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Monday, June 30, 2008

In today's Gospel, a scribe comes to Jesus and says to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
I often reflect on the loneliness that the human Jesus must have felt after he left home. He seems to have had no place to really call home. Even today, he is left alone in so many tabernacles throughout the world. That is why some parishes now have chapels for perpetual adoration. I know that Jesus waits for us; he is in our hearts just waiting for us to make him feel at home there. I did not intend to write any of this but maybe we need to think that Jesus has a heart that longs for love.

My reflection this morning was going to be on the "transformation of Paul" as I was reading in Cardinal Martini's book about the inner attitudes of Paul. The first attitude that we find in all his letters is a great inner joy and peace. Paul knows that his joy comes from God and is present even in the midst of conflict.
The second inner attitude, which follows from the first, is Paul's capacity for gratitude. Martini tells us that it is "typical of the apostle to combine joy with thanksgiving." All his letters begin with a prayer of Thanksgiving except for one. Martini says that "beginning every letter with thanks means that he knows how to value primarily the postivie in whatever community he is writing to, even if there are some weighty, negative things that will need to be said."
The third attitude is praise. Paul has many blessings and continues the Jewish tradition of blessing. Here is an example: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing...(Ephesians 1:3)
During this year dedicated to Paul let us pray for and cultivate his inner attitudes of joy, gratitude, and praise.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Both of these great Apostles had a tremendous love for Jesus, great faith, and an extraordinary zeal in seeking to have others know about Jesus and the Gospel.
In the second reading for today from the Second Letter to Timothy, Paul tells us "I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."
He goes on to say that it is the Lord who "stood by me and gave me strength." Paul kept the faith because the Lord was his strength!

Peter was made the head of the Church by Jesus in today's Gospel (Mt 16). Jesus asked his disciples to tell him what others were saying about him. Then he presses them further: "But who do you say that I am?" (This is still a question that Jesus asks each of us today.)
Peter replies, "You are the Son of the living God." Jesus then tells him, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the Keys to the Kingdom of heaven."

As we celebrate these two great Apostles today, let us pray for all the people of God that we may live the teachings of Jesus. Let us pray especially for Pope Benedict XVI and all those preaching the Gospel today. I admire Paul; I admire Peter. I think we realize how human both were and yet how much they loved and trusted Jesus and this gave both of them such courage to preach the Gospel and even to give their lives for Christ.

As we begin this jubilee year in honor of St. Paul, I am adding the book by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini,S.J. The Gospel According to St. Paul: Meditations on His Life and Letters to the list of contemporary Spiritual Books that seem to be helpful, at least I am finding nourishment in good spiritual reading and try only to list books that I have personally read or at least used by browsing as I must confess that I have not yet had time to read much of Cardinal Martini's book, but I like what I have read and think others will, too.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lord, I am not worthy, but ...

Jesus told the centurion in today's Gospel that he would come and heal the Centurion's servant. The centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed."

I say almost those same words at every Liturgy; I even sing them in the Sunday liturgy: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."
I think that I really believe the part of not being worthy; I know that I am not. I also know that Jesus only has to say the word and I am healed. But, have I really the faith to believe that Jesus heals me each time I say those words and mean them? The centurion was praised for his faith. Jesus said to him "as you have believed, let it be done for you." At that very moment his servant was healed!
Jesus goes to the house of Peter. He finds Peter's mother-in-law in bed with fever; he touches her and the fever leaves her and she gets up and waits on Jesus! When it was evening, Jesus cures all the sick that are brought to him. Matthew tells us that this was "to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet, 'He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.'"
He still is doing this when we have faith. He always asks for faith and trust in his love for us. Then he works miracles in our lives!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril of Alexandria defended against the heresy that threatened to divide the Church; he presided at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Now, thanks to Cyril, it is correct to say that Mary was not only the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of God as Jesus was both human and divine. Nestorius was condemned and this did lead to a schism that engaged Cyril until his death in 444. In 1882, he was declared a Doctor of the Church.

