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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Save me, O God

Holy Week is so full of emotion. Today, in the Liturgy, Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss! And Jesus calls him friend!
The Psalms have been taking my attention. Today I am praying over Psalm 69 that begins:
Save me, O God,
for the waters have risen to my neck.

I have sunk into the mud of the deep
and there is no foothold.
I have entered the waters of the deep
and the waves overwhelm me.

More numerous than the hairs on my head
are those who hate me without cause.
Those who attack me with lies
are too much for my strength.

Let those who hope in you not be put to shame
through me, Lord of hosts;
let not those who seek you be dismayed
through me, God of Israel.

It is for you that I suffer taunts,...

The entire Psalm is worth reflecting on today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week Thoughts

At the University we are having a "Pilgrimage into Holy Week" by taken our large Convocation Hall and turning it into a "Prayer Hall" with different kinds of prayer featured and with all of those of us from Campus Ministry, the School of Theology and Ministry, and some others on hand to speak to students, to explain different ways of prayer, etc. The room was arranged so attractively with all sorts of possibilities, candles lit around the center circles, soft music, a video with images of prayer, etc. I was much impressed and took my Spiritual Direction students over around 8:15 last night and they were still there when I left at 9:00. When I went over for Centering Prayer at 5:00 I found students walking around in silence and some doing art work as prayer. They will keep this open until 10:00 both nights and each day has different events scheduled for the students.

I am home and very much back into the last work of the semester as my online program ends the week after Easter. I am filling up the September course now with some new students from all over. I would love a few more international students, but we will see. In the meantime, Holy Week is a call to more prayer and solitude and I am happy to have these days now at home.

Hope and Holy Week

Reflections from a Scottish Garden III

Last year the Liverpool Carmel gave us several clumps of snow drop bulbs. For months they have been hidden under the earth, now as the snow has melted and receded they have come up, bright green shoots and the elegant stems with the little white bell heads demurely bent downwards. They always seem so brave, first to flower in the garden often braving the snow and the cold, signs of hope and better days to come, reminding me that hope is such a radiant thing.

I have been using Cynthia Bourgeault's Mystical Hope and she has this to say that I think fits with my friend's third and last brief reflection from a Scottish Garden:

" the contemplative journey, as we swim down those deeper waters toward the wellsprings of hope, we begin to experience and trust what it means to lay down self, to let go of ordinary awareness and surrender ourselves to the mercy of God. And as hope, the hidden spring of mercy deep within us, is released in that touch and flows out from the center, filling us with the fullness of God's own purpose living itself into action ..."

Perhaps we need to reflect on the gift of hope as we begin this Holy Week...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Today we begin Holy Week; it is a time when we try to enter into the sentiments of the Heart of Christ as he faces his last days before his passion and death on the cross. Then comes Easter Sunday; I feel that my joy at Easter is usually proportioned to the way I have spent Holy Week and even the longer preparation of Lent. God works in us but we must surrender to his action, to his love. He is always with us and waiting for us to turn to him. Holy Week gives us the opportunity to be present to him in many ways. We have the Liturgies that call us to remember what Christ went through for us; we have time to sit and just be and realize, too, that Jesus conquered death. Palm Sunday celebrates his entry into Jerusalem but the same crowd that hailed him on Sunday may have been the crowd that shouted "Crucify him" later in the week. I will be spending several hours of prayer in my car driving home on Palm Sunday but I will not be alone. Jesus is very present when I am driving the highway and it will be a good day of prayer for me. I hope it will be for you, too, and that we will have a deeply prayerful Holy Week with Jesus and his Mother.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Water gives joy!

Here is the second reflection from Scotland:

"The other feature we installed in the garden was a bird bath. I have had a battle keeping it ice free, as the temperature has seldom been above freezing. When it was frost free the birds had a wonderful time, some drank with evident enjoyment, others bathed and fluttered to preen and clean and others waited longingly for their turn. The sight made me reflect on my own love of water. The clean fresh taste of a pure cold glassful, the relief of being able to bathe and clean oneself, the wonder of Jesus promise of living water bringing new birth, all these thoughts were evoked by the activities in the water of the bird bath."

