Showing posts from 2010

LOVE again!

I think LOVE might be my theme for this year.....  Today's first reading from Isaiah 54 really touched me, especially the parts about God being the ONE God, and the ending: Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you, nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you. God has love bigger and more permanent than mountains and hills.  All I can do to respond is love in my little way, like a pebble by comparison.   God's love embraces me so completely, my little love is no longer small.

Faithfulness and Love

"When Jesus talks about faith, he means first of all to trust unreservedly that you are loved by God." --Henri Nouwen I am loved by God. God wants for me to be most fully who God created me to be, and God will help me to find and fulfill that longing - that's love. Ah.  Humbling - joyful - immensely incomprehensible.  May each of us, like Mary, offer a faithful "YES" response to the love that God offers. Happy Feast!


Advent is probably my favorite time of year.  In part, I love the Christmas carols and anticipation of the coming of Christ.   Along with that, I love the readings from Isaiah, with their apocalyptic and hopeful expression of what Christians desire:  not just the coming of Christ, but the transformation of the whole world into the Kingdom God desires, of peace and plenty, of joy and fullness. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid..... There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. (Isaiah 11:6,9) So, Advent is the time of waiting, but not just waiting.  We wait for the Kingdom of God, but we wait with great longing and hope.  Waiting implies that we sit passively by; longing gets to the heart of our patient waiting, the anticipation, hope, and desire that accompanies our awaiting the coming of Christ. It is also a time of preparati


God's mercy and faithfulness shine forth in a world wounded by sin. (Constitutions 2) Our vocation arises from our wounds.   Do you ever have one of those weeks where one idea keeps coming to your attention, from a variety of sources? This week, the idea of woundedness -- my woundedness, Jesus' woundedness, the wounds of our world -- finds its way into my daily life.  I thought I could share some thoughts and quotes. Part One: On Monday, I had a class, taught by a psychologist, that discussed how our family of origin and our experiences in childhood influence our reactions and behaviors throughout our lives.  This is in the context of religious life--how does what we learned as a child affect our interactions with our community members?  He talked about how all families are imperfect, and the "wounds" are not necessarily huge things.  But our experiences do shape our beings in very specific ways--they become part of our identity.  We look to our past to heal

Link and Note

Greetings!  I just wanted to share a link today, to the Society of the Sacred Heart website, where they've posted a notice about the opening of my noviceship year, and a brief video of my community members.  I hope you enjoy! Society of the Sacred Heart  

How Not To Start a Religious Order

So, one of my tasks this year is to read a lot about the Society of the Sacred Heart and its history and spirituality.  I've just started reading Madeleine Sophie Barat: A Life by Phil Kilroy, and I'm up to the point where she meets Philippine Duchesne. (Click here to get it from I'm struck by the significant difficulties that the Society faced at the very beginning.  First and foremost:  the French Revolution forced much of their work underground.  Even more than that, Sophie and Philippine both wanted to join religious orders that already existed (the Carmelites and the Visitandines) but could not because of the political climate.  Perhaps, if life in France in the late 18th century had not been so tumultuous, the Society of the Sacred Heart would never have formed! Other problems plagued the "little Society" from the beginning:  associations with priests and bishops who were under suspicion by the political and/or ecclesiastical authoritie


Today's first reading is from Proverbs 30:5-9: Every word of God is tested; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver. Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die: Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need; Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, "Who is the LORD?" Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God. I take this to be a reading about simple living, though other things come into it too.  The wisdom here seems to say that if we live simply and have just what we need without extra, it will be easier to recognize the presence of God in our lives.  Having just moved, I know my world is not as simple as I would like it to be--I have more things, more books, more food, more than I need.  Americans in general live less simply than others, and I am undoubtedly American. 

Official Opening of the Noviceship Year

Yesterday, on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we celebrated the opening of my year of being a novice!  All of the Religious of the Sacred Heart who live in this area, along with some from out of town, joined us for Mass, followed by supper.  Our provincial, Paula, gave a reflection and presented me with a pin carrying the symbol of the Society. It might seem strange to celebrate such a happy occasion on the feast dedicated to sorrow.  But the Society's dedication to "being the heart of God in the world" forces us to see, feel, experience the sorrows of all people in our world, and even of our world itself.  Just as the Mother of Jesus felt his pain and experienced sorrow out of her love for him, so we are called to feel the pain of those around us, of those we love.  Right now, for me, it's a call to awareness of what is happening in our world and how I might help those who are suffering. The celebration last night was accompanied by an outpouring of love for

I'm a Novice!

