Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Visitation of Divine Time!

  
We are just walking each other home. -Rumi


Today, according to the Liturgical Calendar, is the Feast of the Visitation. It commemorates Mary’s visit to her older cousin, Elizabeth. Mary, unmarried, very young, is “visited” by an angel and God’s messenger asks her if she would be willing to be the mother of Jesus. Shortly thereafter, we hear that she has journeyed to “visit” Elizabeth, of whom the angel tells her that she is also pregnant. Elizabeth, married to Zachariah for a very long time, is very old – “beyond child bearing years” – is pregnant with John the Baptist. “Miracles of miracles, wonder of wonders”( lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof) – God has truly done marvels within these two grace-filled women.  Sometimes I wonder if God had been watching “General Hospital” as to how this whole story unfolds with so much drama, unpredictability, and surprise in this “fullness of time.” Thus, when the women meet, they embrace and babies dance in the moment of encounter. 

But today, I am pondering another “visitation” of sorts.  A dear sister in my community is preparing to die. She is the one that has been chosen to pray for me over these past three years. We always have one of our retired sisters to be our special pray-er.  God knows that we all need our own particular pray-er! However, my dear pray-er has now moved into a private room that offers her more comfort and the nurses have easier access to her. After her diagnosis in December 2015, she internally moved to another kind of room -  to a deeper dimension becoming aware of what she was being asked to do, and how she was to be on this new path of her journey back home to God’s eternal and unconditional loving embrace.

Yesterday when I visited her, she was resting in bed. She was awake and alert. Other times not, and visitors sit in silence, read to her, or pray. When I found her eager to talk, she then shared how she is not able to remember what day it is. She is not able to remember or sense what time it is. And she can’t identify what time of the day it is by distinguishing her varied meals – that is, if they are breakfast, lunch, or a light evening meal. Everything in her reality is becoming less and less tangible in “chronos” time – that numeric time that measures past, present, and future. “A more modern definition of (chronos) time would be that is a temporal dimension of space-time with the physical universe moving through time in a single universe.”  (Logan McCall)

This dear woman is now slowly and gently passing into “Kairos” time . . . a kind of divine time. It is that “appropriate time” of which the oceans know their ebb and flow; it is the time of the rising of the sun and its setting, it is the moon rising, it is the inner knowing when the child knows it is time to stretch beyond the womb space and be birthed into a new light and life, and it is the time of the seasons each knowing to take their place in the rhythms of the universe.

And so as we walk this dear woman home, she can rejoice in the words of
Mary’s Song. . .
“My soul proclaims the greatness of God;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on this lowly servant . . .
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is God's Name.


May you visit someone today or a place that is waiting for your presence, your smile, your song, your comfort, your love, your inner knowing of Divine time.

I close with a selection from Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley, who reflects on today's Gospel (Lk. 1:39-56)
 “Affirmed, loved and comforted,
You stayed with Elizabeth,
Absorbing the experience and the wisdom
 of the older woman,
deepening in your own resolve
to nurture, hold
and mother God.

Your journey has blessed ours, Mary.
Your Yes dares us
to believe in the impossible,
to embrace the unknown,
and to expect the breaking through of mystery
onto our bleak and level horizons.

The words you heard, Mary,
we will forever remember.
We will not be afraid,
for the life that you birthed
will not be extinguished
in our souls.

And the journey
you took in faithfulness,
we also take.
We the people, women and men, the midwives,
and the healers will also,
like you, Mary, our soul sister,
Give birth to God
for our world.”


Italian Sculpture - San Giovanni Fuorcivitas - Pistoia - Visitation

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Feast to Celebrate the Heart of God!

Art by Joseph Fanelli (1993)

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ~ June 3

The story is told that once a young boy was about to have open-heart surgery.  To prepare him the surgeon said, “Tomorrow I will look at your heart.”  Smiling, the boy interrupted, “You’ll find Jesus there.”  Ignoring his remark, the surgeon continued, “After I have seen your heart I will try to repair the damage.”  Again, the boy insisted.  “You are going to find Jesus in my heart.”

The surgeon who had suffered losses in his own family and was still in pain from a failed marriage, felt very distant from God. He replied in a chilling tone, “No, what I’ll find is damaged tissue, constricted arteries, and weakened muscle.”

