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Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve

Tonight so many stay up to see the New Year begin. I will not be one to do so, but have relished a day of prayer to bring close to 2018 and prepare for 2019.
It has not been an easy year for our world. So many tragic happenings, so many natural disasters, so many displaced people, so many killings, so many suicides, so much hunger and suffering in all parts of our world. How much we need the love and compassion of the Heart of Jesus in our lives! How can we make the world better this year by our lives?

I am convinced of the power of prayer. We begin the new year with a Feast of Mary. Let us ask her to help us to make the world a better place; let us ask her to teach us how to love and spread joy to those around us. New Year's Eve is a time to renew our resolutions to do good, work for peace, and give love to all!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

"The Shepherds went in haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger."
This is the entrance antiphon for today's feast. The Collect is:
"O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards."
I love the phrase, "the joy of your house" and know that where there is love, there is deep joy.
I have been thinking much of my own family that gave me so much love. I entered two weeks after my 19th birthday and was very homesick the first months. I imagined my little brothers growing up without me, but I knew I was called to follow Jesus in the Society of the Sacred Heart and so I stayed. But now I can go back in my memory and relish so many family things and be grateful. 
Let us celebrate today not only the Holy Family, but all our families who gave us so much love and joy.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Question for the Day

Did Mary and Joseph try to explain anything about His birth and infancy to Jesus? If so, when? I just began thinking about this today. Did they tell Jesus about the star, the wisemen, the shepherds who came because the angels told them that Jesus was born? Did they tell Jesus about the flight into Egypt, the killing of the innocent boys that Herod had ordered? I am wondering how they would have told these stories to Jesus and when? He stayed in the temple when 12 and realized that it was his Father's house. Had Mary and Joseph told him before they went up to the Temple that year?
Of course, some of the Gospel stories are to teach us a truth and we sometimes do not understand that the details may be different, but I grew up with the Christmas stories and have prayed with them so now I am wondering just how much Jesus was told by Mary and Joseph and at what age.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Family

Christmas is always a time for family gatherings. It is fitting that we feast the Holy Family tomorrow, but let us also take time today to remember our own families and how our own parents celebrated Christmas with us.

This year, when we were decorating the living room in Westwood, where I live with ten others, I found that we had red string with a needle to thread white popcorn and large red berries on to them wrap the strings around the tree.  This triggered memories of sitting on the couch in our huge living room the first year we had moved into our big house on Westminster in St. Louis. My mother wanted an old-fashioned Christmas tree and so here we were trying to thread the berries and popcorn to decorate the tree. I was ten years old and it was the first time we put up the tree before Christmas Eve; it always was done when my sister and I were sleeping. It was a memorable Christmas because my brother George was born very early on that Christmas morning.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents

I took this picture of the Oakwood Infant Jesus last year. I find this time of year joyful and want to return the love that Jesus has for each of us. The gesture of holding out his arms to be picked up and loved contrasts with the harsh reality of the slaying of all the boy infants two years old and under that Herod caused and those same babies are considered the holy innocents and we have this feast in their honor.
I often wonder about the sorrowing mothers and fathers who lost their sons. How hard it is to lose a child! 
God warned Joseph in a dream to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt - they became refugees fleeing for their lives. I am glad there was no wall to keep them from entering Egypt. Once there, Joseph must have looked for work and felt rather helpless not knowing the language. Perhaps the gifts of the Magi allowed them to find a humble dwelling and buy food during the first part of their stay in Egypt. 
I am so concerned with what we are doing to those seeking refuge in the United States plus what we are doing to so many good Hispanics just because they have not had the money nor time to seek to be citizens. Many have received their work permits, but now we are arresting and deporting families who have been living and working peacefully here for years. It is all so wrong.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Feast of St. John

Today is the Feast of St. John, the beloved disciple. We, too, are beloved disciples. 

Here is a poem by Chris Rodgers given to me by my spiritual director and it gives me much to reflect on this Christmas:

To Partake is this Singular Glory

This hallowed
with humanity

This baby
in mystery

This invitation
to incarnate

To come this close to God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Feast of St. Stephen

It has seemed strange to me to celebrate the feast of the first martyr on the day after we rejoice in the birth of Jesus. Of course, Jesus came to teach us that we are to expect persecution and "whoever endures to the end will be saved."

In the Collect of the Mass we pray "that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who knew how to pray even for his persecutors."

