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Sr. Rose Hoover
God Revealed in Mercy

God’s being God is revealed in his mercy. Mercy is the expression of his divine essence.
Walter Kasper,
Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life

 

Eugène Burnand, 1900

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, as we human beings tend to think.  God, we learn, expresses divine power not by getting even with us when we do wrong, but by forgiving us: “[You] manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy” (Collect, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

What about us? How do we live out of the divine mercy poured out on us? How do we witness to the divine life dwelling in us?

Do you not know
that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
(1 Cor 3:16).

One of the most important ways is to show mercy — to live out of the merciful love which we cannot claim to merit.  And we remind ourselves — in our weakness, in our reluctance to forgive — that we are always wrapped in the tender and merciful love of God.

Oh, Mercy! … Wherever I turn my thoughts, I find nothing but mercy.
(Catherine of Siena, Dialogues, 30)

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Art by Eugène Burnand, "Heimgefunden" (Home Found), 1900

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For more reflections on mercy, go to "Caught Up in God."

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Blessings in the New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

– Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908

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    On the Mystery of the Incarnation

    It's when we face for a moment
    the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
    the taint in our own selves, that awe
    cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
    not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
    to no innocent form
    but to this creature vainly sure
    it and no other is god-like, God
    (out of compassion for our ugly
    failure to evolve) entrusts,
    as guest, as brother,
    the Word.

    — Denise Levertov, The Stream and the Sapphire


Nassau Book of Hours, circa 1467-80, BrugesWhat a mystery the Incarnation offers us. We are so wonderfully loved that God longs never to be separated from us, in spite of the worst we can do – and too often choose to do. Unworthy though we are, yet God becomes one of us.

And so, because God becomes and remains human, “all theology,” as Karl Rahner says, “is eternally anthropology.” And a corollary to this is that we must not devalue ourselves or other people, because we “would then be thinking little of God” (Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith).

The incarnation also reveals to us our call and our hope as human beings. “By the mystery of this water and wine,” prays the priest during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass, “may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

God becomes one of us, so that we “may become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  The gift of the Incarnation is the gift beyond all gifts.

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Storm Season

Sometimes, when we are battered by literal storms such as Harvey or Irma or the figurative storms of life, we feel like praying with Job:

    I cry to you and you do not answer me;
    I stand, and you merely look at me.

    You have turned cruel to me;
    with the might of your hand you persecute me.

    You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,
    and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.

    (Job 30:20-22)

Other times, while still suffering, we may find it easier to trust in the fidelity of God:

    Be merciful to me, O God,
    be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;

    in the shadow of your wings
    I will take refuge,
    until the destroying storms pass by.

    (Psalm 57:1)

We can be confident that both prayers are treasured in the heart of God.

 

[Photo is my own.]

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Rejoice with us! The Cenacle is celebrating 125 years since our arrival in North America.

This is a picture of the first four Religious of the Cenacle to arrive in New York from France in 1892.

"It was not without emotion," wrote Mother Bachelard, "that we saw the shores of France fade from our view, but we bore within our hearts One, Who being All things and everywhere, annihilates distance and bestows the necessary strength for every sacrifice. Henceforth all our thoughts and efforts were to be turned toward that American land where He was awaiting us."

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The Mass of Our Lady of the Cenacle has been prayed in various forms and translations over the years. In today’s world, where the tumult around us may draw us away from interior stillness and deafen us to the peaceful voice of God, and where the powers competing for our adoration may try to turn us away from the love of God, the following form of the collect seems especially timely. And of course we don’t have to wait for the Mass to pray it. It’s a good prayer in any season, whether we are together or in solitude.

O God,
who enriched the Blessed Virgin Mary
with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
as she prayed with the disciples
in the Cenacle,
grant, we beseech you,
that earnestly cultivating
interior silence of heart,
we may be able to prefer your love
to all else,
through Christ our Lord,
Amen.

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Come, Holy Spirit!

All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,
together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
 

In these days leading up to Pentecost, we remember the little group gathered in prayer in the first Cenacle: the Upper Room in Jerusalem. We too pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on ourselves and on our world, which sorely needs the peace and joy of the Spirit of Jesus.

Here you will find reflections on the beautiful Pentecost sequence. So we pray...

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Love Has the Last Word

In spite of all that may tend to discourage us, in spite of all we read in the newspaper or on social media, Goodness and Light are stronger than evil.

We need not fear, because we know that love has the last word.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

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A New Heart

“A new heart I will give you,
and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will remove from your body the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.”
(Ezekiel 36:26)

Photo by Rose Hoover, rc (with the kind help of NASA)It is never out of season to pray for the promised new heart. Lent, however, gives us a special opportunity to focus on God’s desire to transform our hearts into the heart of Jesus.  Thus may we “become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). It is a breathtaking thought, but true: God invites us to share the divine life. This is our call.

It has been said that we become what we contemplate. So this Lenten season, we may ask for the grace of beholding the beauty of Christ in our daily lives, realizing of course, that our vision is limited and our attention will often stray. But each time we are distracted let us turn back, allowing the Spirit to transform us, for we read:

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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By the way, if you are in the Chicago area, you might check out the Lenten Retreat I will be leading the weekend of March 10-12. The theme is: “Resting in the Heart of God.” You can find information here.

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The photo, "Christ the Heart of the Universe," is by Rose Hoover, rc, with the help of NASA's public domain space images.

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Center of Our Heart

 

“The more we draw near to God, the more we desire to draw near; the more we are united with God, the more we desire this union, because we understand more and more that God is the center of our heart and that God alone can fill them and make them happy.”

— Saint Therese Couderc,
Letter to Mother de Larochenégly, August 7, 1867

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The image is by Rose Hoover, rc, with the help of Apophysis software.

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