Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Catholic Spirit Radio Interview on Spiritual Direction

Catholic Conversations hosted by Jason Bramley of Catholic Spirit Radio interviews Tina Boettcher, Pam Smith & David Nybakke about Spiritual Direction.

Link here

Friday, March 9, 2018

Finding the cushion of calm - Jesus Calling

Jesus Calling~ March 9th

Rest in My Radiant Presence.  The world around you seems to spin faster and faster, till everything is a blur.  Yet there is a cushion of calm at the center of your life, where you live in union with Me.  Return to this soothing Center as often as you can, for this is where you are energized: filled with My Love, Joy, and Peace.

The world is a needy place; do not go there for sustenance.  Instead, come to Me.  Learn to depend on Me alone, and your weakness will become saturated with My Power.  When you find your completeness in Me, you can help other people without using them to meet your own needs.  Live in the Light of My Presence, and your light will shine brightly into the lives of others.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, ~Galatians 5:22
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:12
My Thoughts:
We all need a 'power source' as we are not autonomous beings. This world tells us the lie, the myth, that we are individual and independent! Try your best, when things are going crazy, and you will drain others by using them to meet your own needs. But to seek Him, in that cushion of calm at your center, provides all your needs and allows you to be a strength for others - not on your power only, but in union with His!!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Eucharist as Your Heartbeat - Reflection by Susan Kaye

I remember the time I first experienced the Eucharist as Your Heartbeat. Communion becomes a still space. Even with all its movement, Communion always becomes a still space.

Eyes are closed – Heads are bowed – the guy beside me kneels - From the right, comes a song - a song that “I am here;” that “I am near.” And also from the right the hint of a breeze stirred by movement carried forward by footsteps. And on the left – Like a steady drumbeat
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
like a heartbeat
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
that draws us so close we touch it
         Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
and taste it
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
Not just me – but we -
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ

There is a pause in the beat -- I look up. The Priest is blessing a baby and young child.
And, yes, Jesus becomes Lord and Savior again for me this night and again and again in every Eucharist.
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ
                     Body of Christ

Someone once told me: Catholic Churches – they are all the same. I said: How can they all be the same?  When you moved here – the new parish – isn’t it different?

She said: Oh sure.  Different building.  Different people.  Different Priest.  But once you find Christ in the Eucharist, it is all the same.  It is good – but all the same.

Friday, February 9, 2018

“Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened”

“Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened”
The Suscipe (Latin for "take"), a radical prayer from St Ignatius, is not found in any of the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises, but rather was included by Ignatius as additional material in regards to the “contemplation for attaining love” at the end of the Exercises. In this section, Ignatius speaks of the immeasurable love of God that is bestowed upon all of creation, and then asks what he might offer to such a loving God:
'Take Lord and receive all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.' (Spiritual Exercises, #234)

And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened” Jesus looks up to the Father. It is as if he always wants to work a mira­cle in the Trinity, never alone. The Father and the Spirit are in heaven. And he, even as a man in the world, al­ways has access to heaven.
Even more: he draws heaven nearer in order not to act alone, to be confirmed, to allow for participation in what he will do. This divine, mutual sharing with an­other is what, throughout his whole life, the Lord gives to us. For a whole context is there: the deaf-mute who lets himself passively be led there, those who are active and bring him, and lastly those watching, who will write it down. The Lord is there, who is God and man; and heaven is there. A whole, immense sharing, then, in which each performs what is his to perform, without our being able to know exactly what belongs to whom.
That is Christian, already a kind of Eucharistic mira­cle. The Lord gives his body because he is on earth; he gives his bodily touch. He does not give only his divine power to work miracles. And he does not refuse peo­ple’s help. But with his gaze toward heaven, he seeks the nearness of the Father and the Spirit and the whole of heaven. Only then, after this wordless prayer—for every glance up to heaven is a prayer for the Son—he sighs. He sighs because he is tired, because power is going out of him again. He sighs in obedience. And then he speaks the word Ephphatha. The man’s ears and mouth are to open. They are to open primarily in a supernatural sense, which secondarily draws the earthly sense after it. They are to open so that they can receive faith, but also so that they can perceive and speak the audible words of faith.
 –  (†1967) was a Swiss physician, a mystical writer, and a stigmatist.

