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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

These are pictures from our General Chapter. The delegates had been looking at our world today and how we are being called to respond. I suspect St. Ignatius is being called on today for the courage and patience that the Pope asked of us; it is a good combination and certainly St. Madeleine Sophie and St. Philippine Duchesne had plenty of both.

Tomorrow I will begin sharing my retreat and will be scheduling ahead as I am going away August 3-7 to visit a dear friend who now lives in Davis, California. In the meantime, I leave you a bit more to reflect on from "Seeking the Face of God":

Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere on women's contemplative life, 22.07.2
2. Consecrated persons, by virtue of their consecration, “follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way”. They are called to recognise the signs of God’s presence in daily life and wisely to discern the questions posed to us by God and the men and women of our time. The great challenge faced by consecrated persons to persevere in seeking God “with the eyes of faith in a world which ignores His presence”, and to continue to offer that world Christ’s life of chastity, poverty and obedience life as a credible and trustworthy sign, thus becoming “a living ‘exegesis’ of God’s word”.
From the origins of the life of special consecration in the Church, men and women called by God and in love with Him have devoted their lives exclusively to seeking His face, longing to find and contemplate God in the heart of the world. The presence of communities set like cities on a hill or lamps on a stand, despite their simplicity of life, visibly represent the goal towards which the entire ecclesial community journeys. For the Church “advances down the paths of time with her eyes fixed on the future restoration of all things in Christ”, thus announcing in advance the glory of heaven.
3. Peter’s words, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!”, have a special meaning for all consecrated persons. This is particularly the case for contemplatives. In profound communion with every other vocation of the Christian life – all of which are “like so many rays of the one light of Christ, Whose radiance brightens the countenance of the Church” – contemplatives “devote a great part of their day imitating the Mother of God, who diligently pondered the words and deeds of her Son, and Mary of Bethany, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened attentively to His words”. Their lives, “hidden with Christ in God”, become an image of the unconditional love of the Lord, Himself the first contemplative. They are so centred on Christ that they can say with the Apostle. “For to me, to live is Christ!”. In this way, they express the all-encompassing character at the heart of a vocation to the contemplative life.
Contemplatives, as men and women immersed in human history and drawn to the splendour of Christ, “the fairest of the sons of men”, are set in the heart of the Church and the world. In their unending search for God, they discover the principal sign and criterion of the authenticity of their consecrated life. St. Benedict, the father of Western monasticism, emphasised that a monk is one whose entire life is devoted to seeking God. He insisted that it be determined of one aspiring to the monastic life “si revera Deum quaerit”, whether he truly seeks God.
In a particular way, down the centuries countless consecrated women have devoted, and continue to devote “the whole of their lives and all their activities to the contemplation of God”, as a sign and prophecy of the Church, virgin, spouse and mother. Their lives are a living sign and witness of the fidelity with which God, amid the events of history, continues to sustain his people.
4. The monastic life, as an element of unity with the other christian confessions, takes on a specific form that is prophecy and sign, one that “can and ought to attract all the members of the church to an effective and prompt fulfilment of the duties of their christian vocation”. Communities of prayer, especially contemplative communities, which “by virtue of their separation from the world are all the more closely united to Christ, the heart of the world”, do not propose a more perfect fulfilment of the Gospel. Rather, by living out the demands of Baptism, they constitute an instance of discernment and a summons to the service of the whole Church. Indeed, they are a signpost pointing to a journey and quest, a reminder to the entire People of God of the primary and ultimate meaning of the Christian life.
Esteem, praise and thanksgiving for consecrated life and cloistered contemplative life
5. From the earliest centuries the Church has shown great esteem and sincere love for those men and women who, in docility to the Father’s call and the promptings of the Spirit, have chosen to follow Christ “more closely”, dedicating themselves to Him with an undivided heart. Moved by unconditional love for Christ and all humanity, particularly the poor and the suffering, they are called to reproduce in a variety of forms – as consecrated virgins, widows, hermits, monks and religious – the earthly life of Jesus in chastity, poverty and obedience.
The contemplative monastic life, made up mainly of women, is rooted in the silence of the cloister; it produces a rich harvest of grace and mercy. Women’s contemplative life has always represented in the Church, and for the Church, her praying heart, a storehouse of grace and apostolic fruitfulness, and a visible witness to the mystery and rich variety of holiness.Originating in the individual experience of virgins consecrated to Christ, the natural fruit of a need to respond with love to the love of Christ the Bridegroom, this life soon took form as a definite state and an order recognised by the Church, which began to receive public professions of virginity. With the passage of time, most consecrated virgins united in forms of common life that the Church was concerned to protect and preserve with a suitable discipline. The cloister was meant to preserve the spirit and the strictly contemplative aim of these houses. The gradual interplay between the working of the Spirit, present in the heart of believers and inspiring new forms of discipleship, and the maternal solicitude of the Church, gave rise to the forms of contemplative and wholly contemplative life that we know today. In the West, the contemplative spirit found expression in a multiplicity of charisms, whereas in the East it maintained great unity, but always as a testimony to the richness and beauty of a life devoted completely to God.
Over the centuries, the experience of these sisters, centred on the Lord as their first and only love, has brought forth abundant fruits of holiness and mission. How much has the apostolate been enriched by the prayers and sacrifices radiating from monasteries! And how great is the joy and prophecy proclaimed to the world by the silence of the cloister!
For the fruits of holiness and grace that the Lord has always bestowed through women’s monastic life, let us sing to “the Most High, the Almighty and good Lord” the hymn of thanksgiving “Laudato si’!”
6. Dear contemplative sisters, without you what would the Church be like, or those living on the fringes of humanity and ministering in the outposts of evangelisation? The Church greatly esteems your life of complete self-giving. The Church counts on your prayers and on your self-sacrifice to bring toda. Over the centuries, the Church has always looked to Mary as the summa contemplatrix. From the annunciation to the resurrection, through the pilgrimage of faith that reached its climax at the foot of the cross, Mary persevered in contemplation of the mystery dwelling within her. In Mary, we glimpse the mystical journey of the consecrated person, grounded in a humble wisdom that savours the mystery of the ultimate fulfilment.

