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Monday, August 31, 2015

Prayer at odd moments

When we go to pray, we find Jesus waiting for us. He also waits for us in all the odd moments when we remember to turn to Him. One of my wise and holy spiritual directors told me that it is good to have a walking prayer that one can say just going around the house. I have used different ejaculations and now find myself often just saying, "This is for You, Jesus" as I go clean up after someone or push in a chair, set the table, etc. It is a different kind of prayer but puts me in contact with Jesus and I feel His love. Remember we go to prayer to let God love us. The key is to remember His presence in our lives and turn to Him. He is always waiting for us and is never bothered by our "made up, spur of the moment" prayers.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I am using pictures to praise God at the beginning of my morning hour of prayer. Usually, if I gaze at a picture long enough, one detail will draw my attention and then my imagination kicks in and I no longer need the picture as I have a great imagination and can see things in color, depth, and movement. My going down into the depths of the Heart of Jesus is also an exercise in my imagination, but it is also real. I suspect this happens to others, too.

I am still imagining the interior of the house that is in a painting on the wall of the new campus ministry offices. It is what I would call a "Mediterranean house" but the artist was from Puerto Rico. It is painted white with lots of different shaped windows and an arch opening into a patio. The house spans both sides of the arch and also the other side of the patio so my imagination was caught in trying to figure out the use of the rooms in that house and the next thing I knew was that I was thinking of St. Teresa's "Interior Castle."  This house with its many flowers hanging from  pots on small balconies, etc. was far from a castle but it had me walking through it with Jesus and I actually had a dream about it that night. It was a good dream for it was a happy house.

My soul longs for God

As a deer longs for water, so my soul longs for God. Yet, the mystery is that God is in me. He is closer to me than I am to myself and He is active - sometimes it is the Holy Spirit who inspires me in a conscious way; sometimes, it is Jesus speaking to me deep in my heart, or through Scripture; sometimes I am aware of the Father's embrace. I long for God and forget that He is in me, around me, and I can find Him always when I seek for Him. He is in the persons I meet, the tasks that present themselves daily, the events and circumstances of each day.

Sometimes I am so unaware of His Presence. Keeping a Journal is a great help. I should write something after prayer each day, but I usually do not stop to do that but I do write at least several times a week in my journal to note something that seems significant. It is not just about prayer; it is not a diary with events just noted; I guess it is some thought or reflection that seems worth noting down and I do remember things that I take time to write. It is not always easy to put one's interior life into words. I am grateful that silence is God's first language!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wonder and Praise

What is wonderful is that I can look at a picture and be lost in awe, wonder and praise. At the moment, Miami is having thunder storms. Last night the lightning was constant and lengthy just before I went to sleep. It was so bright that I had to get up to look at it. It reminded me of the electrical storms I experienced years ago in New Orleans that would light up the entire dormitory; the children would use it as an excuse to pull their beds out and surround my alcove. They said they felt safer that way. It was difficult for the one who came to wake me at 4:45 each morning to do so with all the beds blocking her way. One morning, she thought she heard me stirring, but I did not appear at morning office. I was still sound asleep! It is funny the things I remember after more than fifty years.

I have been thinking a great deal about what it means for me to keep reflecting on "Laudato Si". It is a reflection that must lead to action. At present I am going through it again and jotting notes as I read. This helps me to remember. I read the six chapters as soon as it came out, but only now am I going back to really try to deepen what the Holy Father is saying. I am struck by the deep and inter-twined relationship between God, us, and the earth.

We may be facing a really big storm and I feel we are not really ready for it. We have had too many good years so have rather forgotten how bad it can be when we get even the tail of some hurricane. I need to check the flashlights and get help with the patio furniture. When we lose power, we all suffer from the heat.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Little Opportunities

We have many opportunities to do humble and loving things each day. Mother Stuart says that these little opportunities for being humble and loving are like gold dust and we should have an enthusiasm for them. I am trying but seem to often lack that enthusiasm. Still, I believe that I keep trying to find joy in these little ways of helping others. Each day is a challenge. I am sure that is one of the reasons that St. Ignatius insisted so on a daily examen. We need to thank for all the people, events, circumstances in our lives and then see how we are responding to the calls of each day. We are to live united to Jesus in the daily tasks and know that we are walking with Jesus no matter what is asked of us.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Gift of Water

We take the gift of water for granted. We have water all over America and we have running water that is so convenient in our homes. We do not know what it is like to need to walk long distances to find water. We even have washing machines with hot and cold water; showers with hot and cold water; dishwashers with water hot enough to clean our dishes and silverware, etc. And we take this for granted.

