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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus led his three friends up the mountain to pray. Jesus felt the need for both prayer and for the company of these three. I do not think Jesus knew what was going to happen when he prayed. He is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear in glory. Perhaps what is most important is the voice of the Father heard from the cloud: "This is my chosen one; listen to him." That is what we must do. It is the message that was given at the Baptism of Jesus. Mary repeats it in a slightly different way when she tells the waiters at the Wedding feast, "Do whatsoever he tells you." We are to listen and to obey. We need to hear what Jesus is saying to us and then act. It means that we need to find time to be silent in order to listen. Lent is a good time to turn off the television, go off to a quiet spot, sit in silence and really listen to the Lord. That is what Centering Prayer does for us; it requires us to be still and silent and let go of all our thoughts. It makes space for Jesus.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trust God and find joy and peace...

Here is a quote that I like; you will no doubt recognize that it comes from the 18th century author, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J."
"When we have reached the lowest depths of our nothingness, we can have no kind of trust in ourselves, nor in any way rely upon our works...Such complete distrust and utter scorn of the self is the one source from which originate those delightful consolations of souls wholly surrendered to God--their unalterable peace, their blessed joy, and their unshakable trust in none but God. Ah, would that you knew the gift of God, the reward and the merit and the power and the peace, the blessed assurances of salvation that are hidden n this abandonment; then would you soon be rid of all your fears and anxieties!"
I told my reflection group that as a novice I was convinced of my "nothingness" by the Mistress of Novices; when I told my Superior Vicar that when she came to visit, she replied, "Oh, but dear, you will soon be a consecrated nothing and that makes all the difference." It did and does! It gives real joy to be His consecrated nothing! He is always the Good Shepherd and takes care of his sheep.

Friday, February 26, 2010

With joy I bear witness to the fidelity of God's love

Sometimes I pray over the Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart; it is important for me to do this regularly as I am called to try to live all that they say. This Jubilee year has made one paragraph especially meaningful to me and I have asked all those who made their final profession with me in Rome fifty years ago to pray over the same #116 that reads in English as:
"When old age makes it impossible for us to continue in a full-time apostolate, we look for new ways of manifesting the love of Jesus. We are called not only to accept the love and service of others, but to give to others the love that we have drawn throughout life from the Heart of Christ. This may be the most contemplative period of our life, keeping its prophetic and apostolic power through the truth and depth of our relationships and the joy with which we bear witness to the fidelity of God's love."
Some days I stay with the idea of looking for "new ways of manifesting the love of Jesus" but today I am struck by the two ways we keep the prophetic and apostolic power of our vocation: "through the truth and depth of our relationships and the joy with which we bear witness to the fidelity of God's love." I have felt the call more profoundly to attend to the quality of my relationships and to bear witness with great joy to the fidelity of God's love. I think this is touching on the vocation within a vocation that most of us discover at some point in our lives. Mine has been to pipe a song of joy to Jesus and I continue to find new ways of doing this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Preparing for the Second Sunday of Lent

Remember when I used to use Thursday to help prepare for Sunday's Liturgy? It is so important to prepare ahead that I am going back to try to focus on Thursday at least on part of the Sunday Liturgy. The Gospel is Luke's account of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28b-36). "Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray." First of all, Jesus chose just these three to be with him; he will choose the same three to pray with him in the garden. Both times these friends are not very helpful as they are overcome with sleep. However, in today's Gospel we are told that "becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him." Before this we are told that while Jesus was praying, "his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah also were there in glory and spoke of "his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem." This is a very special moment in the life of Jesus; if he became aware of his mission at the moment of his baptism, now it is confirmed. He will suffer and enter into glory. Again, the cloud and from the cloud a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." We are to be there and listen to Jesus. He speaks to us in so many ways. Do we even hear his invitation inviting us to go up the mountain with him to pray?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Positive Thinking

