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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stormy Weather Soon Passes

In Miami, a thunderstorm is followed by such a hot sun breaking through the clouds that the puddles of water are soon no more and one forgets the storm. I suspect the same often happens in our interior life; let the love of God shine out and the storm seems to have been a thing of no consequence even if our soul was torn and troubled only a short time before the sun appeared. I remember my mother in winter sighing for sunshine; she said that it gave her life. I think the Son of God gives us life and is always with us, even if there seem to be clouds hiding the sun. His love penetrates and brings peace. (I do not know where these thoughts came from but this picture chose itself and I never know what I am going to write when I sit down to do so.)

What I really wanted to share with you today is a new absence and therefore another two week vacation from my blog. I leave tomorrow early for St. Louis for a week in a cottage lent to me (one that the Society of the Sacred Heart uses behind our school for meetings and retreats) and which I will be sharing with some of my college classmates who were in the group of us who went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans as Freshmen way back in 1949! We are having our 60th reunion as the alumni week end at Maryville begins on Friday. Several of us are arriving on Wednesday and having a reunion with some in St. Louis on Thursday just to be together and share. A couple of us will be in the cottage until Wednesday and then I will go to one of our communities and have another week in St. Louis to work in the archives.
In the meantime, please do check the Concord Pastor's blog and click on the Bible to read the different commentaries to prepare for next Sunday's liturgy. I just read them and hope you do not miss John Kavanaugh's.
I count on your prayer for these two weeks and will be back blogging after October 10. It just does not work for me to write a blog when I am away from home. However, I will be keeping my gratitude journal and hope you will be keeping one, too. One suggestion is to just sit quietly and say over and over, "Thank you, Jesus" and let this be said from your heart. Try it!

Monday, September 24, 2012

What is your inner ocean like?

Another Monday after a rainy week end has arrived and with it more gratitude for the fact that we have so much while others have so little. This applies to the rain (the midwest suffers from the lack of it), the comfortable house that shelters us, the fact that we do have all the modern conveniences - I am grateful and then I pray for all those who lack water, have no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and so many things we take for granted in the United States.
Well, this is not getting to the poem I am going to share today; I just received it from a good friend and so I want to share it with you today - it is a haunting poem full of images to reflect on - we do have an inner ocean...

“The Silence Now” by May Sarton
These days the silence is immense.
It is there deep down, not to be escaped.
The twittering flight of goldfinches,
The three crows cawing in the distance
Only brush the surface of this silence
Full of mourning, the long drawn-out
Tug and sigh of waters never still –
The ocean out there, and the inner ocean.

Only animals comfort because they live
In the present and cannot drag us down
Into those caverns of memory full of loss.
They pay no attention to the thunder
Of distant waves. My dog’s eager eyes
Watch me as I sit by the window, thinking.

At the bottom of the silence what lies in wait?
Is it love? Is it death? Too early or too late?
What is it I can have that I still want?

My swift response is to what cannot stay.
The dying daffodils, peonies on the way.
Iris just opening, lilac turning brown
In the immense silence where I live alone.

It is the transient that touches me, old,
Those light-shot clouds as the sky clears,
A passing glory can still move to tears,
Moments of pure joy like some fairy gold
Too evanescent to be kept or told.
And the cat’s soft footfall on the stair
Keeps me alive, makes Nowhere into Here.
At the bottom of the silence it is she
Who speaks of an eternal Now to me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jesus teaching His Apostles

This Sunday's Gospel has Jesus taking his Apostles aside to teach them. He tries again to tell them that He is going to be put to death but will rise on the third day. They do not seem to hear him. Instead, as they walk along, they are arguing over who is greatest and Jesus needs to tell them that the first shall be last and that they need to become childlike. He actually takes a child to show them by example. I thought this time when I read the Gospel that the Heart of Jesus must have hurt when his chosen ones seemed so indifferent to his telling them that he was to suffer and die - they just do not seem to get it and so act as if they have not heard him. I think Jesus was more patient and understanding than most teachers would be. He had taken them apart to teach them and they do not even seem to listen to him. They do not understand and so just seem to dismiss what he is trying to tell them. So, Jesus waits, lets them talk to each other, and then he asks them what they are arguing about on the way. This gives him a new opportunity to teach them about humility, about serving others, and about being open and trusting as a child.

