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Friday, March 31, 2017

The gift of the inner wellspring

On this last day of March, I want to share with you another quote from John O'Donohue's Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom:

"You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself. There is within each of us, at the soul level, an
enriching fountain of love. In other words, you do not have to go outside yourself to know what love is. This is not selfishness, and it is not narcissism: they are negative obsessions with the need to be loved. Rather this is a wellspring of love within the heart.

If you find that your heart has hardened, one of the gifts that you should give yourself is the gift of the inner wellspring. You should invite this inner fountain to free itself. You can work on yourself in order to unsilt this, so that gradually the nourishing waters begin in a lovely osmosis to infuse and pervade the hardened clay of your heart. Then the miracle of love happens within you. Where before there was hard, bleak, unyielding, dead ground, now there is growth, color, enrichment, and life flowing from the lovely wellspring of love. This is one of the most creative approaches to transfiguring what is negative within us. "

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spend time in silence before the mystery of your body...

One of my RSCJ friends from Canada is spending the day with me. I have signed out a car and we shall have fun together. She spent a year with our community in Miami and then moved to New Orleans, but will be back in Canada next year so I am just looking forward to being with her.
The older one gets, it seems that one values friends more than ever.
I also have been thinking of my body as a very close, intimate friend that needs to be listened to everyday!

John O'Donohue in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, says:

"The body is your only home in the universe. It is your house of belonging here in the world. It is a very sacred temple. To spend time in silence before the mystery of your body brings you toward wisdom and holiness. It is unfortunate that often only when we are ill do we realize how tender, fragile, and precious is the house of belonging called the body....
Your body is, in essence, a crowd of different members who work in harmony to make your belonging to the world possible. We should avoid the false dualism that separates the soul from the body. The soul is not simple within the body, hidden somewhere within its recesses. The truth is rather the converse. Your body is in the soul, and the soul suffuses you completely. Therefore, all around you there is a secret and beautiful sunlight."

You can see I am still with thoughts from Father Fish and the retreat on listening to our bodies. My body seems to be saying a great deal to me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feeling God

I am sure we all "feel" God in different ways and on different days. I do not always feel God in the same way, but I love this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Why am I reaching again for the brushes?
When I paint your portrait, God,
nothing happens.

But I can choose to feel you.

At my senses' horizon
you appear hesitantly,
like scattered islands.

Yet standing here, peering out,
I'm all the time seen by you.

The choruses of angels use up all of heaven.
There's no room for you
in all that glory. You're living
in your very last house.

All creation holds its breath, listening within me,
because, to hear you, I keep silent.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We are called to embrace silence

"Silence is a privileged entry into the realm of God and into eternal life. There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven. For silence is a language that is infinitely deeper, more far-reaching, more understanding, more compassionate, and more eternal than any other language...
There is nothing in the world that resembles God as much as silence." - Meister Eckhart

That is a powerful quote to reflect on today. And remember that silence is God's first language! I learned that from Father Thomas Keating!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday of the 4th Week of Lent

It is time to renew our Lenten resolutions. If they were good ones, we probably have broken them, but God sees our efforts and is pleased as long as we do not give up! So, I begin again with great apostolic courage. The name given to our large group of new professed religious in 1960 was "Apostolic Courage" and sometimes I call upon that name to give me new energy and determination. Many of my sisters from that group are now with God and perhaps they are encouraging those of us who remain to keep up our courage and remember our devise:
Death operates in us to give life to others. I think the official translation is "Death is at work in us for life in others." I am part of the Mystical Body of Christ and we are all joined together so that what one does has an effect on the entire body.

Here is a quote from a former Mother General who I loved dearly: "We must be able to crate an inner silence so that the unfolding drama of the world becomes a reality that touches us; so that the love of God within us may inspire a creative and joyous response."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The cure of the man born blind is a long Gospel, but John wants us to know how Jesus healed this man who had been born blind and how that infuriated the Jews. They refused to believe that one who had been blind from birth now could see. They actually throw him out. Then Jesus goes to find him and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man; and the man says, "I do believe" and he worshipped Jesus.