In one week, I shall be going to the Guided Imagery Retreat right on the ocean in the Dominican Vacation House in Santa Cruz. I count on prayer for that week as it is powerful and the images do come, much to my amazement! I am convinced that the Lord speaks to us in so many ways and the imagination is one that does not lie. My images have been vivid and lasting and helped me to deepen my interior life.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christ is born, Alleluia, Alleuia

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! What a wonderful gift God gave us in sending the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity to become human, like us in all things except sin. We cannot begin to fathom the depths of the mystery of the Incarnation, but we can humbly adore and thank.

The first to hear the news were the shepherds. The angels announced the glad tidings to them and they hurried to see the newborn. Mary and Joseph welcomed them and later Jesus will claim to be the Good Shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep. Now, this first Christmas, he sleeps, he seeks his mother's milk, he is helpless and vulnerable but full of love.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

Tonight, we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. God becomes human and dwells among us. 
It is a time of joy and wonder and gratitude - God is with us and wants to experience all the helplessness of a newborn babe. He is dependent, vulnerable, and comes to be with us. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today's Gospel has Mary going to visit Elizabeth. I read that Elizabeth, "six months pregnant, probably coping with swollen feet and a backache, could quite understandably have stayed in seclusion when her young cousin dropped in with her unborn child... Think what Elizabeth would have missed. Think what we might miss when we shut ourselves up behind our busyness or loneliness...Open the door and let Jesus in for heaven's sake- or rather for your own." From Daily Reflection for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2018-2019 by Genevieve Glen.
And think of Mary, newly arrived at Elizabeth's after a long journey on foot or donkey. She has a betrothed husband, but she is carrying a child that is not his. She can't give any explanation most people would understand. What does she have to praise God for?
She praises God first for his love for her.... But Mary goes on almost immediately to praise God for the good he will do for others through her Son...

Saturday, December 22, 2018

O King of Nations

"God has two dwellings - one in Heaven and the other in a thankful heart."

Is your heart ready to receive Him? Let us prepare our hearts today with all the final touches that make a home...Jesus wants to be at home in our hearts.
Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!

Friday, December 21, 2018

O Radiant Dawn

Again I am using Mother Stuart's points of meditation on the O Antiphons:
1. Mother Kerr's dying words: "He has always been the sunlight of my life." If not there, then where is it?

II The attitude of watching for the dawn, face set eastwards, the steadfast look, the great desire....

III The joy of the coming, "Till the day break and the shadows retire" (Cant. 2:17) If the first streaks of dawn are so lovely what must the rising be? "In the morning Jesus stood on the shore."(John 21:4)

IV What are we without Him?

Thursday, December 20, 2018

O Key of David

The following are points of Reverebd Mother Stuart's meditations on this O Antiphon:

He is key because in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead corporeally (Col 2:9) and He opens its treasures to us.

He is the key to all our questions. For those as to God's dealing with us, the answer to all is: Verbum caro factum est. For those as to our relations with God, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified"; in the Blessed Sacrament, the answer is Domine quid est? (Acts 10,4)
Key of authority-"I will lay the key of the house of David on His shoulders.

Who opens and no one shuts - His power of the keys gives us absolute security. "I have set before you an open door and none shall shut it," and again we are shut up in safety with Him in such security that none can open. … Enter into the chamber, shut the door.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

O Root of Jesse

Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!

Prepare for His coming into your hearts,
for that is why He came on earth: to be born
to develop in your souls, and when the beautiful day
of Christmas arrives you will taste that peace
the angels announced to persons of good will.”
This quote is from a Conference given by St. Madeleine Sophie in 1855

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

O Lord, and ruler of the house of Israel....

Come, O come, as we prepare our hearts by desire during these last days of Advent. Come, Lord, we need You!
Reverend Mother Janet Stuart was aware of how nourishing it is during Advent to take each O Antiphon and ponder it. She wrote: "Say 'O' in silence; add nothing...
what is less than an "O"? But what is greater than this cry of the heart? All the eloquence of the world is in this 'O'
I don't know what else to say for I have lost myself."

Monday, December 17, 2018

The O Antiphons begin today

The O Antiphons are special because each one emphasizes a different prophetic title of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings as foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah: WisdomLord of IsraelRoot of JesseKey of DavidRadiant DawnKing of All Nations, and Emmanuel.
The O antiphon can be found before the Gospel each day now, but I will be posting them for your reflection. We can pray for Wisdom today and to be taught prudence!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

The Entrance Antiphon for today's Liturgy is:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice.
Indeed the Lord is near."

