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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Attitudes of Heart

We began the fourth day of our retreat with the importance of our studying the interior dispositions  of the Heart of Jesus.

Since I have updated my blog, Google seems to be making it difficult to add a picture so I will not try again today. 
I spent most of the fourth day of retreat with this quote from our Constitutions of 1982:

"The spirit of the Society is essentially based upon prayer and the interior life since we cannot glorify the adorable Heart of Jesus worthily except inasmuch as we apply ourselves to study His interior disposition in order to unite and conform ourselves to them."

And then in #18 of the 1982 Constitutions:

"Jesus calls us to a personal encounter with Him. He wants to make known to us the feelings and the preferences of His Heart."

Maybe I have solved the problem about the picture!

Monday, June 29, 2020

God's Mercifuil Love continued

Robert Enright, PhD has some Guideposts for living a forgiving life.

I will not go through all of them but what interests me is what he calls the Discovery Phase:

1. Finding meaning in what you have suffered

2. Discover your need for forgiveness

3. Discover that you are not alone

4. Discover the purpose of your life

5. Discover the freedom of forgiveness

I just think that it is helpful to take time to go through these steps.

Perhaps, and I hope this is true, we have done the discovery part but just need to recall it now.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Entrance Antiphon:
All peoples, clap your hands. Cry to God with shouts of joy!

This picture gives me both peace and joy and seems to fit the mood for this Sunday.
The first reading is from the second Book of Kings and gives us a delightful story of Elisha who rewards the hospitality of the woman with the promise of a baby son. 

The second reading is from Paul's letter to the Romans and reminds us that "If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."

The Gospel is from Matthew 10:37-42 and ends with this consoling verse: "And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple--amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

Which reminds me of an article I read that spoke of how high the price of water has risen and how many right here in our own country cannot afford to have running water. And how many in other parts of the world do not have any water near them but must carry it from a well or a river. We take so much for granted.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

God's Merciful Love - Forgiveness

Three times I have centered a picture into this blog, but the moment I begin to write, it vanishes. I do not understand this "update" and it has really caused me to be frustrated. Now, I am going to try again.

It did not want me to write under the picture, but I have managed to do so! The third day of the retreat was on God's merciful love and that always reminds me of the Good Shepherd. Actually, the hand out that we were given speaks of "Understanding what forgiveness is and is not" and then gives a definition of forgiveness from Robert Enright and colleagues. It is "one's willingness to abandon one's right to resentment, negative judgment and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love toward him or her."

It was good to go back over my life to see if I still held any resentment with anyone or any happening in my life.  I do remember some moments of resentment, but feel that I let them go but I stayed with the question: "Is God inviting me to grow in living some aspect of God's merciful, forgiving love? I think I need to be very careful to look for the good in each and not allow critical thoughts - a grace to be prayed for, but I know Jesus always looks for the positive.

Vulnerability continued

This is the Infant Jesus that we have here in the Oakwood Chapel at Christmas. I think his outstretched arms are asking for us to pick Him up and love Him. Jesus was a real baby and vulnerable as all babies are. He needed and still needs our love. 

I am still on the second day of the retreat and the topic is still our relationship with God but thinking now of vulnerability as a place of God's grace. 
Here is a quote from Brene Brown that I think important:

"In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love."

The reflection questions that Sister Kathy Conan gave us are:

Have I had a moment or moments in my life when I was stopped in my tracks, my plans... and that this "moment" became a time of God revealing Godself or leading me in a new way?

Friday, June 26, 2020


I spent some time with the idea of God coming to us in the Incarnation in a state of vulnerability. I have always been drawn to pray over the entire mystery of the Incarnation. God sends the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity to become both human and divine. The birth of Jesus means truly that God is with us. He is fully human and like us in all things except sin. He needs time to grow in the womb of His Mother, just as all babies do. When Jesus is born, he is as helpless as any baby. He needs to be fed, he needs to sleep, he needs to be loved.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Let God lead you through your life

My blog has been confusing me with the latest update. I could not get to my photos this morning except for this one taken when I was still teaching at the University. So, at least some will remember when I was younger. I am not going to fuss more this morning as it took me a long time just to find a way to schedule a blog for today.

I am sharing some of my retreat and I am deepening it for myself by going over it. The second day was about God's relationship with me and my relationship with God. I think you would agree that this could be enough for several days of prayer and reflection. I began by asking God to tell me about my birth and early life. Then God began to show me how He had attracted me to visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament and so we went through my whole life. It is good to let God tell you the story of your relationship from God's perspective. I think this was one of the graces of the retreat that I want to pass on to you today. Let God tell you about your journey and how you have grown in your relationship with Him. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

John the Baptist announce the coming of the Savior, Jesus. He not only baptized Jesus, but pointed Him out to his own disciples. This feast is about the birth of John to Elizabeth, who was elderly and the fact that she gave birth to a son was God's doing. Mary heard about the conception of John when the Angel Gabriel came to her to announce the birth of Jesus. Mary went with haste to visit Elizabeth. 
The Gospel today tells us about the birth of John. It ends by telling us that "the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel."

