Sacristy of the Chapel of San Nicolò, Noli me Tangere, Fresco attributed to Mariotto di Nardo

Tell Them

Breaking through the powers of darkness
bursting from the stifling tomb
he slipped into the graveyard garden
to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that I have journeyed far
into the darkest deeps I’ve been
in nights without a star.

Tell them Mary, Jesus said,
that fear will flee my light
that though the ground will tremble
and despair will stalk the earth
I hold them firmly by the hand
through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
the globe and all that’s made
is clasped to God’s great bosom
they must not be afraid
for though they fall and die, he said,
and the black earth wrap them tight
they will know the warmth
of God’s healing hands
in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
smelling the blossomed air,
tell my people to rise with me
to heal the Earth’s despair.

Edwina Gateley

Photo:DS
I was afraid 
that with their blocks of concrete
the skyscrapers might wound the dawn.

But you ought to see 
how sensitive they are 
to the morning light,
how they disarm
and lose their cutting edge
and steely soul!

They too are caught
in the irresistible spell
of the holy hour
when the whole natural world
in rapture chants
creation's hymn of praise.

Dom Helder Camara

Now Macrina Wiederkehr writes:

"You too may have noticed how giant walls of concrete that penetrate the skies appear to soften in the wake of dawn light as though they anticipate the world's weary ones soon coming into their concrete wombs to ply their skills. In the dawn moments  they become shrines silhouetted agains the amber sky, praying for their tenants."

Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully through the Hours of the Day, 2008

Alice Walker
We have to live
differently

or we
will die
in the same

old ways.

Therefore, 
I call on all Grand Mothers
everywhere
on the planet
to rise
and take your place
in the leadership of the world

Come out
of the kitchen
out of the 
fields
out of the
beauty parlors
our of the television

Step forward
and assume
the role for which
you were
created:
To lead humanity
to health, happiness
and sanity.

I call on
all the 
Grand Mothers
of Earth
and every person
who possesses
the Grand Mother 
spirit 
of respect for
life
&
protection of
the young 
to rise
& lead.

The life of
our species
depends 
on it.

And I call on all men
of Earth
to gracefully
and 
gratefully

stand aside
and let them
(let us)
do so.





November 8, 2021 

Photo: Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth

Poem found in 
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
One World, Penguin Random House LLC, 2020

I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

I don't know where prayers go,
	or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
	half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
	crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
	growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
	along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
	of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
	call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
	or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that's their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don't know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn't persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don't. That's your business.
But I thought, of the wren's singing, what could this be
	if it isn't a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Morning, 2012, p.3

Photo: New Yorker
	

Today is St Teresa of Avila’s Feast Day. One can find striking portraits of Teresa online, but I searched a portrait that would fit the prayer I am posting today.

I like to forward prayers and poems to friends near and far. I prepared an e-mail with the prayer you will find below. How would my friends receive it? To my young friends, it might feel irrelevant or it might remind them of someone they know. To my older friends, they might take it for themselves and possibly feel insulted. Of course, whether young or old, it might remind them of someone they know, and then laugh along with Teresa.

When, in celebration of Teresa’s Feast Day, I read it this morning to my husband after our morning prayers, we both laughed because we could each recognize what she said in ourselves.

Enough with the talking, here it is:

Growing Older

Lord, You know better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but You know, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.S
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.

You can find the prayer here. Photo found here.

In her latest post, “Creativity During Advent”, Vinita Hampton Wright invites us to imagine that Jesus is going to be born in our neighborhood. The following is where my imagination took me.

It is a somber, grey, cold day in my part of the world. The hill behind my house is lost in a cloud. I can’t even imagine how the Jura looks this morning. It is a bit lonely in my big house, half of which is covered up by the painters’ tarp. A fire was started in the stove, with wettish bark. It created hoodles of smoke which started the fire alarm. The phone rang. The security agency calling to know if they were to phone the firemen. My husband was running all over the house opening windows to let the smoke escape.

