Tuesday, May 31, 2016
My soul is rejoicing, too, in God, as I am celebrating my 85th birthday today. We will have a Mass at the University with the RSCJs and a few friends and then lunch afterwards at a friendly Italian Restaurant near the University. This will be my last time at St. Thomas University where I have had so many wonderful years full of grace.
I am giving myself a little vacation from the blog as I leave on Saturday for my new home in California and the Oakwood retreat begins on Sunday. That seems to me to be a great way to begin a new life with all the community in silent prayer for a week. I will still write my blog after the retreat, but may miss some days as everyone needs vacation in the summer.
Monday, May 30, 2016
St. Madeleine Sophie said, "Put all your trust in God and all your love. God will uphold you and will supply for all you lack."
Here is a quote from Reverend Mother Stuart that I am praying over and want to share:
"It is an arduous journey, a great undertaking, not a little or an easy thing...sing in every way you can...God gave song, to give heart and courage and joy in life...if not with the voice, sing with the spirit and the understanding; sing by words of courage and hope, praise and thanksgiving."
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Let us spend some time in thanking for this great gift of the Eucharist.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Tomorrow is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It used to be celebrated on Thursdays with
a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, but now, at least in Miami, we celebrate it on Sunday. In Rome, it was on Thursday and the Pope gave a beautiful homily.
It is a beautiful feast and has its own sequence. I will copy just one verse here:
Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
you refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.
May we spend time preparing for this feast by thanking Jesus for the gift of His Body and Blood.
Next Saturday I shall be flying to California to live at Oakwood. The whole community goes into retreat on Sunday so my first week will be in silence. I am very happy about that as I will have those days to talk with Jesus and settle into my new life at our retirement home.
The Pope spoke of Mary being with the Apostles and receiving the Holy Spirit with them. Mary is the Mother of the Church, but she is a real mother for each of us. Let us thank her for her loving care of each of us and how she helps us to go to Jesus. May is the month of Mary in our country. We honor her each time we say a "Hail Mary'.
Friday, May 27, 2016
"Let your heart be more attentive than your head for the Holy Spirit is love, and to take hold of her, it is more important to love than to understand. We do everything at top speed, and I am not sure the Holy Spirit can act at that pace." St. Madeleine Sophie
I drew this saying sometime ago at a prayer service and think of it often for I am one who may plunge into something without thinking or giving the Spirit time to act and guide me. Today, I shall try to keep my heart more attentive than my head.
I am thinking of something that John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote:
"God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next....Therefore I will trust Him, whatever, wherever I am....He knows what He is about!
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Our Mother Foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie, said, " The mission of the Holy Spirit is to let us know Jesus; the Holy Spirit, once free, accomplishes miracles, and we would be wrong not to give the Spirit room."
How do I make room for the Holy Spirit? The Spirit wants to guide me, strengthen me, help me, but I need to call the Spirit to come.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. With your seven-fold gifts, come!
give me wisdom and energy to do all you want me to do today.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
St. Madeleine Sophie was so faithful to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and wanted us to be, too. She said, "Open your soul to the Spirit, call the Spirit who wants to be desired, call the Spirit so that she will fill you with her gifts."
St. Madeleine Sophie has always watched over her daughters and all the children of the Sacred Heart. I really believe that she makes her presence felt when it is needed. It is good to go to her and talk about whatever is going on in our lives and then listen to her counsels. She is a wise woman who is always guided now by the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
St. Madeleine Sophie said, "Try always to let yourself be led by the Spirit of God; with this divine leader you will have all spiritual gifts for yourself and for others."
The Holy Spirit wants to lead us, to inspire us, to bring us closer to Jesus and to the Father. We need only to pray to the Holy Spirit and the Spirit is praying in us!
Monday, May 23, 2016
We must put our whole heart into our work but leave the outcome to God. He alone knows whether is better for me to succeed or to fail. If I have done my best, then my heart is filled with joy and I leave the result to Him. This is easier to say than to do, at least for me. Reverend Mother de Lescure says, "Let us recall that when we are working in souls, it is not only us but the souls also who are concerned. How do we know whether such and such a success would not do more harm than good?"
"And thus we see that neither our sins, nor the slowness of our progress, nor our neighbor, nor our work may be allowed to cause any sadness in our souls. Like St. Paul we say, 'To them that love God all things work together unto good.' Let us always possess this cult of Christian joy and never insult our God by appearing less happy than those the world has caught in its net."
