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Monday, May 29, 2017

We go into retreat tonight

This will be my last post before June 15. I beg prayer for our retreat at Oakwood and then the contemplative one that I will be making at Villa Maria del Mar from June 5-12. It is really a wonderful time of the year to be in retreat before and after the Feast of the Holy Spirit.
It is also Memorial Day so we are having a Bar-B-Q.  I will be having my one year anniversary during retreat as I arrived last year on June 4. It has been a very full year for me and I am happy to be here and learning how I can be helpful in our large community and still find time to reach out to others.
I will pray for all my readers while in retreat and count on your prayer for me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Feast of the Ascension

This Feast has been moved to the Sunday before Pentecost. Many of us still remember when Ascension Thursday was a Holy Day of Obligation.
Jesus, in each Gospel, says farewell to his disciples, but only Luke describes the Ascension of Jesus. What seems to be important is that the Apostles are to go out to all the world and spread the Good News. They, and we, all have a mission to make the love of God known. The Apostles, after Jesus left them, stayed together in prayer with Mary, too, until the coming of the Holy Spirit gave them gifts to have the courage to go out and preach.
We receive Baptism and the Sacrament of Confirmation to have the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to become proclaimers of the Good News. How many of us go out to preach by our lives? To give the joy of the Gospel?
Two of my third graders brought me long, typed (one in red font and the other in blue) thank you notes. Besides telling me how much they enjoyed coming to read with me and how much I had helped them, they stressed that I had taught them about God, that I loved cookies, reading, and going to the Chapel and that I laughed every time we met. They both seem to have been most impressed by my laughter, but they also said I had taught them to be holy. I cannot remember even speaking about God except in one story where the character was full of anxiety and I told them that they need never to be like that if they learned to trust Jesus. Anyway, reading their rather long thank you notes that came in specially made covers for me was a real joy and I shall miss them greatly. Then I received four more thank you notes from the children and I was really touched by their notes.
I also had a lovely note from my "eighth grader" as I still adopt a child at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles each year as do many alums. Writing notes is a real ministry now that I have several friends who do not use the computer.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Delightful Guest and Supreme Director

Martinez tells is that the Holy Spirit does not remain idle; He takes possession of the soul and then his influence extends to our whole being as the Spirit works for our transformation.
"The Holy Spirit lives in the center of the soul, in that profound region of the will where he himself has diffused charity. From that center he pours himself our, so to speak, over the whole person." The Sanctifier p. 17.

We know that when the Spirit is present, the entire Blessed Trinity is present. However, it is good to take time both before and after Pentecost to realize all the Spirit does for us and to spend time thanking for the many gifts the Spirit gives us. I guess I should be doing this every day of the year!

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Sanctifier

Tonight we have graduation; our weekly visits with our seniors will be missed. I hope to keep in touch with Mike during his college years. Tuesday was a very moving goodbye with my third graders as we will be in retreat the next week and then they are out for the summer vacation. It is a real grace to have our retirement home on the school grounds so we can see and interact with the children. My six wrote long thank you notes and all remarked on my laughing with them and enjoying the stories. I really did enjoy them!

I am rereading The Sanctifier by Martinez which I first read years ago and still love it. Certainly, it is  one of the best books about the Holy Spirit. One of the community said it felt written by the Spirit.
The first chapter is about how the Holy Spirit leads us to holiness. The second is titled "Our Delightful Guest"; here is a quote from it:
The Holy Spirit's action "is not exterior nor intermittent, but intimate and constant. He enters into the depths of our souls, penetrates the innermost recesses, and takes up his permanent dwelling there to produce later on his magnificent work."

It is good for us to spend time with the Holy Spirit as we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost. I am happy to be in retreat the week before the Feast and then the week afterwards this year.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Talking to Sophie

A Dialogue with Sophie

Me: Happy Feast! It is so good to celebrate your feast with my large community here at Oakwood. You took one of my good friends to Heaven last week and I miss her, but I am glad she is with you and God now and cannot suffer.

Sophie: I have been watching you during your months here at Oakwood. You have been here almost a year and done much, but you came with a strong desire to deepen your interior life. How is that going?

Me: Well, I have more time for prayer and love having daily Mass here in our Chapel, but I still have not made much progress in interior silence. God still spoils me though and I am so looking forward to our retreat which begins in four days.