The next day he opened the boy’s chest and exposed his heart.  It was worse than he expected – a ravaged aorta, torn tissue, swollen muscles and arteries.  There was no hope of a cure, not even the possibility of a transplant.  His icy anger at God began to surface as he thought, “Where is God? Why did God do this?  Why is God letting this boy suffer and cursing him with an early death?”

As he gazed at the boy’s heart, he suddenly thought of the pierced heart of Jesus, and it seemed to him that the boy and Jesus shared one heart, a heart that was suffering for all those in the world experiencing pain and loss; a heart that was redeeming the world by love. 

Struck with awe at such goodness, such redemptive, unconditional love, tears began rolling down the surgeon’s cheeks, hot tears of compassion for the little boy.  Later, when the child awoke, he whispered, “Did you see my heart?”  “Yes,” said the surgeon.  “What did you find?” the boy asked. The surgeon replied, “I found Jesus there.”

The heart can be understood as a physical part of each of us – that hidden yet vital organ that circulates the full human blood supply three times per minute and whose hundred thousand beats a day are often taken for granted.  The heart is the very core of a person.  When that very center is deeply affected, one’s whole way of thinking about the world, one’s whole way of feeling it, of being in it is profoundly altered.  As in our opening story, the doctor experienced a conversion of heart – a healing from heartlessness to heart-fullness. And the child – who was all heart and shared in the heart of Jesus – had a heart filled with redemptive and unconditional love.

Today’s feast (June 3) is the celebration of the “enlarged heart” of God as it was enfleshed in the heart of Jesus through the womb of Mary – a heart filled and overflowing with unconditional love and mercy.

Today is not necessarily a feast of our devotion to the heart of Jesus, but it is a celebration of God’s devotion to us by offering us a heart of love beyond our comprehension, a heart of love beyond any Hallmark card expression, and a heart full of love that is unfathomable. Our God’s love is tender; Our God is totally in love with us, and desires to be of one heart with us.  For as John writes: God is Love!

As we celebrate this feast today of God’s love for us it was different in the Middle Ages – as the devotion was not to the heart of Jesus but to the wound in the side of Jesus.  In later times, especially rising from the visions of St. Margaret Mary, the focus shifted more to the Heart of Jesus.

In the writings of Margaret Mary, she describes what happened one day as she was praying when she received a vision of Jesus:   “For a long time he kept me leaning on his breast, while he revealed the wonders of his love and the mysterious secrets of his Sacred Heart. Till then, he had always kept them hidden; but now, for the first time, he opened his Heart to me.”

Margaret Mary continued to describe in her writings how Jesus revealed his heart as a heart on fire with love as he said: “My divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race, and of you (Margaret Mary), that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning love any longer.”  She then reveals what followed. “Next, he asked for my heart. I begged him to take it; he did, and placed it in his own divine Heart.  He let me see it there – a tiny atom being completely burned up in that fiery furnace.  Then, lifting it out – now a little heart-shaped flame – he put it back where he had found it.”
In our Gospel today, Jesus reveals to us that his heart is humble and invites us to find rest within his heart.  Jesus lived love and mercy throughout his ministry as he encountered the least, the last, and the lost.

In Scripture we find a number of examples of how his love was lived out. . .
• Let the children come to me . . .then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them
• At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them.
• Moved with pity, Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they received their sight.
• (Rich man) Jesus looking at him loved him.

So what is the good news for us today?
Let us through our daily reflection imagine ourselves resting in the heart of God hearing the heartbeat of God in the intimacy of our own prayer.
 (Nouwen)- “when we come to hear the heartbeat of God in the intimacy of our prayer, we realize that God’s heart embraces all the sufferings of the world.  We come to see that through Jesus Christ these burdens have become a light burden which we are invited to carry.  . . It is in the heart of God that we come to understand the true nature of human suffering and come to know our mission to alleviate this suffering not in our own name, but in the name of Jesus.”

For God’s heart goes out to us and God’s love is always there for us –
Closing: Reflections from Macrina Wiederkehr’s experience of the heart of God in her prayer . . .

Like lightning at dawn – the All-Powerful One came
electrifying, energizing, frightening, shattering, crashing into my morning prayer!
Totally unprepared for this kind of interruption,
I froze on my knees both in wonder and terror.
There was no morning silence left,
no comforting darkness to enfold me
only those flashes of light that make hiding impossible.
But this? Oh, this was awful!
God stood there with terrible, penetrating loving eyes, saying only:
Your love is too small!

