Saturday, April 30, 2011

Harbor of peace

"I really had to go through many a storm before I reached the harbor of peace or tasted the fruits of total surrender and perfect love."    St. Therese of Lisieux

Friday, April 29, 2011

Buddha boy

The following anecdote actually happened to me at school last year.

The concerned teacher said to her Buddha-looking boy student with a big round tummy and a burred head, "Do you walk home in the dark after school?"

"No, he replied, "I have the light within me."

I had to stop and ask myself, "Do I get it as much as he does?"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jesus Consoles his Apostles

In today's gospel reading Jesus appears to the eleven apostles after his resurrection. His consoling words are,
                "Peace be with you." Lk 24: 35-48

They were panicked and frightened thinking they were seeing a ghost.

What he says to them are words we can take and apply to our own lives. He asks them these questions which we can ask ourselves:
  • "Why are you disturbed?
  • "Why do such ideas cross your mind?"
Then Jesus gives this instruction:
   "Recall those words I spoke to you when I was still with you."

In St. John's version of the same gospel story, Jesus says, "Peace be with you," twice to the disciples. Jn 20 : 19-23 And then he says to them:
                     "Receive the Holy Spirit..."

The promises we have received as God's children have come down to us through the Old Testament. The priest at Mass this morning said, "Ignorance of the Old Testament is ignorance of Christ." He explained this is what we should know because of who we are. The scriptures lead us to understand. We must be a people of the Word and our faith will deepen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Genius of Women III

Our late Holy Father, John Paul II, who will be beatified next Sunday, called for the development of a new feminism. How do we go about this, we might ask?

One way is to discover the old feminism of the 19th century. The women were promoters of peace and defenders of life, like Susan B. Anthony. They were social reformers driven by deeply moral and religious conviction. They opposed abortion, prostitution, established juvenile courts, and supported educational rights...

Pope John Paul II encouraged us to follow the path of the women who went before us--leaders of the early women's movement. Women involved in national and international peace movements.

The core of the new feminism has arisen out of the pro-life movement--defending and promoting life.

John Paul's call for the new feminism includes:
  • protecting life
  • promoting peace
  • assuming new roles of leadership in service for women
  • one that rejects models of male domination
  • overcoming all discrimination, violence, and exploitation not simply against ourselves, but against the weakest and most vulnerable--the ones our society deems as unworthy and unwanted
  • working to reconcile people with life

Before the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, John Paul II met with the Holy See's delegation who would be attending the conference. He made an appeal to women of the church today to assume new forms of leadership in service. He appealed to all institutions of the church to welcome this contribution of women.

Pope John Paul II said to a woman in charge of the delegation, "How's the new feminism coming?"
She looked at him and said, "We're waiting for you to say more."
And John Paul said, "That's your job."

It is our job to live the new feminism and to discover more about it. We need to strive in our own way to protect and promote life and peace--first in our own families, with our children.

We need to commit ourselves more deeply to transform this culture from one of death to a culture of life.

Grace & peace,
Sheila

p.s. this is the third post on Genius of Women on this blog site. You might be interested in the other two:
http://www.becomingwomenofpeace.com/2011/02/genius-of-women.html
http://www.becomingwomenofpeace.com/2011/02/genius-of-women-ii.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Women of the Tomb


The women at the tomb were women of peace. Notice in the passage below it says they were half-overjoyed and half-fearful. How often do we find ourselves feeling the same way? Yet they did not let their emotions rule them; rather they went and did as they were instructed by the Lord.

Women who listen to the word of God and put it into practice are certainly ones who are becoming women of peace.

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene came with the other Mary
to inspect the tomb.

Suddenly there was a mighty earthquake
as the angel of the Lord descended from heaven.
He came to the stone,
rolled it back,
and sat on it.

In appearance he resembled a flash of lightning
while his garments were as dazzling as snow.

The guards grew paralyzed with fear of him
and fell down like dead men.

Then the angel spoke, addressing the women:
"'Do not be frightened.
I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified,
but he is not here.
He has been raised,
exactly as he promised.
Come and see the place where he was laid.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples:
'He has been raised from the dead
and now goes ahead of you to Galilee,
where you will see him again.'
That is the message I have for you."

