert. One year it rained in the desert. This was unusual and there were no water filters so suddenly we had only muddy water. We were fortunate to have running water as many of our neighbors did not. However, what to do with the brown stuff that came out of the faucet? We washed in it; our towels were brown but we were clean. We let the mud settle, took off the top to boil for drinking, saved the next part for washing dishes and rinsing our clothes and we used the rest to clean and the mud at the bottom was thrown out and we would begin again. It was hard work to be able even to have a drink. I marveled at some of my girl scouts who lived in shacks with no water and who would appear in clean white blouses. I guess I started on this today as I was thinking of how much I take for granted,. Then, I was also thinking of the living water that flows from the Heart of Christ and how I also forget to thank for His great love and mercy!
The Psalm response for today is "You have searched me and know me. Lord" from Psalm 139 - one of my favorites. The reflection given by Father Austin Fleming is excellent and I shall be quoting a bit from him. His Concord Pastor is one of my favorite blogs but this reflection is in "Give Us This Day":
"Lord, you are near, so very near. You search my heart, inside and out. You know me better, more intimately, than I know myself. You know my strengths and my weaknesses, my truth and my lies, my reality and fantasy, my virtues and my sins. Nothing about me escapes your soul-piercing gaze....
I fool only myself when I pretend in the shadows to hide my own darkness. ...Again and again I learn the folly of running away from you who are there, everywhere I turn: all around me and dwelling deep within me. I have no reason to fear your pursuit....
You are so near, Lord. You search my heart and soul, you know me oh-so-well! With thanks and praise I yield to you and find my peace beneath your watchful eye, within your firm embrace."
We are called to preach the good news! Paul tells us in the first reading today that he drew courage "through our God to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle." He goes on to say that they were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. He is trying to please God, not men. It is God who judges our hearts. Paul put his life in danger more than once just to be able to preach the Gospel. And I? Am I taking the opportunities that are presented to me daily to preach by my whole life? Have I the attitudes, the meekness, the love of Jesus so that I communicate the message with love?
This morning I made a firm resolution to see the good in every person and event of the day. I have failed and it is still fairly early. However, I am making a conscious effort and found joy in just closing a door left open, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up after others, etc. I really need to make this conscious effort as I have found myself being critical. Maybe I am going to become a cranky person if I do not watch those thoughts. I am sharing this as I remember that when the Pope was asked who he was, he replied, "I am a sinner." I can say the same, but what I really want to say and know that this is true is, "I am God's Beloved." I have been so loved by God - each of us has- that I just want to give His love to others.
All of us are like boats our on the lake, but are we fishing?
When I contemplate this picture, I am just sitting in my boat and lost in the beauty around me. I am no longer in competition to catch fish; I am just enjoying the fact that I am out on the water and it is quiet and peaceful and God is very present.
The Sunday Gospel has the disciples of Jesus ready to go away as they cannot believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life- that they are to eat His flesh and drink His blood.. Jesus asks them, "Does this shock you?" When many leave, Jesus asks the twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Peter is quick to answer for them: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
We all need to trust Jesus and believe in Him. We may not always understand, but we do believe in His Presence, and He comes to us in a special way each time we receive Him in the Eucharist.
How did the Heart of Jesus feel when so many walked away? How does He feel now when I am walking with Him or do I sometimes walk away? Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith!
This is now the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. The picture is of Our Lady of Grace and I do like to think of Mary as being in heaven and making sure that we have all that we need. If she sees we are lacking something, she tells her Son. After all, she had Jesus change water into wine when she saw that there was a need. I like to sing "Queen of Angels, thou are glorious..." and I am glad that all who go to heaven find Mary there.
The fact that there are more guns than there are people in this country is really bothering me. Almost daily I read of another death by gunfire. Innocent children are finding guns and killing each other or themselves; there are drive-by shootings that kill just anybody in the path of the bullets; and there are many suicides. We need to have licenses for guns. We do not let just anybody drive a car, but I am told it is quite easy to buy a gun. This is an issue I want to do something about and I am praying about it. I am confiding this issue to Our Lady on this feast.
I read this and it began a real reflection on the beauty that surrounds us when we have eyes to see.
"God has made everything beautiful. Seeing life through that lens is profound and life-giving." If we reflect on this, we will see that all is gift. There is beauty everywhere! Beauty is easily found in nature, but also in people, in the events that pop up during a normal day. We just need to be alert to capture the beauty that God gives us in so many ways. Where am I experiencing this beauty now? Let us thank God for helping us to see the beauty in each creature today!
We find God by looking, contemplating nature, but we also find God by listening in the silence of our hearts. We need to learn to listen to what God is saying in this silence. We learn to attune our self to the Beloved and to develop "the ear of the heart, the inner listening of the soul." (From "Prayer of the Heart")
I have come to love and relish silence and it is such a gift. I do remember that I struggled as a novice with the rule of silence we had then. Now, with people always on phones or leaving the TV on for hours, many are used to noise. I rejoice in the opportunity to just sit in silence and remember that silence is God's first language.
Here is a quote from Rumi that I have been praying over:
"Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you, just to you and for you, without any need for my words or anyone else's. You are - we all are- the beloved of the Beloved, and in every moment, in every event of your life, the Beloved is whispering to you exactly what you need to hear and know. Who can ever explain this miracle? It simply is. Listen and you will discover it every passing moment. Listen, and your whole life will become a conversation in thought and act between you and Him, directly, wordlessly, now and always."
Quoted in "Prayer of the Heart in Christian & Sufi Mysticism by Llewellyn Vaugh-Lee.
Hello, my name is Helen Rosenthal, RSCJ. Those initials stand for Religious of the Sacred Heart in Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. Since my religious congregation began in France in 1800 and now is all over the world, we have kept the RSCJ. By now you know that I am not only known as Dr. Helen Rosenthal, but also as Sister Helen Rosenthal.
I am the oldest of four children. We were all born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. We lived in a big house with a playroom on the third floor. On Sundays we either went to my paternal grandmother's house where her six children would gather faithfully for supper or we would have my mother's father and our great aunt and uncle for a roast beef dinner at home. In summer, I would go to the lake with my Dad and I still love to swim.