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Monday, February 28, 2011

What I love about St. Madeleine Sophie?

This I thought I had found on the RSCJ International Website, but now cannot find it to tell you who wrote it. It was one of our RSCJs in France, I am sure, but someone gave me a copy without the author's name so I am sharing it with you today:
( I just heard from our wonderful webmaster for the International RSCJ website so this poem is from Marie-Thérèse Théry, published on and we do have a search engine.)
What do I love about you, Madeleine Sophie?

The woman of frailty and strength,
The woman tender, yet firm,
The woman demanding and compassionate.

What I love about you is the active woman
Whose activity draws its inspiration
From the Heart of Christ.

What I love about you is the woman of contrasts:
Friend of the humble,
Yet approaching with simplicity
The great ones of the world;
Friend of silence and prayer, forever traveling the roads of Europe
Bringing communities to birth and nurturing them;
You are skilled in loving strongly,
You are skilled in parting too.

What I love about you, Madeleine Sophie,
Is your eagerness to serve families,
Young people and children.
I love your creativity, your dynamism,
The talent for rejuvenation that made you say, at 83:
“The world is changing;
Our Plan of Studies must change too.”

Thank you, Madeleine Sophie,
For seeing beyond your weakness,
And letting the Strength of God
Perform its work in you.

You lead us to a great discovery;
The Fountain of Life itself springs out of a wounded Heart!

This is a real reflection!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

St. Madeleine Sophie

Sometimes I feel that Saint Madeleine Sophie is so near to me. I find her sending me to read again some of my favorite quotes. Today, I will share with you a quote from our document from the General Chapter of 2008. It is taken from the section on Contemplation that begins: "Today, as women rooted in the heart of Christ, we reaffirm our heritage of contemplation that springs from 'a compelling love written in our hearts by the Spirit.'"

It tells us a bit later in this section that "we are called to stop, to choose silence and to open and let ourselves be opened to our inner depths where the Spirit of God allows us to feel, see and understand life and reality with God's heart. When we allow our bodies to be silent, our senses awaken and we are able to hear the voice of the Spirit within us. Then in the secret place of the heart the Spirit gradually transforms our feelings and responses, and draws us into an intimate relationship with God. The Spirit attunes us to the heartbeat of our people to discover the presence and love of God in everyday life."

I guess it is a call to me today to really choose silence and let the Spirit draw me into an intimate relationship with God."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

St. Teresa of Avila wrote:
Remember that you have
only one soul,
that you have only
one death to die,
that you have only one life,
which is short and has to be
lived by you alone;
and that there is only one
glory which is eternal.
If you do this, there will be
many things about which
you care nothing

Friday, February 25, 2011

Swanlake Ballet Video

I have finally begun to put videos on my blog. You can just click on the link under Videos on the right to see an amazing performance of Swanlake. I promise more wonderful videos in the days to come.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My sister's birthday

Today is my sister's 75th birthday. I called her this morning before she left for Mass and promised to pray for her at the noon Mass today at the University. I am writing my blog today in the computer room in the library at St. Thomas University as we are having the inside of our house painted and it is quite noisy, messy, and the computer is under a protective sheet. I just mention this in case you find me missing a blog tomorrow.

I continue to read about Mother Duchesne and Lucile Mathevon and the first days of the Society of the Sacred Heart in America. It is fascinating to read as Philippine arrived in the Missiouri territory; Missouri was not yet a state in 1818. However, after the War of 1812 was over, many settlers were arriving in St. Louis founded on the banks of the Mississippi. Philippine wanted to make a foundation in St. Louis but there was not a house to be found and the Bishop was firm about starting the first school west of the Missouri river in St. Charles. And so we began a school there amid great hardship.

The responsorial psalm for this Sunday's response is "Rest in God alone, my soul." I think I hear God saying this to me today.
Here is the first verse taken from Psalm 62:

"Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold;
I shall not be disturbed at all."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Priority for Youth

I told you that Barb Quinn had written a good article on "Our Priority for Youth" and I even quoted from it and told you that it was on our International Website. Today I was reading the History of the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America by Mother Callan. It is a huge and heavy book and I took it with me for the three hour wait I had while my car was having its semi-annual check-up. It is a 1999 Toyota and got the 105,000 mile inspection and I am happy that it is such a good little car that I intend to keep it running smoothly. Anyway, between the History of the Society and Barb Quinn's paper, my reflection centered on my awareness of the needs of youth today and what I am doing about it.

