Thursday, December 31, 2020
Today we spend time reviewing the past year and praying for all who have died, for all that we have neglected to do, and praying for the New Year which begins at midnight. 2020 has been a year like no other year in my memory; there have been many good things but also many problems in our world so we need to pray much for the New Year that is beginning.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
I am taking a short vacation and will return on New Year's Eve. I cannot go anywhere, but we are having some extra activities here and I am participating in all. It is good this week to do different things and I will be back on for New Year's Eve. The six of us in Westwood are preparing a special prayer and party but at 6:00 PM. We will have a zoom with the Province earlier and prayer in the Chapel that afternoon.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary and the Infant and go to Egypt. He woke up and took Mary and the Child and left for Egypt. He had incredible faith and so did Mary. They obeyed without hesitation as they feared for the life of their newborn child. I can imagine what that trip was like. In the meantime, Herod's solders were searching for all the male infants to kill them. What sorrow for all those mothers and yet we celebrate this day as a feast day!
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Today we are celebrating the Holy Family. I read a reflection that spoke of one of the few benefits from the pandemic is that families are together, really together and taking care of one another. It is hard that they cannot see other family members, but the immediate family has become much more intimate and attuned to one another. I think this reflection was not aware of the problems that poor families may be having in small dwellings. I think of stories told me in Chile by the eighth graders in the "Poor School". I had agreed to teach the English class, but that large group of girls taught me much about the dangers of living in poverty. I pray for all families today and I am so grateful for my own.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
I love the way the Infant Jesus in our chapel has His arms outstretched for each of us; He wants us to pick Him up and hold Him so He can pour His love into us. He comes as a helpless baby so we can hold Him and feel His love as we try to return it.
Moonless Darkness is the only Christmas poem we have of Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I am spending some time in prayer since yesterday trying to discern what Jesus would really like me to give Him for His birthday. I know that He seems just to want me = the gift of myself renewed again and I think that is what He asks each of us. So, I am trying to be a gift that He can open whenever He wants. I am a gift that He can use whenever He wants. I am just giving myself to Him again.
Christmas is a time to ponder what the coming of Christ into our world really means. He came to reveal God's love to each of us. I just read this bit of news and it seems to fit to share it here with you:
"The United Nations General Assembly decided unanimously that Feb. 4 be observed each year as the International Day of Human Fraternity, starting in 2021. It invited member states, the U.N. system and others to observe the date in a manner each would consider appropriate.
It was on Feb. 4, 2019, that Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, signed the historic “Document on Human Fraternity” in Abu Dhabi. The General Assembly’s resolution specifically refers to that significant event in Christian-Muslim relations as the inspiration for the date."
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
The O Antiphon for today is:
"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!"
And we sing: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that morns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain.
O come, thou holy Lord of might, who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law, in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain.
I do not use Facebook, but this is about Bill Barry, SJ who died and is worth reading.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Today the O Antiphon is:
"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, who you formed from the dust."
It is good to go back to realize that God made us; we did not make ourselves. He is the Potter and we are the clay in His Hands. Let us be molded as He wants us to be. He comes to us at Christmas as a helpless infant. No one can be afraid to approach Him and He waits for each of us to come to Him every Christmas. What shall I give Him for His birthday?
I heard of the death of Father Bill Barry, S.J. yesterday and he was such a wonderful man. His books have helped so many and I used his text in my formation program for Spiritual Directors and I am now missing him. I gave his book "God and You" to many.
Monday, December 21, 2020
I am late today but excited that Christmas is coming in just four days! We are increasing our desire for the coming of Christ into our hearts again in a special way this Christmas. What gift are we preparing for the Infant Jesus this year? He really only wants our love.
We continue with the O Antiphons:
"O Radiant Dawn, Splendor of Eternal Light, Sun of Justice, Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death."
Our world has such need of the "Sun of Justice" to come and shine on all of us. Let us call with great fervor, "Come, O Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay."
Remember to go out to see the "Christmas Star" tonight about 45 minutes after sunset. This is 800 years since the two planets will come together to cause this brightness and I wonder why today, the Winter Solstice, is appearing to call all of us to follow the star to wherever Jesus waits for each of us. Open your heart and you will find Him!
Sunday, December 20, 2020
It is the fourth and last week of Advent and is a short one this year as Christmas Eve comes in just four days. As I love the O Antiphon for today, I shall copy it here:
"O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom,
come and free the prisoners of darkness!"
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
We have the second O Antiphon to pray with today: "O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power."
Certainly this year we do need the power of God to come rescue us. Let us pray for our world so in need during this Advent.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
You will find the O Antiphon used as the Gospel acclamation each day until Christmas eve.
"O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge."
I think I will let my readers ponder the antiphon each day; in other years, I have commented on them if you want to look into the archives. I think just praying for wisdom as we prepare for Christmas this year may be enough.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
One of the Sisters here gave me this little tale called "The Weight of Nothing" and I am sharing it with you today.
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake", a coal mouse asked a wild dove. "Nothing more than nothing," was the answer. "In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal mouse said.