So often we are blind; we do not see but Jesus comes and wants to open our eyes. He is the Light of the World and comes to each of us to show us the way to the Father.

Where do I need to pray for the ability to see? It is easy to be blind to those in need around us.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Feast of the Annunciation

What a mind-blowing experience for Mary to have the Angel Gabriel come to announce that she was to be the Mother of God! And how this experience must still resonate with Mary each time she hears us saying: "Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with thee."

This Feast honors Mary who was open to the Angel's message and was able to surrender herself totally to God's plan. "Be it done to me according to your word." She did not understand, but she was able to accept and believe and became to the first missionary as she soon carried the Infant beginning to live in her to Elizabeth whose child leapt in the womb and we have the words attributed to this elderly, expectant mother, said in greeting Mary: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."

It is a feast to celebrate with Mary and to beg the grace to be so open to God that we are able to say "yes" to all He asks of us."

Friday, March 24, 2017

To try to flee rom You is madness

Spring comes early in California. It is only March and the flowers are blooming and the flowering trees at Oakwood have been spectacular. I may try to post some pictures of beauty at Oakwood, but here is a picture to reflect on as we think of the gift of such beauty.
I am going to share today an excerpt from Jacopone da Todi's  The Lauds:
O Love, divine Love, why do You lay siege to me?
In a frenzy of love for me, You find no rest.

From five sides You move against me,
Hearing, sight, taste, touch, and scent.
To come out is to be caught, I cannot hide from You.

If I come out through sight I see Love
Painted in every form and color,
Inviting me to come to You, to dwell in You.

If I leave through the door of hearing,
What I hear points only to You, Lord;
I cannot escape Love through this gate.

If I come out through taste, every flavor proclaims:
"Love, divine Love, hungering Love!
You have caught me on your hook, for you want to reign in me."

If I leave through the door of scent
I sense You in all creation; You have caught me
And wounded me through that fragrance.

If I come out through the sense of touch
I find Your lineaments in every creature;
To try to flee from You is madness.

Love, I flee from You, afraid to give You my heart;
I see that You make me one with You,
I cease to be me and can no longer find myself.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Beauty

I took this picture of the tulips that are springing up in the patio outside my room. We have flowers everywhere and it is still March! The beauty around me makes me full of joy: Easter is coming. It has been a joyful Lent, but I think Jesus loves us to be joyful

God abides in silence

We are in the Busy Person's Retreat for the Faculty and Staff here at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. The following is from our opening prayer last Monday:

The wise tell us that God abides in silence-
that God speaks in the silent serenity of the heart.
Let us not speak of silence;
rather, let silence speak to us of God.
let us enter , through the door of serenity,
the silence of our heart.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

To Learn from Animal Being

John O'Donohoe has this poem from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

To Learn from an Animal Being

Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within the silence:
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distances and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens:
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging,
We manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always
Looking our from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

May we enter
Into lightness of spirit,
And slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence
Of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts
Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk
Upon the earth
With all their confidence
And clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds
Might be baptized
In the name of the wind
And light and the rain.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saint Animal

Father Michael Fish, OSB CAM, gave us some poems to reflect on and I am copying one here to share. The picture just is one that Gaby took last Thursday when I was comforting the goat. The poem is by Chase Twichell and is found in Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry, edited by Betsy Small.

Saint Animal

Suddenly it was clear to me--
I was something I hadn't been before.
It was as if the animal part of my being
had reached some kind of maturity that gave it
authority, and had begun to use it.

I thought about death for two years.
My animal flailed and tore at its cage
til I let it go. I watched it
drift out into the easy eddies of twilight
and then veer off, not knowing me.

I'm not a bird but I'm inhabited by a spirit
that's uplifting me. It's my animal, my saint
and soldier, my flame of yearning,
come back to tell me
what it was like to be without me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I have been reading Cynthia Bourgeault's The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice.  It is a book to read slowly and take time for reflection on what I have read. Since I am still in the second part, I can only say that I find the book helpful.  My Lenten reading is really on John's Gospel. I can only read a few minutes of The Good Wine, by Bruno Barnhart each day as he gives me too much to think about.

