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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Suggestion for Advent

Some people have the habit of starting off their day with prayer. One was to do this is just to say the "Morning Offering" that so many of us were taught that is always printed in the monthly leaflet of the Apostleship of Prayer. The Apostleship of Prayer was founded by the Jesuits to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and so each day its members offer a prayer to consecrate the day to God. You can use your own words and make it short, but I am going to copy the prayer here as I used to say it daily and now need to remember to do so.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.

I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart....

and it always ends with the intention of the Holy Father for that particular month. I just think that what is important is that we consciously offer all of our day - a habit I had for years and do not know why I am forgetting to do so now!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Advent is a time of longing for the coming of Christ

How am I desiring the coming of Jesus this Advent? Am I preparing my heart to welcome Him by decluttering and spending time in silent waiting? Perhaps I am taking a resolution to be kind in all my thoughts, words, and deeds. Or maybe I am just saying, "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" Our world has such need of His coming again into the lives of each of us. Let us pray with deep desire and longing for the One who makes a difference in the hearts of all.

We are definitely being called to make this a special Advent.
 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Feast of St. Andrew

 



Today's feast was the anniversary of my parents' wedding. They wanted to have a quiet wedding before Advent. My mother did not tell her father; her mother had died when my mother was still a teenager and she knew how upset her father was when she became engaged, plus she really did not want a big wedding. My Dad could not tell his mother as he had five younger sisters and they all would have insisted on a big wedding. Since he was a tennis partner with the Archbishop, Dad asked that the bans not be published and my parents asked a wonderful couple who lived in Kirkwood to we their witnesses. My mother told me that the wedding was at the 8:00 Mass at her parish church and then my Dad went to work and Mother went to her appointment at the beauty shop to get her hair cut! My mother caught a cold and my grandfather would not let my Dad come visit her. He bought a house and knew it would come out in the papers in both of their names and people would know they were married so he told his mother and my mother had to tell my grandfather. I think this was after Christmas. Dad's sisters told him their had to be a honeymoon so he took my mother to Chicago. It seems so strange, but they were such a happy couple and never separated even a single night until my brothers went to Scout camp and Dad went along as an assistant Scout Master. So all this comes back to me on the Feast of St. Andrew.

The important thing to remember about Andrew was that he and his brother, Peter, immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. 

It is good to write down whatever we have decided to do this Advent to prepare for the celebration of Christ's coming into our world. Then we will be definite about our Advent preparation. It is a short season, but one that can make a difference in our lives!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent


 Today we will light Advent wreaths in many churches and homes. Because of the quarantine here, it is not yet possible to begin the season of Advent by lighting one candle. There are always four Sundays in Advent and the rose colored candle is for the Third Sunday when we rejoice for the Lord is near.

The Liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent is worth praying over so I shall just mention a few things that strike me this year.

The Collect: "Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom."

The First Reading is from Isaiah 63 "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down..." 

The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 80 and we beg the Lord to make us turn to Him and we cry: "Rouse your power and come to save us."

The Second Reading is from Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians: 1:3-9:

"I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Gospel is from Mark 13: 33-37

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.....May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. what I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"



Saturday, November 28, 2020

What does Advent mean for you?

 I think we all have grown up with different ideas about Advent that have changed as we have grown. I certainly can remember when Advent was a time of trying to be good so Santa would bring us what we asked for and how we could hardly wait to hang up our stockings to be filled. I did know that it was the birthday of Jesus and I loved seeing the manger with Joseph and Mary waiting for Jesus to be born. I think I was in high school before the real meaning of Advent hit me; it is a time to prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus again in a special way. Yes, Jesus is in my heart, but the Church now calls us to really prepare our hearts, to make more room for Jesus, to be able to welcome Him...



Friday, November 27, 2020

Advent begins on Sunday

 On this Friday after Thanksgiving I am sitting in front of my computer aware of so many friends scattered all over. Some I have not seen for years, but the gift of their friendship has marked my life. I am grateful for friends in Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Chile, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and, of course, the United States. What a gift to have friends all over the world! I am not good at staying in contact with many, but they are often in my thought and prayer. I guess I am thinking of them more today as I have just finished writing Christmas cards to be mailed before Advent.

 I have not written to those outside of the United States, although I will be sending electronic cards to some RSCJ. My Christmas letter and cards are going to arrive at the beginning of Advent and are for family and friends who are not RSCJs. I tried to limit the list to 50 this year and finished writing all before Thanksgiving for the first time.

 I do want to spend Advent preparing for Christmas. When I entered the Society we were not allowed to write letters during Advent and Lent. That is no longer true, but I must tell you that I am happy to have my Christmas letter sent early to wish everyone a holy Advent - actually, I want everyone to have a holy, healthy, happy Advent and Christmas. 

