I hope this picture is an inspiration for a reflection. You can be caught up in the mountains, the clouds, or perhaps that fence leads you into a reflection on boundaries. As it is the last day of a month that has been very full for me, I am taking time to look back and write a summary of what this month has been for me. I have been doing this to see how God is acting in my life and how I am responding to His calls and graces. It is helpful to me and I have been sharing it with another Religious of the Sacred Heart.
A very encouraging word from St. Madeleine Sophie today is:
Peter and Paul look so serious; it is not the way I think of them. Both were so full of life and spontaneous; they also were men of passion and fidelity. Both showed great emotion but were leaders of men. I love reading their letters in the New Testament. If you have not sat down to read a letter straight through for some time, do so and you will be rewarded by having the author come alive for you - at least that has been my experience.
On another subject, I greeted one of our Religious who has been living in Japan for years and is here to make her retreat. She saw me and pulled out from her purse a gift and beautiful card from the Principal in Tokyo who reads my blog each day. It really made my day as she said that when my daily blog arrives, " I am so happy and feel that God is speaking to me. Somehow, most of the time, what you wrote was exactly what I needed to hear that day." This, of course, made me happy and grateful for the Holy Spirit , I hope, is the one who inspires me to keep writing. I have been adding a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie as I think she is speaking to many through this blog. Today's quote is good for those who fear making mistakes. She says:
"It is quite certain that the best way of avoiding too many mistakes is to live in union with God by recollection, the spirit of prayer and complete dependence on God's will. The light of the Holy Spirit transforms our nature and gives us a Wisdom and Prudence which are the very virtues of God."
Cindy, an administrative assistant here, came over and looked at my laptop and seemed to just do the things I had tried, but it worked for her and I am so happy to have it behaving again. We do not know what happened, but one is grateful and I guess it is rather like sometimes being stuck, not knowing what one should do, nothing seems to be working in our prayer life and then, suddenly all is well and we can only be grateful that God is again active in our lives. He certainly was active in the lives of Peter and Paul. Let us pray for the Church today!
I am sure anyone reading this has the desire to love and so I am reflecting on another quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "Meditate on these words: 'For those who love God all things work together for their good.' They hold a great truth for all who, I do not just say love, but even those who sincerely desire to love."
I usually think of the quote as "For those who love God, all things are possible." I find it true, but also feel closer to the first - "all thing work together for their good."
God loves us so much and we just need to sit with Him and be amazed that He wants to sit with us. What a joy! The Creator is wanting to be with each of us in an intimacy that we could not have dreamed of, but this is real. God wants us to let Him love us!
Water is such a gift and when I think of living water I think of the Heart of Jesus. We are so blessed and this image means much to me for this is life-giving water. We need the water that flows from His Heart, but we also need clean water to drink and so many are struggling to get this water.
Here at Oakwood the renovations are continuing and so we will be eating outside for lunch while the Garden Room is being done. It is really only lunch when about twenty-five of us eat there that we will be outside. Canopies have been erected and it is a lovely patio outside the dining room. If my nephew ever comes to see me, you will see more pictures of the beauty of Oakwood. I need him to help me transfer the pictures from my I-phone and I-pad into my laptop so I can use them in my blog. In the meantime, picture a huge white oak in the middle of the patio and flowers around the edges. It is so lovely. At breakfast, those of us who live in Westwood have breakfast around our large dining room table. The food is brought over by one of the aides and she cooks our eggs to order! In the evening, I eat in the other dining room as most of the community are eating in the fireside room to watch the news.
Here is a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "Which of us can read the gospel of the Samaritan woman, and not say 'give me to drink....give me this living water'? One drop alone would light up in our hearts the fire of God's love, and so also zeal for the salvation of the world."
In today's Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that to follow Him means leaving all and "foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." This has always seemed to call me to make a home in my heart for Jesus and invite Him to come and rest there.
Then, so often when Jesus again invites us to "follow Him", we find we are making excuses; we are too busy now, this duty is waiting for us, etc. Yet, we will be able to accomplish all that needs to be done if we are united to Jesus. Let us be prompt in following Him when He calls. He is always with us, but we forget this and so He continues to call us. He is the Good Shepherd who leads us to green pastures and still water.
