Friday, December 31, 2010
As I spend this New Year's Eve in prayer reviewing the year, I am so grateful for another year of life; for relationships with many from all over the world; for the fun times with my community; for the times of retreat, spiritual direction, and the unexpected moments when God reveals Himself in such tender ways... I am also aware of His calls during the past year and my response; my lack of promptness in responding is humbling and a motive for contrition. I am letting my entire life during 2010 pass by and also the big events in this world which have touched all of us and made the world seem small as we sufferered with those in Haiti, Chile, the Far East... and then those who are still fighting for America in a war that seems so senseless...and then we have those who have lost jobs, homes, and those who are now facing poverty in a land of plenty. Still, at this time of year we are aware of how many are really generous and helping others. I need New Year's Eve to think of all of this, to thank, to ask pardon, and to renew my own faith by seeing how God is in all and He has a plan and is leading each of us.
Happy New Year to all! I am going to Mass this evening and then joining my community for prayer and a small celebration. Tomorrow is a special day, too, as it is the Feast of Our Lady!
While we spend the day in prayer reviewing the year, I do not want to forget that the three kings are still on their journey to find the new-born King. One of my friends thought that she would write her own O Antiphons this year and has given me permission to share them with you. I suspect they make a good meditation for this last day of the year!
O Antiphons for the 21st Century
O King of Kings,
Who separated the light from the darkness,
Bring those who life in the darkness of alcohol and drug abuse into the greater thrill of Your Presence.
Who listened to the Canaanite woman who begged for her child asking for the crumbs under the table,
Remind us that you “created them in your image, male and female” so that all may treat women with respect and as children of God, not as beasts of the field.
O you who was Named the Son of the Most High,
Who asked for water from a “foreign” woman,
Take away our fear of differences and bring about unity and peace within our communities and the world.
O Great High Priest,
Who provided manna in the wilderness,
Show us how to feed each other so that no one need be hungry.
Who led Joseph to flee to save the infant Jesus from slaughter,
Save our infants and children from the abuse and deprivation that many experience in our time.
O Omega, the last to come as well as the first to be,
Who created all things and declared them good,
Give us the knowledge to explore your creation with goodness and love and not the evil of exploitation.
Who brought water from a rock,
Bring Your water to all that thirst,
Bring us Your Kingdom.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Carl McColman's The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality is a book I have been reading for some weeks now; I think it is the kind of book that you read a bit and then put it down to think and pray. The first part of the book has eight chapters on "The Christian Mystery" and takes longer to read and I must confess that I am still in Chapter 7 on "The Mystical Paradox". However, I have read quite a bit of the second part of the book that has nine chapters on "The Contemplative Life". It is more practical but the entire book will, I think, lead you deeper into mysticism. There are also three Appendices, Endnotes, Bibliography and other Resources so you have 309 pages full of wisdom. The quote on the cover from Richard Rohr sums it up by saying, "All seekers will find both meat and dessert in such a full meal." The book is not for everyone, but if you are interested in Christian mysticism, you will profit from this study.
May we all spend New Year's Eve in a spirit of gratitude as we review the graces we have received; may we also be aware of the times we have not responded fully to God's calls and ask pardon, sure of His infinite mercy; and may we be filled with hope and joy as we prepare to begin a New Year. This is my prayer for all!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I suspect it is time I mention some other blogs worth reading and some new books I have been reading during the holidays.
This is a blog I like: http://ncronline.org/blogs/just-catholic/rome%E2%80%99s-checkbook-strategy-women-religious
I have been reading a new book about silence. Holidays are wonderful for finding time to read. This book is by Sara Maitland and called A Book of Silence. The first paperback edition is 2010 and it is published by Counterpoint, but the book was originally published in Great Britain in 2008 by Granta Books. I found it on Amazon and was intrigued by this quote from the New York Times Book Review: "I can hardly wait to see what comes next from this marvelous writer, thinker and seeker." Now, this is not the best book that I have read on silence (I am sure my readers know how much I love Into the Silent Land) but this book is different. She is really a gifted writer who wanted to delve deeply into silence and so she goes off to experience it; she lives in a hermitage on an isolated moor in Ireland, she goes for a forty day experience alone in a remote cottage on the Isle of Skye in winter, she tries the Sinai desert as well as the Scottish hills. This is fascinating in itself, but she studies the rich cultural history of silence, too. I was happy to realize that she did much of her reading and studying about silence after analyzing her own experience, her own longing for silence. It is not the kind of book I usually would suggest to someone but I find I am enjoying it. I have only read the first few chapters but here are the Chapter headings: Growing Up in a Noisy World; Forty Days and Forty Nights; The Dark Side; Silence and the Gods; Silent Places; Desert Hermits; The Bliss of Solitude; and Coming Home. I suspect if you are feeling an attraction for silence and solitude at this moment in your life, this book may be helpful. I shall add it to the list on the right of my blog, but this book is not for everyone.
