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Friday, February 29, 2008

Sitting Beside Jesus

I will let you imagine your own image of Jesus, but go sit beside him wherever he is for you today. He may still be sitting in the desert, or sitting on top of a mountain, or near these falls. What do you think he is saying to you? Are you listening? Are the words audible to you? What do the eyes of Jesus tell you? And his gestures, his facial expression? Listen. Be still and just listen.
Now, what would you like to say to Jesus today? Don't hurry, but think what is most important to talk to him about today? You will not need many words for he knows and understands what is in your heart.
Now let him reveal his heart to you. He has told us to abide in his love. That is a good thing to do everyday. Try it today!
My course is just finishing a Unit on the influence of psychology combined with spirituality and there is a part on active imagination that I think really helps us to pray. Jesus is present to us but our imagination sometimes makes this truth more real to us. St. Ignatius of Loyola knew this and that is why he asks us to be part of the Gospel scenes; to put ourselves into the picture, to listen to the words, to observe the actions, and to see the people involved so that we can learn from our contemplation to love Jesus more, to know him more intimately, to serve him better.
There is nothing to stop us from sitting with Jesus today and listening to him!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today I am thinking about a little booklet that I gave to others for Christmas and now I am using myself. It is called Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales.

I was struck about what he said about devotion. Devotion is not a word we use very much as it became confused with "devotions". Francis says the "virtue of devotion is neither more nor less than a general inclination and promptitude of spirit to do what we know is pleasing to God. It is the joyful expansion of the heart spoken of in the psalms...
Ordinary people walk along the path of God; devout people run; very devout people fly.

I hope I can at least begin to run as Lent is half over and I feel that I am dragging my feet. At times like this, more prayer seems to help and I am glad we are about to have Spring Break as that will help to take more time just to sit in God's presence. Francis also says that the length of our prayers should be in proportion to the amount of work we have to do. He was a busy bishop, but found time to pray, to write about prayer, and to direct many people besides all his regular duties.
We had a power failure the other day in South Florida and everyone was without electricity. The elevators did not work; the traffic signals were out; it was a nightmare for people trying to drive home. Schools were kept later because the buses could not be safe without signals. It showed us how dependent we have become on the use of electricity. They are still trying to figure out why this happened and we are borrowing electricity from other states as our nuclear electric plants shut down with the power failure that was in another plant but triggered the shut-down as a precaution. I am not sure how this connects with a Lenten reflection, but it did make south Florida feel vulnerable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Life-giving Water

I cannot get away from water images! Today, I finished reading Richard Rohr's latest book, Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality. He both begins and ends with a quote from St. Symeon, the New Theologian, who wrote in the late 10th and early 11th century. I think it is a book to be read by anyone who wants to think; Richard makes you go back to Scripture and connect the dots, look for patterns, and really see some things differently. To quote from his opening passage from St. Symeon:
"What is this awesome mystery that is taking place within me?
I can find no 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..."

Rohr says that inner experience is important and he thinks it is really what prayer is and gives us an inner authority. He takes some of the prime ideas of Scripture and connects the dots. It is a book that resembles life-giving water! It will show you as the title says: Hidden Things: Scripture As Spirituality.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So we stand in awe

So much of my life this week has been spent in wonder at the goodness of God; awe before the inner beauty of others and the glorious sunsets we have had after rather dull days. I belong to a virtual community of prayer and use the suggested prayer service each week either for community prayer or my own personal prayer. Dawn, an Associate of the Society of the Sacred Heart composes the prayer-reflections and sends them to us each week. The opening prayer is always the same; then there is usually a psalm and the Gospel of the Sunday and some quotations from writings of the Society of the Sacred Heart and questions for reflection; after silent prayer, there is a closing prayer composed by Dawn.
The closing prayer spoke to me this week so I want to share it with you today:

O Divine Wellspring, as we come to You, spiritually parched and dry,
You offer us Living Water, and we thirst no more!
As we come to You, spiritually drained,
You offer us strength, grace and comfort,
And we are filled!
As we come to You, corresponding to your grace,
Your Work and Your Word flow out from us,
And we know courage, confidence, and Holy Joy!
Help us to know that:We are precious to you; we are important in your eyes,
We are loved as we are, no matter what.
Filled to full and overflowing, we journey into the world,
Responding to its needs; grateful for the opportunity to bring the life-giving waters of God to others! Amen.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Living Water

