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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Quest for the Living God emphatically reminds us that God is engaged in our world and that Catholic theology, despite sometimes regressive pressures, remains active in our lives and in our church. Elizabeth Johnson, as theologian and signpost of the wider Catholic theological community, is, then, our NCR person of the year for 2011.

I just read this good news and want to pass it on in my blog. Elizabeth Johnson deserves to be the National Catholic Reporter's person of the year.
She is one of the greatest theologians alive today and has done so much to bring a deeper understanding of God to many. I am happy for her as I have suffered much for her when her book was questioned by the Bishops without any discussion with her. They were finding that theologians were adopting it as a text as it was thought to be an excellent book and one that would help college students to get insights.

Well, I did not set out to write about Elizabeth but to share my own reflections this morning on the past year. Without doubt, being given the "Woman of Conscience" award at the national conference of the Alumni of the Sacred Heart made an impact on my life. Then, furthering relationships was an important part of my year. My retreat was a special grace and one of the fruits of it has been my effort to not only get to daily Mass but to pray for the world while there.
I suppose the one insight that stands out for me during the past year is a confirmation of my vocation within a vocation: I am called to pipe a song of joy to Jesus! This was a constant desire over the past sixty years but has become something that I now realize is a motivation and special call. There are many ways to do this but the inner joy comes from the Spirit and is deepened in prayer. God so wants to love us and that is such a reason for joy. I am sharing my soul today with you as I come to the end of a year full of many graces.
May the New Year bring us all new joy.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eve of New Year's Eve

I am reading and marking up "The Emergent Christ" and I am very much aware that our world needs healing but it is the responsibility of each of us. We are helping Christ in the evolution of our world. I have some good quotes but want to try to digest this book before posting. It is not an easy read but is making theology change its focus.
I am also looking back over my journals for the past year and finding that I have some excellent quotes that I do not want to forget.
I hope we all have some time to think back over the past year and thank for the many graces we have received. More tomorrow as I am rushing now!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice! That is the Responsorial Psalm for today's liturgy and sums up the spirit of this Christmas season. The entrance antiphon is John 3:16: "God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, so that all who believe in him may not perish, but may have eternal life."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Feast of the Holy Innocents

I just lost the reflection I did for today so I will just say it was on the Holy Innocents and the fact that, according to Matthew's Gospel, Joseph had to take Mary and the baby Jesus and flee into Egypt. I think of all the refugees today who need to leave their homes and flee to other countries...

I thought I might add a recipe that I was asked to make again for our Christmas brunch and then type up for others; it is easy to make and can be used for dinner as well as brunch and you can use ham instead of sausage. Here it is:
Brunch Delight
This is the recipe for Brunch Delight:

2 lbs link sausage
8 slices of white bread
¾ lb of cheddar cheese grated
4 eggs
1 can of mushroom soup
2 &1/4 cups of milk

Fry, drain and cut up sausages
Trim crusts and cut bread into cubes
Grease a 4 qt casserole and place bread in below, add sausages and cheese
Beat eggs, add milk and soup and pour into casserole
Refrigerate overnight and backe 1!/2 hours at 325 – serves 8 easily

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Come to save us!

This is from the Holy Father's Christmas address:
"Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: "Come to save us!" Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Feast of St. Stephen

Usually I have a picture of the saint of the day, but like this one for today as I am taking some thoughts from a meditation of the day in Magnificat by Mother Elvira Petrozzi, foundress of Comunita Cenacolo. She writes:

" We continue to be amazed and to believe even more in this "crazy" God who chose to become a small, poor and fragile child. That child who two thousand years ago came to the world and exploded into history "bursts" into our lives today to re-write our history; mine, yours, and that of all of our wounded humanity. This Jesus shatters our reality and makes his way with only the weapon of love, the only weapon that can cause the rocks of the hardest heart to crumble."
She goes on to talk about how much "hardness" lives in the horizon of this many broken hearts call out to God asking for help; "Come, Lord Jesus!" ...Come because we need you.

The Church celebrated St. Stephen today as the first to give his life for Christ; it reminds us that Jesus came to bring life to the world but did so by giving his life for the life of the world.

I hope you all had a great Christmas day full of many graces and will enjoy these final days of 2011.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

St. Madeleine Sophie said in a Conference of 1855: Prepare for His coming into your hearts, for that is why He came on earth: to be born, to develop in your souls, and when the beautiful day of Christmas arrives you will taste that peace the Angels announced to persons of good will.

Mother Stuart believed that "Joy is the song of the spirit under the pressure of happiness and to give God the fullest and best service possible, we much train our spirit to sing that song continually."

Both of these quotes were taken from our veilee to prepare for Christmas and I hope you find them helpful.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve, at last!

