Daily reflections for prayer, growth in the spiritual life, and good prayer sources. This blog also has links to other websites. One feature is a list of spiritual books.
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Sunday, May 3, 2015
I have Walter Kasper's book on Mercy on my Kindle and I-pad; it is a great book, but I like to hold spiritual books in my hands. I buy the Kindle editions because they are usually much cheaper, but I think I will buy his newest book, "Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives." Here is what Paulist Press has to say: "Kasper describes Francis as a charismatic, confident leader completely convinced of the message of the Gospel. He "combines continuity with the great tradition of the Church with renewal and ever new surprises. This also includes a poor church for the poor. This is not a liberal program; it is a radical program. Radical because it touches on the root and is a revolution of tenderness and love...What the pope is proposing is the humble way devout people move continents and can move mountains(Mt 17,19,21). A little mercy-he says-can change the world. This is the Christian revolution...It is a revolution in the true sense of the word-originally, the return to the origin of the Gospel as a way forward, a revolution of mercy."
Jesus tells us that we are united to Him as the branch is connected to the vine. We are to remain in Him and then we will bear fruit. Without Him we can do nothing. On the other hand, if we just remain in Him and His words remain in us, we are told that we can ask for whatever we want and it will be done for us. "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."
The second reading from the first Letter of John reminds us that "God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him."
Let us remain in His Love today and always! It is a grace to pray for, but Jesus waits for us to ask.
I guess I did not worry enough to check to see if my reflection on not worrying was posted on my blog. I have really learned to trust the Heart of Jesus. Paul's "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me" is good but I like to remember that Jesus told us, "Without Me you can do nothing" and so I trust and try never to worry!
We begin the month that North Americans dedicate to Our Lady. May is Mary's month; we have her honored with May altars, May Crownings, and, as our Mother, she also has a role when we celebrate Mother's Day. The last day of May has always been a special feast of Mary. It was feasting her under the title of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace; then it was the Feast of the Queenship of Mary; after that, it became the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. It is also my birthday and I love having the Feast celebrated in my community with a Liturgy in her honor. I am finally home but scheduled this blog before I left Oakwood so can only imagine how I feel - excited, grateful, full of joy, - more later on this when I have been home a few days.
Seven months seems short when today I am finally going home! It is true that those same seven months also have seemed an eternity at certain moments, but now I am closing a period of a more quiet, contemplative life style that my sudden brush with death brought me as a gift and I will be going back to my community, my ministry with friends and groups, my normal activities such as cooking. I have over five hours in the air to make this transition from the beauty of California to the beauty of Miami. Hopefully the plane will land on time and I shall be home by 9:30 tonight which will only be 6:30 in California. When one has been away so long, it takes time to adjust as others have been doing many things while I was away. I remember the first time I came back from Chile and had not seen anyone from home for nine years; they did not seem to know how to talk to me and it took a little time to get used to the different culture. That is not true this time and months are not years, but still I am looking forward to seeing everyone and being at home again in every sense of the phrase "at Home". I do feel at home with Jesus wherever I am!
Go out and preach the Good News. The whole world is waiting for me and this poem by Sister Carol Bialock helps me and perhaps will be good for all of us to reflect on today: I embrace the world this morning, Hold her in my arms a long moment And decide never to let her go. Never to return to safety, Never to say, "It's none of my business." It is. Maybe there should be a ritual When we come of age, When we are old enough to respond "I do," To the most crucial question: "Have you truly, deeply, faithfully Loved this world?"
Living water, life-giving water, all flows to us from the Heart of Jesus. We are so blessed. I have been thanking for the many graces received here at Oakwood and think that it has been quite an experience to live with so many saints. I want to share a poem by Sister Carol Bialock: Conversation: Young Woman/Old Woman She said she swims in God "It's like swimming I held my tongue. I wanted to tell her about floundering, about drowning, about arid autumns, and all the waterless ways. But you cannot tell a summer swimmer about December ice; nor how, in the spring of her elder years the pool where she swam in her youth will be all the world's oceans wide.
