Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seek His Face

"Seek the face of the Lord and long for him:
He will bring you his light and his peace."  M. Joncas

Come my child into the deep silence
of my quiet presence.
There I can speak better
to the deep recesses of your heart.
I will embrace you there.
I will bless you beyond measure.

Come to me with all your heart,
and let not fear keep us apart.
I want to draw you closer
than you've ever been before.
Come follow me.

Come into a quiet place
where I can speak
to the deep recesses of your heart,
from the deep recesses
of my heart.

Come away from the noise and stimuli
that dull your senses,
from the clanging and banging
that keep you from hearing my voice.

There are secrets I long to tell you,
secrets of my heart,
deep secrets you can only hear,
when you come away with me. 1 Cor 4: 1

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be Prepared

When I reflect on the things going on in my life and in the world, the words that come to me are: Be prepared! My husband said that's the Boy Scout's motto. So I guess we should all be like boy scouts.

More and more natural disasters are threatening our world. Earthquakes happening--now a major hurricane; we've seen our share of tornadoes and flooding too.

Last weekend a young newly ordained priest of our diocese and a young seminarian were killed in a tragic car accident. The Lord came for them at an unexpected hour.

How do we prepare? Here are some practical tips:
  • Stay close to the Lord through prayer
  • Be thankful which helps us grow in grace
  • Confess our sins readily
  • Stay in the Word which gives life and direction
  • Serve Him with our gifts and talents 

" 'Be prepared for what?' someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. 'Why, for any old thing,' said Baden-Powell."

Are we prepared for any old thing?

"The training you receive in your troop will help you live up to the Scout motto. When someone has an accident, you are prepared because of your first aid instruction. Because of lifesaving practice, you might be able to save a nonswimmer who has fallen into deep water."

With the increase of disasters all around us it might be good for all of us to have first aid instruction and, when you think about it, God should be our "First Aid" since he's our primary source of assistance!

"But Baden-Powell wasn't thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead. Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best. That's what the Scout motto means." 1

What about this motto strikes you:
  • become productive citizens?
  • give happiness to other people?
  • be ready in mind and body for any struggles?
  • meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead?
  • live happily and without regret?
  • do your best? 

Maybe it's time to reflect on Boy Scout's 101 and make sure we are prepared.

"Therefore stay awake! ...So too, ...be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Mt. 24: 42 & 44

Grace & peace,
Sheila

1. Excerpt from page 54, Boy Scout Handbook, 11th ed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Battle to Love

The Story of A Soul, St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography is kept on our breakfast room table. Twice in two days I have randomly turned to the same page and my eyes fell on the same excerpt. It is well worth pondering because she shares how she overcame a problem in relating to another person with an increase of charity in her actions. This is what she said that caught my attention:

"I am, I confess, far from practising what I know I should, yet the mere desire I have to do so gives me peace. If it happens that I fall and commit a fault against charity, I rise again at once. For some months I have no longer even had to struggle. I can say with our Father St. John of the Cross: 'My house is entirely at peace,' and I attribute this deep peace to a certain battle which I won. Ever since this victory the hosts of heaven come to my aid, for they cannot bear to see me wounded after I fought so valiantly on the occasion I am going to describe."

Therese demonstrates the great moral virtue of a true saint. They fall like us in their humanity but get back up quickly! Take notice of how she found deep interior peace from exercising her free will to obey Jesus' greatest commandment to love as He loved. She continues:

"Formerly one of our nuns managed to irritate me whatever she did or said. The devil was mixed up in it, for it was certainly he who made me see so many disagreeable traits in her. As I did not want to give way to my natural dislike for her, I told myself that charity should not only be a matter of feeling but should show itself in deeds. So I set myself to do for this sister just what I should have done for someone I loved most dearly. Every time I met her, I prayed for her and offered God all her virtues and her merits. I was sure that this would greatly delight Jesus, for every artist likes to have his works praised and the divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not halt outside the exterior of the sanctuary where He has chosen to dwell but go inside and admire its beauty."

Isn't it helpful to hear the saints speak honestly about real problems in their lives and learn how they dealt with them? Okay, so Therese too was irritated by the behaviors of another person that she lived with. How many of us can relate to that? But right away she says she doesn't want to "give way to my natural dislike." So we're not alone; everyone struggles with this same issue. We don't like everyone we meet and it's those very people that can be gift to us because they cause us to change, to convert our own heart as we talked about in yesterday's post.  Quickly Therese resolves to bend her will to goodness and mercy just as we would for anyone we love.

