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Monday, February 29, 2016

"Take up your cross and follow Me"

We are asked to enter into the Passion of Our Lord during Lent. Often we are admonished to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We want to be with Him and Lent is a time when we enter into what Jesus suffered for us. Many make the stations of the Cross and meditate on each station. But what does it mean to "take up your cross"?

The first thing that comes to mind is that we all have crosses, sufferings to bear; some are very small, others are huge. The point to remember is that each one has her or his own cross to bear. Mother Stuart tells us:
"Take up your cross...the cross is different for each one, so we often make the mistake of thinking that we could bear any other better than our own. But our own is the only one we can bear, whether it be our character, our duty, or some suffering. It is the cross that God has portioned out to us, and we must carry it gladly, without hesitation, enthusiastically, even as He did.
And, He carried both His and ours."

Leap Year!

It is leap year and we are going into the third week of Lent. It is time to remember what we thought to do for the Lord this Lent and to renew our resolutions.

This picture is from Chile and brings back so many memories of my arrival there fifty-six years ago on Valentine's Day. I just received the notes several send each year after the Province retreat and assembly/Chapter. I was thinking that the prayer of memories is so easy and makes me feel so grateful now for all the graces given in those twenty years. I mostly remember the good times, but being head of the school was not easy for me. I loved the formation work I did and the directed retreats I gave. Being superior in a community in Coquimbo, the poorest region in the north of Chile, was a special grace. May the strength of the Lord be with us all as we live the last half of Lent. We just want to stay with the Lord!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Third Sunday of Lent

Moses went to see a burning bush and found God. He was standing on Holy Ground! When God answers his question with, "I am Who Am", I wonder what Moses thought. Perhaps He was just so awed and overwhelmed, that he did not think but only adored.

Jesus wants us to find Him in new ways during this Lent. He waits to reveal Himself in the daily events; He comes to us and wants us to realize His presence. We find Him always in the Eucharist, but He is also in the person we greet at breakfast, in the crazy driver that cuts in front of us, in the woman ahead of us in the check-out line who cannot find her coupons, in the baby that is crying and the children running around, etc.

I do not need to look for Jesus; He is here. Let us adore and know that we are on holy ground this Lent.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Welcome Joy

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open." I was reflecting on how I welcome joy and began to think of joyful moments that I often recall to memory and that is one way I welcome joy. How do you welcome it?

I have always thought that Jesus wants us to welcome Him and He is our Joy!

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you [uncompromisingly] righteous [you who are upright and in right standing with Him]; shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32: 11

Here is a prayer that a friend gave me and I want to pass on to you:

Dear Lord, I thank You for the faith that frees, the love that knows it cannot lose its own; the love that looking through the shadows sees that You and she and I are one. (James Freeman)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Catch Joy

"Let joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by." Carl Sandbrug

We often worry about catching a cold and seldom think of what we would like to catch. Catch joy, catch kindness, catch love.

Joy is contagious so it is not so hard to catch.

[The Lord God says] And the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing to Zion; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.Isaiah 51: 11

Scriptures On Joy bar

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cultivate Joy

How do we cultivate joy? We tend it carefully and protect it from storms and too much dryness. I guess we need to provide the right climate; I think a smile as one gets out of bed might be how I am cultivating joy. Take time to consciously smile at the new day, at Jesus, at yourself.

Today is my sister's birthday - I think she is 80 as I will be 85 in May. She is having a party and her two children will be coming from California and Oregon to be present and I suspect she will have many guests as she is an outgoing, cheerful person who loves to entertain.

There are 214 uses of the word joy in the NIV. Of those verses, nearly a quarter of those verses are found in the Psalms. For this reason, we can establish our principles of joy from the Psalms, then finding corresponding verses in other parts of the Bible. Here is what we learn.

1. Joy is not an emotion that can be forced, fabricated, or faked. But we can cultivate it!

There are times when joy eludes us. This is normal and we need to understand that there are times when we will not feel joyful. Yet, it is important that joy cannot be forced.
There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? – Psalm 137:2-4 (NIV).

2. Joy is not dependent upon our circumstance -  But we can cultivate it!

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. – Psalm 27:5-7 (NIV).
We can be in a difficult situation and yet experience joy. Jesus added to this by saying, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” – Luke 6:22-23 (NIV)

Check out the new  website for the English Province - It is really interesting and found on the side of my blog, just click on English website

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Receive Joy

Is receiving joy harder than giving joy for you?

