Daily reflections for prayer, growth in the spiritual life, and good prayer sources. This blog also has links to other websites. One feature is a list of spiritual books.
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Feast of St. John Bosco
When I was in seventh and eighth grade, some of us went to Camp Don Bosco in the summer. I began to have devotion to him as he had such a love of children. I read his life and have great admiration for him. He worked so hard, but never stopped praying. I guess he was an inspiration for me as a child and I wanted to help children.
He was an incredible priest. He never had any money but was able to collect, feed, educate hundreds of children even before he founded the his order. He began by seeing the need to get the boys off the streets. Then he began what today would call trade schools. When a little orphan, cold and hungry, appeared at his door one night, John Bosco began orphanages.
Let us pray to him today for all the children who need out prayer.
We lost one of our Religious this morning and I had the joy of being with her when she went to God around 4:30 A.M. I knew her 72 years ago as a young newly professed Religious at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. She is the first Religious of the Sacred Heart that I spoke to about my vocation. Years later, I gave her two directed retreats. She was a wonderful friend and lived to be 101 years of age plus about five months, but she was ready to go to God. I am just happy that I had the gift of keeping vigil with her before she died so peacefully.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Any contact with Jesus gives us the possibility of transformation. What do I mean by transformation? I think it is a complete change of mind and heart.
In our formation document we speak of "our need to be transformed so that we may glimpse the face of Christ in the faces of the poor and in one another." It talks about God's love, "profound and transforming, which is the source that sustains our life together."
"As women we are experiencing the need to keep on being more deeply present to this process of transformation that God is accomplishing in us." That is an important truth to remember: it is God's work in us, not ours. Transformation is always the fruit of an Encounter. "It happens when we venture with our whole being into a deep, sincere encounter with God and let ourselves be encountered by God, just as we are, with nothing in our lives remaining outside of this encounter."
We are "to let ourselves be transformed and renewed, so that we can respond from the depths of our being, and throughout our lives, remembering who we are and by Whom we were called."
These are just a few quotes to reflect on today.
Monday, January 29, 2018
Last days of January
We began the New Year four weeks ago. How is it going for you? I am looking back on these weeks and see how often I let the newspapers full of bad news influence me. I want to give joy to all around me and so need to remember that God is in charge; He knows all, can do all, and He loves each of us with an everlasting love. This helps me to stay peaceful and even joyful as I concentrate on all the good things and how grateful I am for all the daily gifts from God.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today's Gospel has Jesus expelling an unclean spirit and leaving all in the synagogue in Capernaum asking one another:
What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
Jesus taught with authority and He taught the truth. The people were astonished at his teaching. We have the Gospels that contain the heart of the teachings of Jesus. Are we able to be receptive and to practice what Jesus taught us, especially about forgiving one another and loving others as Jesus loves us?
Sunday is a good time to reflect on how we are pleasing Jesus by our daily lives. Since it is also the last Sunday of the month, take some time today to review your New Year resolutions. How have I kept them during this first month of the year. Let us not be discouraged if we have failed but remember that the fact that we are having a hard time keeping them means they are good resolutions, ones that we really need. Let us keep on with courage. Jesus sees all our efforts and blesses them.
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Grace to Weather the Storm
|Before the Storm|
Our political situation is causing us to feel as if we are in a storm. Have we faith? Jesus is with us and tells us over and over in the Gospels, "Fear not, I am with you." Let us take heart and beg the Lord to increase our faith.
The Lord also wished us to be peaceful. "Peace be with you!"
Friday, January 26, 2018
My thoughts have been very much on the gifts given me by one of our Religious who died so peacefully early Wednesday morning. She had celebrated her 100th birthday with a great party just weeks before and she was so mentally alert. However, she was on hospice and knew the end was near. She was so interested in all and so humble. At her party, when so many were giving testimony to her many gifts, I learned that much of the altar linens had been made by her; she used to bake cookies and bring them to the community; she taught so many to love science, etc. It is her gift of prayer that most has helped me. She was a holy woman, a true Religious of the Sacred Heart.
