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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

St. Ignatius and our World Context today

I have always liked this picture of St. Ignatius. I was privileged to make the thirty-day Spiritual Exercises in Manresa, Spain where Ignatius prayed and made most of the notes for this wonderful retreat. I spent the last night in vigil in the cave where he did this as it is under the retreathouse. I also had the joy of returning to give the 30-day retreat to priests and religious three years later. I guess I have always loved the Jesuits since reading Father Finn's stories as a child and then I have three Jesuit cousins that I rather envied. Two are dead now but I first knew them when they were chaplins in the Second World War.

Well, to look at my notes on some of the statistics which Cecile told me she is constantly updating to be aware of our world context, there are more than 7 billion people in the world today. We are almost equal as far as gender.
61% live in Asia and only 13% live in North and South America, 14 % in Africa, 11% in Europe, and 1% in the Pacific on different islands.
Only 9% speak English in the whole world; 21% speak a Chinese dialect.
4 billion are living below the poverty level; 903 million go to bed hungry every night!
780 have no access to clean drinking water. There are 200 million migrants.

I guess that is enough to reflect upon today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Image of Joy

I went to find an image to express my feeling after our Provincial Assembly and came across this one that I had filed under the title of "Image of Joy." I was glad to see that it expresses hope, prayer, transformation by the Spirit, as well as some of the joy I feel we all experienced in just being together. It was evident that face to face meetings are important for us and life-giving. I felt renewed by the energy that I received from all my sisters. At my table, we were a good mix; two of us had worked for years out of the country; one is working with the Indians, one is head of a school, one does counseling in a school situation in Washington, D.C., and one has been in formation and retreat work for many years for our Province and then we had one of the lay administers with us for two days who is on the Mission Advancement staff. I mention our backgrounds because I think each table was rich in the experience of the group. My first "boss" at the University always used to tell us "the sum is greater than its parts" and I find that so true.
Tomorrow I will share a few of the statistics given in a marvelous talk by our United Nations representative, Cecile
Meijer, RSCJ, who gave us the world context for our Mission Reflection. It is also the Feast of St. Ignatius and a great day for RSCJs as well as for all our Jesuit friends.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Reflection

I think that Jesus loves to feed His people. He gave us the great gift of Himself in the Eucharist and told us that we need to eat this bread. I was reading the commentaries for this Sunday given in the Concord Pastor's blog listed on the right, and copied this quote:

It is wonderful that our Eucharists have become more immediate, understandable, and participatory since Vatican II. But perhaps the cost of making it understandable has been the embarrassing realization that the Mass, if we actually believe what it proclaims, is uncomfortably miraculous.

If Christ really has given us the Eucharist, he is doing something far greater in our midst than Elisha’s feeding of two hundred with twenty barley loaves or even Jesus’ own stupendous feeding of five thousand. What we will find in the subsequent passages of John’s Gospel is Christ’s promise to become our very bread. In faith we hold that this promise is not some mere human symbolic projection. No, we are witnessing the holy of holies in our very midst.

Many may still be skeptical. For those who believe it, awe is only appropriate.

John Kavanaugh, S. J.

Now that should make us value the privilege we have of daily Communion. I have this feeling as soon as I am at Mass that this is where I belong, even if I am often distracted and, I must confess, often with the temptation to skip a day during the week. One of the graces of this year has been real effort, if not quite complete fidelity, to daily Mass and time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon. Having the Chapel next to my bedroom is a big plus!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The fruit of the Spirit

Here is a very powerful quote from St. Madeleine Sophie from a Conference that she gave for the Feast of Pentecost, 1827.

If I could only make you realize the happiness of a soul who gives herself to the Holy Spirit wholly and without reserve! If I could tell you what happens within her, if I could picture for you her joy! She is no longer the one who acts, it is God. She moves only to follow God's inspirations. Everything becomes easy for her: the Holy Spirit has taken possession of her... If the happiness of an individual is so great, how much greater that of a  Society that allows itself to be wholly guided by the Spirit and gives itself to her without reserve...It would be heavenly! What peace, what union and, at the same time, how much good would be accomplished!"