I am sorry that I have not seen more of the ocean here during these months in California, but I am thinking of returning next January to make my retreat near the ocean. We will see if this works our as I need to discern this with my community. However, we do have an ocean in Florida and I need to go at least to Biscayne Bay to contemplate it. I am going to miss the people at Oakwood - the community, the staff, the nurses and the cooks. I am sure I will also miss the big breakfasts that are served here at 7:30 each morning. I will miss the times in the Chapel; I can still have daily Mass in Miami and my afternoon prayer in the Chapel at home and I am just grateful that I am able to return to my community and take up ordinary work again. Being here has been a great contemplative experience and I have received so many graces here. I feel my room is a holy place as I have encountered Jesus daily here. I must say that I feel the same about my room at home. I would wish that all would be able to have quiet time, but not because they are ill. We just need to make some time for silence and solitude in our lives. I look forward to seeing all my friends again! I also look forward to not trying to write my blog on my I-pad. It now tells me when I cannot scroll down to edit it that I should "complain to Google" - and yesterday my blog did not even appear on the website! Well, I am trying to schedule ahead for this week and then I will be home! I have been going over the encounters with Jesus in my own life and finding this very fruitful.
Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd who cares for each of us. We are never alone as He is with us to watch over us, to lead us, to love us, and to bring us back when we stray. His love for each of us is infinite, constant, and very real. We have all experienced quite wonderful encounters with Jesus. As the Holy Father said in his homily on April 24, let us go back to remember our first encounter with Jesus. Maybe you need to pray for the grace to remember, but we have all had many encounters with Jesus. Let Him shepherd us with all His love. We encounter Him in every Eucharist.
The Pope's homily yesterday is really worth keeping and praying over so here it is:
Each man and woman has a personal encounter with the Lord. A true and actual encounter that can radically change one’s life. The secret lies not only in being aware of it, but also in never forgetting it, so as to preserve its freshness and beauty. Pope Francis shared these thoughts during Mass at Santa Marta on Friday morning, 24 April, along with some homework and practical advice: pray for the grace to remember and then read the Gospel once again, in order to recognize it in the many encounters of Jesus.
The First Reading (Acts 9:1-20) recounts “the narrative of Saul — Paul”, Francis began, of his being “certain of his doctrine, even zealous”. But “this zeal led him to persecute this new Way that was born there, namely Christians”. Thus Saul “asked for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, for the authorization to put Christians in chains”. And “he did this with the zeal of God”.
Then, the Pope explained, “we all know what happens next”. He has “that vision, and falls from the horse”. At that point, Francis recalled, “the Lord speaks to him: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ — ‘Who are you, Lord?’ — ‘I am Jesus’”. This is “Paul’s encounter with Jesus”. Until that moment Paul “believed that everything the Christians were saying were stories”. But “here he encounters Him and will never forget this encounter: it changes his life and makes him grow in love for this Lord whom at first he persecuted but now loves”. This encounter, the Pope added, leads Paul “to proclaim to the world the name of Jesus as an instrument of salvation”. Thus, this is how “Paul’s encounter with Jesus” happened and what it meant.
“In the Bible”, Francis said, “there are many other encounters”, and “in the Gospel” as well. They are “all different” and thus, truly, “each one has his own encounter with Jesus”. Let us think about “the first disciples who followed Jesus and stayed with Him all night — John and Andrew, the first meeting — and they were happy about this”. Indeed, “Andrew goes to his brother Peter — he is called Simon at that time — and says: ‘We have found the Messiah!’”. This is followed by “Peter’s encounter with Jesus”, when Jesus says to him: “‘you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas’, (which means Peter)”.
There really are many such “encounters”, Francis reiterated. There is, for example, “that of Nathaniel, the sceptic”. Straight away, “with only a few words, Jesus bowls him over”. Indeed, the intellectual admits: “You are the Messiah!”. Then there is “the encounter of the Samaritan woman who, at a certain point, feels herself in difficulty. Yet the woman, “in her own sin, encounters Jesus and goes to proclaim him to those in the city: ‘he told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’”.
Francis also referred to “the encounter of the leper, one of the ten healed, who returned to express his gratitude”. Another, “the encounter of that woman” who, sick for many years, “thought: ‘if I only touch his garment, I shall be made well’, and she encounters Jesus”. And finally, also “the encounter of the possessed man from whom Jesus casts out many demons, which enter the swine”. The man then “wants to follow Him and Jesus says to him: ‘No, no, stay at home, but tell everyone what has happened to you’”.