Besides thinking of my friends today and feeling very grateful for them, I am also asking God to show me what He wants of me during Advent which begins on Sunday.  "Kindness" was suggested from the reading of Chapter 6 in the Pope's latest encyclical; I think that kindness would be the positive way of keeping out all critical thoughts and so I think that will be helpful for me during this Advent.  

What are you planning to do for Advent?


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving


 
Let us be aware that all is gift.

Let us thank for all, the good and bad.
Sometimes what seemed bad turns out to be good.
God loves us and is watching over us and so our response is gratitude.
Thank you God for everything!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Protect me, O God....

 This morning I happened to read Psalm 16 and it said so much to me that I am sharing it with you, at least a few lines  - it begins with a plea for protection and that is something we all need at this moment:

"Protect me, O God, for in You I take refuge,

I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you."

That is powerful- can I really say that I have no good apart from God?

And how about these lines from Psalm 16 still:

"I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure...

In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (NRSV)

One thing I am trying to do while in this solitude is to is to "keep the Lord always before me" and then my heart is glad and my soul rejoices. Try it and see how good the Lord is for in His presence there is fullness of joy!



Count Your Blessings

 It seems easy to say, but how often do we forget to concentrate on the good and count our blessings?

This a a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: "The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. Your breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet... The greatest of all miracles is to be alive."

With so many dying everyday here and all over the world, we must count our blessings because we are alive and still able to help others by our prayers and actions.

Today is my brother's birthday and I give thanks for him; he was an adorable baby and is a wonderful brother. Let us give thanks today as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow - thanks for all the good memories, the many times we have been able to gather on Thanksgiving and, even in our quarantine, I am grateful that we have not gone back to the cardboard trays and plastic forks, etc. I do find it strange to be eating alone on Thanksgiving, but there are many who not only are alone but do not have a real meal to celebrate this day.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

What do we really need?

 In our consumer society we are beset with ads trying to convince us that we must have whatever is being advertised. The question we need to keep asking our selves is, "Do I really need this?" I suspect that we would say no to all these ads if we stopped to think of what is actually a need and what is simply a desire. The point I am trying to make is that we are happier when we do not want for what we do not need. We begin to see how much we have and are grateful that we do not need all these things that are attracting us, but we find ourselves happier when we can say, "no, I do not need that."

When I was a young nun my family was allowed to visit for an hour on Sunday afternoons when I was in town for summer-school at Maryville. My mother told me she had a list of six things she wanted me to pray for  - I do not think she told me what she wanted but I remember her saying to me after a few weeks: "Stop praying as I keep getting the things on my list and then do not want them." It seems that she wanted an alarm clock that also started the coffee so she and my Dad could have coffee in bed; the first time she tried it, the alarm went off at 4:00 AM; the second time the water boiled but the coffee did not enter the machine; by the third time it would not work, my Dad said to forget it and get rid of it. The second thing on the list was a water-bed. They had just come on the market and my mother thought she would love one. When it came, it seems that is was a disaster as my Dad was heavier and my mother kept rolling over on top of him and so they had to pay to get someone to remove it and get another mattress. I think it was the same for all the items on my mother's list. The funny thing is that my mother usually wanted nothing and if someone even admired what she had, she would give it to them. She did not like extras and hated clutter of any kind. 

Let us be grateful for what we have and not long for anything we do not need!


Monday, November 23, 2020

Grateful for so many things

 When we look back over the years, or look over the months or weeks or even days, we see so much to be grateful for and want to thank now, even if we did not feel so grateful then. I guess what I am trying to say is that returning to past moments that may have been difficult then, now can be seen as real moments of grace and growth and we need to be grateful for them. I am finding many such moments in my own life as I pursue this practice of gratitude. I know Jesus is happy when we stop to thank Him. He knows that it is good for us to thank and in these days before Thanksgiving, let us remember to turn to Him in gratitude for all the graces given us each day.





Sunday, November 22, 2020

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 This last Sunday of the Liturgical Year celebrates Jesus as King of the Universe. I wonder what Jesus thinks when he looks at the world today so full of suffering, poverty, injustice, sins of all kinds. This is the feast where we pray in the Collect of the Mass that "the whole of creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise."

So, let us praise the Lord and rejoice that the First Reading is from the Prophet Ezechiel 34:11-12, 15-17 where God says "I myself will look after and tend my sheep... "It is a very consoling reading.

The Responsorial Psalm is: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want." 

The Second Reading is from Paul to the Corinthians: 15:20-26,28 is also consoling for "since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.....

The Gospel is from Matthew 25:31-46 and tells us that Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats...." 

Then we hear about the works of mercy - I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me....whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.

Let us all pray to be counted with the sheep and begin to care for others as Jesus wants us to love one another in concrete ways and thus we are showing Jesus love, too.