 I forgot to tell you that when I came home I found Phil Kilroy's latest book: "The Society of the Sacred Heart in Nineteenth-Century France, 1800-1865 here waiting for me. I had pre-ordered it before it was published and I see that it is now even more expensive so you should ask your library to buy a copy and be the first to read it. I am sure I will be sharing some of it with you in this blog. I have almost finished it and will start reading it a second time! I did my dissertation research on the spirituality of St. Madeleine Sophie, but Phil has done research outside the Society of the Sacred Heart and I found some details new and interesting.
I just saw that this blog has more than 89,000 hits so I guess that encourages me to keep posting!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The work of the Spirit in me

"What is the Spirit coming to do? She comes to create. She is called 'Creator Spirit' because her action is a creation she wants to fashion in us." (St. Madeleine Sophie, Conference for Pentecost, 1855)

"You know what I want for you: a transparent heart, forgetfulness of self-- no more looking for yourself, a love of God that directs to God all other loves, a single passion: God's interests." (SMS to A. Michel, 1825)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Giving myself over to the Spirit

Here are a few quotes from St. Madeleine Sophie that I think will help us realize the importance of giving ourselves over to the Holy Spirit.

"Few give themselves over to the Holy Spirit, and what a mistake we make in not being among the privileged few! Believe me, it costs much more to stay in a miserable mediocrity in which one belongs neither to God nor to oneself. It is like swimming between two currents; it is difficult and dangerous. Hurry up and plunge into midstream. The Holy Spirit will then carry you and you will get to port much more quickly." (Letter to F. Giraud, 1839)

"Deliver yourself to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, make yourself as a tool that offers no resistance to the handling of the artisan." (Letter to J. Cabagni, March 1856)

More tomorrow....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Breathe on Me, O Breath of God

The prayer with St. Madeleine Sophie and the Holy Spirit on the last morning of the Provincial Assembly began with the hymn whose text is from Edwin Hatch who lived from 1835-1889. The tune is St. Columba but I love the words and will copy them here for you.

O breathe on me, O breath of God, 
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love the things you love, 
And do what you would do.

O breathe on me, O breath of God, 
Until my heart is pure;
Until my will is one with yours,
To do and to endure.

O breathe on me, O breath of God,
My will to yours incline,
Until this selfish part of me
Glows with your fire divine.

O breathe on me, O breath of God, 
So shall I never die,
But live with you the perfect life
Of your eternity.

I think the first verse is a perfect prayer for the day and will leave you with that and this one quote from Sophie written in 1841 in a conference she gave at Amiens: "We need a means to encourage the soul, to nourish it and raise it over itself. The means of all means is the Spirit who vivifies and makes fruitful...This Spirit becomes the breath of the soul..would to God each one may exclaim, 'I begin today!'"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Open hearts transformed by the Spirit

I was thinking of our morning prayer each day during the assembly as we really were centered on the theme of the whole Province Assembly: "Open hearts transformed by the Spirit."  We began each day by passing a lighted candle to each at our table and praying for the light of the Holy Spirit to transform us and then we had prayer services prepared - one day was a Mass over the world with gorgeous pictures projected on the huge screens in the ballroom where we had our meetings; another day it was a simple card in front of us with this quote from our Constitutions: "Jesus calls us to a personal encounter with Him. He wants to make known to us the feelings and preferences of His Heart." We spent time with this, sometimes just taking one word, then a few such as
Jesus calls
Jesus calls us
Jesus calls us to a personal encounter
Jesus calls us to a personal encounter with Him.
He wants to make known to us
He wants to make known to us the feelings of His Heart
He wants to make known to us the feelings and preferences of His Heart.

That may not be exactly the way it was done, but I like taking a phrase apart to pray over it this way.
Another day we had a prayer with quotes from our Mother Foundress about her desire to live under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I will share some of those quotes with you tomorrow as they are powerful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am home again!

We had a wonderful Provincial Assembly in St. Louis; for the first time ever, we held it in the Westport Sheridan and having it in the hotel made a tremendous difference; we are getting along in years and staying in college dorms and walking to meals, meeting rooms in different building and liturgy in still another, would have been very difficult for many. We did go to the Shrine of our Saint Philippine Duchesne in St. Charles for both the opening Liturgy and the closing one. Juliet made her First Vows at the opening and many of us celebrated diamond and golden jubilees of our vows and so renewed our vows during the Mass. We had a lovely banquet served afterwards in the school. Since I was a border during high school at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, it is always a wonderful experience for me to return here.
The Provincial Assembly was the best one I have attended and we left energized but also exhausted. I am glad to have this day to just try to catch up. I met several who read my blog daily and I met others who want to begin so I did say I would be giving my impressions of the assembly this week after my return. We had such beautiful prayer services and liturgies that I will mention them first of all. Having a vow ceremony was a lovely way to begin with our Provincial, the Novice director, and her candidate director all taking part; one of my community gave the reflection that replaced the homily. I hope this will appear on our website. If you go to the right side of the blog, click on the Province website and you will find a video of the opening Liturgy.
More tomorrow about the way we shared at the assembly.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Off to St. Louis

