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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Recognizing Jesus

I think I may have taken this picture the day we went whale watching. It has nothing to do with the quote I am sharing from Sandra Schneider and which a friend sent me and I want to share as it is full of wisdom.

"Jesus, mysteriously and demandingly risen in our midst, open the eyes of our hearts so that we may recognize You, not in our fantasies or projections, our evasions and pipedreams, but in the challenges we face and surmount as we try to make you present through and in our joyous commitment to the world that God so loved as to send You to save us. Teach us to sing "Alleluia" (God be praised) as You did -- in the many Gardens of our lives: of creation, betrayal and arrest, burial, resurrection, and apostolic commissioning. Make us mature disciple who see and therefore can proclaim, "He is risen!" in every circumstance of our personal and collective lives."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

On Friendship

I am using pictures that I have taken and they have no title so I really do not know what might show up. I want to share today something that a dear friend sent me:

"We do not make our friends, we find them only
Where they have waited for us many years;
One day we wander forth a little lonely
And lo! a comrade at our side appears.
'Tis not discovery. 'Tis recognition-
A smile, a glance; and then we grasp the hand
No explanation needed, no condition,
That we are friends at once we understand."

I love this as I think it so often is exactly what happens. These friends are a gift from God.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Three things to reflect on today

I was going to start quoting from Pope Francis's book on Hope, but have two other things I want to share today. I have been using a bookmark from Daily Word and really think the three sections are worth quoting for you. The first is from Sue Sikking:
"Prayer is not a duty or a habit, but pouring forth of the heart in gratitude for every breath, every moment of life, every experience." 

The next is from Eric Butterworth: "Things may happen around you, and things may happen to you, but the only things that really count are the things that happen in you."

The third is from May Rowland: "After all, it is our attitude toward life that brings us joy in living." 

Let us live today in joy and gratitude!

Monday, April 27, 2020

The gift of time

Another week sheltering in place! It is amazing how much time is saved by not going out but how are we using that time? Time is such a gift and we all have twenty-four hours a day - no one has more or less. I hope this working at home has given the students more self-discipline so that they are getting their work done and not staying up at night to finish assignments. I used to find that the undergrads I taught were happy to sign up for an online course, but often did not finish it or just scraped through. I was not teaching undergrads online and the graduate students were serious about their work and disciplined.
I have just received on my I-pad, Pope Francis' book on Hope.  I will be sharing some of it with you this week. We are still praying with the different appearances of  the risen Jesus and I am sure He is going around and consoling us, too, in this time of stress and anxiety for so many.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Third Sunday of Easter

"Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them. He had met them on the road walking away from Jerusalem. They were discouraged because of what they had seen and heard in the last three days. Even though some of the women from their group had gone to the tomb and came back saying that they had seen a vision of angels who announced that Jesus the Nazarene was alive after they had been there and witnessed his death on the cross. They were discussing about all the things that had occurred when Jesus approached them.
They did not recognize him. He asks them, "What were you discussing as you walk along?" They are amazed that he does not know but then he begins to explain the Sriptures to them. As they approach Emmaus, the village seven miles from Jerusalen, they urge him to stay with them. He does and they finally recognize him in the breaking of the bread, "but he vanished from their sight." So they set out "at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, 'The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then they tell them what had taken place on the way and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is one of my favorite appearances of Jesus as I find it so easy to apply to our own lives. Jesus comes and walks with us, but we do not recognize Him. Still, He stays with us when we invite Him in to share whatever is happening in our lives. Let us listen to Him!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Hope is such a gift

Hope, a theological virtue, is a gift we have all received. No matter how terrible the news is these days, no matter the lose of friends, family, economic worries, anxieties from so many sides, we have hope. Hold fast. I read an encouraging blog that spoke of hope. The author watched a robin trying to build a nest on top of a little speaker attached to the house. The platform was small, the strands of grass the bird was leaving to prepare the nest would fall often, and it seemed a futile exercise of patience, but that bird did not give up. Day after day the little bird brought what was needed to make that nest and finally succeeded in a very tight space to have a nest to welcome the robin eggs.
Now, we must never lose hope. It was given to us as a gift from the moment of our baptism. Let us use these days to develop it.
What we can learn from the robin: everyday she showed up; every day she started over. Every day she takes the ordinary debris of grass, mud, sticks, and makes something that will hold new life.
So, and I quote from the blog of Healthy Spirituality: "I feel God gently whispering into my heart - you can do this too. So:
Everyday show up.
Everyday start over.
Everyday try once again.
Everyday take the ordinary stuff from the garden of my life, add the muck and mud of the world and build something to hold new life.!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Reading the Bible