His name was chosen by God. John means "God is gracious". This name was given to his father by the angel before he was conceived.  
My brother is named John. I hope he knows it means God is gracious.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

God's Love becomes visible

We find God's love everywhere! His love is visible in the cosmos, in nature, in each one, and in everything.

When we are attentive, we find God's love everywhere; it surrounds us, is in us, flows from us, - let us seek Him in the world around us. Let us seek Him in our own hearts. Let our longing for God increase as we contemplate God's longing for us which is infinite.

"Silence creates a space deep within us
so that in it the Other can dwell and his Word remain." Enzo Bianchi

"We all have within us a centre of stillness surrounded by silence."   
Dag Hammarskjold- on the plaque in the UN Meditation Room

Monday, June 22, 2020

God's longing and our longing

What better way to enter prayer on the first day of the retreat than to pray over the Scripture suggestions: Isaiah 55: 1-3. 10-11;
Ps 63: 1-2; and Ps 42:1-2, 7-8 -

As the deer pants for living water, so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?

Deep calls to deep at the sound of your waterfalls;
All your breakers and your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime;
And his song will be with me in the night.
A prayer to the God of my life.

"So what difference does it make how you pray provided your heart is seeking the One you love?" St. Madeleine Sophie

" Be still and know that I am God" Ps 46:10

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Twelfth Sunday in OrdinaryTime

Entrance Antiphon: "The Lord is the strength of his people, a saving refuge...Save your people, Lord, and bless your heritage."

Collect: Grant, O Lord, that we may always revere and love your holy name, for you never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundations of your love...

The Gospel is Matthew 10:26-33 and begins with Jesus saying to the Twelve: "Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known...

I am going back over my retreat starting tomorrow and will be sharing some with you. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Mary was very present to me during our retreat. It was a wonderful eight days in perfect silence and prayer. I loved the retreat and took more notes than I usually do as I think I will be going over the talks for several weeks. Sister Kahy Conan gave us the retreat via zoom with two talks each day. She has been our Mother General, one of the Probation Team, Mistress of Novices, and now is on the team for renewal of sisters who are older but under 75, I think. Anyway, it was a retreat to remember because it was letting God take the initiative. On the second day, Kathy suggested that we let God lead us through our lives. I found this very fruitful and pass the idea on to you today. Start even before your birth; God remembers even if you do not. Let God take the initiative in recalling scenes from your whole life. Talk to Him about what He shows you. And ask Our Lady to be with you today and with all those who are sick and dying and with all the caregivers.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

St. Margaret Mary was a Visitation nun to whom Our Lord appeared several times and showed her His Heart. In our original Constitutions we have this quote under "Lively Faith: 

"Behold this Heart which has so loved men, which has spared nothing even to exhausting and consuming Itself to show them Its love and in return I receive from most men only ingratitude by their irreverence and sacrileges and by their coldness and contempt for Me in this sacrament of love; but what wounds Me yet more deeply is that souls consecrated to My service should treat Me thus."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

When we speak of the Heart of Jesus, we mean Jesus, but we honor especially His Love and Mercy. His Heart was opened for us on the Cross. We come out of retreat tomorrow.

Looking behind I am filled with gratitude.
Looking forward I am filled with vision.
Looking upwards I am filled with strength.
Looking within I discover peace.
Quero Apache Prayer 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

This is a time of transformation

This is not a time of mere change.
This is a time of transformation,
and transformation comes not out of scarcity
but out of the context of possibility,
responsibility, and sufficiency.
Retreats are hopefully times of transformation. Do keep praying for our retreat. We come out of retreat on the morning of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We renew our vows that day out of devotion as we take perpetual vows at final profession.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Eyes of Wonder

I bless this day for the wonderful adventure
it can become as I walk through it with the
eyes of wonder rather than boredom,
use every opportunity to express peace
rather than irritation,
and choose love over fear.
Pierre Pradervand
Have I eyes of wonder? Do I choose love over fear?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Be positive

Optimism is a strategy for making a
better future. Because unless you believe
that the future can be better,
you are unlikely to step up and
take responsibility for making it so.
Noam Chomsky
When I was a freshman at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, I was a weekly boarder as, at that time, we had no highways between St. Louis and St. Charles and the only bridge across the Missouri river was a very old, narrow one. We always had a Jesuit for the retreat which began on Monday night and ended Friday morning. My first year retreat gave me a love for retreats. We kept perfect silence during those days. Before ending the retreat, Father Corley, S.J., asked us to say this prayer of St. Ignatius for 40 days. I copy it here for any who do not know it.