Since I live in Florida and we never see snow, I forget that some birds are really winter birds and stay even in snowy weather. We call the people who vacation in Miami from November to April the "snow birds" as they come with the first snow in the north and stay until the weather is warmer at home. We note a big difference in the traffic after Easter as there is a real exodus of all the "snow birds"!

On a more serious note, Jesus does give us living water; His Heart is always open for us to go and drink.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reflections from a Scottish Garden

While I am away, I am sharing with you three brief reflections kindly sent me by one of my Scottish students.

Reflections from a Scottish Garden I

"We have had a very long hard winter. Just as the first snows came we installed a bird table and I started feeding the birds in our garden. Now when I go outside they start twittering to each other in great excitement, making such a noise that they can be heard at quite a distance. It struck me that this is what we should do, announce the good news joyously. The other night, in casual conversation a friend said that her husband only became a catholic seventeen years after they were married. We asked what had made him decide on this move, as he had no faith before. He said that it was the joy that he saw his wife had in her faith that drew him to ask for instruction. That is surely how we should proclaim, like the birds, joyously."

So, let us sing out our joy to the Lord! A sad saint is a sorry saint!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

This is known as the Feast of the Impossible! It is a mystery that is at the heart of our faith. An angel came to Mary and announced that she had found favor with God and that she would bear a son and he would be great and would be called the Son of the most high and "the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end." Imagine how Mary felt on hearing this message! She is perplexed and asks the angel how can this happen? And the angel tells her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." We celebrate this mystery every time we say the "Hail Mary" and we can never thank Mary enough for having the courage and love to say, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

We are called to say our "yes" to whatever the Lord asks even if we do not understand.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Still Point

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Impossible. Today I am going to try to sum up some thoughts from Cynthia Bourgeault's Mystical Hope that I think are at the heart of contemplation. Do you remember Thomas Merton's experience on the street corner in Louisville? It was a moment of infused contemplation when he felt united to all; he had the "realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I was theirs..." Later, Merton will talk about "le point vierge and I am copying this quote from Cynthia's book, p.36:
"At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere." Thomas Merton taken from A Merton Reader

There is much to reflect on here and it is a passage that I keep going back to in my own thoughts as Merton is articulate and I just know that this point exists in me and is at the heart of my prayer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Thoughts While I am Away this Week

A dear friend from Scotland sent me the following that was sent to her by another dear friend of both of us; since I am to be away all week, I thought it might be good to leave this little meditation with you.

We are not alone in the hour of death; we have nothing to fear because when the time comes Christ identifies himself with us so closely that fear gives way to trust and anguish to peace. He has lived all our lives, died all of our deaths; to all of us he has given his peace. It is in the hour of death that our fear, our anxiety, our loneliness, will end.

Death is too big a thing for any one of us to face alone. It separates us, for a time, from those we love on earth. It is difficult for us earthbound, rooted creatures to want heaven; it is impossible for us to realize what the glory of God will be to us. It is loving God, and that only, that can make heaven, heaven. Here the imagination does not help us: we cannot imagine ourselves loving the “Supreme Spirit” - we even want to cling to our human frailties and comforts, to our human weakness.

It is now that Christ takes over. He has died all our deaths on the cross; now we are going to die his; it is Christ in us who surrenders to God. It is not with our own heart and our own will that we can long for God but with Christ’s. And Christ had given his heart and will to us. In this is the supreme mercy that comes to us in the hour of death….

Now I love God with Christ’s will, with Christ’s heart, with Christ’s trust; and because he has taken whole possession of me, in the hour of my death I shall at last love my friends too with his love.

Caryll Houselander 1954

I guess we are having more than usual thoughts about death as so many seem to be dying. Besides the tragic death of my cousin, we lost two of our Religious. I told the community that I had two aunts who both died after dinner; one had cooked dinner for her two sisters and sat downafter dinner and closed her eyes and did not wake up; the other also had a quiet but sudden death after dinner. She was just sitting on the couch and died; one of my community immediately said to me, "Helen, don't sit on the couch."

