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Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and the message of the Gospel is ""Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." We are called to live each day as if it were our last day on earth.
The alternate prayer sets the tone for the Advent season:
Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth.

The first reading from Isaiah 63 is worth reflecting on and ends with "Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter:we are the work of your hands. Let us all be alert as we begin these weeks of preparation for the coming of Jesus again! Let us spend the time with Mary and ask her to prepare our hearts to receive her Son! Above all, let us be alert, filled with desire, and remember that we are in the hands of our potter who is molding us!
I want to share this passage from Janet Erskine Stuart on Advent that is taken from our network schools website but quoted for the Virtual Community of Prayer for the Reflection this Sunday:
What kind of spirit is the spirit of preparation? It is alert, expectant, diligent,quiet, patient...Watchfulness for what is coming does not exempt us from present exertion, or allow us to become unsettled, but it impresses upon us all the more deeply the necessity to exert ourselves. Preparation is spoilt by impatience and want of resignation...Few things are so restless, unsatisfactory and useless as impatient waiting-especially following on hurried preparation, and one of the hardest and gravest lessons is to learn to wait with patience and resignation. If Advent adds any of these qualities to our spirit of preparation, it will have been well spent.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spiritual Wanderings

This is really the last day of the Liturgical Year; I want to take some time today to look back over the year and be accountable for my interior life.
Where have my spiritual wanderings taken me this past year? I remember my days of retreat last Advent and my desire to grow in union with God; my desire and my resolution to make time for prayer each afternoon (a resolution that has not been kept well and therefore I know it was a needed one). I was also going to find time for more spiritual reading. I am glad I have time for prolonged prayer each morning as after that I am caught up in things that are not always essential and do not find quiet time to just be. Centering Prayer on Mondays at the University has been one constant since I started a group there over twenty years ago. It is a great way to begin the week!
My spiritual wanderings have led me to reflect more on the value of relationships and to try to stay in touch with many now scattered all over the world. I have wandered deeper inside my own heart this past year and found much to uproot. Perhaps this Advent will be a time of pulling up interior weeds, casting out clutter, making a lovely garden for the Lord Jesus to come and rest there.
The path is well marked but needs to be cleared, raked smooth, and tended with vigilance as the stones and weeds of selfishness keep appearing in various forms to clog the path. Weeds can choke joy.
Advent is a time of hope and waiting; it is also a time of preparation. What is your hope?

Friday, November 28, 2008

God's Presence

What signs in your life point to God's presence within you? This is a question that makes me reflect that when my soul is at peace, I am more aware of God's presence but he is with me in the puzzled moments of my day, too. The Spirit within helps us to discern, but when I stop and am aware of God being present, then I am also aware of a sense of peace, joy, and gratitude.
In today's Gospel, Jesus says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." When I stop to listen, I hear Jesus speaking in my heart words such as, "Fear not; I am with you." Sometimes it is "Remain in my love" or "I have chosen you..." What words do you hear?

I have a few quotes that I want to share with you today from my Journal that is now filled: The first is from St. John Vianney, the Cure de Ars, "Prayer is nothing else than union with God. When our hearts are pure and united to God, we feel within ourselves a joy, a sweetness that inebriates, a light that dazzles us. It is a happiness that we cannot understand."

This is from John Maiin: "By stillness in the spirit we move in the ocean of God."
And finally, one that I am sure I have shared with you before from Don Marmion: "Joy is the echo of God's life in you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to give thanks. It has always been a special holiday. We have so much to be grateful for and it is nice to have a national holiday that reminds us that we are to give thanks for our many gifts.
It is good to make a litany of gratitude beginning with the gift of life; mine would start out:
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life;
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of family, of friends, of relatives near and far;
Thank you, Lord, for the world around me, for sun and moon, and evening star;
Thank you, Lord, for teachers and mentors, for all who taught and guided me;
Thank you, Lord, for health to serve You, for ears to hear and eyes to see;
Thank you, Lord, for for the gift of water; for the oceans, the lakes, the rivers;
Thank you, Lord, for food and shelter; a loving home and many homes since leaving all; Thank you, Lord, for letting me hear your call.

