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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Third Sunday of Lent

Jesus tells us a parable about a fig tree. This fig tree had been planted in an orchard but when the owner came to look for fruit on the tree, he found none. This was the third year that the tree had not born fruit so he told the gardener to cut it down. However, the gardener replied, "Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it. It may bear fruit in the future. If you do not cut it down."

Now, we can draw many lessons from this parable. What is Jesus trying to tell us? First, that he is willing to wait and give us still another chance to bear fruit. Or is he the gardener who wants to cultivate the ground and fertilize it? Jesus has told us that we are to bear fruit and our fruit will remain. Let us pray not to be like the barren fig tree.

The first year that I was superior of the community in Coquimbo, Chile, we were very poor and living in the poorest region so we barely had enough to eat as we were five living on the salary of one workman which is what the parish paid us for taking care of the church, making the hosts for all the churches, and even cleaning the church. Well, we had a fig tree in the back of our house and it had never given fruit. The year I arrived it was laden with fruit and the community had enough to fruit to eat for the first time. They all thought it was a miracle. I think the goodness of the Lord made that fig tree bear abundant fruit.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Slow me down, Lord

I took this off of our bulletin board as it seems worth sharing, especially as I have been hearing from others ever since I had pneumonia that I had to slow down.

Slow Me Down, Lord

Amidst the confusion of my day,
give me the calmness of the everlasting hills. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read from a good book. Remind me to look upward at the towering oak, and know that it grew tall and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord.

Now, I hope I am taking time to contemplate the flowers as I have begun walking each day. I also had the inspiration in prayer to use my I-pad only in the evening as I am spending too much time on it playing games. I love playing Words with Friends, Scrabble, and even doing the jigsaw puzzles, but I am going to cut back and use my Bible instead of my Bible app until the end of Lent - at least I am going to try to do this; I think I am attached to the I-pad!

Friday, March 22, 2019

God is never in a hurry

This is a picture of Iceland. Sometimes a picture captures me. I begin to use my imagination and get carried away. Actually, I am now trying to concentrate on the Lenten readings. I am using as I mentioned before, Judy Cannato's Quantum Grace: Lenten Reflections on Creation and Connectedness. Here is what she says for the Third Sunday of Lent in the first paragraph:

"God is never in a hurry. Even when the need is urgent, the Holy One doesn't rush, but manifests as a divine Patience that allows us freedom to learn hard lessons and discover the truth through the mistakes we have made."

I guess that made me stop and think of the many times I have wanted to hurry God. He will not be hurried and teaches me to have patience. Really, patience is one virtue that is hard for me to practice. I am mostly impatient with myself. God works slowly and keeps showing me His desire for me to slow down, too. I do not need to do today what can easily be put off for tomorrow. That sounds like heresy to me, but a wonderful Religious once told us that she found time for prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament just by reminding herself that she could postpone many things until the next day. I sometime think I am a procrastinator, yet God is telling me to slow down and enjoy the present moment.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

In the boat

I continue to see myself in a boat with Jesus. Sometimes, it is a small boat just for the two of us. Sometimes, it is one of those large ships that is carrying the entire Province; at other times, I see a fleet of ships with a flag ship setting the direction and moving the fleet forward. All of these images came with the personal reflection asked for by our "dream catchers", but they have stayed with me.

I am at the age where I just want to be in the boat with Jesus. I am finding this Lent too full of things to be done and I need to slow down and, hopefully, clear out as one has the distressing habit of collecting things that are not essential. My room is too small for non-essentials. I guess I will tackle the bottom shelf in my bookcase today. It seems to be the place where I am putting things I do not know what to do with and I suspect much could be given away without my even missing it.

Sometimes I find putting order exteriorly helps me to clear out the clutter that may be accumulating in my interior life. If I would keep remembering that I am on a journey, I would leave behind what is not necessary to take. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What would allow our life to be agile and dynamic for mission?