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Feast of the Presentation and Birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart

 November 21 is a special day as we count this day, a feast of Our Lady, as the birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart. It was the day that Madeleine Sophie and her first companions made their vows and consecrated themselves to the Heart of Jesus. 

When I was a young Religious, the time before final Profession was usually five years and every one of those years we had a big celebration for the Feast of the Presentation and usually a triduum to prepare it. This meant that for the three days before the feast all those who were not yet professed would gather with the Superior for a talk each evening as we were all busy in the school and could not make a real retreat. At Mass on the feast, we would renew our vows; when we made our first vows, they were not temporary, but we renewed them as a devotion. Some have the habit of renewing their vows every single day in their own prayer. I think I used to do that but lost the habit of doing it perhaps when I was sent to Chile from Rome immediately after my final profession. 

Today we pray for all the Religious of the Sacred Heart all over the world and hope that we are making a difference by our love and by our consecration to the Heart of Jesus.



Friday, November 20, 2020

What is tenderness?


We are quarantined until November 30 so forget what I said about visitors - we found out on Thursday morning; we are again confined to our rooms, meals in our rooms and no Chapel, but a short walk in the patio outside my window when others are not there.

 I have been wanting to quote from the Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, and this struck me today. It is from Chapter 5,#194: "Politics too must make room for a tender love of others. "What is tenderness? It is love that draws near and becomes real.....Amid the daily concerns of political life, "the smallest, the weakest, the poorest should touch our hearts; indeed, they have a 'right' to appeal to our heart and soul. They are our brothers and sisters, and as such we must love and care for them."

The Pope stresses the common good and I think the only way we will solve our own political problems is to make sure that all elected officials promise and are held to that promise of promoting the good of all. I am sure that we can erase the real poverty of many if everyone would think of the common good. We are a wealthy country, but need to see how we can help those who are without even what is necessary to live a fruitful life. 


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Great News for Some

 Our Oakwood Daily Press told us that we are beginning to test having visitors come to Oakwood. Now, before anyone gets excited about that, listen to what it means. We will be using the new parlor that has a tiny patio before the side door that is near the dining room. The visitor will sit outside the window and the sister will be inside the parlor. There is an intercom system to facilitate communication. There will be a sound box outside and one in the parlor. A heat lamp, borrowed from the school, will be placed outside to keep the visitor warm and there will be a small space heater in the parlor. Not sure how all this will work out, but one of our sisters from San Francisco did come and try it and we had a picture of the one sister in a wheelchair trying to speak to the other with the intercom. Fortunately we do not have really cold weather during most days. I wonder if we could give the Busy Persons' Retreat through the window? I think it is easier to set up a zoom, but if anyone wants to visit through the window, I am all for it.

Our staff is being creative and the breakfast is being served for a whole hour so we sit one at a table and come and go faster than before as we seem to be served quickly and when one leaves, the table is washed and reset immediately. I think that the two shifts for our dinner (11:00 and 11:55), have made all happy since two tables are not pushed together with a clear plexiglass between us so we can talk to each other although we are about ten feet away from each other. Supper has continued to arrive in our rooms around 4:30 but soon we will also be going to supper in shifts. It helps not to be in our rooms so much and it is good to see my sisters or at least a few of them.

I am not sharing anything spiritual today, but I am keeping up the practice of gratitude and will do so until Thanksgiving. (I mean the actually writing as I need always to keep this practice). I do think it is such a good habit for families to have each one around the dinner table share what she or he was most grateful for during the day. It would be a great way to prepare for Thanksgiving this year!



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Feast of Saint Philippine Duchesne

 Here is the prayer of Philippine that I love:

I am where God wills me to be,

and so I have found rest and security.

God's wisdom governs me,

God's power defends me,

God's mercy encompasses me,

God's joy sustains me',

And all will go well with me.

St. Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ


Here is the first verse of a hymn I love because it catches the essence of Philippine's love....

Strong was her heart that heard God's voice when far it call across the sea, and swiftly came the answer of her love that gave its all triumphantly. For you were ready, Philippine, to let God's summons set you free.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Eve of the Feast of St. Philippine

 Until the canonization of Philippine Duchesne we celebrated her feast on November 17th so now I still celebrate on the eve and again tomorrow. I have shared how much Philippine meant to me when I was a weekly boarder at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles and how I learned from her to pray both by visiting her little room and by helping each evening to close up the little chapel where she was buried in front of the convent. Her tomb was lit by green and amber vigil lights and her presence was so real.

Here is what Helen McLaughlin, said of Philippine: "What impresses me about Philippine is her ability to respond to difficult events and times; to accept and love a new and totally different country and way of life; to enter wholeheartedly into another culture, language, and system of values and to appreciate these."