The first readings are full of joy for the Lord, our God, is in our midst. And He will rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in His love; he will sing joyfully because of you...and the response for the psalm is: "Cry out with joy and gladness; for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel."

And then the second reading from Paul's Letter to the Philippians 4:4-7: " Brothers and Sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in every thing, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 

I love that reading and the Gospel is all about John the Baptist and his ministry. He shows how humble he is by announcing that one mightier than he was coming and "I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals."
Let us continue to prepare for the coming of Christ and let us rejoice and be glad. We are loved!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Joy of Advent

Tomorrow we light the pink candle to indicate that we are now in the Third Week of Advent with a spirit of joy. The Lord is coming and coming soon. Let us prepare our hearts to make room for Jesus. It is so easy to clutter our hearts with useless thoughts, worries, daydreams, etc. Take time today to just be with the Lord.
I made my first Vows 66 years ago today. I remember the day perfectly and the joy I felt. I also remember standing on a bench in the children's locker room and telling the girls I had coached in basketball and hockey how wonderful it was to belong to God. Now, all of us belong to God, but there was and is something special about promising perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience. It is not the Vows that I focus on but the gift of self to the Lord and His acceptance of me. What joy this has given me!
I have written all my Christmas cards, prepared the Advent prayer for the community for next week, and now I am going to just relax and be quiet, I hope, to savor the last days of Advent. I do want to do some more clearing out in my room, but that is silent work. I hope all can find some time for silence to just listen to the Lord!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Advent, a time of listening...

The picture is from the oldest national park in Canada and speaks to me of Christmas coming soon. We have had two lovely Christmas parties this week. The first was given by our third graders and all six of mine presented me with ornaments. Now, I need to decide if I can decorate my door with them or what as we have all of our trees (only six, I think, this year) decorated; perhaps I can put them in a bowl in Westwood as we are also planning a special afternoon gathering for the ten of us living over here. We are keeping Advent, but on the 19th will do some Christmas decorating.

Advent is a time of listening. We need to listen with the ears of the heart. We will not be in step, perhaps, with those around us. Henry David Thoreau had a famous answer for that: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Jesus did. And he is the best dance partner of all.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Seeking God

Seeking God
You want to seek God with all your life,
and love Him with all your heart.
To seek God means first of all
to let yourself be found by Him.
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He is your God, not because He is yours
but because you are His.

To choose God is to realize that you are known and loved
in a way surpassing anything you can imagine,
loved before anyone had thought of you or spoken your name.

To choose God means giving yourself up to Him in faith.
Let your life be built on this faith as on an invisible foundation.
Let yourself be carried by this faith like a child in its mother's womb.

He has your name written on the palm of His hand!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I took the habit and became a novice on this feast 68 years ago today. I had visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico when I was sixteen and never forgot the faith of the people. She is also patroness of the Americas.

Advent is a time of desire. We all want to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Mary will help us to listen to what the Infant Jesus wants to tell us. We just need to slow down and create some silence in our busy lives. 
While we ponder God's life in Mary, we need to realize that we also have Christ within us. He wishes to be at home with us. We need to deepen our belief in the Presence of God in each of us. Let us remember to thank for this relationship that is always a mystery, but God does want to live in us and is present even if we forget to turn to Him, to thank Him, to just be with Him.
Just keep repeating: "My God, I believe that you are within me." This is an act of faith that brings us peace. Try it today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Catching Fire, Becoming Flame"

Albert Haase, OFM wrote a book that is now in its 7th printing: Catching Fire, Becoming Flame: A Guide for Spiritual Transformation. It was given to me in Miami, but I have not had time to read it. The title intrigues me though and I have it on my list for Advent. I will share more later when I find the time to read it.
Here is a reading from the Oakwood Advent prayer last Friday taken from Eli Wiesel: Rebbe Barukh's grandson, Yehiel, came running into his study in tears. "Yehiel. why are you crying" My friend cheats! It's unfair; he left me all by myself, that's why I am crying.
Would you like to tell me about it? Certainly, Grandfather. We played hide-and -seek and it was my turn to hide and his turn to look for me. So he gave up; he stopped looking. And that's unfair.
Rebbe Barukh began to caress Yehiel's face and tears welled up in his own eyes. "God, too, Yehiel, he whispered softly. God, too is unhappy; he is hiding and man is not looking for him. Do you understand, Yehiel? God is hiding and man is not even searching for him.

