This morning I was pondering the truth of this quote from Mother Janet Erskine Stuart:
"It is always here and now, there is always the present moment to do the very best we can with, and the future depends on the way these moments are spent." It is not easy to live in the present moment; try doing it just for a day! Yet, God's grace is given in the present moment!
I am trying to get more pages written before I fly to St. Louis on October 2 for a Prayer and Dialogue week end. I will stay on for three days to work in the archives so need to know more about what I have for Lucile Mathevon's life and what I information I still hope to find. Someone suggested that I write a shorter blog - thus you may be receiving a few of the quotes that I love from Mother Stuart to reflect upon instead of my musings.
I am looking forward to talking to high school students about my vocation today.
This Thursday I am going to talk about my vocation to the students at Pace High School and I am thrilled to be able to do this. I am sure God is still calling young people to follow him in many ways, and religious life is one way to know that you are consecrated to God and to his service in a special way. It means responding to His love and putting God first and at the center of your life.
My own vocation was a gentle call. I first really thought about entering a convent when I was in my first year of high school and making my first retreat; since we were a boarding school, we began our retreat on Monday night and kept silence until Friday morning. The desks in our study hall all faced the windows or the wall and we had a Jesuit who gave us talks during the three days. One talk was on vocations and I began to think that maybe I would like to be a nun and teach others about God. It was just a thought but I began to be conscious of a desire to be with God for all those who never thought of Him or thanked Him. I began to make short visits to the Chapel to talk to God and this is the way God led me to really consider giving up the life I thought I wanted to go see if the Society of the Sacred Heart would accept me. I entered for the Feast of the Sacred Heart in June after two years of college; I just had my nineteenth birthday and thought that maybe I would be sent home by September and so would be able to rejoin my classmates. I knew the Religious of the Sacred Heart but had no idea of what religious life was all about and only a vague idea that nuns took three vows. I just had liked what I saw and thought the nuns that taught me were united to Jesus when not actually teaching - that was a big disappointment to discover that union with God was not something that happened automatically because one entered the convent! However, I have never regretted entering and count my vocation as a great gift from God.
I am still praying over yesterday's Liturgy and want to share this bit from the Concord Pastor's blog:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts
and my ways are not your ways, says the Lord…
Sounds to me like some pretty solid grounds for disagreement here,
disagreement with God unless you’ve cleared all that up
and now your thoughts are God’s thoughts and
your ways are God’s ways – just about all the time.
But we know that’s not the case.
Very often, in fact, God’s take on things substantially differs from ours:
we don’t always think the way God thinks,
our ways don’t always parallel God’s ways.
He gives examples: how about forgiving my enemies? Or how is my generosity? God is so good and wants us to be good and merciful as He is; He is concerned about each of us. I need to spend time with Jesus today and just be with Him as He tries to teach me about the Father. Jesus centered his entire life around his Father, God, and his reign. He wants us to trust God and let Him transform us so that our thoughts are more like God's thoughts and our ways are God's ways.
Jesus told the parable of the owner who hired laborers every time he went out and found some who had not been hired. He paid each a daily wage, even if they had been hired at a late hour. He was generous. The ones who had worked all day and were paid last were resentful. They did not think that was fair. But the owner said that they had received what was agreed on and they had no right to find fault with his generosity. Now, I think that I would have been resentful, too, and wonder how this parable now applies to my own life. Jesus knew that God is all loving, merciful, generous and would not want anyone to be left out. He is like that owner who kept going out to see who had not been hired. He looks for ways to show His love. Jesus went out and looked for those who were poor, those who were treated as outcasts, those in need of love. May I do the same today.
Where has the week gone? The days pass so quickly and I must confess that I seem to find time for all except the book I want to write about one of our great pioneer religious. I suppose I am not giving it priority and so it is still waiting for me. The week end is rather free but I find it hard to work on week ends. I used to write papers on week ends; then I often spent hours correcting papers on week ends. What has happened to my work ethic? I need to sit down and not get up until I have written at least three pages. I will try it today and see what happens, but I need the support of others to make myself do this so please, lots of prayer for this miserable creature who wants to write and does not do it!!
Now for something spiritual. God is not envious. When Jesus tells the parable of the workers who are told to go into the fields at nine in the morning, at noon, at three, and finally at five o'clock, he is showing us how God keeps looking for us and wants to give us all that we need - that was the daily wage that the owner gave each, beginning with those who had only worked the last bit of the day since they were only hired at five o'clock. God gives each of us all that we need and we need to be free from envy and resentment. I guess we can apply this to our own lives and rejoice in such a generous God!
This morning I woke up thinking of all the blessings I had received in my twenty years in Chile. This is a picture of Chile, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It was a grace for me to have lived and worked there and met so many wonderful, holy people who blessed me in so many ways.
Thinking of the actual act of blessing brought back memories of a summer in Mexico when I was just sixteen. I still remember being so impressed with three grown sons asking their father's blessing, not only before bed, but when they left the house. I think many Hispanic families still have the custom of a blessing before bedtime.
