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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spiritual Combat, Vigilance and Discernment





Today we begin the fifth chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate, and I consider it very important as the Pope explains why we need discernment in our daily lives and how to go about becoming discerning people.

158. "The Christian life is a constant battle. We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.

159. We are not dealing merely with a battle against the world and a worldly mentality that would deceive us and leave us dull and mediocre, lacking in enthusiasm and joy. Nor can this battle be reduced to the struggle against our human weaknesses and proclivities (be they laziness, lust, envy, jealousy or any others). It is also a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil. Jesus himself celebrates our victories. ...

Monday, June 18, 2018

Prayerful reading of God's word



Pope Francis tells us in #155 that "if we realize that God exists, we cannot help but worship him, at times in quiet wonder, and praise him in festive song.

156." The prayerful reading of God's word, which is 'sweeter than honey' (Heb 4:12), enables us to pause and listen to the voice of the Master.....

#157 "Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives."

This is the end of the fourth Chapter, a long one developing different aspects to help us to holiness.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


Mustard seed is so small



















In today's Gospel (Mark 4:26-34) Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed to try to explain the Kingdom of God. "It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the sky can dwell it its shade."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Prayer of supplication is an expression of a heart that trusts God...



In Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis speaks of the prayer of supplication as "an expression of a heart that trusts in God and realizes that of itself it can do nothing. The life of God's faithful people is marked by constant supplication born of faith-filled love and great confidence. Let us not downplay prayer of petition, which so often calms our hearts and helps us persevere in hope. Prayer of intercession has particular value, for it is an act of trust in God and, at the same time, an expression of love for our neighbor....
Intercessory prayer is an expression of our fraternal concern for others, since we are able to embrace their lives, their deepest troubles and their loftiest dreams."

Pope Francis says that this prayer attempts to practice the twofold commandment that Jesus left us.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Develop a grateful memory



153."Prayer, because it is nourished by the gift of God present and at work in our lives, must always be marked by remembrance....our prayer is interwoven with memories. We think back not only on his revealed Word, but also on our own lives, the lives of others, and all that the Lord has done in his Church. This is the grateful memory that Saint Ignatius of Loyola refers to in his Contemplation for Attaining Love, when he asks us to be mindful of all the blessings we have received from the Lord. Think of your own history when you pray, and there you will find much mercy. This will also increase your awareness that the Lord is ever mindful of you; he never forgets you. So it makes sense to ask him to shed light on the smallest details of your life, for he sees them all."

I am convince that when we develop this grateful memory, we are full of joy!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Prayerful silence is important for all of us


In #151 Pope Francis asks: "Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord's presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord's heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy. ( Cf. Bernard of Clairvaux).

#152 Pope Francis asks that we never regard prayerful silence as a "form of escape and rejection of the world around us.

The reason I love retreats so much is that we sink into deep silence and can listen to God because of exterior and interior silence. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Always Go To God and Listen to Him




The Holy Father reminds us in #148 that we should try to remain in the presence of God. He quotes St. John of the Cross and says that we need to always go to God "whether you eat, drink, talk with others, or do anything, always go to God..."

149. "For this to happen, however, some moments spent alone with God are also necessary. For Saint Teresa of Avila, prayer 'is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse with him who we know loves us.' I would insist that this is true not only for a privileged few, but for all of us, for 'we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored.' Trust-filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence.

150. "In that silence, we can discern, in the light of the Spirit, the paths of holiness to which the Lord is calling us. Otherwise, any decisions we make may only be window-dressing that, rather than exalting the Gospel in our lives, will mask or submerge it. For each disciple, it is essential to spend time with the Master, to listen to his words, and to learn from him always. Unless we listen, all our words will be nothing but useless chatter."

One of our Chapter calls is to create silence. Interior silence leads us deeper into contemplation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

That all may be one..




146. "Contrary to the growing consumerist individualism that tends to isolate us in a quest for well-being apart from others, our path to holiness can only make us identify all the more with Jesus' prayer 'that all may be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you'" (Jn17:21).

