Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Some pictures lead us to contemplation. I am finding that just slowing down and letting some beautiful water scene fill my mind is enough to lead me into prayer. God has given us so much and there is so much to thank for, but my prayer is more of a silent adoration before the God of mystery. I think I always desire my morning prayer and enter into this time with the Lord with joy; I am not so sure I end feeling that I did my best to stay with the Lord during the hour, but I do know that He is always with me and my day is different because I have this hour with Him, even when it is a hodge-podge of silence, reading, reflection, more silence, etc. I also look forward to afternoon prayer to just be with the Lord without thoughts or any words at all, but I find that this time gets moved around too easily. I need to make a schedule and try to keep it as it is important to have the visit with Jesus at the same time each day, when possible. I remember the fox in the Little Prince who told him he should return each day at the same time so "one prepares the heart" - or something like that as I have given away my copy of the Little Prince and so forget exactly how it was said but it is important to have the afternoon encounter fixed the same way I fix all important meetings. I do not want to keep the Lord waiting!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Here is a quote from Augustine's Sermon on the Third Commandment taken from the book I told you I have been using Into the Silent Land. Laird quotes St. Augustine because he is speaking of stillness, inner focus, and recollection.
L"The third commandment enjoins quietness of heart, tranquility of mind. This is holiness. Because here is the Spirit of God. This is what a true holiday means, quietness and rest. Unquiet people recoil from the Holy Spirit. They love quarreling.
They love argument. In their restlessness they do not allow the silence of the Lord's Sabbath to enter their lives. Against such restlessness we are offered a kind of Sabbath in the heart. As if God were saying 'stop being so restless, quieten the uproar in your minds. Let go of the idle fantasies that fly around in your head.' God is saying, 'Be still and see that I am God." (Ps 46) But you refuse to be still. You are like the Egyptians tormented by gnats. These tiniest of flies, always restless, flying about aimlessly, swarm at your eyes, giving no rest. They are back as soon as you drive them off. Just like the futile fantasies that swarm in our minds. Keep the commandment. Beware of this plague."
I suspect that any contemplative will rejoice in thinking of keeping the stillness and interior silence as a Sabbath in the heart; we also are aware of the gnats that swarm around us. I was rather impressed in visiting my sister and her husband this summer by the quiet in the house. They only turned the television on one night and that was when my brother was visiting. (My brother has a TV in every room in his house and one in the patio, too!) I enjoyed the silence in my sister's home.
My blog is late today as I had many things to do and was not home to write it.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The first reading for this Sunday is from the book of Sirach 3:17-18,20,28-29:
My child, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more the greater you are, and you will find favor with God."
I like the first two verses and used them for prayer. Humility means that I recognize who I am before God and others, too. It is so easy to forget that I am merely a branch on the true Vine and without Jesus I can do nothing. I think that one reason Jesus told the Apostles that unless they became like little children they could not enter the Kingdom of God was that a child is humble, simple, and lives very much in the present moment. I like what Jesus says in today's Gospel: "Do not recline at table in the place of honor." He says rather, "when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say,'My friend, move up'... For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I am repeating the image of Augustine with his mother as this is the only one I have of Augustine as a younger person. I do not like the pictures where he is shown as an old and rather stuffy-looking Bishop. I think of him as being so dynamic that he really wanted his friends around him and gathered his priests to live together to be friends and support one another and so the Augustinians became a religious order in the Church and their rule of life was the one used by many other founders of religious orders.
Augustine was born in North Africa in 354; he had a mistress who bore him a son, Adeodatus. Later, in Milan, Augustine heard St. Ambrose preach and that was the beginning of his conversion. He was baptized in 387 and his mother died that same year and his son just two years later. Augustine was ordained in 391 and became Bishop of Hippo in 396; he spent the rest of his life preaching, writing, and defending the Christian faith against the heresies of his day. He is one of the great doctors of the Church. I guess his best known quote is telling God that our "hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."
Friday, August 27, 2010
St. Monica's Feast is today and St. Augustine's is tomorrow and that is fitting. Without his saintly mother Augustine would not have been the saint he became after his conversion. I have always loved Augustine and talked the Academic Dean in college into letting me into an upper level Latin class because it was all on the Confessions of St. Augustine. Fortunately I had an English translation to work from and remember getting up early on Sunday mornings when all were still asleep to work out the week's translations. I was interested and so learned a good deal of Latin that semester but was lost when put into the next Latin class on Pliny because the
Academic Dean taught it and would put the English on the board and ask us to put it back into Latin. That was far beyond me and made me realize how little I knew. I have kept my love for Augustine through all the years and here are a couple of quotes from him that are cited in Into the Silent Land: "We must fly to our beloved homeland. There the Father is, and there is everything."
We are called home "from the noise that is around us to the joys that are silent. Why do we rush about...looking for God who is here at home with us, if all we want is to be with him."
I thought you all might like to enjoy this video. I am just learning to use videos and there are some wonderful ones on youtube.com I actually found this through Juliet's blog which is listed at the side of mine. I just love the Good Shepherd and could not resist posting this.
