My mother and father were married on the Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle. They wanted to get married before Advent began and without any fuss so my Dad had been to see the Archbishop (my Dad was captain of his tennis team in college and had often played tennis with the Archbishop) and so they were able to keep the marriage secret. My mother was the only daughter and my Dad the only son and the oldest with five sisters behind him so they would not have let them have a quiet wedding. They were married at an early Mass with only one couple chosen among all their friends to be witnesses. They kept the marriage secret until Christmas when my Dad knew there was going to be a notice in the paper that he had bought a house and so they told their families. It must have been a shock but brought joy to all.
Anyway, I never forget this anniversary and was able to get back from Chile in time for their golden jubilee! That was over thirty years ago, but it does not seem that long.
I have a quote from Thomas Merton that I do not think I have shared with you, although I have been meaning to do so. "We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I meant by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others."
St. Andrew is mostly known for being Peter's brother; John's Gospel tells us that Jesus called Andrew first and then Andrew told his brother about Jesus. Maybe he is the saint to pray to when we want to bring others to Jesus.
I am still pondering the question: "What does Advent mean for me this year?"
I will be posting a longer reflection during the week that I actually began to write on the First Sunday of Advent. Here, I am just sharing some words that I jotted down at the end of my prayer this morning. Each word could trigger a reflection on Advent: Preparation
Now, why have I not mentioned being alert, awake, watchful? These were words that did strike me in Sunday's liturgy. Mark's Gospel has "Be watchful! Be alert! ...May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
As you can see, Advent lends itself to reflection so do choose your favorite Advent words and reflect why these are important to you to express something about this season.
I suspect that I may have a question like "What does Advent mean for me?" to ponder each week. I am narrowing this down a bit to "What does Advent 2011 mean for me?" and I hope my readers will ponder their own reflections on the meaning of Advent at this moment in each of our lives.
As I need time to think and pray about this, I will sign off now and spend quiet time with the Lord and hope you are able to do the same today.
As we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, we stop and reflect on what Advent means for each of us. I am using the "Little Blue Book: Advent and Christmas Season 2011-2012" that are six-minute reflections on the Sunday Gospels but contain loads of interesting facts.
The first page is titled: Advent/Christmas plans and asks us to spend today's six minutes with the Lord sketching below (there is space to write) "some ideas on how you can spend these 28 days of Advent well. Your plans can include items that are spiritual (deciding where and when you will pray each day)...practical(your gift list)...personal(sending a Christmas card to someone with whom you've not been on good terms)...charitable(doing something for the poor)... Before you write anything, spend a few quiet moments with the Lord and ask for help.
I love the fact that we are asked on most pages to "Spend some quiet time with the Lord" as I think that is the best preparation for His coming into our hearts anew this Advent.
I have not yet started my new Journal as I find I still have pages left in the one I started last August with my retreat. I suspect I will begin the new one anyway as Advent is the beginning of the new Liturgical year.
Since I go to Mass on Saturday evening, I am beginning the lovely season of Advent with the lighting of the Advent wreath and the readings for the first Sunday of Advent. Be alert, the Lord is coming and let your hearts be filled with longing for his advent.
I am off to water exercise now so will write more tomorrow. I just want all to have a great Advent this year!
Today is "Black Friday" and we are such a crazy nation of consumers that many are out there fighting to buy, fighting for parking spaces, standing in lines, and some, according to our newspaper, really enjoy this marathon of shopping.
I woke up thinking how much we have to be grateful for and asking myself why I never get up and go watch the sunrise over the ocean.
I also keep thinking of a poem I read yesterday in "The Grateful Heart" that is from Patricia Schneider's "The Patience of Ordinary Things". I think it does make me aware of more things to thank for and helps me to see common things with fresh eyes:
"It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes or toes,
How soles of feet know where they're suppose to be,
I've been thinking about the patience of ordinary things,
How clothes wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet from the skin of the back,
And the lovely repetition of stairs,
And what is more generous than a window?"
You can probably add to this.
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We did and the dinner turned out to be delicious, the company delightful, and I am now left to make turkey soup which I think I will freeze and wait for a cool night in December to serve to my community.
I went to Church and that took three hours as we went early for parking; there is only one Mass on Thanksgiving and the children all sing as well as the adult choir; some are dressed as Pilgrims and others as Indians. They carry in the flag at the end and we all sing patriotic songs. There are always some who tell their stories that call forth thanksgiving on the part of all of us.
A parting thought: Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is gift.That is why it is called the present.
(I think this comes from AA but was in "The Grateful Heart" which I am still reading.
I am wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving today as I will probably not be writing tomorrow. There is a long but beautiful Mass I usually go to that takes most of the morning and then dinner and a football game. I hope all of my readers have a blessed, joyful holiday.
