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Friday, August 31, 2018

The function of prayer...

Today I have a great quote from Sister Joan Chittister taken from Essential Monastic Wisdom by Hugh Feiss:

"The function of prayer is not to establish a routine; it is to establish a relationship with God who is in relationship with us always...The function of prayer is to bring us into touch with ourselves, as well. To the ancients, "tears of compunction" were the sign of a soul that knew its limits, faced its sins, accepted its needs, and lived in hope."

Since God is always in relationship with us, we need only turn to Him and just be ourselves. Sometimes we want to talk to Him, but often we just sit in silence with God and let Him love us.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The way of the heart

Last August I went with my brother and sister-in-law by car to San Diego. On the way we visited Hearst Castle, the picture today. The location is beautiful, but California is a gorgeous state. What strikes me is the amount of land that could be used to settle some of the refugees who are begging to enter our country.  I just feel for those who have had to leave their own country and then find that other countries do not want them. We would not be here if our ancestors were refused entrance to our huge country. 

I do have some more quotes to share so here we go:

"Real prayer penetrates to the marrow of our soul and leaves nothing untouched. The prayer of the heart is prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotion...the prayer of the heart is the prayer of truth." Henri Nouwen in The Way of the Heart

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

I am still with St. Augustine as our hundred-year-old gave me this prayer at breakfast yesterday. I was always struck by this passage and so decided to copy it here:

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet, if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

Imagine how I once struggled as a college student to translate that passage in "The Confessions of Saint Augustine"!
I love the line: "You were with me, but I was not with you." That says what so often happens to me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Feast of St. Augustine

Here is the Collect for the Mass for this feast:
"Renew in your Church, we pray, O Lord,
the spirit with which you endowed your Bishop St. Augustine that, filled with the same spirit, we may thirst for you, the sole fount of true wisdom, and seek you, the author of heavenly love."

We certainly need to pray for a renewal in our Church today. I have always admired Augustine and talked myself into a Latin class when in college just because I wanted to study the "Confessions of St. Augustine". Then, I began teaching at St. Thomas University in Miami when it was still an Augustinian University. I love the way Augustine was converted and I do believe that our hearts are restless until we find rest in God.

Oakwood has received or is receiving five new members so we have a full house. I think we may be 51 now. Maybe more, if we count the Gatehouse community. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Last Week of August

The summer is really over and I survived without any swimming. Ever since we were no longer cloistered, I tried every summer to have the opportunity to swim; in Miami, I was spoiled because we could swim most of the year and I had access to a pool. Actually, the last 16 years in Miami, we had our own pool and I really enjoyed it. Surprisingly, I did not really miss swimming this summer. Perhaps our wonderful California climate has much to do with this or I just had resigned myself to give it up. Anyway, here is the end of a very happy and busy summer and I am sure I did many more important things and I am grateful. I had time near the Pacific and found God there even when it was cloudy and gray. 
Although school has begun, I feel the last week in August should still be vacation and so have a few more quotes to share with you this week.
"I draw prayer around me like a dark, protective wall, withdraw inside it as one might into a convent cell and then step outside again, calmer and stronger and more collected again." Etty Hillsum

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

I always like to share the Collect as we often miss the words of the opening prayer. Sometimes, I just pray with the Collect.

"O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."

In the Gospel (John 6) Jesus asks the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Peter does not ask where they should go, but to whom? Jesus has become the only one that matters and he has the words of eternal life.
Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him. He leads us to His Father. I am still thinking also of Mary as being so present to all of those in heaven and all on earth for she is our Mother and Queen. Let us turn to her today for the grace never to go away from Jesus.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Feast of St. Louis and my Dad's Birthday

Being born and raised in St. Louis, I did know that this was the day we celebrated the saint, but it stands out for me as my Dad's birthday. We always had a party with all the family and it was a great celebration. It was also the last event of the summer and we knew that after the 25th meant getting ready for school. I think that all our schools began after Labor Day when I was growing up; now some begin by the third week in August.

My Dad was really a wonderful person. He was kind and loving and helped so many in different ways. I remember him in his old age as still taking care of the swimming pool each evening and then just sitting and contemplating a rubber swan that would swim around the pool.  

