Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mystics and Prophets

I had several meetings over the weekend and it was good to engage with sisters who are living religious life and who know that religious life is changing and that we are changing with it. Together we explored the contours of the changes that we are living and the challenges facing us. At its core, our life is open to God in a very profound way. We are made by God for love and we surrender to the loving creative work of God. This is the task of a life time and it is what makes us who we are.
St. Paul encourages the Philippians: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. These are the things that expand and lift our spirits. For me, it is often in the garden or in nature that I find soul-expanding joy and am absorbed in our loving - creative God.
Once touched in the nameless, but undeniable way, our hearts are re-created, empowered and emboldened to seek the ways of God in our daily lives. We reach out in compassion to the weak and the poor, we work for justice and raise our voices with and for others.
This is the core of religious life, a school of mystics and prophets. And as we face changes in our life together, it is important to remember that this core will never change.
I wrote a book some years ago entitled Religious Life at the Crossroads - that title focuses on the changes and challenges we face as we move forward. The subtitle is a School for Mystics and Prophets. That focuses on that unchanging core of religious life, that is also the core of Christian life and is in fact the fundamental human vocation.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

God Is Here

I just read a reflection from Mary MacKillop, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Australia. She said that either God is with us here in the every day challenges, or God is nowhere. Don't wait for that perfect day, that peaceful moment. God is here.
In that context, let me tell you about the next leg of my trip. Our meetings for the vocation/formation team of Sisters of St. Joseph in the US and Canada went very well. There was a great spirit among us and we were able to continue our collaborative efforts for vocation promotion. We were also able to share our lives, our hopes and our challenges.
Friday morning, I headed to the airport so that I could travel to Rome. Due to weather in NYC, my flight was delayed, delayed, delayed and finally cancelled. The best they could offer was to fly me to NYC the next day, and I wouldn't be there in time for the next day's flight to Rome. So I rented a car and drove to NY that evening. It was really lovely country, and only occasional rain. After dark, there was a patch of dense fog, in northeastern Pennsylvania. I arrived in NYC after 10pm and stayed with a friend. We had a good visit the next morning. She was free, but had several things she needed to do around the house.
Then I drove to the airport and caught my flight to Rome. That was uneventful. And I'm here now, ready for my meetings to begin today. I've had a little time to catch up with a friend here on Sunday. We'll both be busy during the week. It was a lovely day yesterday - hopefully it will continue to be so.
And God is Here in all of this!

Friday, May 5, 2017


My upcoming trip involves more or less two weeks of work, followed by two weeks of vacation, followed by two more weeks of work.
So I'm opening up an old blog space to record some of my adventures for those who may be interested. I'll post photos and stories during the trip. 
First stop: Canandaigua NY.
I'm in the beautiful finger-lakes region of New York. I did a Soil Science class online in which they discussed the geological history of this region with multiple lakes running north-south, left by receding glaciers. Then went on to discuss the development of the soils of the region.
Sisters of St. Joseph from the US and Canada are gathered for a vocation/formation meeting here. There are about 30 of us gathered to pray, reflect and discuss our ministry with those discerning religious life. I will be presenting some material on Laudato Si', Pope Francis' letter on the environment - our common home. I will be co-presenting with Mary Rowell, a Sister of St. Joseph from Canada. We have met in the past and we have discussed our presentation over skype and email. Yesterday, after the introductory session, we had the opportunity to share our stories. It was delightful to hear the story of our circuitous routes into the community and to rejoice in the wonderful work of God in each of our lives.
Mary and I will lead the morning session, and I look forward to the discussion afterwards.