Thursday, January 31, 2008
St. John Bosco was born in Italy in 1815 and ordained in 1841. His love for children led him to form the Salesian Society named after St. Francis de Sales. He taught poor boys and had classes for them in the evenings.
I spent a couple of weeks during the summers after seventh and eighth grade with some of my classmates at Camp Don Bosco. There I learned how to dive off the springboard in different ways; we rode horseback through the woods, took long hikes with our cabin counselor, learned new crafts, and did all the usual camp things. It was the first time away from my parents for more than a night or two. I was too excited to be homesick, but looked forward to mail-call each day. I have not thought about that camp or some of the people I met there until now, but I know that it gave me devotion to St. John Bosco that has lasted 65 years!
Mark's Gospel today contains this powerful passage: "Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you."
God loves a generous giver!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Today's Gospel, Mark 4:1-20, tells us that Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. The picture shows him standing, but I like the idea that he was teaching while sitting down in the boat. The crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables...
First, we know that Jesus taught by the sea. I went on a tour of the Holy Land and, at the site where tradition has it that Jesus preached the Beatitudes, the guide explained that we call it the Sermon on the Mount but that Jesus would have been on the shore and the crowd seated on the hillside; the sea breezes would then carry his words to the huge crowd. Jesus had no microphone, no bull-horn, but the sea amplified his voice so that all could hear him.
Jesus told the parable of the sower who goes out to sow...later he explains it to his disciples saying, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?" The sower sows the word ...
Their are different responses to the word. It is the seeds sown on rich soil that bear fruit. Those whose seeds fall into rich ground are the ones who recognize the other kinds of soil in themselves - the rocky ground, the hard-earth path, and the word among thorns.
What best describes my soil during these last days of January? The new year is almost a month old and what is my response to Jesus as he sows the word in my life?
How will I cultivate the soil today to receive his word?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The winter scene reminds me of many things; none of these memories are connected with south Florida where the average temperature is 83. Yesterday was lovely as the high was in the mid-seventies, but everyone thought they were freezing! I actually wore a sweater in my office. I do not miss the snow and ice, but sometimes a picture brings back good memories of sitting around a lovely fire in the fireplace, toasting marshmellows, drinking hot chocolate with melted marshmellows on top, and going sledding and ice-skating in the park. There is a feeling of cosiness when snuggled under blankets or just reading in front of the fireplace. All of this is causing me nostalgia after over twenty years in Miami. One time, a friend gave a Christmas party and turned her air-conditioning as high as she could get it so her house was cold enough for a fire in the fireplace!
I think I am escaping the fact that I need to get out and vote today. We are a very democratic country; voting is important. Yet, today I am reluctant to go. We voted against slot machines in this county; they are back on the ballot. The papers have been telling us about political corruption for months on all levels. Yet, I know my vote counts and I am going, but it is good to remember the times when I sat in front of a fire surrounded by family and friends and, as I remember it, without anything to trouble my cosy world. God was there, but God is here and telling me that a little nostalgia can be a good thing as long as the snow stays in the picture!
Monday, January 28, 2008
Somedays I just wake up thankful. It is not because it is the feast of St. Thomas of Aquinas, although I rejoice with the Dominicans today. I also remember that Harvey Egan in a book on Christian Mysticism said that from the time of the apostles until St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologians were frequently mystics. I think we should expect theologians today, to also be mystics. It is the mystic who makes more explicit the basic experience of God that haunts every human heart. And mystics are grateful people because they know they are loved by God.
I am grateful for the world and all that is in it.
I want to express my gratitute by an adaptation of a prayer by Patricia Strong taken from A Grateful Heart:
Thankful may I ever be for everything that God bestows.
Thankful for the joys and sorrows, for the blessings and the blows.
Thankful for the wisdom gained through hardships and adversity.
Thankful for the undertones as well as for the melody.