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest, 
to labor and not to ask for reward.

It made a huge impression on me when I was thirteen and I have never forgotten it!
I entered the Society of the Sacred Heart 70 years ago today!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

This is such a special Feast. It used to be celebrated on a Thursday and the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession. Now, we are grateful here that we have a Communion service as we still have no priest for Mass. 
Here is the Collect for the Mass:
O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption.

This feast has a sequence Lauda Sion which has many verses. There is a shorter form that begins with this verse:
Lo! the angel's food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children's bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent.
(It sounds better in Latin!)

Jesus told us, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven;l whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." 
That is the first of the Gospel for this feast, John 5:51-58

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Attitudes of Gratitude

There is a book that I often keep near me and I am sure that I have quoted from it in past blogs. The title is Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life  by M.J. Ryan and I think the book is about thirty years old and still so helpful, especially now when the news is so bad and we are in need of joy. Here is one quote today that is from the last chapter whose title is "The Deepening Journey"; the quote is from Mark Nepo:

"What amazes me is that before we can count we are taught to be grateful for what others do. As we are broken open by our experience, we begin to be grateful for what is, and if we live long enough and deep enough and authentically enough, gratitude becomes a way of life."

Let us pray for one another that we may all find that gratitude is a way of life and is a way to experience joy and to give joy to others.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Good Advice

When life feels too big to handle, go outside.
Everything looks smaller when
you’re standing under the sky.
L.R. Knost

Jeremiah is so consoling and I often pray with this text.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Learn to see the daily gifts

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
We receive gifts every single day but we need to begin to be aware of our gifts. Those who make a daily Ignatian Examen begin with a prayer for light and then go over the day to thank for all the gifts received, both spiritual and material. Some even keep a gratitude journal in order to be more conscious of the daily gifts and graces bestowed on us. To experience gratitude, we need to be aware that we have been given something. That is why we need to see all as gift. 

Grateful people are joyful people!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Entering into retreat

As we go into retreat, I thought I would translate a bit of a prayer that I have in French. I do not know the author, but I suspect it was one of our Mother Generals. I just use some of it sometimes as it is in a book I made with prayers and pictures.

"O Jesus, here I am before you, poor little sinful creature!....I beg the grace of your presence. Allow me to descend a little into the depths of your solitary soul, to enter into your prayer...
Your Heart is alone in its Life of adoration, of praise, of reparation...In order to descend into the depths of Your Heart, make me a silent soul, detached and offered. Amen.

Do pray that the entire house will be silent for the next eight days so we can descend into the depths of the Heart of Christ and pray for the world.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Who reads my blog?

Our Oakwood community goes into retreat for eight days beginning Wednesday night and coming out on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, June 19. I am trying to schedule my blog ahead. I will no doubt be using some great quotes that I have saved. I looked at the stats for my blog last Friday and see that I have written 4,312 blogs since they began keeping statistics; I have had 442,261 hits on my blog, and about 4,475 readers each month; the day I looked, 260 had read my blog on Thursday so that is one reason I keep writing.

Now, I also discovered that there were 66 comments; the truth is that I do not remember to look at comments and I am sorry about that. I would prefer emails, but I am going to try to look. Right now, I have let Google update my blog and so I am having to learn the new way they have organized it and the symbols instead of words. Does anyone else find it difficult to use new updates? It just takes time and I suppose I will discover that the new way is better, once I have mastered it.

Here is a quote for today: "Joy is the echo of God's life in us."
Abbot Marmion said that and I love it!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Experiencing the Trinity

In his book Experiencing the Trinity, Darrell W. Johnson tells us that thinking about God as Trinity is hard work. I am so glad that I lived in the Trinita dei Monti in Rome for five months before my final profession at Mother House of the Society. I learned to pray there in a deeper, more contemplative way and it was there that I realized I needed to develop a personal relationship with each Person in the Blessed Trinity. 

I think we need to continue to deepen our relationship with each Person in the Trinity. It is true, I usually spend my time in prayer with Jesus, but to be with Jesus is also to be with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Since the Trinity is a mystery, we cannot fully understand it. However, we can spend this day honoring the presence of the Holy Trinity in our lives.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

I have updated my blog and now could not put several pictures that I have used before into this blog - the icon of the Trinity, the head of Jesus, etc. Updates are frustrating until one gets used to using them. I mostly just thought today of highlighting some of the Sunday Liturgy for this feast. We will have a Communion service as still no Mass here.

"Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God, and also the Holy Spirit, for he has shown us his merciful love." 
That is the entrance antiphon for the Mass. 

The Collect is worth reading:
"God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty."

The place to find the theology of the feast, it is in its special Preface. It tells us "For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit you are one God, one Lord: not in the unity of a single person, but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty."

