The Gospel from Luke (9:51-62) shows us that the real call to follow Christ is a call to proclaim the Kingdom of God and cannot be put off for any reason. This call is stronger than family; stonger than the corporal work of mercy to bury the dead! Jesus continues to call us. Are we still making excuses in order to delay answering his call?
Elisha, in the first reading (I Kings 19) went back only to destroy his oxen and ploy in order to feed his people. Then he left. Jesus says, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." Am I free enough to leave all and follow Jesus? I think that the moment of death must be our final call and then we follow leaving all behind.
The second reading from Paul (Gal 5) tells us to "live by the Spirit" and, also says that "Christ set us free." I pray for this freedom that comes from living by the Spirit and frees us to leave all behind to follow Christ.\
As I will be away most of July, I hope my readers will understand that I really need to leave the computer behind for the month of July. This blog will be back in August.
As the Preface gives the theology behind the Feast, let us look at today's Preface for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. It is, of course, addressed to the Father.
Father . . .you fill our hearts with joy as we honor your great apostles: Peter, our leader in the faith, and Paul, its fearless preacher. Peter raised up the Church from the faithful flock of Israel. Paul brought your call to the nations, and became the teacher of the world. Each in his chosen way gathered into unity the one family of Christ. Both shared a martyr's death and are praised thoughout the world. So, our hearts are, and should be, filled with joy for Peter and Paul and the gifts God gave them. They used those gifts to spread the word of God and proclaim the coming of God's reign. God continues to bestow his gifts to give us leaders and teachers. What gift has he given me for others? How am I using it? How will I honor Peter and Paul today?
Jesus is still asking: "Who do you say that I am?" What is my response today?
Yesterday, a lovely lady of 90 years took me and another friend to lunch. I thought afterwards that as long as I have known her from water exercise, keen Scrabble games, and our reflection group, she has been a living example of growing old gracefully. I guess I know many like that and lately have been thinking of how to grow old gracefully myself. There is a serenity, a peace, that communicates itself when I am with her and with others who have grown in wisdom and grace. It comes from reflection on the meaning of life - what really matters and what one can let go of as unimportant, trivial, and of no use when looking toward eternity. There is both detachment and an enthusiasm for what life gives us: the beauty of nature, the smile of a friend, the laughter of children, the companioning of others, the joy of good memories, etc. Lord, may I learn to grow old gracefully! May I focus on what is essential, learn eternal values, and let go of all the unimportant things. This life is too short to worry or fret about things that I cannot change but can accept with joy. Let me keep these remarkable elderly friends before my eyes as living examples of how to grow old gracefully.
On Pentecost I was inspired to think of a new online Program that I will create and teach in 2009 as by then I will have a good group of graduates from the Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies from all over the world who will be interested in taking a course that will be only six weeks on "Nourishing Your Spirituality". I mapped out the course in six Units and feel that the Spirit really did inspire me as so many are hungry for spirituality. This leads me to reflect with you today on some ways to nurture our spiritual experiences. Several years ago, Sister Maureen Conroy, RSM, wrote an article in "Human Development" on "Nurturing Spiritual Experiences". I want to share some notes from it with you. There are many ways we can nurture spiritual experience and open ourselves more fully to God. Creation is one way to notice God's self-revelation; Scripture is another. "I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious in my eyes, and I love you." (Is 43:1-4) Gratitude that leads us to thank God for his many gifts and blessings is still another way. Awareness of God's Presence in our daily life is another. God is with us and works in us. We need to ask God each morning how he wants to be present to us during the day and pray for an awareness of God in all we do. Then, at night, we can look back over the day and thank for his presence. Being aware of our experiences of God is one thing; to share the experience with another deepens it. Spiritual Direction and faith sharing are ways to nurture our spiritual experience.
