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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Silence and Prayer

Pope Benedict said that without silence one does not hear, does not listen, does not receive a word. This applies to personal prayer as well as to our liturgies. He quotes Jesus from Matthew's Gospel: In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "An attentive, silent and open heart is more important than many words. God knows us in our inner depths, better than we ourselves, and loves us; and knowing this must suffice." (Benedict then quotes Job and then asks how Jesus teaches us to pray. I suspect from listening to countless men and women that each of us is called to pray as we are and, since there is no one way to pray because we are all unique, I love Thomas Merton's "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun."
My own advice is pray as you can, not as you can't for the best way to pray is the way you pray best; still, you might check it out with a spiritual director or another person experienced in prayer.
Today was the anniversary of my parents wedding and so always special for me.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Are you a woman who believes in herself?

A friend who reads my blog sent this picture that says so much to me; the water is gorgeous, but there is also the beach, a path, and mountains plus boats and trees - what more could anyone want in one picture? It gives me joy just to look at it and peace as the water is so calm.
Today I am sharing a verse that came to me on a birthday card many years ago and I had copied it on the cover of my autobiography but then discovered it again this morning - I hope we are all striving to be women (and men) who believe in themselves!

There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, 
who knows she is capable of everything she puts her mind to.
There is a beauty in the strength and determination
of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off
by obstacles along the way.
There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experience-
who knows she can fall, pick  herself up, and  go on.

I have just added another book on Prayer under "Recent Spiritual Books" - it is by Pope Benedict and takes up the forty-five prayer topics he used for his general audiences 2011-2012. I have only read some of it and find it good and solid with reflections on the Psalms, on Jesus and Prayer, etc.
I will no doubt quote from the one on "Silence" in a future blog.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a very happy, holy Thanksgiving and feel grateful for all that you have. We are living in a country that is free and we are not persecuted for our faith. We have so many conveniences that we just take for granted, but today is a day to thank and to remember those who are less fortunate.
I am reaching out to many this year with cards sent, I hope, early in Advent. I want to prepare for Christmas by being grateful every single day for whatever God sends me. Advent is a time for joy and gratitude so let us begin today to prepare for Sunday which is the first Sunday of Advent!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I am copying this from the Church bulletin as you may want to use it this Thanksgiving:

O God, when I have food help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless.
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.
And by remembering help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help, by work and deed,
Those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spiritual Letters

Sister Wendy Beckett, a real hermit, has become famous for her television programmes and her books on the spiritual meaning of so many paintings by famous and not so famous artists. She is so deeply spiritual herself that she finds a depth of meaning in art and in life. She also has written over twenty books about art and a book on prayer that I have on my bookshelf and need to go back to but I am loving her latest book, Spiritual Letters by Wendy Beckett. It is a collection of notes and letters put together by the Carmelite, Sister Gillian. Most of these letters pre-date Sister Wendy's emergence as "the Art nun" and are from the years just after her transfer from an active, teaching Order to the life of a hermit. I am loving the letters and find such solid spiritual help being given. Most of the letters are to one nun in her former order who is a great friend. She is also one who sends Sister Wendy books on art; others are answers to written notes from some of the Carmelites at the convent where Sister Wendy attends Mass and Liturgical prayer but lives apart and does not speak with them except when she has accepted an invitation to speak to the novices. I am sure you will be hearing more from me about this book as I have found she has a real gift of speaking about prayer.
This was scheduled for November 25th but did not get published so it is now the day after my brother's birthday.  He was born on Thanksgiving but after dinner at my paternal Grandmother's; my other brother was born on Christmas morning  just less than two years before John. I also have a grand niece who is celebrating her birthday on the 25th; I think she is sweet sixteen! She is an excellent student and athelete and is the only girl with three brothers. Happy Birthday John and Theresa! Sorry this seems to be a day late! I have been scheduling ahead and that often makes for complications but much less stress to post on time each day.

