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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jeremiah's commitment

The first reading for the Sunday Liturgy is from Jeremiah 20 and begins, "You have seduced me, O Lord, and I let myself be seduced." This is the beginning of one of Jeremiah's five confessions; in this one, he complains because he is trying to speak out for the Lord and he is being laughed at and mocked. He has to speak of violence and that has not happened and he feels that "the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach".
Poor Jeremiah! He wants to be silent and not mention the Lord but he cannot stop speaking for God because then it "becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it."
These are strong words. Jeremiah has been seduced by the Lord. We, too, must let ourselves be seduced by Him who loves us!

As I liked both opening prayers for today, I am going to copy the alternate one here for reflection.
Lord God of power and might, nothing is good which is against your will, and all is of value which comes from your hand. Place in our hearts a desire to please you and fill our minds with insight into love, so that every thought may grow in wisdom and all our efforts may be filled with your peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gifts given

Today's Gospel from Matthew 25 has the praable Jesus told of the man going on a journey and entrusting his servants with his possessions -"to each according to his ability". One received five talents and made another five. One received two and made another two. One received one and through fear buried it. He is called a "wicked, lazy servant." I think his greatest fault was not trusting his Master. Jesus wants us to use the gifts given to us. "From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" as John tells us in the Prologue to his Gospel.
Am I using the gifts God has given me? Will Jesus say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant, come share your Master's joy"?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Martyrdom of John the Baptist

John the Baptist gave his life in witness to truth and justice. We are all called to witness to the truth. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
When I entered high school at the Academy of the Sacred Heart we were adopting a new textbook for the religion class. I do not recall the contents of the book at all now, but I will never forget the words written on the cover: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." These words of Jesus made a deep impression on me and have stayed with me. These same words, written in white on a blue cover as I remember, came back to me in my retreat this summer. They give us all much to meditate on today.
John the Baptist was courageous. He prepared the way for the Way; he spoke the truth and pointed to the Truth; and then he gave his life for him who is Life.

This is not what I thought I was going to write, but it will do. I have an all-day planning meeting at the University today and my car is still up there as it would not start last night; I also discovered that the phone is not working in my office, but all this seems trivial when I know that a hurricane is causing terrible loss and I heard the New Orleans is evacuating again! Let us pray for all affected.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feast of St. Augustine

Augustine was born in North Africa and became a famous bishop and doctor of the Church. He lived in the 4th and 5th centuries and successfully defended the Church against heresies. His mother, Monica, prayed for his conversion for years; after he was converted, he was made bishop of Hippo. He is still a great influence today as he left so many writings. The most famous is his Confessions.

I must confess that when only a freshman in college I talked the Dean into allowing me to take an advanced Latin class; it was on the Confessions of St. Augustine and I was really not a great Latin student. I had the English translation and would get up very early on Sunday mornings to work out the translations I was expected to do for the week. I managed to do well in that course as I was very interested. The next Latin class was really tough as the same Dean taught it and she would put the English on the board for Pliny, Tacitus, etc. and we were to put it into Latin! I am not sure how I managed to get through that!! Now, I wish I had studied more Latin, but I am grateful for those college courses.!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

St. Monica thirsted for God for her son

I love the idea of thirsting for God as a deer longs for running water. One translation of Psalm 23 is that God leads us to quiet pools of fresh water. We all need water and we all need to drink from the fountains of living water which flow from the Heart of Jesus.
I am not sharing the retreat today except in a general way. I certainly was thirsty for God and the retreat increased my thirst. I am trying to write on my laptop without my mouse which is refusing to work; I am surrounded by images that make me want to stop and pray rather than write. I will say that today is the feast of St. Monica. She was such a courageous, faith-filled mother; now she is patroness of mothers. Without her, we would not have had St. Augustine!!
Happy Feast to all the Monicas!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Seek Me with all your heart...

Jeremiah 29:11-14: "When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord."
I began my retreat with great desire and a sense of reverence with the Holy Spirit as my retreat director. The liturgy today reminds us to stand firm and to hold fast to the traditions and Paul says, "May the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God the Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word."
So let us stand firm and seek God with all our heart and mind and soul. In seeking God, we allow him to love us.
Before I went into retreat, someone very dear to me sent some quotations from Saint Madeleine Sophie about retreats. I will share the first and last with you:
"Next to the Sacraments, a retreat is the most important of all spiritual exercises - the most powerful means of sanctification."
Sophie also said to one RSCJ, "Ask especially that we may profit by the grace of the retreat which Jesus in his love is providing for us; retreats can produce such good results."
I hope and pray that mine is producing those good results!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Feast of St. Louis

Louis IX was not only a holy king, but one of the great kings of France. He had a reputation for fairness and integrity; he was kind, just, and merciful. He was also the devoted father of eleven children and a good husband. He reigned for 44 years.