There are many in our world who have no running water; they have no clean water; they cannot drink the water they have. I had just a small experience in Chile. Although I visited two communities who did not have any running water, they did have rain barrels and were able to boil water to drink. I did not live in either of those communities but I was superior for two years in the poorest region of Chile and we did have a real problem with our water one of those years. Although Coquimbo is on the ocean, just a few blocks from our wooden house built by the priests next to the Church, there was real desert. One year it rained in the desert. This was unusual and there were no water filters so suddenly we had only muddy water. We were fortunate to have running water as many of our neighbors did not. However, what to do with the brown stuff that came out of the faucet? We washed in it; our towels were brown but we were clean. We let the mud settle, took off the top to boil for drinking, saved the next part for washing dishes and rinsing our clothes and we used the rest to clean and the mud at the bottom was thrown out and we would begin again. It was hard work to be able even to have a drink. I marveled at some of my girl scouts who lived in shacks with no water and who would appear in clean white blouses.
I guess I started on this today as I was thinking of how much I take for granted,. Then, I was also thinking of the living water that flows from the Heart of Christ and how I also forget to thank for His great love and mercy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So very near

The Psalm response for today is "You have searched me and know me. Lord" from Psalm 139 - one of my favorites. The reflection given by Father Austin Fleming is excellent and I shall be quoting a bit from him. His Concord Pastor is one of my favorite blogs but this reflection is in "Give Us This Day":

"Lord, you are near, so very near. You search my heart, inside and out. You know me better, more intimately, than I know myself. You know my strengths and my weaknesses, my truth and my lies, my reality and fantasy, my virtues and my sins. Nothing about me escapes your soul-piercing gaze....

I fool only myself when I pretend in the shadows to hide my own darkness. ...Again and again I learn the folly of running away from you who are there, everywhere I turn: all around me and dwelling deep within me. I have no reason to fear your pursuit....

You are so near, Lord. You search my heart and soul, you know me oh-so-well! With thanks and praise I yield to you and find my peace beneath your watchful eye, within your firm embrace."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

We drew courage...

We are called to preach the good news! Paul tells us in the first reading today that he drew courage "through our God to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle." He goes on to say that they were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. He is trying to please God, not men. It is God who judges our hearts. Paul put his life in danger more than once just to be able to preach the Gospel. And I? Am I taking the opportunities that are presented to me daily to preach by my whole life? Have I the attitudes, the meekness, the love of Jesus so that I communicate the message with love?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Finding Joy In Small Things

This morning I made a firm resolution to see the good in every person and event of the day. I have failed and it is still fairly early. However, I am making a conscious effort and found joy in just closing a door left open, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up after others, etc. I really need to make this conscious effort as I have found myself being critical. Maybe I am going to become a cranky person if I do not watch those thoughts. I am sharing this as I remember that when the Pope was asked who he was, he replied, "I am a sinner." I can say the same, but what I really want to say and know that this is true is, "I am God's Beloved." I have been so loved by God - each of us has- that I just want to give His love to others.

God is so good to each of us!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


All of us are like boats our on the lake, but are we fishing?

When I contemplate this picture, I am just sitting in my boat and lost in the beauty around me. I am no longer in competition to catch fish; I am just enjoying the fact that I am out on the water and it is quiet and peaceful and God is very present.

The Sunday Gospel has the disciples of Jesus ready to go away as they cannot believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life- that they are to eat His flesh and drink His blood.. Jesus asks them, "Does this shock you?"
When many leave, Jesus asks the twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Peter is quick to answer for them: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

We all need to trust Jesus and believe in Him. We may not always understand, but we do believe in His Presence, and He comes to us in a special way each time we receive Him in the Eucharist.

How did the Heart of Jesus feel when so many walked away? How does He feel now when I am walking with Him or do I sometimes walk away? Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Queenship of Mary

This is now the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. The picture is of Our Lady of Grace and I do like to think of Mary as being in heaven and making sure that we have all that we need. If she sees we are lacking something, she tells her Son. After all, she had Jesus change water into wine when she saw that there was a need. I like to sing "Queen of Angels, thou are glorious..." and I am glad that all who go to heaven find Mary there.

