Sunday, August 30, 2020

33. Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by Carol Ann Smith and Eugene F. Merz, SJ

 


Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by [Carol Ann Smith]

Finding God in Each Moment: The Practice of Discernment in Everyday Life by Carol Ann Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a follow up to Moment by Moment which I enjoyed much more. I was going to use this in my summer prayer, but I ended up going through Finding Christ in the World (see below). I do like many of the questions in this book that I will use in my spiritual direction ministry. I have also used some of the questions in the book for conversation starters in a group setting with a wonderful effect! Also, there were times where it was instrumental in coinciding and confirming what God was teaching me in Finding Christ in the World.

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FINDING CHRIST IN THE WORLD - WEEK TWELVE: LIVING CHRIST IN THE WORLD

 



Touchstones:

  • When we say our yes to God with our whole hearts, we right away "glorify the Lord." (Amen!) 
  • The infinitely wise and powerful Holy Spirit is holding the Church as Christ's Mystical Body.
  • In our mature moments, we can say seriously with St. Paul, "For me, to live is Christ."
  • We can tell that we are praying well by how we are acting the rest of the day. 
  • This dismissal from a service sums up our life in Christ: "Go in peace, glorifying God by your life."
  • In our vocations, we are given the duty, along with the requisite virtues, to pass on our faith in Jesus Christ. 
  • We have the strength and assurance to cling to Jesus Christ through all of our lives. 
  • Living the Theological Virtues (faith, hope, and love), the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord), and the fruits of life in Christ is living a fulfilled life with an assured - and eternal - future.
GRACE I ASK FOR: for gratitude that I have all the gifts I need for a holy and joy-filled life in Christ now, and in heaven. 

INTRODUCTION

"I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). "It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humankind becomes truly clear" (Gaudium et Spes, 22)...Membership is entirely natural to us. We somehow belong with each other...We are just as firmly Texans, or Vermonters or Idahoans. Those identities dye our souls...We readily, easily belong...We disciples know that our need to belong has a much higher source. It's due to our being created in the image of God who exists as a Trinity, that Persons always relating. 

We are members and we thank God that it's our gift to belong to the Church...During these weeks of prayer, we have also looked at the Church from God's viewpoint. Seen from eternity, we see the Church "as the purpose of God's plan: 'to unite all things in Him" who is our Savior (Eph. 1:10). We are united not only around Him, but also in His Body...In becoming human, Jesus united himself to every other human...He did not wipe out humanity, he united it with divinity. 

PRAYER TALK - IN THE AFTERMATH

How "well" do you pray? Three points about answering that question. First: do you keep on praying? You're doing well. Second: do you let God lead you where you do not expect to go? You're doing quite well. Finally, Do you find yourself acting more and more holy? You're doing very well. That's the lesson that what happens during the rest of the day is more consequential than what happens in prayer. (This has been the BIGGEST blessing of the Exercises for me. It has been the desire of my heart for so many years to do this, and the Exercises are so conducive to that.) 

What are you looking for in your Examen? One good way to summarize it is that you are reaching for the behavior that leaves you content as a mature disciple of Christ. You want to behave the way a serious follower of Christ behaves...It's hard to really discomfort a mature disciple, in Jesus' mind. Abuse them and they bless you...Give them lots of trouble and they rejoice and are glad (Matt. 5:4-12)...Here's a daily Examen for mature Christians. Set yourself to enact those spiritual gifts...But you probably noted earlier on that letting the nation's mood overshadow your own is immature. It's not a new problem. St. Paul had to tell the Ephesians to struggle to be "fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself" (4:13)...Tell each other the truth...be "generous, sympathetic, forgiving"...Love is enacted...God loves us "even if our own feelings condemn us, because God is greater than our feelings and knows all things" (1 John 3, 18, 20). 

BRIEF NOTE: SENDING YOU

We are all destined - since before we were created - and invited - now that we are mature in freedom - to bring grace into our lifeworld...We are correct to think that one of the very finest parts of God's material creation of the enormous universes is a little creature on a little planet who can see and hear and appreciate what God has done and is doing. That's us. Doing that - just seeing and loving and appreciating God's handiwork - we are giving glory to God.


Matthew 28:16-20 - The Great Commission 

"When they saw him, they worshipped him." That just hit me more than any other part of the passage. Their worship propelled them into making disciples. That has to be the beginning of everything. Do we really SEE him?

Where the church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace. --St. Irenaeus 

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

Throughout this retreat, I have sensed Jesus Christ being with me, especially when ... I am afraid...Strongest sense at the Ignatian Training Retreat! "Do not fear. You have found favor." 

I look back to the beginning and am now able to note that I have matured in Christ's grace in these ways...I am less afraid and more confident.

I thank God for...Always being WITH me!

Jesus is talking to me when he says, "Go, make disciples." In my life world, that means...Draw people close to me...learners at my feet (Jesus' feet not mine).

Those I "teach" include... I made a list of all my directees and people I meet with. I also saw a gate at the top of a hill looking out over the city. OPEN THE GATE, LORD.

REPETITION

All authority of Jesus to all nations. Don not fear...I am with you always. You have found favor with God. COMMUNITY OF THE TRINITY. 

How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer. - St. Teresa of Avila. 

Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost 

BRIEF NOTES: THE BIRTH OF GOD'S PEOPLE

The Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism so that "his whole life and his whole mission were carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit" (Catechism, 1286)...We all received the gift of the Holy Spirit...We remain in the communion of the faithful. We pray with the community and receive the Bread and the Cup...Now, we are called to do the next thing they did: pass it on. We are called to share what we have, to pass on to others the graces that have been given us. We do that by contributing to church and charitable works - time, talent, treasure. We do that by helping those in our lifeworld who need help. We do that by getting involved, to the extent of our gifts and talents, in civil affairs. These are ways we pass on to others what is given to us...And now, as you complete this graced time, you might think about passing on these weeks of prayer. 

During the week: Let your memory drift back over your time in this retreat to see how the Spirit of God has guided you. 

Notice in the Scripture: Jesus' disciples, holding on to one another came together to pray. The Spirit came on them visibly and powerfully. They began speaking about Jesus and were talking languages they had not known.

Lectio of Acts 2: All together in one place (Lord, how I miss being "all together in one place" physically)...violent wind...filled the entire house...tongue rested on each of them...ALL were filled with the Holy Spirit...speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability. 

Lord, who is our "Upper Room" group? 

My thought for the Day: ALL together in one place. Holy Spirit fill us will be what I want to say throughout the day. 

"The Church is a ship, and even if the ship is in difficulty, it is necessary that we at least be in it." - St. Augustine

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

I know that I accept being marked as Christ's because I ... want Jesus more than anything.

There have been occasions during these weeks when I felt the Holy Spirit being with me, as when...I do Centering Prayer with the Mercy Center and my retreat at Mount Angel Abbey.

Looking into the days ahead, I see certain times when I will really need the Holy Spirit, like...when I do spiritual direction. 

