Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Is multitasking good for the spiritual life?"

Savor the Moment

A few days ago the intrepid blogger Sr. Julie Viera, IHM, co-creator of the site "A Nun's Life" dedicated to exploring the full spectrum of religious life for women in the service of vocation discernment, posed this question: "Is multitasking good for your spiritual life?" Check the blog to see her original essay. The question struck a cord because I am a multitasker from way back. Afterall, I raised three sons and taught second grade. You don't survive in those roles without developing  highly refined skills for multitasking! I see it as part of my organizational skill set, allowing me to get a lot more done in a given period of time then would be expected. It can be very efficient and productive if only you don't put your brain on overload and just fry the circuitry. One of the things I miss here in the monastery is the ability to wash dishes and cook while carrying on a telephone conversation. Such a waste of precious time!

Since I entered the monastery ten years ago the explosion in communications technology has only complicated the matter by making multitasking increasingly possible. For example, cell phones allow folks to communicate with each other daily or many times daily no matter what they are doing or where they may be. As a result, we have seen that it is very hard for women exploring this life to imagine not speaking to their grown children every day.

So what is the concern about this great technique for being efficient and staying in touch?
One of the guidelines for cultivating human relationships is attentiveness and presence. Awake and aware attentiveness and presence is also necessary for developing relationship with God. Our skills at multitasking can become so highly habituated in us that the effort to move to attentiveness and presence becomes very challenging. It can demand a real effort of will to stop and smell the roses.

Creating a conscious, thoughtful balance in our lives seems to be the answer. We cannot become Luddites, rejecting all modern innovation. But we cannot become so enslaved the range of stimuli before us that we lose an esthetic and spiritual sensivity to our environment, our relationships and the action of God in our lives. The author Stephen Mitchell defines prayer as "a quality of attention that makes so much space for the given that it can appear as gift." How does one cultivate that "quality of attention"? The answer for me has been to put multi-tasking in its proper place and to know when it is time to stop and smell the roses. This is a devotion to conscious living, conscious suffering, conscious awareness, also expressed as "the practice of the presence of God".

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Immaculate Heart of Mary

The following hymn was sung at the opening of our prayer this morning. The words were written by our very creative Sr. Moira Quinn, OSsR. The text is very moving whether as a spoken prayer or sung to the tune of Sibelius' "Finlandia". May it bring you closer to Our Mother in Faith.

White is the Rose

White is the rose of beauty of beginnings.
Woman of joy, you heard and you believed.
You share our dreams of what the future offers;
Pray we be one: a people full of joy.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of joy.

Red is the rose of sorrows deep and lasting.
Woman of faith, you saw and you were grieved.
You share our tears when all we see is horror;
Pray we be one: a people full of faith.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of tears.

Gold is the rose of triumph unimagined.
Woman of hope, you sensed all would be well.
You shared that trust in One who came to save us;
Pray we be one: a people full of hope.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of hope.

True is the rose of wonder in God’s presence.
Woman of love, you sought Home in your heart.
You shared that grace and rest in the Beloved;
Pray we be one: a people full of love.
Walk with us now, our Mother and our Sister,
We follow you, our guide in times of grace.

Text: 11 10 11 10 11 10; Moira Quinn, OSsR © October 7, 2005
Redemptoristine Nuns of New York, Inc.
Tune: FINLANDIA by Jean Sibelius 1865-1957

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solemnity of the Sacred heart of Jesus

Consecration to the Sacred Heart This is the prayer of consecration used by our community. You may want to adapt it for use in your family or parish or as a personal dedication to the Heart of Jesus.    
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, behold us here today to proclaim your absolute dominion over our Community. We desire to live your life of love, so that among us may flourish those virtues for which you promised peace on earth.

Reign over our understanding by the integrity of our faith; reign over our hearts by our love for you. May this love be ever nourished by fervent prayer and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

Be pleased, O Divine Heart, to preside over our meetings, to bless our undertakings, to banish all care, to be present in our joys and sorrows. If any of us should ever grieve your Sacred Heart, remind us of your goodness and mercy toward the repentant sinner.

And when death enters our family circle, help us to bow humbly before this mystery of life, remembering that the day will come when our entire Community, once more united in heaven, will sing with joy of your mercy and goodness forever. Amen.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

"Panis Angelicus"

        Bread of Heaven

Cannot help but continue to refer to this feast as Corpus Christi, the body of Christ. However, the Church guides us to call it the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ because it is a more correct describer of the Eucharist, the gift of his very self - body and blood in the form of bread and wine - given by Jesus to this disciples and to us at his last supper.

My very frist apprehension of this mystery took place at a pre-Vatican II Holy Thursday Mass during the procession taking the Eucharist from the main altar of the church to the Altar of Repose. There it remained for the whole day surrounded by a wall of candles, banks of lilies and golden light, available for reverent adoration by the faithful who would come into the church throughout the day. I was only seven or eight years old. Yet God spoke of His mysterious presence and His love for me in a most intimate way that day. What gift!

With the years I have learned and taken into my heart the essential incorporation of People of God, the assembled congregation actively participating in and necessary in the Eucharist prayers, in the consecration of common bread and wine so that it becomes in the hands of the priest the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. So vital is this corporate aspect that priests are no longer encouraged to say 'private' masses. Jesus' inauguration of the Eucharist was not a private affair but rather a communal event. "Do this in memory of me," means the blessing, the memorial, the sharing, and all of it in community. We take part in the transformation. We also can be said to offer ourselves as gifts to be transformed into the "Body and Blood of Christ." The Redemptoristine charism is expressed as dedication to becoming the "Viva Memoria", the "Living Memory" of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago I had a beautiful dream in which I was assisting at the altar as server during a Mass in our monastery. As the priest placed a host into my hand it miraculously multiplied so that I could not contain the overflow of hosts in my two hands. This event seemed a symbol of the utterly gratuitous love of God and the generosity of Jesus in this gift to us.

May the Eucharist and it abiding presence with us in every tabernacle be the force that will unify us as Catholics and, in turn, unify all who hold sacred the name of Jesus Christ.