The fact that there are more guns than there are people in this country is really bothering me. Almost daily I read of another death by gunfire. Innocent children are finding guns and killing each other or themselves; there are drive-by shootings that kill just anybody in the path of the bullets; and there are many suicides.
We need to have licenses for guns. We do not let just anybody drive a car, but I am told it is quite easy to buy a gun. This is an issue I want to do something about and I am praying about it.
I am confiding this issue to Our Lady on this feast.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beauty is everywhere!

I read this and it began a real reflection on the beauty that surrounds us when we have eyes to see.

"God has made everything beautiful.
Seeing life through that lens is profound and life-giving."

If we reflect on this, we will see that all is gift. There is beauty everywhere! Beauty is easily found in nature, but also in people, in the events that pop up during a normal day. We just need to be alert to capture the beauty that God gives us in so many ways. Where am I experiencing this beauty now? Let us thank God for helping us to see the beauty in each creature today!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Silent listening

We find God by looking, contemplating nature, but we also find God by listening in the silence of our hearts. We need to learn to listen to what God is saying in this silence. We learn to attune our self to the Beloved and to develop "the ear of the heart, the inner listening of the soul." (From "Prayer of the Heart")

I have come to love and relish silence and it is such a gift. I do remember that I struggled as a novice with the rule of silence we had then. Now, with people always on phones or leaving the TV on for hours, many are used to noise. I rejoice in the opportunity to just sit in silence and remember that silence is God's first language.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Here is a quote from Rumi that I have been praying over:

"Make everything in you an ear, each atom of your being, and you will hear at every moment what the Source is whispering to you, just to you and for you, without any need for my words or anyone else's. You are - we all are- the beloved of the Beloved, and in every moment, in every event of your life, the Beloved is whispering to you exactly what you need to hear and know. Who can ever explain this miracle? It simply is. Listen and you will discover it every passing moment. Listen, and your whole life will become a conversation in thought and act between you and Him, directly, wordlessly, now and always."

Quoted in "Prayer of the Heart in Christian & Sufi Mysticism by Llewellyn Vaugh-Lee.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Questions of Jesus


I have trouble moving the cursor in this blog when it decides to start in the middle. Just be patient and I shall try to learn how to manage this. Today I want to talk about the book my reflection group chose. It is by John Dear and the title is "The Questions of Jesus: Challenging Ourselves to Discover Life's Great Answers" and we are to cover the first questions grouped under "Invitation". There are three questions to ponder and I expect all my readers may want to ponder these:
1. What are you looking for?
2. Why are you looking for me?
3. What do you want me to do for you?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

That you may be radiant with joy

This Sunday we are aware of the great gift that Jesus has given us: He has given us Himself in the Eucharist.

I was drawn to the Psalm for this Sunday:

 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

Let us all look to Jesus that we may be radiant with joy and our faces may not blush with shame.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Feast of the Assumption of Mary


I had a great image, but lost it so this one perhaps gives the message the Feast is to convey.
Mary is in heaven but she is watching over each of us and loves us as a mother loves her child. Mary tells Jesus what we lack and instills in us the same confidence that she has in her Son. Let us ask Mary to help us please Jesus in all that we do.

Let us spend some time with Mary today asking her to show us what we lack. She was so quick to see that the young couple needed more wine to celebrate their wedding feast and went to Jesus. She will do the same for us.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Picture Prayer

It seems that pictures are leading me into prayer and reflection. I am also trying to hear Jesus ask me the same questions He asked others when He was with His apostles. That reflection is caused by the book we are going to be using for my reflection group. The group chose John Dear's "The Questions Jesus Asks" and we begin with "What are you looking for?"

The picture above keeps speaking to me. Obviously, the two chairs comfortably situated in shallow water to keep us cool make me think of a spiritual direction session where one helps another to respond to what the Lord is asking or just serves to help one grow in relationship to Jesus. Then there is the boat in the distance that keeps drawing me to long to "go out into deeper water."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yesterday I heard that another of my friends at Oakwood had gone to God. I am happy for her, but she will be missed as she was very loving and thoughtful for all. I also heard that one of my college friends had a knee replacement yesterday and another is in rehab after surgery. I am praying for so many people by name now - I must confess that I used to just pray for all the ill, those who need prayer and those I have promised to prayer for, but now I am taking the time to name so many of my friends as we age. It is as if I need to remind God to take special care and place each one in the Heart of Jesus. I am sure God is watching over each, but it seems to help to pray now by name.

