This is an icon called "The Holy Cross" - Lent is half over and March is over and this was such a fast month. I do not know where time goes, but I do know that I have 24 hours in a day, all the time there is, and no one has any more time than I do. The secret is to use the time well and not waste it. Time spent in silent prayer is a help to make me slow down and reflect on how I am spending my hours each day this Lent. It also helps to imagine that I am talking to Jesus about what most pleases Him. Right now it is just sitting here and being in touch with many who read this blog and ask us all to reflect today on how we are using our time and what is Jesus saying to us.
Contrition is a Catholic word. I first learned it when preparing for Confession and had to learn an act of Contrition. It seemed to me that as a child it was just saying you were sorry and would not do it again - I guess we all do keep doing the same things even when we are sorry and promise not to do them any more. God knows our how weak we are and forgives us and asks us to forgive others as God forgives us. Here is an Act of Contrition that was sent to me today and I thought I would copy it for you: Act of Contrition (modern)
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His name, my God, have mercy.
Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II introduced a "new" series of Stations of the Cross that was slightly different than the traditional stations. He eliminated those that were not found in Scripture. Here they are: 1 Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
2 Jesus betrayed by Judas, is arrested.
3 Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin.
4 Jesus is denied by Peter.
5 Jesus is judged by Pilate.
6 Jesus is scouraged and crowned with thorns.
7 Jesus bears the cross.
8 Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross.
9 Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
10 Jesus is crucified.
11 Jesus promises his kingdom to Dismas the Good Thief.
12 Jesus speaks to his mother and the disciple.
13 Jesus dies on the cross.
14 Jesus is placed in the tomb.
And Pope John Paul added a 15th station: Jesus rises from the dead.
I thought these would be good for our Lenten reflection today. Tomorrow we are half way through Lent and time to renew our resolutions. If they were good ones, we have no doubt broken them and need to begin again!!
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is an expression we use without thinking; it means that it is good to get away and then even better to return with a new depth of love for those we have left and for the place, too. I think it makes us more aware of the good qualities of others and of one's own home. I found that I loved being with old friends this week and contemplating the ocean, but found my thoughts turning often to my community.
The workman are still painting my room!! They have been working on it for two weeks now and I hope they are coming today to try to finish it. It is lovely but lacks the doors, the finishing touches, the light switches and sockets are still exposed, and one wall seems to still need paint. It is a "delicate rose" and I think I will love it. The white woodwork stands out and I suspect I will want to add a couple of white pillows to decorate the bed. I am hoping it will all be finished by tomorrow so I can begin to move back into it, but I suspect that is still wishful thinking.
Today I hope to finish my presentation on "The Adventures of Lucile Mathevon, An Early Companion of St. Philippine Duchesne." It is a PowerPoint presentation and I think I am beginning to get excited about it myself!
It is good to be back in contact with all of you and I hope that we stay centered on the Lord Jesus as we move through this season of Lent. I am reading the latest book from Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection." I am finding it very thoughtful and will go back over it as soon as I finish it and mark up my favorite passages. Here is one - speaking of Jesus: "he acts and lives within the word of God...His path is a path into the heart of God's word." And then he says of the saying, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."(Mat 13:31)"...the word is more real and more lasting than the entire material world. The word is the true, dependable reality: the solid ground on which we can stand, which holds firm even when the sun goes dark and the firmament disintegrates. The cosmic elements pass away; the word of Jesus is the true 'firmament' beneath which we can stand and remain."
I am confiding the rest of Lent to this great Saint who watched over Jesus so carefully and showed him all the human love of a father.
I leave tomorrow for a week and will be with a friend who does not have a computer. That means that I will not be writing my blog for a week but will be back by March 28. I will be driving to stay with a friend I made as a very young nun back in 1954; I taught the first five girls of her eleven children and have felt part of her family ever since, praying for the children and now the grandchildren. On Friday, I stop to visit with another friend, former student, and colleague on the way back and arrive home on Sunday afternoon. My room is being painted pink and will, I hope be finished by Friday, so I can move back in and give away much in the process. Emptying my closets made me realize how much I have that I do not need! I could use some prayer as I tend to hold onto things "just in case" and that is ridiculous. I know some things have been in my closet for more than a year and I have not needed them. It is easier to clear out things for others than clear out my own possessions! How easy to accumulate papers, clothes, books, etc.