One reason I try to write my daily blog is because I know that young people read blogs and even read mine. I love getting their comments. I realize that young people today are global-minded; they also have a passion for justice and are aware of so much that is not just in our world today. They are searching for love. St. Madeleine Sophie founded the Society to reveal God's love. She wanted us to reach out to youth and let them experience through our love and understanding and care, the love of the Heart of Jesus for each of them. Today, we need also to learn from young people; we also need to be able to help them discover the richness of an interior life, the value of silence, a way of discerning important decisions.
This is a strange reflection but I want to get it on my blog tonight for tomorrow just to help us all be more aware of the mutuality that old and young can find as we face the future of our world together!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bucket List

When I was in Arizona my brother told me that he had two good movies he wanted to watch again with me. Since I never go to movies, he knew that I would enjoy seeing them on his large TV and with captions so I could really understand the movies. The first was the Bucket List and I hope you have seen it. Two men who are dying make out a list of things to do before death will overtake them (before they "kick the bucker"). It made me think of maybe making my own list of things I want to do while I am still able to do them. The picture I chose today is one that made me think of making the list; it is too late for me to learn to ski, but I am off to my water exercise class now! Let us seize the day and do what we enjoy while we can still do it. Too many of my friends are dying so let us live our lives as fully as possible and be ready to go when God calls us.
My Province has been getting ready for a visit from two of our Central Team by a special focus each week in February. This week is awareness and the reflection ends with these lines:
"Let us pray this week for the grace to become increasingly aware of who we are and of God’s call to us in the midst of our changing relationships with others. We pray for the Spirit to guide us in our discernment of our future as a Province, our mission and life together."
Am I aware of the needs of others? In what way can I integrate my understanding of these needs with the way I live--the daily choices that I make?

Before this week of awareness, we have tried to be open, honest, and generous. I find that it really helps to take a special focus for each week. Perhaps you will like to make this a week of awareness - an awareness of the needs of others as well as an awareness that we must live our lives fully now and do those things that we keep putting off...

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Heart as Big as the World

St. Madeleine Sophie insisted that we were to be wholly contemplative and wholly apostolic. This is not easy but I think it is what makes Religious of the Sacred Heart effective in whatever type of educational ministry we are involved in today. I just read an interesting paper by Sister Barbara Quinn; you can find it on our international website that is listed on the right side of the blog along with an excellent video of the Asian meeting of some of our young professed religious. Barbara writes about the challenges of change and the need to change today. She is speaking about the priority we want to give to youth and how young people want to see the way we live; they are seeking our wisdom and looking for God. They have grown up with a global vision and we need to understand how connected they are to our world. It is amazing to talk to young people today and find that they have so much information at their fingertips; even my five year old grand nephew can text, or so they tell me. College students want to help their world be a better place; they are often more concerned about the environment, about justice for all, and about being open to different ways of seeking God, than some of us who need to learn from youth. Barb Quinn's paper is worth reading no matter what your age so do look at our international website.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Superstition Mountain in Arizona

I arrived on February 8 to spend the first five days with my brother and his wife in Gold Canyon, Arizona. Their house is at the foot of Superstition Mountain; when they moved out to Gold Canyon, there were very few streets and only a few stores. Now there are over a thousand homes but it is still so beautiful. They keep the desert colors for the homes and no one has grass in front of their home, but some trees and cactus are planted. It is so different from my sister's home in Scottsdale, less than an hour away. Her gated community has greenery everywhere; there are palm trees and green grass and the houses are often white instead of a desert color.
I promised that I would tell you a bit about my trip. One of the highlights was a train ride with lunch served in a domed dining car while we watched the gorgeous landscape. I would not like to live in Arizona in the summer, but it was wonderful to visit in February and I do love the mountains. The sunsets are so lovely there.
My sister had a big party on Sunday and so I stayed with her and her husband for the next four nights. My niece and her husband were there from Oregon and my nephew and his wife and son came to the party and then we also were together on Monday night. It was good to have the family together, but I am also happy to be home.
I am hoping to catch up with myself today.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Home again and here is something about St. Madeleine Sophie

What do I love about you,
Madeleine Sophie?
The woman of frailty and strength,
the woman tender, yet firm,
the woman demanding and compassionate.

