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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Prayer to Our Lady

My community sent me a beautiful card that I suspect was given out at the wake of the mother of one of our Religious in the Miami area. There is a picture of her mother on the cover and inside a large picture of Mater on one side and a prayer to Our Lady on the other. It is long for me to copy on this I-pad, but I have grown to love this prayer so will summerize the first part and copy the rest. It begins "OWonderful Mother, the road of our life is hard at times. It is not easy to...(you can fill in the things that are not easy for you). But You, O Admirable Mother, You make everything easy.. .

O Mary, may your example be my strength. Make everything easy in my life, not by taking trouble away, but by giving me love, a love always greater than the trouble.

O Mother most gentle, make my heart very strong; and if you see that my love is getting exhausted too soon, I implore you to give 
your child some of your love and teach her again the lesson of true 

Friday, January 30, 2015

The God of Surprises

Yesterday after posting my blog about the three simple attitudes to cultivate, I decided to look for ways to let God surprise me. I had not waited ten minutos  before God gave me a huge surprise! I was told I would need to continue with this new antibiotic for 18 days, but that I was no longer in isolation. What a welcome surprise!

I am so used to not talking that I was exhausted after our five o'clock supper but need to wait until eight for my pills and then they wake me at 4:00 AM. I am grateful that I usually have no trouble sleeping.
Love and prayer,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Three Simple Attitudes

I am reading a new life of Pope Francis on my I-pad and like it. It is by a woman journalist, Elizebetta Pique.

What I want to share with you today are three attitudes I have been working on myself. When in Brazil for the World Youth Day, the Pope said: "I would like to recall three simple attitudes:hopefulness, letting oneself be surprised by God, and living in joy."
It is good, I find, to see how I am living these attitudes each day. I am surprised by God more than ever since I have reflected on letting myself be surprised by Him. I am also keeping a journal which is a way of practicing my handwriting as all my muscles are so weak after the long stay in the hospital. I am trying to do two hours of exercise now each day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Good Seed

When I was in Chile, I had a holy, prophetic and courageous priest for my spiritual director. One of the wise things he told me was about today's Gospel. It was easy for me to identify with the seed 
that did not fall on good ground. But what was the good seed that fell on good ground and took root? 
He said that those who recognized themselves in the seed that fell on the path, on rocky ground, and among the thorns, they are the ones who are able to hear the word and accept it and bear fruit!
The seed is always good since it is God's word and we are the ground it falls upon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sharing How I Pray

One of the questions I usually ask anyone who comes for spiritual direction is "how do you pray.?"
I do not remember most of my superiors asking me that same question; they were always there to help me if I did have a problem, but I probably did not know how to talk about positive experiences in prayer. When I went to the Motherhouse in Rome to prepare for final profession, I was sent with another American to ask Reverend Mother Benziger, the assistant General in charge of the English speaking Houses in the Society of the Sacred Heart, if she wanted to see all the Americans as we were free . She said yes but to let the French Moher who watched over the entire international group know that the Americans would be with her now. As we both started to leave, she said, " Well, don't both of you go" and she motioned for me to stay as she did not know me. I went over and said that her sister, who was also a Sacred Heart nun, had sent her a big hug. I proceeded to deliver it. She hugged me back and told me that her sister always sent her a hug with every group on their way to Rome but I was the first to deliver one to her. Then she looked me in the eye and said "Come, tell me about your prayer" and so I did. When I told her I just entered the Heart of Jesus she said, "Yes, I understand" and I knew she did. It was the beginning of a deep and valued friendship for me. I wish now that I had kept the notes she wrote me.
Now, I still pray in the Heart of Jesus but would admit that my prayer is something of a "hodge-podge " (strange expression) : I like to look at the readings of the day and often stay with a line from the Gospel. I just sit with it or talk to Jesus about it. It leads me into my own way of Centering Prayer where I rest in the Heart of Jesus.

Here are three things the Pope said yesterday : The Pope spoke of three conditions at the core of the search for Christian unity – firstly, there’s no unity without conversion of heart, which includes forgiving and asking for forgiveness.

Secondly he said there is no unity without prayer and therefore men and women religious who pray for unity are like ‘an invisible monastery’ bringing together Christians of different denominations from different countries around the world.

Thirdly, the Pope said, there is no unity without holiness of daily life. so the more we put our search for unity into practise in our relations with others, the more we will be modelling our lives on the message of the Gospel.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jesus intercedes for us.

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” The Pope is quoting from Hebrews and saying the most important thing is to know that Jesus is always able to save us.

I am reading a recent life of Pope Francis and was struck by the way he would sit down with his priests in Argentina and ask them how they prayed. It is not an easy question to answer but one that opens our interior life to another and helps us to be known more deeply.  I had an experience that led to this kind of knowing in depth when I was in Rome. I will try sharing it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

There are situations . . .

