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Monday, July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius

Our Saturday movie was on Ignatius of Loyola. I did not go as I feel that I know Ignatius quite well. I had three Jesuit cousins and as a child I really wanted to be a Jesuit after reading all of Father Finn's books: Tom Playfair, Percy Dee, Harry...etc.

I think no one around here has read these but I found a copy of Tom Playfair in Spanish when in Chile.

To go back to Ignatius, I had the joy of making the 30-day retreat in Manresa where he actually wrote the Spiritual Exercises. We would get up at night to go pray in the cave and I spent the entire last night there. I followed his footsteps in Barcelona and Montserrat; I went back and gave the 30-day retreat to priests three years later and then, when teaching one summer in Spain, I went to Loyola to see where Ignatius was born and the room he had when he was recovering from the cannonball that had shattered his leg. That was the time of his conversion. I have taught his life, given perhaps over 100 Ignatian retreats and made many, too; I have read and studied what he wrote, his Exercises, the Constitutions, his letters and so I did not go to the movie, but do think back over some of the graces received during the complete Exercises. I have had the grace of making at least five 30-day retreats, but only three of them were based on the complete Exercises of St. Ignatius and given by Jesuits. My favorite prayer is the one that begins,
Lord, teach us to be generous, to give and not to count the cost, to labor and not to seek a reward, to toil and not to ask for rest, to fight and not to heed the wounds, (sorry but I guess I do not remember this but I used to say it.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is any time really ordinary? I think not. The entrance antiphon for this Sunday begins: "God is in his holy place, God who unites those who dwell in his house; he himself gives might and strength to his people."

I am needing some "might and strength" - but my hope is in the Lord. Solomon received a wise and understanding heart from the Lord. I suspect we can ask for the same gift. One of the verses of the Responsorial Psalm says: "Let your kindness comfort me...let your compassion come to me that I may live...

Paul tells us in the second reading for this Sunday that: "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." We have been called and now we just need to trust God.  God is the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price, so let us give all to possess God or really to let God possess us - our whole heart and mind and will.
Here is a quote from Pope Francis that I like and do not think I have shared yet:
"Letting ourselves be encountered by God means this: letting ourselves be loved by God."
He also has said: "The Lord is knocking at the door of our hearts. Have we put a sign on the door saying: 'Do not disturb?'

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Thoughts during July

July is almost over and I was thinking during my prayer this morning that the first half of the month was certainly filled with the Provincial Assembly and the Spirituality Forum that followed it. I have been sharing a bit of both of those enriching experiences, but now I come to the last half of the month. We have had a death, two funerals, and a sister near death, so it is natural that my thoughts have turned to thoughts of death and after-life. I have so many friends in heaven and I am sure there is great rejoicing among the Religious of the Sacred Heart each time they welcome another RSCJ. We are here only a short time on earth but will have an eternity in heaven. When I died two years ago in the hospital, I really only remember that I was wanting to go to God. Since God brought me back to life, I just need to keep asking Him what He wants me to do. More and more I am convinced that God just wants us to let Him love us.
May we be open and surrendered to whatever He wants of us, but do let God love you today!

Friday, July 28, 2017


Oakwood has been having many visits from other Religious of the Sacred Heart. This is a joy for all of us. It is wonderful to hear about the Society in different countries, Provinces, and regions. We are all so international and love to hear more about life in other places. I cannot count the number of RSCJs who have come to see us this month. Some came or are coming for the funerals; some are here for retreat, others for vacation. All are welcome and each one brings us joy by sharing her life with us. We are so blessed.
In Miami, my community always took "hospitality" as a goal and we worked at being available and welcoming. Here, we are full of joy to be able to welcome so many visitors and, even in the midst of the renovations, beds are found, planes are met, and we rejoice that our Sisters want to spend time at Oakwood. We are blessed.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


One day I realized that I was losing the habit of saying grace before and after meals. Maybe I never really had the habit, but I want to have these two special moments of prayer back into my life and began by asking others to remind me. A few do say grace to themselves but, since we now sit at the table and are brought our food at different times, it has been something that some of us have been neglectful about but most seemed willing to have me say grace and even to say it for my table at lunch. Now, it has spread and hopefully the Lord is pleased with our efforts to ask His blessing on our meal and our conversation and also to be thanked at the end of the meal. I am explaining all this as I want to share a Mealtime Blessing that was in Give Us This Day. I have not yet used it, but intend to do so starting today.

