WSomeone sent me a video that is short, beautiful, and leads one to gratitude, awareness, and awe. Here is the link:
Now, I hope you are taking time to reflect on what the Pope is really saying to us in his Apostolic Exhortation as he thought is being discussed in the newspapers, on TV and radio shows and some seem not to have grasped what the Pope is really trying to tell us. Here is the next section to reflect on today:
6. There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).
Advent is a time of waiting; we desire to celebrate Christmas and our desire increases with our singing of "Slowly rolled the ages..." I guess it is a good time to learn to be patient and wait in silence for the coming of the Lord.
Today I will be waiting with one of my sisters who I will take to the hospital for surgery; she has been waiting for the operation and I will be there to wait with her.
Here is another excerpt from the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation;
4. The books of the Old Testament predicted that the joy of salvation would abound in messianic times. The prophet Isaiah exultantly salutes the awaited Messiah: “You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy” (9:3). He exhorts those who dwell on Zion to go forth to meet him with song: “Shout aloud and sing for joy!” (12:6). The prophet tells those who have already seen him from afar to bring the message to others: “Get you up to a high mountain, O herald of good tidings to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, O herald of good tidings to Jerusalem” (40:9). All creation shares in the joy of salvation: “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones” (49:13). Zechariah, looking to the day of the Lord, invites the people to acclaim the king who comes “humble and riding on a donkey”: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he” (9:9). Perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival” (3:17). This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means… Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment” (Sir 14:11, 14). What tender paternal love echoes in these words! The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?
Advent is a time of joyful waiting! Let us rejoice for the Lord is coming! He is here!
We had a beautiful prayer together to open Advent on Sunday and I have been thinking about how Advent is a season of joyful hope. We know Christ has come, is come, and will come again - that gives us joy!
Saint Francis Xavier left all and became a great missionary. Am I able
to make room for others or am I caught up in my own concerns?
Here is the next excerpt from Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation:
2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. 3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.1 The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!
Do you ever get caught up in your own interests and concerns? Here is the next paragraph from the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation to help us reflect on the way we are living and what we are going to change this Advent with the help of the Holy Spirit who gives us both courage and constancy. I. A joy ever new, a joy which is shared2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
Let us be grateful as grateful people are joyful people. Let us pray for a prayerful Advent free of the stress and hurry of so many in our consumer society.
Advent is such a joyful season. We begin it by reflecting on what Jesus might want from us as we prepare for His coming into our hearts. Usually, we all find a need to clear out, unclutter our hearts to make a cozy dwelling for the Lord Jesus. It is a season that calls for more prayer and reflection but always with joy. We have the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation to begin pondering. Here is an excerpt:
1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.
As we begin this season full of desire for Jesus, let us reflect on how the joy of the gospel is filling out hearts and how we are spreading this joy?
I am going to an Advent retreat for the Religious of the Archdiocese this afternoon. There is Mass at 3:00 and then a talk by a Jesuit and refreshments. I could not get anyone in my community interested so may need to leave as soon as the talk is over. It is dark by six now and I want to be home for the community prayer at six. Still, it is a good way to begin Advent.
Pope Benedict said that without silence one does not hear, does not listen, does not receive a word. This applies to personal prayer as well as to our liturgies. He quotes Jesus from Matthew's Gospel: In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "An attentive, silent and open heart is more important than many words. God knows us in our inner depths, better than we ourselves, and loves us; and knowing this must suffice." (Benedict then quotes Job and then asks how Jesus teaches us to pray. I suspect from listening to countless men and women that each of us is called to pray as we are and, since there is no one way to pray because we are all unique, I love Thomas Merton's "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun."
My own advice is pray as you can, not as you can't for the best way to pray is the way you pray best; still, you might check it out with a spiritual director or another person experienced in prayer.
Today was the anniversary of my parents wedding and so always special for me.
A friend who reads my blog sent this picture that says so much to me; the water is gorgeous, but there is also the beach, a path, and mountains plus boats and trees - what more could anyone want in one picture? It gives me joy just to look at it and peace as the water is so calm.
Today I am sharing a verse that came to me on a birthday card many years ago and I had copied it on the cover of my autobiography but then discovered it again this morning - I hope we are all striving to be women (and men) who believe in themselves!
There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of everything she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experience- who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and go on.
I have just added another book on Prayer under "Recent Spiritual Books" - it is by Pope Benedict and takes up the forty-five prayer topics he used for his general audiences 2011-2012. I have only read some of it and find it good and solid with reflections on the Psalms, on Jesus and Prayer, etc. I will no doubt quote from the one on "Silence" in a future blog.
May you all have a very happy, holy Thanksgiving and feel grateful for all that you have. We are living in a country that is free and we are not persecuted for our faith. We have so many conveniences that we just take for granted, but today is a day to thank and to remember those who are less fortunate.
I am reaching out to many this year with cards sent, I hope, early in Advent. I want to prepare for Christmas by being grateful every single day for whatever God sends me. Advent is a time for joy and gratitude so let us begin today to prepare for Sunday which is the first Sunday of Advent!
I am copying this from the Church bulletin as you may want to use it this Thanksgiving:
O God, when I have food help me to remember the hungry. When I have work, help me to remember the jobless. When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless. When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer. And by remembering help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by work and deed, Those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.
Sister Wendy Beckett, a real hermit, has become famous for her television programmes and her books on the spiritual meaning of so many paintings by famous and not so famous artists. She is so deeply spiritual herself that she finds a depth of meaning in art and in life. She also has written over twenty books about art and a book on prayer that I have on my bookshelf and need to go back to but I am loving her latest book, Spiritual Letters by Wendy Beckett. It is a collection of notes and letters put together by the Carmelite, Sister Gillian. Most of these letters pre-date Sister Wendy's emergence as "the Art nun" and are from the years just after her transfer from an active, teaching Order to the life of a hermit. I am loving the letters and find such solid spiritual help being given. Most of the letters are to one nun in her former order who is a great friend. She is also one who sends Sister Wendy books on art; others are answers to written notes from some of the Carmelites at the convent where Sister Wendy attends Mass and Liturgical prayer but lives apart and does not speak with them except when she has accepted an invitation to speak to the novices. I am sure you will be hearing more from me about this book as I have found she has a real gift of speaking about prayer. This was scheduled for November 25th but did not get published so it is now the day after my brother's birthday. He was born on Thanksgiving but after dinner at my paternal Grandmother's; my other brother was born on Christmas morning just less than two years before John. I also have a grand niece who is celebrating her birthday on the 25th; I think she is sweet sixteen! She is an excellent student and athelete and is the only girl with three brothers. Happy Birthday John and Theresa! Sorry this seems to be a day late! I have been scheduling ahead and that often makes for complications but much less stress to post on time each day.
Even as I wrote the title about preparing for Thanksgiving, I thought that every single day is a real Thanksgiving if we are alert and aware to thank for all the gifts we receive beginning with the gift of life. In Miami there are stories in the daily news of children and others being shot in drive-by shootings. Life is such a precious gift and there are people out there that are destroying it without any reason.
Besides the gift of life, we have our health to thank for and our five senses, and the food we eat, the bed we sleep in, the hot water that is taken for granted so often in the United States where we can shower daily; we have all we need and all is gift so let us take time to thank God each day for His love and mercy and many gifts to us. Let us also thank for the world we live in: the ocean, the mountains, the lakes, the trees, the change of seasons, the flowers, etc.
This was posted by mistake as it is for Tuesday! Sorry about this but maybe we are to really start thanking for all the gifts we have before Thanksgiving!
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.