In #115 of our Constitutions we read

"There are situations, whatever our age, when a special call of God may come to us through the experience of certain deprivations such as illness, decline of physical energy or the lessening of responsibilities. Our response to such situations cannot be improvised, but is prepared throughout our whole life; in prayer we discover that the fidelity of God dwells at the very core of our weakness."

I think a special call from God has come to me during this frustrating illness. It is a call to live united to Jesus , trusting His Heart and forgetting self so that I may choose only what pleases Jesus.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazing the people Jesus chooses

Jesus prayed and then chose twelve to be formed by Him to work for the reign of God. He did not choose the wealthy or the learned; he did not choose those in authority, those with power, or fame. Jesus chose humble, human men to be his Apostles. They were to be with Him - He formed them by being with them. These poor, simple men are chosen by name. Luke tells us that Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing he twelve.
We, too, have been chosen; Jesus still calls us by name to be with Him. He knows our weaknesses, but He loves us and exchanges our weakness for His strength, our misery for His mercy. He is the Good Shepherd who calls us by name, who is with us, who seeks the sheep who strays...

I think I am now loving my solitude with the Presence of Jesus permeating the entire day. It is an amazing experience that this extrovert usually has only in retreat.

Friday, January 23, 2015

We are a unique manifestation of the Divine.

In Philip Newell's "The Rebirthing of God", he tells us that ,Gerry Hughes, a Scottish Jesuit, liked to introduce himself by saying, " Hello. I'm Gerry, a unique manifestation of the Divine."
Each of us is a  unique manifestation of the Divine. Do I really believe this? How do I discover the Divine in others? Even more important, how do I realize that I am a unique manifestation of God?

God lives in me.     What a mystery!

I have been praying over our Constitutions. Number 21, which falls under the section on prayer, says:
"The Spirit dwelling within us gradually transforms us through His power to remove whatever hinders His action.
The spirit unites and conforms us to Jesus and makes us sensitive to His presence within ourselves, in
others and in all that happens. Thu we learn to contemplate reality and to experience it with His
Heart, to commit ourselves to the service of the Kingdom and to grow in love."
Come, Holy Spirit...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Exercise Does give Energy

When I was in high school I played on both the basketball and hockey varsity, rode my bike everywhere and then made the hockey varsity as a freshman in college. As a second year novice I coached all the sports for the high school and junior high. I loved coaching. However, I think the sixty-four years since my vows have not included exercise. When I retired, at age 80, I joined a gym and took a silver sneakers class. I was the only non-Hispanic in the class. Then I found Paradise Gym with a very active class where I actually managed to get down and (even more of a miracle) up from the mat. The gym became Club X but I stayed even though the class was now $40 a month but so much fun and convenient. I also made the 12:05 Mass everyday going straight from the gym. I found the exercise gave me more energy, at least until after lunch. Then, on sunny days, I spend a half hour in our pool.
Now, I am again allowed to exercise. Since I am still in isolation, I cannot go to the "armchair exercise" video at 2:30 each day, but I am allowed to go use the two machines that help strengthen my legs and arms. I try to do an hour of exercise each morning and I am finding it renews me in many ways. It is contemplative as I am alone. I watch the squirrels; we seem to have an entire colony of young ones who play tag and hide-and-go-seek and never seem to tire. I return to my room feeling at peace and content. After lunch I take a walk. Actually, I try for two 20 minute walks a day now that I am stronger. I am not a walker and would prefer to be swimming in our pool in Miami, but one adapts and the grounds are beautiful. I just am so grateful that I am able to walk.
This was not a spiritual blog but I guess one of the things I have learned in these months of isolation is the importance of exercise for mental health as well as physical. When I entered religious life at nineteen, one of my Jesuit cousins told me: "Eat well, sleep well, and play well and you will pray well."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Remain in silence . . .

In prayer we come to Him 
with everything that touches our life, 
with the sufferings and hopes of humanity. 
We learn to remain in silence
and poverty of heart before Him. 
In the free gift of ourselves 
we learn to adore and to abide in His love.
“Prayer,” #20, RSCJ 1982 Constitutions

I have been praying over the above passage from our Constitutions. I think I do take to prayer all that touches our life. Learning to remain in silence and poverty of heart before the Lord is something that He is still teaching me. These days of solitude are helping me. It is such a grace to adore, to abide in His Love by going deep into His Heart. His solitude is a crushing reality!

Several readers of my blog have given me positive feedback on the personal sharing I have been doing, especially on the topic of isolation. I think there are times in our lives when we all experience some sort of isolation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jesus is Lord so relax ...

When we realize that Jesus is Lord, we can relax. He loves each of us. He can do anything. We need only to trust His Heart.