They hurried away from the tomb half-overjoyed, half-fearful,
and ran to carry the good news to his disciples.

Suddenly, without warning,
Jesus stood before then and said,
"Peace!"

The women came up
and embraced his feet
and did him homage.

At this Jesus said to them,
"Do not be afraid!
Go and carry the good news to my brothers
that they are to go to Galilee,
where they will see me." Mt 28: 1-10

Jesus was revolutionary. He brought about a paradigm shift in thinking about women. He was friends with them and treated them with dignity, value and equality. His actions were radical for his time and culture. He taught women the Gospel and they became his disciples. He said, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." Lk 8:21 Brothers, of course, being a generic term applying to both men and women, or all members of the same covenant and not blood brothers.

What determines intimate relationship with Him is attentiveness to and regard for God's word. Jesus commissioned these women of the tomb to "go and tell" His brothers to go to Galilee where they would see Him...again. He confirmed women's public responsibility. Ministry is about knowing Him and making Him known.

May we go forth in the power of the Spirit; the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and tell the good news--the Gospel of peace.

Love in Christ Jesus,
our Risen Lord,
Sheila

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rejoice

Dear Friends,

This morning I contemplated Jesus sharing the joy of his resurrection with his mother, Mary, and what her response might have been.

Every Word of joy from of old
must have been ringing out in the earth
that day your son appeared to you after his death.

"Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad." Ch 16:31

From Deuteronomy, Chronicles, Psalms and Isaiah
to Jeremiah and Zechariah and the Gospel of Luke,
even through Revelation.

You must have leapt in the womb of the earth
and touched the highest heaven when He came back.
Like John in the womb of Elizabeth
when you visited her after the angel announced
you were to be His mother.
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!”  Lk 6:23

All the scriptures of rejoicing come surging together—
like a mighty flood;
like a great wave—of grace;
like the birth of new creation;
like a voice thundering above the clouds
on that great day when He returns in glory.

Mary, I can imagine you saying,
"This is my son whom I love,” 
just as the Father had proclaimed
at the baptism of your son. 
“...I am well pleased.” Mk 1: 11
The baptism of our Lord now being poured out for all mankind.

"The wilderness will rejoice and blossom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy." Is 35:1

I have found my Lord!
He is Risen and He is here!
Let us prepare a feast!” you exclaim, O Mary. 

"There in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything..." Dt 12:7

The great company of host 
as at His birth are rejoicing,
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men..." Lk 2: 14

For today a Savior is Risen.
And He says:
“Peace to you, Mary, my mother,
Peace to you, John, my brother,
Peace to my sisters who found the stone rolled away
And to whom I first appeared,
Peace to all who do my will,
Peace to all my people on earth.”
All the way to Revelation the Word reverberates.
"Let us rejoice and be glad!” Rv 19:7

Like the psalmist, Mary, you echo,
“My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices,” Ps 16: 9
and once again the great Magnificat resounds
which filled the earth at His conception
and now fills the earth again at His Resurrection:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

"Come, let us rejoice in Him!" Ps 66: 6

Happy Easter!
Sheila

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Risen Lord


"For Christ, Our Lord, is risen
And He will always live
To bless us with the Hope and Peace
That He alone can give.  Alleluia!" (ridl)

Happy Easter!
Sheila

Friday, April 22, 2011

Face of Christ

Dear dear Veronica--such a beautiful role model for us;
wiping the face of our precious Lord Jesus.

"And behind the sacramental veils
shines the Face for which we yearn:
the Face of immolated Purity,
the Face of Beauty humbled,
the Face of the Priest,
the Face of the Victim,
the Face of Holiness,
the Face of Crucified and Triumphant Love."

by Father Mark Kirby, O.S.B.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Desert Day

Today was Desert Day. 
A personal retreat at the Benedictine Monastery.
Just six hours of quiet time. 

my room for the day
        The hospitality of the Benedictines is their charism.