Here is a good thought from James Martin, S.J.'s book on "Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and other saints:
I don't think that you can be a true contemplative without being utterly honest before yourself and God. I don't think you can be honest with yourself without being a contemplative in some way. One supports the other. Honesty before God and others deepens your relationship with God, and therefore your prayer. Likewise a deepening intimacy with God frees you to be honest with yourself and with others.
He quotes Merton as saying "To be a saint means for me to be myself." I find this consoling and also that if we want to be a saint, we will be one.
I think the first quote goes with all I have written in the past about the call to be transparent.
I hope you are all thinking about how to enter Advent on Sunday with the spirit of preparation so we profit from that joyful season of four weeks of expectation before the coming of Christ celebrated as a triple coming into our history, our hearts, and the final coming of which we know not the day...
This week families are preparing for our national holiday by buying a turkey and all the trimmings to go with it: dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, green beans, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, and then desserts. I will not name those as I may be making you hungry just thinking about the feast on Thursday! It is a time for families to gather and give thanks. The thanksgiving should begin way before the holiday when we are too busy to just sit down and reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for in our daily lives and even more if we start naming all the priceless gifts we have been given: our health, our sight, hearing, sense of taste and smell, our ability to think, remember, walk, talk, make friends, enjoy life, and then our family, our faith, our education, our country with all its beauty and freedom, etc. Some may want to thank for concrete things like a warm sweater on a cold morning, a cup of tea with a friend, the smile of a child, the smell of a wood fire, roasting marsh-mellows in front of the fireplace, the sound of laughter, the joy of freedom, etc. I think we all need to take time and go back to thank God for his many gifts to us. I especially want to thank for all the persons who have helped me to be the person I am today. They are many so I will begin now to recall them and let you do the same.
This giving thanks is what Thanksgiving is all about so let us be filled with gratitude. It will also be a good preparation for Advent which begins on Sunday.
I wrote this on Sunday but am posting on Monday which is also the feast of the Presentation of Mary and the day we celebrate the founding of the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800.
My community have all been away since Friday afternoon, but two of them return Sunday afternoon. It is the first time in months and probably years that I have been alone in the house. I planned to do so much this week end and seem not to be doing much of anything. When I opened the door yesterday morning to go out and get the morning paper, I forgot to turn off the alarm. That scared me as I was afraid the police would come before I could call the alarm company. Fortunately, that was not the case but I made sure I turned off the alarm before bringing in the paper this morning. It made me realize that I am never the first one to get the paper as I do not leave my room usually without at least an hour of prayer and preferably it is closer to an hour and twenty or even thirty minutes. I am most contemplative in the morning; some get coffee before prayer, but I do not drink coffee and wait for a cup of tea until after prayer. My morning prayer sets the tone for the entire day and I look forward to that time with Jesus, even when I seem to spend a great deal of it in thinking rather than just sitting in silence in His Presence. I also do some spiritual reading before facing my day. That is nourishing and feeds further conversation with Jesus who is my Beloved and best friend as well as my God and Savior and Spouse. Well, when no one is here, I find myself wanting to take more time to just be. I have cards to write and will write them today so they will arrive before Thanksgiving.
For reflection today I guess I am still with Jesus as my Shepherd. When I was still a young novice, I had an incredible experience of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and understood what mercy meant and how merciful Jesus is - It was such an intense experience of God's love and mercy that I have never forgotten it. It was summer and so we were having the morning hour of prayer on the roof sitting on camp stools! I told the Novice Mistress about this experience when I wrote my journal to her and she told me that it was a moment of infused contemplation and I should thank God for it. I knew, at that time, nothing about infused contemplation, but know that this experience made me so sure of God's love and mercy that nothing could make me doubt it. Well, I did not set out to share that deep experience, but it seems to me that this Sunday's readings have made me relive that moment.
One thought about today's Gospel is that even the sheep need to ask Jesus "when did we see you hungry or thirsty, naked or ill, or in prison?" Even the good sheep fail to recognize Jesus as he comes to us in each person who is needy. I feel that it is His Mother, Mary, who often says to me as she did to her Son: "They have no wine..." or whatever is lacking. May I learn to recognize Jesus in each.
Now, let me send those cards as I know my family and friends do expect to hear from me at Thanksgiving. My mother started sending cards for all the holidays of the year and I have tried to do the same. This year, I have received an early Thanksgiving card from my brother and sister-in-law and it made me feel good so I hope my cards do the same. I mention this today in case some of you need to remember family or friends before our national holiday of giving thanks. Let us make the next few days ones or real thanksgiving to prepare for the feast on Thursday and, also, giving thanks is a great way to begin to prepare for Advent as next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, a special season of just four weeks.