All of us will be going to God sooner or later. We have this time to prepare to be with God for all eternity. Let us use it wisely.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
The Gift of Being Listened To
In the Guided Imagery retreat, one of the greatest graces in the daily spiritual direction with your guide besides the times of your guided imagery when your guide is writing down all that you say and is able to go over it with you before you leave to write it up. To have someone really listen to you is a gift.
John Fox says it better than I can in a poem from "Finding What You Didn't Lose":
"When someone deeply listens to you
it is like holding out a dented cup
you've had since childhood
and watching it fill up with cold, fresh water.
When it balances on top of the brim,
you are understood.
When it overflows and touches your skin
you are loved.
When someone deeply listens to you,
the room where you stay
starts a new life
and the place where you wrote
your first poem
begins to flow in your mind's eye.
It is as if gold has been discovered!
When someone deeply listens to you,
your bare feet are on the earth
and a beloved land that seemed distant
is now at home within you."
God listens deeply to each of us!
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
A year ago for the Feast of the Epiphany we drew "stars to follow during the New Year." It is a custom we have in the Society of the Sacred Heart; I drew wonder and awe. Then, in the Guided Imagery Retreat, there is a question at the end of the paper we fill in after more prayer and reflection. The question is "What are your wonder questions?" I found this rather hard to answer so have been reflecting on it ever since.
I guess I wonder why God is so good to me? I think of the extent of our universe, the stars in the sky, and I am filled with wonder and awe. I read somewhere that "to wonder is to stand in awe of the ultimate mystery of life and to understand that mystery exists not merely in the ecstatic but in the ordinary daily life." This quote is from Rob Lehman quoted in Seeds of Awakening.
Children have a sense of wonder. I think contemplatives also are full of wonder as God is so much greater than our thoughts and will always evoke wonder and awe. Let us all be filled with childlike wonder as we gaze at creation today.
"Years wrinkle the skin--but to give up wonder wrinkles the soul." Reginald Stewart
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Let Your God Love You
There is a prayer by Edwina Gateley that I love. I may have used this in a former blog, but it is worth typing again. The title is Let Your God Love You which is really one of my favorite teachings now - just go to prayer to let God love you!
Before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you with an enormous love.
God only wants to look upon you with that love.
Let your God--
"Nothing that can please the Heart of Jesus is small"
The title of today's blog is really a maxim of St. Madeleine Sophie. It was sent to me in English and Mandarin, but it is short and one that I have always loved and now am reflecting on again. My life seems full of small choices; if they can please the Heart of Jesus, they are not small. I need to take time now to write some notes to friends who do not do e-mail. I have a list of things to do and have not found the energy to do them. So you are getting a short blog for today, but I will give you one more quote. This one is from Marina Wiederkehr:
"Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb."
Let us be aware of this hidden beauty and go do the little things that reveal God's love to others.
Monday, January 22, 2018
Sharing My Guided Imagery
We each had three guided imagery with our Guides; mine were all an experience of God's love. Each was different but the feeling of being intensely loved by God was the same in each. I wrote my synthesis that is supposed to be an integration of all the elements of my retreat. I am willing to share it with you, but you must remember that this was a week of soul-work and, at least for me, feelings dominated. The 3 insights I wrote on the triangle on the synthesis page were: called to intimacy with God; God loves me intensely and I am to give His love to others; when I am open and surrendered, God takes possession.
I think that sums up the retreat but will share a bit more. We were to list recurring images. (Even feelings are considered to be images)
Indwelling of the Trinity
God-tree (this was a huge white oak tree at the top of the hill)
Jesus, and the Infant Jesus, and the Heart of Jesus
Mary who let me hold the Infant Jesus and stayed with me
Chapel at Oakwood
Communion of Saints
I guess sharing my retreat makes it deeper, but I am not sure it can be understood. I do know that God wants us to allow Him to love us!
Here is a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie that someone has sent me and I want to share for your reflection: "Let us open our heart in confidence to the spirit of joy; all that we have is God's. What is there to fear?"
