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Friday, November 30, 2012

Give Us This Day

Give Us This Day is a daily prayer book with morning prayer, the readings of the daily Liturgy, and evening prayer for each day of the month. At the beginning, there are some helpful readings and I am going to quote from "Teach Us to Pray - Advent: Season of Desire" by Father James Martin, S.J. :

"Advent is the season of desire...."Prepare the way of the Lord." The people of the Old Testament, the people of the New Testament, and the people of today are encouraged to wait, to anticipate, to expect, to long, to hope--in short, to desire....

Our deepest desire is the longing for God.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in God - St. Augustine said it, but we all know this to be true. Let us foster our desire for God during this Advent.

Today was my parents' wedding anniversary. I am sure they are still celebrating it together with God!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Canada and the Society of the Sacred Heart

I began November with the history of the first foundations that the Society of the Sacred Heart made in Canada and we had the story of three of the first foundations as we moved closer to making a foundation in Montreal. We had opened the boarding school at St. Vincent's in 1846; in August, Mother Hardey visited and installed as Superior Mother Amalie Jouve to replace Mother Sallion. By 1852, the academy had more than eighty pupils, a junior school of twenty-five little girls and a growing novitiate. The parish school had also incrreased. However, the distance from Montreal was still a hindreance. Mother Jouve was summoned to the South to take chare of the vicariate of Louisiana in 1854 and then a real problem arose as the pastor of St. Vincent heard that the Society of the Sacred Heart had come into property on the island of Montreal and was about to erect another convent there that would be more accessible for the population of the city. There follows a struggle to keep the nuns, but by 1858 "the entire establishment of the Sacred Heart at St. Vincent was turned over to the Sisters of Providence."
I may be repeating myself here as we had covered the foundation  at Sault-au-Recollet in earlier blogs, but I had to go back myself to get the three first foundations clear in my head. We still are not in the city of Montreal. But Reverend Mother Trincano was named Superior Vicar of the Canadian houses in 1864 and, although only able to live for four years, she left a lasting influence on all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Canadian Rockies

I must confess that I am spending a great deal of time reading about Canada and its history. Here are a few tidbits gained from the Internet:

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, by surface area. Russia is first with 17,070,000 sq. km., then Canada, followed by China with 9,597,000 sq. km. and the U.S.A. with 9,363,000 sq. km.
Canada comprises seven percent (7%) of the earth's total surface area.
It reaches more than 4,600 km. from Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island (Canada's northern extremity) to Middle Island, Ontario (the southern-most point).
From west to east, Canada covers 5,047 km. from Victoria, B.C. to St.John's, Nfld.

Mother Callan wrote in her book, "The Society of the Sacred Heart in North America"  that when we went to establish the first convent of the Sacred Heart in Canada, we were in the Province of Quebec, the oldest, largest, and most individual of Canadian provinces with two centers rich in history: "Quebec, the mother city, serene on its rocky height and retaining much of the atmosphere of French colonial days, and Montreal, a mart of commerce, set in mid-stream and exposed to foreign influences, today a great cosmopolitan city, yet treasuring the historic memories which cling to its very soil."

The diocese of Montreal was erected in 1836 by Pope Gregory XVI. The second bishop was Mgr. Ignatius Bourget and he is the one who petitioned Mother Barat for a foundation in his diocese. He was the one who then called on Mother Galitzin in New York to deliver the letter from the Superior General who thinks we should not refuse the offer of the Bishop who has a house ready for us and the promise of novices soon. Mother Galitzen canceled her trip South and aranged to go in three days with Mother Sallion to inspect the property. They went by steamboat and stagecoach and crossed the St. Lawrence on a ferry.  Although open to the foundation, a delay was sought as money and subjects were lacking. However, as we have seen in earlier blogs, the delay was only until Mother Hardey returned from France in 1842.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This snowdrop is symbolic of Advent - four petals, one for each week, simple against a stark background and so I offer it as the picture today that will help us to prepare for Advent. My own preparation today seems to be trying to clear out things that have accumulated in my room and work on my Christmas cards. That is all the exterior preparation that I am trying to do while also saying "Come, Lord Jesus and let me share your risen joy!" Actually, I mostly say "Thank you for letting me share in your risen joy!" I am finishing my formal gratitude journal this week and find myself going back to the home I lived in with my family from 1941 to 1950 - we moved when I was ten and I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart two weeks after my 19th birthday! During those formative years we lived in a large, three-story home on Westminster Place. I find myself taking time to go back to each room and let the memories surface and find so much to thank for and feel again the love of my parents and the love of Jesus. I also remember the friends who came into my home during those years. I suspect this would be a good exercise for all of us to do from time to time. I especially remember my first Christmas in that lovely home as my brother George was born on Christmas morning.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Preparation

I was ready to continue with the history of Canada but the Holy Spirit seems to be pushing me to think about Advent instead. For anyone in Miami or near enough to make the Advent retreat at St. Thomas University next Saturday, that is an excellent way to begin the beautiful season of Advent. The retreat ends with the Liturgy of the First Sunday of Advent - then we will wake up on Sunday morning aware that we have the next few weeks to Christmas to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our world and our hearts again in a special way in 2012 - Christmas is never the same as we have one more year of life to bring to the celebration of this feast.