Yesterday's Gospel had Jesus sitting by the well at noon, tired from his journey and asking for a drink of water. It started me thinking about water and about the living water he has promised. Today's first reading has Naaman cured of his leprosy only when he obeys the prophet Elisha and washes seven times in the Jordon.
One of my thoughts was about the gift of Baptism when water is necessary. Another is that all "living water" flows from the Heart of Christ. And another thought was for all those in third world countries that do not have easy access to water. We take water for granted. They need to hoard water; to work to draw water; to walk with heavy buckets in order to have water to drink.
Richard Rohr speaks of water as one of three "bookmarks" in the Bible that we need to pay attention to as we read it: water, blood, and bread are the three. All can be life-giving both spiritually as well as physically.
Today, let me reflect on the great gift of water; let me remember the water that flowed from the Heart of Christ on the Cross; let me use water with reverence and recall its effect on all in Baptism.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Third Sunday of Lent

The opening prayer for today's liturgy has this wonderful sentence:
"When we are discouraged by our weakness, give us confidence in your love."

It is easy to get discouraged but God loves us and is waiting for us to turn to Him; discouragement has no place in our lives. This is easier said than done.
The Psalm response is "If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts."
We are, according to Psalm 95, to sing joyfully to the Lord; to come into his presence with thanksgiving and kneel before the God who made us. Why? "For he isour God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides."

In the second reading from Romans 5 we hear that "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."

The we have the Gospel telling us how Jesus approached the Samaritan woman. Jesus is tired. He is sitting at the well and waiting. She comes to draw water and is startled when Jesus, a Jew, ask her for a drink. Jesus tells her: "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
Jesus keeps the conversation going as he is interested in saving this woman. "Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Jesus not only tells the woman that he is the Christ, but she goes to tell others and many of the Samaritans began to believe in him. He stayed with them for two days and they recognized him as "the savior of the world."

Anything can happen when we enter into a conversation with Jesus! Today is a good day to talk to him about what is happening in us during Lent. Are we discouraged? Are we tired? What are we thirsting for today? Are we able to sing joyfully to the Lord? Do we come into his presence with thanksgiving? Let us ask to hear his voice today and harden not our hearts."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

St. Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr, Early Church Father

Polycarp was a bishop and martyr in the early Church. He was a disciple of the apostle John and a good friend of Bishop Ignatius of Antioch. Polycarp was martyred in 155 and is one of the early Fathers of the Church. We have an account of his martyrdom.

The readings for today's liturgy are good to use to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, something we should be thinking about in Lent. The first reading is from the Prophet Michah: "Shepherd your people...
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins. . ."

The Psalm response is The Lord is kind and merciful.
I love the lines from the Psalm 103 that again can be used to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation: "He pardons all your iniquities, he heals your ills, He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion."

The Gospel has the Prodigal Son living in such miserable conditions after his life of dissipation that he determines to go home to his father and say, "Father, I have sinned..." The Father is waiting, looking for his son and runs to embrace him and celebrates his return. I am sure this is what happens each time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Beauty Reflects God's Love

When we are caught up by a beautiful sunset, or a breath-taking sunrise, or just gaze at the stars on a clear night, we feel awe and reverence and a closeness to God. Sometimes it just takes us by surprise that our world has such beauty. God gives us all the same sunsets, sunrises, moon and stars; why do we not see this beauty as God's gift and be grateful? Why do we not take better care of this beautiful world?

I have just heard of the death of a father of a very dear friend in Scotland. Please pray for the repose of his soul and for Jane, her mother, and her brother.
Yesterday, I heard of the death of the grandmother of our secretary at the University and promised prayers for the grandmother but also the mother, her daughter and the great-grandchildren.

We are made for God and yet, when we lose someone close to us, their is such a void. I strongly believe in the Communion of Saints and find that those who go before us are still with us in so many ways.

I was going to reflect on the Gospel for the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, but instead will recall the Psalm response: "The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." The Lord leads us to restful waters and is always at our side.

