The morning after a nighttime rain each leaf of a pin oak tree held a teardrop at its tip. The tree had become a chandelier of droplets. Often we think of rain in negative terms, such as “It’s raining on our picnic.” But there can be beauty after the rain. If today has “rain on your picnic,” look for the crystal chandelier.
During my annual retreat I started each day by taking a cup of coffee with me to the edge of a lake where I would sit for a while in reflective silence. One morning without any previous thought I lifted my cup and said “Cheers!” to God. Simultaneously I sensed God saying “Cheers!” to me. We both laughed. I then sipped my coffee imagining God sitting with me, both of us enjoying the morning and our daily brew. Many prayers, especially psalms, give praise to God. They are like offering a toast to God. That morning God also toasted me.
Just six months until Christmas Eve! Have you started your shopping? Today’s feast on the Church calendar is a solemnity—the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. John was the precursor of Jesus, the Messiah, so today looks toward the birth of Jesus. Today’s feast and Christmas were selected for their proximity to the solstice—summer and winter, times when we note the amount of light. John was the light illuminating the path to Jesus, and Jesus is the Light of the world. Be a light today shining on the path to Jesus.
In 1969 the three branches of the Sisters of Notre Dame celebrated the canonization of Julie Billiart. Some attended the ceremony in Rome, while the majority had celebrations at home. Our Toledo province gave a concert that day, singing the biography of Julie and the history of Notre Dame. Even though Julie suffered much from paralysis and persecution, she is called the “smiling saint.” Honor St. Julie today by extra smiles and a prayer asking God for Julie’s deep experience of God’s unconditional love.
The window in the Lial Renewal Center chapel allows the worshipers to see the outdoors though not distinctly. Much of the window is a large yellow circle that seems to embrace the outdoors, signaling “Come in! Come in!” And at the very center of the yellow circle is the tabernacle, miraculously containing the Lord of the Universe. The chapel window is a visual image of what our fidelity to our life of chastity calls us to realize; namely, that we love all creation in God–the heron flying over the lake, peonies and violets, grapes on the vine, leaves rustling in the breeze. In his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, Paul tells us that God is in everything. Ever since the Ascension of Jesus into heaven we live in a God-filled world. God and Nature: inseparable Beauty. In Christ we love all creation in God.
Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of youth. On this day we also remember the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring, who took Saint Aloysius as her patron. His patronage was a good choice, because Sister Maria Aloysia spent her religious life teaching children and taking care of orphans. Let us pray today for youth that they may be kept safe through the summer months, that they grow in virtue, spend time in service and good deeds, and remember their friendship with God. May each day fill our children with joyous wonder!
In early morning the row of trees along the lake stood in their habitual greenery. Unexpectedly the sun shone a spotlight on a small section of trees, illuminating the foliage in bright splendor. As the sun rose higher in the sky – my apologies to all you scientists who know better — a longer line of trees was touched by the sun’s rays. Eventually the whole lakeside greenery became lustrous. Gloomy to gleaming, shadowy to shimmering took a matter of minutes. If only the day’s bad news, our own faults, and the dark side of life could be so easily transformed. Perhaps it can, for Psalm 139 tells us that when God rests his hand upon us, our darkness shines like the day. O God, shine upon us. Make us glitter with your radiance.
My family prayed the rosary every night usually in the living room or traveling in a car. There was no thought of ever skipping the rosary, but when there was an exceptionally good program on TV, we prayed the rosary during the commercials. We learned there’s always time to get your prayers “in.”
Vacation time is upon us. In our relaxation and travels will we make time to pray and attend worship? Perhaps even doing a bit more for our spiritual lives? Look ahead to plan prayer in your vacation. I have often given students a calendar of their summer vacation. Students were encouraged to choose colors that represented how they might remember “There’s no vacation from your Christian vocation.” Yellow stood for prayer and worship, green for service and generosity, red for reading the Bible, and so on. It was my hope that often students would glance at the calendar as a reminder. “Oh yeah! I’m supposed to pray.”
At this time of year it’s hard to find a parking place in metroparks. The birders have returned, migrating to the parks to satisfy their passion to see a Waxwing or a Great Crested Flycatcher. There’s a thrill in seeing whether it’s birds, stars, meteors, rainbows, a five-star movie, or the pope. The oohs and ahs. The first one to spot the rare sight. The Resurrection stories are stories of seeing. “We have seen the Lord.” “He saw and believed.” “She turned around and saw Jesus standing there.” “He saw the linen cloths by themselves.” Be on the lookout today. Something may remind you of the Risen Lord.
Recently a friend asked for prayers for her daughter. When this intention came to mind, I prayed a short prayer. Throughout this time I kept feeling the urge to do more. I decided to give this woman a Fatima rosary, along with a note about Our Lady of Fatima and the observance of the 100th anniversary of the appearances to the three children. She prayed the rosary, and two days later she had it in her hand when she told me her intention had been wonderfully answered. Both of us now pray prayers of thanksgiving for this answer to prayer so profound, yet so simple. I found myself reflecting “This is one miracle among many that happened today. Just an ordinary day in the life of God.”