The other book I have been reading is posted now on the right side of this blog. It is The Big Book of Mysticism by McColman, Carl. The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality. Hampton Roads, 2010.and I shall write more on it tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
This mother and baby reminds me that we have not been able to picture Mary and the Infant Jesus as they must have been; American infants have Jesus looking like a fair-haired child. Anyway, Jesus did come as a helpless child and I like to think that He chose to be born in a cave to be accessible to all!
The vulnerability of Jesus is what I am contemplating today. He comes so small, so helpless, so poor materially, and this was a choice! What am I learning from this?
Monday, December 27, 2010
These are a few quotes from a wonderful source that also gives many online, short courses in Spirituality and Practice. I just clicked on Quotations after having clicked on Joy and here are the first few given. This Christmastide is a time of joy, I thought it would be good for us to reflect on some of these quotes.
A life of joy is not in seeking happiness. But in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are.
— Charlotte Joko Beck quoted in Open Mind by Diane Mariechild
To find joy in another's joy
that is the secret of happiness.
— George Bernanos quoted in Joy by Beverly Elaine Eanes
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
— John 15:14 in The Bible
The beating heart of the universe is holy joy.
— Martin Buber quoted in Simplicity: The Art of Living by Richard Rohr
We have God's joy in our blood.
— Frederick Buechner in The Longing for Home
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.
— Julian of Norwich quoted in Meditations with Julian of Norwich by Brendan Doyle
I guess the last quote from Julian says all I need today. Enjoy your day because God is in everything!!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I should, of course, have chosen a picture with St. Joseph with Mary and the Infant Jesus as we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family today. It is always the Sunday after Christmas but this year it comes the day after the birth of Jesus and it is fitting to realize how important a family is in our lives. We learn our first notions of God in our families; it is the family that influences the way we live, our values, our tastes, our ideals, and our vision. We can never thank God enough for the family He gave each of us. It may not have been a perfect family (outside of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph's family, who has a perfect family?) but we learn from the different relationships we have and the family that lacks a mother or a father knows that something is lacking and so we pray for all families today. Divorce is so hard on children and so many children now have single-parent homes. Still more children are without homes or families. I guess I am thinking of the many in Haiti now who have lost their families. Let us be grateful and pray for all families today.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
A Christmas Prayer
Source of Divine Light, Emmanuel, God with us,
Your radiant love illuminated our waiting world
With the surprise of your Bethlehem birth.
Each year since then we celebrate this astonishing event,
rejoicing in your coming anew, not as a newborn Babe,
but as a hidden presence of divinity contained within each of us.
To our great astonishment, we have become your dwelling place.
We are now your Bethlehem.
Now you are Treasure birthed in the secret place of our soul.
Now you are Light gleaming through our gestures of generosity.
Now you are Hope radiating inside the core of our courage.
Now you are Joy shining into the dark caves of our gloom.
Now you are Peace glowing quietly in the crevice of our anxiety.
Now you are Love brilliantly reflected within our kindness.
O Christ, Light of all lights, Star of all stars,
dweller within these human homes of ours,
open our wandering minds and hesitant hearts
So your endless goodness radiates more completely in us.
We welcome you again and again, with gratitude and trust,
not only in this Christmas season of remembrance and celebration
but all through the New Year that awaits us.
As we reflect on these verses during this Christmastide, may the Infant find our hearts open to His Love, Peace and Joy. May we radiate His Love to each other and to our world so in need of His Love. This is my prayer for you this Christmas.
With love and prayer for a happy, holy Christmas and New Year,
Helen Rosenthal, rscj
Friday, December 24, 2010
Our Advent longing will be fulfilled; Jesus comes to us again in a special Mass on Christmas - and now we even have early Christmas Masses before the traditional one where, at Midnight, the empty crib suddenly was filled with the Infant so reverently placed there. I am seriously thinking of going to the early children's Mass this year in order to cook a turkey dinner for my community on Christmas eve. I went once to a lovely children's Mass; those children must now all have children as it was the first year I came to Miami, I think, and that was twenty-four years ago. I believe there was even a birthday cake so the children sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. I remember some little girls dressed in green velvet dresses with lace collars; others were in red with matching bows; the little boys were more casually dressed, but some were feeling quite grown up in suits and some were even wearing ties. I think I was surprised to see the children so dressed up on Christmas eve in Miami. Of course, we did not have afternoon or evening Mass on the eve of Feast days when I was growing up.