Sunday, May 22, 2016
After Pentecost, it is fitting that we celebrate the Holy Trinity.
I find it helpful to study this icon and then let the Spirit speak to me.
The subject of The Trinity received various interpretations at different time periods, but by the 19th-20th century the consensus among scholars was the following: the three angels who visited Abraham represented the Christian Trinity, "one God in three persons" – the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Art critics believe that Andrei Rublev's icon was created in accordance with this concept. In his effort to uncover the doctrine of the Trinity, Rublev abandoned most of the traditional plot elements which were typically included in the paintings of the Abraham and Sarah's Hospitality story. He did not paint Abraham, Sarah, the scene of calf's slaughter, nor did he give any details on the meal. The angels were depicted as talking, not eating. "The gestures of angels, smooth and restrained, demonstrate the sublime nature of their conversation". The silent communion of the three angels is the centre of the composition.
In Rublev's icon, the form that most clearly represents the idea of the consubstantiality of the Trinity's three hypostases is a circle. It is the foundation of the composition. At the same time, the angels are not inserted into the circle, but create it instead, thus our eyes can't stop at any of the three figures and rather dwell inside this limited space. The impactful center of the composition is the cup with the calf's head. It hints at the crucifixion sacrifice and serves as the reminder of the Eucharist (the left and the right angels' figures make a silhouette that resembles a cup). Around the cup, which is placed on the table, the silent dialogue of gestures takes place.The left angel symbolizes God the Father. He blesses the cup, yet his hand is painted in a distance, as if he passes the cup to the central angel. Viktor Lazarev suggests that the central angel represents Jesus Christ, who in turn blesses the cup as well and accepts it with a bow as if saying "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will". (Mt 26:39) The nature of each of the three hypostases is revealed through their symbolic attributes, i.e. the house, the tree, and the mountain. The starting point of the divine administration is the creative Will of God, therefore Rublev places the Abraham's house above the corresponding angel's head. The Oak of Mamre can be interpreted as the tree of life, and it serves as a reminder of the Jesus's death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, which opened the way to eternal life. The Oak is located in the centre, above the angel who symbolizes Jesus. Finally, the mountain is a symbol of the spiritual ascent, which mankind accomplishes with the help of the Holy Spirit. The unity of the Trinity's three hypostases expresses unity and love between all things: "That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21)
The wings of two angels, the Father and the Son, interlap. The blue colour of the Son's robe symbolizes divinity, the brown colour represents earth, his humanity, and the gold speaks of kingship of God. The wings of the Holy Spirit do not touch the Son's wings, they are imperceptibly divided by the Son's spear. The blue colour of the Holy Spirit's robe symbolizes divinity, the green colour represents new life. The poses and the inclinations of the Holy Spirit and the Son's heads demonstrate their submission to the Father, yet their placement on the thrones at the same level symbolizes equality.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Our ministries could affect our joy. Reverend Mother de Lescure points out the this could be because we are giving ourselves too completely to them or we are striving too greatly for success.
She says, "When we give ourselves too entirely to our work and our prayer suffers or we undertake enterprises on our own initiative outside the limits of obedience, we can be certain that our works will accomplish nothing. How can we do good while at the same time holding back from God what is His due?"
I think that we need to be very discerning about our ministries today. It is so easy to get caught up in work, to take on more than we should - we need to discern what God is asking and we also need to learn to say "No, I cannot manage to do that with all the commitments that I have." I am a firm believer in discerning with others and there is joy in knowing that I am doing what God wants and not just what I want to do - I think I used to worry about being a success as a teacher, head of the school, superior, etc. but I think I soon learned that I was just to be effective, not efficient - a retreat director instilled that into me back in 1974 and it is a way to keep one's joy and has helped me immensely.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Are there other obstacles to living in joy? Yes and no. There is really only one obstacle and it is ourselves. Mother de Lescure says that "if we were truly, deeply penetrated with love for those souls for whom Our Lord died, they could never be an obstacle to our joy. And if our neighbor is a cause of sadness to us, it is an evident proof that we are still self-centered, cowardly, and hypocritical. It is inevitable, says Pere Hugeny, for us not to cause suffering to each other, but what an opportunity that is which we would otherwise not have to perform an act of charity. The little hurts are like the little stones which cause the brook of charity in our hearts to sing; a brook that flows through the sand does not sing...