This is when I heard the bell ring at the old front door. I rushed downstairs to answer, afraid a neighbor had been alarmed as well. But no, at the door, a man and a pregnant woman — both looking as if coming from a Southern country.

“My car just broke down. I was driving my wife to the closest hospital. I see you have a car in your driveway. Could you take us?” Suddenly the young woman clutches the front-door in pain. Water runs down her legs. “I can’t go further. I can’t.” Panic fills her eyes and her husband frantically racks his brain to find a solution. “I have a bedroom upstairs. Can you take her there?” He looks at me, afraid for her. Then, he takes her in his arms and follows me.

We walk through an empty corridor, a freshly painted staircase, another corridor, to our bedroom, where a wood fire sings in the stove. “But it’s your room,” he says. “I know, but it’s the only one I can offer you at this time.”

He helps her remove her clothes. I bring her a housedress she can lay down in. “Oh, dear, I believe the baby is coming.” While he talks to her soothingly, I call to my husband asking him to boil some water and prepare a basin. It will not be easy to find clean towels — they have all been put away for the renovation. I google “emergency birth at home” and we follow the instructions. Suddenly the head appears, the shoulders, the baby slips out — small, perfect, unique. He lets a cry out.

Now it is time to straighten up room to leave the mother and her baby boy in a safe environment. The baby is fast asleep on his mother, both exhausted and happy.

“Would you mind if I gave a few phone calls? Could my family come and see the new baby?” I nod and smile. Forgetting my usual selfishness, I can’t see any problem with more strangers coming to our house.

Within minutes, a couple of cars park outside, by the church. Her husband is waiting outside and take the new arrivals upstairs to the infant. A while later, our bedroom is filled with happy people, surrounding the mother and her baby in the bed. “A new life is a blessing to all,” they all repeat. There is kindness and joy flowing through the room and the whole incomplete house.

Our daughter and Sasha her dog are returning from their morning walk. Smelling something afoot, Sasha rushes upstairs barking. She’s coming to the bedroom and an older man bends toward her, calling her softly, his hand out to pet her. She calms down right away. Her mistress arrives just then and smiles at the man. She calls her dog and takes her back downstairs.

The visitors do not stay long, understanding the mother and her baby need to rest. The new Dad sits next to the two of them beaming. As the family and friends leave the house, the older man turns to me with a soft, gentle smile. “Thank you for inviting my son and his wife in. You’re very kind. If you have a prayer, tell God. I’m sure he’ll answer it.” I wave goodbye and they’re all gone.

I sit in the kitchen, pondering his suggestion. I know. “Dear God, give me the grace to open my house to those in need of a place to rest.”A

Image

My blog on blogger has been hacked. The Apple technician, with a tendinitis, cannot help me at the moment. So I will attempt to post here and see how it goes.

Paul and I are just back from six weeks in Manresa, Spain, where we were invited to go deeper into Ignatius’ autobiography and spiritual diaries, the sources of his Spiritual Exercises and how they developed over his lifetime; some of his letters; the origins and foundation of the Society of Jesus; its first Companions; its voluminous archives (Monumenta); its Constitutions; and, finally, Ignatian spirituality for today. Add to this daily morning prayers and evening masses, an eight-day silent retreat the second week, and a walking tour of Manresa where Ignatius lived nine months in 1522-23 (there he prayed, fasted, worked, meditated, had visions, and fell sick…), and trips to Montserrat, Loyola, Javier, and Barcelona.

We were thirty-five participants from fourteen different countries (with large contingents from India, the Philippines, Australia, and the U.S.). Our youngest member turned 32 during the Course and the older participant was 76. A majority of men and Jesuits, some religious sisters, a few laypeople and just one couple, Paul and me.

