When this was still the octave of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we had a vow ceremony at Kenwood; I made my vows with five others; Rose Sun in Taipei and I are the only two left of that vow ceremony. It was a day I will always remember. I was just 21 so I had prayed during the retreat before taking our vows that I would really be able to understand what I was doing and give myself completely to the Lord. I think He gave me a special grace on that day.
Now, 65 years later I am still praying for the same grace of being completely given. I have been in dialogue with the Lord about a dream I had while giving the retreat in Miami last month. It takes a long time for me to process a dream and so I think I seldom remember my dreams, but this was very brief and very clear. I was given some work to do; what this was exactly was not clear but seemed to involve typing something.
I had not finished but left it unfinished to go to the Chapel. When I returned, the work was not there.
When I, some weeks after the dream, began to dialogue with Jesus about this, it seems that the unfinished work may be me. It may have been given to me by St. Madeleine Sophie or by St. Philippine Duchesne, at least Jesus suggested I now dialogue with them.
I share this only because I think we forget that this is a very fruitful way to pray. I ask a question; I wait for an answer and soon I am having a conversation with someone who really cares about me. Try it.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Reading Archbishop J. Peter Sartain's An Advent Pilgrimage has given me new inspiration. He speaks of keeping an inner diary: noticing signs of God's nearness. To keep a diary of good things would be a beautiful and healing task is one way he puts it, but he also quotes something Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote when he was still archbishop of Munich:
"Perhaps we should try an experiment. Let us understand the individual events of the day as little signs God sends us. Let us not take note only of the annoying and unpleasant things; we should endeavor to see how often God lets us feel something of his love. To keep a kind of inner diary of good things would be a beautiful and healing task."
Maybe it would help us to prepare for both Christmas and the New Year if we focus on the signs of God's nearness. Each day is full of His gifts to us. Did you think to thank for the hot cup of coffee this morning (or tea, for me)? How about the fact that I can make my own bed, wash and fold sheets (I am not so good at folding sheets by myself) but the gift of clean sheets is not to be taken for granted. I still remember how I had to siphon water from the buckets after the mud had settled to try to wash my sheets and towels and wring them out by hand while I was living in Coquimbo, Chile!) I guess past experiences can make us even more grateful for what we have today.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Today the Third Graders are celebrating a Christmas party with their RSCJ readers. We are only about six or seven this year but I know the party will be fun and it is so nice to see our Third Graders when we can just enjoy them. They are all so interesting.
Last Wednesday, my nephew's wife came in time for our noon meal and then I drove back to Fairfax with her so that I could see their home which they have been remodeling since I was there in 2013. Gaby is very creative and artistic and they have finished the lower floor so it is really lovely. Their house is way up on top of a hill with a gorgeous view. I managed to climb the hill and went first to the lower floor which now has gorgeous hardwood floors, a combined bedroom, sitting room, a small room made into closet space, a large bathroom, a "viewing room" for movies or TV, and some storage space that will some day house the inside staircase that needs yet to be built. There are new, huge windows downstairs so you now can see the gorgeous view. Upstairs is going to be worked on but I love it as it is except that the floors need to be sanded or whatever they are going to do. The kitchen is small, the living, dining room is lovely with windows giving a view on three sides; the other room is the guest bedroom and bath which I hope they will keep as is. Outside is lovely, too , with plants and porches, and room to sit and enjoy life. On Thursday morning we left the house around 7:10 in the morning to go to Oakland where the ceremony for our new American citizens was held in a lovely theater. The 1,309 who were to take the oath to become citizens of the United States were seated downstairs; everyone else was in the balcony above and Blase and I were in the second row. We arrived an hour ahead, but the crowd was immense. At 9:15 the ceremony began and it was so well-planned and all went so well that we were out by 11:30. First they showed the flags of all the countries represented as the applicants were from 86 different countries; Mexico had the largest number with 22, China had 21, and then India and I did not hear the other countries, but I thought that I cannot identify flags of most of the countries and it would be a good project for someone to study the flags of the 41 countries where the Society of the Sacred Heart is so we would know them. After instructions about registering to vote, changing Social Security card, and how to apply for a passport, we had a short speech, the oath, the pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and then the giving of the certificates that prove they are now United States citizens. It was very moving and I forgot about the choral group that sang for 20 minutes at the beginning. We all stood and sang the national anthem at one point before the end. I am so glad I was there for Gaby and we went to a celebration lunch afterwards at a wonderful little place called "Small Wonder" and we were the only ones there so it was quite special.
These celebrations are held every month in different places with often over 1,000 applicants, I think. Each needs to pay $800 to become a citizen so that, of course, keeps some of our immigrants from applying.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sixty-seven years ago to today I took the habit and became a novice in the Society of the Sacred Heart. Our Lord had called me and I have never regretted following Him, and He has led me all over in places I never would have dreamed of and He is still leading me.
I keep going back to the last lines from the first reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent: "Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care." Jesus is always the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for each of us. He is with us every step of the way.
Now, I should say that I have devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe; it began when I visited her shrine in Mexico when only sixteen. I think it was the faith of the Mexicans that most impressed me, but I realized that Our Lady is always a mother and cares for each of us and brings us to Jesus.
