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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A word for the New Year...

Is there one word you want to take for the New Year? Or a phrase?

I am thinking of "Joyful surrender" as I am called to serve in joy and want this year to be fully at the disposal of Jesus, totally surrendered to what He wants.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Being there

When we contemplate the birth of the Infant Jesus, St. Ignatius suggests that we place ourselves in the stable and see and hear what is happening. Maybe we are a servant that left the Inn where there was no room to show them this poor place that at least gave them the same shelter as the animals. Let your imagination be free to see, to listen, perhaps even to hold the baby....

Now, imagine that you are with some newly arrived refugees and one young couple seems preoccupied with more than just getting in line for something to eat. She is expecting a child and needs a place to be out of this noisy, desperate crowd who are fleeing for their lives. This woman is peaceful but you see at once that she must get off her feet and have some privacy. What do you do? She is a stranger and has no identity papers. What is going to happen to her? The border is closed and she is stranded; there is no room for them. Do you also turn away?

The first Christmas has many lessons to teach us as we reflect why Jesus came into the world where there was no room for him and chose to be born in poverty, in a stable open to all to come and gaze.
I will be in California by the time this blog appears. Please pray for the retreat January 2-9 in Santa Cruz. I will write after the retreat so Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The "long veiw"

Mary’s place in salvation history is far more significant than any of ours, but what she sees is true for all of us. Life is about more than the sum of our own experiences, sorrows, and successes. It’s about the role we play in God’s ever-unfolding plan to redeem the world.  

That sounds lofty, but it’s about taking the long view. Do we see success through the eyes of our contemporaries, or through the eyes of God? Do we focus only on what God does for us, or also on what God can do for others through us?

This perspective challenges me to reorient my priorities.
The above quote was taken from "In Courage" and I regret that I cannot now find it to give the author, but I thought it was good to reflect on the "long view" - we all have a purpose in life!

I am leaving today for retreat and visits so I will also be having a bit of vacation from my blog. I will try to write after the guided imagery retreat for which I really ask your prayers. That is from January 2-9; then I will be with our retired religious in Oakwood for a week and see other friends, too, and my nephew and his wife before leaving for Arizona where I will be with my brother and then my sister. Home on January 26!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Holy Innocents

If the three Kings had not followed the star, perhaps we would not have had the Holy Innocents - those boy babies that Herod ordered killed after the Kings or Magi had been told by an angel to go back home another way. They had left all to follow a star and they had found the Christ child and now were on their way home. However, Herod was fearful that this new born babe would be a threat to him and so ordered the soldiers to kill all the boy babies. It made the Holy Family suffer the plight of so many refugees today. What must it have been for them to leave in the middle of the night and flee to Egypt? Of course, we do not know how true the stories of the infancy are, but I have lived with them since early childhood and find truth in them.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Feast of the Holy Family

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. If you have been reading Pope Francis, you will know how often he speaks about family and the importance of nurturing family life. I think that the Christmas season is a special time for families. Children return home full of many happy memories when they gathered to sing carols or just be together around the crib and Christmas tree.

My favorite Christmas was that of 1941. I was ten years old and our best Christmas gift that year was a new baby. I had longed for a brother and then he came on Christmas morning. I will never forget my Dad telling us, after he had turned on the Christmas tree lights, that our best gift was not under the tree but our mother was with our new baby brother. Afterwards, we went to Mass and then picked up the wonderful woman who came each Christmas to cook our turkey dinner. Hattie now worked for a doctor's family but always went to my great Aunt's to clean on her day off and then to us for Christmas. Hattie was a great part of our Christmas; as soon as I had helped her make the dressing to stuff the turkey and we had it in the oven, she would come into our living room and we could show her our presents. That Christmas, she said I was the "lady of the house now and what time did I want her to serve dinner?" I have not forgotten that as it made me feel grown up. My Dad, without sleep, went back to the hospital to be with my mother, and I was the one he asked to call all our relatives with the good news. I suspect that this was the best Christmas ever for me and I do not remember any of the presents under the tree that year! My brother George just was the  gift to surpass all gifts!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Let us sing for joy!

Fill Us with Your Love, O Lord, and We Will Sing for Joy!                                         Psalm 90
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing- sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death- can take that love away.”
 Henri Nouwen

I love the above quote received in a Christmas card by e-mail. Christmas is about joy. Let us spread joy around us this holiday season by our love and thoughtfulness.

Let us also spend some time just holding the Infant Jesus and loving and being loved!

Sorry that December 28 seems to have been published on Christmas! When I schedule ahead weird things happen!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas, a gift to be grateful for...

So often we forget amid the many preparations for this day, the gifts given and gifts received, to thank for the great gift of God becoming an infant, like us in all things except sin. Jesus was born in poverty; he is a helpless infant. He cannot talk and is dependent on his mother for nourishment. He cannot do much of anything yet but his very presence is revealing God's love for us. Let us be filled with gratitude and joy!

This is my Christmas post. I am trying to schedule ahead, but may be missing some days soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas eve

Tonight is the night that Christ was born. The angels tell the shepherds who go to find the Infant lying in a manger. What a mystery! Let us be silent and adore this Infant Savior who comes to reveal God's love to all mankind.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A personal prayer from my heart

Dear Jesus,
Advent is almost over and I am grateful for these weeks of renewing my desire for You. You are always with me, but I am so often insensitive to Your presence in me, in others, and in events. These weeks have helped me to concentrate on the wonderful gift of Your Presence. I have rejoiced to be even more intimate with You after Holy Communion and I look forward to welcoming You again this Christmas in a special way. The world needs to be aware of Your Presence in each of us and in every part of our world. I pray for those who are not at peace; for those who are in prison; for all the sick and suffering, the immigrants, the hungry, those who are without family this Christmas. May your coming again into our hearts renew the spirit of love and mercy in all our hearts and may our world strive for peace instead of war.
This is something I read yesterday and thought worth passing on:

The idea was that holidays can be difficult and not turn out as we would wish them to but we can accept our circumstances and focus on the joy that the birth of Jesus is for all the world. I could not copy what I read but the idea was not to let whatever annoys us or keeps us from doing something we want to do steal our joy. God comes to us no matter what is happening around us, in us, so let us concentrate on celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation which has brought joy to the world.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Let our longing increase...