Standing that close to truth felt uncomfortable, unbearable and I tried
to hide my face the way I often do when truth gets too close.
I tried to hide the pieces of my terribly divided heart. 
But then the lightning came again.
And God was standing there even closer than before
Holding the pieces of my heart with such tenderness
still saying, Your love is too small.

I took the pieces back with reverence
My tears proclaiming the truth of all I felt.
There was no pressure, no force
just the God of morning asking for my love.
And now, every time I see those flashes
in the northern sky I hear again, a voice
saying simply, Your love is too small.
And I weep; I weep at the possibility of who I could be.
(From Seasons of Your Heart)

A Pond Prayer!



Frogs and more frogs.  I love taking frog pictures in the motherhouse back pond.  I share them here and remind us all that FROG means:

Fully
Rely
On
God!

 
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

God, our life guard!


A story is told that a young man who was raised into an atheistic family environment was training to be an Olympic diver. He had no religious influence except his outspoken Christian friend in school. The young diver never paid much attention to his friend's sermons but he heard them often. One night he went to the indoor pool at his college. The lights were all off, but with big skylights under a bright moonlight, he had plenty of light to practice by. The young man climbed up to the highest diving board. He turned his back to the pool as he prepared to make a somersault. As he went to the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shape of his body was in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving at once, he knelt down for the first time and finally asked God to come into his life. As he stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs that night.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Memorial Day . . .Let us do as much as we can!

Story:
“Prisoner at the bar,” said the judge, “I find you guilty on twenty-three counts. I therefore sentence you to a total of one hundred and seventy-five years.” The prisoner was an old man. He burst into tears. The judge’s facial expression softened. “I did not mean to be harsh,” he said. “I know the sentence I have imposed is a very severe one. You don’t really have to serve the whole of it.” The prisoner’s eyes brightened with hope. “That’s right,” said the judge. “Just do as much as you can!”


No doubt, we are all called to “do as much as we can” in our little corner of the world to be peacemakers. I recall a phone call I received some years ago from a woman who went daily to church for liturgy with her neighbors, friends, and others from the surrounding towns. She told me that she was calling because she was very concerned about the way the people at liturgy were treating her. She went on to tell me that at the “sign of peace” when everyone reaches out with the gesture of a handshake or even a hug, she has decided not to reach out and she does not want to receive the handshake of peace. She continued her story with the details of how people approach her in her bench and extend their hand and she turns away from them. She explained that after liturgy, people even had the audacity to follow her to her car in the parking lot and offer her a handshake of peace. Again, she spoke of how she hurried to enter her car, roll up the windows, and lock the doors – not wanting to share this sign of peace with anyone. Her questions to me were: “ Aren't they wrong? How can I get them to leave me alone?”

As I listened I prayed for insight as to how to proceed. After she was finished describing her concern, I then spoke. I told her that the liturgy is not a private experience. We gather as a people of God – praying together in song – listening to the Word, breaking the bread and sharing the cup. It is a ritual of communion and union! Then I said that the handshake of peace is meant to be a sign of our willingness to live in harmony and right-relationship with each other and to let it be a prayer sent across the world for peace throughout the universe! She hung up on me!! I just did as much as I could to have her consider a conversion to being a peacemaker or “peace-hand-shaker.”

This weekend, we observe Memorial Day. Three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868, it was established as Decoration Day – a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. The proclamation by Gen. John Logan’s orders reads thus: “We are organized for the purpose, among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion. What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe?”

Let us observe this Memorial Day by doing as much as we can - remembering our power and capacity to gather as peacemakers; to strengthen our spirits and vision; to decorate our hearts with the flowers of nonviolence. It is a day of gathering with those who mourn at monuments, graves, and memorials. A day of gathering with those who stand in confusion, anger, shame, guilt, and vulnerability. A day of gathering to remember sacrifices and great losses. A day of gathering to remember ones still held captive throughout the world, or suffering mental anguish from the trauma of terrorism and the ravages of war. It is a day of gathering with those who stand with pride for courage demonstrated and for freedoms won.

Finally, let us do as much as we can to pray, assist, give comfort, express understanding and support to all those who have chosen to reach out in peace, and to those willing to make sacrifices through service to their country – and may we cherish tenderly the memory of our heroic deceased women and men.
 
