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Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him in pain."

As I see Jesus alone and praying in his struggle to accept his Father's will, I am drawn to be with him. "The solitude of his heart is a crushing reality." I am called to descend deep into his heart in prayer just to be with him. He asked his three closest friends to stay awake and pray, but their eyes were heavy with sleep and they left him alone to face his struggle. I am called to be with him in the solitude of his heart.
"Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
We like sheep have gone astray,
we have turned to our own way.
And the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all." (Is 53)

Friday, March 30, 2007

One Thursday a month we have a Reflection Group that meets in my community for supper, prayer, and reflection. We usually have a chosen book and share from our own experience. On other Thursdays I meet with a smaller group for prayer and reflection. It just happens that both groups are using different booklets from the new series "Bridges to Contemplative Living." Each session has an opening prayer or reflection, then a reading from Thomas Merton and then another author on the same theme. Yesterday's opening reflection from "Living your deepest desires" was from Psalm 119:
My part, I have resolved, O Lord,
is to obey your word.
With all my heart I implore your favor;
show the mercy of your promise.
I have pondered over my ways
and returned to your will."
For me, this connects with my meditation on the prayer of Jesus in the garden. "Not my will but your will be done." No matter what the cost, our desire to do God's will comes first. Jesus surrenders his whole being to the Father.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jesus begins His Passion

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Could you not watch one hour with me?"

Jesus is fully human; he is feeling dread as he knows what he is going to suffer and knows how he is to die on the cross having fortold details to the disciples earlier. Now his whole being is struggling. Luke tells us that he was "in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground." Mark tells us that he was praying that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me, yet not what I want, but what your want."

Then he came and found them sleeping; he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
And again he went away and prayed saying the same words. And once more came and found them sleeping... Lord, let me stay and watch and pray with you.

Agony in the Garden

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
It is time now to be with Jesus in his suffering. For me, the agony in the garden is one of the most powerful scenes in the Gospels and we are called to be with Jesus as he prays to his Father in anguish.
Jesus goes out, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples follow him. Luke tells us that, after telling his disciples to pray, Jesus withdraws about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayer, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." Jesus faces his passion and death alone.
Matthew and Mark both tell us that when Jesus reached a place called Gethsemane, he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took with him Peter and James and John and began "to feel sorrow and distress." And he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me."
Let us ask for the grace to stay with Jesus in his agony.

"I always do what is pleasing to Him"

Jesus said: "The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to Him." (Jn 8)

These lines from today's Gospel have had a special meaning for me for over thirty years. I was praying in Chile before a meeting where I was to speak to our younger religious about their own spiritual formation. Suddenly, I heard interiorly but clearly these words spoken to me by Jesus: I will not leave you alone but I want you to choose always what is pleasing to me."
Those words are a continual call to me to lead a discerning life. I do not always choose what is pleasing to Jesus, but that call makes me aware of the fact that all day long I can choose what pleases Jesus or turn away. Joy comes from choosing what pleases Jesus and this pleases me - and, of course, the Father.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Feast of the Annunciation

"Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."

The entrance antiphon is from the 2nd Reading(Hebrews 10):

"As Christ came into the world, he said: Behold! I have come to do your will, O God."

The responsorial psalm is "Here am I, Lord; I come to do thy will."
Obviously the Feast of the Annunciation is calling us to both remember that Jesus came to do the will of his Father and to also live this simple focus: to do the will of the Father.
The Gospel show us how. Mary is troubled and cannot understand even though the Angel Gabriel has told her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." At the end, Mary surrenders her will to God's. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
This is the attitude God asks of me: "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."
Because of Mary's response, this is a great feast of Mary and reason for joy in the midst of Lent.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Go and sin no more"

Today's Gospel tells us how Jesus was teaching in the Temple and the Scribes and Pharisees bring in a woman caught in adultery. They do not care about the woman, but are using her to try to find something to charge Jesus with, if he does not keep the law of Moses which says that she should be stoned.

Jesus does not bother to answer them. He silently writes on the ground. When they persist, he says simply, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." He continues to write on the ground while they slink away, one by one. Now Jesus asks the woman, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you? She replies, "No one, sir." Jesus says, "Neither do I. Go and from now on sin no more."
Three points for reflection on this Sunday's Gospel:
1. - How Jesus must have felt when they try to trap him
2.- How Jesus responds
3.- How Jesus treats the woman when he is alone with her.