Now that we do not have the opportunity to go to Mass and hear the reading of the day, many are turning to their Bibles. Usually, we find the book heavy, the print small, the day's readings hard to find. However, there are Bible aps that make all that obsolete. I use my NAB app all the time. The New American Bible is the translation we use in the churched in the United States and the app is so easy to use. You can get the daily readings by clicking on the icon at the top right. You can find any book of the Old or New Testament by chapter and verse just with a click; you can enlarge the print, highlight in different colors, save favorite passages, etc. I just thought I should promote this today. You can use it on your phone or I-pad and it really is amazing how quickly you can find the reading you want. Do try it!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life"

In today's Gospel, John tells us that "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." That is consoling. I firmly believe that Jesus is watching over all of us and only wants us to be with Him forever. So many deaths now all over the world must be giving us new saints in heaven.

The days here continue to be quiet and there is time for reading. I am rereading the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart and see how the Holy Spirit has been present throughout our history. We are now at a turning point as many are old and the young are few, but we will have new ways of organizing ourselves and continuing to spread the love of the Heart of Jesus wherever we are. I am not going to live to see all the changes coming, but know that the Holy Spirit is active in each of us and I look to the future with great confidence. We will have a virtual Provincial Chapter in July.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

April Showers

Rain can be such a gift, but needs to come in moderation - not too little and not too much. I know much of the country has had too many bad storms and there is the threat of flooding in some parts every Spring. We had no rain where I am in California during February and little in March; we welcomed the days of rain in early April. Again, I am thinking of how the different amounts of rain might be a metaphor for our souls being watered by grace. I think we feel times when we long for our souls to be watered; other times we feel a deluge of grace and are overflowing in gratitude.

I wonder if God is the gardener, how He wants to till my soul, plant new seeds, and water it this Spring? I cannot go out, but I am able to bloom where I am.  Just a few thoughts that came when I sat down to write today. I am glad the Lord tends my garden as He pulls up the weeds as soon as they appear.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Spring seems to finally want to be here

Although temperatures may not yet be in the 70s, the tulips are blooming, the trees are blossoming and have suddenly filled the branches that were mere sticks two weeks ago. Nature is such a miracle. Year after year life springs up here in April. The rose bushes show buds, the many different types of flowers in our patio are all blooming or they are about to bloom. 
I wonder if our souls also awaken in the Spring. Do we put forth new branches, start to bloom, to come forth and blossom? I hope so. All creation seems to awake in April, at least in California. And I need to blossom forth, too. It is a time to spread love and joy even in the midst of this pandemic. How am I going to do that today?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Spiritual Companionship

People need spiritual companionship but many ask me to try to explain it. I think there are so many ways that we relate to each other that it is hard to offer a model. Having said that, I love the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. He begins the conversation by asking her for a drink. From that simple request, Jesus initiates a conversation that draws the woman into a deeper look at her own life. 
We all need, I think, the help of a spiritual companion. We learn a great deal about ourselves when we try to put into words what is going on inside of us. 
Now, in this time of sheltering in place, spiritual companions need to share online or by letter or phone. Talk about what is going on inside of you - what do you desire? Perhaps you need to talk about your fear, your anxiety with so many sick and dying around you. 
Just find someone and you will find that spiritual companionship is a real grace.
Now, perhaps that all came from the Holy Spirit as I did not intend to write about this today!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday

Jesus want to be with us. I often imagine what I would say to Jesus if He knocked on the door of my room. I would be full of joy and invite Him in to sit in my comfortable armchair. But then, I am not sure how the visit would proceed. Would I just sit in silence and feel His Love pouring into me? I think that is what I mostly do during my afternoon prayer in the Chapel. I know Jesus is with me, in me and I in Him so words are not needed.
I am not meditating today so much on the Liturgy for this Sunday as to the mystery of God's mercy. And that brings to mind the poem of Jessica Powers on the Mercy of God, entitled "The Garments of God" - I will quote just the first lines:
"God sits on a chair of darkness in my soul.
He is God alone, supreme in His majesty.
I sit at His feet, a child in the dark beside Him;
my joy is aware of His glance and my sorrow is tempted
to nest on the thought that His face is turned from me.
He is clothed in the robes of His mercy, voluminous garments--
not velvet or silk and affable to the touch,
but fabric strong for a frantic hand to clutch,
and I hold it fast with the fingers of my will."

And the last line is "here in the dark I clutch the garments of God."

I guess that is what most of us are doing during this time!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Tomorrow is Divine Mercy Sunday

This Feast was instituted by Pope John Paul II, now a canonized saint. In his homily of April 22, 2001, he spoke of how today the "Lord also shows us his glorious wounds and his Heart, an inexhaustible source of light and truth, of love and forgiveness."

As a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I know that His Heart is always open for us. He tells us to come to His Heart and find all we need. It is consoling in this time of widespread sickness, death, and great suffering to know that His Heart is waiting to pour out His love and mercy on all of us. 
Saint John Paul also said "Through the mystery of this wounded heart, the restorative tide of God's merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret."

Friday, April 17, 2020

Jesus fixes breakfast for his disciples

This is my favorite appearance of Jesus after the Resurrection; the truth is that I find all the appearances helpful, but this one really touches me. John's Gospel (21:1-14) is too long for me to copy but it begins with Simon Peter saying that he is going fishing; the six disciples who are with him say they will go with him and so they go out and fish all night and catch nothing. When it is dawn, Jesus is standing on the floor, but they do not recognize him When he tells them to cast the net over the right side of the boat, they do it and cannot pull up the net as it is so full of fish. John immediately says, "It is the Lord" and Peter jumps into the sea to be the first to shore. There they find that Jesus has a charcoal fire with fish on it and he invites them to come and have breakfast. He "took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish."

This scene lends itself to prayer, but I also have another quote to share today:
Set your heart on God. Make your love and your will one act.  God is not silence, nor speaking; not fasting, nor eating; not loneliness, nor friendship.  God is in neither of the two sides of any paradox.  Instead, God is hidden between these, and nothing your mind does can help you find God - not your reason, not your thoughts, not studying - only your love. God can be loved, yes. The genuinely loving heart can choose to find God.  Love, and the sharp arrow of your simple longing will not fail to reach its mark, who is God.  Contemplate God, rest in not setting and not knowing,  and you will experience the dark mystery of everything beyond our understanding.  Then - and only then - does God sometimes flash out a spiritual ray of light for you,  piercing the cloud of unknowing between you and God,  and allowing you a glimpse of the divine secrets, which are beyond anybody's ability to describe. -Anonymous: Discretion of Stirrings and the Cloud of Unknowing.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

"Peace be with you"

On that first day of the week, Jesus came and stood in the midst of His disciples. They were terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost, even though the disciples who had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread were there telling the others about Jesus walking with them. 
Jesus says to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."
Luke then tells us that while they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, Jesus asked them, "Have you anything here to eat? They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them."
Jesus tries to put them at ease and then "he opened their minds to understand the scriptures."

If I had been there, how would I have felt? When Jesus comes now to me, how do I react?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

They recognized Jesus only in the breaking of the bread

This is definitely one of my favorite Gospels. Luke tells us that on the first day of the week, two disciples were leaving Jerusalem to go to a village called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were discouraged and conversing about all the things that had happened. While they were walking, Jesus drew near and walked with them. They did not recognize him. He asks them what they were talking about and they ask him if he did not know of the things that had taken place. Jesus again poses a question for them: "What sort of things?" So they tell him how Jesus had been crucified and now it was the third day and the women had gone to the tomb and returned saying that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that Jesus was alive. Then Jesus tells them how foolish they are and slow to believe all that the prophets spoke. Then, beginning with Moses, Jesus interpreted to them what referred to in in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village, they urged him to stay with them for the day is almost over. "So he went in to stay with them table he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him."