Thankful may I ever be for God's benefits both great and small-
And may I never fall in gratitude for that divinest gift of all:
The love of sisters and family and friends that I have known,,,
O may the first prayer of the day be always one of thankfulness. Amen.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Jesus went to live in Capernaum by the sea only after he heard that John the Baptist had been arrested. Mark tells us in today's Gospel that "he left Nazareth" and "from that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Jesus wants some help; he needs others so he is walking by the sea and sees Peter and Andrew casting a net into the sea. Jesus says to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. The "at once" always grabs my attention. Were they waiting to be called? We know from John's Gospel that Andrew and John had followed Jesus and spent a good part of a day with him earlier and Andrew told Peter about Jesus. Had they spent more time with him? I suspect so and were secretly wishing and waiting to follow his call. Maybe they had a desire for something more and did not know what it was until they heard Jesus say, "Come".
Then Jesus walks along and saw James and John in the boat with their father. He called them and immediately they left their father and their boat and followed Jesus.
The grace of a vocation was at work and we see the power and attraction of Jesus in this calling of the first disciples. He is still calling us. What does he ask of me today?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Today we celebrate the feast of Timothy and Titus, both disciples of Paul and bishops. It is a call to pray for all the bishops of the world.
The entrance antiphon from Ezechiel 34 is one that I love: "I will look after my sheep, says the Lord, and I will raise up one shepherd who will pasture them. I, the Lord, will be their God." The bishop is to be a shepherd for his people; Christ for us, ready to defend and even die for the flock he shepherds.
Paul reminds Timothy "to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands." Every bishop and each of us has the gift of God and we are all called to stir into flame this gift. How am I doing this? How do I enkindle the fire of God's love in myself so that I may enkindle it in others? What can I do today to stir into flame the love of God so that it spreads through me to others?
I should end there but the morning paper has a questionnaire on happiness that I think we should reflect on as we need to be happy to enkindle the fire of God's love in others - knowing that we are loved is the foundation of our happiness. Here is what the Miami Herald paper excerpted from a book by Marci Shimoff: Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out:
I often feel happy and satisfied for no particular reason.
I live in the moment.
I feel alive, vital and energetic.
I experience a deep sense of inner peace and well-being.
Life is a great adventure for me.
I don't let bad situations keep me down.
I am enthusiastic about the things I do.
Most days I have an experience of laughter and joy.
I trust that this is a friendly universe.
I look for the gift or the lesson in everything that happens.
I am able to let go and forgive.
I feel love for myself.
I look for the good in every person.
I change the things I can and accept the things I can't change.
I surround myself with people who support me.
I don't blame others or complain.
My negative thoughts don't overshadow me.
I feel a general sense of gratitude.
I feel connected to something bigger than myself.
I feel inspired by a sense of purpose in my life.
You are supposed to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5. I know that I am a very happy person, but I stopped over the one where it says I don't blame others or complain. I sometimes need to take a practice for myself of going through the entire day without a complaint or a feeling of discontent. But we are called to be happy so make your own questionnaire and kindle happiness around you!
Friday, January 25, 2008
Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. We have three stories of his conversion in the Acts of the Apostles. None of the stories mentions a horse! Yet, so often Paul is being knocked off his horse by God. I guess I rather associated him with the Lone Ranger when I was small and thought the horse was white! There may not have been a horse, but Paul was struck blind by a brilliant Light and he did hear Jesus asking him, "Why are you persecuting me?" This encounter with God changed his life and now all his energy was spent in spreading the Good News to every one.
The picture of the surfer is the image I have of Paul. He had courage and took risks, but he was led by the Spirit. May we reflect today on how the Spirit is leading us?
I also think that Paul (still Saul) was blind for three days and nights so that he could reflect on what had happened to him and change his life. He was then ready to be baptized and, like a surfer, go forth with joy to ride the waves. Paul became the great Apostle to the Gentiles and spread Christianity throughout much of the known world before giving his life for Christ. Try reading his Epistles in chronological order to see how his own thought developed and what marvelous truths his Epistles contain.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
What is this awesome mystery
that is taking place within me?