When I was making the guided imagery retreat we had a special "morning paper" at our places at breakfast which usually just gave us an image, a few quotes on the theme of the day and a poem or very brief reading. One morning it was the Poem by Joyce Rupp called "The Seeker" and the last stanza caught my attention and I copied it into my journal and will share it here:

"Bring me to full attention,
So that I may come to know,
In my every moment,
Your radiant star of guidance."

I thought of it today as one way I receive joy and welcome joy!

From a calendar: "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."  I am trying to get this mentality and it is a way to receive joy. The same way as thinking: "I have all the time there is; no one has more than 24 hours in a day! That helps me often as I think when I feel hurried I might also be feeling less joyful.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Give Joy

It takes so little to give joy to others. Children show their joy, but we all know that we give joy to others in many ways each day. Examine what gives you joy and then go and give joy to others. When I get an e-mail from a friend, I feel joy even before I read it as I love hearing from my friends. That is why I still write notes as I have some friends that prefer notes to e-mails. I also send e-mails.
I enjoy thinking of what may give joy to others and then try to give it. Now that I am retired, I think more about giving joy to Jesus; He gives us such joy!

Mother Stuart said, "The quality of our joy depends on the spring from which it is drawn. Where do we seek our joy"

And how do we give it to others?

Mother Stuart also said, "Take people as they are and think of making them happy, not whether they make you happy."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second Sunday of Lent

We do not use the word "transfiguration" in our usual speech, but now we do use the word "transformation" often and in many ways. We are to have transforming relationships. What does that really mean? Lent is a season where we can be transformed. How? I think prayer is one way in which we are being transformed, but Jesus was "transfigured'! He invited his special friends to climb the mountain to pray with Him. There, He was transfigured and they saw his garments become dazzling white. Then Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory, were conversing with Jesus. In the meantime, Luke tells us that the three friends that Jesus had taken with him are overcome by sleep. However, they become fully awake and see His glory. Then, Peter, speaks without really thinking of what he was saying but a cloud came and the three become frightened. It is then that they hear a voice from the cloud say, "This is my chosen Son; listen to Him." Then they saw only Jesus.

We may not be invited to climb a mountain, but we are asked to listen to Jesus. He speaks to us in so many ways. Let us ask for the grace to listen to Him with new attentiveness during this Lent.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Anticipate Joy

Remember how as a child we kept asking how many days to Christmas? Or how many days to our birthday? We were even then anticipating joy. Sometimes the anticipation of joy gave us just as much joy as the actual day itself.

"Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door."
Emily Dickinson

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. Romans 15: 13

I am trying to be more conscious of the action of the Holy Spirit in my life. I read today that Basil said the Holy Spirit was the cleft in the rock where we go to contemplate the glory of God.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Desire Joy

Joseph Campbell said "We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."

For me, to desire Joy is easy, but I suspect that may not be true for everyone. I remember wondering how some people could seem so serious and how hard it was to get them to even smile, much less laugh. But, if we desire joy, we can find it everywhere. A sad saint is a sorry saint so let us cultivate joy, desire it, pray for it, and practice it. Begin with a smile for Jesus when you wake up.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,  shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32: 11

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Experience Joy

This little girl is experiencing joy in the present moment. Are you?
What do we need to do to experience joy? I think this is worth some reflection as we are meant to live in joy, to experience joy, to be able to express the joy we are experiencing in our hearts.
When I was in retreat, I copied the words of a song by one of my favorite mystics, Mechtild of Magdeburg:
"Come, Lord, love me deeply, love me often and long,
Come, Lord, love me often and long,
Come, Lord, love me deeply, sing to me your lover's song.
For the more often You love me the purer I become and the more deeply You love me, the more beautiful I am,
And the longer You love me, the holier I'll be.
Yes, I'll love you deeply, I'll love you often,
I'll love you long, I will love you deeply,
As I sing my lover's song. O yes, I'll love you deeply, for this is my desire. Yes, I'll love you often. I can be no other way.
And I'll love you, love you long, For I am the Eternal One. "
Knowing God loves me is the best experience of joy!                                                                           

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Finding Joy

In my guided imagery retreat, I had a mermaid appear out of the ocean and beacon to me. Without any hesitation, I swam out and followed the mermaid who led me deep down into the ocean. I had no trouble breathing or swimming down to the bottom of the ocean and all the creatures of the sea thankfully gave me a wide path in which to swim behind my mermaid. She was leading me to a lovely home prepared for me in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. I met Jesus there. It was an experience of joy; the imagination is one way God speaks to us and this was a retreat full of joy. I found joy in praising God in that retreat. When we praise God, we are united with all the angels and saints in heaven who are always praising God. I find joy also in just sitting in the Presence of Jesus in prayer.