I am thinking of how I am to use the three components of a blessing in my relationships today. It is easy to show delight in those I will be meeting and to want the best for them, but what of the third component? I guess I need to repeat what Rolheiser said:
"To bless someone is to see and admire that person, speak well of him or her, and give away some of your life so that he or she might have more life." I am going to try to have all of these components today in order to bless all I meet both at home and at the University!
There are three components to a blessing. To bless someone is to see and admire that person, speak well of him or her, and give away some of your life so that he or she might have more life. Richard Rolheiser develops each of these components in his latest book, Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity. Just reading the three components made me start reflecting on the many blessings I have received during my life. When I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, I discovered that it was the custom for the superior to give a blessing by making a small cross on one's forehead. This was an old monastic custom and one reads about the monks filing past the Abbot after night office to receive a blessing. Anyway, I do remember that the only phrase I managed to learn in Spanish before arriving in Chile straight from profession in Rome was how to ask for my superior's blessing. I think I thought that would solve all problems! But I digress - it is really good to think of how these components are active in my own life. Who will I bless today?
This morning I read the reflection in "Give Us This Day" by Madeleine Delbret (1904-1964). I liked it so want to share it with you:
"Lord, come ask us to dance. We're ready to dance this errand for you, These accounts to do, this dinner to prepare, this vigil to keep When we would prefer to sleep. We're ready to dance for you the dance of work, The dance of heat, and later the dance of cold. If certain melodies are often played in the minor key, we won't tell you That they're sad; If others leave us a little breathless, we won't tell you That they knock the wind out of us. And if other people bump into us, we'll take it with a good laugh, Knowing well that that's the sort of thing that happens when your dancing... Make us live our life Not like a game of chess, where every move is calculated Nor like a contest where everything is difficult, Not like a math problem, which makes our head hurt, But like an endless celebration, where our meeting with you is constantly new, Like a ball, Like a dance, In the arms of your grace, In the universal music of love, Lord, ask us to dance."
"Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him?
What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him; it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him; it means sensing that his presence is the truest, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means stating, believing--not only by our words--that he alone truly guides our lives. Worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history." Pope Francis, April 14, 2013 Homily
Sorry that I am a bit late today but I am with the workmen and it seems that everything happens at once. The alarm man is also going to arrive as our alarm is not working properly. We did have the electricity cut a couple of times with a storm and that may have caused it. I also seem to have mixed up things on the blog as for as being able to publish as soon as I write it.
Are the trees turning into autumn colors where you live? It is still summer here, but I have been having autumn thoughts. When we let go and fall freely from a tree, we die but are soon raked into a pile with other leaves, some are close relatives from my own tree, others are neighbors that I might not have known until we were swept together and piled up to make a bonfire. Soon I shall be consumed and a new life awaits me. How do I feel about that?
Now these may seem to be fantasy thoughts, but there is always a truth behind what my imagination invents.
I just read this is the latest "Friends of Silence" bulletin that just came:
"The rooting (of trees, of ourselves) is as important and as necessary as the rising. We have the opportunity to sink roots into soul and rise up with branches in heaven... Our spiritual growth is meant to go in both directions, toward the fertile darkness and the glorious light, each of us having the opportunity to bridge earth and heaven--the underworld and the upperworld--through the trunks of our middleworld lives... There's no conflict between spirit-cantered being and soulful doing, between transcendence and inscendence. Each supports and enhances the other. Like Rilke, we discover we can have both: You see, I want a lot Maybe I want it all; The darkness of each endless fall, The shimmering light of each ascent."
Today is a Feast day dear to the Society of the Sacred Heart. I had my own experience that made me love this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. I received a great disappointment when I still a young nun waiting to go to Rome for final Profession. I had this dream and saw Mary standing at the foot of the Cross with tears flowing but she was there and standing as near as possible to Jesus. The dream was a consoling one and the vivid image of Mary has never left me. When I told my mother that I wanted to enter the convent, she left me to finish putting my little brothers to bed. I then went across to my parents' room and found my mother sitting on the side of the bed looking up at the cross with tears on her face but also I realized that she was lost in prayer. Well, nothing I have written was planned but I need to get to the gym so will just send these two experiences today and I am sure all have their own moments when Our Mother of Sorrows has come to console us. Our Lady always came to console me when I was homesick: at boarding school, in the novitiate, and in Chile!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The Entrance Antiphon tells us that "we should glory in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered."
Catholic homes used to have a Crucifix on the wall in many rooms; many Catholic schools still have one in every classroom. Today we celebrate the reason why we venerate the Cross. In the Gospel we read that " just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
The Preface for today's feast, tells us that God " placed the salvation of the human race on the wood of the cross"...
I have a small cross sent to me by Reverend Mother Benziger from Rome when I was in Chile with the message that I was never to give it up but always keep it with me. It gives me great comfort; I am holding it in my hand as I write on my I-pad this morning. Here is a picture of my small cross that has brought me such consolation for over 53 years! (Guess I have not learned how to get this from I-pad to blog, sorry but maybe it will appear tomorrow.)
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.