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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This picture was taken at Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz and is a sacred spot for me. I have made many retreats there over the past twenty-seven years and I always find God so present to me there. I guess I mean that, although God is always present to me, I am able to be more present to God in retreat. I am looking forward to returning for another day of retreat with my spirituality group of mothers of our pupils on October 9th. With the world and the Church and our country so full of strive and lack of justice and love, it is good to know that God is able to do anything, and that leads me into the Collect for this Sunday:
O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven.
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.

Let us pray for all our congressmen that they may be moved to work for the common good and not just think of power or party. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Feast of St. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

A full week without a computer was an interesting experience!
First, I could not get into my laptop and no one here could either so I took it to Staples. Their expert feared it was the hard drive but we agreed that, if that was the problem, I would buy a new hard drive. After a couple of days he called and I went back with Bridget, our new driver and companion for just about everything, and we found out that the problem was not the hard drive but the motor board - I just heard him saying that it was not able to be fixed as it was five years old and it would be more economical to get a new laptop. They had a special promotion on a PH Compaq and several coupons, too, so we went with that and then found out that the $70 printer was only $20 when buying the computer, so now I even have a printer and have made room for it on my desk. It is small and white but I also have a TV on my desk plus my laptop so it is good I have a big desk!
This blog is the first on my new computer and I think I am going to like it very much. 
Now, I was going to talk about the angels today.  Angels are able to both worship God and be messengers of God to us. 
We celebrate three of the archangels today as they are all mentioned by name in Scripture.
On October 2nd, we celebrate the feast of all the angels and I have always had devotion to my Guardian Angel.
It is late tonight and I still need to do many things now that I can write again. Thank you all who seemed worried about my sudden absence from my blog. I am back!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today I am using the reflection on this Sunday's Gospel by Father Joseph Donders (1929-2013) found in "Give Us This Day":

"The world does not respect people because they are people. It respects people because they are influential, because they are important...
Jesus said: "Nobody among you should be called master, or teacher, or father." When they asked him who was the most important, he called a small, smelly, unwashed street boy over and said to them:'This one.'
This Jesus, our universal king, showed us that our whole attitude should change, that our world should change in a revolutionary way, that we should respect all people for the simple fact that they happen to be God's people...that we should respect all people because Jesus knows their names...
He is not interested in their cars, in the quality of their clothes, in their degrees, in their prizes and awards, ... He knows their names. He knows them, and He wishes them all well, and all they need.
And that is how we should behave..."

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Praying in secrect

Today I am sharing this bit of practical advice from
Abbot Issac on Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 6:6:
"We pray in our room whenever we withdraw our hearts completely from the tumult and the noise of our thoughts and our worries and when secretly and intimately we offer our prayers to the Lord. We pray with the door shut when without opening our mouths and in perfect silence we offer our petitions to the One who pays no attention to words but looks hard at our hearts."

Sometimes we just need to bolt the door; some can turn off hearing aids which is a great help; others might try ear plugs!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The importance of Prayer

Pray as you can, not as you can't! The important thing is to pray! Just show up and let God act. He really wants to love us and we are crazy if we think we are too busy to pray. Ruth Burrows has this to say and I find it consoling: "...a life that is truly Christian is all prayer. For God's 'chosen', life is an unceasing desire expressed in their practical choosing of the divine will in all that happens. It is being there for God's coming in all the details of life, loving, purifying, transforming. Solitary prayer, liturgical prayer ad the prayer of grace-filled activity are one and the same great work of God and our cooperation with it. All three are necessary; they are interdependent and nourish one another."