Jesus still tells us the same: "Go and from now on sin no more."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Never before has anyone spoken as this man."

When the temple guards did not arrest Jesus, the chief priests and the Pharisees asked them why they had not done so. The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken as this man."

Jesus had the gift for teaching and preaching. He attracted crowds and therefore was a threat to those who would control the people.
I have the opportunity each day to listen to Jesus in prayer. How do I listen? He speaks when I am silent. One of the words that I hear often this Lent is, "Trust me; do not be afraid for I am with you."
Another word from Jesus this Lent is "Learn of Me that I am gentle and humble of heart." May these words of Jesus transform me so that I may live in union with the Heart of Jesus.

Friday, March 23, 2007

St. Toribio

This 16th Spanish sain shows us how God chooses some surprising people to be saints. It seems strange in our eyes to find that this chief judge of the dreaded Inquisition of Granada is a canonized saint! As a layman he was appointed to Archbishop of Lima, Peru in 1580. When he protested about this unusual step, Pope Pius V dispensed him from the usual process and he was ordained and consecrated a bishop! In Lima he worked hard to correct abuses, learned the native language, and was much loved. He was canonized in 1726, 120 years after his death and is the patron saint of the Latin-American bishops as well as of Peru. I did not even know that the Latin-American bishops had a patron saint. I hope the North American bishops have one, too. They need a powerful one.

I am relecting on the passages of Scripture that have called me this Lent to change my life and which words of Jesus have been most powerful for me during these forty days. Look for more on this later.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jesus is Life

Jesus says in today's Gospel, "you do not want to come to me to have life."
Is Jesus still saying this to me today? He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. Where would I go to have life apart from Jesus?
He has come that we may have life and have it abundantly. Yet his reproach to the Jews is true. At times we act as if we do not want to come to Jesus to have life. We look for life in our world of consumerism; we seek instant gratification; we forget that Jesus calls us to choose life.
"Come to Me all you who labor and are weary, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls."
Lord, You are my Life. Let me come to You.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, grant that we may never stray from you who are the Way, nor distrust you who are the Truth, nor rest in any thing other than you, who are the Life. Teach us by your Holy Spirit what to believe, what to do, and wherein to take our rest. For your own name's sake we ask it, O Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Prayer of Desiderius Erasmus (c.1466-1536)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Learn of Me

"The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is good to all and compassionate.
The Lord is fruitful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The Lord is near to all
who call upon him in truth.
(Ps 145)
The Society of the Sacred Heart in the United States has just had the grace of a visit from the Mother General, Clare Pratt, the first American to hold this office. She has spent more than a month with us visiting different areas with one of the Central Team, Jane Maltby.
At the beginning of Lent, Clare suggested that we take on of the few direct Gospel quotes in our Constitutions as "an invitation to which all of us, no matter what our age or situation can respond." Jesus still says to each of us: "Learn of Me, because I am gentle and humble of heart."
Am I living each day with an attitude of gentleness and humility? Am I learning from Jesus how to accept all with a gentle and humble heart? Let us pray for one another to be gentle and humble and change our world from war to peace.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The power of water

Today's liturgy is full of the power of water. Water cleanses, water gives life. The entrance antiphon calls us to "Come to the waters, all who thirst; though you have no money, come and drink with joy."
The reading from Ezechiel 47 has water flowing from the temple and getting deeper until it becomes a river and "Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live...along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow, their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit for they shall be watered from the sanctuary."
In the Gospel we have waters that cure. Jesus asks the man by the pool, "Do you want to get well?" Jesus cures him who had no one to put him into the water.
Jesus just told him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk." He had been ill for 38 years so it must have been a shock! Later Jesus finds him and says, "do not sin any more." So simple as water is such a common image but one of grace that flows, cleanses, makes fruitful.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feast of St. Joseph

The Gospel tells us how Joseph had to decide what to do when faced with the fact that Mary was pregnant. "Being a righteous man" he opts to divorce her quietly. He made what he thought was the best decision within the law. Then the angel comes in his dream and tells him not to be afraid. The child Mary has conceived is the work of the Holy Spirit; Joseph is to name the boy Jesus because "he will save his people from their sins."
What faith Joseph shows in doing what he is told in a dream! Joseph is a silent man--not one word of his appears in Scripture. He is one who listens to God and does whatever God tells him to do. Such is the man that God chose to be the human father-figure for his Son.
Lord, give me the faith of Joseph to hear and obey you as Joseph did.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Laetare Sunday - 4th Sunday of Lent

Lent is half over and this is a Sunday where we rejoice as Easter is coming!
The opening prayer to the Father of peace says that we are "joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you. Let us hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of faith and love."