What I love about you is
the active woman
whose activity draws its inspiration
from the Heart of Christ.

What I love about you is
the woman of contrasts:
friend of the humble,
yet approaching with simplicity
the great ones of this world;
friend of silence and of prayer,
forever traveling

the roads of Europe
bringing communities to
birth and nurturing them;
you are skilled in loving strongly,
you are skilled in parting too.

What I love about you,
Madeleine Sophie,
is your eagerness to serve families,
young people and children.
I love your creativity,
your dynamism,
the talent for rejuvenation
that made you say, at 83:
"The world is changing;
our Plan of Studies must change too."

Thank you, Madeleine Sophie,
for seeing beyond your weakness,
and letting the Strength of God
perform its work in you.
You lead us to a great discovery:
the Fountain of Life itself springs
out of a wounded Heart!

Marie-Thérèse Théry, RSCJ
Province of France

I thought this was worth passing on to all my readers with a love of St. Madeleine Sophie.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover..."

I am back but have scheduled this poem by Jessica Powers for my first day home:

"One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit, strange as the wind's will"

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
Turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
Echo the wounded heart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
That emulates the freedom of the sky.
Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
It has cast down forever from its hand
The compass of the whither and the why.

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to God
Toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
Fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind's shim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
And though it surges Godward to its goal,
It holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
The peace that is the listening of the soul."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My friend in Scotland went peacefully to God this morning

As so many of my readers prayed for Jane, I thought you would like to know that God called her home this morning. She was surrounded by prayer and I know how much she appreciated knowing that others were praying for her. Let us continue to pray for and to Jane and for those who will miss her dearly.

I am writing from my brother's in Arizona having arrived last night.

On Vacation

I left yesterday for Arizona and a family visit. I will be back on the 17th but expect a blog only a day or so later. Here is a poem by Joyce Rupp that will be good for reflection:
Dry Bones
Tiredness grounds me
Into a quiet stupor
of the spirit.
I yearn to be inspired,
to be lifted up, set free
beyond the place of deadness.
the struggle goes on,
and you and I, God,
we exist together
with seemingly
little communion.
yet in the deepest part of me,
I believe in you,
perhaps more strongly than ever.
I am learning you
as a God of silence,
of darkness, deep and strong.
I do not wrestle anymore,
only wait, only wait,
for you to bring my dry bones
into dancing once again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good for the soul!

I made my final profession 51 years ago today! I feel very united to all my profession sisters today; many have gone to God but all of us have lived up to our name: "Apostolic Courage". It seems a good day to begin my vacation with family.

As I leave for Arizona, I will leave you with this little story sent to me last Sunday:
"Last week, I took my grand-children to a restaurant.

My six-year-old grand-son asked if he could say grace.
As we bowed our heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Nana gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!"
Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!"
Hearing this, my grand-son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"
As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.
He winked at my grand-son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."
"Really?" my grand-son asked.
"Cross my heart," the man replied.
Then, in a theatrical whisper, he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
Naturally, I bought my grand-children ice cream at the end of the meal. My grand-son stared at his for a moment, and then did something I will remember the rest of my life.
He picked up his sundae and, without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already."

Monday, February 7, 2011

How prayers are answered

I thought you would enjoy this that was sent to me:
An eye witness account from New York City, on a cold day in December, some years ago: A little boy,
about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.
A lady approached the young boy and said, 'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'
'I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes, 'was the boy's reply.
The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back
part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel. By this time, the clerk had returned with
the socks.. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes..
She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him.. She patted him on the head and said, 'No doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'
As she turned to go, the astonished kid caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears
in his eyes, asked her. 'Are you God's wife?'
Wow! We can all be God's wife for someone today!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday andBest Colleges Blog

Texas is happy to have this year's Super Bowl!
Today is really the end of the football season and also the time for a party.
I do not usually copy an article sent to me for my blog. However, I read this one about college football coaches and thought that my college students who read this blog might be interested in seeing another blog; those who are involved in following college football, and I am one to some extent, will be interested in this article. I will also send it to my brother as I do not think he reads my blog. The link to the article is found above.

Now, what would be a good spiritual thought for today?
I was just thinking again of one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Merton:
"How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun!"
Let us who have sunshine sit in silence and let God's love penetrate our hearts.