Pope Francis said in his visit toTacloban in his homily:
"I have come to tell you that Jesus is Lord. And he never lets us down. Father, you might say to me, I was let down because I have lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. It’s true if you say that and I respect those sentiments. But Jesus is there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down. He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all the calamities that we experience. Jesus is Lord. And the Lord from the cross is there for you. In everything the same as us. That is why we have a Lord who cries with us and walks with us in the most difficult moments of life."

How wonderful to know that Jesus is Lord and He loves us!

Monday, January 19, 2015

What are you looking for?

Praying over the Sunday Gospel often takes several days. The first question Jesus asks in John's Gospel is directed to the two disciples of John who are following him: "What are you looking for?"
I seem to hear Jesus asking me the same question. He wants to have me articulate the answer now. Now, in this moment, what am I seeking? He waits for my answer and then invites me into His Heart!

I also continued reflecting on what I am learning in isolation. Here are the first seven things:
1. I am never alone because God is with me and leads me.
2. I do not really mind the solitude but perhaps it is the idea of not having chosen the isolation but had it imposed.
3. I can still follow an order of day and be productive.
4. I can still be joyful and grateful.
5. I want to be in control and do everything by myself; I want my medicine & meals on time!
6 I can procrastinate in isolation, too.
7. I miss people and spiritual conversations.

I know that I am learning to just slow down, appreciate the little things, the cards with words of encouragement, those who play Words with Friends with me, the letters, e-mails, that are so full of love. I read less and pray more.
Now the question Jesus asks is the same one found at the end of John's Gospel: "Whom are you seeking?
The holy religious living across the hall from me died peacefully early this morning. I am sure she went straight to heaven.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pray As You Can

I have often told others that the best way to pray is the way you pray best. One needs to pray as one can, not as one can't! Mother Stuart said, "our prayer should invade the whole day. The great thing is to find what suits us, not what suits another."
That quote is on the calendar for the month of January; a dear friend in England sends me their lovely calendar with a quote from Mother Stuart and a picture that inspires me each month. Since I am in isolation, my prayer has changed. Prayer is the expression of my relationship with God- with each of Trinity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our Lady is always present.
I have noticed that I am really talking more to Jesus about everything. At the same time, I also see how "coming back to life and regaining strength" has impacted me. There is a sense of awe, and gratitude, and joy even while feeling weak.
One other favorite thought to share with you about prayer comes from Thomas Merton. "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun."


Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Real Work

What is my real work? I am enjoying this reflection by Wendell Berry which I am copying from "friends of Silence" January 2015 issue.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed"

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning to love silence

God has been leading me into silence all of my Religious life. I see that as I look back, but when I entered our strict rule of silence was very difficult for me. We also had what was called "greater silence" which meant no talking from night prayers until breakfast and breakfast was also in silence except for special occasions. When I told my Dad about greater silence he thought that was a marvelous practice!
When I was spending six transforming months at the Trinita Dei Monti in Rome, everyone who spoke French actually disappeared that summer; I was surrounded by Italian and so spent much of the summer in silence. Then, after five months at the Mother House, I made my final profession and was sent straight to Chile without knowing any Spanish. God was teaching me to talk to Him and so I began to love and value silence. Now He is giving me the opportunity again in isolation!
Some of the most treasured times in my life have been the 30-day retreats I have been priviliged to make and give. I have made the Ignatian 30-day retreat three times and at least twice a 30-day prayer experience so those have been special times of silence to just be with Jesus. Every year I look forward to at least a week or eight days of silent retreat. However, the silence of isolation due to illness is very different so I am having to reflect on the gift of this time while wishing it would end.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Loving Isolation

I remember one of my Jesuit friends in Chile telling me, when we were giving a directed retreat to 18 Religious and he became ill with fever,how hard being alone had been for him when arrested and put into solitary confinement. His lawyer got a Bible to him and that saved him. In the meantime, we had 18 persons for an 8-day individually directed retreat and this was the second day and I was the only director left. A priest was found for Mass, I saw the Sisters for only a half hour each and had a really great experience. It all came back when I remembered my friend's solitary confinement.
I have been solitary for months and have come to love many aspects of my solitude (not the solitary Christmas dinner!) As it continues, I thought I would share some of my reflection with you.
This room, a lovely bedroom, often seems full of people even when I am alone! Of course, Jesus and Mary are always here, but on many nights I have sensed the presence of the whole Communion of Saints. Sometimes it is a small group of friends, often the faces of family members long gone to God but who gather round me now to offer me support. My parents come and sit with me in silence. And then there is St. Philippine urging me to use this precious time well and to visit each continent in prayer! Yes, I love solitude, but am grateful for all the prayer that will help me to get well and back to my community in Miami.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mother of God Rejoicing

When looking through the book of icons of Mary mother of God, I realized that McNichols does not depict Mary smiling. However, one icon has te Infant Jesus patting his mother's cheek and the title is "Mother of God Rejoicing"! Here is the reflection by Mirabai Starr:
Mother of God, rejoice with me.
In the midst of the petty trials and the profound sorrows of this life,
Let me catch a glimpse of your face nd dissolve into laughter.
You who "come across the waters,"
Float through the rushing streams of my preoccupations and set my heart free."

