Journey with us...

Journey with us...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Maxim for the day

"Receive your fullness from the will of God alone, it will not leave you empty" 

-The Life of a Visitandine 

Monday, June 27, 2016


I wrote of creating a spiritual bouquet in my last entry.  Today I wanted to give you a little "flower".  St. Francis de Sales is known for his maxims, in other words, sermons in a sentence.  There is a wonderful resource on the website for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales which has a maxim for each day.  The Holy Spirit has led me to the one below.  Let us all soak up the amazing gifts the Lord desires to bestow upon us!

What will we do one day when, in eternal glory, we see the most adorable heart of Jesus through the holy wound in His side, all aflame with the love He bears for us - a heart in which, written in characters of fire, all of us will be inscribed? Ah! We will then say to the Savior, "Is it... possible that You have loved me so much that You have even written my name in your heart?" (Sermons 57; O. X, pp. 243-244)

Click here for a maxim for each day!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Spiritual Bouquets

I am blessed to have the care of three gardens here at the monastery and love to have the opportunity them to make little bouquets for the Sacred Heart.  This year we were given a number of seed packets which created a new adventure.  By starting the seeds early in egg crates and then transferring them, I hoped I would be able to have even more flowers in my gardens.  One of the seed types I began early were cosmos.  I had about 30 seedlings sprout and now have about a dozen in my garden.  One of them really touched my heart.  It was a shabby looking seedling, compared to the rest.  Probably only half as tall and quite skimpy on the foliage, and yet...

And yet, this little "weakling" was the first to produce a flower... with two more on the way! (Although the little flower only had three petals, perhaps in honor of the Trinity?)  It spoke to my heart of how appearances can be so deceiving!  Look even at the Gospel on Thursday:
Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?    
Did we not drive out demons in your name?    
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?

(Mt 7:22)
One might expect that those who are able to do mighty deeds and drive out demons would certainly be holy souls bearing much fruit for the Lord, but it is the heart that matters.  Just as this little seedling is the smallest (or at least the second-smallest) of all my flowers, it is the first to bear fruit!

Speaking of bouquets, we recently had a vocation retreatant here who asked me about St. Francis de Sales' idea of carrying a bouquet throughout your day.  What does this mean?  

St. Francis de Sales spoke of this in conjunction with our time of mental prayer.  During mental prayer, one finds little "flowers" given by the Lord.  These "flowers" might include a quote which struck your heart or a virtue you wish to focus on for the day, perhaps even an idea which draws your heart towards the Lord or an image which you found helpful that morning.  These are all little flowers to produce growth in your soul.  Some may be much larger than others, but in every bouquet there is a mix of the little accent flowers (like baby's breath) and the larger, showier flowers (like roses or lilies).  So too in your meditation, there may be little gifts or insights as well as a larger idea or image.  Even if your morning meditation results in a bouquet of wildflowers... it is all a gift to be brought together. 

Now, how does one take that bouquet through the day?  Simply remember each little flower, or one of the bigger ones perhaps, and "smell" it as the day goes on to bring yourself back to the Lord.  As you go to work, remind yourself of a phrase that touched you... Before you sit down to lunch, bring back that image which united your heart to His. These are all ways to "smell" your bouquet, but also you will find that these "odors of sanctity" will penetrate into your heart so much that they become your own and flow out to others in little smiles or works of charity!

So whether you have a big bouquet or a small heart-felt flower, with only a few petals, carry it with you and don't forget to "stop and smell the roses".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

May St. Joseph continue to guide and protect all fathers.
Thank you to all our Fathers, bother spiritual and biological.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Butterfly and a Lesson

In my last post, I shared the beautiful gift of "our" little butterfly.  That same gift was used by the Lord to teach me a much deeper lesson a few short hours later!

After Office of Readings and, seeing that our little one was still there, I shared my excitement with a few more sisters.  I wanted them to experience my joy and see this incredible marvel of nature.  Many of the sisters did go out and find her still seated on the angel and slowly soaking in the sunshine to dry and harden and prepare for flight.