Here is another quote from St. Madeleine Sophie:

"Let us always await God's good pleasure in a spirit of peace. He watches over us with a father's care; we must believe that all He ordains is for the best."

Just a week before my Dad died, I had a dream in which my mother came and took Dad with her saying to me that it was time and she had come for him. Dad died on Easter Monday, but we had all been with him on Easter and my sister and I had him anointed on Holy Thursday. He was quite himself until the end, sitting up in bed and enjoying his meals. Since then, I have felt the presence of my parents near me. This is a grace that I am so grateful for and hope others also have it.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Saint Bartholomew

The Apostle Bartholomew is not very well known, at least to me. Bartholomew is listed among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew,[10:1–4] Mark,[3:13–19] and Luke,[6:12–16] and also appears as one of the witnesses of the Ascension[Acts 1:4,12,13]; on each occasion, however, he is named in the company of Philip. He is not mentioned by the name Bartholomew in the Gospel of John, however, it is thought that Nathaniel, who is mentioned with Phillip, is another name for Bartholomew. 

My quote for today is from St. Madeleine Sophie:
"All things require time and patience, and above all, confidence in Our Lord."

Jesus asks us to trust Him, confide in Him, and all will be well.

And here is another to give us peace: "To will only what God wills is the way to enjoy peace."

Have a good day! 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Back to Ordinary Life

My brother and his wife left today. They have been very concerned about their dog who has not been well. You can see the dog with John in this picture I took the last time I was in Gold Canyon, Arizona, where they live. We did a great deal in the time they were here, and I am grateful that they could come and be with me for four days. 

Wanting inspiration this morning for prayer, I picked up my "Sister Wendy on Prayer" - a book that I brought with me as I love Sister Wendy Beckett. There is this quote on the back cover: 
"Prayer is for all of us. God wants to love us and to give himself. He wants to draw us to himself, strengthen us, and infuse his peace. The humblest, most modest, almost imperceptible running of our fingers on the door and it flies open." 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

This Feast of the Queenship of Mary used to be on May 31 and today was the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I like celebrating Our Lady as Queen of heaven the week following the Assumption. This is really my third "station" for the month of August. I may not have shared an inspiration I had while in retreat for a couple of days at Villa Maria del Mar. It was on the Feast of St. Ignatius and I was wondering how to get more in touch with my inner life. I had been trying to understand that quote of Merton that I know I did share with you, but will repeat here: "The geographical pilgrimage is a symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meaning and signs of the outer pilgrimage." 
My idea is to make concrete my inner life by reflecting on four feasts each month until Christmas. I consider these feasts as stations on the way where I pause to reflect with the reading for the feast to see where the Lord is leading me. First, I was just on the mountain with Jesus (Transfiguration); then, I went to heaven with Mary (Assumption) and now I am at the feet of my Queen and Mother (Queenship of Mary). Linked to the daily examen, I think this is really helping me to get in touch with my interior life and that is why I am sharing this with you today.

My inner journey seems to be in a flying boat sometimes and I am just the passenger. At other times, I am allowed, even called upon, to steer the boat. Docking the boat at four "stations" along the way each month to stop and reflect on my journey seems a good inspiration for me to try. I will keep you posted.
Do remember that the Pope asks each of us to make an Examen each day in dialogue with Jesus.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Communion of Saints

Since I have been spending time with Our Lady this week around the mystery of her Asumption into heaven, I am seeing her presiding over all the saints, listening to them, sending angels to console us, and just being a mother to all. I cannot really picture heaven, but it is a bright, peaceful place and full of love and joy. I have so many friends there that I feel at home and just wandering around with Mary until she takes me to Jesus. Then I am just there for with Jesus are the Father and the Holy Spirit. I do not see them but imagine light and do feel their presence. I suppose this is all imaginative prayer, but it makes God, Mary, the angels and the saints very real for me.

Here is a quote from St. Madeleine Sophie: "Every delay with God is a kind of refusal." 

That makes me think that I need to pay more heed to the nudges of the Holy Spirit. I sometimes wait for a shove from above.

Monday, August 20, 2018

It is still summer here

This picture is bound to make you feel cool. As my brother and sister-in law are visiting me, we are off today for the ocean. I am taking them to lunch at the Distillary restaurant which is still haunted by the ghost of the Blue Lady who was killed on the beach below. Then, we will drive to Rockaway Beach before coming home.
I do have two quotes to share:
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced." James Baldwin

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Gospel begins with Jesus telling the crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews cannot understand again so Jesus tells them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." 