This image of the singing brook has stayed with me during all these years; I was given this Conference in 1953 as I left St. Louis to go to New Orleans.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Sometimes we are discouraged because of our lack of progress. I think the devil tempts me in this way, so let us look at what Reverend Mother de Lescure has to say on what we need to protect our joy from and not let ourselves be discouraged.
"The slowness of our progress - we may have been in religious life four, five, twenty-five years and we have hardly made any progress. The reply to that objection is that Divine Grace is so precious that the least degree that God gives us is infinitely above all that we could obtain by ourselves. Also, that grace is a free gift and by it we were "Divinized" as St. John says. We are sons of God.... We need to remember that we are limited...we do not know the secret, hidden work of God in us....It is another one of God's graces to hide our progress in order to keep our souls in humility....Let us then leave our progress to God...we must have the desire for interior progress, but as soon as this desire becomes a worry or sadness it ceases to be a profit for our souls.
I have now 66 years in Religious Life and know that when I begin to be discouraged because I feel I am not living united to Jesus, it is the weak point where the devil tries to take away my joy. I am, thanks to the Holy Spirit, aware of this and say to myself, "Courage, confidence and go on serving the Lord with joy!
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
The third point in the Conference on Joy is on how we can protect our joy. The first point takes up one of the principal causes of our sadness: our sins. Let us listen to St. Paul, "To those who love God all things work together unto good."
"All - thus even our sins which can become a means of great love and sanctification in so far as they are properly used - a fault committed may be a source of grace and purification. But to achieve that result we must make use of our sins with the exact opposite tactics of the devil. He, before we commit a sin makes it appear as a nothing, but once committed he tries to convince us that it can never be remedied. He does that to make us fall into despair. We, on the contrary, must try to realize how horrible sin is before we fall, but it we have the misfortune to sin we must not let ourselves lose our courage in vain and useless tears. What is done is done and nothing can change that except our ardent desire to do better in the future. Thus how greatly we can profit of our faults to humble us and fill us with a great confidence in God....Our sins make us experience our weakness...they throw us more completely into the arms of God...Sin has no right to deprive us of joy. "
It is true that there is deep peace and joy in our hearts when we say we are sorry. I find that I feel that peace and joy often for several days after I have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
The attitude of a child weaned from its mother's breast is, according to Reverend Mother de Lescure, another way of protecting our joy. "The infant who is not yet weaned seeks always his mother's milk, but the infant weaned from her breast no longer desires anything. It is satisfied with whatever his mother does, content to be there where she leads him; the only thing necessary is for him to be near her.
The little Saint Therese makes this attitude clear by comparing it to a ball. Like her, let us be content in whatever circumstances Divine Providence places us. If Our Lord asks us to undergo greater sufferings let us be convinced that it is to deepen our hearts and expand them more in charity - in other words, He is enlarging the tumbler that the great St. Teresa used as an example to explain the happiness of heaven. But let us not forget that there are tumblers that hold a litre and others that never exceed a thimble-full. To enlarge our hearts nothing is better than sacrifice. The best attitude to take is doing everything in and for God....We must fight determinedly then against all that could be a source of trouble or sadness to us."
I think we have much to reflect on about how we protect our joy. More tomorrow. I guess I am more aware of the need to protect joy because of all the bad news I read in the newspaper, the stress here with all of us moving, and the sadness I feel in saying good-bye.
Monday, May 16, 2016
With the Holy Spirit, let us continue to reflect on one of the gifts of the Spirit that is so essential for each of us: Joy.
The second part of the conference on Joy of Reverend Mother de Lescure takes up the attitude of a soul protecting our joy.
"It is expressed by the word of the psalmist - in the attitude of an infant in the arms of his mother.
1. The attitude of a child in the arms of his mother: he is always happy, secure as long as he is near her; in her arms his tears quickly dry and he smiles joyfully.
We also are in the arms of our God who is much more than a mother to us - nothing can hurt us as long as we are in His arms.
Some countries have a holiday today just because it is Pentecost Monday!
Sunday, May 15, 2016
The Sequence for the Feast of Pentecost is worth praying over today.
Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height.
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come, with treasures which endure;
Come, thou Light of all that live!
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, Light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Tomorrow is the feast of the Holy Spirit - Pentecost. We await this renewed coming of the Holy Spirit with joy
I will continue next week with the Conference on Joy, but let us reflect with gratitude on the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is always with us to enlighten us, to guide us, to console us, to discern with us what is pleasing to Jesus. It is the Spirit who tells us what to say when we learn to listen in our hearts; the Spirit enkindles in us the fire of the love of God. Spend today preparing for this great feast!