This is my last blog until July 23, next Monday when I will be back to tell you all about my days in St. Louis with so many friends and making new ones as there are several RSCJs from Canada, Uganda, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Mexico, and Korea who I have yet to meet. What a gift to belong to an international society and be connected with so many countries; I think we are in 42 or 43 countries.
I leave today so will have time to see friends before the opening Liturgy tomorrow.
Have a good week and do check out some of the prayer resources listed on the right side of the blog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Living Water

This is another picture that always leads me to think of the living water that flows from the Heart of Jesus.
I have decided that this will be the last reflection until I return from the assembly as I leave tomorrow morning and come home Sunday night and really there is no way I can get reflections posted during this busy week at the Provincial Assembly. However, I will be back on by next Monday or Tuesday for sure and will be sharing some of my own insights from this gathering of over 230 RSCJs, and a few colleagues and associates that were chosen through nomination and lottery, I think. We also have over a dozen RSCJs from other countries where we work and it will be interesting to meet with them. I love the internationality of the Society and I am always ready to learn more about other countries.
While I am off this blog for a week, you could be looking at some of the resources that I have listed on the right side of the blog; the RSCJ international website is interesting and under "where we are" you can find maps and then the different countries and their websites (not all 42 countries have websites but many do); you can also read the profiles of RSCJ - maybe those are found under spirituality - just go explore the website and also some of the prayer resources on the side and some of the blogs - it will give you plenty to reflect upon while I am taking this break from my blog.
Do pray for the assembly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Silence

The house is so still this morning and I am relishing the silence. I went over the list of the 230 people coming to the Province Assembly and made my own lists for those I really want to look for during those four days - some are unknown, some I want to sit with and have a conversation, some I hope to have lunch or dinner with and there are over a dozen from other countries that I would love to be able to talk to during the short time we have free. One of my lists consists of eleven RSCJs who live in the United States and I may have even met before this, but I cannot put a face to the name and intend to look for each; most are from New York and Boston and may know me as I have visited both areas for very brief moments, but I cannot remember them and will need to have them pointed out to me in the assembly and then hope to have a word with each. I like to know all my sisters and I am afraid that when we are so many and it gets so noisy, I just go off and seek some silence. These four days are going to be an opportunity to get to know other RSCJs and I am looking forward to that, but loving the quiet today!!
Sundays are contemplative days to sink deeper into the Presence of God and to catch up with oneself; I do spend time reading the Sunday paper, but that is catching up with the world. Reading the paper gives me much material to take to prayer.
Have a holy sabbath and enjoy the silence!

Saturday, July 14, 2012



                OF THE SACRED HEART


To live the charism of Saint Madeleine Sophie,
as it is expressed in these Constitutions,
requires a formation that is at once strong,
dynamic and continuous.
This formation takes place in the light of faith,
and it is rooted in our everyday experience,
and carried on through a network of relationships.

I thought that it is good to reflect on our formation in my blog as so many are interested just now in how Sisters come to be Sisters! And, we are all in some kind of formation all of our lives; we need a formation that is at once strong, dynamic and continuous.
Formation really is rooted in our everyday experience and carried on through our relationships. I guess the part we need to concentrate on is that it "takes place in the light of faith." And that no doubt means many different things to each of us!

Friday, July 13, 2012

God is the ground of my being.

To continue sharing some of the thoughts that seem to keep percolating in my head and penetrating into my heart, here is another:
1.       I am in Christ and He is in me. God is the ground of my being. He created me through and in an expanding, evolving universe that has one purpose: to unify all in the Cosmic Christ. We are all to be united in the Body of Christ, the Cosmic Christ for whom and in whom and by whom we all is created.  Now that is something to keep thinking about and hoping that the realization is really penetrating deep into my head and my heart. I am thinking of taking a vacation from my blog next week as I will be going to the Provincial Assembly. In the meantime, I find that the preparation has sent me back to our Constitutions and Chapter documents. I may be sharing more of this soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Internationality is a real joy for me!