Tomorrow I shall write about the wonderful ceremony of Citizenship that I attended last Thursday just before getting a bad cold that really knocked me out for a few days.
Monday, December 11, 2017
God wanted to give me lots of silence.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
I love the Collect for the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent:
Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
I certainly felt as if I spent the first week of Advent in haste, but fear that much of my doing was my own desire to catch up with myself after having been away for sixteen days. Now I hope to quiet down and just have time to create inner silence and wait for the Lord. Advent is a time of waiting; it is waiting but in joyful anticipation of the coming of the Lord. We want to make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Isaiah goes on to say: "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
I like the end of the reading from Isaiah when he tells us:
"Like a shepherd he leads his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."
Prepare ye the way of the Lord. How am I doing this each day?
Saturday, December 9, 2017
Today is the last day of the First Week of Advent. It is time to see if what we are doing to prepare for Christmas is what we are being nudged by the Spirit to do, or are we just caught up in many material preparations? This is a busy season so we need to stop and slow down and just be with Mary and Jesus. In our Advent retreat we had this question from Meister Eckhart: "What good is it that Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago if he is not also born in me?
Why not conceive and give birth to Christ this Christmas? Now, I know that Christ lives in me, but I think this means letting Christ so identify with me that my actions are Christlike.
I have a spiritual friend here at Oakwood and we get together before feasts or during Advent and Lent just to spur each other on - for Advent we are saying what has been my prayer so often lately and we intend to say it often during the day and night to prepare for the coming of Jesus. It is the little song we so often sing here: "Breathing in, breathing out; I am calm, I am smiling; You in me, I in You. Present moment, wondrous moment, Peace to the world, peace to the world."
Friday, December 8, 2017
Today is a Holy Day in honor of Mary. She was conceived without sin. The angel's greeting to her was : "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." Mary is our Mother and is always watching over us and wanting the best for each of us. She leads us to Jesus, she consoles us, loves us, tells Jesus what we need, and never gives up on us. We owe our heavenly Mother so much. Let us take time to thank her today for her constant care.
I have been lent a delightful little book by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, An Advent Pilgrimage: Pteparing our Hearts for Jesus. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2014. I am asking permission to quote from it as it has some good Advent thoughts.
Advent is so short this year that we need to be careful not to waste a single day. Christmas Eve is the Fourth Sunday of Advent so we have the four Sundays, but only three weeks to prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts again this Christmas!
Thursday, December 7, 2017
I am scheduling ahead; that is always dangerous but gives me great peace of mind. I really want us to embrace silence; that means that we are fully centered on what we have to do, but that we also have so many thoughts running around in our heads that need to be organized so to be able to silence them.
We had a lovely day of retreat last Saturday planned by some of us. I was struck by the questions taken from Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter to All Consecrated People. He calls for all Religious to embrace joy. Do I radiate joy? I know that I try to as I really feel that my vocation within my vocation to the Society of the Sacred Heart is to give joy to Jesus and to others. I do not always succeed, but I know it is important for me to keep trying.
The second question asks if I recognize the face of Christ and rejoice in the knowledge that I am being conformed to him who out of love for us did not refuse the suffering of the cross? That is hard in the face of suffering but I trust the Lord to give me strength for whatever He asks of me.
The next question needs some reflection: In a society which exalts the cult of efficiency, fitness and success, one which ignores the poor and dismisses "losers" do I witness by my life to the truth of the words of Scripture: "When I am weak, then I am strong"? Does my life radiate the joy and beauty of living the gospels and following Christ to the full?
The last question is about how to clear out the obstacles and open a path of charity for the advent of our God?
You do not need to be a consecrated Religious to reflect on these questions!
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
It is really two nights out this week as I took Dee out to dinner on her birthday last night and tonight I am spending it at my nephew's. He and his wife have been remodeling their home which is up high with great views. Gabriela becomes a United States citizen on Thursday morning so she is picking me up today and I will be with her tomorrow to celebrate.
I want to share something I found in my room. I think I had seen it a long time ago, but it still makes me think so I am passing it on today.
Be Careful When You Say Amen
be careful of simple words said often.
'amen' makes demands
like an unrelenting schoolmaster;
fierce attention to all that is said;
no apathy, no preoccupation, no prejudice permitted.
'amen' : we are present, we are open,
we hearken, we understand,
here we are; we are listening to your word.
'amen' makes demands like a signature on a dotted line;
sober bond to all that goes before;
no hesitation, no half-heartedness,
no mental reservation allowed.
'amen': we support, we approve
we are one mind, we promise,
may this come to pass, so be it.
be careful when you say 'amen'.
-barbara schmich searle
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Advent is a time of holy longing for the coming again of Jesus. We all want to be more aware of the Presence of Jesus in our hearts. Advent is a time to focus on this intense desire to be able to be united to Jesus in all we do. The desire is important and we often talk about preparing our hearts for the coming of the Infant Jesus at Christmas. I am sure it pleases the Lord when we clear out so much that clutters our minds and hearts so we can prepare a place for the Baby Jesus; however, let us remember that Jesus is dwelling in us and we are the ones who are not always conscious of his presence. Having said this, let us sing, Come, O come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay! This prayer can be said when walking, working, waiting, waking, and whenever! Try it! (I sing the "Veni, veni, Domine Jesu," to myself.)