How are you experiencing joy in your life?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Live Joy

"If there's anything half so much fun as being alive, I'd like to know what it is." Mary Engelbreit

How do you live joy? We can let ourselves get down or we can go out and sit in the sun and sing for joy. Here is another quote from Mother Stuart: "Don't feel distressed at feeling "absolutely unspiritual." Probably it means only that you are tired, but nobody knows that better than Our Lord and nobody knows it as He does, what it means. So unite your weariness to His when you can do nothing else; that means much."
When we are grateful, I think we are living in joy. When we live in the present moment, as that little boy in the picture, we are living in joy. When we are able to help someone be happy, we are living in joy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Savor Joy

This picture makes me think that she is savoring joy. What a glorious day and moment of joy is shown in the midst of a field of flowers! Now, how do we savor joy?

I certainly do not leap for joy in any physical way, but do we not all have those moments when the Spirit in us causes our hearts to leap with joy? And when we stay with the experience, we savor joy.

Psalm 97:11-12 - "Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name."

Mother Stuart: 'Joy is the most heavenly atmosphere found on earth -- we ought to cultivate it as a duty always."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

First Sunday of Lent

Valentine's Day and the First Sunday of Lent come together this year and have a message for us to ponder. Both Lent and this celebration of Valentine's Day are motivated by love. Without love, there would be no point in keeping the season of Lent nor this day when we depict love in so many ways: red roses, chocolate, cards, and hearts. Lent is concerned with the Heart of Jesus and what He went through to show us His Love.

The Lord your God is in your midst. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you by his love.” {Zephaniah 3:17}
What words of love is God whispering to you today?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Recognize Joy

These little fellows recognize joy; at least three of them are expressing it. I hope that hovering bird is the Holy Spirit who is watching over them. They do not seem to be at all concerned but are just enjoying themselves. They show us how we should be able to recognize joy in our lives and just enjoy it. God wants us to be joyful. Joy is freeing; we let go of worries and let God take care of us. Think of the last time you just recognized joy in your life and felt as carefree and happy as these children riding the waves.

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (NIV)

Mother Stuart: " To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work. With joy without and within, all is well."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Double Joy

There are ways to double joy. Children show us by suddenly wanting to dance, jump for joy, or make a joyful noise. God must be pleased when we double our joy by realizing what a gift it is and being thankful. The gratitude we then feel is doubling our joy.

Here is another quote from Mother Stuart:
"God knows and loves you, and He knows better than anyone what each person needs, and He will provide. God who looks after the robins...will surely not forget us. God loves us poor little things who can only shiver and tremble and wait for the sun. Keep on looking towards it, looking to heaven and as little as possible to the troubles of earth."

This got published ahead of the date for some reason!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Choose Joy

When we give each other hugs, are we not choosing joy? It is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes today. Let us ask her to be with us this Lent. Let us also find someone to hug today or at least send a hug to a friend and so choose joy in giving joy to others.

I think I often choose joy by stopping to think of all I have to be grateful for and how often I took some of the most joyous moments in my life for granted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

We begin our Lent today with fasting and ashes - let the forty days of Lent be a time of renewal for each of us and a time of growing intimacy with Jesus.

God knows and loves you. He is waiting for you and wants this season of Lent to be a time of turning to Him with all our heart.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Notice Joy

Are we aware of our joy? the joy of others? Do we notice when the sun shines, the leaves turn, the birds sing, etc.?

I love to watch little children as they express their joy with such freedom. I suppose you could also say that they also show their disapproval in too free a way (I am thinking of the tantrums and sulking that can also occur); however, I have so many scenes in my head where the children just spread joy by their exuberance. One of these is the picture of a class of little ones learning to swim and the smiles and shouts of joy when they managed to reach the first the instructor and then return to the side of the pool. Another scene that has never left me was a little boy of perhaps two or three years who kept climbing the steps of a porch to run throw himself off of it into the arms of his grandfather. The joy of both was a delight to watch, but also the blind faith of the little one that the grandfather's arms would always be there to catch him.