Scripture readings from the Gospel of John Chapters 18 & 19.
 I stopped where I was drawn.
Entered more deeply through meditation and journaling.


Afternoon reflections. Stations of the cross in the chapel.
Resonating. "Jesus is made to bear the cross."  
"...struggling to be YES,
all the way." (ridl)


Lord, you know how often I fall trying to follow you.

"Would you want to refuse to fall a hundred times,
if that were necessary to prove your love to Him,
and to rise each time with renewed strength?   St. Therese


This is where I long to be.
Keeping my gaze on your face.
My prayer is that I may bring you some comfort, dear Lord,
as I stay near you in your Passion.   

Stations of the Cross in monastery chapel
                       
"So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart." Hosea 2:16


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Agape Meal

An experience. Isn't that what we most need to bring a reality from head to heart?

Inside the Benedictine monastery last night, friends and I gathered for a prayer service. "Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna to the King of Kings" we sang remembering how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with all the people waving palm branches. Our arms stretched up waving too.

"They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him kept crying out saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest."             Mt 21: 7-9

We cried out to Him to enter the gates of our hearts.

We then moved in silence and sat at the large table with the white tablecloth and folded napkins to share a simple meal--Agape--Divine Love. What He did with his disciples the night before He was crucified.

A huge round loaf of bread was passed around and one by one we broke off a piece until everyone had one. Someone came and gently set little cups of juice at each place.


Bowing our heads before the meal, we gave thanks for all the ways we are daily fed and nourished and feasted. Then we ate and drank as one. Everything in complete silence until the song "Take Lord Receive" was played in the background.

"While they were eating Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins...' " Mt 26: 26-28

In that setting, it was easy for me to see the breath of life around me. I could see people's chests rising and falling across from me, or hear their breath next to me when I was so undistracted. I could see the tears rolling down the cheeks. Everything seemed holy in that silence. His presence had entered.

Mindfulness. That's what happens. Mindfulness of every move made when things are done in silence in the presence of others. I can eat mindlessly when I am by myself, but surrounded by others, I become more mindful. One little piece of my bread broken and then another and another until the whole piece I broke off was slowly consumed.

We were then led into parlor where twenty or so candles were burning on a table, enough for everyone to have their own. We were reminded of the new command, "Love one another." And that if anyone loves Him they will obey the teaching.



We followed again into the chapel of the monastery. In front of the altar leaned a large cross. One by one we took turns venerating it. Each person paused a minute or more to pray with the cross, honoring Jesus in their own way for His sacrificial gift for them, then waited as someone else came up to receive it next. One person at a time. Some stood, some knelt.


Taize music could be heard in the background. "Jesus, remember me, when you come into Your kingdom..." That's when the sword pierced the heart for me.

Softly I wept when kneeling before the altar. No audible sounds; maybe a gasp. But shoulders trembling. He felt so real, so close. The reality sunk from head to heart.

Have a most blessed Holy Week!
Love & prayers,
Sheila

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Doorbells Within

Compassion is knocking
at the door of our hearts today.
When I answer, who is there?

Marge. Eighty or ninety years old.
Her face draws me;
character lines deeply engraved
from hairline to below neck.
Her eyes twinkly as she struggles
to pronounce any word
reminding me of the gift of speech
and everything I take for granted.
A gigantic toothless smile
pushes the doorbell within me.
I am beckoned to come close, look long, and listen.

Andrea. Eleven years old.
Comes with pursed lips for tutoring.
I sense a dam of tears about to burst.
Snappy remarks hide something below.
Her lowered eyes, her reddened cheeks call to me
beyond her wall defending fragile emotions.
I am beckoned to stay longer...
until her breakthrough:
fractions now subtracted and simplified,
and joy galore replaces the anguish.

Tiana. Middle-aged.
Abused by her husband.
Despairing.
Sharing her grief and pain and bruises.
Wanting to give up on life.
Pressing the doorbell of my heart repeatedly.
Begging for hope that the future
can be better than the past.
Needing a prayer, encouragement, a friend.