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Even as I wrote the title about preparing for Thanksgiving, I thought that every single day is a real Thanksgiving if we are alert and aware to thank for all the gifts we receive beginning with the gift of life. In Miami there are stories in the daily news of children and others being shot in drive-by shootings. Life is such a precious gift and there are people out there that are destroying it without any reason.
Besides the gift of life, we have our health to thank for and our five senses, and the food we eat, the bed we sleep in, the hot water that is taken for granted so often in the United States where we can shower daily; we have all we need and all is gift so let us take time to thank God each day for His love and mercy and many gifts to us. Let us also thank for the world we live in: the ocean, the mountains, the lakes, the trees, the change of seasons, the flowers, etc.
This was posted by mistake as it is for Tuesday! Sorry about this but maybe we are to really start thanking for all the gifts we have before Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Feast of Christ the King

This is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year and it is fitting that we honor Christ as King. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux has a homily which I will quote from as it is still valuable many centuries later. He prays:

"Blessed are they in whom Jesus will reign forever, for they shall reign with him, and of his kingdom there shall be no end....And now, Lord Jesus, come and remove the stumbling blocks within the kingdom which is my soul, so that you who ought to may reign in it. Greed comes along and claims its throne in me; arrogance would dominate me; pride would be my king....But I resist insofar as I can; I struggle against them insofar as I receive your help. I protest that Jesus is my Lord. I keep myself for him since I acknowledge his rights over me....I will have no king but the Lord Jesus! Come then, Lord, rout them by your power and you will reign in me, for you are my king and my God."

A good reflection as we prepare this coming week for Advent begins on December 1st and we need to pray about how to prepare for the coming of Jesus into our hearts again this Christmas before we get caught up in all the material preparations. 

Here is something copied from Father Roger Karban that is in the NCR: "It is
 important to note that only Luke's Jesus encounters a good thief. In the other three Passion narratives, both criminals go to their deaths cursing and berating Jesus. One of the reasons Luke introduces this particular person -- beyond his overriding interest to present Jesus as innocent -- revolves around his constant concern to show Jesus as a person for others. No matter the pain Jesus is suffering, he's always concerned for others' pain. Only in Luke's Gospel is Jesus depicted as worrying about what will happen to the women who mourn his crucifixion, and he alone has Jesus look sympathetically at Peter after his threefold denial. No other evangelist has Jesus restore the lopped-off ear of the man in the garden.

No matter what title biblical Christians attached to Jesus, they were confident they were dealing with someone who always focused on them, not on himself. Referring to him as king forced them to look at leadership from a different perspective, especially Christian leadership.

It's essential to know what Christ the King is all about, since we should be about the same things.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Kingship of Christ

This Sunday's Gospel for the Feast of Christ the King has Jesus being mocked on the Cross; it makes us realize that the kingdom of God is not one of glory and power in this world but one of service, sacrifice, total love and commitment to saving human life from sin and, instead, we are called to follow the example of Jesus and to carry the cross. Each of us has some share in the mystery of the redemption of the world and each of us is called to carry our own cross but Jesus is with us and God never asks of us more than He gives us the grace to bear. I find suffering is a mystery; there is a value in seeking justice, helping others, giving up time and resources so that others are aided, but there is also a value in this carrying the cross in our daily lives. The saints found joy in following in the footsteps of Jesus. They embraced the joys and the sorrows as part of life and thanked Jesus and so we pray, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

May you have a blessed Saturday and remember to thank the Lord for all He sends us; we will soon be celebrating Thanksgiving and so should be aware of the many graces and gifts of each day and thank God for them! I am going back to my gratitude journal which really helps me to have a positive attitude and take notice of the good things each day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spirit Seeking Life and Beauty

Since we are preparing for the centenary of the death of Reverend Mother Stuart, I though you would like to see this:
 It is a youtube of one of my favorite songs -Spirit Seeking Life and Beauty. Do go look at it.