Last January, I made a guided imagery retreat for the first time. The images have stayed with me and often come to me in prayer. I go back to the one where a mermaid appeared to me and beckoned me to follow her. We swam out in the ocean and then went down to the bottom and I followed her for some distance before we came to a huge rock on the ocean floor. The rock was really a house and she showed me a crevice through which I entered. Inside was a lovely room with a domed ceiling; there were no windows in the room but comfortable furniture and a book case on one wall. As I went to explore the bookcase, I saw a door. I opened it and found myself in a beautiful white bedroom. The rug was white, the bed had a white bedspread, there were white drapes at the large picture window which looked out on the ocean and one could see all sorts of bright colored fish swimming. I then noticed that Jesus was sitting on the cushioned window seat waiting for me. He told me that He had prepared this home for me where we could be together. I would need to go back to the notes of this experience to say more, but the image of this home under the sea has never left me and I know Jesus waits for me to descend and just be with Him. Now, that is a very personal sharing, but I feel that each of us has different ways of experiencing the presence of Jesus - this was one of mine.
This is all I am writing today, but will include a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: 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.
My sister-in-law, Anita Rosenthal, and I are on the 17 Mile Drive and my brother took this picture. I miss them, but my sister and her husband will arrive next Wednesday for two nights and really, there has been so much to do that I have a hard time just getting quiet to write my blog. Yesterday I had to collect and give to the Pastoral Ministry office all the certificates I have been carrying around for years: birth, First Communion, Confirmation, First Vows, Final Profession, Social Security, Passport, etc. and then had to write suggestions for the readings and songs I want at my funeral! I finished that last night. Actually, this had been done once before and filed with our area director, but I did not find it among my papers so redid it and it is rather a grave experience to be planning one's own funeral! As you can see from the picture, I am not near dying. I will be cremated and then buried in the Oakwood cemetery. I hope I have many visitors before I go there.
One of the joys of Oakwood for me is that I seem to be able to understand the homilies at Mass. I am sure I miss some, but it has been a long time since I have been able to hear them and take nourishment from them. This is due to a group of exceptional priests and the fact that the Chapel is looped and I am wearing earphones. Yesterday the message that stayed with me is that we should not be afraid of anything; God is in charge and He loves each of us and is taking care of us and our world.
Now, here is a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "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."
This picture was taken on the 17 Mile Drive and we had a gorgeous day. Now, I have been reflecting on the past week and how many graces I have received. I think I shall try to do this each Sunday. It is inspired by reading the calls of the Argentina-Uruguay Province as part of our preparation for the General Chapter in July. They speak of a weekly "re-reading". I would like to do this and perhaps look for someone to do it with here at Oakwood. I have been faithful to writing a review of the month and sharing it during this year and find it helpful. I call it "Checking in" and I have enjoyed doing this as it helps me to see what the Lord is saying to me and doing in me. Of course, it helps that I try to jot something down in my Journal daily. Here are a couple of thoughts from the little Elf Help booklet, Prayer Therapy" as I intend to give the booklet away today to someone who is recovering from surgery and is in rehab: "Prayer has many methods. Do it your own way." "If for any reason you cannot pray, relax. The desire to pray is already a prayer." "When your heart is bursting with thanks, just be. God's spirit is praying within you." "When you are overawed my Mystery, just be. God's spirit is praying within you."
This picture is of the lone Cypress on the famous 17 Mile Drive in California. It makes me think of courage and we certainly need that if we are to follow Jesus. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
Jesus is always inviting us to follow Him. Have we the courage needed? He will give it to us, if we only ask Him. I know that He is our strength and carries us when necessary.
We are preparing for our General Chapter by studying the calls of the different regions. It is really quite thrilling to see how we are coming up with the same issues all over the world and read about the life of the different Provinces in each region.
It is only two weeks since I left Miami. This was my prayer shelf in Miami next to my chair. I have the picture, have not yet found my little cross, and I left the world behind and miss it. This was the globe I used to hold in my hand and trace the continents to confide each to the love of Jesus as our world needs such help today. I do not need the globe, but miss it. I am still fixing my room and need to get rid of other things, too. Perhaps this afternoon as my brother and his wife are driving back to Arizona today. It was a great visit and I am grateful that they could come and they helped me to get settled. The most important thing was getting my computer set up and helping me to get into my Amazon account. I had used another computer at home and no longer had the right e-mail and passwords as they had been automatic in the Dell computer. Now, I think I still need help with getting my pictures from my phone into my laptop and then my blog.