Monday, November 16, 2020

Thoughts from the Liturgy today

I am missing the opportunity to go to Mass and receive Communion. I heard that some might be able to have Mass for the Feast of St. Philippine. We shall see and, as never more than ten of us are to be in a room together, I am willing to miss the Mass if I can have Communion sometime on the feast. For now, I want to share two thoughts from Monday's liturgy. The first is from the Book of Revelation where the Lord is speaking to the Church of Ephesus. He tells them, "You have endured and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet, I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first."

Whenever I read that about losing the love we had at first, I renew my love and assure the Lord that it has grown during my life. I want to be like the verse found in today's responsorial psalm: She "is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever she does, prospers." I use the feminine pronoun, but that verse always helps me to pray.

Today's Gospel is from Luke 18:35-43 where the blind man hears that Jesus is passing by and calls out: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" When told to be silent, he calls out even louder. Jesus stopped and called for him to come near and then Jesus asked him "What do you want me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, please let me see." Jesus cures him and does the same for us when we cry out to be healed.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 The Collect for this Sunday is worth reflecting on all week!

Collect: Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you,                 for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good.

I an struck by the word: constancy.  I think I need the virtue of being constant in doing what I know God wants of me. Sometimes I should be writing notes and I am just reading for pleasure. Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to do both and feel grateful that I do have a conscience that reminds me of what God wants and helps me to plan my day. We have opportunities to discern choices and the grace to choose the right ones. 

My gratitude litany is growing and I read how grateful Philippine was on arriving in America and how she was able to adapt so easily to a very different life. Everything was different: language, customs, climate, surroundings, etc. I guess I felt like that when I arrived in Chile without knowing any Spanish. I am just grateful that I had so many good experiences in the 20 years after final profession in a beautiful country full of lovely people. This novena of gratitude is taking me back into the past where I am so grateful for the many graces received. 


                                                           The sea lions are resting

Saturday, November 14, 2020

True gratitude

 "True gratitude is a natural response to the miracle of life as we experience it moment to moment, a sense of abundance from the heart that is independent of our desires for the future." That little definition is found in M. J. Ryan's Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life.

I am alive. I have two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet, and a head that still seems to function and so why would I not be singing a song of gratitude. I also have the ability to see, to smell, to talk, and even to hear enough to guess what people are saying with the help of hearing aids, lip reading, and now the use of Live Transcribe. So many good things to help me lead a normal life and participate in community, have some ministry still, and have an attitude of gratefulness that makes me joyful. Take stock today of your own reasons to be grateful and do try inventing a litany of gratitude as you go through your day.


Let us walk the path of gratitude today and thank God for giving us such beauty with four seasons.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Pray our Gratitude

 Since my practice for the Feast of St. Philippine is all on thanking for the many graces of each day, I find myself inventing little prayers just to say "thank you, God" - it is easy to start a litany and just add to it during the day. Thank you, God, for waking me

Thank you, God, for the hot shower

Thank you God, for clean clothes

Thank you God for bacon and eggs

Thank you God for my laptop

Thank you God for a lovely patio to walk in

Thank you God that I am able to walk 

That is enough to give you the idea  - anything that helps us to be grateful is good.



Thursday, November 12, 2020

Gratitude for the past graces

 Today I am going back and thanking for so many graces in my life and suggest you do the same. We have so much to be grateful for and so many graces have been given to us from our birth until now. I am sure we will find many things that perhaps we have never stopped to thank God before and now do it with a grateful heart. I think God loves to be thanked so it is never too late to go back and thank for the good things that have happened to us. This takes time, especially if you are as old as I am. 




Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Do not forget to thank

 Today, for the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, the Gospel has the story of the ten lepers who met Jesus and asked him to have pity on them. He told them to go show themselves to the priests and, as they were going, they were cleansed. One of them returned to thank Jesus. He was a Samaritan, yet he knew how to be grateful. Jesus said, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God? Then he said to him, 'Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.'" 

Now, I want to be one who always returns to give thanks for the marvels God does each day for me. Even as a child in school, I wanted to thank Jesus for those who never thanked or even remembered to turn to God. Now I am learning to live in gratitude and I will always hope others learn to do so, too. Try it and see how happy you are when you are grateful!


Let us walk the path of gratitude for the daily gift of life, and for all the surprises of each day!

It is also a day to thank for all those who have served in the armed forces to defend and protect us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Gratitude

 Oakwood has had a paper passed to each of us to see what our community goals will be for this year. The three suggested were compassion, gratitude, and gentleness. As I was attempting to discern my own practice for the Feast of St. Philippine Duchesne, I kept going back to gratitude. When I am grateful, I think I am also compassionate and gentle so I am beginning again to list some of the things that I am grateful for in my journal every day. 