And then Jesus makes this wonderful promise that we will have eternal life and be raised on the last day if we eat his flesh and drink his blood and "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him....whoever eats this bread will live forever."  
Much to reflect on in this Gospel. And the responsorial psalm is "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord" and then Ps 34, 2-7.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A good way to pray...

This is a quote from Macrina Wiederkehr's A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary:
"Today my prayer consisted in simply going to my heart and remembering all the folks I've stored there. It is not cold storage. It is a quite warm and tender place." 

I love Macrina's books and the above quote.

Now, this is from St. Catherine of Siena.
"The sun hears the fields talking about effort
and the sun smiles,
and whispers to me, 'Why don't the fields just rest, for I am willing to do everything to help them to grow?'
Rest, my dears, in prayer."

Friday, August 17, 2018

Living Dangerously

This picture always fascinates me. Is it dangerous to even climb up to this little house on top of the rock? And what must one feel who lives there in the midst of a storm? Having said this, I would love to be living there for at least a week! 

Here are my quotes for today"
"A sheltered life can be a daring life as well for all serious daring starts from within." Eudora Welty

"May you embrace this day, not just as any old day, but as this day , your day, held in trust by you, in a singular place called now." Carrie Newcomer

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Quotes to Reflect On

"Beauty seen makes the one who sees it more beautiful."
Brother David Steindl-Rast said this and I think we are talking about interior beauty; we have a 100 year-old Religious here who really sees beauty and has a beautiful interior life.

As August is still a time for vacation, I am going to continue to share with you some wonderful quotes that I have collected lately. You can choose which you want to reflect on, but I will share two or three each day.

"In our busy lives it is so easy to forget the Divine, to be immersed in our own problems and our own selves. The mystic knows that what really matters is the inner connection of the heart in which our heart opens and cries. It is something so simple and yet so easily overlooked. Prayer is a way to be with God." Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism.

"Do not think that the words of prayer as you say them arise to God. It is not the words themselves that ascend; it is the burning desire of your heart that rises like smoke toward heaven." A Hasidic saying found in Martin Buber's Ten Rungs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This Feast is special for those who have great devotion to Mary. We believe that she is now with her Beloved Son from the moment of her death as she was taken up to heaven body and soul to be with Jesus for all eternity. She has never stopped being the Mother of all of us and watches over us. 

I love having two mothers in heaven. Both love me and I think both are very active in caring for me. Both tell me to love others. Our Lady comes to me when I need her. She consoles and strengthens me and always tells me to do whatever Jesus tells me. She also brings me my other mother's love and wants me to draw strength from the fact that I have both mothers always interceding for me and inspiring me to be better.
I am trying to imagine what a homecoming it was for Mary to reach heaven and be able to embrace her Son. I also imagine what it was like for my Mom to be united with my Dad when he died. And then there are all those Angels who now have Mary.
I guess we need to wait until we go to heaven to understand what it is like, but I am more in touch with the Communion of Saints now and sometimes let my imagination run wild.

The Memorare is my favorite prayer to Our Lady.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cool off with this picture

Just the contemplation of this picture makes me feel not only cool but calm. It is a contemplative moment and I rejoice in the beauty.

One habit that I am cultivating is saying grace before and after meals. Sometimes, one at my table says at the end: 
Rub - a- dub, dub; thanks for the grub; yeah, God!

The grace my sister loves is one that an Irish RSCJ taught us when we were visiting in Dublin. I am asked here to say it, too:
"Lord, we ask you to bless the cook, the food, and the dishes, as you blessed the loaves and fishes. And, as the sugar in the tea, let us be stirred by Thee."

Now all that is to introduce a quote I found and love from Rabbi Herschel Schachter:
"By saying grace, we release the divine sparks in our food."

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The next station on my inner journey so I will need to leave the mountain where I have been with Jesus since the Feast of the Transfiguration and be with Mary as she joins her Son in heaven to be our heavenly mother and Queen of Angels, etc.

Monday, August 13, 2018

What is a lovely day for you?

"In each of us, there is a little voice that knows exactly which way to go." Alice Walker

"For me, a lovely day is any day I wake up."

