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Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

The history of this day is connected with the Feast of All Saints. On the eve, all sorts of things were supposed to happen, but we have mostly thought of the day as one to dress up in a costume and go out to collect treats or play tricks on neighbors. At boarding school we had a party planned always by the Third Academic or Juniors. We were allowed to plan the dinner, decorate, and then invent the night entertainment for the Halloween party. Since we were reading Macbeth, we had a cauldron with an artificial fire under it in a corner with the three witches but before that we had taken the entire boarding school on a nocturnal walk that included the cemetery with ghosts popping up all over and a realistic figure hanging from the loft of the barn. It was perhaps the most fun Halloween I have ever experienced; I also remember one time when some of us in about fifth grade went to a party as the "Dead End Kids" and we were so comfortable while others could hardly move without destroying their costumes. This is not a very spiritual reflection today, but I am preparing for all Saints! Here is something of the history of Halloween:

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Draw your strength from the Lord..."

The first reading from Ephesians begins with "Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power." Sometimes I forget that the Lord has told me to come to His Heart and find all that I need, even if it is what He has asked of me.
The reading continues telling us to "Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil." This seems a fitting text for the eve of all Hallows Eve. We are called to be saints!

I have finished talking about my trip in this blog, but I could not resist the pictures which are from the Lake District!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Called to journey with one another

In today's Gospel, Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. He walked; roads were only dusty, rutted paths. He and his followers had to contend with the climate, fatigue, dust, but Jesus was a man with a mission. He taught the truth and not just what people wanted to hear.

We are called to journey with each other. A sentence from the recent General Chapter of the Society of the Sacred Heart keeps coming to mind: "To understand others and to journey with them we must enter into their reality and let ourselves be changed by their lives." How am I letting others change me?

Trip continued and perhaps finished today:
I think I have now been writing about my three-week trip daily for two weeks and it is time to sum it up with just a few of the highlights. The trip to the Lake District was, of course, beautiful and my mind is still filled with pictures of the English countryside. In London, I will try to limit myself to what I consider three outstanding graces, each still influencing me as I write:
1. The tremendous welcome I received from the Community of New House where I stayed; each made me feel at home in so many ways. I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and kindness. I also enjoyed the community prayer each evening in their Chapel and I am just so grateful to each who showed me the love of the Heart of Christ.
2. The time I had for prayer in the Sacred Heart Chapel that contains the tombs of Father Varin, Reverend Mother Digby, and Reverend Mother Stuart--all important figures in the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart. It is a holy place and survived the bombing that destroyed most of Roehampton where we had a teacher training college; now Roehampton University occupies the site with five colleges and some of our Sisters, including the Provincial, live students in Barat House; I was invited to tea there and able to meet some of the students. But to go back to the Chapel and the grace I felt every time I walked over to pray there; I had Mass one day and stayed to read some of Mother Stuart's poems in a little red book that Jane gave me in Scotland. I really felt the presence of Mother Stuart and her blessing.
3. An unexpected grace: I was able to assist at a private Mass in the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey. The pictures above show the Abbey and the tomb of St. Edward who died just a week after finishing Westminster Abbey; his tomb is still there in the small Chapel not usually open to anyone because of the 13th century Italian floor (it was covered with a rug) - the Mass was for those who had tickets - only a small group, but Monica managed to get two tickets. We had the entire Abbey to ourselves when we came out of the Mass and that was thrilling; all the lights were on but it was silent!
My entire trip was special. I also saw, on my last afternoon, over 50 deer in a nearby park grazing in at least six different spots! I returned grateful for all and especially grateful for all the marvelous people I met both in Scotland and England and for my vocation to an international Society for one is at home in any Sacred Heart community!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

These are two Apostles that we know little about but they were called by Jesus. Jude is also called Thaddeus. According to tradition, both were martyrs and Jude has become the saint of the impossible! We pray to Jude for hopeless cases. Jude also seems to be identified as "son of James" or maybe it means brother of James. The point is that these two are not well-known.
Luke tells us in today's Gospel that Jesus spent the night in prayer before he chose the Twelve, whom he named Apostles. I like to contemplate the scene Luke gives us when he says: "Jesus went up the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God."
However, I need to also say something about the first reading today from Ephesians. Paul tells us that Jesus is the capstone and it is through him the whole structure is held together. We are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Think about this and be filled with gratitude. Jesus is the capstone!