Next Tuesday I will fly to California and I ask your prayers for a guided imagery retreat I will be making at the Dominican house in Santa Cruz from January 2-9. This is something I have always wanted to do and it will be on the ocean which makes it especially desirable, even in January. I love the Pacific and wonder why I never get over to look at the Atlantic which is right here. Anyway, I am going to be away most of January so that I can visit with friends in California at Oakwood, our Elder Care home, and then go to Arizona to spend four days with my brother and four with my sister. As you know, I usually do not write my blog while I am away. If inspired, you will see something; if not, know that I will return before the end of January.

Now, let us concentrate on our desire for Jesus. We desire to be welcomed and Jesus does, too. So let our longing increase in these last days of Advent as we continue to pray, "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last Week of Advent

We have reached the last week of Advent and have only four days left to prepare out hearts to receive Jesus anew with more fervor and love. Every year, we grow in our capacity to love. We have more to be grateful about and more to rejoice about as we grow older. I am talking about our growth in our interior life. We may lament our decrease in energy or mobility, but we are alive and still growing in the things that matter most.

Since this is a special year of Mercy, let us be merciful and take all into our hearts to help with our prayer, but let us realize that all the suffering in this world is not able to deprive us of gratitude and joy for the many gifts we receive daily. Mary will help us to grow in love and mercy.
“At Christmas,” Pope Francis concluded, “God gives us all of Himself by giving His one and only Son, who is all his joy – and only with the heart of Mary, the humble and poor daughter of Zion, become the Mother of the Son of the Most High, that we can rejoice and be glad for the great gift of God and for His unpredictable surprise: may she help us to perceive the wonder, these three wonders: the other, history and the Church; so let it be with the birth of Jesus – the gift of gifts – the undeserved gift that brings us salvation, that it might also make us feel this wonder in meeting Jesus. We cannot have this wonder, however, we cannot meet Jesus, if we do not meet Him in the other, in history and in the Church.”
 (from Vatican Radio)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

He is coming soon! The Gospel tells us how Mary went with haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who the angel had told Mary was with child. The Holy Spirit enlightened Elizabeth who greeted Mary with the words we say in every "Hail Mary" - "Blessed art thou among women" and the unborn child in the womb of Elizabeth leaped for joy. Mary communicated Jesus just be her presence. She was the first missionary who carried Jesus to others. I am sure she was just wanting to be with Elizabeth; after the Angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary, I am sure she pondered in her heart what this was going to mean for her, for Joseph, for her parents, and then for all people. Let us stay with Mary in wonder and desire for the coming of the Lord again in a special way this Christmas.

I do believe that Christmas is a special time to draw nearer to Jesus who came as a helpless infant to reveal God's love for us.

Mother Stuart says in her meditation on "O Emmanuel" that "God is with us; when this is said, all is said, the desire of four thousand years and of all ages to come are accomplished...all our work is to prepare the way of Our Lord by expectation and desire of the coming of salvation." She adds that the keynote of religious life is God with us.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Take time out

We come to the end of the Third Week of Advent and we are full of desire for the coming of Jesus. Sometimes, the Christmas rush is so powerful that we find it hard to concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas. I think Jesus must understand that sometimes we need to just stop and realize that we are trying to please too many people and we are not called to do so much. Let us find time for some quiet at home as we begin the last week of Advent.

There is a Holy Hour for all the Religious of the Archdiocese at the Cuban Shrine tomorrow; I heard that this Shrine is one of the Holy Doors for the year of Mercy. I intend to go as I have not gone to the monthly Holy Hour that has been one way of celebrating here the year of Consecrated Life. The final celebration will be at the Cathedral on January 30 and I hope to be there, even if I need to find a ride as I no longer drive at night.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The O Antiphons

I love the O Antiphons that began yesterday; you will find them in the verse before the Gospel each day. Here is yesterday's and today's:

December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

The Church has been using these antiphons in the Divine Office and in the Liturgy since around the eighth century. You can see that they heighten our desire and repeat the urgent invitation to come - come teach us, come rescue us. Reverend Mother Stuart wrote some beautiful meditations on the O Antiphons.

I will leave you to write your own this year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Be merciful ...

Because this is a special year to both remember the mercy we have received and to be merciful, I took some time to reflect on the many times I have received God's mercy; many times this has been in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but often it has also been through the love and mercy of others.

I have always thought that I never had trouble forgiving; in fact, the few times that I have felt either wronged or misjudged, I tried quickly to think that I was not going to hold a grudge. I thought I let things go rather easily and tried to forget and go on loving the person.

I think I have shared in other years in this blog the practice that helped me so much as a child at the Visitation. Each year when we returned from the holidays, there would be a huge bonfire made with all the Christmas trees that had decorated our classrooms, the Chapel, and the halls at the convent. The entire school would be around the fire and each of us would have a paper with the names of anyone we might have a grudge against; one by one, we burned those papers so that our grudges went up in smoke and we were free to begin the new year without any resentment or bad feeling about anyone. It is a practice that I loved and kept.