Today is the Feast of Christ the King; however, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and there is a real contrast between the humble shepherd who leads his sheep home and tends to their needs and the powerful King who will judge us in the end. I am concentrating on Jesus as one who seeks the lost sheep, who has compassion on the crowds who are like sheep without a shepherd, and who says that he knows his sheep and they know him and he calls us by name. He also lays down his life for the sheep. How grateful I am for the image given us by Jesus of this Good Shepherd. Let us celebrate this Feast of Christ the King by drawing near to our Shepherd King and ask to be numbered always among his sheep.
I have added a new blog to my list so do check it out as it is by one of our religious who lives in Oxford. I have just discovered her blog and it makes me very happy!!
I do believe that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and with Him nothing is wanting. I love the image of the Good Shepherd and this Sunday's first reading is so consoling.
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Mother Duchesne always seemed very close to me when I was at school at St. Charles. We used to go out to the little shrine in front of the school each night to help one of the nuns close up for the night after some prayer. I still remember the vigil lights that had been burning around the tomb and gave us enough light to kneel there in the shadows. It seems to me that they were usually green and amber lights almost burned out. Philippine was always there for me and I was astonished when I entered to find out that so many thought of her as an austere person while I saw her as a mother. I still do and feel that she watched over all of us in a special way at St. Charles and still does. I think she has inspired me as a missionary, as a faithful religious who loved the Society, her family, her country, America, the Church, the nuns and children entrusted to her care and the Indians. She had a heart as wide as the world and was so generous and did so much to help the pioneer Jesuits. She is still an inspiration for me and I am happy to celebrate her feast. The "woman who prays always", as the Indians named her, calls me to a life of prayer and integrity. I think she lived the prayer of Ignatius "to give without counting the cost', to toil without rest, to labor and not to seek any reward except that of doing the will of God. May she give us her gift of prayer and her fortitude and faithfulness!
I want to be a sheep, of course. But then I do not do the things I want to do. I think one sins by omission more than we may be aware of each day. On the other hand, I find so much to be grateful for and believe that Jesus loves a grateful person and a cheerful giver so I am not going to worry too much about what I am not doing but examine how consistent my actions are with my desire to please Jesus. I encourage all to think positively and to also heed the words of Jesus in this coming Sunday's Gospel that I copied for you yesterday as it is an important one and shows us how we can please Jesus by caring for others. People are hungry for food, but also people hunger for love, praise, encouragement, and understanding.
I am off to the University but wish you all a happy day!
Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year and we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. I love the readings but will only comment on the Gospel today as it is so important.
Gospel Mt 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."
I think sometimes we need the reminder of what we are to do for others; and there are many ways of giving nourishment to those who surround us, of welcoming them as they are, clothing them with love and understanding, and being with them when they need us. I am thinking that there are many days when I fail to do all that Jesus asks me to do in helping others; if I really were loving them as Jesus loves me, I would leave nothing undone for my neighbor and would study how I can be of greater help. I think this Sunday's Gospel calls us to love in action and a concentrated effort to see how those around me can be aided - it is not just to feed the hungry, visit the sick, or do what we can for the poor. It is to take positive action to nourish others in all the ways that we can, to be with them and remember that what we do to others we do to the Lord!
I spent the morning at the doctor's and then cleaning our refrigerator which was almost empty; then I went to the grocery store and bought many things so we are well-stocked for food maybe until Thanksgiving! I cannot believe that a week from Thursday is Thanksgiving but have been thanking today for the gift of water. My reflection has taken me through many thoughts of water, the need we have for it, the abundance of water in some places and the lack of water in others. Especially, it has led me to be grateful for our pool as I was able to get in and swim today and feel so relaxed and at peace now.
I am praying for our world. In Miami we are having many houses broken into and their was a robbery just across and down from our house this morning. I guess people are in such need that they are breaking into houses to steal whatever they can find to sell.
I hope I will be more spiritual and have some better reflections soon, but I just sit here and share with you whatever seems to be on my mind. NN
We are having beautiful weather and I am heading for the swimming pool while the sun is out. I missed my time at the gym while I was away and am missing it again today as I needed to do some more urgent things around the house. As you can probably tell from my lack of quiet reflection for my blogs since I have been home, I am still trying to do too much and not doing all that I want. I would tell someone else to just take it easy, breathe deeply, and calmly prioritize and then do one thing at a time. It is easier to give advice to someone else than follow it myself!
Here is a nice quote from Mechtild of Magdeburg: "To love in every moment praises God.
Longing love brings a sorrow sweet to the pure.
Seeking love belongs to itself alone.
Understanding love is mingled with the sadness of the world.
But selfless love bears an effortless fruit,
Working so quietly even the body cannot say how it comes and goes."
Something has happened to my blog and I cannot find my original one to post or edit posts. I am just letting you know this and will try to solve the problem tomorrow. I think it will publish correctly, but I have only a tiny font and cannot discover anything to make it bigger and there is not any help button. I will be able, I hope, to tackle this problem tomorrow.
