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Apr 29, 2023 505 Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC
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Time for a Change

Practice this and you will never regret…

One antiphon struck me in the final days of last Advent: “Let us see His Face and we shall be saved.” Yes, I prayed, Jesus, let me see Your Face. I think of Mary and Joseph looking at Your Face for the first time as they gently hold You and kiss that Face, and lay You on the straw covered with a warming blanket. How beautiful You are, even before Your eyes open and You look back at me.

Rekindle Your Love

Around this time, I read from a book by Sister Immaculata, a Carmelite nun, (The Pathways of Prayer: COMMUNION WITH GOD published by Mount Carmel Hermitage, 1981) something that also touched my heart. She spoke of how we can keep our love for You, Jesus, which we profess in our formal times of prayer and at Eucharist as we receive You into our bodies and souls.  I eagerly read about this, as I had been struggling with feeling led to get one more thing to eat or drink in the nearby kitchen. As I sat there in my prayer corner, I realized the truth of a saying someone posted on her refrigerator: “What you are looking for isn’t in here.” Yes, I could turn to You instead of going to my fridge, couldn’t I? So I wanted to read what Sister Immaculata had to say about rekindling my Love.

She affirmed: “Constant conversing with God in His living presence is the generator of the soul. It keeps the heat and blood flowing…There must be a great fidelity to the practice of this loving recollection with God in faith.” She showed how “there must be special care that this interior glance at God, however brief, precede and conclude every exterior action.” She began to share how the great mystic, Saint Teresa of Avila, spoke of this with her nuns:

“If she can, let her practice recollection many times daily.” Saint Teresa understood that it would not be easy at first, but that “if you practice it for a year, or perhaps for only six months, you will be successful in attaining it”—so great a benefit and treasure. The Saints “teach us that this constant communion is a most efficacious means of arriving quickly at a high degree of holiness. These loving acts dispose the soul for an awareness of the touch of the Holy Spirit and prepare it for that loving infusion of God into the soul which we call contemplation…that enables us to fulfill our Christian obligation to pray everywhere and always.”

Into the Habit Loop

These are a few ways that I have been incorporating this practice. When going up and down stairs, or even when walking on certain paths, I say in rhythm with my steps: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love You. Save souls.” When sitting for a meal, I ask Jesus to sit with me. When finishing my eating, I thank Him. The hardest practice was to pray before taking any snack or bite when not at a meal, or when preparing for one; I undertook this for Lent, and finally am forming a new habit.

When I pass a Church or Chapel, I say some variation of “Jesus, thank You for Your presence in Eucharist. Please bless all from this holy place.” When passing up a sweet during Lent or on Fridays, I pray for someone or some country in great need.

Sister Immaculata assures us: “God will reveal Himself. He is thirsting to do so, but He cannot unless the heart and mind are prepared to receive Him. Our life of prayer does not really begin until we have laid the foundations of a pure conscience, detachment, and the practice of remaining in His presence.”

“True freedom is the freedom from selfishness. The habit of constant recollection and continual prayer in the presence of God is the remedy for that fear of dying to self and selfishness which is so ingrained in us…Prayer and self-denial are so inseparably linked… because the love of Jesus makes a person despise himself.” This chapter ends with a quote from the Imitation of Christ: “Be humble and peaceful and Jesus will be with you. Be devout and quiet and Jesus will stay with you…You must be naked and carry a pure heart to God, if you will attend at leisure and see how sweet the Lord is” (Book II, chapter 8).

As I focus on areas where I am indulging without first praying, I feel inspired to find a prayer to draw me closer to the Lord whom I love, serve, and pray to already for hours each day. Jesus, yes, please help me grow in the practice of living in Your presence, seeking to see Your Face more and more”.

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Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC

Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC is a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Conception. She taught English and religion in the United States, Taiwan, and the Philippines and has been in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal for 50 years.

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