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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Feast of the Visitation

Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and she is carrying Jesus who will communicate with the infant in the womb of Elizabeth. The Holy Spirit inspires Elizabeth to say, "Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Mary replies with her Magnificat, praising the Lord for all he has done for her. I am sure that Mary must have been composing some of that Magnificat on the journey to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. It is always good to praise the Lord for all He has done for us. We rejoice in His Love.
Yesterday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I prayed over this quote from David Richo's "The Sacred Heart of the World: Restoring Mystical Devotion to Our Spiritual Life." The quote is from Johann Tauler, a 14th century Dominican.
"What more could he still do for us that he has not done? He has opened his very heart to us, as the most secret chamber wherein to lead our soul, his chosen spouse. For it is his joy to be with us in silent stillness, and in peaceful silence to rest there with us... He gives us his heart entirely, that it may be our home. He desires our hearts in return that they may be his dwelling place."

It is his joy to be with us in silent stillness and peaceful silence - what a gift!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Feasrt of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I do not like the images I found of the Heart of Jesus, but will use this one. I love the statue at Kenwood and have a picture of the head of Christ framed in both my office and my room and that is the only picture I really like. I will try to put it in my blog another day when I have the time.
I am just back from three days of prayer at the Cenacle in Gainesville. It was a tradition to take three days to prepare for the Feast of the Sacred Heart and we still renew our vows on this feast and are united with the Society of the Sacred Heart all over the world. In Miami today we will be renewing our vows in a liturgy with the students in our school. May our commitment of our lives to Jesus inspire the children who are present as I am convinced that Jesus continues to call others to follow him in religious life; our culture, with all the distractions, makes it difficult to hear his voice. We need to pray for those being called to whatever vocation God is drawing them to today. Sorry, but no time for more today.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Spirituality Today - More for Reflection

Each one is unique; each one has his or her own spirituality. It is good to reflect on how we would try to articulate ours today.

I am continuing to reflect on what the U.S. Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart has articulated. We state that "Prayer and intimacy with God in the Pierced Heart of Jesus is the wellspring of all that we are and do, and everything in our lives flows from it." We are "fed by prolonged times of contemplative silence and solitude."

When we were cloistered (we left the convent only for health and educational reasons), it was easy to have the silence and solitued; now we need to find ways to build it into our busy lives. I will be doing just that this week. I will drive up to Gainesville on Monday (today is Memorial Day holiday in the United States) to stay at the Cenacle for prayer and to see my spiritual director. These days will be preparing for the Feast of the Sacred Heart which is next Friday. I will drive back on Thursday. Because I will be out of town, I will not be writing my blog for the next three days. Pray for me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Feast of Corpus Christi

For me, of course, this is the feast of the Body of Christ; for Google it is a lovely town in Texas on the water. I visited there on my way home from Mexico many summers ago when only sixteen! I was visiting a cousin who had seven brothers! It was a fun week and I have great memories of that friendly place.
But, to go back to today's feast, Jesus told us that he is "the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever."

We have been given the gift of the Eucharist so that we may have eternal life. Today's Gospel tells us that "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. " Jesus also said that he remains in us and we in him. Let us thank for this great gift of the Eucharist. Jesus gives us himself to nourish us! He remains with us!

Today is also the feast of St. Madeleine Sophie who so loved the Eucharist. Here is a quote from her I happened to read today: "Before the Blessed Sacrament, remain in the emptiness that precedes fullness. Renew yourself in the wounds of Jesus Christ, especially his pierced side; that is ours. Afterwards live a renewed life filled with joy."

She also wrote to St. Philippine Duchesne in 1823: "You will find strength in the Heart of Jesus. He is open for us; let us go to Him to draw the strength and courage we need."

One more quote: "When we participate in the Eucharist, the Lord is united with us and we with Him. That is why one single life, one single aim, should be our animating force…."

May St. Madeleine Sophie's love for the Eucharist enkindle our love and desire to receive Jesus into our hearts today and always.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Spirituality today

Everyone is interested in spirituality today! It is not easy to articulate one's spirituality, yet it is what gives purpose to our lives.

The Society of the Sacred Heart all over the world has been struggling all year to articulate our spirituality in preparation for the General Chapter held this summer. As each Province has shared their statement, I find a wealth of material for reflection and thought that I would begin with a few thoughts from the United States as we have formulated our spirituality statement.