It is hard on those left behind, but I think it might be a good way to go. I firmly believe that God takes us at the right moment and there is no use worrying about when and how this is going to happen.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some New Thoughts

Here is another blog to check out for a "morning Prayer"

I have gone back to a little book I have had on my shelf by Cynthia Bourgeault called Mystical Hope; as it is listed in the books I have posted for spiritual reading, I am sure that I mentioned the book before but now I am loving it. Inside the front cover there is a picture of a Cloister and it says that this is a Cloister Book. "Cloister Books are inspired by the monastic custom of walking slowly and reading or meditating in the monastery cloister, a place of silence, centering, and calm. Within these pages you will find a similar space in which to pray and reflect on the presence of God."

That was enough to make me pick up the book again! These are the titles of the five chapters: Journey to the Wellsprings; Living in the Mercy; Meditation and Hope; Dying Before You Die; and Hope and the Future. I will be quoting from this book as I am trying to schedule a daily blog for all the days I will be away!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery

If you have the scrutiny Mass this fifth Sunday of Lent, you will be hearing John's Gospel, 8:1-11. I am always so glad to see how gentle and loving Jesus is with the woman who is made to stand there while the scribes and Pharisees accuse her of adultery and try to trick Jesus into not agreeing with Moses. Jesus just bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they continued to ask him, he calmly says, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus continued to write on the ground and they slunk away, one by one, beginning with the elders. When Jesus is alone with the woman he asks her, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you? She replies, "No one, sir." Then Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more."

I find this scene is so consoling. Jesus is always forgiving us because he loves us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feast of St. Joseph

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. He is the silent saint, but what a powerful one! He was so attentive to the voice of God that spoke to him when he was sleeping. He must have had great faith to believe that God was speaking to him and to obey God without any hesitation. Let us ask Joseph today to make us attentive to the voice of God.

I want to share something that was used in our Community prayer. It is called
Kindling the Fire:
This morning, as I kindle the fire upon my hearth, I pray that the flame of God's love may burn in my heart, and the hearts of all I meet today. I pray that no envy and malice, no hatred or fear, may smother the flame. I pray that indifference and apathy, contempt and pride, may not pour like cold water on the fire.
Instead, may the spark of God's love light the love in my heart, that it may burn brightly through the day. And may I warm those that are lonely, whose hearts are cold and lifeless, so that all may know the comfort of God's love.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Preparing for Sunday

I am late today but want to post to prepare for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Again, there is a choice of readigs as we can use the Mass for the last Scrutiny which has the Gospel of the woman taken in adultery or the calling back to life Lazarus who had been dead four days when Jesus went to the tomb and told his dead friend to "come out!" Both Gospels are rich for reflection. Let us take John 11: 1-45 that begins with Jesus hearing that Lazarus was ill. The message Mary and Martha, his sisters, sent to Jesus is, "Master, the one you love is ill." Jesus said that this illness is not to end in death but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it. So, Jesus remains two more days and when he finally goes Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. John tells us that "Jesus wept." Here we see the human Jesus who loved and grieved. Then he acts as the Son of God and has the stone removed and calls Lazarus forth from the tomb. This is a miracle that causes many of the Jews to believe in Jesus and certainly must have caused his enemies to want to get rid of him.
I made a retreat in Chile once and remember this meditation so vividly although I cannot remember the preacher of the retreat. The idea is that we were all dead and needed to hear Jesus call us forth from the tomb - Sal Fuera! Come out; be set free and begin to live seems to have been the theme.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It is always good to reach the Feast of St. Patrick; one feels that winter is ending and new life is beginning as we celebrate. I am three-fourth Irish and proud of it. I guess a bit of St. Patrick's heritage would be appropriate today and there are so many Celtic hymns and poems to share. Here is one of my favorites:

The Lorica of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion and his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection and his ascension...

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of angels...
In the hope of the resurrection,
In the prayers of ancestors in the faith,
In the preaching of the apostles,
In the faith of martyrs
In the innocence and purity of the deeds of the righteous.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against false prophets, false laws and idolatry...

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation
St. Patrick (ca. 377)

If time, you may want to check out the following:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Some mornings I sit down and wonder what the Spirit will inspire me to write. The death of my cousin, Dan, and then that of one of our most outstanding Religious, Barbara Bowe, and all the lives lost in the earth quakes, have made me think quite a bit about death these past days. Christ's death on the cross is central to the whole mystery of God's love shown even in the midst of suffering and death. We need to contemplate the Cross to understand how much God loves us.