I am preparing for the Feast of Christ the King this Sunday, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year as we begin Advent on December 1st. In reading the Gospel, I am identifying with Jesus as He continues to be mocked on the cross. Yes, He is King of the Jews and He could save Himself, but He has come to save us and is willing to die for us to show us His great love. May we make the prayer of the "good thief" ours and ask Jesus to "remember us" - He never forgets us but waits for us to come to Him and be willing to suffer with Him and rejoice with Him.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Open Mind, Faithful Heart

I think that I am learning to ask myself each time I open the book, Open Mind, Faithful Heart: "Is my mind open to receive, is my heart faithful? How can I be more receptive to these reflections? And then I keep going back to the one on "The Mystery of Talking with God." It is a mystery. I have been a spiritual director now for over forty years and every one is unique and develops his or her own relationship with God. I stand in awe of the way God relates to each and I am humbled by the sharing of deep prayer experiences with the Triune God.
Pope Francis says, "While the force and the potential of all prayer lies precisely in letting ourselves be assisted by the Spirit, the concrete setting of prayer is this identification with Christ Jesus.In him we have access to the Father..."  I keep going back to the thought that it is really amazing but Jesus waits for us; He chooses to sit with each of us and talk with us as one friend speaks and is silent with another. Lord, open my mind, my whole self to hear You and give me a faithful heart to follow You wherever You may lead me!

Today is also the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple and the  213th birthday of  the Society of the Sacred Heart. It is a special feast for all of us and holds many memories. As young nuns, there was always a three-day retreat (amid all the work of the school!) to prepare for this day. Now, one must remember feasts and celebrate in new ways. I am still so happy with my time of extra prayer at the Forty Hours. It is such a grace just to be able to sit in the Presence of God.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Called to be united with Christ...

Praying in the Spirit "means being fully convinced that prayer is a great gift given by the Father."
Again, I am quoting from Open Mind, Faithful Heart, and Pope Francis says that we "pray to the Father, by the Son, in the Holy Spirit." He goes on to tell us that we pray with Jesus, "as sons and daughters in the Son, lovers of the one and only Beloved." That is what Jesus means when He tells us to pray in His name. "Such prayer assumes a real connection with Jesus, a connection that is not just notional or sentimental but life-giving...Praying in Jesus' name implies our participation in the life of Jesus, a participation that is realized concretely in mutual love..."We are called to be united with Christ and to be like Christ, knowing that we are loved by the Father as the Son is loved."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mystery of Talking With god

The Mystery of Talking with God is the title of the reflection in Open Mind, Faithful Heart by Pope Francis. He asks, "To whom do you pray?" Then he goes on to say that it is person to person: "we pray to the Father or to the Son or to the Holy Spirit. What is more, each one of the divine Persons relates to us differently when we pray."
Then we are reminded that "it is God himself who inspires our prayer; it is the Holy Spirit who suggests to us what the Father wants to hear. "...Praying in the Spirit means becoming fully aware both of our neediness and of the power of this divine presence within us.The precarious mature of our Christian existence makes us realize that we need to ask for help, and so we are given the Holy Spirit to guide us in our petition, adoration, thanksgiving, and contemplation." (More later)
I must say I am loving the Forty Hours at St. Augustine. It is rather interesting though that with the entire Church full of empty benches, my bench and the one behind me gets crowded with the college students. I begin by choosing a place in the middle of the third bench from the front so I will not have distractions during my holy hours; there are two very devote young men in front of me and they stay for at least an hour; a young girl arrives and sits in my bench to my left;  a short time later someone appears on my right and then I become aware that the bench behind me has several people. When I finally decide I need to get home, I am surprised to see that the students have surrounded me but the rest of the Church only has three or four people scattered among the empty benches. This was the first day; I choose a bench half way back the second day and stayed there in solitude. However, I must admit that there is something so special in the prayer during the Forty Hours that the time flies and I am so blessed to be able to spend extra hours in prayer! I do pray for all of you and for the needs of our world - I pray with Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, and to the Father!

