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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Knock and the door will be opened

Knock and the door will be opened Matthew’s Gospel for this Lenten weekday begins with Jesus saying: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”(Mt 7:7-8) Here, we are to do the knocking, the desire to seek and find is ours, but I keep going back to the Book of Revelation where it is the Lord who knocks. “Look, I am standing at the door and knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share her meal, side by side with her.” (This is the way I remember the passage with the feminine pronouns but you can look it up in the Jerusalem bible, Rev 3: 20)

Thoughts on Spirituality

Feb 28 Thoughts on Spirituality

There us a phrase in the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart that seems to sum up for me the way I am called to live my spirituality as a Religious of the Sacred Heart. It says:
For us, life, community, apostolic service, all spring from our union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus.”
It is the grace of my vocation
. It means living a discerning life as I am called to choose always what is pleasing to Jesus. It makes prayer a real need as well as a delight. What a humbling thought is this: God waits for me! It is humbling and awesome!

The Depths of God

I have been praying over a passage in the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart that says:
The pierced Heart of Jesus
opens our being to the depths of God
and to the anguish of humankind

How does the pierced Heart of Jesus open my being to the depths of God?
I think this happens in prayer when I enter His pierced Heart. Then, I am plunged into the depths of God’s love and there I am open to the anguish of all peoples. God is love and can never be indifferent to suffering in our world.
I think that the pierced Heart of Jesus opens my being by piercing my heart with His love. This is what allows me to be drawn into the depths of God and from there contemplate the needs of so many who suffer, so many who are not loved, so many who feel they are alone in their anguish.

As Meister Eckhart once said: “You may call God love, you may call God goodness, but the best name for God is compassion.”

I do not always agree with Meister Eckhart but he is visiting my online course this week. Actually, we have seventeen medieval mystics chatting with one another and appearing in a collaborative exercise. It is very enlightening and one of the quotes that Meister Eckhart has shared with us is: “In the core of the Trinity the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.”

With that, I leave you with one last quote from Eckhart: “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Don't babble in prayer

27 Don’t Babble in Prayer

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us not to babble when we go to pray. God knows what is in our hearts. He knows our needs better than we do. Instead, Jesus tells us how to pray by giving us the “Our Father” which is a prayer that asks for our daily bread only after asking that the Father’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Perhaps the most powerful part of the prayer is that we are to ask to be forgiven “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That is very clear. Jesus gave us the example when he asked the Father to forgive the very ones who were nailing Him to the cross. Prayer, then, needs few words but needs us to forgive others so that we may be forgiven our own sins.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Prayer for Lent

This prayer is taken from the Campus Renew book for the Sunday before Lent but I think I need to keep it before me as it seems a good prayer for Lent.

Dearest Lord,
Teach me to be forgiving, even when I don’t want to be.

Teach me not to judge another unless I have walked a mile in their shoes.

Please grant me forgiveness for all that I have done
that has injured another person or relationship. Amen

I hate to feel judged by others, yet often catch myself judging others by their actions without knowing anything of their possible reasons, motivations, needs, etc. I will try to pray “teach me not to judge” often today.

Will I be one of the sheep on the right?

Jesus tells the parable of separating the ‘sheep from the goats’ – those who heeded the needs of others will be on the right and hear “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Jesus wants me to remember that whatever I do for others, I do for Him. If I really realized that truth my life would be one of seeking to serve others.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

First Sunday of Lent

Lent begins with the Spirit leading Jesus into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. Luke tells us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and that it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the desert to be tempted. What am I to make of this in my life? Do I allow the Spirit to lead me? And to what kind of desert experience does the Spirit lead me? How am I tempted by the devil? The three classic temptations are to comfort (possessions), prestige, and power. All of these lead to pride. I need therefore to simplify my life, to use these forty days to seek to have less, to be humble, and to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with His gifts during these forty days of Lent so that I may truly follow Jesus. As one spiritual director used to tell me, “The spiritual life is simple, but not easy.”

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Sister's Birthday

Birthdays are such special days - we need to celebrate the gift of life and the many graces received through the years. The liturgy today has this quote:

“He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.” (Is 58: 11)

This is very consoling, but it depends on what goes before. The prophet Isaiah says that we are to remove from our midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; we are also to give bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted. Then God will renew our strength and we shall be like the watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. Actually, I like the new RSV Catholic version that says:
“The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. (Is 58:11)

And that leads me to John’s Gospel where Jesus cried out: “If anyone is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn 7: 37-38)

My sister has great faith and so from her heart flow rivers of living water.
Happy Birthday, Betty!

Friday, February 23, 2007

St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Polycarp, one of the early Fathers of the Church who was martyred around 155 at the age of 86. We have an account of his martyrdom.
The responsorial psalm in the Liturgy for today is:
A heart contrite and humbled,
O God, you will not spurn.”