In the little book, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life, Mary Ryan has a section on how to look for the hidden blessings of difficult situations. She says, "Gratitude is an all-out experience. It's cheating to be grateful only for the good things that happen and shun the bad. This isn't to say that we want bad things to happen to us, just that if we can be grateful for the lessons inherent in the difficulties that befall us, then our souls will be able to grow and mature. Otherwise we never progress, because we fail to use the hardships that dog us to become more loving, more patient, more present, more kind."

The author suggests we look at the hardest things that have happened to us and then see the gifts each has brought. I know I have done this and it is very fruitful and I have been able to see how these really hard things have been moments of grace.



Monday, November 9, 2020

Novena for the Feast of St. Philippine Duchesne

 Most of you know that I have loved Mother Duchesne ever since I was a child at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, the first school she founded in America in 1818 and where she spent the last ten years of her life and was buried. She was beatified shortly before I began my high school years in 1944. We prayed to her nightly and she became a holy person who was really interested in me and all that I did. And she still is. That is the reason that I like to prepare for her feast by making a novena of some act that I do or some act that I refrain from doing for the nine days before her feast. I am still praying over what she would like me to do this year to show her my love.

I invite all the family of the Sacred Heart to join me in offering something to Philippine for the next nine days. You have today to discern what she might be asking and then start with fervor tomorrow to prepare her feast.



Sunday, November 8, 2020

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God

 When I went to the reading for this Sunday's Liturgy, I was struck by the Responsorial Psalm: " My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God." 

The verses are taken from Psalm 63:

"O God, you are my God whom I seek;

for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts

like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water."

I will just give the above which is only the first stanza, but it made me think. My soul is thirsting for the Lord, my God. It is God whom I seek....

The Gospel is Matthew 25: 1-13 where Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and five wise. Am I one of the foolish or one of the wise? 


    


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Stop and smell the roses

 Today I hope the election is behind us, but I am writing this on Wednesday and there is no clear winner yet.

I opened my little book, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life, by M.J. Ryan and found this thought which helps me:

The idea is that we need to slow down to cultivate the attitude of gratitude that will permeate our whole day. We need to take time to smell the roses. Then, think of the moments that are like "Stillpoints" where you stop, notice a breath in and a breath out and remember - we all have so much to be grateful for and these little pauses in our day can help us to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude. I just feel that gratitude is so important for when we are grateful, we are joyful. 


Make your path each day one of gratitude for all the good things we have to thank God for each day.

Friday, November 6, 2020

"Let us ask God for the grace of a well-ordered life"

 This is taken from Evelyn Underhill's Prayer Book and I think it is worth quoting here:

"O God, who are the light of the minds who know You, the life of the souls that love You and the strength of the hearts that serve You; help us to know You that we may truly love You, so to love You that we may fully serve You, whom to serve is perfect freedom.

O blessed Jesus Christ, who bid all who carry heavy burdens to come to You, refresh us with Your Presence and Your power. Quiet our understandings and give ease to our hearts, by bringing us close to things infinite and eternal. Open to us the mind of God, that in His light we may see light. And crown Your choice of us to be Your servants by making us springs of strength and joy to all whom we serve. Let us ask God for the grace of a well-ordered life."

I want to be a spring of strength and joy to all! Sometimes, praying with the prayers of others is helpful.

Today is also a First Friday and so a special day of prayer for many.


A view of Oakwood from the back door of Westwood looking toward Rosewood. The statue of Our Lady was given to Oakwood by my cousin whose two daughters are buried in our cemetery.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Is your life hard or easy?

 I found the following quote from Don Paul Delotte in the OCTOBER 30 issue of the Tablet; it is to be found in The Spirit of Solesmes, edited by Sister Mary David Totah, OSB:

"Don't spend your life moaning. Being miserable depresses us, diminishes us, discourages us; and expressing it makes it worse. The more we say, 'It's hard', the more miserable we become. No, nothing is hard, if we look at life from the point of view of him who gives it to us. We mustn't think about tomorrow. Almost the whole of our suffering comes from our imagination and from looking ahead pointlessly. We should live in the present moment."

Well, there is a great deal of truth in the above and I am all for living in the present moment and I do try to concentrate on the good. However, there are moments, and I am sure we all have them in this time of sheltering in place, when our imagination does present a bleak picture and we need to stay in the present moment. God is in his heaven and all is right with the world - that phrase often comes to me and I do believe it, even while seeing all that needs to be made right in my eyes. 



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Being human is a guest house

 I received this from someone very dear to me and have been reflecting on it before deciding to share it with you today. 

"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honorably, he may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing , and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."

Now, this takes some quiet reflection for me to be able to greet whoever comes; I always try to bar the door to dark thoughts. In fact, I find that I am slow to open the door to any unexpected visitors and that is not good. I shall try to be more inviting today both in regard to the inner guest house and to my own door.