Anyway, it has been a very full two weeks with all the unpacking, the retreat, the getting settled with the nurses here, etc. I love just to sit in the Chapel but feel that my prayer is just now only sitting in the Presence of God and listening to Him. It helps to know that God is also loving me and just wants to sit with me.
Today we are having the Clown Camp performance. Students from many different Sacred Heart schools come in the summer to learn how to be clowns. They are high school students and learn how to make others laugh and also marvel at their dexterity, timing, and skill. My brother and his wife will also come for this. Yesterday, John helped me to test out a few things in my room and then we went to see Stanford University as they had not been there.
Today, after Mass, I went with my brother, John, and my sister-in-law, Anita, to Santa Cruz and then to Pebble Beach for the famous 17-Mile Drive. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. There are about twenty-one signposts with stopping places along the 17-Mile Drive. I was lost in the beauty of the blue ocean on one side and the wonderful forest that lines so much of the road. There are also some very large private homes along the way and a few golf courses. The Pebble Beach Golf Links is the most famous as it has hosted five U.S. Championships, with a sixth slated for 2019. It was a joy for me to show John and Anita the Villa Maria retreat house where I have made so many retreats during the past twenty-five years; it is a sacred place for me. If they send me the pictures they took, perhaps they will appear in a future blog. We had lunch at the Crow's Nest and were able to eat outside on the glassed sided porch overlooking the ocean. It was a windy day but sunny and not a cloud in the sky so the views of the ocean all day were spectacular. The Pacific is so blue. This is not a very spiritual blog, but I drank in the beauty of God's creation all day and wanted to share it with you. I hope to share the pictures soon but do remember that I am taking a bit of vacation while getting settled into my new home. It was a fun day, and one that I will remember for a long time.
I have been reading a tremendous book on the history of the Society, the exact title is: The Society of the Sacred Heart in the World of Its Times:1865-2000. It is very long but full of facts that I did not know about the Society in all parts of the world. It shows how we now live out our charism in today's world and how important justice is for us today. I hope every RSCJ will read this book that has been translated by Fran Gimber. Our Associates will also love learning more about the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Here I am, a full week now at Oakwood and so full of gratitude. My community were wonderful, getting up to take me to the airport at 5:00 AM. Then the welcome here has been fantastic, even the nurses who cared for me when I was here recuperating over a year ago, greeted me with silent hugs as the community were all in retreat. I loved the extra prayer time, the silence and the fact that we were all praying together on the roots of our vocation, the Eucharist, and our "Cor Unum", and I found myself using our formation booklet more and more during this retreat. Besides hours of prayer, I unpacked all the boxes, rearranged my room and have drunk in some of the beauty of this place.
I am having trouble getting into my blog from my laptop computer so may not be posting pictures but hope to show some of the beauty around me. This picture was taken from my window!
Today we renew our vows during the Mass at Carrollton. We have vowed to follow Jesus Christ in the Society of the Sacred Heart by perpetual obedience, poverty, and chastity....
Following Jesus Christ in the Society of the Sacred Heart means loving and being loved. We are called to discover the love of Jesus for each of us and to reveal that love to others by loving each with the love drawn from the Heart of Jesus. We go to prayer to let ourselves be loved by Jesus and then go to give His Love to others. His Heart is always open for us and He waits for us; He invites us to come to Him.
I know as I leave tomorrow morning for California that Jesus is with me and is waiting for me there. I also know that He loves all those I love and, as His love is infinite and all-powerful, I confide all to His Heart. Goodbyes have been getting harder, but I know Jesus will take care of all I leave behind. He is the good Shepherd and watches over each of us with tender love.
Jesus loves us so much that He found a way to continue to be with us by giving us His own Body and Blood. The Eucharist is a great gift that makes Jesus present and reveals His Love.
I am now signing off for at least the first weeks in June. Do keep me in your prayer and I shall be praying for all my readers; I will be in retreat with the community at Oakwood from June 5-12; I hope I am also able to unpack all the boxes and get settled.
Only three days left to finish saying good-bye and also to notify places of change of address. I am trying to feel peaceful and joyful, but I know I still need to do many things. Friday is the Feast of the Sacred Heart and all the RSCJs renew our vows out of devotion at Mass on this day.
I have a prayer of St. John XXIII to share today:
Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.
I think I should be saying this prayer - much is still possible!