We are still on Chapter Four where the Pope is speaking about different aspects of holiness. Now he will speak of constant prayer. The underlining is mine.

147. Finally, though it may seem obvious, we should remember that holiness consists in a habitual opening to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration. The saints are distinguished by a spirit of prayer and a need for communion with God. They find an exclusive concern with this world to be narrow and stifling, and, amid their own concerns and commitments, they long for God, losing themselves in praise and contemplation for the Lord. I do not believe in holiness without prayer, even though prayer need not be lengthy or involve intense emotions."

We thought about our call to adore the Heart of Christ in the Eucharist during retreat. We are to foster a spirit of adoration. I have found such grace in just spending an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament each afternoon. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time





The Collect for today's Liturgy is worth praying over all week.

"O God, from whom all good things come,
grant that we, who call on you in our need, 
may at your prompting discern what is right,
and by your guidance do it.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The first reading is from the Book of Genesis when, after Adam has eaten of the tree, God called to him, but Adam was afraid and so hid. Adam, of course, blames Eve, who in turn blames the serpent. 

The responsorial psalm is from Psalm 130 with the response:
"With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

The second reading is from St. Paul's second Letter to the Corinthians. In this reading Paul says: "Everything is indeed for you, so that grace may be bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God."

The Gospel (Mark 3: 20-35) shows us Jesus will such a crowd around him that he cannot eat, but he teaches them. His mother and his brothers arrive and the crowd tells him they are outside and asking for him. Jesus replies: "Who are my mother and my brothers? Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."

Let us strive to know and do the will of God. 
That is where discernment helps us. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pay attention to Details



 In #144 of Gaudete et Exsultate, the Pope tells us "not to forget that Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details.
The little detail that wine way running out at a party.
The little detail that one sheep was missing.
The little detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins.
The little detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay.
The little detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had.
The little detail of having a fire burning and a fish cooking as he waited for the disciples at daybreak."

What are the little details in my life now that the Lord is asking me to pay attention to? Maybe I should be thanking for these each day or maybe discerning in these small details what the Lord might be saying to me now?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Feast of the Sacred Heart



Our Lord has kept His Heart open for us. As Religious of the Sacred Heart, we are called to enter into His Heart and draw forth His love to give to others. We are also called to stay with Jesus in the solitude of His Heart. This Feast is one where we stop again to thank the Lord for His many graces to us. We are called to live in union and conformity with Jesus. It requires us to stay in touch, to know His preferences, to listen to His Spirit who helps us to discern what is pleasing to Jesus. 
We are one body in this little Society and very united in love today. We include all our Associates and those who are still connected with us in so many ways. Happy Feast to all!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart



Tomorrow is our great Feast of the Sacred Heart; we renew our vows during the Mass. In the early days of the Society, the eve of the Feast was always a fast day. I guess that lasted maybe even until the Church changed its fasting regulations.

To continue with the Pope's Exhortation on Holiness:
141. "Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others. We see this in some holy communities. From time to time, the Church has canonized entire communities that lived the Gospel heroically or offered to God the lives of all their members....Living and working alongside others is surely a path of spiritual growth.

142. "Each community is called to create a God-entlightened space in which to experience the hidden presence of the risen Lord. Sharing the word and celebrating the Eucharist together fosters fraternity and makes us a holy and missionary community. It also gives rise to authentic and shared mystical experience.".....

143. "Such experiences, however, are neither the most frequent nor the most important. The common life, whether in the family, the parish, the religious community or any other, is made up of small everyday things."

That is encouraging as we have those "small everyday things" without looking for them. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Community



In #140 of Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis states that "when we live apart for others, it is very difficult to fight against concupiscence, the snares and temptations of the devil and the selfishness of the world. Bombarded as we are by so many enticements, we can grow too isolated, lose our sense of reality and inner clarity, and easily succumb.

141. "Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others...In many holy marriages too, each spouse becomes a means used by Christ for the sanctification of the other. Living or working alongside others is surely a path of spiritual growth. Saint John of the Cross told one of his followers: 'You are living with others in order to be fashioned and tried.'"