We had a lovely veilee (we have a tradition in the Society of the Sacred Heart of a Christmas prayer vigil) last night for the Miami area RSCJs; we advanced our lovely prayer time together to the 23rd so that all could be present. Tonight we will have another prayer service for just my community and we will eat our dinner around the tree and listen to Christmas music together.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
"O Emmanuel, King and Lawgiver, Desire of the Nations, Savior of All People, come and set us free, Lord our God.
God is with us! Finally, tomorrow is Christmas eve and so we wait with expectation. Our hearts are full of longing, hope, joy, and our desire increases as we call out "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!"
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
O King of the Nations, the Only Joy of Every Human Heart: O Keystone of the Mighty Arch of Humankind, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.
We call for Christ, our King and the Prince of Peace, to come and save us. We declare that He is our Only Joy. Christ came at a moment when the whole world was at peace; now we must again beg Him for peace in our world, in our families, in our hearts. Christ is the Keystone and can bridge the distance that separates us from Him and from one another. God is Love and has sent Jesus to save us; to dwell with us!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I seem to have lost my image of this antiphon, but it is one that is better to just use your own imagination to picture.
O Radiant Dawn, Splendor of Eternal Light, Sun of Justice: Shine on those lost in the darkness of death.
This is, of course, the shortest day of the year. We celebrate Jesus as the Radiant Dawn, Splendor of Eternal Light and Sun of Justice. Christ is our hope in darkness; He comes to disperse the clouds of gloom and bring us joy.
Monday, December 20, 2010
O Key of David, O Royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
I love this antiphon as Jesus is the Key; He opens our hearts as well as the gate of heaven. He also wants us to help others; Christmas is often a difficult time for those who have lost family and friends. How can I reach out this Christmas to console others? What still needs Jesus to come and break down the walls of death in me? Jesus, You have the key to my heart; help me to make it a home for You!
Sunday, December 19, 2010
O Flower of Jesse's Stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.
Jesse was the father of David who became Israel's greatest king. Jesus was born in David's royal line and flowered as the fulfillment of the hopes of his people.
We are all influenced by our ancestors' history. Let us look to our own, each a gift of God, and thank for our own roots. Christmas is a time to thank God for His many gifts beginning with family.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
O Sacred Lord of Ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
Freedom is such a gift and God has come to set us free! Let our preparation for this Christmas be full of gratitude for the gift of freedom in our lives. We are free to give and receive His Love.
Friday, December 17, 2010
The last days of Advent are set aside to reflect on the meaning of the first Christmas.
The Gospel antiphons for these days at Mass and at evening prayer have come to be known as the "O Antiphons" and are also contained in the hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Each day's antiphon is worth a meditation. We begin with
O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9
I Corinthians 1:30
Relevant verse of Veni, Veni Emmanuel:
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Today I will share some of the verses of an Advent Meditation by Janet Ersking Stuart: It has been put to music but usually we only know the first five verses; there are five more that are more for Christmas.
Long the ages rolled and slowly, to the coming of the Word,
Fervent longings grew more fervent, undismayed by hope deferred.
Weaker spirits sighed and whispered: "Could the Lord of all forget?"
While the Prophets scanned the protents, and in patience said: "Not yet."
Slowly passed the long procession, type and figure, saint and sage,
Seers with inspired voices, chanting from prophetic page,
Kings with crown and scepter carried, not their own but His by right,
Priests with incense, fire and victim, calling Him from Heaven's height.
O! that thous wouldst rend the heavens! O! that this might be the hour!
O! the wisdom, O! the Orient! O! the key of David's power.
O! Adonai, the Leader! Fire that shall Redemption bring,
O! desired of all the nations hasten! O! Emmanuel the King!
So they prayed, and through the ages so the faithful singers sung,
Sighing for the great appearing, sighs that like their harp-strings rang,
Dreaming that they heard the music of the High-priest's bells of gold
Ring among the silken fringes, in the glory known of old.