The Course was made of seven modules, the second one being the silent retreat, with one transition day in-between each. Those days were meant to help us process all that had been given to us (e.g. the medieval origins of the Autobiography, connecting the Spiritual Exercises with mysteries in our faith; the personalities of Ignatius’ first companions; the importance of Juan de Polanco in the creation of the Society of Jesus, his importance as well in the writing of the Constitutions and Ignatius’ very unique style of participative management. Finally, the new cosmic theology and new ways of looking at Jesus’ teachings (e.g. table fellowship, inclusiveness and openness to sinners and marginalized folks).

Our lecturers are all University teachers, whether at the University of Barcelona, Javier Melloni SJ (a scholar and writer of many books, involved in inter-denominational dialogues); Jose García de Castro, from Comillas University in Madrid, with an insatiable love for archives and books, able to pass on his passion for old papers and the first Jesuits; Carlos Coupeau, SJ, from both Boston U. and the Gregorian University in Rome, who helped us understand the composition and intent of the Constitutions; and finally George Pattery SJ, from Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth in Pune, India, who introduced us to a cosmic vision of the Spiritual Exercises, bringing together Ignatius’s cosmic experience on the banks of the river Cardoner with Teilhard de Chardin’s very own understanding.

This time out-of-time was made possible thanks to the support and care of Josep Sugranyes SJ, the Director of the Course, Joachi Salord SJ a wonderful patient and ever smiling shepherd to us all, and Asun Puche, the Course’s feminine smile and intelligent presence.

Dear to everyone of us, as well,  were the women in the kitchen who fixed three meals a day and two snacks, making sure we could sustain those brains of ours so heavily taxed at times. Teams of us worked along them, clearing and setting tables, and drying dishes. Our Spanish improved at their side; we even caught a couple of Catalan words.

I come back with my head filled with images of young noble men giving up their wealth and station in life to walk thousands of miles across Europe, begging on the way, their hearts filled with love for Godde and her creation. Finding Godde in all things…

I think of the many women who helped Ignatius all throughout his life, the very first persons who were guided by him through his Spiritual Exercises, those who cared for him when he was on death’s doorsteps, who paid for his studies and his many journeys, many of these women asking him to become a Jesuit themselves.

My heart is filled with the graces of many moments, looking out to the mountains of Montserrat, inspired with a Spirit of openness, adventure, and longing. I catch myself humming songs sung every day or for special moments. I remember holding Ignatius’ begging bowl…

We drove home with boxes of books to read and a list of more to buy, papers and lectures to process and digest, a longing for prayer, quiet times, long walks, and notes to write.

Many times in Manresa I wondered what I had done to deserve such a blessing and grace to be there in the very place where he had prayed, met Mary and Jesus or understood the Trinity. I hope to share some insights received here, because I cannot stand the idea of keeping all this to myself.

Blessings and joy.

Photo: Statue of in Loyola, Ignatius wounded in the Battle of Pamplona, 

30 May 1521.

I have recently returned to Joyce Rupp’s book Fresh Bread and came a poem on page 86 which reads:

the demon of discouragement 
trips me up in hectic times, 
takes my heart apart 
and dumps out all my hope.

The demon of discouragement 
points fingers at my weakness, 
jaws his mouth at all my errors 
and threatens to undo me.

The demon of discouragement 
despises rainbows, relishes rancor, 
fights to hold my moody darkness 
and loves to see me weary.

The demon of discouragement 
fails to have the last laugh, though,
 for I've too many people of promise 
whose love outlasts my struggles.

If the demon of discouragement happens to be haunting your nights, may its spell on your heart and mind dispel in the light and love of Godde’s hope for you.

Note: Photo by author

What matters more: #BlackLivesMatter or #Facebook?

I will be honest: I left FB at the time of Cambridge Analytica. That would be 2018. It came out that FB had sold 50 million profiles. To Cambridge Analytica and advertisers. Mark Zuckerberg made money from what you and I like and dislike. I disliked that big time, so I left.