Today is rainy here and the streets are flooded so I am glad to be home and do not need to go out again.
I am thinking again about the preparation for our Provincial Assembly which is next week so do say some prayers for all of us; it is being held in St. Louis from July 18-22 and I am going a day early to see friends. On the first evening, we will have a Mass in the shrine at St. Charles and our novice will renew her vows and then some of us will be renewing our vows made sixty years ago and others will renew their vows made fifty years ago. It has been a fast 60 years when I look back on all my memories from 1952 until today!! I mostly have very good and even joy-filled memories, but losing my parents and one brother were times of sadness. I have, as my brother used to say, "joined the convent and seen the world." I guess going to Rome, then Chile, and later to Spain with time for travel in Europe, teaching in Peru, then a visit to Scotland, England, France as I went back to Rome to do my dissertation research, and managed a trip to Malta and a few times to visit one of my friends in Mallorca, etc. I guess my sudden trip to Bogota this month was the only one that I had not looked forward to and I left so quickly not knowing if our Sister, Ines, would even be alive. I am happy to say that she is still fighting and hopefully is moving closer to recovery but her surgery was serious and she is still a concern. What I brought back from Bogota is a tremendous sense of being home in the Society of the Sacred Heart even in another country and another language. They were so welcoming and I am just grateful for the internationality of the Society!

The emergence of Christ depends on our capacity to love...

This is another one of my thoughts probably taken from Delio's book on "The Emergent Christ."
You see, God's plan for creation includes each of us; it is by my conscious and creative activity that I help keep the world evolving and developing in the way God wants it to and God is Love and so my capacity to love has something to do with the emergence of Christ. The love of God is poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Do I really realize this?
I am caught up in the evolution of the entire universe. God created me in and through an expanding, evoling universe that has one purpose: to unify all in the Cosmic Christ.
Tomorrow, I think I will try to get back to some reflections that I left unfinished at the end of June.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God is so good. I have some thoughts that keep going around in my head and think I will begin to try to share some of them.
The first and perhaps the most powerful is that it is really in God that we live and move and have our being. I think I have always known that, but now I am becoming conscious of this reality in a new and deeper way.
God is in me and I am in God and that is a tremendous truth to absorb. I do not say anything about trying to understand this great mystery of God's indwelling in us and our " living and moving and having our being in God.

Maybe that is enough for today!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beside calm water

When I look at this picture, it helps me to be still. I think sometimes I begin to make mental lists of all the things I should do and am not getting around to do and then I lose something of my interior peace. God wants us to live in peace, not turmoil and so I know I am stirring myself up when I begin to be agitated about things not done. One thing at a time and it is amazing how much can be done when one is calm and not in a frantic state of mind about what "should" be done. I just find that the days pass so quickly and I do so little, but the important things do get done and my priorities for the year have been kept faithfully so far, at least I think they have in spite of a day missed here and there.
Let us begin again to live with a calm soul, one who longs only for her God in whom she lives and moves and has her being. Sorry that I did not post yesterday.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Dinner

This is my last picture of Bogota and I am having a Colombian for dinner tonight plus a couple of Cuban Americans and one of our nuns who works in Japan. I have the large crock-pot filled with potatotes, onions, and carrots to cook slowly and the smell is drifting around the house and reminds me of Sunday dinners at home. My mother always cooked a roast surrounded by onions, carrots, and potatoes. My dinner will have grilled chicken breasts and string beans besides what I have in the crock-pot. But I have such good memories of those Sunday dinners at home.
Until I was in sixth grade and my brother, George, was born on the Christmas after Pearl Harbor and the war meant gas rationing, we had always gone to my paternal grandmother's for Sunday evenings. She was a real Irish matriarch and her six children were all present every Sunday night with family and friends as there was usually a lively game played around the large dining room table after dinner. My Dad and his five sisters loved to play card games and I think they sometimes used a beautiful roulette wheel that had been my grandfather's. Anyway, by the war and my newborn brother made those Sundays impossible, we began to have these wonderful roast dinners on Sunday afternoon. My maternal grandfather, my great aunt and a great uncle started coming for dinner on Sunday. After dinner we would get my grandfather to sing some Irish songs. When I entered the convent I remember wishing I could be home for those Sunday dinners- it was not just the good food, but the love and conversation as my parents loved to entertain and made everyone feel at home.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bogota with Sanctuary

