Saturday, October 31, 2009
Happy Halloween! Today is the eve of all saints and we put our clocks back tonight. I love the Feast of All Saints and will spend time remembering my favorite friends in heaven - many were mystics, but ordinary mystics and that is our vocation, too!
Something made me pick up a book this morning, When the Lion Roars: A primer for the unsuspecting mystic by Stephen J. Rossetti. I have had this book but thought today that I needed to go back to it and share a few thoughts with my readers. He begins by saying that: A Christian mystic is first of all a Christian, but what is implicit in the Christian life becomes, in the mystic, explicit."
A mystic is "one who is fully alive in a vibrant relationship with God." We are all called to this intimacy.
Rossetti says that the best approach to mysticism is a "reverent silence. To stand before God, and in God, stuns the soul into silence." I guess I am asking myself about the last time I was stunned into silence. However, I do believe that we are called today to be mystics; we are all called to experience God in our daily lives and are blessed often by direct, intimate, immediate intervention of God. We need eyes to see, to thank, and realize that God is here with us now!
Friday, October 30, 2009
I spent the first morning of my visit at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri where Philippine Duchesne founded the first convent of the Sacred Heart in America. Now her tomb is in the shrine next to the convent and I prayed there for all. Later I will share more of my week in St. Louis, but today I want to post a morning prayer sent to me by a dear friend and faithful reader:
I watch this morning
for the light that the darkness has not overcome.
I watch for the fire that was in the beginning
and that burns still in the brilliance of the rising sun.
I watch for your light, O God,
in the eyes of every living creature
and in the ever-living flame of my own soul.
If the grace of seeing were mine this day
I would glimpse you in all that lives.
Grant me the grace of seeing this day.
Grant me the grace of seeing.
-J Philip Newell in Celtic Benediction
I also have another gem to share. I copied this from a sampler framed in the kitchen of a friend. Her husband is over 90 and this sampler was made by his great grandmother! I like what it says.
"There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly behooves
Any of us to talk about
the rest of us."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Today I leave for a week in St. Louis to visit friends and to have some time away from the computer - that is relative though as I will still be checking the online course and e-mail, but still it is time away and that is usually very fruitful for both time to reflect and to deepen relationships. I will be back on the blog next week so all my readers are on vacation, too.
I found yesterday's article on Mater by "googling" (this word is not in the computer's dictionary) and feel it is not too accurate, but will let it go for now. I just feel that Mater is so important in the lives of so many Sacred Heart alums all over the world that I want to make her known to others, too. I keep a picture of her on my desk at the University and love talking about her as she is a model for students. I guess I have her in front of me when I pray at home and another image of Mater is also on my desk at home. She leads us to Jesus.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Here is the whole story and copied from Google!
Miraculous fresco Mater Admirabilis, Mother Most Admirable
Rome, Italy 1828 - It was St. Francis of Paula who during the fifteenth century founded a monastery known as Trinita dei Monti. In 1828 the monastery was going to be abandoned. Pope Leo XII expressed the desire that it should be offered to the religious of the Sacred Heart. In 1828, Trinita dei Monti was offered to the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Since then the monastery, which is located in Rome near the Spanish steps, has become a center for the Religious of the Sacred Heart and all others visiting the shrine of Mater Admirabilis.
The story of the fresco of Mater Admirabilis is in 1844, a young French girl, Pauline Perdrau who later became a Religious of the Sacred Heart expressed to Reverend Mother Coriolis, Superior of the house, a desire to paint Our Lady in a niche located along a corridor that opened on the cloister. The Mother Superior was hesitant. While she knew the talent of the youthful artist, she also knew her ignorance of fresco techniques.
Pauline Perdrau prayed to Mother Mary for strength, and in spite of resistance from the Mother Superior, Pauline Perdrau persisted and finally was granted permission. She gave herself wholeheartedly to the task, spending six or seven hours each day for months preparing the surface of the wall and finally painting the likeness of Mary.
When the painting was completed, the wet paint was thought to be too vivid and was left to dry under a protective drape. When the curtain was removed some days later, the paint appeared in the lovely shades that are admired today. Pauline Perdrau thought it to be a miracle.