We begin by affirming our "fundamental identity as women summoned by God's love revealed in Jesus." (I love the fact that being invited, called, attracted, by God's love has now become a more forceful "summoned" for us.)

Then we acknowledge that our "communion with the Triune God, who is Holy Mystery and Sacred Presence in our universe, is the ground of our being." To put this in my own words, union with God is essential, the ground of my being, the reason for my existence.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Check this out for spiritual growth!

Yesterday I promised that I would say more about my International Online Program in Spirituality Studies. It is time to offer this opportunity for real spiritual growth and here is what it is all about and I hope you are interested or will help me find the right students for September.

St. Thomas University's School of Theology and Ministry offers an Online International Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies. It covers the history of Christian Spirituality in four courses. For each course students read great spiritual classics from New Testament times to Contemporary Spirituality. Students enroll from all over the world providing exciting and rich dialogue. There are no tests or papers, but a brief summary is posted at the end of each Unit. The courses are 12 weeks; the first, New Testament Spirituality and the Early Fathers begins September 8, 2009. For more information please contact Dr. Helen Rosenthal, rscj at or go to
Cost: Only $300 per course.
Hopefully, this information will bring students for a great experience!

For reflection today I took the refrain of Psalm 103 from the liturgy:
"The Lord is kind and merciful."

I also took the first line of the first reading from James: "Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged."
I will try to live today without a single discontent! It is a real challenge, but helps one to live in joy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Peaceful water brings peace

Have you ever felt a bit overwhelmed or just disturbed and then looked at a peaceful lake, or a calm pond, and felt the stillness creep over you? Even looking at peaceful water brings me peace. I think others must have this same experience and I know that I am grateful for this means of restoring a calmness to my soul.

I am usually a very peaceful person and I thought the other day that it may be because I have so many lovely pictures of water around me. Over my desk at my office in the University I have about a dozen pictures of the Pacific ocean. The water is not still, but they bring peace. Perhaps because the pictures are scenes of the water where I make my retreat each summer, I find the peace of the retreat seeping into me by just contemplating the lovely scenes of the deep blue ocean.

This is the time of the year that I begin to look for new students for the International Online Program in Spirituality Studies. Having taught the online courses for six years, I am happy to let one of the graduates of the Program who is a read educator take over in September. I will continue as Coordinator of Spirituality Studies. I hope to attract more international students. We now have graduates from Belize, Malaysia, Australia, Scotland, Colombia, Haiti, and all parts of the United States.
If any of my readers are interested or know of others who might be interested in reading the spiritual classics and discovering how others have sought and found God through the centuries, please get in touch. I will add a bit of information about the Program tomorrow as it is a wonderful way to grow in your own spirituality.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"God is the strength of his people..."

Today's entrance antiphon was taken from Psalm 27: 8-9 and I have just stayed with it:
"God is the strength of his people. In him, we his chosen live in safety. Save us, Lord, who share in your life, and give us your blessing; be our shepherd forever."

I find these two verses very full of deep theology. God is our strength; we have all had the experience of knowing this to be true. How often I find myself unable to do anything, but with God all is possible. He has chosen us; that is a tremendous reason to rejoice. We have been chosen by God! In him, we live in safety. He has chosen us and he cares for us. We share in his life. Yet, we need to ask to be saved - to be saved from ourselves, from our busyness, from our weaknesses...and so we ask your blessing, Lord, knowing that if you are our shepherd we will not want; we will fear no evil for you are with us.

Heart Magazine arrived today and I read the article about my blog; it is true that it helps me to reflect and that it is not a burden for me to write it, but I am late today as I left the house early without having posted anything and then there now seems to be trouble with the blogspot connection and I am told to try later!
I think that my International Online Program in Spirituality Studies has led many to read Reflections of an RSCJ, but more about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

St. Bernardine of Siena

I do not know much about St. Bernardine of Siena. In 1397 after a course of civil and canon law, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady attached to the great hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. Three years later, when the pestilence revisited Siena, he came forth from the life of seclusion and prayer he had embraced, to minister to the plague-stricken, and, assisted by ten companions, took upon himself for four months entire charge of this hospital. Despite his youth Bernardine proved fully equal to this task, but the heroic and unremitting labour it involved so far shattered his health that he never completely recovered. Having distributed his patrimony in charity, Bernardine received the habit of the Friars Minor at San Francesco in Siena, 8 September, 1402, but soon withdrew to the Observantine convent of Columbaio outside the city. He was professed 8 September, 1403 and ordained 8 September, 1404.