My new neighbor and friend It's official!  I moved to the novitiate a week ago, and I am a novice! Amid all the chaos of moving, packing, unpacking, finding my way around in a new city, it has taken a while to sink in (and I'm sure it will continue to sink in). What does it mean to be a novice?  Well, I'm still learning that part, but I know that it means I am given more time to spend with God in prayer, and with my community.  It also means that I will be learning about religious life both at home (where we will talk about the Society of the Sacred Heart and how we live in it) and in a class with other novices. In prayer today, I was reading the alternate first reading, from Paul's letter to the Romans: Brothers and sisters:  We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to God's purpose. I know in my heart that I am called by God, and that helps me through the challenges of a new city and a new way of life. Blessin

The Faithfulness of God

This phrase -- the faithfulness of God -- has been in my heart and head.  We celebrated the 40th anniversary of final profession for three sisters yesterday afternoon, and this idea was part of the prayer and reflections.   My life has been filled lately with leavetaking.  I'm preparing to move in a week, leaving behind a city that has been my home for most of the last 10 years, and a group of women, my religious sisters, whom I love deeply.  My heart has been heavy, even though I know that what awaits me on the other end is good and beautiful -- another group of amazing women who are my sisters, and entrance into the novitiate. The prayer reminded me yesterday that no matter how heavy this leavetaking feels, I am supported by and grounded in God's faithfulness.  God will not abandon me, and remembering that brings me peace.  My fears, doubts, sadness are so small when compared to the profound faithfulness of God.  When I look over the last year, and even over the course of m

Being Transfigured

Taken in June, Albany, NY While the Transfiguration was a few days ago now, it's still in my thoughts...  I think my favorite reading is the second one of the day, 2 Peter 1:16-19: Beloved: We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  That second part is my favorite:  the reliability of the message and the apostles' attentiveness to it. "You will do well to b

What If

A little story. About five years ago, I interviewed for a job.  It was a good job, one that fit my skills, and I was well qualified (or they wouldn't have interviewed me, honestly).  Another woman was also interviewed, and she was offered and took the position.  I received a very kind rejection letter, explaining all the reasons why I was not chosen.  It was actually a good letter--the reasons given were very real, and spoke only of my lack of fit for the position.  In other words, I really felt that the decision was fair, and that the other candidate was clearly a better choice.  The letter also let me know that I, too, would have done well in the position.  It was really a positive affirmation. Yesterday, I was talking with one of my former professors, who had been speaking with people from that same institution that interviewed me.  He discovered that the woman who was hired has been let go, not because of anything she did wrong, but because they are changing their prioritie

RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five: Love the One You're With

In an attempt to keep up with this blog, I'm going to do the RGBP thing... From their website :  This Friday Five will post while I'm at the beach which for me is more than a vacation destination, it is a trip home. I have found it quite easy to wax nostalgic about the places I used to live (well, except for one) and have begun to wonder what it is I like about the place I'm living now? For instance I sure do love the beach, but this picture was taken about 30 minutes away from my house - not too shabby! And so I ask you to please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like. This is an interesting friday five for me...I have 31 days left in my current home, and then I'm moving to become a novice in southern California!  So, with a bit of sadness at the coming move, I answer:   Five things I like about where I live now: It is easy to get places.  I'm in St Louis, Missouri--not exactly a huge ai

The Potter and the Lump of Clay

My friend Sister Susan has some great thoughts on lumps of clay over at her blog ! My reaction to the morning's reading was a little different from Susan's.  I've never taken a pottery class, though I think it would be fun--even if it is hard to make anything less earthy than a lump of clay! Jeremiah says: I went down to the potter's house and there he was, working at the wheel. Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased. "He tried again."  My life over the past few years has been so full of changes, both external and internal.  I'm not a big fan of change, but I am very aware that the only way we become better people is by changing.  That God tries again calls me to patience with myself and with the changing world that is within and around me. God has a particular purpose for each of us, but we sometimes live without attending to t

Time to jump back in

The summer has been a whirlwind, and so my blog has suffered...but I'm going to make the attempt once again to keep going!  I will be posting a reflection later today, on the potter and the clay, from today's first reading.  I hope someone is still out there who might want to read it!  Check back later!

A little story

(Image from I'm doing some work on medieval saints, and I came across this story recounted the Golden Legend by Jacques de Voraigne, about St. John the Evangelist and Apostle (medieval types were a little confused about this): Someone gave a live partridge to the blessed John (as Cassian tells us in his Conferences ), and he gently held and stroked the bird.  Seeing this, a boy laughed and called to his companions: "Come and watch this old man playing with a little bird like a child!" The saint, knowing by the spirit what was going on, called him and asked what it was the youngster held in his hand.  The boy said that it was a bow, and John asked what he did with it.  The answer was: "We shoot birds and animals!"  Then the lad stretched his bow and held it taut in his hand, but when the apostle said nothing, he loosened it.  John asked him why he loosened the bowstring, and he replied: "Because if you keep it stretched too long,

Happy Feast of Saint Madeleine Sophie!

