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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve

We spend the day reviewing the year and praying for the New Year to come. It is important to see what the Lord may be asking of each of us as we begin a New Year. Take some time for reflection today.
It is good when reviewing the year to take time to thank the Lord for all that has happened. Sometimes, we forget to thank at the moment of the event, or letter, or encounter, etc. and now we can remember to be grateful!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Praying in front of the crib

We have a beautiful Infant Jesus with arms held out so you just want to pick up this smiling baby and hold him. I think I am just doing that during my afternoon hour of prayer in the Chapel. I do not actually dare to pick up the image of the Infant Jesus, but, in my imagination I am holding the baby and loving this helpless, vulnerable child.
I am also thinking how God speaks to us in silence.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Feast of the Holy Family

On the first Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph were united in their love for one another. Jesus was an ordinary boy; no one in the small village of Nazareth thought him any different from the other children. Mary and Joseph wanted it that way as they still did not know what God planned for their Son who was divine, yet fully human. I can see Jesus learning to talk, to walk, then to run and play. I can also see him learning the prayers a good Jewish family would say each morning and evening. I can imagine how the other Persons in the Blessed Trinity watched as Jesus grew in age and in grace.

I think of my own family and how our parents wanted us to be happy and grow up safely. They watched over our health, taught us to pray, fed us, clothed us, counseled us and tried to give us a happy childhood. I am sure that Mary and Joseph did the same for Jesus.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Feast of the Holy Innocents

According to the story told of the coming of the Three Wise Men, King Herod was concerned about the possibility of a newborn King; he sent soldiers to kill all the young boy babies. An angel of the Lord warned Joseph in a dream and he obeyed, taking Mary and the Infant Jesus into Egypt.

This story is especially meaningful today when so many are fleeing their homes, their countries, to save their lives. Are we helping the thousands of refugees that come begging for our help? Our country is vast and yet we are not allowing many to come. Instead, we are even putting them in cages, separating children from parents, wives from husbands, and keeping many in concentration camp conditions. We need to pray much for the way we are treating these people. America is great because of the many immigrants welcomed before and we cannot close our borders but need to welcome the stranger as the Gospel tells us.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The mystery of the Incarnation

I am continuing to share from Admirabile signum on the meaning and importance of the nativity scene.
"Life was made manifest"(1 Jn 1:2) Pope Francis tells us:
"In these words, the Apostle John sums up the mystery of the Incarnation. The creche allow us to see and touch this unique and unparalleled evet that changed the course of history, so that time would thereafter be reckoned either before or after the birth of Christ."
"God's ways are astonishing, for it seems impossible that he should forsake his glory to become a man like us. To our astonishment, we see God acting exactly as we do: he sleeps, takes milk from his mother, cries and plays like every other child. As always, God baffles us. He is unpredictable, constantly doing what we least expect. The nativity scene shows God as he came into our world, but it also makes us reflect on how our life is part of God's own life. It invites us to become his disciples if we want to attain ultimate meaning in life."

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Day after Christmas

We have had a wonderful Christmas here beginning with our "Midnight Mass" at 4:15 on Christmas Eve after Carols. Then we had on Christmas, another Mass and our Christmas dinner. In the afternoon, one group came caroling with hot chocolate with marshmallows.

To continue to give you a few quotes from Admirabkie signum, the Pope's Apostolic Letter on the meaning and the importance of the nativity scene:

"The birth of a child awakens joy and wonder; it sets before us the great mystery of life. Seeing the bright eyes of a young couple gazing at their newborn child, we can understand the feeling of Mary and Joseph who, as they looked at the Infant Jesus, sensed God's presence in their lives."

Am I sensing God's presence in my life? He came that we might have life!  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Day

"When, at Christmas, we place the statue of the Infant Jesus in the manger, the nativity scene comes alive. God appears as a child, for us to take into our arms. Beneath weakness and frailty, he conceals his power that creates and transforms all things. It seems impossible, yet it is true: in Jesus, God was a child, and in this way he wished to reveal the greatness of his love: by smiling and opening his arms to all." Admirabile signum by Pope Francis.