Before dinner I had to take a message across the courtyard and was on my back to the refectory (monastic term for the dining room) when I was signaled by another sister.  This sister showed me our little butterfly one on her finger!  The butterfly had received so much attention that it climbed to the top of the angel's head and there, lost her balance and fell to the rocks below.  I was quite upset to see one leg broken, another twisted, and wings tattered including with a small rip.  How could this happen?!  I wanted to share my joy with my sisters and instead I brought danger to this little gift from the Lord!

Taking it gently from the hands of my sister I placed our little swallowtail on a large clump of flowers in the courtyard to rest securely while we went to dinner.  After dinner, she was still there and I again put my finger out to her gently and took her into the woods so as to have time to recover more fully without the possibility of becoming frightened by the curious eyes of my sisters.  I knew they meant no harm and that they simply wished to marvel at our little butterfly just as I did, but with an inexperienced approach, injuries did happen.

Being the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I went to the chapel where our Lord was exposed for Adoration all day.  I poured out my heart to Him of this sorrow which struck me so deeply (thinking it had struck me more deeply than it should have).  I could do nothing but turn to Him and again and again give Him my anger, frustration, and sorrow over the situation.  I had waited so long for this little one to hatch and now, before she even flew, she is hurt!  I had protected her during the whole chrysalis stage and was proud of that, but had failed now that she needed me most!  I.. I... I..

As I poured out my heart I was reminded that the Feast of the Sacred Heart is a day for reparation, a day to heal His Heart and offer Him consolation.  I tried to unite my sorrow and pain with His hoping this would help to repair His Heart, to share His burden in some mysterious way.  Slowly the Lord began to help me make sense of the situation and even see it, in a strange way, as a way in which to help My Beloved.  He said in the depths of my heart, "Are you the one who formed this little butterfly? Are you the one who created her?  Your sorrow is only a shadow of mine."

With this the Lord led me even deeper.  "Now", He seemed to say, "transfer this sorrow to a union with My sorrow in abortion.  I have, from all eternity planned this little life, worked with My Own Hands to form and shape him or her in the womb and before he or she even has a chance to come forth, another hand reaches into the safety of the womb to destroy this life."  Yes Lord, my sorrow and pain are not lessened through this but rather increased and yet somehow I find in it a gift to be given to You.  A way in which I can console You by uniting my little sufferings, my shadow of pain with Your pain when an abortion occurs.

Let us continue to pray for an end to abortion and find little ways to unite our pains to those of the Lord to console Him, to love Him, and to become beacons of grace for those tempted to commit this sin.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Gift from the Sacred Heart

Last fall, as the leaves began to come down and create that wonderful swirling pattern in the wind, we always find curled up leaves hiding in strange places.  I was on my way to visit our deceased sisters and noticed one had found its way into the angel’s ear!  Stopping on my way out of the cemetery to remove it, a closer inspection revealed a chrysalis!  For those of you who know me and my love for God’s littler creatures, this was a true gift.  I would like to think it was around the feast of St. Margaret Mary (as that would really just make for a good story book start and finish) but while it could have been around that time, I really do not know the exact date.

Of course I announced to all those sisters eager to keep the place tidy that this little curled up leaf was a chrysalis and would hopefully become a butterfly one day in the spring.  We all watched as the snow nestled around it, the wind seemed never to touch it, and the angel continued to protect her new “earring”. 

My family, unknowingly, added to this little gift as they shared insights from “Zoobooks”.  This is a magazine which features a certain creature and teaches children about that creature in great detail, yet in language a 4 year old can understand.  One of the new facts they shared was that caterpillars basically turn into “goo” in the chrysalis during the transformation process because so much has to be changed.  I jokingly added how the chrysalis or cocoon (for a moth) is a common metaphor for the spiritual life, so I guess we have to go through a “goo” phase ourselves!

Spring finally came and our chrysalis remained steadfast.  The sisters and I began to worry that this little one was a late bloomer who was supposed to have hatched before winter but didn’t make it and now would not.  We decided to give it one more week and I was to remove it around Memorial Day.  Praise the Lord, we were VERY busy that week and I never got to this delicate task. I have to admit I was putting it off as my over-attachment to little insects made me wish to hold on to this little chrysalis and keep hoping against hope.