Monday, December 10, 2018

You cannot stop mercy

The last line in today's Gospel is "We have seen incredible things today." The Gospel (Luke 5: 17-26) is where the paralyzed man is lowered through the roof and Jesus, seeing the faith of the men who did this, said, 'As for you, your sins are forgiven.'
This caused the Pharisees and scribes to think that Jesus was blaspheming for only God can forgive sins. Jesus then tells the man who was paralyzed to pick up his stretcher and go home. This leads to the last line: "We have seen incredible things today."

Now a German Benedictine mystic has this to say about God's mercy: " God's mercy is kind. God gives divine, abundant grace to those who love Him....No one can stop God's mercy,..'  I think we all experience this, especially when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is a real encounter with Christ and leaves me feeling the peace of His Presence for several days.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent

Last year I made much of the Advent wreath and how we lit a candle each week in expectation of the coming of the Lord. Oakwood has a beautiful Advent wreath in the Chapel, but this year we have one in Westwood, too, to unite the ten of us living there around it in prayer each week.
"Give us this day has a beautiful Advent Wreath Blessing so I am copying it here for you to adapt for your own wreath:

"God of hope and love, we praise you for sending Jesus, your Son, to save us from our sins and to be the light in our darkness. Bless us as we gather in his name, and bless this wreath as a sign of your unending love and of Jesus' presence among us. Keep us watchful in prayer as we await his return in glory."

I returned yesterday quite tired from my week in Miami, but also energized spiritually as I had wonderful retreatants and Carrollton is always so welcoming and Paul Parker makes the week really a delight. The problem is that I am feeling too old to make the trip again next year.  I think the Lord is saying to me that I need to cut back. However, I so enjoyed seeing other RSCJs, having lunch with several of my reflection group who continue to meet monthly, seeing others that I have directed or given the Busy Persons' Retreat to in former years, etc. I am really feeling grateful!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Collect for this feast is as follows: "O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence."

I think the sentence is horrible to read, but it does contain the theology we need to understand this feast. Usually, the preface for the feast is the best source to understand the theology and here is what the preface says: "It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For you preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of original sin, so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your grace, you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son and signify the beginning of the Church, his beautiful Bride without spot or wrinkle.
She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son, the innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses; you placed her above all others to be for your people an advocate of grace and a model of holiness.
And so, in company with the choirs of Angels, we praise you, and with joy we proclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts...."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Although I remember this day in 1941, I will not be writing about it. It led to the first war I felt part of and it seems that we now just continue to wage war. Let us pray for peace all over the world today.
This picture has sea lions basking in the sun, Advent is a time for us to bask in the sun, to slow down and let the warmth of God penetrate us.

Mary was certain of the invisible. C. Camacho says the Mary "made that clear when sharing what she had experienced in faith. And this sharing brought transformation and quickening: 'The child leapt in my womb for joy.' Mary took Jesus and somehow the unborn child in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy.

"Mary is the source of life. She calls us to live in an atmosphere of service, joy, new life for the world." 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mary calls us to live ....

Since I am still in Miami giving the retreat, I am quoting Concha's reflections given in 1978, but new to me and I find them helpful for Advent.

"Our life needs the atmosphere of cooperation that comes from attentiveness to people, from interest in their personal growth and contribution to the common good, and from the pooling of gifts. The gift each one receives is for the others: 'Each one receives from the Spirit a gift to be used for the common good.' (I Cor. 12:7)

I think our country needs to do this, but it begins with each of us. How often am I thinking of my good instead of the good of the whole community? Or we think of the good that touches us, but do not think of all who should be having shelter, food, some security for health etc.
Let us pray for all who need our prayer, but especially those in positions to work for the common good.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mary went with haste...

Mary "is a model not only of service, but also of communion with our neighbor. She goes to Elizabeth's house to communicate her experience of God."

Why are we so reticent about speaking of our own experience of God?

"Mary goes to Elizabeth to share her life with her. Elizabeth receives the new revelation, and feels new life within her. Communion presupposes not only service, but also the willingness to welcome and understand others."