If there is one thing I really need the Holy Spirit for right now, it is...communicating with my friend on a difficult subject. Yikes! 

Repetition of Acts 2:1-4

KEEP IN MIND

About prayer: Remember that finding prayer easy, being in consolation is a gift. Thank God for it.

Lectio: Sound like a violent wind. 

My thought for the Day: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. 

"Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love, the future to God's providence." St. Augustine

During this week: As you reflect on your spiritual growth, note the signs of maturing in your relationships and how your spiritual insight is helping you appreciate them. 

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Galatians 5:22-26

BRIEF NOTE: SOCIAL ENGINEERING 

Ignatius was a fiercely organized man..he suggested thinking about the Commandments, taking each one, examining whether you are obeying it well, resolving to do so...Capital Sins: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, anger, gluttony, and sloth...the devil would be glad to have you imagine that you could never, ever be proud, or slothful, or anything between...examines the virtues and powers that the Lord give us...Theological Virtues (so-called because they are the ones that connect you to God): faith, hope, and charity...Cardinal Virtues - the ones on which the rest hinge: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance...and then there's our need these days for temperance in our political opinions and judgment about other nations and classes. Take each Cardinal Virtue to the Examen for a week and swee whether you're applying it...Virtues are like muscles, as you've noticed before: the more you use them, the stronger they are...You are the recipient of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are yours, in your capacities and abilities. Take them one by one, a day at a time, and ask yourself where you apply them: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord...Perhaps even more than failures, virtues are worth praying about in the Examen. 

KEEP IN MIND
About your prayer: Remember to begin in the Holy Presence (when I do this, I am just filled with a sense of peace and awe), ask for what you want, think and ponder, and then tell God what you come up with, ending with the Our Father.

During this week: You are preparing for "life after Exercises," and exercise the virtue of fortitude (courage)! 

Notice in scripture: St. Paul is teaching what was revealed to him, that the mature disciple has reached "the freedom of the children of God" - the freedom of life in Christ. 

Galatians 5:22-26

Love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (even temper, forbearance), kindness, generosity (goodness, benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)

My Thought for the Day: Fruit is the work which His presence within accomplishes! (AMP) So I need to be more aware of His presence within!

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

One virtue I really need right now is...temperance in my political opinion.

I have found certain spiritual acts invite me to be calm and quiet, and I mean to hold on to these...Centering prayer and Imaginative Contemplation this summer have been so awesome. 

During these weeks, I have found in Jesus some characteristics that I will be happy to have and continue growing in, like ... not worrying about what people thought of him, not sharing his political opinions, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's. 

Repetition

This is the THIRD time "Generosity" has caught my eye. In most of my translations, the word is goodness. The word is not the meekness implied by the English word for "goodness." It is "character energized, expressing itself in agathon, benevolence, active good. It does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others. A person may display his agathosune, has zeal for truth. Christ's righteous indignation in the temple (Mt. 21:13). His goodness (agathosune) but not his gentleness. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Generosity is "active good" not sparking sharpness and rebuke. 

Luke 1:46-55 (New American Bible)

For this final contemplation, I did it with the wonderful help of Imagine and the Jesuits in Britain. I went for a walk during the journeying to meet Elizabeth part and imagined myself walking with Mary to go and meet Elizabeth. The art is powerful at the end. Here is the link: 


I did this same meditation while on my Ignatian Training Retreat, and it was powerful as I contemplated the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and looked outside the window to see a statue of the same scene!

BRIEF NOTE: MAGNIFY - We also magnify the Lord 

During this final day: Join May in glorifying, praising, and thanking God for the "great things" he has done for you. 

Notice in Scripture: Why not memorize the Magnificat? 

His mercy is from age to age...He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart...lifted up the lowly...The hungry he has filled with good things (on a day I was fasting)

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: The hungry he has filled with good things. 

"In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks." --St. Teresa of 

I REVIEW MY WEEK OF PRAYER

I came to see some things I had not noticed before: the whole definition of fruit as being "the work which His presence within accomplishes" (AMP). 

I felt God's presence this week in this experience of my daily life: Walking with Mary (and also praying for a Mary in my life who has not acted as Mary would have acted). 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

32. Finding Christ in the World by Joseph Tetlow, S.J. and Carol Atwell Ackels


 This was a pretty thorough 18th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises that I did along with 1100 people from 44 different countries this summer. I had the privilege of facilitating a group of people through half of it (it took that long for them to organize all the groups). The 18th is a shorter version of the 19th (Full) Exercises. I liked it. It is a workbook and is somewhat spendy, but it is all in one where you write in the book. I have been journaling my insights on this blog for the last few weeks because it has been helpful to summarize. 

Saturday Sixteen Freewrite

 The summer is winding down. It has been a good summer. Some highlights:

1) I have lost 14 lbs

2) I have walked, biked, hiked, canoed, and kayaked. Since July 27th, I have covered 275 miles on the Virtual Camino de Santiago. 

3) I completed this website, and I love the result: https://bodyandsoulcompanion.com/. It was so hard to "put myself out there," but I did it in obedience.

4) I stood up for myself when I felt uncomfortable with the format of the retreat I was at in August. That was HUGE. 

5) I, really and truly, believe that God has healed me from my December encounter with someone who I have suspected has not liked me for many years and was confirmed. It was such a turning point to do the "Walking with God" Exercise in Central Oregon and truly experience the touch of God. I have not been the same since. Turning point.

6) Finding Christ in the World was a very good thing for the three months of the summer. I am also grateful that I finally got a group together, even though it was only for three of the six times. 

7) I have such JOY. I am so GRATEFUL. I have such HOPE. 

This week was pretty amazing in that I went for a bike ride with no particular destination in mind, but as I headed on over to the covered bridge, I prayed that one of my college friends would come out of his house because he has been on my heart for the last 20 months because of the life difficulties he has been facing. JUST as I was riding by, he came out, and two hours later, I had a fuller picture of what he has been going through. My heart broke, and I fasted and prayed for his situation all day yesterday. I will continue to listen for what "active good" (One of the fruits of the Spirit that goes beyond the "goodness" most translations give but the Scripture I read THREE days in a row [from two different sources] had the translation "generosity," and it led me to discover that this Greek word means "beyond goodness" and it can have a rebuking aspect to it.) So I am waiting for further direction from the Lord. In the whole scheme of things, it is in my "Circle of Concern" but not in my "Circle of Influence." Actually, he is probably more in my Influence circle, and the other party is in the Concern circle. So far, I feel actively good toward him, but I am not sure the other person is even open to anything. I got that impression when I met with them soon after I heard of the crisis. The whole thing is very sad. 


All that said, I had some epiphanies since that conversation two days ago. I am SO GLAD I moved on from that group of people from college days! I was never really a part of their "inner circle," but I did not fit in it. I am so glad God led me to the Navigators. I will be forever grateful for the people I met and the love and community I have had with those people. I am also so thankful for the on-fire believers we are a part of now. It was right to move on and not wait for depth to occur. We are seeing the long-term fruit of their dependence on each other. I was sad when I was rebuffed in March of 2019, but I remember walking away unscathed. I move on with JOY! 