We need to pray over that and remember that the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery that we will never fully understand in this life, but we are blessed by our Triune God! it is a mystery of love - let us rejoice in their love!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Let the risen Jesus enter your life....

Someone sent me this prayer of Pope Francis and I want to share it with you today.

Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life!
If up to now you have kept him at a distance, step forward.
He will receive you with open arms.
If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won't be disappointed.
If following him seems difficult, don't be afraid, trust him, 
be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do. 

We all need that strength. I received the gift of fortitude and the fruit of humility to pray for this year when we passed bookmarks with the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost - one of the Society customs that I love. I am happy with what I drew as I feel the need for both fortitude and humility.

Friday, June 5, 2020

First Friday of June

I keep thinking of something I received from a dear friend; it was enclosed in her card and the title is "Celebrate who you are"!
It says: "For your unique life journey has not often been an easy one, yet look at how much you've grown, how much you've learned, how far you've traveled how much love you have given, how much beauty you have created!

It is time to sing your strengths, revel in your triumphs, and rejoice in the magnificent human being that you have become!"

Let us rejoice - we have come a long way and now our candle burns with a steady flame to light the way for others. We must trust the Lord to use us as He sees fit.

Theory of a happy brain

There are four independent brain circuits that influence our lasting well-being. The first is our ability to maintain positive states.
The second circuit is responsible for our ability to recover from negative states.
The third circuit, also independent but essential for the others, is our ability to focus.
The fourth and final circuit is our ability to be generous.

This is the research of a neuroscientist, Richard Davidson, and I find it fascinating. I read it in The Book of Joy and perhaps, after I have mulled over this, I will expand on what it really means to me.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Relatedness and Aloneness

Since we are still sheltering in place, I want you to think about your relatedness and your aloneness. Both are necessary and good, but some people are strong introverts and do not seem to need much relatedness. I think most of us need both the relatedness and the aloneness.
How are we relating to one another now? Often we are just with family while sheltering in place. However, I am sure that the phone and internet have made it quite easy to continue to relate to many, many others. Or, you may just want to escape for some quiet time if your home is full of people. Small children can be very demanding or at least need your attention so you may be craving time alone, even while sheltering in place. Joy is to be had in moments of silence, but I think joy comes from relationship to others. 
I am grateful for the many who have reached out to me, to us, at Oakwood during this time. I am so glad I can receive mail as well as email to stay in touch with family and friends. Others prefer the phone. I am getting to love zoom meetings. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Accept what the day brings

There are many things that we cannot change but only accept. If I get up and it is sunny, I thank God for the good weather. If I get up and it is raining, I thank God for the rain that waters the trees and flowers. I cannot control the weather; I just accept it. If I accept with gratitude, it makes a difference in my attitude toward the new day. I guess the point I am trying to make is that we are happy when we learn to accept what we cannot change. We need to learn to accept the ups and the downs with calm, good humor, and even gratitude.
Taking a deep breath is wise advise. Slowly exhale and let out all the tension you might be feeling. Take time today to do something that relaxes you. I also think we need to stop reading every story of bad news; scan them, if you need to, and then just let God take care of the many who are suffering, but prayer for all the brave helpers, nurses, doctors, health care workers, those who are making sure we have food to buy, etc. We have so much to be grateful for each day even during this pandemic.

We are candles burning, sometimes sputtering, sometimes steady, with the same task as the stars in their majesty making light.

Elias Amidon

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Relaxing is an art

This sheltering in place has made me miss the ocean so here is a picture. I feel the cool breeze and hear the sound of the surf. This relaxes me. When we think of stress therapy, we need to find what helps us to relax. I remember my first year in Chile when I was really stressed trying to manage a large study hall of middle school children and not knowing the language. One of our nuns wrote to me from Rome to tell me that I needed to find out what would relax me and do it. I find sitting in the Chapel helpful, but now I also play games on my I-pad or read. Walking around our beautiful grounds is also relaxing, or at least I feel more relaxed when I return.
I think that the slowing down of life in general that is taking place with everyone in a family at home instead of rushing to work, school, outside activities, etc. has the possibility of being very relaxing, but it is how we respond to the situation. Remember, we have all the time there is and now we can choose how to use our new leisure. Relaxing is an art and perhaps takes some practice!

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world

Pentecost continues into June with an octave (or it used to have an octave) as this is such a big feast. We seem to have done away with an octave for many big feasts, but I intend to celebrate the Holy Spirit in a special way during the octave and maybe until the 11th of June when we have our community retreat. I think it will be by zoom, but I am asking the Holy Spirit to prepare us this year. The retreat ends the 18th and we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart on the 19th of June this year.

The entrance antiphon for yesterday's feast of Pentecost tell us,
"The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world..." And the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us, alleluia!
Each of us has received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and we need to develop a real relationship with this Spirit who is always with us, within us, to help us.