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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Second Sunday of Lent

This Second Sunday of Lent has the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Just as Jesus invited Peter, James and John to go up the mountain to pray with Him, He is inviting each of us today. The most important thing about this Gospel seems to me to be the words of God the Father saying: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." If we really listen to Jesus, our lives, our world, would be different.

Collect: "O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiriutal sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.

The first reading is from Genesis 22 and is the story of God putting Abraham to the test by asking him to sacrifice his son. Fortunately, it was only a test, but I cannot imagine how Abraham felt!

The Responsorial Psalm is "I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living."

First Reading is from Paul's letter to the Romans: 8: 31b-34. "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over forus all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?...

Let us listen to God today. We are having a Mass and that is really good as it has been a month without Mass.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Our Guardian Angels

 Today I have been thinking about our angels and how they work to keep us holy and healthy as well as free from all danger. I wonder how they feel with the pandemic taking so many lives. I am sure they are working overtime - not that they ever stop working, but it must give them consolation to be the one with the dying person to lead him or her to eternal life. I guess this is just because I feel the need to thank my angel and all the angels who have been guarding us. I firmly believe that my angel is always with me.

Today was our first out of quarantine and we did enjoy talking to each other. I received two gifts this morning. One was from a cousin who now lives in North Carolina but the box was from Georgia and contained "bear claw" made with dark chocolate and white chocolate, handmade Southern Candies. I assure you that I was grateful to get this wonderful gift, but it lasted all of ten minutes after I opened it. I was delighted to have something to give the staff and so began to pass out the bear claws with real joy, but I saved one white and one dark to eat on Sunday. 

After that gift, I was surprised to find another from one of my Seniors who has just returned from Costa Rica and she brought me a darling little frog sitting on a log in a glass bubble that has lovely green sparkles when you shake it. I guess Costa Rica has no snow so invented this; also in the gift bag were two tiny bags of candy. One has dark chocolate almonds and so I have an unexpected treat. Then, one of my Sisters who lives alone in what I call the "compound" came over and brought me two advocados. She had also given me two last week so I took them to supper and they were a treat as they got passed around with the cheese pizza that was our Friday night supper this week. I enjoy mashing up an avocado and eating it on crackers or on toast. Dee is keeping me supplied! I am writing this on Friday night and need to get to sleep earlier tonight now that I have given up my detective stories until after Easter - this only means the ones on my Ipad as I still might read the ones I sometimes find in my mailbox left there by an avid reader who lives in the Gatehouse.

Friday, February 26, 2021

We are again out of Quarantine

 It means a great deal to be able to see others and talk at a distance and be able to go to the dining rooms.

We are all happy about this and will even have Mass this Sunday. I am late posting as I thought I had scheduled ahead. I am praying for everyone as there are still too many deaths. Our high school students are going to be returning to school on March first but I think only some each day so that all will get a chance to have some classes on campus and then some at home. It is confusing but they are very good at figuring out their schedules and I suspect all will be well.

I have decided that I need to give up my detective stories for the rest of Lent. They were a great escape during this quarantine, but I do not need them now and will concentrate on spiritual reading. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Continuation of the Praise Song for the Pandemic


This is, as I wrote yesterday, a work in progress by Christine Valters Paintner and I do not know who sent it to me, but this is the second part.

Blessed are the ministers and therapists of every kind, bringing words of comfort.

Blessed are the ones whose jobs are lost, who have no savings, who feel fear of the unknown grnawing.

Blessed are those in grief especially who mourn alone; and blessed are those who have passed into the Great Night.

Praise for the police and firefighters, paramedics, and all who work to keep us safe, praise for all the workers and caregivers of every kind.

Praise for the sound of notifications, messages from friends reaching across the distances, give thanks for laughter and kindness.

Praise be our four-footed companions, with no forethought or anxiety, responding only in love.

Praise for the seas and rivers, and forests and stones who teach us to endure.

Give thanks for your ancestors, for the wars and plagues they endured and survived, their resistence is in your bones, your blood.

Blessed is the water that flows over our hands and the soap that helps keep them clean, each time a baptism.

Praise every moment of stillness and silence, so new voices can be heard, praise the chance at slowness.

