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Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July



Fourth of July means feeling very American - freedom is such a gift! Having lived in a dictatorship in Chile for several years, I feel I really understand how fortunate we are to be living in a free country. I deplore the amount of money that is now spent on a political campaign, but I am proud of the fact that we do elect our officials. If all would work for the common good, we would be so much better off in this country where we still have so many who live in poverty.
The 4th is a day to celebrate our liberty; it is also a day that many begin vacation. I am going to do that this year so know that my blog may appear  (if I am inspired) but mostly I will be taking a few weeks off. I do ask prayers for the retreat, July 7-15 and then the Assembly/Chapter of the United States/Canada Province from July 15-19.
Have a good month and enjoy life! Remember that when we are grateful, we are happy!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Wind

 

Sometimes the wind is gentle; we call it a breeze.
Sometimes it comes with hurricane force; we take shelter and wait for it to die down. Here is a short poem by my friend and fellow Religious of the Sacred Heart, Carol Bialock:

The wind asks for nothing--
It sweeps in,
sweeps clean,
empties,
frees.

God, you are the wind
and an always new beginning.

June was supposed to be our rainy month but this year it seems July will bring the afternoon showers that blow in and then blow away.
I think we can always find a spiritual reflection when contemplating the wind. The Holy Spirit is often symbolized by the rush of the wind.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Growing old


Some days one feels older than others. I must confess that I now wake up and just want to lie in bed instead of jumping up and feeling the Lord is waiting for me to pray. I think He is just giving me more time and waits patiently while I collect myself and, finally, roll out of bed. Since this is a day when I think 84 is old, let me share another of Carol Bialock's poems:


Song for an Old Woman

It is not my fault that I am holy,
It is all God's doing.
When I wasn't looking he tricked me onto the path,
Knocked me off balance
So that I gasped for help,
And threw me onto my knees.
How could I help it that I landed
On Paradise Road?


The Gospel yesterday had Jesus sleeping in the boat when the storm comes up and frightens the Apostles so that they wake Jesus up.
He immediately stills the wind and waves. I do not even need to wake Him as He is always watching over me. What a grace to know that He is all-powerful and He loves us with an infinite love!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reading



My bookshelves are overflowing with books that I am reading or wanting to read. I am also so grateful that I can read. I feel for those who have poor sight, for those who never learned to love reading, for so many now that do not have books, do not have the opportunity to go to a public library and browse, for those who do not read.

We had built-in bookcases in our living room; their were four of them. My Dad had the one to the right of the fireplace and I had the one on the left. The other bookcases were on either side of the entrance to our spacious room that ran the full width of our home. We had French doors that opened onto a small, wrought iron balcony overlooking an enclosed garden complete with a stone bench and bird bath. I loved that room. We all read and loved to read at least from first grade. However, when we had the first television set on our block, my brothers were addicted to whatever they were allowed to watch and the youngest in our family learned by hearing rather than cultivating a love of reading.

I am most grateful for this gift of loving books, but now I seem to be collecting too many. I do not like reading spiritual books on my I-pad. I have another whole library of interesting books there. Maybe I will need to find more time to catch up with all the good books waiting to be read. In the meantime, I look at the books and feel gratitude.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Trust

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            We are all called to trust.        Sometimes I am so frustrated with this blog. Now I cannot get the margins to work for me and so I am thinking of taking a vacation. If will probably stop writing on July 5th as I go to retreat from July 7-15 and then we have our Provincial Assembly/Chapter from the 15th to the 19th. If the Holy Spirit inspires me, I will post a blog but I may just decide to take vacation. I was going to write today about trust. Jesus is all-powerful and He loves us. Why do we find it hard to trust?                                                                                                                                                                                   

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Closeness



Jesus was close to people, even strangers that came up to Him. He reached out and touched the leper; Jesus took the little girl's hand and helped her up and then told the parents to give her something to eat. He let others touch Him. He was close to the people around Him and He had compassion on the crowds. We all know this, but do we live it? I think reaching out to people is one of the chief lessons the Pope wants us to learn. We need to go out and really spread the joy of the Gospel. Who am I reaching out to today? I touch others by taking the time to send a note, an e-mail, or text.
People seem to have phones in their hands wherever you look; I hope they are reaching out to give joy to others.

I have been playing Words with Friends for months now and I guess I sometimes have almost twenty games going. I have decided not to play after I finish all my currant games as I will be going to retreat and then we have our Provincial Assembly. I will miss the fun of playing with others, but will start again before the end of July. I just noticed that I was getting addicted to playing and it was taking more time. I hope all I play with will understand my three week vacation - I am going to miss playing but think this is the thing I need to do now.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Celebrating Memories



I have been going through papers that one of our Religious is leaving behind; some will go to the Archives but many are copies of what we have so I need to destroy them. It makes me want to clear out all my old copies of conferences and letters from the Mother House as I seldom go back to look at any of them. Many have now been published and we have the books in community. However, I owe the reflection for this blog from a paper on Healing Memories. I am sure some people do need to heal memories, but what about celebrating our memories?