Well, Sr. Therese succeeded. One day the nun came to her and said, "...will you please tell me what attracts you so much to me? You give me such a charming smile whenever we meet.." And Therese's shared in her autobiography that it was "Jesus hidden in the depth of her soul who attracted me, Jesus who makes the bitterest things sweet!"

If you're like me, you just chuckle hearing the question the other nun asked her. Because of her obedience to the command to love, Therese says that a heavenly host came to her aid to help her since she fought the valiant fight to love. Do we think of it like that--a valiant fight to love?

Here's a recap on the practical steps Therese took so we can apply them in our life:
  1. Recognize the problem and admit it
  2. Rise quickly after falling into error
  3. Desire to delight Jesus
  4. Make a conscious choice to love
  5. Pray for the graces necessary to overcome
  6. See that person as the work of the divine Artist
  7. Desire to put into practice what we should
  8. Pray for the person we dislike
  9. Offer God all their merits and virtues
May we also win the battle to love and find what Therese experienced: "My house is entirely at peace."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Confess

"Cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside may also be clean." Mt 23: 26

Ever wonder why things may not be going as well as you hoped? We look all around at circumstances in our life wanting to find something or someone else to blame. But what about ourselves? Are we being honest with ourselves about what we might need to be responsible for, what we might need to change?

This scripture reading from today's gospel speaks about the need to examine our own selves for whatever may need to be cleansed within us.

It is true God's purposes can not be fully accomplished in our lives when there is strife in our relationships and instead of expecting someone else to change, let's see what we can do about changing ourselves.

Praying for the grace of God to shed light on truth and asking for a revelation of truth is most helpful. The reception of these graces means we'll see the sin within us more clearly, have the courage to admit it, find the wisdom to understand it and finally overcome it.

The Holy Spirit can come into our hearts and do a mighty work when we are open and resolve to sin no more. Let's pull up the covers this week over our souls and get rid of the filth.

As soon as we do this new hope is born in our hearts and we can rejoice knowing God's purposes will not be hindered in our lives.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

World Youth Day

" Faith is a gift of God, faith is a relationship with Christ Jesus, and following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church."

The homily of Pope Benedict XVI reiterated these points during the concluding Mass of World Youth Day.

"Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God's word.

Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We can not encounter Christ and not make Him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves. Share with others the joy of your faith. The world that needs the witness of your faith surely needs God."

Pope Benedict XVI
Madrid, Spain
August 21, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

All Ye Saints

One Christmas after our children had just left
to go back home after the holidays,
my husband and I felt a sense of loss 
because suddenly it was so quiet
and their presence was gone.

And then my husband was inspired with the idea--
let's name each room after a saint.
And in that moment it seemed our home
filled up with presence again.

Some of the rooms were easy to name.
Religious objects received as gifts
had been placed in them years before.

The large living/dining room for instance
had a picture of Our Lady,
as seen in Medjugorje,
so it became Our Lady, Queen of Peace.

Our breakfast room is the littlest room in our home,
so it's in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux,
my favorite saint. 
We keep her autobiography in there for reference.

For our den, we chose the late Pope John Paul II,
who we so greatly loved
and has since been beatified, 
a step closer to canonization as a saint.
We have a prayer book he wrote on our coffee table.

Our kitchen had a plaque
of St. Catherine of Siena, holding a lily,
so it was named after her.

The utility room and garage are for St. Joseph,
the father of Jesus and a carpenter.
It just seemed fitting
to name the work rooms after him.
Our son's name is Joseph,
and someone gave him a statue
of his namesake.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, became the saint of our study
because we love to learn his teachings
about listening with the heart
and journaling what we hear
that still small voice say.

Since we were married
on the Feast of St. John, the Evangelist,
our bedroom was dedicated to him.
A photo from our pilgrimage to Knock,
an apparition site in Ireland,
where St. John appeared with Our Lady,
hangs there reminding us of our wedding day.

Our guest room, since we are Benedictine Oblates,
is, you can guess,...St. Benedict
because of his great teachings on hospitality.

The entry hall is for St. Michael, the Archangel.
His picture was already hanging there.
A gift given to us by my mother.

And finally, our yard--to St. Francis of Assisi,
a statue of whom was given to my husband
as a gift from co-workers. 

I wasn't sure about naming the bathrooms,
but a close friend suggested at dinner one night
that we do.

So our master bathroom was named after St. John Vianney,
who in that year of 2009 was the patron saint
for the sanctification of priests.