Notice where you have felt and expressed joy today?

Mother Stuart said, "Do not lose a particle of your spiritual joy for any failure that you find in yourself to come up to your aspirations and to all that God has done for you. He is not disappointed for He knows exactly what we are like, how sensitive, how easily wounded, how too easily discouraged."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Apostolic Couage

Today is the 56th anniversary of my final profession in Rome. It was a day full of joy for me as I had been chosen to be one to go to the missions. I had known since Christmas eve that I was not to go home, but was being sent straight to Chile to our school in Vina del Mar. I was so happy that I could finally speak about this as it was a real gift of the Lord. I felt so given that day and knew that the Lord would go with me and never leave me alone.

The name of our group was "Courage apostolique" and I felt full of courage. I had no idea what it would be like to land in another country and not be able to speak or understand the language. Still, the Lord protected me and was with me in a special way that 8th of February.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Before Ash Wednesday

Shrovetide, one way we refer to the days before Ash Wednesday, is a time of joy. It is also an opportunity to give joy to many with all the parades, parties, and king-cakes - at least that is how New Orleans celebrates these days.

I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras when I was a Freshman in college. We were a group from our class and most stayed at the convent. We rode on a bus all night to get there. My Aunt Jo and Uncle Bob were there to meet me. Bob was a Colonel in the army and had invitations to one of the balls. My aunt and I were there, but in the gallery just watching the dancers below. The next day we all rode in a parade in a truck and had great fun. We made it back to Maryville just in time for our first class on Ash Wednesday having had a drawing room on the train but I was the only one with any money and a "Poor Boy" that my aunt had insisted we stop to buy on the way to the train. The money she gave me and the sandwich vanished quickly as all were hungry. We had to borrow money from the nuns at Maryville to pay the taxi driver who had let us all pile into his cab. Some joys you never forget!

Now, in today's Gospel, Jesus teaches the crowds from the boat; he told Peter to launch out into the deep and to let down his nets. Now, these professional fishermen had caught nothing all night but they agree to do what Jesus said and their nets are so full they are in danger of breaking. Jesus then tells them not to be afraid but to follow Him and they will be fishers of men. And they left all and followed Jesus. There is much to reflect on in this Gospel.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Accept Joy

If we are looking for joy, each day brings us opportunities to experience joy. We may not have the joy of the child with the ice-cream cone, but we only need to be attentive to the gift of joy that is in us and all around us.

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord! Psalm 122:1

"With joy without and within, all is well. I can conceive no higher way. Joy the most heavenly atmosphere found on earth-- we ought to cultivate it as a duty always." Janet Erskine Stuart

Friday, February 5, 2016

First Friday

Today is a first Friday and we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a special way on the first Friday of the month. I have often told you how we used to celebrate it with red sashed for a "Communion of Reparation"; a procession with a banner before Benediction; a special breakfast of hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls when in grade school after the school Mass, and a special consecration to the Heart of Jesus when I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Now, it is up to each of us to remember to make this a special day but Our Lord did ask St. Margaret Mary for Mass and Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays.

Here is a quote I like from Mother Stuart:
"May peace be your gift to all who come near or depend on you. May God's presence be ever your living joy and the central fact in your life, from which will flow patience, calmness and an
unquenchable joy, with that in your soul you can meet anything and each trial will be a small treasure to offer Him..."

Encourage Joy

I think it is so important to encourage joy, to share our joy in  knowing that we are loved by God.
How do I encourage joy? I love to laugh with others, even to laugh with Jesus. But I think my laughter is contagious and is one way to encourage joy. Jesus laughs at me and makes me laugh. It is good to laugh and laughter does encourage joy.