Many pilgrims visit the sanctuary you can see at the top of the mountain a bit left of the center of this picture of downtown Bogota with its really tall buildings.
Ines is just holding on now and the news is not good so please keep praying. I think that I am having a hard time thinking of anything else now.
My morning reflections are not really ready to publish; I think I am coming to a deeper realization of how God lives in each of us. It was sort of exciting to hear on the news that the "God particle" had been discovered and without this nothing would have existence as it would not have mass - I do not understand it, but know that this particle is essential for all that exists and love the fact that some are calling it the "God particle".

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bogota in the evening

Here we see Bogota again. I heard that Ines is again critical as now they have found something in her lung so do keep praying. As you see, I have not been able to settle down and share much in the way of reflection this week as I am still processing the experience of Bogota. At least you have a picture to contemplate each day.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bogota Plaza

There are many people walking through this Plaza at all hours of the day as much of the government business is located in the older buildings and also people still visit the church. We did not have time to stop and so only saw Bogota from a car.
I am still trying to catch up with myself. So many things happened in such a short time. I am trying to let everyone know about Ines but have not managed to contact many yet so I am just giving you a picture to look at and remember that civilization began in South America before our country and each country in South America has its own history.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July - I am spending so much time trying to contact the many friends of Ines plus process what that trip to Colombia meant in my own life, that I almost forgot to send this to you all. Have a great holiday and enjoy it because it comes in the middle of the week!
I did make my exercise class and then went and had a blueberry muffin for lunch with a couple of the class, and will have a friend coming to visit this afternoon so I am having a good holiday and hope you all are, too!

The cable car takes pilgrims up to the Sanctuary high above the city. We did not go quite that high but did reach the start of the cable car in our wonderful ride around to see the city from above and below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Map showing Bogota and surroundings

The people travel to Bogota for many reasons as things tend to be centralized in the capital cities in South America. If you need a visa, go to Bogota. The fact that it is surrounded by mountains makes it an experience to go there. I felt the altitude as it is high above sea level. I marvel at the green mountains that are thick with trees. I loved the trees in the city, too, and they are everywhere.
One time I saw a white horse eating grass on the steep back above the trench dug between streets and thought that was a good way to feed the horse and not need to try to cut grass on such a steep slope.
I loved the mixture of old and new; some streets seem almost to date back to the 16th century; others have modern buildings. There is a very modern museum where we went early on Thursday when those over a certain age are admitted free; we mostly saw some of the exhibits of early gold work.
I cannot believe that it is July. I heard wonderful news today from a friend in England. They will have three entering the novitiate for the Society of the Sacred Heart. Our novice is making her first vows on July 18 at the opening Mass of our Provincial Assembly and I will be one to renew the vows I made to serve God in the Society of the Sacred Heart sixty years ago!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beautiful Bogota

Here is a picture of Bogota, a city surrounded by mountains. It is a truly beautiful setting and the hospitality of our religious was so overwhelming. The provincial with the superior of the convent where we stayed met us at the airport and stayed with us until we left with the Provincial for the hospital for the late afternoon visit. As Ines is in the critical care corridor of the hospital, only one person may visit at a time and from 11:00 to 12:00 and then from 5:00 to 6:00. Ines was very alert and more concerned about others than herself. What I want to emphasize today is what a great grace it is for me to belong to an international congregation where one feels so welcome and at home when in a strange country. The hospitality of the Society continues to amaze me and I am grateful to all our sisters in Colombia who are so loving and attentive - a tour of the city was arranged on Thursday morning and so I want to show you this beautiful city with gorgeous mountains on all sides. My companion said that she would never complain about the traffic in Miami after seeing the congestion in Bogota. There seem to be hundreds of small, yellow taxis everywhere and usually full of people; then there are many motorcycles to add to the confusion as the cars do not stay in a lane. I usually did not see any markings for lanes and what seemed to be a street with two lanes going in one direction would have three cars in the small space and all three lanes would weave in and out; there are also potholes to be avoided. Often there is a trench dividing the road as the winter brings much rain and I guess all the rain from the mountains flows down into the city. More tomorrow.