On October 20, 1846, Pope Pius IX visited the Monastery of Trinita dei Monti. While on tour, he asked what was hidden behind the curtain. Pulling back the curtain to the surprise of all, there was the most beautiful fresco of Mary, the painting of Pauline Perdrau. The Pope exclaimed Mater Admirabilis!, thus giving her the title that she bears to this day.
Word spread quickly of the beautiful fresco of Mater Admirabilis meaning Mother Most Admirable. Miracles began to happen in November of that same year. Father Blampain, a missionary of the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary, was given the power of speech which he had completely lost. Pilgrims in ever increasing numbers came to kneel at the feet of the Madonna and to pray for grace. The grace that seems to be a special gift of Mater Admirabilis is an invitation to interior life.
Pope Pius IX gave permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass before the miraculous picture. So evolved the Celebration of the Feast of Mater Admirabilis on October 20th. Among the innumerable priests and pilgrims of all nations who have come to the Shrine of Mater Admirabilis, one remembers especially the Saints who have prayed there: Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.
The image is meant to portray a teenage Mary at the temple of Jerusalem getting ready for her sublime future mission. Her pureness is represented by the traditional white lily, her toil by the spindle she is holding whereas the book on her sewing basket stands for her education, and her thoughtful look and the peaceful landscape behind her for the leading role of praying in life. The Most Admirable Mother is the Patroness of everyone in search of a profound spiritual life and a deeper faith.
Mater Admirabilis, Mother Most Admirable is the name bestowed upon this portrait of Our Lady by Pope PiusIX in 1846. Prior to that time it had been known as "The Madonna of the Lily", the lily symbolizing Our Lady's purity.
Trinita dei Monti, the monastery which is home to Mater Admirabili also the location of a vision of Jesus to Josefa Menendez.
More details on the Church's architecture and a virtual tour through it can be found at their official website.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I keep asking myself this question - what does God think of our world? I read the paper and see so much destruction, wars, fighting, people killing one another not only in other parts but on the streets in my own city! Yet, at the same time, there is beauty, there are people helping people...we see both so God does, too. But still, I keep asking myself, "What does God think of our world?"
He made it; He loves it; He has more patience than I do and sees what is in the future. My part in this reflection on the world today is to pray, to love, to try to help in the ways I can. Again, peace begins with each of us. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Today is Sunday and two days before the Feast of Mater, but it seems as if she would like me to copy here the little prayer-meditation that was given us yesterday at the Mass in her honor. It was truly an international gathering and many of us wore pink in honor of Mater. I always remember the pink cupcakes on her feast when a child at school.
Under the pressure of over-activity which at times consumes us, disturbs us, or scatters our energies in doing what is visible and accidental, let us come to Mater.
She is the Mother of the Invisible and the Mother of the Essential. Let us ask her to detach us, to free us from all that is not important, to lead us on, and to fix our gaze upon the Invisible which her own eyes look upon.
May she give us the right understanding of the Essential and a hunger for it. One thing alone is necessary, the will of God and the work of God's love. May Mater give us this singleness of vision so that we, too, may see the Invisible and the Essential in all. Amen.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
We celebrate the Feast of Mater on October 20, but Saturday the alums will have a Mass in her honor. The image of Mater is one of Our Lady as a young girl dressed in pink and seated with her work-basket at her side with an open book, but she has downcast eyes and seems to be deep in contemplation. All of our schools in all parts of the world have statues of Mater or pictures and often a special chapel in her honor. The original fresco is on the wall at the convent at the top of the famous Spanish Steps in Rome. It was painted by Pauline Pedreau, soon to be a Religious of the Sacred Heart; she painted the original in 1844. When I went to high school in 1944 at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, we had a centenary celebration and I was chosen to be Mater. I learned to love her and remember how we confided everything to her - success in our studies and games, even putting the basketball in her lap or laying our hockey sticks in front of her before games. Then, when I had the grace of being sacristan for her in Rome for several months, I really felt her presence. There is an altar in front of the picture now and priests come to say Mass there as she has worked miracles. Don't go to Rome without visiting her!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Before I began my talk at the International Conference on Spirituality, I gave a contemporary reading of what three of our Religious thought was our spirituality. They said that the Society of the Sacred Heart "dedicates itself to the glory of God through its members who are engaged in personal transformation of heart into the Heart of Jesus Christ." This captures both our end and our mission.