People are everywhere--
surrounding us,
ringing the doorbells of our hearts,
so that He can enter in.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ocean of Tears

A post I shared last month "Solidarity" reflected on the oppression so many women experience in war-torn countries, in our communities, and within their own families, and how we may be called to attend to their suffering. A women, suffering violence and abuse and in despair, needs another woman to tell her that there is hope for the future.

Last night I was searching through essays I had written about women and discovered one written by my precious mother, Kathryn, about this very solidarity she felt with all women. She speaks of a grief that she got in touch with that is too vast to claim as her own exclusively. Such are "heart piercings" and, interestingly, it ties with yesterday's post of the same title.  

She wrote:

"Beyond the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic oceans, lies the most remote, and by the far the largest body of water - the Ocean of Tears of Women, beginning with Eve, and her daughters, down through eons, our own included.

Cartographers, historically men, have disavowed its existence, in spite of rumor to the contrary - whispered tales of a few who have heard its rolling waves breaking on human consciousness ... or occasionally the discovery of flotsam and jetsam carried far from its source.

Fathoms deep, the tears are the cumulative outpouring of women who, like the Ocean of Tears itself, have not been "mapped". The immensity of their suffering, in ways as diverse as the creatures of the seas, and as common as their gender, has not been acknowledged.

Just as a single drop of water cannot be separated from the whole, my tears are not separate from my sisters'. Our universal cry of pain and rage comes from a single throat, our one body has been raped by husband or stranger, beaten and denigrated; our genitals have been mutilated while our one body was held down, our mouth covered, to stifle our shrieks; our mind has been dishonored, mocked, our feelings ridiculed, our talents trashed, our sacredness blasphemed, our God harlequinized.

A. Rich wrote, "No one who survives to speak new language, has avoided this: this cutting away of an old force that held her rooted to an old ground, the pitch of utter loneliness where she herself and all creation seem equally dispersed, weightless, her being a cry to which no echo comes or can ever come".

Foreboding, but I say "yes" to this, and "thank you, merciful God"... I am ready to be uprooted..., not only for my own good, but for that of my sisters'. I believe that my fiat can bring redemption into this world - just as single drops of water- or tears - make an ocean.

I believe that the waters of the Ocean of Tears will be parted, and women will walk triumphantly through to dry ground. In time, cartographers will be persuaded to investigate it at last, not as the Ocean of Tears, but as the Great Desert Canyon. There will be no deeper nor dryer place on the face of the earth."

by Kathryn Grant, my mother

I love the hopeful note at the end..."women will walk triumphantly."
Amen to that, mom!
Grace & peace,
Sheila

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Heart piercings

Do you ever feel heart piercings?...like "a sword" suddenly into your soul? Lk 2:35 Does the experience with the pain you're feeling become universal? Do you think of your own personal suffering and then your mind begins to think of people around the world who are suffering? And feel you could weep a bucket of tears?

I never quite understood what was happening when I would experience this, but one summer in 2009 when I was attending a conference I heard an unusual homily that spoke to this.

Because women are created with such sensitivity we do experience suffering at deep levels. I think we can all attest to that.

These are some of my notes taken during Fr. Paschal’s homily at the conference that brought me insight and consolation, and more than anything the grace to embrace the strange, but blessed gift of heart piercings.

I will put what Fr. Paschal said in quotes and comment or interpret with my life experience.

     "Often we don’t realize the power of our prayer. When our heart is pierced our prayers are powerful...We can only experience this power when we are nailed to the cross in surrender."

I felt this connection, when my heart's been pierced, with the world; a universal sense of suffering, but I didn't go so far as to believe that it could have so much power until I heard this. This thought helped me understand the value of the experience and not be resistant or think I was odd. Somehow, through the teaching, I received more grace to surrender. To say, "Yes, Lord to your will and your ways!"

     "We capture God’s attention. God’s weakness is seeing his children suffer. In this weakness we can capture God. God loves us in our brokenness. When our hearts are pierced we capture the heart of the Father."

If I believe this, I'm not alone at all. He's embracing me. So why not fully embrace the gift? Why not dwell on the knowledge that God, my Father, is loving me, his daughter, in that moment just as He created me? A new joy began to rise in me in the midst of the suffering.