I am writing this on Election Day and want to spend a good deal of it in prayer for our country. It is such a joy to be able to at least go to the Chapel and just sit there with the Lord!






Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Seedlings

 I opened the booklet Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits as I often do and thought I would share this bit of wisdom from Tony de Mello.

Seedlings: If any of the short sentences that follow appeals to you, place it in your heart and ponder on its inner meaning. This will cause its inner truth to germinate and grow.

Do not force it open with your mind. That would only kill the seed.

Sow it where the soil is rich. Sow it in your heart. And give it time.

"You do not have to change for God to love you."

"Be grateful for your sins. They are carriers of grace."

"Say good-bye to golden yesterdays - or your heart will never learn to love the present."

You can also use other phrases and each of the beatitudes.


Maybe it helps just to imagine yourself out walking in the woods. What are you feeling? What are you grateful for today?

Monday, November 2, 2020

All Souls

 Today we remember and pray for all the faithful departed, and it is the custom in many places to have visited the cemetery to decorate the graves and pray for the dead. I think this year we need to pray much for all those who died in the hospitals without their loved ones being present. I think it is so hard to have someone die who is close to you and not be with them. This feast gives us time to remember those who have gone before us and to pray for them. 

Our community director came around to our rooms yesterday with a a slip around a piece of candy. We always had the custom of drawing one of the Beatitudes on the Feast of All Saints. The slip of paper around the piece of candy said, "Blessed are the gently, for they will inherit the earth." So, I know I need to work at being gentle - gentle with others and gentle with myself. 

Besides praying for the dead, we need to pray hard for the election. I am praying that there is an overwhelming number of votes counted by election night so there will be no doubt about who has won. 





Sunday, November 1, 2020

Feast of All Saints

 This has become a special feast for me as I have felt the presence of all the saints so strongly in these last years. I think my guided imagery retreats influenced this presence and it is comforting to know that they are watching over us from heaven and pray for us.

The Second Reading if from the first Letter of John and is very consoling. In it he tells us, "Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

The Gospel is always the Beatitudes.


Let us take time to really be with our loved ones who have gone before us. And then, we spend tomorrow praying for those who have died and may still need our prayer.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween



 Tomorrow is The Feast of All Saints - let us spend time with them!

Friday, October 30, 2020

It is the eve of Halloween

 What are you doing this year for Halloween? I know the school is having an evening drive through to pick up candy. I asked about going out to wave to the students and was told that it is not to be done this time because of our quarantine. I shall go to the Chapel and watch from the windows there. In the meantime, two of the Sacred Heart Society prepared 57 little brown bags full of goodies for each of us and then we received another bag of candy this morning from our own wonderful directors and so we will have candy at least to Advent even if we try to share with our helpers. 

I decided to clean and clear out my room today so this is late. I thought I had scheduled ahead until Sunday, but I seem not to have written my blog for yesterday. However, I have been busy and now trying to make up for the fact that I read an entire book yesterday. 

I am on my way to the Chapel and will pray for all my readers and thank you for being so patient when I seem not to have much to say. Our Oakwood Daily Press asked prayers for Anita, Judy, and Larry. I put this in the daily news so all would see it and pray for Anita is my sister-in-law and is having shortness of breath, Judy is her sister who is recovering from a cancer operation, and Larry is a neighbor who asked them for prayers.

The Oakwood Daily Press had a cartoon today showing a man applying for a job. The boss behind the desk says, "There is a gap in your resume...What were you doing in 2020? The applicant for the job replied, "I was washing my hands..."  So true!

May this picture give us peace.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Saints Simon and Jude

 St. Jude is the Apostle that so many turn to when desperate as he is the "patron of hopeless causes." We do not know much about this "Saint of the Impossible" - he is mentioned in the listing of the Apostles and he is quoted once in John's Gospel when he asks Jesus at the Last Supper why he does not manifest himself to the whole world. We also have the Letter of Jude in the New Testament. It is only twenty-five verses and warns against false teachers. We do not know much about St. Simon - he is listed as one of the twelve Apostles, but never quoted in the New Testament. Both these saints are celebrated together. Probably because of a legend that they were martyred on the same day.

 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Stretch Into It

I was struck by the reflection yesterday in my Give Us This Day. It was on the Gospel where Jesus cures the woman who has been bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. The reflection has the title "Stretch Into It" and I hope Sister Miriam Pollard does not mind my sharing her reflection here.

Stretch Into It

The woman was completely bent.

Completely.

Not just a little bit,

but totally unable to stand upright.

Each of us is to some extent that bent woman.

Each of us can spend our lives looking at mud puddles,

mourning the tragedies and sins of human life, wanting what we have not been given,

resenting what we have been given, afraid of what we will be given.

Creating a whole world of negativity.

God know that is enough to be negative about,

but faith means that we can see through the darkness into the core of light within.