Monday, December 4, 2017
As we begin this first week of Advent we are told to be awake, stay alert. We pray to God to rouse his power and come and save us. We are to be watchful, be alert. Why? Because we are destined to be with God for all eternity. Advent is a season of joyful preparation for the coming again of Jesus. We need to prepare ourselves and that may be something different for each of us. I know that I am being drawn to silence. To create silence in my life I do not watch TV, I do not go to movies, I try to find quiet time when I am just with Mary and Jesus. These weeks of Advent are precious, if we take the time to just be still and be. It is tempting to just rush to accomplish all we have on our "to do" lists, but let us put first the task of embracing at least some moments of silence! I need to heed my own advice!
Sunday, December 3, 2017
Today we begin the holy season of Advent. It is a joyful season and we often gather around an Advent wreathe each evening to light a candle for each of the four weeks of Advent.
The reflection in Give Us This Day for the First Sunday of Advent is from St. Teresa of Avila and worth copying here:
"Here's what a friendship with our dearest Companion, our holiest God, is like. In it, intimacy is always possible and can't be stopped, except on our side, for God is always open to us. Nothing can come between us and God, our Spouse, and we can be alone with God whenever we want, as long as we want. All we have to do is desire it.
So let us close the door our our worldly calendars and deadlines and live instead in paradise with the God of love. If we desire this closeness that comes from closing the door on the world, we must realize that that door is our hearts. We don't have to be mystics to accomplish this communion. We only need to focus on God with our will. That's all. It's our own choice, and because God loves us, we can do this.
Don't confuse this state with empty silence. I am speaking of a turning inward and a listening. St. Teresa of Avila
Saturday, December 2, 2017
Today I want to share the Blessing of Water with you. It is found on one of the Sisters of the Holy Names card and the text is from Jean Cather, snjm - I think it is a help to prepare for Advent:
May Water's sacred rains
anoint you for your journey,
and her promised Rainbow
gleam through your darkness.
May Water's Living Springs well up within you,
and her ancient Oceans
wash their Wisdom over you.
Blessings of Water to you.
What a gift water is for us and how often we take it for granted. There are thousands of people who do not have easy access to water. Yet, water is necessary for life. I find myself wasting water as we have it in abundance, or so it seems. When I was here during the time of no rain in California, I was careful not to waste a drop, but now I find I often take the gift of water for granted.
The blessing speaks of the living springs within us. Let us reflect on what that means and let the oceans wash their wisdom over us today.
Friday, December 1, 2017
We have the First Friday dedicated to the Heart of Jesus and the First Saturday of December with Our Lady to help us to prepare for the beautiful and joy-filled season of Advent. I hope each of us is spending some time in reflection on what God might be asking each of us - how does God want you to spend this Advent? Sometimes it is just taking time to sit with God or be with Our Lady as we await the coming again of the Infant Jesus into our hearts. Jesus is no longer an infant, but He is present to us and Christmas shows us how He came so vulnerable, helpless, and needy!
I want to share something I read yesterday in Ruth Burrows'
Essence of Prayer, a book I often return to for inspiration. She writes "The Mass is the supreme expression of prayer because it holds, for me, at this moment, the mystery of Jesus himself in his surrender to Father and in the Father's response to that surrender. Here we see that it is God who does everything. I can only be there, saying my fiat and surrendering with Jesus. Once we have really grasped this, prayer is simple indeed. . . It is simple but it isn't easy...
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Sixteen days away was a long time for me to be away. I had great experiences, but I am glad to be home. The week in Miami was full of graces; I had six wonderful people for the Busy Persons's Retreat and that was a real joy. I also had time to see some of my friends and that was a gift, too. Then, I had four days with my sister and her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona, and then four days with my brother and his wife in Gold Canyon, Arizona. My sister had 17 for Thanksgiving dinner and the long table looked like the ones we saw in Downtown Abbey. She loves to entertain and the dinner was so perfect - some brought dishes to add to the feast. It was a happy Thanksgiving and we had a lovely Mass in the morning.
Now, it is time to prepare for Advent. We will have a day of retreat on Saturday. I look forward to that and have a desire to really create silence during Advent this year. It is a gift we need to give ourselves and give God as He wants to speak to us and we need silence to hear his voice. More tomorrow.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Today we close the Busy Persons' Retreat for Parents this afternoon with a prayer service and then we begin the meeting of the Western Region which lasts until Sunday noon. I will need to leave a bit early as I have a 1:00 flight that arrives in Miami at 9:30 PM. Monday begins the Busy Persons' Retreat for the faculty, staff, and usually a few mothers. We are a team of six coming from New York, Boston, Cape Cod, San Diego, Grand Coteau, and Atherton. I will be in Miami until the next Sunday and then visit my sister and her husband in Arizona for four days and then my brother in Gold Canyon for four days. I will not be home until November 28. I will also be taking a vacation from my blog as it is too difficult to find a computer to write and post it. I will be back on before Advent. I suggest that you go to our webpage: rscj.org for I understand that we are beginning a year of prayer in honor of St. Philippine Duchesne who brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to America 200 years ago. Some reflection will be posted every Monday until Philippine's feast next November. I will be celebrating her feast this year in Miami on November 18.