I can find now words to express it;
my poor hand is unable to capture it
in describing the praise and glory that belong
to the One who is above all praise,
and who transcends every word...
My intellect sees what has happened,
but it cannot explain it.
It can see, and wishes to explain,
but can find no word that will suffice;
for what it sees is invisible and entirely formless,
simple, completely uncompounded,
unbounded in its awesome greatness.
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essense but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame,
it is the whole flame you receive." St. Symeon the New Theologian
The above poem from St. Symeon (949-1022) is taken from his "What Is This Awesome Mystery", from Hymns of Divine Love and quoted at the beginning of Richard Rohr's book, Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality.
I find it is helpful to recall the "awesome mystery that is taking place within me." We forget what wonderful mysteries each is and how we reflect the mystery of God!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I promised that I would share two new books with you. I happen to know both authors personally and look forward to their latest books. Joan is a Benedictine; Richard is a Franciscan priest.
I have not yet had time to read these new books, but love the authors and they look like books that I will find nourishing my own spirituality. I will include them in the spiritual book list. The first is by Joan Chittister who is one of the most influential spiritual writers of the 21st Century. It is "Welcome to the Wisdom of the World and Its Meaning for You" and was just published in 2007 by William B. Eerdmans. Joan gives us wonderful and wise insights distilled from the five great religious traditions. It is easy to read and yet calls one to live the wisdom discovered in the major religious traditions. Each Chapter tackles a different spiritual question.
The second book is a new one by Richard Rohr, "Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality," St. Anthony Press, 2008. Richard, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico, has written many books and given lectures and retreats all over the world. He is another contemporary author who has the courage to call us to live the real vision of Christianity which unites sacred Scripture and Christian spirituality. I hope to have time to start reading both books today!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
In today's reading from the first book of Samuel 16:1-13, the Lord sends Samuel to anoint his chosen king. Samuel objects as he is afraid Saul will hear of this and kill him. But the Lord tells him to take a heifer along and say, "I have come to sacrifice to the Lord." He is to invite Jesse to the sacrifice and the Lord says that Samuel is to anoint the one he points out to him. Samuel meets Jesse sons and as he looked at the eldest he thought surely this was the one. But the Lord told Samuel "Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart."
Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but the Lord had not chosen any of these. Then Samuel asked if these are all the sons that Jesse has. Jesse said, "There is still the youngest who is tending the sheep." Samuel said to send for him. When David came, the Lord said, "anoint him, this is he!"
From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.
I love this story for the Lord chooses and he looks into the heart. He still is choosing us and looking into our hearts. He also sends his Spirit upon us. We have been called and chosen and anointed in Baptism. The Lord has a special place for each of us in this world and no one else can fulfill our task of responding to the love the Lord has for us and for each of his creatures.
I have two new books to share with you tomorrow that may help us to respond to God's love for we have been chosen.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
St. Agnes was one of the early Roman martyrs and gave her life for Christ when only twelve or thirteen years old. Her feast has been celebrated since the 4th century on January 21. Today is also the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States and is a national holiday. Both were people who were willing to die for what they believed and we celebrate their courage.
I have just returned from New Orleans. On Friday afternoon we had a tour of the city and saw both the terrible destruction that Katrina caused and the heroic efforts to rebuild the damaged neighborhoods. It was both depressing and hopeful at the same time. Some houses have signs saying, "Please do not demolish!" Others are newly occupied with fresh paint and a tended yard; what courage it took to return to homes that had to be gutted before being restored! I only hope the government continues to help this city recover. The streets are still in terrible condition in so many neighborhoods. Yet, the people are full of hope and beginning to celebrate Mardi Gras!
The Quad Area meeting (all the Religious of the Sacred Heart from Houston, Grand Coteau, New Orleans, and Miami)was life-giving as we spend an entire day just listening to each other share what has been most important in both inner and outer life during the past year. We have been doing this for many years and the level of sharing is very deep. We also invite some of the Associates to join us and they seem astonished by the variety of ministries in our Quad Area.