There is more but I need to stop now. I do hope to be able to go home to my community in Miami soon and then write on a computer as my I-pad does not let me do all I want and is too slow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid."

When I was sent to Chile straight from Rome where I made my final profession, I often prayed over today's Gospel.  I did not know any Spanish. Mark tells us how Jesus fed the five thousand and then made his disciples get into the boat and go across the sea. The wind was against them and they were struggling and being tossed about while trying to row. Jesus saw this and, about the fourth watch of the night, he came to them. " but when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out."
Jesus at once spoke to them and told them, "take courage, it is I, do not be afraid."
How often Jesus says the same to each of us! He is with us and the "wind died down!"  So it is now for each of us. Jesus is with us and fills us with His peace and joy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart."

How often have I thought of Mary pondering all of the joyful mysteries in her heart! When the shepherds arrive to see the new-born Infant, they repeat the angel's message and Mary pondered in her heart all hat they told her. Now, as the Dominican, father Xavier lavagetto, pointed out in a homily on this Gospel, the words seem passive- "Mary treasured all these words and  pondered them in her heart." They are contemplative, but the word pondered is active. It is an engagement, a wrestling with God and with the events of one's life. The word pondered literally means to toss about. It can be translated as discussion, debate. It is an active searching for meaning. Mary's pondering is a freely engaged prayer seeking God passionately.
Father Xavier pointed out that if we, like Mary "gave God that contemplative moment to feed our heart's on the angel's message and believe that Jesus is Emmanuel God with us, our lives would be no less complicated, but they would be lived more securely in God's love."
What if we, like Mary, wrestled with the events of our daily lives..?

Monday, January 5, 2015


Children have a sense of wonder. It is a gift that some adults need to cultivate. We need to take time to smell the flowers, to look at the stars, to touch the trees, to hear the birds . . .we need to use all of our senses to lose ourselves in wonder.
Poets hae this sense of wonder. We can develop it by taking time to contemplate what is around us. Here at Oakwood there is beauty everywhere I look. Flowers bloom even in January! But my sense of wonder during this Christmas season is cultivated by gazing on the Infant Jesus. I have a Christmas card on my desk that shows tha Infant Jesus sleeping in a manger. It awakens wonder as does the infant in the Chapel with arms outstretched...

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Today we remember the three wisemen who left all to follow a star, seeking the new-born king. They brought Him gifts. What am I giving Jesus this year on this feast?
Have I the courage to leave all to follow the star?
I love the reading from Isaiah 60: "rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you....Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you ...."
I would like to share a quote from a dear RSCJ friend, Georgie Blaeser that appears on the cover of the Province Update for January.
"Gracious God, we ask your blessing upon us as we move along our journey in the new year.
Be our companion, O Guide of travelers, and spread the road before us with beauty and adventure..
May we take with us a heart wrapped in wonder so that we may rejoice in all that we shall meet."

Saturday, January 3, 2015


What in this picture most attracts you? Do you hear the running water? Are you seeking solitude among the trees? Are have you braved the mountain climb? Maybe I find myself on the mountain, in the woods, and beside the running water. Anything is possible with imagination. The water flows from the Heart of Christ; Jesus invites me to our little cottage hidden in the woods. It is where I go for intimate talks before the fire. And then, at times, we find ourselves together in contemplation on the mountain.
Free your imagination today to wander with Jesus and fill your life with wonder wherever you go. Once I rode with Jesus on a magic carpet - the world has never looked the same after that journey!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Courage and confidence

We are to be passionate people who love with all our hearts. We are in love with Jesus and that is what gives us courage and confidence. Sometimes we need to hear someon say to us: "take courage!"
I remember a moment in Chile when I thought I had completed all the work for a degree in education and was told that I needed another course but I could study for it and take the exam.  It was at the end of the school year and I was exhausted and felt it impossible to cram another coure in two weeks with all my work in the school. When I told my superior, she just said to me, "animo, adelante" or, "take courage,  go forward". Those two little words gave me the strength to study, pass the exam and they have been words that often keep me going when the going gets tough. I also remember these words of my great Uncle Jim: "When the going gets tough, only the tough keep going." Perhaps we all need courage and confidence as we begin this new year. Let us put our trust in the Lord!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A blessing for the New Year

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 joyful wish I have for you this New Year's Day!

It is exciting to begin a new year! What does God have in store for each of us?