Praise to you, generous God, for opening your hand to us,
this day and every day, and giving us nourishing food to enjoy.
Send your blessing upon our meal, and make us a blessing for each other at this table and in your house.
Yours be the glory, today and unto the day of eternity, for ever and ever. Amen  (Fr. Michael Kwatera)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Place Called Home

The first night of the Spirituality Forum had us singing this song: A Place Called Home. I only remember the first verse but want to share it with you. I hope I have it right.

A place called home where tenderness can flourish;
A place called home, a haven from all harm;
A place called home where children sleep in safety.
A place where hurts are healed, a shelter from the storm,
A place where peace can find human habitation:
God grant us this grace: a place called home.

There were three more verses but I cannot remember them.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

St. Philippine just gave me a vacation

At Westwood, where I live, and Rosewood - both part of Oakwood, we depend on the Sacred Heart schools for our internet access. Last week I had been scheduling my blog ahead, something that was very fortunate as suddenly I found the blog had been blocked. I had no access until today when our wonderful Province technician contacted the school and restored access. Since I could not even look at the blogs I had scheduled ahead to edit them, I felt on vacation and have read three books since I also was not able to get e-mail on my I-pad.
I even went to our movie on Saturday, the second one I have gone to since I arrived last year. This was Casablanca which I have not seen at least three times and loved each time. I love Saturdays, but there always seems to be something more for me to do than just go to the movie. We can ask for the movies we want to see. Actually, we have a great many films that can be watched on our TVs and many do that, too. I just prefer a good book!
Today I want to share this prayer of St. Philippine Duchesne as I do not think I was able to do this last week:
"I am where God wills me to be, and so I have found rest and security. God's wisdom governs me, God's power defends me, God's mercy encompasses me, God's joy sustains me, and all will go well with me." 

Monday, July 24, 2017

St. Philippine Duchesne's Zeal for Souls

One of the outstanding characteristics of our Saint Philippine was her zeal for souls. She is so often pictured with a map because she desired to carry God's love to all parts of the world. Her desire was constant and her prayer took her to distant lands and, especially, to Indian territory. She longed for years to go to the Indians and when she finally arrived at Sugar Creek, she still longed to go to other tribes; her prayer was her gift and she spent long hours praying for the conversion of so many across the entire world.

We had our Tuesday afternoon summer social party last week honoring all in their eighties; I think there are about 27 of us and we were given a globe of the world. I am delighted with this gift as I had given away my Atlas when I moved out here and really like to pray for the different continents and confide each to the Lord to take care of each day. I used to have a small globe, but this one has all the countries and so I will be like Philippine and carry Jesus throughout the world.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel of Matthew for this Sunday has Jesus telling parables to the crowd. First we have the story of the man who sowed good seed in his field, but while asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The only thing to do was let them grow together until the harvest; then the weeds could be collected and burned but the wheat could be gathered and stored.
The second parable is also about the Kingdom of Heaven. It is like a mustard seed; it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when grown, it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds come to dwell in its branches.
And then there is a third parable about the kingdom of heaven as yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.

That gives us all plenty to reflect upon this Sunday. We had a beautiful funeral here yesterday and will have another next Saturday so I am thinking about the Kingdom of Heaven and how many people I love are there now!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bicentennial Prayer

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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Themes to set us on fire

For those who were not at our Provincial Assembly, I would just like to mention the theme of each day. I suspect some of the prayer will be on the Province website but I do want to say that one of the best things for me during this Assembly was the "Espacio" - we just made space for silence and it is always a powerful experience to sit in silence with others and feel the Presence of God.
Here were the themes for each day:
Beginning the journey, Igniting the flame
Tending the Hearth, fanning the flame
Stoking the fire within us
Stirring the embers, kindling the inner fire
Setting the fire ablaze
Hearts transformed by fire

I hope we all keep feeding the fire that was enkindled by our prayer, reflection, and input. I certainly returned with new zeal to live the calls of the General Chapter; I still feel most drawn to the call to create silence.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Setting Sail