I am from St. Louis, Missouri and love the bronze statue of St. Louis on horseback that sits in front of the Art Museum in Forest Park. I think it is still there. It overlooks the city and seemed to be protecting us. We lived only a few blocks from the park and the Art Museum was one of our favorite places. I am afraid that the mummies in the Egyptian room held more attraction for us than the paintings; we also found it a good place for hide-and-seek.

Besides being the feast of St. Louis, today is my Dad's birthday and I suspect he is still celebrating it in heaven with my mother and his own parents and five sisters and my brother, George. We always had a family party on the 25th with a big birthday cake; it was the last celebration of the summer. Now, school begins early and it will be the first day of class at the University today and I will be back at work after my wonderful summer. Because of my retreat I have a great desire to return and share God's love with all my co-workers and any students that I can help today.
The Communion antiphon is from Lamentations 3:25: "The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who are searching for his love."
We are all searching for his love! I am grateful that God is always loving us!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Your love is eternal...

The responsorial psalm for the Sunday liturgy is "Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands."
The psalm is one of gratitude and begins, "I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth...When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me."
One of the realizations in my retreat(we call them "lights" but it is really a deep, flashing insight that the Holy Spirit seems to infuse) is the need to count on the eternal love of Jesus who said that "As the Father loves me, so I love you." I seemed to grasp this truth at a new and deeper level and it 'blew my mind'. His love is eternal, without limits, without conditions, and He is all-powerful and the source of our strength. He is always with us, loving us as the Father loves Him!
The call, of course, is to love others with the same love that Jesus has for us: "Love one another as I have loved you."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thoughts from my retreat

Making a month's retreat is a special grace. My retreat was very peaceful and left me full of gratitude and joy. I loved using Cardinal Martini's "A Prophetic Voice in the City" and found his lectio divina on Jeremiah very helpful. The prophet Jeremiah is often compared to Jesus and so it was praying with both Jesus and Jeremiah and then applying to my own life some of the insights of Martini's meditations. There are some powerful symbols in Jerimiah such as the clay in the hands of the potter, the loincloth, symbol of the intimacy of the covenant relationship, the broken jug, etc. - I also went over my own vocation when Martini took the vocation of Jeremiah and asked the priests in Caracas to go over their own vocations. I found so many graces given to me in my life that I had to list some of them. The heart of the book of Jeremiah is found in Chapters 30-31 with the new covenant. In fact, Martini says that Jeremiah 31:31-34 is the most important passage in the entire Old Testament! I leave you to look it up! More tomorrow as we still have our new Superior General visiting with us in my community.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to Miami

I had a wonderful summer! I shall be telling you all about it, I think, for several blogs. First, the meeting of Religious of the Sacred Heart in higher education at the University of San Diego was a joyful gathering and a great exchange of ideas and plans to connect with other RSCJs in other countries to share research, publications, and educational developments. We found that we hardly know what we are doing here in the different Universities where we work; we want to know what we are doing also on an international level. The University of San Diego is beautiful and we still have a community in Founders Hall and several of our nuns are on the faculty there.
After the meeting, I had a lovely two days at Oakwood with all my friends. I then was driven down to the retreat house, Villa Maria del Mar, in Santa Cruz by two of our nuns. I stayed there from July 15-August 15. It is run by the Sisters of the Holy Names and is a place where I feel God's presence in a special way. I have been going out there for about eighteen years for my retreats. The month of prayer this year was special and I will be telling you more about it but will just give an overview of my summer today.
Just looking at the ocean is prayer for me and I love it even when it is foggy (most mornings were foggy and cloudy with the sun coming out around noon).
I came out of retreat at Mass on August 15th and then two more of my RSCJ friends came down and picked me up; one of them was celebrating her golden jubilee at an afternoon liturgy and wanted me to be present for it. I was glad to be there and take part in her ceremony. I stayed with her community in Redwood City and we drove up to Davis on Saturday to see one of my friends from Miami who has moved there. That was a good visit. On Sunday we drove to Novato to see a friend from St. Louis that I have known for over 60 years. She had one of my classmates come visit at the same time and took us all to the Country Club for lunch. The visit was too short, but we had to be back at Redwood City as school was beginning for the teachers the next day. I had some more time to visit our older religious at Oakwood and came home Wednesday night.
Two of my community picked me up at the airport and before we were really out it, the car just stopped. Well, we got out and sent the other cars around us and we waited for AAA to come tow us. It was quite an adventure as other cars kept stopping to talk and some to ask directions since the three of us were just standing there. After the tow truck arrived, we all squeezed into the cab of the truck with the driver and he brought us home!
It was a great summer, but I am very happy to be home now and will be at the University almost everyday next week to catch up. I will be back doing my daily blog and hope my retreat reflections will be helpful for all my dear readers.

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