The picture invites reflection on the way Jesus is leading each of us.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Unending Sky

I just came across this poem and thought you would like it:

The Unending Sky (by John Masefield 1878 – 1967)
I could not sleep for thinking of the sky,
The unending sky, with all its million suns

Which turn their planets everlastingly
In nothing, where the fire-haired comet runs.

If I could sail that nothing, I should cross
Silence and emptiness with dark stars passing,
Then, in the darkness, see a point of gloss
Burn to a glow, and glare, and keep amassing,

And rage into a sun with wandering planets
And drop behind, and then, as I proceed,
See his last light upon his last moon’s granites
Die to dark that would be night indeed.

Night where my soul might sail a million years
In nothing, not even death, not even tears

Friday, September 21, 2012

Letting Go

Beauty in nature always speaks to me of God. I loved the mountains in Chile. This scene is so peaceful.
Yesterday a friend gave me a copy of "Spiritual Life", an old one from the Summer of 2011, and suggested I read the article by Romeo J. Bonsaint, "Reflections on Aging Spirituality" which I did and found excellent.  It closes with a prayer that I thought I would copy here for you. The title is "Letting Go" and applies, I think, to all of us.

Letting Go
Dear God, help me grow old with dignity and wisdom.
As the twilight years cast their shadow upon me,
help my mind remain clear-at peace with the world and with itself.
Let me learn to let go of my bonds with this world- of my need for honor and statue;
of my attraction to physical indulgences;
of my envy of others, of my regrets over all that might have been. - Rabbi Nachman

I will leave you with that for today. I need to "let go" of so much that has accumulated in my closet! I intend to tackle this today!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Empty Boats

I guess this picture says something to me about the many deaths this month of Religious of the Sacred Heart that I have known and loved. I am writing this on Wednesday night for Thursday.
Today I heard that one of the nuns I knew and loved since I had her as what is now called "Dean of Students" but was then "Surveillante General", died very early this morning. I am happy that she has gone to God, but my heart is missing this friend and is still missing the other seven Religious of the Sacred Heart who have died within the past month. I suspect that each tells God that there is another ready for heaven and please call her soon. They now leave us physically but are closer than ever to us spiritually. Still, it takes time for a human heart to grieve.
The empty boats are signs of our loss, but there is another aspect to an empty boat. I remember reading in one of Thomas Merton's books where he tells the story told by an Eastern guru of the value of an empty boat. The way I remember it is that if you are out on the water and someone comes and bumps into you, you are going to be angry that the person did not control the boat or pay attention and so hit you; if it is an empty boat, you simply push it aside and continue on your way without any anger. I think the moral of the story is that we should be empty of our ego - I guess I do not remember the tale well, but the idea of being an empty boat has stayed with me!

I was in a group today and talked about keeping the gratitude journal and found that someone else had tried writing each day three things for which she was grateful; she also said that it was suggested that one write each day one thing that was most meaningful in the day. I might try that, too, as it would certainly help to see how God is working in our lives.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hope is always positive

I just read this quotation and pass it on to you:


“Comfort consists in the exercise of hope.  The theological virtue of hope is purified by the Gift of Knowledge and perfects it.  Hope as a theological virtue does not depend on the past.  In other words, hope is not based on what we have done in the past, whether good or bad.  No matter who we are, even if we are the greatest sinner on earth, we can always hope, because hope is not based on past actions.  It is based on the infinite goodness and mercy of God here and now - a mercy that never changes."

