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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

It is fitting that we begin a New Year with a feast of Mary; in 1969 he feast of Mary, Mother of God, formerly celebrated on October 11, was transferred to January 1, replacing the feast of the Circumcision.
I am using a book of icons on the Mother of God by William Hart  McNichols with beautiful reflections on each icon by Mirabai Starr. Here is one of my favorites: (the icon has the title of Mother of God of Akita, Our Lady of the Snows). Here is the reflection:
Universal Mother,
teach m to love the Holy One
as you love the Holy One,
with utter abandon.
Teach me to pray as you pray,
without words or concepts to hinder
my connection with my Beloved.
Teach me to serve the world as you do,
serenely smiling through tears of blood.
Let the peace you proclaim come at last,
blanketing the earth like snow,
permeating the thirsty land
and penetrating the roots of all nations,
so that a new season of goodness
may burst into bloom everywhere.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A doorway

Here is Mary Oliver's poem"Praying"  which I copied yesterday but lost it. It shows how we can go from awareness to wonder, from awe to prayer, and from prayer to adoration.

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch

A few words together and don!t try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

(from "Thirst")

Monday, December 29, 2014

From Wonder to Adoration

What wakens a sense of wonder in you? Is it awe before a magnificent sunset, or wonder as you hold a new-born baby? Philip Newell, in his book "The Rebirthing of God", quotes Mary Oliver, "My work is loving the world which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feast of the Holy Family

We all have a family history. Today we celebrate the Holy Family, but it is also a  day to celebrate our own family. We remember the love that is shared, the traditions that each family cherishes, the shared meals, birthday parties, joys and sorrows that bind family members. We recall those memories and find that we are united with bonds of love. Family is important and Jesus chose to live at home for thirty years.
Today is a good day to thank for all the good memories and to pray that families will stay together and grow in holiness

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Open your heart...

Today I am sharing from Symeon the new Theologian from one of his Hymns of Divine Love:
We awaken in Christ's body,
As Christ awakens our bodies
There I look down and my poor hand is Christ,
He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand and wonderfully
My hand becomes Christ
Becomes all of him.
I move my foot and at once
He appears in a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous to you?

--Then open your hearts to Him.
And let yourselves receive the one
Who is opening to you so deeply,
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ's body
Where all our body all over,
Every most hidden part of it,
Is realized in joy as Him,
And He makes us utterly real,
And everything that is hurt, everything
That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged
Is in Him transformed.
And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely.
And radiant in His light,
We awaken as the beloved
In every last part of our body.

Symeon lived from 949-1022 so this needs to be read more than once to be realized and become a source of joy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Unto us a child is born . . .

What a wonderful season to be filled with joy because God is with us. The Word was made flesh! He came into the world as a helpless infant. Here is a quote from St. Bernard of Clairvaux that I am praying with today:
"How marvelous a condescension in God to come down from heaven in quest of us! And how great an honor to us so to be sought by God!"

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day

Christmas is such a beautiful feast. I could not go to the community gathering at nine and ate Christmas dinner ( no turkey) in my room, but I did go to Mass at 11:00 and came away with a strong desire to trust the Lord's unconditional love for me. I guess I am beginning to love solitude but am tired of disposable cardboard trays, plates, cups, forks, etc. Anyway, the Mass was lovely and I will try to return to the Chapel when all are somewhere else. Maybe I can also go out and walk a bit as the sun is out today.  
I hope you are reading the Homilies of Pope Francis. He urges us to really care for others! Christmas is full of wonder but one of the greatest concerns the mystery of God becoming human. God with us!
Let us ponder this mystery!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Five Wishes

Here are my five wishes for Christmas as I huddle bundled in a pink blanket in the electronic armchair in my room. They probably are different from the ones that I wrote yesterday morning after prayer, but I am relying on the Holy Spirit for help. First, I should explain why I am posting five wishes for Christmas. On Dec. 22nd, one of my sisters came gowned and gloved into my isolation to tell me that the director of Oakwood (our elder care home) wanted my five wishes and this was urgent. I thought, "how nice, she wants my five wishes for Christmas!" Having just returned from the hospital with fever Sunday night, I had not been thinking about wishes for Christmas. If this was urgent, I was willing. However it seems the Five Wishes was the many paged document that all RSCJs filled out as living wills so we spent the time on questions of life support, cremation or burial,etc. And not on five wishes for Christmas! When I went to bed that night, I finally had time to ask Jesus about what I thought He might like these wishes to be. After all, it is His birthday and so I am going to try to summarize a really inspiring dialogue we had into five short statements of wishes that are huge and cannot be prioritized as each is immensely important to Jesus as well as to me. I risk sharing these today in case they help you decide on what to give the Infant Jesus this Christmas.