This week's America" reviews a book that finds positive thinking dangerous. The book is "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America" by Barbara Ehrenreich. I do not think I will be reading this book, but the review did interest me. I suspect that I have been influenced by this, but I am one who values positive thinking and find that my identity may be connected with it. I am an optimist; I want to bring joy to others. I am a cheerful, happy, peaceful person and want others to be cheerful, happy, and peaceful, too. I do not like to think negative thoughts. It is true, I want people to be real and suffering is a very real part of our daily life in this world. I do not want to deny the dark side, but I still want to look on the bright side.
Today is my sister's birthday. May it be a happy one for her. Is that an example of positive thinking?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Burnt Biscuits

Someone sent me this yesterday and I thought it worth passing on and can even make an impact on our life this Lent.

When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every
now and then.

And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast
after a long, hard day at work.

On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage
and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad.

I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was
reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at

I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember
watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom
apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits.

And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if
he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and
said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real
tired... And besides - a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!"

You know, life is full of imperfect things.....and imperfect people.
I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and
anniversaries just like everyone else.

What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each
others faults - and choosing to celebrate each others differences - is
one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and
lasting relationship..

And that's my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the
good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the
feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to
give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is
the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep
it in your own."

God Bless You........ Now, and Always!!!

So Please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burnt one will do just fine..!.!.!.!

And PLEASE pass this along to someone who has enriched your life....
like I just did!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lent and Deepening Identity

Yesterday I read the Sunday reflection given in Creighton University's Online Ministry. It left me thinking about Jesus in the desert. Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the desert? I think it was to have time to ponder what the experience at his baptism meant. He had to reflect long and hard on those words, "This is my beloved Son." He had to accept that this was who He was and that he was being called to fulfill a mission that he was just beginning to get a glimpse of what might be in store for him. He was able to resist the temptations of the devil precisely because of his time alone in the desert contemplating God's word to him.
Now, here is my thought to reflect on today - we, too, are called during these 40 days of Lent to reflect on our identity. Who am I? What has God said to me? What is God saying to me now? Am I aware of all the stories that make up my history with God? Am I conscious of what the gift of Baptism is? What it really means to be a child of God? Let us use these forty days to pray, reflect, and become what we are called to be. Listen, God is speaking to us during this special time!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Sunday we contemplate the three temptations of Jesus and his rejection of each. He was hungry after his fast and the devil comes to tempt him. He replies, "Not by bread alone... and then come the other two temptations that are a more subtle use of power: "Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time."
Even though Jesus rejected each of the temptations, the devil only left to wait "until an opportune time." We must constantly be aware that the devil will attack where he sees we are weak. Let us pray with all our heart the phrase we say each time we recite the Our Father: "And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." This first Sunday of Lent makes us aware that even Jesus was tempted and we must be on our guard.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert

Jesus had forty days of solitude in the desert; Jesus needed that time to pray and ask guidance. He had the tremendous experience of his baptism, but did not really know much about his mission as he was fully human and like us in all things except sin. He spent those forty days alone. I suspect it was not all consolation. In fact, I think he fasted because he needed to draw strength from God. And then the devil comes and tempts him. The fact that we have details of his temptations means that Jesus himself thought this important to share with his apostles. We are all tempted and the devil always seems to find the weakest spot to breach our defenses. Lent is a time to pray for the strength to resist temptation. Our Lenten resolutions can only be kept with the help of the Lord, but it is important to keep confiding in Jesus to help us and know that the Spirit is also leading us and, hopefully, we are also developing, if not will power, a sense of discernment so that we recognize temptation when it comes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kindle the fire of love

I am letting the Holy Spirit write this blog as I sit at the computer. I am sure the Spirit will inspire something that helps others during these forty days of Lent. I want to kindle the fire of divine love in my own heart and in the hearts of others. How do I do this? By loving - but with the love drawn from the Heart of Jesus. As a Religious of the Sacred Heart I feel called to go to His Heart and there find all I need, even if it is what He asks of me. I believe this; why do I neglect to do this and forget that alone I can do nothing? I had the grace yesterday of the Sacrament of Reconciliation; it is a great way to begin Lent and left me feeling so grateful!
I am hoping to begin one of my resolutions and clear out my closet today!! Therefore, I will go begin and let you know tomorrow how much the Lord and I have done to remove clutter from my life in different ways (cleaning the closet is just a beginning and quite symbolic, at least to me, of clearing our interior clutter).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home again and hopeful for these Forty Days!

