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Friday, June 30, 2017

Breathe on me, O Breath of God

Here is a bit of a song that makes a very good prayer. The text is by Edwin Hatch who died in 1889 but his work has lived on after him.

"O breathe on me, Thou breath of God,
fill me with life anew; that I may love what you would love
and do what you would do."

It is short and easy to say as one walks around during the day.

A few years ago, my sister took me to Ireland to visit our relatives there. We also spent some time in our community at Mount Anville. One of the Sisters there, Sister Madeleine Sophie, taught us a grace before meals. Now that I am taking back the custom of asking for the Lord's blessing before eating and thanking Him afterwards (and secretly hoping to get all my sisters here to do the same), I will pass this very Irish grace along to you.

"Lord, bless the food, the cook, and the dishes
As you blessed the loaves and fishes;
And as the sugar in the tea, let us be stirred by Thee."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"We Walk the Path Together"

This picture was taken at Rockaway Beach on June 18th

It has been a while since I have suggested a good spiritual book. I seem to have less time for reading new books since I have come to Oakwood. I do quite a bit of spiritual reading, but have gone back to old favorites as I have not been able to get excited about most of the new books I have read lately. I did buy a book written by the priest who gave the contemplative retreat at Villa Maria del Mar that I made this month. Father Brian Pierce has written three books. His latest is Jesus and the Prodigal Son: The God of Radical Mercy (Orbis Books, 2016). I looked at it but decided to buy a book written in 2005 called We Walk the Path Together: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh and Meister Eckhart.
I am only about halfway through the book, love the title and the picture on the cover of a path along side of a river with lots of trees. Now, you will know that Oakwood must be changing me if I am partly buying a book because I like the cover! The fact is that this Dominican priest is a contemplative that sees God in us and in all. It is a book to pray over. I think it is a book I will go back to read later as I have the desire to mark it up. There are ten chapters and I have just finished Chapter 4: The Water and the Waves. The next chapter is "Jesus and God "Coming Home".
I loved the second chapter on
" Mindfulness and the Eternal Now"; the next was on "The Breath of the Holy Spirit". The very first chapter was on "Magnanimity: Learning the Art of Dialogue. It is a different book and one that I need to read slowly.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


When Marg Miller died on May 17, we all lost a great friend. One of her favorite prayers was on the back of the program for her Mass. The author is unknown, but I think it worth passing on to you today. Marg lived this.

Lord, help me to live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Help me in all the work I do
To be ever sincere and true
And know that all I do for You
Must need be done for others.
Others, Lord, yes, others.
Let this my motto be:
Help me to live for others
That I may live for Thee.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

15 Ways to Keep Your Sanity

I received these partly because I am working at creating silence, but really I have kept all of them in mind, especially number nine and fifteen.
Sixteen Ways to Keep Your Sanity
1. Visit your local library.
2. Eat ice cream every day.
3. Use the internet sparingly.
4, Try silence.
5. Ignore the drumbeat of commerce.
6. Sing as often as you can.
7. Be independent in your soul.
8. Try silence.
9. Shadowbox with your own frailty--no one else's.
10. Consider miracles as abundant.
11. Let the nearest tree help you breathe.
12. Try silence.
13. Cultivate a fierce spirit.
14. Be respectful of trauma.
15. Consider courtesy as an alternative.
16. Try Silence.
(Christine Rodgers)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Do not judge...

Jesus tells us in today's Gospel not to judge. It is so easy to notice the splinter in someone else's eye and not notice the wooden beam in our own.
I have written before about "the culture of encounter" as the Pope mentions this in different ways. It means going out to others, seeing the good in others, not judging but really trying to deepen relationships and form community. I am working at this, but have a long way to go as I find myself so often in a critical judgment of someone and do not see my own faults.
Let us pray that we may all be instruments of peace today.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Liturgy begins with an entrance antiphon that has caught my attention: "The Lord is the strength of his people, a saving refuge for the one he has anointed. Save your people, Lord and bless your heritage and govern them for ever."