Thursday, November 9, 2017
This picture makes me feel that the bench is waiting for me and I am just to sit in silence and admire the gorgeous colors of the leaves. It opens up the interior life so that I just stop and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. To sink into silence is to find God and gives me joy. I need silence.
We all need some silence to listen to the Spirit who whispers words in our hearts. When I sit in silence, I know that God is in me and I am in God and that gives great peace and joy. Try it today.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
At the end of Mass each morning one of us takes Communion to the sick and we have beautiful prayers that we say just before the sending. This morning we were using what we call prayer G (we have A through S this season and different prayers for different liturgical seasons) and I will copy "G":
"As we contemplate the mystery of a God who gives His life for us we are grateful for the promise given to us of life everlasting. Receiving the Eucharist increases the life of God within us. It is with joy that we send our sister to bear witness to this love and we pray for their healing."
What really struck me this morning was "Receiving the Eucharist increases the life of God within us." That is a tremendous truth that gives me great joy. Each day, I am increasing in the life of God!
Actually, we say the same in prayer "C" but it was only this morning that I was inspired to realize what I have said often, but the meaning really hit me today and makes me think that all my sisters are also increasing the life of God within us each time I give them the Eucharist. I am one now who gives the Eucharist each morning to those who cannot walk up to receive it even if they are at Mass; sometimes it is as many as 16 as we have many who need to use a walker so stay in their places for Communion. I also prepare the number of hosts for those who were not at Mass as there is almost always Communion for a few who are unable to come to Mass.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Someone wrote to me and asked if we had a place or book she could find with prayers used by the Society of the Sacred Heart. I do not think we have and intend to ask about a future booklet containing some of the prayers we often say and that are often only known to the Society of the Sacred Heart.
I have copied some prayers in past blogs, but today I am using one that I first found when doing my dissertation research and since then it has been copied with a better translation into English so here it is:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me a heart that is one with your own:
A humble heart that knows and loves poverty,
A gentle heart that holds and calms its own anxieties,
A loving heart that has compassion for the suffering of others;
A pure heart that seeks only the face of God;
A detached heart that longs for nothing other than the goodness of heaven;
A heart detached from self-love and embraced by the love of God, its attentions focused on God, whose goodness is its only treasure in time and eternity. Amen.
Monday, November 6, 2017
Today I am sharing one of Pam's musings as it seems to be what we are all about. We also begin the Busy Persons' Retreat for the parents today and I have my group of mothers formed after last year's retreat.
"Carry the seed to be sown."Mission
Sunday, November 5, 2017
This Sunday has Jesus finding fault with the leaders for their own lack of humility. Jesus expects us to love one another; to be willing to serve one another. He has shown us how to live more humanly and wants us to follow his example.
I think Pope Francis is saying the same to us today and he wants the leaders in the Church to be humble servants of all.
Jesus washed the feet of his apostles to let us know how we must be willing to do the same for those around us.
May this week find us serving others and with a smile. Let us seek ways in which we can help those around us. When we give joy to others, we give joy to Jesus.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Our Probanists in Rome must be about half way through their long retreat. For those who do not understand the term I used, probanists are our young nuns from all over the world who have gathered in Rome for what we have always called "Probation" - the five more contemplative months before final Profession when the group comes together to pray, study the Constitutions, form an international community, and reflect on their vocation to the Society of the Sacred Heart and their inner call to follow Jesus. During this time, a thirty-day directed retreat is made and there are also visits planned in Rome, and a trip to Joigny where St. Madeleine Sophie was born and lived. This international group gets to know the Mother House in Rome and our Mother General and her Team.
For many years now I have prayed for each Probation and the Probation Team that plans these important months. I also pray for our novices all over the world. Please join me in praying for the present probanists and novices.
When I reflect on my interior path, I know I have come such a long way from the time of my first vows and then from final vows. I marvel at the graces I have been given on the way and feel such gratitude!
Friday, November 3, 2017
We all have an interior path to walk and I hope we are taking the time to savor our path. God has planned the path for each of us; no two paths are exactly alike. Do I take time to thank for the moments of beauty on my path that feed my soul? Have I been grateful for the companions who walk with me? Jesus is always there and Mary comes as soon as I call her. I do not know the path that leads me deeper into mystery, but I trust the Lord and go forward. If I am tempted to stop and rest along the way, Jesus is very patient and waits for me. The important thing is to stay on the path I have been called to follow and not let a side path lead me astray. I am sure we are all happy to have a path and not be stranded in a forest without any sense of direction. The path for each of us is a grace given and we go forward with joy. Sometimes we seem to be carried along our path and feel energized, but other times we slow down, look for a place to sit and contemplate where we are, where we have come from, and where we are going. That gives us courage to get up and continue on our path even if the going seems to now be uphill and a bit more difficult. If we ask Jesus to walk with us, the interior journey is enjoyable even in rough spots.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Today we pray for all those who have died. There is no time with God so I think we are on shaky ground when we talk about "purgatory" and so I just pray for all those who have died and may need our prayer.