Trip continued

The scenic route to Bronte country was through a very old and Catholic part of England. We passed Blackburn where the English St. Margaret was martyred.
We saw an ancient Roman aqueduct, passed farms and fields, cattle and sheep. Never a billboard. We stopped for tea and scones, of course, but then on to the Doles and moors. The picture above is of the Parsonage where the Brontes lived and wrote but I will need to write more tomorrow as I want to try to vote today and one must go early. All of my community have gone for early voting, but have waited up to three hours to vote! A million people in just our part of Florida have been to the polls early!

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Be imitators of in love..."

Paul tells the Ephesians: "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God...and live in love..." I was struck by the phrase "Be imitators of God" and see it as a call to really live in love as God is love.

Reflections on my trip continued:
The castle of Edinburgh can be seen from Christine's flat! It was hard to leave.
What hospitality! I am still amazed at the goodness and kindness of each! Christine came to the airport and went in with me to make sure I would be checked in for my flight to London; Frances in London did the same for me when I was returning to the States. In Chile, it is the same and friends insist on going with you to the airport and coming in to see you off. Here in Miami we only drop people at the airport; perhaps I will park and wait with our next departing international guest. I was very happy to discover Monica and Frances waiting for me at Heathrow in Terminal 5 which is at the end of nowhere but British Airways from Edinburgh lands there. Sunday dinner was waiting for us when we returned to the community. In England, they warm the plates and I remember that we did that at home when I was an child. I unpacked and packed a small bag as I left by train on Monday morning to visit Veronica, a friend who lives in the north of England now. She was waiting for me in Preston but the train was quite late and had stopped at every village on the way up and also had to wait as the signals were not working. Veronica took me to her lovely little duplex in Freckleton, gave me lunch, and then drove me along the coast as it was a gorgeous, sunny day. We returned for dinner and then drove off to see the lights of Blackpool. These are famous but defy description; they are strung over and along six miles of road and the colors are constantly changing and some form pictures. Each year is different but thousands of tourists come in October to see these lights.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God is compassionate!

The map and the picture are of Perthshire.
This is a Sunday where the Lord says that we should be good to all. The first reading from Exodus 22:20-26 begins: "Thus says the Lord: 'You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you yourself were once aliens yourselves...'" It ends with God promising to hear us if we cry out to God for he is compassionate. We do cry out. We need help to fulfill the commandments that Jesus says are the greatest: " the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your your neighbor as yourself."

Recalling the Last Days in Scotland
After Iona, I still had two wonderful days in Perthshire. I visited the boarding school for girls, Kilgraston, and hope that American parents who need to find a boarding school for their daughters will discover Kilgraston. It was a Sacred Heart school and still has the spirit; Barbara, a former head of the school, took me on a tour and I was quite impressed not only by the lovely rooms, Chapel, new sports complex with an indoor swimming pool, but by the graciousness and happiness of both students and teachers that we met in the halls or classrooms. We returned to the Garden Cottage to have tea outside in the sun. I offer this as proof that October can be mild and sunny in Scotland.
Jane picked me up and we went to her favorite spot, a house-hotel on the river Tay. As we drove into the estate, we needed to wait for pheasants to cross the road-lovely, plump ones. We had the spacious dining room almost to ourselves and then took our tea afterwards in the drawing room. Both elegant rooms overlook the river Tay and we could watch three men in a small boat fishing. It was a wonderful place to sit and talk and talk we did; I feel as if I have always known Jane, but how good to be face-to-face!
The next day, I went to Mass with Jenny and then to Jenny's; Jane, Jenny, Ruth (my third student from Scotland in the International Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies), a friend of theirs, Sally, and I had lunch together in an organic restaurant and then Sally and Ruth drove me back to Edinburgh. It was such a wonderful five days that I cannot begin to tell you the joy I felt.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Living the truth in love..."

Paul tells us in today's reading from Ephesians that "grace was given to each of us according to the measure of God's gift." He then tells us that "living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament...brings about the Body's growth and builds itself up in love." That is a long quote but one that helps us to understand the Mystical Body of Christ and our part in it. I especially like the phrase "living the truth in love."
I guess that I want to do whatever I am called to do, to use the gift I have been given with joy. Joy changes a dull task into an exciting one. Try today to do the most mundane tasks with joy and see the difference it makes! We are all gifted by God so let us rejoice and be glad!
Trip continued:
The picture is of the isle of Mull. It is time to finish up my trip to Iona. Before I do that though I need to say again how really beautiful Scotland is and Mull is a photographer's delight. I found an atmosphere of holiness in the Iona Abbey, but that same atmosphere is in the air in the countryside on Mull. I did want to share though, one last experience at the Abbey on Iona. Jenny and I had arrived early so we had the Church to ourselves the hour before the first tour. I found a corner to pray. After a time, having been lost in the atmosphere of prayer that permeates the church, I looked up and was startled to see someone sitting in the corner across from me. She was so still that I thought I must be seeing either a ghost or a statue but then realized that it was one of the Iona community who had also chosen a quiet nook for prayer. I do not usually think of ghosts, but such was the mood that it seemed plausible to find one sitting across from me!!
The Isle on Mull is quite visible from Iona. I loved looking across the sea knowing that it was the same sea that so many monks contemplated in the 6th century and maybe in doing so received their vocations to be missionaries to the rest of Scotland and to Europe. How did so many even find Iona to be formed by Colomba?
We had lunch overlooking the Bay of Martyrs, returned to the Nunnery for a bit and then got caught in the rain on the way back to the House of Prayer so were content to stay in with our tea and scones. Wednesday morning found us on the return journey with our hearts burning within us!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret

Although I wanted to show you the ruins of the Augustinian Nunnery on Iona, I will say something about this feast. Anthony was born in Spain in 1807 so he is a 19th century saint I really did not know until I read about him in "Living with Christ", my daily companion for praying and living the Eucharist. Anthony was a weaver but also studied Latin and printing. He entered the seminary at 22, was ordained in 1835 and founded the Religious Library for publishing and the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians). He was appointed Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba where he reformed both clergy and laity, but he resigned his see after seven years and returned to Spain to be confessor to Queen Isabella; he also wrote books and oversaw the Claretians. He and the Queen were exiled in the revolution of 1868 and he died in 1870.

Paul tells us today in his Letter to the Ephesians how to live: "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace..."

I love this quote from St. John Chrysostom about Paul: "The most important thing of all for him was that he knew he was loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else." I hope this is true of me, too, and each of my readers!

Iona Trip continued:
Philip Newell in his "Christ of the Celts" wrote: "Here on Iona I find myself wanting more often to pray in the ruins of the nunnery than in the rebuilt abbey church. And I am not alone in this desire. Although all of the attention historically has been focused on the reconstructed Benedictine Abbey, a place of masculine spirituality, rather than on the ruins of the neglected Augustinian Nunnery of the same period, a place of feminine spirituality, we are in the midst of a shift." I had read Newell's book before going to Scotland and so my first stop in the morning was to pray at the Nunnery; it also was my last stop of the day. As I wandered through the ruins and stood in what was their Chapel, I felt the prayer of all those nuns during more than six centuries. It is a place of peace. It is easy to imagine those nuns sitting in their Chapter room or huddled together in the "warming room". Newell says that the Nunnery was a "place of relationship, of intentional community, and devotion to Christ and the cross." I certainly felt a presence there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

St. John of Capistrano

I tried to put on a picture of both St. John of Capistrano and the Iona Abbey with the Celtic Cross by the Chapel door, but could not. So today's curious saint will not have his picture posted. He was the son of a German knight who became a lawyer, married, and became governor of Perugia in 1412 at the age of 22! According to my "Living with Christ", he had a vision of St. Francis of Assisi while he was imprisoned during a civil war. He ended his marriage and joined the Friears in 1415 and was ordained in 1419; there is no mention of what happened to his wife, but he spent the rest of his life preaching missions throughout Europe. He died of the plague at the age of 70.

Paul's Letter to the Ephesians is always worth reflecting on and today's passage has his prayer that all may be "strengthened with the power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." That is a powerful prayer!

Trip to Iona continued:
We arrived at the House of Prayer in time for the 5:00 Communion service that Jean Lawson, RSCJ holds daily for all who wish to come as there is no resident priest on the Isle. Jean is a marvelous cook, makes her own bread, and has the gift of creating a spirit of family among those staying in the House of Prayer. She also conducts a lovely prayer service at 8:00 each morning and serves a hot breakfast afterwards to prepare us for our pilgrimage around the island.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Be Prepared