I hope my readers are taking time to reflect on their own relationship with God. Our prayer is really just furthering our relationship with all three Persons in the Trinity and God takes the initiative. Let us abandon ourselves into God's hands and let Him mold us as He wills.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prayer is simple

As you know, I have often said that prayer is simple. Thomas Merton asks: "How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun."
I love that image and both Wendy Beckett and Ruth Burrows talk about the simplicity of prayer. Ruth says:"For Christians, those who claim Jesus as their Way, Truth and Life, the one who reveals the Godhead to us, through whom we are in God and God in us, prayer should be the simplest and most uncomplicated of activities."
Then she goes on to tell us that the essence of prayer is God.
He is always there to love us, and, in that loving, transforming and 'saving' of us, brings us to that perfect fulfillment for which we are created.
"On our side prayer is simply being there: open, exposed, inviting God to do all God wants. Prayer is not our activity...God is there ready to do everything for us, loving us unconditionally."

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Commit ourselves to the sea of God's love

This picture is of a tranquil lake; the sea of God can be terrifying, but we need to immerse ourselves in it and let God carry us. It takes trust. Ruth Burrows talks about faith as a "sustained decision to take God with utter seriousness as the God of my life. It is to live our each hour in a practical, concrete affirmation that God is Father and he is 'in heaven'. It is a decision to shift the center of our lives from ourselves to Him, to forego self-interest and his interests, his will our sole concern."

Let us open ourselves to God and plunge into the sea of His Love without thought of the wind and waves, secure in His Love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Our search for the Beloved

Another passage that I have found helpful from Ruth Burrows is this one that speaks of our search for Jesus: "When we search for him in the Scriptures we have already found him. He is with us, at a level we do not perceive and cannot perceive, touching our inmost depth and working within us, infusing light, inflaming the will."...Our seeking in Scripture must be like that if the bride in the Song of Songs: all heart, never a merely intellectual effort...Our search for the Beloved in the revealed Word means that our times of silent prayer have content... Jesus draws us to himself not for himself but so as to take us to the Father."

That was more than one passage as I just keep adding some of what I had underlined the first time I read this book. I figure that if it helped me, it may help at least some of my readers.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Intimacy with God

In her Essence of Prayer, Ruth Burrows, OCD, assures us that intimacy with God is not only possible, but it is what God desires of each of us. She writes: "How do we attain to intimacy with God? Or, rather, how do we enter into the intimacy offered? We must be certain that no wooing is necessary. ...
Here is someone who is love itself, the very fount of our existence, enfolding us, inviting us to receive him, drawing us to his heart. All these human expressions are totally inadequate.... It is not easy to speak properly of a deep human relationship: how much more so when on of the partners is God."

And yet, I believe we are called to try to put into words our relationship with God. Words will never be adequate, but we can try to express what happens to us when we go to pray. Having spent years as a spiritual director, I know that some people struggle to put into words their relationship with God; others find ways to speak of the intimacy they experience in prayer. The times I have had a spiritual director who seems to really understand me, has made it possible to express at least something of my experience of God. I think we need to keep trying as it makes it more real for ourselves.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus asks us again in this Sunday's Gospel (Mark 8:27-33) "Who do you say that I am?"
This is the question that Jesus poses to each of us often for the answer may vary but it always indicative of what is influencing our inner life at this point in time. I think we need to reflect again today on how I am answering this fundamental question that Jesus is asking me? 
After Peter's confession of faith, Jesus began to teach his disciples that "the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do." 
Then he will tell the crowd, and this means you and me, too, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it."

Much to think about in this Gospel. And the second reading from the Letter of James is also one to think about today. it is from James 2:14-18.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the day we remember the sorrows of Mary. I cannot imagine how she felt. First, having Jesus leave her after maybe 30 years, then following and hearing even her neighbors turn against him when he returned to his home town; then there was the constant fear that he would be imprisoned. Finally, there was his arrest, the meeting as Jesus carried his cross to the site where he was crucified; then Mary stayed as close to the cross as she was allowed and witnessed her only Son's suffering and death. She was still there when they took his body down from the cross and laid him in her arms. Her own heart was pierced even before the Heart of Jesus was pierced!