I find joy living in a community of 48 now, but I also enjoy the fact that I can have quite a bit of solitude both in my room and in the Chapel. There is a richness in a large community but even when we are working or sharing with only one or two, we have community.

We have finished our retreat and we did think about community during it as we have the call to be one body and we thought about the different families we belong to and how we see community. I thought that I often sit with the same people at lunch (our dinner for only a light supper in the evening); the five of us have formed a little community from praying and sharing together each day. We laugh a great deal, too. I guess I will be sharing tidbits from the retreat as we go along, but I do want to finish the rest of the Pope's Exhortation on Holiness as it is so important for all of us.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Let us ask for apostolic courage




#138. "We are inspired to act by the example of all those priests, religious, and laity who devote themselves to proclamation and to serving others with great fidelity, often at the risk of their lives and certainly at the cost of their comfort....the Church needs passionate missionaries, enthusiastic about sharing true life....

#139. Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to hesitate when the Spirit calls us to take a step forward. Let us ask for the apostolic courage to share the Gospel with others and to stop trying to make our Christian life a museum of memories. In every situation, may the Holy Spirit cause us to contemplate history in the light of the risen Jesus. In this way, the Church will not stand still, but constantly welcome the Lord's surprises."

This seems to go with our Call from the 2016 Chapter to "set sail" and seek new frontiers. One of the questions asked at the beginning of the retreat which is still with me is: "Where is my prayer frontier?" Someone shared this at table today:"If we take the word margin, remove the r, put an i at the beginning and an e at the end, we have "imagine" and the imagination has no limits. I liked this.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Jesus stands at the door and knocks...




We continue to look at the fourth chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate and different aspects of holiness.

136. "True enough, we need to open the door of our hearts to Jesus, who stands and knocks (cf. Rev 3:20). Sometimes I wonder, though, if perhaps Jesus is already inside us and knocking on the door for us to let him escape from our stale self-centredness."

137. Complacency is seductive; it tells us that there is no point in trying to change things, that there is nothing we can do, because this is the way things have always been and yet we always manage to survive. By force of habit, we no longer stand up to evil. We "let things be:, or as others have decided they ought to be. Yet let us allow the Lord to rouse us from our torpor, to free us from our inertia. Let us rethink our usual way of doing things; let us open our eyes and ears, and above all our hearts, so as not to be complacent about things as they are, but unsetttled by the living and effective word of the risen Lord."

Be attentive to open the door to Jesus who waits for each of us!
His Heart is open for us.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Feast of Corpus Christi



Today's feast is always special, even without the processions that take place in so many countries where the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance is carried through the streets.
Let us look at the beautiful liturgy for today:
The Collect: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption.

This is one of the few feasts that has a Sequence, Lauda Sion, which may be sung before the Alleluia - the shorter form still has four verses but there are 24 verses. Here are some of my favorite: "Bring him all the praise you know,
                   He is more than you bestow,
                   Never can you reach his due.

Blood is poured and flesh is broken,
Yet in either wondrous token
Christ entire we know to be.

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.

The Gospel is Mark's account of the last supper when Jesus gave his apostles the gift of the Eucharist. What a gift this is for us to have Jesus really present in every Mass and in countless tabernacles. 

The Communion Antiphon: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

God is fearless..



From Pope Francis' Exhortation on Holiness:

135. "God is eternal newness. He impels us constantly to set out anew, to pass beyond what is familiar, to the fringes and beyond. He takes us to where humanity is most wounded...God is not afraid! He is fearless! He is always greater than our plans and schemes....So if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find him there; indeed, he is already there....

Friday, June 1, 2018

We need to set sail...


#133. We need the Spirit's prompting, lest we be paralyzed by fear and excessive caution, lest we grow used to keeping within safe bounds. Let us remember that closed spaces grow musty and unhealthy.

#134. "Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven. It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations. We can resist leaving behind a familar and easy way of doing things. Yet the challenges involved can be like the storm, the whale, , the worm that dried the gourd plant, or the wind and sun that burned Jonah's head. For us, as for him, they can serve to bring us back to the God of tenderness, who invites us to set out ever anew on our journey."