The Gospel today has the wonderful scene where the leper approaches Jesus and tells him in great faith and trust that Jesus can cure him, if he wants to. Jesus reaches out and touches the leper and assures them that he does want to cure him and says, "Be made clean." We can go to Jesus as the leper did and be healed.
Jesus waits to touch us. Let us go to be made whole.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Saint Paul, Apostle

This coming Sunday we celebrate the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. Pope Benedict XVI has declared a special Jubilee Year in honor of st. Paul from June 28 to June 29, 2009.
Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, called to preach to the non-Jews and teach them the "Gospel of God." When the Pope announced this jubilee year, he pointed out the the extraordinary apostolic results Paul achieved were not from his skill as an orator, but from his total dedication to Christ.
One of the books I am reading to celebrate this year in Paul's honor is "The Gospel According to St. Paul: Meditations on His Life and Letters by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. that was just published in 2008 by The Word Among Us Press.
Cardinal Martini is a favorite author and a most readable biblical scholar. He writes with humility and has the grace to touch readers. I look forward to sharing some insights from this new book with you. The book begins with the conversion of Paul and points out that all the action is on God's part. I guess that is true in our own lives, too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Empty Boat but full of Gratitude

This is a peaceful scene and I love the empty boat. In a sense, we should all be empty boats and stay peaceful. I remember reading the story about how if you are in the water and your boat is nudged or struck by another boat that is empty, you think nothing of it but just shove it away and continue on your path. However, if someone is in the other boat, your reaction may be and almost certainly will be different! You will at least want to call out in anger, blame the other, etc., so maybe we should just be an empty boat and navigate peacefully through the sea of life. It is not easy to be an empty boat - but worth a try.
In a little book on prayer by Phyllis Zagano (coceived as a personal letter to her godchild) there is a great description of a holy person. "She lives where she is. Not where she has been or where she will be, or even where she might like to be. She is present, absolutely present, where and when she is where she is. That means she focuses her entire attention on those with whom she speaks. Her mind is not listening for the doorbell or thinking about dinner. That absolute attention goes to you, or to me, or to God. I think she is contantly grateful for what God brings her, no matter who or what, and I have a sense about her that she might have a special private line into the heavenly choirs. So convinced is she of God's action in the world and in individuals' live, she is always saying "thank you.'"
We should always thank God for everything as all is part of his love and care for us!
We might ask God today to give us the grace to be both an empty boat and full of gratitude!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nativity of John the Baptist

We celebrate the birthday today of John the Baptist; it is an early feast in the Church perhaps because it shows us that John was six months older than Jesus. John was called to prepare the way of the Lord.
John had his own special vocation. Jesus did not call him to be one of the Twelve Apostles, although he did chose some of John's disciples. Indeed, Jesus and John seem to have little face-to-face contact from John's birth to his beheading. We only know of the moment when Jesus went to the Jordan to be baptized by John. Jesus then moved on and did not stay with John.
Was John an Essene monk? One of my Scripture professors thought this and gave a list of reasons for his conclusion that John was an Essene or had been brought up in the desert by the Essene monks. Some of the reasons that I remember are: John's parents were old and there was a tradition that the sons of priests were educated by the Essenes; his dress and diet were those of an Essene; they stayed in the desert and so did John; and, finally, only Essenes were supposed to preach to Herod's court. Luke tells us in today's Gospel that "the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel."