I have prayed over my own plan of preparation for this year and know it will be centered on joy. Joy gives energy. I want to give joy to Jesus by giving joy to others. It is easy to get stressed out during Advent as people seem to rush around, the parking lots are full near the stores, the post office has long lines, and traffic is even worse than usual. I have written my Christmas letter and started to write my Christmas cards to avoid the last minute rush to get these things done. I think we cannot cultivate joy without the discipline of planning ahead to avoid stress. Peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit and flow into us when we take time to sit quietly in prayer. Let us strive to do this each day in Advent and then radiate peace and joy to others.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Feast of Christ the King

Today's Feast is one that may seem strange to us as we do not think of Jesus Christ as King usually. He is King of all creation. I hope you were able to read the Preface for the Mass for this Feast. Again, I do not have my Mass book near so cannot copy it here.

 I just saw that Pope Benedict's third book on the life of Jesus will be out and in time for Christmas. Today is the last Sunday before Advent so do start making your Advent preparations. I try to get my Christmas letter and cards done before Advent and gifts, too, so I only need to wrap and mail a few. I do not give many gifts but do like to send a token gift to family to let them know I am thinking of them.
Advent is going to be a time of joy as I think it was for Mary and Joseph as they waited for Jesus. They may have had their plans changed, but I know they kept their inner peace and joy; they also must have been full of desire.
I guess the best prayer for Advent is "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Feast of Christ the King is tomorrow

I just want us all to remember that the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year is the Feast of Christ the King. This year, it seems to be warning me that I need to prepare for Advent. Christmas seems to come so fast and we do not have time to prepare - just as we make so many material preparations, we need to do quite a bit of internal preparation which may include house-cleaning, decluttering, longing, desire, and some internal practice to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus again this Christmas. Of course, Jesus is with me; I receive Him in Holy Communion every day, but still His coming at Christmas is special and the Church gives us the four weeks of Advent to prepare to celebrate the feast of His Incarnation into our world, into our hearts, and we are also preparing for His final coming to unite us with Him for all eternity.
In the meantime, we have the Feast of Christ the King. What does that really mean for me? I think, if you look at the Preface for the Mass, you will understand the theology behind the Feast.I will copy it here tomorrow as I do not have my Mass book with me. I just wanted to alert all to tomorrow's feast.
We are called to realize that Jesus is Lord of all and we are to aid Him in establishing the Kingdom, the reign of God on earth.

Convent of the Sacred Heart, Sault-au-Recollet

This will not let me write a blog but I thought the picture worth putting on today.

Friday, November 23, 2012

It takes only one smile...

It only takes one smile to offer welcome...                     
and blessed be the person who will share it.

It only takes one moment to be helpful...
and blessed be the person who will spare it.

It only takes one joy to lift a spirit...
and blessed be the person who will give it.

It only takes one life to make a difference...
and blessed be the person who will live it.
Forward to a friend
Shop our Black Friday Sale
Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving...
Make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!
- Amanda Bradley
This quote is featured in the book, Friends, The family we choose for ourselves
by BJ Gallagher.
Now, I did go to Mass yesterday and this last sentence of the homily has stayed with me: "Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  I think we need to cultivate the wonder and the joy that grateful people have in their lives. Joy is a virtue and that means it is something to practice and to make a habit of being joyful each day.  I suspect that wonder is one way to double our joy but I can rejoice in so many ways and joy gives energy and gives a lift to all those we come in contact with each day.!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now, I am writing this on the eve of Thanksgiving to make sure it gets posted early on the day. I usually go to Mass at a Church where one of our Religious works, but I am thinking of going closer to home tomorrow. I will be praying my thanks for all my faithful readers and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I wrote the following to someone and thought I should also copy it here as it was a great experience for me and one I want to share.

