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Monday, September 30, 2013

Busy Persons' Retreat

This week I will be one of a team of seven RSCJs giving a Busy Persons' Retreat for forty-five of the faculty and staff at our school. I ask your prayers for this week which begins by leaving here at 7:00 in the morning and returning late so I will be off the blog this week. However, that is a good thing as I want all of you to go to, our Province website (there is a link on the right side of my blog) to read what will appear each day in October: a reflection on Our Lady under the title of Mater - the first days give the story of how the original Mater came to be and each day has a great reflection with a different picture of Mater. I worked on collecting and editing these reflections for each day of October and so hope you will all be reading them. I will try to be back on the blog by October 6 but know you will enjoy the entries about Mater. Mark the website as a favorite and go straight there each day. It also links you to my blog and other RSCJ blogs! or use the link - I count on your prayer for this week!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

They will not listen...

Jesus tells the story in today's Gospel of the rich man who died and was in torment and wanted the poor beggar who had suffered hunger and would have gladly eaten the crumbs from his table to go warn his brothers. Jesus says that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets they would not even listen to one who is risen from the dead. I think this is a strong parable; when we have everything we need, are we concerned with those who lack the basic needs or do we just think of our own comfort?
I know that my life has changed since I returned from Chile. Then I was living the last years in the poorest region and the five in my community all lived on the salary of one workman. It meant not being able to have much but we usually had meat once a week and did not suffer hunger. We sometimes had to choose to either buy gas for cooking or gas to heat water for washing - it meant not having money for so many things we take for granted, but we were happy and had more than many in the same area where we lived. Our house had been built for us by the priests as we lived next to the church and were in charge of a large area. Then I returned to the United States after twenty years and found I was living a different life where I could go buy shampoo without thinking that this was something I had done without for years. Now I take for granted so many things. I guess this parable of the rich man ignoring the beggar at his gate makes me think that I may be the rich one and what am I doing for those who are struggling to find shelter and food for their families?
It is a powerful story and needs reflection and some action.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prayer of Desire

Are you aware of your deepest desires? This prayer exercise may help you . Begin by thanking for all that has been, all that is, and all that will be in your life. That could very well fill your time for prayer today!
Then, try to state your heart's deepest desires before God. Try to visualize your desire. Feel it. Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. Let it become real to you in your imagination by using all your senses to grasp what you are saying is your deepest desire.According to "50 Ways To Pray" (remember I am adapting some of Teresa Blythe's prayer exercises) you should linger there and see how the scene depicting your desire develops or changes. Stay with this step for several minutes.
Now, let go of specific outcomes. Ask that God's desire be fulfilled in your desire, or that God will transform your desire as needed. Then see what happens and how you feel or maybe you will enter into a conversation about your deepest desires.
You might ask God how you might help in fulfilling your desire.
Close by thanking God for this desire and for the opportunity to pray in and through it. Thank God for being with you during this time of prayer. Thank Him for always being with us and listening to our desires.
Then, you might want to write a reflection on how you felt during this prayer. Were you able to state your deepest desire at once? Did it change when you brought it to God?

Psalm 37:4 says, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Friday, September 27, 2013

What are you looking for?

 Jesus was and is famous for asking important questions. Here is a suggestion for using one of the questions that Jesus asks for prayer - for discovering your heart's deepest desire.
 I am adapting this from the book I spoke about yesterday, 50 Ways of Praying by Teresa A. Blythe. She suggests you read the following passage slowly: "The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God! The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, 'What are you looking for?'"John 1:35-38
Read the passage again, slowly. Allow two minutes of silence.
If you are ready to talk to Jesus, just go ahead.
If nothing seems to come to mind, consider what you might be looking for today. What are you longing for? Spend about ten minutes in silence just thinking about this and then try to write an answer to the question Jesus is asking you.
Maybe you still have something to say to Jesus or just listen to what Jesus might be saying to you.
You can end your prayer by reflecting how you felt during it.