We, like John the Baptist, are called to prepare the way of the Lord. Each has a personal vocation. We are "wonderfully made"!! Let us ask today to know our vocation within the vocation that we have followed because God called us. He continues to call us at every age.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Today I am again sharing from John Main's Essential Writings. He says the "The reality of God is like a sea. Isolated from reality, we are like people standing on the shore. Some sit, like King Canute, ordering the tide to turn back. Others gaze romantically at its beauty and vastness from a safe distance. But we are called to be baptized, to be plunged into it, to allow its all-powerful tide to direct our lives. To do this we have to leave our familiar dry shore and travel to the further shore of our origin."
We must plunge in and let the waves carry us! Main talks about the "current of the Spirit that leads us to a place unknown to us, where we know ourselves in him, in his eternal now."
Main also tells us that the greatest difficulty is "to begin, to take the first step, to launch out into the depth of the reality of God as revealed in Christ." Leaving the shore is the first great challenge.
Since the ocean is one of the greatest symbols of God for me, and of His infinite love, I do not want to stay on the shore. My prayer is then for the courage to launch out into the deep and then let the current carry me into the depths of God.
I hope many will also have the desire to leave the comfort and safety of the shore and plunge into an ocean of love in prayer. Remember, the essence of prayer is God and what God does and God just wants us to allow God to love us. Again, it comes down to trust. If we really trust God, we plunge in and allow the current to carry us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Do Not Be Afraid

Jesus tells the Twelve in today's Gospel (Matthew 10)"Fear no one."
We hear the same message over and over in the Gospels: "Do not be afraid!" In today's Gospel Jesus says "do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna."
Jesus immediately adds: "Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. Even the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid."
Again, we have a call to trust God who loves us so much!

Here is a quote from Mother Teresa: "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that God didn't trust me so much."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga who lived from 1558-1591. He was a prince in Lombardy but joined the Jesuits at seventeen. He wanted to go on the foreign missions but a plague broke out and he offered to serve the sick and dying in a hospital. He caught the plague and was dead within three months. Canonized in 1726, he is the patron saint of youth. May he help young people today to find their vocation and follow Christ in whatever state of life Jesus is calling them. I do believe that Jesus still calls many to religious life but perhaps they are not listening; our world lacks silence!

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us "do not worry!" He says that we should not worry about our life or what we will eat or drink, or about our bodies and what we will wear. Then he says, "O you of little first the Kingdom of not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself."
Why do we worry? We have a Father who loves us and can do anything. We need to trust God. He will never abandon us.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"For where your treasure is, there is your heart."

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel, "where your treasure is, there also is your heart."
Lord, You are my treasure! You have opened your Heart to me that there I find all I need.
I believe in your Love for me.
I believe in your power to transform me.
I believe that you have given me life for a purpose.
I believe that you have called me to intimacy with you.
I believe that you want me to live in Joy and spread joy around me.
I believe that you have given me your Peace and want me to be a peacemaker.
I believe that you want me to share in your gift of Compassion for all.
I believe that you give me Hope so that I may affirm others.
I believe that you have so gifted each day that I can only live in Gratitude.
I believe that each day is a new beginning.
I believe in your merciful love that forgives me, lifts me up, and floods my soul with the certainty that I am loved unconditionally.
Your Love is my treasure; I find it in your Heart and go forth to share it today!

This seems to have turned into a sharing of my meditation from my journal today!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Give us strength and joy

I love this peaceful scene. It gives calm to my soul. I hope that the opening prayer for today's Liturgy is one that appeals to all. Here it is: "Almighty and ever-living God, our source of power and inspiration, give us strength and joy in serving you as followers of Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
I think I am feeling the need of the strength and joy in serving God. The Gospel tells us not to babble in prayer as "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Then Jesus tells us "This is how you are to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." The "Our Father" as we call it, or the Lord's Prayer", is really a powerful prayer when we meditate on each of the seven petitions. Let us try to live the words we recite so often and let us learn to mean what we say. I think I am often reciting without thinking and there is much to think about in each line.

A dear friend, knowing that I was missing my friend who died so suddenly on June 3, gave me this quotation from A. Powell Davies and I want to share it with you as we all face sorrows at some point.
"When sorrow comes, let us accept it simply, as a part of life. Let the heart be open to pain, let it be stretched by it. All the evidence we have says that this is the better way. An open heart never grows bitter. Or, if it does, it cannot remain so. In the desolate hour, there is an outcry, a clenching of the hands upon emptiness, a burning pain of bereavement, a weary ache of loss. But anguish, like ecstasy, is not forever. There comes a gentleness, a returning quietness, a restoring stillness. This too is a door to life. Here, also, is a deepening of meaning-- and it can lead to dedication, a going forward to the triumph of the soul, the conquering of the wilderness. In the process will come a deepening inward knowledge that, in the final reckoning, all is well."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Inner Room or Cleft in the Rock