Thomas Keating, "The Gift of Knowledge", Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit

I love the fact that hope is not based on what we have done in the past, whether good or bad! In fact, I think hope is what really gives us confidence and joy because God uses hope to move us closer to Him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is a more rugged landscape and is telling me to get to work as there is much labor to be done today and I am very hot - I suspect the Inspector who is here to look at our new installation has turned off the air. I am so spoiled in Miami - I need to think of many things today so will just say that I am still with the idea that it is an amazing grace to be able to sit with Jesus who chooses to sit with me. He knows me and loves me! That is a great reason for gratitude and joy!

Here is a quote from Patricia Garcia de Queveda, a former Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart:

"To believe is to love. To love the world as God has loved it. To believe in God means to open ourselves, to surrender ourselves to Mystery. It means know that we are drawn into the free gift of this Mystery. In the work of creation, God decided to make an "other" different from God's own self, so that together they might begin a love story. This God of love is capable of compassion, of self-gift, and even of loving the apparently unworthy. God's faithful love respects our freedom so much that it will not impose itself. It only offers itself. God's love is revealed to us in the very existence of the world, in material reality, in historical events and, in a special way, in Jesus of Nazareth. This is the faith which gives meaning to life."

That gives us all something to reflect on today.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I am late writing my blog today as we have had workmen here and I am now trying to clean up after them.
They are almost finished so the end is in sight.
I wonder if God keeps waiting for us to finish and has the desire to push us? I suspect not as our God is a patient God and we are a work in progress all of our lives.
I want to tell you about two new books that I ordered today. One is "Sophie's Fire: the Story of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat" by Constance Solari and is really an historical novel about Sophie's life that will be enjoyable to read, I think. The other is another book by Illia Delio, "Ten Evenings With God" and I know that I loved her other books and look forward to reading this one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who do you say that I am?

Today's Sunday Gospel does have some connection with this picture as I find it hard to describe the mist covered bridge that seems to exist between these mountains. I guess it is also hard to answer the question that Jesus asks us in today's Gospel, "Who do you say that I am?" He is my all so there are many words to use: Beloved, Friend, Spouse, my God, my companion, consoler, savior, etc. He is all of this; Peter was inspired to say, "You are the Christ" which took great faith. We know that Jesus rose from the dead, but Peter only hears that Jesus is trying to tell them about the suffering and terrible death that comes before Jesus will rise again. I guess we all need to pray over this Gospel often and to hear again the words, "Follow me."
Here is a link for daily prayer that you may want to mark for yourselves:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

I had a lovely picture of Our Lady of Sorrows but now cannot find it and so this may be a better picture for us to reflect on today, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. I do go through the seven sorrows of Mary but also find that I celebrate the many joys of Mary and think she likes us to remember the good moments in her life as well as the joys in our own lives each day. God is with us and shows us how much He loves us in little ways; just as the waves touch the shore, God is touching us but we must be attentive or we miss many of the ways in which He makes His presence known in our daily lives.
I am off to water exercise. More tomorrow on Jesus asking us, "Who do you say that I am?" from the Sunday Gospel.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beginning a Gratitude Journal

Last night I began the beautiful Secret Gratitude Journal that has been sitting on my bookshelf and waiting for me.I intend to thank for at least some of the graces and gifts of each day before I go to sleep each night; the journal also asks me to thank for those things that have not yet happened. I think that is a good way to plan for the next day and also thank for being able to see Jesus in each person, etc. I hope I am faithful about keeping this journal as I am sure it will be a source of joy. You are full of joy when really grateful and gratitude also gives joy! One suggesting is to just sit and say "Thank you, God, about twenty times even before beginning to write!!