The Feast of Our Lady's Assumption into Heaven is this Saturday. It always marks the end of summer for me. It is also a feast that makes us think of Heaven. The more I ponder certain things, the more I see how so much is mystery; it is beyond my finite mind to comprehend, but that is how we grow in faith.
The subject of my prayer (if there is one) this week is God's mercy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What does God think?

When I contemplate a picture such as this one of an innocent child so full of wonder and expectation, I ask myself what does God think when He looks down on his creation?

Another poem to share with you today from Carol Bialock, rscj


What is is enough.
Enough for breathing
Enough food
Enough drink
And enough to share with a friend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Used To Think Heaven Was Future

There is so much to reflect upon in my life now that it is hard to find time to put reflection into words. I am just so grateful for the time to just be, to ponder, to read, to further relationships, and for life. Here is another poem from Carol Bialock, RSCJ:

I Used To Think Heaven Was Future

Suddenly I knew,
when we stood in a circle
holding hands;
suddenly I knew,
that because of the circle,
because of friendship,
because of love -
yes, and because of the brokenness,
and the need -
I have been
in heaven
my life.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Using a picture for prayer

Another picture that may lead to reflection. For some reason, I immediately wanted to be under the bridge. It looks cool and shady down under and I just find myself drawn there.

In the Hearts on Fire II retreat last month we were asked to do a visual reading of  a picture or symbol. I have been doing some "lectio divina" with pictures ever since. You look at the picture until something strikes you, takes your attention, or draws you to stop over it. It may be just a detail in the picture, but it is trying to get your attention and certainly will have a message for you, if you stay with it and pray over it. Ask yourself what message this has for you? There must be a reason why you are drawn back to this part of the picture. What is it calling you to? What is God saying to you now through your attentive gaze? What is He calling you to do?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"I am the Bread of Life"

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel: "everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life...I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

We have such a gift in the Eucharist. I know Pope Francis is moving toward reconciliation of those who have been away from the Eucharist because of divorce and now are married again. I know that all Catholics need the strength of the Eucharist and Jesus did not give us Himself to exclude people but wanted to be the Bread of Life for all. Let us pray for the coming synod where some big decisions may be made.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Childlike Joy

May we never lose the joy we see so often in children. I think adults have the same joy but we do not show it so readily. One can be joyful at any age.

I have more wisdom from Mother Stuart to share with you today:
"Try not to bother your head about what other people do or love or like or say. Keep to the likeness of Our Lord, as you find it, in the Gospels, and remember that n our ignorant and incomplete condition, some times the more we analyze, the less we see. We are in the caterpillar stage, don't fret about it. We shall be dragonflies or butterflies some day! Let us be patient and hold on to prayer."

Let us be joyful today!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Old language and new

I found a wonderful summary done by Jesuit John O'Malley that sums up for me the work of Vatican II in terms of language then and now in the Church. I am sharing it here:

"At stake were almost two different visions of Catholicism:
from commands to invitations
from laws to ideals
from definition to mystery
from threats to persuasion
from coercion to conscience
from monologue to dialogue
from ruling to service
from withdrawn to integrated
from vertical to horizontal
from exclusion to inclusion
from hostility to friendship
from rivalry to partnership
from suspicion to trust
from static to ongoing
from passive acceptance to active engagement
from fault finding to appreciation
from prescriptive to principled
from behavior modification to inner appropriation."

The above is quoted by Robert Blair Kaiser in this book Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis Is Changing the Church and the World. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

Lover of Books

I began to love books way before I could read them. I suspect that many of us grew to love books because our parents read to us at night. I knew how to read by the time I went to school and do remember that I was rather bored in first grade until I was allowed to sit in the back of the classroom and read all the books that the classroom had; then I was sent to second grade and felt far from bored as they had been studying French and also knew so much more math than I did that I had to scramble to catch up and still leave the classroom to go back for the preparation for both my First Holy Communion and Confirmation as the Visitation Academy had both for the six-year olds on the same day with a festive breakfast in between the Sacraments. Why I am reflecting on all of this today is probably because I was thinking of what a gift the Eucharist is to me - a great gift for all of us.