They stated that "the essential transmission of this work of the Spirit is through education according to the needs of persons throughout the world. It is transforming and creative effort towards forming human unity and universality into the Whole Christ." Becoming ever more deeply rooted in our own charism, we know that an aspect of our call today is to diversity--an openness to other religions, nationalities, cultures and mentalities, working in a spirit of increasing collaboration and reciprocity among ourselves and with others. For this, we need to educate ourselves to a more informed and reflective consciousness. It is through the fruitfulness of our contemplation that a change in our way of seeing takes place. A continually changing world view affects our life and our understanding of mission, community, and religious experience...the entrance from one world view to another is a sort of conversion experience and cannot be forced.
That is enough to reflect upon today.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Today is a day when you can read a thousand blogs all calling for climate change or at least begging help for the environment. I hope my readers will sign the petition, if you have not yet done so.
Senators Kerry and Boxer have introduced a climate bill that protects the EPA, a bold step that deserves to be commended. But Big Coal and Big Oil will stop at nothing to strangle the EPA, and maintain the status quo, where polluters escape regulation and our planet pays the price.
An all out assault on a strong EPA is likely in the works. Big Coal was able to strip the power of EPA to regulate CO2 in the House bill; you can bet it will stop at nothing to take away EPA regulatory power in the Senate.
I just signed a petition to ask my senator to commit to a strong, meaningful climate bill. I hope you will, too. Please have a look and take action.
I just came across a paper that I had written for an international conference of Religious of the Sacred Heart held in Joigny, France, in 2004. Since the ideas still seem to resonate with me, I shall risk sharing a bit with you.
We are women consecrated to the Heart of Jesus; women who are loved and who love; women who both receive love and give love, not just our own love but the love of God.
We are a community of women following Jesus who came that all might have life in abundance. As women of prayer, we radiate His peace. Contemplating His Heart, we learn to be women of communion, women of compassion. Called to be God's Heart on earth, we are concerned about our world. It is the pierced Heart of Christ present in suffering humanity that calls us to respond. We reach out to others - as educators, as women engaged in diverse ministries, wherever we find ourselves- to give the love we have drawn from the Heart of Jesus. As His Heart is open for all, so our hearts are open to embrace the pain of our world. Hearts pierced by love let it flow forth freely to all in need."
More will follow as I will be going away for a week and want to be able to schedule ahead to keep the daily blog going.
I look at this picture and see myself as the stream, a stream of living water. I am trying to write to all who made their final profession with me on February 8, 1960 so that we can begin a spiritual preparation from October 20, the Feast of Mater, to May when seven of us plan to gather at our retirement house in California. Maybe others will be able to join us but I had a light at the end of my retreat. It is hard to put into words, but when seven of the disciples went out to fish, Jesus came and not only prepared breakfast for them but gave them a miraculous catch of fish. I hope that we can pray for vocations and the Lord will give us a miraculous catch for our Golden Jubilee. Beginning on Mater's feast we will all be praying for each other as well as for vocations to replace us as none of us is getting younger!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This picture continues to fascinate me. I think it has a message for me. I am to be a bridge between people; I am also to bridge two worlds that are in me. Then there is the bridge of crossing into the unknown, the bridge of union between God and me, the bridge that unites two sides and leads to peace...I am sure there are many other bridges in our lives but the point of a bridge is to unite and so it is an important symbol for all of us.
I have been pondering two quotes from our community prayer on Sunday; both are from the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart and I am going to share them here as I think they are both worth some reflection:
#14 "Of its nature, our service of education means creating community among ourselves and with others. It asks of us generous commitment, serious on-going formation and a broad critical vision of the world enlightened by faith."