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sunday are such a gift to us
When I was growing up, Sunday was a special day and one of rest. We still are free to choose how to spend this day that is the Lord's Day. Many go to church and thank the Lord for the graces of the week. I know that now some shop (no stores were open except for the pharmacy of turn on Sundays) and wash clothes but most plan the day so it is relaxing, and that is a way of resting. I remember that my Dad would get up and fix us a great breakfast and then we would all get dressed up for Church. In 7th and 8th grade, I sang in the Parish Choir and we wore black robes with white collars and cuffs. Then we would go home and my mother would put a roast in the oven and relatives would come later for Sunday dinner. It was a real family day.
This Sunday's Gospel has Jesus proclaiming: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Then Jesus goes to the shore of the Sea of Galilee where he sees Simon and Andrew casting their nets into the sea. He calls them to follow Him. He calls each of us, too, to follow Him. How are we doing this today?
Saturday, January 20, 2018
This excerpt on Wisdom from Joyce Rupp makes me think of St. Madeleine Sophie who was so wise - we are all called to follow Wisdom's Way.
to you I come:
you are the Wisdom of God
you are the Whirl of the Spirit
you are the Star in my heart.
open my being to the radiance of your presence
to the guidance of your companionship
to the compassion of your indwelling
to the lighting of your blessed vision.
trusted friend, beloved companion
mercy-maker, truth-bearer, love-dweller
all goodness resides within you.
take me by the hand
bless the frailty of my weak places
strengthen my ability to dwell in darkness
for it is there that your deepest secrets are revealed.
we walk together.
Friday, January 19, 2018
Invitation to Intimacy
The reflection given for this day has no source given. I sent a copy to my sister because when making an eight-day directed retreat with me at Villa Maria del Mar one year, she told her director that she had an experience that I seem to remember was something like this invitation to intimacy.
and became like blood in my body.
It rushed through my veins and
encircled my heart.
Everywhere I looked,
I saw one thing.
Love's name written
on my limbs,
on my left palm,
on my forehead,
on the back of my neck,
on my right toe...
Oh, my friend,
all that you see of me
is just a shell,
and the rest belongs to love.
"Do not fear, I have called you by name and you are mine."
Thursday, January 18, 2018
The next theme of the day in my Guided Imagery Retreat was around the "Divine Touch" and we had several good quotes on the morning paper which I am now sharing with you.
"Your Love, Jesus, is an ocean with no shore to bound it.
And if I plunge into it, I carry with me all the possessions I have. You know, Lord, what these possessions are: the souls you have seen fit to link with mine." Therese of Lisieux
"Although I have often abandoned You, O Lord,
You have never abandoned me.
Your hand of Love is always outstretched toward me even when I stubbornly look the other way.
And your gentle voice constantly calls me even when I obstinately refuse to listen." Theresa of Avila
God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
We shared at evening prayer when and how we had been touched by God. I feel the Good Shepherd has often carried me in His arms. When have you been touched by God?
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Walking the Path
I took this picture over a year ago and it is not from the retreat house but from a day drive with my brother and sister-in-law.
Walking the Path is a theme that leads me to try to trace the interior path I am walking. The reflection for this fifth day of retreat was from the Iona Community in Scotland. Since I had the grace of a pilgrimage there a few years ago, I recall the paths around the island and the feeling of holiness - it is a sacred place!
"You keep us waiting.
You the God of all time, want us to wait for the right time in which to discover who we are, where we must go, who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you...for waiting time.
You keep us looking.
You, the God of all space,
want us to look in the right and wrong places for signs of hope, for people who are hopeless, for visions of a better world that will appear among the disappointments of the world we know. So thank you . . . for the looking time.
You keep us loving.
You, the God whose name is love, want us to be like you -
to love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;
to love without jealousy or design or threat;
and most difficult of all, to love ourselves.