"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow --not heavily, not in a raging blizzard--no, just like in a dream, without any sound and without violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles in my branch. Their number was exactly 3,714, 952. When the 3,714,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing as you would say--the branch broke off."
Having said that, the coal mouse flew away.
The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace in the world."
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
The season of Advent recalls the anticipation to make my vows on this day 68 years ago. We made our vows for life, but the Society accepted us for life with our final Profession which could not be made before the age of 25 and we would have another time apart, usually five or six months to prepare for our final profession. I remember the day vividly, or at least parts of the day. As I had spent my second year as a novice also in charge of the sports programs for the high school and seventh and eighth grade, I had permission to go talk to the children the afternoon of my vow ceremony. They were all gathered in the locker room and I actually stood on a bench so I could see all of them. I can still see their faces and recall some of the names!
Since I went back to John of the Cross's poetry yesterday, I am going to use a few of the verses I have highlighted from his Spiritual Canticle - I am using verses 17-19 where the Bride is speaking:
"In the inner wine cellar I drank of my Beloved, and, when I went abroad through all this valley I no longer knew anything, and lost the herd which I was following.
There He gave me His breast; There He taught me a sweet and living knowledge;
And I gave myself to Him, keeping nothing back; There I promised to be His bride.
Now I occupy my soul and all my energy in His service; I no longer tend the herd,
Nor have I any other work now that my every act is love."
Monday, December 14, 2020
Today's Liturgy asks that we, by imitating John of the Cross closely at all times, may come to contemplate eternally the glory of God. Now, I love John of the Cross, so I went back to some of the verses of his poems that really have spoken to me in the past. Here is a bit from "The Dark Night":
"One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings
-Ah, the sheer grace!- I went our unseen, my house being now all stilled...
With no other light or guide that the one that burned in my heart;
This guided me more surely than the light of noon
To where He waited for me - Him I knew so well-
In a place where no one else appeared.
O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united
The Lover with His beloved, Transforming the beloved in her Lover...."
Sunday, December 13, 2020
The Entrance Antiphon: " Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near."
There is a not of joy because the Lord is near; we light a pink candle, the priest wears a pink vestment, and many of the congregation also wear pink.
The Collect is worth reflecting on: "O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord's Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing."
The First Reading is from Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners....I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation...."
Responsorial Psalm: "My soul rejoices in my God..." It is the Magnificat taken from Luke's Gospel.
The Second Reading is from the first Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians: 5:16-24
It begins by Paul telling us to "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit....
The Gospel is from John 1:6-8, 19-28 and begins by telling us, "A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him...
Let us all rejoice today for Jesus is with us even as we prepare to celebrate His birth again this Christmas.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Today is both the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Madeleine Sophie's birthday. It is a day I love as I took the habit on this day 70 years ago! In one way, when one looks back over the years, it seems so long ago. So much has happened in my life since then! On the other hand, I can remember so many details of that day. My parents had come from St. Louis to see me; the ceremony at the morning Mass was always the same; we made a grand entrance dressed as brides, then our habits were blessed and our angel received the basket with our habits and white veils and we processed out to have our hair cut and be dressed in our black habits, caps, and veils. Then we returned for the Mass. I know it was very hard for my parents, but I was so grateful that they had come. There was snow on the ground and I was just getting over a bad cold, but we took a few pictures and then my parents went to New York and sent me a huge box of toys from Macy's - pick-up-sticks, jacks, spinning tops, board games, etc. and we all played with the toys on Christmas Day.
I was just 16 when I visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe; that, too, seems so recent and at the same time it was so long ago. Old age has the gift of remembering many things vividly even if they were long ago. Maybe that is why we go back in Advent to remember all that Mary and Joseph were doing to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
"Here is one of my favorite quotes from Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ:
"To be a Joy-Bearer and a Joy-Giver says everything: it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts; and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work."
Friday, December 11, 2020
One of our Sisters gave me the gift of an Advent Calendar that is so beautiful. It shows a village with hills and mountains in the distance, a lake with small boats, a tiny village with a huge Christmas tree in the center and sleighs and skiers going back and forth and then, each day you click on the number and you see something different and there is music and snow falling, etc. It is a Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar and really worth getting, if not this year, next year. I think there is a new one each year.
I also have had some spiritual things sent to me that I love watching . I do not know how to attach but it is nice to have great pictures and music during this Advent. This is another good thing to share today:
Thursday, December 10, 2020
I took the habit seventy years ago on December 12, St. Madeleine Sophie's birthday. The six of us in my ceremony were in retreat for the three days before the ceremony. I had made or at least been present for the whole community's retreat in July, but remember nothing of it. I had just entered for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, was just 19 years old and apparently not ready for that eight day retreat. However, the three-day retreat before taking the habit was a revelation. It was made in private and I had been given meditations but what happened was that Jesus just came to be with me. I felt His presence in such a tangible way that I sort of floated in a cloud with Him for at least the last two days and I thought, "this is what a retreat is" - I have had many retreats with consolation, immense consolation and experiences of Jesus, but I still remember the presence of Jesus with me every moment of at least the last two days of the retreat. Now, I thank the Lord for this grace which I probably did not have the sense to do 70 years ago!