We can only contemplate the suffering of this Mother in silence. I feel that the sins of our world are still causing such suffering to so many mothers today, but Mary is there with each of us to console us and strengthen us. Let us spend the day with her in prayer for our world and our Church.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Let God control our prayer

"What does it mean in practice to say that we must be there for God and let God control our prayer, let God act? Does it mean we remain inert, completely passive? No, decidedly not! The essential thing we have to do is believe in the enfolding, nurturing, transforming Love of God which is the Reality: the Reality that is absolutely, totally there whether we avert to It or not. Prayer, for our side, is a deliberate decision to avert to It, to respond to It in the fullest way we can. To do this we must set time aside to devote exclusively to the 'Yes' of faith." 

That excerpt is found on p.5 in The Essence of Prayer by Ruth Burrows who then adds this quote from Julian of Norwich:

"God of Thy goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth-but only in Thee I have all."

Ruth says that if we are convinced that this is the heart of prayer, this basic decision to remain open to the inflowing of divine love, then we shall understand that we can choose any method we like to help us maintain this basic desire and intention.
And I add, just be there, show up and let God love you! He just wants you and does not need your thoughts or words, just be present to God who is always present to you.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Get out of the boat and walk on water...

Today I want to begin sharing with you some of the wisdom of prayer from a book I often go back to when I feel the need of some inspiration for my own prayer. It is The Essence of Prayer
by Ruth Burrows and was first published in 2006 - one of the few books on prayer that I brought with me to Oakwood.

She says: "Let us assume that we do want God, or, at least, we want to want God, wobbly and weak though we know ourselves to be. 'If it is you, bid me come to you upon the waters.' (Mt 14:28) It is the Lord and he says: 'Come!' So we can confidently enter into the Mystery that is God, relying solely on Jesus and not at all on ourselves."

I will share more tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Autumn means many things

We are back to school and well into September, but in California it still seems like summer. However, we have football games and some trees to take on an autumn look, but I miss the gorgeous shades of autumn, the falling leaves, the brisk weather. Still, I love the beauty of California even while missing some of the changes of seasons.
In our inner lives, do we have regular changes of seasons? It is something to ponder. I think we have all experienced changes, but I think the inner life is too unpredictable to have regular seasons. 
I did find something to share with you on prayer of the heart.

Practice: Prayer of the Heart

"Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.” [1] Many of the desert fathers and mothers, as well as the collected texts of the Philokaliain the Eastern Orthodox tradition, have described prayer as bringing your thinking down into your heart. It always seemed like soft piety to me until someone taught me how to do it, and I learned the immense benefits of the prayer of the heart. As a Catholic, I was often puzzled by the continued return to heart imagery, such as Jesus pointing to his “Sacred Heart” and Mary pointing to her “Immaculate Heart.” I often wonder what people actually do with these images. Are they mere sentiment? Are they objects of worship or objects of transformation? You must return their gaze and invitation for a long time to get the transformative message and healing. Such images keep recurring only because they are speaking something important from the unconsciousmaybe even something necessary for the soul’s emergence.
Love lives and thrives in the heart space. It has kept me from wanting to hurt people who have hurt me. It keeps me every day from obsessive, repetitive, or compulsive head games. It can make the difference between being happy and being miserable and negative. Could this be what we are really doing when we say we are praying for someone? Yes, we are holding them in our heart space. Do this in an almost physical sense, and you will see how calmly and quickly it works.
Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space. Dualistic commentaries are lodged in your head; but in your heart, you can surround this negative thought with silence. There it is surrounded with blood, which will often feel warm like coals. In this place, it is almost impossible to comment, judge, create story lines, or remain antagonistic. You are in a place that does not create or feed on contraries but is the natural organ of life, embodiment, and love. Now the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart have been transferred to you. They are pointing for you to join them there. The “sacred heart” is then your heart too."
This was copied from Richard Rohr

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11th

All of us remember where we were on September 11 when so many lost their lives and our lives changed. So many heroic actions took place and the entire country grieved the loss of so many innocent people and we will not forget them or the people of New York who hurried to assist that day. 

I may have shared this before, but it is "On the Experience of Prayer" by Denise Levertov:
"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 embrace, knowing no effort earns that all- surrounding grace."