I don't even know if this makes sense, but I wanted to freewrite it.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

31. A Coffin for Dimitrios

 32932977


As I was walking, I thought, "I am just not into this book!" Then I listened to his description of a 50-year-old woman in a bar. Exquisite! From then on I was hooked. It is a page-turner, leading the reader into the seedy underworld of sex trafficking and drugs of Europe in the 1930s. While detective novels are not usually my thing, I was pleasantly surprised!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

30. Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating

Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the GospelOpen Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel by Thomas Keating
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have had the Centering Prayer app for a couple of years, and it has some direction, but the whole concept of centering prayer is so beautifully presented in this book. I was prompted to read it because of finding a Zoom group in San Francisco who practices this together (about 30-40 people) every Thursday at 12:30 pm and Sunday at 8:30 am. Every other Thursday, we have been discussing his book one chapter at a time, and reading and discussing it has helped me grow in this practice. I had glanced at Basil Pennington's book on the subject and read The Cloud of Unknowing last year with my Renovare Book Club (come join us if you are local), but this book just made the practice so simple!

Here is the link to the Apple App: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/centeri...
Here is the link to the Android App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/de...
Here is the link to the Center Prayer Group I have been a part of for the last couple of months (although the link to sign up to get email notifications is not working right now):
http://mercy-center.org/ProgramsMC/Ce...

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FINDING CHRIST IN THE WORLD - WEEK ELEVEN: MATURE DISCIPLESHIP

 Touchstones:

  • The Reign of Christ has begun, and we are its current members and administrators.
  • What distinguishes us as members is that we live notably loving lives.
  • Mature prayer requires and deepens mature knowledge and understanding.
  • We have the power to forgive others, growing more true to ourselves each time.
  • The Church is made up of sinful people like ourselves, whom we are invited to forgive and to love.
  • Our belief about the Mass remains firm: we re-present Jesus' death and resurrection. 
GRACE I ASK FOR: for gratitude that I have all the gifts I need for a holy and joy-filled life in Christ now, and in heaven. 

INTRODUCTION

Anyone in charge of anything sees himself or herself as serving the others...Jesus presumed that mature people do not feel jealous about others' intimacy, or resent quiet sharing...When we Christians act out of genuine love for one another, the Reign of God is actually coming to be. This Reign is not a human monarchy or a holy democracy. It is a communion. And all of us make up the current administration. (WOW, isn't that the wonder of it all?)

PRAYER TALK - SPIRITUAL READING

As we mature in prayer, we need also to mature in what we know. ...What should you read? The first principle is simple: read what nourishes your prayer. The second principle is the mirror image of that: nourish your prayer by reading even about politics, the economy, and social issues...The final principle, you already know: begin with the Bible - and you don't have to finish anything. 

BRIEF NOTE: RECONCILIATION

Hearing nuns' confessions was like being stoned to death with popcorn...We no longer march crowds of holy innocents through the confessional...And if we need a deeper shaping of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are at least taking it more seriously...But we also need renewal, because we still need reconciliation...Sacrament of Reconciliation. Acknowledging our sins and sinfulness takes us to confession. Accepting penance and absolution is being "reconciled to God." (Another area where I part ways with the Catholic church, but I do agree with the next point.)...The Sacrament of Reconciliation has little to do with norms and rules. Rather, it has to do with relationship. It has to do with the font and wellspring of the Good News: love of God, of neighbor, and of self. 

Luke 7:36-40; 44-48 Sinful Woman Bathes Jesus' Feet

Keep in Mind: says to apply it to myself (different from the condemnation from this recent training that evangelicals are always "applying" which was portrayed as something negative - hogwash). 

Jesus points out that deep repentance, great love, and forgiveness go together in faith...My response to this contemplation; Thankyou for forgiving me much. I love you so much. Psalm 40:1-3.

Reflecting on how unloved I felt during this training in the prior week. It was about interrogation rather than loving questions that drew me out. 

Matthew 18:15-22 If a Member of the Church Sins Against You

BRIEF NOTES: THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

We forgive not once or twice but many, many times...forgiving, again and again, makes us forgiving persons, like the god of mercy who does not hold our offenses against us...We also have the power to help those who need forgiveness...Jesus urged "going and having it out with him between yourselves" (Matt. 18:15)... Jesus used His power to forgive with compassionate understanding. He forgave the woman taken in adultery and very mildly "correct" her - "go, and sin no more" (John 8:1)...Would a God who cares infinitely about each brother and sister of Jesus look down on some cherished soul who needs help and not grace someone else with the gift to offer the help?

During the week: Ask yourself where you are in your spiritual growth, noting the signs of maturity that God has gifted you with.

My thought for the Day: Point out the fault when alone. I think that was the issue when I read the book White Fragility. She would confront these people in her workshops and shame and humiliate them, and then called it fragility. I just saw her as more a very heady person who has trouble with empathy. She even humiliated someone who she was a coworker in this fight against racism. In that case, I would confront the coworker privately rather than humiliate them in front of the people they were presenting to. I did a private talk with the leader of this Ignatian retreat. That was the best course of action. While he listened, he has a blind spot in the way he comes across to people, and I might be the first person who pointed that out. I hope that someday he reflects more deeply on it. In the midst of it, there was forgiveness. I have not resentment just reflection on the time there. 

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." - Nelson Mandela.

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

Holding on to resentment binds me. I want to be unbound from...I have no resentment towards anyone. I went to this man privately. He apologized. No resentment. 

For me, forgiving others means I will live out my life by ...Not being resentful toward those who have wronged me or hurt me. 

The community of the Church, helps me forgive by ...Giving clear teaching about forgiveness. 

Forgiving is ongoing. In the past, I have forgiven some people and now pray and hope for them...to grow in greater self-awareness about themselves. 

When I think honestly about it, I might need to ask forgiveness from...Noone at this point in time. 

Repetition Day of Matthew 18

"You were meant to house the fullness of God." 

During this week: As you reflect on your spiritual growth, note the signs of maturing in your relationships and how your spiritual insight is helping you appreciate them. 

Notice in scripture: Jesus instructs us to act according to humane psychology. He gives us an astonishing power to bind on earth and in heaven (what exactly does that mean?). And tells how that, in His likeness, we will forgive many, many times. 

My Thought for the Day: I have fully forgiven B and M. 70x7 is a lot of times. 

Proverbs 6:1-5 Fly like a bird from the Trapper. 

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. - Mother Theresa

1 Cor 11:23-32 Communion

BRIEF NOTE: THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

Our cultural lust for pleasure contravenes sacrifice...And in New Testament times, we have thought - quite erroneously - of Jesus' death as an offering that humanity makes to appease the Father's wrath at our sins. (I am not sure if that is the thought in New Testament times. It is not humanity making it. It is all God's plan and idea. I don't know if people think that HUMANITY is making that offering.) 