Let us go back today and thank for the many graces received that we may not have thanked for then.
I read today that gratitude and generosity go together. I know I am grateful, but not so sure how generous. Something to reflect on today.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
A dear friend sent me "The Blessings of Jesus" but I do not know where she found them. It is another way of seeing the Beatitudes so I copy it here for your reflection today.
The Blessings of Jesus
Blessed are those who know their need, for theirs is the grace of heaven.
Blessed are the humble, for they are close to the sacred earth.
Blessed are those who weep, for their tears will be wiped away.
Blessed are the forgiving, for they are free.
Blessed are they who hunger for earth's oneness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the clear in heart, for they see the Living Presence.
Blessed are those who suffer for what is right, for theirs is the strength of heaven.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are born of God.
What I think is interesting is the fact that some are future blessings and others are in the present!
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
This is a Feast of Our Lady celebrating that she was preserved from every stain of sin. She is Mary Immaculate, but she is also a Mother who is watching over each of us with a tender, constant love.
Father Alfred Delp said that "Mary is the most comforting figure of Advent. That the angel's message found her heart ready and the Word became flesh,...that God would become a mother's son and that a woman could walk upon this earth, her body consecrated as a holy temple and tabernacle for God, is truly the earth's culmination and the fulfillment of its expectation."
Mary is always seeking ways to console us, to help us, to bring us to her Son. Let us honor her today.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Continuation of Oscar Romero's reflection; the first part was published on December 4th.
"Advent should admonish us to discover in each brother or sister that we greet, in each friend whose hand we shake, in each beggar who asks for bread, in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union, in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves, the face of Christ.
Then it would not be possible to rob them, to cheat them, to deny them their rights.
They are Christ, and whatever is done to them Christ will take as done to himself.
This is what Advent is; Christ living among us."
That gives us something to reflect on today. Do I see Christ in each one I meet during my day"
Sunday, December 6, 2020
The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent: "Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
Saturday, December 5, 2020
What do I really mean when I say or sing, "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!"??
I find myself saying or singing softly, "Veni, veni, Domine Jesus,..." Yet, I feel that Jesus is here with me so why do I keep asking Him to come? It is the spirit of Advent to do so because there are different comings. We celebrate at Christmas the birth of Jesus as His first coming into our world as a human as well as Divine person. He chose to come to reveal His Father's love for all of us and the choice was not to be born in a wealthy, important family, but to be born in poverty and raised in Nazareth, living a mostly hidden life as a carpenter's son until he was perhaps thirty years old. Then the moment came for Jesus to call others to help Him as He went about speaking about God's Kingdom and teaching us to love one another.
Then there is the coming of Jesus into our hearts. I think in some way this happens as soon as we are called to life in our mother's womb; we know that Baptism gives us the Presence of God in our souls. Do I understand this? No, but I believe it and have had moments when the Presence of God is very tangible and other times we just know by faith that each of us is loved by God who dwells in us.
The third coming is when Jesus will cone at the end of the world. We really do not know when or what will happen and I must stop writing about this coming, but in a sense, all we do during Advent is a preparation for eternal bliss with Jesus in heaven.
Friday, December 4, 2020
"Christ is now in history, Christ is in the womb of the people. Christ is now bringing about the new heavens and new earth.
Christ became a man of his people and of his time: He lived as a Jew, he worked as a laborer of Nazareth, and since then he continues to become incarnate in everyone.
If many have distanced themselves from the church, it is precisely because the church has somewhat estranged itself from humanity. But a church that can feel as its own all that is human and wants to incarnate the pain, the hope, the affliction of all who suffer and feel joy, such a church will be Christ loved and awaited, Christ present, and that depends on us.
The Christian knows that Christ has been working in humanity for twenty centuries and that the person that is converted to Christ is the new human being that society needs to organize a world according to God's heart."
There is more and I will continue this December 7 as it is so true and Pope Francis is saying the same!
We keep praying for the Lord to stir up His power and come...and the first reading for today has Isaiah telling us: "On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice...
We continue to sing in our hearts: "Come, O come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay. Advent prayer is full of hope, desire, and love. Jesus sees our longing for His coming into our hearts in a deeper way as we work to make room for Him. Let this Advent be different; we cannot go out shopping, planning parties, and going to visit others, so we should spend more time preparing our hearts as well as decorating our homes. This year we are forced to slow down and simplify our exterior activity, but let us adorn our hearts with the virtues that most please Jesus: humility, kindness, thoughtfulness, and love.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
I have been praying over Psalm 23 again and just find it so consoling. As you know, it begins:
"The Lord is my shepherd. therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
The above translation is taken from the Common Worship Services and Prayers for the Church of England - it is not my favorite translation, but sometimes one we use a different translation we get new insights. I just think this is a great psalm to spend time with in prayer.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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!