As I am reading The First Jesuits by John Omalley, I am thinking about the emphasis that St. Ignatius of Loyola put on the daily examen. It was to be a time of prayer; fifteen minutes in the middle of the day and then a night examen. It is really to look back and see where God was trying to get my attention; to recognize how God keeps calling me through people, events, circumstances. I then give thanks and rest in gratitude for his presence in my life, for his gifts, for his refusing to let me turn away because he keeps calling me. Besides gratitude, there is also some contrition for my lack of awareness, my lack of sensitivity. Knowing that I am forgiven brings both joy and gratitude and a desire to do better. This can be a powerful type of prayer that transforms us so that we are united and conformed to the Heart of Jesus. The problem is that many of us have forgotten about the daily examen and do not stop in the middle of a busy day to reflect on God's action in our lives. We also do not give the time at night so how to return to this prayer of being conscious of God's presence in our lives? Personally, I find it helpful to take some time first thing in the morning to look back over the day before and pray for light to see where God was trying to get through to me in e-mails, phone calls, the books I was reading, conversations, all the events that touched me the previous day. I quickly ask pardon for my failure to recognize God in people, the circumstances and events; I feel gratitude for the times I was conscious of his action in my life and my the times I did respond to his love. Then I turn to the day that is just beginning and ask help to recognize him in all. It gives me new energy and a sense of purpose as I look ahead to see what God is planning for me; then he surprises me and comes in unexpected ways but the morning time helps me to find him. Try it and see.
As I was wondering what to reflect on in this blog today, the word freedom popped into my head and would not go away. Freedom is such a gift and we take it for granted. I know that living under a dictatorship for years made me conscious of how I just expected to be free and had taken the great freedom that we have in the United States for granted. Now I am seeing that freedom is relative for many in our world and women often lack freedom still in all parts of the world. Jesus came to free us from so many things and gave us an example of how to live. I read today that the Beatitudes are really a type of biography of Jesus who was poor, meek, persecuted, etc. I think that we need to pray for the gift of freedom for all and to realize that a gift brings both rights and duties. We are to use our freedom to make the world a better place.
The artist of this picture of John the Baptist is Leonardo da Vinci and it was painted between 1513-1516.
Since the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist falls on a Sunday this year, it is an indication of his importance that his birthday liturgy replaces the Sunday liturgy. John the Baptist is the only birthday celebrated besides those of Jesus and Mary in the liturgical year. Let us look at the Preface for today's feast to see what makes John so important. (Having his own preface also makes him special).
The Preface of John the Baptist points out: 1.He was the prophet who "prepared the way of the Lord." 2.He was set apart and his birth brought great rejoicing; even in the womb he leapt for joy, so near was man's salvation. 3.He was chosen from all the prophets to show the world its redeemer. "Behold the Lamb of God". 4.He baptized Christ, the giver of baptism ... 5.He was "worthy of a martyr's death, his last and greatest act of witness to your Son." The Preface gives us these five great reasons to honor St. John the Baptist. He was a humble prophet who prepared the way for Jesus and said "I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." He also was fearless in his preaching and lived a counter-cultural life.
In this week's America (June 18-25) there is an interview with Susannah Heschel on the life and work of Abraham Joshua Heschel. In it, she speaks of her father's thought of prayer "as not an occasional exercise but rather like an established residence, a home for the innermost self." In his essay "On Prayer", Rabbi Abraham Heschel says that all things have a home: the bee has a hive, the bird has a nest. For the soul, home is where prayer is, and a soul without prayer is a soul without a home. Continuity, permanence, intimacy, authenticity, and earnestness are its attributes. "I enter (this home) as a supplicant and emerge as a witness; I enter as a stranger and emerge as next of kin. I may enter spiritually shapeless, inwardly disfigured and emerge wholly changed." We pray because there is a vast disproportion between human misery and human compassion."
Yesterday, I received some notes from a very wise and holy person. I am going to quote from them: "We all start life from a single cell that has enough energy to sustain us for a lifetime." That is the first thought that made me reflect and think about what a mystery the gift of life is! Then,"The ground of everything is within me and in that first cell of me is God. And this is true for every person. Learning to live from this ground and this center is the real journey of our life."
God is abiding in me and I am in God. Jesus draws me to the Father and asks me to realize that I need only trust the Father's love and let God work in me. He loves me and is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful. Why do we hesitate to surrender ourselves to his Love? He loves us no matter what and never leaves us.