Thirsty for God

Do we go to prayer full of desire to be with God? Do we really want to deepen our relationship with Him?
Do we allow God to love us?
 We are having Forty Hours at St. Augustine where I go to noon Mass so yesterday I went back just to sit there in the Presence of God and thought what a great way to spend Philippine's Feast! I will do the same today.
 I have gone back to a deep insight that I had at the Trinita in Rome before my final profession. It is hard to put into words, but I realized that I needed to develop a real relationship with each person in the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not much seems to have been written about this - I do a great deal of spiritual reading and have read so many books on prayer, but seldom do I find anyone speaking about our way of relating in prayer to each of the three persons in the Trinity. However, Pope Francis has something in Open Mind, Faithful Heart that I will share with you tomorrow. I am late today as someone was using the computer but do want to share this one tidbit that came this morning from Contemplative Outreach:

"Prayer is the disposition that expresses our relation to God ...  So the invitation, then, is:  if you would like the deeper knowledge of God, if you want to enter into this process that leads to divine union and peace, to the sensitivities of the fruits of the Spirit, to the dance of contemplative prayer and action, in which God guides you more than your own ego and self-centered programs for happiness, then enter your Inner Room."

Thomas Keating,
The Spiritual Journey Series, Part V

Monday, November 18, 2013

Philippine's Love Story

Today I am sharing a reflection taken from Sister Maureen Glavin, the present head of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. It really grasps not only Philippine's life but also our charism as Religious of the Sacred Heart. I skipped her introduction but here is what she wrote:

One half of that love story is Philippine’s deep awareness of God’s great love for her.  We know about this half of the love story when we read about Philippine’s passion for prayer and her desires for spending time with God in prayer. You’ve heard the tales of how the children in France put little papers on her habit to see how long Mother Duchesne would kneel motionless in the chapel. Or perhaps you’ve read about how the Native Americans or little pioneer children would put leaves on her habit for the same reason. Or, maybe you recall how the Potawatomi people would reverently come to the rustic log chapel on the Kansas prairie and kiss the hem of her habit during the hours this holy old woman was ‘lost’ in God. At the center of all these remembrances is Philippine’s capacity for prayer. What is at the heart of this capacity was the simple JOY of being with her Beloved. She was opening her heart to God and allowing the One Who loves her to fill her heart to overflowing. In the process, Philippine was being sustained and suffused with knowing herself to be loved by Love’s Very Self.
The other half of this love story is Philippine’s life poured out in love.  Her whole life can be seen as returning love with love. She wanted to reveal God’s Love to others. Her love for God was the impetus for her passion and the energy behind her famous zeal. We can imagine Philippine up early in the morning and we can picture her going to bed late at night, busy about many things. What is important to remember is that she was a woman whose very life was poured out AS love for the one whom she knew loved her first!
So, let us celebrate Philippine’s Feast by opening our Hearts to that same Love. Let us allow God in, let us let God love us. Let us take time to sit with and in that Love. And then, like Philippine, let us allow our lives to be a witness to that Love through all that we do!
Happy Feast!
Maureen Glavin, rscj

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Philippine Duchesne desired

Philippine had a missionary vocation. She wanted to convert the entire world. After talking with others who had been in America, Philippine began to desire ardently to go there to convert the Indians. When she spoke of her desire with St. Madeleine Sophie, she was both encouraged and told she must wait. The right moment came in 1818 when Bishop DuBorg came to plead for Religious of the Sacred Heart to come and establish a school in his extensive diocese. Philippine was ready, eager, and full of courage. She kept these qualities through all the hardships of the voyage, the very poor beginning in St. Charles instead of St. Louis where she had hoped to be and through years of hard work, prayer, and struggle while she bravely made foundations at Grand Coteau, Florissant, St. Louis, and St. Charles to say nothing of two other foundations in the South. She welcomed the Jesuits, helped them, and longed to go to the Indians. Finally, that wish was granted and she left with the first band to go to the Jesuit mission in Sugar Creek; at that time it was Indian Territory but became Kansas later. Her health was a concern but the Indians loved her and called her "the woman who prays always." She was there for them and they knew it. Her dream of going to the Indians was finally realized. She spent long hours in prayer or sitting by a sick Indian. She was content but others worried about her facing the extremely cold winters in the little log cabin and she was sent back to St. Charles.

