What gives you peace? I think a right conscience gives peace, but sometimes we see or hear something that upsets our peace. Maybe we have even found ourselves in a confrontation and have felt anger...so, what gives you peace when you may have lost it, felt disturbed, worried, afraid? I was reflecting on this and think I recover peace by just sitting with Jesus. I feel a great calm and a stillness comes that brings peace. Other times, I can recall a peaceful scene that seems to inspire peace. When I have peace, I usually also feel joy. These are just thoughts that come while I sit here, but I think it has been my experience to live in peace and joy and, if something upsets me, turn to Jesus to see what happened to make me lose my peace. That seems to me to be the first step to recovering it! And, often I realize that it is my own fault. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit and so is Joy; let us thank the Spirit for these two great gifts!
To continue with what Pope Francis told the Catechists, the third element flows from the second for, as Paul told us: "the love of Christ impels us" - the Pope says that this can be translated as "the love of Christ possesses us. And so it is: love attracts us and sends us; it draws us in and gives us to others. This tension marks the beating of the heart of the Christian...The third element is along these lines, starting anew with Christ means not being afraid to go with him to the outskirts."
The Pope uses the story of Jonah to show how the Lord calls him to go and preach to Nineveh and Jonah does not want to do this and tries to run away. The Pope says that this short parable teaches us not to be afraid to pass beyond our comfort zone and to follow God, because God is always pushing, pressing forward...God is not afraid!...God is creative; he is not closed, and so he is never inflexible. God is not rigid1 He welcomes us, he meets us, he understands us."
We need to be able to change, to adapt to situations in which we need to proclaim the Gospel. But again, the Pope assures us that we go with Jesus who has said to us, 'Go, for I am with you!' He walks with us, he goes ahead of us, and he gets there first....God is always ahead of us! ..."Jesus is waiting for us in the hearts of our brothers and sister, in their wounded bodies, in their hardships, in their lack of faith."
"Let us remain with Christ-abiding in Christ - and let us always try to be one with him. Let us follow him; let us imitate him in his movement of love, in his going forth to meet humanity. Let us go forth and open doors. Let us have the audacity to mark out new paths for proclaiming the Gospel."
Today is Sunday and the last day of August. Everyone is back at school and, although Miami still has summer weather, one knows that vacation time has ended. I want to share three points made by Pope Francis is his address to Participants of an International Congress on Catechesis (p. 15 in The Church of Mercy):
First of all, to start anew with Christ means "being close to him, being close to Jesus. Abide in my love...Abide in Jesus! This means remaining attached to him, in him and with him, talking to him. Abide in Jesus." Then the Pope asks: "How do you abide in the presence of the Lord? When you visit the Lord, when you look at the tabernacle, what do you do?...do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord?...He looks at us, and this is itself a way of praying. Do you allow yourselves to be gazed upon by the Lord?...This warms the heart, igniting the fire of friendship with the Lord, making you feel that he truly sees you, that he is close to you and loves you."
The second point in this starting anew with Christ means imitating him by leaving ourselves behind and going out to encounter others. ... when we put Christ at the center of our life, we ourselves don't become the center! The more that you unite yourself to Christ and he becomes the center of your life, the more he leads you out of yourself, leads you from making yourself the center and opens you to others. This is the true dynamism of love; this is the movement of God himself God is the center, but he is always self-gift, relationship, love that gives itself away...and this is what we will become if we remain united to Christ."
I will write about the third point tomorrow as this is getting too long. I think the Pope is speaking to me in the sense that these first two elements were definitely part of my retreat! I hope he is also speaking to you!
As we try to follow the path, we do not always know where Christ is leading us. We need to trust His Heart and follow Him. Our life is a journey and we are sometimes tempted to stop on the way. Some stop because they are too tired to go on, but they need to learn how to draw strength from the Lord. Others drag their feet and keep looking back. Are they afraid of what lies ahead? All of us must keep on until the end. We know that Christ is with us, even when His presence is hidden. We want to feel joy and hate to leave our comfort to continue this journey, but we go on in faith and God waits for us and we know this and so have the courage to keep on no matter what. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes hard but we know we are made for God and our journey into God is the only thing that counts so we go on with courage and confidence.
I finally found my pictures again! They were in a folder under System Folder - live and learn!