I hope you will have a very holy and happy Thanksgiving tomorrow and then Advent is coming. We went to hear Laurence Freeman at Barry University last night. He said that poverty of spirit is our “capacity for joy.” I really like that and was sitting mulling over joy and Advent (I am almost finished with my gratitude journal and had decided to concentrate on joy during Advent as it really is a joyous season since we are waiting with expectation for Jesus and we know He is coming!) Anyway, I came home and suddenly saw next to my prayer chair a book on Joy by Bishop Morneau. There are no coincidences with God and I really felt that this was a sign. How did the book get there and why did I not notice it when I returned from the St. Thomas University yesterday? I have not seen that book for ages and here it was sitting by my prayer chair and just waiting for me. Someone came to clean yesterday and may have found it had fallen behind a bookcase or something but I know it was God confirming my wanting to concentrate on the virtue of joy for Advent!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preparing for Advent

In Miami, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, people begin to decorate for Christmas; not just the stores, but houses are decorated, Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments, and even some have Santas and snowmen in their yards! Remember, this is Miami where a sled and reindeer looks rather strange sitting on green grass! However, all these preparations for Christmas make me realize that Advent is just about eight days away and so what am I going to do and not do and how do I avoid the holiday stress and yet remember family and friends?

I read this morning in another blog, the following: "Every year I write a post called Do Less Be More. It's a phrase that's over-used and under performed, but I can't think of any other words that make better sense."
So, how am I to "Do Less, Be More"  this year? It will take this week to pray and discern before I can even try to answer that question, but I feel the Lord saying to me. "Why do you think you need to do so much that you rush around and end up certainly less peaceful and joyful? Just take it slowly and be with me and the essentials will get done." Then, I guess I need to think about what is really essential to prepare for His coming again this Christmas. Let us begin now so we are able to have a peaceful, prayerful Advent.
There is an Advent retreat at St. Thomas University on December 1 and I registered all my community for it  - I started these Advent retreats when I first came to the University and they are on the first Saturday of December. This year it is the eve of Advent! I also like the fact that this year we begin only at 9:30 and there will be a box lunch. I never thought about the box lunch (although I would bring my own) and let people go to the cafeteria where,of course, they talked. I think having the day in silence will be a great help to all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The Society of the Sacred Heart celebrates the Presentation of Mary in the temple. The Feast is celebrated on November 21, and is considered the birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart as St. Madeleine Sophie and her first companions made their vows on that day.
I had never heard about the tradition that little Mary was presented in the temple as a very young child until I went to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles and one of the little ones was dressed in a long white dress and went up to the altar in our Chapel and the picture has stayed with me. I suppose this happened every year but it fed my imagination to wonder how Mary felt, what really was going on inside of her, what her life was like in the temple, etc. Then, when I entered, I found out that the Society celebrated its founding on this day and the young nuns (we used to be called Aspirants until our final profession about five or six years after first vows) had a three-day preparatory retreat in the midst of our ordinary work; sometimes a Jesuit came and gave a talk to the entire community but often it just meant that we would be with the Superior each evening for some spiritual conversation or special conference to prepare us to renew our vows on the Feast. This was just a renewal of devotion, but it was a great help to have some special attention in the community at this time of year when the work was heavy and the sun set early.
So, I am busy thanking the Lord for all the Feasts I remember as one of those young nuns and will make my own preparation tonight for the Feast as we are going to a lecture at Barry University.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amazing what The Society of the Sacred Heart did in Canada

Canadian History of the Society of the Sacred Heart continued:

This is taken from Mother Callan’s The Society of the Sacred Heart in North America:
“One of the works by which the Society of the Sacred Heart has contributed a large measure of usefulness to the Catholics of the Sault-au-Recollet is the school of Sainte Sophie, which was for twenty years a parish boarding, as well as, day school.” A residence was remodeled and christened in honor of Mother Barat’s patron saint, since it was to the generosity of the Superior General that the parish owed this institution. Soon it had one hundred pupils and, in 1864, an addition was constructed with a chapel, dormitory, and other space necessary for a boarding school. After 1883 it functioned only as a parish day school.

I hope everyone had a good Feast of St. Philippine yesterday; it was nice to spend a quiet Sunday and I did write a short dialog with her this morning that I found helpful.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Feast of St. Philippine Duchesne

Philippine is still very present to the Religious of the Sacred Heart all over the world. She used to pray all night and journey through the world; her interests were for all the places that still needed to hear God's Word and feel the love of the Heart of Jesus.
One of our Religious wrote a letter from Philippine and I thought that might be a good way to celebrate her feast; I think I will try a dialog with her and see what happens - this will not be published as I suspect it is too personal for my blog. I find it helpful to have a conversation with Jesus or Our Lady sometimes and try to write it down and I did one with St. Madeleine Sophie but have not done this with Philippine. I suspect I would want her to be free to tell me whatever she thinks would be helpful. I suspect she would say to me, "Please be a bit more specific."