     "When we are pierced and our sufferings are united with Jesus, blood comes out. The impact of one drop of Jesus—Love—creates craters in the heart—nuclear infinite power. God will flood the world with blood—the drop from the laborers. God needs the blood poured out through heart piercings."

Wow, now that's a pretty radical teaching, but I was relating to it. I was mysteriously being set free. I was feeling greater oneness with Him as I visualized this happening. 

     "The lower I am in my descent with him the greater the impact. It will change your soul and make it like Mary by grace, Jesus by grace. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ blood dropped on dirt. When Christ is crucified within us we are given the grace to descend even more. God wants to unleash a deeper power upon the church and that is the power of prayer during any heart piercings."

So no matter how awful the pain and suffering, the value can be enormous. In fact, Fr. is saying the greater the suffering the more powerful can be the effect if we are uniting ourselves to His suffering on the cross. Not only are we transformed, but the whole world is transformed. 

     "The stiller we are on the cross the more God can act. Few people can be still on the cross. There are few laborers in the field...We can’t be still on the cross without divine power."

This spoke loudly. It said I can be a laborer as I am "still" on the cross. As I am surrendered--trusting in His divine purpose I can be used by God for His greater glory just by being still. It doesn't mean I can't express myself, but it means I don't try to run from the cross. I endure the suffering however it comes until I pass through it with His grace.

     "The secret weapon—power of God—is not activated when we act without being still and consequently there’s no impact on the world. Only divine power changes the world."

Who doesn't want that? The power of God! Is that not reason for being still? For accepting without complaint, and trusting? For taking time to be quiet in the presence of the Lord and nothing more. For letting Him know how much we love Him by simply being with Him. We need to take the time to surrender at a deeper level.

May grace and peace envelope you in any heart piercing you may experience.
Sheila

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

St. Catherine of Siena

Today's Woman of Peace is St. Catherine of Siena. 
her name in Spanish
"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze." St. Catherine

This woman of God did set the world ablaze. She often spoke of the fire of God. Fire "symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions." (Catechism 696) And she became a living flame so much so that she bore the wounds of Christ invisibly during her life and visibly after her death.

She lived in Siena, Italy in the fourteenth century and died at the young age of thirty-three years. So she accomplished all her good works within a short period of time. People knew her as a miracle worker and called on her in their difficulties. This wasn't just friends and acquaintances, it was Sienese people in general. And it grew to all of Italy.

Always ready to act as a peacemaker, St. Catherine was a renowned arbitrator among people helping them settle disputes and age-old feuds. She was even called upon by rulers of Italian cities to mediate with the Pope during civil unrest.

Can you imagine a young woman with these God-given abilities helping a Pope establish peace in a country?

"I shall give thee such speech and wisdom that no one shall be able to resist. I shall bring thee before Pontiffs and rulers of the Church."

These were prophetic words of Our Lord to St. Catherine which came to pass. She corresponded with Pope Gregory about the crusade to wrest the Holy Sepulchre from the Turks. When she arrived in Avignon to help him, the Pope said, "I desire nothing but peace, I place the affair entirely in your hands, only I recommend to you the honor of the Church." Upon returning home, Catherine continued to correspond with Gregory entreating him to labor for peace.

The Great Schism in the church grieved St. Catherine. She tirelessly labored to heal this terrible breach in Christian unity.

"I have no other desire in this life save to see the honor of God, your peace, and the reformation of Holy Church, and to see the life of grace in every creature that hath reason in itself." St. Catherine

May we see her heartfelt desires fulfilled in our days on earth--
  • God's honor,
  • God's peace,
  • Unity in the Church,
  • Every person filled with grace

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us!
Feast Day: April 29

Monday, April 11, 2011

Anger 101

Another of the most popular topics for the Women of Peace Workshop/Retreat is anger. Women want to know how they can overcome patterns of anger in their life.

Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted as saying, "Anger is only one letter short of danger."

