This garden path is very inviting and takes me back to a dream I had last night. I was in a convent in a wooded, beautiful place and I was going to be making a retreat. I was thrilled to find out that it was a directed retreat with a former superior. I was really looking forward to direction with her when I woke up. So then I decided that the dream had a meaning beyond the one I could see about longing for direction. The problem is that my imagination is still working on that dream and I am less clear about it as the day goes on so will just let it rest until clarity comes. Yesterday I was swimming in the pool and found that a snake was also swimming with me. I am glad I did not dream about that. I was out of the pool so fast and then was quite relieved when another of my community came forward, fished the snake out with a pole and finally, after much pounding with the steel pole, managed to kill it. It was large and swam fast and I am going to look carefully at the pool before I venture in today. I seem not to have posted yesterday for some reason. I must have been lost in the Interior Castle.
The International Online Certificate Program is reading "The Interior Castle" for this Unit and following the footsteps of Teresa of Avila as they move through the interior castle. It is a wonderful image seeing our souls as castles. God is everywhere, but there are some rooms in my castle that overwhelm me with God's Presence. I am just wandering around sometimes and exploring; at other times God leads me into the room He wants to meet me in and, unlike Teresa, I often do not see any progression but just God following my desires. This would scare me except that I know my desires come from God. Yesterday was my niece's birthday and I ask prayers for her. She is going through a tough time and needs all the prayers possible. I also pray for her husband and her four children who range from just four to thirteen.
I was thinking of how wonderful a gift water is. We cannot live without it. We are made to need it; we have a natural thirst. Without water we die. But God has given us water in abundance in many places in our world. We have the oceans, the seas, the lakes, the lagoons, the rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, and spring fed pools; in Miami we have the bay and all the canals, too. Many homes in Miami also have a swimming pool because of our climate. I get into the pool almost every day and I am so filled with gratitude for this gift of water and the fact that I can immerse myself in it! I used to feel the same when I went out to the lake with my Dad on week ends; sometimes the entire family came, but sometimes it was too much to take my little brothers and so I would leave after an early Mass with my father for the lake. He was moonlighting by selling lake lots to all his friends (this was during World War II) and I would spend the day in the lake! Now, my prayer is often about the living water that Jesus gives us. But I am also aware that some are suffering today from an abundance of rain that has flooded cities and caused so much damage and loss of life as well as homes. I pray for them today.
Do you procrastinate? I do. I think I always have. I may be getting worse as I grow older. If I do not need to do it today, I will wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, I say the same thing. I need to set deadlines, write lists, and then play games with myself sometimes to get some things done. I find myself saying that I cannot go swimming until I have cleared my desk. That seems to work, but not when I say "until I iron the clothes" or "take my car for an oil change". I guess I find clearing my desk can be quick and easy compared to other chores. I am happy when I finally do stop my delaying tactics and just tackle the job needing to be done. Why then do I continue to delay? I want to blame it on human nature but think it may be the shadow side of me that really is not disciplined and inclined to be lazy when it comes to things I do not want to do. Now, I shall go and tackle the list on my desk. The sun is out and I do want to swim. Maybe the ironing will get done, but I am not so sure about that!!
The other night I taught a class to the new students in our formation program for Spiritual Directors. One of the topics I covered was what to say to a spiritual director as they are all required to have direction. I suggested that keeping a journal was helpful and talked about a special place at the back for dreams. I even told them how I am keeping a journal with four parts: daily prayer journal; review of the month; favorite quotations; and creative projects and dreamwork. I seldom remember a dream but this morning woke up with a vivid one. I was back at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles where I was a boarder in high school; I seemed to be in uniform but others were in habits and I also seemed to be in charge. I had a room to my own nearer to the study hall and the others were in a dorm farther away from my corridor. To have a room of my own made me feel good. I could see the desks in the study hall and knew that I was to give some talks on Scripture and was not prepared. There was a bit more to the dream that seemed symbolic but I woke up mostly feeling that I need to go back to reading Scripture every day. Yesterday I was again reading The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. Part 3 has five Christian Wisdom Practices: Centering Prayer Meditation; Lectio Divina; Chanting and Psalmody; Welcoming; and Eucharist. I stopped after reading the section on Lectio Divina and maybe that was a call to me that came in the dream. Being in St. Charles where I went to school could be explained by the fact that one of my community left early this morning for a meeting there and I wrote notes to go with her just before going to bed. The truth is that I think there was a lesson for me in that dream. I have told others that it is good to spend at least ten or fifteen minutes reading the Bible every day and some time ago I stopped doing this. I think we need to feed our souls with God's word and will start again to read Scripture daily, not just the day's liturgical readings, but go through a book or a letter. One of ours who loved Scripture told me that I should spend time reading from the Old Testament and from the New every day! Maybe the dream will get me doing this!
