Posts Tagged ‘patience’

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 11.27.41 AMThere was a university professor who went searching for the meaning of life. After several years and many miles, he came to the hut of a particularly holy hermit and asked to be enlightened. The holy man invited his visitor into his humble dwelling and began to serve him tea. He filled the pilgrim’s cup and then kept on pouring so that the teas was soon dripping onto the floor. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “Stop! It is full. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” said the hermit, “you are full of your own opinions, preconceptions, and ideas. How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?”

This week we look forward to the beginning of Lent. The phrase “look forward to” may not exactly express what most of us feel about Lent…but it should! Lent gives us an opportunity to act on the hermit’s evaluation of the professor….Like the professor, we too are filled to the brim with “opinions, preconceptions, and ideas.” We need to empty ourselves of all that stands in the way of hearing what our God has to teach us during this time of Lent. Instead of trying to figure out what to “give up” during Lent, how about considering where we can “give in” by working at eliminating our personal biases, admitting that we don’t have all the answers, acknowledging that only God is perfect.  Emptying ourselves, humbling ourselves before God, praying for guidance, refraining from judging others—all of these actions can lead us to greater inner peace. If who I am and what I think seem to be more important than who God is, my priorities are skewed.  When God looks at me, who does He see?  During Lent, each of us is being called to greater holiness. I can take the first step by acknowledging how, in word and action, I can be “full of myself.” Then I can lay myself at the foot of the cross and beg to be emptied of everything that makes me less than who God calls me to be. Finally, I can ask for the grace of receptivity…as I read His Word in Scripture, sit in quiet prayer, and respond to those He sends to me.

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND


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Deep within us all there is an inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center a speaking Voice to which we may continually return.
Thomas Kelly

Last evening 29 of my Sisters here in Thousand Oaks began a retreat which will last for eight days. Quiet pervades the house as they devote themselves to prayer and reflection, even taking their meals in silence. It is a time when we religious women remember the old saying, “Why hast thou come hither?” In the business of life we, too, can forget the “one thing necessary.” This graced period is a wonderful time for us to wake up and focus on what has been blurred by the pace of life.

Having made my retreat earlier in the year, I am observer, sensing the presence of God overflowing in our convent as I wait for my broken limbs to heal. The divine presence is alway samong us, in us, around us. Unfortunately, most of us walk around with “spiritual amnesia.” The great work of the sabbath, of a retreat, is to REMEMBER.

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. He walks everywhere incognito. Ane the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.
C.S. Lewis

Can you find time for a “mini retreat” today? If possible, try to schedule even fifteen minutes is your bust schedule for a pause that remembers.

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From Karen Schmidt Sculptures

Searching for Meaning and Forgiveness

This Fourth Sunday of Lent is also the Second Sunday of the Scrutinies for those preparing to receive the Sacrament of Baptism at the Easter Vigil. We, therefore, acknowledge that you may hear one of two Gospel readings: the one from Year A which is used for RCIA preparation and tells the story of the man born blind, or the one from the current Year C, the story of the prodigal son.

The two Gospels do have some commonalities; in both we see the movement from darkness to light, whether it be the darkness of physical blindness or that of spiritual blindness…in the young man who did not understand the love of his father. In both, we find a certain searching—the searching for physical sight in the case of the man born blind, and the searching for meaning and forgiveness in the case of the prodigal son.

For this reflection, let us ponder how we are like the young man who needed to see clearly and to understand the love of his father. The parable tells us that the young man initially measured love by the “share of the estate” that he felt was due to him.  Young, immature, and reckless, we know he squandered the bounty that had been given to him.  We may shake our heads in dismay and say, “How silly! He should have known better!”

Let us consider though how we do the same…how do we squander the good things our loving God has given us? How do we treat the gifts of creation, the gifts of grace, our talents, our treasure? Everything has come to us by the gracious goodness of our God! How do we use what we have received?

God calls us to think about this…and to reflect on the ways we are like the prodigal son…but also how we are like him when he “comes to his senses” and returns to his loving, his forgiving Father. Do we understand the depth of the Father’s love for us?  I am reminded of Rembrandt’s painting entitled “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” which you can view online at the State Hermitage Museum.

You may wish to spend some time reflecting on these questions as you consider this great work of art and then continue reading.

Coming Home

Like the son, we too need to see the truth of our relationship, we need to “come home” to the reality of God’s loving care….Like the father holding his son, God holds us close to his heart.

There are many times in our lives when we need to feel the warmth of God’s loving embrace and picture the arms of our loving Father holding us…

when we feel lonely and afraid…

when we need to make a difficult decision…

when we are ill or despondent…

when we experience failure or disappointments…

when we have made mistakes and have hurt someone we love…

when we have turned away, run away from the God or the people who love us the most…

when we feel the effects of our aging or personal limitations…

St. Francis de Sales reminds us that our God is with us in times when we feel weak and afraid:

Do not look forward in fear

to the changes in life;

rather, look to them with full hope

that, as they arise,

God, whose very own you are,

will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will carry you in His arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same understanding Father

who cares for you today

will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

and put aside

all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Let us therefore be assured that, like the prodigal son, we will always be welcomed into the loving and forgiving arms of our Father.