And so on... I will let each of you do your own litany fo gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More on "Practical Gratitude"

I picked up a book, "50 Ways to Pray" and scanned the contents and saw nothing that indicated a prayer of gratitude. However, as I began to look at some of the many ways to pray, I realized that all ended with a definite way to thank God.
I am going to begin a new Journal on the First Sunday of Advent. I hope it will be mostly a Journal of gratitude and joy. I plan to write what I am most grateful for each day and to be aware of where I have felt joy that day. I want to write about one of the moments of joy each day; I want to relive it with God to see how it was life-giving and thank God for that moment of joy.
One part of my Journal will be for favorite quotations that I find in my readings; one part for monthly reviews of my life that are always helpful in preparing for spiritual direction and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; I suspect I will need to have a place for Creative Thoughts, too. I would add a section for dreams, but seldom remember my dreams so will just have the four sections and I am excited about beginning a new Journal.
For those of my readers who do not keep a Journal, I suggest you begin one. I find my Journal helps me to reflect after prayer and be more attentive to God; when I stop writing, I think I also stop some inner reflection that puts me not only in touch with God but with the ways God comes to me in people, events, and circumstances.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Practical Gratitude

Today is the birthday of my brother, John, and my grand-niece, Theresa. John, the baby of our family, was born on Thanksgiving and will be sixty-five today! We had eaten our Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother's when my mother told us that she thought she should go to the hospital instead of going home. Two of my aunts took her while my Dad took us home; my grandmother came to take care of us as my brother George was not yet two years old. Birthdays make me feel grateful for the gift of life. I am still pondering this quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "We must respond to so many benefits by a practical gratitude."
What did she mean by a practical gratitude? I think it means putting our gratitude into practice by thanking, showing in concrete ways that one is truly grateful. We receive so many gifts daily from God and need to live an attitude of gratefulness, thanking for these many gifts and expressing our gratitude by returning his love and loving others as what we do to the least we do to him.
Happy Birthday John! Happy Birthday Theresa! Happy Birthday Joe!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Encouragement always needed

Mountain climbers encourage one another. I think the martyrs also drew strength from one another. Today we celebrate St. Andrew Dung-Lac, St.Peter Thi, and the Vietnamese martyrs. The students in my International On-line Certificate Program in Spirituality Studies have been impressed by the martyrs in the early church. In Vietnam, between the 17th and 19th centuries, there were over 130,000 Christians martyred. Among them were the two priests we celebrate today; they were beheaded on December 21, 1839.

When visiting in England last month I looked at a book "Patterns of Prayer" by Eugene McCaffrey,O.C.D.(Paulist Press, 2003). I found that this book says exactly what I believe and teach about prayer. Here are a few notes I took - they also may be mixed with my own thoughts! His first chapter, "Getting Started" has this bit of wisdom: The only way to begin to pray is to begin."
Encouragement is what we all need most in prayer.
Prayer is simple, but not easy! Simple because God loves each one of us personally and uniquely and prayer is basically6 a response to that love. We complicate it.
Real prayer is as real as the life we live and one cannot be separated from the other. The one condition essential to prayer is the desire to want to pray.

I will end today with a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie that I am mulling over:
"Be simple. Only at this price will you acquire peace, and if to this peace you join silence, you will soon be holy."
So let us encourage one another in prayer and let us be simple and silent as we go about our daily tasks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King was moved to the Sunday before Advent as it is fitting to close the Liturgical year contemplating the Kingship of Christ.
We have been looking at the end time and today's Gospel reminds us that when Christ will come in glory we shall also be judged. Our judgment is not on what we have accomplished but on love - how we have kept the corporal works of mercy. Jesus tells us that what we have done for the least of these - the lonely, the sick, the prisoner, the needy one, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, - we have done for him. Will I be the sheep that he invites into his Kingdom or the goat who is thrown out?
Sometimes an opportunity to help someone passes and we have not done what was needed; it makes us feel sad. Instead, we must be on the lookout for where we can help anyone in need. It is often the person next to us so we do not have far to go to find the needy.
I love the first reading from Ezechiel: Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feast of St. Cecila