After all these years, it is humbling to find that I still find some resentment inside of me when I look back over my life. I need to not only forgive but ask for the grace to forget. One does not want to harbor any ill will as we approach Christmas. I always thought that it was easy to forgive, but now I realize that I must learn to both forgive and forget; that is the way God forgives us.
Again, I did not sit down to write any of this, but I am preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation today. What a gift this Sacrament is for us; a channel of God's mercy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Being in isolation last year taught me to love silence. I find that I need quiet time alone, yet often find my prayer time full of all kinds of distractions. Centering Prayer helps me to discover silence but I find it helps when I am with others in a group of people who practice Centering.

I must confess that I use an image to go deep into the Heart of Jesus so my "centering" is not just using a word to help attain interior silence. I have this deep, still pool of water with a large rock at the bottom and I enter into the cleft in the rock and find myself in the Heart of Jesus surrounded by His love. I just rest there without words. Sometimes this is so easy; just now I find myself so distracted but the important thing about prayer is just "show up" and never give up. Let the Lord love You; it is consoling to know that He is loving us even in the midst of distractions.

I am having lunch today with some of my friends from the gym. I have not seen them for weeks as I chose to go to physical therapy rather than to the lively gym class that I am not sure I can now keep up with, but I do enjoy the friends I made there and look forward to seeing them today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

63 Years of Vowed Religious Life

Joy is what I feel today when I remember my vow ceremony 63 years ago. I was full of joy and wanted to communicate it to all the students I had been coaching during my second year as a novice. The joy was so intense that I seemed to have the gift of tears. I cried because I felt so much love.

I mentioned a new book I had received on "Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness." Here is a quote from it: "Each time we venture into the realm of Silence consciously, not merely by accident, our soul is strengthened and a feeling-with-clarity emerges. When we become just a bit more alert within this realm, we discover something paradoxical. This realm of Silence is filled with currents of activity. We do not enter into loneliness or isolation but into the deepest feeling of communing. Our soul feels full, whole, and completely within its own milieu." The book is by Robert Sardello and was first published in 2006.
I invite you to enter into the realm of Silence this week even if it means getting up early before anyone else in order to have time to enter into this realm.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Of this and that

We are in the third week of Advent and I have been decorating a paper tree by pasting a different ornament on it each day. As I remove the sticker, it tells me how many days are left until Christmas. I am preparing to take out my Infant Jesus and arrange my prayer shelf for Christmas, but without losing the Advent spirit of waiting, desiring, longing for the coming of the Lord.

Saturday we had a very long teleconference with all the communities in the United States/Canada Province. We were looking at the preparation for our General Chapter in Italy next summer and it was a way to get feedback on the calls we had seen during our Provincial Chapter last summer. I found it quite tiring and can imagine what this must be like for the Provincial Team who need to listen to all the suggestions. I kept my extended community fed as we were one this conference call from 11:30 to 1:30 and then again from 2:30 to 3:30. We usually begin with prayer and today we started right into the work; I think I missed the prayer at the beginning.

We invited the others to come for Veilee on December 23 and dinner. We were also invited to Christmas dinner and I am happy about that as I wanted us to be together on Christmas. I was in isolation last year so I am looking forward to celebrating Christ's birthday with joy this year.

I received a book on silence as a Christmas present and I will share some thoughts from it tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Revolution of Tenderness and Love

Walter Kasper's book, Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love, was published by Paulist Press in 2015 and has some great quotes and depicts insight into the theological and pastoral perspectives of Pope Francis. Kasper also compares and contrasts the present Pope with Benedict and other former Popes. Here is an example:
After explaining how Benedict's "manner of speaking consists in instruction that has been spiritually thought through and lived out" Kasper tells us that "Pope Francis, on the other hand, is defined by kerygmatic theology. In this way he is not a covert Franciscan; he is a Jesuit through and through. In the spirit of the founder of his order, Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), he proceeds not from doctrine, but from the concrete situation. Naturally, he does not simply intend to accommodate himself to the situation, rather, as is envisaged in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, he attempts to evaluate the situation according to the rule for discernment of spirits. With the help of such spiritual discernment, he then comes to concrete, practical decisions."

Third Sunday of Advent - Shout for joy!

The Liturgy for the Third Sunday of Advent urges us to shout for joy. It is Gaudete Sunday and the first reading begins:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

The responsorial psalm: 'Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

These make me want to cry out with joy. Then, in the second reading, Paul tells us: :Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but it everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make you requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Then comes the Gospel and John the Baptist is asked "What should we do?" And he tells them.
And he tells us. We just need to be silent and listen.
I have just discovered to my chagrin (a word that I never use but need today) that some of my readers have been leaving comments and I am so grateful that I have found them. I guess I just had not been looking for them and I shall certainly make a point of looking from now on as I love to get feedback. Thanks to all who have made comments; I have just had a feast reading them! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

I love the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As I mentioned the other day, I took the habit on her feast way back in 1952 and I celebrate this anniversary with her every December 12. When I was sixteen, I spent most of the summer in Mexico visiting two of the students who were boarders with me at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. I lost track of both later, but have pictures of Georgina who spent the Easter vacation of our junior year with me. Then in June, my best friend and I spent three days and nights on a train from St. Louis to Mexico City. We were so innocent and made friends with everyone on the train. I started remembering this trip because the uncle of Georgina came to Mexico City to fulfill a vow to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was a doctor in a small village and his wife was expecting twins; he promised to go barefoot to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe if she would take care of the birth of the twins. By the time I met him, his twin boys were several months old and he had come to fulfill his vow. I had not yet been able to go to the shrine and asked if I could go with him. He came for me in a taxi the next morning; he was barefoot but the taxi left us in front of the shrine. Many people were mounting the steps on their knees and the basilica was fairly full on this weekday morning. I was impressed by the picture, but even more by the people. They showed such faith.
I think we could move mountains, if we just had enough faith.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Prayer for Holy Year

Christ is the Door...this was the prayer of Pope Francis when opening the Door for the Year of Mercy

O God, 
who reveal your omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness, 
grant that we might live a year of grace,
a fitting time to love you and our brothers and sisters
in the joy of the Gospel.