The call from our last General Chapter to set sail certainly fits the call the Pope is making to all of us.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Feast of the Visitation

Today is my birthday and it is so good to be in retreat. I was in retreat for my birthday here last year, too. And I love the fact that it is always a feast of Our Lady. I thought it might be Corpus Christi, too, but that is celebrated on Sunday now and we come out of retreat that morning.

The Pope's Exhortation on Holiness is influencing me and I will continue with it tomorrow as we are still on the 4th Chapter and have another, very important one, to do still. 
Please keep me in your prayers. I am 87 today.

I have scheduled my blogs ahead since I am using Pope Francis' new exhortation. I hope we are getting holy just by reading it and trying to put into practice what it says.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit





#132 Parrhesia is a seal of the Spirit; it testifies to the authenticity of our preaching. It is a joyful assurance that leads us to glory in the Gospel we proclaim. It is an unshakable trust 
in the faithful Witness who gives us the certainty that nothing can "separate us from the love of God"(Rom 8:39).

You are getting some shorter posts this week because I am in retreat and scheduling ahead.
Please keep the retreat in your prayer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Apostolic Courage


#131. "Look at Jesus. His deep compassion reached out to others. It did not make him hesitant, timid or self-conscious, as often happens with us. Quite the opposite. His compassion made him go out actively to preach and to send others on a mission of healing and liberation. Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us too on mission. We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier. Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission.

The name given to my group when we made our final Profession in Rome was "Apostolic Courage" and it was something we all have lived in these 57 years; many have gone to God but we are all united in the Mystical Body of Christ.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Put out into the deep



In #130 in the Exhortation on Holiness, Pope Francis says: "How often we are tempted to keep close to the shore! Yet the Lord calls us to put out into the deep and let down our nets. 
He bids us spend our lives in his service. Clinging to him, we are inspired to put all our charisms at the service of others. May we always feel compelled by his love (2 Cor 5:14) and say with Saint Paul: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel'..."

I find so much to reflect upon in this Exhortation. We preach the Gospel by the way we live. Am I ready to put out into the deep?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Trinity Sunday



Today we celebrate the Mass of the Holy Trinity with the entrance antiphon: " Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God, and also the Holy Spirit, for he has shown us his merciful love."

The Collect asks that we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. I often thank God for the grace I received when living at the Trinita dei Monte in Rome of having months to just try to develop a relationship with each member of the Blessed Trinity. I am still influenced by that grace.
Tonight we enter into retreat so I have scheduled my blog for these days ahead so I can spend them in silence. We only have a six day retreat but I will be making a few more days later as I think retreat is the most important time of the year, at least for me. I need this time with the Lord and it is like a honeymoon. I do count on your prayer for this week of intense prayer.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Boldness and Passion






Another aspect of holiness is boldness and passion. The Holy Father says in #129, "Holiness is also parrhesia: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. To allow us to do this, Jesus himself comes and tells us once more, serenely yet firmly: 'Do not be afraid' (Mk 6:50). 'I am with you always, to the end of the world' (Mt 28: 20). These words enable us to go forth and serve with the same courage that the Holy Spirit stirred up in the Apostles, impelling them to proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesia. The Bible also uses this word to describe the freedom of a life open to God and to others....."

Have we this boldness and enthusiasm?

Friday, May 25, 2018

Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie



Today is the feast of our Mother Foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie. She seems so close to all of us as I know she watches over us from heaven. She wants each of us to live in union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus. She loves fidelity to the Holy Spirit and is concerned with the interior life of each of us. She always wants us to be humble, prayerful, and to seek only to be faithful to whatever God is asking of us. I find her presence in my life so consoling and encouraging. She often tells me to slow down and discern what the Lord is asking of me. I suspect she does this for all her daughters.
Since the Holy Father has asked all to make an examen in dialogue with the Lord every day, I am trying to do this and now will ask Sophie to help me. I am rediscovering the great value of an examen of consciousness - where is the Lord in my life today? What is He saying to me in the persons, events, and circumstances of this day? What might He be asking of me? Above all, it is a time to thank Jesus for all the daily graces He gives us.