Today is the feast of St. Cecilia, a Roman martyr from the second or third century. She is patron of musicians. Her name is mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer as the early Church had a special veneration for her. I read in "Living with Christ" that her association with music stems from the story that at her wedding feast "she sang to God in her heart." I hope we all are singing to God in our hearts as we prepare for Thanksgiving. I sometimes try to sing out loud what my heart wants to say to God, but only when alone in my car!
I must add that what gave me devotion to her was a special treat for the choir on her feast day when I was at boarding school.!

I want to share with you this prayer of St. Philippine Duchesne:
Lord, you alone are the center in which I find rest.
Give me your arm to support me,
Your shoulder to carry me,
Your heart to lean upon,
Your cross to uphold me,
Your body to nourish me.
In you, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace.

I probably will shorten it today to "Lord, give me your heart to lean upon."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feast of the Presentation of Mary

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple as a child and it is also the birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart as we celebrate November 21, 1800 as the birth of our congregation. It has been a wonderful 208 years for us and Mary has played an important part in all of our lives and the lives of our students. We are consecrated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I guess each of us honor her in very different ways; I have found that she has been so present in my life at difficult moments. She always seems to have one message and it is what she told the servants at the Wedding feast after pointing out the lack of wine to her son, Jesus. She said only "Do whatsoever he tells you." That has helped me to hear her say that to me so often and she gives the strength we need so we also can say, "Let it be done to me according to your word" - a simple phrase that changed the world!
Mary, Queen of Peace, be with us in our troubled world!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Strong souls: Philippine Duchesne and Dorothy Day

I felt the need to quote again from The Duty of Delight as I am still reading Dorothy Day's Diaries. This is found on p. 298 for June 7, 1960:
"The other day when writing my article and appeal I threw away my article telling of all our troubles and thought 'this is not what our readers want--to be tortured with tales of broken families, men beating their wives and children, etc.'
I will write happily of June and its beauties. Of course, if you do this you get a double share of complaints from all around you who try to make you see how bad everything is. Still you cannot help but help others by our own repose and joy if you try to maintain it."

So let us remain calm and joyful no matter what the news tells us; we can be moved to compassion and love, but in a deep peace and joy as we know we are loved by God and God loves us and our world and God can do anything! Let us trust and show forth his love and joy in our lives today!
One last bit about St. Philippine Duchesne - Carrollton, the Sacred Heart school in Miami, had a lovely Liturgy in her honor on the Feast and sang one of my favorite hymns to Philippine that I even taught the children in Chile. The words are worth reflecting on so I am copying them here:
Strong was her heart that heard God's voice
When far it called across the sea,
And swiftly came the answer of her love
That gave its all triumphantly.
For thou were ready, Philippine, to let God's zeal take fire in thee!

Hard was the road beneath her fee,
And long it stretched through shadowed years,
But stronger was the love that led her on
And brave the faith that conquered fears;
For God was with thee, Philippine, and drew His harvest from thy tears.

Both St. Philippine and Dorothy Day were strong women who lived for others; women who embraced poverty and who sought to live humble lives full of love for God and others.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

St. Philippine's tomb

The first picture is of the little shrine where Philippine was entombed after her canonization. She had been buried before in the cemetery on the grounds. When I was at school, some of us went out every night to pray to Philippine at the shrine and then blow out the green and amber vigil lights that outlined her tomb stone. She was like a mother for us and we confided all our hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows to her. Later, in view of the many pilgrimages that come to St. Charles to pray to Philippine, the new shrine was built. It is a real place of prayer and welcomes many who leave their written petitions there.
I wanted to share this quote about her from Father Gavin Duffy, SJ:
What have we learned from her?
The value of steadfast purpose,
the success of failure and the
unimportance of our standards of success;
the power of grace released by deep, divine desires
and simple duty daily done.