Another reflection was triggered yesterday by the article I read in the newspaper about a 32 year old woman who had rowed across the Atlantic. She began in January and it took her two months alone in her rowboat. She did it to raise consciousness about the millions of people who do not have access to pure water. I admire her and know that the solitude of being alone in the ocean for two months will mark her for life. I am sure she knows herself and God at a much deeper level. She did have a laptop with her and I hope she kept a journal!

Today we are having a day to celebrate all the priests who are connected with St. Thomas University; actually, it is a week long celebration in this "Year of the Priest" but today there is a Mass with the Archbishop and all our priests followed by a luncheon. We were sent forms to fill out spiritual bouquets and personal notes for any Bishop or priest; I have done this for several. Our papers are to be on the altar for the Liturgy. I guess it is a good way for us to show gratitude and appreciation for all they do for us. I also think it is a call to pray for all priests!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Knights of Columbus

My little Black Book has March 15,2008 as the day Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, was declared "venerable" by Benedict XVI; he may be on the road to being beatified and canonized a saint. He was born in 1852 in Connecticut, the oldest of thirteen children. He wanted to be a priest but dropped out of the seminary when his father died in order to help support the family. He was able to return and was ordained in 1877 and named assistant pastor at St. Mary's parish in New Haven.
There was a small group of Catholic men who wanted to defend their Catholic faith as there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment at the time. On October 2, 1881, Father McGivney brought them together and they opted for the name, "Knights of Columbus."
Father McGivney died in 1890 at the age of 38 but the Knights of Columbus have grown and are dedicated to defending family, country, and the Catholic faith.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Sometimes we need a quiet scene to remind us that Sunday is a day of peace and prayer. I opened my Magnificat today to the Divine Praises that we always recited when we had Benediction - as I sometimes find myself trying to pray with the Divine Praises in the car when driving home and get mixed up or cannot remember some, I thought I would copy them here.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, he most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sorrow is a powerful emotion

Sometimes it seems hard to feel the sorrow that Jesus must have experienced so often; he cried for Lazarus; he wept over Jerusalem. Jesus understands sorrow.
My own heart is sorrowful today. I received an e-mail yesterday telling me that a young cousin had died; he was asleep and the house caught fire. He was staying with his mother and she was away. He woke up and managed to get to a neighbor's to call the fire department, but he had inhaled too much smoke and, although alert and able to talk at first, his major organs gradually shut down and he died. I grief for him, for his mother who lost her only son, for all the family who loved him so much...I also grieve for all those who have lost family members in the earthquakes. I am sure the Heart of Jesus grieves with us, too.
Again I am faced with the mystery of suffering. Sorrow is a powerful emotion and seems to have taken over my heart at this moment.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Benedictus - God's Blessing

My Reflection Group has just finished Margaret Silf's "Inner Compass" and there is a beautiful blessing by God at the end which I want to share with you; it is, of course, a way of God the Father blessing us with the Beatitudes of Jesus.

I bless the poverty in your heart, which knows its own emptiness, because that gives me space to grow my Kingdom there.
I bless that in you that touches others gently, because everyone responds to gentleness, and gentleness can capture even hardened hearts.
I bless that in you that grieves and aches for all that is lost or can never be, because that is my opportunity to comfort you with my much greater love.
I bless that in you that longs and strives after your own deepest truth and after truth for the world, because even as you pray, I am constantly satisfying these deep unspoken longings.
I bless you every time you show mercy and forgiveness, because that is like a little window in your heart, setting you free from resentment and opening up a space for me to enter and to heal.
I bless the purity of your heart, because that is the elusive center where your deepest desire meets mine. That is where we meet face-to-face.
I bless the peacemaker in you, that in you that seeks the peace that passes understanding, knowing the cost of its obtaining, because that is what I sent my Son to give, and in your peacemaking you become my daughter or son.
I bless even those things in your experience of journeying with me that feel like persecution and abuse and misunderstanding, because they are the proof that your faith is no illusion.