Now I see that many Facebook workers, like many Amazon and Google workers, are unhappy with their employers. Sunday it was announced that more than 140 Zuckerberg-funded scientists called on Facebook to rein in Trump.

Mr. Zuckerberg is a Trump supporter, and I guess he is entitled to. He must feel deep down that the bile poured out on FB pages represents what he, Mr. Zuckerberg, feels toward the world. A world that he also exploits in his own way.

What surprises me is that people who believe that #BlackLivesMatter, who find Mr. Trump’s inflammatory posts repulsive and reprehensible, stay on Facebook. And I’m talking of US citizens here, people who are directly involved and touched by what America stands for.

Because on Facebook, Amerikkka speaks freely. How can they bear it? Is there no cognitive dissonance? No feeling of moral discomfort?

I realize that Facebook is an addiction; it was for me — first thing in the morning and last thing at night. A way to connect with friends and families, to make new friends as well. A place to post my blog, to share articles I like… But dang…

So I came up with an idea: why not boycott Facebook as long as there is no moderation of the oil Mr. Trump pours on the social fire? It won’t be forever. There will be a time to return to the clicking of likes and dislikes on the Facebook feed.

Or maybe it’s too hard to do.

Who am I to say anything? I am on Instagram, a Facebook product 😱

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Note: Photo found at New Economy Coalition (photo)

Could the Spirit be with the demonstrators?

Come, Holy Spirit, come! … Come Father/Mother of the poor! … Come within our bosoms shine… Oh most blessed Light divine, shine within these hearts of yours, and our inmost being fill!… Where you are not, we are naught… Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew…

Isn’t it odd that confined in my garden on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I follow the news online and I can feel the pain of folks who have been enduring injustice for centuries? They stand up in grief and clamor for change. I walk with them in prayer and spirit.

Epidemics, it has been written, change history. The confinement has brought many of us to a stop and forced us to look at our lives. Many of us say, “I don’t want to go back to the way it was. I want to help bring about a better world.” But change doesn’t come easily, especially when change shoves our routine aside.

The recent murder of George Floyd, one more black person killed by a white police officer, has been the final straw for the black community, and many other folks.

How many disasters must come our way before we understand our need to change? Climate change is upon us, and we’re not doing a thing. Children go to bed hungry. No day care help for single mothers. No health protection. No unemployment compensation… A meat-packer has to die so that I can eat my steak or my pork chop… An Amazon worker has to die so that I can get my new blender…

Jesus walks with the poor; they are his Kingdom. To enter His Kingdom, I guess, I need to walk with Him and the poor of this world. To nestle safely in my cozy life will put me with the goats. I have to start doing the right thing.

As the Trinity looks at our world these days, they look at the mess we have made of Its Creation. “What shall we do?… We’ve sent them floods, wars, plagues. We sent them Jesus, and the Holy Spirit…”

So I have this strange feeling that Jesus and the Spirit are walking and chanting with the demonstrators — and this brings tears to my eyes.

How can we change our system? Can it be changed?

Black people standing up for their rights will not suffice. We must all join them, like the Sheriff in Flint, Michigan did. Priests, nuns, and bishops must march with them. Older white men and women must lock arms with the demonstrators and walk in front to protect the young.

We have to build the new Jerusalem, folks! It’s kind of an inspiring project really.

The Spirit is moving among us. Let’s listen.

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth

Note: Photo from the New York Times. Passage on the Holy Spirit from yesterday’s mass.

Joan Chittister, OSB

Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

In seeking a leader, let us seek
more than development for ourselves—
            though development we hope for—
more than security for our own land—
            though security we need—
more than satisfaction for our wants—
            though many things we desire.

Give us the hearts to choose the leader
who will work with other leaders
to bring safety
to the whole world.

Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.

Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.

Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.

We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.

We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.

Amen.

Please Check Sr. Joan’s Website or again Monasteries of the Heart