Today I want to share with you a book that I received just before my trip so I have just begun to read it. It is "The Church of Mercy: A Vision for the Church" by Pope Francis.It was published by Loyola Press, 2014 and is a collection of papers, addresses, homilies, and prayers by Francis since he has been Pope. They are divided into ten sections. Here are a few excerpts from the first which was the homily for the Mass for the Possesion of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome, April 7, 2013.
"What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God's love for us is so great, so deep, it is an unfailing love, one that always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up, and leads us on."
When speaking of the two disciples of Emmaus, Pope Francis says the "Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures, which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God's way of doing things....God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us."
Bridges fascinate me. In California I was driven several times over the bridge that connects Oakland to San Francisco; going one way, you are on top of the bridge, but go the other way and you are under the cars on top. I prefer the rustic bridges one finds in woods. Prayer is a bridge for us to go to God. Again, I go over saying "I love You" to God but He has been going under me all the time saying "I love you" and this mutual exchange makes my prayer joyful.
The world is such a mess that I need to keep confiding it to God.
Some time ago I listed this book, "Prayer, Our Deepest Longing" by Ronald Rolheiser under recent spiritual books on the right side of my blog. I found myself reading it again on Sunday and was struck by his definition of all private and devotional prayer as "prayer that tries, in myriad ways, to open us up in such a way that we can hear God say to us, 'I love you.'"
He goes on to say that prayer is about love. It is meant to establish friendship. And, he says, good friendship implies boldness. To reach the trust we need to be bold with God, we must first let Him touch our heart.
I think God wants us to listen to Him in the depths of our hearts, but also to talk to Him as one friend talks to another. I just learned of the death yesterday of a dear friend who had been in the novitiate with me. I have been talking to God about her and about the community she has left behind as it is always hard to lose a loved one, even when you know they are with God now and happy for all eternity.
We can always find Jesus waiting for us. Pope Francis says that we need to have the courage to return to Jesus. We can enter the wounds of Jesus. "It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart."
The Pope says: "This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus' mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love."
I am home again. But these scenes are still in my head and it is wonderful to recall the graces of my retreat. I also had some good reflection on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When I shared it with one of my RSCJ friends, she suggested I also share it on my blog so look for it soon.
Good job. I am learning to write my blog on my I-pad, but cannot schedule it from there or even make it listed under August Reflections 2014 which is important for the archives; I guess I will wait until I can get to a computer.
Richard Rolheiser says that "experiencing the unconditional love of God is what prayer, in the end, is all about." I guess I often go to prayer just to be loved by God. Of course, He is always loving me, but I have the very real and deep experience of His Love when I enter into the Heart of Christ in prayer. Try it and see what a grace it is to remain in His Love.
This picture was taken during the retreat I kept listening to the surf and Jesus kept saying to me: I love you; remain in My Love!
The third day of my ten-day retreat was the Feast of the Transfiguration. I really seemed to hear God, the Father, saying to me: "This is my Beloved Son; listen to Him." I really tried to listen to Jesus and just be with Him. It was a grace-filled time and I also prayer for our world which is in such a sorry state and needs our prayer.
The above picture was taken on my phone down at the beach where I went most afternoons just to sit and watch the surfers, or the sailboats. The sailboats come our on Wednesday nights - more than 70 of them and parade in front of the retreat house as they circle Monterey Bay. I had a reserved table in the corner of the dining room that looked directly out at the ocean.
Jesus was transfigured when he had taken Peter, James, and John up on the mountain to pray.
It was a very special moment for Jesus as well as His disciples. All heard His Father say to Him:
"This is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him."
During my retreat I thought of many ways of listening to Jesus who speaks to us in events and circumstances as well as through people. He also speaks very softly within us, if we are listening for His voice. He does not need words but reaches us through our senses as well as speaking to us in silence. Thomas Keating says that silence is God's first language.
I am trying to listen to Jesus as He speaks to me today.
Well, I had the picture here but it has vanished; it is on my I-pad and I will learn how to transfer it , but for now I will just say the Sisters of the Holy Names gave me the same room I had asked for on the third floor east in the main building. The last time I made a thirty-day retreat I was in this room so it is special to me. I also love the little meditation chapel on the Second Floor in the Southwest corner. Much of my retreat was spent in just contemplating the ocean, listening to the surf, and really doing not much else. I did a great deal of reflecting on my life with our new formation booklet and will be sharing some of that as formation is for life.
Here is a picture taken from my window during the retreat. I just copied and pasted it but I know there is a better way to do this.
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.