I am writing this as some may not know about our Saint Philippine Duchesne and she is worth knowing. The
last ten years of her life were at St. Charles and they still talk about how she would go through the children's dormitory at night to see that all was well and mend any clothes that needed it. She taught Catechism to some of the poor children in a little room under the front steps of the convent. Her own room is still preserved and one can see how poor and small it is. Her spirit remains there and I urge those who have not been able to visit this place of pilgrimage to make an effort to do so this year. It is now only about fifteen minutes away from the St. Louis airport - new highways and bridges have made St. Charles much more accessible. In Philippine's time the bridge had not been built and it was a long carriage ride into St. Louis. Even when I was a boarder there was only the old bridge and St. Charles Rock Road to get us to school.
Well, I hope you do not mind this rambling and will learn to pray to Philippine and, especially, become a prayerful person following her example.
More tomorrow, the real Feast day now, but it used to be November 17th before her canonization so I still celebrate both days!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Preparing for the Feast of St. Philippine

As we prepare for Philippine's Feast, I am remembering the great spiritual friendship that I had with a young Spanish Religious of the Sacred Heart who arrived in Chile just one year after I had arrived. At the time, I was Dean of Students and so working with the High School and she took over the youngest classes. We were the only "young professed" and so we were often sent off to have a visit together on Sundays and so became quite close. She had the idea, since we were two missionaries, of making a novena before the feast of Philippine and taking something that was hard for us to do as a practice to prepare her feast. It was a real spiritual help for both of us and we did it each year until she returned to Spain after her father's death. We only lived together for a year or two and then she was sent to Santiago to have a lung removed and I was asked to head the grade school. I really do not remember the practices we did before the feast, but I do remember that we found it very helpful and sharing on our efforts made us great spiritual friends. She died a few years ago and it was a real loss for me. I actually managed to visit her in Palma de Mallorca three different times when I was in Europe.
This statue sits at the corner of the convent of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles down by the playing fields; it looks out on all who pass by and captures something of the tenderness of Philippine.
You can see her shrine in the background - built after I was at school.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Looking ahead to Sunday's Gospel (Luke 21:15-19) I was reading some of the commentaries given in the Concord Pastor's blog. Just remember to click on his link on the right side of this blog and then click on the Bible and you will find six wonderful commentaries for the Sunday's Gospel. I usually read several and find it helpful to prepare the Sunday liturgy during the week. I am going to copy the opening prayer here as I like it.

Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Luke has Jesus predicting future events and some of these have come true by the time Luke is writing his Gospel. However, it is true as we look back over the centuries that there is always war, and there are earthquakes, famines, and plagues. Here is what one of my favorite commentators says:

"I, however, have a question for the Lord. Has there ever been an age without such trial and turmoil? What century has not seen wars? What nation has not tried to bulldoze its way ahead of others—if not for victory in military struggle, at least for more respectable signs of gain? When have we not been plagued by cancerous life or tossed by mighty movements of earth and sea? And has there ever been a time when a true Christian has not been ridiculed and rejected, whether by friends, family, or state?

Just wondering.

Yet Christ, seeming to anticipate our wonder, offered this advice: “Do not be perturbed. ... These things are bound to happen.” Bound to happen. Life is bound to be this way. He is not speaking about the end of all times, but the condition of every time."
This is from John Kavanaugh and the only thing for us to do is trust and persevere.  No apathy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

St. Philippine Duchesne

We celebrate the feast of Saint Philippine Duchesne on November 18th but I like to prepare for it ahead of time as she is one of my favorite saints. She was a great pioneer Religious of the Sacred Heart who came to America in 1818 and opened the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri in a funny little cabin with more doors than windows that the Bishop had found for her and her companions. She soon received some boarders from St. Louis, but also opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. I became a weekly boarder at the Academy in 1944, just four years after Mother Duchesne was beatified.
After all these years- (it was 69 years ago), I can close my eyes and immediately see and capture the holy atmosphere of the little chapel where she was buried in the front yard of the convent. I was one who went each evening with the Religious in charge of the shrine to help close the shutters, blow out the green and amber vigil lights that always surrounded the tomb stone set in the floor of the Chapel, but first we prayed to Philippine. She was so present and seemed to me to be so interested in my studies, my athletic achievements, and everything that concerned me. I found her very maternal and loving and she was always there for me. When I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart and heard people speak of Mother Duchesne and the cross; her sufferings, her fortitude, her failures, I just was astonished as this was so different from my experience of her and I went often to pray to her in the shrine under the stairs at Kenwood (in Albany where all the novices were formed at that time). There was a picture of a strong, elderly woman who looked at me with love and understanding. She well understood my homesickness. She had left France, family, friends behind and never went back - in fact, her great desire to go to the Indians was only realized in 1841 when she was over seventy years old and not in good health. However, after her year at the Indian mission in Sugar Creek, she was sent back to live the last ten years of her life at St. Charles and her spirit is still felt there.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What gives you strength to move forward?