Feast of St. Joseph

I think of Joseph as a young man, certainly not more than 15 years older than Mary when they were betrothed, and probably less so he could have been in his twenties. He has been chosen by God and he is a man of faith. God speaks to him in his dreams and he obeys! He must have taught Jesus many things. He taught by his example. We have not a single word of Joseph. Perhaps he is calling us today to value silence, to create and embrace silence.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Third Sunday of Lent

Jesus was tired from the journey and thirsty, too. He sits by the well waiting until the Samaritan woman comes to draw water. He asks her for a drink and draws out her story until she is converted and rushes back to tell the others: "Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?"
Many came to see Jesus and invited him to stay with them. He stayed there for two days and many more began to believe in him because of his word. They told the woman: "We know longer believe because of your word, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world."

Jesus waits for all of us to come to draw living water from Him; he wants to convert us, too, this Lent. Let us draw near and listen to Him. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A few thoughts

My niece-in-law, Gabriela, came to visit me on Thursday and took this picture. I was talking to this mama goat who was upset because her little ones were still inside the fence with all the rest of the goats and she had been taken out so she would not interfere, I think, with the older students who were cleaning the area.
It was a joy to see Gabriela and she will make the long drive to come see me after Easter.
I am still thinking about the retreat I made last Monday and the theme was all about our bodies as temples for God dwells in us. That is hard for us to realize, but we must learn to listen to what our bodies tell us. God speaks to us through our bodies. He also speaks to us through our imaginations. I am going to share some of the quotes but just have not had much time or energy this week. We did have a great St. Patrick's Day party given by the San Francisco alums. And, of course, we had corn beef and cabbage at our main meal with Irish soda bread that was the best I have ever had. It was brown bread.

From Pam's Musings:

Such an interesting take...
passive voice for the son!
Not "he has returned",
but "he has been found!"
If you lose something precious 
in swirling sands,
 and sift hopefully to recover it,
and you find did not find you.
That's the way it is when
I wander, trip, and fall, get buried
in swirling sands of life...
can't see or breathe, want to escape.
Without warning,
God gently pulls me up and
I breathe again!  I have been found,
forgiven!  Celebrate!!!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tracing Roots

I have wonderful memories of Ireland. My sister took me over one year and we arrived on my birthday. We began with a tour that showed us so much of the beauty and history of the country. Then we stayed with our Religious for another week. We were able to connect with some of our wonderful relatives in the Lightholder family and they still owned the farms on Lightholder Lane outside of Dublin. We search for my maternal grandfather's family history and found many McLaughlins; my paternal grandmother was a Murphy so we did not even try to trace her family. It was such a joy though to know so may Lightholders and see family traits. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Have you missed me?

I am back in time to think of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. It has been a very full week and the retreat last Monday was all about listening to our bodies. God is present in our bodies and we need to listen to what our body is telling us. Mine, seemed to say to me,
"You just need to take care of your body and go to bed early." It has been a very full week but I have a quote from Mother Teresa to share with you tonight:

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depths of our hearts.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Another retreat day

Today I will be making a retreat with the parents of the school. One of the mothers in my group registered me for this and it is from 8:00 to 2:30; they end with the Mass so I will be there most of the day but back in time for some quiet prayer and our 4:00 reunion.

Last Friday I learned a great five minute exercise that involves a great deal of stretching as well as fun. You stand and stretch to outline each letter of the alphabet, make it as big as you can and bend your knees. Try it and see how effective it is!

The theme of the retreat is "Our Bodies, God's Temple" and it is given by Father Michael Fish, OSB.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain by themselves.
"And he was transfigured before them." What an experience for these three. Here was Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Jesus' face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. The three chosen friends are in awe. They hear a voice saying, "This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
They are afraid but Jesus says to them, "Rise, and do not be afraid."
And looking up they saw no one but Jesus.