Do you ever feel that you might not catch up with all that you think you need to do? We have an RSCJ visiting this week end and I gave her the keys to my 12-year old Toyota and so I am staying at home. I will go to Mass this evening with one of my community but I am really cleaning up my desk, answering letters, deleting e-mails, and many necessary tasks that must be done before I am swamped. However, even as I wrote the first sentence for this blog, I realized that nothing drastic will happen if all that I "think" I need to do does not get done! So I am also relaxing and watching part of the Nebraska game with Penn State with one of my community. The game began with prayer for the victims of abuse - what a terrible thing to do to young boys and how many have been abused by persons one would trust. It makes the scandal of the abuse by priests such a terrible thing and it will not go away. I think we need to pray much for all the victims as I suspect there are some who will never come forward; I suspect there are women, too, who were abused by priests, teachers, and others in authority and who were and are afraid to accuse their abusers.
I did not sit down to write this kind of a reflection but maybe I need to let it go as it is weighing heavily on me today.
On a lighter note, I have so much to be grateful for and I am trying to be very conscious of the fact that every moment is a gift and I have this desire to thank and praise God that I am alive and able to do so many things. Let us thank God together for the good things of each day and be aware that He is gifting us constantly with life and love!
I wish everyone a joy filled day! If you are looking for a job, here is a website you might want to look at:http://jooble-us.com/ I am not looking for a job, but I am glad to pass on this information to anyone who is. I spent some time today with the Gospel for next Sunday. It is the parable that Jesus told of the Master who gave his three servants different amounts of "talents" or money before he left for a long journey. You will remember that the one who received five talents doubled the amount; the one who had received two talents also doubled the amount he had. To both of them the Master said on his return: "Well done, good and faithful servant. Because you have been faithful in small things greater responsibilities will be given to you. Enter into your Master's joy." (I am trying to quote from memory so may not be exact.)
I keep thinking about what it means to enter into the Master's joy.
I also think of the third servant who received only one talent and went and buried it. He must have been fearful and maybe lazy and did nothing with his talent and the Master was not pleased and banished him. I guess this can point to our own holding back sometimes and being afraid to use the gifts God has given us. We sin by omission and this is easy to do as sometimes we just do not even want to make the effort to use what has been given to us. Spreading joy would be one gift I would love to use today!
I had a great week in Arizona and felt good about having the first four nights with my brother and sister-in-law as I see very little of them now that they have been living in Gold Canyon for at least ten years. I watched multiple football games with John, my brother, who has five TVs in one room set up so he can watch five games at a time! On Sunday evening, we had a family dinner with my sister and her husband and my nephew and his wife and then I went to Scottsdale with my sister and brother-in-law. I was spoiled all week and now need to get to work.
The picture is not from Arizona but a weather vane seemed appropriate as I have had several kinds of weather this past week: first it was hot, then windy with a dust storm, and then rain and then cold. Some parts of Arizona had seven inches of snow! I enjoyed sleeping under blankets every night.
I was at the University today, Thursday, as I came home last night. We have our reflection group now.
We are having rain and some flooding of streets this week, but the northeast has had heavy snow that has knocked out power and I am sure many are suffering up there. It is a strange thing to think of snow at the end of October! However, it is now November and the Feast of All Saints which I love.
Here is the the reason the Feast gives us joy: The Preface for All Saints
Today we keep the festival of Your holy city,
the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother.
Around Your throne the saints,
our brothers and sisters,
sing Your praise for ever.
Their glory fills us with joy,
and their communion with us in Your Church
gives us inspiration and strength
as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith,
eager to meet them.
With their great company and all the angels
we praise Your glory as we cry out with one voice:
Holy, holy, holy...
I need to tell you that I will be away again for a week - just to get to see family in Arizona. I found a cheap ticket on Southwest months ago and was happy about that and these dates seemed to be good for everyone so I take off and will be away from the blog for a whole week. Maybe it will be nine days as I am usually swamped the first days back. I am sure that I will be watching many football games with my brother! Maybe I will really learn the difference between some of the rules for college games and for Professional games as I get confused sometimes. It is always good to see family and worth the whole day of travel as Southwest leaves from Fort Lauderdale and then goes to Kansas City before Phoenix so it will be about ten hours or so after I leave home before I arrive out there and my sister-in-law is going to meet me. I will spend some of the week with her and my brother in Gold Canyon and then go to Scottsdale to be with my sister. She and her husband live about 45 minutes away and my nephew and his wife live about forty-five minutes away from both of them so it is a nice triangle; I suspect it is about an hour each way now that traffic has increased out there, but still close enough for them to get together.
Look for the next post around November 12th.
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.