There is much to reflect on here and this is the good news of the Gospel!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Preparing for Fourth Sunday of Lent

Again, parishes engaged in the Rite of Christian Iniciation of Adults(RCIA)may celebrate the Second Scrutiny today. If so, you may be having the Gospel of the Prodigal Son or the readings from Year A that would have the Gospel of the Man born blind that Jesus cured. Both Gospels tell us much about Jesus.
In Luke 15:1-3,11-32 we have the tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Jesus. But then the Pharisees and scribes began to complain so Jesus addressed to them the parable of the two sons with the loving father. The one son asks for his inheritance and leaves home; he spends it all foolishly and is in dire poverty. He hires himself out to tend swine and is so hungry that he longs to eat the pods on which the swine feed. Finally, he comes to his senses and decides to return to his father and confess that he has sinned and only wants to be treated as one of his father's servants. In the meantime, Jesus shows us the father who has been longing and looking for his son's return. He runs to meet him, embraces him and kisses him. Then he celebrates because his son who was lost has returned.
Then we have the other, older son who, as he returns from the fields, hears the sounds of the celebration and becomes angry when he hears that it is for his brother. He refuses to enter the house and his father comes out and pleads with him: "My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found."
There is always much to reflect on in this Gospel. Let us return to the Father with humility and let him embrace us. If I sometimes have identified with the older son, I ask pardon and rejoice with the Father and my brother. How hard it is sometimes to rejoice in the good fortune of another! Yet, true love always wants the good of the other.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

God Meets Us Where We Are

James Martin, S.J. has a new book called "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life." I have not read it but saw it advertised in America, the March 8 issue. There is also an edited excerpt from this new book that is under "Faith in Focus" in the same issue. I would like to reflect on just the last paragraph of that article as it says so much to me and I suspect it will speak to others, too. Here it is:
"If God meets you where you are, then where you are is a place to meet God. You do not have to wait until your life settles down, or the kids move out of the house, or you have found that perfect apartment, or you recover from that long illness. You do not have to wait until you've overcome your sinful patterns or are more "religious" or can pray "better". You do not have to wait for any of that.
God is ready now."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

St. Philippine Duchesne

This statue of Philippine is now at the corner of the Academy of the Sacred Heart; St. Charles is a town that has kept its history and the Society of the Sacred Heart and Philippine are part of that heritage they still cherish. Main Street is lined with the houses built in the early 1800s and kept with most of the original features even today. It is a quaint town and now attracts many tourists.
Today I am still catching up with myself, but want to share a form of prayer that I learned from one of ours on Saturday. She and others have made it a form of prayer; I think it began as a psychological exercise. It is very simple and I am sure it is helpful for those who begin to use it. I think that it can be used whenever but the suggestion was to do it three times a day. It is the "five finger exercise". You begin with your thumb and hold it tightly while you get in touch with all the grief you have (this can be conscious or repressed grief) and then you pull on your thumb and release all this grief with the help of God; next you take your first finger, hold it tightly and get in touch with any fear you have, then pull it out with the help of God; you move to the third finger and let out all your anger and rage; the fourth finger is to release all your concerns, anxieties; and your little finger is to let go of the low self-esteem you may have in you. I suggest you give this easy way of praying a trial and see if it is beneficial for you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Shrine of Saint Philippine Duchesne at St. Charles

I returned last night so renewed in body and spirit! It was a wonderful five days as I stayed with one of our communities, Regis, on the grounds of the Academy of the Sacred Heart which is a very special place for me. I received my vocation there and loved my four years as a weekly boarder for high school. I was met at the airport and went to dinner in St. Charles with one who has become a real friend and who is a candidate now but who will be a novice in the Society of the Sacred Heart in September. I also went out to lunch with friends on both Thursday and Friday and felt so blessed to have such good friends. One I have known since grade school! I spent time every morning in the Shrine praying at the tomb of Philippine for all my friends, living and dead, and went through list of names of students, probation sisters, classmates, etc. and I even lit a candle for all. It was one that will burn all week. On Thursday there were some of the younger children in the school going to confession in the Shrine with four priests; on First Friday, there was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the little children came in perfect silence to pray. On Saturday, I was in the week end retreat and several of us spent our hour of prayer before the small group sharing in the shrine praying; on Sunday we had a beautiful liturgy there and the group of Religious of the Sacred Heart was so united. We were twenty-nine RSCJ and, although many were from St. Louis and St. Charles, we had some from New Orleans, Grand Coteau, Houston, Omaha, Albany, Africa, and Rome and, of course, I came from Miami. It was just a lovely week end with time to pray and share and deepen our own Constitutions.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Here is a poem written by a woman in prison and shared by one of my online students. As I am leaving for the airport, I thought this might do for the Third Sunday of Lent. Actually, if using the Samaritan woman, there is much to reflect on water, gift, and faith in this Sunday's Liturgy. There is a choice of readings because of the RCIA.
Here is the poem:

Just Like You Jesus: A Prayer of the Homeless

Jesus, I am homeless too

Teach me how to pray, tell me what to do

Jesus, each day I face this cross.

It makes me weary to the bone.

Jesus, I cannot bear this all alone.

Jesus, I keep falling into sin.

I feel like I just can’t win.

Jesus, you were human too.

Help me to be more like you.

Jesus, teach me to be fair.

Help me to care and not to care.

Teach me more how to sit still

So with your love my heart you can fill.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Curl up with a Good Book

Yesterday I added three books to my list of Spiritual Reading on my blog. Maybe those who are snowed in or on Spring Break, or just curled up near a fire (no fireplace in our Miami home) would like to hear about these. I did talk about Come Home and now I will tell you about the other two books - all three books are small and easy to read; they all nourish our spirituality but in different ways. Adele Gonzalez, who has been one of my great friends for almost the 24 years that I have been in Miami, has written a volume for the Catholic Spirituality for Adult Series published by Orbis Books. It is called The Spirituality of Community Adele begins by speaking of spirituality as "our response to God revealed moment by moment." As Christian spirituality is our life with the Spirit, it implies relationships. Adele then explains how, as human beings, we live out our spirituality through four relationships: God; Self; Neighbor; All creation. Because spirituality is rooted in the Incarnation, it is passionate, communal, and contextual. By the third chapter, Adele defines a Christian community as "the web of relationships that provides the sacred, safe, space were all the members can discover and develop their uniqueness, their giftedness, and their belovedness. It is the locus where God, acting through others, removes the scales from our eyes so that we can discover God's presence in every aspect and dimension of our lives. Through this process, we become seers of God in everything and in everyone and this vision impels us to go out of ourselves to serve others." It is a practical book that helps us to understand and to live the spirituality of community.
The other book will be discussed later.

Friday, March 5, 2010

First Friday of March

The First Friday is always a special day to honor the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for each of us. His Heart burns with love and so often his immense love is not returned. I will be beginning the Province week end retreat in St. Charles this evening and promise to pray for all my readers at the tomb of St. Philippine and also at the door of her room which has been kept as an authentic shrine as she spent the last ten years in this small room at St. Charles.

Today I am sharing something about "giving up" that is always good for Lent. The church bulletin here in Miami had a whole list of things to "give up" such as "grumbling", "looking at other's worst point", TV one evening a week, etc. I was thinking of sharing this when I was kindly sent another list I liked better from Scotland! Here it is:

Dear Helen,

We have been given in our parish a lovely little book with all the daily Lenten readings. At the back there is this Lenten fast! Thought that you might like it.

Give up harsh words: use generous ones.
Give up unhappiness: take up gratitude.
Give up anger: take up gentleness and patience.
Give up pessimism: take up hope and optimism.
Give up worrying: take up trust in God.
Give up complaining: value what you have.
Give up stress: take up prayer.
Give up judging others: discover Jesus within them.
Give up sorrow and bitterness: fill your heart with joy.
Give up selfishness: take up compassion for others.
Give up being unforgiving: learn reconciliation.
Give up words: fill yourself with silence,
and listen to others.