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel not to let others see the good that we do -- when we give "do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret."
When we pray, we are to "go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." The same is said for fasting so there is a value in doing things in secret for then they are done only for God.
I love the image of the inner room! At this stage in my life, I go in prayer into "the cleft in the rock" to find the Heart of Christ. Sometimes I descend into a deep, still pool and there find the cleft in the rock. I suppose all of us have an inner room.
When writing this an image came to me of an inner room that helped me as a child; I owe the image to Demi Brooke in Alcott's Little Men which was my favorite book in fourth grade and one that I almost knew by heart. This is what captured my imagination when Demi was trying to explain to Dan what would help him be good. Demi said that he thought of his mind as a round room where his soul lived. The walls were full of drawers and shelves where he kept his thoughts and his goodness he left out and the badness he locked up. Every Sunday he would put his room in order. I like the idea of keeping any uncharitable thought locked up so it would not bother me again; and I loved the idea of filling the open shelves with good thoughts and beautiful scenes. It was one of my imaginary games and I know this inner room gave me power over my thoughts, imagination, emotions and desires. I wonder what my inner room looks like really and if my soul has trouble in keeping it clean and beautiful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peace to be shared

What a gift peace is! I was going through some of my books at the University and came across Macrina Wiederkehr's Seasons of Your Heart: Prayers and Reflections. Revised and Expanded Edition, Harper, 1991. It was one of my favorite books for shared prayer and I opened it to this gem that spoke to me this morning: Blessed Are the Peacemakers, You Shall Be Called Children of God.
"Then all the violence in me
cried out to the peacemakers;
But where do you get all the peace
that you share?

An old woman answered:
We give our best what we are, she said,
I have searched deeply
into the mystery of myself
for something that would last
through all the storms of life,
I have waited in faith
for a great healing
to arise within me.
I prayed that when it came
I would recognize it
welcome it home
and then give it away
For we can only keep
what we give away.

And now
this long awaited star
has risen in my heart
It's name is peace.

I found it waiting for me
deep inside
on the day I stopped looking
and started seeing.

And now, more than anything
that needs to happen
in the human heart
I long to help it see the peace
that's already there.

I am a peacemaker
I make peace by showing you my star
and leading you to see
the space for God you are."

Everyone of us is a space for God; everyone of us has God dwelling in the deepest center of our being; we are all called to be peacemakers. How am I a peacemaker in the little things of each day? What can I do to spread peace today?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Opportunity for anyone in any part of the world

Someone told me that I should post the following here as we are really looking for new students for September to be found this month so we can close the September online course in New Testament Spirituality and the Early Fathers of the Church. If any of my readers are interested or know of someone interested, please let me know soon. It is a great program and only $300 a course.

Coordinator: Dr. Helen Rosenthal, R.S.C.J. - St. Thomas University

This International Online Certificate Program consists of four courses covering the history of Christian Spirituality. Through these courses you will be introduced to the rich experience of how others have sought and found God.

Each course is twelve weeks and the courses begin the second week of September and the second week of January. Each course has six Units of two weeks. The first week is mostly reading primary works; the second week involves online participation with a collaborative learning exercise. There are no tests but a required summary at the end of each Unit shows what you have learned from your reading and participation.

You have the flexibility to work online anytime 24 hours a day!

A Certificate in Spirituality Studies will enable you to:

* Discuss the development of the history of Christian Spirituality
* Know important writers of each period through reading spiritual classics
* Converse on the changes in Christianity with reference to the historical background and culture of each period
* Articulate your own spirituality and find resources that help you continue your spiritual growth
* Work collaboratively with others online, sharing & exchanging ideas

Why Online Spirituality Studies?