I am adding this that is from the end of the letter that our Mother General just sent for today's feast and that of the Sacred Heart. I know many Associates read this blog, too.
...please know that each one of us has a part in this journey we are on together. All of us are called to pray deeply. We are called to deepen our love within the Heart of Christ, for each other and for our world and its people. We are called to participate in whatever way is possible for us. No one is too old or too young to be co-creators of our future. Remember, each one of us has a basic responsibility which she cannot surrender and which no one can carry out for her: that of living in the truth of her heart and her life, wherever she may be, the charism of Saint Madeleine Sophie (Constitutions, 140).

May the same spirit that guided Sophie throughout her life strengthen and enlighten us. May we pray together that this Spirit will give us the gifts we need to live deeply and united in this very important moment for the life of our world, our Church and our Society. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fraternal love increases our capacity for joy


We continue with thoughts for reflection from the Pope's Exhortation on Holiness:

128. Pope Francis tells us that "I am speaking of a joy lived in communion, which shares and is shared, since 'there is more happiness in giving than in receiving' (Acts 20:35) and 'God loves a cheerful giver'(2 Cor 9:7). Fraternal love increases our capacity for joy, since it makes us capable of rejoicing in the good of others: 'Rejoice with those who rejoice'(Rom 12:15). 'We rejoice when we are weak and you are strong'(2 Cor 13:9). On the other hand, when we focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

God loves a cheerful giver



We are now still on the Fourth Chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate.

#127 "With the love of a father, God tells us: 'My son, treat yourself well... Do not deprive yourself of a happy day' (Sir 14:11,14). He wants us to be positive, grateful, and uncomplicated....we should remain resilient and imitate St. Paul: "I have learned to be content with what I have." (Phil 4:11). Saint Francis of Assisi lived by this; he could be overwhelmed with gratitude before a piece of hard bread, or joyfully praise God simply for the breeze that caressed his face."

So, let us go and be full of His joy today for Christ is truly risen and is in each of us. We will never get used to or grasp fully this Divine indwelling!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Nothing can detroy supernatural joy



The Pope tells us that hard times may come but "nothing can destroy the supernatural joy that adapts and changes, but always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. That joy brings deep security, serene hope and a spiritual fulfillment that the world cannot understand or appreciate."

#126 "Christian joy is usually accompanied by a sense of humor." The Pope says that ill humor is no sign of holiness....
We receive so much from the Lord 'for our enjoyment' (1 Tim 6:17), that sadness can be a sign of ingratitude. We can get so caught up in ourselves that we are unable to recognize God's gifts."

The underlining is mine!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Joy and a sense of Humor



From Gaudete et Exsultate : 

#122. Far fro being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humor. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. The Christian life is 'joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom 14:17), for the necessary result of the love of charity is joy....
If we allow the Lord to draw us out of our shell and change our lives, then we can do as Saint Paul tells us:'Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!' (Phil 4:4)....."

#123 "The prophets proclaimed the times of Jesus, in which we now live, as a revelation of joy." The Pope gives us some quotes that show us how we are to rejoice greatly; we are not to grieve for the joy of the Lord is our strength.

#124 Mary, recognizing the newness that Jesus brought, sang: 'My spirit rejoices' and Jesus himself 'rejoiced in the Holy Spirit'... After the resurrection of Jesus, 'wherever the disciples went, there was 'much joy' (Acts 8:8). Jesus assures us: "You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy...I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you' (Jn 16:20,22). 'These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
(Jn 15:11).

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday


In today's Liturgy we ask God to sanctify the whole Church in every people and nation and to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and fill now once more the hearts of believers.

I love the description Luke gives us of the first Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles: "When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."

This feast has a wonderful Sequence that is worth praying over. I think I copied it for last year's feast so will not repeat it here. You can no doubt find it in my archives or on Google.