This morning, when reading about the ministry of the early Jesuits in John O'Malley's "The First Jesuits", I came across the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Although I remember memorizing the seven corporal and seven spiritual works, I think I could not have named all of them. The corproal works are easier for they are found in Matthew's Gospel. Easier to remember but harder for me to practice in my daily life! Corporal Works of Mercy: 1.Feed the hungry 2.Give drink to the thirsty 3.Clothe the naked 4.House the homeless 5.Visit the sick 6.Visit the imprisoned 7.Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy 1.Give good counsel 2.Teach the ignorant 3.Admonish sinners 4.Console the afflicted 5.Pardon offenses and injuries 6.Bear offenses patiently 7.Pray for the living and the dead
I am late today in writing my blog and have just come from the Eucharist at the University which was different as we are hosting deaf students this week. The Mass was signed, but made it very solemn and the silence was eloquent.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver was my word to remember today. When I am in the pool for water exercise with those wonderful women and men, I love to see them smiling and chatting so cheerfully. Sometimes you can see their faces relax as they enter the water and soon all are smiling at each other. These are women who have lived long lives and have experienced many things that have been hard to accept, but they are "cheerful givers" and loved by the Lord. I feel happy to be with them and share their joy!
I have one other song to share with you today - the words are from Janet Stuart who was an English Religious of the Sacred Heart and left a wealth of writings for the Society of the Sacred Heart - she was also the Mother General. I had this song sung for my Golden Jubilee Celebration:
Spirit seeking light and beauty, Heart that longest for thy rest, Soul that asketh understanding, Only thus can ye be blest.
Through the vastness of creation, Though your restless heart may roam, God is all that you can long for, God is all his creatures' home.
Taste and see Him. Feel and hear Him. Hope and grasp His unseen hand; Though the darkness seem to hide Him Faith and love can understand.
God who lovest all Thy creatures, All our hearts are known to Thee; Lead us throughy the land of shadows To Thy blest eternity.
We have had a lack of water this winter in South Florida and were forbiddent to water lawns and wash cars except on two days designated by the side of the street you lived on and then only at very specified hours (before eight in the morning and after seven in the evening). June began the hurricane season and we have had thunder storms almost everyday and this past week we have had several storms. It has poured and we have welcomed the rain. The lakes are filling up again and we are grateful for the gift of water.
Water is also a symbol of God for me. I think I may have written something about how the ocean reminds me of God's immense love, but this morning I want to share with you something of the stillness of deep pools where God seems to wait for me. I dive down and enter the cleft in the rock and find myself in God's heart, surrounded by love. Try it and see if this is a way for you, too, to enter into prayer.
My other reflection today was on the alternate prayer in the Liturgy where we are to "cherish God's gifts" and, of course, water is one of the greatest of his gifts and so many people are still deprived of easy access to clean water.
Today I want only to share a prayer of St. Madeleine Sophie to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which I was delighted to receive from this week's virtual prayer community as I did not have this prayer.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I come to you because you are my only refuge, my only but certain hope. You are the comfort for all my sufferings, the remedy for all my miseries, the reparation for all my losses, the expiation for all my faults, the supplement for all that is wanting in me, the certainty for all my demands, the infallible source, for me and for all, of light, strength, benediction, constancy, and peace. I am sure that you will not weary of me, that you will not cease to love me, to aid and protect me, because you love me with an infinite love. Have mercy on me, then according to your great mercy, and do with me, and in me, whatever you will. I abandon myself to you, with full confidence that you will never abandon me.
That is what I would call a very comprehensive prayer! My own favorite prayer is "Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You; Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me; Sacred Heart of Jesus, may your Kingdom come!"
I read that a teacher can only import new knowledge and the skills to analyze and evaluate what is presented. Then the students decide for themselves the value and truth of the knowledge. . . I think that we are so influenced by our culture that we no longer are conscious of the instinctive values that have been given us; I also question whether what the culture of the United States values as good and desirable is always compatible with what Jesus teaches us.
God desires to help us to discern what it the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus tells us: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Jesus is the Way to the Father; He is the Truth, but what does that mean? There is nothing false in Jesus. Yet, how do I understand the Truth? It leads me to a deeper reflection that ends in a surrender to the One who is all Truth.