One of the images that emerged from the General Chapter was that of the Society of the Sacred Heart being "Like a family that decides to set sail in search of new life, a new land. The family brings what is essential from its heritage and wants to share its treasure with all who might need it." The Chapter document continues to say that "to undertake this journey, they must part with what has been essential on land and replace it with what is going to be needed during the crossing." This family is also aware that they must be ever more united to be able to face what is yet unknown and "to share the Love that is their way of life."
We have set sail and are still seeking new frontiers. We have grown as the Sacred Heart family includes Associates, colleagues, all our alums, friends, parents of our children, etc. Let us go forth to reveal God's love wherever we are.
Our most recent country is Vietnam where we have just opened a new community.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

St. Philippine Duchesne

Sister Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ has just published a short and very readable biography of Mother Duchesne: Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: A Heart on Fire Across Frontiers. I bought a copy and have lent it out here, but hope to send it to my sister. I think it was only five dollars for RSCJ and certainly worth reading.

Here is a quote from a letter of St. Philippine to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat from Sugar Creek, July 21, 1841:
"At last we have reached the land of our desires...there are no difficulties here except when people worry too much about tomorrow."

This was written while the community was living in a very small, one room cabin without any privacy or conveniences. They had to cook outside; one corner was designated as the community dining room, another as their dormitory, another as parlor, and the last as pantry and kitchen - no water, of course, but Philippine was so happy to have at last reached her dear Indians. She could not learn their language, but she was known as "the woman who prays always" and they still keep her memory alive. We had some Indians at the Spirituality Forum and hearing them play their "tom-toms" was a gift.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Generative Listening

There are seven principles of Generative Listening; these enable a quality of connection between speaker and listener that opens up new possibilities for transformation and action.
1. Slowing down and noticing more of what is present.
2. Listening with all my senses.
3. Listening to the words or images chosen, those specifically and not others.
4. Listening to the emotions conveyed by the person who is talking.
5. Suspending judgement, not pre-empting, classifying, nor dismissing what the person is expressing; it is her reality as she is experiencing it and making sense of it.
6. Noticing what I do not understand or what triggers questions for me, rather than what I do not like about what I hear.
7. What do I feel as I listen to what is being said--and why?

There is also a framework for Generative Speaking that offers a co-creative approach to transformative learning and innovation. It allows you to play your part in the conversation by responding from the following positions:

What I heard is...
What is clearer for me now is...
What I do not understand is...
What still needs clarifying in what I have heard is...
New ideas triggered for me by what you said, though not present in what you said, are...
What to me seems crucial, but I am not hearing you mention, is...

I think we all need to study and practice these powerful helps for Generative Listening.

Back from a wonderful Assembly and Spirituality Forum

There is much to share from both out Provincial Assembly and the Spirituality Forum that followed it. I am glad I went to both and I am also glad to be home. I think the first thing I will share is this prayer of St. Philippine Duchesne.

Lord, You alone are the center in which I find rest.
Give me your arm to support me,
Your shoulder to lean upon,
Your cross to uphold me,
Your Body to nourish me.
In You, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace.

That was sung the first night of the Spirituality Forum, but I have often used the prayer and add my own - Give me your ears to hear; Your Heart to love, Your hands to help others, etc. You can use it anyway you want. I really feel as if I have spent the last ten days with St. Philippine. I have always loved her, but this time was almost like a retreat with her. I went to three talks centered on her during the Forum. I am sorry that all of us did not get to visit her tomb, but my room during the Assembly looked out on St. Charles and I thought of Philippine arriving there in 1818 with her four companions and somehow keeping union with the Society of the Sacred Heart in France. She was our first great missionary but now, almost 200 years later, we are revealing God's love in 43 countries.