I think the creating community is so important among ourselves and with others. I also think it does ask of us a generous commitment; am I really committed to a serious on-going formation?
#70 "To live the charism of St. Madeleine Sophie, as it is expressed in our constitutions, requires a formation that is at once strong, dynamic and continuous. This formation takes place in the light of faith, and it is rooted in our everyday experience and carried on through a network of relationships."
The bridge symbol helps me to think of building community and continuing my formation through relationships.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Here are some wisdom sayings from our newest saint, Damien, who was a hero of mine when I read about his work with the lepers as a child. I took these from the blog of Kim King who is another RSCJ. Kim is now in Chile and working at the school I helped begin in Renaca and where I was the first Head of the School as we had to build out there after the earthquake of 1965 had destroyed our convent and school.
1. I will fight without ceasing and without discouragement because I believe God is always with me, giving me a hand.
2. I will struggle without fear or rest to build up the reign of God here on earth...but I constantly dream of the radical new world God has promised: heaven.
3. I will always propose giving priority to those who are weaker, those who have been abandoned, and those who are marginalized.
4. I want to be the voice of those who have no voice.
5. I will not find the beauty of a person on the exterior, but rather the interior.
6. I will not judge, nor condemn, nor exclude anyone...from this will come my strength to understand and tend to others.
7. Like Jesus, I want to live my life totally without self-interest, because the one who loses their life for another will be saved in the next.
8. To find the strength to love those excluded, I daily turn to Jesus, looking in his heart for the ardent fountain of divine love.
9. What I fear in life is not poverty, nor sickness nor struggle, but rather the absence of faith, love, and hope.
10. Though the work may be hard and draining, though illness may invade my body, I am the happiest person in the world.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The computer allows us to contemplate beauty in nature without moving from our chair! I am finding that I can sink into prayer easier these days with a picture than with a thought. I guess the picture conveys the thought of God - I remember asking a very holy and wise Religious when I was still a novice why, if God is all and everything else is nothing, did I need anything else? That phrase seems to be all I needed then and now, but the trouble is that life complicates what seems so simple. I guess it is human nature to forget the essentials and get mixed up in the day by day concerns and yet it is simple to go back and realize that God is all and everything else is nothing!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I am so happy that our president was given the Noble Peace Prize and I hope we can really now merit it. He is just beginning and we need to do so much to work for peace, but this is a sign of hope for all of us.
I was struck years ago by a thought in a retreat that peace begins with me and that we can only expect to give peace in proportion to the peace inside each of us. I think this was worded differently but the ideal is that the reign of God will come when it is firmly established in each of us.
I loved the line in today's Gospel that Jesus looked on the young man and loved him. Yet, because the young man was attached to all his possessions, the love Jesus had for him did not prevent him from going away sad.
Let us realize that the love Jesus has for each of us is powerful enough to take away all other desires and let us follow him with a whole heart. Then we will be at peace and be able to create peace around us.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Cynthia Bourgeault, in speaking of the parable of the prodigal son, say that the older brother's reaction is a "textbook example of the egoic operating system at work. Through him, Jesus is asking us to look closely at that part in each one of us that insists on keeping score, that can't let go into the generosity and the blessedness."
She notes that the older son who remains alone, outside and refusing to join the party because he feels slighted is a "vivid symbol of the way the egoic operating system holds us back from joining the dance of Divine Mercy in full swing all around us. If we're stuck in the ego, we can't hear the music. She ends by asking us to see if we can discover where all three of the characters- older son, younger son, and father- live within us and what part each plays in your own life. Enough to reflect on for today! And probably for a great deal longer!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Last night we had our reflection group. I began this group about twelve or fourteen years ago and, although the people change, we continue to be about fifteen and we begin with dinner and then prayer and sharing that is based on a chapter in a book but often takes a different direction. We have been using Margaret Silf's Inner Compass and last night the Chapter was on detachment. I loved the metaphors Margaret presents from ice-skating to standing on a stepping stone in the middle of a river. The stepping stone is all one can see until God places the next stone in front of us. She says that we have left our little stone home on the riverbank and we are out there taking one step at a time. When we look back we see that God is taking the stones from our home one by one to place them in front of us so that we continue to go forward; we cannot go back as God has demolished the house to find the stepping stones for us. I think I can relate to this in my own spiritual life. We really cannot go back but only forward by trusting God to provide the next stone to step on in the river of life.