"Be prepared!" Jesus tells us this in today's Gospel; it is also the motto of the Scouts. Jesus tells us to be prepared because "at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
When Peter wants to know if this parable of the thief coming and the need to be prepared is for everyone, Jesus replies by asking, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so."
We need to live each day as if it were our last day so we are ready when Jesus comes for us.
The pictures are of Iona. It was wonderful to visit the Abbey. Here is some background about it: Iona island is separated from the western tip of the Ross of Mull by a mile or so of sea: it is mostly flat and green, with hills rising to some 330 feet in the north, and - unusually for these parts - has beaches with fine silver sand. Its first religious settlement was founded in the 6th century by St.Columba, an Irish monk who went on to establish a series of similar communities throughout Scotland and northern England. This initially flourished and the famous Book of Kells was probably written here; many crosses and monuments remain from this period. After Viking raids in the late 8th century most of the community returned to Ireland. Some devoted monks and hermits remained, but in the early 13th century the present Benedictine abbey was established under the patronage of the powerful MacDonald clan, the Lords of the Isles. After the Lordship was forfeited in the 15th century, the abbey was caught up in the religious turmoil of the time and gradually declined; by Victorian times the buildings were ruined and the community had again been dispersed. Tourist travel to the islands reawakened interest: the buildings were restored in the early 20th century, and in 1938 the current Iona Community was founded (an offshoot of the Church of Scotland) who now hold the buildings in trust; the remainder of the island is owned by the Scottish NT. It has a permanent population of about 100.

As you can see from this background, I felt as if I were on a pilgrimage. We drove across Scotland to the west coast, took a ferry to the island of Mull, drove across it on a curvy narrow road just wide enough for one car but with two-way traffic. You sometimes find yourself head on with a bus or truck and one must back up to find a place to pull over and let the other pass. There is much stopping and backing and waving during this hour and a half spectacular drive. At one point we had to wait as the car was surrounded by cows! If you have never seen a highland cow, look one up as they have long hair that allows them to stay outside even in the worst weather.
After crossing this beautiful island and seeing mostly only sheep and cows grazing on the hillsides, we finally reached the smaller ferry that would take us to Iona without the car. Only a few residents are allowed to have a car. I wanted to get to the Abbey today as that is the main attraction of the island, but it will wait until tomorrow. I must add that my vocabulary has been enriched by my trip across Scotland and I now speak of not only lochs, burns, moors, but of wynds, straths, and still wonder exactly how to describe "harled" walls!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christ is our Peace

Paul tells us today in his letter to the Ephesians that Christ is our peace. "He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in our Spirit to the Father."
Then Paul tells us: "So you are no longer strangers and sojourners but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God..." Christ Jesus is the capstone. It is through Christ that we are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Notes from my trip to Scotland:
Sunday morning before leaving Edinburgh I had a visit with one of our former Mother Generals; she is one who still inspires me by her very presence and by her writings. We went to lunch with one of my International Online Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies students, Jenny, who then drove me to Perthshire. The pictures above are from Perthshire and you can find others. Jumping ahead, you could see the house hotel where I had lunch and then tea overlooking the river Tay as this is the website: : - but to go back to a more chronological account, Jenny took me to the Garden Cottage where I stayed with a wonderful RSCJ who directs the Spirituality Center there. She gave me a tour of the entire set up as there is a hermitage and then a retreat center and two of our sisters live in a house on the other side of the retreat center. The weather was perfect so we went out to pick apples to take to Iona the next day for the House of Prayer. That evening Jane had a dinner party for me and I had the joy of meeting Jane and her mother after feeling that I have known Jane for years as she not only took the Online Program with me but then helped me to teach it - all from Perth! Jane had sent a warm, wool sweater to Edinburgh to welcome me and she had planned with Jenny all the details of my stay in Rerthshire to make it both enjoyable and enriching. Meeting Jane in person was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Jenny and Jane are great friends and it was Jenny who drove me to Iona, but more about that fascinating trip tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feast of Mater

Today is the Feast of Mater, dear to all Sacred Heart children, old pupils, and many others who have confided in Our Lady under this title of Mother most Admirable. Here is one of my favorite prayers:
Under the pressure of over-activity which at times consumes us,
disturbs us, or scatters our energies in doing what is visible and accidental
let us come to our Mater.

She is the Mother of the Invisible and the Mother of the Essential.
Let us ask her to detach us, to free us from all that is not important,
to lead us on, and to fix our gaze upon the Invisible which her own eyes look upon.

May she give us the right understanding of the Essential and a hunger for it.
One thing alone is necessary: the will of God and the work of God's love.
May Mater give us this singleness of vision so that we, too, may see the Invisible and the Essential in all. Amen.

Reflections of Trip to Scotland and England continued:
I went to Scotland and to England to renew relationships. I was able to do that and also to make many new friends. I think my mother's side of the family accounts for my pull toward Scotland, the Scots, and all things Scottish! She was a McLaughlin and we were told we were Scotch-Irish as the Lightholders were from Ireland. I know that I certainly felt at home in Scotland and loved all the people I met. More on the beauty of Scotland tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"I am the Lord, there is no other..."

