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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Thursday, December 31, 2020
Today we spend time reviewing the past year and praying for all who have died, for all that we have neglected to do, and praying for the New Year which begins at midnight. 2020 has been a year like no other year in my memory; there have been many good things but also many problems in our world so we need to pray much for the New Year that is beginning.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
I am taking a short vacation and will return on New Year's Eve. I cannot go anywhere, but we are having some extra activities here and I am participating in all. It is good this week to do different things and I will be back on for New Year's Eve. The six of us in Westwood are preparing a special prayer and party but at 6:00 PM. We will have a zoom with the Province earlier and prayer in the Chapel that afternoon.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary and the Infant and go to Egypt. He woke up and took Mary and the Child and left for Egypt. He had incredible faith and so did Mary. They obeyed without hesitation as they feared for the life of their newborn child. I can imagine what that trip was like. In the meantime, Herod's solders were searching for all the male infants to kill them. What sorrow for all those mothers and yet we celebrate this day as a feast day!
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Feast of the Holy Family
Today we are celebrating the Holy Family. I read a reflection that spoke of one of the few benefits from the pandemic is that families are together, really together and taking care of one another. It is hard that they cannot see other family members, but the immediate family has become much more intimate and attuned to one another. I think this reflection was not aware of the problems that poor families may be having in small dwellings. I think of stories told me in Chile by the eighth graders in the "Poor School". I had agreed to teach the English class, but that large group of girls taught me much about the dangers of living in poverty. I pray for all families today and I am so grateful for my own.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
I love the way the Infant Jesus in our chapel has His arms outstretched for each of us; He wants us to pick Him up and hold Him so He can pour His love into us. He comes as a helpless baby so we can hold Him and feel His love as we try to return it.
Moonless Darkness is the only Christmas poem we have of Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Merry Christmas to All
The greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving. In giving gifts, we give what we can spare, but in giving thanks we give ourselves.
Br. David Steindl-Rast
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I am spending some time in prayer since yesterday trying to discern what Jesus would really like me to give Him for His birthday. I know that He seems just to want me = the gift of myself renewed again and I think that is what He asks each of us. So, I am trying to be a gift that He can open whenever He wants. I am a gift that He can use whenever He wants. I am just giving myself to Him again.
Christmas is a time to ponder what the coming of Christ into our world really means. He came to reveal God's love to each of us. I just read this bit of news and it seems to fit to share it here with you:
"The United Nations General Assembly decided unanimously that Feb. 4 be observed each year as the International Day of Human Fraternity, starting in 2021. It invited member states, the U.N. system and others to observe the date in a manner each would consider appropriate.
It was on Feb. 4, 2019, that Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, signed the historic “Document on Human Fraternity” in Abu Dhabi. The General Assembly’s resolution specifically refers to that significant event in Christian-Muslim relations as the inspiration for the date."
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
O Emmanuel, our King...."
The O Antiphon for today is:
"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!"
And we sing: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that morns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain.
O come, thou holy Lord of might, who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law, in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain.
I do not use Facebook, but this is about Bill Barry, SJ who died and is worth reading.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
"O King of all nations...."
Today the O Antiphon is:
"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, who you formed from the dust."
It is good to go back to realize that God made us; we did not make ourselves. He is the Potter and we are the clay in His Hands. Let us be molded as He wants us to be. He comes to us at Christmas as a helpless infant. No one can be afraid to approach Him and He waits for each of us to come to Him every Christmas. What shall I give Him for His birthday?
I heard of the death of Father Bill Barry, S.J. yesterday and he was such a wonderful man. His books have helped so many and I used his text in my formation program for Spiritual Directors and I am now missing him. I gave his book "God and You" to many.
Monday, December 21, 2020
O Radiant Dawn...
I am late today but excited that Christmas is coming in just four days! We are increasing our desire for the coming of Christ into our hearts again in a special way this Christmas. What gift are we preparing for the Infant Jesus this year? He really only wants our love.
We continue with the O Antiphons:
"O Radiant Dawn, Splendor of Eternal Light, Sun of Justice, Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death."
Our world has such need of the "Sun of Justice" to come and shine on all of us. Let us call with great fervor, "Come, O Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay."
Remember to go out to see the "Christmas Star" tonight about 45 minutes after sunset. This is 800 years since the two planets will come together to cause this brightness and I wonder why today, the Winter Solstice, is appearing to call all of us to follow the star to wherever Jesus waits for each of us. Open your heart and you will find Him!
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Advent
It is the fourth and last week of Advent and is a short one this year as Christmas Eve comes in just four days. As I love the O Antiphon for today, I shall copy it here:
"O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom,
come and free the prisoners of darkness!"
Saturday, December 19, 2020
O Root of Jesse
Friday, December 18, 2020
O Leader of the House of Israel
We have the second O Antiphon to pray with today: "O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power."
Certainly this year we do need the power of God to come rescue us. Let us pray for our world so in need during this Advent.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
The O Antiiphons begin today
You will find the O Antiphon used as the Gospel acclamation each day until Christmas eve.
"O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge."
I think I will let my readers ponder the antiphon each day; in other years, I have commented on them if you want to look into the archives. I think just praying for wisdom as we prepare for Christmas this year may be enough.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
The Weight of Nothing
One of the Sisters here gave me this little tale called "The Weight of Nothing" and I am sharing it with you today.
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake", a coal mouse asked a wild dove. "Nothing more than nothing," was the answer. "In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal mouse said.
"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow --not heavily, not in a raging blizzard--no, just like in a dream, without any sound and without violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles in my branch. Their number was exactly 3,714, 952. When the 3,714,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing as you would say--the branch broke off."
Having said that, the coal mouse flew away.
The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace in the world."
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Anniversary of my First Vows
The season of Advent recalls the anticipation to make my vows on this day 68 years ago. We made our vows for life, but the Society accepted us for life with our final Profession which could not be made before the age of 25 and we would have another time apart, usually five or six months to prepare for our final profession. I remember the day vividly, or at least parts of the day. As I had spent my second year as a novice also in charge of the sports programs for the high school and seventh and eighth grade, I had permission to go talk to the children the afternoon of my vow ceremony. They were all gathered in the locker room and I actually stood on a bench so I could see all of them. I can still see their faces and recall some of the names!
Since I went back to John of the Cross's poetry yesterday, I am going to use a few of the verses I have highlighted from his Spiritual Canticle - I am using verses 17-19 where the Bride is speaking:
"In the inner wine cellar I drank of my Beloved, and, when I went abroad through all this valley I no longer knew anything, and lost the herd which I was following.
There He gave me His breast; There He taught me a sweet and living knowledge;
And I gave myself to Him, keeping nothing back; There I promised to be His bride.
Now I occupy my soul and all my energy in His service; I no longer tend the herd,
Nor have I any other work now that my every act is love."
Monday, December 14, 2020
St. John of the Cross
Today's Liturgy asks that we, by imitating John of the Cross closely at all times, may come to contemplate eternally the glory of God. Now, I love John of the Cross, so I went back to some of the verses of his poems that really have spoken to me in the past. Here is a bit from "The Dark Night":
"One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings
-Ah, the sheer grace!- I went our unseen, my house being now all stilled...
With no other light or guide that the one that burned in my heart;
This guided me more surely than the light of noon
To where He waited for me - Him I knew so well-
In a place where no one else appeared.
O guiding night! O night more lovely than the dawn! O night that has united
The Lover with His beloved, Transforming the beloved in her Lover...."
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Third Sunday of Advent
The Entrance Antiphon: " Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near."
There is a not of joy because the Lord is near; we light a pink candle, the priest wears a pink vestment, and many of the congregation also wear pink.
The Collect is worth reflecting on: "O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord's Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing."
The First Reading is from Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners....I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation...."
Responsorial Psalm: "My soul rejoices in my God..." It is the Magnificat taken from Luke's Gospel.
The Second Reading is from the first Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians: 5:16-24
It begins by Paul telling us to "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit....
The Gospel is from John 1:6-8, 19-28 and begins by telling us, "A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him...
Let us all rejoice today for Jesus is with us even as we prepare to celebrate His birth again this Christmas.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today is both the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Madeleine Sophie's birthday. It is a day I love as I took the habit on this day 70 years ago! In one way, when one looks back over the years, it seems so long ago. So much has happened in my life since then! On the other hand, I can remember so many details of that day. My parents had come from St. Louis to see me; the ceremony at the morning Mass was always the same; we made a grand entrance dressed as brides, then our habits were blessed and our angel received the basket with our habits and white veils and we processed out to have our hair cut and be dressed in our black habits, caps, and veils. Then we returned for the Mass. I know it was very hard for my parents, but I was so grateful that they had come. There was snow on the ground and I was just getting over a bad cold, but we took a few pictures and then my parents went to New York and sent me a huge box of toys from Macy's - pick-up-sticks, jacks, spinning tops, board games, etc. and we all played with the toys on Christmas Day.
I was just 16 when I visited the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe; that, too, seems so recent and at the same time it was so long ago. Old age has the gift of remembering many things vividly even if they were long ago. Maybe that is why we go back in Advent to remember all that Mary and Joseph were doing to prepare for the birth of Jesus.
"Here is one of my favorite quotes from Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ:
"To be a Joy-Bearer and a Joy-Giver says everything: it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts; and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work."
Friday, December 11, 2020
One of our Sisters gave me the gift of an Advent Calendar that is so beautiful. It shows a village with hills and mountains in the distance, a lake with small boats, a tiny village with a huge Christmas tree in the center and sleighs and skiers going back and forth and then, each day you click on the number and you see something different and there is music and snow falling, etc. It is a Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar and really worth getting, if not this year, next year. I think there is a new one each year.
I also have had some spiritual things sent to me that I love watching . I do not know how to attach but it is nice to have great pictures and music during this Advent. This is another good thing to share today:
Thursday, December 10, 2020
One of my best spiritual experiences as a novice
I took the habit seventy years ago on December 12, St. Madeleine Sophie's birthday. The six of us in my ceremony were in retreat for the three days before the ceremony. I had made or at least been present for the whole community's retreat in July, but remember nothing of it. I had just entered for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, was just 19 years old and apparently not ready for that eight day retreat. However, the three-day retreat before taking the habit was a revelation. It was made in private and I had been given meditations but what happened was that Jesus just came to be with me. I felt His presence in such a tangible way that I sort of floated in a cloud with Him for at least the last two days and I thought, "this is what a retreat is" - I have had many retreats with consolation, immense consolation and experiences of Jesus, but I still remember the presence of Jesus with me every moment of at least the last two days of the retreat. Now, I thank the Lord for this grace which I probably did not have the sense to do 70 years ago!
Let us go back today and thank for the many graces received that we may not have thanked for then.
I read today that gratitude and generosity go together. I know I am grateful, but not so sure how generous. Something to reflect on today.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
The Blessings of Jesus
A dear friend sent me "The Blessings of Jesus" but I do not know where she found them. It is another way of seeing the Beatitudes so I copy it here for your reflection today.
The Blessings of Jesus
Blessed are those who know their need, for theirs is the grace of heaven.
Blessed are the humble, for they are close to the sacred earth.
Blessed are those who weep, for their tears will be wiped away.
Blessed are the forgiving, for they are free.
Blessed are they who hunger for earth's oneness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the clear in heart, for they see the Living Presence.
Blessed are those who suffer for what is right, for theirs is the strength of heaven.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are born of God.
What I think is interesting is the fact that some are future blessings and others are in the present!
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Feast of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This is a Feast of Our Lady celebrating that she was preserved from every stain of sin. She is Mary Immaculate, but she is also a Mother who is watching over each of us with a tender, constant love.
Father Alfred Delp said that "Mary is the most comforting figure of Advent. That the angel's message found her heart ready and the Word became flesh,...that God would become a mother's son and that a woman could walk upon this earth, her body consecrated as a holy temple and tabernacle for God, is truly the earth's culmination and the fulfillment of its expectation."
Mary is always seeking ways to console us, to help us, to bring us to her Son. Let us honor her today.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Continuation of Oscar Romero's reflection; the first part was published on December 4th.
"Advent should admonish us to discover in each brother or sister that we greet, in each friend whose hand we shake, in each beggar who asks for bread, in each worker who wants to use the right to join a union, in each peasant who looks for work in the coffee groves, the face of Christ.
Then it would not be possible to rob them, to cheat them, to deny them their rights.
They are Christ, and whatever is done to them Christ will take as done to himself.
This is what Advent is; Christ living among us."
That gives us something to reflect on today. Do I see Christ in each one I meet during my day"
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Second Sunday in Advent
The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent: "Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
Saturday, December 5, 2020
What do I really mean when I say or sing, "Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!"??
I find myself saying or singing softly, "Veni, veni, Domine Jesus,..." Yet, I feel that Jesus is here with me so why do I keep asking Him to come? It is the spirit of Advent to do so because there are different comings. We celebrate at Christmas the birth of Jesus as His first coming into our world as a human as well as Divine person. He chose to come to reveal His Father's love for all of us and the choice was not to be born in a wealthy, important family, but to be born in poverty and raised in Nazareth, living a mostly hidden life as a carpenter's son until he was perhaps thirty years old. Then the moment came for Jesus to call others to help Him as He went about speaking about God's Kingdom and teaching us to love one another.
Then there is the coming of Jesus into our hearts. I think in some way this happens as soon as we are called to life in our mother's womb; we know that Baptism gives us the Presence of God in our souls. Do I understand this? No, but I believe it and have had moments when the Presence of God is very tangible and other times we just know by faith that each of us is loved by God who dwells in us.
The third coming is when Jesus will cone at the end of the world. We really do not know when or what will happen and I must stop writing about this coming, but in a sense, all we do during Advent is a preparation for eternal bliss with Jesus in heaven.
Friday, December 4, 2020
A Reflection: Christ Loved and Awaited
"Christ is now in history, Christ is in the womb of the people. Christ is now bringing about the new heavens and new earth.
Christ became a man of his people and of his time: He lived as a Jew, he worked as a laborer of Nazareth, and since then he continues to become incarnate in everyone.
If many have distanced themselves from the church, it is precisely because the church has somewhat estranged itself from humanity. But a church that can feel as its own all that is human and wants to incarnate the pain, the hope, the affliction of all who suffer and feel joy, such a church will be Christ loved and awaited, Christ present, and that depends on us.
The Christian knows that Christ has been working in humanity for twenty centuries and that the person that is converted to Christ is the new human being that society needs to organize a world according to God's heart."
There is more and I will continue this December 7 as it is so true and Pope Francis is saying the same!
First Friday: Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay
We keep praying for the Lord to stir up His power and come...and the first reading for today has Isaiah telling us: "On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice...
We continue to sing in our hearts: "Come, O come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay. Advent prayer is full of hope, desire, and love. Jesus sees our longing for His coming into our hearts in a deeper way as we work to make room for Him. Let this Advent be different; we cannot go out shopping, planning parties, and going to visit others, so we should spend more time preparing our hearts as well as decorating our homes. This year we are forced to slow down and simplify our exterior activity, but let us adorn our hearts with the virtues that most please Jesus: humility, kindness, thoughtfulness, and love.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
I have been praying over Psalm 23 again and just find it so consoling. As you know, it begins:
"The Lord is my shepherd. therefore can I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He shall refresh my soul and guide me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil and my cup shall be full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
The above translation is taken from the Common Worship Services and Prayers for the Church of England - it is not my favorite translation, but sometimes one we use a different translation we get new insights. I just think this is a great psalm to spend time with in prayer.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Suggestion for Advent
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart....
and it always ends with the intention of the Holy Father for that particular month. I just think that what is important is that we consciously offer all of our day - a habit I had for years and do not know why I am forgetting to do so now!
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Advent is a time of longing for the coming of Christ
Monday, November 30, 2020
Feast of St. Andrew
The important thing to remember about Andrew was that he and his brother, Peter, immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.
It is good to write down whatever we have decided to do this Advent to prepare for the celebration of Christ's coming into our world. Then we will be definite about our Advent preparation. It is a short season, but one that can make a difference in our lives!
Sunday, November 29, 2020
First Sunday of Advent
Today we will light Advent wreaths in many churches and homes. Because of the quarantine here, it is not yet possible to begin the season of Advent by lighting one candle. There are always four Sundays in Advent and the rose colored candle is for the Third Sunday when we rejoice for the Lord is near.
The Liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent is worth praying over so I shall just mention a few things that strike me this year.
The Collect: "Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom."
The First Reading is from Isaiah 63 "Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down..."
The Responsorial Psalm is from Psalm 80 and we beg the Lord to make us turn to Him and we cry: "Rouse your power and come to save us."
The Second Reading is from Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians: 1:3-9:
"I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
The Gospel is from Mark 13: 33-37
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.....May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. what I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
Saturday, November 28, 2020
What does Advent mean for you?
I think we all have grown up with different ideas about Advent that have changed as we have grown. I certainly can remember when Advent was a time of trying to be good so Santa would bring us what we asked for and how we could hardly wait to hang up our stockings to be filled. I did know that it was the birthday of Jesus and I loved seeing the manger with Joseph and Mary waiting for Jesus to be born. I think I was in high school before the real meaning of Advent hit me; it is a time to prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus again in a special way. Yes, Jesus is in my heart, but the Church now calls us to really prepare our hearts, to make more room for Jesus, to be able to welcome Him...
Friday, November 27, 2020
Advent begins on Sunday
On this Friday after Thanksgiving I am sitting in front of my computer aware of so many friends scattered all over. Some I have not seen for years, but the gift of their friendship has marked my life. I am grateful for friends in Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Chile, Italy, France, England, Scotland, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and, of course, the United States. What a gift to have friends all over the world! I am not good at staying in contact with many, but they are often in my thought and prayer. I guess I am thinking of them more today as I have just finished writing Christmas cards to be mailed before Advent.
I have not written to those outside of the United States, although I will be sending electronic cards to some RSCJ. My Christmas letter and cards are going to arrive at the beginning of Advent and are for family and friends who are not RSCJs. I tried to limit the list to 50 this year and finished writing all before Thanksgiving for the first time.
I do want to spend Advent preparing for Christmas. When I entered the Society we were not allowed to write letters during Advent and Lent. That is no longer true, but I must tell you that I am happy to have my Christmas letter sent early to wish everyone a holy Advent - actually, I want everyone to have a holy, healthy, happy Advent and Christmas.
Besides thinking of my friends today and feeling very grateful for them, I am also asking God to show me what He wants of me during Advent which begins on Sunday. "Kindness" was suggested from the reading of Chapter 6 in the Pope's latest encyclical; I think that kindness would be the positive way of keeping out all critical thoughts and so I think that will be helpful for me during this Advent.
What are you planning to do for Advent?
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Protect me, O God....
This morning I happened to read Psalm 16 and it said so much to me that I am sharing it with you, at least a few lines - it begins with a plea for protection and that is something we all need at this moment:
"Protect me, O God, for in You I take refuge,
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
That is powerful- can I really say that I have no good apart from God?
And how about these lines from Psalm 16 still:
"I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure...
In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (NRSV)
One thing I am trying to do while in this solitude is to is to "keep the Lord always before me" and then my heart is glad and my soul rejoices. Try it and see how good the Lord is for in His presence there is fullness of joy!
Count Your Blessings
It seems easy to say, but how often do we forget to concentrate on the good and count our blessings?
This a a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: "The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. Your breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet... The greatest of all miracles is to be alive."
With so many dying everyday here and all over the world, we must count our blessings because we are alive and still able to help others by our prayers and actions.
Today is my brother's birthday and I give thanks for him; he was an adorable baby and is a wonderful brother. Let us give thanks today as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow - thanks for all the good memories, the many times we have been able to gather on Thanksgiving and, even in our quarantine, I am grateful that we have not gone back to the cardboard trays and plastic forks, etc. I do find it strange to be eating alone on Thanksgiving, but there are many who not only are alone but do not have a real meal to celebrate this day.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
What do we really need?
In our consumer society we are beset with ads trying to convince us that we must have whatever is being advertised. The question we need to keep asking our selves is, "Do I really need this?" I suspect that we would say no to all these ads if we stopped to think of what is actually a need and what is simply a desire. The point I am trying to make is that we are happier when we do not want for what we do not need. We begin to see how much we have and are grateful that we do not need all these things that are attracting us, but we find ourselves happier when we can say, "no, I do not need that."
When I was a young nun my family was allowed to visit for an hour on Sunday afternoons when I was in town for summer-school at Maryville. My mother told me she had a list of six things she wanted me to pray for - I do not think she told me what she wanted but I remember her saying to me after a few weeks: "Stop praying as I keep getting the things on my list and then do not want them." It seems that she wanted an alarm clock that also started the coffee so she and my Dad could have coffee in bed; the first time she tried it, the alarm went off at 4:00 AM; the second time the water boiled but the coffee did not enter the machine; by the third time it would not work, my Dad said to forget it and get rid of it. The second thing on the list was a water-bed. They had just come on the market and my mother thought she would love one. When it came, it seems that is was a disaster as my Dad was heavier and my mother kept rolling over on top of him and so they had to pay to get someone to remove it and get another mattress. I think it was the same for all the items on my mother's list. The funny thing is that my mother usually wanted nothing and if someone even admired what she had, she would give it to them. She did not like extras and hated clutter of any kind.
Let us be grateful for what we have and not long for anything we do not need!
Monday, November 23, 2020
Grateful for so many things
When we look back over the years, or look over the months or weeks or even days, we see so much to be grateful for and want to thank now, even if we did not feel so grateful then. I guess what I am trying to say is that returning to past moments that may have been difficult then, now can be seen as real moments of grace and growth and we need to be grateful for them. I am finding many such moments in my own life as I pursue this practice of gratitude. I know Jesus is happy when we stop to thank Him. He knows that it is good for us to thank and in these days before Thanksgiving, let us remember to turn to Him in gratitude for all the graces given us each day.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
This last Sunday of the Liturgical Year celebrates Jesus as King of the Universe. I wonder what Jesus thinks when he looks at the world today so full of suffering, poverty, injustice, sins of all kinds. This is the feast where we pray in the Collect of the Mass that "the whole of creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise."
So, let us praise the Lord and rejoice that the First Reading is from the Prophet Ezechiel 34:11-12, 15-17 where God says "I myself will look after and tend my sheep... "It is a very consoling reading.
The Responsorial Psalm is: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want."
The Second Reading is from Paul to the Corinthians: 15:20-26,28 is also consoling for "since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man.....
The Gospel is from Matthew 25:31-46 and tells us that Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats...."
Then we hear about the works of mercy - I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me....whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Let us all pray to be counted with the sheep and begin to care for others as Jesus wants us to love one another in concrete ways and thus we are showing Jesus love, too.
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Feast of the Presentation and Birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart
November 21 is a special day as we count this day, a feast of Our Lady, as the birthday of the Society of the Sacred Heart. It was the day that Madeleine Sophie and her first companions made their vows and consecrated themselves to the Heart of Jesus.
When I was a young Religious, the time before final Profession was usually five years and every one of those years we had a big celebration for the Feast of the Presentation and usually a triduum to prepare it. This meant that for the three days before the feast all those who were not yet professed would gather with the Superior for a talk each evening as we were all busy in the school and could not make a real retreat. At Mass on the feast, we would renew our vows; when we made our first vows, they were not temporary, but we renewed them as a devotion. Some have the habit of renewing their vows every single day in their own prayer. I think I used to do that but lost the habit of doing it perhaps when I was sent to Chile from Rome immediately after my final profession.
Today we pray for all the Religious of the Sacred Heart all over the world and hope that we are making a difference by our love and by our consecration to the Heart of Jesus.
Friday, November 20, 2020
What is tenderness?
We are quarantined until November 30 so forget what I said about visitors - we found out on Thursday morning; we are again confined to our rooms, meals in our rooms and no Chapel, but a short walk in the patio outside my window when others are not there.
I have been wanting to quote from the Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, and this struck me today. It is from Chapter 5,#194: "Politics too must make room for a tender love of others. "What is tenderness? It is love that draws near and becomes real.....Amid the daily concerns of political life, "the smallest, the weakest, the poorest should touch our hearts; indeed, they have a 'right' to appeal to our heart and soul. They are our brothers and sisters, and as such we must love and care for them."
The Pope stresses the common good and I think the only way we will solve our own political problems is to make sure that all elected officials promise and are held to that promise of promoting the good of all. I am sure that we can erase the real poverty of many if everyone would think of the common good. We are a wealthy country, but need to see how we can help those who are without even what is necessary to live a fruitful life.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Great News for Some
Our Oakwood Daily Press told us that we are beginning to test having visitors come to Oakwood. Now, before anyone gets excited about that, listen to what it means. We will be using the new parlor that has a tiny patio before the side door that is near the dining room. The visitor will sit outside the window and the sister will be inside the parlor. There is an intercom system to facilitate communication. There will be a sound box outside and one in the parlor. A heat lamp, borrowed from the school, will be placed outside to keep the visitor warm and there will be a small space heater in the parlor. Not sure how all this will work out, but one of our sisters from San Francisco did come and try it and we had a picture of the one sister in a wheelchair trying to speak to the other with the intercom. Fortunately we do not have really cold weather during most days. I wonder if we could give the Busy Persons' Retreat through the window? I think it is easier to set up a zoom, but if anyone wants to visit through the window, I am all for it.
Our staff is being creative and the breakfast is being served for a whole hour so we sit one at a table and come and go faster than before as we seem to be served quickly and when one leaves, the table is washed and reset immediately. I think that the two shifts for our dinner (11:00 and 11:55), have made all happy since two tables are not pushed together with a clear plexiglass between us so we can talk to each other although we are about ten feet away from each other. Supper has continued to arrive in our rooms around 4:30 but soon we will also be going to supper in shifts. It helps not to be in our rooms so much and it is good to see my sisters or at least a few of them.
I am not sharing anything spiritual today, but I am keeping up the practice of gratitude and will do so until Thanksgiving. (I mean the actually writing as I need always to keep this practice). I do think it is such a good habit for families to have each one around the dinner table share what she or he was most grateful for during the day. It would be a great way to prepare for Thanksgiving this year!