+ + +
 “There is no pain or sorrow
which comes to us that has
not first passed through the
heart of God.”   -Meister Eckhart

+ + +

“Suffering arises from the simple circumstances of life itself. Sometimes human suffering is dramatic and horrifying. More often it is ordinary, humble, and quiet. But neither way is it ‘God’s Will.’ The divine presence doesn't intend us to suffer, but is instead WITH us in all the experiences of life, in both suffering and joy. And that presence is always inviting us toward greater freedom and love.” (Gerald G. May, M.D.)
 
 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ordinary Time . . .A Time for Extraordinary Courage and Faith!


“We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new.”
(Henri Nouwen)

Liturgically speaking, this time after Pentecost until Advent is considered the season of Ordinary Time. These are the numbered Sundays in the liturgical calendar with readings that reflect how we are to live out our faith in our everyday lives.  However, I’d like to take a little different twist on “ordinary time.”  Ordinary usually is defined as “common,”  “average,”  “uninteresting,” “unimpressive,” or “unremarkable.”  However, as I reflect on the ordinary times in which we presently live, there are many remarkable things happening in which we all, on this planet, are being invited to ponder, to pray about, and act upon in a healthy and just manner.

In his book, Deep Change, Robert Quinn writes that there is a difference between incremental change and deep change.  He states that incremental change is “usually limited in scope and is often reversible.”  Whereas, deep change “requires new ways of thinking and behaving.  It is change that is major in scope, discontinuous with the past and generally irreversible.  . it involves taking risks and means surrendering control.”  As he continues to contrast and compare the changes that happen on an organization and individual level, he cautions that “deep change is not something we need to do every day . . .but we need to do it more frequently than we have in the past.”

So let us step back into our inner selves, setting aside any distractions that may be pulling on our ordinary time, our ordinary thoughts, or our ordinary feelings.  Then with our extraordinary imaginations – call up all the ordinary issues of our time (across our planet) – that require extraordinary courage, integrity, hope, vision, faith, creativity, innovation, and compassion like never before.  Here are just a few to get started: poverty, health care, joblessness, trafficking of women, children and body parts, drug wars, abuse – physical, mental, spiritual, and psychological, global warming, homelessness, the rainforest, discrimination, lack of resources, obesity, famine, genocide, wars, global economy, water and food issues - to only name a few.

I make no judgments on these, but this “ordinary time” calls for all of us to do our part to risk being people of deep change - it is a time - "a unique opportunity to make everything new" – that is, to have a vision and to actualize it. 

These times are not ordinary – they are really  extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures of faith, hope, courage, integrity and love.  So together let us call upon our “Everyday God” to be strength and love in us as we live each new moment to begin again and again and again!

What incremental or deep change have you recently experienced?
Who are your mentors through this time?
Reflect on a time in your life you felt called to do more for others and to make a difference which called for risk on your part.
What are the learnings and wisdoms you hold after a choice you made to “surrender” your control and to open up with extraordinary faith, vision, hope, and courage during these ordinary times?


(Revised and previously posted June 2012)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Pentecosted!

Gospel: John 20:19-23
(Reflection from Pentecost 2015)

"May the Force be with you,” advise the Jedi Warriors, Guardians of the Galaxy in the popular blockbuster movie series of Star Wars. This new expression nudged its way into our language and seemed to settle comfortably into almost every conversation. It was a blessing of luck or general good will when individuals parted ways or when warriors were to face some sort of imminent challenge.

The Force was the unseen but discernible source of a Jedi’s power, an energy field created by all living things. It surrounded them and penetrated all things. It bound the galaxy together. Certainly Director George Lucas was influenced by particular elements of mythology, philosophy, and theology.

In today’s readings, there are two different stories describing God’s Force - the coming of the Spirit. No matter what the details are, the Spirit of God will propel these men and women beyond locked doors, and they will be filled with a newfound confidence in the message they are to preach as they carry forward the reign of God. 

First, let us contemplate the Gospel. It is Easter Sunday evening, and the disciples are hiding in fear in an upper room behind locked doors.  This same upper room is where Jesus encouraged them to not let their hearts be troubled and to believe in him, and they would do great works.