Following Mary’s example, the contemplative is a person centred in God and for whom God is the unum necessarium, in comparison with which all else is seen from a different perspective, because seen through new eyes. Contemplatives appreciate the value of material things, yet these do not steal their heart or cloud their mind; on the contrary, they serve as a ladder to ascend to God. For the contemplative, everything “speaks” of the Most High! Those who immerse themselves in the mystery of contemplation see things with spiritual eyes. This enables them to see the world and other persons as God does, whereas others “have eyes but do not see”, for they see with carnal eyes.
11. Contemplation thus involves having, in Christ Jesus whose face is constantly turned to the Father, a gaze transfigured by the working of the Holy Spirit, a gaze full of awe at God and His wonders. Contemplation involves having a pure mind, in which the echoes of the Word and the voice of the Spirit are felt as a soft wind. It is not by chance that contemplation is born of faith; indeed, faith is both the door and the fruit of contemplation. It is only by saying with utter trust, “Here I am!”, that one can enter into the mystery.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Seeking the Face of God

Here is a bit more from "Seeking the Face of God":

In seeking God, we quickly realize that no one is self-sufficient. Rather, we are called, in the light of faith, to move beyond self-centredness, drawn by God’s Holy Face and by the “sacred ground of the other”, to an ever more profound experience of communion.
Through Baptism, every Christian and every consecrated person is called to undertake this pilgrimage of seeking the true God. By the working of the Holy Spirit, it becomes a sequela pressius Christi – a path of ever greater configuration to Christ the Lord. This path finds notable expression in religious consecration, and, in a particular way, by the monastic life, which, from its origins, was seen as a specific way of living out one’s baptism.
2. Consecrated persons, by virtue of their consecration, “follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way”. They are called to recognize the signs of God’s presence in daily life and wisely to discern the questions posed to us by God and the men and women of our time." 

We can reflect on this and I am sure that our General Chapter which is now in its fourth week in Italy is struggling with ways to discern God's presence in the world today and to respond to the calls God is making known to us for the Society of the Sacred Heart. 

This Sunday is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Last Sunday, the Pope celebrated the feast early at the Generalate of the Jesuits in Rome and actually wrote out a message for our General Chapter in Spanish. He asked the Lord for us to have both courage and patience to unfold life; he also asked us to pray for him and signed it affectionately, Francisco.