Through this online program you will discover the richness of sharing thoughts and ideas about spirituality with others from different parts of the country and world. You will form friendships with people from all over, receive a University Certificate in Spirituality Studies, and be able to do your online work at any hour of the day or night in the comfort of your own home or during your lunch break at the office.

Space is limited, so register early by contacting us now. Each course is $300 with a first-time registration fee of $30.

For more information, contact Dr. Rosenthal at

To register as a new student, contact Cary Trujillo at as soon as possible. On September 8th the Program begins again!

The four courses in the Online Certificate Program are:

SC 510: Spirituality of the New Testament & Early Church Fathers
This course explores the spirituality of the New Testament and the growth of the early church, the theology of martyrdom, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church.
Syllabus: The six Units are:
1. Overview and the Four Gospels
2. Acts of the Apostles & Selected Letters
3. Martyrs
4. Early Church Fathers
5. Desert Fathers & Mothers
6. St. Augustine

SC 511: Monks, Mendicants, Mystics
This course studies the development of monasticism, the rise of the Mendicant Orders, the writings of some of the medieval mystics, and the beginnings of lay spirituality.

Syllabus: The six Units are:
1. The Growth, Spread, & Influence of Monasticism in the Middle Ages
2. Mystical Monks
3. Contemplative Prayer
4. Mendicants & Mystics
5. More Mystics
6. The End of the Middle Ages

SC 512: Spanish Mystics and Modern Spirituality

This course studies different schools of spirituality, the influence of culture and tradition on modern spirituality, Native American, Black and Hispanic spiritualities.

Syllabus: The six Units are:
1. Reformation & Counter-Reformation – St. Ignatius
2. Teresa of Avila, Mystic & Doctor of the Church
3. St. John of the Cross
4. French School and Mystics
5. More Spiritualities, Devotions & Practices
6. “American” Spirituality

SC 513: Contemporary Spirituality

This course gives special emphasis to the reading of American contemporary spiritual writers and the spiritual questions of the twenty-first century.

Syllabus: The six Units are:
1. Social Gospel Writers and Preachers
2. Contemporary Spiritual Classics
3. New Spiritualities Emerging in the 20th Century
4. The Union of Spirituality & Psychology
5. Popular Contemporary Spiritual Writers
6. Current Spirituality

Background Reading
for all courses:

Holt, Bradley P. Thirsty for God. Augsburg Press, Revised Edition or 1993 edition.
Kung, Hans. The Catholic Church: A Short History. Random House, 2001.
Egan, Harvey, S.J. An Anthology of Christian Mysticism. Liturgical Press, 1991.

Prayer is like a flower that opens to the sun

When we pray, we open ourselves to God as the flower opens itself to the sun. We only need to sit in the Presence of God for this to happen. Prayer is really what God does; we just allow ourselves to be loved.
Having said the above, let us look at today's Responsorial Psalm "Lord, listen to my groaning." What a response to say during the Liturgy today - "Lord, listen to my groaning!" Psalm 5 says, "Hearken to my words, O Lord, attend to my sighing. Heed my call for dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you."
Lord, we are groaning under the injustice that we have done in torturing prisoners; we are groaning with compassion for the victims of floods, earthquakes, cyclone, and tornadoes. Heed our call for help for all those in need today.
Basil Pennington, in his introduction to Psalms: A Spiritual Commentary
says that the Psalms "are love songs giving expression to the most extraordinary love affair possible: that of God with his People. They can give meaningful and powerful voice to our own personal love affair with this amazing God." I believe this and wish I had learned more verses from the Psalms by heart. I was walking on the beach with a dear friend who has eleven children and she began quoting the Psalms and could recite whole Psalms from memory! Perhaps it is not too late for me to begin to learn some of the wisdom of the Psalms by heart so I can pray them when needed.
Pennington has only commented on some of the Psalms; each has an illustration by Phillip Ratner that adds to the appeal of the book. Maybe I will make a list of my favorite Psalms and try to learn a few verses each day. You might want to try this, too.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday we celebrate all Fathers!