As a Franciscan priest he won many converts in Italy because of his eloquence and intuitive understanding of the needs of his listeners. After refusing various bishoprics, Bernardine became the Vicar General of the Franciscans and was canonized in 1450, just six years after his death!

This coming Sunday, May 25, is the feast of St. Madeleine Sophie, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Here is a quote from her that I was reflecting on today:
"We don't live among angels but among humans and sometimes we forget it. You know and admire a person but when you discover real faults in her you feel deceived. When this happens to me, in order to keep my peace, I "try to walk in her moccasins" and not judge by appearances." (St. Madeleine Sophie - Letter, May 31, 1828)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Faith and Humility

"I do believe, help my unbelief!"

In today's Gospel (Mark 9: 14-29), we have Jesus coming down from the mountain with Peter, James and John; they find a crowd around the other disciples and the scribes are there arguing with them. It seems that the disciples were not able to cast out a mute spirit. Jesus asks that the boy be brought to him. Then he questions the father who says to Jesus, "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said, "'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith."
Then the father cried out. "I do believe, help my unbelief!"
Then Jesus ordered the unclean spirit to leave the boy and he took him by the hand and raised him and he stood up. Later he told his disciples when they asked why they could not drive out the spirit, "This kind can only come out through prayer."
I think the faith and humility of the father was the reason- his cry was prayer and we need to make it our prayer!
"I do believe, help my unbelief!"
I am now calling these May Reflections 2008.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feast of the Trinity

I love both the symbol of the Trinity and the icon of the Trinity so am using both. God is Trinity - three diverse persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a mystery, a truth that we cannot fully understand.
The Preface for today's feast says: "We joyfully proclaim our faith in the mystery of your Godhead. You have revealed your glory as the glory of your Son and of the Holy Spirit: three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored in your everlasting glory."

The readings today all speak to me so here is a quote from each:
"The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity." (Exodus 34) This description of God by God is repeated several times in Scripture.

The Second Reading has Paul telling the Corinthians: "Mind your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you." (2 Cor 13) That will be my quote of the week to try to practice, I think!

The Gospel of John for this Sunday begins: "God so love the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Listen to him"

The Gospel is Mark's account of the Transfiguration. I love this mystery. Jesus took his three friends, Peter, James, and John, and "led them up a high mountain apart by themselves." He was transfigured before them. That is hard to describe, but we are told that his clothes became dazzling white. All the Gospels tell us about how Jesus conversed with Moses and Elijah who appeared with him on the mountain. Peter is terrified but says to Jesus, "It is good for us to be here!" Then a cloud comes and from the cloud a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
And then they "no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them."
We are to listen to Jesus, the "beloved Son"; it is good for us to contemplate this moment when his three friends are given a glimpse of his divinity.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Blessed Trinity. This morning I prayed over 1 Cor 3:16 -
"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Being With God

Today I thought I would share some of my thoughts on prayer have been triggered by reading John Main: Essential Writings. If the essence of Christian prayer is union with God, prayer is not about talking to God or thinking about God but being with God. I think, for me, it also the being with means allowing God to love us.
John Main says that "the experience of prayer is the experience of coming into full union with the energy that created the universe." That energy is love! We are rooted in love. Remember that Jesus told us to "remain in my love."

With all the tragedies in our world today, we need to practice this being with God - to be with God who knows the cry of our hearts without words. Silence is God's first language.
At this moment I feel overwhelmed by the suffering of so many victims of war, the cyclone, the earthquake in China, etc. God gave us compassionate hearts and knows what we feel; he knows our prayer without our needing words. Let us sit in silence with God who loves us. Our God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful. Let us trust him, allow him to love us, and be content that God is. Just be!

A Pentecostal thought from Jessica Powers:
"To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One learns to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind's will."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

St. Isidore

St. Isidore was a farmer and is the patron saint of farmers. He was born in the 12th century and was married to another saint and both were known for their piety and generosity. It is a good day to pray for all the farmers and day laborers. So many men and women are engaged in farming so that we may eat the fruit of their labors. How often do we remember to pray our gratitude for all who raise our food? And how often do we pray for those migrant workers toiling in the fields today and receiving less than a living wage?

Today's liturgy has a wonderful entrance antiphon: "The Lord has been my strength; he has led me into freedom. He saved me because he loves me."

This antiphon is true, compact, and full of theological wisdom. It contains the reasons for unending gratitude. The Lord is my strength! He does lead me and leads me into freedom. He saves me because he loves me!