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart I wanted to pick some flowers for my Lord and chose a few of the peony which our dear Sr. Anne-Marguerite had planted.  She always offered these flowers for the little Sacred Heart Shrine which I have charge of.  So, I wanted to go and visit her with my little bouquet so that she could also bring them to the Sacred Heart with me.  The night before was very windy and a little nest (thankfully empty) had blown out of a tree and into the entrance to our cemetery.  I picked it up and tried to think of where to put it that would be out of the way, yet allow other sisters to partake in this delicate beauty.

Thank you Lord for this little nest!   I turned to the left to place it at the angel’s feet and, yes!  There was a large black thing on the angel’s cheek!  What is that?!  “Our” BUTTERFLY!!!  On the Feast of the Sacred Heart this beautiful black swallowtail emerged.  (Now you can see why I wanted it to begin on the Feast of St. Margaret Mary!)

I was so touched by the gentleness and kindness of my God and called Sr. Mary Emmanuel to come quickly (we had only 5 minutes before the Divine Office) to share in this spectacular sight.  Our little butterfly was still all crinkled up and just looked like a big black body with these half-formed black wings.  The other colors were not yet visible and, as we watched, she slowly pumped life into her wings and they began to grow! 

After our prayers I ran back out to see her progress and there she was… fully formed yet still weak and needing the quiet solitude of the angel.  She did crawl onto my finger and permit me to hold her and I found my heart expanding in gratitude for this gift of beauty and love.  I am always amazed to think that this stage, in which she looks fully formed, fully ready, is one of the most vulnerable of her life. 

In the chrysalis she had the protection of the hard covering and camouflage; as a caterpillar, camouflage and the ability to crawl away or drop to the ground when danger approached; yet here she is fully formed, beautiful wings and she cannot fly, she cannot drop to the ground, all she can do is open her wings in hopes of scaring her attacker away with her that the little eye spots.  Let us remember when we feel weak and vulnerable, how much beauty the Lord sees in us and how much Love He is pouring down upon us as we wait for courage and strength to return to our souls or our bodies.

More importantly, when we feel dark, alone, abandoned... remember this little caterpillar.  Seven or Eight Months it waits turning into “goo” and then into a butterfly.  It is in the safety net of the chrysalis and we are called to hide in the safety net of His Heart.  He wants so much to hide us there in that precious wound!  Then, when we are ready we can show His beauty, His Love to the world.  But one step at a time, remembering that even in our fresh spiritual state, we can still have times of weakness, times in which we must return to that Heart and allow Him to be our protection until He gently takes His Finger and sends us forth on mission.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Feast of the Sacred Heart Homily


Today in this beautiful Vistandine chapel dedicated to the two hearts, we ought to begin by pondering the meaning of Jesus' sacred heart. It is noteworthy that we have never had a feast of Jesus’ sacred brain, even though it was hypo-statically united to the word of God. We've never had a celebration of Jesus’ sacred hands, even those they saved us in a carpenter's shop in Nazareth, reached out to touch and heal so many, and were pinned to a tree for our redemption. We've never celebrated Jesus’ sacred feet, even though they traversed the holy land to bring us the good news, were washed with a sinners tears, anointed with a friend's aromatic nard, and wiped with her hair. No, we've only celebrated Jesus’ sacred heart, and done so for two reasons.

First, the heart, in biblical terminology, symbolizes the center and entirety of a person. To say that a person has a good heart or has no heart is to talk about the person's overall character. To focus on Jesus’ heart is to focus on her entire humanity.

Second, the heart is obviously an organ of love. To ponder Jesus’ heart is to meditate on the love that flowed from that heart, pierced for our offenses, as we read about in the gospel today. The devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus is a devotion to Jesus’ merciful love. It's from this heart that, as we sang in the responsorial psalm, we draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. And today we come to drink from that live giving stream to the dregs, because we know that that stream is meant to be a spring welling up inside of us to life eternal but we also know that a heart can be wounded, that a heart can be broken, when love is not reciprocated.

That's what we encounter in today's first reading, when Jesus, speaking about his people, said I "took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one v/ho raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred." even then he refused to punish, because "I am God and not a man, the holy one present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.'' instead fie wanted to bring his people to conversion, so that they might receive his life, live in his love, and share it. That message of conversion was the mission of all the prophets. But just as with the people of Israel who took God's incredible love and saving deeds for granted.