Friday, July 29, 2016

My blogging vacation ends today!

I took this picture on the beach at Santa Cruz in front of the retreat house, Villa Maria del Mar.

As of Monday, I will be sharing some of my retreat, day by day. Now I want to share with you some thoughts from Pope Frncis'

Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere on women's contemplative life, 22.07.2016

We provide below the full text of the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere, "Seeking the face of God", on women's contemplative life, signed by Pope Francis on 29 June 2016, solemnity of the Apostles Sts Peter and Paul. The document consists of a prologue and five chapters: "Esteem, praise and thanksgiving for consecrated life and cloistered contemplative life; The Church's accompaniment and guidance; Essential elements of the contemplative life; Matters calling for discernment and renewed norms; and The witness offered by nuns, and finally a normative conclusion.
The following is the full document:
1. Seeking the face of God has always been a part of our human history. From the beginning, men and women have been called to a dialogue of love with the Creator. Indeed, mankind is distinguished by an irrepressible religious dimension that leads human hearts to feel the need – albeit not always consciously – to seek God, the Absolute. This quest unites all men and women of good will. Even many who claim to be non-believers acknowledge this heartfelt longing, present in every man and woman who, drawn by a passionate desire for happiness and fulfilment, never remains fully satisfied.
St. Augustine eloquently expressed this yearning in the Confessions: “You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”. This restlessness of heart is born of the profound intuition that it is God Himself Who takes the initiative; He seeks out men and women and mysteriously draws them to Himself."

I have been praying over some of the aspects that the Pope develops as we are called to be both contemplative and apostolic so I find the first five of the twelve topics that the Pope develops are applicable and are good to reflect on: they are formation, prayer, the Word of God, Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation, and fraternal community. I will share a few quotes with you but you can find the document on Google to read for yourself.

Friday, July 15, 2016

View from my window

I have such a wonderful view from my window and I just love to watch. The birds come to drink and bathe in the fountain, there are flowers all around, and the redwoods give shade to the left side.
I thank God for the beauty here each day and next week I shall be at Villa Maria del Mar making my retreat. Therefore, I think it is time that I take a vacation from the blog for the next two weeks. There is so much on our Province webpage now that there is a link to our international website that has news each day of our General Chapter with pictures. There is also a link to our International Society website on the right side of this blog. Just click on it and then click on General Chapter 2016. I suspect you will have plenty to reflect upon without by writing each day. I also suggest you look at the Concord Pastor's Blog which is posted daily and has a link on the right side of my blog. In the meantime, please pray for my retreat which begins on Tuesday and ends on Tuesday, July 26.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Let God

Each day we grow older. Are we getting wiser? This came in an e-mail and I am posting it:

1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
4) You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster. 
5) It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

God knows how to ripen us; remember He is in charge so let us surrender joyfully to all He asks of us.  Let God be God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Praying for others

Sometimes my list of people I have promised to pray for grows so long that I am afraid I just say to God, "For all those I have promised to pray for and for all those who need my prayer today, Lord, take care of them all." He knows and I think this is good, but I also take time to recite a list as I walk or after Mass when I go use an exercise machine. Then my list seems short and I end up praying for all the countries in the world. Right now, I am praying much for our General Chapter and for the 75 who will be making decisions for the future of the Society of the Sacred Heart and also electing a new Mother General. It is an important time for us and I am glad to be going into retreat next Tuesday, July 19, to have more time for prayer. I also ask your prayers for me. I will be going to my favorite place, Villa Maria del Mar, on the ocean in Santa Cruz. It is a contemplative retreat and will have morning prayer and then an optional sharing in the evening. I am looking forward to it. And I shall pray for all of my blog readers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Seek God and God will be found

These words of St. Madeleine Sophie speak to me:

"You must be faithful and loving; seek God everywhere and God will be found."

And my favorite from John of the Cross: "Put love where there is no love and you will find love."

And then there is this good advice given to me by my mother when I was a child and which has proven so helpful for all my life:

"Love others and they will love you."

And so I leave you to reflect on these three quotes today or simply gaze at the picture while listening to the Holy Spirit.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't Worry

Have you ever felt fear when you had to stand up and give a talk? If so, you will enjoy this from my friend Pam's musings:

Don't Worry 
It was time to go up to the podium
and address the gathering.
My heart was racing, my legs unsteady
and I was wishing the floor would
open and swallow me.