I left Naples this morning and arrived at the University in plenty of time for the noon Mass. I went to Mass in Naples yesterday and was impressed with the people who were standing around the church as is was so crowded and they had five Masses. I chose the ten o'clock thinking it would be less crowded. It is a church that seems to have many winter visitors.
I have been reflecting today on what the Lord wants from me this Lent. I think it is what I want and need as He gives me the desires and lets me feel the need. I made a list and decided that two items are the most urgent and important; a third is one that will help me feel good as I have been promising myself to clear out and get rid of things for ages; the fourth will help me keep the first two. Now I am praying that the Lord will help as I feel the desire to do these four things this Lent is from Him and He knows that I cannot do anything alone!
I did not plan to share any of the above. What I was going to reflect on is that Lent is a time to return to the Lord. He asks each of us to "Return to me with all your heart." That is what Lent is about and now is the time. If I look into my heart, is it on fire with the love of God? Are the flames burning brightly or do I find ashes that need to be enkindled this Lent?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

There is a poem by T.S. Eliot called "Ash Wednesday." It is too long to copy here so try this instead:
My Heart is Ready

My heart is ready, Yes! My heart is ready!

like a desert I am parched. My soul of sand

soaks up the rain at once is dry again, and

the inner fount of life is rank and deadly.

In such abysmal straits, remind the self

that we are loved, for all our self-despair;

that Jesus Christ has sought us out, that care

will open up the inner streams of health.

God’s love is real and God’s affection never spent.

So, be watered, tended; be refreshed, this Lent.

[Year B - Ash Wednesday]

Archdeacon Harold Macdonald

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday full of Thanksgiving

Today is a day to thank for I am filled with gratitude - gratitude for the gifts received yesterday, both spiritual and material ones. In fact, I listed a whole page in my journal this morning of people who made yesterday very special for me. Now I am off to see if I can find some Valentines to write and thank at least some of those in my University Community before I leave for Naples tomorrow for a whole week with my friend. We have been friends since we could talk, I guess, as our parents were friends even before getting married. We have stayed close as we are able to share and laugh together. She has four beautiful grown children, but no one could be with her this week and so I will have that joy.
I will not be writing this week, but will try to plan reflections for Lent; I return early on Ash Wednesday as I have a meeting that morning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Golden Anniversary of my Profession Day in Rome

Today is the day and I woke up so full of gratitude and joy. I look back on the morning of February 8, 1960, and see myself leading the Americans up to the Communion rail as I was the first of our international group of 46 to pronounce my final vows. We had three days of Profession Ceremonies in three languages. There was a Cardinal celebrating the Mass, but I do not remember his name at all. I had known since Christmas Eve that I would be going to Chile as a missionary straight from Rome without returning to the United States. This was still a secret and I do remember praying and asking the Lord to make me his own and let me give his love to others. It was a happy day and the beginning of my life as a professed religious.

Today, with joy and gratitude, I will be renewing the vows I made fifty years ago and this will be at the noon Mass at the University where I have been for the last twenty-four years of my life. I will renew my vows that end with "and I commit myself anew to our mission of manifesting the love of Christ by the service of education." I have been an educator for close to sixty years now and hope and pray that I have manifested the love of Christ to all my students. I have taught every grade at every level from kindergarten through post-masters and have loved teaching. However, I am also looking forward to retirement this May. All my readers are in my prayer today!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Put out into deep water..."