Let us continue to try to find words to share our own life with God. Remember, the interior life is even more interesting than our exterior life, if we take the trouble to get in touch with the action of God in our lives!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Let your word be carried out in me"

Continuing with tidbits from the 1978 meditations of our very Reverend Mother, Concha Camacho:
"We have not only to follow Jesus, but also to re-enact his life, striving each day to reproduce his obedience to the Father. Mary's example of submission is so simple, yet so complete.

To enter into our Mission … and to help others on the way to freedom, we need love of a high quality and a stronger, more intimate union with Jesus. … our constant prayer should be: "Let your word be carried out in me."

Mary's response was one of joy, trust, abandonment, because she was at prayer. May our prayer be rooted in life, and may we do what God wants in all simplicity, without too much calculation or discussion, but with a ready heart. ….
Who better than Mary can teach us the supreme blessedness of listening to the word and putting it into practice?" 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Here I am, Lord...

At Oakwood during this Advent we are looking again at some meditations given to the entire Society of the Sacred Heart by Concha Camacho in 1978. I intend to share tidbits with you in this blog for this week while I am away giving retreats.

"Here I am!" Lk 1:38
"God comes to us in the present moment. The present moment is like a continual birth of God within us.
Our whole being should be attentive to God, because God is our present. We must open ourselves to God in silence, in listening, in hope. Let us open ourselves to Him, for He is present in each circumstance, in the concrete details, in suffering and in joy.

We must live the faith in the present moment: "Ecce", 
Here I am. I am present at what I am doing because I have full confidence in God who is present.

To be present to God is to reach out with him in love towards humankind, to enter into communion with him and in him, with all humanity....."

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Sunday of Advent

The Liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent tells us to get ready to receive the Lord. How am I to prepare for His coming?

I love the prayer we always sang at St. Charles as we walked to and from classes during Advent. We sang it in Latin: "Veni, veni. Domine Jesu et noli tardare." Come, Lord Jesus, Come, and do not delay. It is good to prepare our hearts with desire for the coming of the Lord.

The Gospel tells us: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life...Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

Prayer for light will help us see how the Lord wants us to prepare this Advent for His Coming.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Setting sail during Advent

The image of setting sail into the unknown has stayed with me. I am not worried as I am in a boat with Jesus. I am not sure when I will reach my final destination, but just to be with Jesus is enough for me. I find it gives me a deep peace to know that He is steering the boat and I am just to be with Him. May this peace last and may everyone experience it.

Advent is a time to cultivate silence. Oakwood will have the usual silent Sunday tomorrow, but I will be flying to Miami and I do find it helpful to lose myself in a book on a plane, but it is also a great time for prayer. I hope all will pray for the Busy Persons' Retreat. I will put something short on the blog for the week I am away and I have some gorgeous pictures of ocean scenes to share. Sometimes the picture leads to prayer and is more powerful than words.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Preparing for Advent

Today is the day my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary. As the oldest child, I was the one to remember it. My parents were always in love with each other and, I think, my mother told me that they were never separated for even a night except when she was giving birth to one of us and kept in the hospital, and then, when my brothers were old enough for Scout Camp and my Dad went with them as he had been one of the first Eagle Scouts in St. Louis.

As we are going to begin Advent, let us think of Mary who was at first troubled by the Angels message, but then accepted to be the Mother of God. I am sure she did not understand, but she was open to whatever God wanted. May we, too, be fully surrendered to whatever is the will of God for us.
Let us ask Mary to prepare our hearts during this Advent to again receive her Divine Son, Jesus. May she purify our hearts and help us to discern day by day what pleases Jesus. We want to be very attentive to the Holy Spirit. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Advent is coming

Advent begins this Sunday and I will be flying to Miami. We begin the Busy Persons' Retreat for the faculty and staff at Carrollton on Monday; the six of us on the Team will meet over lunch on Monday and prepare the opening prayer. It is the first time we have had the retreat in Advent and so I am steeping myself in some of the beautiful Scripture passages. I may not be using them with my retreatants, but I love Advent and will hope to spend this one with great desire for the coming of the Lord.

The spirit of Advent is one of joy. The angel came to Mary and greeted her joyfully. "Rejoice and be glad" is also the name of the Pope's Exhortation on holiness for all Christians. God is at work in our world and we must believe He is all powerful and can write straight with crooked lines. I do not know where that expression came from, but I feel that we are called to trust the Heart of God who loves each of us infinitely and knows what is best for us.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


This picture makes me think of peace. I think it is the silence of the landscape, the quietness of the entire scene. I really do not miss living where there is snow, but I miss the beauty of seeing all transformed and there is a hush of peace that envelopes one after a snowfall. 