The main Christian meaning of Christ's sacrifice turns that around. It is Christ's giving of himself for love of us. To the Christians in Philippi, St. Paul explained that the Son "poured himself out" and took on our nature. And in our nature, he accepted being dealt with like the most vulnerable of all humans: a worthless slave. God made himself vulnerable for us - and to us...The reconciliation, therefore, is God's initiative, not ours. (I think that is pretty clear for most people that it is God's initiative.) "It is not we who loved God, but God loved us and sent his Son to expiate our sins" (1 John 4:10) The precise sacrifice we are celebrating is the Father's and the Spirit's giving up the Son, sending him down among us to make us know God's love for us. (Well yes, why do you think that people erroneously think otherwise?) 

Scripture: we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Examine yourself. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Examine yourself (Thus why I love doing the Examen every day, but it made me wonder why he did not answer my question about the Examen. Oh well. Got so many blank and non-compassionate stares during the week. Such a weird experience all the way around. So glad I was at one of my happiest places on earth.) 

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

The Eucharist is gift of the Son of God. I show my gratitude by..Examining myself..being prepared. 

Repetition

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I have gifts for a joy-filled life in Christ now and in heaven. I will call you affectionately to remembrance. 

Matthew 17:1-9 Transfiguration

There are times in life when you feel radiant...You may not enter as totally into the Presence as Jesus did, because he had a sinless self-concentration and you have not. But you may well have had the consolation of being totally absorbed in God for a while, forgetful of self. You may have glowed, even if no one else was watching (YES!)

When you leave your prayer, you are likely to find the world in the same chaotic state as it was before you started praying. (You can say that again!) 

Jesus told his disciples they would "shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father (Matt. 13:43). St. John Chrysostom brought that to the disciples of his day. He asked why those alive in Christ could not see that they shine like the sun even while they walk through everyday life. (Dr. Myers said yesterday, "You are always so happy.") 

KEEP IN MIND

About your prayer: Again practice going into the Presence, as Jesus did it (That is why I am doing Centering Prayer with a group twice a week and by myself on the other days.)

During this week: you might ponder which habits you have reviewed that make you feel radiant, and which tend to make you feel a little shady. Deepen the former and deep-six the latter! (I love that!)

Jesus' face shone like the sun. "Get up and do not be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. (That is the cry of a Type Two - to live for an audience of ONE.) 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Arise and do not be afraid - Closeted confident Carol needs to come out!

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

When I hear the Father say, "This is my son" I feel ... beloved myself. Wanting to hear JESUS alone above the cacophony of voices. 

For me, listening to Jesus means...pausing and hearing what he wants me to hear (not what others want me to hear).

When I hear Jesus say, "do not be afraid" I feel he is talking with me about what tests my faith, such as...the men "in charge." The people who know more than me. Even the women some times. (I am constantly learning.) 

I experienced astonishment and humility as the Lord revealed to me...that I am his beloved and am wanted and loved. That Closeted Confident Carol needs to come out and not be afraid any longer. 

There really are times when I feel all alight and alive, like ... when George and I together with M and B was our most life-giving time of the day. I love that it is the same for both of us. When I am praying in your presence. 

After these weeks of prayer, the light I am bringing to my world includes..listening to Millenials. Hearing their hearts.

Repetition

During this week: At week's end, you might list the habits you'd like to keep and those you'd rather shift. 

Notice in the scripture: What was it like for the silent James or John? What did Jesus look like when He was shining brightly. (Just as I read this a ray of sun hit my desk, and I turned around to it on a dishwashing detergent bottle top shining so brightly - it was a God moment.) 

Clothes became dazzling white. LISTEN TO HIM! DO NOT BE AFRAID. 

My Thought for the Day: I will look at your bright and shining face and listen to you today and not be afraid. 

Sunday Morning Examen Prayer

Deep Breath.

God, make me aware of your presence at this time. You are always here.

Two or three things I am grateful for:

  • Brian and Stacy and kids coming over to visit. It was a lovely dinner.
  • A soul-stretching perspective hiking to the top of Chip Ross with the ones I love the most and looking out over our beautiful, green city.
  • Weight loss! A week of NO plateauing and a slow and steady downward trend every day. I am totally on track now!
Awakening - The beginning of the day was a meditation in the Transfiguration and centering prayer. Then I read a little bit more in Open Mind, Open Heart and A Coffin for Dimitrios. 

Rest of the morning - Went with George to shopping. While he shopped, I prayer walked around the grocery store. Then we went on another spiritual direction walk on the Hospital Hill Loop together. I asked him the GPS questions (God's Positioning System). I have missed those focused times that are all about him. It was life-giving to find out how he is doing in that way. 

Middle of the Day - More reading and getting ready for Brian and Stacy by chopping tomatoes and grating cheese. It was a simple taco meal prep time. He asked me some of the GPS questions.

Afternoon - Started refries. While beans were soaking, we did a 30-minute hike up to Chip Ross on a beautiful, sunny day. Got an unexpected email from a possible directee. 

Evening - Brian and Stacy came for dinner. Good fellowship and food. We walked to Wildcat and ran into Renee's parents. 

End of the Day - Watched a little bit of Friday Night Lights

Regret - Saying more than I should have said to someone. 

The most meaningful part of the day - The hike and perspective from up on the hill. I also just love being with my family. All four of us together is life-giving. (From Him: Family is always your number one priority.) 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Body and Soul Companion Website

I know there are people who read this blog because people come up to me and say that they do. 

I would be remiss if I did not say that my spiritual direction website has been up and running for over a month now, but I don't think I have ever linked it here! 

https://bodyandsoulcompanion.com/

I created this website so that people would know what I do. :) I am not big on self-promotion. So this has been a step of obedience for me. I will write more about that in my freewrite sometime this weekend. 

In the meantime, I think I will go out and take a walk. It is a perfect day. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

29. Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust

 Sodom and Gomorrah: Remembrance of Things Past - Volume 4

This was a slog! My goodness! I have tried to read this since its purchase in February, but other books replaced it. So, this week, I forced myself to finish with few distractions. It was easier to get through this way. It is a bunch of people that are really hung up on the "right" people and status in society, sprinkled with looking for love in all the wrong places, and the author's discovery of the world of homosexuality. I am more than halfway through the whole thing. Whew! Slow and steady wins the race. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wednesday Freewrite

I have not done a freewrite since July 28th! That is the longest I have gone without a freewrite for a very long time.

I think a lot has happened since then. I don't have an agenda for this freewrite. I just needed to get my juices flowing. I have a busy afternoon into the evening, but my morning is free, free, free.

Yesterday, I was all set up in the backyard for a social distanced spiritual direction session. I had moved my comfy chair out there, and I had set up my notepads. I was looking forward to a longer than normal session with a woman who was going to tell me here "Sacred Story" (part of what I like to do toward the beginning of my sessions is hear their story from birth to the current year - for some people this goes beyond the 1 hour time). 

Sadly, she got her days mixed up and did not show. I had pretty much set my day up around that session (as I take time to process and pray afterward). So, I was a little lost as to what would be best to do. I had already decided that riding my bike to campus to do a cardio weight training class in a stuffy room with no air conditioning/fan and a face mask was too much for me on a hot summer afternoon. So, I didn't do my usual Tuesday afternoon routine. 