The Gospel(Luke 5:11) tells us that Jesus got into Simon's (Peter's) boat and asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Now, they had worked hard all night and had caught nothing, but Simon is willing to do as Jesus says. When he does, the number of fish in the nets is so great that the nets were tearing and they had to signal to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats. And then Luke tells us, "When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'"

That phrase for years made me wonder for I thought I would have called out, "Do not leave me, Lord, for I am a sinner and need you!" Then, I had an experience in making a thirty-day retreat in Manresa, Spain, at the cave where Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises. I was so aware of my own sinfulness that I understood Peter's cry. The Lord told Peter, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." Luke tells us that when they had brought their boats to the shore, "they left everything and followed him."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Leaving All

Sometimes you know when you need to leave all and answer a call for help. I am going this coming Wednesday to be with a friend who needs my help at this moment. It was easy to say "yes" and block out a week to be with her. It is only after making the decision, which I know was the right one, that I am also aware of how many things I have been putting off that need to be done here. However, I think that the Lord arranges these things and so I shall not worry. I suspect that I will get more done knowing that I am leaving this Wednesday as I do seem to work better under pressure. I am just delighted that I can be of help and I have been praying over my renewal of vows for Monday when I will say: "I renew with all my heart the vows which I have made (fifty years ago) to follow Jesus Christ in the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by perpetual obedience, poverty and chastity, and I commit myself anew to our mission of manifesting the love of Jesus by the service of education." Going to be with my friend is one way I can "manifest the love of Jesus" and I guess I glorify His Heart each time I choose what pleases Jesus. I am aware of the "light" I had years ago when praying over John's Gospel where Jesus says that He is not alone; the Father is always with Him because he chooses what pleases the Father. I have thought that I need to always choose what pleases Jesus and then He is with me and takes care of the rest. Anyway, Religious life is a constant call to leave all and follow Jesus and it is a joyful life because Jesus is with us. I shall try to write my blog ahead as I shall be away a week beginning next Wednesday without easy access to a computer.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Words mean different things to us at different times. This is evident when we talk of words that have taken on a new meaning in our present culture, but it is also true that a word may deepen and mean more as we mature or even when we reflect on it. I am thinking of the word "glorify" - the verb has different meanings for different people. I am called as a Religious of the Sacred Heart to glorify the Heart of Jesus; Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus for "the greater glory of God" - I think it means to give all the honor and recognition due to God. I think it also means recognizing that we belong to God and God created us. It is hard to put into words what I am feeling about "glorifying" - every time I try to express what I feel in words, it is not really what I want to say. We sing, "Give glory to God" and we mean this, but try to describe in words the meaning of "glory" and I feel inadequate! Words are concepts that convey meaning. Just my pondering this today makes me think that often we do not fully grasp the meaning! Maybe I have had clarity about a word before and now feel that I cannot remember how I used to understand the term to my own satisfaction...sorry but this is what today's reflection is about: a struggle to clarify for myself a rich concept that goes beyond words.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Consecrated peerson is a "bridge" to God for all...

Pope Benedict XVI said this in a homily for the World Day of Consecrated Life:
"If Christ was not truly God, and was not, at the same time, fully man, the foundation of Christian life as such would come to naught, and in an altogether particular way, the foundation of every Christian consecration of man and woman would come to naught. Consecrated life, in fact, witnesses and expresses in a "powerful" way the reciprocal seeking of God and man, the love that attracts them to one another. The consecrated person, by the very fact of his or her being, represents something like a "bridge" to God for all those he or she meets -- a call, a return. And all this by virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Father's Consecrated One. He is the foundation! He who shared our frailty so that we could participate in his divine nature.

Our text insists on more than on faith, but rather on "trust" with which we can approach the "throne of grace," from the moment that our high priest was himself "put to the test in everything like us." We can approach to "receive mercy," "find grace," and "to be helped in the opportune moment." It seems to me that these words contain a great truth and also a great comfort for us who have received the gift and commitment of a special consecration in the Church."

