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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Through Julian's Windows

I did mention Obbard's book Through Julian's Windows in an earlier blog but did not add the book to my list of good spiritual reading. Now, I have done so and think that it is a book worth reading and reflecting over this summer. She quotes other mystics and gives a space for reflection as well as some prayers.
I am preparing you for my time away as I will not be writing my blog from July 8 to August 22. I am giving myself and you a long vacation as I will be attending a higher education meeting for the Society of the Sacred Heart at the University of San Diego and then making a month of retreat. I look forward especially to the month of prayer- July 15 to August 15- at the retreat house of the Sisters of the Holy Names; I also ask your prayer for this very important time. Our General Chapter will begin on July 16 in Peru so I will also be praying for that and for all of my readers, too. I know that I can count on your prayer, too, and will tell you about my retreat when I again begin writing on August 22.

In today's Gospel, Jesus asks us to come to him. Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
It is a great Gospel to leave with you as I take off for San Diego and I hope all of us heed his invitation to come! Jesus wants us to come to him and to learn from him that he is meek and humble of heart. Let us pray for one another.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Do You React or Respond to Life?

I love the image of a bridge and feel that this picture speaks to me on many different levels. The bridge connects me to God, to others, to myself. The book, How Big Is Your God? by Paul Coutinho, S.J., is also a bridge; he connects Ignatius and Eastern spirituality. He has his doctorate in Historical Theology from St. Louis University and so do I, so I feel connected to him and, of course, I am also rather steeped in Ignatian spirituality.
Paul has a short section (all the sections are brief and concise) entitled: "Do you React or Respond to Life? He explains that situations in themselves do not produce feelings. It is "our perception of the situation that makes us feel good or bad...When we live in freedom, we choose the way we respond rather than let our automatic, destructive reactions get the better of us."
How to do this? Paul suggest the "PQR formula" - pause to question how we would like to respond rather than react. Reaction is not freedom. Responding rather than reacting "helps us to live freely and in greater harmony with our true identity in every situation." So, pause, ask how our situation relates to the meaning of my life, and then choose how I want to respond.
This "PQR formula" is not easy to practice but let us begin to try to use it today. I want to RESPOND!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Let us celebrate the birth of a nation

Today is our great national holiday that celebrates the birth of our nation. It is also the feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She was one who always worked for peace and reconciliation. May she make our nation at peace and stop the wars!
The alternate prayer for today is worth reading. I will not copy it here, but it calls us to give thanks; it also calls us to ask God's help for the work that still remains for our country to do so that we will be able to live with freedom for all and live in peace with all peoples.
In the Gospel, Jesus says to Matthew: "Follow me." And he left everything and followed Jesus. He did not look back. May we have that same courage to follow Jesus each time he says to us, "Follow me." The 4th of July is a good time to reflect on the courage we need to let go of our own concerns to be able to follow Jesus more closely. Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Today is the Feast Of St. Thomas, the Apostle. We have Thomas to thank for his great exclamation, "My Lord and my God!" He was not with the others when Jesus came on that first Easter night. Why? We do not know, but he was told by the others, We have seen the Lord!" Thomas replies that he will not believe until he can see the marks of the nails in his hands and put his finger into the side of Jesus. A week later, even if the doors are still locked, Jesus appears in the midst of his friends and this time Thomas is there with them. Jesus tells him, "Put your finger here and see my hands and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." And Thomas said, "My Lord and my God." Then Jesus said for us, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Lord, we believe, help our unbelief.
I am grateful every day for the gift of faith. However, when our faith is really alive, we see God in every instant of our lives; He is present so I pray for more faith to see this when I read the newspaper and listen to the news. Where is the positive in all that I read and hear? God is there but it takes faith to believe and find God in all things.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Attaining Transfiguration

I have been sharing something of Paul's own transfiguration from Cardinal Martini's book and today I will continue with his thoughts on how we attain and maintain our own transfiguration as this is important for all of us. Martini says that the path to transfiguration is to recognize that it is God who, in his mercy, transfigures us. Then he tell us that the first way of receiving this divine gift is a contemplation of the heart of the crucified Christ that pours out the spirit.
The second way comes through the intercession of Mary. Cardinal Martini says that the gift of a heart transfigured in joy, in praise, in thanksgiving, in perseverance, and in freedom comes through the intercession of Mary. It is Mary who sustains and nourishes the liveliness of faith in us.
The third way to receive the gift of transfiguration comes from sharing, from stretching out a hand in the dark and placing it on the shoulders of someone who sees the light...This is the role of spiritual direction or of conversations in the confessional that are so important because they involve extending hands to one another.
And, finally, the gift of transfiguration needs vigilance. We are limited humans who "grow weary and are not capable of persevering on our own."
Let us pray for our own transfiguration remembering the inner attitudes of Paul, his modes of action, and then the ways to attain and maintain the gift for ourselves!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

He controls the storms at sea and within us

Today I reflected on how tired Jesus must have been to be able to sleep in the boat when the storm came up so suddenly and threatened to swamp the boat. The Apostles were terrified and had to wake him up. He used this incident to strengthen their faith and trust in him. I think we all still cry out when the waves get too big in our own lives and we feel that we are going to be swamped and maybe go down, but Jesus is with us and he can make all calm again immediately. Jesus can always control the storms both outside and within us. We need only to trust him.

Yesterday I shared the inner attitudes of Paul from Cardinal Martini's book The Gospel According to St. Paul and today I will tell you what he says about Paul's modes of action. He says that the first mode of action that points to Paul's transfiguration involves "a never-ending capacity to bounce back" and we see this over and over. He tells us that this ability is more than human and is a gift of God.
The second mode of action is characterized by "freedom in the spirit."
Let us reflect on these gifts and pray for them as it is so easy to get discouraged and to give in to pressure of what others think, want, try to dictate, etc. May we always have the grace to bounce back and to act with freedom in the spirit from human respect.