Today, we are finally going to be treating the questions asked by our creative "dream catchers" in preparation for a special Chapter to be held in 2021 on how to organize ourselves and how to share our resources.

What would allow for life to be agile and dynamic for mission?

I think the Pope has been telling us to go out and be with those who are needy in any way: here we have some who are needy, some who are dependent on others, some who have memory loss, others who cannot walk, etc. I think we need to start with the reality around us as each of us is called to further the mission by prayer and our love and concern for others. Sometimes it is by writing notes or e-mailing others; sometimes it may mean still giving spiritual direction and being a welcoming person.

How can our Province be more agile and dynamic?
I think we need to continue to strengthen our ties to our associates, even to having some mixed communities of religious and lay people, continue to have our houses open to others and, as a Province decide how we can contribute more to receiving and helping immigrants and refugees.

With regard to the Philippine Region, I think we are going to need to unite Provinces and have more exchange of persons, but this needs to be gradual and we all need to learn how to converse in Spanish. Perhaps I should say that all who are not yet 75 should be studying Spanish. We are so sure that other countries will know English that we sit back and do not take language study seriously. Fortunately our young religious are learning and having some months living in another country. I really think this is important for our future.

I do not think I am capable of saying how I think the International Society can be more agile and dynamic for mission, but feel that the International Communications team has a big part to play in helping us see how we can collaborate more. And I love the idea of international volunteers. I guess, after twenty years in Chile, internationality is something I cherish as part of our Society's charism and mission.

These thoughts are off the top of my head and I look forward to hearing from others here on Wednesday, but I really want all of our associates, colleagues, friends and readers if this blog to pray now for this special chapter that will see many organizational changes to lead us into the future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Feast of St. Joseph

St. Joseph is a quiet man, but most have been a great model for Jesus to learn about an earthly father. Joseph must have taught Jesus all he knew about carpentry; he would have taken him to the synagogue, taught him the psalms, and certainly would have been the one to explain so many of the Jewish customs to Jesus. Males were separated not only in the synagogue, but even walking.  I think Jesus turned often to Joseph when he did not understand or wanted to learn about something. Remember that Jesus was just like us except for sin; he had to learn to speak, to walk, to talk, and then to learn all that a Jewish boy needed to learn as he grew up. I suspect Joseph took great pride in forming Jesus to be a skilled carpenter. I wonder if God spoke at other times to Joseph in a dream. We know how obedient he was when God told him not to fear to take Mary as his wife and then when he was asked to flee to Egypt with Mary and their infant son. He was a man of great faith and trusted God. These are qualities that Jesus showed he valued in all his followers later.

Monday, March 18, 2019

We are celebrating again today

It seems that the Archbishop of San Francisco postponed the celebration of St. Patrick's Day until today in order to give preference to the Second Sunday of Lent. We did have a lovely Mass and Irish food, but our happy hour will be tonight.
I thought I would just give you St. Patrick's Breastplate as a prayer for today.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

St. Patarick's Day

It is the Second Sunday of Lent, but also St. Patrick's Day so we are celebrating with a special Happy Hour in the evening and our Provincial will be officially installing Sister Sally Rude as our new Community Director. I have lived with Sally when we were both in the West Pine community and I know how good she is for community life, hospitality, and openness to all. Since then, she has had terrific international experiences and brings all this to us now.
The Gospel for this Sunday is Luke's account of the Transfiguration of the Lord. I love the fact that Jesus invited his special friends, Peter, James and John, to go up the mountain with him to pray. And off they went not knowing that God would use this moment to transfigure Jesus in their presence and that they would hear the words, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." Let us listen to Jesus today.

The reflection by Sister Miriam Pollard in Give Us This Day, begins by saying that "the Transfiguration story is the story of our own journey into the nature we were created to explore and inhabit. Into what the Eastern Church calls our deification. Bus wait, this is not to be a quiet, uneventful march into the sunset.
We who are to be melded into the divine and human life of the Eternal Son will pass through that cleft in the rock through which his glory shines--just as He did, by sharing in the contradiction, pain, and abandonment that he is about to claim as his own...."

