Going Gratitudinal

Going Gratitudinal. That’s the theme of this week’s Busy Person’s Retreat at Dominican University in San Rafael. Our sisters meet with students, faculty, and staff members this week, to pray and share reflections on a selection of readings. We thought that focusing on gratitude would be helpful during this latter part of the Lenten season.

Please feel free to join us online at our Dominican Sisters’ website. And over the next few days I will post a “gratitudinal” thought for the readers of this blog. After all, the Dominican mystic Meister Eckart said, “If the only prayer you say is thank you, that is enough.” I’m sure the same thing goes for preaching as for praying.

I am grateful for city lights by the bay at dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share something for which you are grateful.

Our God is with Us

From today’s Responsorial Psalm 46:

There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.

The Virgin River in Zion National Park

The City of God is often called Zion. I am sure that those who named the National Park we know as Zion here in the US, could only imagine that such beauty had to be worthy of being called Zion, the City of God. Let us remember that wherever we are, God is, and that it, too, is the City of God, and therefore beautiful.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have a wonderful day!!

Finding God in the Interruptions

Surely this doesn’t happen to you.

Imagine being in the middle of an engrossing project, one that needs to be finished within the hour/day/week. And along comes a person/phone call/incident that interrupts this all-important (truly) task. It’s not hard for me to imagine myself grumbling and complaining at that point about the interruption, whether it’s a thing or a person. Probably that’s never happened to you.

A friend of mine (Kathleen Bryant, RSC) sent me this quote today. I think I’ll post it everywhere I can see it, so that the next time the interruptions come along I can receive them with grace. They probably wear the face of God.

If you haven’t already adopted a Lenten practice by now (we’re in the 3rd week of Lent), this would be a good one. I think I’ll add it for the remaining 3 weeks.

Interruptions

Even though you have a lot of work to do
If you think of it as wonderful
And if you feel it as wonderful
It will transform into energy of 
Joy and fire
Instead of becoming a burden.

– Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

Chrissy Field pier at dusk

Loving Our Neighbor . . . the Immigrant

Friday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding,
with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

I wonder how well we demonstrate our love for God by our love for our neighbor . . .

  • After visiting with some of the people of Tijuana, and witnessing their poverty. . .
  • After conversations with people who had grown up in the U.S., only to be deported as an adult, even though they knew no one in Mexico . . .
  • After remembering the words of Exodus 22:21 . . .

You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

God bless the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Peace, and all those who support them, in caring for their neighbors and our neighbors. May we learn to be truly neighbor through our trade and immigration policies, and may we learn compassion and not react to the “stranger” in a mean-spirited manner because of our fear and lack of understanding. May the Spirit help us to “enlarge the place of our tent” (Isaiah 54:2) and make room in our hearts and our lives for others who are different from us. Could this be a way for us to be transformed this Lent?

The people at Casa de los Pobres, Tijuana, gather to pray the Stations of the Cross during Lent. The students of Dominican University joined them.

Serving the Little Ones

Students from Dominican University in San Rafael traveled to Tijuana, Mexico for a service trip. It was a wonderful experience for all involved. The students exhibited generosity, joy, and a wonderful spirit. One of the places the students enjoyed most was Casa de Cuna, where young children stay for the day or week while their mothers are working. This wonderful work was founded, and is still staffed, by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Mexico.

Dominican student, Laura, plays peek-a-boo with one of the girls at Casa de Cuna.

Living in Harmony through Loving God

Today I share a few words from the Dominican scholar St. Thomas Aquinas.

How can we live in harmony?
First we need to know
we are all madly in love
with the same God.
~ St. Thomas Aquinas ~
An altar over the tomb of St. Thomas Aquinas in Toulouse, France

Teach Me Your Paths, O Lord

Today I am sharing Sister Gervaise Valpey’s reflection on tomorrow’s reading for the 3rd Wednesday in Lent.

Tuesday, Third Week of Lent
March 13, 2012
Daniel 3: 25, 34-43; Matthew 1: 21-35

The reading from Daniel 3:25, 34-43 encourages us to delve deeper into our hearts to find the humility that will release God’s generous mercy to us. It may have taken the raging furnace for Azariah and his companions to acknowledge their God, but once they recognized their sinfulness and their immense losses they could see a way to
find favor with their God. With “contrite hearts and humble spirit” they sought forgiveness – for themselves and their nation – from the “God of kindness and great mercy.” Once they sought forgiveness, they could “follow God unreservedly . . . with their whole heart.”

What does it take for me – for us – to reach that point of humility, that moment of letting go so we can speak honestly before our gracious God? What do e need so we can go forth giving our all? I have found that taking time to reflect on the experiences
when I have felt most lost and not in connection ith God, enables me to pray humbly with the Responsorial Psalm, “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me teach me your paths.”

One such challenging experience, when I felt most bereft, as the time when my mother lived in a full care unit of a retirement residence. My mother as suffering from dementia. I felt I as indeed being “tried by fire,” as I visited her each day. I looked for answers and searched for words to say. I felt deeply saddened by her condition and that of the residents around her. When I could pray with humility, letting myself move out of the way, before entering the facility, I could be at peace because it as only then
that I truly could be present to my mother. Turning over those moments to God, I could learn from my mother – her sense of gratitude, her peace, her need only for presence.

I believe God responds generously when we are honest with ourselves, and when we can really see hat God has done for us. Let us pray today to recognize God’s abundant grace and presence in our lives, especially at the most challenging moments. “Guide me in your truth and teach me.”

Sister Gervaise in front of a Santa Cruz sunset

The above can also be found at http://www.opwest.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/00-2012-FINAL-Lenten-Reflection-Booklet-271.

We Proclaim Christ Crucified

Certainly we proclaim the Risen Christ. And we remember, especially during Lent, the road that Jesus walked prior to His resurrection. And so, with the Apostle Paul,

We proclaim Christ crucified.

Cross draped with a stole in a Salvadoran chapel.

Shepherd Your People

We read from the Prophet Micah how God is like a shepherd.

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.