Apathy is a reality that can be a daily threat for all of us. Pope Francis, in Open Mind, Faithful Heart, says that we "need to be humbly aware that it is always with us. That is why we must nourish ourselves with the word of God, which gives us strength to continue moving forward." The underlining is mine. He continues to tell us that the temptation to apathy is why we "must seek the joy that comes only from the Lord when he finds us keeping watch, searching for him in the many moments when he becomes present in our ministry."
Here are the questions the Francis asks after suggesting we pause a moment and review our lives:
What guises does apathy assume in me?
In what situations of my life am I tempted to feel weariness and to flag in my resolve, so that I end up almost paralyzed?
I guess I just need to look at the situations where I know I should act and instead procrastinate - I have not thought much about apathy as I usually am enthusiastic and determined, but I do put off writing letters and now I do everything accept work on the writing of the Life of Lucile Mathevon. I count on your prayer to keep me going as I say I want to write her life and keep postponing the actual work of writing!!! I guess this is apathy and I did not recognize it!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Following Jesus

In his book, Open Mind, Faithful Heart, Pope Francis says that the encounter with Jesus Christ takes place in our daily lives in three ways: the direct contact of prayer; in the wise discernment of the signs of the times; and in our brothers and sisters. He insists that Jesus is searching for each of us. Sometimes He passes by us and we do not recognize Him. Sometimes I am just too occupied with other things to see how Jesus is present to me and I am not present to Him.
If we get the habit of looking for Him, of thanking Him for the various encounters we do have with Him during the day, we will grow in our awareness of His constant presence in our lives. It is not easy. I had a wonderful, holy spiritual director who used to tell me that the spiritual life is simple, not easy but simple. Let us try today to recognize Jesus as He comes to us through others, in our prayer, in a phone call, in e-mails, and in our responding to someone's need.
I also want to say that we had a fruitful, peaceful, prayerful, community week end. Thanks for your prayer. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans' Day

We honor all veterans today. This picture seems to have chosen me and I hope it is not too dismal and the sun will soon shine again.
To finish with Sister Miriam Pollard's reflection which I found so rich and keep returning to in my own prayer:

"Yield to the self you are, to the plan of God unfolding slowly but steadily in the heart you feel so discontented with. Make your small plans to fit the capacity he has filled with grace, in which he waits, to which he has devoted an eternity of reverence. Your are not--truly you are not-- a heap of rusty spare parts and scrap metal waiting for recycling. You are his finely -crafted masterpiece."

She ends by telling us that God is an eternal lover who desires to draw us more firmly into his arms.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

You are God's delight!

I hope you really believe that you are God's delight. I am going to continue with some of the reflection of Sister Miriam Pollard, a Sister of Santa Rita Abbey in Sonoita, Arizona, taken from her book The Listening God: "...Christ sits ever by the well, waiting for us to come and draw, waiting to give, waiting to be comforted, not by the dream we've cooked up for tomorrow, but by the reality of today. He wants what is possible this moment, a surrender to the privilege of being just this self instead of the one we'd rather be (and knock ourselves out trying to construct). From this point, he will indicate our road, a road especially built for this person he has brought so far and cherishes and has his own intentions for."