I have often suggested to others the advantages of keeping a prayer journal and my own journal that I use most days has my daily entry after prayer; a part for some of my favorite quotes, and a part for my preparation for spiritual direction which is really a review of the month trying to be accountable and seeing both the good and the bad. I also have some favorite pictures pasted into the front and back and a few prayers that I have copied so I always have something to use in prayer if I seem uninspired by the Spirit. It helps to look back over the month to see how the Holy Spirit has been leading me, nudging me, and even shoving me into the Heart of Christ.

We had a good reflection group last night and now we will be 15 this year, but one or the other usually cannot be present; fourteen fit in our living room. We eat, pray, and talk about our experience of the book we are reading. It was really a busy day for me beginning with the Mass of the Holy Spirit at St. Thomas University, followed by my weekly lunch with a great friend, then spiritual direction, my faculty faith-sharing group, and a quick trip to the store to get home in time to prepare a friendship salad for the reflection group.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Comments Just Found

I just found a great many comments that I did not know I was receiving on this blog. I apologize for not publishing them and answering them, but this new format that just happened a few months ago does not alert me to the comments and I need to look for them; I learn something new each day!
One was a question about getting a picture of Mater. I think you can print one from Google (I think I did that) or you can get really good ones of different sizes from the Associated Alumni Office of the Sacred Heart. I am sure there must be a link to that on our Province website which is listed on the right of this blog.
I am really grateful for the comments and sorry I did not find them to publish and answer immediately. It helps to know what my readers like and I do love hearing from you. After this, I will try to remember to look under comments.
To continue with something on the theme "Contemplate anew the heart of God", our Mother General gave a conference to the group (we still call these months in Rome "Probation" and the young nuns are "Probanists"), and explained how the Society's call to contemplation is a gift which is in us by vocation. She said that it springs from "a compelling love written in our hearts by the Spirit." She quotes both from our Constitutions and from the Chapter Documents of 2008. We are, she says, "invited into a deeper intimacy with God and God's love, and are called to choose in freedom to be transformed into that Love, into being God's heart on earth."
That is a call for all of us, I think. God created each of us unique and we have something to give that no one else can give God as we are one of a kind and therefore very precious in his sight. I think I am still just full of gratitude and joy for my retreat when I just sat with Jesus who chooses to sit with each of us whenever we go to pray. Let God love you today and then tell Him that you are trying to love Him in others!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Contemplate anew the Heart of God

The theme for our group of young nuns preparing for final profession in Rome is "Contemplate anew the heart of God." They have five months together with the two members of the team that guides them through this more contemplative time. They visit the birthplace of our Mother Foundress, make a thirty-day retreat, and share their lives. There are eleven in this group from seven different provinces and different countries and cultures. They will have a wonderful experience and I pray for all of them; one of my community is on the team that plans this time and so I try to keep them in mind and heart during this grace-filled time.
The truth is that we are all called to "Contemplate anew the heart of God." We do this is various ways; I try to enter into the Heart of Jesus each morning and want to see reality with the Heart of Jesus. Jesus came to teach us how much God loves us and how we are to love others. When I contemplate the Heart of God, I realize that God is present in every particle of the universe and is in me! I do not need to make the effort to find Him as He is present, more present to me than I am to myself! I need to be conscious of this, let God love me, and go out and love others as I have been loved! This is easier to say than do but we keep striving to realize the Presence of God within us that allows us to go forth and love others.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today we remember all those who lost their lives on September 11 and all those who still mourn them. I choose this picture as it has a path; I think God is always asking us to deepen our spiritual journey by opening new paths. I sometimes just want to stay still and need the Holy Spirit to push me alone. I just had a meeting that was to be today postponed and feel as if the day beckons for some of those waiting tasks and I need to get busy with them. It makes a difference to think that this day is another open path for me to walk with the Spirit and let the Spirit nudge me as I contemplate the many things I both need and want to get done.
One thing that I have been wanting to share with you is from  a meditation last month in Magnificat; it is by John Janaro and here are some of the thoughts I want to pass on to you:

"Jesus knows who I am and who he wills me to be. He knows the secret of why I was created...He to draw me to himself...And so my joys and sufferings are his infinitely wise, uniquely crafted, and tender love through which he shapes my life and leads me to my destiny....
We must remember every day that God is with us and that he draws us toward our true identity,.. .
Those little prayers throughout the day are worth so much: "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I trust in you. Come, Holy Spirit."...