Dreaming that they felt Him coming, that the blessed time was near,
Counting out the weeks prophetic, gathering hope from everywhere;
Till at length the long procession halted, bade the singers cease--
Armies leaned upon their weapons...and the King was born in peace!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
This will always be a very special day for me. I am celebrating fifty-eight years since my giving myself to Jesus Christ in the Society of the Sacred Heart. It has been a time of great grace; there have been sorrows and many joys through the years but the Lord is always with me and I belong to Him and that makes all the difference. There is only one left in the Society of the Sacred Heart of the original five who made vows with me at Kenwood and she has been in Taipei and I have not seen her or communicated with her all these years so will try now to write to her. I have followed the great work she has done over there. Two are dead now and I made contact with another just last year; she had left the Society when I was in Chile; we happened to find ourselves together last year when I went to visit a friend; I suspect that was planned by the Lord. I am just so happy in my own vocation and look back on this anniversary and see how faithful the Lord is in every moment of my life and I am filled with joy and gratitude.
Here is a Christmas card that I hope you can see as it is worth it:
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
It continues to be a record cold in Miami but we have the heat back on as of last night. I have forgotten what it means to be in the north where they are actually snowed in and roads are blocked by the snow which the wind has blown into huge drifts that are blocking access to many roads. I guess the ski resorts are loving the amount of snow that we are getting this December in some parts, but others must be frustrated as they cannot get out to shop. All this brings me to St. John of the Cross and his feast today. He would want us to have the stillness, the silence, of the snow. It is not easy in Advent, but worth setting a time aside each day to be quiet; to listen to the gentle voice of God speaking in our souls; to just be and enjoy the many gifts we have been given by slowing down and taking time to thank for them. Advent is a wonderful season but we are filling it up with so many extras that we need to build in a few minutes of solitude each day just to be still. God is saying to each of us: "Be still and know that I am God."
If I miss a blog (I did yesterday), it is because I am reserving time to just be amid the business of this season. Preparing for Christmas is different when we are able to be silent even for a short time each afternoon.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I cannot believe that it is the Third Sunday of Advent already. There are many things that I thought I would have done by now to prepare for Christmas and I have not had time to do. It is the first year that I am still writing Christmas cards and have not been shopping for presents yet. I am trying to keep an Advent peace and prepare by prayer and silence for the coming of Christ and I am sure that what is essential will get done. I went to a Christmas concert at the seminary on Friday night and the first half of the program was an "Advent Concert" and the seminarians were so earnest and well prepared. Then we all went out for hot chocolate and Christmas goodies and then back for the "Christmas concert". It was a cold night for Miami, but full of Christmas spirit so now back to make the most of these two weeks before Christmas. Come, Lord Jesus, is the song in my heart. In school, we sang it in Latin, "Veni, Domine Jesu, veni, veni Domine Jesu, y noli tardare" -at least that is the way I remember it as we sang it over sixty-six years ago as we walked to and from our classes during Advent.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. It is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the birthday of St. Madeleine Sophie, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart in France in 1800. I took the habit on this day sixty years ago and had a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe because I had visited her shrine when I spent my summer as a sixteen year old visiting two of the Mexican students who were boarders at school with me; one of them had spent the Easter holidays with me and then invited me to stay with her in Mexico City. I wanted to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine and was so impressed by the faith of the people. It made a lasting impression on me and so each year I think of what Our Lady means for all of us, but especially those south of our boarder. May Our Lady of Guadalupe help pass the dream act and aid immigrants. I am ashamed of the way we treat some of the undocumented workers in Florida. May Our Lady of Guadalupe teach us to love one another and to treat each person with reverence and respect.
May we pause today for some Advent silence. I am with the invocation from the Litany of the Sacred Heart: "Sacred Heart of Jesus, to your obedience I unite myself."
Friday, December 10, 2010
Here is the prayer I promised to share with you. It is from Kwon Min-Ja, RSCJ and is found on the leaflet that has the Litany of the Sacred Heart so I do not know the origin of the prayer:
Jesus, the way, the truth and the life,
I offer you my entire self.
My memories of the past,
My desires of the present,
My intentions of the future.
Grant that I may stay only in
your presence at this moment!
Jesus, the way, the truth and the life,
make my heart one with the humility
and meekness of your heart!
Jesus, the way, the truth and the life,
Let my heart be united in the mercy
and love of your heart!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It is not snowing here, but we feel a bit like the birds in the picture as this is our first "cold" spell of the year. I dug out my sweaters this morning and wore a red one to Mass over a white pull over- I guess it has been at least ten months since I have wanted to wear sweaters and I also put a blanket on my bed and I suspect that is the first time in two years! All of which shows you how spoiled we are in Miami with sunshine and warm weather all year.