Sophie: Yes, God loves you very much, but I count on you to be a true Religious of the Sacred Heart, both contemplative and active. You are now at a time in life when you may stress the contemplative side of your vocation. We are always going to be both active and contemplative, but your life here is a gift that allows you to spend more time with the Lord.

Me: I am really discerning how to create interior silence. I need your help.

Sophie: You have it; just be still and take time to be with the Lord; He only wants you to let Him love you. Continue to deepen your relationship with each Person in the Blessed Trinity.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie

St. Madeleine Sophie founded the Society of the Sacred Heart and became the first Mother General. She governed the Society from its beginnings until her death in 1865. Actually, although she made her vows in 1800 and we count that as a foundation date, she was only elected Superior General after having founded two more houses after the first school in Amiens, France. She was often ill but she was above all a soul of prayer and governed with wisdom as the Society grew and spread. She allowed St. Philippine Duchesne to bring the Society of the Sacred Heart to America in 1818. These two saints held fast to the Constitutions of the Society and kept union among all the houses of the Society. We owe them so much. I love to prepare this feast by having a real conversation with Sophie.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Joy is contagious

When we are happy, others are happy. Joy spreads and when our hearts are burning with love we experience joy. This joy becomes a net that enfolds others with its happy contagion.

We need to strive to always accept all with joy and give all with joy. Love is the wellspring of joy and we need a strong love to live in joy. Gratitude helps us to foster joy.

What are my daily joys? Make a list now and then go back and thank for each of these daily joys!

Monday, May 22, 2017

God knows us by name...

Sometimes I get something that Paul Parker sends to all the faculty at Carrollton and I want to use it in my blog. This is a quote from the Pope at a General Audience last week and I love it:

Pope Francis at the Wednesday Audience in Saint Peter's Square today ~

‘Every one of us is a story of God’s love. 
God calls every one of us by our name: 
God knows us by name; 
God looks at us; 
God waits for us; 
God forgives us; 
God has patience with us.’

I keep hearing God call me by name and I hope you do, too.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Jesus has been going around and consoling us since Easter. The collect of the Mass for this Sunday is worth reflecting on:
"Grant, Almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honor of the risen Lord, and that what we relive in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do."

How have we celebrated these days of joy?
Have I always recognized Jesus as He comes to me now?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Breathing in, breathing out...

We have a song we sing often here before our afternoon gatherings; lately, I find myself singing it to myself at odd moments and before prayer and even after Communion during Mass. Here are the words:
Breathing in, breathing out,
I am calm, I am smiling;
You in me, I in You
Precious moment, wondrous moment,
Peace to the world, peace to the world.

It may also help you quiet down. I am finding interior silence difficult these days and look forward to out retreat which begins the night of May 29.  It seems to be a pattern in my life that the time before retreat is difficult for prayer. So many thoughts, images, stream through my mind, but, as one spiritual director once told me, just "show up" - God sees the effort and the desire.

I opened an envelope I was handed yesterday to find it was a birthday card with a note written by Marg Miller who had died the day before so it was like a message from heaven. I have it on my desk now. My birthday is the last day of the month and I am not planning on celebrating it this year as I will be in retreat!

Friday, May 19, 2017

July will see me in St. Louis

We will be having an important provincial assembly in July followed by a Spirituality Forum that we began years ago and have held every two or three years, I think. I have been to about four and loved each one. They have grown to include Associates, faculty and staff from our schools, and alums; I believe this year we are meeting at St. Louis University because they are expecting about two hundred or more. Coming right after the Assembly is good for the travel part, but listening really is tiring for me so I hope I have the energy needed to follow the talks at the Spirituality Forum. I know I will enjoy seeing friends and the small group discussions are always fruitful. This Forum seems to be geared to our coming bicentennial as we begin celebrating St. Philippine Duchesne's arrival in 1818; she brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to North America and from here to Cuba, and South America.
This is a different blog tonight, but hopefully inspired by the Spirit.
It also means that I will be away from July 7-16 and not writing my blog during that time.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A word can help us pray...