This Sunday is Father's Day. I pray for all fathers! My own has been dead now for over nineteen years but is still alive in my heart. I had the good fortune to have a wonderful father who loved and cherished my mother and each of his children. He had a special tune he whistled to call us to come in to dinner or whenever. He also used to play the piano when he was ready to go somewhere and we were not yet ready and he had invented one tune that told us we had better hurry or we would be late. My Dad was also a good cook and made wonderful biscuits.

The first reading for this Sunday is from Exodus. God tells his people that "if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people..."

The responsorial psalm tells us that "we are his people, the sheep of his flock." And then the Gospel begins by telling us that "At the sight of the crowds, Jesus' heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd..."

Jesus is one with his Father. We belong to God; "we are his people, the sheep of his flock."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Through Julian's Windows

Elizabeth Ruth Obbard has written a beautiful book called Through Julian's Windows: Growing Into Wholeness with Julian of Norwich (Canterbury Press, 2008)

Julian asked for three wounds: true contrition, natural compassion, and unshakable longing for God. There were three windows in her cell - one represents adoration and love for God, one the service of others by compassion, and the third recognized her own limitations and need of support. Obbard shows how each window links to one of the wounds Julian had prayed for and received from the Lord.

At the end of each section of this book, there is a "Space to Reflect" which offers some quotations for reflection and prayer from Scripture and from some of the saints and mystics. It is a book to savor, to pray over, not just read. Elizabeth Obbard lives as a "solitary" herself and understands Julian as a "woman of yesterday for today".

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Forgetful Can I Be?

At the end of our Reflection Group last night we talked about a new book. One had suggested Richard Rohr's Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality and I could not remembering having it. As soon as all had left and I went to put away about a dozen of the new books I had passed around, I not only found Rohr's book but saw that I had marked the entire book with a highlighter; I had not only read the book but must have reread it to have it all marked up and yet I could not remember it! I guess I have been on overload and it is wonderful to have the summer before me. I will be back at the University on Monday, but only to give spiritual direction, check out what I can do to attract new students for the International Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies, and update my website. Then I promise myself some serious time for reading the good books piling up on my bookshelf.
Since I found Rohr's book, I will share a quote that I like (there are so many that it is hard to choose just one!). "You wouldn't even desire to pray except for God in you. It's God in you that loves God, that desires God, that seeks God (see Romans 8:14-27). Every time you choose God on some level, God has in the previous nanosecond just chosen you, and you have somehow allowed yourself to be chosen--and responded back!(John 15:16).
We don't know how to say yes by ourselves. We just 'second the motion'! There is a part of you that has always said yes to God, it is the Holy Spirit within you. God first says 'yes' inside of us and we say, 'Oh yeah,' thinking it comes from us! In other words, God rewards us for letting God reward us. Think about that, maybe even for the rest of your life."

I am wondering if the Holy Spirit hid this book on my shelf from me and allowed me to forget it and then remember it so it would have more of an impact on me. Now I feel that it was providential that we decided not to order a book before August. I have also decided that it is time to dust my bookcases and put some order in the shelf with the newer books waiting to be read.
We also talked about how God is present to us in the beauty of nature. For this reason, I like to add a picture that either fills me with a sense of peace or maybe overwhelms me with awe. Some pictures do both and all are a joy for me and I hope my readers enjoy the scenes chosen, too. Hopefully, it is God that nudges me so God chooses to help me choose! Now I sound like Richard Rohr!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The basis of radical freedom is trust...

Our expanding universe gives us a feeling of awe.
Tonight we have our Reflection group. I began this group about fourteen years ago. Although few are left of the original group, there are usually about a dozen or more of us who gather in my community for dinner, prayer, and sharing of our reflections on the chosen book. We always have more women than men, but it helps to have a mixed group. We are finishing Albert Nolan's recent book, Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom.
Nolan says that "the immediate result of attempting to live Jesus' spirituality today is freedom."
The basis of radical freedom is trust. We become free as we "gradually learn to appreciate God's love for us, which leads us to surrender ourselves and to put all our trust in God."
One of my favorite ejaculations is "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You!" We used to sing this as a theme song for the entire school at Clifton (a Sacred Heart school where I taught for almost five years before going to Rome for final Profession and then to Chile). Here is what we sang with the children: "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Thy love for me; Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, may Thy Kingdom come!" It has stayed with me ever since and I keep singing it in my heart or even aloud in my car. Try it! It is really powerful. May it lead us to the radical freedom of the spirituality of Jesus!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Feast of St. Barnabas

