In the flow of seasons, the winter months are a fallow time. If we take our cues from nature, slow down, and pay attention, and if we can be present to this season, there is richness in the quiet of winter, in the darkness of long nights (the realm of owls), in the stillness and silence. Here we can be present to ourselves “where chance seeds may grow as the wind conveys them,” present to our life experiences from which to draw wisdom, and we can be present to God – who is very near and yet unknowable, mysteriously present to us.
Heart is published two times a year to highlight the mission and ministries of the Society of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada, for a wide circle of friends. The covers, photographs of hearts in nature, symbolic of Christ's presence at the heart of the universe, bear witness to the contemplative dimension of the Society's "wholly contemplative, wholly apostolic" mission: To discover and reveal God's love through the service of education.
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In a recent homily, I heard these words: “Let God’s plans be your plans. Let God’s problems be your problems.” And I was taken with the directness of that call. At times, I think and pray in just the opposite way: “Please God, bless my plans, and help me with these problems that are on my plate.”
Recently you and I have found ourselves caught up in a whirlwind of change, globally, nationally, locally, and probably personally. The changes have been rapid and complex, and there are connections among all of them: the global and national economy, new governmental/political leadership, family finances and employment, international concerns about war and peace, and the effects of the forces of nature. We may be asking, “What should I do? How should I respond?” as we are forced to make big decisions, sometimes very quickly.
"The Feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated in a special way this year at Kenwood as we marked 150 years of the ministry of the Society of the Sacred Heart on the Kenwood campus. In my homily on that occasion, I referred to two images that have nourished our spirituality over these many years..."
"...I cannot express the pure joy that we found in being delightfully together. It was our consolation, in a great purity of union in God alone. We talked by the fire in the kitchen with our heads drawn together." -Madeleine Sophie Barat, Vie de la Venerable Mere Barat, p. 42 Adele Cahier, 1884
That was 1800. Ever since, the Society of the Sacred Heart has continued this practice, in all times and places.
Increasing concerns about the environment, global climate change and a new cosmological consciousness call for our attention from many venues, and in various ways we try to respond.
Summer is a time when many of us hope for some experience of rest, relaxation and renewed energy. The Religious of the Sacred Heart in the United States have been gifted with such a summer experience. In July more than 230 members of the province met in Chicago for our provincial assembly and chapter, a gathering full of hope and energy.
The past few months have been rich ones in the life of the U.S. Province as we have enjoyed the visit of two members of our General Council: Sister Clare Pratt, superior general, and Sister Jane Maltby. For this visit, we chose to focus on conversations – with RSCJ, with associates, with colleagues and friends – about the joys and challenges of living a life grounded in and responsive to God’s love in the context of the United States.
"Our service of education and instruction is directed chiefly towards the young and those who bear within them the future of the world." — Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart, par. 7
The sentence from our Constitutions cited above has taken on new meaning for me. In November I attended our international Assembly of Provincials in Uganda, where representatives of the Society’s forty-four countries met to talk about issues related to the Society’s future.
“Home” and “homelessness” have been themes running through my mind and heart in recent months. Just a year ago, hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced thousands of people to leave their homes. These same storms dislodged many others from familiar patterns as they opened their houses and their hearts to the evacuees. As the months have gone on, we have heard stories of people and communities rebuilding their homes and their lives. During this same year, our elder sisters at Kenwood in Albany, New York, have begun creating a new home at Teresian House, a few miles away.