I guess the expectation has built up so much that we are almost surprised to find that it is Christmas Eve! Now, we will be opening our stockings this evening and then we will, of course, have Mass; last night we had a beautiful prayer time together at the other community and a delicious dinner. We now do this on the 23rd so everyone in the area can be present.

This is from the Christmas card Magificat sent me today and I think it is worth passing on to all of you:

Litany of Christmas Thanks

Response: Baby Jesus, we thank you.

For the Blessed Virgin Mary your Mother who said "Yes" to the angel. R/

For John the Baptist who leapt in the womb of Elizabeth his mother when you visited him in Mary. R/

For Joseph your foster father who trusted the angel instead of heeding his own doubts. R/

For the donkey that carried your expectant Mother to Bethlehem. R/

For the neighbor who led your holy family to the stable. R/

For the manger in which you were placed as if in the first tabernacle. R/

For the animals who were there in the first moments that you were adored. R/

For the angels and their song that led shepherds to your stable. R/

For the shepherds who worshiped you and then proclaimed the Good News like priests. R/

For Simeon who all his life had been waiting for you in the temple, longing to hold you. R/

For Anna the prophetess who proclaimed you to all those looking for deliverance and peace. R/

For the star that led the Magi to your manger and your Mother. R/

Loving Father,

all of these Christmas gifts

symbolize how much you love us

with the supreme Gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,

born for us this Christmas day.

We give these gifts to one another to express

how grateful we are for your unfathomable generosity

and to show how eager we are to share that goodness with one another.

Bless these tokens of love and caring.

Never let us get attached to material things,

but rather let the joy flowing from these presents

strengthen our bonds of love, deepen our relationships,

and move us to be more thankful, selfless, and giving all the days of our life.

Thank you for the birth of Jesus,

our brother and our Savior.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,

is now and will be forever.


Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel, God with us!

Finally, the waiting that has been full of loving preparation is almost over. We sing this antiphon with joy:
O Emmanuel, God with us, our king and lawgiver, the one whom the nations await and their savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

What a wonderful thing it is to know that God is with us! He is always with us, waiting for us to turn to Him. He is so much more than king and lawgiver, but now He comes to us as a helpless infant in need of our love and wanting to love us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O king of all the nations

Today's antiphon asks the Lord of all to come and save the entire human race.

O King of the nations and their desire, the cornerstone that makes both one: come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.

God is coming and He is always working to save the world; Jesus is the cornerstone and we are going to receive Him into our hearts and world again in a very special way so soon. Are we ready? What might he be asking in the way of last minute preparation for His coming? We need to make sure our hearts are ready and the best way is to slow down and take some time just to sit in His presence and listen to His desires.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Radiant Dawn

Today's antiphon is

"O Radiant Dawn, splendor of light eternal and sun of justice: come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."

This antiphon is short but so full of meaning. We do dwell in darkness and the shadow of death but we also know that the Sun of Justice, the Radiant Dawn, has come to enlighten us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Key of David

I like this Antiphon but I am not so sure I like the image of Jesus as a key! However, here is the antiphon:
O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, you open so that no one else can close again, you close so that no person can open: come, and lead the captive from prison, free those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

I hope you have time to reflect on this antiphon which has many ways of speaking to what is happening in our world and in our own souls. I do like the image of God opening what no one can close again and closing at the same time so that no person can open; I suspect that is the deepest part of us that belongs to God alone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's O Antiphon: O Root of Jesse

Let us keep increasing our longing for the coming of Jesus. Here is today's antiphon:
O Root of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the people; before you kings shall fall silent and to you the nations shall make their prayer; come to deliver us, and do not delay.

I should have mentioned that the antiphon is adapted for use before the Gospel each day. Here is today's shorter form:
O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay!

I suspect I find it easier to just pray with the shorter form but there is something to think about in comparing the two different versions. I like to think that Jesus is a sgn, a signal for the people, but really a sign of God's love for all his people. We acknowledge the greatness and majesty of God when we recall that kings shall fall silent. Then the nations shall make their prayer asking the Lord to come and save us without delay!Alleluia!

I hope everyone had a good week end. We are still able to swim in our pool and that is a blessing. I went to the pool in the park near us for water exercise on Saturday; I no longer go there during the week as we have a pool and I am going to a gym for exercise class three times a week that is more strenuous than the water exercise but I do love the time in the water and enjoy the others who come; we will have a Christmas party on Thursday.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Antiphon: O Lord and Leader

The second O Antiphon is
O Lord and Leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come and redeem us with outstretched arm.

If you are singing or at least listening to the popular Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, you may have noticed that it is based on the O Antiphons. It was written in the 12th century in Latin. The little Blue Book for Advent tells us that it was an Anglican priest, John Mason Neale, who translated it into English.