I am going around now and saying over and over "Jesus, thank you for sharing your risen life." This seems to give me joy and so I pass it on as a suggestion to you and do try having a conversation with Philippine.

I wanted to schedule this for tomorrow and was not able to do so; maybe Philippine wanted you to have this a day early or, in her humility, wanted to keep Sunday as the more important feast  - I like celebrating Philippine on the 17th because that was her feast before her canonization.

St. Philippine Duchesne

This is a picture of the bronze statue of Philippine that stands at the corner of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. I went to boarding school there for my four years of high school and each evening some of us would go out with the Religious in charge of the little chapel in front of the school to pray and then help blow out vigil lights and close the shutters. Although there was a statue of Our Lady there, the focus was on the marble slab in the center with the green and amber vigil lights around it. Philippine was buried under that slab and we all felt that she was not only very present to each of us, but that she loved us and wanted to do all she could to help us. She had opened a school in St. Charles in 1818 and we all knew how much she loved the children. I used to tell her that I knew she would help me because without her coming to America, I could never have been a child of the Sacred Heart. I still use that prayer and tell her that I would not be a Religious of the Sacred Heart, if she had not had such a strong desire to come to America. Her desire to be with the Indians had to be postponed for many years and we have all benefited from her zeal and labor in establishing houses of the Sacred Heart in America.
The reason I am writing this is that many have a different picture of Philippine and associate her with fortitude and suffering. It is true that she suffered in many ways but she found joy in all. The first year at St. Charles tried the little community with the severity of the winter and Philippine wrote to Madeleine Sophie, " We have had the happiness of doing without bread and water. I had expected the former privation, but I never dreamed that on the banks of the Missouri we should lack water. We may not go down to the river and no one is willing to go there regularly for us....The Missouri is almost frozen over, and it is so cold that the water freezes beside the fire, as does the laundered linen hung there to dry."

Friday, November 16, 2012

What a week full of grace!

The "Busy Persons' Retreat finishes today and I am back on the blog to tell you what a grace it was for me to be with six wonderful people each day. Leaving the house by 7:00 A.M. was not so easy but I was happy to have Mass or morning prayer at the school before we began to see people individually at 8:00. I found that my beautiful people all had different styles of prayer and that did not surprise me because we are all unique! What did amaze me was that they did not seem to be aware of how much prayer they had in their busy lives. It was good to be able to talk with them about God's love for each of us and how we really need that personal relation with Jesus who loves us so much; God wants us to allow Him to love us!
It was good to be part of a retreat team again and we had both lunch and dinner together all week. We close today with a prayer service and a social.
I shall put the continuation of the Canadian Society of the Sacred Heart history off until after Thanksgiving as we have St. Philippine's Feast to celebrate this week end.
 Philippine Duchesne came to America in 1818 from France and established the first convents of the Sacred Heart in Missouri and in Louisiana and her prayer and holiness attracted many vocations so that there were six schools of the Society of the Sacred Heart established within ten years. It was only in 1841 that Philippine's desire to work among the Indians was fulfilled; by then, she was over seventy but was included in the little band of missionaries that set out for Indian territory to join the Jesuit mission and educate Indian girls.
Philippine is known for her  faithful love,courage, fortitude, and generosity and also for her long hours of prayer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Busy Persons' Retreat is keeping me busy!!

The picture is taken on the day of the First Communion for these students at Sault-au-Recollet.

Please know that I will be back with more Canadian history of the Society of the Sacred Heart after Friday when we finish the retreat; 44 faculty and staff are making it at our school here in Miami and it means leaving here at 7:00 in the morning and returning late with some of the RSCJ Team so we can be together at dinner but I really cannot try to write my blog just now. Do pray for all the retreatants as they are really busy people trying to deepen their own relationship with Jesus.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sacred Heart Students in Canada

This seems to be a picture of the blue ribbons at Sault-de-Recollet in the 19th century. I suspect that the Religious is the Mistress General surrounded by the leaders of the school. It was an old Sacred Heart school tradition to have ribbons that showed good conduct in the primary school where those who had their "Very Good" or "Tres Bien" each week at the general assembly when the superior presented the cards (some might get only "Good" or "Bien" and, very seldom for something really bad, a "Assez bien" might be given - to be "just good enough" was a disgrace. I think there was still the possiblility of "No Notes" but that must have been after a scandalous week of bad conduct and I do not think it was ever given while I was in school.) After the pink ribbons, it was possible to have a green ribbon and then, for the last two years, a blue ribbon; these were given numbered according to both the votes of the Religious and the students for those who not only were outstanding in good conduct but also showed leadership and helped all to keep the school rule.