Continue to pour out on us your Holy Spirit,
that we might never tire of turning with trust
to the gaze of him who we have pierced,
your Son made man,
the shining face of your endless mercy,
the safe refuge for all of us sinners in need of pardon and peace,
of the truth that frees and saves.

He is the Door,
through which we come to you,
the inexhaustible source of consolation for all,
beauty that never sets,
the perfect joy of life without end.

May the Immaculate Virgin intercede for us,
the first and splendid fruit of the Paschal victory,
the luminous dawn of the new heavens and new earth,
the happy harbor of our earthly pilgrimage.

To you, Holy Father,
to your Son, our Redeemer,
to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
be all honor and glory
forever and ever

Matthew 11:29   Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.
Do not forget in this time before Christmas and we find rest in the Heart of Christ. He tells us again:
"Come to Me all you who are weary...and I will give you rest."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Eucharistic Hour

On Thursdays I go to St. Thomas University and just sit in the Chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour or so before Mass. It is a very special time with the Lord. The Chapel at that hour is quiet and often empty and it is easy to just be there with the Lord.
Here is the prayer Pope Francis prayed at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception in the piazza near the Trinita in Rome, a tradition that used to make it possible for the Pope to visit the convent when Our Mother Foundress was there and, I believe, there were other visits in the 19th century. I like the prayer so copied it for you:

For his own tribute to the Immacolata – enshrined atop a pillar in the midst of the city's shopping hub – the Pope's prayer this year touched on refugees, the life of the family and the Year of Mercy now underway:
Virgin Mother,
On this day, the feast of your Immaculate Conception,
I pay homage to you in faith and love
On behalf of God’s holy people who live in this city and diocese.
I come before you in the name of families, with their joys and troubles;
On behalf of children and young people, exposed to life’s challenges;
On behalf of the elderly, laden with age and years of experience;
I come especially
On behalf of the sick, the imprisoned,
And those who struggle.
As a leader I also come here for the sake of all those
Who have come from far-away lands in search of peace and work.

There is space for everyone beneath your cloak,
Because you are the Mother of Mercy.
Your heart is full of tenderness towards all your children:
The tenderness of God, who, by you, became incarnate
And became our brother, Jesus,
Saviour of every man and every woman.
Looking at you, Our Immaculate Mother,
We see the victory of divine mercy
Over sin and all its consequences;
And hope for a better life is reignited within us,
Free from slavery, rancor and fear.
Here, today, in the heart of Rome, we hear your motherly voice
Calling all of us to walk towards that door,
Which represents Christ.
You say to everyone: “Come, come closer, faithful ones;
Enter and receive the gift of mercy;
Do not be afraid, do not be ashamed:
The Father awaits you with open arms.
He will forgive and welcome you into his house.
Come, all those in search of peace and joy.”

We thank you, Immaculate Mother,
Because you do not make us walk along this path alone;
You guide us,
You are near us and help us through every difficulty.
May God bless you, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Be merciful...

I am using the same Advent wreath each day to impress upon us the virtues of hope, love, joy, and peace. If this picture had the white Christ candle in the middle of the wreath, I suspect we would have the word "Mercy" on it. I am convinced that Jesus loves to be merciful. This year of mercy is a call to me to be merciful as Jesus is merciful.
Keeping an Advent Journal has made me realize how much mercy I receive from God and others each day. I am just grateful and want to be a messenger of mercy to others in this wonderful Holy Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holy Year, Holy Day

When we were in school, one of the most important novenas was to prepare for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We were then allowed to carry a lily in the procession on the day of the Feast and present it to Our Lady saying, "O Mary, I give thee the lily of my heart; be thou its guardian forever." (I think I have that right as it is something that I think stays in the memory of all the children of the Sacred Heart who were pre-Vatican II when novenas were one way we were taught to honor devotion to Mary and the saints. We also had a pre-Christmas novena where, in the primary grades, each had a little lamb with her name on it; if you were good, your lamb was able to climb one of the nine steps up to the crib with the Infant Jesus. It would have been terrible for one of my little ones not to reach the top before Christmas so I would invent ways in which great goodness could then raise the lamb several steps if the child had misbehaved earlier in the novena.
I hope all were able to celebrate this Feast with Mary today and also to have seen the opening of the Holy Year in Rome. Mary was conceived without sin, but she understands human nature and intercedes for us with her Divine Son. Every time we say the "Hail Mary" we are asking Mary to "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mary's Fests this week

The second week of Advent has two feasts of Our Lady. We celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary tomorrow, December 8, and also begin this wonderful and extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. On Saturday, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and it is also the birthday of our Mother Foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie. I took the habit on this feast 65 years ago!
I am excited about the Year of Mercy for it is such an opportunity to draw closer to the Heart of Jesus. Our misery attracts His mercy - that is something I have believed from the beginning of my life in the Society of the Sacred Heart. I had an experience in prayer that made it impossible for me to ever doubt the mercy of God and especially I saw that my misery attracts the mercy that flows from the Heart of Christ, and His Heart is open for us to enter and dwell there.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Second Sunday of Advent