My own meditation on this antiphon this morning was full of gratitude for the Lord has come and redeemed us. I also tried to think of the qualities that we admire in a good Leader and find Jesus gives us the example of the best Leader.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First O Antiphon

Today we begin the O Antiphons; they are sung at evening prayer but also used as Gospel acclamations. Each one highlights an Old Testament messianic title and refers to a prophecy from Isaiah. They are full of longing as we wait for the birth of Jesus. Today's is

O Wisdom, you came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly; come, and teach us the way of prudence."

Wisdom comes and teaches us and desires us to be open to the coming of God as a helpless infant.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The O Antiphons Begin Tomorrow

The O Antiphons, mostly from Isaiah, are usually found as the antiphon before the Gospel from December 17 to Christmas. I said "usually" as I looked at the Sunday readings and the antiphon is about Our Lady as the Gospel is that of the Annunciation. I will be saying something about each antiphon as I like to pray over them before Christmas; they date back to the early centuries and so I like to think that many have prayed these same prayers as preparation for Christ's coming.

These are busy days so I will keep my entries short. Thank you for the comments for my anniversary of vows and I am sorry that I missed celebrating John of the Cross in my blog this year. I so love his "The Flame of Divine Love".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Anniversary of my First Vows

Today is a special day in my life; I made my first vows 59 years ago today! I still remember what a joy-filled day that was! In the afternoon I was sent to speak to the girls I had been coaching as a second-year novice. I had coached the entire high school plus seventh and eighth grade in hockey, basketball, and softball, and oversaw the tennis tournament and Field Day with games for all. I had only an hour with my "team" each week day and an hour and a half on week ends; most were boarders and I was supposed to coach and keep an eye on all the others; what I remember on my vow day was asking the Lord to allow some to also become Religious of the Sacred Heart and a couple of the students did enter with us later. My parents did not come as I was going to be sent back to St. Louis a few days after the ceremony; I had to wait for a student from St. Louis so we could travel on the train together. I was 21 but felt immediately at home in the classroon as I began teaching. I always loved to teach because I loved the children and it was a joy to see them learn and develop.
My blog seems to be full of memories these days. I did pray over a line from Mother Stuart who spoke of a "well of joy in the deepest part of her soul" - I have down deep in my soul a "well of joy" and it overflows when I am loving others.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some helps for the Christmas spirit

I have not been to the stores so I do not think the decorations there would be helping my Christmas spirit. However, I am really looking at each Christmas card we receive to try to internalize the message given by both picture and verse or good wishes on each card; I am also enjoying listening to Christmas music. Last night I went to the Carrollton Junior High and High School Christmas service held at the Church; some of the girls play the flute, others the violins, and still others use the bells, but the best of all was the choir. The girls were excellent and so well behaved. They were standing for an hour with great poise and intent on following the director and singing with all their hearts. The red shawls over black dresses made a pretty picture but the faces were beautiful as they sang and listened to the scripture readings.
It was a joyful night.
I am off to the gym and then Mass but Advent is such a lovely time; do prepare for the coming of the Lord by being joyful and giving joy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feast of St. Lucy

I read today that we should be like a Christmas light and give joy to the Lord. I was thinking about the Feast of St.Lucy whose name means light; she is one to pray to for those who have trouble with their sight. I guess she is also a good one to pray to for interior light, to see what the Lord wants of each of us today. It is interesting that the few people I know named "Lucy" have all been a source of light for me. Now I am trying to write the life of Reverend Mother Lucille Mathevon, another "Lucy" and a great pioneer religious.
I took out a note I once received from one "Lucy" who had been my superior years ago and then became my spiritual director years later. She wrote me:
"The Lord is using Him. His ways are not our ways!" I keep that note written in 1995 in my copy of the Constitutions of the Society and I always find it helpful just to see Lucy's handwriting and remember her gift of listening and then helping me to laugh at myself. Humor is a gift!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is both the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the birthday of St. Madeleine Sophie; I took the habit on this day sixty-one years ago. We were dressed as brides and walked solemnly down the middle aisle of the Kenwood Chapel while our parents shed tears in the benches. Then we left, had our hair cut off very quickly and were dressed in the black habits and returned to the altar for Mass as novices in white veils. I was happy to have my parents there for the ceremony, but remember that I still had a dreadful cold and cough and was trying not to show it. It was not easy for my parents but they went to Macy's in New York City after the day's visit with me and sent me a box of toys to play with on Christmas: pick-up sticks, jacks, playing cards and games like "Ole Maid" and a yo-yo, a ball with a paddle and I know not what but we really enjoyed them that Christmas day. It is funny how the 61 years can disappear when one returns to these old but dear memories.
I go straight to the church for Mass after my gym class and was glad I got there early today as there was not a single parking place left by Mass time and the cars were double-parked when I came out. The church for our 12:05 daily Mass is always crowded but on Feasts of Our Lady it is even more so.
It is good to see such devotion to Our Lady.
I said I would tell you about our week end in Tampa. It was great fun and we had wonderful seats for the musical of "The Christmas Story" and met afterwards with the actor, who played the father of the little boys in the musical. Marge's brother-in-law wrote the "Book" for this musical which had been a movie. I never saw it but it is about a little boy who wants a b-b-gun for Christmas. We returned in time to go to the lovely outdoor Mass and carols sung by the Middle School at Carrollton; it was dark at the end of the Liturgy so each child had an electric candle that she held while singing. It was all beautiful and several hundred chairs on the lawn were filled with proud parents and grandparents and siblings galore.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gaudete Sunday