I am going to continue with this tomorrow as I think my readers prefer brief entries and then have time to reflect on whatever strikes them.  Have a happy, peaceful, Sunday!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Community Week End

We usually plan our living together in community each year in September when we also do the budget. We did manage to find time for the budget, but postponed the community week end planning until now and I have planned it so please pray that it all works out. We are going to begin with drawing our family trees and sharing; we have a new member from Canada here on her sabbatical and so thought we would begin with our family history. Then we go to Mass together and dinner. On Sunday morning we will be sharing our hopes, fears, challenges and then looking to see what we want as our community goals this year. We will have a prayer in honor of St. Philippine Duchesne with the area on Sunday afternoon. In the evening we will finalize our list of "household tasks", celebration of birthdays and special days such a Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. I just need to finish the Sunday morning prayer and prepare the sign up sheets but wanted to let you know that this is an important week end for us and ask your prayers for it.

I read a lovely reflection by Sr. Miriam Pollard taken from her book, The Listening God. I will share a bit of it today and tomorrow as I am still scheduling ahead. She says, "To start the work of conversion from the truth of God's love for me at this moment, in these circumstances, and as I now am, is not to duck out on the effort conversion demands. It's to start the effort in the right place."
"We need to keep coming back to this starting place--the unimaginable acceptance in which God wraps us round. He runs toward us in every circumstance. He enjoys our company, smiles at our attentions and relaxes in our affection."
That is enough to think about today. To be continued tomorrow.

Friday, November 8, 2013

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

We all love cheerful people. When we have God's joy, we attract others. God's joy also gives us a deep peace. All is right with the world. That, of course, is not what I think when I read the morning paper or listen to the evening news. We see only the sad things that are happening all over the world. As I may have told you before, I have the habit of picking up the little glass globe on my prayer shelf and just putting a finger on each continent as I confide them all to God. It really helps me and then I can concentrate on the good things I see and hear each day. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great help in living joyfully! Try it and see!
I was thinking about what I wrote yesterday about giving God joy. Actually, He gives me the joy and I just need to radiate it and share it as I really cannot give God anything, but I do try to allow Him to love me and maybe that is enough.
Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi talks about spiritual fervor and Pope Francis says that "Joy means fervor". Here is a partial quote from Paul VI's encyclical: "We exhort all those who have the task of evangelizing, by whatever title and at whatever level, always to nourish spiritual fervor...Let us preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow. May it mean for interior enthusiasm that nobody and nothing can quench. May it be the great joy of our consecrated lives. And may the world of our own time,...receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient, or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ."
We are all called to evangelize and be ministers of the Gospel - does my life glow with fervor? We have all received the gift of joy from the Holy Spirit. Let us cultivate it by being grateful and joyful!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Believing in Joy

"Believing in Joy" is the title of the third meditation in the book I am using for prayer and have been talking about this week. The title is "Open Mind, Faithful Heart" and the whole idea so far is that we need to really cultivate our friendship with Jesus. Jesus wants our joy to be complete. We are speaking about the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit and is a sign of the presence of God. Pope Francis says that our joy in God generates missionary enthusiasm.

I know that a sad saint is a sorry saint and that really nothing can take away our supernatural joy. I have always felt drawn to joy and loved learning as a novice that joy was a sign of the Good Spirit at work; I have found that joy is contagious, too. But what really strikes me now is that I have a vocation within my vocation to give joy to God. As I think I have mentioned before, I have this Christmas card framed on my prayer shelf that has a youngster piping a song of joy to the Infant Jesus. I just feel that is what I am called to do and one way to feed joy is to be grateful.
That is enough to think about for today. Just remember that Jesus says in John 15:11: "I have said these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Open Mind, Faithful Heart"

The book "Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus" will keep me reading and praying over Pope Francis' words for many weeks. In the Foreword, Gustavo Larrazabal, CFM, says of this book:
" is a book of spirituality. Let no one be deceived about that. It is written in a simple style using plain language that is accessible to the general public. It is the last book written by Bergoglio as cardinal, and it is the one that he liked best of all. ...
"There is no question about the quality of this work. Its texts are addressed to a wide audience, not only to priests and religious. Its forty-eight evocative meditations have an 'Ignatian flavor'  that will help the reader to draw closer to God and to others ... "

I am finding that it is a book to be prayed over with the Bible in hand as the scripture references are many and needed to really reflect on what the subtitle says about "following Jesus." I hope it does draw me closer to God and others! I know I will be sharing some of it in this blog!