I also want to tell you that I will be leaving for Arizona on February 8 for a visit with my brother and his wife first, and then my sister and her husband, and will see both my nephew and his wife and my niece and her husband who will be visiting at the same time and my niece is planning a party that is celebrating her mother's birthday early and many other things while I am there. I will be away from February 8, the 51st anniversary of my final profession, to February 17. I will also be taking a vacation from the computer so I will not be blogging during those nine days that I am away. I promise to reflect though and maybe even prepare some blogs when away. I will write my blog for the next two days and then go on vacation!
Please keep praying for my friend Jane in Scotland and for my friend Caroline as both are dying.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

To Live and Love in Joy

What does it mean for me to live and love in Joy? I want to share another tidbit from Our Mother General's conference to our young Religious who made their final profession last Sunday:

"You are ready to live and love with great joy! Like the women after the resurrection, you have known the love and power of the risen Jesus. With them you step out into the future. You run to share the joy of having found the meaning and zest for life, of now perceiving the whole of creation like a melody which energizes and invites us, calls us and impels us to offer our greatest richness, our life with all its learnings, our new selves, for love!"

No matter what our age or state of life, we are all called to live and love with joy! Jesus is risen, Alleluia! We know that we, too, are called to live united to the Heart of Jesus and let Jesus teach us how to live and love in joy. A sad saint is a sorry saint. What can take away our joy? If there are some difficult moments when we suffer because someone rubs us the wrong way, let us think that these are like stones in a brook and make the water sing. If it is the sad news that we know about through the news or friends who are suffering, we still must love in joy and trust all to Jesus. I suspect that this is easier said than done, but I think that I strive to live and love in joy by being grateful; gratitude is one way to express our love and increase our joy. Let us keep thanking Jesus for all the good things in our lives and ask to be more aware of all that we do have to be grateful for every single day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Noblesse Oblige

This picture is of the Academy of the Sacred Heart where I first learned about "Noblesse Oblige".
I wrote a blog on Noblesse Oblige and lost it. My frustration then sent me to the Internet.
I am copying here some of my research from two sources on the Internet: Wikipedia, and then from a paper by David R. Murray. Both have deepened my own insight into how we were inspired as children at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles by this motto of "Noblesse Oblige" to go forth and help others.
The importance is not the definition of noblesse oblige itself, but an understanding of the strength and power the concept wields over many of the world's most successful business and civic leaders, as well as to gifted ordinary individuals. People who do not consider themselves noble (i.e., the beneficiaries of any special skill, talent, or benefit) may feel no external compunction to excel. Yet, if this concept is taken broadly, each can be seen as having unique skills and talents that we are obligated to make the best use of.
We are all privileged as children of God and heirs of heaven - being a child of the Sacred Heart was also considered to be special and we were to live up to the ideals instilled in us.

Noblesse oblige is a French phrase literally meaning "nobility obliges".
The Dictionnaire de l’Académie française defines it thus:
1. Whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly.
2. (Figuratively) One must act in a fashion that conforms to one's position, and with the reputation that one has earned.

The Oxford English Dictionary says that the term "suggests noble ancestry constrains to honourable behavior; privilege entails to responsibility". Being a noble meant that one had responsibilities to lead, manage and so on. One was not to simply spend one's time in idle pursuits.
Noblesse oblige" is generally used to imply that with wealth, power and prestige come responsibilities.
In American English especially, the term has also been applied more broadly to those who are capable of simple acts to help another, usually one who is less fortunate.
In ethical discussion, it is sometimes used to summarize a moral economy wherein privilege must be balanced by duty towards those who lack such privilege or who cannot perform such duty. Finally, it has been used recently primarily to refer to public responsibilities of the rich, famous and powerful, notably to provide good examples of behaviour or to exceed minimal standards of decency.

Noblesse Oblige
By David R. Murray
Graduate Student, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University

Translated from the French, noblesse oblige means "nobility obligates." Originally, noblesse oblige was used to suggest that certain requirements of behavior could be legitimately imposed upon persons of noble birth. Noblesse oblige in modern English parlance is a broad literary concept. It suggests that anyone who possesses special talents or gifts is required by society to make the best use of those gifts; that he or she is duty-bound to do his or her best.
Today is First Friday. Do check out the Litany to the Sacred Heart that is posted on the Concord Pastor's blog listed on the right. I like it! I have not seen this litany and it makes one feel creative and ready to invent one's own to honor the Sacred Heart.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Florida receives "snowbirds" in winter to enjoy our sunshine

The roads are congested with our winter visitors as a "snowbird" is anyone who comes to winter in Florida, the Sunshine State. We are so fortunate to have wonderful months and the papers told us that we were the only state out of the fifty to not have snow in January! I am sure some places only had snow in the mountains; Florida has no mountains and our winter months are mild and sunny. I did get out a blanket this year, something I have not done for a couple of years. Why am I going on about the weather today? I guess I am thinking of all those who are suffering from the snow and ice; airports were closed, travel disrupted, and what of the homeless who are trying to find shelter in order not to freeze to death.