When I made my thirty day retreat at Eastern Point retreat house the sunrise was so spectacular that I was awake to watch it around four o'clock each morning. Lately, all my retreats have been made on the Pacific instead of the Atlantic and the sunsets are to be watched. On Wednesdays all the sailboats come out and parade around the bay in the early evening just before the sun sets. Am I a sunrise person or a sunset person? Both speak to me of God.
I hope the snow helps you to feel cool if you are living in a climate as hot and humid as Miami. I always think that September is the worst month as you think September will get cooler and it does not! I should be thankful that we have not had any hurricanes near Miami as this is also the worst month usually for hurricanes. The season for our hurricanes lasts until November 30 so we keep praying and watching the Atlantic storms.
I need to be at the University earlier than usual today so will just keep all my readers in prayer and hope you do the same for me. I am using the theme song from my teaching days at Clifton in Cincinnati: "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee; Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in thy love for me; Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, may thy kingdom come!
I am still using the book the Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault. I was looking at a section on the Mystical Body of Christ and came across this poem of Simeon the New Theologian who lived in the eleventh century. I was glad to meet this poem again and want to share it with you. We awaken in Christ's body as Christ awakens our bodies, and my poor hand is Christ. He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand, and wonderfully my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him (for God is indivisibly whole, seamless in his Godhood).
I move my foot, and at once He appears in a flash of lightning. Do my words seem blasphemous?--Then open your hear to Him
And let yourself receive the one who is opening to you so deeply. For if we genuinely love Him, We wake up inside Christ's body
Where all our body, all over, every most hidden part of it, is realized in joy as Him. And he makes us utterly real.
And everything that is hurt, everything that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful, maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged, is in him transformed
and recognized as whole, lovely, radiant in his light. We awaken as the Beloved in every last part of our body."
Worth a reflection! Cynthia has a note that she was first introduced to this poem by Father Curtis Almquist, SSJF and has continued to use the translation but has been unable to substantiate its source.
No time to write today, but here is a thought from a little book that I sometimes use mostly for the pictures for prayer. It is from Parables by the Sea by Pamela Reeve and someone gave it to me years ago when I was ill and found just looking at the pictures helped me to pray. She says in The Parable of the Shell that Jesus talks to her on the beach: "In this world you had no choice in your pattern (she had been contemplating the different patterns of the shells on the beach). You did not choose the era of birth, your country, family, social status. You did not choose your form, abilities, limitations. These I choose. But you are choosing your heavenly pattern. You will be rewarded or suffer loss as you invest the gifts and talents I have given you. Enough to reflect on today.
This morning I went to look for something I wanted to put into the blog about Devotion to the Sacred Heart and found that I could not remember where the quote was so I am going with another thought that the Heart of Christ is the symbol of God's love for us and that God loves each of us personally. I am reviewing the history of the Devotion for another project and again came across the exchange of hearts that the mystics so often experienced. Ignatius would agree with the concept of exchange - my heart so full of selfish love for God's Heart, full of true love, His generosity for my lack, etc. Anyway, I came across the idea of transparency yesterday twice in my readings and find that the Holy Spirit is pursuing the idea of being transparent with God, with myself, and with others.
Today is sunny and so I was in the pool early, but also caught up with e-mail and computer work. Now I am just going to have some fun time and maybe curl up with a good book. It is God's day and what a gift! I love the sense of leisure that comes every Sunday. I think God told us to keep holy the sabbath because human beings need to rest; we all tend to overwork, to rush around, to feel busy amid noise and hurry. What we all really need is some quiet time, some silence, some slowing down. I know some like a Sunday nap, but I prefer to read. Then we have community prayer at six and pick up supper afterwards. At home, we always had a big Sunday breakfast and then a roast dinner around four or five and my grandfather and great aunt and uncle would come for dinner. This, of course, was after my brother was born in 1941 when the war with gas rationing made it impossible to continue to go to my paternal grandmother's. She always had all six of her children present every Sunday evening until World War II. She was a real Irish matriarch!