So have we!  When Jesus appeared in the 16705 to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray-le-Monial, he said, "Behold this heart that has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of its love. Instead of gratitude, I receive from most only the difference, irreverence, sacrilege, and the coldness and scorn that men have for me in the sacrament of love."

The sacrament of love to which he is referring is the, holy Eucharist. That's why pope emeritus Benedict xvi back in 2oo7 when he gave us his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist called it,
"sacramentum caritatis,''
"The sacrament of love."

Jesus said that in response to his pouring out his heart for us in the Eucharist, He received from most only apathy, impiety, frigidity, contempt, and desecration. These are unbelievable words! But it got even stronger. "What I feel the most keenly,'' Jesus lamented, "is that it is hearts that are consecrated to me that treat me in this way.'' this obviously applies to priests and religious who take Jesus for granted.

But it applies to every baptized Christian, who through baptism has been consecrated to the lord. It's one thing when so many in the world take Jesus’ gift of himself for granted, but when Christians, all the more Catholics, who know that the Eucharist is Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity, neglect him, who prioritize soccer games, or Sunday cartoons, or work over him, it wounds him. That's why in reparation for the offenses against his heart, he asked for three different Eucharistic devotions.

The first would be the feast of the sacred heart on the Friday after Corpus Christi, to unite the sacred heart specifically to the feast of Jesus’ body and blood.

 Second he asked for people to come to mass and receive him worthily on first Fridays, a day especially dedicated to the sacred heart.

And on the Thursday before, he asked for us to spend time in Eucharistic adoration as he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. If we wish to have a devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus, we need to recognize both the reality of his person as well as the depth of his merciful love in this great sacrament

But I also believe that Jesus teaches us even more the way we can love him and repair the damage done by ourselves and others. We just need to reverse what he, himself said to St. Margaret Mary. Instead of treating him with indifference, we're supposed to make, him, in the Eucharist, the biggest difference in our life, as our true priority, as the "source and summit" of our existence, the fulcrum of our week and day.

In response to irreverence, he wants us to treat him with deep piety, adoring him outside of mass, making genuflections and profound bows with devotion and love.

In contrast to those who treat him with coldness, we're called to treat him with passion, to be more enthusiastic about him than the most fanatical follower of a sports team is about his hometown squad, and to show it through the way we sing with gusto, pray the mass, welcoming others with warmth and love.

In response to the scorn or contempt with which most treat him, we're called to treat him with grateful appreciation, even endless thanksgiving. And in contrast to sacrilege, we're called to receive him as a holy temple fit for his presence, among other things. The devotion to the sacred heart is meant to transform us, to help us adore and receive Jesus in the Eucharist with precedence, piety, passion, praise and purity - in short, by treating him as he deserves.

It is even more fitting today that we celebrate this feast within the context of this extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. Many today find Jesus’ mercy obnoxious. He was persecuted because of his deeds of mercy done for the crippled, the possessed, the needy on the Sabbath, as if God would take a vacation on the Sabbath day from loving his sons and daughters with crippled hands or who hadn't walked for 38 years.

He was persecuted because he welcomed sinners and ate with them. He was persecuted as a blasphemer because he dared forgive sins. Likewise that mercy lived by the church, shared in by us, is still obnoxious to some in the world, including many who are religious. How many Catholics mock the sacrament of penance because they don't want to admit that they're sinners who need a sacrament

 or, who want to make it as easy as possible to pretend as if they're not that bad by confessing their sins to God directly to God who, in their own subjective framework, won't really call them to conversion, rather than to a priest before whom, even if he's extraordinarily tender and encouraging, will be means of conversion by the very fact that we need to name our sins.

Jesus, mercy incarnate, will always be a sign of contradiction, and through our baptism we are summoned and strengthened to unite ourselves to that sign. Today Pope Francis celebrated mass in St. Peter's square which was the culmination of the jubilee of priests and seminarians during this year of mercy. Today on this feast of the sacred heart we also have the world day of prayer for the sanctification of priests. Pope Francis said:

“Today we contemplate two hearts: the heart of the good shepherd and our own heart as priests" the pope preached, “the heart of the good shepherd is not only the heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy,'' he continued. "The heart of the good shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up.,' Pope Francis added: the great riches of the heart of Jesus are two: the father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the father and encountering people. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, but is turned towards God and his brothers and sisters.