Today I am celebrating my memories. Many are of Chile and I have revived them because two of our Religious have just returned from a formation meeting there. It is really one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the people are wonderful. I guess my memories of colorful festivals and dancing, singing, and just being joyful are to be celebrated today and thanked for again. I loved every place I lived and visited in Chile and I did have the great job of traveling spiritual director that kept me visiting the 19 communities that we had after the changes when the Bishops were begging us to live in their towns and do parish work. We had been only four schools and then we suddenly had 19 communities instead of four or five. I guess it just seemed sudden to many of us. I loved working with the communities, giving workshops, teaching communal discernment, and just being with them as I spent about a week in each community from 1974-75 and then I went to live in the poorest region in the north of Chile and was superior for a very holy, hard-working community in Coquimbo. I just have many, many memories to celebrate and I am sure you do too! Let's celebrate!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The God of Surprises


My reflection today is based on the desire of Pope Francis that we may cultivate hopefulness, let God surprise us, and live in joy.
I think this year has taught me much about the way God really does surprise me. Each day is full of surprises, if we are attentive to realize how God acts in our lives. I woke up aware of the presence of my own mother and father. That is something that happened several times when I was ill and in isolation, but this is the first time since I have been home. It was a surprise to feel their presence and their love.

Yesterday I had several surprises. One of the nicest was the dinner I cooked for my community. I think I will tell you about it as it is so easy and, although I think I "invented" this dish, I do remember that Gin O'Meara created something similar. I returned home later than I thought I would yesterday afternoon and so quickly assembled on the counter the following: five potatoes, two onions, two large tomatoes, half of a green pepper, half of a red pepper, one zucchini, a bag of grated cheese. I cut and slices all and then added it in layers to a large baking dish: a layer of potatoes, then onions, then tomatoes, then cheese, then peppers and zucchini, then more potatoes, tomatoes, and cheese. I cover and baked this for an hour at 350 - I had some thin chicken breasts that I poached in cooking wine and then cooked a few minutes to brown them a bit on both sides. They were added to the top of the other dish before serving. I had added salt and pepper to both the potatoes and tomatoes but I thought the dish still needed a bit more but all thought it delicious.
I guess this was a surprise from God and I will definitely repeat as it is so easy and only one dish to wash - we have leftovers for today and I suspect they will be even better. I had watermelon for dessert.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Holiness




The other morning I was inspired to write about holiness. I really thought that the Holy Spirit inspired the blog that I wanted to schedule for today. Maybe I liked it too much as it disappeared. I do not know where it went and felt frustrated. Now, I am sure that the lesson to learn here is that feeling frustrated can be part of life and we need to learn how to turn frustration into grace. I can just be grateful that I felt the blog wrote itself under the Holy Spirit's inspiration. I just sat down and wrote and now cannot remember all that I wrote. I need to pray before writing this reflection.

Here is the quote that began my own reflection on holiness:

"Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb." This is from Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB quoted in the June issue of Friends of Silence.

For me, I need the awareness that there is grace in everything that happens. We say "yes" to whatever the Lord wants and we find the grace to do it, the feeling of thankfulness that we have life, and a deep joy that we are able to respond to the Lord, with the help of His grace. He is always with us and His Heart is open to find there all that we need, even if it is what He asks of us! He assured Sister Josefa this when He told her: "Come to my Heart and there find all that you need, even if it is what I have asked of you."
This is a favorite quotation of mine and perhaps my way to find holiness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What is grace?



This is taken from "Friends of Silence", the June Issue and has made me reflect on grace. What is it? "It seems to linger just beyond our awareness until it seeps in unbidden and undeserved -- the unexpected fragrance caught on the breeze, the cool refreshing stream with its melodic soothing of the heart, the warmth of the sun on an upturned face. It triggers the moments that against all odds soften our hearts. Perhaps it arrives on the fingertips of human touch or in the space between the notes of our allegro movements. Perhaps it is a gentle tap on the shoulder from beyond the edges of the visible world that causes us to turn our heads to listen and to look and to feel the blessings all around us. Whatever it is and wherever the source, it asks nothing more of us than gratitude."

The bold is mine. In one sense, I think gratitude is grace. I am just trying to live the gratitude I feel overwhelming me - maybe old age is just being grateful for all that has been, is, and will be.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Walking with God



Living in Miami for many years has made me a non-walker; it is just too hot. We walk from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car, to an air-conditioned store, office, church, etc. We are just spoiled, but I know I need to walk. I now walk some in the swimming pool. Others walk in the air-conditioned malls. This picture makes me think that we all are also walking interiorly. We are trying to walk with Jesus and live united to Him. I just read that Reverend Mother Goetz, our Superior General when St. Madeleine Sophie died, said that devotion to the Sacred Heart means living united to Jesus and when we are united, then we can do much good. She believes that a true Religious must live in union with Jesus. I desire this union, but am far from living it.

Union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus was a key phrase in the spirituality of St. Madeleine Sophie and is found often in the 1815 Constitutions. She talked a great deal about prayer, interior spirit, fidelity to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit - all means to union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus. Let us all strive for this union and conformity with His Heart.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Missing Father's Day



Spending Sunday remembering my own Dad seemed to make me forget to post a blog. I am sorry about that, but hope you all had a restful Sunday and celebrated your fathers - here or in heaven. My Dad was really special, but I guess many of us had "special" Dads.

My parents moved at my insistence into a smaller, one-story house with a pool for the last years of their lives. The pool brought us all together as we all loved to swim. One of my memories of my father is watching him in the evenings go out to the swimming pool and just sit on the deck and watch a rubber swan float around the pool.  If I find one, I would love to do the same, but I can see our pool from the Chapel in our house and it is very contemplative to just look at water.