But Jesus vanishes and they are so full of energy that they set out and return to Jerusalem to announce to the disciples what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Do I recognize Jesus when He comes to walk with me? And am I inviting Him to stay with me? 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Why are you weeping?

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. She looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there. They asked, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him."
Then she turned around and saw Jesus but thought it was the gardener. Jesus also asks her why she is weeping, but then he just says her name and she recognizes him.

Am I able to recognize Jesus when he calls my name? 

Jesus sends Mary to give the good news to his disciples. Jesus uses a woman to announce His resurrection to the apostles! 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Jesus met them on their way

We all have our favorite appearance of Jesus after the resurrection when he went about consoling his disciples. Today's Gospel has Matthew telling us how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to the disciples. "And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them...." 

Imagine how they felt - they must have been startled at first but they approached Jesus and embraced his feet and did him homage. Then Jesus said to the, "Do not be afraid." How often Jesus says those same words to us!
He is with us now and knows what all of us are going through with the many deaths, the contagious virus that seems to be everywhere, with the problems of so many now to find food, etc. But Jesus is with us and tells us again, "Do not be afraid!"

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday 2020

Alleluia! Alleluia! "I am risen and I am with you still, alleluia.
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad."

The more I let Jesus be present in every event of my daily life, the more completely his resurrection confronts the fear, doubt, lack of courage, lack of hope I might experience. So. let ourselves walk around in the sense of Jesus, alive and with us. 

Let my joy with Jesus renew my life!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Holy Saturday

When Jesus was taken down from the cross on Good Friday, Mary held her Son and her heart was pierced with sorrow. On Holy Saturday, I imagine Mary spending time reviewing the life of her Son: seeing Him as a baby, then as a delightful little boy to whom she was mother, teacher, friend; then seeing her son learn to be a carpenter with Joseph, and then seeing Him leave home. Then came the years where Jesus was going from village to village with His chosen friends. When the women joined them to see that they had some hot food and clean clothes, was Mary now with Him? She was there at the end, following her son until his death on the cross.
She prayed that Holy Saturday, but I am sure her prayer was still her fiat and full of faith.
Let us spend today with Mary and ask her to help us not only review the life of her Son, but to review our own lives with Jesus. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Thursday

Because we all still sheltering in place, most of the world will need to make a spiritual Communion this Holy Thursday. I think it good to reflect on the earliest account of the Last Supper when Jesus gave us this wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist. 
Paul tells us in his first Letter to the Corinthians:
"Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup in the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes."

This is from a letter from our Provincial in 2018 in which she begins by telling us that Holy Thursday is her favorite day of the year because, for her, "it is the day that focuses everything: love, friendship, betrayal, community, food, service, humility and, almost best of all, imagination.....Who would ever think of taking ordinary bread and wine and seeing in them a way to remain with people? To be forever in their midst because he loves them and wants to be with them forever?"

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Spy Wednesday

Jesus is to be betrayed by one of His chosen friends. The Gospel of Matthew tells us today that, "One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Meanwhile, on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him where he wanted them to prepare for the Passover meal? Jesus told them to go into the city to a certain man and tell him that the teacher says, "My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."

Jesus knew what He was to do. He must have been thinking of this last supper with his closest friends. He probably had spent time praying on what He wanted to say to them. He loved them and wanted to arrange a way to still be with them after His death in a real and tangible way. 

How grateful I am and yet how do I show that gratitude? We are all friends of Jesus. Let us stay with Him in prayer during these days and see how He loves us.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday of Holy Week

Today I want to share with you this prayer for World Health:

Christ the Healer, you modeled for us
compassion and care for the sick.
You did not turn away from their need,
You were present to their suffering, and 
You offered a healing touch that soothed their spirits
as well as healed their body's pain.

Move us to follow your example,
as individuals and also as a society.
May we not turn away from the suffering
of all those who are ill.
May we be present to their needs, and 
recognize their dignity through all stages of life.