Speaking of books, Pope Benedict XVI's latest on "Jesus of Nazareth" is the second part and on "Holy Week: Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection" and it is good serious reading for Lent. I will take it with me.
I know that today is Friday of the first week of Lent and I feel that I have not really entered into Lent. I have certainly not kept my Lenten resolutions, but I am not going to let that get me down as I was once told that "when we have taken the right resolutions, we have trouble keeping them precisely because they are the ones we need." So today I begin again and I find that looking at the Sunday Gospel is encouraging. It is the Transfiguration and Jesus takes the three of his most intimate friends among the disciples, Peter, James, and John, and leads them up a mountain to pray. While there they all have an experience of prayer, even a vision where Jesus is transfigured before them. Peter says, "Lord, it is good for us to be here!"
I guess that is worth reflecting on as it is always good to be with the Lord in prayer, even if we are not feeling anything.
Yesterday we had Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the University to pray for those suffering in Japan. I went to the Chapel after our faculty faith-sharing group had reflected on the Sunday gospel and just sat there. I knew it was good to be there. One feels such peace in the Presence of the Lord. He also says to each of us, "Rise, do not be afraid." And then the wonderful line, "And looking up they saw only Jesus."
I came home to prepare our "green dinner party" in honor of St. Patrick. We had some fun games after dinner and then prayer together and all thought it a great party. Now, to realize that these Lenten days are important to prepare us for the Resurrection and to begin again with those resolutions so that the Lord has the opportunity to transform us during this Lenten season!!
St. Joseph's Feast is tomorrow and he is one to help us renew our resolutions!
From St. Patrick's Breastplate (not written by him!) Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I had a nice comment from someone in Vera Beach and who loves this blog; I knew her in St. Louis as she lived next to my sister. Unfortunately, I cannot publish her comment as my computer seems to reject it. So, dear S.W. do send me an e-mail at email@example.com as it just happens that I will be in Vero Beach a week from this Saturday, March 26.
Now for our St. Pat's party tonight.
I am jumbling letters of Irish connected words and will see which team can get the most words "unjumbled" in five minutes. Then I will give a prize for the one who can find the most four-letter and five letter words in "shamrock" in two minutes. (I found 23 words but it took longer)
I am preparing a prayer for after dinner with Celtic sources. It should be fun and I will let you know about it.
This blog is supposed to help us reflect spiritually so do take time today to get in touch with the faith you have and pray for the Irish Church which has given us so much but now needs to have our prayer. We are all praying for Japan.
What do you think of when you put Bibles, candles, incense, and a gong together? Prayer - prayer together with others; silent prayer, Liturgical prayer, but all of us together learning to contact the Lord in whatever way He is drawing us. God does use some of these props to get us to quiet down and listen to Him in prayer. Some people love to have an icon to gaze on or music to listen to or perhaps they stare at the flame of a candle; others prefer to sink deep into silence. I am one of those most of the time and close my eyes to go deep into the Heart of Christ for prayer. However, I also love to ponder the Scriptures; I also have enjoyed some liturgical rites and suggest different helps to directees but really it is a question of allowing ourselves to be drawn into the stillness of God and rest in His Heart. He gives us all that we need: new energy, deep peace, quiet joy, and surrounds us with unconditional love.
Why then do we often put off or postpone prayer or resist the call to pray with others or with ourselves? I suspect it is because we do not realize how important prayer is to our relationship with God. We procrastinate about everything (at least I think I am often a great procrastinator) and lose precious moments of union with the Lord. Maybe this is part of Lent: to let the Lord draw me into the prayer of His Heart. To take time to go deep into the inner stillness where I always find God. Let us pray for one another as prayer is a treasure of great value to be used to connect our lives with God who waits for us to turn to Him; He draws us gently but firmly.
As I am 3/4 Irish with my Dad's mother being a Murphy and my mother's father a McLaughlin with the Irish Lightholder family on my maternal grandmother's side, I always look forward to St. Patrick's Day. Some of those relatives are still living on a farm that we can trace back to the early 18th century. Being Irish has always been a good excuse for a party on March 17th. We need to have fun even in Lent and this feast is a good reason to celebrate. I grew up in St. Louis and Archbishop Glennon (who became a Cardinal) always allowed us to eat meat and not fast on St. Patrick's Day.