We are like John the Baptist and are to prepare the way of the Lord.
As we begin this second week of Advent, we stop and in silence create space for God and for God's activity. Put aside your "to-do" lists for an hour to just sit in silence before the Lord. You will accomplish much more because you take this time to sink deep into solitude and silence and plunge into the depths of God's own Heart
I want to make this a week of desire and love. I desire the coming of Jesus into my heart and everyone I meet and I love everyone because Jesus is present in them and in me.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Invitation to solitude and silence

The title of one of the books I have been dipping into is Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. The sub-title is
"Experiencing God's Transforming Presence" and I like that as it is the reason we look for silence and solitude. I have a second hand copy that was once in a Seattle library, but the only markings are mine. The foreword is by Dallas Willard who tells us that "silence is required to complete solitude. For until we enter quietness, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence we stop making demands on God. It is enough that God is God and we are his."

We are all invited to find more solitude and silence during this season of Advent. Jesus is silent in Mary's womb. We are invited, and it is an invitation from God's own Heart, "to leave familiar places for strange lands we cannot yet envision, without knowing when we will return."
God is inviting us; we have a choice. God honors our freedom, but Advent is about saying "yes" as Mary did. We go forward with courage and trust; God is leading us and that is all we need to know. It is a wonderful season and it is also to be the beginning of an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How is your first week of Advent?

We have only had four days of Advent, but it seems more to me. I am trying to cultivate an Advent spirit and go around singing to myself (I only sing aloud when I am in the car alone!) a song from my school days at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. We would be allowed in Advent to sing as we walked in the normally silent files that took us everywhere. The words are in Latin but we all knew that "Veni Domine Jesu" meant "come Lord Jesus" and then we added "and do not delay'. It is strange how something learned so long ago still has power to move me into the Advent spirit.

Today, I hope to finish my Christmas cards. I would love to write individual notes, but have written a Christmas letter that will go to at least twenty of my friends; I love them but usually only write at Christmas so I need to let them know some of the highlights of my year. I also send some of my relatives the same letter but hope to add personal notes to some. If my blogs this week have been rather "off the cuff" blame it on the Christmas card preparation.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Feast of St. Francis Xvier

When I was sent straight to Chile from Rome after final profession, I did not know any Spanish. I thought of so many great missionaries and all that they had to go through to learn the language and thought it strange that no one seemed concerned that I did not know the language and seemed to think it was not necessary that I have classes. I was given a huge study hall with 157 middle school children who arrived to begin the school year about two weeks after I had arrived from Rome. I also had some English classes with the younger children and was told that I was to teach sewing to the seventh and eighth grade! This was crazy as about the most I could do with a needle was try to thread it and maybe manage to sew on a button. I had had sewing in school, but I like to read aloud and so never really sewed during sewing class. As a novice, I managed again to miss the sewing classes by special employments and then coached the top six grades as a second year novice. Well, there is always the grace of vocation and I did learn one phrase that I repeated quite often to tell someone to go to Ximena and see how her stitches looked and then rip yours out and start over. Actually, these children did excellent work and I managed by never touching a needle!

Here is a good quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "Unfailing gentleness with all, patience in bearing annoyances which arise in every direction, trust in God which does not allow us to doubt God's protection on any occasion that we fear; these are the fruits of fidelity to the Holy Spirit."
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Keeping a Journal

With the new liturgical year, I began a new Journal. The first thing I did was to copy the six goals I had set for myself in September. I found that I need to work harder to keep some of the ways I had written to spell out the objective for myself. However, in spite of many places where I need to ask for help from the Lord to live them better, the overall picture is quite optimistic for various reasons. The first is that I feel these are still the goals I need. I remember a very holy nun telling us as we left Rome after our final profession that "if you have broken your resolutions immediately, know that they are good resolutions and just the ones you need. The second reason is that I remember feeling inspired when I wrote these six goals and felt that the Holy Spirit was helping me to state them. They are all important and I suspect that I need to look at them more often. I remember thinking that maybe I should concentrate on one each month, but I really need to work at all six.

I began this to invite you to keep a journal - at least an Advent Journal. I am trying to write each day during Advent; it helps one to look back over the month and see where God has been acting in my life and what God might be trying to tell me, or where God is leading me or is He asking something of me. I remember years ago when I was still learning to give thirty-day retreats, a Cenacle superior told me that keeping a journal and reviewing it each month had shown her God's action in her life and given her insights that she would not have had without the discipline of writing in her journal daily.

St. Ignatius would have us write after prayer to jot down anything that struck us, how we felt, and to examine the beginning, middle, and end of the prayer. Sad to say, I have never managed to keep the kind of journal Ignatius recommended. I just let the Holy Spirit tell me what to write and it is often a surprise, the way this blog is a constant surprise!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How do I wish to spend Advent?

It is the first day of December and that means only 24 days to prepare for the coming of the Lord. I think I am going to just keep the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year. They are what I need to do anyway. I want to schedule physical therapy so that it is easy for me to get to the noon Mass.

I guess we are all praying for the results of the Ecological Conference in Paris. It is something so important and all must see what the common good is now and how we can take care of our planet. I feel that we are not taking care of so many who do not have access to clean water. I believe Pope Francis has been spelling out for all the world what must be done, but we have so many who are motivated by self-interest and neglect the common good.