Sr. Marie Paul

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An insightful meditation on being patient with the now and not yet:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient on everything; to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time, (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be. Give the lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete”.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

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by Sr. Juliemarie McDonald, SND

Each year in Advent waiting time

we are the innkeepers of our souls.

Our souls are caves – damp, dark, and dingy.

In the smelly stables of our souls,

we house our own mice and spiders and crawly things.

Yet, Jesus, as in days of old,

still chooses such unlikely caves

in which to become incarnate.

Into these damp, dark, and dingy places

He descends as light

to burn bright,

to radiate the night.

Enfleshed once more in our humanness

taking on our human limitations

of littleness, simplicity, and childlikeness,

He craves to be cradled and crooned to again

by human hands and voices.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Come into the dark caves of our souls.

Be born again in our limitedness.

Infinity embrace our finiteness

to reach out through us

to others whose caves are also

dark, and damp, and dingy.

Shine through us, O Lord,

into this dark world of ours.

Light up the spaces of our souls once more

That we may be…Your browser may not support display of this image. the stars that lead to new Bethlehems.

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This last weekend several storms pelted Southern California. On Saturday night we lost power in the area around my convent for about two hours. Although we did have flashlights, they don’t work without batteries! Fortunately, nuns always have candles for prayer, ambience, etc. Still, we were grateful when the power was restored. The experience sharpened my awareness of how much I depend upon power for light and warmth, echoing my yearning this Advent for Christ’s light and life, the true source of power in all our lives.

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rt_nuns1_070510_msAlthough many women are attracted to a common life with other Sisters who share their vision and commitment, it does not take long before they realize the truth of the old saying, “It’s grand to live with the saints in glory, but here on earth it’s another story.” We know full well that the community gathered in Christ is a fragile and cracked vessel. I have never been a perfect Sister, or superior, or community member. Then again, nobody else has been either!

Yet, community is the place that the Spirit of God forms us over time. It is the place where we are made whole and we are made holy. It calls us to a deeper wisdom and a deeper sense of why we are together.

“Our living of community in this spirit witnesses to the love of the Father for all people, revealed in Jesus, his Son. It is a sign of the goal toward which we are all moving, the new Jerusalem, where all will be one in the love of the Triune God.” (SND Constitutions, art. 62)

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13_rays_fog_trees_rmbFrom time to time I pick up a volume that never ceases to challenge me. The book “Abandonment to God” by Jean-Pierre De Caussade, S.J., (d.1751) calls the reader to give each moment of the day to God, trusting that His Providence has ordered everything for our good. “The present moment is an ever-flowing source of holiness,” Caussade says, “and all will be well if we abandon ourselves to the will of God.” Of course, suffering from “spiritual amnesia”, I eventually fall back into feeling that I alone am responsible for the proper running of the world. Still, his advice is a powerful antidote for habits of worry and control: dwelling on the past, fearing for the future, gnawing on regrets, and anticipating the worst.

What if, as curators of our own contentment, we followed Caussade’s advice and cultivated habits of recollection, of a loving awareness of God’s presence and providence? Nothing in our day would lack meaning or peace, for we would discover that the peace we seek is already within us.

“The well of Providence is deep. It’s the buckets we bring to it that are small.” Mary Webb

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FCB_SBA_0042Time for another vocation story, this one from our newest candidate Rhea:

“My desire to become a sister began to stir in me as far back as I can recall. However, at age sixteen, I let go of the thought. To my knowledge no sign from the Lord was given to me. In my childlike ignorance, I assumed God would provide me with a supernatural event that would make clear to me that my desires were His as well, and not merely the romantic notions of a young girl. After a period of loss and acceptance; I then proceeded to live my life pursuing the secular goals of family and career.

I have had a fulfilling life which includes a loving family, good friends, a rewarding career and a rich spiritual journey. However, I am now at a turning point. With exception to the gift of motherhood; no pursuit, accomplishment, or relationship; has fulfilled me other than my love for Christ and His love for me. So at this point I have given myself permission to take the time to discern what He truly wants for me. I am drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame for their vitality, devotion to witnessing to God’s goodness and provident care, and undying desire to serve God’s people with vigor, humor, and humility”.

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779hourglassJust in case you were wondering… We’re getting our ducks in order here. Tomorrow’s the big day; unveiling Sister Amy and her words of insight and wisdom. So practice a little patience, stay tuned, and offer it up to the dear souls in purgatory. 🙂

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