So thank you . . . for the loving time.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The Heart Knows the Way
The theme on the fourth day of the Guided Imagery Retreat was The Heart Knows the Way and I am happy to share the quotes given in the morning paper found at breakfast.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Mt 5:8
"The tiny flame that lights up the human heart is like a blazing torch that comes down from heaven to light up the paths of mankind. For in one soul are contained the hopes and feelings of all mankind." Kahil Gibran
When you wholeheartedly adopt a "with all your heart" attitude and go all out with the positive principle, you can do incredible things. Norman Vincent Peale
Discouraged not by difficulties without, or the anguish of ages within, the heart listens to a secret voice that whispers: Be not dismayed; in the future lies the Promised Land. Helen Keller
It is the heart that makes one rich. One is rich according to what one is, not according to what one has. H. Ward Beecher
In the rush of daily living it's easy to forget all the remarkable people who have been a part of your life. But if you just imagine they are near, you will realize that anyone who ever touched your heart is always with you, patiently waiting to emanate warm. Barbara Sher
You may have other quotes that you like more than these, but the idea of the heart knowing the way leads to some fruitful reflection. Do we stop to listen to our hearts?
Monday, January 15, 2018
Martin Luther King, Jr.
We need to celebrate today but also to pray much for our country as we are not treating everyone as equal and worthy of respect. There are petitions to sign almost every day and I sign them, but until our lawmakers set out to seek the common good and not let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, our country is not great. To make America great we need to give everyone the means to vote; we need to find justice for all; we need to improve the public schools so that all children have the opportunity to be educated; we need to see that all workers have a living wage; all need access to health care, etc.
I did not mean to start off like this, but some things stir me up; one is the racial bias that so many Americans still have; another is fact that guns are so easy to have that every year more children are killed because of this. I guess I could go on and on about the need for prayer for our country. Let us all beg God to make America free for all to enjoy; let us erase poverty and stop spending so much to make weapons, deport people, and cater to the rich.
Have a happy holiday! We have had so many down with colds that we have a quarantine so no one can go in or out except the staff. This is our third day and I think we have two more ahead of us. Fortunately no one has the flu, but about ten are still in isolation.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel tells us that "John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" - which translated means Teacher - "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and you will see." So they went with him that day."
Although the Gospel continues and tells us how Andrew, who was one of the two disciples, then found his own brother, Simon, and brought him to Jesus, I am always fascinated by the first part where they follow Jesus and then stay with him the rest of the day. They seem to be the first who follow Jesus and how Jesus loves them. They are the first to be called, but Jesus continues to call us and to ask us the same question, "What are you looking for?"
Let us renew our commitment to follow Jesus today and to stay with Him.
We also might ask Jesus what He is looking for from us!
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Thirsting for Deeper Waters
The theme for the second full day of the retreat was Thirsting for Deeper Waters and that was the title of the reflective poem by Edward Potts. I need to say that the theme of the day only influenced the "morning paper" found at breakfast and the prayer before dinner - I really never thought of it during the day as one is concentrated on whatever happens in your Guided Imagery.
I am only thinking about the themes now, after the retreat. I love the title: Thirsting for Deeper Waters and the poem is about the woman Jesus met at the well. I shall copy it here for you as it is worth reflecting on today.
I am the woman He met at the well,
my life was in shambles, I was living in hell.
He asked for a drink and I filled a cup,
he talked and I listened as He tilted it up.
He told of my life and what it had been,
he knew all about my living in sin,
he spoke so gently, my heart almost burst,
"Drink of my water and you'll never more thirst."
He said His Father on heaven's throne above,
looked down on this world with a heart full of love.
No price was too great, no life too small,
so in loving kindness, God was giving His all.
"You've heard of the Messiah, well I am the ONe,
I am called Jesus, God's Son.
It's to people like you my Father sent me so
drink from my cup, I'll set you free."
I rushed from the well and ran into town,
called for the people to gather around.
"The man at the well says the Messiah has come.
He told me my life, everything I had done."
I went to the well a woman in sin,
when I left that well I had Jesus within.
The curse on my lips had been changed into praise,
I'll never more thirst the rest of my days.
"They shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them."
Friday, January 12, 2018
Our morning "newspaper" with the theme for the day began with our first breakfast which was the second day and so it was on Creating Space. There was a poem by Judy Sorum Brown called Fire:
What makes a fire burn
is the space between the logs,
A breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed too tightly
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the space in between
as much as the wood.
When we are able to build
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs
then we see how
it is the fuel and absence of the fuel
together, that makes fire possible.
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire grows
simply because the space
is there with openings
in which the flame,
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.
Creating space for gratitude: What if you work up today only with the things that you were grateful for yesterday?