May we always learn this from our St. Philippine Duchesne.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Feast of St. Philippine Duchesne

Today we celebrate a great Religious of the Sacred Heart who came to America in 1818 from France when she was 49 years old. She wanted to serve the Indians but spent years opening boarding schools and free schools and struggling to make ends meet before Father De Smet (who she had first helped when he was only a Jesuit novice) took her to make the foundation at Sugar Creek; she was 72 and the Potawatomi Indians named her the "woman who prays always"(Quah-kah-ka-numa).
Philippine passed entire nights in prayer. She also always reserved the hardest tasks and the most worn things for herself. She always thought she was a failure, but from the founding of the convents of the Society of the Sacred Heart in America many missionaries would go forth to other countries.
Born August 29,1769; died on November 18,1952; she was venerated in 1900; beatified in 1940; canonized in 1988. She said
“We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self.... The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves.... He who has Jesus has everything.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Eve of St. Philippine Duchesne's Feast

Sometimes a calm, beautiful scene helps us to slow down and relax. As my readers must know by now, I am fond of looking at water - waterfalls, ocean, lakes, and streams - all appeal to me. This is a day to relax and enjoy.
It is also the day to use this:
As the internet becomes more prevalent in our lives, help me adapt to the changes it brings. Standing in awe of pictures and maps received on my screen from around the world let me not forget to actually go outside. Guide me to discern which e-mail is important, which to delete, and which furthers peace and harmony on the planet. Oh Angel of Patience, Help me clean up my typos and slow my fingers as I fire off a potentially hurtful message. When I stare at a full inbox, remind me what Rabbi Tarfon said in tractate Avot of the Talmud: "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task but neither are you free to desist from it." Grant me the wisdom to know a computer cannot replace a real hug and of course, bless all those who read this.

I need to say a word about Philippine Duchesne on the eve of her feast. Until she was canonized, we celebrated her feast on November 17, the eve of her death. It has always been a special day for me since I went to school at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri where Philippine started the very first convent of the Sacred Heart in 1818. It was a boarding school and a free school and the grounds are still marked by her pioneer spirit. More about her tomorrow. She is one of my favorite saints! I think her gifts to me are love of my vocation and fortitude!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Using our gifts for the Kingdom of God

Again, Jesus tells us a parable. A man left after entrusting his three servants with talents "according to their ability". Two of the servants doubled the amount given to them. To each of them the Master said, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy."
God wants us to use the talents he gives us. We are all called to be faithful in small matters. How am I using the gifts God has given me to further God's Kingdom?
And, how often do I remember to thank for those same talents?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

St. Albert the Great

St. Albert was born in Germany around 1200. He studied at the University of Padua and joined the Dominican Order in 1229. He taught theology at the University of Paris and Thomas Aquinas was his student there. Then Albert went to Cologne to teach Dominicans. The Pope appointed him a bishop in 1260 but he resigned after four years and returned to teaching which was his great love. Because of his outstanding intellectual gifts, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 and is the patron saint of scientists.

In today's Gospel Jesus tells us a parable about the necessity for us to "pray always without becoming weary". The parable is that of the unjust judge who was unwilling to help the widow but finally gives her a just decision just to stop her from bothering him. Jesus tells us: "Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
I must remember that we are the chosen ones and that God expects us to call out to him day and night for justice in this world. I cannot be indifferent. Lord, help me to fight the injustice I see by prayer that does not grow weary. I know that God hears our prayers; God is a great listener and always there for us!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Faith gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love