In the gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, "But who do you say that I am?"
He asks me this today. What do I reply?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feast of St. Matthias

Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Since Peter tells us that there must be a new apostle who had been with them from the time of the baptism of Jesus until the resurrection, we know that Matthias had been present and therefore could bear witness to these events. The actual choice was made, after prayer, by casting lots as it was between Matthias and another disciple. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that Matthias was the one chosen, but then we hear nothing about his life and work. However, the Church celebrates this silent apostle today.

John's Gospel (15:9-17) contains many thoughts worth reflecting on today.
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." How marvelous it is to be told by Jesus that he loves us as the Father loves him and that we are to remain in his love!
Jesus also says that "if you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love." Jesus tells us this so that his joy may be in us.

Later, Jesus tells us that we are his friends. "I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father." When Jesus went to pray, he listened and heard his Father. What happens when I go to pray?

Finally, the passage I love and chose for my golden jubilee card: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain..."
We are loved. We are chosen. We are called to remain in his love.
Let us thank Jesus today for not only calling us friends, but for befriending us!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Lady of Fatima

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. This title was given to Mary after she appeared to the three children in Fatima, Portugal between May 13 and October 13, 1917. Mary identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary and stressed the need for conversion of heart so that the world might be a better place for all. We need to pray much for our world today. The rosary is a wonderful way to honor Mary.
I thought today to copy Thomas Merton's prayer that so many find helpful and I found myself praying over it this morning:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Monday, May 12, 2008


LORD is one of my favorite ways to address Jesus. Peter used the title when he said, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you! Although we use Lord as a title for Jesus, for the Jews in the Hebrew Scriptures, Lord refers to the one God, "Yahweh". They substituted the word Lord in most of our translations.
Eventually the title was applied to Jesus and one of the earliest professions of faith was simply "Jesus is Lord." I also love John calling out "It is the Lord!" when Jesus was on the shore and the disciples did not recognize him until they caught so many fish that the net was breaking.
The Little White Book ended with Pentecost, but it is a page in it that is causing today's reflection. It reminded me that when Mary goes to visit Elizabeth she says to Mary, "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord (Jesus) should come to me?" Elizabeth also says, "Blessed are you who believed that what has been spoken to you by the Lord (God, Yahweh) would be fulfilled." Then Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
Perhaps the reason that I love the word is that it is used for Jesus and speaks of his divinity and it is also used for God the Father. I know that when I say "Lord" I am speaking to Jesus but also including the Trinity by using this title. I always begin my journal with "Dearest Lord". Maybe it is good to reflect on the titles we use for Jesus as we move with the Spirit into this time after Pentecost.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


This is really a great feast and an important one. I love the Liturgy of the day. The alternate opening prayer is:
Father of light, from whom every good gift comes,
send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind,
and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds.
Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech,
for without your Spirit man could never raise his voice in words of peace
or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord,
who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, on God for ever and ever. Amen.

I also love the Sequence, but will not copy it here as it is long. Still, it begins:
Come, Holy Spirit, come! which should be our mantra today and during the week as the Holy Spirit is so needed in our lives; indeed, the Sequence says that where the Holy Spirit is not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

May this year be one filled with the Spirit!

"It is all about something God does"

"It is all about something God does" jumped out at me as I was reading this morning. This sentence seems to sum up for me not only my prayer, but my life. My life is not my own, but is something God does! It is the action of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes I do not pay much attention to the Holy Spirit. I guess that when I try to take charge, the Spirit causes me to feel uneasy, confused, irritable and unhappy. When I am trying to heed the promptings of the Spirit, I feel peace, joy, and love and even clarity. When feeling confused, pray to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and you will know what to do.
Pentecost is the time to thank the Lord for the gift of the Spirit in our lives. It is a time to remember that my life "is all about something God does."
The primary reality is always something God does. God continues to pour out gifts upon us; let us be filled with gratitude for his gifts and for the Holy Spirit whose presence in our lives is not only the Gift of God, but the Spirit is also the Giver of Gifts. Come Holy Spirit and enlighten us; come and enkindle the fire of gratitude in our hearts as gratitude lies at the very heart of our relationship with God!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Playfulness and Joy