The pope continues to tell us that the birth of a child "awakens joy and wonder; it sets before us the great mystery of life."

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve

I have been praying over the Pope's Apostolic Letter, Admirabile signum on the meaning and importance of the nativity scene. In#7 he tells us that "in the cave we find the figures of Mary and Joseph. Mary is a mother who contemplates her child and shows him to every visitor.The figure of Mary makes us reflect on the great mystery that surrounded this young woman when God knocked on the door of her immaculate heart. Mary responded in complete obedience to the message of the angel who asked her to become the Mother of God."
Then the Pope tells us that "at Mary's side, shown protecting the Child and His Mother, stands St. Joseph....He is the guardian who tirelessly protects his family.... 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christ is coming!

"A child shall be born for us, and he will be called God, the Almighty; every tribe of the earth shall be blest in him."

That is the antiphon for the Mass today and here is the Collect:
"Almighty ever-living God, as we see how the Nativity of your Son according to the flesh draws near, we pray that to us, your unworthy servants, mercy may flow from your Word, who chose to become flesh of the Virgin Mary and establish among us his dwelling."

 Today is the eve of Christmas eve! Christ is coming. Our hearts are ready, Lord, for You to come. "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!"                               

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fourth Sunday of Advent

At last all the candles are lit and we have only two days until Christmas Eve. This year, Advent is shorter so we continue to say "Come, Lord Jesus, come, and do not delay." We want Jesus to come into our hearts and into our world in such need of Him.

  Today's Gospel tells us that when "Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly." But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home "for it is through the Holy
Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." And Joseph did as the angel commanded.

It sounds so simple, but what faith Joseph had to believe a dream. I think we do not realize what it was like for both Mary and Joseph to be called by God. Both are open to hearing and obeying, Let us learn from them.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The time for preparation is almost over

This is the last day of the Third Week of Advent. Let us review our preparation for the coming of the Lord. Have I succeeded in removing clutter from my heart?

In his letter, Admirabile Signum, Pope Francis speaks of how "from the time of its Franciscan origins, the nativity scene has invited us to 'feel' and 'touch' the poverty that God's Son took upon himself in the Incarnation. Implicitly, it summons us to follow him along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross. It asks us to meet him and serve him by showing mercy to those of our brothers and sisters in greatest need." 
I cannot help but think of all the refugees, especially those at our own borders who are being detained, refused, and separated from other family members. We are not treating these people with love as Christ would have us do.

Friday, December 20, 2019

What presents are you preparing for the Infant Jesus?

It is good to reflect on what we are planning to give to the Infant Jesus when we celebrate His birth again this Christmas. And, are we asking the Infant for a special grace? Ignatius is so strong on asking for what we desire whenever we go to pray, but perhaps I forget to do this. Let us think about why we give gifts and what we desire to receive.
I have just discovered the Apostolic Letter, Admirabile Signum, that Pope Francis wrote on the meaning and the importance of the Nativity Scene. The Letter was published on December 1, 2019. The Pope says that he is writing to encourage "the beautiful family tradition of preparing the nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons, and town squares."
You can find the entire Letter online, but I will try to share a bit more in these days before Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Six Days to Christmas

Can you remember as a child waiting for Christmas to come? The joy it gave us to know that finally it was less than a week away.
I hope we still have that joy of expectation. We are receiving again that very best present in the birth of Christ who comes to reveal God's love to us. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Imagine Mary's three months with Elizabeth

I am just asking you to spend some time thinking about those months that Mary spent with Elizabeth. Our reflection on Mary's stay, waiting for the birth of Elizabeth's baby, will help us to reflect on our own waiting this Advent for the birth of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mary goes to visit Elizabeth

We do not know how well Mary knew Elizabeth. I have cousins that I do not know and perhaps Mary had only heard about this cousin or perhaps they had visited in Nazareth. Were they first cousins, second cousins, or third cousins? We do not know, but Luke told us that the angel had assured Mary that Elizabeth, in spite of her advanced age, was six months pregnant as nothing is impossible for God. Now, Mary, still, I think, quite bewildered by all the angel had told her, decides that she must go in haste to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. She could not travel alone but had to find others who were willing to see that she reached Elizabeth's home safely. Imagine what those days were like for Mary. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Staying with Mary this Advent

I have been trying to spend my days this Advent with Mary. I am using my imagination to be with her as she pondered all that the angel had told her. She did not understand, but she surrendered herself to God. I think that is all the God asks of us, too. Let us surrender our whole being to this God of love who is coming again into a world so in need. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Third Sunday of Advent

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near."

The opening antiphon for Gaudete Sunday tells us to rejoice. We are getting near to the feast of Our Lord's nativity and this fills us with joy. The first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10:
"The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song....they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: 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.
Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee."

I guess I had to copy this because it really does call us to rejoice. No matter how long the "to do" list, or the feeling of anxiety that you have not yet mailed cards or found the right present, etc. just stop, take a deep breath and really rejoice in the coming of the Lord. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wear pink and rejoice!

Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday. I am reminding others to wear pink here to celebrate; one of our Sisters who is 98 years old, always wears pink on Sundays. It is a cheerful color and we will light the pink candle on the Advent wreath.

Saturdays are busy days for everyone. I think we all try to prepare for Sunday, but it often is not a day of rest for those who work all week. Still, many are able to have some quiet time at home on Sunday if they are busy on Saturday. Leisure time is necessary to really enter the spirit of Advent. If we are on the go all day, at least we can say often "Come, Lord Jesus, cone! I believe that our desire for the coming of the Lord is one of the graces of Advent.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Fun

Although it is still 12 days before Christmas Eve, we are full of Christmas decorations and will be celebrating with the staff today. Our staff is so devoted and it is wonderful when we can give them a Christmas bonus and take time to have dessert with them and a sing-a-long for Christmas Carols.
As I am preaching to slow down and do less these last days, or at least do all with peace, I may be writing short blogs. The point is to look at the Advent wreath and remember what you are about.

Preparing for the Lord's coming

I have been thinking about the preparations that Mary and Joseph must have been making before the birth of Jesus. Joseph surely would have made a crib for the infant; Mary would have seen to the swaddling clothes and some covers for her yet unborn baby. And then came the census and Mary wanted to be with Joseph even if he had to travel to Bethlehem. Now, I know that we do not need to take the infancy narratives literally, but I think they are in the Luke and Matthew for us to pray over and enter into the mystery of the Incarnation. I like to think of Mary and Joseph on that slow trip down dusty roads and their faith that all would be well. 
We are all making that same journey now in anticipation of the birth of Christ. What kindles our desire? How are we making room in our hearts? Do not let the pressure of Christmas preparation, parties, shopping, etc. to crowd out the most important part of our preparation. We need to prepare our hearts, make room for the coming of Jesus and take time to be with Mary.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and it is also the birthday of St. Madeleine Sophie. I took the habit on this day 69 years ago. That is a long time ago, but I remember my parents coming all the way from St. Louis on the train, staying in a hotel and then taking a cab to and from the convent. I had a dreadful cold but did my best to hide it. My parents went to New York afterwards and sent me a huge box of toys from Macy's for Christmas and we had such fun playing pick-up sticks, jacks, etc. on Christmas day.

Our Lady of Guadalupe has always been close to me as I had made the pilgrimage to her shrine when visiting in Mexico City when I was sixteen. Then, when I took the habit on her feast, I thought that was special and perhaps she had something to do with my being sent to the missions straight from final profession in Rome. I do know that Our Lady has always been there for me when I turn to her.
I had no internet access yesterday so could not write my blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Learning and listening

First of all, one must learn new vocabulary to keep up with the new generation. I have just learned from a footnote in Ilia Delio's book, 
Birth of a Dancing Star, about "bemes" and "Menes". Actually, I am too old to be trying to explain some of this, but I do find it fascinating. Ilia"s footnote on p. 192 intrigues me. It is from her friend, Martine Rothblatt, "On Bemes, Memes and Conscious Things."  Rothblatt says, "these bemes--units of beingness-- are analogous to memes (culturally transmissible ideas) and genes but go far beyond them. Common sets of bemes will lead to a new "Beme Neural Architecture" (BNA), analogous to DNA. But while DNA expresses matter in a limited way, substrate-independent BNA expresses mind, and replicate with a speed and flexibility far beyond DNA, extend our consciousness, and survive beyond our fragile DNA," http//

Monday, December 9, 2019

Cyborgs, a new type of person?

This Advent I have been struggling to understand one of the last chapters in Ilia Delio"s Birth of a Dancing Star. I will try to give some of the main ideas that have impacted me. She tells me that the cyborg symbolizes the extension of nature into new forms. A new hybrid is emerging. "Technology is evolving nature in new ways.

Ilia talks about "Generation Z" (born between 1990 and 2019) and says they have" an intuitive grasp of cyborgs and transhumanism, although they are often unaware of their own technospheric minds...They are born into a world that has been rewiring and rerouting its planetary circuits since the beginning of the twentieth century...Today, the amount of information available is accelerating relationships of shared information through the vast web of networks." 

I am finding her thoughts on this younger generation helpful. She sees their sense of personal relationship is based on shared information, so that even personal identity is relational rather than self-reflective.
I guess that is enough to reflect on for today. All of this does connect with the mystery of the Incarnation. Just sit with it.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Second Sunday of Advent falling on December 8 this year, transferred this Feast of Our Lady to Monday. It is a feast dear to all the children of the Sacred Heart, although it now may be a different king of celebration. When I was in school, we had a solemn novena before the Feast and we prepared to walk in the "Lily Procession" dressed in our white uniforms and carrying an artificial lily to offer to Our Lady saying, "O Mary, I give you the lily of my heart. Be thou its guardian forever." 

Second Sunday of Advent

Today's Collect asks "may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
grant us admittance to his company.

Now, am I setting out in haste to meet Jesus or am I so busy with all that leads up to Christmas that I forget the real purpose of the celebration? We are called to prepare to meet Jesus as He comes into our world again and so we recall His first coming. We wait and prepare our hearts to welcome Him. 
The first reading from Isaiah 11:1-10 tells us that, "The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord."
All the readings are worth meditating on, but the Gospel (Mt 3: 1-12) shows us John the Baptist preaching to prepare the way of the Lord. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

First Saturday

As I try to live Advent with Mary, I wonder how she feels when she recalls the last weeks leading up to the birth of Jesus. She was, I am sure, full of desire. Let us ask her to enkindle our desire for the coming of her Son, Jesus. 

There are many wonderful meditations that help us to stay with Our Lady during Advent. Imagine her, first of all, being visited by the Angel Gabriel. What she must have felt trying to understand what was being asked of her, how it would be possible, and finally, her "let it be done to me according to thy word." She accepts and then rushes off to be with Elizabeth. What were those month like for her? She did not know how to tell Joseph, but God finally took care of letting Joseph know. She knew how to trust God. And God entrusted Mary with His only-begotten Son!

We have the funeral for one of ours this morning and a sharing of memories. Then, I am planning to go to the movie, "Of Gods and Men" at 1:30. It is two hours and then we have Advent prayer in the Chapel. I will also have the Westwood Advent prayer at 6:10 so it is a full Saturday.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Feast of St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas is a popular saint. He was a 4th century Bishop with a reputation for helping children. One story tells how he helped a farmer who had three girls but no money for a dowry. Nicholas supposedly tossed three bags of gold through their window. I am not sure where the tradition of putting out your shoes on his feast began, but it was alive in some of the communities I have lived in and I am tempted to continue it. We all put out our shoes and found something good in them in the morning. 

 Let us pray today for all children. So many refugees are being held apart from their parents and the camps are overcrowded and the children suffering from lack of attention.

Today is also First Friday and we have the "Welcome of the Ashes" of one of our sisters whose funeral will be tomorrow. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Slow down to keep the spirit of Advent

Today our Seniors from the Sacred Heart Society come with homemade brownies, cookies, etc. to meet with all of us in the Gathering Room. This gathering helps us realize that Advent leads us to Christmas and the coming of Christ into our midst. The students face final exams before the holidays. We will see them at least for another week before the exams. It is hard to keep the spirit of Advent when we begin early to celebrate Christmas, but I must confess that I am happy with the tree that went up at the nurse's station as I can see it from my room.

I am trying to cultivate interior silence during Advent. I do not need to read so many things that come on my I-pad; I do scan the news, but I am cutting back on both reading so many different things and playing electronic games. God's first voice is silence and He speaks to me when I am silent and still. We all need to keep a balance during Advent and safeguard time for prayer and reflection. 
Begin thinking of all that you are grateful for and then just sit in gratitude.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Are we really waiting? Laurence Freeman, OSB, asks this in his reflection for the first week of Advent. He tells us that Advent is a "sacred time to reflect, several times daily if we wish, on how consciously we are living....Are we fully accepting the moment we are in or fantasizing about something in the past or future? Are we really waiting? To be truly in the present moment means to wait, to be real and to know with the wisdom arising in stillness that what we are waiting for has already arrived. This kind of waiting is real hope"....

I think we are all called to just wait in stillness during this Advent. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Ultimate Virtue

  Ronald Rolheiser says in his reflection that I quoted from yesterday, "Gratitude is the ultimate virtue and the only real route to happiness. It is more important even than love because anything which does not take its root in gratitude will be self-serving and manipulative in some way. Only when we give of ourselves to others because we are grateful for how we have been blessed --only then will our love flow out as pure and as not demanding something in return.....
He goes on to say that the entire spiritual task of growing into a truly mature and loving person consists of rooting ourselves more and more in gratitude, "where love can flow out from a heart and demand nothing in return because it already has its return." He ends the reflection by telling us that "to explicitly express and celebrate gratitude is the singularly most important and healthiest thing we can do for ourselves, both spiritually and humanly."

I am going to really try to be grateful for everything this Advent; most of all I am grateful for the coming of the Lord into our world.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent thoughts

Since I shared yesterday that I was going to concentrate on making Advent a time of gratitude, I want to share a few ideas from the reflection in Give Us This Day for November 28. It is from Ronald Rolheiser and begins with reminding us that Morris West suggested that when you turn seventy-five years of age there should only be three phrases left in your vocabulary: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  
I will continue with ideas from this reflection tomorrow, but I was also struck by Sunday's reflection by Catherine de Hueck Doherty, also in Give Us This Day. The title is "A Pilgrimage of Stillness".
She begins by saying that Advent is a short season, "but it is a long road of a soul from Nazareth to Bethlehem."... It is a road into infinity, into eternity. "Advent is the road of the spiritual life, the pathway all of us must take if we wish to get to heaven....We must start with a fiat that re-echoes Mary's fiat. A fiat that each of us should say in the quiet of our hearts, and preferably at eventide when all creation is still."

Sunday, December 1, 2019

First Sunday of Advent

Having agreed to do the Advent prayer for the First Week of Advent, I did it on hope. Hope is a virtue that we really need in our world today, and Advent is a time of hope. "Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up" is a quote that I found in Ilia Delio's Birth of a Dancing Star, p.175. 
I just looked this up again so here is the whole quote:

"Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up; hang in there, church is what is being reborn." This is Ilia's answer when speaking to young people about faith and evolution and having them wonder where they can find these ideas in the church.

Advent is a wonderful time to increase our desire for the coming of the Lord into our world and into our hearts. Let us not get too busy with Christmas and miss this wonderful season of hope and desire.