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Call to Holiness

Today, I have the first session with my Spirituality Group of Mothers of Sacred Heart children; I began the group as a follow-up to the Busy Persons' Retreat; last year we did different kinds of prayer each month and then sharing; the year before it was mostly Centering Prayer and then Lectio Divina on the next Sunday's Gospel and sharing. This year, I am going to begin with the first Chapter of Gaudete et Exsultatae; it is a call to holiness for all of us.

I still have a few quotes to share. This is one I copied in my journal so I can, and do, go back to in order to remind myself that I need an open mind and discerning heart:
"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 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!"
Ellen Deuwer, "Praying in These Emerging Times: A Reflection Journal" - LCWR Publication

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel for this Sunday (Mark 7:31-37) had Jesus curing a deaf man who also had a speech impediment. Jesus "took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, 'Ephphatha!' - that is, 'Be opened!' - And immediately the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly."

The first reading for this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (35: 4-7a) and begins by the Lord telling us "Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing...."

Our world is in such turmoil that we need to hear these words of the Lord.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Our Lady's Birthday

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary. It is one of the feasts, actually the fifth one, that I am trying to celebrate in a special way by connecting it to my inner journey. It is like a port where I dock for the day to take stock and prepare for the next week of this inner journey. I need to do this as I get too caught up in the exterior life even while realizing that my inner life is not only more important, but more interesting!

The entrance antiphon for this Feast is: "Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God."
Mary was always special. I think she was very human and lived simply while cultivating both her inner life and practicing the virtues of humility, simplicity, and love of all God's creation.
Let us pray to Mary today and thank her for all she does for each of us; I know she is watching over each with a mother's love. I also invite you to thank God for this great gift of the Mother of Jesus and of all of us!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Saint Philippine Duchesne's Arrival in St. Charles

On September 7, 1818, two hundred years ago, St. Philippine Duchesne finally arrived to begin the first school of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the new world. She opened the first free school west of the Mississippi and then the boarding school. I was so fortunate to have been able to spend my four years of high school there as a boarder. It is a holy place and many come on pilgrimage so I was privileged to be there and will always be grateful that my parents allowed me to go. At that time, the city of St. Charles seemed far away as there was only the old Rock Road, no highway connection yet, and the one narrow bridge. Now St. Charles is easy to get to from St. Louis, Philippine had a long journey in a coach and then had to transfer to a ferry boat to land at St. Charles in 1818.
The Bishop had rented a house for them; it was not ready and really not suitable as it had only one large room and six small rooms; there were more doors than windows. Somehow, our  Saint Philippine and her four companions made it work. They suffered so much the first year that the Bishop said they could not remain. He moved them to Florissant, but in 1828 the Academy of the Sacred Heart was reopened in St. Charles in the same unsuitable house. 
We tried to watch the reenactment of Philippine's arrival this morning, but it was not clear, probably due to the storm which had moved it from the river bank into the big gym at the Duchesne High School. They expected over 2,200 students plus the other guests who wanted to celebrate this memorial day!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Prayer is not an idle occupation

Again, I cannot reach my photo albums to put a picture in my blog. I am sure I will be able to figure this out with time, but for now I cannot do it. I do have a few short quotes on prayer to share with you today.

"Prayer is not an idle occupation. It's a very powerful instrument of our work and love." Julian of Norwich.

"Better a little prayer with devotion than much prayer without devotion. The Talmud.

"The most powerful prayer, one well nigh omnipotent, and the worthiest work of all is the outcome of a quiet mind. The quieter the mind, the more powerful, the worthier, the deeper, the more telling and more perfect the prayer is. To the quiet mind all things are possible." Meister Eckhart.

Joy Lasts

For some reason, I cannot put a picture into my blog the way I usually do. I am sure I will figure this out or just cut and paste, but I get frustrated when something I have been doing every day for years suddenly will not work!
I just received a book by Sister Wendy Beckett that I had not known about before I saw it listed under her name. The title is Joy lasts: On the Spiritual in Art. As I have recently read again her book on Prayer, I am looking forward to this one.