I woke up this morning so glad that it is Saturday and that I have Sunday tomorrow and both days are free. I know that many do not have a week end free and so I am feeling so grateful. Of course there are many things that must be done today including some preparation for Monday nigh when I am teaching about Spiritual Direction, how to find a good spiritual director (not easy) and how to prepare, set up a contract, and profit from this privileged opportunity. The students in the training Program founded by me in 1987 all are required to have a spiritual director so they are usually interested in what I have to say and I give stories from my own experience so I just need to recall some of these and update my PowerPoint. I also need to return library books and do some ironing but I am free to just do these tasks at my convenience today. It is a real gift and I hope you have it, too.
I am still on my laptop at home but want to share what I prayed over this morning. I opened to the office in Magnificat and the reading was from Zephaniah 3 and I liked especially Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord your God is in you midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfulluy because of you,...
And then I was struck by the images in the three intercessions: You are the potter and we the clay:
You are the shepherd and we the flock: seek out those who have strayed from your ways.
You are the host and we the guests at your table: -feed the hungry of spirit with the bread of your loving forgiveness.
I have just come from the beautiful liturgy in our overflowing Chapel where we again invoke the Holy Spirit on this new academic year. Our atheletes were blessed and the student officers all received pins during the liturgy. Then I spent an hour telling our faculty how to design online courses. Now they want me to write it up and also to give them another session in the computer lab. I am glad to pass on my experience. However, I am not going to take time to prepare for the next session as I need to begin other projects. Our computer was taken to be looked at on Monday and is still not returned so it has been a stange week. I am keeping up with my online course and reading e-mail but my laptop is so slow! Time now for the faculty faith-sharing group.
One of my community took our computer to be looked at on Monday and it is not back yet so I did not write yesterday, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows; today I am trying with my laptop as I wanted to share a thought from the conference given for the opening of my Probation (five month contemplative period at the Motherhouse in Rome before my final profession); we began on this feast in 1959 and the miracle is not just that I still have the conference, but that I found it to pray over just before the feast! The other astonishing thing for me was that Reverend Mother de Valon said that there were three dispositions needed to make a good probation: a transparent soul; a determined will; and a filial heart. If you remember I shared my light for this year, even to posting a poem, about the call to be transparent. I think it was at the end of December and I have tried to be transparent for God, self, and others this year. Now I realize that I was being called to this back in 1959!! Here is a quote from the conference: What is a transparent soul? It is a soul open to the light. This light will be given you by Our Lord in you hours of prayer, recollection, reflection; you will also be given some direction that you will receive with a heart both simple and docile...Always tend to transparency; it is the sign of a balanced soul accustomed to live under the sight of God. The translation from the French is mine and I think I like integrated being instead of the more literal "balanced soul" but I feel that Our Lady was and is speaking to me about transparency fifty years after this conference. The conference is very strong and ask that the wounds of Christ be imprinted in us. It ends by telling us that the world has need of us to pass on the love we have received from Jesus. May the Mother of Sorrows teach us to contemplate the Source of this love and to draw forth and pour out this love for souls.
I just read this quote and must share it. The glory of God “is The fire of love dazzling in the heart of God and radiantly mirrored in all created beings. God’s glory . . lives in human beings.” Do you like it? I have a great prayer from Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits edited by Michael Harter, S.J. and is a revised edition published by Loyola Press in 2004. This one is a gift and much appreciated as I gave my old one away years ago. I want to share a prayer by Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. (now a retired Cardinal who is still a great biblical scholar and author). As many of my International Online Certificate Program students are also making St. Ignatius' Retreat in Daily Life, this is a prayer for the beginning of a retreat. Lord Jesus Christ, present here, we thank You for the glory of your resurrection; we thank You for having called us together here; we thank You because You praise the Father perfectly in us. We thank you because You, in us, are perfect justice toward our brothers and sisters; it is You in us who cintinually heal our injustice, our mistrust, our fear. We thank You, Lord Jesus, for your great glory and we offer you what we are about to undertake, everything we think, do, and experience during these coming days in your honor and because of You....Grant that, weary and tired as we are, we may begin this retreat in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
These mountains are in Hawaii but are so beautiful. I think I try to put a picture that might help to contemplate even when I do not know what I am going to share in my blog. I guess I must start with the question that Jesus asks in today's Gospel: "But who do you say that I am?" Each of us must answer that for oneself and I suspect that it may be a slightly different answer each time we hear Jesus asking us that question. For me now, at this moment in my life, Jesus is both lover and friend, an intimate companion who loves me and is with me in all. I have been reading the Gospels with a sense that Jesus is really so human and his Heart is asking for our love. Yesterday I went with one of my community to a Mass for all the Religious of the Archdiocese. Afterwards I happened to end up at a table with two Sisters, both of whom I had directed. It is wonderful to see how God works in others.