Happy Feast!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Eve of Pentecost


The Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles as tongues of fire. This descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost traditionally marks the birth of the Church, but it is hardly the first time the Spirit comes - in fact, the Spirit hovers over the waters at the moment of creation. 
In the reflection for this feast in Give Us This Day, Edward Hahnenberg says: "The Holy Spirit is nothing other than God alive and active in the world. If Jesus is how God burst forth into human history, then the Spirit is how God continues to burn in the human heart. The Spirit is God's love for each one of us. It is God's loving presence within me."

Friday, May 18, 2018

Always prefer to be taught by all...




#117 "It is not good when we look down on others like heartless judges, lording it over them and always trying to teach them lessons. That is itself a subtle form of violence. Saint John of the Cross proposed a different path: 'Always prefer to be taught by all, rather than to desire teaching even the least of all.' And he added advice on how to keep the devil at bay: 'Rejoice in the good of others as if it were your own, and desire that they be given precedence over you in all things; this you should do wholeheartedly. You will thereby overcome evil with good, banish the devil, and possess a happy heart. Try to practice this all the more with those who least attract you. Realize that if you do not train yourself in this way, you will not attain real charity or make any progress in it.'"

#118. "Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness....
Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ. For 'Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you mkight follow in his steps.' (i Pet 2:21)....

The Pope goes on to explain in #119 that he is not speaking only about stark situations of martyrdom, but about the daily humiliations of those who keep silent to save their families, who prefer to praise others rather than boast about themselves, or who choose the less welcome tasks, at times even choosing to bear an injustice so as to offer it to the Lord.....

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How do I keep the 8th Commandment?



In #115, Pope Francis tells us that "Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forms of digital communication....It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or living, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze (cf. Jas 3:5).

#116. "Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Perseverance, Patience and Meekness



From the Exhortation on Holiness, the Fourth Chapter where Pope Francis talks about some of the signs of holiness.

#112. "The first of these great signs is solid grounding in the God who loves us and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life's ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. 'If God is for us, who is against us?' (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, our our fast-paces, noisy and aggressive world. to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good....."

#114. "We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root....When we feel overwhelmed, we can always cling to the anchor of prayer, which puts us back in God's hands and the source of our peace."....

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Retreat Day with my Spirituality Group



Today I am taking my Spirituality Group to Villa Maria del Mar for a mini retreat. The group consists of about eight or ten wonderful women that are hungry for prayer and come once a month to meet with me. Some I have had in the Busy Persons' Retreat. This will be, I think, our last meeting of the year and is an extra day. These are busy Mothers so it is hard for them to take off even one day. I just want them to know about my favorite place where they could go sometimes just to enjoy the beauty and pray by the ocean. It is only an hour from here and a beautiful drive through the Santa Cruz mountains.
More from the Exhortation on Holiness tomorrow. I do want to share a prayer we use in preparation for Pentecost:
Breathe on us, Spirit of Wisdom,
so that we may be Your Divine life alive in the world.
Grow in us, Spirit of Understanding,
so that we may listen and know how to speak your word.
Move within our community, Spirit of Counsel,
so that everyone of our encounters may be filled with Your Presence.
Inspire us, Spirit of Fortitude,
so that we may always have courage and speak the truth in love.
Fill us with insight, Spirit of Knowledge,
so that we may put on the mind of Christ and see God in all creation.
Abide with us, Spirit of Reverence,
so that we may be transformed into Your image and become holy.
Draw us into Yourself, Spirit of Wonder and Beauty,
so that we may worship and glorify You.
In union with Jesus who has given us this Spirit, 
we return to You, Loving God, all that You have given us. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Five great expression of love for God and neighbo



In reading the 4th Chapter of Gaudete et Exsultate I was impressed by the aspects of holiness that the Pope mentions such as meekness, humility, boldness, joy, and apostolic courage. In note 101 he recommends praying a prayer attributed to St. Thomas Moore and I am going to copy it here:


"Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn't frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumbling, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called "I". Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke and to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others".

The April 30 issue of America has some different authors reflecting on the Pope's document. Their full responses can be found at americamagazine.org

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Ascension of the Lord



"Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens? This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven will return as you saw him go, alleluia."