Quiet water

This picture makes me long to be on the water in a canoe, if only I were younger!
I love quiet water and used to love to canoe! Now I have not the energy to even think about a canoe trip, but still can imagine myself paddling in the above picture. Sometimes I find just looking at water draws me to prayer. I love even to watch the water in our pool; better still, I like to be in the pool. In fact, I am leaving this blog to go get a swim in now before cooking supper for our guests.  Here I go! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Feast of the Transfiguration

This has always been one of my favorite feasts. Perhaps it is because I feel that Jesus also invites me to go up the mountain with Him. Perhaps it is because I feel there is an intimacy about this encounter of Christ with only three chosen friends to be there to see how Jesus is transfigured before them. And then there is the moment when they "looking up, saw only Jesus."

We are all called to encounter the transfigured, risen Christ. He comes to us and wants us to be with Him. He invites us to go with Him to pray on the mountain.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Praying with a picture

Sometimes a picture is enough to trigger a wonderful hour of prayer. This one has several elements to help one sink into prayer. There is the still water; then the lighthouse on the point seems to beckon us to come nearer; there is something near the trees that invites us to enter into mystery; and finally, we may just want to contemplate the sky and lose ourselves in the floating clouds.
How do you pray with pictures?
We only need to look outside and we have a wealth of material to lead us into a deep prayer of praise, and awe before the wonders of nature. Try it today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nurse the spirit of prayer...

This picture speaks to me of setting sail into the sunset and has me asking myself questions. Am I going into the unknown? How do I feel about this as night approaches? Who are with me in the boat? Sometimes a picture can lead us into prayer.

Here is a bit more from Mother Stuart:

"Whatever happens, my dear child must keep the ideal up, and not be daunted by any failure to get there. You cannot expect to reach it at once, but if you keep on hoping, praying and trying you will get there in the end, but you will never know it. Nurse the spirit of prayer, all good comes from that, and it needs care to grow. Try to read a little of something spiritual every day, even if only for five minutes. It helps to keep the mind on heavenly things, and remember that all passes away except these heavenly things. Troubles pass, and fighting passes, and weariness and temptations, all except God and the life we live in Him. Pray then, and hold on, and may God and Our Lady be with you."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pray as you can...

I have always believed that one must pray as one can, not as one can't. Here is a quote from Mother Stuart that may be helpful for reflection today:

"Contrition always, hope always, prayer as you can, in the way that is easiest at the moment. Be very flexible, don't want to have it this way or that way, but tend to what is simple and quiet, and persevere in hard times. One moment of realization is worth days and weeks of waiting."

Prayer is simple if we just realize that it is the expression of our own personal relationship with God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is usually easier to just talk to Jesus, but I hope you have a deep relationship with each person in the Blessed Trinity.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Give us Thyself

Mother Stuart says:

"Give us Thyself " is the best prayer we can pray, and "we give ourselves to Thee" no better offering. For we do not know what to ask and what to offer. Leave it to Him, but remember that we must, and we mean to give all for all.

More good advice for prayer from Mother Stuart:
"In prayer it is often the very best just to leave yourself face to face with God without saying anything.."

Now, this is true and I add my own commentary as I think we all need to learn how to share our experience of prayer. That "leaving yourself face to face with God without saying anything is often not only the best thing for us to do, but the only thing we are capable of doing. I have found that God speaks in silence so just sit there and know that He is with you.

Thank for the beauty that surrounds us...

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." This is a quote from Ralph W. Emerson and makes me stop to thank for all the beauty that does surround me each day and I so often take for granted.

There is such beauty in the faces of the old. Yesterday, I went to visit a dear friend of many years who is in hospice. She helped me to set up the first and only program for training spiritual directors in Spanish in the whole United States; it flourished for a few years, but by then my time was absorbed by University duties and so we just continued with the English Formation Program for Spiritual Directors and Spiritual Companions. Anyway, everyone that I saw in the hospice wing yesterday had a beautiful face full of love and peace.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Stormy Saturday

We had terrific thunder storms yesterday and it looks as if we will have more today.  I think we set a record for so much rain on the feast of St. Ignatius yesterday. My blog also seems to have disappeared. I am writing now on my I-pad, thus no picture today. I tried but it did not appear here.

Looking at the readings for Sunday I see that the Israelites are complaining, Paul is telling us to get a new self, and Jesus is telling us that He is the bread of life. Jesus told those who came looking for him because he had fed them, " Father gives you true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Then Jesus tells us, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
We are so blessed. We need to live in gratitude for we have the gift of faith. We are able to receive Jesus as He comes to us in the Eucharist! Let us thank Jesus again for this tremendous gift.