Scripture says, "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil." Eph 4:26-27

It's helpful to remember that this emotion of anger is neither good nor bad. It's a powerful emotion though that can quickly get out of control if we don't manage it well. When managed well it can be a motivating force for good, but if not it can become a destructive force.

The Word is advising us to seek reconciliation quickly because feelings of anger can lead us into dangerous territory--meaning sin. We can lash out at people, be rude, speak unkind words and hurt relationships quickly. Seeking reconciliation sounds good, right, but when we are really mad about something how do we reverse the situation?

First of all, give yourself some space. Just like we instruct children. If possible, break and breathe. Take a break by simply getting a glass of water or stretching. Breathe deeply inhaling to the count of two and exhaling to the count of four.

It's important to be aware of what triggered this emotion. Take time to stop and reflect on what is causing it. What happened or who did what that made you mad? Oftentimes there can be very legitimate reasons for feeling angry. So it's okay. What's necessary is learning to consciously express the anger in a healthy constructive way once we grasp why we're upset.

We've got to resist with all our strength allowing the anger to turn in on ourselves by choosing unhealthy ways to express the emotion or not expressing it at all. This can lead to depression. And it only creates misery and robs us of our interior peace and peace in our relationships.

So, just to clarify, the problem is not in feeling angry but in the way we choose to handle it.

We are called to be hospitable people given to generous and cordial reception of others, welcoming and present to others. Unresolved anger can make us feel hostile toward others, cause us to withdraw, create walls of distance and isolation, and make us unfriendly and downright hateful.

Let us resolve to take these healthy action steps:
  • Break and breathe
  • Be aware of thoughts, self-talk, feelings and affect
  • Recognize and admit it--that's half the battle
  • Surrender to God
  • Pray through it
  • Make positive choice
  • Keep mind on these things Phil 4:8
  • Force the will to do what is right
  • Communicate effectively
  • Reconcile
The devil will try to tempt us in our areas of vulnerability so know what yours are. He'll try to get us stirred up and think that things are worse or can get worse than they are.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph 6:12

Don't let the devil steal your peace!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quadrupani

One of my favorite little treasure books is called Light and Peace by R.P. Quadrupani.  Its sub-title says, "Instructions for devout souls to dispel their doubts and allay their fears."

Quadrupani wrote this in Chapter XIV about interior peace:

     "Be on your guard lest your zeal degenerate into anxiety and eagerness. St. Francis de Sales was a most pronounced enemy of these two defects. They cause us to lose sight of God in our actions and make us very prone to impatience if the slightest obstacle should interfere with our designs. It is only by acting peacefully that we can serve the God of peace in an acceptable manner.

     Do not let us suffer our peace to be disturbed by precipitation in our exterior actions. When our bodies or minds are engaged in any work we should perform it peacefully and with composure, not prescribing for ourselves a definite time to finish it, nor being too anxious to see it completed.

     Martha was engaged in a good work when she prepared a repast for our divine Lord, nevertheless He reproved her because she performed it with anxiety and this goes to show, says Saint Francis de Sales, that it is not enough to do the good, the good must moreover be done well, that is to say with love and tranquility. If one turns the spinning-wheel too rapidly it falls and the thread breaks.

     Whenever we are doing well we are always doing enough and doing it sufficiently fast. Those persons who are restless and impetuous do not accomplish anymore and what they do is done badly.

     Saint Francis de Sales was never seen in a hurry no matter how varied or numerous might be the demands made upon his time. When on a certain occasion some surprise was expressed at this he said: "You ask me how it is that although others are agitated and flurried I am not likewise uneasy and in haste. What would you? I was not put in this world to cause fresh disturbance: is there not enough of it already without my adding to it by my excitability?"

Have a wonderful week-end!
Grace & peace,
Sheila

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Eternal life

“No one is good but God alone,” You said.
And then you “looked at him and loved him.” Mk 10:18,21

You look and you love. Teach me how to look with love.
How did you show that love?

"With eyes of compassion," I heard you say in that still small voice.
"I heard the desire of the rich man’s heart. I longed for him to receive his desire for eternal life. That is the reason I came."

What more, dearest Lord,  must I understand?