Jesus is the Life. He came that we may have life and have it abundantly. He calls me to be a way, a path, that leads others to him. Am I a way to Jesus for others? How do I live and communicate the truth? And, finally, how am I giving life to others? These are questions that have been with me for some time and invite me to reflection on this cloudy Sunday. It is also Father's day and my Dad is the first who taught me and invited me to live with integrity, honesty, and seek what is true. I thank God for the Father he gave me and I am filled with gratitude when I remember my Dad!
The picture is of the head of Mater, the painting of Our Lady as sitting in a very contemplative mood with an open book on top of her work basket. I love to think of Mary with an open book, but I imagine she did not even have a scroll! The picture of Our Lady was painted in the 19th century; Mary did not have or need a book to pray. She sees the invisible and the essential. I will be spending the day with other leaders of Centering Prayer. May Mary give all of us her contemplative outlook so that we see the invisible and the essential.
Fountains of living water flow from the Heart of Christ, our Good Shepherd. In reading the mystics who had very real experiences of the Heart of Christ we find that sometimes Jesus calls us to enter His Heart; at other times, He is to be found in ours; and still other mystics had the experience of an exchange of hearts! John Tauler, a 14th century Dominican wrote: "What more could he still do for us, that he has not done? He has opened his very heart to us, as the most secret chamber wherein to lead our soul, his chosen spouse. For it is his joy to be with us in silent stillness, and in peaceful silence to rest there with us . . . He gives us his heart entirely, that it may be our home. He desires our hearts in return that they may be his dwelling place."
I am still reflecting on the theme of the Good Shepherd. Geaorge Maloney,SJ, in his Entering into the Heart of Jesus: Meditations on the Indwelling Tinity in St. John's Gospel, says that the sheep that belong to the Good Shepherd experience, in the love of their Pastor, the outpoured love of the Heavenly Father through their mutual love, the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only the true and only shepherd who leads us into the sheepfold, the Kingdom of God. He is also the good (in Greek the word is kalos, indicating a gentle, loving, self-sacrificing, kindness) shepherd. He lays down his life to save his sheep. He knows each of us in our unique personhood, by our name. And he has come that we may have life!
Today I am going to give you a list of thirteen values that most Americans seem to live by without ever thinking about their values as they are part of our culture. I am taking this list from "The Values Americans Live By" by L. Robert Kohls who is on the staff of the Washington International Center. He says that if the foreign visitor really understood "how deeply ingrained these 13 values are in Americans, he or she would then be able to understand 95% of American actions--actions which might otherwise appear strange, confusing, or unbelievable when evaluated from the perspective of the foreighner's own society and its values."
I am not feeling proud about all the values listed but think they give us much to reflect upon so want to share with you: Personal control over the environment Change Time and Its Control Equality Individualism/Privacy Self-Help Competition Future Orientation Action/Work Orientation Informality Directness/Openness/Honesty Practicality/Efficiency Materialism/Acquisitiveness
I think that Jesus of Nazareth is a book that bridges the scholarly texts and the devotional lives of Jesus and is so simply and concisely written that anyone will learn to know Jesus better by reading it. I must confess that I have not yet managed to read much of it, but love what I am reading.
The Introduction says that the teaching of Jesus "originates from immediate contact with the Father, 'from face-to-face' dialogue--from the vision of the one who rests close to the Father's heart: It is the Son's word. Without this inner grounding, his teaching would be pure presumtion."
Jesus spent many nights in prayer; this is the source of his actions and teaching - his deep communion with the Father- this way of "praying" makes us able to participate in his filial communion with the Father.
Today I want to say a few more words about Benedict XVI's "Jesus of Nazareth". I see that it is on the New York Times Bestseller List for the second week at 6th place and suspect that many will be buying it in the months to come. The Pope said that he was publishing the first ten chapters since he does not know "how much more time or strength" he will be given. His "urgent priority is to present the figure and message of Jesus in his public ministry, and so to help foster the growth of a living relationship with him." He wrote this book because he believed that "intimate friendship with Jesus, on which everything depends, is in danger of clutching at thin air." Any book that tries to help us develop our relationship with Jesus is worth reading, especially since this book is based on solid Scripture study but presented in a very readable way.