I was going to post about both St. Monica and St. Augustine as they are very special saints and Augustine owes his conversion to his mother, Monica. Maybe there will be some quote from Augustine to share as Martin Laird is quoting him frequently in "Into the Silent Land" - that is where I am now.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I have been reading and praying over Martin Laird's Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. I like it and am adding it to our list of spiritual books on the right side of my blog. It is true that I am not yet past the second Chapter of this book, but it is the kind of book that makes one stop and contemplate and is helpful in that way. Martin Laird is an Augustinian and a professor at Villanova University. This book was published by Oxford University Press in 2006 but I only recently heard of it. I suspect that anyone who does Centering Prayer or is drawn to contemplative silence would find the book very useful.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and somehow had devotion to Saint Louis, King of France and I loved the huge bronze statue of him sitting on his horse outside of the Art Museum at the top of Art Hill in Forest Park. August 25 was my father's birthday and so it was a special day and marked the last party of the summer as after Dad's birthday we had to get ready for school. Now, school has started as we no longer wait for Labor Day to begin the new academic year.
Someone sent this to me today and I like it and want to pass the quote on to you:
"Today, more than ever, we need to recognize that the gift of solitude is not ordered to the acquisition of strange contemplative powers, but, first of all, to the recovery of one’s deep self, and the renewal of an authenticity which is presently twisted out of shape by the pretentious routines of a disordered togetherness."
- Contemplation in a World of Action - Merton
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Today is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew. Is Bartholomew the same person that John's Gospel calls Nathanael? It would seem so. We know from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles that Bartholomew was counted as one of the Twelve Apostles. Therefore, we know that he left all to follow Jesus. He was chosen by Jesus to be a special friend and to continue the mission of Jesus. He was faithful to the end as tradition has Bartholomew a martyr, one who gave his life for Jesus.
If Philip took Nathanael to Jesus, I suspect that he was always grateful. He did not think anything good could come from Nazareth but Philip said, "Come and see" and so he went. Jesus calls him a "true child of Israel" and Nathanael asks him, "How did you know me?" How does Jesus know me? What does he say to me when I approach Him today?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Today is the feast of St. Rose of Lima who was born in Lima, Peru in 1586. She joined the Third Order of the Dominicans and lived in a tiny hut in her parents' garden. She cared for the sick and the poor and also worked to help support her parents. She was canonized in 1671, the first saint from the "New World".
I am reading Martin Laird's "Into the Silent Land" and finding it a book to stop and pray over rather than just reading it. He says that "while the discovery of this silent land is deeply personal, and no one can do it for us, it is at the same time deeply communal: paradoxically no one discovers the solitude of inner silence by oneself." He speaks of God as our "homeland" and that God is the ground of our being so we are united to Him only need to realize this.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
These pictures may give you an idea of the beauty of the University of San Diego where I made my retreat after a wonderful week to prepare for it by staying with my sister and her husband on Colorado. One of the highlights of that week was the weekly Sunday evening concert with all the families on the island coming with their picnic suppers, chairs, tables, blankets, etc. and there is a great deal of dancing around the bandstand from 5:00 to 7:00 - they invite a different band each week and the children love to dance around while the parents and grandparents sit and watch; some of the older people get up and dance, too. It is a reall village green just across from the Catholic Church and has a playground for the children as well as all the beautiful grass and trees that makes it a delightful spot.
My brother and sister-in-law drove from Arizona to see me, too, and it was really a restful week but I was ready to go to USD and begin my retreat on Thursday night. I let the Holy Spirit direct me, but one of the things I did during my retreat was to look at my own history in connection with the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart. I found this fruitful but mostly I sat in front of one of the tabernacles (my room was next to Founders' Chapel, the Church was just east of me, and the community have a prayerful chapel) or on a bench overlooking San Diego. The weather was cool but I did go swimming a few times as I love their big pool. I think my biggest realization during the retreat was how much I love my vocation to the Society and how many graces God has given me over the years and that He is always with me no matter what! These were thoughts that deepened as I prayed over all the changes since I entered sixty years ago; I also went back to some of the letters of Reverend Mother de Lescure and used some for prayer as well as some of John's Gospel. The days went by so quickly and now I am home and trying to catch up here.
I will start reflections for the blog again tomorrow.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Usually when August comes I am busy planning the opening of courses, attending some meetings at the University, and feeling that vacation is over. This year is very different. I am going to a meeting at the University tomorrow, but after that I am free and will leave early Wednesday morning for San Diego where I will have a week with family and then six days of retreat. Because of this trip I will be giving the blog a vacation, too. Expect me back about August 21 and enjoy this month. It is usually hot in most of the United States, but San Diego is famous for its good climate all year round. My sister actually reminded me to bring a sweater!
I would ask your prayer for my retreat, August 12-19. It is shorter this year but I had three wonderful days in May at a retreat house on the ocean and I suspect I will have retreat days in Advent as I have been doing every year for at least five years.
I will be in retreat for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, August 15 and suspect my retreat will be made close to Mary.