We have reached the third Sunday of Advent and it is a time to rejoice. The Lord is coming and coming soon! Our longing increases each day as Christmas approaches and we are filled with joy.

As I said yesterday, I am in Tampa with my community this week end and will tell you more about it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent Journey

I was thinking yesterday how uncomfortable the journey for Mary was as it would have been for any woman who was so close to giving birth. I think it must have been an anxious journey, too, for Joseph. Actually, it is hard to imagine that they would have left home where no doubt they had been preparing for the birth of their son, and set out without being able to take much with them. They had to trust God to provide in some way. It is an amazing story. Jesus is born in a stable or maybe it is only a cave in the hillside as so many of our cribs depict it; no doors so all may come and see the newborn infant who arrives helpless and vulnerable as all new babies. It is a mystery to contemplate in wonder, first of all, and then it fills us with love and gratitude.

My community is going on a journey this week end to Tampa, Florida. We leave at 7:00 on Saturday morning and drive to Tampa to see a Christmas musical there at 2:00; we will spend the night and return early Sunday.
I will tell you more on Monday about our trip.

Friday, December 9, 2011

There is a candle in your heart...

I have just ordered a second hand copy of Rumi's poems that I did not have and I look forward to sharing some with you. Today I am using one that was given on the Advent retreat and is found in "Hush...":Passionate Poems of Rumi"

There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your sould,
ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?
You feel the separation
From the Beloved.

Invite Him to full you up,
embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you
otherwise that
comes to you of its own accord,
and the yearning for it
cannot be learned in any school.

Let us realize that each of us does have a candle in our heart and it is ready to be kindled by our longing this Advent to embrace our Beloved!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

This is a feast that makes us realize what we owe to Mary who was conceived without sin and who has always said "Yes" to whatever God wanted of her. It must have been a tremendous leap of faith to believe the angel and accept to be the mother of Jesus! It brought a certain confusion with it, I think, as Mary kept silence about this tremendous event announced by the angel and did not even tell Joseph. It must have been a relief for her to know that the Holy Spirit revealed to Elizabeth that Mary was carrying a child destined to be the promised savior; I love the fact that Jesus in the womb of Mary met John in the womb of Elizabeth and gave a leap of joy.
Anyway, today's feast really is in memory of the conception of Mary that was without "original sin" or the tendency to follow Adam and Eve and not listen to God. I love to think that Mary was the one creature from conception who was pure and full of love for God.
As a child of the Sacred Heart, I have fond memories of our Advent practice of silence and purity of heart so that we could walk in the "Lily Procession" and offer Mary the "lily of my heart" so she could be its guardian forever. She has been so much in my life: mother, friend, comforter, guide, protector, companion, model, etc.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prayer for Advent

I am adapting this short prayer that the Society of the Sacred Heart used at the end of our national teleconference on Sunday; I have used it for the lighting of our Advent wreath before supper:

As we journey through the days of Advent, let us continue to be open, courageous, listening to one another and to the needs of the world, communicating our truth with simplicity, accepting hardship and pressing onward, that we may see Jesus. We invite God to show us our need for transformation as individuals and to give us the grace that we may be transformed and choose together the way to move forward today. Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent is a gift for all of us

Advent is a gift for all of us. It teaches us about the importance of slowing down, of preparing during four weeks for the coming of the Lord. Here is a prayer by Katherine James that may help our preparation:

"In the midst of my busyness, O Lord,
Remind me to slow down and savor each moment
As a gift from you.

As I move frantically from thought to thought, project to project, remind me that you are a God of abundance, not scarcity, and there is time enough for all that you have called me to do.

In the midst of worry, anxiety, fear, and discouragement,
Remind me, Loving God, that you have called me to serve the needs of others; needs that you have uniquely gifted me to fill.