Radical Amazement

Radical Amazement is the name of a new book that I have just added to my list of spiritual books in this blog. It is by Judy Cannato and the full title is "Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons From Black Holes, Supernovas, and Other Wonders of the Universe." I discovered it because some of my students in my Online Program in Spirituality Studies mentioned it in connection with the Unit we just finished on Teilhard de Chardin and Emerging Spiritualities of the 20th Century. This book seems to be twenty-first century and is causing me to sit in radical amazement and contemplate our expanding universe, something like the little boy in the picture.
How are we to respond to the information and images that are becoming part of our everyday reality? Judy Cannato suggest awe, wonder, radical amazement, as we encounter the Mystery that is everywhere around us. We "live and move and have our being in the midst of a Mystery that is deeper than ourselves and broader than our own creativity and genius can possible grasp."
The phrase "radical amazement" comes from Abraham Heschel. He said that wonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of a religious attitude toward life and the proper response to our experience of the divine.
"Living in radical amazement brings us into the space where great things happen to the soul."(Abraham Herschel quoted by Cannato)

Today is the feast of St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor of the Church; Peter wanted only to be a monk and a hermit, but he was chosen as abbot and then appointed Cardinal-bishop of Ostia in 1057. He did his best to reform the clergy; Pope Alexander II gave him permission to return to his monastery.
Both the first reading and the psalm for today have the wonderful image of the tree planted beside the waters that "stretches out its roots to the stream...its leaves stay green.." The tree does not feel drought but still bears fruit. I love this image and the trees in Miami remind me of it as the leaves stay green all year! It is amazing but new green leaves appear only to push the old one off the branches.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let Lent be happy

From the Little Black Book that has six minute Lenten meditations on the Gospel of John: "Let Lent be a happy time of giving beautiful gifts to God and growing closer to God." That appeals to me. I think that we have been given this time to please God and that it makes us happy when we know that we are pleasing God!
"Lent is a time for us to plunge in and try to experience who we are. We can enjoy the exhilaration of clearing away anything that comes between us and God. That's not gloomy. Sometimes we think of Lenten sacrifices as painful. But the word sacrifice means to make holy. Our sacrifice is a gift that we give to God, as we take away anything that stands between us."

I don't think of clearing away anything that comes between me and God as exactly "exhilarating" but I am going to try to do this and see how I feel. I know I will have a happy feeling and hope it I will even find it exhilarating.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

God's love is constant

I am almost finished reading Richard Rohr's "Hidden Things: Scripture as Spirituality" and know that I will go back over it again as there are some passages that one really wants to pray over. Here is a sample from Chapter 8 The resented banquet:
"Jesus himself is never upset at sinners. He's only upset with people who don't think they're sinners."
"To allow yourself to be God's beloved is to be God's beloved. To allow yourself to be chosen is to be chosen. To allow yourself to be blessed is to be blessed. It is so hard to accept being accepted, especially from God. It takes a certain kind of humility to surrender to it, and even more to persist in believing it...
"God's love is constant and irrevocable; our part is to be open to it and let it transform us. There is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us more than God already does; and there is absolutely nothing we can do to make God love us less."

"God loves you because God is good."

Do I really believe this? It should change my life!

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day

Happy President's day, or happy birthday to George Washington (Feb. 22) & Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). Washington would be 275 years old and Lincoln would be 198. President's Day is one of the few national holidays which was originally related to Washington's birthday but in the 1980's there was a call to observe Lincoln's birthday as well and that's how President's Day came to be on the the third Monday of February. It is nice to have a holiday in the middle of winter and the long week end is appreciated by all. I am using today to catch up with papers that have been collecting and need to be sorted, filed, read, and mostly, I hope, thrown away.

Today's Gospel tells us "to be merciful just as your Father is merciful."
Our world would be so different if we lived this Gospel! We are called to stop judging, stop condemning, forgive and give and good gifts will be given to us.

God wants to give us Himself; He loves us and is always trying to get us to accept his love. Why do we think we need to earn it? All is gift!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Second Sunday of Lent

Today we have Matthew's Gospel of the Transfiguration. "Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves."

We know that Jesus often went off to a mountain to pray alone. This time he invites his closest friends to go with him. He led them up this steep mountain. Jesus always goes before us and we follow. He invites us today, during this Lent, to follow him up the mountain. It is not easy to climb a mountain and maybe we need to get fit spiritually during this time of Lent to be able to reach the top.

"And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

Peter is so overwhelmed that he does not think; he just wants them all to stay and knows that it is good for them to be there. However, "while he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

When they heard this, they were afraid and fell prostrate but Jesus came and touched them and said, "Rise, and do not be afraid." And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

They do not really understand, but they must have felt awed and grateful for the experience. I wonder if they also hoped that God would say to them one day, "This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased" And the command to "Listen to him" must have made an impression. Jesus tells them as they descend the mountain not to tell anyone about this until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

The Transfiguration is a mystery that gives hope and courage. It comes at a good time to help strengthen us for our Lenten journey. Let us make more effort to really listen to Jesus!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

As available as the very air of life...