Last week I spoke of words that sometimes help us to enter into deep prayer and I think at different times, different words help. I am still with the word "surrender" which is, of course, an old favorite of mine since my years in Chile when the verb was
'entregarme' or hand myself over to the Lord. Now I just seem to use the word to be totally open to whatever the Lord wants.

Often the word is gratitude and helps me to enter into a deep and quiet state of just being grateful.
Sometimes, the word 'transparent' comes to mind and I desire to be before God completely open and known as only God can know me.
I hope this sharing triggers some words that help you to pray.

And there is always my favorite quote from St. Madeleine Sophie:
"Be simple, be humble, bring joy to others."

I am trying to schedule ahead and yesterday posted a second blog that was intended for the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie next week. It will appear again but once published on our website I cannot do any editing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heart silence

In the silence of the Heart God speaks - this thought is from a longer quote from Mother Teresa:
"Jesus taught us how to pray and he also told us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. Neither of these can we do unless we know what silence is. Both humility and prayer grow from an ear, mind, and tongue that have lived in silence with God, for in the silence of the heart God speaks."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The silence of Mary

May is a time when we give special honor to Our Lady, at least in our hemisphere. In Chile, the mes de Maria was from November 7 to December 8 and the Churches were packed for all the Marian devotions every evening. On December 9, only a few would show up for the evening Mass that had been standing room only the days previous. I am contemplating the silence and passivity of Mary as depicted in this painting of Mater. Mater is in every Sacred Heart school the world over and beloved by all the family of the Sacred Heart. When I look at the picture now, I still see the open book, the distaff, but Mary is not using it. She is not reading, but she seems to be absorbed in prayer. The passivity of Mary here calls out to me now that I am retired and still doing many things. One thing is necessary and I need to learn how to just be still.
Mary was silent - interiorly silent so she could listen to God. Let us try to imitate her interior silence this week so we, too, may listen to God.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meaningfl Words

Looking back over my rather recent history of prayer, I find that some words stand out. When I reviewed April, there were three words: humility, surrender, and a phrase: "let yourself be filled with love" - the rest of that phrase was "in order to give His love to others."
Now, the word surrender means to entrust myself to Jesus in complete openness, holding nothing back. It is attracting me and influencing how I enter prayer. Another word that keeps coming this week is "transparent" - I want to be transparent. Gratitude is usually present, too.
I guess I am wondering if a word or phrase helps each of my readers to deepen their own interior life. Certainly our call to silence has helped me this year and I intend to share more on silence these days before the retreat.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
This quote was on the textbook cover written in white on a blue background of the book we used for religion when I was in high school. I am afraid I cannot now recall the lessons in the book, but will never forget this quote and I seem to have always been able to relate to it. Jesus is the Way to the Father. He goes before us and leads us. He is the Truth so we are able to trust Him and entrust ourselves to Him. He is Life and has come so that we have life and have it abundantly!!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Show us the Father

This is another one of my pictures taken in the evening in our patio. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by beauty.

I keep thinking of the Sunday Gospel for tomorrow: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." We know about God because we know Jesus. He tells us that "The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works." And Michael Simone, S.J., in his commentary for Sunday, 
adds that this is a key teaching of John's entire gospel. "Jesus is God's only self-description, God's only commandment and God's only dream for humanity. In other words, if we model our life on Christ, not only will we be fulfilling God's will, we will become the kind of humans God has always dreamt of and we will reflect God's grace to all we meet. This is what Jesus means when he says, "No one can come to the Father except through me." Only by believing in Christ and fashioning our lives after his can we become like the Father...
{Taken from "Show Us the Father", from America Magazine)
Let us pray for the Holy Father's trip to Fatima.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Of this and that