Help me to remember that I am not alone, that I need to be connected with others who are struggling, for you are the source of all life and strength and peace." Amen.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Faithful Friends

I always think that those four friends who carried the paralytic to Jesus and did not let any obstacle such as a whole crowd of people blocking access stop them. They were determined, resourceful, and creative and managed to get the man up on top of the house where they removed part of the roof and then were able to lower their friend so that Jesus not only saw him but immediately forgave the man's sins! It is an extraordinary story when you think about it. Then, to show that he had the power to forgive sins, Jesus cures the man and has him get up and walk - he no longer needs his friends to carry him, but how grateful he must feel to Jesus and to his friends for carrying him.
Now, I know we all have friends and family who carry us; we need to look around and think of those who have helped and are helping us to have access to Jesus and thank them. We also need to look at those near or far who need us to carry them to Jesus. That is plenty to reflect on today!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent

This is a comforting Sunday with still three weeks to go to prepare our hearts for Christmas. I hope we can concentrate on our hearts and not just on material things; getting ready for Christmas should take as much inner as outer preparation and we all know how overwhelmed we can get with the exterior shopping, cards, decorating, to say nothing about the hassle we experience trying to get in and out of malls! Now, what about our inner preparation? I think this reflection from Thomas Kelly that we were given in the Advent retreat yesterday may help us all. It is called "Silent Waiting":
We need times of silent waiting...when the busy intellect is not leaping from problem to problem, and from puzzle to puzzle.

If we learn the secret of carrying a living silence
At the very center of our being
We can listen on the run.

The listening silence can become intertwined
With all our inward prayers
A few moments of relaxed silence, allone
Every day
Are desperately important.

I hope you find those moments of relaxed silence!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wherever you are giving and receiving love is where God is calling you.

Today I will be making the Advent retreat at St. Thomas University and I am looking forward to it. I will share something with you after the retreat.

Louis Savary says: "Wherever you are giving and receiving life and love is where God is calling you."

I have been thinking about this and wonder if we need to discern some of our choices. I do feel more and more called to help "renew the face of the earth"; it seems strange that now I am retired I feel that I have more zeal and desire to work for God's reign in new ways. I also feel that what I contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ is something that is unique since I am unique (each of us is unique) and Jesus counts on me to do what I have been created for in this world. I guess I am beginning to realize that not only is one in mission for life, but one's daily life and choices are contributing to the evolution of the world or the Cosmic Christ. I am influenced by Savary's "The New Exercises in the Spirit of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin" and all this reflection came about because the liturgy had the image of the clay and the potter the other day and I keep thinking that I am clay, but precious in God's sight and God is the potter and is shaping me so I am really the work of his hands.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord"

I opened today's reading for the Liturgy and my eyes fell upon the first reading from Isaiah 29 and these words just jumped out at me:
"The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord"!! The exclamation points are mine, but I thought to myself that I had sort of been knocked over the head with a fundamental truth and one that certainly fit my retreat last August. It is the lowly, the humble, who always find joy in the Lord!

Let us strive to be lowly and then we will be joyful and be a part of the great Christ project to bring all things to fulfillment in God.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What does Advent mean for me this year?

Here is my reflection on what Advent means to me this year:

What does Advent mean for me this year?

I want it to mean a time of preparation, a time of love, longing, and inner work. My soul needs a good housecleaning! Just as I can accumulate extras in closets and drawers, so, too, I pick up unnecessary baggage that crowds into my interior and clogs my heart. It is time to wait in silence with the Lord who will help “declutter” my soul if I can be still and allow Jesus to fill me with His love, peace, and joy.

Part of my inner work means taking time to work out a balance each day of prayer, work, exercise, and relaxation. I sometimes get caught up in work or a list of things to do and forget that when I relax and slow down I am aware that Jesus is with me and whether things get done (they usually do and better, of course, when Jesus is with me) or do not get done, Advent is here and now. Jesus is coming and that fills me with hope and desire. I also feel so grateful that I am able to take time to prepare for His coming again this year. I am missing the three days I have spent at the Cenacle for the past several years, but will make up for it by finding three separate days of retreat before Christmas, or I hope to do this. December 3 will be the Advent retreat at the University that I began over twenty-four years ago; I will be going to a party that night so the retreat day will be over by evening, but it will be a start. I am hoping I can make December 15th special, too, as I made my first vows on that day in 1952 and have vivid, joyful, memories that require a day to return thanks for that day and the years that have followed. Then, December 22 seems to be another day to save for quiet prayer.

Now, I hope you, too, are reflecting this week on what Advent means for you this year?

Now, as I do send many Christmas cards, I need to get these written and out of the way. It is a work of love, but does take time and I am sorry that I did not get it all done before Advent! However, I guess my Christmas cards help me to understand what Advent means for me. Each card brings my prayer and love to someone who is part of my life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle

My mother and father were married on the Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle. They wanted to get married before Advent began and without any fuss so my Dad had been to see the Archbishop (my Dad was captain of his tennis team in college and had often played tennis with the Archbishop) and so they were able to keep the marriage secret. My mother was the only daughter and my Dad the only son and the oldest with five sisters behind him so they would not have let them have a quiet wedding. They were married at an early Mass with only one couple chosen among all their friends to be witnesses. They kept the marriage secret until Christmas when my Dad knew there was going to be a notice in the paper that he had bought a house and so they told their families. It must have been a shock but brought joy to all.
Anyway, I never forget this anniversary and was able to get back from Chile in time for their golden jubilee! That was over thirty years ago, but it does not seem that long.