Today, I want to share again from "The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day" and that is the reason for her picture above. However, I also am going to share my reflection on the alternate opening prayer for today's liturgy:Father in heaven, God of power and Lord of mercy, from whose fullness we have all received, direct our steps in our everyday efforts. May the changing moods of the human heart and the limits which our failings impose on hope never blind us to you, source of every good. Faith gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love. Remove the selfishness that blurs the vision of faith. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yesterday, physically by laser, a veil was removed from my right eye: may I have the grace to remove the "selfishness that blurs the vision of faith."
It is "faith that gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love."
Dorothy Day gives us the example of both faith and love. She believed that only love can change our world and give us lasting peace. The following quote if from her time in jail. She has been talking about how she had felt the first time she was in jail and how she identified so completely with the others that she felt their despair. Then she wrote:"The memory of that black hopelessness was still so present to me that this year I made the stations as Abbot Marmion advised us to do to increase my fortitude, and to my petitions I added that Christian joy would also strengthen me. If you want to help others, you cannot convey to others what you do not possess and who can help wanting to bring a little light into so dark a place as a city prison. I would be guilty of a lack of gratitude if I did not show in my whole behavior the peace and happiness and joy which is in the foretaste of the well-being of heaven."
Christian joy does strengthen us and we should be grateful and joyful even in the midst of a world that is full of suffering so that we may give joy to others! I firmly believe this and am trying to live it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

St. Frances Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was born in Italy, the youngest of thirteen children. When she was twenty-four she began teaching in an orphanage and soon founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. In 1889 she came with six of her sisters to the United States at the request of Pope Leo XIII to work with Italian immigrants. In 1946 she became the first American citizen to be canonized!

"For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you," is what Jesus replied to the Pharisees when they asked when the Kingdom would come. He told us that it is here, in our midst. God is with us. Where God is, there is his Kingdom. God likes to surprise me. He wants to be discovered! He longs to reveal his love to us in so many different ways. May we have eyes to see!
We need to ask for the grace to find God in all. Today, I am having surgery on my right eye and ask for your prayers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Giving thanks

Today is the feast of St. Josaphat, one saint that I knew nothing about except that he entered the Order of St. Basil and was ordained a priest in the Byzantine rite in 1609. It seems that he was named Archbishop of Polotsk, Russia, in 1617 and worked for the union of the Ukrainian Church with Rome. He was slain by opponents in 1623 and became the first Eastern saint to be formally canonized in 1867.

The Gospel message is really about giving thanks. Jesus cures 10 lepers. Only one comes back to thank Jesus. He was a Samaritan. Jesus asks, "Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
How often I am one of the others who do not return giving thanks to God. Everyday I receive countless gifts from God. How do I express my gratitude? The one leper "returned glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him."
May Jesus find me there at his feet each day thanking Him for his many gifts to me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

St. Martin of Tours (316-397)

Martin was born in what was then Pannonia, now Hungary. He was a Roman soldier but was baptized a Christian at 18 and realized that he would need to leave military service as it was not compatible with a Christian life. He left the army and settled in Gaul(France)and founded a monastery there. The people of Tours proclaimed him their bishop in 371. He worked to spread the faith and he is the one who divided a diocese into parishes, which is still the way the Church organizes dioceses. The convent of the Sacred Heart and school called Marmoutier has some caves and ruins on the grounds where St. Martin is said to have retired to pray. I think it was the monastery he founded but forget the details. I was awed by the fact that I felt in touch with someone from the 4th century!
I also was able to sleep in the tower room that had been occupied by Saint Madeleine Sophie, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart. I think the abbey that is now the school must have been built later but on the original site.
The legend has it that Martin met a beggar who was cold and so he used is sword to give him half of his cloak; the beggar was Jesus and he came to him later and that was whqat changed Martin for life. I do not remember details but liked the story.

Monday, November 10, 2008

St. Leo the Great

Leo was born in Tuscany and became Pope in 440. He kept Attila the Hun from sacking Rome, but three years later his peacemaking only kept the city from being burned. Leo is called Leo the Great for more than that - he influenced the Council of Chalcedon in 451 by his writings on the Incarnation. He also reminded us that "the reception of Christ's Body and Blood transform us into that which we consume." He was made a Doctor of the Church in 1754. Leo also said, "Unless Jesus were truly God, he could bring us no help; and if he were not truly human, he could offer us no example."