When I read that the Holy Father says that a religious by the very fact of her being represents something like a "bridge" to God for all those he or she meets, I realized why the Holy Spirit has been calling me to the image of a "bridge" !:)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thomas Merton and the Trappist Gethsemani Abbey

Here is a prayer that one of my international online certificate program students just shared with the course. She found it at Gethsemani, the Trappist monastery that Thomas Merton made so famous. There is also one of my favorite prayers by Merton that another student shared. (You can tell that Thomas Merton is one of the contemporary authors we are reading in this Unit.)


Image of God

Born of God’s breath

Vessel of divine Love

After his likeness

Dwelling of God

Capacity for the infinite

Eternally known

Chosen of God

Home of Infinite Majesty

Abiding in the Son

Called from eternity

Life in the Lord

Temple of the Holy Spirit

Branch of Christ

Receptacle of the Most High

Wellspring of Living Water

Heir of the kingdom

The glory of God

Abode of the Trinity

God sings this litany

Eternally in his Word

This is who you are.

This is definitely Merton's prayer and a favorite of many:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thoughts from Haiti

I thought I would quote this that I received yesterday: (It was much longer and very moving)
Early on Thursday morning, before leaving the hotel for my flight to Burbank, Calif., I read a passage from Elie Wiesel’s book Night, which was quoted in a book on Franciscan humility that I was reading:
The SS hanged two Jewish men and a youth in front of the whole camp. The men died quickly, but the death throes of the youth lasted for a half an hour. “Where is God? Where is he?” Someone asked behind me. As the youth still hung in torment in the noose after a long time, I heard the man call again, “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice in myself answer, “Where is he? He is here. He is hanging there on the gallows.”

My thoughts after reading that drifted back to the painful memory of the collapsed grammar school. I could see inside a classroom. The blackboard, small desks, scattered books and notebooks were clearly visible. The haunting site of a young boy’s decaying foot sticking out from the rubble. One minute the boy was studying, the next minute he was dead. Where was God? God was hidden in the rubble, the magnificence and mystery of God’s humanity at its worst. I thought how God is often buried under the rubble of our lives, buried under so many trivial and unimportant things that prevent us from loving God. And loving God is of paramount importance in the life of a Christian.

I’m not sure how long it will take to make any sense out of what I saw in Haiti. Maybe it will never make any sense. But I do know that the presence of so many wonderful men and women who rushed into this hell of suffering was truly inspirational, for they became living symbols of the compassion God calls each of us to embody.

[Gerry Straub is a filmmaker, who in December was in Haiti working on a documentary titled "Angels of Compassion: the Luminous Force of Intentional Kindness." He returned to Haiti Jan. 21 for more filming. While there, he filed reports for NCR by phone.]
All the stories from the " Haiti Dispatches " series

1. 'Organized chaos' as help reaches Haiti, Jan. 22
2. The outpouring of compassion is amazing , Jan. 23
3. Line between haves and have nots has disappeared, Jan. 24
4. A huge tragedy made startlingly personal, Jan. 27
5. Homeward bound, Jan. 29

For more information on the foundation Straub created, The San Damiano Foundation in Burbank, Calif., and to read about and order his films, please see

Monday, February 1, 2010

Diamond Jubilee

Yesterday I had the most incredible experience. Since I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart sixty years ago, the Archdiocese celebrated my diamond jubilee!! It was a surprise for me as I am concentrating this year on celebrating a Golden Julilee on February 8 with a Mass at the University where I can renew the vows I made fifty years ago to serve God in the Society of the Sacred Heart until death by obedience, poverty, and chastity... - and now I had this incredible, beautiful liturgy in the Cathedral with two bishops and several priests and a wonderful choir...There were just three of us celebrating diamond jubilees; the other Sister was on a walker and we had orchid corsages! I was chosen to bring the hosts up at the offertory. I just was so moved during the liturgy and kept hearing Jesus say to me, "Let me love you." After the liturgy there was a marvelous banquet of several courses all served perfectly and the food presentation was so artistic we could have been in a five star hotel instead of the parish hall.
I am still thanking the Lord for the wonderful celebration but especially for the fact that I have been able to serve him in the Society of the Sacred Heart for 60 years - years so full of grace. Please help me thank!