I am again going to quote from Richard Rohr's Hidden Things: Scripture As Spirituality as what he says calls for our reflection today.
"God's eternal mystery cannot be captured or controlled, but only received and spoken as freely as the breath itself--the one single thing we have done since the moment we were born and will one day cease to do in this body! God is as available and accessible as our breath itself and no religion is going to be able to portion that out, control it or say who gets it.
Is not that the very meaning of Jesus' dramatic breathing on them after the Resurrection(John 20:22)?The Spirit has been definitively promised by Jesus and is as available as the very air of life! You can stop reading this book now, because nothing else I might say will be any better than that."

Since I am only half way through a first reading of Hidden Things, I was rather startled to find Rohr saying I could stop reading the book, but I did stop as this truth of God's availability is awesome and I sometimes take it for granted! It will give me plenty to reflect on today as I go about breathing in and out. God has made himself available to us at every instant. How can I be so insensitive to His constant Presence in my daily life?

Friday, February 15, 2008


Richard Rohr in his latest book, Hidden Things: Scripture As Spirituality says that "mystery is not something that you cannot understand, but it is something that is endlessly understandable! It is multilayered and pregnant with meaning and never totally admits to closure or resolution."

That should be enough to reflect on today! I love the positive approach - mystery is not something we cannot grasp but something that is just endlessly understandable!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day. Hearts are everywhere as a heart is the universal symbol of love.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is burning with love for us. The Heart of Jesus is the source and symbol of God's love for us and we are called to live in that love: Abide in my love.
In today's Gospel Jesus tells us: "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."
Sister Wendy Beckett says that we only need to tap on the door and it is opened.

The Gospel today ends with "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."

Queen Esther, in the first reading for today's liturgy, prayed thus: "Help me, who am alone and have no help but you..."

May we all feel loved today and give God's love to all we meet!

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A humble and contrite heart

The Responsorial Psalm has verses from Psalm 51 that are worth reflecting on this morning; we are having a rainy day after a night that included storms and a tornado.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

For you are not pleased with sacrifices; should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled,
O God, you will not spurn.

Jesus want us to live with a humble and contrite heart; it is a grace to ask for as we go through our days of Lent. Make my heart contrite and humble, Lord, for you will not spurn a heart that is contrite and humbled.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Help us grow in desire for you...

The opening prayer for today's Liturgy is"Father, look on us, your children. Through the discipline of Lent help us to grow in our desire for you."
Desire increases love and also increases our capacity to receive God's love. I feel that I am beginning Lent today as the week end was too full for me to concentrate on Lent. We had such a wonderful sharing among the 24 of us, all RSCJs "active, approaching 80 and beyond". We came together from all over; one had recently come back from years of teaching in China; two from an Indian reservation in California; two from Universities; chaplins; writers; hospice workers; parish positions; artist; psychologists; etc. and we all felt united from the first night. Our time together exceeded even my expectations and I felt it was worth all the time and trouble that the many details of planning entailed. On Sunday, after a last sharing on how we can continue to support one another, we broke into groups to see different attractions in Miami and then had a wonderful prayer and catered dinner at our school, Carrollton, hosted by the head of the school; an RSCJ herself, she gave each of us a different quote from St. Madeleine Sophie, who founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800. I am copying mine here to share with you.

A soul totally given to the Holy Spirit...finds the secret of penetrating hearts; as it is not her who is acting, she has no though of self; she goes so far as to ignore that she is doing the good and has only one desire, to follow in everything and always the impulse of the Holy Spirit."
May I learn to live with only the desire to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

In 1858 the Mother of Jesus began to appear to Bernadette in a grotto near Lourdes in France. Mary is honored there under the title, Immaculate Conception, an unique gift of God fitting for one who was to be the Mother of Jesus. Many go there to pray and their faith has healed many who believe that God uses the waters of the grotto's spring to heal.
I was in Lourdes for Pentecost Sunday one year and found the faith of the thousands who took part in the Liturgy and the candlelight procession on the eve. People come from all over the world to pray to Mary.