I had such a wonderful week end in Vero Beach that I am so grateful - it is always good to see friends and we had such a delightful time with the couple who used to live next to my sister in St. Louis and now have a lovely condo on the ocean. They took us to lunch at the Ocean Grill; it is a great place right on the ocean with marvelous food. I had read about this place in a couple of books and so it was really very interesting to see it. The we were invited for a delicious dessert at their beautiful condo. It was just a delightful day and ended with a visit to the art museum to see Norman Rockwell's art in progress (they had the photographs that he worked from along side of the finished picture and most of them were cover pictures from the Saturday Evening Post and brought back childhood memories. Mass and dinner followed and the a wonderful sleep. We had breakfast at a little place on the beach and strolled the boardwalk in a strong wind. I drove home in that wind for the first hours but it was a beautiful Sunday in Miami.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Fall Scene in Canada

If I am boring you with the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart in Canada, please let me know. It just is so interesting to me that I think all will be as fascinated as I am to read about our early foundations there. Our next site is in the parish of the Sault-au-Recollet. As early as 1845, the pastor, the Abbe Jacques-Janvier Vinet had invited the Religious of the Sacred Heart to come but each time he wanted to give them the land the trustees raised obstacles. Finally, the Jesuits were able to have the land and began the first Canadian novitiate near Montreal. In 1855, Father Vinet acquired possession of two estates situated on the river and at once offered them to the Religious of the Sacred Heart. During the winter of 1857-58 the moving began and was made easy as the river was frozen solid, which made it easy for the carriages, wagons, and sleds used to transport their belongings.
 Mother Trincano arrived from New York and by midsummer the new and magnificent monastic edifice was ready. Soon the boarding school opened with eighty students. There were more than three hundred involved in the sodalities of St. Anne and the Consolers of Mary. For several years the Society of the Sacred Heart also had both a parish boarding school as well as the day school. After 1883 this school named "Sainte Sophie" functioned only as a parish day school.
In 1864 the Canadian novitiate was organized at Sault with the first four coming from Manhattanville; they were soon joined by eight more and strong vocations were developed here. It was in 1864 that Mother Trincano was named Superior Vicar of the Canadian houses.

I am driving to Vero Beach to see some friends this week end and so will not be writing my blog for a couple of days.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Convent of the Sacred Heart in Montreal

It seems that we are now located in the heart of the city, but this was the sixth location, I think. I know that the boarding school at St. Vincent opened in 1846 with sixty-four students. Most of them had been with us in St. Jacques. The parents could visit weekly but still had the difficulty of having to cross the river to be able to see their children and they began to be very active about getting a bridge built. Mother Hardey visited in 1848 and installed Mother Amalie Jouve to replace Mother Sallion. By 1852, St. Vincent had an academy of more than 80 pupils, a junior school of 25, and a growing novitiate.Mother Jouve was needed for the southern vicariate and Mother Angelique de Monestrol replaced her. Then trouble arose as we were apparently considering moving the school to the island of Montreal. This decision came from the Mother General with the advice of Mother Hardey so in 1858 all was turned over to the Sisters of Providence. In the meantime, foundations for the new convent at Sault began with the laying of the cornerstone on August 17, 1856.

Well, this history is fascinating but to be continued as I want to share a prayer from Philippine Duchesne as we will be celebrating her feast on November 18.

Lord, I lean on You alone for strength. Give me your arm to support me, your shoulders to carry me, your breast on which to lay my head, your Cross to uphold me, your Eucharist to nourish me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Montreal, part of our history

This is a picture of a street in Montreal. It will take us several moves before the Society of the Sacred Heart is finally established in the heart of the city. The new foundation was still not in the city but on a beautiful site with about sixty arpents of land. The "acquisition is almost a gift, since it is made on the condition of our paying an annual rent of 740 francs to an elderly spinster, with whose death the rent expires. And even now, the income from the land pays the rent." Soon a stone edifice, a 120 feet long, four stories in height and with two lateral wings, was built and there were forty-five boarders; the nuns hoped the number would be tripled when they moved into the new building. The house is just nine miles from Montreal and can be reached in an hour by carriage as the roads are excellent. The community of St. Jacques was divided then in 1846 with Mother Sallion taking the majority to the new boarding school at St. Vincent de Paul, Ile Jesus, which was separated fro the island of Montreal by the Riviere des Prairies. (Sorry but I cannot put in the accents).
It turned out not to be near enough to Montreal, but more about that tomorrow!