"Playfulness, like wonder, is one of the childlike qualities we tend to lose as we grow up." This quote from Albert Nolan is true, but it is a sad truth.
Joy and playfulness are also signs of the Holy Spirit. Saints are joyful and joy attracts others. John Maine says that "we learn to be joyful only because we have learned not to possess, not to want to possess."
I think joy also implies trust. I have the image of a laughing two-year old; I watched him last Sunday climbing up on a cement platform and then jumping off into the arms of his father. This was repeated over and over with the same cries of glee! The toddler was full of joy and so was the father who kept catching him.
"Joy is the echo of God's life in us!" That quote from Dom Marmion means much to me as I find it is true in my own life. Real joy comes from the Holy Spirit. Mother Stuart said that "Joy is the song of the spirit under the pressure of happiness." May the coming of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost fill us with both joy and playfulness!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

With a Grateful Heart

Dawn is so beautiful that I wonder why we do not get up to see the sunrise everyday!
We have four peacocks who seem to have adopted us and are either perched on our roof or striding around the backyard. We did not invite them and rather hope they will leave, but they are beautiful creatures and one understands the saying, "proud as a peacock", when one watches them!
Tonight we have our Reflection Group and will be sharing on Chapters 10-12 in Albert Nolan's Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom. Chapter 10 is called With a Grateful Heart. Here are a few thoughts I underlined in my book:
Jesus saw everything in terms of God's love...In practice this means that Jesus was conscious of everything in life as a gift from God, a blessing...He was deeply grateful for everything...Jesus had a grateful heart. His response to God's love was gratitude."
I ask the Lord to give me a heart full of gratitude so that I may recognize that everything is pure gift. Lord, may I respond with joy and gratitude! When I am grateful, I am also full of joy!
Today I am not only thanking God again for his gifts, but plan to write to thank others who have been a gift to me. It is a day for expressing gratitude, for letting the joy that real gratitude brings spring forth and for spreading this joy to others.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some More New Books

The more I look at the ocean, the more I desire my retreat which will be on the ocean this summer. In the meantime, I have received several new books and will add them here even if I have not yet read them. I have looked through each and think each has merit and would be helpful. The only book I am actually using at this moment if John Main's Essential Writings which is from the Modern Spiritual Masters Series and I am sure that I mentioned before but am finding it a book that leads me to prayer.
The new books are:
Pennington, Basil M., OCSO. "Psalms: A Spiritual Commentary." Skylight Publishing, 2008. (The hardcover was published by the Cistercial Abbey of Spencer, Inc. in 2006.)
Basil's translations and commentaries are helpful for anyone wanting to use the Psalms for prayer.
Wiederkehr, Macrina. "Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day." Sorin Books, 2008. I love Macrina's books and think this will be helpful for really uniting oneself to the Church's prayer of the Hours- it helps to be conscious of the Presence of God in our day.
Coutinho, Paul, S.J. How Big Is Your God? The Freedom to Experience the Divine. Loyola, 2007. Paul is an Indian Jesuit who is a delight to read and I look forward to enjoying this book. I was tempted to browse and liked all that I read, but want to really reflect and so read this book slowly.
I am involved in some "end of the academic year" events and so wish the days were longer to accomplish more. It is time to remind myself that each of us has 24 hours, all the time there is and it is up to us to use it wisely.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

As you can see, I am still reliving the two weeks in Arizona and looking at the wonderful scenery. My pictures, taken with a disposable camera, turned out to be good and I will need to put them out for my community to see.
My reflection this morning was at the hospital; so many people there and what a large place it is and so full of staff running around and patients sitting patiently waiting for x-rays or other examinations. Then, I actually saw two accidents on my way home. Usually I am going or coming from the University when I see accidents on the highway; multiple car accidents as one runs into another who then hits someone else who hits another, etc. Today the accidents were not on the highway and one wonders how they happened. People are in such a rush. The cars were smashed badly so they must have been going faster than the speed limit. Between the hospital and the car accidents today I have been praying for some special intentions. A faculty member lost his mother; a secretary told me that her husband of over twenty years just left her and the children; the newspaper is full of the thousands of deaths because of the cyclone; the war continues, etc. Not very cheering news so let us give all to the Heart of Jesus and ask him to send forth his Spirit to renew the face of the earth,.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Arizona and Desert Simplicity

I loved the boat ride in Arizona on the lake between canyons and I loved the view of the mountains and the desert landscapes. It left me thinking about the virtue of simplicity. In the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart we have this phrase that I find myself going back to often: "they must love and desire that simplicity which springs from the calmness of a soul who seeks and longs for nothing but her God, and who, without any thought of self or of her own interests, looks only to God whom alone she wishes to love and please in all things."