Collect: (I often copy the Collect as it is often not heard and yet, it sets the tone for the Liturgy and we should be aware of what we are asking in each Eucharist)
"Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation,
and where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

Actually, there is an alternative Collect that asks that we "may in spirit dwell in heavenly realms". 
I like the request to be gladdened with holy joys and to be made to rejoice with thanksgiving so will pray with the first Collect.

Then we have the account of the Ascension given at the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. 
The Gospel will tell us to go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Pope Francis is telling us the same.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading this blog!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Certain Aspects of Holiness



Chapter Four: Signs of Holiness in Today's World

110. The Pope begins by telling us that "within the framework of holiness offered by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25: 31-46, I would like to mention a few signs or spiritual attitudes that, in my opinion, are necessary if we are to understand the way of life to which the Lord calls us."

Then he tells us that he will not pause to explain the means of sanctification already known to us. Then he just names them and as they are important, I am repeating them here: "the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction and many others as well."

The Pope only wants to speak of certain aspects of the call to holiness that he hopes will prove especially meaningful to us.
We will continue with this on Monday as tomorrow is Sunday and Mother's Day and, in most places, we also are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The risen Lord is present in community



Pope Francis says that "a community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create and open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present, sanctifying it in accordance with the Father's plan. There are times when, by a gift of the Lord's love, we are granted, amid these little details, consoling experiences of God." From #145 in Gaudete et Exsultatae.


Christianity is meant to be put into practice


We are now on the last paragraph of Chapter Three and will begin Chapter Four tomorrow. This Exhortation on Holiness says that "Jesus' words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice. It can also be an object of study and reflection, but only to help us better live the Gospel in our daily lives. I recommend rereading these great biblical texts frequently, referring back to them, praying with them, trying to embody them. They will benefit us; they will make us genuinely happy."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Best way to discern if our prayer is authentic...



In Gaudete el Exsultatae, #105, Pope Francis tells us that the "best way to discern if our prayer is authentic is to judge to what extent our life is being transformed in the light of mercy. For 'mercy is not only an action of the Father; it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are.' Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life.'"

Skipping to #107, "Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy."

108. Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure, we end up being all too concerned about ourselves and our rights, and we feel a desperate need for free time to enjoy ourselves. We will find it hard to feel and show any real concern for those in need, unless we are able to cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society, which leave us impoverished and unsatisfied. anxious to have it all now....

The Pope also mentions letting ourselves be caught up in superficial information, instant communication...these cause us to waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters. But, he tells us "Yet even amid this whirlwind of activity, the Gospel continues to resound, offering us the promise of a different life, a healthier and happier life."

Plenty today to reflect on and to make that examination of conscience in dialogue with the Lord that the Pope is asking all of us, all Christians, to make daily.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Welcome the migrants


The importance of the welcoming others is brought out by Pope Francis' going back to Scripture. In #102 Jesus tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mat 25:35) and in the Old Testament, "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Ex 22:21) and so on. He assures us that "this is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today's world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God. "Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from our own kin? Then your light shall break froth like the dawn" (58:7-8).

The Pope tells us that the ultimate criterion on which our lives will be judged is what we have done for others. Then he adds in #104 Prayer is most precious, for it nourishes a daily commitment to love. Our worship becomes pleasing to 'God when we devote ourselves to living generously, and allow God's gift, granted in prayer, to be shown in our concern for our brother and sisters."

There is much to reflect on here and to make that daily examination of conscience in dialogue with the Lord. And we have much to be grateful for each day, too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We cannot ignore injustice....



Another harmful ideological error that the Pope points out in #101 is found in "those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend." Here the Holy Father wants us to know that our defence of the unborn needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, but "equally sacred are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection."

He goes on to say that we "cannot uphold and ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty."

Monday, May 7, 2018

How attentive am I to Gospel demands?



The Pope, in #100 of his Exhortation to Holiness, reminds us that "there is the error of those Christians who separate Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, from their interior union with him, from openness to his grace."