Note: this is the first question Jesus asks in John's Gospel. Later He will change the question to "who" instead of what when He asks Mary Magdalene "Who are you looking for?" But this could be another prayer period and you would be having another conversation with Jesus.
Remember, Teresa of Avila said prayer was just an intimate conversation with one who loves us. Jesus is always waiting for us and is a good listener.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

50 Ways To Pray

Every once in a while, I pick up a book called "50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times" by Teresa A. Blythe. I thought I might share a few as I get ready for the Busy Persons' Retreat. I should begin by saying that these ways of prayer are often helpful but that I am convinced there are as many ways to pray as there are people out there trying to pray. Still, it helps to be reminded that there are many ways that actually have steps described to help one try the prayer; at different times, various kinds of prayer are useful. Many of us now do Centering Prayer or a Prayer of Christian Meditation but even that is often combined with a type of Lectio Divina. Actually there are nine heading with about five or seven ways to prayer under each. I will give only the titles of the Chapters today:
Chapter 1. Biblical Reflections
Chapter 2. Contemplative Practices
Chapter 3. Lectio Divinas
Chapter 4. Life Reflections
Chapter 5. Discernment Processes
Chapter 6. Body Prayers
Chapter 7. Prayers of the Imagination
Chapter 8. Reflections on Media
Chapter 9. Praying for Others

Tomorrow I will share something from the first chapter as it is always good to really learn how to dialogue with Scripture in different ways.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What do you want from God?

Today I am sharing a prayer exercise that I find helpful - again I am adapting it from "50 Ways to Pray" but I think one always adapts any prayer exercise to fit. The scripture passage that may trigger this exercise that is one where you use your imagination is Mark 10:35-40. If you remember, James and John went to Jesus and asked him to do whatever they would ask him. Jesus replies: "What is it you want me to do for you?"

Now, imagine you are there with James, John, and Jesus. You hear their request. What is your reaction? What do you want to say to them? What do you want to say to Jesus?
Hear Jesus say now to you: "What is it you want me to do for you?" 

What do you answer? Be honest.

Now, what does Jesus say to you. You may then want to continue the conversation. Actually, John and James might also have something to say to you, too. It might be good to write down whatever Jesus has said to you and how you feel about it. Maybe you will end by thanking Jesus or just being content to be there with Him.

Smooth Sailing

Why do I expect each day to be smooth sailing?
 I always expect to be able to do more than I actually am able to do. When I look back on the day, I realize that I have accomplished many things; I just have unrealistic expectations. there is always tomorrow and hopefully Jesus will help me cross off more of the things on my "to do" list. I am happy that I did get at least six big things accomplished today. 

Lord, be with me again tomorrow and let me remain in you presence. 
When I am with You, it is smooth sailing.
May I do all with and for You! Together we can sail swiftly in smooth waters!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Paradox of Kindness

This is a picture of a mulberry tree. I did not know it could grow so large from such a tiny seed. When we think of the wonders of nature, we are brought to God. I found a story that I think you will enjoy - it comes from Simple Truths and is a true story: (I am not copying this to promote the book but felt it only fair to give all the information)

An Excerpt from The Power of Kindness:

The year was 1863, on a spring day in Northern Pennsylvania. A poor boy was selling goods door-to-door to pay his way through school. He realized he had only a dime left, and that he was hungry. So he decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"
The Power of Kindness
Learn More
"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested from the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally, she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:

Dr. Howard Kelly*
*Dr. Howard Kelly was a distinguished physician who, in 1895, founded the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University. According to Dr. Kelly's biographer, Audrey Davis, the doctor was on a walking trip through Northern Pennsylvania one spring day when he stopped by a farm house for a drink of water.
This beautiful story about Dr. Howard Kelly is one of many true stories found in The Power of Kindness. I love the quote from Leo Buscaglia:
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Quite frankly, this is the part about kindness that we all understand. But it's the other part that many of us fail to grasp.

That is...practicing random acts of kindness can change our lives! And that is what this book is all about.

The great English writer, Aldous Huxley, was a pioneer in the study techniques to develop human potential. In a lecture toward the end of his life, he said this:
"People often ask me...what is the most effective technique for transforming their lives?"
He then said, "It's a little embarrassing that after years and years of research, my best answer is—just be a little kinder."

This is the paradox of the power of kindness. It doesn't feel powerful at all. In fact, it almost feels too simple to be important. But as Huxley said, it is the #1 thing that can transform your life.

Kindness, more than anything, is an attitude that brings us back to the simplicity of being. It is also the one way you can be assured of making a difference with your life. This little book can keep that message alive for the rest of your life. It also makes a wonderful gift for any occasion.
Today, I'm pleased to offer The Power of Kindness for only $10.00. Our regular price is $15.95, a 37% savings. As an added bonus, you'll receive complimentary standard shipping on all orders of $50 or more*.
Learn More
Make sure to share this e-mail with your friends, family and co-workers. They'll thank you for it!