I like to think that the Lord is our strength. Jesus tells us in the Gospel (Mt 10:26-33) that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's knowledge. Even the hairs of our head are counted. "So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Let us trust the Heart of Jesus and pray for peace in ourselves, in our communities, in our world. I keep praying the little song:
"Breathing in, breathing out,
I am calm, I am smiling;
You in me and I in You.
Present moment, wondrous moment,
Peace to the world, peace to the world."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

When I save pictures for this blog, I cannot find them so I need help in learning how to get all the pictures in the right files. I thought I was really getting organized, but today I cannot find the pictures I have been saving recently so we will just go with dear, old Smiley who always makes me smile!
 Here we have been saying a prayer at the end of the Litany that has been said for the novena before the Feast of the Sacred Heart. I did not know this prayer so will copy it here for you.

"O Mary, Mother of Grace, pray for us to the Heart of Jesus. Most Holy Trinity, we thank you for the favors you showered on St. Madeleine Sophie. We ask you, through her intercession, to bless the world with your peace and to bless the Society with vocations according to the Heart of Jesus.
Grant the graces we ask, in Jesus' name. Amen.

I think Our Lady is so humble that she did not want me to show even the symbol of the two Hearts of Jesus and Mary which I found once and now seem to have lost it. Still, it is her Feast and her heart is united to the Heart of Jesus.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Feast of the Sacred Heart

We so often think of the pierced Heart of Christ in the world today amid all the suffering. I do pray for our world with all the poor, the marginalized, the violence, the lack of justice, etc. but today's Feast makes me realize that Jesus Christ has risen; He has overcome death and His Heart is beating still with His love for everyone of us. He has told us not to be afraid. This is our day to celebrate with the Heart of Christ the very existence of the Society of the Sacred Heart. I am thrilled that we have invited Associates and Children of Mary to join us. We renew our vows out of devotion today; the Associates will be renewing their commitment and the Children of Mary renew their consecration. This is the first time we are doing this together on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We are also beginning the 200 year celebration of St. Philippine and her four companions who brought the Society of the Sacred Heart to America in 1818.
Let us pray that we may learn from Jesus to be meek and humble of heart and give His love to all we have contact with in our daily lives.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Tomorrow we will have Mass in the afternoon but will be connected to all the communities in the United States and Canada. We will also have our Associates and some "Children of Mary" who are able to be with us. We will renew our vows after the homily in the Mass that we will be following on the screen live from Villa Duchesne's chapel in St. Louis. After that, we will continue the Mass here with a priest who is a good friend of mine. After that we will have refreshments in the dining room and patio. As we have been having hot weather, we hope the patio near our dining room will be comfortable as we have a huge white oak there that keeps it shady.
Barb Dawson, our Mother General in Rome, will speak to us during the ceremony tomorrow but the entire Society of the Sacred Heart has received the letter she wrote for this feast. It is very beautiful and calls me to pray over it. One paragraph that I keep going back to is about the Gospel for the feast which has Jesus telling us to take His yoke upon us and learn from me that I am gentle and humble of Heart. Barb says that Jesus reminds us that we have many yokes that we carry and some are not of God. These we need to let go. We need to ask ourselves what we need to let go of in order to yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ and with each other. Barb also reminds us that it is in the depths of silence that we will hear the heartbeat of God.
That should give us all something to reflect on for this Feast of the Heart of Christ.
One of our sisters went to God this morning. I kept vigil with her yesterday and prayed that God would take her home. This is the fourth RSCJ in our Province to die since May 16 when Marg Miller went to God.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Of this and that

The weekend with my sister and brother-in-law was really a great time as my nephew and his wife were also with us both days. On Saturday, we went to an engagement party and it was lovely and almost cold as it was near the bay. It was a Greek party with Greek food, a band, a beautiful ceremony of the blessings of the ring by both a Greek Orthodox and a Roman Catholic priest.
On Sunday, we went to Rockaway beach and I have pictures but they are on my I-pad so this one taken last January will have to do. There is a famous café right on the water and we had a late lunch there. Many people were there as we are having a hot spell; these come usually only a very few times a year, but this week end was really hot for our part of California.
Now, I have taken a resolution to say grace before and after meals as my sister and brother-in-law always say grace before meals and I suspect most of our communities do. Because we get served at different times here, I think we do not have the sign of this visible prayer to ask God's blessing and give thanks for the food we eat. I am going to ask others to help me to remember and maybe we will soon have the custom back here.
My other resolution is to pray for those I see during the day.
I will try to be more spiritual tomorrow in this blog. I guess my best advice is live in the present moment and be grateful.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Stand still

Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes behind you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost to you,
You are truly lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
                                             David Wagoner

Monday, June 19, 2017

Living in the present moment

We used to have adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on all Sundays and Feast Days, but then we also had Benediction which ended the Exposition. Now, here at Oakwood, we have permission to expose the Blessed Sacrament for a Holy Hour on certain days and every Sunday. We gather to pray in front of the monstrance which holds the consecrated host. It is just a way of helping us to focus on the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Whenever we go to the Chapel, we are in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as we keep consecrated hosts in the tabernacle. That is why every Catholic Church will have a sanctuary lamp burning to remind us that Jesus is really present here in the Eucharist.

Now I did promise to share from my retreat so let me start with a quote I like from Thich Mhat Hanh: "Life is available only in the present moment. If you are distracted, if your mind is not there with your body, then you miss your appointment with life.."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

This Sunday is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It has its own sequence, Lauda Sion which is quite long but I will just quote a bit of it as this is a Feast that I love. Jesus gave us his own Body and Blood so that we really received Jesus Christ when we celebrate the Eucharistic Communion during the Mass. Here are a few of the verses:
Laud, O Zion, your salvation,
Laud with hymns of exultation,
Christ your king and shepherd true.

Bring him all the praise you know,
He is more than you bestow,
Never can you reach his due.

Full and clear ring out your chanting,
Joy nor sweetest grace be wanting,
From your heart let praises burst.

What he did at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
His memorial ne'er to cease.

Your bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

Much to pray over and reflect on this Feast. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Litany for the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Here at Oakwood, we say the Litany of the Sacred Heart as a novena prayer the nine days before the Feast. I have shared this Litany before in my blog as I was using one phrase a day for prayer; it makes a great walking prayer. The first part of the Litany has the same response: "I unite myself" so I am uniting myself to Jesus by saying: "to your adoration, I unite myself; to your burning love, I unite myself; etc.

I did know this litany by heart, but now hope to learn it again just by praying over the different invocations during these days before the Feast.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Just one week to the Feast of the Sacred Heart

This year the Gospel for the Liturgy for the Feast of the Sacred Heart is from Matthew 11:25-30. I love the fact that Jesus tells us: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart for this Feast 67 years ago. I knew that Jesus was asking me to follow Him, but I never dreamed He would give me so many gifts and graces. My retreats have always been a time of grace and this one was a quiet one, but hopefully will help to transform me into living more as Jesus lived. The first week was with Oakwood and I felt that I was being called to deepen my interior life. Then, the second week was about seeing the face of our neighbor. I have fifty close neighbors here so I need to really see them and love them as Jesus loves them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Back Again!

I came out of retreat on Monday and it was such a special time. I will be sharing some of it with you this week. It was so good to have had two retreats back to back and I hope it will make a real difference in my life. The first six days were more deepening my new desire to have interior silence that is so helpful for prayer. We had two twenty minute sessions each day that gave us suggestions we could follow both with Scripture passages and then going back to our own sources. I found this very helpful and then went to the retreat at Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz. My nephew and his wife drove me down and we took a different road. It was really beautiful but very full of curves. We stopped for lunch at an Italian restaurant and ate outside under the redwoods. That was a special treat. Then I had six more days of silence with a Dominican priest saying Mass at 9:30 in the mornings with a "homily/conference" and then another talk at 4:30. He emphasized our need to live in the present and to see the need of others. The title of the retreat was "Silence, Word, the Face of our Neighbor." I loved the emphasis on being able to see the need of those around us. He told us one story about a child that had ended up in a camp full of people but no one to care for him. When asked, the child told them: "They know I exist but no one sees me."
I guess I am trying to see the needs of others now that I am home again and have fifty neighbors who are here at Oakwood and many others who come to us.