Lord, give me a heart that is contrite and humbled. When I acknowledge my sin – a sin of not loving You who so loves me; a sin of seeking my own interests instead of Yours; a sin of slow response to Love’s call; - then, indeed, I am contrite and humbled. I know that Your mercy is unending love and I ask You to take my poor heart into Yours and let it burn with love for You and for all. You call me to both live in Your love and to give this love to others.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Feast of St. Peter's Chair

Today we celebrate Peter and his successors. The entrance antiphon for the Mass is from Luke 22:32: “The Lord said to Simon Peter: ‘I have prayed that your faith may not fail; and you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”Lord, you have prayed for me, too. Increase my faith! You also continue to ask me, as you did Peter and your close friends, “Who do you say that I am?” “Who am I for you, Helen?” Lord, you are my spouse, my savior, my God, my friend, lover, companion, model and the source of my being. Your Heart is always open for me. You are Love! You call me to come to your Heart and there find all that I need. You are my Good Shepherd and lead me to restful waters.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday calls us to return to the Lord.

The first reading for Ash Wednesday begins:”Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart - rend your hearts, not your garments.”

Even now – the Lord says it is not too late. He calls me to return to Him with my whole heart. Come back! He waits for me as the father waited to embrace his prodigal son.
He seeks me and invites me to return with my whole heart. How fickle is my heart! God wants an undivided heart – my love, whole and entire. If I really love God, it must be whole-heartedly. No dividing of affections. No craving for pleasures, comforts, or other diversions. God alone is what I seek. He is my joy, my comfort, my all.
Lord, you have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

As I begin these forty days of Lent may I follow you with all my heart.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mardi Gras

Today many are celebrating the last day before Lent. I suspect that it is a good sign for they are feasting today and will be fasting tomorrow. They may also be preparing themselves for forty days that are a real preparation time. We contemplate the great love Jesus has for us during Lent.. It is not easy to be with Him in His suffering and death. He is still suffering in His mystical body in all parts of the world. He is there with those who suffer hunger and thirst; He is there with all those who are ill and in prison; He is there with those who are wounded and with the dying. He is there with those who have lost loved ones.

We are called again this Lent to be aware of and part of the suffering of our world. When we enter into the suffering of the Heart of Jesus, we embrace the pain of the world.

We are called to take His love to all. I find it helps me to hold a small, glass globe and trace the continents, praying for each. It is a small gesture but has expanded my heart to include the whole world.

Monday, February 19, 2007

some Thoughts on Prayer

People expect nuns to pray, but they often want to know why I take time for prayer. Prayer is an expression of our relationship with God. The more I pray, the easier it is for God is always present. Sometimes I may feel that God is absent but the very desire in my heart to find Him shows me that He is present and giving me this longing to seek Him."When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me." (Jer 29:13)The best way to pray is the way I pray best. There is no one way and prayer changes as our relationship with God deepens. When two people have been together for a long time, words are not necessary.Thomas Merton has a word of wisdom that has helped me. He asks: "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun." That is a good description of contemplative prayer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Favorite Prayer

This prayer is one from Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J that speaks to me so I keep going back to it and want to share it here:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, in falling in love
in a quiet absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed
in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your week ends,
what you read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love.
Stay in love.
And it will decide everything.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Today I woke up asking myself if I had the virtue of hospitality. I think it means welcoming Jesus in all and then treating each as if she/he were really Jesus. I think my reflections today are triggered by an article I read on Spiritual Direction and Hospitality. There was a quote from Rumi and the line that stayed with me is "This being human is a guest-house" - my online course on the Monks, Mendicants, and Mystics of the Middle Ages began with the Rule of St. Benedict. Hospitality was a great virtue for the monks; at that time we did not really have hospitals, hospices, and hotels, but the monasteries received all in need and without charge.
When we look at Jesus, we see the virtue of hospitality from the beginning. When asked where he lived, he said "Come and see" and John and Andrew went and stayed with Him that day. He welcomed all. He prepared the Passover supper for His disciples with care and began by washing the feet of each. He told the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son - both examples of hospitality. How do I welcome all that come to me? Lord, help me to see You in all who come today and hurry to greet them and give Your love to them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Yesterday I received a new book that I had ordered by Robert Furey. It is The Art of Affirmation, published by Paulist Press, 2007. It is a small book but a helpful one as we all need affirmation. How to learn the art of giving it is the core of this book. All of us have special gifts and it is nice to have someone point them out to us or recognize what we have to give others. Learning how to discover and then affirm others in their gifts seems to be a call for me now as I prepare for Lent. I was once told as a young nun to make a list of my gifts and keep it and read it often. Unfortunately I seem to have lost the list but it is good to reflect sometimes on the gifts others see in us and talk to Jesus about the gifts He has given each of us and perhaps is calling us to develop during Lent.
Learning to affirm others is a gift to be used. Affirmation helps all of us grow so let us try to be generous in giving it. It is an art to be practiced, but also needs prayer so that we really discover the gifts of others.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