Tomorrow I will tell you a bit about the gathering of the last few days here in Miami of 24 RSCJs who prayed, shared, and played together for three nights. Everyone was moved by the depth of sharing and the union that was felt among us from the first night.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Three day absence

I am beginning a three-day gathering with twenty-four Religious of the Sacred Heart from all over the United States. I had this idea to invite those who are "Active, Approaching 80 and Beyond to come for a time of sharing, prayer, fun, and sun. The time has come and I will not have time to get to a computer so please pray for the Gathering and I will be back next Tuesday without fail.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lent is time spent with Jesus

Open the door! Jesus is waiting to come in and spend these next forty days with us in a special way. He calls us in the first reading today to Choose life."

On this day, forty-eight years ago, I was on the eve of my final Profession in Rome. We had made a thirty-day retreat, a deepening of the retreat I made in August at the Trinita dei Monti, our convent at the top of the Spanish Steps. Pere Gaston Fournier came from France to give this retreat and it was a powerful one stressing that the only thing necessary is to do "what God wants, when He wants it, and how He wants it." As I was leaving right after final Profession to go from Rome straight to Chile, I added, and "where He wants it"
I did not know any Spanish, but that did not seem to bother anyone; I kept hearing Jesus say to me, " Fear not; it is I." I knew Jesus was with me and have never doubted his presence in my life.

The Little Black Book with six minute mediations that was given to us at Church for Lent has this for today on the left side (right side is always a commentary on the Passion from John's Gospel):
"There is nothing tricky about prayer. It's simply tuning in to God's presence-and God is always present. Not simply alongside us, but within us at the deepest part of who we are.
We never have to make an appointment with God. We're "first on the list". Our appointment is "right now".
When we call God, we never get voice mail. It's direct.
To draw near to God, we don't have to travel anywhere. God does all the traveling.
We don't have to figure out the right words to get started. God is already speaking to us. All we have to do is turn off the "mute" button.
The reason we pray is to become more who we are. We're made in the image and likeness of God. When we pray, we become more and more like God.
Try it. Use words if you wish. But you can also just sit quietly with God. It's a fine way to spend a few minutes."

This book is dedicated to Bishop Ken Untener (1937-2004) who was inspired to create "Little Books" - this is based on his writings and put together by the editor of "Little Books", Catherine Haven, with the help of Sister Nancy Ayotte, IHM.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ash Wednesday

I had saved two pictures to post today for Ash Wednesday, but the browse button is not working for me so I cannot find them. Maybe that is a sign that I am to start Lent in a very simple way. This prayer came to mind as a good way to begin:
Here I am Lord. This is my church.
It is composed of people like me.
We make it what it is.

It will be friendly, if I am.
Its pews will be filled, if I help to fill them.
It will be filled with music, if I sing.
It will radiate Christ's love, if I do.
It will pass on the faith, if I share mine.
It will involve many people, if I become involved in its work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people to worship, if I invite them.
It will be a Church of loyalty and love, fearlessness and faith;
a church with a noble spirit, if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these.

Therefore, with the help of God, I shall dedicate myself to the task of being all the things I want my church to be.

I guess it all begins with my union with Christ and how I reveal his love to others.
May this Lent be a time of transformation for all of us. Courage! Let us begin!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jesus, lonely in the desert

I just discovered this painting by a British artist, Briton Riviere. It speaks to me of a Jesus who is tired, lonely, and waiting for nightfall. It is an image that will help me to stay with Jesus this Lent.
Well, to go back to Lenten Resolutions as today is "Mardi Gras" or "Fat Tuesday" and a day that often leads to an excess of eating and drinking. I told you that my resolutions would be based on three Scripture passages; actually, the third is taken from the first Lenten Preface. Here they are:
"Not by bread alone doth man live, but by every word that cometh forth from the mouth of God." From the Gospel, 1st Sunday of Lent.
I am taking this to help fast from bread and sweets during Lent and concentrate on reading the Word of God.

"When you pray, enter into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret." Gospel for Ash Wednesday.
This will, I hope, make me more faithful to find the time for quiet prayer each afternoon.

"Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed. You give us a spirit of loving reverence for you, our Father, and of willing service to our neighbor." Lenten Preface
I am concentrating on joyful, willing service; I was happy to read that this is a joyful season and think that when we do things for others we should do them with joy!