And our guest bathroom is dedicated to St. Padre Pio,
another reader of souls like John Vianney,
so that seemed fitting
since souls were naked to these holy men of God,
and our bodies naked in the bathroom.

And now we can call on these saints in a litany,
and the sense of community has grown
and filled our hearts and home
with fullness and joy.

Our home is permeated
with the holy presence of these saints.
Whenever I'm feeling critical of my surroundings,
I remember to call on their intercession
and my perception shifts.

I see beauty again and my heart fills with gratitude
for what I have been given--
friendship with saints.

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us
St. Therese, pray for us
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us
St. Catherine, pray for us
St. Joseph, pray for us
St. John, the Evangelist, pray for us
St. John Vianney, pray for us
                     St. Benedict, pray for us
St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us
St. Padre Pio, pray for us
                St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us

Scripture says, "We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses..." Heb 12: 1 We have mighty powerful friends above who we can call on to pray for us and our families and those we know who are in need.

These saints found the peace that surpasses understanding, preached and lived the Gospel of peace, and now rest in peace.

All ye saints above, PRAY FOR US!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sr. Jacinta Dorado, O.S.B.

Today's Woman of Peace is Sr. Jacinta Dorado, O.S.B. She is a Benedictine Sister of St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. Last October, she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee which is the anniversary of sixty years of religious profession.

I met her when she was the principal in the grade school I attended. I have distinct memories of her being very serene. As a young child I sensed her extraordinary peace and over the past five decades she has radiated that same peaceful spirit every time I see her.

This is what she said about peace:

"What is peace? Every human person on earth wants peace. If we wish to have peace, we must be willing to be transformed by the love of Jesus. What does this mean?

Like clay in the hands of the potter who molds it into an earthen vessel, we must be willing to have our inner life, our inner being reshaped by the Great Potter, Jesus.

Throughout the Bible God places clear choices before us. He admonishes us when he says: 'Do what is right and you'll have peace,' and 'Love one another as I have loved you.'

Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity. Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ. 'He is our peace.' Eph 2: 14 He said, ' Blessed are the peacemakers for they will see God.' " Mt 5: 9

For more information on the Benedictine Sisters of St. Joseph Monastery see this link: http://stjosephmonastery.org/

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mother's Message

"Dear children!
May this time be for you
a time of prayer and silence.
Rest your body and spirit,
may they be in God’s love.
Permit me, little children, to lead you,
open your hearts to the Holy Spirit
so that all the good that is in you
may blossom and bear fruit
one hundred fold.
Begin and end the day
with prayer with the heart.
Thank you for having responded to my call."

Our Lady of Medjugorje's July 25, 2011 Monthly Message

This morning in prayer I said,
"Speak Lord, your servant is listening." 1 Sam 3: 10
And the word I heard
was rest.
"Rest, I just want you to rest right now."
And I added, "Could you please confirm that word?"

Finding Our Lady's monthly message this evening
was confirmation.
She is giving her children the same message,
"Rest...!"

How hard is it just for us to rest?
To give ourselves permission to rest
and not feel guilty that we're not
accomplishing something?
How important is it
to heed the Lord's command
to rest on the Sabbath?

We need this to maintain
a balance in our lives of
action and contemplation.
We need rest in order to
become women of peace.

Rest, ...just...rest!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bloom Where You're Planted

He could read hearts.
With such a gift people would travel
for hundreds of miles
just to go to him
for confession of their sins.

He was given an assignment
in a very small town
most priests wouldn't desire.
Maybe he didn't either.
But it didn't keep him from blooming
where he was planted.

Are we blooming where we are planted?
Or are we waiting
for another stage in our life,
a better time, a better place?

This is the time, this is the place, now!

Like St. John Vianney,
through the grace of God
we can be faithful to our "ars."
Ars is the place he was assigned.

Wherever we are assigned right now--
our home, our family, our circumstances--
is the place we need to bloom.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Look!

"The Bridegroom is Present but not Seen."
That's the talk I was listening to about silence,
mindfulness, and contemplative prayer
by Sr. Pascaline Coff.

Sitting at the breakfast room table,
I gazed in and out of the picture window
overlooking the backyard.

A word caught my attention from the talk.
"Look!"
We hear this in scripture.
Simply look.

I listened carefully to every word
taking notes on the main points.
And then I was drawn
to look out the window again.
This time the scene had changed.


A sparrow, blue jay and then dove flew onto the birdbath.
Delighted I ran to get my camera hoping they wouldn't fly away. 