I am thinking about a year of prayer with St. Philippine Duchesne as one of the ways the Society of the Sacred Heart is celebrating the bicentennial of her arrival in America. I am looking forward to sharing the Monday reflections with all of you as soon as they begin this month.
There is a great reflection entitled "The Soul's One Purpose" from the writings of the Cistercian mystic, Beatrice of Nazareth in "Give Us This Day": She said the "all the soul's seeking, teaching, prayers to God, and meditation are for this one purpose: to get into the presence of God and become Love, and to live a moral life with the purity that is the signature of true love. " The rest of the reflection is worth reading.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
I want to begin with a thought from the reflection of Kathy Coffey given in "Give Us This Day" for this feast:
"With no superpowers or special effects, the saints faced catastrophe with limitations, skills, gifts, and virtues similar to ours. They feasted on the same Eucharist and read or heard the same Word. Most important, they looked to the face of Christ which shines as radiantly on us. Theirs - and ours- the kingdom."
When I was ill two years ago with high fever, I found it consoling to feel the presence of all the saints in my room. My parents were there and so many others and I felt that all were praying for me. Since then, I have had devotion to all the saints in heaven and find that I often feel their presence. Of course, I am sure we all have favorite saints we pray to and this way of connecting with all the saints is rather new to me, but I find it helpful.
I guess it is a time to honor those who are helping us and who have not been canonized by the Church. I know my parents, my brother George, my grandparents, aunts, etc. are all up there and take an interest in seeing that I also will eventually be joining them. We were made to be happy with God for all eternity so let us rejoice today with all those who are now with God and keep on aspiring to be with them when God calls us.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Today is Halloween, the eve of All Saints. It is good to see that some parishes are now having the children dress as saints.
I loved our Halloween party last Saturday with all our staff and their children and friends invited. Almost everyone came in costume and prizes were given for the Sisters, the Staff, and the Children. I had the satisfaction of having the Seven Dwarfs win first place for the Sisters. We had come in singing "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work we go...Hi Ho, Hi Ho and the seven of us had lovely different colors of felt elf hats made by our wonderful activity director; we had great wooden sticks with bandannas attached and beards for all except Dopey. It was fun and I guess I will think of something for next year. The Third Graders are coming to visit us today in costumes so that will be fun. One of the staff was a perfect Dorothy from the wizard of Oz even with the sparkling red shoes!
The important thing to remember today is that it is all hallows eve and tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of All the Saints!
Monday, October 30, 2017
The beautiful fall colors draw me to walk in the woods of my imagination... when I make this an interior walk, all sorts of thoughts and feelings accompany me. How good God is to give a change of seasons, even in our interior. I suspect I love autumn because the longer it lasts, the further off is winter. When speaking of our interior journey (and that is what I am trying to do), winter days are often cold, dreary, and isolated. On the other hand, think of curling up with a good book in front of a friendly fire and maybe putting the book down to just be with God, contemplating His Love as the flames send you light and warmth. I love each season, but I have usually spent my interior life basking in the sun of summer or walking in the cool of autumn amidst gorgeous trees arrayed in scarlet and gold.
Perhaps you will be reflecting today on the seasons of your soul. Pay no attention to the calendar year, but let your soul speak to you of its present season and the value it has.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
I find this Sunday's Mass joyful. The opening antiphon says: "Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face."
In the second reading from Paul's first Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes: "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything."
The Gospel reading from Matthew 22:34-40 has Jesus telling the scholar of the law, who asked him which was the greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and prophets depend on these two commandments."
When we are keeping those commandments, we are joyful!
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Our trees are just beginning to turn autumn colors but it is still so warm during the day that I did not even put on a sweater. This has been one of the busiest weeks with our celebrating Pastoral Care Week, preparing for a Halloween costume party today and having had several visitors who spoke to us at different times during this week. I also was interviewed by my student who has a creative project of interviewing people about their faith, how it has developed, etc. and then he makes podcasts of the interviews. He also transcribes it and that is all I want to see. After he left, I thought of several things I could have said and didn't, but hopefully it will be of help and he seemed very pleased with it. I thought it was a good way to get to know a person better and now want him to share his own faith with me.
I have been preparing the seven of us who live and eat breakfast together for our costume parade this afternoon. We went as a slumber party last year and I thought the seven dwarfs would be fun for this year. I had them draw the name of one and I ended up with Dopey. I have poles so we can carry bundles over our shoulders as that seems safer than pick axes or other tools. Our activity director got the film for us to see (it has been many, many years since I last saw "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" but I think we will be able to parade in singing "Hi Ho Its Off To Work We Go". The important thing is that I have them all excited about it and we will practice before the parade and party this afternoon.
This blog is not so spiritual, but it is good to think about those seven and see if I am imitating the good qualities of the dwarfs as they seemed to accept each other and work together as a community with love and compassion.