Today we celebrate Barnabas whose name was changed by the apostles from Joseph to Barnabas, son of encouragement. Many years ago in Chile someone told me that I was a "Barnabas" because I was a source of encouragement for all; I have never forgotten that and it has helped me, especially when in administrative positions. We all need to encourage one another. Let us look for ways to do this today and so honor Barnabas who went and got Paul and helped preach the Gospel to the Gentiles along with Paul.
It is good to be home and I am sorry that I could not write the last few days in St. Louis. We had a great alumni celebration on Saturday. It was a good week for me as I was able to see most of my friends and enjoyed being in two different communities of RSCJs where, of course, I am always made to feel at home.
I found this quote when reading John Maine and thought it one that I want to share with you today:
"Any of us can wander off on diversions, into distractions, triviality, and self-importance. The great power of liberty and confidence that permeates our life, however, is that we do have a way back to the straight way, to simplicity and othercenterlines. Our way back is simply the love of Jesus that is always present to us, in our own heart, not as something we have either to earn or conjure up--but as something that simply is and is so simply that it underpins and surrounds us in the root of our being. It lives us into being and cannot leave us until we have freely accepted the gift of being it bestows."
Now that is an encouraging quote and worthy of a St. Barnabas!!
John Maine perhaps invented the word "othercenterlines".

Saturday, June 7, 2008

60 Years since Graduation

My grandmother and my great aunts had been educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri. When I was finishing the eighth grade, I went with some of my classmates to take scholarship examinations for Catholic high schools. I went to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles as one of the schools just to see what it was like and I fell in love with it. In one day I knew that I wanted to return and have an experience of boarding school. I felt the atmosphere of love and the special spirit that is there because of St. Philippine Duchesne who had spent the last ten years of her saintly life there after returning from the Indian missions. The Academy at St. Charles was the first school of the Sacred Heart established by Philippine in 1818 when she arrived from France. I remember that I played my first game of cache-cache on that Saturday scholarship day. This is a favorite game of hide and seek played in teams and great fun. My team hid in the loft of the old barn and drew the ladder up afterwards so, even if we were found, no one could reach us to tag a player.
My years at St. Charles were the most formative of my life; we had some marvelous educators and we felt that we were loved and cared for day and night by this really remarkable community of religious of the Sacred Heart. Today, I return to celebrate the graces given to me during those years at the dear "old Academy." In our school song we sang "home of sunny laughter" and it was that for me. Sometimes it is good to go back and relive our formative years and thank for all we received! This year will be especially marked for me because today I assist at the funeral Mass of one of my oldest and best friends who shared my love of the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Duty of Delight

When I was in Gainesville a good friend gave me a new book: The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day." As he had been a student of mine and I had introduced him to the spirituality and writings of Dorothy Day, he knew I would love this book. It is a thick one and so did not travel to St. Louis with me, but it is a fascinating look at the spiritual struggles and growth of a woman who is still influencing American spirituality today. The Catholic Worker houses still exist and the paper still is only one cent! This book is edited by Robert Ellsberg.(Marquette University Press, 2008). Dorothy wrote in February of 1961, "Today I thought of a title for my book, The Duty of Delight, as a sequel to The Long Loneliness> I was thinking as one gets older (Dorothy was born in 1897), we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy which goes with loving." Dorothy Day's cause has been introduced for canonization; she will be a very human saint and her diaries show us her own struggles! Do I think of duty as a delight?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Loss of a Friend

This is sad news for those left to grieve. I arrived in St. Louis only to hear that my friend since grade school who was like a sister to me had died in the emergency room that very morning. I am still in shock and grieve with her two brothers and four wonderful children and the grandchildren. Peggy was always with me and so her family was important to me. I had talked with her just a few days ago and we had made plans to be together in St. Louis. She told me how busy she had been and we talked about the need to slow down, but she was in good health.