I have a quote from Thomas Merton that I do not think I have shared with you, although I have been meaning to do so.
"We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I meant by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others."

St. Andrew is mostly known for being Peter's brother; John's Gospel tells us that Jesus called Andrew first and then Andrew told his brother about Jesus. Maybe he is the saint to pray to when we want to bring others to Jesus.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Advent - Week One

I am still pondering the question: "What does Advent mean for me this year?"
I will be posting a longer reflection during the week that I actually began to write on the First Sunday of Advent. Here, I am just sharing some words that I jotted down at the end of my prayer this morning. Each word could trigger a reflection on Advent:

Now, why have I not mentioned being alert, awake, watchful? These were words that did strike me in Sunday's liturgy. Mark's Gospel has "Be watchful! Be alert! ...May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

As you can see, Advent lends itself to reflection so do choose your favorite Advent words and reflect why these are important to you to express something about this season.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent: What does Advent 2011 mean for me?

I suspect that I may have a question like "What does Advent mean for me?" to ponder each week. I am narrowing this down a bit to "What does Advent 2011 mean for me?" and I hope my readers will ponder their own reflections on the meaning of Advent at this moment in each of our lives.
As I need time to think and pray about this, I will sign off now and spend quiet time with the Lord and hope you are able to do the same today.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent - What does that mean for me this year?

As we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, we stop and reflect on what Advent means for each of us. I am using the "Little Blue Book: Advent and Christmas Season 2011-2012" that are six-minute reflections on the Sunday Gospels but contain loads of interesting facts.

The first page is titled: Advent/Christmas plans and asks us to spend today's six minutes with the Lord sketching below (there is space to write) "some ideas on how you can spend these 28 days of Advent well. Your plans can include items that are spiritual (deciding where and when you will pray each day)...practical(your gift list)...personal(sending a Christmas card to someone with whom you've not been on good terms)...charitable(doing something for the poor)...
Before you write anything, spend a few quiet moments with the Lord and ask for help.

I love the fact that we are asked on most pages to "Spend some quiet time with the Lord" as I think that is the best preparation for His coming into our hearts anew this Advent.
I have not yet started my new Journal as I find I still have pages left in the one I started last August with my retreat. I suspect I will begin the new one anyway as Advent is the beginning of the new Liturgical year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Advent, a season of longing

Since I go to Mass on Saturday evening, I am beginning the lovely season of Advent with the lighting of the Advent wreath and the readings for the first Sunday of Advent. Be alert, the Lord is coming and let your hearts be filled with longing for his advent.
I am off to water exercise now so will write more tomorrow. I just want all to have a great Advent this year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dawn beauty

Today is "Black Friday" and we are such a crazy nation of consumers that many are out there fighting to buy, fighting for parking spaces, standing in lines, and some, according to our newspaper, really enjoy this marathon of shopping.

I woke up thinking how much we have to be grateful for and asking myself why I never get up and go watch the sunrise over the ocean.
I also keep thinking of a poem I read yesterday in "The Grateful Heart" that is from Patricia Schneider's "The Patience of Ordinary Things". I think it does make me aware of more things to thank for and helps me to see common things with fresh eyes:

"It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes or toes,
How soles of feet know where they're suppose to be,
I've been thinking about the patience of ordinary things,
How clothes wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet from the skin of the back,
And the lovely repetition of stairs,
And what is more generous than a window?"

You can probably add to this.
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We did and the dinner turned out to be delicious, the company delightful, and I am now left to make turkey soup which I think I will freeze and wait for a cool night in December to serve to my community.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I went to Church and that took three hours as we went early for parking; there is only one Mass on Thanksgiving and the children all sing as well as the adult choir; some are dressed as Pilgrims and others as Indians. They carry in the flag at the end and we all sing patriotic songs. There are always some who tell their stories that call forth thanksgiving on the part of all of us.

A parting thought: Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is gift.That is why it is called the present.
(I think this comes from AA but was in "The Grateful Heart" which I am still reading.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving today as I will probably not be writing tomorrow. There is a long but beautiful Mass I usually go to that takes most of the morning and then dinner and a football game. I hope all of my readers have a blessed, joyful holiday.
Here is a good thought from James Martin, S.J.'s book on "Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and other saints:

I don't think that you can be a true contemplative without being utterly honest before yourself and God. I don't think you can be honest with yourself without being a contemplative in some way. One supports the other. Honesty before God and others deepens your relationship with God, and therefore your prayer. Likewise a deepening intimacy with God frees you to be honest with yourself and with others.