For von Speyr, the Son’s perfect embodiment of the Suscipe reveals to the world the love of the Father and the Trinitarian relationships of complete openness and reciprocal love. Using the Suscipe rather than philosophical categories, she describes the unity and distinctions of the Persons of the Trinity with analogies of love and sacramental marriage that maintain a unity that cannot be severed by time and distance.


Self-identity is a big deal in our society. Knowing who we are enables us to journey forward through life with confidence, a sense of direction and purpose, an accurate assessment of our capabilities as well as weaknesses. Inevitably though, confidence wains. Our struggle with confidence is due by the fact that we hold onto a myth - a myth that says we are autonomous and individual. In the gos­pel, the question Jesus addresses to his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” was not about his seeking his own self-awareness. It was a question put to the disciples that would reveal to them more deeply who he was to them in relation to one another and themselves. Jesus opens up for them that 1) their ‘self’ is structured in and through relationships with others, 2) this relationship is always unstable and wavering when the Transcendent Other is not present and 3) 'confidence' is obtained only through Him as member of the Trinity. One obtains a constituted ‘self’ substantiated with authority and confidence when one is open to receiving as a gift their liberty, memory, understanding and will from the Lord. You can see how truly radical the Suscipe prayer is from St Ignatius.

'Take Lord and receive all my liberty. Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.' (Spiritual Exercises, #234)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Touching the spot within us that transcends the human

We went to see a very interesting presentation on the campus of IWU by Tim Ternes, director of the St John's Bible program at St. John’s. You can read about this project and how it came to the campus HERE.

Part of the presentation was this video on the artist and originator of the project, Donald Jackson. His work and his comments are worthy of much reflection. One of the quotes that struck me when I first heard it was this:
... so when they open a page of a Bible like this they take in their breath, not because they have been impressed by the cleverness of it or by the detail of it or even the shiny gold. But because there is something there that they already knew, it's all like meeting somebody that they have met before at some point. And that is in a sense, the kind of feeling that the artist reaches to.

This quote from Jackson brought back memories of a quote from Helen Keller’s autobiography about her breakthrough to language: 
We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly and then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then, that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, giving it light, hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
Author Jeremiah Alberg writes about Keller's breakthrough and how she describes it:
This is Helen Keller’s breakthrough to language,... Yet, if we listen to her, it was not a breakthrough to something completely new. Instead, it was the “consciousness as of something forgotten,” the “thrill of returning thought.”
As Jackson describes the awesomeness one experiences creating and witnessing real beauty, it is as if one is sensing something that they've experienced before or met before: just as Keller describes the breakthrough to the most powerful of human experiences, language as something forgotten with a thrill of returning thought.

There is, within each of us, that connection to a larger experience, ... there is something greater here ... there is something greater here than our words can describe.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Jesus Calling on God's Love and Presence

Jesus Calling, November 29

Jesus Calling, November 29
INSPIRATION - Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young
Let Me infuse My Peace into your innermost being. As you sit quietly in the Light of My Presence, you can sense Peace growing within you. This is not something that you accomplish through self-discipline and willpower; it is opening yourself to receive My blessing.
In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident. 
Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself. You have discovered flowers of Peace blossoming in the most desolate places. You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. 
You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.

Jesus Calling, December 1
Jesus Calling, December 1
INSPIRATION - Jesus Calling
by Sarah Young
I love you with an everlasting Love, which flows out from the depth of eternity. Before you were born, I knew you. Ponder the awesome mystery of a Love that encompasses you from before birth to beyond the grave.
Modern man has lost the perspective of eternity. To distract himself from the gaping jaws of death, he engages in ceaseless activity and amusement. The practice of being still in My Presence is almost a lost art, yet it is this very stillness that enables you to experience My eternal Love. You need the certainty of My loving Presence in order to weather the storms of life. During times of severe testing, even the best theology can fail you if it isn't accompanied by experiential knowledge of Me. The ultimate protection against sinking during life's storms is devoting time to develop your friendship with Me.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Man needs a place of holy tranquility that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith.