The blinding lights blurred my script
beyond clarity - now what?  panic
shook every bone in me.
He said, " don't worry - let me take care of it."
I released my grip on my speech
and heard words go out to the crowd They streamed from my heart
which had become God's microphone.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"And who is my neighbor?"

How often Jesus answers a question with a question as he does in this Sunday's Gospel. The scholar of the law asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him, "What is written in the law?" And the man has the right reply: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Then Jesus tells him that he has answered correctly and if he does this he will live. But the man then says, "And who is my neighbor?" That question leads to Jesus telling us the story of the good Samaritan. You remember that a man is set upon by robbers who stripped him and beat him and left him half-dead.  A priest went down that road, saw him, and passed by on the opposite side. Then a Levite came, saw him, and passed by on the opposite side. It was the Samaritan who was moved with compassion, who approached him, tended his wounds, and put him on his own animal to take him to an inn and care for him. The next day he gave the innkeeper money to continue the care and even promised to repay him on his return, if he spent more on the comfort of the poor man. Then Jesus asks, "Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the poor victim?" The man said, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus simply says, "Go and do likewise."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

God's Garden

A dear friend just lost her mother so please pray for her and all the family. I begin with this as she told me that she used a prayer I had once put on the blog and she thought was so beautiful. I think it is worth sharing again:

God looked around his garden and found an empty place.
He looked down upon the earth and saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you and lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful; he always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering; He knew that you were in pain.
He knew that you would never get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough; and the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your weary eyelids and whispered “Peace be thine”.
It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone for part of us went with you.
The day God called you Home.

Friday, July 8, 2016

What do you see?

Again we have a picture to stir our imaginations. What do you see? What might God be saying to you in this picture? Does it move you to remember other times and places? Take time to just contemplate it and see what comes to mind.

Go sit on the bench for a bit and something will happen!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

An English Cottage

Some pictures spark my imagination; this is one of them. I can imagine a family and see them seated around a fire in a fireplace and having tea; I can imagine the library in this home and the children with their governess. It just lends itself to my imagination. Sometimes I can also imagine that I am meeting Jesus in some part of this picture.

Enough of imagining for today as I want to share with you the Act of Consecration of the Society of the Sacred Heart to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which we say on the First Saturday of every month. It is a beautiful prayer and I fear that we have lost the custom in many of our small communities and so I am delighted to share this with you:
Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, we come today with confidence and love to consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart.
You are the Mother of Fair Love. In you is all hope of life and virtue.
Grant us this day the desire of our hearts by giving us
a love strong as death, which will separate us from all that is not God;
a love so generous in its conformity to the good pleasure of God, that it may transform us and give us new life;
a love so ardent that it may enkindle the souls of those confided to our care;
a love so insatiable that all work and suffering may be as fuel to feed its flame until our last breath.
Mother of Holy Hope set your Divine Son as a seal upon our hearts and upon our arms, that we may, after your example, live and act by Him and for Him alone.
Intercede for our Holy Mother the Church in all her needs.
Save all who put their trust in you.
Bless our Society so devoted to you and to your Son.
Be the stay and support of our Central Team, and grant that we who are united with you in love on earth may bless you and rejoice in you for all eternity. Amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

God always brings newness

Here is something from the Pope to reflect on today:

Christian communities and movements which began in Europe, are bearers of many charisms, which are gifts of God to be made available to others. “Together for Europe” is a unifying power with the clear aim of translating the basic values of Christianity into concrete responses to the challenges of a continent in crisis.

Your lifestyle is based on mutual love, lived out with Gospel radicalness. A culture of reciprocity means talking things over, esteeming one another, welcoming one another, helping one another. It means appreciating the diversity of charisms so as to move together towards unity and enrich it. The tangible and clear presence of Christ among you is the witness which leads to faith.

Every authentic unity draws on the wealth of diversity which forms it – like a family which grows in unity in so far as its members can fully and fearlessly be themselves. If Europe as a whole wants to be a family of peoples, it should put the human person back at the centre; it should be an open and welcoming continent, and continue to establish ways of working together that are not only economic but also social and cultural.