And faith says, 'Believe in it. See it. Bathe in it. Spend prayer time knowing it is there.

Find it. Stretch yourself into it.'

These things, these transient, small and insignificant things,

Compare to the weight of glory they are several doors.

Doors to the joys, the serene and heart-stopping happiness that will steal in and saturate body and soul and spirit world without end. Amen



Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday of a special week

 What is so special about this week? Well, there is Halloween on Saturday, but what is important is that Sunday will be the Feast of All Saints. I have learned to love this feast because I have so many friends who are saints, most in heaven but a few on earth still. I am convinced that all the saints in heaven are rooting for us and want us to join them in praising God. I see them and feel grateful that we are still connected.

I just heard of a dear friend in Chile who has gone to God. She was utterly selfless and was such a joy to both live with and to study with as we went every night to the Catholic University in Valparaiso to get a degree in Counseling and Guidance. As the road along the ocean was closed for most of that year, I would drive our Volkswagen van up and down the hills and coming home at 9:30 we would say and sing our night prayers together. That helped me as it was no fun to be stopped by a light at the top of a very steep hill with a car right behind me as the van did not have automatic shift. 

The Collect for today's Mass asks God to increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what God commands so we may merit what God promises.



Sunday, October 25, 2020

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 This may be ordinary time for the Church's Liturgy, but it is not ordinary time for us during this pandemic. It is amazing how quickly things have changed all over the world with the need to isolate, work from home, study from home, and learn new ways to communicate. I am not going to write much about the Mass today, but I was struck by the Entrance Antiphon:

"Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face." 

That seems like the best advice and something we should reflect on today. Actually, the Responsorial Psalm is "I love you, Lord, my strength." That seems to be a good prayer for now. 


I received a Halloween card that says" It's Halloween and speaking of weird things...I love you."

I have been praying with it saying, " Speaking of weird things, Lord, I know that you love me and everyone with unconditional love!"

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Turn your heart always towards God

The Oakwood "Lockdown Daily News" always has a word of inspiration, some news and a really corny joke plus the daily crossword puzzle and the answers to the one of the day before. So far, I have not needed the answers so the crosswords must be easy as I have never been good at solving them. Now, the title of this blog comes from this inspirational word: "Be like a sunflower that turns always towards the sun. Turn your heart always towards God."

I am trying to keep my heart united to God during these days of solitude. I think the fact that I have not seen most of my sisters for three weeks has made me aware of how much the community means to me. I sort of go through the rooms mentally and think about the other 49 and hope they are staying cheerful. I know that we are all praying for all those who are fighting this virus, working to keep the food coming, and those who risk their lives fighting the fires that have been so dreadful this year in the West. We need to pray for much rain out here this winter; California needs rain but we do not get much.



Friday, October 23, 2020

Today we get the results of our third tests

 Being in isolation for almost 28 days now has been an interesting experience. I miss being able to go to the refrigerator and the washing machine and, especially, miss being able to go to the Chapel. In one sense, I miss the interaction with others here, but I am surprised at how quickly I have found joy in the silence and solitude. I have found the days passed very quickly and I have been busy, just doing things here in my room. Our daily "news" arrives with the noon dinner tray and always had a crossword puzzle on the back. Then, I have kept the Psalm Coloring Book on my desk and really enjoy taking a few minutes to color; I find it very centering, contemplative, and consoling for the very act of just pushing the pencil seems to give me deep peace.

I am sorry to be writing so much about my experience of our quarantine, but several have asked how I was managing. I am rather surprised that the solitary meals have been helpful for me. I have reached out to others through cards, emails, zoom, and notes when I could get someone to deliver notes to my sisters here. My sister calls and I am not fond of the phone. I turned the TV on twice and soon turned it off. I am allowed to go walk around our beautiful patio when no one else is out there. I usually manage to go out after the noon meal and maybe just before supper. I do feel that I lack energy and so I am content just to sit in my room. I enjoy the interaction I do have with my groups on zoom and I have found it really helpful to have my students on zoom at the beginning of each week and then each is to be in contact during the week by email. I really think we should be striving to have our Seniors want to be Junior Associates!


This idea of Junior Associates just came to me when I woke up one morning and has stayed with me. I was thinking that Seniors who have loved their Sacred Heart education on looking for more special ways to be part of the Sacred Heart family. Yes, they are now young alums, but we know how hard it has been to continue to gather our students when they leave for colleges all over the United States. But what if the student has made a commitment to be a Junior Associate and promises to take part in a monthly zoom? I am thinking this as I write it, but hope that some of my readers who are associates can see the possibilities and run with the idea. It could be developed in many ways. Here at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, the Juniors ask to be admitted to the Sacred Heart Society and these need to be good students who apply; if accepted, they commit to a weekly visit with a Religious of the Sacred Heart to establish a relationship. We try to stay in touch after graduation, but I think becoming a Junior Associate would give a structure for them to continue to grow in the Sacred Heart family.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Envisioning and Engendering an Open World

 The Third Chapter of the Pope's Encyclical is entitled: "Envisioning and Engendering an Open World".