Although I was at a loss, I found such joy in no agenda yesterday, and that is what God has opened up for me for the fall. I will not be teaching Pilates. Last fall, I could not do it because of a broken leg (got off my crutches the day classes started, and I could not climb the three flights of stairs to my room). Last "no agenda" fall also ended up being so wonderful. And this one will be no different. I am going to participate in the 10/10 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting with many from around the world. Praying for world change. But it is a different agenda. It is not about intercession but about laying down our lives and adoration of the king. It runs from August 24 to October 3. This will be great for many reasons. I will only do spiritual direction with people. I am also going to pray for three women to go through the journey of the Spiritual Exercises. I would really like to have a group of women my age to share with too. 

Last week was a bit off the beaten track for me. I told God that if noone signed up for direction during last week, I would go on this Ignatian Training Retreat. No one did. I really got no clear direction that I really needed to go as I already feel really great about how God has led me to lead others through the retreat, and the training confirmed that there are many ways to lead people, and this director's way of leading is NOT the way I would ever lead people through. I have no hard feelings, but I felt like I was in a battle almost every time he would lead and teach (lots of his political opinion and a brought brush of condemnation toward evangelicals). He has more of a combative spiritual direction style too, which is something I have never encountered with other spiritual directors (except the half-hour I spent in October 2017 with someone in Santa Barbara). I wrote my director and mentor through the Exercises because he asked me how it went, and he said, "Moving forward even when facing frustration." "Praise God" (when I told him how much I DID love being at Mt. Angel, praying three hours a day, and processing it all with Sister Joan after it was all over), and "God is the director" (when I told him about how much I appreciated his kind and gentle approach to the Exercises). God is good. 

What is so wonderful is that I can walk away knowing that some people will benefit from his style. I am just not one of them, and that is OK. God has gifted me in ways that are very different from him. It was good to see 1) a different style in group leadership with the SEEL and the First Spiritual Exercises with Jeannette. They have a kinder and gentler way of leadership, and 2) a different style of direction than Mike from the SEEL, and 3) the gentle and loving and wonderful way of the Creighton University Online Retreat material compared to the material (Tetlow) used by this particular leader. There are parts of it that I do like and have quoted in my own manual. I grew a lot from the experience. I found my voice. He listened to me when I talked to him about it, and that is a good thing. 

That is my 15 minutes, and I remembered I needed to contact Van with the things she was interested in seeing. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

28. White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

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I heard this book so lambasted in some circles that I thought I should read it. It is not so bad after all. I found it contributes value to the dialogue. I looked at her website, and the summary of her approach in her workshops sums up the book. So I am cutting and pasting it here. 

I take an anti-racist approach. An anti-racist approach rests upon these basic tenets:

  • Racism is the foundation of Western society; we are socialized into a racial hierarchy
  • All of us are shaped by the forces of racism; no one is exempt
  • All white people benefit from the racial hierarchy, regardless of intentions
  • No one chose to be socialized into racism (so no one is “bad”)
  • Racism must be continually identified, analyzed and challenged; no one is ever done
  • The question is not if racism is at play, but how is it at play?
  • The racial hierarchy is invisible and taken for granted for most white people

My work seeks to make racism more visible so that it can be challenged. In recognition of the above tenets, I make sure to (1) set a constructive climate for grappling with sensitive issues through role-modeling and use of self, (2) take into account the groups’ racial diversity and how that impacts the group’s dynamics, (3) balance the intellectual with the emotional components of learning, and (4) make continuing learning resources available. In addition to content knowledge, my expertise is in clearly and accessibly presenting information that is politically and emotionally charged. My primary objective is to deepen cross-racial skills and relationships and build the commitment and capacity to continue working towards racial justice.

Objectives

  • Provide a shared framework for differentiating between prejudice, discrimination, and systematic racism
  • Understand the basic dynamics of current race relations in the U.S.
  • Examine the concept of whiteness and white racial socialization
  • Identify and make everyday patterns of whiteness recognizable
  • Recognize common barriers to bridging racial divides and introduce the skills necessary for bridging them
  • Recognize the above as an on-going process and build motivation to continue
  • Identify resources for supporting the work of racial equity

Monday, August 17, 2020

FINDING CHRIST IN THE WORLD WEEK 10 - LIVING ALWAYS IN COMMUNION

 PRAYER TALK

We cannot grow closer to God our Lord in prayer without that closeness affecting our everyday life...Can you imagine Romeo in love with Juliet and then going about his life as though she didn't exist? ... we cannot go about our lives as though God did not exist...So, consolation: When things are going well, we acknowledge God's goodness and thank Him. We are aware that we believe in Jesus Christ and hope to remain faithful to Him...Then, desolation: When everything turns dark, we don't claim to be "depressed." "Desolation" is about me and god, and finally about me and those I love and who love me. Depression might need medicating. Desolation needs something else...When I am desolate, I first ask what I've done or not done. 

SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP AND COMPANIONSHIP

The spiritual life is not a solitary journey...It's a pilgrimage, a common trip to a common goal... and we need fellow pilgrims. 

Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. - N.T. Wright

Lord, I would like more local friends in the faith. 

BRIEF NOTE: GENEROUSLY GIVE WHAT?

Lord, I accept the gifts the Holy Spirit has given me and do feel generous enough to "put them at the service of others." 

For the Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost (Lk 19:10). I would like to do a study with S!

Use the special gifts you have given me for Your glory, Lord. Those are: Encouragement, leadership, shepherding, evangelism, discernment, and wisdom. I am generous with my time, heart, devotion. 

Jesus invited himself to the home of a person of peace. "Today salvation has come to this house."

BRIEF NOTE: WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD

You will understand this as you grasp maturely that, created in the image of a Triune God, we are fully persona only in our relationships...We mature in membership (as "the people of God") as we grow aware of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, giving us a deep dignity and fiery freedom...You have been praying these weeks for a heart open to the truth that the Church's mission is to be the salt and light of the world (Matt. 5:13). Keep clear that this is the destiny set for you; it is not what you decided for yourself. Your destiny is the same as that of all those who are taken into communion by Christ.

I wrote: Fiery Freedom: It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). It was also in connection with the legalistic leadership of the retreat last week. 

KEEPING IN MIND: Review the relationships you live in - close family, wider family, your groups - and think about re-collecting or smoothing out where needed. And deepen them all. 

The blind man had to yell and keep yelling. That was a good word about persistence. 

Blind Bartimaeus - What do you want me to do for you? 

Where I am blind - In how to navigate our political divisions (as evidenced by the retreat last week and how politics came into play with the leader).


"What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:46-52)

1) Heal my back. It was great at the retreat, but it went out again when I got home. 

2) Partner with a media person for my multimedia idea for the next generation.

3) Have an in-person group of friends to do the Spiritual Exercises with. 