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Books

Today I am beginning the week by sharing two new books that I have just received but think I can already recommend them as I have looked at both and read reviews before ordering them. One is by two famous authors as far as ecology and the science of the universe is concerned: Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker have published last year a book called Journey of the Universe. It was published in 2011 and I heard that it was an excellent book not only for the story of the universe but for what it calls us to. I need to sit down and read it, but I have discovered a marvelous thirty-page bibliography at the end as well as a timeline appendix that starts over 13 billion years ago and continues up tthrough 2010.

The other book is by Marcus Borg, The Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written.Harper, 2012. Borg presents the New Testament books in the order in which they were written and provides a commentary of each of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. He helps us to see the setting in which the books were composed as well as the development of Jewish faith transformed into Christianity.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is a quote from a commentary on today's Gospel by Patricia Sanchez. Jesus took the deaf man aside and that in itself was healing as we are always helped by a personal encounter with Christ. How grateful we should be that He actually waits for us each day to come and just sit with Him who chooses to sit with us! Here is the quote: (the bold is mine as this is what struck me today).

"At times, however, our listening is not keen enough or humble enough to effect the needed transformation. In those times, we stand with the deaf man and beg Jesus to lay his hand on us. We allow him to open our ears to hear the Word as it speaks to every aspect of our lives. We listen as the truth of who we are is told; we listen to our sins, our selfishness, our greed, our apathy, our laziness. But we also listen as we are told that we are loved and cherished by a God who desires communion with us. We listen as we are told that our beloved Brother and Lord has died to secure our freedom and salvation.
[Patricia S├ínchez holds a master’s degree in literature and religion of the Bible from a joint degree program at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York.]

Did I mention that when I was at the Villa Maria del Mar retreat-house in Santa Cruz I watched three dolphins playing in the Pacific each day? I often see them there but only in passing; these were there for the three days I was contemplating the ocean - a nice gift of the Lord as they are fun to watch and these swam very close to the shore!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Our Lady's Birthday

I always have loved this small feast day of Our Lady; birthdays are meant to be days of celebration of the gift of life. Mary is a big part of our lives and she is the one who tells Jesus what we are lacking as she did when she said to Jesus at the wedding celebration, "They have no wine." She knows what each of us lacks and I am sure she reminds Jesus of our needs and then she tells us, "Do whatsoever He tells you."

Wednesday I brought one of my class from the gym home for lunch and we sat and talked for a long time and I told her the story of Mater and then she admired the statue of her that we have in the corner of our dining room.
Telling her the story of the original painting that is in Rome and assuring her that Sacred Heart schools and convents all over the world still have a statue or picture of Mater in a place where she can watch over the comings and goings of all or maybe in a special chapel dedicated to her, made me realize how fortunate I am to have been brought up under the watchful, prayerful gaze of Mater. She does love us, cares for each of us, and leads us to the Heart of her divine Son. Let us celebrate her birthday by the gift of our love and the promise to do "whatsoever He tells us."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sometimes we just need to hold onto God

One of my last days at Oakwood when I was just sitting in the Chapel I looked into my Magnificat and saw that the :Meditation of the Day" was one of my favorite poems by Jessica Powers. It seemed to me that it was just what I needed at the right moment and now I pass it on to you.