Monday, July 17, 2017

St. Philippine Duchesne

We have begun our bicentennial celebration for the coming to America in 1818 of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  The first free school west of the Mississippi was opened by Philippine in St. Charles, Missouri. Then it also became a boarding school and I attended as a weekly boarder from 1944-1948 and loved it. Philippine's spirit is still alive there.
One of the newest "works" we seem to be developing (maybe these are part of the setting sail and seeking new frontiers) are the houses we have opened to welcome young people. We now have one not only in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Berkeley, California, but also in Boston, Washington, DC, and, as of this month, the Rebecca House in White Plains, New York. A house is also opening in Ottawa, Canada. These houses are committed to welcoming young adults and/or students seeking an experience of community, reflection, and social action. I suspect the emphasis differs from house to house but I am thrilled that the Society has established so quickly six houses of welcome. Some have more room to allow for a live-in experience but all are there for young adults to come.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

We leave tomorrow for the Provincial Assembly that is being held in St. Charles, Missouri; that is followed by the spirituality forum so I will be away from July 7-16 so please understand why I will not be on my blog until July 18. Then I will have much to share.

The Provincial Assemble needs our prayer. I am copying here a prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Breathe on us, Spirit of Wisdom, so that we may be Your divine life alive in the world.
Grow in us, Spirit of Understanding, so that we may listen and know how to speak your word.
Move within our community, spirit of counsel, so that everyone of our encounters may be filled with Your Presence.
Inspire us, Spirit of Fortitude, so that we may always have courage and speak the truth in love.
Fill us with insight, Spirit of Knowledge, so that we may put on the mind of Christ and see God in all creation.
Abide with us, Spirit of Reverence, so that we may be transformed into Your image and become holy.
Draw us into Yourself, Spirit of Wonder and Beauty,
so that we may worship You and glorify You.
In union with Jesus who has given us this Spirit,
we return to You, Loving God, all that You have given us. Amen!

I am finding this prayer helpful. I love the "Abide with us, Spirit of Reverence, so that we may be transformed into your image and become holy." I am finding that the Spirit is the one who fills me with awe and reverence.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July

Today is a holiday and it is good to have a special time to celebrate the freedom we have in our country. So many do not have what we have. Let us rejoice and be glad, but also pray for those who live in oppression. Many are not free to enjoy life as we do. Many live in fear. May we be people of peace and work for peace in our world.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Eve of the 4th

Tomorrow we will be celebrating our national holiday. I cannot remember if I actually shared in this blog my latest project. I am learning again how important it is to remember to say grace before and after meals. Here, as we are served at different times, only a few seem to have taken the time to pray before and after meals. I am trying to get people to remind me and, the table where I usually sit for our noon meal, asks me to say it before and after we are together. I usually make it quite short:
"Bless us, Lord, and bless the food we are about to eat and our conversation during this meal. Amen. At the end, "Thank You Lord for this time together, for our meal, and for all the graces you give us each day." I am ashamed to say that I often forget to say grace after the meal.

However, I also have a grace before meals that my sister loves and that was taught us by a Sister Madeleine Sophie on our trip to Ireland. I think I did put this on a blog, but if you missed it, here it is again:
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 blessed by Thee.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday's Gospel reminds us to be hospitable, as does the first reading.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

How often have we given a cup of cold water to someone? We have given more than that - our welcome, our smile, our love. But we might also ask ourselves how often have we been less than welcoming? Are there times when we have avoided one in need of a kind word or a service? I find it good to examine my lack of going out to others, my avoidance of someone, and I need to ask myself why. Is it laziness? Or is it "business"? Can you imagine Jesus being too busy to aid someone in need?
We have been so loved that we now are called to give that love to others. It may just be a kind word, or a card written to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayer. Let us, this week, try not to avoid anyone; on the contrary, let us see how many we find to serve. Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded. Hospitality is a gift we offer freely to all.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July is here!

June flew by and now July will seem very short as many of us will be going to the Provincial Assembly from July 7-12 and the Spirituality Forum at St. Louis University from July 12-16. I think I will again be taking a vacation from the blog, at least for the time I am away. I love seeing all my friends, but there is really not time to find a computer to try to write a blog when I am away.
Now, what am I doing to prepare for the Provincial Assembly? I am mostly praying over the calls of the General Chapter of last summer so that we may move in the direction the Society is calling us - to be one body, to live more humanly, to create silence, and to set sail - we need to be where the needs are in our own Province and in the entire world.  What is Jesus calling us to be? What is Jesus calling us to do? These are the questions we are pondering and praying about now. Please keep us in your prayer, too. This is an important Provincial Assembly as we are also looking to ways to organize ourselves for the future. It is an exciting moment as we set sail together.