All the Best,
Mac Anderson
Mac Anderson
Founder, Simple Truths
Quote Lovers Sale: All quote books are $10
*Terms and Conditions:
This offer expires Monday, 09/23/13 at 4:00 p.m. CDT. Quantities are limited. Complimentary standard shipping on orders of $50 or more: Offer valid only for single purchases of $50 or more to a single shipping address (before shipping and tax). Offer valid on in-stock items only. Offer applies to standard shipping only. Offer not valid for rush shipping or international shipping. Non-online orders placed with quantities greater than 48 units and/or requiring freight shipment may be subject to a surcharge. Coupon codes may not be combined with any other coupons or discount promotions. Promotions and coupons are not valid on prior purchases. No rain-checks for out of stock promotional items. Coupons are not valid for Sourcebooks' employees, distributors or affiliates. Offer valid for online U.S. orders only, unless otherwise stated in writing. Terms and Conditions are subject to change without notice.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Morning Prayer

Another Monday morning and a busy week ahead. I find the Concord Pastor's blog (see link on the right side of this blog) always inspiring and love his Monday morning prayers. He is so down-to-earth and I urge you to read today's prayer. I wish I could write out prayers as easily as he seems to do. It is a gift. I guess my prayer is often wordless as I know that God sees and understands what is in my heart, but I would also like to be able to compose prayers that would help others.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sometimes we keep thinking about our loved ones...

Someone just sent me this poem by John O'Donohue called "On The Death Of The Beloved" and I think it says so much that I am sharing it with you, too.

On The Death Of The Beloved
— John O’Donohue
Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.
Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.
The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.
Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.
Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.
We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.
Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.
Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.
When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.
May you continue to inspire us:
To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Restful Week end

It is hard to believe but this week end is a free one. I think God gave us a great gift in making "week ends" - and today is also "World Gratitude Day" so I am thanking Him for this lovely time. As always, there is a list to do but nothing pressing. I suspect I will swim this afternoon, watch some of the Florida Gators game, go to Mass and maybe watch more college football as the Miami Hurricanes are playing and so if Florida State!
I do not watch television much at all, but I have learned to enjoy watching college football as long as I have a book in my hand to read during breaks.
I am thinking of all the people in my life that I would love to say "thank you" to today! Some have given me the gift of example; some wisdom; some concern and all of them are loving people and I am grateful for their gifts to me. I think God puts the right people into our lives just at the time we need them. I am trying to pray my gratitude today!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Good-bye to a saint

This is not the picture I thought I was pulling up today but it is interesting to see bare trees as Miami is so green. Most of our trees just push out new leaves but never are bare! What a wonder the way nature can do so many different things!
I am late today as I was at the Cathedral for the funeral of an Italian Sister, Lucia Ceccotti,  who founded the Mariaon Center which is right next door to St. Thomas University. She was one of the holiest and wisest persons I have ever known. She came with other sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, from Italy and was the only one who spoke English and none of them had ever been on an airplane. It was 1963 and she started the first Catholic school for the developmentally disabled in the Southeastern United States. I got to know her and she asked me to speak to her Sisters and she always came with all of them to the Advent retreat that I started at St. Thomas University. She was a real pioneer and I am going to pray to her to help me write the life of Lucile Mathevon! Archbishop Wenski celebrated with about two dozen priests present and the pews full of so many who had known and loved her.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Child's View

Here is a story I received by e-mail this morning:
A Child's View of a Thunderstorm
A little girl walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that
morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek
to school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with

The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be
frightened as she walked home from school. She also feared the electrical
storm might harm her child.

Full of concern, the  mother got into her car and quickly drove along the
route to her child's school.  As she did, she saw her little girl walking
along.  At each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and
smile. More lightning followed quickly and with each, the little girl would
look at the streak of light  and smile.

When  the mother drew up beside the child, she lowered the window and
called, "What  are you doing?"

The  child answered, "I  am trying to look pretty because God keeps
taking my picture.

May God bless you today and every day as you face  the storms that come
your  way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to your disciples.
Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in our lives the work of Your grace and love.
Grant us the Spirit of Fear of the Lord that we may be filled with a loving reverence toward You;
the Spirit of Piety that we may find peace and fulfillment in the service of God while serving others;
the Spirit of Fortitude that we may bear our cross with You and , with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with our salvation; the spirit of Knowledge that we may know you and know ourselves and grow in holiness; the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten our minds with the light of Your truth; the Spirit of Counsel that we may choose the surest way of doing Your will, seeking first the Kingdom; grant us the Spirit of Wisdom that we may aspire to the things that last forever; teach us to be your faithful disciples and animate us in every way with your Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Be daring! Use all your potential!