The coast of Iona in Scotland reminds me of the first reading for this Sunday from Isaiah 45: 1,4-6 - Thus says the Lord..."I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me."
I remember as a novice thinking that since God is all and everything else is nothing, I could just live that truth and not need anything else. God is all, but I keep forgetting that nothing else counts so the first reading reminds us that "I am the Lord, and there is no other, there is no God besides me."

Trip reflections continued: When I reached Scotland, I felt so at home and had the joy of meeting so many lovely people. The RSCJ who met me at the airport was one; she had made a sign with my name on it as we did not yet know each other. She had been in Peru and so had I so we began an instant friendship and talked for hours. She is a wonderful hospitality person for Edinburgh. She gave me a tour of the city and took me to RoseHill, our retirement house where I had two old friends. One is the Superior and was with me in Rome in 1960 when we made final profession together; we went over the list of our group that had been given the name "Courage Apostolique" or Apostolic Courage. The other friend had lived with me while we were studying and is now 92 years old and a saint with a great sense of humor. It was good to see her again and I wish I lived as single-hearted as she does for I think her life has always been lived for God alone. She was a missionary in Africa before I knew her. One last reflection on that day was how happy all the nuns looked. We were there for lunch and tea and had time to pray in their lovely Chapel. I am now quite addicted to tea and scones!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Feast of St. Luke

Today is the feast of St. Luke; tradition has Luke the author of both a Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He was a physician and companion to Paul. He was well-educated, had literary skill, and was a Gentile writing for Gentile Christians. Paul tells us in the first reading today, "Luke is the only one with me." He wants Timothy to send Mark to him to help in his ministry. Luke shows Jesus as a man of prayer and compassion. If you have not read his Gospel straight through for a long time, I suggest you do so. Acts reads almost like a novel but gives us insight into the beginnings of the Church.

The picture of Janet Erskine Stuart above leads me into a reflection on one of the last days of my trip (I will go back to chronological order after today unless the Spirit moves me to share differently.) I had been thinking about this quote from Reverend Mother Stuart: "Think glorious thoughts of God and serve God with a quiet mind." I feel that this was her gift to me during the days of my trip to Scotland and England. One of the graces of the trip was time to be alone with her in the Sacred Heart chapel where she is buried with Father Varin and Reverend Mother Digby. The rest of our convent at Roehampton was bombed, but this holy site was spared. I even had the joy of a Mass there; I remained afterwards to ponder some of Mother Stuart's poems published in a small book given to me by a dear friend in Scotland. Janet Erskine Stuart's Eternal Thoughts says:
"For Life is slowly broadening on-
The estuary to the sea,
The calm hour to the sinking sun,
Time setting to Eternity.

Those only, those eternal thoughts,
The few, unchangingly the same,
With mystic strength that cannot fail-
They feed the spirit's altar flame.

My marvelous trip allowed me space to reflect on
the thoughts that live, the hopes that fire,
Words that can bear the weight of life,
Troubles that can satisfy desire....

Beyond us ever lies the light,
And upward, upward let us seek
Eternal thought, eternal sight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back from Scotland and England, a great experience

Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch who was born around the time of the death of Jesus; he became a good bishop to the first Christians in Antioch, one of the centers of early Christianity. Ignatius wrote seven letters on his way to being a martyr in Rome; these are a rich source for us to learn about the early Church; the students in my International Online Program have just been reading these letters so I needed to say something about Ignatius today before sharing my wonderful trip with you.
I have so much to say about the graces of the past three weeks in both Scotland and England that I think it will take days to tell you about it. Those of my readers who only want the day's spiritual reflection need not read the second part of my daily blog that will contain some of my reflection on the trip.

I think I should begin with seven things that I am most grateful for during my weeks of travel - I wrote these in my journal this morning and want to share them with you.
I am most grateful: 1. For finding incredibly holy, happy, God-filled friends who opened their homes and hearts to me and to whom I will ever be grateful for they all revealed the love of God's Heart for me;
2. For the ability to be at home wherever I went and feel the grace of the Society of the Sacred Heart's internationality that welcomed and thrilled me;
3. For the beauty found in this world created by God for us to find Him in this vast and varied beauty of moors, lochs, burns, mountains and valleys, hills and fields;
4. For the sense of history that makes for sacred space and places; the pilgrimage to Iona was one of the highlights of the trip;
5. For deepening relationships and experiencing the importance of dialogue across cultures that was so life-giving;
6. For making new friends and being inspired by their love and kindness drawn from the Heart of Jesus;
7. For learning new ways, new things, new vocabulary, and feeling at home amid the newness and being broadened by it.
Lord, I give thee thanks for every moment of these past weeks and I am especially grateful for your presence with me.