1 To live United to the Heart of Jesus so that I descend into the depths of His Heart to love, console and give joy by always choosing what is pleasing to Him.

2. To have peace in all the world. I keep praying for this but believe I further peace in many ways: in my own heart, with those around me,  with those who come for spiritual guidance, etc.

3. To be a joy-bearer and foster joy and gratitude

4. To reveal God's love to all

5. To further the reign of God in all that I do

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas preparations

Sometimos we aré so busy with all the material preparaciones for Christmas that we forget the real reason why we aré decorating the house, trimming the tree, wrapping presents, and planning a great feast. Jesas sees the love and care we put into our preparation but what pese y aré we preparing for Jesus! It is His birthday,
Sorry, but I just realized my e-mail was set for Spanish. Blame it on fever and two days at Stanford Hospital still trying to get rid of this infection!

Friday, December 19, 2014

What a joy to see young children!

Yesterday, as soon as mass was over, the Montessori children paraded into the Chapel to entertain us with all the Christmas songs thy had learned. They were darling and so serious about the body movements that enlivened their performance. I am so glad that I was able to be there,

Now that I am feeling better I find myself using he Advent prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!" I also had a light about today'Gospel. Zechariah was speechless for nine months and imagine how silent the house must have been before Mary arrived.
Now for a Christmas Blessing I received yesterday and want to pass on to you.

May all the days of all the years
That God has still in store,
Be filled with every joy and grace
To bless you more and more;
May hope of heart and peace of mind
Beside you ever stay,
And that's the golden wish I have
For you this Christmas Day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Live this year as a grace

The laity share with consecrated persons the "same ideals, spirit and mission. The third part of the Letter gives Pope Francis' Horizons for this year of consecrated life. First, he wishes to speak to the laity a larger family, a charismatic family. The Year for Consecrated Life concerns the entire Church.
We are invited to experience this Year as a moment of thanksgiving to the Lord and grateful remembrance for all the gifts we continue to receive . .  .
The Pope also addresses the Churches of other traditions . . .he encourages dialogue and asks thePastors "to show special concern for promoting the different charisms" and he entrusts this Year to Mary, "the Virgin of listening and contemplation, the first disciple of her beloved Son."
Lastly, the Pope joins us in gratitude for "the gifts of grace and light with which the Lord graciously wills to enrich us, and I accompany you with my Apostolic Blessing."

Having finished my summary of the Apostolic Letter for the Year of  Consecrated Life, I am also happy to announce that after 40 days, the infection seems to have left me and I am no longer in isolation! Thank you for all the prayer!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Am I an "expert in communion"?

The third expectation for this year of consecrated life is the call to be an expert in communion. That is really a call for everyone as Jesus told us to love one another "as I have loved you." Communion entails mutual acceptance and banishes all envy, jealousy, criticism, gossip, and pettiness.
One of the strongest statements of the Pope is that no one during this year of consecrated life "can feel excused from seriously examining his or her presence in the Church 's life and from responding to the new demands constantly being made on us, to the cry of the poor."
"Only by such concerns for the needs of the world, and by docility to the promptings of the Spirit, will this Year of Consecrated Life become an authentic Kairos, a time rich in God's grace, a time of transformation."
I think this requires serious reflection.
So often we think of the Church as the hierarchy, or maybe even the buildins where we receive the Sacraments and forget that we are the Church!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We are called to be Prophets

Prophets are people who know God and know his people. Pope Francis says that because they are free, "they are beholden to no one but God, and they have no interest other than God. Prophets tend to be on the side of the poor and the powerless, for they know that God himself is on their side."
It takes courage to be a prophet. We are to denounce evil and we are to announce the reign of God. I am convinced that whatever I do or do not do influences the evolution of the world!