St. Madeleine Sophie had a real love for simplicity; so did, St. Julie Billiart, foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who said that a simple soul is sweet tempered, affectionate, and attentive to the wants of others. She has a great love of truth, real humility, and a charming manner. Such a soul is the beloved child of God who finds in her much delight."
Julie also said that a simple soul speaks to God with easy familiarity, as to her Father and her Spouse. Adoring God with profound humility, she tells God her faults just as she sees them. Then she listens while our Lord communicates himself to her."

I think the world would be a better place if all of us had the virtue of simplicity; we would live seeking only to please Jesus, without thought of self or self-interest.
The Arizona desert brought me to this reflection on simplicity and the Desert Fathers seem to be calling me to let go of all that is not God!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus told his Apostles, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

This was the farewell speech of Jesus for Luke tells us, "When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight."
They must have been awed. They just stood there looking at the sky. However, those last words of Jesus were recorded and are still a message for us today: You will receive power from the Holy Spirit; you will be my witnesses even to the ends of the earth.

By our vocation to follow Jesus, we also receive power from the Holy Spirit and are called to be witnesses wherever we are. All of us are to be ambassadors of Christ.
In the Parish Renew Retreat that I made last week end in Arizona, the prayer said often by all of us keeps echoing in my heart this week and I pass it on to all my readers:
I am a blessing! I am an ambassador of Christ!
The love of Jesus flows through me to others.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

How do I experience the power of the Holy Spirit in my life?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Feast Day of St. Philip and St. James

I like to remember these two apostles as Philip was the one who at the Last Supper said, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." And Jesus answered him by asking, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?
Then Jesus continues to tell us that "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."

We know little of James who was known as James the Less probably to distinguish him from James, the brother of John. However, in the first reading from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians we know that Jesus appeared to James before the Ascension.
In fact, it is good to remember that Paul tells us that he appeared to "Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as one born abnormally, he appeared to me." Paul is not the last to have received appearances as many people today continue to be overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus in their lives. Sometimes it is only the feeling of being in His presence and overwhelmed by love; sometimes they hear Jesus speaking to them; sometimes a few even see Jesus. The important thing is to believe that He is still with us and does make his presence felt in many ways today in our daily lives. As we celebrate the Ascension tomorrow, let us thank Jesus for his presence among us all through the centuries.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Do not be afraid for I am with you."

These beautiful Arizona sunsets help me to realize the words Our Lord said to Paul in today's reading from Acts 18: "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you."

How often God says to us, "Don't be afraid." If we really realized that God is with us and is all-powerful and loves us unconditionally, we would not be afraid. What is there to fear when God is with us? Certainly, we should not fear to preach the Good News.

I keep thinking of two quotes that I read recently. "Joy is the echo of God's love in us" (Don Marmion) The other is "Let us live in joy so that all will see this life of God in us."
Joy leaves no room for fear. He is with us, alleluia, alleluia!

I apologized to St. Joseph for forgetting that his feast of St. Joseph, the Worker, was celebrated yesterday. We had a beautiful liturgy at the University as a farewell to our priest campus minister - I shall miss him and his excellent homilies. Yesterday he began with the story of a child asking her mother where she had come from - the mother told her that God had created a beautiful woman and man and then they had children and their children had more children and this wonderful world of God was soon full of beautiful people. The little girl went out to play and found her father later and asked the same question. He told her that she had come from some playful monkeys. The little daughter then returned to ask her mother if what Daddy had said was true. The Mother told her that he was speaking of his side of the family but that her side had come from the first beautiful woman and man.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ascension Thursday

A friend sent me this picture of the ocean and somehow it made me think of the joy that Jesus had in going to his Father. I am aware that Ascension Thursday is now celebrated in most of the dioceses on Sunday, but we had the tradition of gathering at noon on this day to sing "Beau Ciel" - I read in the little "White Book" that we no longer have the ritual of extinguishing the Paschal Candle after the Gospel is read. Since the Paschal Candle is a symbol of the presence of the risen Christ here on earth, this ritual "could give the impression that Christ is no longer present among us." So now the candle continues to burn as a signal that Christ is with us always, until the end of time. The Paschal Candle remains lit for the rest of the Easter season. It is lit throughout the entire year for funerals and baptisms!
Well, only 10 days until Pentecost and I am desiring this great Feast!