In Luke's Gospel today Jesus tells us to forgive even if someone wrongs us seven time in one day! If that one, he says, "Returns to you seven times saying 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him."
When the Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith, he replies: "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea' and it would obey you."
My prayer today is "Lord, increase our faith; teach us to forgive, to love one another as You have loved us."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Feasr of the Dedicationof the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Again this Sunday we have a Feast reflected in the Liturgy which is centered on the fact that we are living stones of the eternal temple.
I have always loved Ezekiel 47 with the image of the water flowing from the temple and :wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes from the shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary."
The responsorial psalm has "The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High." The second reading from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians tells us "You are God's building....Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Finally, we come to the Gospel which shows us Jesus' zeal for his Father's house; it was not to be a marketplace, but a place of prayer. Here we see another side of Jesus. In his cleansing of the temple, we see how much he cares about his Father's house. When he cleanses us, the living stones, we know how much he cares for each of us. He told us that we need to be pruned in order to bear more fruit.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mary, Mother and Model

I love the downcast eyes of the young Mary depicted above. It is the face of the original fresco on the wall at the Trinita in Rome. I did not plan to use this today, but it is Saturday and the suggested Mass is that of Our Lady. She plays such an important role in the life of all Catholics that I just want to honor her today in my blog. She is one who is always watching over us and pointing out what we need to her son, Jesus, as she did at the Wedding Feast when she told Jesus that "they have no wine." She also tells us, as she told the servants at the Feast, "Do whatsoever he tells you."

I have more to share from Dorothy Day's Diaries found in The Duty of Delight.
Dorothy wrote in 1957, "I must do much more in the way of voluntary poverty and manual labor for health of body and soul. Also not waste my time with idle reading. We have so much, we are so rich in interests, books, music, friends, ideas. God gives us such lights that it is a temptation to rest in them. 'One thing is necessary.'"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord...

The entrance antiphon for today's liturgy tells us: "Let hearts rejoice who search for the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek always the face of the Lord."

I am again reading The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day as I had only read from 1933 to 1955 before I went away last summer and I have been wanting to get back to this rather large book that is full of wisdom. Dorothy, in today's entry, quoted from Von Hugal's Letters to His Niece:
Live all you can, as complete and full a life as you can find--do as much as you can for others. Read, work, enjoy--love and help as many souls, do all this. Yes, but remember, be alone, be remote, be away from the world, be desolate, Then you will be near God."

Now that makes me think and maybe want to argue. However, here is Dorothy a few entries later saying: "This last week an infected heel, poison ivy in one eye, flu, arthritis in the feet. Miserable and more so because I could not help Tamar who has her hands full with Dave and his broken arm and the children. Slept in the children's play room and read Conrad's Chance. I do like him."

Dorothy was so human but she would have approved of us going rejoicing to the House of the Lord!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Joy when the lost sheep is found

Both readings are special for me today. In Philippians we read that Paul considers "everything a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."
Jesus tells us a parable in today's Gospel. It is about a man who has a hundred sheep but loses one of them. He then leaves the others and goes to look for the lost sheep. When he finds it, "He sets it on his shoulders with great joy and upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents..."
How many times are we wandering around lost and Jesus comes to look for us; when he finds us, he carries us home with love and tenderness. This has been my experience and I am sure it has been yours, too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Do everything without grumbling...