Friday, October 27, 2017
My spiritual path has been so peaceful lately, but I am still finding it difficult to put into words what is happening inside of me. My prayer has changed and I know that Jesus has been leading me down a new path of intimacy with the Blessed Trinity. I sit in the Chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament and just try to be open and surrendered to whatever God wants; sometimes this leads to feeling the Presence of the entire Trinity in me and I am in them. How to explain? I cannot find the words but it is deep and intense while it lasts. I am just grateful and want to continue to walk with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, wherever they are leading me.
Let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit today in even the smallest things. It is bound to be an interesting day and you will do more than you thought possible. Try it.
Today I am having cancer surgery on the left side of my face. Tomorrow we are having a Halloween party and I have convinced the seven of us who live in Westwood and have breakfast together to go as the Seven Dwarfs. More on this later!
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Ultimately, I trust I am being led to God. It is God who creates this interior path that I trod. Today I am using another picture from the estate, FILOLI, to reflect how often my inner path takes me through a new gate or door or just an opening that shows me something new. God works in our souls in such quiet and mysterious ways that often we do not even realize that we have just followed the path and passed through a gateway to new horizons. Perhaps this is connected for me with our call from the General Chapter 2016 to set sail. I would love to let the wind of the Spirit carry me along, but it seems that I am walking slowly, one step at a time. God keeps calling and I keep following. Sometimes the path is smooth and easier to walk; this prepares me for the more difficult paths that will appear sooner or later for this interior journey is not level but has some ups and downs. The important thing to remember is that we do not walk alone; Jesus is with us and carries us when the path is too rough. I know this from experience.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
This picture was taken last Thursday when we had an outing to Filoli, a beautiful house and gardens. I choose this picture as I walked this path on the eve of Mater's feast and prayed to her about my own interior path. Since I am using the image of a path to think about my interior journey, this seemed to express the happiness my chosen path in life has brought me and the joy that continues to overwhelm me at times.
It was a wonderful outing. I had signed up for this one as soon as I saw the sign. We were only to be four to go with our lovely activity director in her car. It was supposed to rain on Thursday and I think we were hoping all week that it would as the fires are still not completely controlled to the north of us. It was cloudy but the perfect day as not many people were there. We ended up with only two of us going; one is 98 but gets around very well and loves the gardens; the three of us were in the car by 10:00 and there within a half hour. We decided to separate until we would meet for lunch at 11:45 so I took off to explore the gardens and pray by myself. I walked through the sunken garden, the walled garden, the swimming pool, the back gardens and finally went to the immense rose gardens. There are 242 kinds of roses there and most of the bushes were in bloom! I sat to pray for a bit and then continued my exploration of the garden taking pictures as I went. I felt so happy and contented and felt that Mater had arranged this quiet day for me. We had lunch in the little cafe as it was too cool to eat outside with the peacock who was strutting around the patio. After lunch, I went to visit the house by myself and the others met me at 1:30 and we came home by 2:00 and I went to the Chapel to thank for such a happy day and to continue to explore my happy path.
I hope you will venture down your own interior paths this week.
Here is a quote I read: "Laughter is carborated holiness." Only I remembered it as "Laughter is joy percolating!" I rather like both! But I must confess that I like my version better!
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
This is something new for me and I am not sure where it is going. I often sit down to write my blog and find myself being led by the Spirit in a different direction. Now, today, I am just being with my soul and following this interior spirit who wants to lead me deeper into the solitude of these beautiful trees. I move slowly savoring the autumn air, the rustle of the leaves as I pass over them, and the colors that evoke memories.
I feel that God is walking with me and suggesting so softly that I review the graces of the day. I begin with my awakening at 5:00 this morning; how grateful I felt for the exterior gift of a hot shower and the inner gift of feeling that all is gift. As I walked through the day, I realized that I am learning to let the Holy Spirit lead me. Now the desire for silence stops this reflection but you can have your own!
Monday, October 23, 2017
Paths, walks, roads, all seem to have a fascination for me. I think it is because each of us is on our own individual path. Maybe some walk on narrow footpaths through the woods, while others may have a cement walk, or even a highway to travel and so we also go at different speeds. I find I am now choosing the hidden paths where there is deep silence; I also find my spirit wandering along a path near the ocean and the sound of the surf is music to my ears. I have come to love both silence and solitude and think my soul seeks both.
Perhaps I will share some of my solitary walks with my inner spirit this week. I am still finding my interior life more exciting than my exterior life. The problem is that we often get caught up in the exterior things and do not know how to articulate what is happening in the deepest part of out being.
Let us reflect on what kind of a path attracts our souls today.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
This was supposed to be published on Sunday! It is too early!
Today's Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) has the Pharisees plotting how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They want to know if it is lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Jesus knows what they are trying to do and asks them, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites. Show me the coin that pays the census tax." When they do this he asks them whose inscription and whose image is on the coin. When they reply, "Caesar's" Jesus tells them: "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."
We are the ones that are stamped with God's image and we belong to God.
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Today we continue to celebrate Mater, Mother of the Invisible and the Essential.
My senior at Sacred Heart Prep who comes for an hour to visit with me each week just to establish a relationship, is conducting interviews with students, faculty, and staff, and others to hear how their faith has developed and he takes notes and has made three podcasts. On Monday, he is going to interview me about my faith journey so I am asking Mater to help me articulate it.
