Have you ever thought of being overwhelmed, even smothered with words? I was reading a reflection by Kathy Coffey in my Mass booklet, "Give Us This Day" and she says: "The day has held an avalanche of words." She then asks, "Which ones can be carried forth and cherished, like embers against the cold?"
I was reflecting on the many words I encounter each day, not only orally but I am a reader and devour thousands of words each day. Then Kathy reminds us that "when we hear precisely the right words at the right time, our gratitude is immense. Someone understands, someone walks the same path; someone encourages us on. In such wisdom, we rediscover what we already know, what simple essentials it boils down to "to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God."
Now, I shall share I the grace I had when I was reflecting on this after Communion. Please note that I am not in the habit of hearing Jesus speak to me in words, but this time He told me quite clearly that I did not need words because His Heart was open for me just to enter and be with Him. I am trying to remember the exact words to share with you today: "Words are not necessary. My Heart is open for you to enter."
Mother Stuart, in a letter to Archbishop Goodier, said this about prayer: "To set our from some words such as 'Sea of peace, eternal Trinity...' and wade out and out into the bare thought of them, until I lose my footing and am overwhelmed..."
She had a way of describing an experience that we may also have experienced, but hardly know how to put it into words. I love the image of wading out until the depth overwhelms us.
Mary was seeking Jesus and Jesus let Himself be found! It was the first Easter Sunday and Mary ran to the tomb only to find that Jesus was not there. She was distressed and in tears and did not even look up when someone asked her why she was weeping. It was only when Jesus called her by name that she responded. She was then filled with joy but Jesus sends her off to tell his apostles that he has risen. He chose a woman to spread the good news!
Mary Magdalene is honored as the "Apostle to the Apostles." She saw and proclaimed Jesus - seeing Jesus and being sent by Jesus is what it means to be an apostle. Actually, we are all called to have an experience of Jesus and to go forth and proclaim His Love to others; that makes us Apostles, too. And we must also be filled with joy!
We are to be flexible and not want our prayer "to be this way or that way." We are to "tend to what is simple and quiet...the thought of all God is in himself and all that he has done for love of you...."
It is a grace to be able to stay with the thought of all God is in himself... much easier to recall all that he has done for love of us. Both are ways of entering into union with the Heart of Jesus who waits for us, longs for us, to enter into his most Sacred Heart. His Heart is open for us to enter and find all that we need.
Jesus taught in parables and we have three for this Sunday. Each tells us something about the kingdom of heaven. We have the man who sowed good seed, but in the night the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. That both were allowed to grow together was to not harm the wheat which would be separated at harvest time. Then we have the parable of the mustard seed which grows into a large bush big enough to shelter the birds of the air; finally we have the yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened,
Then, we have the second reading from Romans:
"The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will."
It is so consoling to know that the Spirit comes to our aid. Let us ask the Spirit to teach us how to pray. The Spirit will also help us to be yeast, to grow to receive all who come for shelter, and to separate the weeds from the wheat!
The title today is a quote from Mother Stuart. In talking about prayer, she also says: "He wants to take you sailing out into the glory of his thoughts and love, and through sheer freight you cling to the rope...
Sometimes, in giving spiritual direction and retreats I have found souls who are afraid to let go and go deeper. God is love and there is nothing to be afraid of so we must just let go and let God...
Mother Janet Erskine Stuart said that we should prepare our prayer, "but when you have made a beginning, they you may and should follow what comes."
"The Spirit breathes where he will...Go trustfully. There is nothing to make you afraid..."
Mother Stuart faithfully prepared her own prayer by writing points of meditation; we were taught as novices to do the same and for years I found it very helpful to try to do the same, but I seldom do so now. It is a good discipline and I do try to prepare my prayer whenever I feel the need; usually I have something I want to take to prayer the next day and so rise with a great desire to have at least an hour of just being with the Lord and He takes me as I am - sometimes jubilant, sometimes concerned, sometimes dry of all spiritual thoughts and other times have so much to say that it takes me time to sink into the silence of deeper prayer. I really believe that "the Spirit breathes where he will..."
A very dear friend who lives in our community just across the street from the Chapel in which Janet Erskine Stuart is buried in Roehampton, sent me the latest booklet on Mother Stuart that is composed of really gorgeous photos by Margaret Wilson, RSCJ to match the equally glorious quotes of Mother Stuart chosen by Sue Acheson, RSCJ. It is a real source for prayer and I am so grateful to have it. Here are a couple of the quotes that I love:
"It is the gift of your heart that God wants above all in your prayer, that you may both give to him and receive from him. Keep it always uplifted with great expectation. Expect, expect again."
"Our prayer should invade the whole day. The great thing is to find what suits us, and not what suits another."
I will continue with more of these quotations tomorrow. A little goes a long way and we get indigestion when we try to reflect on too many beautiful thoughts at once.
Below is a link to a video that takes less than four minutes to view and gives seven ways to keep a positive attitude. It is worth watching. For those who will not be able to take the time, here are some of these ways that I remember and think I have been trying to practice: 1. Do not worry; wait to worry and maybe you will not need to do so. 2. Be grateful 3. Stay healthy 4. Be aware that joy boomerangs - do something nice for others and you will feel good about it. 5.Be disciplined - I think this is what sometimes lessens my positive attitude as I tend to waste time, procrastinate,.... 6.Learn to say "no" - this sounds simple but is difficult to practice 7.Surround yourself with positive people- this is the most fun of all!
I urge you to take the time to watch this yourself as attitude is important and our spiritual life calls us to a positive attitude.
These unusual flowers that I am using in my blog now are so unique and creative. We are each unique and special and a marvelous creation. We only need to look at our own hand to realize how special we are to our creator; no two hands are identical.
Having these days of summer to ponder in awe the unfolding of beauty around me has made me more grateful for the vast variety of plants, trees, flowers, and people. I am grateful and every day there is something new to learn. I, for instance, have no idea of the names of the flowers I am now showing each day in my blog. I am sure that I could do research on Google to discover this, but I am just fascinated by the variety of so many unusual pictures and I hope this leads us to praise the creator and to appreciate the people around us who might be thought of as unique, special, and precious in the sight of God.
I am also finding new words that I have never heard or read just by playing Words With Friends - amazing!
I read that attitude makes a huge difference in our lives. I know this from my own experience. Some people have a negative attitude and are ready to find fault with everything; others have a positive attitude toward life and these are happy people. They are grateful for what they have; they look for the good in others. They want to share this positive attitude with all.
Jesus wants us to realize that we have all we need to live a happy life. He wants us to enjoy life and His Love is trying to expand our hearts; He wants us to let His Love overflow into our day and help others to see what a difference it makes when you know that you are loved and loved unconditionally. Then we look for the good things and find good even when we think something is not working for us. We trust His Love and go on with a smile for we have cultivated a positive attitude and this attracts others, too.
How am I trying to develop a positive attitude? For me, I think keeping a gratitude journal is a great help. At least I can now find good things happening all day long - sometimes they are little things like a green light, finding a parking place, reading something that uplifts me, receiving encouragement from a friend, etc.
Today I will tackle the last of my Spanish letters, I hope. I keep procrastinating because I no longer write easily in Spanish (I was fluent but not free from mistakes; now I have lost the fluency and flounder trying to say what I want.) I did mail two letters yesterday and intend to do two more today.
Today's Gospel makes one reflect on where we are. Are we the seed that has fallen on the path? Or the seed that is on rocky ground? Or the seed that falls into good soil? I once had a holy priest in Chile tell me that the one who recognized herself in all the places the seed had fallen was the one whose seed would grow. I think that is consoling so pass it on today.
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.