We were going to celebrate our 60th anniversary from graduation from the Academy of the Sacred Heart this Saturday. We talked about what a wonderful education we had received and Peggy told me how grateful she was for our years at the Academy in St. Charles. We would go out on Mondays together and return on Fridays so we only boarded four nights and had three at home. We had the best of both worlds!

Peggy spent one summer with me and the next we went to Mexico together. Then we went to college together. She would come over and play cards with my Dad, have long talks my mother, play the piano a bit and just hang out at my house. I really thought of her as a sister; I never had to entertain her.
She gave a wonderful party for me before I left for the convent. It lasted all night! She asked for my big, blue sweatshirt to wear as she loved it. She continued to visit my parents after I left home and then became good friends with my sister. When I left Miami, I left on my desk a birthday card to write for Peggy when I returned; now I shall just keep her in my prayer and think of all the wonderful times we had together.

The wake is Friday night and the funeral Mass early Saturday morning, the day we are celebrating our 60th - only three of us will now be at the Academy for the late afternoon Mass to celebrate with all the alumni, but Peggy will be with us in spirit.
Do pray for her children as sudden death is such a shock!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Longing for God

As a deer longs for running water, so my soul longs for You, O God.

Cry Out for God
One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

— Jelaluddin Rumi in The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

This was sent me by a dear friend in Scotland and I am sure that the longing is the return message from God as I am convinced that God increases our longing so that we may grow in our capacity to receive His Love.
It is sometimes a joyous longing so I would like to emphasize that even when our longing is a painful ache, it is full of joy or can be full of joy as we know our God is so close to us and loves us unconditionally. I read today in John Maine that God is intimately present to us but also infinitely beyond us.
I am leaving for St. Louis today and will try to keep posting daily while away for a week. It will be a time for visiting old friends but I intend to save time for my blog as I hear from more who are reading it daily.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

God fills us with kindness every morning!

When I read over the Liturgy this morning, what struck me was a verse from Psalm 90: "Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days." God does fill us with his kindness every morning. Why are we not out there shouting for joy?
I fly to St. Louis today for a week to see my friends there and visit places of my childhood. I am also the one planning our 60th anniversary of our graduation from the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. St. Philippine Duchesne opened the first school there in 1818 and is buried on the grounds now so it is a place of pilgrimage. She was a great pioneer and her spirit lives on in the education still given there.
I will be writing a blog daily, I hope, but know that you will understand if I do miss a day or so as it is more difficult when away and having to use a computer that may or may not be available.
Today is also the celebration of the martyrs of Uganda. Let us pray for Africa!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dawn - a precious gift

This morning I want to share a thought from Macrina Wiederkehr's Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.
Speaking of dawn as a most gracious gift, Macrina admits that she does not always rise at dawn and watch for God, nor does she consistently awaken with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. There are times "when the wings of my heart remain folded; yet prayer still happens in me. There are mornings when I simply sit in silence trying to remember some of the things that need to rise in me: a tolerance for those who don't agree with me, a refusal to judge others, a willingness to forgive, greater effort to live with a non-violent heart, loving thoughts toward those who don't exactly dote on me, a calm and hopeful spirit in the midst of my anxieties, discipline in my daily personal prayer, attention and faithfulness in my daily work, a holy anger for injustice in our world. As I remember these necessary risings in my life, the wings of my heart slowly begin to unfold. All Praise to You, Giver of the Morning!"
I hope Macrina does not mind me quoting her here, but I think we all need to let these things rise in us. Let us strive for a new dawn in our own lives this June.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's gospel (Mt 7:21-27) Jesus tells us that only those who do the will of his Father in heaven will enter the kingdom. Then Jesus says, "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
We need the habit of discernment to know the will of God; we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit to do it. Jesus gives us the grace so let us build our house on rock!