Praise be the birds who continue to sing the sky awake each day; praise for the primrose poking yellow petals from dark earth.

Blessed is the air clearing overhead so one day we can breathe deeply again.

Ane when this has passed, may we say that love spread more quickly that any virus ever could, may we say this was not just an ending but also a place to begin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Praising all helpers in the Pandemic

 I have been wanting to praise all those who are helping us to get through this time and then someone sent me this "Praise Song for the Pandemic;A work in Progress by Christine Valters Paintner" and it just seems to be what we would want to say so I am copying it here so we can really not only praise these people, but continue to pray for them.

Praise for the nurses and doctors. every medical staff bent over flesh to offer care, for lives saved and lives lose, for showing up either way.

Praise for the farmes, tilling soil, planting seeds so food can grow, and act of hope if there ever was one.

Praise for the janitors and garbage collectors, the grocery store clerks, and the truck drivers barreling through long quiet nights.

Give thanks for bus drivers, delivery persons, postal workers, and all those keeping an eye on water, gas, and electricity.

Blessings on our leaders, making hard choices for the common good, offering words of assurance.

Celebrate the scientists, working away to understand the thing that plagues us, to find an antidote, and all medicine makers.

Praise be the journalists keeping us informed.

Praise be the teachers, finding new ways to educate children from afat, and blessings on parents holding it together for them.

Blessed are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, all those who worry for their health, and praise for those who stay at home to protect them.

Blessed are the domestic violence victims, on lock down with abusers, and the homeless and refugees.

Praise for the poets and artists, the singers and storytellers, all those who nourish with words and sound and color.

To be continued tomorrow as there is still more to praise and bless!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

"Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy'

 The Responsorial Psalm held my attention today. This is the verse from Psalm 34 that I prayed over: 

"Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and our faces may not blush with shame.

When the poor one called out, the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him."

Sometimes a line from Scripture will jump out at us and that is what happened when I read

"Look to him that you may be radiant with joy"

God wants us to be joyful even in the midst of a pandemic. How is this possible?

I leave each of us to work that out for yourself, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I do think that finding God in pray makes me joyful.

Monday, February 22, 2021

So many are suffering from the cold, the snow and ice

 Here I am in California and imagining what others are going through when I read the weather reports. I think our community on the school grounds in Houston has a real fireplace in the living room. I hope they are not freezing and maybe even have electricity by now. I am writing ahead but know that Texas has not had electricity in many parts and now the news is that people are to boil their water, but if they have an electric stove they cannot do that. I hope that all this suffering is making the country aware of the need for ecological reform before we destroy our planet. 

To go back to Lent, I mostly have thoughts this morning from reading James Martin's book on prayer. I am discussing the first two chapters on a zoom tomorrow and have these two thoughts to share: There is no one way to pray and God often makes prayer easy for a beginner. Now, I am so convinced that God made us so He can love us that it makes sense for God to give us a desire for prayer as it is in prayer that we form a relationship with God and allow Him to love us. 

Just take some time today to sit with God and receive His Love!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

First Sunday of Lent

 Mark's Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent is short but very important. Jesus must have told his disciples about being tempted in the desert. 

"The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.                                                  After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." Mark 1:12-15

I think this gives us plenty to reflect upon today. May our forty days of Lent help us to proclaim the Kingdom of God. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Reading during Lent

 Although I would not choose to be in quarantine, it certainly does give me time for reading. I bought two books to read besides the two that I need to read. They arrived just in time. I had read part of James Martin's new book: Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone and decided it was a book I wanted to buy. In my cart at Amazon I had other books and decided on one by Brian d. McLaren called We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reoriantation, and Activation.  It has readings for every week in the year and lends itself to discussion, I think. I really have not had time to look it over but I think I shall give it a try. 