I just thought I would share these quotes so you can reflect on them today. I forgot who said the second, but both are helpful!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord - Paul will tell us in the second reading: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God..."
We are to be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma." Ephesians 4

The Gospel (Jn 6:41-51) has the Jews murmuring about Jesus because He said:"I am the bread that came down from heaven." Then Jesus tells them that He is "the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

That should be enough to reflect on today, but I also like to share a part in today's Gospel that always strikes me: "Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, Amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life."

Let us go to Jesus with all our joys and sorrows, our desires, our preoccupations, etc. He waits for us!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Life is fragile and short...

As we are still in vacation time, I am just going to be sharing some of the quotes I have been saving from "Word for the Day"!

"Life is fragile and short and worth all the loving presence we can bring to it." Rebecca Kushins

"The most fortunate are those who have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy." 
Abraham Maslow

And one final quote for your reflection today:
"Gratitude is exultation awaiting between the cracks of normalcy." Frederic Potter

Friday, August 10, 2018

Experience of Prayer

Everyone's experience of prayer is different and often we can not find the words to express what happens to us when we take time to enter into a deeper prayer. I was happy to come upon this quote from Denise Levertov that I had copied in my journal:

"As swimmers dare to lie face to the sky and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air and air sustains them, so would I learn to attain free fall, and float into the Creator Spirit's deep embraces, knowing no effort earns that all-surrounding grace."

Relax and let God love you today!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

W are all on a voyage...

Today I have a quote for you that I copied from the "Praying in These Emerging Times: A Reflection Journal" that is an LCWR publication. This is from Ellen Dauwer, SC and I like it:

"These days life in God is one of journey for me. There is neither clear path nor exact destination, for daily choices and steps determine the way. The gifts of the Spirit provide light and the grace of God is sustenance. I pray for an open mind, a discerning spirit, and a loving heart for the days ahead. Who knows what lies before us and what is yet to come."

My light from the June retreat is that I am in my last boat, I do not know exactly when I will arrive at my destination, but Jesus is the Captain of this boat and I am at peace. It is good to know that this is my final voyage and, although there may still be many ports-of-call, I will arrive safely at the end of this voyage.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Let us set sail


In this bicentennial year celebrating St. Philippine Duchesne's arrival in America, we are all to have the courage to set sail into our future. The Society of the Sacred Heart all over the world is using this metaphor to go out and let the Lord lead us into the future. We are discerning even about our way of organizing ourselves and I know that Philippine is watching over us so that we choose life, set sail, and count on the Lord to take us to a safe harbor. 
I was up on the mountain with Jesus in prayer for the Feast of the Transfiguration. Yesterday's Gospel had Jesus sending me with his Apostles into a storm. He was praying but came to us and calmed the waters. It has been my experience so often in life that when I feel overwhelmed, Jesus comes and then all is calm and peaceful.
These are busy days with many extras. Yesterday we had the new faculty and some of the old here for Mass and a reception afterwards. I always try to talk up the Busy Persons' Retreat. Some of them said that they had been teaching in our school in San Francisco and knew about it. I think it is one of the helps we offer here for parents in the Fall and the Faculty and Staff in the Spring that can really make a difference in one's prayer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Rockaway Beach

Today's picture should really be one of a mountain as I am still there with Jesus and hearing God say to me, "This is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him." However, this picture that I took at Rockaway Beach, reminds me of how I found God there in the ocean and then felt that the ocean, God, and I were all one! That was a powerful experience and I was happy to return there with Patrick on Friday and just sit on my flat rock and let God speak to me. I am trying to listen to all the ways God is trying to get through to me. This is what makes the interior life so exciting. God is a God of surprises and speaks to us in so many different ways!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Feast of the Transfiguration