I arrived in Chile on Valentine's Day straight from my final profession in Rome in 1960. During the next twenty years in Chile, this was a special anniversary. I fell in love with this gorgeous country and its friendly people. We need days to celebrate the love in our hearts. We do this is many ways. On Valentine's Day, we do it with hearts - red paper hearts, candy hearts, silver and even diamond hearts. Why? Because a heart is a primordial symbol of love. Draw a heart and pierce it with an arrow and we are expressing love that is either united to another heart or suffering from love.
The Heart of Jesus was pierced with a lance. His Heart is always open for us. His love is infinite and embraces each of us. He pours out His love for us, but are we even aware of this constant, unconditional love? He wants love for Love is not loved. Each of us has been created as an unique individual; no one else can return the love that is in my heart for Jesus.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Since I am the Coordinator of the Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies, I spend quite a bit of time reflecting on spirituality. It is a word with many definitions. The one I use because I find it concrete and simple enough for students to relate to, explains spirituality as the way we live out our faith in the circumstances of our daily lives. It includes the whole of our life. There are as many spiritualities as there are people. Still, we can speak of "schools" of spirituality and certainly we attribute a different spirituality to religious orders connected with the particular charism manifested in the founder. Thus we speak of Franciscan spirituality and call up an image of Francis with his simplicity, poverty, and love of nature; Carmelite spirituality makes me think of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, both great contemplatives who reformed the Carmelites; and so, when I speak of Sacred Heart spirituality, I think of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat who founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800 to glorify the Heart of Jesus and her insistance on prayer and interior spirit in the midst of an active life so as to live in union with Jesus. As I prepare for Lent, I want to reflect more on what the Lord is calling me to be during those forty days. I am sure it will be related to the living out of my own spirituality as a Religious of the Sacred Heart.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

One of the things I would like to do in this blog is to share some of the spiritual books that I have found life-giving. This week my online students in my course on Monks, Mystics, and Mendicants are reading The Cloud of Unknowing. My copy cost $2.75 when new so you can imagine what it now looks like after more than thirty years with many markings to highlight favorite passages. It is a spiritual classic and the foundation of much that has been written on contemplative prayer including Centering Prayer.

Cynthia Bourgeautlt’s Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening with a Forward by Father Thomas Keating (Cowley, 2004) is an excellent book and a “must read” for anyone interested in Centering Prayer. Keating calls it a “Monumental contribution to the better understanding of the Centering Prayer practice.

Sunday, A Day of Rest

I love Sundays! Sunday is a day to be contemplative in all that I do. The morning prayer can be prolonged, time taken to reflect back over the week, some time for doing nothing, reading the Sunday papers in a leisurely fashion, taking time to read and reflect and then, of course, we have time together for out community prayer. It is the Lord’s Day and we are to keep holy the Sabbath. Today’s Gospel tells us that those who are poor and needy are happy; those who hunger now will be filled; those who mourn will be comforted. I wonder if mourning is also longing – blessed are those who long for union with the Lord. I sometimes find myself writing other beatitudes. Certainly Jesus would be able to say: “Blessed are those who trust.” One of His great messages to us is to trust; do not be afraid. But Luke gives us just four beatitudes and they are definitely counter-cultural: Happy the poor, the hungry, the sad, and those who are persecuted. What a lesson for me to learn and see with the eyes of Jesus.

One of my favorite prayers is found at the beginning of The Cloud of Unknowing:

O God unto whom all hearts lie open
Unto whom desire is eloquent
And from whom no secret thing is hidden;
Purify the thoughts of my heart
By the outpouring of your Spirit
That I may love you with a perfect love
And praise you as you deserve.
(This is taken from The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling
Edited and with an Introduction by William Johnston. A Doubleday Image Book, 1973.)

Friday, February 9, 2007

I am a Religious of the Sacred Heart

I am a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart - a group of about 3,500 Catholic women religious serving in over 500 communities in 45 countries. You can find out more about us by clicking on the links on the right to view our internation website and also the United States Province website.

I just was given a flyer about the Sacred Heart International Service Project for this summer. I would like to quote from it: "Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJs) have been connecting people internationally for over 200 years. Through the Sacred Heart International Service Project we bring together an international group of young adults who are committed to social change through action. Past participants have come from Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the United States."

The next Program is from July 9-29, 2007 and will be in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. You must be at least 18 years and be able to speak Spanish as you will be working with children, teens, and women for cultural exchange and service. If interested, let me know.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A Desire Is Realized

Today I am beginning to blog. It is something that I have desired to do for almost two years but never got around to it. Now I am free to reflect and share with all my friends these personal reflections that get lost in my journal. I am starting now with great joy to share some of my own thoughts with you. I am, perhaps, the oldest Catholic nun blogger and that means I have a wealth of lived experience to share. These first musings will prepare for some Lenten reflections, but just to start I am overwhelmed with the love God has for each of us and I want to talk about this as His Love is everywhere.