I was thinking about hope and joy and gratitude and how we should be feeling all of these with excitement during these days. I suspect that Mary and Joseph must have had some of these emotions mixed with feeling a great deal of trust.
My invocation now is "Sacred Heart of Jesus, to your silence I unite myself>" and I am going to try to have some silence tonight as it was quite a busy day. I came in with the groceries and forgot that I had turned the alarm on this morning when I went to the University. Fortunately, as I was going back for the mail, I saw it flashing and then heard it so rushed to call the alarm company before they sent the police. I have a nice prayer for tomorrow's blog, but this will do for today as I am writing on the eve of posting since tomorrow is another busy day!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Happy Feast to Our Lady, patroness of the United States. I guess I always loved this feast because it was a wonderful holiday to look forward to when I was in grade school!
My youngest aunt took me shopping so that I could help her pick out gifts for the numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins of her boss. I always felt so grown up and she would take me to a downtown hotel for lunch after the shopping. We also saw the Christmas windows in the big department stores which were animated and so interesting that I could not wait to go back with my parents and younger sister to point out my favorite ones. I am sure that we went to Mass before anything as it was a holy day of obligation, but I must confess that I do not remember that part of the feast. However, I do remember the special holy day this was during my four years of boarding during high school with the Lily Procession being an outstanding memory of each year.
Now I feel that Mary is both friend and mother and has an interest in all that I do. She wants me to live in union with the Heart of Jesus and I think she is helping me to remember my phrase from the Litany each day. Today I am still on Sacred Heart of Jesus, to your fervent prayers, I unite myself. Our world is in such need of prayer - so is our Church, our government, our local and state politicians, etc.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I used to ask the community to put out their shoes and I would go around and fill them with some goodies and useful things. I am sorry I did not do that this year but will suggest that we do put some little surprise in our stockings this year. We skipped that last year, but I think it is fun to have something to open together on Christmas morning. We are just planning brunch again this Christmas at 2:00 in the afternoon as one of our religious works in her parish and also sings in the choir and so cannot arrive before 2:00. Well, this is still Advent and I am trying to be with Our Lady and the Infant in her womb. Wednesday is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and one dear to all Sacred Heart children. In our schools we used to have a very solemn novena of preparation for her feast and, if you kept the practice (often it was something like silence) you were able to walk in the procession with a lily in your hand (we wore our good white uniforms and white gloves and it was an artificial lily in December) and present the lily to Our Lady saying, "O Mary, I give you the lily of my heart; be thou its guardian forever." I still remember the atmosphere of white veils, lighted candles, singing, and the relief to know that we all were allowed to present our lilies. If there were some who feared and actually knew they had failed to keep the practice, I do not remember anyone not being forgiven for the Feast itself. This memory goes way back but it is a good one and I offer Our Lady anew each year "the lily of my heart" and ask her to be its guardian forever!
We will have Mass in community today which is always a grace. I will be part of the Mass of celebration at St. Thomas University on the Feast itself as two professors are retiring and there will be a luncheon to honor their years of service.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I did get home on Saturday in time to swim before getting ready to go to the Mass and Christmas dinner at Carrollton. I had a lovely, silent time in Gainesville with the six hour drive up and the six hours back added to the three nights spent in the Cenacle there. On Friday night I went to a Christmas concert in the church with the Cenacle community. The choir was magnificent! I am glad I went as it was a fitting closure for my three days of retreat and I drove home on Saturday thanking God for this quiet time. It was quite cold in Gainesville but I enjoyed walking in the cold weather. The neighborhood is in the historic district and full of huge homes made of wood and most quite Victorian; some have the dates posted and are usually from 1854 to 1898. Many had carriage houses that now hold students as Gainesville is a real University town. Anyway, I am now home and hope to get back to writing and also to have a holy Advent preparing for the Lord's coming at Christmas. I wish that for all of you, too. I am going through the Litany of the Sacred Heart again and today is "Sacred Heart of Jesus, to your firm confidence, I unite myself." I think trust is a way to please the Heart of Jesus and so am confiding the entire world to Him.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Advent is a time of desire, a longing for the coming of Jesus. Yet, Jesus is here; Jesus is in each of us at the center deep in us. We need to take time to get into touch with this inner presence, this God-man who created us, who understands us, who loves us. We increase our capacity to receive Jesus by our desire and that makes the Advent season a time of grace. Mary was the first to receive Jesus and she carried Him in her womb until it was time. God became dependent on time, on a woman, and on all the physical circumstances that govern our lives from birth to death. The Incarnation is such a mystery of God's love!