Tag Archives: prayer

Introducing … My Friend Joe

Just in time for the end of the Year of St. Joseph, I am excited to share the news that my little book of reflections on St. Joseph has been published by Kenmare Press: My Friend Joe: Reflections on St. Joseph. It is available for purchase as a paperback ($8) or ebook ($1) from the Kenmare Press Online Bookstore.

Description:

St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus, is central to the Christian story. Yet, so little is known about St. Joseph, either as an historical figure or as recorded in scripture.  Much of what we understand about Joseph comes to us from tradition, art, and the lived experience of the faithful over the centuries.   Sister of St. Joseph of Peace Susan Rose Francois reflects on her growing spiritual friendship with St. Joseph, who she affectionately calls her friend Joe. Inspired by photographs of Joseph taken by the author, she reflects on her personal encounters with Joseph in conversation with church tradition around this saint.  Through art, prose, history, and prayer she encourages the reader to discover, or deepen, their own spiritual friendship with St. Joseph.

Read more about the book and view the pictures that inspired it here.

I am – a video prayer

“I am,” a new-to-me song by Jill Phillips, speaks deeply to me of the invitation to let God be God. So I did what I do, and made a video prayer.

Lyrics by Jill Phillips:

Oh, gently lay your head upon my chest,
And I will comfort you like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast, but I will stay
The same through past, the same in future, the same today

I am constant, I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy, I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your hearts desires
Your hearts desires

Oh weary, tired, and worn
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold, ’cause mine is light
I know you through and through
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love that is deep, and high, and wide

Oh, gently lay your head upon my chest
And I will comfort you like a mother while you rest

Resting in God – a photo journal

With all happening in our world this past week, from Afghanistan to extreme climate events to challenging events in the lives of some folks I know, this was an interesting time to be on retreat. I don’t think I fully understood, until I got to the spot of grace and beauty that is Mercy by the Sea, how very tired and weary I have been. I wasn’t entiretly surprised, given the past year and a half in the time of COVID. Plus the fact that I just finished a six and a half year term of leadership for my religious community and have started a second term. What was suprising was the depth of my need for rest. Lucky me … a whole week to rest with God. A privilege really. A luxury. The grace and beauty of this time, for me, has been God’s abundant presence. And my own presence to the wonder of God’s creation.

I usually have so many words rumbling around my head. It can make it harder for me listen for the voice of God. Sixteen years ago, on my first silent directed retreat, the invitation was to let go of the words and focus instead on images. Ever since, on retreat, I feel drawn to pay attention to the beauty of creation through a contemplative photography practice. Resting my eyes on signs of God’s creating presence, God’s love.

Prayer and Friendship with St. Joseph – Online Retreat

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, during the Year of St. Joseph!

As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, this is a feast day for our community. I’ve also been spending a lot of time with St. Joseph lately. In fact, I’ve recently finished a short book entitled My Friend Joe: Reflections on St. Joseph which will be published this summer by Kenmare Press.

On Wednesday, yes St. Patrick’s Day, I led a Peace Day retreat on Prayer and Friendship with St. Joseph for our sponsored ministry, the Peace and Spirituality Center.

I am now happy to share this presentation as an online retreat video that can be used by individuals or groups during this Year of St. Joseph. I have also created a prayer resource which you can download below for free.

My hope is that this resource might help others grow closer to St. Joseph, who I affectionatly call “My Friend Joe. May you go to Joseph and go in peace.

Showing Up

From talking with friends and family, I know I’m not the only one who is a wee bit tired these days. Pandemic. Politics. Life in the midst of pandemic and politics. No elaboration is necessary. If this is where you are at these days, you might like this video prayer I just put together, set to “Show Up” by Jill Phillips.

I’ve been praying with her song this weekend. I’ve also been praying in gratitude for the book of creation. The seasons show up like clockwork, even if our human activities add stressors. The animals go about their business, sometimes letting us get close enough for inspiration. So I paired some of my recent photos I’ve taken on walks the past two months, some in Federal Way, WA and some in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. (Yes, I took my first plane trip in December, with built in quarantines on either end so that I could visit our sisters).

Back to the song. I find it both consoling and inspiring.

… Afraid that what we have to give is so small.

You don’t have to save the world.
All that hero talk is only superficial stuff.

If you want to change the world,
What you gotta do is show up, show up, just show up.

We’re so used to an immediate response,
So used to giving up when things don’t work.
The road of long obedience is hard,
No shortcuts will make it easier
Because the journey so long
But the difference is made
By the million small steps along the way.


This song is a good soundtrack for my prayer right now. I share it in case it is helpful in your own prayer and discernment on how you might show up and make a difference through small things and small steps in great love.

My new hawk friend that made an appearance on a walk I took this weekend and was kind enough to pose for this picture, and several others!