Here are some of the phases that seem to stick with me in a first reading: "I communicate effectively with myself insofar as I communicate with others." (Gabriel Marcel)

#88 "In the depths of every heart, love creates bonds and expands existence, for it draws people out of themselves and towards others."

Love must grow beyond family and nation to include strangers and all people--into a friendship where the worth of every person is acknowledged. We need to recognize the inherent dignity of every person and we need to make sure that each person has what is necessary to live with dignity. 

I guess we have much to be done right here in our own country. We have people who are homeless, cold, hungry, and we have refugees held in cages and treated inhumanly.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fratelli Tutti

 This wonderful letter on Fraternity and Social Friendship needs to be read, prayed over, and then make us realize that we are all brothers and sisters and need to foster love in our world with everyone. MY SPIRITUALITY group is meeting on Monday and these busy mothers are all reading a chapter each week with me and pondering the message of the Holy Father. I invite all to do the same and you can find it on Google without any problem. It will help our country to unite if all of us could read and try to live what Pope Francis suggests in this new Encyclical. 

I spent last week with Chapter Two that has the parable of the Good Samaritan as the center of what the Pope wants us to realize: we are all neighbors and we need to care for one another no matter where the other is living, no matter what color the skin, or what seems to separate us. The Pope asks us which of these persons in the parable do we identify with and I am afraid that I am one of those who often crosses to the other side and hurries past someone in need. The Pope says the we need to acknowledge that we are constantly tempted to ignore others, especially the weak. "Let us admit that, for all the progress we have made, we are still "illiterate" when it comes to accompanying, caring for and supporting the most frail and vulnerable members of our developed societies. We have become accustomed to looking the other way, passing by, ignoring situations until they affect us directly."




Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Feast of Mater

 Today the Sacred Heart family all over the world is celebrating the feast of Mater. The retirement houses are also joining, at the invitation of Egypt, to celebrate by sharing prayers. This is Oakwood's prayer:

Mater, guardian of the interior life, be with all who suffer in this time of global pandemic, racism, political division, violence, economic uncertainty, and lack of care for our common home.  Help us to see what your eyes see:  the invisible life, the invisible action, the invisible love.  Help us to be women of hope for each other and for our wounded world.

Mater Most Admirable, pray for us.

The Oakwood Community, Atherton, California, U.S.A.



 Happy Feast to all the Sacred Heart Family!


Monday, October 19, 2020

God is Happy!

 I read this article by Father Ron Rolheiser in the October 8 issue of the Catholic San Francisco; the title of the article is "God is happy" and in it he has this wonderful quote from Julian of Norwich who describes God this way: "God sits in heaven, smiling, completely relaxed, his face looking like a marvelous symphony." Now, this idea of God sitting up in heaven and smiling on us is one I love, and to think that God is completely relaxed. We get so preoccupied with the woes of our world, that few of us are really feeling relaxed at this moment. I just wanted to share this quote to see if it helps you as much as it is helping me.

Ron does say that it has taken him 70 years "to realize, accept, take consolation in, and finally bathe in the fact that God is happy." I am sure all in heaven are happy and relaxed and want us to be also.



Sunday, October 18, 2020

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Today's Mass begins with our asking God to let us always conform our will to yours and serve God's majesty in sincerity of heart.

In the First Reading, Isaiah 45:1, 4-6, we have this line which I love: "I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me."

The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 96: "Give the Lord glory and honor."

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

For great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods,....

Then, the Second Reading is from Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians: 1:1-5

Paul always begins by giving thanks - a good way for us to begin our prayers. I am more and more convinced that gratitude is the way we please the Lord and, when we are grateful, we are joyful.

The Gospel is from Matthew 22: 15-21 and is about the answer Jesus gives to the Pharisees who tried to entrap Jesus. He says to them, "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

I am sure all of the Sacred Heart family are preparing for the Feast of Mater on Tuesday. It is a Feast that all the Sacred Heart schools all over the world will be celebrating even if by zoom. 



Saturday, October 17, 2020

St. Ignatius of Antioch

 I am not going to talk about Ignatius of Antioch today, although he is one of my favorites and I really enjoyed teaching him; today I was struck by the Responsorial Psalm in the Mass and I am going to copy it here for us to reflect on today.

Responsorial Psalm: "You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands."

O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth!

You have exalted your majesty above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings

you have fashioned praise because of your foes.

When I behold the heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars which you set in place--

What is man that you should be mindful of him, 

or the son of man that you should care for him?

You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet."