When you pray, remember the breath that made us humans living beings, from God it comes; to God it returns. Blend the Word and prayer with the flow of life and nothing will come between you and the Giver of Life. St/ Seraphim of Sarov
When you pray, be like the flower reaching up to the sun; straight stemmed like a column. Be open, ready to accept all things without fear and you will not lack light on your way. St. Seraphim of Sarov
I may have shared some thoughts on silence from St. Seraphim a long time ago, but one of my friends shared this with me and I thought it worth copying. When you pray, be like the mountain in stillness, in silence; thoughts rooted in eternity. Do nothing, just sit, just be; and you will harvest the fruit of your prayer. I suspect I did share this at an earlier date, but there are five verses and I am going to use them this week while I am recuperating from pneumonia that has really knocked all the energy out of me!
The Gospel for this Sunday (Matthew 4: 12-23) has Jesus beginning to preach in Galilee and calling his first disciples to follow him. They immediately left their nets and followed him. The reflection in Give Us This Day is taken from Pope Francis. I shall just quote a small part. The Pope tells us that the first missionary appearances take place along the lake of Galilee, in contact with the multitude, in particular with the fishermen. "There Jesus does not only proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God, but seeks companions to join in his salvific mission...The call reaches them in the midst of their daily activity: the Lord reveals himself to us not in an extraordinary or impressive way, but in the everyday circumstances of our life. There we must discover the Lord; and there he reveals himself, makes his love felt in our heart; and there--with this dialogue with him in the everyday circumstances of life--he changes our heart." Pope Francis, Angelus, January 22, 2017.
One of my friends gave me this to see if I wanted to use it in my blog. It is from Theillard de Chardin: "When sings of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind): when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off...strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awake to the fact that I am ill or growing old: and above all at that last moment whin I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all these dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand it is You (providing only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance to bear me away within Yourself." Let us pray for strong faith and complete surrender to the God who loves each of us with an infinite love!
Perhaps because I spent the first six years of my school life at the Academy of the Visitation, I have always admired St. Francis de Sales. The entrance antiphon is "I will look after my sheep, says the Lord, and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them, and I, the Lord, will be their God.
We must pray that all our Bishops will be more like both St. Francis de Sales and Pope Francis.
This beautiful picture is right here in California. We have a beautiful state and I love to see hills after so many years in South Florida. I have been mostly confined to my room since coming home from the hospital on January 10, but I made it to Mass today and had my retreatants all here for an hour this morning.
I know I spoke of how much the Pope's homily for the feast of the Epiphany meant to me when I found a copy in my room thanks to one of my sisters. I am not sure I shared much on my blog so I will share this today: "Worship means going to Jesus without a list of petitions, but with one request alone: to abide with him. It is about discovering that joy and peace increase with praise and thanksgiving. In worship, we allow Jesus to heal and change us. In worship, we make it possible for the Lord to transform us by his love, to kindle light amid our darkness, to grant us strength in weakness and courage amid trials. Worship means concentrating on what is essential: ridding ourselves of useless things and addictions that anesthetize the heart and confound the mind."
The Gospel for this Sunday (John 1:29-34) has John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to some of his disciples. He says, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John goes on to testify that Jesus is the one he saw the Spirit come down upon him and remain upon him. He ends by saying, "Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
I think what strikes me most today is the realization that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I am so concerned about our world and the way we are abusing creation. Perhaps I just need to keep asking Jesus to take away the sin of the world that seems to be all around us.
Jesus told us to learn of Him that He is meek and humble of heart. Since I am in the 17th week of the 34 week complete Exercises of St. Ignatius, I am considering deeply my own desires. I have often prayed to Jesus to make my heart like His, meek and humble. I realize that I am far from this still, but Jesus also looks at desires.
I think that God sometimes just sends sickness to slow us down and let us sink into silence. I am not yet feeling up to thinking but have enjoyed the silence and God always provides what we need. One of my high school companions sent me a box with Christmas gifts. It came while I was in the hospital. One is a very large red electric candle that seems so real and I am thrilled to have it for prayer. Another is a silver angel holding a heart and it is a bell. I think it is to be hung on a tree, but I have it sitting next to the candle and love it. Then, one of the retreatants from the retreat that I had to leave, sent me a stone painted green with a big BE in red. If I turn it around, the word KIND is on the back. Just little things that help me as I finish ten days without Mass and in isolation. Tomorrow, I think I can go to Mass as long as I sit in the back. That will make a difference!
Here is the rest of the Guided Imagery that I have been staying with all week. I am still confined to my room and not feeling very good. It is helpful to stay with my images as I never find praying is easy when ill.
I left off in the Garden on the Hillside. I walk slowly up the path enjoying the beauty and watching the deer, the bunnies, the many small birds who all seem to be at home with me. As I near the top, I veer off the path to go sit on a stone ledge. I look over and see the ocean below. The ocean is always an image of God, His immense love. I think that maybe heaven looks like this. It is so beautiful, so peaceful and the animals so tame. Someone must take good care of this lovely hillside as there are flower all along the path.
I am now with God, the Angels and the Saints and I want to praise God, just rest in God. His Love is penetrating every particle of my being. I would like to die now as this is so heavenly but God says there is more for me to do. Then I am just feeling God's love so intensely in all parts of my body.
Here is the continuation of the Guided Imagery I had; after feeling so relaxed and even joyful on my fluffy white cloud, I was slowly taken up into space and then met God in a brilliant light. I felt God's love penetrate into every particle of my being. I feel so loved and do not need to do anything. I feel open, surrendered to God and want to praise God. Then, somehow I am in my chair in the Chapel and God is still surrounding me with His Light and Love. Our Lady comes to sit with me, in the chair next to me, and she holds my hand. I feel the angels and the whole Communion of Saints present. Then the music takes me out on a beautiful hillside with flowers, trees, tame animals and a lovely path. I begin to climb the path slowly as it goes up the hill. It could be the Garden of Paradise. The rest must wait until tomorrow as this pneumonia has taken all my energy.
The one guided imagery that I had with my guide last Saturday has helped me through this week of pneumonia, hospital stay, etc. I promised to share so here is just the first part today and I will finish tomorrow. The music had me swirling around and then swirling up and a big, very white, fluffy cloud came and picked me up. I was then given a ride through space and we kept going up and up toward the sun. I felt wonderful and very relaxed, free and happy also comfortable and contented. I do not need to do anything; just enjoy the ride and the beauty. I see the stars. It gives a different perspective and I also see the ocean below. I am just resting comfortably on my cloud and my cloud continues to move slowly. I do not know where I am going, but I am relaxed. I want the cloud to take me to God. Does God want me now? Then I am in God, surrounded by Light. To be continued tomorrow.
Looking at this picture reminds me of how close to God I felt when ice-skating; maybe it is just what I remember now. I do remember how happy I was to receive a pair of white hockey skates with red plaid lining when I was in seventh grade. Sometimes we would skate on the lagoon in the park and someone would have made a fire and had hot cocoa for us as we came off the ice.
It is good to be home and I shall begin sharing the retreat but this is still scheduled ahead.
What are the moments when you have felt close to God?
I am most grateful for all the prayers I have felt in this retreat. As I am scheduling ahead, I just know I will have felt your prayer. I cannot tell you yet what happened as I have not yet begun the retreat as I write this, but I seem to have chosen a picture that goes with our Chapter call to set sail. I feel I am on my last voyage and I want to be ready for whatever the future holds. One quote I love from Cardinal Sarah's The Power of Silence is: "God achieves everything, acts in all circumstances, and brings about all our interior transformations. But he does it when we wait for him in recollection and silence. In silence, not in the turmoil and noise, God enters into the innermost depths of our being." p.25
Tomorrow the retreat ends. Each year (counting on this year to be the same) I have had the end room on the right of this picture. You can just see the corner of the window but it looks out on ocean and has another window on the side of the house. The other windows are those of what used to be dining room and at the very end is the living room which has a fireplace and where we gather to pray together before dinner and then share in the evening. The other eight retreatants live in the annex, which is a separate building with small bedrooms. We have three guides and one of the graces of the retreat is that we not only have three longer sessions for the Guided Imagery, but we also see our guide for spiritual direction each day in the afternoon. I have found this very helpful.
These are not very good pictures, but I do love our Chapel here at Oakwood and we are so fortunate to have daily Mass here.
Here is another quote from "The Power of Silence":
"At the heart of man there is an innate silence, for God abides in the innermost part of every person. God is silence, and this divine silence dwells in man. In God we are inseparably bound up with silence." p.22
I have always loved this feast as we are all seeking Jesus. It is good to be in retreat as that is what these days are all about and we are all called to follow the star God shows us to lead us to Him.
Since I am still scheduling ahead and not using the computer during retreat, I again ask your prayer.
It is a joyous feast. Here is the Collect for the Mass:
"O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory, …."
Today my quote is from Father Marie-Eugene de L'Enfant Jesus' book I want to see God. I do not know this book but Cardinal Sarah has this quote on p. 22 in his wonderful book, The Problem of Silence: "God speaks in silence, and silence alone seems able to express Him. For the spiritual person who has known the touch of God, silence and God seem to be identified. And so, to find God again, where would he go, if not to the most silent depths of his soul, into those regions that are so hidden that nothing can any longer disturb them? When he has reached there, he preserves with jealous care the silence that gives him God. He defends it against any agitation, even that of his own powers." How do you defend your silence as you seek God?
As I am beginning a silent retreat, I want to share with you some of the wonderful quotes taken from The Problem of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah. On p.21 hs tells us: "We encounter God only in the eternal silence in which he abides." He has just finished telling us that we must enter into silence for God himself dwells in a great silence. The picture today helps us to enter into that silence where we encounter God.
Today, I go to Santa Cruz to stay at the Dominican vacation house until January 9. Last year we began going over to Villa Maria del Mar in the next block for all our meals. It was cold and stormy and so dark at night that we needed flashlights! Fortunately, I think the weather forecast is better this year. It will be my fourth guided imagery retreat and each has been a grace. I am convinced that God speaks to us through our imaginations. This kind of retreat really stays with you as you are asked to do quite a bit of work after each GIM session. You need to identify all the images, symbols, your feelings, etc. and spend time in prayer reflecting on what God is trying to tell you through the images that come as your guide is selecting the music and also writing down whatever you say. That is important for I often forget a key phrase I heard. I do ask prayer for these days. I will be scheduling my blog ahead as I have some wonderful quotes to share with you before I go. One of my sisters has lent me a great flashlight!
Happy New Year! It will be happy, I think, if we can spend it with Mary and Jesus. We have a wonderful Heavenly Mother who sees all our needs and speaks to Jesus about it. She just expects her Son to do whatever she asks, but she tells us: "Do whatsoever He tells you." May this year be one of discernment and silence so we may hear the voice of God who speaks when our hearts are silent.