Now they are waiting, listening, pondering what to do next with their lives.  As followers of Jesus, they are terrified of the authorities who may come to take them away as recognizable collaborators of Jesus. They fear they may have to face arrest or something even worse.  They pray, puzzled over what was and what will be, wondering if they have been fooled.  They ask one another: Are you sure the tomb was found empty? Are you sure it was him on the road to Emmaus and in the sharing of bread?

Suddenly, Jesus stands before them. He gives them the usual Jewish greeting ‘Shalom;’ but here, it is filled with a deeper meaning, a driving force. He blesses them with Peace, instilling an energy of excitement and joy that breaks through their worrisome spirits. 

He breathes on them, and God’s Force, the Spirit – the Spirit that hovered over the chaos, the Spirit that incarnated the Word within Mary’s womb – now with laser like motion, soars over and within the disciples, and they are released, unshackled, set free  . . . They will move from terror and hiding to speaking out boldly.  His vision becomes their vision.  His power to heal and forgive is their power. They no longer can be contained, nor can their spirits be restrained. 

There is no more hiding in upper rooms . . .  they will stand among the people in the streets. No more recoiling behind locked doors, they will preach boldly in the Temple. They are transformed from shared fear and insecurity to being empowered with one mind and heart.

They will be accompanied with the “surround sound” of the winds of change to preach the mission of Jesus, and thus, "all will hear them babble about the love of God and all will understand."

In our First Reading from Acts (which is usually called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit), Luke presents us with a scene in an upper room, 50 days after the Resurrection event.

The disciples are all in one place, when a noise like a driving wind fills the house, the space ablaze with the fire of God’s presence, and they are filled with the Spirit. They begin speaking in different languages, proclaiming the mighty acts of God. The Spirit has moved in the people as well, gifting them with a hearing and understanding of the amazing works of God.

Just as the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert, here, the Spirit drives his disciples into a galaxy of streets, villages, towns, cities, countries, and lands far, far away from Jerusalem.

They now move forward with a power and courage to withstand the imminent challenges as they are bound together in the Spirit, preaching the reign of God – God’s mighty Guardians of the Word equipped, strengthened, and propelled by the Force of the Spirit.

So is that all there is? One author writes, “The wind and fire ushering in the Spirit in Acts may be the most dramatic, but it is not the only sending of the Spirit of holiness into the community of the world. Pentecost is a timeless event that happens each time the breath of the Spirit reanimates a community with fiery passion that further commits it to advancing God’s reign of justice in the world.”

Who of us then cannot forget the fiery passion we experienced as John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council in 1962? 

And each time we come together to pray, to celebrate, to elect leadership, to ponder what’s next for our future, are we not of the work of the Spirit?

Who of us then cannot forget the most recent awareness of the animation of the Spirit as women religious came together in conversation, in mind and heart as we experienced the Apostolic Visitation?

And each time Pope Francis breaks through boundaries and barriers of “we’ve always done it this way” – does not the Spirit reanimate the community? Let us recall that last October he called on the world’s priests to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized, and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”

The feast of Pentecost animates us with the fire of passion, conviction, and commitment to the reign of God.  We truly are changed when we live a Spirit-filled life as Pentecosted people.  We are invited each day to live out the gifts of the Spirit in our words, our thoughts, and through our very being.

Each time when our words promote understanding, forgiveness, hope, and joy ~ we live Pentecost.

Each time our way of being makes it a little easier for others to feel included ~ we live Pentecost.

Each time as we participate in the mission of Jesus, and continue to grow in our awareness that we, too, are among the needy and are enriched by those we serve ~ we live Pentecost.

Each time we are willing to unlock the places in our minds and hearts that keep us as individuals, and as a faith community from responding to the injustices in our world ~ we live Pentecost.

Each time as a community of believers, we entrust ourselves to the mission of the Spirit and collaborate to create healing, harmony, and wholeness among the peoples of our world and in all of creation ~ we live Pentecost.

Let us pray:  May the Force – the Spirit of God be with us always!



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Come, O Spirit . . .