"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to God who is unseen. Then God, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Theme of Each Day
Each morning at breakfast there were sheets giving a poem or some quotes on the day's theme. Actually, we were given the themes on the back of the schedule the first day and then the theme was developed in the evening prayer with music or songs chosen to fit the theme. The entire retreat had the title of
Walking the Faith of Wisdom:
Day 1 - Wisdom's Way
Day 2 - Creating Space
Day 3- Thirsting for Deeper Water
Day 4 - The Heart knows the Way
Day 5 - Walking the Path
Day 6 - The Divine Touch
Day 7 - Invitation to Intimacy
Day 8 - Wisdom's Way
I did not take notes when the guides took turns talking about the theme of the day each evening, but I do have the morning papers that I read during breakfast and sometimes again during the day and I will share some of them with you as I am too filled with this retreat to write about anything else. I may even be able to share my guided imagery after I have taken a few days to digest all that happened. I will certainly be sharing some of it!
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Back from a wonderful Guided Imagery Retreat
My room at the Dominican vacation house in Santa Cruz looks right out on the ocean. the above picture is taken from a little nook overlooking the Pacific right outside my room. The week flew by and I loved the silence, the stormy weather, the time with my guide every afternoon and the three longer sessions on every other morning for the Guided Imagery. My guide plays the music while I lie on the bed and speak out loud whatever comes and she writes it all down. For me, it is especially a gift that my guide is also my spiritual director and I see her every month here at Oakwood where she has been coming to see some of the Religious of the Sacred Heart here for over twenty-one years. She spends the third week of each month here so there is time to see over twenty of us. She is wise, loving, and really an excellent spiritual director so I love being able to make the GIM retreat with her. This is my third year and I must say it gets better each year.
What is most striking for me is the realization that God only wants to love me. In each of my morning GIMs I was immersed in God's love. I also had times when Our Lady came and let me hold the Infant Jesus; twice I found myself in the Oakwood Chapel with Our Lady sitting next to me! The deepest part of my experience was feeling the love of God, the entire Trinity, possessing me, filling every part of my being; now I am home and called to give His Love to others.
Every evening we had prayer on the theme of the day. At night we shared whatever we wanted of our experience during the day. The group seemed to be sure at the end that I had convinced them that we go to prayer to let God love us. I hope you believe this, too!
My window is at the far right; the three windows you see in the middle are the dining room and then the rest is the living room. It is a vacation house so my room has no heat, but I can open my door and feel some. One of the group built a lovely fire in the fireplace every evening for our night sharing. I am really grateful for all the prayer that made this week so special!
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Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Advanced in Years, Attached to Love
Today I leave for the Guided Imagery Retreat but I want to leave a poem with you that is from Hadewijch, a 13th century mystic. It was given as a reflection for last Sunday in Give Us This Day.
Love is always new!
Those who live in Love,
are renewed each day
and through their frequent acts of goodness
are born all over again.
How can anyone stay old in Love's presence?
how can anyone be timid there?
Mature souls always have new wisdom.
They never hesitate to give themselves away to Love
in every new moment.
I call these old people the Rejuvenated.
They become attached to Love.
They look on Love with passion always,
I will be back blogging by January 10. Happy New Year!
Monday, January 1, 2018
Happy New Year!
The Infant Jesus at Oakwood is holding out his arms to us and makes one want just to hold Him and love Him and feel His love. As we start this New Year, I look forward to leaving for a week to make another Guided Imagery Retreat. This will be my third and I only hope it is as fruitful and as lasting as the other two. I will be away from Tuesday to Tuesday, Jan. 2-9 so will not be writing my blog before January 10. I do count on your prayer for this retreat.
We are praying here each day for a different world leader; we began with North Korea, then South Korea, Japan, China, etc. We have the map of the country, the name and picture of the leader posted each day.
If you are making resolutions for the New Year, please write them down and revisit them regularly; do not be discouraged if you break them. That just shows you that you have make the resolution you need if you have trouble keeping it.
Let us promise the Lord a year of cultivating hope and joy. Many things are wrong in our world, but God is all-knowing, all-loving, and can do all things so let us trust Him and stay cheerful!
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