As you can see, I am not inspired tonight but hope that all of us are full of desire to spend this Advent as the Lord wants.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

First Sunday of Advent

The word "Advent" comes from "Adventus", coming, and is about the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath began in homes and then was adopted by Churches. One candle is lit each Sunday and the third week has a rose colored candle, reminiscent of the third Sunday of Lent where we celebrate joy - here the joy is that Christ is soon to come. The purple candles have a double significance: it is the color associated with Kings and also with penance. People used to fast during Advent but that changed through the centuries. In the sixth century, a more formal season of Advent began to take shape. By sanctioning the practice of fasting and by encouraging churches to devote several Sunday sermons to the subject of Christ’s birth, Pope Gregory I (in office from 590-604 AD) has been credited with establishing the first clear form of an Advent season. However, Gregory granted “a certain latitude to the several churches as to the manner of [Advent’s] observance.” Thus, for the next several centuries, the traditions of individual churches varied widely.
In regard to the length of Advent, by the 10th century, most churches recognized the season to include the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. If Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, it was considered the fourth Sunday. Or rather, the first Sunday since “these Sundays were then counted inversely, that is, the nearest to Christmas was called the first Sunday, and so on with the rest.”

Happy, holy Advent!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Preparing for Advent

One of the things I love and had almost forgotten about are the low stone fences throughout the Northeast countryside. I am still going over the gorgeous scenes I saw both from driving in Westchester County and from the airplane as we seem to have flown low over many towns and cities and the view was spectacular from the window of the plane. I do not fly often at night and so had forgotten how magical our cities look from the air at night. Just before we reached the Westchester airport on Sunday night, there was a deep red lighting up all the wooded area as the sun was setting. I am grateful for such beauty and plan to find a reason to visit in the Northeast again next year.

Now, I am sure we are wanting to spend the four weeks of Advent in some way that pleases the Lord and, of course, that may be very different for each one of us. My November leaflet from "Friends of Silence" has just come and begins by reminding me that Advent is a time of waiting and a time of preparing. "It is a season for contemplating who we are, how we fit into the world, and what we hope for its future."

Whatever we decide to do to prepare for Christmas, I do hope we find some time for silence. The Holy Spirit will show us how to please Jesus during this season of Advent that is so important for our own interior life. Jesus is always with us, but I am so often insensitive to his presence that I need Advent to awake from my slumber!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Day After Thanksgiving

This picture conveys a sense of relaxing at home in the intimacy that comes from just sitting with Jesus. I guess it is a picture that says different things to each of us. I think it is one that creates the right mood for me to go from the feast of Thanksgiving to the First Sunday of Advent. That is a strange statement perhaps so let me try to explain what I think I mean. This entire Thanksgiving week is full of memories and gratitude and joy because I love being home and able just to be concerned about making the home a cheerful and prayerful place. Now, Advent is all about preparing a home in my heart for Jesus. He is coming again and welcomes our efforts to prepare  - we need to declutter our hearts as well as our homes. I am going to have a " give away " with some of my spirituality groups. I have many small objects that have been given to me over the years and I think they would be good stocking stuffers for some of those who have families with children. Last week I managed to give away all my stuffed animals and I had quite a collection as they accumulated over the past thirty years in Miami. I have also started a lending library for spiritual books with three of the groups as I have quite a collection. I find myself more attached to the books I have than anything else.                 
As you can see, I am preparing ahead of Sunday and trying to let the Spirit show me how I am to live this Advent and give joy to Jesus. I usually write Christmas cards before Advent, but not this year so I will try to have them done by December 8th.
Asking the Holy Spirit to come show me what I need to do is a priority as I prepare for Advent. I hope you are doing the same.
I had the thought this morning that I have lived in about 20 different houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart for at least a few months. I guess that is not many since I entered 65 years ago.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you most thankful for today? Health, home, friends, family, food, football, fun, ???
I am always grateful for my vocation to the Society of the Sacred Heart and grateful for the continual graces I receive from the Heart of Jesus. I am grateful for this wonderful world of ours with all the different kinds of weather, flowers, trees, etc. When I was in Chile. at that time, we did not see much green grass. It was not usual for the places where we lived to have grass or even any kind of lawn. Now I have been living for almost thirty years in Miami where all is green all year! And I take it for granted so often. The same for all that was listed above. The football crept in because my brother was born on Thanksgiving and he watches multiple football games at the same time! It is good to just stop and spend time in thanking for all we have received.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are you interested?

Beyond our local community and expanded community, there is the option of forming a "Community of Choice". These communities are composed of RSCJs either within a region or across regions who choose to connect on a regular basis to reflect together for the sake of life and ministry. The ways suggested are by phone or video conferencing. These ways do not appeal to me and I think it would be much simpler for me to form a small community of choice that would meet by e-mail and always reply to all - I guess we could also set up a "list-serv" but e-mail groups are so easy to do and manage. I am going to be looking for about five RSCJs who want to share deeply on the interior life we are leading. I am  convinced that if we learn how to reflect and share what is going on in our interior lives, we build a caring, supportive community. I would not start this group until February and would hope each would want to share weekly for the first three months and then we would just check in with each other monthly. If you are interested in this type of community of choice, please let me know.
 Actually, I have six communities that I think are also communities of choice and five of these meet here monthly with me and one that meets weekly at the University - all are life-giving for me, but I would love to have a group of Religious of the Sacred Heart who are interested in reflecting and sharing on our interior life. It is a way to get in touch and deepen our Sacred Heart spirituality which expresses itself in so many ways today. It is our interior life and influences our exterior lives and ministries. Once we begin to reflect on all that happens interiorly, we see that our interior life is even more interesting than our exterior.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Of this and that

It was wonderful to have real autumn weather in New York State and the drive to the Mariandale Retreat House was lovely. I only realized on Saturday morning that I had a lovely view of the Hudson River from the window of my room. There was not much free time to enjoy walking outside, but it just felt good to be out in the crisp air. It was getting colder on Sunday! Now I am back in the sunshine of Miami and perhaps I will even manage to get in the pool this afternoon. Since we arrived after 1:00 AM because the plane had been delayed, I woke up at 6:00 and promptly went back to sleep until eight.
I wrote a long blog about the week end and then lost it because I was interrupted and had not saved it. Now I will just say that we worked very hard, had video connection with the other two regions who were also working on organization and excellent presentations were made by our Provincial and the Team. I do think that the Health and Wellness presentation could have addressed the issue of persons with disabilities as I think that is a topic that is needed both for those who are living with someone with a disability (sight, hearing, mobility) and for the persons to understand how they are accepting, coping, and what helps and hinders them so that they are assets to a community and not an obstacle.