I guess I will cook a good dinner and ask all to come wearing green! I suspect I may have green noodles with a great sauce, a green salad, and maybe even a green dessert. Lime jello with fruit - not too exciting but the Irish do not need many external props to celebrate. Irish soda bread may be another possibility. I am also thinking of a guessing game where they need to remember Irish actors, authors, musicians and painters, but may need to do a bit of research myself.
Here is a thought for Lent: God asks us to love one another as He loves us. If we could all do that, think of what a wonderful world we would have. I guess it begins with me and it is a grace to beg for as the Spirit comes to aid us in our weakness.
Well, here I am back again writing my blog. I went to New Orleans and three different people came up to me during the meeting and said that they read my blog everyday!! When I heard that I decided that I must at least allow the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to continue to inspire something everyday to throw out as a reflection for the blog - so here I am again! There was a great deal given me during the last two days for future reflection. What most is staying with me is the question of what is my deepest desire now for myself, for the Society of the Sacred Heart, and for my friends?
We had great sharing of what has been important in our lives during this past year. I shared how much I was enjoying my retirement but also how surprised I was to find myself so "busy" all the time. I am trying to be more contemplative and yet keep up relationships, work on a book, see people for Spiritual Direction, build exercise into my life, etc. Anyway, God is present in all that I do and I am convinced that He leads us and He fills me with joy!
We also had a marvelous tour of most of the Provinces in our International Society as we had two from our Central Team in Rome with us for our Quad Area meeting and they brought slides of young religious in India and Asia, and Africa and told us about how Provinces are now working in regions and sharing resources. I love hearing about the ministries we do and found the entire meeting life-giving. I will no doubt be thinking of it all week!
The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent has the Spirit leading Jesus into the desert where He is tempted. The temptations that Jesus experienced during his forty days in the desert are the same that all of us have to a greater or lesser degree: the desire to have more, the desire to have power, control, and the desire to be better than others that is pride. What I think is interesting is that we have the account of these forty days only because Jesus must have shared his time in the desert with his disciples. It was an experience that marked Jesus and led Him to discover more about himself and about God. May we have the same experience this Lent!!
I will not be writing my blog everyday during Lent this year. I will write, but not daily as I am going to be away and also have visitors here in Miami. I will share when I can, but there is a wealth of material during Lent on some great websites. On the right side I have linked Creighton University and Sacred Space under prayer resources. I have also pointed out the blogs I have listed as being helpful. I will be on and off and hope you will not give up on me while I am away from the daily postings. I will be praying for all my readers!
Today I do not seem to be able to insert a picture but do have a lovely quote to share that was just sent to me by a friend. I love the image of all my "songs" (my thoughts?) flowing into a "sea of silence".
"In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet.
Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee. Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee.
Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee."
-From Gitanjali by Tagore-
Last night, after the Miami area met and then had a webcast that both introduced the two Central Team members as they begin a month's visit to our Province and also had information from them about the International Society of the Sacred Heart and three from our Province reported on trends in the world, the church, and religious life, we had a great Mardi Gras party. On Epiphany we were given a King's cake and one of my community got the figure hidden in the cake on her first bite. She was therefore to be King and give us all a Mardi Gras party before Lent. It was all purple, green and gold, the official colors of Mardi Gras. We had the King's Speech that included the history of Mardi Gras before we began our celebration. It was fun, but it also makes us realize that Mardi Gras is supposed to be "Fat Tuesday", the day before the Fast of Ash Wednesday! Now I need to get busy on a list of things to be done before I go to my Silver Sneakers class!
When I read the Gospel for this Sunday, I think of the story of the Three Little Pigs and the wolf who came and huffed and puffed until he blew the house down. We need to construct our spiritual houses with a solid foundation of prayer and build on this with humility and strong virtue so our house is not built on sand and will not wash away when adversity comes.