“Anything that keeps one from being single-hearted must be given up,” You say.

O Jesus, You were human and divine—
how did you endure the hatred, indifference,
apathy, hostility, persecution, passion, and death?

“My Father’s love kept me going.”

People were constantly challenging you, and yet
you spoke with such love and were always prepared
with the right answers.
How did you do that, O Savior?

"My Father’s voice—I could hear my Father’s voice
and He told me everything I needed to know."

Jesus, You amaze me the way you spoke the truth with such love.
Teach me, I beg you, to do the same. To be more like You.

You were remarkably strong and stood so firm.
You rebuked even Peter upon whom the church would be built.

I want to accept the cross more fully in my life, O Lord.
I want to trust more than I ever have, love more than ever,
speak the truth more than I ever have…like You!
O let me not be ashamed of you and your doctrine of the cross.
Take pity on me, O Lord.

I beg you for more grace to see where I am blind,
to hear where I am deaf, to trust where I doubt,
to remember when I have forgotten, to understand when I do not.

Teach me to have greater faith.
To see that you are the bread of life
who longs to feed all of your people.
You who alone satisfies the hungry hearts.

You say, "No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry;"
All that the Father gives me shall come to me." Jn 6 : 35-39
We come to You, Lord.
Do I hear you saying, “The Father has given us to You?”
It is His will, you say, that what He has given you will not be lost…
but rather have eternal life.

O Father, what a glorious life you have prepared for us!

Give me an unquenchable desire for your flesh and blood
so that I may remain in You and You in me. Jn 6 :56
And I may know this eternal life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eucalyptus

The grapevine wreath lay before me. Fresh eucalyptus branches oozed their scent permeating the air. Pruning shears clipped individual stems. Each one was placed strategically into the curved and twisted grapevine. Discards were thrown to the side ready to be disposed. I looked at the last discard and looked again. That was not trash.

There He was. Leaves formed His crown, his arms outstretched, even the wound in His side was visible. This nothing became something. Beyond proportions ever imagined the little piece of assumed waste became sacred. Something beyond was present. A lesson on the epitome of humility.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. Phil 2: 5-7

It only seemed appropriate to place it in the center of the wreath. Like Him in the center of my life. With reverence it was given its position of honor on the front door of our home.


Weeks passed. While cleaning the window panes on the inside one Saturday I noticed a substance dripping from the eucalyptus cross. It spilled out over the ribbon and flowers on the wreath with streaks running down the door to the ground below.

"And being found in
appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!" Phil 2:8

How could this substance cry out to me, "I died for you?"
Stunned, I fell to my knees.

"Therefore God exalted him
to the highest place
and gave him the name that
is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth," Phil 2:9-10

The value of the little piece I was going to throw away took on monumental worth. When friends heard the story, lessons on the blood covenant were shared.

Years later it has its place of honor on our dining room buffet reminding me that something can be made of nothing. And especially that Jesus, Our Lord, humbled himself to the wood of the cross.

"and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." Phil 2:11

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sr. Pascaline Coff, O.S.B.

Today's Woman of Peace is Sr. Pascaline Coff, O.S.B., a treasured friend, whom I met over thirty years ago when she came to Tulsa, OK to establish a new monastery called "Osage Forest of Peace" inspired by her experience in India. Ever since I've known her she's radiated extraordinary peace.This is her 60 year jubilee of religious vows.

Here is what she shared with us about peace:

     "Peace, I learned years ago, is the “tranquility of order” according to St. Augustine. But tranquility and order are not easy to come by today if they ever were. We often find ourselves in the midst of disorder and anything but tranquility. Peace is not a virtue you and I can practice. Rather it is a fruit of the virtue of love which we are commanded to practice. Charity according to its very nature causes peace. Peace is an act of charity therefore it’s fruit is one of Christ’s beatitudes. And the beatitudes are described by St. Thomas as “perfect acts of virtue”.

     When the Lord summed up the greatest of all the commandments He gave us only one: "to love God with our whole heart and mind and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves.” Mt 23:37 Charity causes peace precisely because it is love of God and neighbor. There is no other virtue except charity whose proper act is peace. 