Today we come, to this serene and holy chapel in the Berkshire hinterlands of Tyringham to ask for that gift one of my favorite scenes in the life of St. Margaret Mary was when Jesus mystically took her heart out of her breast, placed it in the burning furnace of his own heart, melted away all the impurities and frigidity, and returned it to her, so that she could love with the same fire with which Jesus loves the father and others. Today we come before Jesus asking for the same heart transplant.

"O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make, our hearts like unto thine!"

Two Homlies- Thursday

Better than my summary, Fr. Gary Dailey has given us the text of his two homilies from Thursday and Friday of the Triduum.  Enjoy!

Thursday's Homily

Tomorrow we celebrate the solemnity of the most
Sacred heart of Jesus. When we hear the name, "most Sacred heart of Jesus," most of us probably think of a Statue or the framed image that appears in many of our Churches and homes, the image where Jesus stands with His heart, burning with joy and love for us, exposed to All. Many of us probably do not think any deeper about This image, and yet we are called to more. Pope Francis Said, "it is more difficult to let God love us than to love Him! The best way to love him in return is to open our
Hearts and let him love us.'' every time we see these
Statues we are reminded to open ourselves to the love
Of Christ and give ourselves completely to him as he
Does. He lays his heart open before us as an example of
How to live our lives
Today's gospel is quite fitting as we stand on the
Threshold, the vigil of the great solemnity of the
Sacred heart we celebrate tomorrow
The gospel account today about the lawyers
Questioning Jesus appears in three gospels: Matthew,
Mark and Luke. Any time a particular event is recorded in
Multiple gospels, we know it is important
In the accounts of Matthew and Luke, the lawyer's
Question is a tricky one that attempts to trip Jesus up to 
disconcert him or trap him. The question isn't one that 
seeks a genuine answer. No. It is designed to trap Jesus
So the pharisees can accuse him of misusing sacred
Scripture and discredit him. It was all a part of building
Up a case against Jesus.
The pharisees were obsessed with categorizing the
Teachings found in the mosaic law, and were very skilled
At asking questions about the six-hundred and sixteen
Precepts of the law and their order of importance. Jesus
Cuts through all of their debates and goes to the first
In importance, the first and fundamental principle
Loving God first
This episode is perhaps the only time when Jesus and
The pharisees agreed with each other. So how do we
Parallel this beautiful message of the gospel with the
Feast we are about to celebrate? The question is - what
Does God require of us in this gospel? To simply reflect
The charity of his sacred heart. Love everyone as he
Loves! God is love and everything he does flows from his
Love for us. God loved us first and our love for him is a
Response to his love. The love of God comes first and
The love of neighbor is firmly grounded in and flows
From the love of God
You and I are here to receive the love God has given
To us in the life, death and resurrection of his son,
Jesus Christ. We are here to receive in order to give, to
Give without restrictions for the life of the world
May we share God's love simply, directly and with no
Complicated attachments. May we love those around us,
Both near and far, with the simplicity of the love Jesus
Has given to us. God's love is not ours to keep. God's
Love is ours to share, to share as Jesus Christ shared it
We have a wonderful example of what Jesus was talking
About in the life of pope Francis, in the way he relates to
Everyone, in the way he loves without restrictions. We
Would all do well to follow his lead.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy Feast Day

The Lord is full of surprises as Fr. Michael Pierz was unable to come to celebrate with us for the past three days due to the sudden death of his pastor, RevVernon Decoteau.  Please pray for them.

I hope to share some of the insights of Fr. Sheaffer and Fr. Gary Dailey who came to celebrate with us in his place soon, but for now I wish you all a peaceful, holy, happy Feast Day evening!  And it is time for this tired little white veil to go to bed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sacred Heart Triduum

Today begins our Triduum for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We have the gift of more than one Mass only 5 days a year... Christmas, Easter, and the Sacred Heart Triduum!

For the next three days we will have both our regular morning Mass as well as a special Mass with Fr. Michael Pierz at 7pm.  Fr. Pierz will give a series of sermons on the Sacred Heart.  We welcome you in spirit (and body if you are close-by!)