Think happy thoughts. When I was a child and upset about something, one of the nuns said to me, "What difference will this make in five years?" I do not remember what I was upset about but I realized it would not bother me even next week and it was such a trifle that I certainly should not lose joy over it. I think that has helped me to encourage joy in many who have come to me with problems about schedules, teachers, assignments, slights, some misunderstandings among classmates, hurt feelings, etc. I know that joy is  too precious a gift to let anything take it from us

God wants us to be joyful and to share our joy and happiness with others.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Feel Joy

"Remember the feeling as a child when you woke up and morning smiled? It's time you felt like that again." Taj Mahal

I sometimes feel such joy driving alone on the highway that I break into song or pray in tongues. I would only do these two things when alone, but joy overflows and I need to let it out in some way. At other times I feel joy by feeling overwhelmed with gratitude; I feel joy, also, when someone does an unexpected kindness for me or for others. I feel joy when I watch a parent loving a small child. I feel joy when I am near the ocean as God is so present to me when I look at the ocean. (And I live in Miami and seldom go to the ocean!) I feel joy when I am sitting quietly in prayer, especially when I am in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The Sacrament of Reconciliation also gives me joy that often lasts with a quiet peacefulness for several days.

How do you feel joy?

O satisfy us with Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning [now, before we are older], that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Believe in Joy

I believe in both sadness and joy. I think, however, even when we have reason to mourn the loss of someone dear to us, that we can still have joy. I rejoice in the fact that they are with God and they cannot suffer. I think it is harder for those left behind, but even then we do feel joy for our new saints in heaven.

We have only to watch children at play. They are brimming with joy. Yes, I believe in joy because I have experienced it in so many ways for so many years - joy that is united to the joy of the Risen Christ and cannot be taken from us.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Inhabit Joy

How do I inhabit joy? I think we only need to look a little children. They find such joy in simple things. My brother, George, who was born on Christmas when I was ten years old and who died several years ago, was a happy baby and knew how to "inhabit" joy. He  had a great imagination; he had an imaginary friend that kept him from losing joy. He also had the joy of thinking he was a car; he would go outside, turn a key, put on his windshield wipers and take off down the sidewalk after shifting into gear. He was completely happy being a car. I suspect this was because he was born in 1941 and the war made owning a car during the gas rationing something that was not thought of by patriotic citizens. There were no cars parked on our street and we could play "Kick-the-can" there every night right in the street. I have driven through the old neighborhood in St. Louis and now the cars are parked bumper to bumper all the way down our street. I guess cars are often the way boys inhabit joy!

Mother Stuart says that the #quality of our joy depends on the spring from which it is drawn. Where do we seek our joy? How does it come and go? Watch its flight as of birds. Does it soar or flutter? Is it steadfast or changeable? Does it go by days, by moods, by self-love, by the adventure of circumstances?

Prepare for Joy

How do you prepare for joy?

Today is the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Certainly Simeon and Anna had been preparing for the joy of this encounter with Jesus.

I find that I sometimes take joy for granted; I guess I have not thought of "preparing" for joy. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We all have it. Some show it, cultivate it, more than others. I know that when I made the hockey varsity as a freshman in college, one of the seniors,whom I admired greatly, gave me the nickname "Smiley'; when everyone on the team started calling me that, I am sure I was really smiling at everything. It was a joyous time, but I hope I have been able to keep the habit and others return smiles and so I guess this is one way for preparing for joy. I also think it helps to banish the thoughts that cause one to fret, worry without knowing what will happen, or the thoughts that one might have of being neglected, or not listened to - just pack up your troubles and smile, smile, and you will give joy to others.
Remember my favorite quotation from St. Madeleine Sophie is "Be humble, be simple, and give joy to others."

Gratitude is one way I prepare for joy - a grateful person is a joyful one!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Joy must be a daily choice

Here is a quote on the cover of the book, Joy, written and compiled by M.H. Clark and designed by Jessica Phoenix. This book was published by Compendium in 2011.

"Joy is your birthright."
When was the last time your heart was lifted by a wave of pure happiness? When you felt so delighted by an unexpected little miracle that you couldn't stop yourself from smiling? When you found time in a busy day to give joy to someone else?

It's been said that the days are long but the years are short. We fill our days with obligations and appointments, and reserve joy for special occasions, holidays, weekends, and stolen moments.

If we want joy to be the story of our years, joy must be the story of our days. Joy must be a daily choice, a habit, a promise we make to ourselves. Joy must be the way we travel.

So give yourself the gift of joy, and pass it on to others. If you make room for joy in your heart and in your day, you'll find that joy is a magnet for more joy. Invite just a little into your life, and see how quickly that little grows.

This is on the cover and is from Sarah Ban Breathnach.  After this, I will use my own reflections on each different call given in this book. There is a quotation given for each call, but no reflection so it lends itself to personal journaling on each call.