The Holy Spirit has enkindled a spirit of adventure in me today. I think it is because I recalled the saint we celebrate today: St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) who was declared a Doctor of the Church in 2012. I loved teaching students about this very gifted mystic. She was an abbess and foundress of a Benedictine convent, a prophet and preacher, musician and composer, poet and artist, doctor and pharmacist - I do not know if she also was a cook, but think I remember that she left recipes. She was way ahead of her times as this quote shows: "All living creatures are sparks from the radiation of God's brilliance, and these sparks emerge from God like the rays of the sun. If God did not give off these sparks, how would the divine flame become fully visible?"
She saw the cosmos as emanations of God's love. We are to be co-creators with God in shaping the world.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A rainy Monday morning

A new week has begun. We had a busy week end with our final budget meeting on Saturday, an area meeting with a teleconference afterwards yesterday and, of course, some football. I decided to just wash clothes and work in my room today; I should be on my way to the gym now but it is just a day to stay home and be happy that I am retired and not facing a fifty-mile trip to the University on a rainy day! We has quite a storm last night with huge bolts of lightning. I hope the homeless had some shelter. Miami has so many homeless downtown that stay on the streets and resist being moved. I think we do not have enough beds in the shelters we do have and most neighborhoods resist allowing a shelter to open. I am glad so many of the churches take turns going around to give out sandwiches on different nights to our homeless. Still, it says something to me that with the wealth that exists in the United States we have not been able to solve the problems of so many who are forced to live on the streets or choose to live there for many reasons.
On a more spiritual note, let me share a few quotations from St. Madeleine Sophie to begin our week:
Deliver yourself to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit; make yourself as a tool that offers no resistance to the handling of the artisan.

We cannot change our character, it is true, as easily as we change our clothes. It is the work of a lifetime. It is achieved with the grace of God and constant effort

The work of interior transformation is necessary in order to become a fitting instrument in God’s hands, to work for God’s glory.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

God loves us

God really does love us no matter what we do; He made us and each of us is unique and loved by God.
Jesus told three different parables to make sure that we grasp the fact that God rejoices when the lost is found. It may seem crazy to leave an entire flock to go after one lost lamb, but Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd and he seeks what is lost and then carries the lost lamb home tenderly and rejoices! He describes the joy of the woman who has lost a coin, something precious to her as it was not easy to have the coins necessary to pay the tax; she searches and sweeps the whole house until she finds it and then she rejoices; the final and longest parable tells of the father who has two sons. He agrees to give his younger son his inheritance and lets him go away; the son spends the money and ends up destitute. He is so hungry and miserable that he resolves to return to his father and ask pardon and wants only to be accepted as a servant in the household. In the meantime, the father has been longing for his lost son and looking for him each day. When he finally sees him coming, he rushes out to embrace his son, and calls for the servants to bring a ring and fine clothes and to kill the fatted calf for they must rejoice and celebrate the return of his lost son.
Let us all remember that God rejoices when we turn to him and admit our sins and weaknesses. He waits for us with love. I think the other son did not understand his father's love and therefore could not rejoice.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Prodigal Father is receiving his son home again


I wanted to share this for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and thinks it fits this Sunday's Gospel:

Repentance Inside 
This I confess to myself:
I have taken my transgressions with me,
Carrying them year-by-year into my hours and days,
My lapses of conscience
And indiscretion with words,
My petty judgments
And my vanity,
Clinging to grief and fear, anger and shame,
Clinging to excuses and to old habits.
I’ve felt the light of heaven,
Signs and wonders in my own life,
And still will not surrender to holiness and light.

God of redemption,

With Your loving and guiding hand
Repentance in prayer is easy.
Repentance inside,
Leaving my faults and offenses behind,
Is a struggle.
In Your wisdom You have given me this choice:
To live today as I lived yesterday,
Or to set my life free to love You,
To love Your people,
And to love myself.

God of Forgiveness, help me to leave my transgressions behind,

To hear Your voice,
To accept Your guidance,
And to see the miracles in each new day.

Blessed are You,

God of Justice and Mercy,
You set Your people on the road to t’shuva.

© 2013 Alden Solovy and