My faculty faith-sharing group that meets every Thursday afternoon to pray and discuss the coming Sunday's Gospel was also all about detachment since the Gospel is about the young man who comes to Jesus to ask what he needs to do to attain eternal life. Jesus looked at him and loved him. However, the young man's face fell when Jesus told him to go sell all that he had and follow him; the young man went away sad. Then Jesus looked at his disciples and told them how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom but he added these consoling words "but nothing is impossible for God." This is the foundation for our trust as we wait for the next stepping stone to cross the river.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Children are so wonderful. I think that the joy of children is contagious. It is worth catching joy from a child, an older person, anyone! I think of holy people I have known and the virtue of joy stands out. I think all of them had a great sense of humor and I am sure that Jesus has one, too.
The homily today was about how much God loves us, but sometimes we feel that we pray and do not get what we ask for and maybe God is not listening. He is and He loves us but He knows what is best. We only see the rough side of the tapestry but after this life we will see the beautiful design on the other side that God has been helping us to weave on our spiritual journey.
In the book The Wisdom Jesus that I mentioned before, Cynthia Bourgeault offers a computer metaphor: "we human beings come into existence with a certain operating system already installed in us. We can make the choice to upgrade." Then she goes on to explain that the system already installed in us is a binary operating system. It runs on the power of "either/or" - some would call it the ego but Cynthia calls it the egic operating system. It is really a way of "making sense of the world by dividing the field into subject and object...and one of the most important tasks of early childhood is to learn how to run the operating system." There is another operating system of the heart. Rather than dividing and conquering, it "connects with a seamless and indivisible reality through a whole different way of organizing the informational field. And it is ours for the choosing." She tells us that the heart is primarity an organ of spiritual perception in the wisdom tradition.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I have just decided that the computer is competing for my life! Since I only teach online, I spend hours sitting at the computer; besides my course, there are home e-mails and University e-mails (more numerous everyday but I read them all so I know what is going on) and then there are websites that need to be checked out and now facebook. The secret is to limit the time seated in front of a machine. I must confess that I have not yet succeeded in doing this and even find myself playing computer games to clear my head before finally getting off and then on with my life. It is rather odd to realize that I have almost become entrapped by a computer! As of today, I shall set a limit on what I can do each day on a computer. My daily blog does not take more than a few minutes, but e-mail and my course eat up the whole morning! I think I need to really be serious about cutting back on computer time and I am announcing this today as I feel that the machine is competing with me to take away time that should be spent in doing other things. We all have 24 hours in a day, but I am going to be the boss when it comes to my computer work. Why do I keep feeling controlled by a machine that I can walk away from with will power?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I am going to tell you a bit about a book I have just finished reading and intend to read most of it again. It is Cynthia Bourgeault's The Wisdom Jesus The subtitle is "Transforming Heart and Mind--a New Perspective on Christ and His Message" and was published last year by Shambhala. The first part in about the teachings of Jesus. The second part talks about the Mysteries of Jesus. The third part is about five Christian Wisdom Practices. I would like to write a review of the book, but it really is one that needs to be read again. I am conscious that I found a new perspective in this book and so think some of my readers may also enjoy it. I suspect I will write more on it later.