I mostly am trying to discern how the Lord wants me to spend these days of solitude. I am trying to be docile to the Holy Spirit's inspirations. I love the quiet, the time to color, the time to pray, to read, to write to friends - this is what is filling my days. I have so much to be grateful for and have good friends to stay in contact with while I can do so. I have learned how to host Zooms and love this way of communicating.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lent is a time of renewal

 We are given six weels to prepare for Easter to enter into the joy of the Risen Lord. First, we walk with Him and stay with Him even in His agony and death; Jesus gave His life for us to show us how much He loves each of us. I think sometimes we need just to be with Him in prayer -no words are necessary. Just be with Him in silence. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lent has begun with record cold

 I cannot imagine the cold that some parts are feeling now, and some are without electricity and that may mean they have no heat, no way of cooking, etc. I feel for them as no one can go out to warm up in a restaurant. Here, at Oakwood, we are having meals brought to out rooms as we will be in quarantine until all have tested negative for two weeks. I really do not mind and find solitude helpful for prayer and for Lent. These are a precious forty days and we do not want to waste them.

I never used to like Lent. I could not wait until Easter came. That changed somewhere along the years. I remember one Lent spending my afternoon prayer with Jesus in the Agony of the Garden. I could not go on and really felt that this is when Jesus suffered the most. And now I seem to find the line from Mark 14 "they all left him and fled" staying with me. I read once that suffering alone is the greatest suffering and it must have been so heartbreaking for Jesus to have all his friends leave him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday

 "Rend your heart and not your clothing" -Joel 2:13

In Lent 2021: To Live Anew, Joan Chittister has two reflection questions for us to ponder  today:

What 'doors of your heart' do you need to open this Lent to live a fuller, holier life?

And then think about this: Are there "worlds" you may have allowed to go sterile in your life? What might they be? Think about our relationships, our family, friends, physical health, time, too, for rest and relaxation - that is another "world" plus our own spiritual worlds. We need to examine with the light of the Holy Spirit how God is asking us to grow during this Lenten season. It is just six weeks, so we need to begin now!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Shrove Tuesday

 It is really cold in much of the Midwest and it is hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is tomorrow.

Since we are in quarantine, I think nothing will happen here, although maybe a pastoral minister will appear and drop ashes on our heads going frrom room to room. I doubt it, but one never knows.

We are having a King's cake and that will be fun. In the meantime, I am giving serious thought to Lent and how the Lord might want me to spend it. I read something this morning that spoke of choosing a word for the year; it triggered my memory and I went back in my Journal and there was my word for the year: docility. So, I am planning to try to practice docility to the Holy Spirit and plan my solitary days with discernment and docility to the Holy Spirit. I am also going to return to a practice that has been so helpful in the past: never go to bed without having done something for someone and thanking for the opportunity. Sometimes it only means an email, but I think ever act of love raises the level of love in the universe.

Have a happy Shrove Tuesday!

Monday, February 15, 2021

My Guided Imagery


Last Wednesday I was able to have another Guided Imagery by Zoom with a group and several guides. It is not the same as having an individual Guided Imagery, but it still can be powerful. This one took me down into the depths of the Heart of Jesus. I was reminded of a phrase from a lettter that our Mother General wrote in preparation for the bicentennial of the Society of the Sacred Heart. She wrote the letter in November and I entered for the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1950. The phrase that has never left me is "the solitude of His Heart is a crushing reality". I think my call to Religious Life came from the desire to be united to Jesus for all those who do not think of Him, pray to Him, thank Him, etc. It was a great shock to find out that being a Religious did not mean immediate union with Jesus.

In my guided imagery last week, Jesus, my Good Shepherd came and I was able to go with Him into the depths of His Heart. It is hard to write about now, but it was a deep experience of His Love and left me with a renewed desire to stay with Him in His solitude. 

Since we are back in quarantine since before breakfast last Friday, I am having plenty of solitude and hope I am able to spend the time with Jesus. I am again taking time to color in my Psalms Coloring Book, a great present. It is a contemplative thing to do and I really enjoy it  once I have made up my mind that I need not do anything else. I guess I think of it as an indulgence, but I know it is very helpful and I enjoy it, once I begin coloring.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I am trying to think of Sunday and Valentine's Day together. The Collect says: "O God who teach us that you abide in hearts that are just and true, grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace as to become a dwelling pleasing to you."

I love the Gospel. It is Mark 1: 40-45 where the leper comes to Jesus and says: "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, Jesus stretches out his hand, touches him, and says, "I do will it. Be made clean." And the leprosy left him. I wonder if we have that kind of faith today?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Sunday is Valentine's Day !