When I was still in school at St. Charles (1944-48) the Mistress General spoke to us often about "Noblesse oblige" and it seems to have been a motto for us with a plaque at the back of the study hall with names. I cannot remember whether they were names of an outstanding class or of individuals who lived this ideal of Noblesse oblige and I am hoping to have some of my classmates or those before me, enlighten me with their own memories. I am also going to write to the archives and see if they have any knowledge of this. If any of the alums of St. Charles are among my readers and remember anything Mother Flynn told us about that beautiful phrase, "Noblesse oblige", please contact me. It seemed to call forth the best in us as we felt obliged to respond to whatever was being asked of us.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feast of the Purification and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Forty days after birth the first-born son was presented to God in the temple in Jerusalem and the mother went also for the rite of "purification" - Mary and Joseph were devout Jews and so went to the Temple to fulfill the law. While they were there, two others, both people of prayer, were privileged to have the Son of God revealed to them. Simeon had been waiting for this moment. He exclaimed, on seeing the Infant Jesus, and we have his beautiful canticle that is said every day still in the official prayers of the Church's daily Office:

Nunc Dimittis (Canticle of Simeon; Luke 2:29-32): "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
Known originally as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is a relatively ancient celebration. We know that the Church at Jerusalem was observing the feast as early as the first half of the fourth century, and likely earlier.

According to Jewish law, the firstborn male child belonged to God, and the parents had to "buy him back" on the 40th day after his birth, by offering a sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24) in the temple (thus the "presentation" of the child). On that same day, the mother would be ritually purified (thus the "purification").

St. Mary and St. Joseph kept this law, even though, since St. Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ, she would not have had to go through ritual purification. In his gospel, Luke (2:22-39) recounts the story.

Originally, the feast was celebrated on February 14, the 40th day after Epiphany (January 6), because Christmas wasn't yet celebrated as its own feast, and so the Nativity, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany), and the feast celebrating Christ's first miracle at the wedding in Cana were all celebrated on the same day. By the last quarter of the fourth century, however, the Church at Rome had begun to celebrate the Nativity on December 25, so the Feast of the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days later.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contemplating the Heart of Christ

The following quote is from one of a Religious of the Sacred Heart in Spain who is a theologian and one I consider a friend. Her name is Maria Jose Arana and you can read the article she has written on our International website and see her picture there. It was posted January 20 so is still on the rightside of the international website.

"There is no doubt that the call “to contemplate the Heart of Christ through the pierced heart of mankind” constitutes the center of our vocation and, in one form or another, we are reminded of this in all our documents. This proposal is not an invitation to mere passive contemplation; in the first place, it demands a penetrating look, capable of finding this wounded humanity in him, and at the same time of perceiving it as the significant center for meeting and illumination. So contemplation invites us to confidence and calls for generous, daring, committed responses. The contemplation of the open Heart shows us the wounded, broken Body of Christ in the whole of humanity, and so, by gazing on reality in all its depth, it is possible to discover its indwelling Mystery and grasp the identity of that Heart with the very heart of the world. I think one of our best theological texts is to be found in the Chapter of 1970:

“To contemplate his Heart we have no need to turn away from this earth, the home of God made Man. Christ is present, hidden in the heart of the world. Earth could not hold him in death; he lives and the whole world of time and space is transfigured through his risen life. He is present in the unconscious waiting of creation in travail; he is at work in the efforts of man to build a world of justice and brotherly love. It is in this very humanity whose fear and loneliness and love he shared that his GLORY must shine forth.” (The italics are mine!)

We are to be God's Heart in our world today! I often pray about that in the morning and hope that I may live my day reflecting something of the love of the Heart of Jesus. Now, as you know, I am trying to live and love in joy! That phrase is staying with me as I contemplate the Heart of Jesus.