We are here helping one of our sisters by our prayers. She is such a lovely person, but God seems to want to take her to Himself.  We all owe much to her. We made our final profession in Rome together.
In the meantime, we are busy celebrating so many end-of-the year events. It makes me realize that we will be going into retreat at the end of this month. Graduation is May 26 and the retreat is from May 29-June 4 --we are celebrating a huge birthday on June 4 as Nancy Morris will be 90 and has invited all of Oakwood as well as a few hundred others (she was head of the school here for years) for Mass and an outdoor luncheon. This is just to give you an idea of what will be happening. I will not be writing my blog during the retreat.
My thoughts keep going back to the grace of having at least tried to develop a relationship with each Person in the Blessed Trinity. I guess I began that at the Trinita dei Monti in Rome during those months I was there in 1959. I am now spending prayer time here with the Trinity. It is amazing to be more conscious these days of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us so often that He came that we might know the Father and that the Father is in him and he is in the Father. The Holy Spirit is also present and all three Persons love us with infinite love.
Are there any words that resonate in you when you think of them in connection to the interior life? I guess there are many and they may be different at different times. I will be sharing my words soon as I have been reflecting about whether this is one way God may be speaking to me.  I am not thinking of love or joy - two words that are always with me. I guess gratitude is another word that is rather constant. Just lately, I have noticed new words.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Create silence ...

Here is a helpful quote, I think, to reflect on today:

"Silence is not sought for its own sake but, rather, for the space it makes. Silence allows us to perceive better and to hear better, it opens our inner space." Dysmas de Lassus in The Power of Silence.

We seek intimacy with God in silence.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Joy is cultivated in celebrating

Today I am expecting Gabriela, my nephew's wife, who is bringing one of my college classmates to lunch with me here in Oakwood. That expectation of our joyful time together made me think of the expectation we had as children to get out on Easter morning to hunt for the many Easter eggs hidden in the yard. We also had Easter baskets hidden inside with chocolate eggs and bunnies.
Joy is increased, I think, by expectation. Today I have a great quote to share with you from Robert Morneau: "Celebrating springs from joy, but the roots of the virtue of joy are cultivated in celebrating. So dance, sing, send thank-you-cards, perform simple rituals for gifts given and deeds done."
This is from his book, Growing in Joy. I am using it again as it fits this season. If I repeat a quote that I have used in a previous year, it is because I do not remember using it and it is worth repeating!
Oakwood is also hosting the famous Spring Luncheon today in both patios, I think. I have not been here for one of these but it will be interesting to see where parking can be found for the guests.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Near enough to listen when God calls

Flowers give joy! I think the image of the Good Shepherd also gives me great joy. In yesterday's Gospel (John 10:11-18) we have Jesus telling us that He is the good shepherd, "and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father."
Wow! Think about that!
Then, in Give Us Today there is a reflection entitled "Within the Sound of the Shepherd's Voice" by Sister Elizabeth Meadows.
She recalls how she was allowed out to play as long as she stayed within the sound of her mother's voice. That brought back memories as we were also allowed out to play with the neighborhood children until we heard the unique whistle my Dad could make - a real tune that I could never learn; I never could even make a whistling sound. When we heard my Dad's whistle, we came running.
Now we need to stay within the sound of the Shepherd's voice - our good Shepherd who has laid down his life for us. So we listen for his call and are quick to respond. Remember, our God is a God of surprises! We just need to listen for his voice!
When we are silent, we hear His voice.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Called by name

Jesus calls each of us by name. I have been hearing Jesus call me by name and ask me, "Helen, do you love me?" Then, with a commentary by Michael Simone, S.J. on the Fourth Sunday of Easter published in America, I began to think of what it really means to be called by name. Here is the quote that started my own reflection:
"When Jesus calls his followers personally, this summons transforms them and also gives them a place in the community of disciples. This is how Jesus fulfilled his duty to heal and restore the flock."
I am staying with the image of the Good Shepherd as I have so often experienced Jesus as a good Shepherd who has gone looking for me and when I have been too far away, He has carried me tenderly back and is with me always.
The commentary on the readings I quoted above is titled: "I will call you each by name." At the end, Simone says: "It is time to reflect on our own efforts to live Jesus' mission. We do Christ's work when people encounter us as trustworthy guides and not as strangers...Just as Christ heals, protects and provides for us, so too must we for a scattered and anxious world.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fourth Sunday after Easter

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus tells us in the Gospel for today that "the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. . .he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice."
Jesus also says: "I am the gate for the sheep...Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture...I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
And we have the beautiful Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths...