Today's Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus is very much connected to my retreat last week. It was really only two days of silence but they were really prayerful days. We arrived on Monday and had brought a picnic lunch with us so that we could sit outside and eat it. We spent an hour or so just sharing and then were able to go to our rooms and unpack at 1:30. We met again at 5:00 and talked until dinner at 6:00 and then we decided to celebrate St. Ignatius' Feast in silence. We had a group of teachers meeting at Villa Maria del Mar the first days we were there and so had Mass at 5:00 on the Feast of Saint Ignatius and at 11:00 the next morning.  I had prayed that there would be a priest so that added to our really only two days of silent retreat, but they were very fruitful days. More about that later as I need to write a bit about what the Feast of the Transfiguration is for me.
First, I feel that Jesus is always inviting me to come with him up the mountain. He took his chosen ones and took them to pray. They went willingly. It must have been an honor to have been invited. Now, Jesus keeps inviting me to go up with him. I hope I am responding and not saying I am too tired or too busy.
It is when we are there with Jesus on the mountain that we see His divinity revealed. I am sure that happens to us sometimes when we are in prayer. Jesus always wants to show Himself to us in his glory as He did his chosen three. He wants to strengthen us and we need to be there with Him. And we need to listen to Him!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friend, Patrick, leaves today. It has been a wonderful week with the days of retreat at Villa Maria del Mar. I will share more of the retreat tomorrow, but want to say a word about the Sunday Gospel which is John 6:24-35
The Gospel has the people looking for Jesus. WE are all also looking for Jesus. But Jesus says to them and to us: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God has set his seal."
Then, Jesus will also answer their question about what they are to do to accomplish the works of God. He told them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."
The people then want a sign. Finally, Jesus says:"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

Let us go to Jesus today and profess our faith in him!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Home again but thinking of the gorgeous ocean

The ocean speaks to me of God. I can just spend hours looking at the immensity of the ocean and thinking of the infinity of God, His depth, His beauty, etc. The ocean is always the ocean, but never the same. Each wave that laps or pounds the shore, is not the same as the one before but each is characteristic of the ocean. I do not say that God has all the changes I see in the ocean, but I certainly feel how dynamic God is while I am just contemplating the Pacific Ocean.

Sometimes it seems as if God just takes over when I am just sitting contemplating the ocean. I guess it is the ocean that leads me into a deeper prayer; I just know that I find God when looking at the ocean!

Friday, August 3, 2018

"I am calm, I am smiling...

I am still at Villa Maria del Mar and will share one of the helps to my own interior life. I am sure I must have shared it before, but this little prayer is one I say often and find it really helps me to center. We sing it at the end of our reunions!

Breathing in, breathing out
I am calm, I am smiling;
You in me, I in You;
Present moment, wondrous moment
Peace to the world, peace to the world.

Try it and see if it is not a great help. You can say it at anytime. It is now something I say after Communion and often at night, but also while driving, waiting for someone, etc.

I count on your prayer during these precious days of retreat. And I am praying for all who read this blog!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

An Ignatian Examen

A Daily Check-In with Jesus

Jesus, You have been present with me in my life today. Be near, now.
Let us look together at my day. Let me see all through your loving eyes....

When did I listen to your voice today?
When did I resist listening to you today?

In this present moment, what is my body-emotion climate?

Jesus, everything is gift from you. I give you thanks and praise for the gifts of this day...

I ask your healing in....
I ask your forgiveness and mercy for...

Jesus, continue to be present with me in my life each day.

Please pray for my mini retreat these days at Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Change is needed

I am copying this from Richard Rohr's daily contribution of July 17th because I thought this worth reflecting on:
According to [James Robertson], the shift to a more sustainable political policy will involve:
. . . a shift of emphasis away from means towards ends; away from economic growth towards human development; away from quantitative towards qualitative values and goals; away from the impersonal and organisational towards the personal and interpersonal; and away from the earning and spending of money towards the meeting of real human needs and aspirations. A culture that has been masculine, aggressive and domineering in its outlook will give place to one which is more feminine, cooperative and supportive. A culture that has exalted the uniformly European will give place to one which values the multi-cultural richness and diversity of human experience. An anthropocentric worldview that has licensed the human species to exploit the rest of nature as if from above and outside it, will give place to an ecological worldview. We shall recognize that survival and self-realisation alike require us to act as what we really are—integral parts of an ecosystem much larger, more complex, and more powerful than ourselves. [1]
. . . Alternative structures can achieve little without a new vision of how reality works. The real conversion confronting humanity today is a transformation of consciousness rather than mechanistic changes in human or social behaviour.

Will this ever happen in my lifetime? We need to pray as I think it is the only solution to the way we are living in this country without thought of what we are doing to our planet, the poor, the needy...