The Garments of God

God sits on a chair of darkness in my soul.
He is God alone, supreme in His majesty.
I sit at His feet, a child in the dark beside Him;
my joy is aware of His glance and my sorrow is tempted
to nest on the thought that His face is turned from me.
He is clothed in the robes of mercy; voluminous garments-
not velvet or silk and affable to the touch,
but fabric strong for a frantic hand to clutch,
and I hold to it fast with the fingers of my will.
Here is my cry of faith, my deep avowal
to the Divinity that I am dust.
Here is the loud profession of my trust.
I need not go abroad
to the hills of speech or the hinterlands of music
for a crier to walk in my soul where all is still.
I have this potent prayer through good or ill;
here in the dark I clutch the garments of God.

I hope you like this as much as I do!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The picture speaks to me of beauty, majesty, God. When I was head of the school in Renaca in Chile, I tried about once a month to bundle up and then went to the shore and climbed through some of the rocks until I found my special place to sit on a flat rock hidden from the shore but with a gorgeous view of the ocean. I stayed until the tide started in as then the spray covered the rock where I used to go to meditate. Somehow, no matter how many problems seemed to be facing me, just to sit and find the immensity of God's love in that ocean flowing into me made all right with the world and gave me great peace. Later, one of the community and I used to go every Wednesday afternoon and sit in the school van and watch the tide come in and then share our week together. It was very life-giving. I think everyone should be in a faith-sharing group, even if only with one other person. I look forward to my group today at the University.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sunset at Santa Cruz

I am trying to keep the fruit of my retreat which was to be grateful, joyful, and try to serve others. I guess my blog is not getting priority time but I think this will change once my life gets some sort of routine again. At present, I guess I am trying to remember some of the moments when I was with Ines and we talked about God. She was a very spiritual person and had so many people that she helped. Earlier this year someone called and was quite astonished to know that Ines had gone back to Colombia. After a minute of silence she said, "Well, I know this number and want to know if I can keep calling it when I need to talk to someone." Ines had a real ministry on the telephone, especially after she was laid up with a broken ankle. She would be talking on one phone and her cell phone would ring and then our other line would ring so she was really trying to handle three calls at once. When my brother or my sister would call, she would start talking to them and asking how they were, etc. before she would call me to the phone. They loved her and did not mind. She was really just interested in everyone.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day After Labor Day

I think I am using pictures of calm water each day to calm myself. I guess one always feels a bit rushed after returning from vacation and retreat that had me in California for three and a half weeks. Today I needed to take someone to the dentist and then pick her up but managed to get a great deal done in between and now have taken the car to not only be inspected but to have the necessary things done to it so it will be safe to drive. The free AAA inspection showed worn belts and brakes and so I left the car and will get it tomorrow as I am cooking tonight.
Now, for something more spiritual as I do pray and reflect early each morning. Today was again on gratitude and joy but it was also a reflection on the life of Ines. I realize that I lived with her for almost twenty-four years and she was constantly teaching me the value of a contemplative outlook on life. She lived my favorite quote of St. Madeleine Sophie: "Be humble, be simple, give joy to others." Tonight we are going to try to put together a short biography of her. I know she was the youngest of thirteen children and her mother died when she was only three or four years old. She used to tell me how her father would carry her on his shoulders as they walked to Mass several miles from their home. I also know that two of her sisters entered other religious congregations (I met both of those sisters in June in Bogota and they are so much alike; one could be a fraternal twin but told me she was seven years older than Ines who was just 71) but Ines decided on the Society of the Sacred Heart and never looked back even when she was sent to the United States as a novice without really knowing English.
Her friendliness made her reach out to everyone and she just welcomed everyone into her heart. She loved working with the little ones. She usually was with the three year-olds but also had the four year-olds and it was a joy for me to visit her classroom. She would sit on the floor with the children around her and question them about what she had just taught until she was sure that all had learned whatever the lesson was about.
Ines had a quiet joy and her presence in our community was a gift. She liked to be creative and her flower arrangements were lovely and her way of presenting a platter of food made us all strive to be more creative and artistic in our own cooking efforts.
I guess that is all I can say now as other things await me. It is a joy to know that we have made her room into our Chapel and I feel so close to her when praying there each afternoon.