I have missed writing this blog last week, but it would have been impossible to even try. Now I need to catch up with my international online course in Contemporary Spirituality as we have just finished the first unit.
Monday, January 14, 2008
This week I shall be away and not have access to the computer some of the time; I will just take a little vacation from this daily blog and sign in again next Monday.
It will be a busy week; my sister arrives from Phoenix tomorrow and we will both be in Naples, Florida to see a very dear friend that I have known all my life. Our parents were friends with her parents even before they were married. On Thursday early I will drive back as I am giving a talk for Ascending Life at St. Thomas University on "Nourishing Our Inner and Outer Life". Then I leave with my community for New Orleans for our annual sharing with the RSCJs in what we call the Quad Area: Houston, Grand Coteau, New Orleans, and Miami. Each of us shares what has been most significant for us during the year. We return Sunday night. I will share with you what the week was for me next Monday, Feast of Martin Luther King.
To reflect on this week: "How do I nourish my inner and outer life?"
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I think that at every baptism the Holy Spirit comes down and God says, "This is my beloved child." We really are loved by God from the first moment of our existence, but Baptism marks us in a special way and gives us God's own life in us. We are called to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
I think that God also says to us, "this is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased! He is pleased because He has made us in his image and likeness; God has made each of us unique; He loves us! And we are pleasing to Him! Still, we ask ourselves if he is "well pleased"? Since God loves us as we are, I think He is well pleased as long as we are listening to his voice. He knows our weakness and loves us as we are! He gives us the desire to please Him, but knows that we often do not do the good that we want to do. The good news is that He loves us no matter what and keeps giving us His grace to help us to love Him and to love one another. Baptism is the beginning of a life of love!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Jesus grew up in Nazareth and led a hidden life until he was probably around thirty years old! That seems strange to us today as the youth are off to college, finding jobs, taking trips and exploring the world before they are thirty. Maybe we need to reflect on this hidden life where Jesus was growing in wisdom and grace and preparing for his public ministry.
I feel that Jesus was really in the dark about what His Father wanted and so he waited and prayed and increased his own faith. Then came the inner urge to go to be baptized by John in the Jordan. John tried to prevent it so he must have recognized Jesus and known of him from his parents.
Jesus is baptized then and immediately he is given insight into his mission. He heard the voice saying "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
This was an affirmation that would stay with Jesus as the Spirit then led him into the desert. We think of those 40 days of fasting in the desert as the time of temptation; I suspect the first days were really a joyous communion with his Father and further insight into his mission. Jesus knew he was called by God, but only in prayer did he find out what God wanted of him, day by day. I think the Baptism was one of those peak moments and Jesus now is going to be sent by God to proclaim the Good News.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Today the picture of the trees reflected in the lake caught my attention? When I am calm, what is reflected in me? What is the value of being able to see the reflection of others?
Yesterday I received affirmation and encouragement from that affirmation from several and it really made a difference. Now I hope I can affirm and encourage others today.
I want to share with you a quote from the 13th century mystic, Mechthild of Magdeburg:
"There is No Lord in all the world
Who lives in all his dwelling at once
Save God alone.
He lives in the peace of holy love
And whispers with his love
In the narrow confines of the soul."
That quote gives us matter to reflect on today!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tonight is our reflection group and we are using Albert Nolan's "Jesus Today and the chapter on the wonders of our universe. There is so much mystery in our world and the scientists are now aware of it. Energy, light, the parts of the atom, all really baffle the most learned. The whole is greater than its parts; the universe is expanding; let us bow down and worship the creator of all.