Paul tells the Philippians today in the first reading: "Do everything without grumbling or questioning...
As I reflected on this, I was struck by the fact that I often find myself grumbling; I hope it is just a passing interior grumble, but fear that it often has been exterior, too. Grumbling is not good! Neither interior or exterior grumbling is acceptable. How can we live in joy and gratitude and grumble? So away with all grumbling! Yesterday's Psalm had the line, "May your hearts be ever merry!" Merry people do not grumble!
In the Gospel today Jesus tells us "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." It is a very strong Gospel and Jesus says at the end that "every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." Lord, help me to renounce all my grumbling and whatever I am clinging to still so that I may follow You in joy and gratitude!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

St. Charles Borromeo

Charles was the second son of a rich family and destined for the Church. When only 22 years old and not yet ordained, his uncle became Pope Pius IV and made Charles the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan and Papal Secretary of State. This happened in the 16th century and shows how much the Church needed reformation! However, Charles lived an ascetic life and managed to reform his diocese and then helped reform the Church after the Council of Trent. He said: "Be sure you first preach by the way you live."
He also said that in prayer "we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others."

Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians, tells us that we must have the same attitude that Christ had;then comes the beautiful hymn that tells us that Christ Jesus
"who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."
Then comes the part of how God exalted Jesus, but let us stop here and reflect on the whole mystery of our Redemption. Jesus, both divine and human, true God and true man, becomes obedient to death, even death on a cross! What a revelation of God's love for us!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Feast of St. Martin de Porres

Martin was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish knight and his mother an Indian from Panama, which made Martin and his sister half-castes and unacceptable in the Society in which they lived. Martin entered the Dominicans at fifteen and was soon noted for his care of the sick and the poor. He spent his nights in prayer and died in 1639.

Paul tells us in today's reading from Philippians: "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.
We are called to do this; the saints, like Martin, lived this.
Jesus tells us today in Luke's Gospel to "invite the poor, crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed with you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

In the United States we are voting early to avoid the long lines on Tuesday. By Wednesday we will know, I hope, who our next president will be. I hope and pray that we are big enough to look beyond racial differences. I also hope that the popular vote and the electoral votes are in agreement (we have a complicated process and I have been learning more about the electoral votes this year than ever before - I thought all the electoral votes of the state went to the party that won the popular vote but now know that two of the states decide the electoral votes by districts!); I hope that the election is a clear win this year without any doubt, but it seems very close according to some of the polls. The whole world is watching so may we have a clear and orderly election!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Souls

This is the day we pray for all those who have died. The Mass of the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed takes precedence over the Sunday Liturgy; this should not surprise us as November 2 was one of the two days that priests were allowed to say three Masses, the other being Christmas Day. This was, of course, before the reform of the Liturgy. The readings for today are very consoling:
We read in the Book of Wisdom (3:1-9) that "the souls of the just are in the hands of God." Psalm 23 tells us that The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." Paul's letter to the Romans (5:5-11) tells us that the "love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit...God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." In John's Gospel (6:37-40) we read: "For this is the will of our Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life and I shall raise him on the last day."
All of us face death; it is good to know that others continue to pray for us after death!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Feast of All Saints

This feast of All Saints began in the Eastern Church for all the martyrs but by the 9th century the entire Roman Church was celebrating all the saints on November 1 to replace the pagan feast.
The Communion of Saints is one of the most consoling doctrines of our faith. It is really "a communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven all together forming one Church." This quote is from Paul VI and is cited in Peter Vaghi's The Faith We Profess: A Catholic Guide to the Apostle's Creed (Ave Maria Press, 2008). I love thinking about all the saints in my own family who are still praying for me in some way. Then there are all the canonized saints the Church gives us to help us on our journey to God.
The Preface for today's feast sums it up well: Today we keep the festival of your holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem, our mother. Around your throne the saints, our brothers and sisters, sing your praise for ever. Their glory fills us with joy, and their communion with us in your Church gives us inspiration and strength as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith, eager to meet them."
Lord, may the glory of the saints fill us with joy and inspire and strengthen us!

The first reading from the book of Revelation gives us the "vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb wearing white robes...They cried out in a loud voice, "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb."
The Gospel gives us the the Beatitudes, the heart of the teaching of Jesus and the way to live in order to be with the saints in heaven.