We are so very fortunate to have the image of the Good Shepherd to help us understand the Lord's love for us.
Let us thank Him today.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spring is such a joyful season

The flowers are blooming, the weather is delightful here in California and beauty is everywhere. It is the time of year to go out and thank God for the gorgeous life springing up around us. The trees are adorned with new leaves and some with lovely flowers; the grass is green, wild flowers are abundant, and we need to stop and smell the roses. Let us give thanks for the beauty around us. Even if we live in a city, there are parks to help us thank God for the beauty found in nature.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Seventh Station of Joy

The Ascension is the seventh station.  This year we will celebrate Ascension Thursday on the 25th of May, the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie. Of course, now most places in the United States celebrate the Ascension on Sunday. Let us think about this day from the point of view of Jesus and why it is a Station of Joy.
Jesus has accomplished his mission and is ready to return to His Father. He is full of joy as He ascends into heaven. Yes, He is leaving his mother and his disciples, but He knows that He is always with us and has given us His Presence in a special way in the Eucharist. It is a time of joy for Jesus and this Feast is a joy for us, too.
Jesus continues to give His joy to each of us. Let us rejoice and be glad. There are no sad saints!
Today is also First Friday when we honor the love of the Heart of Jesus for each one of us and He asks us to let Him love us and to love Him and give His Love to others.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sixth Station of Joy

The sixth station of Joy according to Louis Evely is Mary. He tells us that Mary only had one apparition in her life and it was that of the Annunciation. That was enough as she believed. I am sure that the first person Jesus went to be with and share his joy on Easter morning was his mother.

I think of the joy that Mary gives us when she brings us to her Son. This, in our country, is the month of Mary. What are we doing to honor her this month?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Fifth Station of Joy

The Fifth Station of Joy is Paul.

Saul had his ideas about God and Jesus did not fit into them. He began to persecute the followers of Jesus. Jesus wanted Paul but had to knock him down, blind him and tell him, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." Saul was called by name; God knew him and this encounter with Jesus changed his whole life.
Jesus told Saul, "Rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." Paul was still blind for three days but then Ananias is sent to him. Ananias had a vision where the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying."
Ananias tried to dissuade the Lord for he had heard about the evil Saul had done to believers. But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."
So Ananias went to Paul, restored his sight, and Paul  was filled with the Holy Spirit"! Paul will become the great Apostles to the Gentiles and spread the joy of the risen Jesus.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Fourth Station of Joy

The fourth station is that of Thomas. It is the Gospel for the Sunday after Easter and seems a last chance to convince us of the truth of the resurrection and to convert us to joy. Thomas was the one we often resemble when we doubt, when we are pessimists and hard-headed. Evely describes him as one who was a skeptical realist who was mistrustful when things looked too good.
Thomas was not with the others when Jesus appeared to them on that first Easter. When they told him, he said, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the marks of the nails and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
Jesus knew Thomas and knew that he had to change his plan to accommodate Tomas. Jesus comes and tells him, "Come, put your finger, put your hand...and do not be faithless but believing." And so Thomas makes his great act of faith: My Lord and My God" which so many of us still say at the moment of the Consecration.
The Lord, by his gentleness, reconciled Thomas immediately. And then, there was a gentle reproach when Jesus said: "Because you have seen, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now, let us look at the joy of this station. Thomas is full of joy and the first of the apostles to call Jesus his God. Evely says that from "doubting Thomas, Jesus drew the most beautiful act of faith in the Gospel. Jesus loved him so well, healed him so gently, that from this fault,...Jesus brought forth a joyful affirmation. God alone knows how to make our hearts become happy faults."

Monday, May 1, 2017

St. Joseph, the Worker

I love the image of St. Joseph teaching his trade to Jesus. I am glad there is a day to celebrate St. Joseph, the Worker. He was skilled and taught his skills as a carpenter to Jesus. His work provided for his family. I think of all the fathers who toil to take care of their families today. I think of my own Dad who spent the day working for us and then managed to spend time on the week ends with us. He was tired at the end of the day, but we had dinner conversation about what was happening in our days and almost never did Dad talk about work. He sometimes mentioned someone he had seen that day; I found out later from others how helpful Dad was to all who worked with him or who came to him or even those he saw waiting for help.
Joseph was a silent man. He may help us all to recover the deep, interior silence that we need for prayer. Joseph was also a man of prayer and had such faith. He listened to the way God spoke to him in dreams and promptly obeyed. Let us ask Joseph to help us to listen to God in our daily lives.