I did not write that last sentence in the blog I lost so I will stop now; I will leave it as I hope it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Tomorrow I will go back to speaking about the three kinds of community: local, expanded, and of choice. That is what I lost!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Late Plane so early morning arrival

We arrived home from a very wonderful, busy week end with over sixty RSCJs present. We spent some time in prayer, but we had to work on how we would organize ourselves as an Eastern region. Our plane was late so we really only arrived home after one o,clock this morning. There was no traffic so that was something to be grateful for as our streets are so clogged with cars all day long.
It was so good to see so many friends but I realized again that I have not lived with most of those present and so it was a joy to share our lives. We were six or seven at each table for all the discussions and I was delighted to discover so many gifts in the six at my table and in the entire group.

Think to thank for....

Monday before Thanksgiving is always busy. We arrived home safely last night and have many good memories from out week end. I will be sharing my own impressions with you tomorrow. Today let us spend in thanksgiving for the many, many graces we are given each day. We are quite aware is something hurts but what about getting up and saying, "Thank You, Lord, that I can get up, I can stand, I can walk, I can use my arms, my hands, my feet, etc. We begin to take so much for granted until something does not work. I expect the light will turn on when I push the switch; do I thank for the great gift of electricity that allows me to read after the sun goes down? For that matter, do I remember to thank for the sun, the moon, the stars? And what a gift to have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and the ability to speak and communicate and form relationships, etc. There is so much to thank for at every minute of our day.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christ, the King

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. We celebrate this Feast now on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Christ came to reveal God to us and to preach about the Kingdom of God. We now talk more about furthering the reign of God. Our meek and humble Jesus is also honored under the title of "Christ, the King". 

Jesus did not claim this title for Himself. His Kingdom is not in this world. He did show a passion for the reign of God. I wonder how many of us really have that passion? Maybe we need to recall the famous meditation of St. Ignatius when we are asked to pledge ourselves to follow Christ in humble service. They will be a legion of humility, armed only with truth.

It is this king who in Ignatius's Exercises, before the great meditations on Advent and Christmas, asks of us not quivering fright, but union of hearts. He wants us to enter into his life, as he desires to enter ours. He has come to be with us so that we might be with him. Rather than obsequiousness, this king demands love, the "earnest desire and choice" to be together with him, no matter what.

The quote is from Father John Kavanaugh, S.J.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Living Water

I am tempted to leave you with just this picture to reflect upon today. Use your imagination and create a meditation or a fantasy exercise for yourself.

We all are called to be aware of the life of God dwelling in us. It is a wonderful truth and yet one that is hard to grasp. It seems too good to be true - God dwells in me!

I need to cultivate an awareness of this amazing grace. And, not only does God dwell in me, but I am in God!

Today we celebrate the 215 years since the birth of the Society of the Sacred Heart. The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple is one that we love. I am glad I will be celebrating it with many RSCJs in our Eastern region.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Inspired by the Holy Spirit?

The fruits of the Holy Spirit keep coming to mind and I think that I am really looking to see how open I am to each of these and what I can do to help these fruits flourish in my heart and the hearts of others.
The first fruit is that of love. We grow in love when we grow in knowledge. I go back to John of the Cross and think that if we "love where there is no love, we will find love." God is love and we are called to live in love.
The next fruit is joy and this is one that is very important for me as I have been called to live in joy and give joy to Jesus. When I am grateful, I am also joyful.
Then there is the fruit of peace. Jesus was one who wished peace to all. I find that when I have love and joy in my life, I also have peace.
You can go on through the entire list of the fruits of the Holy Spirit given by Paul in Galatians, 5: Patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and some translations have a few more good virtues listed as fruits of the Holy Spirit. The point is that we should all be striving to use these fruits to bring about the reign of God in ourselves and in others.
I do not know where this blog came from as it is not what I had intended to write!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Prayer and Listening

I just unpacked a box with winter clothes as we are going to a meeting in New York on Friday and it may be nice to pack a sweater. We leave a 5:00 A.M. or earlier to get the plane and we will return late Sunday night. It will be nice to be with other RSCJs and I hope the week end will have time for sharing in small groups as it was being called a "Dialogue and Connections" week end but it also seems to be an Eastern Regional Assembly.  It will be good just to see old friends. The ones I know the least are in the East so it will be nice if we do get to share with one another.

In Prayer of the Heart there is a chapter entitled, "Prayer and Listening" and I am copying here a bit that I highlighted and thought it would be good to share: "Learning to pray is learning to listen. Within the heart we learn to wait with patience for God's words, which may come even when we have not asked. Listening is a form of prayer in which our whole being is receptive."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Feast of St. Philippine today!

This is another picture from Sugar Creek where many still go to honor Philippine. Now that she is a canonized saint both this spot and the shrine at St. Charles receive pilgrims who pray and honor Philippine. She was so humble that I am sure she begins to try to disappear even in Heaven. She was also so full of zeal that she still does all she can to help us become closer to Jesus.