Thus, the Pontiff summarized, “we can find so many encounters in the Bible, because the Lord looks for us to have an encounter with us” and “each of us has his own encounter with Jesus”. Perhaps, the Pope pointed out, “we forget it, we lose the memory”, and we have to ask ourselves: “when did I encounter Jesus, or when did Jesus encounter me?”. Surely, Francis said, Jesus “encountered you on the day of Baptism: that is true, you were a child”. And with Baptism, he added, “He justified you and made you part of his people”.
We all, the Pope stated, “have had some encounter with Him in our life”, a true encounter, when “I felt that Jesus was looking at me”. This experience is not only “for the holy”. And “if we do not remember it, it will be beautiful to think back and ask the Lord to remind us, because He remembers, He recalls the encounter”. In this regard Francis referred to the Book of Jeremiah, which reads: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride”. Thus, it speaks of “that enthusiastic initial encounter, that new encounter: He never forgets, but we forget the encounter with Jesus”.
Francis offered a “nice homework assignment”, which would be to recall “when I truly felt the Lord near me”, to think about “when I felt I needed to change my life or to be better or to forgive a person”, and “when I heard the Lord asking me something” and, thus, “when I encountered the Lord”.
Our faith is, in fact, “an encounter with Jesus”, and this is precisely “the foundation of faith: I encountered Jesus like Saul”, as offered in the passage from the day’s Reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
Therefore, Francis continued, if one says to himself, “I don’t remember” my encounter with the Lord, it is important to ask for this grace: “Lord, when did I consciously find you? When did you tell me something that changed my life or invite me to take that step forward in life?”. And, the Pope recommended, “this is a fine prayer, do it every day”. Then, when “you remember, rejoice in that recollection, which is a remembrance of love”.
Francis also proposed another fine assignment, which “would be to take up the Gospels” and read again the many accounts there are in order “to see how Jesus encounters the people, how He chooses the apostles”. And realize, perhaps, that some encounters “resemble mine”, for “each one has her own” encounter.
Thus, the Pope offered two practical and concrete suggestions “that will do us good”. First of all “pray and ask for the grace of memory”. Ask ourselves: “When, Lord, was that encounter, that love I had at first?”. In order “not to feel that rebuke that the Lord gives in Revelation: ‘I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first’”.
The Pope’s second suggestion was to “take up the Gospel and see Jesus’ many encounters with so many different people”. It is obvious, he explained, that “the Lord wants to encounter us, He wants the relationship with us to be face-to-face”. For certain, “in our life there was a strong encounter that led us to change our life somewhat and to be better”.
The Eucharist celebration, the Pontiff concluded, is indeed “another encounter with Jesus in order to carry out what we have heard” in the Gospel (Jn 6:52-59): “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”. Yes, to so abide “in the Lord, let us now go toward this daily encounter”.
This is one of my favorite Gospel stories. Peter went out fishing; others go with him and they toil all night and catch nothing. Then Jesus comes; they obey Him and their nets are full. Peter cannot wait to get to Jesus so he gets out of the boat. Jesus has breakfast ready for them and just adds some of the fish they have caught. Now, what is the truth behind this story. Again, Jesus comes when they are tired and discouraged for they have worked hard and have not caught a single fish. With Jesus come the fish and the net is overflowing. Then we see that Jesus has prepared a meal for them. Apply that story to your own life and you will find the truth that those Jewish Christians saw and used in their liturgies.
Maybe Jesus did not appear to you, but I am sure we are all aware that often Jesus comes to walk with us when we are discouraged and feeling sad; Jesus also comes when we are striding along full of joy. In fact, Jesus is always with us. Perhaps that is the point the evangelist was trying to make when he tells us about the two disciples and how they asked Jesus to stay with them and He did! They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. We, too, ask Jesus to stay with us and we also recognize Him in the Eucharist. The point I am trying to make goes back to the blog I wrote the other day about the book I am reading that believes the Jewish writers of the Gospel wrote to tell us a truth, but did not try to be literal when telling it. They may have invented the details, but Jesus does walk with us and we do recognize Him in the Eucharist. He does like to be invited to "stay with us." And, when we encounter Jesus, we are filled with new energy and "our hearts are burning within us."
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.