He quotes Merton as saying "To be a saint means for me to be myself." I find this consoling and also that if we want to be a saint, we will be one.
I think the first quote goes with all I have written in the past about the call to be transparent.
I hope you are all thinking about how to enter Advent on Sunday with the spirit of preparation so we profit from that joyful season of four weeks of expectation before the coming of Christ celebrated as a triple coming into our history, our hearts, and the final coming of which we know not the day...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

This week families are preparing for our national holiday by buying a turkey and all the trimmings to go with it: dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, green beans, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, and then desserts. I will not name those as I may be making you hungry just thinking about the feast on Thursday! It is a time for families to gather and give thanks. The thanksgiving should begin way before the holiday when we are too busy to just sit down and reflect on the many things we have to be thankful for in our daily lives and even more if we start naming all the priceless gifts we have been given: our health, our sight, hearing, sense of taste and smell, our ability to think, remember, walk, talk, make friends, enjoy life, and then our family, our faith, our education, our country with all its beauty and freedom, etc. Some may want to thank for concrete things like a warm sweater on a cold morning, a cup of tea with a friend, the smile of a child, the smell of a wood fire, roasting marsh-mellows in front of the fireplace, the sound of laughter, the joy of freedom, etc. I think we all need to take time and go back to thank God for his many gifts to us. I especially want to thank for all the persons who have helped me to be the person I am today. They are many so I will begin now to recall them and let you do the same.
This giving thanks is what Thanksgiving is all about so let us be filled with gratitude. It will also be a good preparation for Advent which begins on Sunday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday Solitude

I wrote this on Sunday but am posting on Monday which is also the feast of the Presentation of Mary and the day we celebrate the founding of the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1800.

My community have all been away since Friday afternoon, but two of them return Sunday afternoon. It is the first time in months and probably years that I have been alone in the house. I planned to do so much this week end and seem not to be doing much of anything. When I opened the door yesterday morning to go out and get the morning paper, I forgot to turn off the alarm. That scared me as I was afraid the police would come before I could call the alarm company. Fortunately, that was not the case but I made sure I turned off the alarm before bringing in the paper this morning. It made me realize that I am never the first one to get the paper as I do not leave my room usually without at least an hour of prayer and preferably it is closer to an hour and twenty or even thirty minutes. I am most contemplative in the morning; some get coffee before prayer, but I do not drink coffee and wait for a cup of tea until after prayer. My morning prayer sets the tone for the entire day and I look forward to that time with Jesus, even when I seem to spend a great deal of it in thinking rather than just sitting in silence in His Presence. I also do some spiritual reading before facing my day. That is nourishing and feeds further conversation with Jesus who is my Beloved and best friend as well as my God and Savior and Spouse. Well, when no one is here, I find myself wanting to take more time to just be. I have cards to write and will write them today so they will arrive before Thanksgiving.

For reflection today I guess I am still with Jesus as my Shepherd. When I was still a young novice, I had an incredible experience of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and understood what mercy meant and how merciful Jesus is - It was such an intense experience of God's love and mercy that I have never forgotten it. It was summer and so we were having the morning hour of prayer on the roof sitting on camp stools! I told the Novice Mistress about this experience when I wrote my journal to her and she told me that it was a moment of infused contemplation and I should thank God for it. I knew, at that time, nothing about infused contemplation, but know that this experience made me so sure of God's love and mercy that nothing could make me doubt it. Well, I did not set out to share that deep experience, but it seems to me that this Sunday's readings have made me relive that moment.

One thought about today's Gospel is that even the sheep need to ask Jesus "when did we see you hungry or thirsty, naked or ill, or in prison?" Even the good sheep fail to recognize Jesus as he comes to us in each person who is needy. I feel that it is His Mother, Mary, who often says to me as she did to her Son: "They have no wine..." or whatever is lacking. May I learn to recognize Jesus in each.

Now, let me send those cards as I know my family and friends do expect to hear from me at Thanksgiving. My mother started sending cards for all the holidays of the year and I have tried to do the same. This year, I have received an early Thanksgiving card from my brother and sister-in-law and it made me feel good so I hope my cards do the same. I mention this today in case some of you need to remember family or friends before our national holiday of giving thanks. Let us make the next few days ones or real thanksgiving to prepare for the feast on Thursday and, also, giving thanks is a great way to begin to prepare for Advent as next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, a special season of just four weeks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Shepherd King

Today is the Feast of Christ the King; however, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and there is a real contrast between the humble shepherd who leads his sheep home and tends to their needs and the powerful King who will judge us in the end. I am concentrating on Jesus as one who seeks the lost sheep, who has compassion on the crowds who are like sheep without a shepherd, and who says that he knows his sheep and they know him and he calls us by name. He also lays down his life for the sheep. How grateful I am for the image given us by Jesus of this Good Shepherd. Let us celebrate this Feast of Christ the King by drawing near to our Shepherd King and ask to be numbered always among his sheep.