Yesterday, a friend in England sent me a book by Daniel J. O'Leary, "Already Within: Divining the Hidden Spring` (The Columba Press in association with The Tablet, 2007)
Since I believe that the Holy Spirit inspires this blog, I want to share with you the page I opened to in "Already Within": (The bold and italics are mine) "To be writing this reflection between the feast of the Flesh and Blood of the Son of Man, Corpus Christi. . and the Sacred Heart . . is a great joy. Both celebrations, so physical, so intimate, so universal and so incarnational, are given to remind us of these wonderful truths. At Mass, the body of the man Jesus is transformed into our bodies, and ours into his. We feel the flow of his wine-blood within, merging with our very being at a profound level of mutual surrender and transformation. The divine heartbeat becomes the energy that pulsed in ours. . . . "Those precious moments after Holy Communion are marvelous in their sensibility. They have an immediate sensuousness and an experiential truth that can take our breath away. In on of his weekly homilies Pope John Paul II described our need of God in the Eucharist 'as physical as the need for food or water'; our desire for intimacy with God as 'instinctive and physical' It is not by chance, he said, that the psalmist spoke of 'an embrace, of a clinging that is almost physical'. The Eucharist is God with skin on; it is God's hug."
This Sunday's Liturgy celebrates the Body and Blood of Christ and His great gift of the Eucharist. The Prayer after Commuunion struck me so I will share it here: Lord, Jesus Christ, you give us your body and blood in the eucharist as a sign that even now we share your life. May we come to possess it completley in the kingdom where you live for ever and ever. Amen.
The Communion Antiphon is from John 6:57 - "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live in me and I in him, says the Lord." Again, we are before a mystery and my response is both gratitude for the Sacramental Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and awe that Jesus come to us so that He may live in us and we in Him. It is fitting that the Feast of the Sacred Heart follows as we are called to live in the Heart of Christ and Christ dwells in our hearts, too.
One last bit to reflect upon comes from one of the last verses in the Sequence for this feast: Very bread, good shepherd, tend us, Jesu, of your love befriend us, You refresh us, you defend us, Your eternal goodness send us In the land of life to see.
Benedict XVI in his new book on Jesus of Nazareth describes several motifs found in the discourse of the shepherd in the tenth chapter of John's Gospel: the Shepherd is life for the sheep; the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; the Shepherd and the flock know one another; the Shepherd calls all to unity so there shall be one flock, one Shepherd. I will quote from the Pope's commentary on the second and third motif. The Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; a free gift of his very self: "I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. (Jn 10:14 f.) Here Jesus interprets for us what happens at the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus does not give "something", but rather he gives himself. And that is how he gives life. The Shepherd and the flock know one another. "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out . . . The sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (Jn 10:13f.) I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep." (Jn 10:14 f.) The mutual knowing of the Shepherd and sheep is interwoven with the mutual knowing of Father and Son.
This should give us much to reflect upon as we prepare for both the Feast of Corpus Christi this Sunday and the Feast of the Sacred Heart next Friday.
I bought the new book, "Jesus of Nazareth:From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration" by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI (Doubleday, 2007). It is a book that is going to be read all over the world both because it is the first book by Benedict XVI and it is an wonderful book about Jesus. It is easy to read but combines scholarship and personal love for Jesus. It is a book to reflect on and pray over the ten chapters. I have not yet read much of it, but love what I have read.
Since the theme this year of the liturgy for the Feast of the Sacred Heart is that of the Shepherd, I turned first to "The Shepherd" under Chapter Eight: The Principal Images of John's Gospel. I found some new insights and know that I will be using this section for prayer. The entire history of the shepherd image is given and Scripture texts from the Old and New Testaments linked, explained, and commented on so that the reading is so rich it needs to be reflected on and prayed over slowly and with reverence for Jesus is present! More about this tomorrow.
Prayer is simple. We tend to make it complicated. Wendy Beckett in The Mystery of Love: Saints in Art through the Centuries(HarperSanFrancisco, 1996) says that "the essential act of prayer is to stand unprotected before God. What will God do? He will take possession of us. That he should do this is the whole purpose of life.