I love this Gospel and think it was a tremendous moment for Jesus as well as for his chosen three to witness.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Change clocks tonight

One of the questions given us to reflect on in the day of retreat was "Where is there deep JOY in your life now? -or why is it absent?
I think I have deep JOY at Oakwood because I am trying to live my vocation within my call to follow Jesus and that is to give Him joy by choosing what is pleasing to Him! My main purpose here is to be more contemplative, compassionate, and just enjoy all that the Lord has planned for me. I suspect we are all called to enjoy the life we are given, even when there are moments that are more difficult.

Another quote I love is "In the middle of all my troubles, you roll me over with rollicking delight." PS 94:19

And then there is the quote from Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evening, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with JOY and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Don't forget to change your clocks tonight. We lose an hour of sleep so put your watch ahead and go to bed an hour earlier!

Friday, March 10, 2017

God is in your midst

"The Lord your God is in your midst...God will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love. God will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals." Zephaniah 3: 17-18

I am praying over these verses since the retreat day last Saturday.  Now the idea of God rejoicing over me fills me with joy. I have been thinking only of giving joy to Jesus and now I love the idea that God is rejoicing over me.

And, while I know that Jesus said he is with us always, this from Rumi also is to be taken for prayer and reflection:

"Lo, I am with you always."
You promised that, and when I realized it was true, my soul flared up. Any unhappiness comes from forgetting,
Remember, and be back close with the Friend. -Rumi

Thursday, March 9, 2017

From Pope Francis

Last Saturday, we had a lovely day of retreat and the theme really appealed to me: "Being Wild with Joy". A Sister of Mercy who works with Mercy Beyond Borders gave it and had a handout after the morning talk that had wonderful quotes on joy. I will share some as you all know that anything about joy resonates with me. I am convinced that my vocation within my vocation is to give joy to Jesus and to others.
Rumi, I Sufi poet, said:
I like it when the music happens like this:
Something in God's eye grabs hold of a tambourine in me then I turn and lift a violin in someone else. And they turn, and this turning continues.
It has reached you now. Isn't that something?

Another Sufi poet, Hafiz said:
Today the vegetables would like to be cut
by someone who is singing God's name.

Hafiz also has this which I love:
God and I have become like two giant fat people
Living in a tiny boat.
We keep bumping into each other and laughing.

I will add more tomorrow as I think it important to cultivate joy even during Lent.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

We need silence

"We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him, to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed.
Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God himself that makes us do all things with joy."
                                         Saint Teresa of Calcutta

I hope my effort to create interior silence this Lent is helping me to do all things with joy. I think this is the first Lenten season in the last few years  that I have really entered into it with great anticipation and desire to change. It is really a desire to let God transform me. I just sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament in our lovely Chapel and feel open to whatever God wants and utterly surrendered to the Trinity whose presence is in us and around us.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


From Pam's Musings:

"This is the fasting that I wish....then your light shall break  forth
  like the dawn."
"Why do we fast and you do not see it?"
Missed the point!
Fasting is not for itself,
it is emptying self to be filled
with light that will break forth
like the dawn.
It is reaching out and touching
the needs , the cries of others.
It is sharing the gifts we have
received with those who ache
with longing...and the Lord
will whisper, "Here I am".
Emptiness can be filled!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bicentennial Prayer

St. Philippine Duchesne brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to America in 1818.

Bicentennial Prayer

Spirit of the living God,
you first breathed over the waters of creation,
and one day you breathed a passion
     into the heart of Philippine Duchesne.
You called her to cross the waters to a New World,
to bring the message of your compassion and love
to a land and peoples already dear to your heart.
Not knowing the language of the land,
she spoke the language of the heart –
         of love and prayer,
         of attention and openness,
         of steadfast purpose and living faith.
As the Sacred Heart family around the world,
we are the harvest of the seeds she sowed.             
Bless, now, our ever-new world,             
with Philippine’s spirit of great-hearted courage.
Fill us with her desire to cross frontiers,      
especially those furthest from the touch of hope.          
Renew the whole Church in its missionary spirit
     and give us Philippine’s zeal
     to spread your compassion and love to the ends of the earth.  
We ask all this in your name, triune God,
whose love knows no borders or boundaries,
and who sends us to make known that love in the heart of the world
now and forever.  Amen. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