Being the People of God can be unwieldy and I must ... navigate vastly different political perspectives. 

I need to SHOUT for healing (it has gotten 100% better since yesterday). 

TOUCHSTONES for Week 10

  • Humankind's new destiny as Christ's Mystical Body begins in Jesus's risen human life.
  • Jesus' human experience sets the divine tone for human experience after Him; that's why we imitate Him.
  • Consolation means we are living faith and hope and love well, however we feel.
  • Desolation means we are troubled in our believing, hoping little and not loving much at all -- even when we think we are feeling all right.
  • Desolation is most commonly connected with sinful living and taking our eyes off the God who loves us.
  • Our koinonia or communion calls on and enables each disciple's special gifts and graces.
  • Christ takes us into Himself, making us His Mystical Body in Holy Communion. 

Sunday, August 09, 2020

27. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

 Title details for Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson - Wait list

This is an adventure tale in Scotland. It is a historical novel in that it is based on the Appin Murder.

A great summer tale!

FINDING CHRIST IN THE WORLD: WEEK NINE: THROUGH DEATH TO GLORY

I am not going to break my underlines/notes into so many separate sentences this time. I will just have general page headings.

INTRODUCTION

We are Jesus' brothers and sisters..."In the fullness of time," the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity came into our flesh...Jesus defeated death..."For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old order is gone and the new being is there to see" (2 Cor. 5:18)...We come to this new being by a supernatural gift, a grace that enables us to do what our humanity cannot do by itself: survive death...everything begins, matures, gets old, and dies...we know more than that...we were meant from the beginning to live forever...we grasp that as He died, so we die, too...Partners in life and partners in death -- and in resurrection..."God is faithful - reliable, trustworthy, and [therefore] ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him, you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9 AMP). COMPANIONSHIP AND PARTICIPATION.

PRAYER TALK: PRAYING ABOUT JESUS' PASSION

Pay close attention to the human...His actions, what He says and what He refuses to say, how He relates to friend and enemy - to try to fathom what this perfect holy man willingly went through...One mark of His humanness is Jesus' quaking fear of what was going to happen...we keep trusting the Father utterly and absolutely -- because the Creator loves and trusts us utterly and absolutely...He knew that the Father wanted HIm to keep loving. He trusted the Father's love, "Not my will, but yours be done."...You're in the middle of a mystery here, but believe that no matter what human disorder inflicts on you, God's love is steady. Jesu believed that when He said, "your will be done." ...Jesu remained loving - and brave - when they arrested him. "let these go."..He had the power to make all that go away...we are joined to Jesus Christ and our experiences are already bringing - by God's power and grace - the Reign of Christ.

WEEK NINE: I beg to feel sorrow with Jesus in His suffering and to know how it matters to me.

DAY ONE

BRIEF NOTES: CALLED BY NAME

He saw light. Then he saw a face he knew well and felt great joy...You'll hear your name and you'll see light and in that light, you will see Jesus Christ, your Savior. And with Him, all the other saints and angels. 

Jn 11:1-44 Raising of Lazarus

He whom you love is ill. this does not lead to death. It is for God's glory... But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him...I am the resurrection and the life...Do you believe this?... Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world...Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?... Father, I thank you for having heard me...When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus come out!... Unbind him, and let him go.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." I thank you for having heard me.

God had one Son on earth without sin, but not a single one without suffering. St. Augustine

DAY TWO

BRIEF NOTES: THE WHOLE OF ME

When I take you to myself, I brush off everything that is not you. So let me wash your feet, all right?

KEEP IN MIND: You will be gently, reverently, entering into Jesus' heart and mind as the power of evil does its utmost to destroy Him. Do not be afraid: He opens His heart to you.

Jn 13:1-15 The Last Supper

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end...The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas...he had come from God and was going to God...began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel...you ought to wash one another's feet...I have set you an example..you also should do as I have done to you.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: He loved his own...loved them to the end.

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

As the Lord's supper, I notice a few things I had not considered before...He loved his own to the end. 

When I see what Jesus is doing...I see I want to...serve others.

What would it be like if I gave myself to Jesus as Peter did - "then all of me, Lord!" - what would that be like? He was zealous but had little knowledge. So I'm not sure I want to be like Peter (but he came through it in the end after he denied Him three times). 

Jesus comes to wash my feet, and I ... cry and am humbled by his love...that I would be one of the ones he would include as I have always been one who felt excluded my whole life. 

DAY THREE

KEEP IN MIND: When you pray using lectio divina or meditation or contemplation, you'll find that they give you a good chance to get to know the people around Jesus of Nazareth. 

During this week: You are likely to be more mindful of the people in your family and life world. When someone comes into your consciousness, pray for their needs and for their eternal life. 

Jn 13:1-15 Repetition of the Last Supper

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end...you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Listening and loving that is how I wash people's feet. (C, C, J - the women I met with this week)

"Let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be canceled and anxiety turned into love." St. Paul of the Cross. 

DAY FOUR

BRIEF NOTES: SIGN OF GLORY

We are not so used to seeing that Jesus of Nazareth, in his Passion, was only doing what love does...St. Ignatius says that love consists in what we do... God is love and love wants to share in a partake of everything that belongs to the beloved. And we are the beloved - "precious in His eyes and honored, and He loves us" (Is. 43:4). His heart opens to us... He embraced our humanness, as it is. He wanted to share everything we are and have - except sin..." ours were the sufferings he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying" (Is. 53:4)...The Son of God, who is God, knows what it is when we call on Him in our sufferings. He hasn't forgotten. He still has the wounds in His flesh. they don't hurt anymore, though. They're a sign of glory...So will all of ours be.

KEEP IN MIND: You'll want to think sometimes about the injustice done to Jesus. He was saddened by the bad will and hatred shown HIm. He was deeply grieved by the lies told to His face. Just think some times during the days, even for just a few minutes, about what He went through. It might help to have a picture of the Sacred Heart or a crucifix near...He accepts the Father's will.

Mk 14:32-42 Agony in the Garden

Deeply grieved...threw himself on the ground...remove this cup from me, yet, not what I want, but what you want...spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Same as notes above.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." CS Lewis

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

Here and now, maybe in something hard or painful, I want to know what God wants regarding...my pain - I do feel the pain has passed..."God, knows what it is when we call on Him in our sufferings. He hasn't forgotten. He still has the wounds in His flesh. they don't hurt anymore, though. They're a sign of glory."

In my life at present, I recognize God's will in ...allowing me to suffer and be rejected.

I know I have accepted God's will when ... I am at peace. 

DAY FIVE

Mark 14:32-42 Repetition of Agony in the Garden

Remove this cup from me...pray that you may not come into the time of trial... The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Remove this cup of back pain from me. 