It is time to say "I love you"!

We are back in quarantine so cannot leave our rooms. We were tested on Wednesday and it seems that someone was positive so Friday morning breakfast was in our rooms with cardboard and plastic utinsils. All activities have been cancelled for the next week so we just stay in our rooms. I think we can walk in the patio when no one else is out. I am grateful for zoom.

Friday, February 12, 2021

How courageous am I spiritually?

 I am not sure why I wrote that title after selecting this picture. The Lord does ask us to have faith and we can move mountains. At present I am very concerned for my sister-in-law, Anita, who is very ill and back in the hospital. I believe it is a serious blood cancer and please do pray for her. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Two years ago the school rebuilt the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes directly across from the entrance to Oakwood. It is visible from the large window of the Chapel and I like to begin a walk outside with a visit to the grotto. It is beautifully landscaped and the original stones were used to rebuild this lovely grotto.

I went to Lourdes on the weekend of Pentecost after having given the 30-day retreat to some priests from Malaysia and India and a Brother from the Philippines and a Sister - all in the Institute of Religious Formation. I had made that same retreat in Manresa, Spain three years before and now I had the opportunity to give it to others and spend more time in the cave where Ignatius wrote the Exercises. We were a busload driving through the mountains from Spain to France and arrived in Lourdes just before the weekend and another Sister and I were fortunate to find a room in a house near the shrine.

What impressed me most and I can still remember how it thrilled me (I am seldom thrilled so this is a special memory)was the Mass in multiple languages and filled with worshippers from all over the world. It was a real Pentecostal experience. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Perfect book to read during Lent

 It is just a week before Ash Wednesday and time to start thinking of what God wants us to do during Lent this year. I am going to suggest that we all read James Martin's new book, Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone. I have been going through it quickly and will order my own copy today as it is a book that can help us improve our relationship with God. James Martin, SJ, says:"The most common way God draws you closer is by placing within you the desire to be closer, the desire that drove you to think about prayer. Stange as it sounds, your readingof these lines at this moment is a sign of God's call."

Father Martin is an excellent spiritual director and I believe that all of us can learn from this latest book of his how to improve our relationship with God and how to be aware of how God is calling each of us.

I am having a Guided Imagery by Zoom this morning and my reflection group this afternoon and the rest of the week is also full so I am going to just put something short on my blog each day, but I will always post a picture as I know some like the picture and a picture does help us to slow down and maybe even leads us into prayer. This home reminds me that God has prepared a home for each of us and waits for us there with all the lights on to welcome us!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Next Week is Shrove Tuesday

 It seems as if Christmas was just a week or so ago and now we are just a week from Shrove Tuesday and then Ash Wednesday. I cannot imagine how New Orleans will manage to celebrate the Shrove days as the virus continues to shut down so many things like parades, balls, and parties. As I now live with someone from New Orleans, I think we need to celebrate. I also plan to ask the kitchen for brownies for Westwood for Valentine's Day next Sunday. 

Maybe we should be thinking about what we will do for Lent. Joan Chittister has some reflections for this Lent and she tells us that "Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now. Lent is a summons to live anew." 

What is blocking the fullness of life in me now? And what am I going to do about it?

Monday, February 8, 2021

 This Alaskan glacier is beautiful to look at but I just read about the glacier that slid down and has killed so many and it is because of global warmning. We must act and act now. Let us pray for this today.

We had a great Super Bowl party just for Westwood yesterday and the community enjoyed being together and the kitchen sent over everything I asked for so now I am wondering if I can ask for brownies for Valentine's Day next Sunday. We are praying together every night, but only four of us still present after the Super Bowl! 

Have a good week and stay cheerful; it is important to see the good and be grateful!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Collect : "Keep your family safe, O LOrd, with unfailing care, that relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace, that may be defended always by your protection."

First Reading from the Book of Job 7:14, 6-7 Poor Job, he thinks he will not see happiness again.

Responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted. 

Praise the Lord, for he is good; sing praise to our God, for he is gracious; the Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; the dispersed of Israel he gathers.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; to his wisdom there is no limit. The Lord sustains the lowly, the wicked he casts to the ground. 