The picture of the empty boats reflects where I am this morning. Or maybe, it is where I want to be as the boats are at rest. I am feeling rather overwhelmed and glad to be going to my Shalom group this morning. We began almost twenty years ago and four of us have been together that long so it is almost group spiritual direction. We have taken in three more, but all of us have known each other for a long time. It is good to have such a group. Another group that is very life-giving for me is a faculty faith-sharing group that meets each Monday in my office. Again, the the male faculty members have been my friends for over twenty years and it is a real support group. I think the Reflection Group I started about 12 years ago with my community and many friends is what started my reflection on other important groups in my life. My Community (we are five) and the staff of the School of Theology are other groups that are life-giving and I am grateful for all those who make up these groups and other, more informal groups. It makes for a very full life and hence the moment of quiet, looking at empty boats, is essential, too.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
It is good to be reminded that the Christmas season lasts until February 2. It is a time of joy. The opening prayer in the Liturgy is a good one to reflect on today:
"God, light of all nations, give us the joy of lasting peace, and fill us with your radiance as you filled the hearts of our fathers."
May we all have the joy of lasting peace and be filled with the radiance of God!
The first reading reminds us, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we must all love one another...God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in her/him."
The Gospel is one of my favorites. Jesus sends his disciples out in the boat while he dismisses the crowd and goes off to the mountain to pray. The wind becomes so strong that the disciples in the boat are having a hard time; they see Jesus walking on the water and are terrified. Jesus says, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid." How often has Jesus said the same to me? Now, I want to be on the mountain with Jesus in prayer, but I am also willing to be in the boat with the wind against me. What is important is the trust I have in Jesus. This gives me courage.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I think I promised to share some of the things I learned in 2007 as I reflected back over the year.
1. I learned that I still procrastinate, especially when it is a disagreeable task (I think my mother pointed this out to me years ago), but I also learned that I have incredible discipline when I have decided to do something and I can sustain it.
2. I learned that I can sit and contemplate beauty, even a tree outside my window and be lost in wonder.
3. I learned that I have many relationships with different people of all ages and walks of life, but that I need to make time to foster these relationships and be grateful for them.
4. I have learned that I go to prayer to let God love me and that He does love me as I am and is always waiting for me and always with me, but I am so often insensitive to His Presence in me and in others.
5. I have learned that good spiritual reading is a way to nourish the soul.
6. I have learned that I can still be effective, even if I am not efficient!
7. I have learned that I tire more easily and need to use the morning energy.
8. I have learned that accepting my limitations gives me joy and contentment.
9. I have learned that joy and gratitude feed off one another and both grow when discontent is banished.
10.I have learned that some silence and solitude is essential for my inner life.
11. I have learned that what really matters is that God loves me as I am and wants me to surrender myself to Him and trust like a child in the arms of a loving mother.
12. I have learned that my "to do" lists are never realistic.
13. I have learned that small acts of kindness and words of encouragement make a difference.
14. I have learned that getting older has its own joys.
I am stopping there. I realize that all the above was not learned in a year and that I am still learning these same things in 2008. I remember being told that if we make a resolution and then break it almost immediately, it is a good resolution as it is what we need!
My star for the year is joy and I hope it will be reflected in this blog.
Monday, January 7, 2008
We still are in the Christmas season although everyone is back at school and work today. I knew nothing about St. Raymond who was a Spanish Dominican; he was also a professor of philosophy and a lawyer. He organized the papal decrees and this became the basis for the code of canon law. He also wrote practical guidelines for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I want to share a poem I love written by Carmen Smith, RSCJ. She was a wonderful English teacher and taught me in high school. This poem is called "Prayer for Latter Days" and was published in On the Way Home: Reflections for Old Age" edited by two RSCJS, Frances Makower and Joan Faber.
I want to grow old
life hanging on my shoulders
like an old sweater-
warm and loose
Let my days and nights
taking my shape,
looking like me
I'm not wearing them.
I have loved life,
all of it,
an old friend-
to the very end.
Make me ready, Lord
to slip off
shoes and sweater
Wen my spirit
puts on eternal youth.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I have always loved this feast and the tradition we have of drawing a "star" to follow for the year. The star is a virtue to cultivate and I hope I draw "joy" this year, but love, faith, gratitude, hope, humility, peace, etc. are all stars needed in our journey to find Jesus and Mary. May the Holy Spirit point you to your star for this new year of life.