I do like it and may we live it this Lent and the rest of the days of our life!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Come Home: A Prayer Journey to the Center Within

Marie Schwan, C.S.J., has written a new book: Come Home: A Prayer Journey to the Center Within and I have just begun to read it. I think it is a book to use for prayer for those who want to center, to sit in silence at the feet of Jesus, to realize that God's other name is Home. There are seventeen short chapters and each begins with a quotation from Scripture and ends with something for our consideration and prayerful reflection. I think it might be helpful for those who need a book to aid their prayer and so will add it to my list of Spiritual Books in this blog.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bridges Built in My Mind

So many things become a bridge when we take time to remember them and what they connect us to and how they continue to take us across time and space. I guess the earthquake in Chile has been one of those bridges for me. I lived in Concepcion; I was in Chile just three months when the great earthquake of the south struck on May 21, 1960. I remember the date as I woke up with the bed going two directions at the same time - up and down and back and forth. It was a disagreeable feeling but I thought it must be the 21 gun salute I had been told would be fired as it was a holiday in honor of the naval hero, Arturo Pratt. Anyway, we felt the earthquake but the huge statue of the Sacred Heart over the altar in our Chapel in Concepcion fell just after the sacristan had left the altar; the church across the street was destroyed. We had had to rebuild after a previous earthquake and so our school was solid. I hope it still is as we have not yet had any news from there. Kim King did call to let us know that she is fine in Renaca but the electricity is off. I am writing this on Saturday and only posting next week so it is not the news of the earthquake that I am reflecting on as how an event like this is an immediate bridge to friends who are in Concepcion. It is a bridge that reaches out to them in prayer; it is also a bridge of memories of friendship, of life shared, and of care and concern for one another. In another sense, the bridge is linking Haiti and Chile; both need our prayer.
I am writing ahead as I leave for St. Charles today and will be doing a Province retreat week end; I will return on Sunday night. It is Spring Break at the University and a welcome week away, although the online Program students do not have a break! I may miss a blog or two, but I am trying to at least put out a thought for each day I am away.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The beauty of snow

In Miami we do not see snow. A great deal of the United States as well as many northern countries have been suffering from the effects of snow this winter. We have just finished watching the winter games in Vancouver with wonderful scenery and fresh snow that was not the best for the skiers on the slopes with poor visibility and a softer track. Still, although I do not miss having to dig a car out of the snow or trying to drive through a snowstorm, I love to look at snow, fresh-fallen snow that is still dazzling white, as yet unmarked by a footprint. Is it the sense of purity? Or is it the stillness and silence that attracts us when all is covered with fresh snow? If you are one suffering from the effects of snow, I hope you will forgive me for remembering the delight of snow days, of sledding, of ice-skating and the bonfires with hot chocolate afterwards. Childhood joys that still are remembered. Did this reflection happen because Sunday's Gospel told us that the garments of Jesus became dazzling white? Or just because the news has been showing the deep snow that also knocked out power in the northeastern states? Hopefully the Holy Spirit wants us to remember the silence and stillness of deep snow after the storm.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening is the title of one of the first books I required my students to read in our training Program for Spiritual Directors. It was a simple book by Thomas Hart. The title is what I am reflecting on today. There are so many ways to listen or not listen. I have only lately found that one can direct and be directed through e-mail. I used to think this would not be possible as so much is conveyed through the tone of voice, body language, the speed or words, the pauses, etc. I suspect, since I need to see people in order to hear and rely a good deal on my ability to lipread, that I am more conscious of body language than many. With e-mail, one does not have the help of exterior signs, but there is still a way to grasp what is being said and not said; there is a certain tone communicated and I feel the Holy Spirit is very present in the written word without the distractions often caused by the person when actually speaking directly to you. I guess I am trying to say that I believe that we can communicate very well through words. But we need people who know how to listen. One listens without judging; one listens to what is being said between the lines; one listens with one's heart.
This is all connected with God's message: "This is my chosen one; listen to him."

I am trying to schedule ahead as I will be out of town later this week for five days. It seems strange not to write about the earthquake in Chile as I lived there for 20 years and all my thoughts are with the people there as they struggle to get news of families; we have not yet heard from our Sisters in Concepcion or I have not yet heard, but I know those in Renaca are fine and do not think anything bad happened to any of our communities in Santiago, but Concepcion had much destruction. Our school withstood the great earthquake of 1960 so I suppose it is still standing. I want to hear about my friends and their families so please keep all in your prayer.