As I have mentioned before, some of us have a Senior student and see them for an hour each week. My student from last year just gave me great joy by sending me a long e-mail telling me how much he is learning after only a week of classes. Then, this morning, the student I have this year shared two of his college application essays which is a tremendous help in getting to know him.

I do have a quote for you again today:
"Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, praising God until we ourselves are a constant act of praise." Richard Rohr

And here is another quote I love from Mother Teresa:
"Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at God's disposition, and listening for Love's voice in the depths of our heart."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Be content to be yourself!

I have just bought a new book, The Relentless Mercy of God,
by Joseph V. Corpora, C.S.C., who was one of the priests commissioned by the Pope in the Holy Year as a Missionary of Mercy. Actually, at the end of the Holy Year, Pope Francis asked the Missionaries of Mercy to continue to give God's mercy through their work as confessors, retreat directors and through the culture of encounter.
Helped are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant.
Alice Walker

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pictures from my patio

I suppose that this is our patio and not "my" patio, but I do feel that it is a gift. The rose was taken from my window and I love being able to look out and see the birds bathing in the fountain. The squirrels come to drink, too. I am so blessed and we have had such wonderful weather all summer. There were a few days that were hot, but I live in Westwood and we do not have any air-conditioning and really do not need it. I have put away my little fan as it only used it for the few hot evenings. I also gave away my little heater last winter to my neighbor as I never felt the need to use it. We do have heat in Westwood and the early mornings can be cold, so I am grateful, but I usually have my window open all year long, just not so wide.

Now, I am not sure how I began to speak about the climate, but I guess it is part of my gratitude. I am finding so many things to thank for as I go through the day. I hope you are also feeling grateful as grateful people are joyful people.

Here is my quote for the day:

One must view the world through the eye in one’s heart rather than just trust the eyes in one’s head.
Mary Crow Dog

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day?

Now that so many stores stay open, this may be a day of labor, but mostly it is a holiday to give one a rest from work and at the same time, it is a celebration of work. We can be so thankful that there is the opportunity for good, honest work. I feel for all those who cannot find jobs or find something that is only part-time and not at all the kind of job they want or even have been trained to do. Let us pray for all those who are out there still seeking jobs. Many are college graduates with debts to pay off because of loans to get an education and then they cannot get a job.
I guess I am grateful that I always had meaningful work to do.
May everyone enjoy this holiday this year. I think we are having a Bingo Party and then a picnic in the patio. I do not remember what we did last year here, but look forward to the holiday this year.
Here is a word for the day that I love:

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Again, I want to share the Collect as we so often are not able to be attentive when it is read at the beginning of the Liturgy or maybe it is just that it is hard to take in unless you have it before you.
"God of might, giver of every good gift,
pour into our hearts the love of your name, 
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good and,
by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."

The second reading from the Letter of Saint James tells us to "humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves."

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I am at sea...

The first day of September brings thoughts of Autumn: raking leaves, harvesting crops, returning to school, and feeling new energy from the brisk air. Some parts of the country may still be in summer, but I love to look at the pictures on paths into woods that are aglow with color.

I am still trying to map my interior journey. We have talked much about our Saint Philippine setting forth on the Rebecca, a ship that took weeks to cross the ocean to bring her to our country. We are celebrating the bicentennial of the Society in America as Philippine and her four companions arrived 200 years ago and began the first school of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles. My grandmother and her sisters all attended this dear convent and I was a boarder there for high school from 1944-1948. I loved it and was home for three nights and had four nights at school. I wanted to focus on the fact that the Chapter 2016 spoke of us setting sail, having "Rebecca moments" and this has made me think again about my inner journey as being in a boat headed for my final destination. Jesus is the captain and the crew is exceptional so I am just enjoying the ride. Others are in the boat with me. I think that we do find some harbors and sail in and dock our boat for a time, but we soon continue our journey, trusting our Captain.