We have been reconciled with God through Christ. This is the reason to rejoince! The second reading tells us: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled in God.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is the Gospel and shows us how to get up and go to the Father to be reconciled. Reconciliation brings joy. The Father waits for us with outstreached arms ready to embrace us and celebrate our return.

How do I celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in my own life? LENT is a good time to renew ourselves by preparing seriously for the Sacrament of Reconcilitation.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

Patrick was a great missionary to the Irish. Because he had been kidnapped by pirates at the age of sixteen and taken as a slave to Ireland, he learned to know the people and their customs in the six years he lived there. When he escaped and returned to Britain, his vocation to the priesthood led him to serve God in Ireland and to convert the Irish. Patrick was devoted to Christ and we have his beautiful prayer to remind us today to call upon Christ who is with us always:
Christ shield me this day,
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise.
Christ in the heart of every
person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Why is it hard to hear God?

"I am the Lord your God, hear my voice."

Psalm 81 - Hear my people, and I will admonish you;
O Israel, will you not hear me?

" If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them."

Why is it so hard to hear God? To hear his voice, I must be silent. I must remove the clutter from my life, learn to slowdown and listen. I must sink into silence. God's first language is silence.

This prayer from Elizabeth of the Trinity helps me so I am including it here:

I desire to be all silence, all adoration,
to penetrate ever deeper and deeper into God,
and to be so filled with God
that I may by my prayer give him
to those who do not know him.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Listen - Listen to my voice

"If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts."
Today's Psalm 95 in the Liturgy makes this prayer: "Oh that today you would hear his voice."
The first reading from Jeremiah begins with the Lord saying: "This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people." How do I listen to his voice?
God speaks in silence in the depth of my being. He also speaks to me through people, events, the circumstances of my daily life. "Oh that today I would hear his voice and harden not my heart." I cannot hear his voice with a hardened heart, so I pray for a softer heart open to the sound of his voice wherever he speaks to me today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not efficient but effective

When making a thirty-day retreat in Manresa, Spain in a Jesuit retreat house built around and over the cave where St. Ignatius wrote his Spiritual Exercises, I was given this word of wisdom by my director: "The Lord does not ask you to be efficient but only effective."
For over thirty years I think that has helped me with my apostolic work. It has caused things to happen that were way beyond anything I could do or anyone even thought could be done. It gave me courage to launch projects and programs far beyond my human capacity and I am grateful.
In prayer this week the question came to me: How does this apply to my inner life? My own spiritual life is also touched by the Lord still saying to me, "You do not need to be efficient, only effective." I am called to the same trust and courage that trying to be effective in ministry demanded. It means keeping on when I know that I am not doing something well but trusting that my efforts will be effective. I guess this blog is one of those projects.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Peter learns in today's Gospel that forgiveness must never be limited. Why would I not forgive others? I pray each time I say the Lord's Prayer to be forgiven as I forgive others.
I think I forgive easily, but then sometimes find a lurking sense of resentment creeping up on me. Jesus forgives and forgets the offense. Lord, help me never to hold a grudge, to be free from resentment, to forget the hurts and slights of daily life and to pray as you did for forgiveness for others.

Monday, March 12, 2007

May I See the Gifts of Others

Jesus tells his hometown audience in the synagogue at Nazareth: "Amen I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place."

Why are we so slow to recognize the differents gifts of others when they are the persons nearest to us? How do I learn to see and affirm the gifts of others in my community, the gifts of my co-workers, friends and family? I think of how good I feel when someone sees something good in me and tells me so. I pray that I may see and affirm the good in others. We may not all be called to be prophets, but God has given each of us gifts to use in his service. May I see the many gifts of each I contact today, Lord, and may I thank you for all these gifts you continue to give us!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

3rd Sunday of Lent - Holy Ground

March 11, 2007 Holy Ground

In the first reading for the third Sunday in Lent, God calls Moses from the burning bush. Why the bush was burning and yet not being burned seems to have captured the attention of Moses. God uses our curiosity to attract us.
God calls Moses by name. When Moses responds, God tells him to remove his sandals for the place where he is standing is "holy ground."