I have added a new blog to my list so do check it out as it is by one of our religious who lives in Oxford. I have just discovered her blog and it makes me very happy!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want...

I do believe that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and with Him nothing is wanting. I love the image of the Good Shepherd and this Sunday's first reading is so consoling.

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.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Feast of St. Philippine Duchesne

Mother Duchesne always seemed very close to me when I was at school at St. Charles. We used to go out to the little shrine in front of the school each night to help one of the nuns close up for the night after some prayer. I still remember the vigil lights that had been burning around the tomb and gave us enough light to kneel there in the shadows. It seems to me that they were usually green and amber lights almost burned out. Philippine was always there for me and I was astonished when I entered to find out that so many thought of her as an austere person while I saw her as a mother. I still do and feel that she watched over all of us in a special way at St. Charles and still does. I think she has inspired me as a missionary, as a faithful religious who loved the Society, her family, her country, America, the Church, the nuns and children entrusted to her care and the Indians. She had a heart as wide as the world and was so generous and did so much to help the pioneer Jesuits. She is still an inspiration for me and I am happy to celebrate her feast. The "woman who prays always", as the Indians named her, calls me to a life of prayer and integrity. I think she lived the prayer of Ignatius "to give without counting the cost', to toil without rest, to labor and not to seek any reward except that of doing the will of God. May she give us her gift of prayer and her fortitude and faithfulness!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats

I want to be a sheep, of course. But then I do not do the things I want to do. I think one sins by omission more than we may be aware of each day. On the other hand, I find so much to be grateful for and believe that Jesus loves a grateful person and a cheerful giver so I am not going to worry too much about what I am not doing but examine how consistent my actions are with my desire to please Jesus. I encourage all to think positively and to also heed the words of Jesus in this coming Sunday's Gospel that I copied for you yesterday as it is an important one and shows us how we can please Jesus by caring for others. People are hungry for food, but also people hunger for love, praise, encouragement, and understanding.

I am off to the University but wish you all a happy day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoughts on next Sunday's Gospel

Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year and we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. I love the readings but will only comment on the Gospel today as it is so important.
Gospel Mt 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'

Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

I think sometimes we need the reminder of what we are to do for others; and there are many ways of giving nourishment to those who surround us, of welcoming them as they are, clothing them with love and understanding, and being with them when they need us. I am thinking that there are many days when I fail to do all that Jesus asks me to do in helping others; if I really were loving them as Jesus loves me, I would leave nothing undone for my neighbor and would study how I can be of greater help. I think this Sunday's Gospel calls us to love in action and a concentrated effort to see how those around me can be aided - it is not just to feed the hungry, visit the sick, or do what we can for the poor. It is to take positive action to nourish others in all the ways that we can, to be with them and remember that what we do to others we do to the Lord!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Water is such a gift!

I spent the morning at the doctor's and then cleaning our refrigerator which was almost empty; then I went to the grocery store and bought many things so we are well-stocked for food maybe until Thanksgiving! I cannot believe that a week from Thursday is Thanksgiving but have been thanking today for the gift of water. My reflection has taken me through many thoughts of water, the need we have for it, the abundance of water in some places and the lack of water in others. Especially, it has led me to be grateful for our pool as I was able to get in and swim today and feel so relaxed and at peace now.
I am praying for our world. In Miami we are having many houses broken into and their was a robbery just across and down from our house this morning. I guess people are in such need that they are breaking into houses to steal whatever they can find to sell.

I hope I will be more spiritual and have some better reflections soon, but I just sit here and share with you whatever seems to be on my mind. NN

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning

We are having beautiful weather and I am heading for the swimming pool while the sun is out. I missed my time at the gym while I was away and am missing it again today as I needed to do some more urgent things around the house. As you can probably tell from my lack of quiet reflection for my blogs since I have been home, I am still trying to do too much and not doing all that I want. I would tell someone else to just take it easy, breathe deeply, and calmly prioritize and then do one thing at a time. It is easier to give advice to someone else than follow it myself!

Here is a nice quote from Mechtild of Magdeburg:
"To love in every moment praises God.
Longing love brings a sorrow sweet to the pure.
Seeking love belongs to itself alone.
Understanding love is mingled with the sadness of the world.
But selfless love bears an effortless fruit,
Working so quietly even the body cannot say how it comes and goes."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Something has happened to my blog and I cannot find my original one to post or edit posts. I am just letting you know this and will try to solve the problem tomorrow. I think it will publish correctly, but I have only a tiny font and cannot discover anything to make it bigger and there is not any help button. I will be able, I hope, to tackle this problem tomorrow.