I read yesterday that "we need Lent. In the midst of our busy lives, with worldly forces and temptations working hard to distract us from the call of Christ, the weeks of Lent are a gift. As we fast, pray, extend out hands to the poor, we are imitating Christ, joining ourselves more closely to him. He suffered and sacrificed; so do we. He lives in eternal joy; so will we, as we follow him in hope."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Preparing for Lent

Today is a day to think about Lent and all the needs of the world. I am using this picture of Jesus as a copy was given me when I was still in high school and, when hung in my room, Jesus always seemed to be looking at me with love no matter where I was in the room. I still feel that no matter where I am, Jesus is looking at me with love.
Lent is a time to make a special effort to please Jesus. It is not what I want to do for these forty days, but what Jesus wants of me. I spent time praying about it and think Jesus told me something about prayer, fasting, and service and all in joy. Lent is a time of transformation and therefore can be a time of joy as we are preparing to celebrate the joy of the Resurrection. I am not called to be gloomy, but to give God's love and joy to others during this time.
Now I am late and must stop here, but will probably share my Lenten resolutions at some point as each is based on a Scripture passage that came in prayer.
Now, spend some time with Jesus today and ask him to show you what he wants for Lent.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mount of the Beatitudes

Here is the scene where Jesus preached the heart of his message: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and, finally, blessed are they who are persecuted, and insulted...Rejoice and be glad, for your reward witll be great in heaven.

The homily I heard for this Sunday began with the fact that to become a Christian is a long process. We are never fully there but on the way. Each of us can always live each of these Beatitudes more deeply; we are on a journey into the Heart of God. We must "Rejoice and be glad" as we are promised the kingdom of heaven.

The second reading from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians tells us that God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, the weak of the world to shame the strong, and the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. Well, I can rejoice in the fact that I know myself to be chosen by God; I know that I am foolish, weak, a nothing, and have nothing to boast about except that God loves me. When I was a novice and the Mistress of Novices had quite convinced me that I was Nothing, the Reverend Mother Vicar arrived for a visit. I tried to tell her how I was learning that I counted for nothing. She said to me with a twinkle in her eye, "Yes, dear, but you will soon be a consecrated nothing and that makes all the difference in the world." I have never forgotten that and it has helped me immensely at various moments in my life so I guess I am passing it on now.
We can do nothing without Christ, but with Him we can do all things!"

We have three days to prepare for Lent, such a special forty days. Which beatitude is Jesus calling me to strive for now?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Presentation of the Lord

This Feast officially marked the end of the Christmas season for years as it was a known fact that, according to the Mosaic law, Mary and Joseph would go to the Temple in Jerusalem for both the purification of the new mother and to present the son forty days after the birth. Mary would have entered the temple with Jesus and would have brought an offering of a lamb or a dove or two doves or even pigeons. Luke gives us the details in today's Gospel, but I found that this feast began to be celebrated in the 4th century in Jerusalem and, in the Eastern Church, it is called "The Meeting of Jesus and Mary with Simeon and Ann, representatives of the Old Covenant."
In the Middle Ages, the feast was called Candlemas and the candles were blessed. My mother always brought home two blessed candles on this feast and would light them during the year whenever there was a severe thunder storm. She believed that blessed candles protected the home from danger.

Luke tells us that "When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord ...

Then Luke introduces both Simeon and Anna. Simeon was waiting as the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ. He came, then, and took Jesus into his arms and blessed God saying:
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory for your people Israel."

Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about him. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, "Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted; you yourself a sword will pierce so the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

There was also a prophetess, Anna, who was 84 and worshiped in the temple night and day. She came forward and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

This is a feast that gives us much to reflect upon and we may be sure that Mary pondered all these words in her heart.

Friday, February 1, 2008

February - A month of contrasts

Today is the first of February, a month full of contrasts. Today is my oldest grand-nephew's 12th birthday; he is up in Oregon now so I have not seen him but know he is being Confirmed in the next week; his grandmother, my sister, also has a birthday coming up in February. We also celebrate Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday next week; then Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day where we combine a celebration of two great presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Snow is falling over much of the country during February. To take to the ski slopes is one of the delights of the month. Lent will give its own atmosphere to this short month. The world is in such need of Lenten prayer and conversion.
I read this in Richard Rohr's ""Hidden Things: Scripture As Spirituality" this morning:"You can only transform people to the degree that you have been transformed. You can only lead others as far as you yourself have gone. You have no ability to affirm or to communicate to another person that they are good or special until you know it strongly yourself...Only beloved people can pass on belovedness."

May this month of February be a transforming one for each of us and may we then transform others!

The Gospel has the parable of the mustard seed. I remember looking up over a door of a Church in a small town in Chile and seeing this huge mustard tree that had grown on the ledge from a small seed that had found enough dirt on the ledge to root and grow. The image has never left me.