To go back to images, I am having several come when I just think of snow. First are the lovely white hockey skates with the red plaid lining that I found under the Christmas tree when I was in Seventh Grade. We lived within walking distance of Forest Park in St. Louis. At the foot of the Art Museum there was a lagoon. One part would be cleared of snow so we could skate. We were a large group from school and would go over to skate until cold and tired we were given hot chocolate near a bonfire on the shore. I seem to remember roasting marshmallows, too. Now I wonder who supplied us with such treats, but I guess it was just part of the joy we had at that age.

We finally had some rain last week. It made the whole house quiet. Perhaps all had gone to take naps. I sat and watched the rain and let the quiet seep into me. It was the gentle rain we had been praying for as it would then be able to soak into the earth and water our thirsty trees. It was also an answer to prayer to help control the wildfires!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Letting images come into our imagination

I have always believed in the power of the imagination. As one steeped in the tradition of Ignatian prayer, I have cultivated the ability to enter into a scene and hear Jesus speaking, etc. As a young nun, I had an artist who was superior and she wanted me to see every detail of a scene and imagine the colors of the clothes, etc. I am not so sure I captured all of that, but I think I do have the ability to enter into Gospel scenes with little effort.

Sometimes one must sit with an idea and just let the image appear. I keep having an image of a boat - sometimes it seems to be a small motor boat, other times it is a sailboat. What does not change is that I am in this boat with Jesus and he is the Captain and I am the crew. Usually, the water is peaceful and we are just sitting together in silence and I am content.

What images come to you in prayer? Let them appear and they will begin to influence you in some new way.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Another way to meditate

This is really from Elizabeth Lesser and I thought it worth passing on as it has a slightly different approach:

"Disengage from the ego.
Develop a simple meditation practice. Every day, spend some time sitting in silence. . . . Sit with a straight back and relaxed body. Feel the nobility, patience, and strength of the posture. Allow your identification to broaden out beyond the ego with its constant thoughts and its shifting likes and dislikes. Just observe everything. . . . This is the practice of meditation."

I think it good once in while to "just observe everything" even if you are used to doing Centering Prayer which lets go of thoughts during prayer. Sometimes we need to sit in silence and observe where our mind goes. Just a suggestion for today.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

The Feast of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. The next Sunday will be the first Sunday of Advent and the start of a new Liturgical Year. As always, I like to emphasize the Collect of the Mass so here it is:

"Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the Universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise."

That makes me wonder how I am ceaselessly praising Christ, my King. I suppose that gratitude is one way to praise and I am grateful for all. We live in a world full of beauty and wonder.

I have always loved the quote at the end of the second reading from the Book of Revelation: "I am the Alpha and the Omega", says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."

The important thing to remember is that Jesus told us that his kingship was not of this world; he washed the feet of his friends, did not seek power or riches but lived a simple life at the service of all.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Firemen have a real vocation

When I was about five, my great Uncle Jim took me to the firehouse near where we lived. I was not only introduced to all the firemen and their beautiful trucks and equipment, but one of them took me up to where they slept and then slid down the brass pole with me to show me how quick they could be in the fire engine when their was a night alarm. It made a tremendous impression on me, especially because I was the only one who could tell all this to my playmates who had never even met a fireman. Now that I write this I wonder if that memorable visit to the firehouse was not a way of putting any fear out of my mind because we had had a fire in the apartment next to us just a few months before; our maid had grabbed me while my mother took my infant sister to get out. Fortunately, I think we mostly suffered smoke damage but quickly moved to a home across from the Visitation where I was in kindergarten.

I did not intend to write any of this, but only to ask prayers for all the firefighters. I think to be a fireman is a real vocation. In Chile, at least when I was there, it was mostly a group of volunteers who would respond to a fire. Here we have real stations with firemen on duty at all times. Let us thank for the gift of generosity showed by so many who have been coming to California to aid in trying to control the huge fires. Actually, we have many prisoners out there fighting the fires now for $1 an hour.

Friday, November 23, 2018

We give thanks, and we pray...