God always brings newness. You have experienced this so often in your lives! Are we open to surprises today too? You, who have answered the Lord’s call courageously, are called to show his newness in your lives and bring to life the fruits of the Gospel, fruits that have grown from Christian roots, which for the last 2,000 years have nourished Europe. And you will bear even greater fruit! Maintain the freshness of your charisms; continue to be “Together” and extend it further! Make your homes, communities and cities into workshops of communion, friendship and fraternity, which can bring people together and be open to the whole world.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


"Crowds, troubled,  abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd..."
                     __________by Pam
Hundreds, many
wandering , struggling to live
but no one to help them find a way.
Abandoned, walled out by fear,
they hope, with fading hope, they cry
who can lead, who can open fences,
possibilities of life?
Be aware of the call-listen
enter their journey with heart,
and be a shepherd with God's flock
travel with them, however you can.

One of my RSCJ friends sends me her musings each day and said I could share them so, when the Holy Spirit prompts me to, you will have something from Pam. Her "musings" often help my prayer.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

May we all enjoy the day and take time to pray for our country!

I am confiding the elections to the Lord but praying much for wisdom for all those who vote.
My sister and brother-in-law left today and I now am hoping to catch up with e-mails. We took my laptop to be cleaned up or tuned up or something last night and were able to get it this morning. I hope it works now as I am behind in many things. Still, I now have a  phone with captions that works in my room. I seldom give my phone number to anyone except family or very close friends, but I do have one so I can call when necessary.
We have a beautiful chapel and I love just to sit there and know that Jesus is with me. We are surrounded by beauty so I pray that all may enjoy this holiday and thank God for all He has given us.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The laboreres are few...

From the Sunday Gospel"

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest. 
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 

Jesus seems to have wanted his followers to go without any of the necessary things such as a staff, a bag for provisions, and sandals. This seems crazy, but Jesus is emphasizing trust. Go preach the Kingdom and God will provide.

My computer is fixed and I will have time now to pray more about what the Holy Spirit wants me to write in this blog. In the meantime, have a great Sunday and I will figure out how to change the spacing for the next blog. At least, I will try. I am learning many things about this laptop which I have had for over five years but have not used very much.

The point to remember is that the laborers are few and we are all called by Jesus to help further the coming of the Kingdom.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rejoice in the Lord

From Pope Francis' address in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Copied from the Concord Pastor's blog (but then I could not find it again)

Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice! These are striking words, words which impact our lives. Paul tells us to rejoice; he practically orders us to rejoice. This command resonates with the desire we all have for a fulfilling life, a meaningful life, a joyful life. It is as if Paul could hear what each one of us is thinking in his or her heart and to voice what we are feeling, what we are experiencing. Something deep within us invites us to rejoice and tells us not to settle for placebos which simply keep us comfortable.

At the same time, though, we all know the struggles of everyday life. So much seems to stand in the way of this invitation to rejoice. Our daily routine can often lead us to a kind of glum apathy which gradually becomes a habit, with a fatal consequence: our hearts grow numb.

We don’t want apathy to guide our lives... or do we? We don’t want the force of habit to rule our life... or do we? So we ought to ask ourselves: What can we do to keep our heart from growing numb, becoming anesthetized? How do we make the joy of the Gospel increase and take deeper root in our lives?

Jesus gives the answer. He said to his disciples then and he says it to us now: Go forth! Proclaim! The joy of the Gospel is something to be experienced, something to be known and lived only through giving it away, through giving ourselves away.

The spirit of the world tells us to be like everyone else, to settle for what comes easy. Faced with this human way of thinking, “we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and for the world” (Laudato Si’, 229). It is the responsibility to proclaim the message of Jesus. For the source of our joy is “an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of our own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). Go out to all, proclaim by anointing and anoint by proclaiming. This is what the Lord tells us today. He tells us:

A Christian finds joy in mission: Go out to people of every nation!
A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news!
A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!

Friday, July 1, 2016

"He looked at him with eyes of mercy and chose him."

My July "Give Us This Day" missalette reminds me that we are near the midpoint of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Gospel for today has Jesus not only calling Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him, but has Jesus eating with many tax collectors and sinners. When the Pharisees ask how can this be, Jesus hears and says:
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
Pope Francis has called us to realize that all of us have received God's mercy and we are called to pass on this mercy to others. We are all loved by God.