I read an article in today's paper on the stress that is taking its toil on all of us in the world today. We need to be aware and stay calm and know that it is in our power to lessen the stress in our lives. Each must find the best way to do this as we relax in different ways. Prayer helps us to see how the Lord is showing us ways to alleviate stress and enjoy each day as a gift.
Sometimes I take a picture from my file without knowing what it is and then wonder what to reflect on today. I think beauty comes to us in so many ways. Today is one of those perfect days. It was a bit chilly at the pool this morning when I went for the water exercise; the water was fine but it was windy and clouds were blowing past the sun. Now it is gorgeous and I am wishing I could be outside but I have work to do even if it is Saturday! I found beauty in concern that others have showed me this week; beauty in the friend who came last night just to help me; beauty in the care we have for one another. I think we are meant to find beauty in our day.
I have been trying to put together a wonderful PowerPoint of images of the Adventures of St. Philippine Duchesne and Lucile Mathevon. This picture is one of Sugar Creek today, but I suspect it might have looked very much the same in 1841. I have some great pictures but am having trouble finding them as they were sent by e-mail and I do not seem to be able to browse that file from my blog, but I will figure this out and share some later.
Yesterday I attended the Liturgy at the University and then came home and we were blessed last night with another Liturgy. It was so good to have both and I think I was struck with how Jesus asks the blind man, "What do you want me to do for you?" He asks us the same question and wants us to be in touch with our deepest desires as these come from Him!
I just found this picture of St. Madeleine Sophie whose body is still intact and was moved back to Paris to a Church where everyone can visit her. I wanted to use her picture as I am taking the liberty of quoting something written by Sister Suzanne Cooke:
"Let us remember that Madeleine Sophie urged the Religious of the Sacred Heart as she would urge us today to be contemplatives in action. As she explained… 'But at least we must unite solitude to the work we do, and counter this whirlwind with a deep cavern where the soul can take refuge as often as possible.' Lent is a wonderful time of the year to rediscover our own cavern. Time in silence and solitude can refresh our relationship with God."
It is time for us to prepare for Lent as Ash Wednesday is less than a week away.
Sometimes when I see a beautiful sunset or sunrise, the line "God's in his heavens, all's right with the world" pops into my head. It must be a line I learned once and probably is from Wordworth but I would have to go look for it and have not the time. The point is that it helps immensely when one reads all the bad news that comes to us each day via newspapers and television to have a line pop up that tells me God is here and the world is continuing; the sun rises and the sun sets and God is in charge so trust and be at peace.
I have perhaps mentioned a way that helps me to confide the world to God. I hold a small glass globe with the continents of the world etched on it; I keep it next to my prayer chair to I can pick it up and with my finger trace the continents and pray for each by entrusting it to God. He made this world of ours and I count on God to take care of it even with all the ways we seem to do damage because our free will is a gift that God will not take back but will make all well in the end. I really believe in Julian of Norwich's revelation that "All will be well, and all will be well, and all things will be well."
I have three new books to tell you about today but they have not really been read by me yet so I am not adding them to the list on the right of the blog, but think all three will be on that list when I have time to really read them. I have "dipped" into each. One by Richard Rohr looks as if it will be helpful for Lent. It has just been published (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2011) and the title is "Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent". There is a reflection for everyday of Lent with a brief passage from Scripture from the day's liturgical readings and a "starter prayer" which is a line or two that will help you to enter into your own conversation with the Lord. I think I will like it and Richard Rohr is an author who helps me to live attuned to the Spirit in real life situations.
Another book is from Edith Prendergast, RSC, "Grace Abounds: A Call to Awaken and Renew Your Faith". It is Ave Maria Press, 2011. This book is a collection of the talks given each year to open the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles. They call us to enter more deeply into the mind and heart of Christ and contain gems quoted from many authors as Edith would spend months preparing this yearly keynote address. I think I will enjoy this for spiritual reading.
The third book is a spiritual classic that has been reprinted. It is Clarence J. Enzler's "My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith."
(It is from Christian Classics, Ave Maria Press, 2010) Each chapter begins with a line from Scripture and then Jesus speaks. It is modeled on "The Imitation of Christ", a fifteenth century classic, and consists of conversations where Christ speaks intimately to the heart of the reader. I have only dipped into this and see it as a book to have handy on my bookshelf, but not one to read straight through.
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.