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Fourth point why Joy is necessary (from R.M. de Lescure)
4. Joy is a vital quality for a fruitful apostolate. We must let others see that we have received the hundredfold promised by our Lord. How can we prove it if we ourselves are sad and lifeless? That is why sadness is such a manifest injury toward our God, while on the other hand, joy speaks for itself and reveals the Divine promise that he will fill our hearts with happiness. More and more we wish to attract souls that we come in contact with to gain them for Jesus Christ, but we know through our experience that a cheerful appearance is more attractive than a prison door. The children come easily to us but it does not suffice for us to have many children and that they pass brilliant examinations (although that must not be neglected, nevertheless that is not the essential). Our greatest desire is to make the Love of God penetrate into hearts, for to touch souls is more difficult that to reach minds. The mind was made for truth and a clear explanation gives it the joy of discovering truth....
We may only allow ourselves to exert on our children a great, intimate, profound influence and that also is not acquired except by joy; the is why joy is, with prayer and sacrifice, the real lever of the apostolate and that is why we must defend our joy constantly against the attacks of the demon.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Joy is necessary because Our Lord wished it, because it is the condition of all progress, and now, Reverend Mother de Lescure adds a third point:
Joy is the distinctive sign of true charity. It is St. Paul who affirms this - in naming the fruits of charity, he mentions joy second. And how true it is if we work with charity it is impossible for us not to experience happiness - that happiness that comes from having tried to do our best. Let us recall our own experiences - every time we have renounced ourselves in doing something that costs we have been penetrated with a deep joy. If we do not experience this joy there has been a deficit in our charity: it is still deficient, counterfeit. Moreover, joy is the thermometer of charity and even of our spiritual progress. Every time we succumb to sadness, to moral depression, we must acknowledge to ourselves - I have very much more to do before I have acquired true charity; mine is still blended with illusion.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Here is the second point under Joy is Necessary in the Conference of Reverend Mother de Lescure:
2. Because joy is the condition of all progress. We all have need of a certain measure of joy, of dilation to give a full harvest. It is required through our human necessity whatever be the progress attained. We know from experience what a powerful weapon it is in our role as educators. As soon as joy is given to the children they are won. Joy is moreover and especially the atmosphere for interior progress; that is why the devil strives to snatch it from us. It is also indispensable to preserve us against his attacks if we are going to go far along the path of the interior life.
Tomorrow, I will copy the third point.
Monday, May 9, 2016
In clearing out and packing to go to California, I finally found a conference given many years ago by Reverend Mother de Lescure in Joigny in 1948. I was given it when I left St. Louis to go to New Orleans in 1952 and I love it. It has helped me so much that I now want to share a bit with you each day this week.
She begins by saying that joy must reign in all and everywhere: it must truly be the characteristic. They may say "that a sad saint is a sorry saint - well, I say that a sorry saint is not only a sad religious but a counterfeit religious.
Joy is Necessary
1. Because our Lord wish it for all religious when He said to His apostles at the Last Supper-"These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and your joy may be filled." Behold our goal is perfect joy - let us be rooted in happiness. The joy that he desires for us is not that which the world gives: "The joy that I give you no one can take from you." What a difference from that promised by the world...false joy, an ephemeral joy passing almost before one possesses it. While we fear always to lose it and the ardent prayer that rises spontaneously from the heart is to seek for some joy that is lasting. On the other hand, the joy promised by Our Lord is deep, true, ineffaceable. Even the crosses that He sends us cannot deprive us of this joy. It is God's will that we be happy. God loves a cheerful giver.
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Jesus ascends into heaven but He has spent forty days appearing to His disciples and consoling them. Now, He is leaving them but not really as He is present for them in each celebration of the Eucharist and He is sending the Holy Spirit to be with them.
Jesus has never really left us. He became incarnate to be with us and He does not leave us alone. He is more present to us than we are to Him. He wants us to be aware of the many ways He is present in our daily lives and the different ways He is always reaching out to us - sometimes in prayer, or an event, but also in others, even through the e-mails from friends, visits, dreams, etc.
Let us learn to recognize how He is present in our lives and turn to Him in gratitude.
Let us rejoice with Him today and with all those who are happy with Him forever in Heaven.