Photo: Whisper of Light by
Doris Klein, CSA
Come, Holy Spirit ~

Replace the tension within me with a holy relaxation,
Replace the turbulence within me with a sacred calm,


Replace the anxiety within me with a quiet confidence,
Replace the fear within me with a strong faith,
Replace the bitterness within me with the sweetness of grace,


Replace the darkness within me with a gentle light,
Replace the coldness within me with a loving warmth,


Replace the night within me with Your day,
Replace the winter within me with Your spring,
Straighten my crookedness, fill my emptiness,
Dull the edge of my pride, sharpen the edge of my humility,


Light the fires of my love, quench within me the flames of envy,
Let me see myself as You see me, that I may see You as                              

You have promised ~

And be fortunate according to Your word, “Blessed are the pure of heart,       

for they shall see God.”            
              
 (Anonymous)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spirit . . Breath of God!

 
Photo: ARISE! by Doris Klein, CSA
 
 
Spirit Energy ~ Fiery Presence

Spirit! Power and Passion of my being,
press upon my heart your profound love.
Move through the fragments of my days;
Enable me to sense your fiery Presence
consecrating my most insignificant moments.


Spirit! Source of Vision, Perceptive Guide,
permeate the moments of my choices
when falsehood and truth both call to me.
Turn me toward the way of goodness,
so that I will always lean toward your love.


Spirit! Blessing for the heart grown weary,
encircle me with your loving energy,
empower me with your active gentleness.
Deepen within me a faith in your dynamism
which strengthens the weak and the tired.


Spirit! Breath of Life, Touch of Mystery,
You are the ribbon of inner connection,
uniting me with the groaning of all creation.
Because of you, my life gathers into a oneness.
Keep me attentive to this interdependence.
Fill my being with a constant compassion
and a deep hope that knows no bounds.


Spirit! Dwelling Place, Sanctuary of Silence,
You are the home for which I deeply yearn.
You are the resting place for which I long.
I find both comfort and challenge in you.
Grant that I may keep my whole self open
to the transforming power of your indwelling,
that I may ever know the blessing
of your tremendous companionship.


- Joyce Rupp/Out of the Ordinary


A Time for putting some SLOW in our hurry!

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He shares “I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I wanna tell you something, and I’ll tell you really fast.’”
“Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me – and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.”
“I’ll never forget her answer. ‘Then listen slowly.’”




Slowly
in the potter’s skillful hands,
our clay takes form.
At times
we’re pulled
and stretched
in ways
that make us
plead,
“Aren’t you finished yet?”
But the potter replies,
“Be patient.
Yield to My touch.
For I am making you
A thing of BEAUTY
in My sight.”

 
Poem: "Slow Me Down, God" by Wilfred Arlan Peterson

Slow me down, God.
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.
Steady my hurried pace.
Give me, amidst the day's confusion
the calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tension of my nerves and muscles
with the soothing music of singing streams
that live in my memory.
Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art
of taking minute vacations....
slowing down to look at a flower,
to chat with a friend,
to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me
of the fable of the hare and the tortoise;
that the race is not always to the swift;
that there is more to life than measuring its speed.
Let me look up at the branches of the towering oak
and know that ... it grew slowly ... and well.
Inspire me
to send my own roots down deep...
into the soil of life's endearing values...
That I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
Slow me down, God.
 
 

Spirit God . . . God of Presence . . .

 
Photo by Doris Klein, CSA
 
Litany of God's Names by Joseph Sobb, S.J.

O God of silence and quietness, you call us to be still and know you -
O God of steadfast love, your Spirit is poured into our hearts –
O God of compassion, your Word is our light and hope –

O God of faithfulness, you fill our hearts with joy –
O God of life and truth, from you we receive every gift –
O God of healing and peace, you open us to divine grace –

O God of all creation, our beginning and our end –
O God of salvation, you reconcile all things in Jesus,
O God of Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit –

O God of Jesus, who invites us, “Come and see” –
O God of Jesus, who was tempted as we all are –
O God of Jesus, who is your pledge of saving love –

O God of Sarah and Abraham, from whom came  Jesus -
O God of Anna and Simeon, who recognized Jesus, your Son,
 as Messiah –
O God of Mary, who bore Jesus, -  

O God of Joseph, to whose fatherly care was entrusted Jesus, -
O God of all generations, of all times and seasons and peoples –
O God of our mothers and fathers, of all who have loved us –

O God of our past; O God of our future –
O God of our present, O God in our present -


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Priest, Prophet, Poet, Peace Activist ~ Died April 30, 2016

 
Dan Berrigan, SJ
 
"If you are going to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood."