Robert Morneau in his book "Fathoming Bethlehem" says that divine epiphanies are marked by song, whether sung by angels or shepherds or bus boys or migrant workers. He says that the Feast of the Epiphany is about the mystery of love. "Two elements always accompany love and are essential elements: light and life. In Jesus we are given the Light of the world and the very gift of Life itself, grace. What has been revealed is to be internalized and then shared. Each follower of Jesus is to become an epiphany. The true co-ordinates of the soul lie in the longitude of joy and the latitude of peace. The Magi returned to their homelands hands emptied but souls filled. In giving their material gifts they created room for spiritual blessings. The marking of Epiphany are the peace and joy that come from encountering God-made-man."
How am I an epiphany for others? Have I the faith to follow a star when it means leaving all?
Saturday, January 5, 2008
St. John Neumann was born in 1811 in Bohemia. He came to America to be ordained and then entered the Redemptorist Order in 1840. Twelve years later he was consecrated Bishop of Philadelphia. He was a great advocate for Catholic education. He died in 1860 and was canonized in 1977.
When I first started teaching at St. Thomas University, I used the Neumann room in the library for both giving the retreat in daily life and for spiritual direction. The University has an excellent collection of all his writings and I realize that I have never taken the time to read his life. Perhaps this will be one of the books to put on my reading list.
I finished, "Come Be My Light" this morning and loved the collection of private writings of Mother Theresa. You feel close to someone after reading their letters and even her retreat notes. She did not want these to be saved, but I am glad they were as I enjoyed seeing how God worked in her life and her generous response.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Today is First Friday and the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She had a fascinating life. She was born to a devout Episcopalian family in New York, married William Seton and had five children. Her husband died in 1803 when she was only 29. She became a Catholic, founded a girl's school in Baltimore, formed an order using a modified rule of the Daughters of Charity. She was canonized in 1975, a wonderful American born saint!
Barbara Bowe, writing in this month's "Living with Christ" says that spirituality takes time. "Only through lived experience can we come to know certain truths. Only by living the spiritual life, the life of faith in response to God, can we come to know more of its depths and believe in God's powerful claim on our lives."
My dear friend and doctor in Malaysia sent me his reflections on what he had learned in 2007 and that triggered off my own reflections. I shall share some of them with you tomorrow.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Today I have been working at the University and realized that I did not post my blog before I left home this morning. Vacation is really over and my mind is filled with so many things to do that I have just stopped and am taking quiet time at my desk and thinking of the meaning of the Holy Name of Jesus. One of my favorite short prayers that I often find myself saying is "Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus!"
I was still young when my great uncle Jim died and my great aunt told me that he had kept repeating that prayer. I know that it made an impresssion on me.
Now I am just going to sit at my desk and clear my mind so that I can listen to Jesus and rest in His Heart.
I was still young when my great uncle Jim died and my great aunt told me that he had kept repeating that prayer. I know that it made an impresssion on me.
Now I am just going to sit at my desk and clear my mind so that I can listen to Jesus and rest in His Heart.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Today is the feast of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nazianzen, both bishops and doctors of the Eastern Church. Anyone taking my online course can tell you about these who are two of the Cappadocian trio of Fathers; Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa is the third. All proclaimed the truth that Jesus is both human and devine!
May your new year be a holy and happy one!
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Today's Feast in Mary's honor has the Shepherds telling her all that they had been told by the angel about Jesus. Mary "Kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." May I learn to ponder the things of God in my heart as Mary did!
My "Living With Christ" has a "Household Ritual" each month. As the new year begins, it is a blessing for our calendars, appointment books, and new year. It begins with reflection on these three questions:
1. As we look at our calendars, what priorities are revealed?
2. How might we be more attentive to God's hidden presence in some of our appointments?
3. How might God enter through surprises that are not recorded on the calendar?
After some moments for sharing, all hold out their calendars and recite together:
"God of all times and seasons, we begin a new year on our journey toward you. In each of our encounters with others this year, be present and fill our days with your presence. Help us to be attentive to the needs and concerns of others and bring to them the joy of your transforming presence. Amen.