Seven Pages of Solitude
Reflections on Life, Laundry and God
IHM Conference Center Reflection: Choosing the better part in the crazymadbusy times
December 06, 2012 08:38 AM PST
The end of the calendar year can be anything but relaxing, we become an army of Martha's marching about, cleaning, baking, serving, and straining to hear what is going on in the quiet spaces of our hearts. Three simple practices to help us sit down, as St. Ignatius of Loyola suggested, and talk to Jesus, as one friend might to another. Try imagining that Jesus stopped by on a Saturday morning, how much time would you spend washing the china or shopping for special coffee? Or would you just grab two mugs and sit down with him?Lent 2: Fast Forward
March 11, 2011 07:07 PM PST
Fasting while trapped in a crowded plane on a Lenten Friday brought a new perspective - a moment of metanoia. How often had I left the grocery store with an overflowing cart, unaware of those around me who hungered for what I had? Or walked down the street with an ice cream cone, oblivious to those who lacked a regular meal. Fasting made the hungry visible.Lent 1: Scrabbling Through Lent
March 07, 2011 09:20 AM PST
What do you give up for Lent? One year I took up playing Scrabble for Lent and found in the practice a renewed sense of God in all the aspects of my daily life, the sacred and the profane.Epiphany: Gifts of Myrrh
January 04, 2011 08:08 PM PST
Two years ago the Feast of the Epiphany found me, unlike the Magi at the end of their quest, just beginning a journey. I left behind family and work to spend five weeks in a retreat house on the coast of Massachusetts, making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I would spend thirty days in silence and prayer.
Packing turned out to be a spiritual exercise in itself. What would I need for 30 days in silence in the middle of winter on the Atlantic coast, living in a room just big enough for a single bed and with only a single drawer for storage? St. Gregory the Great and the Magi inspired me to leave more empty spaces in my suitcase - to pack instead the myrrh of self-denial.Christmas: Through the Cross, Joy
December 26, 2010 03:06 PM PST
We're enraptured by the gentle baby, not to mention the angels singing in the heavens and the wise men bearing gifts, but do we really grasp the enormity of this first sacrifice, where God pitches His tent among us? One Christmas, an elegant marble carving of Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms as they flee for their lives resting for a moment on the altar brought into sharp relief for me the connection between the Nativity and the Cross.Advent 4: Open Wide the Gates
December 18, 2010 07:23 PM PST
O Wisdom! O Lord of Light! O King of the Nations! Since at least the 12th century the magnificent “O antiphons” have traditionally preceded the chanting of the Magnificat at Evening Prayer on the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve. The antiphons in the Liturgy of the Hours are like keys to the psalms and canticles; each one opens a door into a slightly different place in its corresponding text. But the “O antiphons” are far more to me than a familiar litany of titles for the Messiah. As these antiphons slowly unfold in the last days before Christmas, I find in them both invitation and challenge.God listens back
December 14, 2010 07:47 PM PST
In a letter to a friend, Jesuit theologian and mystic Karl Rahner offers a recipe for preparing for Christmas, something to augment (and arguably even replace) the "emotionally appealing customs which are...only kept up with a certain skepticism." We ought not to bumble into Christmas, or really any of the great feasts, he argues. Have a plan. And have the courage to not only listen to God, but to let God listen back.Advent 3: Poor Gifts
December 10, 2010 07:30 PM PST
I wonder how Mary felt after Jesus’ birth. She held God within her, knew His movements intimately, only to surrender Him to a cold, uncertain and unwelcoming world. Her willingness to be filled with the Holy Spirit was equally a willingness to be emptied of God’s Son — a foreshadowing of Christ’s own emptying so eloquently described by Paul in his letter to the Philippians. Mary held the riches of the universe within her, and labored hard to surrender them to us. The gift that Mary holds for us, that we await so eagerly this Advent season, is not one of riches, but the gift of utter poverty.Flight into silence
December 09, 2010 09:21 PM PST
The end of the semester chaos threatens to send me crashing to the ground, but memories of a flight into silence last Advent remind me to again seek strength in the stillness, to wait upon the Lord.Advent 2: A waiting people
December 05, 2010 05:43 PM PST
"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength..." Is 40:31a In the Hebrew the word we translate as “wait,” or sometimes “hope,” in this verse from Isaiah is transliterated “qavah.” The word comes from a root that means to bind together, to twist up like a strand of rope. We are bound into waiting during Advent.
Seek God in all things, advised St. Ignatius of Loyola. Seasonal eflections from a Roman Catholic mother on her own search for God in all things - teens, laundry, silence and chaos.
Michelle Francl-Donnay is a professor of chemistry, writer and (not incidently) the mother of two teens. Her column, Catholic Spirituality, appears weekly in the Philadelphia Archdiocese's paper, the Catholic Standard & Times, and she is a regular essayist for the science journal Nature Chemistry. Her essays have appeared in several collections, including Professing and Parenting and The Open Laboratory 2009. She also blogs about the connections between chemistry and culture at The Culture of Chemistry.
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