I learn much from my students and this boy is a real joy to be with weekly. He has a twin sister and his brothers who are now Juniors in college, are also twins.
We are working with the school to give help to those who have lost everything in the fire. I think we are helping many but we have a family with three little boys who lost everything. They have found a two bedroom apartment that is very tiny and empty so we are trying to get some immediate help in the way of clothes, food, and furnishings so they can have their own space. The baby is 18 months, then there is a four year old and a nine year old boy and they need everything. And this is just one family.
Friday, October 20, 2017
This Feast of Mater Admirabilis is dear to all alumni of the Sacred Heart. I want to share a bit from a Circular Letter written to the entire Society of the Sacred Heart by our very Reverend Mother de Lescure in July of 1949. She tells us :
"Mater Admirabilis - the jewel of the Society- has been given to us as the virginal guardian keeping watch at the threshold of this sancturary; Mater Admirabilis, treasure of calm and serenity, in activity which should spring from the only fruitful source without ever exhausting or troubling it. We love her for the light of her lowered eyes, for the peace radiating from her contenance, for her very attitude revealing her inner fullness of grace. To have spent a few moments in her presence is a grace that leaves a lasting trace in our lives, and the welcome that this dear picture gives us everywhere we go throughout the Society is one of the signs that we are indeed at home...."
Thursday, October 19, 2017
My earliest memory of Mater comes from when I was about eight years old and it was a life-size statue of Mater that was outside the study hall at the Academy of the Visitation. I went there from the time I was five until I finished sixth grade. When I was still six years old, I was promoted to the second grade and at that time we had moved back to the house in the county so I came to school with my Dad very early and had to wait for him to pick me up at 5:30 P.M. I would go to the study hall with the older girls after school but soon was tired of sitting there and would be allowed to go out to where Mater was as there would be another older girl there to answer the phone when a parent arrived below as a few others were sometimes called for after our usual dismissal time. I learned to play with whoever was out there listening for the phone. We would play hide the button and the folds of Mater's dress made great hiding places so I got to know that statue well by feeling in all the crevices and looking for hiding places or trying to find the hidden small button. I also developed a love of that statue as it was life-sized and therefore bigger than any other statue I have ever seen in our many convents all over as other countries often have a whole chapel just for Mater, but the statues are not as big. I then had the grace to be sacristan for the original Mater in Rome for five months and I loved being near to her and think she has been very near to me.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
People are like stained glass windows: They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.
I think we often miss the light within others and it is one of the things I am trying to see in each of my large community here. I live with very holy people, but sometimes I may not always see the light of Christ within each unless I am looking for it.
We will be having the Feast of Mater on Friday and I am preparing for it by saying often throughout my day:
"Breathing in, breathing out;
I am calm, I am smiling;
You in me, I in You;
Present moment, wondrous moment.
Peace to the world, peace to the world...
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Her last years at St. Charles were happy ones for Philippine. She had her room near the little chapel that had been built to connect the convent to the Church and she continued to pray long hours but also was the one who went around checking the children's clothes and mending what needed to be mended. She taught catechism to a few of the french-speaking students in the little room under the front porch. She prayed long hours and she wrote letters. Her zeal for the Indians continued to the end of her life which came on November 18, 1852. She was buried in the convent cemetery beside the convent. Three years later people felt that she might be canonized so her body was exhumed. Her body was still intact so she was now moved to the octagonal little chapel that was out in front of the convent. Here her remains rested for the next 100 years. I was one who prayed at her tomb each night before closing up the little chapel that was dedicated to Our Lady.
Philippine was beatified in 1940.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Most of the year that Philippine had with the Indians had been one of physical suffering for her. She hardly mentioned that in her letters which were full of the good that was being done for the Indians. She rejoiced in this tribe that had so many devout converts. Still, she knew that others felt she should return and finally a letter came sending her to spend the last ten years of her life at St. Charles. Philippine found it hard to leave her Indians but obeyed without objecting once the decision was made. It cost her to leave, but she soon was at St. Charles and willing to do all that she could to be of help in that community.
One still feels her presence there. She was such a woman of prayer and her prayer was for others, for the Church, and for the missions.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Jesus again is telling a parable. This time it is that the Kingdom of God may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to summon the guests to the feast, but they refused to come. He sent them out again to tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, may calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast." Some ignored the invitation; others laid hold of the servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he sent more servants out into the main roads to invite whomever they found. So they went out and gathered all they found, good and bad alike; the hall was filled with guests when the king came in to meet them. When the king saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment, he said to him, "My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?" The man was silent. Then the king said to his attendants, "Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness."
Now this parable from Matthew 22 gives us much to think about. Are we those who are invited but do not accept the invitation to the feast? Are we too busy? Or do we mistreat the servants who were sent to invite us? Maybe I am one who was found by the wayside and invited. What is the wedding garment I need to wear to partake of the feast?
Paul tells us today in the Second Reading to the Philippians, "I can do all things in him who strengthens me."
That is a consoling thought and he continues to tell us that God will fully supply whatever we need...
Let us thank God for the care he takes of each of us.