DAY SIX

BRIEF NOTES: FORGIVING

Jesus explicitly and generously forgave those who were trying to destroy Him...Even while they were crucifying Him, Jesus asked the Father to forgive them...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44)...be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate (grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, "having reached the proper height and virtue and integrity."... You must, therefore, set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to his" (Matt. 5:48)...Right here is the deepest reason why we forgive those who have hurt us. We might have to confront them or challenge them, but we do that with a mind to forgive them, however hard that is...holding resentments or immersing ourselves in bitterness is sinful, and we risk hurting ourselves more than the ones we are not forgiving. But our real reason for forgiving, it that God the Father forgives. And the Son has earned the right for us to forgive, too...First, He asks the Father to forgive them. Then He gives the Father a reason: "they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34)...He needed to put some meaning into the brutal things they were put to doing...It has proven a very powerful pattern to follow when you have not forgiven someone for something hard. Set yourself to think of the reasons why they could do what they did or are doing. What happened or is happening in their life that hey can do something like this?... When you try to see how they could acts as they do, you are going compassion. You are in some sense suffering with them, as your compassionate Savior has done - and still understands.

NOTES: Forgive the person, Father, for that person knows not what that person does. The person is ______. I can have compassion. I had forgiven even back then, but it is always really good to be reminded of this every time I see Jesus hanging the Cross. This is the way of love. 

Luke 23:33-46 The Cross

Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...scoffed at him...He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

WHAT ABOUT MY LIFE? APPLYING YOUR PRAYER

I forgive them for being so judgmental of me without cause for not liking me or seeking to know me.

I would like to hear God say to me...Today you will be with me in Paradise. 

DAY SEVEN 

KEEP IN MIND: pray the Our Father slowly and attentively. Our prayer is somehow our own, but the Lord Jesus taught us His prayer, the Our Father...If God thinks of you as that important, what difference does anyone else's opinion make, or your own, of yourself? 

Luke 23:33-46 Repetition of the Cross. 

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today you will be with me in Paradise! I am so looking forward to today, LORD. Would you please heal me of the pain. There was a time a few weeks ago that I did a full-body scan, and I had no pain. Even on my anniversary getaway, I had no pain. Please I beg for that freedom. 

God gave me freedom from the pain for my six-day retreat at Mt. Angel. 

TOUCHSTONES for WEEK NINE:

  • The Christian narrative of earthly life assigns a deeply positive meaning to human suffering.
  • Jesus of Nazareth chose to embrace everything humankind goes through and all that we inflict on ourselves.
  • Every mature disciple of Jesus correctly feels that their suffering is completing Christ's wor on earth.
  • As Jesus did, we ask the Father to relieve us of suffering even while accepting it.
  • Jesus' Passion impresses on or hearts how utterly and entirely God loves us.
  • Jesus' Resurrection gives us the hope that our suffering and death will end in glory. 

Thursday, August 06, 2020

26. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

See the source image

I just love a good story by Dickens. 

This has humor and tragedy and mystery and good guys and villains. It was a joy to listen to, and Simon Vance was an excellent narrator!

 I highly recommend this Dickens. 

 This concludes all the books by Dickens on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List. I will put the ones on the list in order from most favorite to least favorite (although I really liked them all). 

1) A Christmas Carol - I could read that over and over and never get tired of its wonderful message.
2) Oliver Twist - Something about it just touches my heart.
3) Bleak House - love the strong women characters for a Dickens novel! 
5) Nicholas Nickleby 
 6) David Copperfield 
7) Great Expectations 
8) A Tale of Two Cities 
9) Dombey and Son 

 But again, I really like them all!

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Finding Christ in the World - Week Eight: Jesus of Nazareth, Our Model


INTRODUCTION (p. 142)

"Take him as your pattern" (Eph. 5:1). I added the Amplified translation, "Therefore be imitators of God -- copy Him and follow His example -- as well-beloved children [imitate their father]

This was my birthday week, and this verse set me into thoughts about my earthly father and all the good things he gave me through his example. That was so nice. I have such warm memories of water-skiing, and my dad being so encouraging and loving. 

"You've got the ticket." That is what he would say when he would praise me. 

The Introduction talked about pondering Jesus' human character and his spiritual convictions and practices. 

The things I underlined were: He was determined to always do God's will. He was truthful. A real leader, He was faithful to the Law. He was compassionate too, telling the Widow of Nain, "Don't cry!" and giving her back her only son (Luke 7:13). He was generous. His spirituality was marked by a lot of prayer. He asked the Father for what He wanted, and He trusted the Father utterly. He had great power and authority. 

I "hearted" these:

But be aware that "to know" can mean having lots of theoretical learning or bible memory. That's not what we're talking about here.

The "to know" here means to get into Jesus' mind and heart and to grow a feeling for His beauty and truth. When we're kids, we often want to be "like" somebody. Now we're adults, and the one we want to be like is Jesus of Nazareth. 

PRAYER TALK: IMITATION OF CHRIST (p.143)

You have asked the Father for this great grace: to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. Now you want to ask for the even greater grace of being like Him.

The first thing He models is living so that He is always doing God's will (John 5:19). 

You are like Him in this too, if you embrace belonging to the Body of Christ, the Church. The Father chose the people to whom you belong and who belong to you. 

Then, He was born into a people who lived in a covenant with the One God. 

With the help of His cousin John the Baptist, He chose His vocation -- not to be a hermit, or a prophet like John and Isaiah, but to be a healing, teaching presence among His people. 

Jesus was given His human life in a nation under tyranny. he accepted, and you will imitate Him if you accept gratefully where you are, and when you live. 

He went up to Jerusalem in the end having told the disciples what would happen, and trusting the Father to bring glory out of bitter defeat. 

Here is a sentence form the Imitation of Christ, Chapter 56: "Follow me...I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the Way, there is no going; without the Truth, there is no knowing; without Life, there is no living. I am the Way you are to follow; I am the Truth you are to believe; I am the Life you are to hope for."

Whatever comes, recognize the hand of God -- embrace joyfully, detach just as joyfully -- and in all trust the Father as utterly as Jesus did. Surely this is the first step to being like Him. 

BRIEF NOTE: IMAGINE THAT (p. 144)

Imagine that you have been notified that you are the only living descendant of the king that just died. 

The Father's voice thundered, "My Beloved Son!" And Jesus had to accept that.

We are to imitate Him in this, for sure. For all the indications are clear: we have been "marked out beforehand, to be God's adopted children" (Eph. 1:5). The issue now is whether we are willing to accept being special to the Almighty Creator of all the universes -- and of seven billion human beings currently alive! 

We can accept in a yes-or-no way, and we can also accept in a more-or-less way. In Jesus, it was only yes. He accepted His power and authority. He accepted the things He must do as the Father's will. He bowed even to suffering and death. He just kept saying yes. 

As He did, we must do -- keep saying yes. As He did, so do we have to exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit enabling us to give ourselves wholeheartedly o God: wisdom, understanding, fortitude, piety, and the rest. 

We have to love ourselves as He loved Himself. We have to accept being special to the Father -- to being the royalty of our nation, as it were.

We who receive the Body and Blood of God's Son in the Eucharist are surely special to the Father. 

All of this may confound us and it certainly does challenge us. But it is surely a great joy. 

Grace for the Week: I ask to know Jesus more clearly, love Him more dearly, and be like Him more nearly. 