I also want to mention a series of lectures given at Duquesne University that can be found online at www.duq.edu/holy-spirit and the five are all given by great authors and theologians. The last, by Sandra Schneiders, I was sent in booklet form and I really would tell every theologian and biblical scholar to read it and think that anyone would like it as Sandra is very clear and has skill in developing her thought so she is easy to follow, but this gave me some new insights so I want to pass on the opportunity of another good online site.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I have been reading Robert Morneau lately and today thought I would mention some of his books and then share a poem he has on joy and a prayer from his book A New Heart: Eleven Qualities of Holiness written in 2008 and published by Orbis. The eleven virtues are elaborated below and the first four are to be found in Markings by Dag Hammarskjold; Bishop Morneau added the other seven to make this prayer:
Give me a pure heart that I may see Thee,
a humble heart, that I may hear Thee,
a heart of love, that I may serve Thee,
a heart of faith, that I may abide in Thee,
a heart of courage, that I may follow Thee,
a heart of joy, that I may sing with Thee,
a heart of praise, that I may adore Thee,
a heart of gratitude, that I may thank Thee,
a heart of kindness, that I may emulate Thee,
a heart of hospitality, that I may welcome Thee,
a heart of hope, that I may trust in Thee.
His book develops each as eleven qualities of holiness with a week's worth of reflections for each. Here is the poem that begins the reflection week on joy:
It's like the wind
blowing now here, now there,
wherever people care,
where the right thing is done
in the right way.
It's like sunshine,
falling on every flower, every atom
so that petals open and expand
and every atom dances, doing handstands.
It's like an infant's smile,
tickled into laughter,
hugged into life,
wrapped in the warmth of a grandma's arms.
Joy is like, well, like
a love letter carried next to the heart.
Other books by Robert Morneau are listed on the side under Spiritual Reading; he writes simply and clearly and from experience. The books I have in front of me now are Paths to Prayer; Growing in Joy: 31 Meditations for a life in abundance; Spiritual Direction: Principles and Practices. I think an earlier blog talked of other books by the Auxiliary Bishop of Green Bay Wisconsin.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Children are so precious and have so much to teach us! I often watch children being taken out for a walk by a grandparent and there is such mutual love between them; the grandparent is so caring and loving and the child so happy and trusting. It is a meditation just to watch them. It also is sad to see today so many children without loving parents; so many are being shifted from one foster home to another. I think we need to pray that every child will meet someone who loves them. How will they get to know how much God loves them if they do not experience human love here?
I am trying to do too much today so this will be my only reflection, I think. Jesus told us to become as a little child. He wants us to trust, to feel loved, to be happy! St. Madeleine Sophie said that she would have founded the Society of the Sacred Heart for the sake of one child!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I am happy that we will be having the Sunday Liturgy here today in our house. There is something so special about a home liturgy! I think that was how the liturgies were held in the first centuries while house churches were developing. It was really connected with a meal, too, and getting together to share. I love the story of how St. Paul spoke too long and one youth who was sitting on the window sill actually fell out of the house. I should probably look that up but it is somewhere in the Acts of the Apostles.
We are also celebrating tomorrow both Sunday and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Since we have a bird-feeder in our yard, I am reminded of Francis everyday as I watch the birds taking turns. We have a couple of Cardinals who come in the late afternoon. These are just thoughts on a lazy Saturday. Let us become as little children and trust the Lord in all.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. I have always had devotion to my own angel. It is also the birthday of my mother and I used to send my angel when I was in Chile to be with my mother on her birthday. She died 24 years ago but is still with me in so many ways. She was a really remarkable woman of great faith and very humble. I am blessed because of her. I wish I had her generosity - someone would say they liked something she had and she would immediately offer it to them. She tried to give pleasure to others and loved to entertain and would have large family dinners with maybe twenty present on Sundays and she would do all the preparation ahead so she could enjoy the party. I have tried to follow her example and write notes to people who either live alone or I know appreciate a note.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
If you want to know what the connection is with the Feast of St. Theresa of Jesus and the picture of a Scottish castle, I can only tell you that this is Castle Blair found surrounded by gorgeous autumn colors in my Perthshire calendar; the above picture is now my screen saver and somehow connects with where I am right now. I do want to share some thoughts from today's homily at the University. First, Theresa died when only 24 and had only been in the Carmelite convent for about seven years yet she is a canonized saint. She did not go to India or China or Japan yet is patroness of missionaries; she only wrote one book, her autobiography, not five hundred like St. Augustine, yet she is a Doctor of the Church! She did not do great things but did everything with love. That is what we are all called to do--little things with great love.