Here in California we are suffering with all who have lost everything in the terrible fires that have caused more destruction than any other year and we have more than 20,000 evicted suddenly from their homes without time usually to pack even their important papers. Many fled with nothing. We are trying to see how to help some but how will they find places to live when so many homes have been destroyed?
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Although Philippine could do little besides pray and sit with any sick Indian woman, the Indians had great reverence for her. They brought her all manner of things- fresh corn, chickens, wild plums. Mother Mathevon wrote of Mother Duchesne: "She stayed all morning in the church, so Sister Louise would take her a cup of coffee each day, and she drank it at the door of the church. After dinner she went again for three or four hours of prayer. The Indians had the greatest admiration for her, recommended themselves to her prayers, and called her Woman-Who prays-always."
Phiippine again thought of herself as a failure yet the number of baptisms grew and many were convinced that her prayers brought many new families to be baptized every Sunday afternoon and it was Mother Duchesne who inscribed all the names in the register.
Friday, October 13, 2017
On June 29, 1841, the little band of missionaries: the four RSCJs, Fathers Verhaegen and Smedts, both Jesuits, and a diocesan priest, Father Francis J. Renaud boarded the Missouri river packer while a crowd of friends on the levee were there to see them off. Mother Duchesne walked up and down the deck during the four day journey; she had found new life. It took another four days to reach Sugar Creek because the Jesuits did not want to tire out the nuns. The Indians came out to meet them on horseback. Then, about a mile from the mission, 500 braves appeared in gala dress. They had bright plumes and feathers and their moccasins embroidered with porcupine quills. The nuns were given a huge reception and Mother Duchesne shook hands with all of them.
Unfortunately, no home had been prepared for the nuns. A good Indian let the nuns have his cabin which was close to the church; he went to live in a tent. His house was about 15 by 12 feet in size. One of the two chairs was reserved for Mother Duchesne. The first letter that Mother Duchesne wrote to Mother Barat was headed: "From the Tribe and Village of the Potawatomi". She wrote: "At last we have reached the country of our desires. ...The pastor does not think it wise at present to teach the children another language. ...The pastor has given us two fine cows and put at our service a pair of oxen, a good horse, and a charette." She goes on to say that it will be easy to plant a nice vegetable garden so they have nothing to complain about. They had brought with them a Negro man from St. Louis who is a carpenter but their baggage has not yet arrived so she had to use thick paper. She also admits that she has been ill again and finds it difficult to think. "This is a weakness I never experienced before and she says it accounts for the condition of her letter, but the facts are correct."
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Philippine continued to desire to go to the Indian missions even when she was in poor health over seventy years old. The fact that permission had been given to make the foundation was a joy for her even though she was not being included in the preparations. Then, Father Verhaegen appeared at the convent one morning to say that he wanted the nuns to go with him in July as he would be making a visit to Sugar Creek. As he talked with Mothers Gray and Mathevon, Mother Duchesne sat with them for he never called at the City House without asking for her. They were speaking about the steamship passage, what baggage to take, and the date of departure and reservations for three religious. For only three? The priest had expected four. He turned to where Mother Duchesne was sitting quietly and said: "But she must come, too. Even if she can use only one leg, she will come. Why, if we have to carry her all the way on our shoulders, she is coming with us. She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work." (Quoted in Callan's Life of Philippine Duchesne, p. 635).
Mother Mathevon, who had been received by Philippine at Grenoble and formed by her at Florissant before being named superior at St. Charles, was to be superior of the little group. She was reluctant to have responsibility for Mother Duchesne and Philippine sensed this. She repeated often the little prayer she had made her own:
"Lord, I lean on you alone for strength.
Give me your arm to support me,
Your shoulders to carry me,
Your breast on which to lay my head,
Your cross to uphold me,
Your Eucharist to nourish me.
In You, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace."
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Philippine continued to grow in holiness through the trials and hardships she faced daily. Her humility was such that she thought herself a failure and yet she kept on mothering her community, forming the young religious to deep, interior life, and holding fast to the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Vocations became more numerous and by 1830 there were 45 vowed religious in America; only fourteen of these had come from Europe. The novices were twenty-three that year. Philippine continued to pray and to struggle with the language as so many now did not know French. She felt useless, yet she was the first up in the morning and the last to retire at night. She worked hard wherever she saw a need; all of her original companions would die before she did.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Philippine had so many difficult years that it is hard to just summarize what she had to go through during the years between the time she made the foundation of the City House in St. Louis and when she was finally allowed to leave the burden of superior in 1840. She had three houses in Louisiana that were causing her difficulty. although they seemed to flourish more than the three houses in Missouri. She was always short of personnel to fill the positions in her houses; she lacked funds, class materials, books, and often felt the weight of the financial situation of the houses in Missouri. She hated being in debt but she had to provide for so many: not only the children and the orphans, but the novices who were finally coming and increasing the numbers for the Society of the Sacred Heart in America.
The Religious who did arrive from France were critical of the way things were being done. They did not understand the cost of living on the frontier. Philippine had no money to hire men to cultivate the land and no money to enclose all the land. She was doing the best she could with what she had and, fortunately, the Bishop understood what she was accomplishing with so little help. She found her strength in prayer.