Then the Pope names some of the great saints and tell us:
"For these great saints, mental prayer, the love of God and the reading of the Gospel in no way detracted from their passionate and effective commitment to their neighbors; quite the opposite."

Holy people always seem to have time to help, to take an interest in others.

This Exhortation is really calling me to discern what the Lord may be asking of me. How am I spending my time? What needs to change in my life?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter



Collect: Grant, almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honor of the risen Lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do.

The Gospel of John is so beautiful (Jn 15:9-17):
"Jesus said to his disciples, 'As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.'"

Just that first verse is enough to keep us in prayer all week!

Jesus also tells us: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you...."

One thing that the Pope states later in his Exhortation on Holiness is: "I ask all Christians not to omit, in dialogue with the Lord, a sincere daily examination of conscience. (#169)

I guess we could all examine ourselves on love. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

In fidelity to the Master



From Gaudete et Exsultate continued: (underlining is mine)

96. "Holiness, then, is not about swooning in mystic rapture....In this call to recognize him in the poor and the suffering, we see revealed the very heart of Christ, his deepest feelings and choices, which every saint seeks to imitate.

97. "Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus, it is my duty to ask Christians to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness, sine glossa. In other words, without any 'ifs or buts' that could lessen their force. Our Lord made it very clear that holiness cannot be understood or lived apart from these demands, for mercy is 'the beating heart of the Gospel.'"

How often do I have some ifs or buts? Why do I procrastinate?

I have energy for what I really want to do, but often use the excuse "if I just had more energy" and that really is no excuse!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Always see the dignity of every human being



I am continuing with the Pope"s Exhortation but trying now to only give some of his thoughts for reflection. I will give the number so you can look up the entire paragraph later.

98. "If I encounter a person sleeping outdoors on a cold night, I can view him or her as an annoyance, an idler, an obstacle in my path, a troubling sight, a problem for the politicians to sort out, or even a piece of refuse cluttering a public space. Or I can respond with faith and charity, and see in this person a human being with a dignity identical to my own, a creature infinitely loved by the Father, an image of God, a brother or sister redeemed by Jesus Christ. That is what it is to be a Christian!
Can holiness somehow be understood apart from this lively recognition of the dignity of each human being?"

I hope we can always respond with faith and charity. The underlining is mine!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Great Criterion


Pope Francis begins by reminding us that if we seek holiness pleasing to God's eyes, this text offers us one clear criterion on which we will be judged. "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me" (Mt 25: 35-3).

In fidelity to the Master

96. "Holiness, then, is not about swooning in mystic rapture....
In this call to recognize him in the poor and suffering, we see revealed the very heart of Christ, his deepest feelings and choices, which every saint seeks to imitate.

97. Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus, it is my duty to ask Christians to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness, sine glossa. In other words, without any "ifs or buts" that could lessen their force. Our Lord made it very clear that holiness cannot be understood or lived apart from these demands, for mercy is "the beating heart of the Gospel".

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Blessed are those who are persecuted...



I thought that I could finish the Third Chapter on the Beatitudes today, but Pope Francis has quite a bit to say about this last Beatitude: " Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I will just give some of this Beatitude and go on to Chapter 4 tomorrow.

90. Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance. He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted simply because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others. Unless we wish to sink into an obscure mediocrity, let us not long for an easy life, for
"whoever would save his life will lose it" (Mt 16:25)


91. In living the Gospel, we cannot expect that everything will be easy, for the thirst for power and worldly interests often stands in our way....

92. Whatever weariness and pain we may experience in living the commandment of love and following the way of justice, the cross remains the source of our growth and sanctification....

93. Here we are speaking about inevitable persecution, not the kind of persecution we might bring upon ourselves by our mistreatment of others....

94. Persecutions are not a reality of the past, for today too we experience them, whether by the shedding of blood, as is the case with so many contemporary martyrs, or by more subtle means, by slander and lies. Jesus calls us blessed when people "utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account" (Mt 5:11). At other times, persecution can take the form of gibes that try to caricature our faith and make us seem ridiculous.
 Accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems: that is holiness.