I woke up early feeling so happy. I was having a dream and in it a woman who I did not know seemed to be giving me spiritual direction. She was pointing out to me the importance of remembering all the graces God has given me throughout my life, the peak experiences, as that gives glory to God and makes me feel happy and grateful. I think it might have been my Guardian Angel as she seemed to know all the things God has done for me. The joy is still with me so I pass this on to you. We all have special moments, God moments, so let us recall them today and thank God for each of them.
Yesterday was the dedication of our new building at St. Thomas University. It is called the the Fernandez Family Center for Wellness and Leadership. Our Archbishop came for the blessing and spoke beautifully about the need for relaxation and rest. The gym was filled with students, faculty, alums, and friends and each of our sport teams came out on the floor in uniform at the end and led cheers. Then there was a festive lunch for all and then the rain. We had rain most of the afternoon but there was a faculty-student basketball game and then a faculty-student volley-ball game. I had to come home to see someone for spiritual direction and then we had our first Reflection Group meeting of the year. I realized this morning that I did not write a blog yesterday so you are getting a longer one today as I did promise to finish the life of Mother Hardey, a great American pioneer that is not known by many outside of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The General Council of 1841 did not take place as the Archbishop of Paris forbad having it outside of Paris. Father Joseph Barelle, S.J. gave the delegates a retreat that was a turning point in the life of Aloysia Hardey. He continued to direct her by letter. On October 12, 1842, Aloysia set sail for America; she arrived in New York only on November 18 and four days later set out with a small band for McSherrystown in Pennsylvania. This foundation soon received the novices from Florissant, but after the death of several nuns and students, the house was closed in 1846, but again tried in 1848-1852 when it was closed for good. Actually, Mother Hardey only was there for less than a month as we find her back in New York as Superior of the house on Houston Street by December 11. The house was too small for the boarding school and day school so another property was found and the boarding school opened at Astoria. By the Spring of 1844, Aloysia was charged with all the houses in the East; Mother Cutts, an Englishwoman, had the houses in the Mississippi Valley. At the General Council of 1851 both were given the title of vice-vicar. By this time there were ten houses in the East with Canada under Mother Hardey, and there were seven in the West.
This picture speaks to me. I like to draw mandalas in the sand; mandalas are sacred circles like Rose Windows. I also like to make mandalas with magazine pictures. The trick is to let the pictures seize you as you flip through old magazines. When you have torn out enough pictures that either attract you or have made you stop to look because they caught your attention in some way, then spread out your pictures and take time to contemplate what lies before you. After a while, you begin to move the pictures around, looking perhaps for some pattern. It may be that all reflect whatever symbol you want to have at the center of your mandala. You may find that your pictures seem to fall into four sections, perhaps four seasons of your life; they may tell a story of going out and returning, the hero's journey. Sometimes you see two parts; one may be your outer life and the other your inner life. Something will happen if you stay contemplating your pictures. Then you want to cut them so that you can fit them into a circle cut from poster board. You may find yourself pasting over, discarding, changing your original layout, etc. Finally, you have covered you poster board circle with pictures pasted firmly in place. Now place it where you see it often and continue to contemplate it for a few days. If you can then share with a friend or spiritual director, you will find that you have discovered a great deal about yourself in making the mandala! Try it and see!
I am trying to find some lovely, calming pictures to post each day as this is such a busy time of the year; it is helpful just to sit and look at nature's beauty and be grateful that God made all in color!
I love college football and was up until midnight last night to watch the University of Miami play Florida State. It was really an exciting game and Miami won only because the last pass was not completed and time ran out. The lead kept changing back and forth and the 81,000 plus audience all were there until the end; I was home watching the game with maybe another 80,000 or more. I do not often have the time to stay for an entire game, but football seems to be an addiction for some. My brother watches all the games he possibly can, both professional football and college so my sister-in-law is one of those football widows on week ends. During the season the men will not agree to go anywhere while a football game is being played.
Sometimes it is good to reflect on the spiritual lessons learned from the game! I have done this and found fruit, but I am off to the University now and thank my readers for having patience with my spur of the moment blogs.
I was given a lovely book by John O'Donohue by a delightful friend I made in Scotland. She directs a Spirituality Center there in Perthshire and is a Religious of the Sacred Heart. I was both surprised and touched to receive this gift. The name of the book is Benedictus: A Book of Blessings (Bantam Press: 2007) I am going to quote the page I opened to first of all and I seem to be drawn back to this page even while enjoying many others.