Day 1 - Matthew 3:13-17 (Jesus' Baptism) 

Jesus wants us to know his intimate feelings and thoughts. 

"This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well-pleased." 

My Thought for the Day: "I am well-pleased. You've got the ticket. I'm glad I made you."

Quote by Shusaku Endo (the man who wrote the book I just reviewed: Silence!) 
"The reason our religion has penetrated this territory like water flowing into dry earth is that it has given to this group of people a human warmth they never previously knew."

What about My Life? Applying Your Prayer

Do I allow God to say to me, "You are my beloved child"?  Yes-or-no, more-or-less, or ...

It is a BIG YES. This sent me into memories of my dad saying, "You've got the ticket." There is never once in my relationship with my earthly father that I didn't feel 100% special. I was his only beloved daughter. I was his princess. 

When I say yes to God's insisting, "You are my beloved child," I feel ...

Happy...blessed...joyful!

God is generous and His gifts to me. These are gifts that make me feel I am special to Him right now...

The ability to listen and love people right where they are at. 

I note the virtues Jesus lives out as he acdepts the Father's declaration, especially...
Just did the will of the Father! He went out in power and authority! 

When I accept the Father's declaration, the virtues of Jesus I want to grow and start with...

Power and authority!

Day 2 - Repetition of Day 1

You have freedom to compare your own thoughts and feelings to Jesus'. 

The Spirit of God descended like a dove and alighted on him. 

My Thought for the Day: Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me. 

Day 3 - Mark 1:16-20 (Calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John)

BRIEF NOTE: BELONGING AND COMMUNION

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, he was calling them to live in communion with himself. 

A singer in a choir: she sings the notes that all are singing and keeps perfect time with the others... And in the harmony of the choir, she finds great freedom and joy...She is detached from her special attitude toward her own voice and musical preferences...She is free to set them aside to be in harmony with the others. 

Communion is like that. Peter was a fisherman and he had his ways and habits. He laid them aside when he joined Jesus' other disciples. So did all of the apostles and disciples...They had to set ambition aside to be in harmony with Jesus. 

Real detachment like Jesus' means you love the earth and all God has given you...and you rejoice and praise God for them all. That first. Then, you hold yourself free to do what God calls on you to do.

The crucial detachment comes when you let go of someone or something because som sin looms. But growing like Jesus means that you keep developing his mindset of detachment. 

When harmony requires it, you make yourself free and choose to be in harmony with the rest. This is communion. 

They left their nets immediately and generously. 

My Thought for the Day: My net to leave is ____'s approval and love of me. I can hope it happens, but I have to detach myself from it. 

Quote by Anonymous:

"Jesus' invitation 'Follow me' is given in some manner to every Christian. Each of us baptized in Christ is called not only to live in the reign of God but also to help establish it." 

What about My Life? Applying Your Prayer

To do what Jesus is asking; I find the most difficult thing to detach from is ... Approval from George' s family.

I choose to be part of a Christian community because...I love it, and it encourages me to grow.

I feel the harmony in my Christian community when... we worship, pray, and draw closer to Jesus and are salt and light to the world. 

I help maintain harmony in my Christian community by...being quick to hear (lots of listening), slow to speak, and slow to anger. 

Jesus calls me to be with Him now in ... harmony with his heartbeat. 

Day 4 - Repetition of Day 3

God cherishes you as you are (and can handle your snits). 

Try to remember noticing what characteristics Jesus is showing, especially His virtues and gifts.

Jesus waits for no special time to call His first apostles. He invites them to something more important than catching fish. They respond to him immediately and generously. 

"I will make you fish for people."  "They left their father Zebedee...and followed him." 

My Thought for the Day: Left family to follow and fish. today let me follow and fish. 

"God is not content with doing something for us, but seeks to involve us in his merciful action." David Fleming, S.J.

BRIEF NOTE: ACTIVE LOVE, DEEPER VIRTUES (p. 152) 


Jesus showed us how to be like God the Father...watching Him helps ut to know what ongoing conversion we need to embrace. 

But the mature disciple has a whole field of virtues to develop, and Jesus' example helps us tremendously here, because "everything he does is good" (Mark 7:37). 

Virtues of Jesus: obedient, loving, dissident, prudent, resolute, fortitude, gentle, meek, humble, tender, absolute, courageous, restful. 

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). 


Day 5 - Mark 7:31-37 (Healing of the deaf man)

"He has done everything well." 

My Thought for the Day: Be open to hear and proclaim only you. 

"Discipleship means following a person. It is not simply doing certain actions and asking "what would Jesus do?", but also about becoming a certain kind of person." Gerald M. Fagin, S.J.

What About My Life? Applying Your Prayer

Make a list of your virtues and good qualities. Be honest and admit good things when they are there...

Loving, kind, joyful, enthusiastic, caring, listening, encouraging, committed, responsible, strong, funny, fun, challenging, pace setting, leader. 

To further develop virtues and good qualities I desire, I need to do (or to avoid)...

watching people with BAD virtues and qualities on reality TV! Not watch the news. 

I know I must ask God's help in and grace for... self-control in eating. Boldness and authority. 

Day 6 - Repetition of Day 5

Reverently recall you are always in the Holy presence of God.

Try to be grateful for the good that God has done and is doing in you and through you. 

The people who observed the healing told more zealously when he told them not to. 

They were astounded beyond measure. "He has done everything well." 

My Thought for the Day: Touch me. Unplug my ears so I hear clearly about this retreat." 

"Virtues deal with the ordinary events of our lives. They are concerned with the interplay between our habits of heart and our actions. Virtues are dispositions of heart hat guide our actions." Gerald M. Fagin, S.J. 

Day 7 - John 5:2-7 (Healing at the Pool by the Sheep Gate) 

BRIEF NOTE: OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES

We get so fixated on getting rid of some habit we want to be rid of that we don't hear an invitation to lear it in god's hands. We get so ear to "get it right" and "do the right thing" that we forget how God loves us for ourselves, not for this or that habit or some special way we act. 

The man at Bethesda was invited to accept grace. He was so busy explaining himself that Jesus had to be blunt. "Get up!" 

If at times surprising or hard or even drastic things happen to you, it might be that God is just doing what Jesus did. Listen: "Get up!" 

"Do you want to be made well? ...Stand up, take your mat and walk." 

My Thought for the Day: I want to be made well (of my people-pleasing). ___ has a choice to be made well, and that is her choice. Get up and walk away!  "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."

TOUCHSTONES (p. 158)
  • We want to know Jesus in such a way that we are transformed by Him.
  • We want a relationship that allows us to imitate Him and to be more like Him.
  • The Holy Spirit will help us enter into Jesus' heart and mind so we can know Him more clearly, love Him more dearly, and be like Him more nearly.
  • The "communion of the Holy Spirit" invites us to be detached even from our gifts and skills.
  • Each of us has to say yes to be shaped by the Holy Spirit into Jesus' likeness.
  • Jesus shows us what virtues we might strengthen or develop.



Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...