First Sunday of Lent

Yesterday we had a day of retreat that helped me sink into silence. I love the Chapter call to "create silence" or, as we have been saying, "to embrace silence". I am convinced that God speaks to us in many ways but His first language is silence. Let us listen to Him today and spend this Lent in a deeper way just by embracing silence!
Matthew's Gospel, read this first Sunday of Lent, has Jesus being led into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Apparently, the devil only approached Jesus after he had been fasting for forty days and forty nights and was hungry. That is what the devil does: he waits until he finds a weak moment to attack us. But Jesus does not listen to the devil and quotes scripture after each temptation for the word of God is powerful. I like to think that the Spirit led Jesus into that silent, long retreat to reveal something of his mission; Jesus had heard the Father say that he was the Beloved Son and the Spirit had descended upon him at the baptism in the Jordan but Jesus needed time to process what God was asking of him. He was fully human and needed to listen to God. We have these forty days of Lent to do the same.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Simplifying in more ways

These suggestions may help for the first week in Lent: The purple ones are very practical for my life.

Monday: Make a meal from stored or forgotten items [become more aware of overlooked blessings]
Tuesday: Avoid looking at advertisements today [pray for insight into susceptibility to constant advertising]
Wednesday:  Today, walk to the store, instead of driving [turn a daily chore into an occasion of thanksgiving]
Thursday: Cut up one credit card [step back from a false sense of security and rely on God’s care]
Friday: Create a budget [pray for clarity about ways we might be intemperate and stressed]
Saturday: Give to a charity [giving might be in time, talent, treasure]
We are having a Lenten day of retreat. I will share it next week.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Set sail; let God chart the voyage!

One of the calls of the Chapter is for us to "set sail". Here is a good idea for all of us this Lent:

Think of an ocean liner traveling the seas. A small change in its course will, over time, greatly change the destination. Lent is an opportunity to have small changes in your daily life make a big difference in your family over the long run. Practice Lent, right where you are. It's where God is waiting for you.

I like the idea that even a small change will in time  change the course, if not our final destination. I read in "The Little Black Book" that "the entire season of Lent points toward my eternal life. That is my destination! Let me make the small changes now to stay on course, letting God chart the entire voyage. We have the gift of these forty days to advance in the sea of life in ways that help us, our world, and give joy to Jesus as He sees all of our efforts for change!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Simplifying the Soul

LENT 2017  --  Simplifying the Soul

Ash Wednesday:  Clear out a junk drawer or closet  [let go of what one doesn’t need]
Thursday: Scrub a dirty corner [pray for discernment concerning hidden sin and being in denial]
Friday: Give away something you are not using [be liberated from the seductive tyranny of possessions]
Saturday: Set up a special, simple place of prayer [for uninterrupted quiet at least 15 min daily]

I thought these ideas worth copying from "Simplifying the Soul" as we begin Lent. I may copy more, but it you can substitute ideas of your own; it will make for an active Lent!
I am still praying over the four things I want to do for Lent. I do not want to take on too much, but I also want to do some concrete things such as the above suggestions.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday

There are many resources for Lent. I am not sure if my readers are interested in having some of these. It is usually better for you to find your own. I spent some time in the Chapel this afternoon trying to listen to what the Lord might want from me this Lent. I wrote down three or four things that I hope to do this Lent and I will continue to pray about these and try to do them this week. I may change my mind as Jesus may say He wants something else. What I really have been doing is saying, "God loves me", as I inhale and "I love God" as I exhale. I seem to have the sensation that I am in God and this is very helpful. Of course, loving God means loving each one that comes into my day.
More tomorrow as I am too tired tonight to write.  We had a great Mardi Gras party today but I am now ready for Lent. I hope you are too.