     When our heart is not at peace we need to discern the cause. More often than not, we do not have what we want. Our God given sensitive and rational appetites are not one, and the union of such movements is essential to peace, my peace, your peace – world peace. As we read even just the headlines in our daily papers, or hear a bit of the news at night we realize that our world is not at peace. But from all we have considered thus far, it is obvious, if we want peace it must begin deep within you and me. Therefore there is great need for silence and stillness and welcoming places to come apart and meditate regularly.

     Many years ago the Lord directed me to just one such place in a Forest in S. India. It was in fact called “The Forest of Peace” where the beatitude of charity was tangibly PEACE.  It was a Christian monastic ashram and the monks provided a welcoming presence for all who arrived – where peace was truly “flowing like a river”. People pilgrimaged from all parts of the universe to meditate, to listen to holy reading and conferences and to try to reform within themselves their efforts to enable the divine to manifest through them in perfect love before returning to their respective homes in true peace. May we all find and honor such places so that the fire of Love may be evermore enkindled in our world and the TRANQUILITY OF ORDER, P E A C E may abound in all hearts everywhere.

     As Easter looms large on the horizon once again, and we prepare anew for Resurrection, His and ours, let us listen to Christ’s first recorded word on that gloriously Wondrous Morning: “PEACE!  And the women came up and embraced His feet…” Mt 28:9                                                       

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peace as fruit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has four primary references to peace, and I want to focus on the first two today:
  • as fruit of the Holy Spirit
  • as fruit of love
  • disorders threatening freedom to be eliminated (things that threaten peace & cause wars)
  • earthly peace as "image of the peace of Christ"

As a fruit of the Holy Spirit

There are many things we can do to nurture interior peace, but for it to take root within us we must be "grafted onto the true vine." It's like planting the seed within the good soil. As the Lord says in the scriptures, "I am the vine, you are the branches." Jn 15:5

"He who has grafted us...will make us bear 'the fruit of the Spirit...love, peace, joy...' " So we are reliant on the power of the Holy Spirit for bearing this fruit and its increase. We can not bear fruit without Him.

As we cooperate with the paschal mystery--the continual dying to self, rising to new life, and going forth in our daily lives we grow more and more in the fruit of the Spirit. Let us continue to pray, "Come, Holy Spirit, increase the fruit of peace within me."


As a fruit of love

"The fruits of charity are joy, peace and mercy." When we fulfill the two greatest commandments, "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," and "Love your neighbor as yourself," we will experience a beautiful flowering of this fruit in the garden of our souls. These commandments are written in our hearts. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Rom 5:5

We simply need to surrender, submit and obey the Word. We need to do good and be kind. "The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies," to make the marginalized our neighbor, "and...to love the poor as Christ himself."

There are three persons mentioned to love: God, self and neighbor. I can not love God and neighbor and hate myself. I can not love God and myself and hate or ignore my neighbor. I need to love all three persons. Let us pray, "O God, teach us your true love."

Catechism references are from 736, 1825, 1829, and 1832.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blessing

    The Lord bless you and keep you!
    The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
    The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! Nm 6:24-26

Friday, April 1, 2011

Merton on Peace


Created for God's Peace 

     "All day I have been waiting for You with my faculties bleeding the poison of unsuppressed activity ... I have waited for Your silence and Your peace to stanch and cleanse them, 0 my Lord.

    You will heal my soul when it pleases You, because I have trusted  in You.

    I will no longer wound myself with the thoughts and questions that have surrounded me like thorns: that is a penance You do not ask of me.

   You have made my soul for Your peace and Your silence, but it is lacerated by the noise of my activity and my desires. My mind is crucified all day by its own hunger for experience, for ideas, for satisfaction. And I do not possess my house in silence.

   But I was created for Your peace and You will not despise my longing for the holiness of Your deep silence. 0 my Lord, You will not leave me forever in this sorrow, because I have trusted in You and I will wait upon Your good pleasure in peace and without complaining any more. This, for Your glory."

From the book Mornings with Thomas Merton