I looked. I saw.
I experienced.
His love. His message.
 


There was a dove again.
One of them, I imagine,
that had been on the front porch back in the spring.



And in that moment His voice came.
That still small voice.
"Peace!" He whispered tiny.
And I heard...
because I looked. And saw the bridegroom in creation.


You may enjoy this link about Sr. Pascaline's reflections on peace:
http://www.becomingwomenofpeace.com/2011/04/sr-pascaline-coff-osb.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Child of God

"Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief
that nothing is merely an accident
when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence
and has a completely coherent meaning
in God's all seeing eyes.
To be a child of God,
that means to be led by the Hand of God,
to do the Will of God, not one's own will,
to place every care and every hope in the hand of God
and not to worry about one's future.
On this rests the freedom and the joy of the child of God.
But how few of even the truly pious,
even of those ready for heroic sacrifices, possess this freedom.
When night comes, and you look back over the day
and see how fragmentary everything has been,
and how much you planned that has gone undone,
and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed:
just take everything exactly as it is,
put it in God's hands and leave it with Him.
Then you will be able to rest in Him --really rest --
and start the next day as a new life."

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, O.C.D.
October 12, 1891 -- August 9, 1942
Feast Day--August 9

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dancin' in the Rain

May your week
be full of rejoicing
like the children dancin'
in the long-awaited rain
in our drought-ridden city.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Peace of Heart

Six stages to be passed through in attainment of peace of heart and tranquility of mind by Aelred of Rievaula:
  • The rejection of worldly standards, particularly the search for pleasure or possessions and the ambition for honors.
  • The setting aside of self-love, vanity, pride, and the comparison of self with others.
  • Reflection on the necessities to which one is subject, as a creature subject to the desires of the flesh.
  • The experience of one's own infirmity, i.e., one's incapacity to do good and resist evil. (without the Holy Spirit's help, I might add)
  • Learning to place a guard over one's mouth and to be disciplined and restrained in speech.
  • The practice of bodily stillness and stability in all one's undertakings.
cover of Michael Casey's book
My husband was reading this excerpt aloud last night from one of our favorite books, Living in the Truth by Michael Casey which is about Saint Benedict's teaching on humility.

Aelred of Rievaula was a Cistercian monk, historian and author of many books. He later became abbot of the monastery in Rievaula.

Which of Aelred's six stages can you relate to? Is there one that resonates with you more than another?

I wish you much peace of heart always!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cultivating Silence

Monks should diligently cultivate silence at all time, but especially at night. RB80.42.1 *

"Silence is an important monastic value. The ability to be maintain stillness and quiet within life is a skill that eludes many of us in today's culture that is often desired. There is always an abundance of sensory stimulus that hinders us from being able to maintain any semblance of inner quiet--iPods, cell phones, pagers, im, facebook, etc.

How can I best establish an inner peace within myself?

  1. Establish a tech free zone in my day. Resist the temptation to go to sleep and awaken with facebook.
  2. Find random moments within my day to just breath and call on God's name to remind me of God's presence within my life.
  3. Start my day with a recommitment to doing God's will."

by Sr. Catherine Martinez, O.S.B. 
St. Joseph's Monastery  Tulsa, OK   U.S.A.
http://stjosephmonastery.blogspot.com/
http://www.stjosephmonastery.org/

* The Rule of Benedict


Monday, August 1, 2011

Crape Myrtles

Now I know why my grandmother--GG--said her favorite flowering bush was a crape myrtle. A master gardener, she knew how to take little ornamental trees, bushes and shrubs and make them blossom in her yard.

Her words about crape myrtles have never left my memory. "They stay in bloom the longest," was the reason she gave me decades ago.

Wonder if she knew too how they endured the heat, the drought. Here they are today in our yard and many yards around the city. You wouldn't know the hardship they face day after day this summer. The burning sun upon their leaves and flowering buds with no relief. They smile anyway. No sign of brown on the foliage, no wilting greenery, no halt to the blooming--no complaining.

If only I could be that way. When the burning heat of purification comes, when the trials of a season are prolonged, when thirsty for life-giving water and it seems sparse, may I bloom anyway.

When the temperatures soar within the atmosphere and within the dome of my soul, and the heat index rises to unbearable degrees, may I be sustained in giving glory to One who designed it all.

Just looking at their red, purple and pink blossoms brings a sense of relief and promise of a future full of hope. Jer 29: 11

GG, you were right!