The Second Reading is from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: 9:16-19, 22-23

Paul explains that he has an obligation to preach the Gospel. He also will say that he has made himself "a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. "To the weak, I become weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it."

The Gospel is Mark 1:29-39  It tells us that Jesus went into the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They told him about her and Jesus approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. "Then the fever left her and she waited on them."

When it was evening, the whole village gathered at the door bringing all who were ill or possessed by demons. He cured many but it must have been quite a scene and may have lasted until late. Still, Mark  tells us that Jesus "rising very early before dawn, left and went out to a deserted place, where he prayed. When he is found and told that everyone is looking for him, he said, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The ocean always speaks to me

 I look at a picture of the ocean and I am drawn to God. Here, I also have thses majestic cliffs and the water is calm. God has made our world so beautiful; we need to take time to enjoy the beauty, even if it is through pictures.

I hope to write my Valentines today. February is flying past and it will be Valentine's Day and then Lent. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

First Friday

 Today is the First Friday of February, a day that is special for all who have devotion to the Heart of Christ. I look forward to my hour of adoration each day, but it is always special on First Friday even if we do not have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during this time of not getting together.

It is Super Bowl Sunday and I am looking forward to the little party I am preparing for our Westwood Community - we are only six and will be wearing our masks and staying six feet apart. Since the six of us are together each night for prayer, I think we are safe meeting in our living room for the game. I think a couple will only be there for part of the time as only a couple of us are real football fans and I have not watched much football this year. 

I am late posting today as there is so much to read on my email. Congress seemed to vote all last night. I cannot imagine being alert all that time. I guess they were glad to get home after the final vote at 5:30 this morning. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Winter Memories

 Winter is still with us and many people have suffered from the recent snow storms. I was hoping to go to Tahoe in February, but this year we cannot go out so this picture brings the snow to me without having to feel the cold, scrape the ice off the windshield, and drive through snow on icy roads. I do not miss that part of winter and feel for those who need to go out in the snow and shovel their walks and even dig their cars out of drifts. I remember one Christmas Eve when we wanted to go to Midnight Mass even if it had been snowing and was bitter cold. Two of us went out to scrape the ice and snow off the car only to find that it would not start! Fortunately, at that time the Provincial House was just up the street and we were able to borrow a car that would start. We made it to Mass on time!

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Today I am just sharing one of my favorite poems

 As swimmers dare

to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free fall, and float
into Creator Spirit's deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

~ Denise Levertov from "The Avowal

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord

 The Gospel is from Luke 2: 22-40 and tells us the story of how Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to the temple when the days of their purifictation had been completed according to the law of Moses. There was a man named Simeon who was waiting to see what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him. He came into the temple and he took Jesus into his arms and blessed God saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." Mary and Joseph were amazed; Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, :Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted--and you yourself a sword will pierce-- so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Then, there was also Anna, a prophetess who was advanced in years and she came forward and gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

Mary and Joseph had much to ponder as they made their way back to their own town of Nazareth. Luke tells us that "the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."

Monday, February 1, 2021

One of my favorite Gospel scenes

 Today I have my Spirituality Grouop on Zoom and we will each be sharing a favorite Gospel secene from the first ten Chapters from Mark's Gospel. We read all of the Gospel and picked out adjectives to describe Jesus last week. This week we are choosing to pray with two or three passages from Mark and then share one. I love the scene where Jesus, after praying alone on the mountain, comes walking on the water to his apostles who are having a hard time trying to go against the wind. Jesus tells them. "Fear not; It is I." And the storm ceases. That has always been a favorite passage, but this time I think I will be sharing the scene of the Transfiguration.

Mark has Jesus inviting James, John, and Peter to go up the mountain with him. Luke will tell us that Jesus invited them to go up to pray. While they are there, Jesus is transfigured before them and they see Moses and Elijah there conversing with Jesus. The garments of Jesus are a dazzling white. Then they hear the voice from the clouds saying: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."

I think God keeps saying that to me, to each of us. "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." 

As we begin this new month no doubt some are looking forward to the "Super Bowl", some to Valentine's Day and some to Lent and many of us will still be trying to keep track of what is happening in the government.