I have started using a little book called Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J. published in 2015 by Loyola Press. The cover announces that this book gives us "fresh ways to pray from your day." There are some thirty-six suggested ways to examen your day. Some are very creative and I am going to use this book to renew my own reflection on my day. I am sure I will be sharing some of the ways with you. The book has been sitting on my bookshelf and I think Philippine inspired me to start using it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thank you, Philippine

This is a picture of Sugar Creek where St. Philippine Duchesne finally reached the Indians in 1841; because of her age and ill health, she could only be there a year. She prayed long hours as well as sat with any Indian who was ill. I am sure her prayers are what made the Indian Mission such a success for the next decades. When settlers began to push the Indians further to the west, the superior, Lucile Mathevon, lead the way to St. Mary's where the Jesuits had gone ahead to prepare for the moving of the school for boys and the one for girls.
I have been thinking of the courage of our pioneer Religious. They came from France and gladly suffered from all the lack of comfort on the frontier as they began the first free school west of the Mississippi in St. Charles in 1818. They lacked everything that first winter; the Missouri froze and so did the little water they managed to have in the pitchers in the primitive log cabin. We have much to thank our first pioneer Religious for and, of course, Philippine as Superior played a great part in the first foundations in America. She kept us united to the other houses of the Society and now we are in at least 43 countries and all united. Anyone who goes to our schools is also part of the great family of the Sacred Heart so I am just very grateful to Philippine.
I will never forget the many nights I prayed both at the Shrine where she was buried when I was a boarder at St. Charles or at the door of her little cell which was still very much as it had been when Philippine spent the last ten years of her life back at St. Charles!

I am sorry that somehow November 18 was published before November 17th! However, I am trying to schedule ahead as we go to a meeting in New York on Friday and there will not be time to think about writing a blog.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Prayers Used by Philippine

This is one of my favorite pictures of Philippine. Since her feast is Wednesday, I thought I would share a prayer used by her:

Lord, You alone are the Center in which I find rest. Give me Your arm to support me, Your shoulders to carry me, Your breast to lean upon, Your Cross to uphold me, Your Body to nourish me. In You, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace.

Here is another prayer used by St. Philippine Duchesne:

Jesus, I live for Thee, I labor for Thee, I desire only Thee. Thou in me and I in Thee; Thou with me and I with Thee; Thou all mine and I all Thine.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We are coming to the end of the Liturgical year and the Gospel reminds us that we know not the day nor the hour - neither for the end of the world or for our own death. We need to live in the present the way we want to be when death comes. It is a sobering thought and helps to prepare us for Advent. Next Sunday is the last one of the Liturgical Year and it is that of Christ the King. So, how am I to spend these last two weeks before Advent? The Feast of St. Philippine this coming Wednesday is a call to pray and to love and live for others. The Indians called Philippine the " Woman Who Prays Always." She is one to ask for help when we find it hard to find time for prayer; she could pray all night.
Then, after the last Sunday before Advent with Christ the King we can reflect on how important the reign of God was for Jesus. He went around telling all to repent for the reign of God is here! I guess living in the present moment is the best way to prepare for the end of the world, the end of our earthly life, and to accept the reign of God as the Holy Spirit leads us deeper into the mystery of life.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Preparing for the Feast of St. Philippine

This is the tomb where St. Philippine is buried in the Shrine at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. The Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne is next Wednesday. We always celebrated her feast on November 17th, but she was only "Blessed" then and the Church gave her the 18th when she was canonized. To me, she is just "Mother Duchesne" who brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to North America and who loved each of the children who found a place in any of our schools; her love was strong, maternal, and self-sacrificing and still is for all of us.

I think she was present to me today in her own unique way. I had been to Physical Therapy and was driving to Mass; at one of the busy corners in the Grove, Grand Avenue and 32nd St, the car let out a horrible noise as I started to turn the corner. I thought I must have scraped something and jumped out to look. I was not even near the curb. I got back in, turned on the motor and then shifted from park to drive with the same terrible noise and the car did not move. A kind Jewish man stopped,  asked a black man on a bike to help and they pushed me back from Grand Avenue. Then this man called AAA for me and asked for a tow truck. It was now close to noon and the tow truck took until 1:45 to arrive. They towed me to the garage where I found out that I had a broken axel. I do not know how this happened, but glad it was not on the way yesterday coming from the University which is twenty-five miles of highway driving. I am sorry that this happened and that I did not get to Mass and to the luncheon prepared by my Jewish friend from the gym, but I am thanking for the kind Jewish man who stopped and helped me. He pointed out two clouds in the sky before he left and said they were angels. He was the angel and I am so grateful. I think I will need to get a phone I can text on as my I-phone has not been working.
Again, this is not a very spiritual blog, but I do hope that all the alums who read it will be preparing for Philippine's Feast next week and also thanking God for all the good things that happen to us. My adventure today left me exhausted!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Next week we have a meeting in New York State and I do hope to see autumn scenes. It is the season I most miss and seldom have had as the twenty years in Chile had no real autumn and now I have been almost thirty years in Miami where all is green all year!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful feast for me. My youngest sibling, John, was born on Thanksgiving and that made it doubly special for me. Since we are only three Religious of the Sacred Heart in Miami this year for Thanksgiving, the other in my community suggested going out but I could not see doing that as we always ask anyone who would be alone to come to dinner. We may only be four this year, but I have found that Publix cooks a turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce for less than you can buy all that so I will go get the dinner the day before and just need to heat it up and add a dish or two. I just need to celebrate here.

It is not just the dinner but the fact that we give thanks together for all we have received, are receiving and will receive this coming year.