Today is the feast of St Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!  She was born in 1779 in France, and she founded this "little Society" in 1800.  I keep learning more and more about her, but I'm sure there are better biographies online than what I could provide.   What I love about Sophie is her generous heart and her recognition of the Christ in each individual.  Her letters show how she knew the needs and hearts of each individual to whom she wrote--and she addressed them with loving care, seeking to comfort those who needed comfort and gently challenge those who were too comfortable. The readings for her feast day include Colossians 3:12-17, which seems to sum up her ideals very well: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven yo


From today's Gospel (John 17:11b-19):  "Consecrate them in the truth." Jesus is speaking to the Father about his followers.  I've been thinking about that phrase this morning, and I don't really know what it means to be consecrated in the truth.  Yet, "truth" has been on my mind a lot lately--finding my truth, my true self, and really speaking my truth.   The last year or so, at least since entering the Society of the Sacred Heart, has been a time for me to discover who I am and what I value.  I don't think my values have really changed, though my eyes have been opened to new things in new ways--things like human trafficking and the concerns about the environment.  At the same time, I've been trying to really speak up for what I think, feel, believe.  That's not so easy for me, but the encouragement and respect of my sisters has helped me with that. And I still have questions about truth, too.  There are some truths that are better kept in


I've been asked to reflect a bit about commitment, and so I share some of my thoughts here. The following quotation from Pedro Arrupe, S.J. has been finding me lately: "Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way . What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything . It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,  and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. " How does that relate to commitment?  Well, I've fallen in love, and my world changed.  I get out of bed in the morning to pray and go to mass before work.  I spend my evenings and weekends with community (though I also spend time with friends).  My Sister introduced me to my new favorite novelist (P.D. James!).  I know so many

Quote from Dorothy Day

This is, admittedly, a very random post, but one of my students did a presentation on Dorothy Day today, and she cited this quotation: Knitting is very conducive to thought. It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again. Amen to that!  She was an amazing woman -- I didn't know she knitted too!


Ford Madox Brown. Jesus Washing Peter's Feet. 1852-56. "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later." Poor Peter--always lacking in understanding.  Who can blame him?  His teacher has just said he wants to wash his feet, which is not such a pleasant task in a world of dust and sandals. The sentence above is what sticks with me today.  I feel surrounded by mystery lately--the mystery of living in community, the mystery of Jesus' great love for me, and the mystery of God's calling me to a new way of living.  I don't know how to find the words to express the depth to which I feel that mystery in my life on a daily basis.  (That's part of the reason for silence on this blog.) What I do know is that it's okay that I don't understand.  Theology is like that--studying God because you can always know more.  You can never fully understand God because God is so much bigger / greater / more than our human minds can compr

Feast of the Annunciation

Photo was taken at the Shrine of Our Lady of Snows in Belleville, IL. So, it seems that this blog is now a monthly event for me...  for right now, that's just how it is. Today is the feast of the Annunciation.  I'm planning the prayer for the evening, so I thought I would share the reading that I've chosen, from Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, on the Immaculate Heart of Mary.     Serving God gratis means with no conditions at all, here or there, in this or that employment, in health or sickness, consolation, uncertainty, repugnances, [in] God’s will and God’s service.  I, His little servant, need nothing else.  That is Our Lady’s spirit, and the word that came out of the depths of her Immaculate Heart at the great moment of her life was, “ ecce ancilla Domini. ”     If she were now in our midst, what would she be like and what would be her “gratis service?”  Willing service of God and of others, untiring, constant and devoted. What entire absence of any claim for herself

Janet Erskine Stuart

I'm sorry to have neglected the blog!  Life gets crazy sometimes, and you could say that about the last month. Today, my community is doing a day of formation centered on the life and teachings of Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, the fifth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  She's most known for her ideas about education, and in fact, you can find her work The Education of Young Girls in its entirety online here .  (Another work, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart , by Maud Monahan is also available as an ebook.) One quotation to share, which I find fits with my understanding of a teacher's role: "What do we want to bring up? Not good nonentities, who are only good because they are not bad. There are too many of them already, no trouble to anyone, only disappointing, so good that they ought to be so much better, if only they would. But who can make them be more?… Those who have to educate them to something higher must themselves have
Visit the Giving Voice website! Well, spring semester has officially begun.  Life here is pretty busy--first week of classes is always exhausting, even if I'm well prepared.  I have a total of 75 students in three classes, and I think it will be a good semester.  I'm thankful that the three classes are the same, and that I have a good head start on the preparations, since I've taught it before (though I will still update the class a bit). Life otherwise is good, and also busy.  I leave this weekend to have some fun with other young nuns!  I'm excited to see everyone, and to have some relaxing times in a warmer climate!  Thank you, Giving Voice!

Love and Fear

From today's first reading, 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. My mind was already on the relationship between fear and love this morning, when the priest began to ask about it. He posed some questions, most of which I've forgotten.  One was, Do you think that you can be in love and still be fearful?  Do you think that fear and love are mutually exclusive? He answered that he didn't think so, and I think he's right.  But on the other hand, both fear and love affect each other.  Fear is diminished when we love and when we know that we are loved.  How much easier is it to deal with challenging circumstances when we know that our loved ones are with us? And also, it takes courage to love freely, to offer yourself to another without knowing what you will receive in return.  It's so easy to get to know another person only on a surf