May we affirm that every person in the global community
should have access to quality health care, and 
may we work to make this a reality.

Christ the Healer, call us to play our part
in the many dimensions of the healing ministry.
May we follow your lead, and be a part of the healing
of your human family. Amen
                                              Jane Deren, Education for Justice

Monday, April 6, 2020

Monday of Holy Week

John's Gospel tells us that Jesus went to dinner at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair. Judas thought that was a waste but Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

I try to imagine how Jesus felt at that dinner with his friends. How does anyone feel who is facing death and saying goodbye to friends? And Jesus knew what kind of death was waiting for Him. 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday

It is strange to begin Holy Week knowing that most people will be following the Liturgies from home. Churches are closed, but Holy Week is a special time and begins today with Jesus arriving in Jerusalem. Because there will be no procession this year, the Mass begins with this antiphon: "Six days before the Passover, when the Lord came into the city of Jerusalem, the children ran to meet him; in their hands they carried palm branches and with a loud voice cried out: Hosanna in the highest!"

The contrast with the welcome Jesus receives as he enters Jerusalem this week with the way He will be treated is so great that I wonder how we can be so fickle - some of these same people would be in the crowd later crying our "Crucify him!'

The Passion of Our Lord according to Matthew is the Gospel and sets the tone for what we call Holy Week as we follow Jesus through His last days before He dies on the Cross. He himself said that the greatest love a man can have is to give his life for his friends. 
Let us enter into this Holy Week with the firm resolve to stay with Jesus as He spends these days showing His love for us.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

First Saturday

There is something delightful about the change of seasons, but when Spring comes, we seem to have new energy. Perhaps that is why we have "Spring housecleaning".  Today, my room is so clean and orderly that I am rejoicing in this exceptional neatness. I did get through the file drawer, but must confess that I left a pile of papers still to be gone through, but they are safely stowed away in a plastic box on the bottom shelf of my bookcase. 

If you are saying a "Hail Mary" each time you wash your hands, let us ask our Lady to take care of all the sick, the caregivers, doctors and nurses, those who are still keeping the stores open for us to have food and medicines, and those who have no shelter to shelter in - I also want to pray for all those who may be missing their last weeks of school. The list could go on forever at this time but Our Lady is one to bring peace, to console, to strengthen us in this time of anxiety. 
I did finish sorting through the last bunch of papers yesterday and now will concentrate on Holy Week and keep enjoying the silence.

Friday, April 3, 2020

First Friday

Winter is really over in California as our tulips are blooming. This is a peaceful picture and I thought it would be good to just take some time to contemplate and feel the silence of this scene.

Here is a thought that also comes from my re-reading Radical Optimism by Beatrice Bruteau: "Entering into the heart of Jesus means also entering into our own heart, the center of our being, the core of our existence."
The Heart of Jesus was pierced with a lance so that this wound is always open for us. Yes, this is a mystical way of entering into the depth of His Heart so full of love for us. On this First Friday of April, just one week before Good Friday, let us ask Jesus to let us descend into the depths of His Heart.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Meditation is a way of meeting God

The book I have been taking to my hour of adoration in the afternoon is Radical Optimism by Beatrice Bruteau. It is not a new book but is one that I have never tired of going over, especially for some of her thoughts. 
Here are a few tidbits from the end of her third chapter on Meditation:
" Meditation is a highly individual affair...Meditation is a way of meeting God. It is not a matter of thinking about someone who is absent. It is engaging someone who is present, indeed supremely present. It is the realization of this presence that is the main point of meditation....Experiencing the presence and reality of God is what it is all about. Anything that can bring you into that is a good meditation."

So, meditation can just be a deep awareness of God present to us; we do not need to do anything once we are aware but let God be God. God will take the initiative if we just sit there and let God love us! As you know, my favorite quote from Thomas Merton is:
"How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun."

Try it during this time of "sheltering in place".

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fools' Day

Although April Fools’ Day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery.
Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563.
People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.
What the entire world is going through now is not a joke. We need to keep praying and stay cheerful even as we read of the increase of deaths and sickness in all parts of the world.