"What do you want? If you really want God to take possession of you, then you are praying. If you desire to stand surrendered before God, then you are standing there; it needs absolutely nothing else. Prayer is the last thing we should become discouraged about. It concerns nobody except God--always longing only to give himself to us in love--and my own decision. And that, too, is God's . . .
Prayer must have time as it demands the whole of us. We need just be there, open, exposed, inviting God to do all that God wants. Prayer is not our activity, our getting in touch with God, our making ourselves desirable to God. We can do none of these things, nor do we need to, for God is there ready to do everything for us, loving us unconditionally." (This is taken from the Introduction and it would be worth buying the book just for Wendy's Introduction!
I may know this in theory, but how about in practice? Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me." We ask and let Jesus lead us to the Father. Surrender and let God love you. He really wants to love you, if you allow Him.
Spirituality is an ambiguous term. We are still trying to find a common definition or maybe a description that will help us articulate what we mean by spirituality. I like to think of it as the way I live out my faith in the concrete circumstances of my daily life. As a Religious of the Sacred Heart, my spirituality is very much concerned with the Heart of Jesus, the source and symbol of God's love for each of us. My day begins with prayer as it is important to surrender myself to the God who loves me and to allow God to love me. Then I try to find Him in all that happens during the day. Spirituality is concerned with our lived experience; when we talk about RSCJ spirituality we are describing a particular style, but each of us also has her own way of living out our spirituality, her own attrait or attraction, her own gifts...still, I think we can look for common characteristics and that is way we speak of Franciscan spirituality, Ignatian or Jesuit Spirituality and finally, our own spirituality as Religious of the Sacred Heart. I think one of the key phrases in the spirituality of our foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, was "union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus." She felt that prayer, humility, poverty, interior life,etc.-- all were means to this union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus.
I think this desire to be united to the Heart of Jesus and to bring others to know His Love is at the heart of our spirituality. It is hard to describe it as our lived experience is varied and rich and changes rapidly. When I look back over my retreats I see that the desire I have for Jesus increases my capacity to receive His Love. In receiving His Love, I am called to go forth and give it to others. Such are my thoughts today on our RSCJ spirituality.
Today I want to mention a book I received recently called "50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times" by Teresa A. Blythe (Abingdon Press, 2006). It is a very practical book. Each of the exercises includes not only instructions on how to use it as a prayer practice, but also some background, an introduction, a statement of intention and tips to help you with the practice. The author hopes this book will provide at least fifty ways you you may take steps in a lifelong walk with God. There are many ways to go to God and this book helps us to find them. Remember that I think the best way for one to pray is the way one prays best. Pray as you can, not as you can't!
In today's Gospel Jesus says that he has much more to tell us but we cannot bear it now. But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit of truth, "he will guide you to all truth." This is reason enough to keep praying "Come, Holy Spirit." The Preface for the Feast of the Holy Trinity gives us some good theology - three Persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one God to be adored. For me, the challenge of the mystery of the Trinity is to develop my relationship with each of the three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Every time I make the Sign of the Cross, I profess the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Preface of Trinity Sunday Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. We joyfully proclaim our faith in the mystery of your Godhead. You have revealed your glory as the glory also of your Son and of the Holy Spirit: three Persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored in your everlasting glory.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful birthday and ended up giving an evening on prayer and contemplation for the Morningstar Renewal Center. The Presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible! Having done a fantasy exercise with them, I was amazed, as always, how God works through our imaginations. If we remember that the essence of prayer is God, we only need to surrender ourselves and let Him love us as He desires.
I really want to quote a passage from Clare Pratt, our Mother General. When she was here in the United States a couple of months ago, I asked her if I could quote her in my blog and she said I could; this is from her conference to those making their profession (final vows) in the Society of the Sacred Heart on Pentecost. She said: "You pray 'Come Holy Spirit'. What does the Spirit do in us? To paraphrase a sermon by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., the Spirit comforts us, cheers us up, encourages us, persuades us, exhorts us, stirs us, urges us forward, calls us to all that is good. Perhaps most of all, the Spirit within us loves, and the fire of that love cannot contain itself. Through us it spreads to others."
I felt that the Spirit was active in each of the group last night and, indeed, is active in me. Let us thank for this great gift of the Spirit as we begin the month of June.
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.