Daniel Berrigan's 'Ten Commandments' ~ Posted by James Martin, SJ, in AMERICA, June 2012.

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they're growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there's nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there's bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don't go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don't be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don't love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus' specialty and he was heard to say: "Take up your couch and walk!"

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don't use the earphones. Then you'll be able to see what's going on, but not understand what's happening, and so you'll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.


L: Thomas Merton, C: Dan Berrigan, R:Phil Berrigan

Friday, May 6, 2016

God and Mothers . . .

When God Created Mothers

“When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And God said, "Have you read the specs on this order?" She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head slowly and said. "Six pairs of hands.... no way."

"It's not the hands that are causing me problems," God remarked, "it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."

"That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. God nodded.

"One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, 'What are you kids doing in there?' when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word."

"God," said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "Get some rest tomorrow...."

"I can't," said God, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger...and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower."

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed.

"But tough!" said God excitedly. "You can imagine what this mother can do or endure."
 
"Can it think?"

"Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

"There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model."

"It's not a leak," said the Lord, "It's a tear."

"What's it for?"

"It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride."

"You are a genius, " said the angel.

Somberly, God said, "I didn't put it there.”

― Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Doubts, Distractions, Detours, Discernment, Decisions, Direction!

by John O’Donohue

Sometimes when we look out, the world seems so dark. War, violence, hunger, and misery seem to abound. This makes us anxious and helpless. What can I do in my private little corner of life that could have any effect on the march of world events? The usual answer is: nothing. We then decide to do what we can for our own and leave the great events to their domain. Thus, we opt out, and join the largest majority in the world: those who acquiesce.

Believing ourselves to be helpless, we hand over all our power to forces and systems outside us that then act in our names; they go on to put their beliefs into action; and ironically these actions are often sinister and destructive. We live in times when the call to full and critically aware citizenship could not be more urgent. We need to rediscover the careless courage, yet devastating simplicity, of the little boy, in the middle of the numbed multitude, in na├»ve Socratic fashion, blurts out ‘But the emperor has no clothes.’ When spoken, the word of truth can bring down citadels of falsity.

Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation. When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy. When we choose indifference, we betray our world. Yet the world is not decided by action alone.  It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior. The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together. 

Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world.  In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can be a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.  There is a huge force field that opens when intention focuses and directs itself toward transformation.

(From: To Bless the Space Between Us)

Monday, May 2, 2016

A reading to ponder on Ascension day . . .




A reading to ponder to celebrate Ascension day  . . .

A prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake . . . (1577)

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.


Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.


Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Ascension Day . . .

 
Ascension Day – A Heavenly “Up-rising”!

Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves, sad and happy all at the same time. Going away isn't really sad, especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born.

Long have the leaves known the trees. They've danced together in the wind days upon days. But now, growing older and wiser, they know they can’t cling to the trees forever. And so they say good-bye falling to the ground waiting for the mystery of death to transform them into nourishment for the earth.



And the trees? They stand alone for one short season but they are at peace, waiting for another mystery to enfold them with its presence.

When I saw you leaving I covered my face with my heart. Oh, the ache of letting go. But then I remembered the trees and so I stood in peace remembering your return.

When you come back, we will be new for each other, much will have happened in our lives. There will be more for each of us to love, more for each of us to know.

The Spirit will have  left a footprint in our lives, and we will be excited like a new leaf come home to a tree!

(From: Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr)


Spring . . . A Time of Unfolding . . .

 
 
The Song of the Seed

Life unfolds a petal at a time – slowly. The beauty of the process is crippled when I try to hurry growth.

Life has its inner rhythm which must be respected. It cannot be rushed or hurried. Like daylight stepping out of darkness. Like morning creeping out of night – life unfolds - slowly - a petal at a time – like a flower opening to the sun, slowly.

God’s call unfolds a Word at a time – slowly. A disciple is not made in a hurry.  Slowly I become like the One to whom I am listening. Life unfolds a petal at a time like you and I becoming followers of Jesus, discipled into a new way of living deeply and slowly.

Be patient with life’s unfolding petals. If you hurry the bud it withers. If you hurry life it limps. Each unfolding is a teaching, a movement of grace filled with silent pauses, breathtaking beauty, tears and heartaches. Life unfolds a petal at a time – deeply and slowly. 

May it come to pass! 

(From The Song of the Seed by Macrina Wiederkehr)