Let us thank for our mothers who first taught us to love Jesus and who showed us what it means to love tenderly.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Yesterday I had lunch with my sister and niece before taking them to the airport. We went to Sea Watch On the Ocean and it was a lovely place as my sister had asked for a place to eat on the ocean. It was a perfect day and the ocean a deep blue. It was calm and I find I love the ocean when it is blue or almost green or even gray. It is just so powerful and immense that it makes me forget myself and want to be immersed in God.
To prepare the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which we now celebrate on Sunday, I thought of how my own good-byes yesterday were both joyful and a bit sad. Joyful, because I am to see my sister again as soon as June 29 and hopefully my niece will arrive for a visit with two of her sons sometime in July. But there is always a moment of sadness in saying good-bye to anyone we love. The Apostles must have felt this and Jesus, too.
We can be grateful that Jesus left us His Presence in a very concrete way in the Eucharist. He also is with us at every moment - we have only to turn to Him and let Him love us.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Lord, I am so grateful for the two weeks with my niece. It is the first time I have really gotten to know her and it has been a joy. She was born while I was in Chile, married and moved to Oregon. I have never had time just with her. When she comes to Arizona and I am there, her mother and family members are also there. When she has been with her four children, there was no time to talk; this time it was great. She not only helped me to pack twelve boxes to be sent to California, but we had time to do things together and just be. It is a real gift for me. She leaves tomorrow with her mother who came to Miami last Friday night. It was a quick week and having my niece bitten by a cockatoo was rather scary and she is now wearing a very large and expensive boot after a visit yesterday to a foot and ankle specialist.
We are reminded of how Mother Stuart always celebrated the gift of her vocation on this day. I am not sure what moment was the one that decided my vocation; I just knew that I had to go to be with Jesus in religious life. I thought I might be sent home so I went for the Feast of the Sacred Heart in June. I thought that I could return to college in September if they did not keep me. Instead, I will have completed 66 years in the Society of the Sacred Heart in June. Jesus is a faithful friend.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
We are asked by St. Madeleine Sophie to "pray insistently to the divine Spirit to come to renew our hearts and make us understand Jesus Christ and the way to go to him...
It has been a very full week starting with a wonderful day with friends in Naples. We, my sister, my niece and I left at 9:00 Sunday morning and were in Naples before 11:00. We had a delightful visit and delicious brunch at their country club after seeing their lovely home. Later, we went to the beach and Jennifer waded into the ocean. On the way home, we stopped at a place that had some wild animals and a huge white bird bit her foot. I think the bird must have thought it was spearing a fish. The result was a trip to the emergency room that night to make sure she would not have any infection or the bone was not chipped. That visit to the hospital was not on the agenda for Sunday!
Today we go to the University for the noon Mass and then lunch with my faith-sharing group.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Again I go to St. Madeleine Sophie for a thought for the day:
"What does the Spirit come to do? The Spirit comes to create. She is called 'Creator Spirit' because her action consists of a creation she wants to effect in us."
Where do our inspirations come from? Hopefully, it is the Spirit who inspires us. Let us beg the Spirit to come and enkindle in our hearts the fire of Divine Love
The book-signing had over four hundred people show up and some asked us to sign five books! The Holy Spirit was very active and inspired me to write individual messages for each person. It was held in the new wellness center and it was lovely with refreshments and we were picked up and brought home by the Carrollton driver; we were also invited to dinner afterwards, but most of us opted for home as we had been there from before 6:30 until 9:00. It was to end at 8:30 but we still had lines of people waiting with their books. As one of us said, "It was an interesting experience"; the people asking for our signatures were so respectful and courteous that we really enjoyed meeting them.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
I am using some quotes this week from St. Madeleine Sophie to help prepare for the Feast of Pentecost. She said:
"Open your soul to the Spirit, call the Spirit who wants to be desired, call the Spirit so that she will fill you with her gifts
God wants to be desired! Let us call out, "Come, Holy Spirit, and enkindle in our hearts the fire of Divine Love."
Monday, May 2, 2016
Saint Madeleine Sophie had great devotion to the Holy Spirit. She left us this word:
"Try always harder to let yourself be led by the Spirit of God; with this divine leader you will have all spiritual gifts for yourself and for others."
Let us begin to prepare for the Feast of Pentecost by asking the Holy Spirit to come and enkindle in us the fire of Divine Love!
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Jesus again tells us that we need to believe in His Love. He again says, "Let not your heart be troubled." He also tells us that the Holy Spirit will be with us. I find the readings of the Mass very hopeful and I am convinced that Jesus wants us to be happy and we are happy when we love others as Jesus loves us.
My blog will be short thoughts this week.