I suspect that wherever we experience God calling us by name is holy ground. When God is present there is a sense of reverence and all is holy ground.

In the Gospel for today we have the gardener cultivating the ground around the fig tree so that it may bear fruit in the future. How am I cultivating the ground around me? Am I aware that it is holy ground?

The Father of the Prodigal Son

I am posting for Saturday and Sunday, March 10 and 11, as I will be in Houston for meetings with our Mother General and one of the Central Team.

Luke's Gospel for Saturday tells us much about the Father of the prodigal son. The father divided his property between his two sons at the request of the younger son who then left home and wasted his money until he was destitute and finally realized that he wanted to return home. His father has been looking for him every day as he never lost hope that his son would return. When he sees him coming, his compassionate heart makes him run to his son, hug and kiss him and hardly heed the son's confession. Instead, the father calls to the servants to come and adorn his son for a feast that he plans to celebrate the home-coming of the prodigal. The older son returns to find that the whole household is celebrating and he is filled with resentment. His father comes out to seek him and plead with him. He tells him: "My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we are celebrating and rejoicing because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found."
Sometimes I am the older son and sometimes the prodigal but my Father is compassionate and loves me no matter what I have done and waits for my return. Am I as compassionate? I feel gratitude when I think that the Father also says to me: "You are here with me always; everything I have is yours."

Saint Frances of Rome

March 9th is the feast of Frances of Rome. Frances is a patroness of widows. She knew grief early when two of her six children died very young and her grief made her a woman of compassion. When her husband died she dedicated her life to helping the needy as a Benedictine Oblate and was superior of a community of women who gathered around her to pray and care for the poor and all in need. May she help us to know how to comfort others in their grief.

Blessed are they who hope in the Lord...

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord."
According to the first reading from Jeremiah and Psalm 1, the one who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted beside the waters; this tree stretches out its roots to the stream..."
I love the image of the tree reaching out its roots to the living water; its leaves stay green and it bears fruit. Lord, you have chosen us that we may bear fruit. May we be rooted in You.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Saints Perpetua & Felicity

If you have ever read the account of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity, you know how courageous both were and how God came first even when it meant that they would not be able to live and take care of their babies. They were only baptized in prison! Felicity gave birth to her baby just three days before they were flogged, exposed to the wild beasts, and then beheaded. Would I have had the courage and faith of these newly baptized North African women?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lent, A Joyful Season?

I was struck by the thought that Lent is leading us to the Resurrection! The Preface for the First Eucharistic Prayer in Lent says, speaking to the Father: "Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed."
The Preface for the first Sunday in Lent also states: "in our unending joy we echo on earth the song of the angels in heaven."
When I read the quote from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in my missalette for March 6th, I felt that the Spirit is really trying to tell me that I need to make this Lent a joyful season in the sense of staying with the Lord in His passion and death to be with Him in His joy on Easter Sunday. St. Margaret Mary said:
Above all, I beg you to be gay, joyful and happy, for this is the true mark of the Spirit of God, who wishes that we should serve in peace and contentment; do not be uneasy or anxious, but do all things with liberty of mind and in the presence of God."
Lord, may we serve You with joyful hearts this Lenten season!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s Gospel is Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. Jesus took his closest companions, Peter, James, and John, and went up the mountain to pray. It is while Jesus is praying that his face changed; his clothes became dazzling white. Then Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus in glory. The three disciples are fully awake now and Peter exclaims: “Master, it is good that we are here.” Then comes the cloud and the voice saying: “This is my chosen one; listen to him.” God keeps saying the same thing to us: “Listen to my Son.” How do I listen to Jesus? Do I take time in prayer to really listen? He speaks to us in so many different ways, if I am listening.

St. Katherine Drexel

St. Katherine Drexel Katherine Drexel is an American saint. She was born in Philadelphia in 1858 to a wealthy family. She was canonized in 2000, just forty-five years after her death. She could have been a rich socialite but used her inheritance in 1891 to begin a new religious order, the Sister of the Blessed Sacrament. She desired to help African and Native Americans by establishing schools for them in the South and on Indian reservations. Sometimes we forget to pray to our American saints.