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Book

I have just received "Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus" by Pope Francis! This is a book of the Pope's writings when still a Cardinal. It "presents the person and the teaching of Jesus as a way of life that is both human and divine..." This is taken from the flap, but it is a book I think I am going to find very enriching. The first part is about "Encountering Jesus" and has such titles as "Jesus in Dialogue"; Living in Constant Encounter; Believing in Joy; Joy and Perseverance; -  that is only naming the first four in the fourteen meditations that make up the first section. There are four sections and 48 reflections so it is a book I know I will be reading and reflecting on for some time. It is to be read slowly and I am going off to begin now! I am rather glad that this book arrived on the Feast of All Saints and I am posting it in my Monday blog. I will keep you informed. In the meantime, I hope all are still finding fruit in the wonderful book of Jose Pagola: "Jesus: An Historical Approximation."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday's Gospel is one of my favorites

Remember that tax collectors were not acceptable; indeed, most of the Jews feared, hated, and shunned them. Jesus comes along and sees the desire of one, a wealthy man and a tax collector, who has wished to see Jesus and so climbed a tree. Jesus stops under that tree and invites him to come down as Jesus wants to go home with him. The astonished man comes down quickly, filled with joy. Then comes a complete conversion in which he promises to give half of his wealth to the poor and, if he has wronged others, to restore four-fold whatever was lacking... he is really just so happy that Jesus wants to be with him.
Now, the truth is that Jesus wants to be with each of us. He calls us to come quickly and He wants to stay with us. Do we listen to this invitation and accept with alacrity and joy? And do we also amend our lives because we have been singled out by Jesus?
Lots to think about today!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

All Souls' Day

Today we commemorate all the faithful departed. The opening prayer for the Mass is:

Listen kindly to our prayers, O Lord,
and, as our faith in your Son,
raised from the dead, is deepened,
so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants
also find new strength.

So this is really a feast of hope for the happiness of all those who have gone before us. The first sentence of the first reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us the "souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them." We really do not know what happens immediately after death but we hope and believe that God will take us to Himself and our joy will be complete.
I do pray for those who have died and know that God hears all our prayers.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Feast of All Saints

Today is a great feast for all of us as we know so many who have gone to God and who are not canonized officially by the Church but we know how holy they were on earth and are certainly now "saints" in heaven and watching over us.
I thought I was copying something else and instead you have this story of the mouse which is something to reflect upon as we all need to help one another and cannot be indifferent to anything that affects even one person who needs our help. But before the story of the mouse, here is the prayer for the Feast of All Saints:

Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall

to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered.

He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard,

the mouse proclaimed this warning :

 "There is a mousetrap in the house!

There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched,

raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse,

I can tell this is a grave concern to you,

but it is of no consequence to me.

I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him,

"There is a mousetrap in the house!

There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said,

"I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse,

but there is nothing I can do about it

but pray..

Be assured you are in my prayers."

 The mouse turned to the cow and said,

"There is a mousetrap in the house!

There is a mousetrap in the house!"


The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you,

but it's no skin off my nose."

 So, the mouse returned to the house,

head down and dejected,

to face the farmer's mousetrap

. . . Alone.. .. .

That very night

a sound was heard throughout the house

-- the sound Of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.

In the darkness, she did not see it.

It was a venomous snake

whose tail was caught in the trap.

The snake bit the farmer's wife.

 The farmer rushed her to the hospital.   

When she returned home she still had a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever

with fresh chicken soup.

So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard

for the soup's main ingredient:

But his wife's sickness continued.

Friends and neighbors

came to sit with her

around the clock.

 To feed them,

the farmer butchered the pig.


But, alas,

the farmer's wife did not get well...

She died.


So many people came for her funeral

that the farmer had the cow slaughtered

to provide enough meat for all of them

for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all

from his crack in the wall

with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear

someone is facing a problem

and you think it doesn't concern you,

remember ---

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called life.

We must keep an eye out for one another

and make an extra effort

to encourage one another.