Heart on Fire

By Sr. Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

(This post is the last in a six part series on “To Love Like Jesus: A Spirituality of the Heart”.  Each week, we have posted a reflection based on the Litany of the Heart by Wendy M. Wright.  To read the Litany, click here.  As Women of the Heart, the Mission Helper Sisters invite you to pray and reflect with us.) With us, ponder:

What would it mean to love like Jesus?
What would it mean to have a heart like his?

 

Warmth of our hearts
Transforming fire
Cosmic furnace
Enflamer of hearts
(Fifth stanza of Litany of the Heart)

 

The picture of the heart on fire that we have used as the icon for this series has captured my imagination since I first beheld it.  It evokes a number of images for me, including:

·         The energy of the “big bang” of eons ago that gave rise to all life forms – the creation into which Jesus was incarnated, the dynamic cosmos that God sustains still;

·         Jesus’ zeal as he continuously traveled, taught, reconciled and healed during the years of his public ministry;

·         The profound compassion of Jesus, as expressed in his sorrow for the widow of Nain, his weeping at the death of Lazarus, and as he was “moved by pity” for the dejected crowd;

·         Jesus’ white hot anger as he confronted injustice and abuse of power and stood up for the marginalized (for example, when he was opposed by the Pharisees as he healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, when he chased the dishonest money changers from the Temple);

·         The warmth of the friendships between Jesus and his companions: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the beloved disciple, the other apostles and more;

·         Jesus’ courage and his love for all people that impelled him to accept torture and death, in the ultimate act of fidelity and solidarity with his Father and with God’s people;

·         The movement from despondency to soaring hope and new life that Mary Magdalene at the tomb (“Rabboni!”)  and the disciples on the road to Emmaus (“Were not our hearts burning within us…”) experienced when they realized that Jesus had indeed risen, and

·         The enflamed hearts of the apostles and disciples after Pentecost that enabled them to carry the Good News to the ends of the earth and which continue to burn in many present day disciples.

We, too, are invited to adopt the heart of Jesus in our own lives, to try to love as he loved, to have a heart like his.  As Jesuit James Martin says: “For in the end, the Sacred Heart is about understanding Jesus’s love for us and inviting us to love others as Jesus did.”

Will we embrace this invitation and resolve to imitate the heart of Jesus? If we do, perhaps the prediction of Teilhard de Chardin will come to fruition: “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.”

A Letter from Eastern Point

From Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

I am spending the month of July directing four people through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The Exercises were developed by St. Ignatius as an aid in helping people know, love and follow Jesus Christ in the midst of their active lives.  Through a series of prayer experiences—“exercises”—a retreatant is led to deeper intimacy with Jesus and discovers his or her call to labor with Christ in the world in order to further the kingdom of God.

Eastern Point is located on the ocean and the natural beauty that surrounds the house draws retreatants to a desire to know the Creator. On further reflection, they begin to realize how deep and unconditional God’s love is.

The Exercises then invite the retreatant to consider the quality of his/her response to this unconditional love. As the retreat progresses, the participants consider the gift of God’s son, Jesus, to the world, and they are invited to respond to Jesus’ invitations to friendship and His call to labor with Him in redeeming the world and restoring all of creation to His Father.

The focus then shifts to an invitation to be with Jesus in His passion and death and to consider the cost of discipleship.  Toward the end of the retreat, participants encounter the risen Christ, who is with us always, and contemplate God’s presence in all things.

Throughout this month, retreatants pray with selected passages from the Scriptures, asking God for graces necessary to live out this call to discipleship.  For more than 450 years, the Spiritual Exercises have been a source of inspiration, spiritual strength and a deep, abiding friendship with Jesus Christ.

A number of those doing the Exercises this summer are men and women preparing for final vows in their respective religious communities. There are also a significant number of lay people who desire this friendship with Jesus as they continue to live out their vocations in the world.

P.S.  The Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is July 31.

MEMORIES OF OUR MOTHERS

In anticipation of Mother’s Day we invited sisters and staff to share brief memories of their mothers. In these reflections our posters recall moments of tenderness and joy, express appreciation for special talents that their mothers possessed and describe those personal characteristics of their mothers that they admire to this day. As you read these reminiscences we invite you to reflect on your own mother or mother figures in your life, and give thanks for the love, nurturing and good example that these women have given you. Let us also remember those mothers in areas of the world wracked by war, natural disaster, oppression, disease and poverty. We commend all mothers to the love and care of Mary – mother, teacher, healer and disciple. __________________________________________________________________________________

I think of my mother often during these spring days when all the flowers are in bloom. In a household of twelve, on an artist’s salary, there was no money for extras or frills, but my mother could make us feel rich and elegant just by decorating our large living room with bouquets of dogwood and azalea. Her love of beauty and sense of celebration that she taught us still enrich my life today.

–Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH, loving daughter of Antoinette Fuchs Geiger

When I was about four years old, on a beautiful summer day, Mom (Emily Viola) and I were in Prospect Park having a picnic near the lake. As we sat together Mom picked up some beautiful fresh green grass. She then started to teach me how to make a doll out of these stems of grass. To this day I treasure this memory of Mom and me together.            

–Sister Madeline Gallagher, MHSH

No specific word or incident captures the “who” of my mother, Anna, for me. It was the example of her unconditional love and trust in God and humanity that helped mold the “who” and “how” of what my family and I are today. Thank you, dearest one.

–Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

My mother, Catherine, was a model of steadfastness and fidelity. Her life was unalterably changed when my dad contracted polio in the early 1950’s when my brother and I were quite young. Her own “yes” to God and her family was tested in ways she could not have imagined. Through it all she was a loving, generous and faith-filled wife and mother.

–Marilyn Dunphy

At age 58, my mother, Jeannette, retired with my dad to Florida to enjoy the Gulf and play golf.  She made time to tutor migrant children, give food to beggars on the street and always be a compassionate heart for the needy.  At age 90, she continues to bring food to the church pantry for the needy.      [Sr. Susan (left), Jeannette Engel (mom), and her sister Joanne.]

–Sister Susan Engel, MHSH

I’d like to take a moment to honor my mother, Mildred Lucian. Although she passed away three years ago, not a day goes by without me thinking of her and missing her. She was my rock and my best friend. I truly miss our “talks” and visits to the beach. God bless you Mom and may you rest in peace. Your loving daughter, Karen

–Karen Miceli

My mother, Rosalie, was a woman of deep faith. She taught my family and me about the gentle love of Jesus, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the grace-filled love of God. Mom always treated others with respect and dignity. She saw Jesus in the other. This is the message she gave to us – love one another as Jesus would love you. She was a great witness to me, my family and to so many people.

–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Mother M. Demetrias, Foundress {1930's}

Many, many years ago as I searched for a religious community to consider as a life choice, the young priest who was helping me spoke of a group of Sisters he had ministered with.  He said of them:  “Each one treats you like she’s your mother.”

That gave me a new slant on women religious.  So I drove from West Virginia to Baltimore to meet these “mothers.”  They were the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart and I liked their many qualities.  Here I am today at the age of 92 still trying to emulate and imitate them, all the while using the personal qualities they developed in my initiation and my life with them in Community.

–Sr. Joanne Frey, MHSH