Coffee, prayer and a very busy squirrel

This morning
I luxuriated in the day
Cool autumn breeze
Sunlight illuminating everything
And the leaves and the lake
I sit and watch with my coffee
to keep me
company

What better way
to be
to pray
to sit with the wonder of it
all

From time to time
I spy
with my little eye
a very busy
squirrel

The first sighting
he or she
I see has a mouthful of
leaves

The squirrel freezes
perfectly still
looking at me
-nothing to see here-
but then apparently decides
I am not
dangerous

Next squirrel sighting
is high up in the branches
of a tall
evergreen

Then jumping back to the
mostly barren
branches of the next door
tree

Then the ground
for more leaves
Bunches and bunches
Mouthful upon mouthful of
leaves

Jumping
climbing
building a nest
actually called a
drey

(No the squirrel did not tell me,
that would be the internet)

Busy squirrel
Not so busy me
On a sunny autumn
morning

Amen

Joseph Pondering

Joseph pondering the needs of the world

This week, on a day packed with very important zoom meetings (which seems like everyday of late, begging the question of how important they can actually be), I spotted this tableau on my way through the house.

Joseph, standing tall. The caption that came to me was “Joseph pondering the needs of the world.”

Given the caption, the needs of the world are pretty big, and Joseph, while standing tall, can barely peek into the top of the jar/well/container.

(What you don’t know is that Joseph has a broken foot, super glued back into place).

So here is Joe.
Standing tall, but barely taller than the needs of the world.
Standing on a broken, haphazardly fixed, ceramic foot.
Looking tenderly upon the needs of our broken world.
The needs of the family of God.
His family.

Don’t know about you, but I found this very comforting.

St. Joseph, pray for the people of God, your family. We need your prayers and intercession!

Retreat Prayer

We nurture our life of prayer by reflective reading, particularly scripture, by periods of solitude and silence,and by an annual retreat. (CSJP Constitution 30)

It has been my privilege and joy to spend the last week on my annual retreat. My planned directed retreat at a retreat house was of course cancelled, this being 2020 when everything has been disrupted. So instead I met with my spiritual director virtually and retreated within driving distance to a quiet spot to make a private retreat.

It has been a week of gentle surprises, holding the intentions of our mixed up world close to my heart, and experiencing the presence and deep love of God. In addition to spending quiet time with God and reflective reading, I took some contemplative photos on my walks with God in the beauty of creation. Prayer in action all around us!

Some contemplative surprises found in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (June 2020)

God of love, source of all that is good, thank you.

Your creation reminds us of beauty, goodness, wonder and awe.

You are our creator, our companion, our center.

You desire us to ground ourselves in your goodness and gift one another with love, justice, and peace.

Help us to see goodness when it is hidden, even in ourselves.

Inspire us to spread goodness.

Guide us to read the signs of the times and respond by building right relationship between and among all peoples and creation.

For you are our source, our light and our love.

Amen.

Update: Living Peace in Pandemic Times

Today was a wonderful day, as I led my first virtual retreat live on Zoom, hosted by the Peace and Spirituality Center. More than 60 folks attended and the conversations were truly wonderful. I am very grateful to the staff at the Peace and Spirituality Center for being willing to work with me to adapt my planned in person Peace Day to an online retreat.

I have gone ahead and made a 1 hour video version of the online retreat, for anyone to use with a small group or on their own. Just visit the Online Retreat page of the blog to download the reflection guide and watch the video.

Peace

(picture of a nesting dove – our sheltering in place is itself an act of solidarity during these times)

Love is the way

Have you noticed that everyone (and everything) is weird these days.

And that no one is weird at the same time?

If you find yourself tired or anxious or frustrated or annoyed or even angry, of course you are. We are going on 2 months of this strange reality with no clear path forward that seems comfortable, sure or safe.

Yet here we are. Together. Alone. Safe in our homes or maybe on the newly redefined front lines, suddenly considered essential. Simple daily tasks seem daunting. We juggle home and work life all in one place. So many plans have suddenly disappeared. We might feel lost, dazed or confused.

In today’s Gospel (John 14), our friend Thomas follows his own doubts to help us find the way through. In my own simplified paraphrase of this passage, which I have often prayed with even before these pandemic days, we hear:

Thomas: How can we know the way?

Jesus: I am the way. Stay focused on me. Love a lot.

Yep. Love. A lot. Love is the way when people are weird. Love is the way when we are weird. Love is the way when your child/niece/student is sad that their graduation has been cancelled. Love is the way when you remind your grandmother/mother/sister/friend/yourself that all this isolation has a purpose. Love is the way when you reorganize your plans … again. Love is the way when [insert challenging situation here]. All the rest is distraction from what really matters.

A few years ago, in other life circumstances, my meditation on this Gospel led me to create a video prayer set to music by Sufjan Stevens. I find it is a fruitful prayer these days too, and so I offer it here in case it resonates with you.

Peace and love during these strange days.