May you be blessed with good friends, And learn to be a good friend to yourself, Journeying to that place in your soul where There is love, warmth and feeling. May this change you.
May it transfigure what is negative, distant Or cold within your heart.
May you be brought in to real passion, kindness And belonging.
May you treasure your friends. May you be good to them, be there for them And receiving all the challenges, truth and light you need.
May you never be isolated by know the embrace Of your Anam Cara.
I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday. I think it means so much as we are just back in school and it seems to be the end of summer. I was in the pool before the rain came this morning. Now the sun is out but I need to do some work. It is wonderful to see how cleared out our house looks. It is going to inspire me to do another clearing out of every drawer in my room. I did this just a couple of months ago, but I know that I still have more than I need. My projects such as organizing pictures and recipes are still just projects but I think we need to celebrate Labor Day in a contemplative mood. The picture helps me to sink into prayer.
I am late posting but we have been having meetings, clearing out, going through the house and yard to see what needs attention, etc. Therefore, I really had to let the blog go and enjoy the Labor Day week end with my community. I did the prayer on Saturday and then we took time to just share with each other.
I have given details about the young life of Mother Hardey. Now I hope to just outline the highpoints of her life as she did so much that I just need to condense it all. Her first vows were advanced seven months to March 15, 1927. At the age of seventeen whe was acting as Mistress General of the school that had more than fifty children. By age twenty-three, she was not only Mistress General but Assistant Superior and Treasurer. By 1836 she was superior at St. Michael's and there were two hundred students, thirty religious in the community, a novitiate and some orphans.
After the General Council in 1839, Elizabeth Galitzin was appointed Assistant General and sent to visit the American houses. She arrived in New York and promised Bishop Hughes that the Society of the Sacred Heart would open a house in New York. In May of 1841, the first Religious arrived to look for a house. Mother Hardey was to be Mistress General. The school opened on August 3. By May of 1842, Mother Hardey was on her way to Europe, the first of 19 crossings, with Mother Galitzin to attend a General Council. She was only 30 years old!!
Father de la Croix who had given up his lodging before when Mother Duchesne and her first companions moved to Florissant near St. Louis, was again moving out of the rectory of his parish. He begged for the Religious of the Sacred Heart to come. He was given the Church in 1823 and took up a collection among his parishioners and even among priest of other Parishes to make this foundation possible. Within a few weeks he had amassed a small fortune. Mother Duchesne was won over but begged that Mother Eugenie Aude would be sent as superior. So the seven foundresses set out only to find that their new home was not yet ready for them. There were three novices, two coadjutrix sisters, and Mother Hamilton and Eugenie Aude and Father de la Croix presented them at Mass on the Feast of All Saints. They were asked to sing the Mass and did so. They moved into their new home three weeks later. It was of colonial style but rather bare inside. They mostly lived on rice and milk the first month and did not own seven plates.
Having entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, Mary Ann, soon to be Aloysia, gave herself completely to God. At one point, shortly after leaving home, her old Mammy appeared and tried to get her to come home saying that her father was ill, was dying, and was calling for her. She was dumb with grief but shook her head to all of her old slave's pleadings to come home. However, when alone she was tempted to run after the wagon and go home to see her father. She went almost a mile before she remembered that she had not prayed. When she stopped to pray, the will of God turned her back to the Convent where she told the superior all that had happened. One of the slaves was sent to inquire after Mr. Hardey and returned saying that he was in his usual good health. On October 22, 1825, Mary Ann took the habit in a ceremony witnessed by a crowd of Hardeys and Smiths as well as numerous friends and the children of the school. At the ceremony Mr. Hardey seemed to be proud of his daughter so when he learned that she had been chosen to be one of the foundresses of the new Convent at St. Michael's, he offered to send an ox-cart to take the Religious to the boat. They left at two in the morning and would have three sleepless nights before arriving safely at St. Michael's which was on the river near New Orleans.
I was going to continue with the life of Mother Hardey, but I am off to the University. I need to get rid of two file cabinets today as they are taking up too much space in my office (I still have two more!!) - Clearing out papers is one thing I hate to do and yet cannot just throw away without looking at what I am throwing out. Still, I have not used anything in those file cabinets for over a year! Pray that I can be strong and just keep pitching! The men are scheduled to move them today but I just found out last night at the end of our two hour staff meeting so felt that I needed to leave at 5:30 to be home with my community and just go in today!! So this is the only blog you are getting. To end with a spiritual note: Mother Hardey spent her prayer time with the phrase, "Behold this Heart..." We will never get tired of contemplating the Heart of Jesus and His great love for each of us.
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.