Paul's transfiguration resulted in joy, inner peace, gratitude and praise amidst his trials and tribulations. He always was able to bounce back and keep his freedom in the Spirit. I suspect St. Patrick also had these same attitudes and modes of acting. Let us pray that we may all be transfigured with Jesus.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Seasons of Interior Life

This is one of the pictures that I took of Lake Tahoe when I was there at the beginning of February. I was invited to go again for four days over this week end, but no one to drive us so here I am remembering what a peaceful time it was and thanking God for the beauty I experienced during those days when I was still recovering from pneumonia. We had six days away instead of four because of the blizzard that made the roads impossible. I think they are still having more snow this week end but it is sunny here and the tulips are appearing so we will soon have Spring weather.
Our interior life has its seasons, too. I guess Lent makes me feel that I am in a season of change. I am trying to discern the interior paths that the Lord is leading me on at this point in my life. I think, as my readers must know by now, that our interior life is more exciting than our exterior life, but we need to be able to reflect on it a good deal before we can begin to find the words to describe how the Lord is working in us now. We do better when we describe some interior grace that is now in the past, but God is working in each of us now in the present! What does your interior terrain look like at this point in your life?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Climbing a Mountain

Sometimes we think that we are being asked to climb an interior mountain that seems beyond our strength. It is impossible without God's help, but He is with us and asks only that we take one step at a time. I think this is good advice not only for our interior life, but our exterior life. As we grow older, many things seem beyond our strength. God walks with us and tells us to slow down, breathe deeply, walk one step at a time. I repeat here the little prayer we sing so often at the end of our reunions here at Oakwood; it is one that helps me so much and I often say it after Communion, during the day, and especially when I am awake at night.

"Breathing in, breathing out
I am calm; I am smiling.
You in me, I in You.
Present moment, wondrous moment,
Peace to the world, peace to the world."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Listen to God

I would suggest that we continue to reflect on yesterday's blog post on our journey to Easter. I keep hearing a call to live the Beatitudes and I think the Chapter on the Beatitudes in the Pope's Exhortation on Holiness, published last March, is so important for all of us. I cannot understand why we have not been hearing more about this important document written for all Christians. I do hope my going through it in this blog last year has helped many. I think we are all called to holiness and the Pope has spelled out the practical means for each of us to attain the holiness that the Lord expects for each of us.

I am also struck by something Cardinal Martini wrote about the need for us to do lectio divina every single day.  And then I read somewhere that it is good to take a Gospel and just use it for this slow, meditative reading as we listen to God. He speaks to us in many ways, but Scripture is one way to let God speak to us, so do try this during Lent. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lenten Journey to Easter

In this month's "Give Us This Day" there is a reflection on our "Lenten Journey to Easter" by Jane Deren, PhD and I want to share it with you today. It calls us to prayer.

Lenten Journey to Easter

We walk this Lenten Journey 
with immigrants and refugees,
lost, unsure of their journey's end, 
still longing for a home.

We walk with those in poverty,
unable to live lives of dignity,
besieged by hunger and fear,
trying to hold on day by day.

We walk with those mourning
what is happening to God's creation,
calling us all to better care and stewardship
of the earth, its creatures, and all growing things.

We walk with women who are trafficked,
who are abused, who are harassed,
who still live in the silences,
and who want to flee the darkness.

We walk with peacemakers,
walking a very rocky road toward peace
when so much conflict rages
and so many fan the flames of violence.

We walk with all those carrying burdens,
yet we walk in faith and hope.
Despite the suffering of the Cross,
we walk toward an Easter dawning.

We move toward the seemingly impossible
Resurrection, a time of justice and peace.
We walk, called forward through the darkness
by the Risen Christ;
In his name we pray. Amen