The fires in California have left many mourning the loss of family, friends, homes, and even their whole town. I imagine what it is like to lose everything at once. After the hurricanes in Florida I would have students try to tell me what they were going through; they had not only lost their homes and all their clothes, books, pictures, money, but important papers like insurance cards, credit cards, birth certificates, etc. We were always told to keep a fireproof box with important papers to grab in an emergency, but when frightened, one thinks only of escaping to a safer place. Imagine what it has been for so many that were taken by surprise and had to flee the flames without thought of anything except to escape.

Yet, those who made it out without being burned are just grateful. So many others were trapped even if they had made it to their cars. Fire can be so deadly and California has had so much land destroyed by fire and now we have so many new homeless people. Let us thank for the help that is being given to the victims and hope that people will be generous. Getting shelter for all before Christmas is a priority, I hope, for the nights are cold here and some have had to live in tents. Do pray. Pray for those who have lost their lives, for those who mourn them, for the brave firefighters who are risking their lives to contain the fires, etc. 
We are collecting here and have sent clothes, shoes, nightwear, etc. to the shelters near the wildfires for these people have lost everything.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Let us give thanks to the Lord...

Dear God, I have so much to thank You for
But I would ask for one thing more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
Peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving!

This is a day to celebrate with family and friends the gratitude we have in our hearts and so often do not take time to express!

The power of an encouraging word, a single glance, or a loving smile can never be underestimated. Just two simple words: Thank you! That is all it takes to be grateful for all we receive from God, from others. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

This feast of the Presentation of Mary in the temple does not have its origin in the canon of Scripture and so may just be a legend. However, this is a feast dear to the Society of the Sacred Heart as it is the day we celebrate our foundation on November 21, 1800 with the first vows of Sophie and her companions. In 1805, it will again be on November 21 when Philippine and five companions pronounced their vows in the second convent of the Society of the Sacred Heart, the former Visitation convent in Grenoble.

Today is also the eve of Thanksgiving. Let us take time to thank for all the wonderful people God has put into our lives and to thank Him for all the graces we have received. I think we so often forget to thank God for His tender, loving care of each of us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Only two days to Thanksgiving Day - but, of course, we are giving thanks every day. We do celebrate this national holiday with a focus on gratitude, but perhaps we are also centered on the feast. We look forward to a turkey dinner enjoyed with family and often friends, too.
"True gratitude is a natural response to the miracle of life as we experience it moment to moment, a sense of abundance from the heart that is independent of  our desires for the future."
The above quote is from that little book, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M. J. Ryan. 
Gratitude may be a natural response to the miracle of life, but it is something to cultivate, too. I need to consciously stop and thank for the many gifts of each day. Preparing for this holiday helps me to remember to do this.

Monday, November 19, 2018

One last prayer to Philippine

St. Louis Cathedral image of Philippine Duchesne

"The whole universe story has come into being because God is a hidden treasure who longs to be known. And the way—the only way—this knowing can be released is in the dance of unity-in-differentiation which is the native language of love. If it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes a whole cosmos to bear forth the depths of divine love."

The above quote was taken from Richard Rohr's meditations and I wanted to use it as it broadens our view to the whole cosmos.
Now, I have in front of me one last prayer to St. Philippine from the Soboba Indian Reservation where two RSCJs are still working:

"O holy woman, who prays always, we honor you
You are like the Eagle, soaring high to Creator
Your prayer is like sweet-smelling smoke of sage and cedar
Your presence with us is acorn meal, feeding our spirits and drawing us to Grandfather

O holy woman, who prays always, we thank you
You brought your Society to us long years ago
Your sister are with us even now, in your name
Your love and prayer help us walk the Red Road

O holy woman, who prays always, we ask your blessing
Bless us, your Indian children, and stay with us always
Bless our land, Mother Earth, given by Creator
Bless all people who walk on Mother Earth. May we live together in peace. Amen. Aho!
Marianna Torrano, RSCJ

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday' Collect:
Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you,
for it is full and lasting happiness
to serve with constancy
the author of all that is good.

Jesus tells us in Mark's Gospel (13:24-32), that we will see "the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky."   Later Jesus says that " Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
But of the day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

I think the lesson from this Sundays reading is that we are to be ready! We know not the day or the hour - so many here in California have had to flee in front of the wildfires; some have lost lives, many have lost their homes. Let us pray for them and for all those who are hoping to find a home in our country.