Taken from The Rosary of Our Lady
by Romano Guardini 

To linger in the domain of Mary is a divinely great thing. One does not ask about the utility of truly noble things, because they have their meaning within themselves. So it is of infinite meaning to draw a deep breath of this purity, to be secure in the peace of this union with God. 

With this we come back to what we said in the beginning. Man needs a place of holy tranquility that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith. This place is the inaccessibility of God Himself, which only Christ opens to man. 

All prayer begins by man becoming silent – recollecting his scattered thoughts, feeling remorse at his trespasses, and directing his thoughts toward God. If man does all this, this place is thrown open, not only as a domain of spiritual tranquility and mental concentration, but as something that comes from God. 

We are always in need of this place, especially when the convulsions of the times make clear something that has always existed but which is sometimes hidden by outward well-being and a prevailing peace of mind: namely, the homelessness of our lives. In such times, a great courage is demanded from us: not only a readiness to dispense with more and to accomplish more than usual, but to persevere in a vacuum we do not otherwise notice. So we require more than ever this place of which we speak, not to creep into a hiding place, but as a place to find the core of things, to become calm and confident once more. 

For this reason the Rosary is so important in times likes ours — assuming, of course, that all

slackness and exaggeration are done away with, and that it is used in its clear and original forcefulness. This is all the more important because the Rosary does not require any special preparation, and the petitioner does not need to generate thoughts of which he is not capable at the moment or at any other time. Rather, he steps into a well-ordered world, meets familiar images, and finds roads that lead him to the essential. 

The Rosary has the character of a sojourn. Its essence is the sheltering security of a quiet, holy world that envelops the person who is praying. This is particularly evident when we compare it with the Stations of the Cross, which have the character of a journey. The worshiper follows the Master from one station to another, and feels at the end that he has reached his goal. The Rosary is not a road, but a place, and it has no goal but a depth. To linger in it has great compensations. 

Into this place the worshiper may carry all his petitions. The second part of the Hail Mary is a request, and he may fill it with his fondest wishes. The Mother of our Lord is not a goddess who lives far above men in all her splendor and has no care for them. What happened to her happened for humanity’s sake. He who was her Child is our Redeemer. She is one of us, even if she met our common destiny in a way that is her very own. 

The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom men can turn with particular and unreserved confidence. This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning: the name of mother. When Christian hearts begin to beat, they know that Mary is theirs because she is the mother of Christ. The same maternal mystery in her surrounds Christ, “the firstborn among many brethren,” and us. Christians have at all times carried their petitions to Mary with the conviction that they were doing right. 

There is something stupendous in the profusion of human petitions that find expression in the Hail Mary: that she may intercede for us “now and at the hour of our death.” There is no naming of details. Every human need is included, and we all employ the same words to portray our misery. 

Only at two instants can we grasp this human need, instants that are decisive in our lives. The one is the “now,” the hour in which we have to fulfill the will of God, to choose between good and evil, and so decide the course of our eternal destiny. The other one is “the hour of our death,” which terminates our life, giving to all deeds and past happenings the character that will count for them in eternity. 

To this we must add something else. To say the Rosary correctly is no easy, and I must ask the reader not to dwell on single words but to strive to find their right meaning. 

The Apostle Paul speaks in his letters again and again of an ultimate mystery of Christian existence: namely, that Christ dwells “in us.” It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me,”he says in his message to the Galatians. He exhorts us to be faithful and vigilant, “until Christ is formed in you.” He sees the significance of Christian growth in “the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ,” and in “becoming conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the firstborn among many brethren. 

This, in the first place, is an expression of the unity of faith and the communion of grace, just as one may say of a person that a venerated model lives in him. But there is more significance to this, more from a human standpoint: namely, a communion that surpasses the joint indwelling of grace and mercy, of conviction and loyal allegiance; a participation in the reality of Christ that cannot be felt deeply enough. There is more significance also in the eyes of God; and we only rightly value the meaning of these words if we seek to understand what they mean to God. 

The Need for the Rosary in our Times

Romano Guardini (1885–1968) was ordained a priest in 1910. He was a professor at the University of Berlin until the Nazis expelled him in 1939. His sermons, books, popular classes, and his involvement in the post-war German Catholic Youth Movement won him worldwide acclaim. His works combine a keen thirst for God with a profound depth of thought and a delightful perfection of expression.