Monday, December 15, 2014

62 Years of Consecrated Life

I made my vows sixty-two years ago today and remember the joy I felt as if it were yesterday! I had prayed to really understand what I was committing myself to for the rest of my life. I think I was so in love with Jesus that nothing else mattered. As I was the athletic coach for the school as a second year novice, I remember going to the locker room to talk to the girls for the last time on my vow day.
Now, having returned in memory to my first day of consecrated life, let me go back to Pope Francis' Letter. His expectations for this year of consecrated life are: Joy, ability to wake up the world in a prophetic way, living a spirituality of communion, a going forth to proclaim the Gospel, and, finally, that we question what it is that God and people today are asking. More about these expectations tomorrow!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Third Sunday of Advent

John came to prepare the way of the Lord! He came to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. Because Jesus came into our world e are never in darkness. The second reading from Paul's Lettr to the Thessalonians tells us to rejoice always. We are to pray without ceasing and in all circumstances give thanks! Quite a program for all of us as we enter the third week of Advent!

Friday, December 12, 2014

"When I am weak, then I am strong"(2 Cor 12:10

"We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy;and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfillment." That is a long quote from Pope Francis who expects us to live in joy!
No matter what difficulties we face, we can radiate joy as Christ is with us and we find our joy in Him!
Now, the Pope is counting on us "to wake up the world"! As religious, we follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. We are to be "prophets who witness to how Jesus lived on earth."

"Prophets receive from God the ability to scrutinize the times in which they live and to interpret events: they are like sentinels who keep watch in the night and sense the coming of the dawn."

How am I waking up the world?

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the birthday of St. Madeleine Sophie. I took the habit 64 years ago today. At that time we were dressed in wedding gowns as brides of Christ and walked down the center of the Chapel; then our habits were blessed and given to us; we then left the Chapel, had our hair cut and were dressed in the habit with the white veil of a novice. My parents came for the ceremony. Afterwards they went to Macy's in New York and sent me a whole box of toys so I played with the the novices on Christmas Day. I was 19 years old but still enjoyed playing jacks and pick-up sticks, yo-yos and spinning tops.
Did you know that the appearance of Our Lady to Jun Diego in Mexico in 1531 is one of nine Marian appearances approved by the Catholic Church? The next four were in France: to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris n 1830; to two children in LaSalette in 1846; to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in the 1850s; then at Pontmain in 1871. Then Our Lady appeared at Knock, Ireland in 1879, Fatima in Portugal in 1917, and the last two inBelgium in 1932-33.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Be not afraid . . .for I am with you!

Pope Francis wants the third aim of this year to be hope. Amid all the problems and woes that surround us, we are called to practice the virtue of hope. Our hope is based on Jesus, the One who loves us and who is all-powerful!
The expectations for this year are worth reflection. The firt is joy. The Pope tells us that the old saying will always be true: "Where there are religious, there is joy." It is God who fills our hearts with happiness!
The second expectation is "to wake up the world"! More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Living the present with passion

We are called to live with passion. It is the passionate love of Jesus that leads us to live the Good News! Pope Francis tells us that "living the present with passion means becoming 'experts in communion'..." The Spirit inspires us with a passion for unity. We are called to be women and men of communion - as Pope Francis says, let us "Live the mysticism of encounter."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aims of the Year of Consecrated Life

As we begin this new liturgical year, I am aware that many of us are thrilled to also have this year dedicated to the consecrated life. The beautiful letter of Pope Francis has much to ponder. He begins by stating the aims of this year: To look to the past with gratitude; to live the present with passion; to a the future with hope. If you reflect on these aims, they are calls to all of us.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Any feast day of Our Lady is cause for rejoicing. I have been praying with Psalm 100 and today was thinking of Our Lady praying it. All her being rejoiced in the Lord! She always chose what was pleasing to God, without thought of self! She also notices when we lack something and intercedes for us with her Son. May we honor her today as our Mother and Advocate!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent Reflection

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent which I seem to be spending in isolation - silence and solitude - what more could one ask for in this Blessed season of Advent! Here is a great quote from the Superior General of the Jesuits on silence: "we all need a place inside ourselves where there is no noise, where the voice of the Holy Spirit can speak to us softly and gently and direct our discernment. In a very true sense, we need the ability to become ourselves silence, emptiness, an open space that the Word of God can fill, and the Spirit of God can set on fire for the good of others . . .our hearts are our monasteries and at the bottom of every activity, every reflection, every decision, there is silence, that kind of silence that one shares only with God."