Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Soundings Update...and a lot more!

Our January 27, 2010, issue of Soundings Update is now available at http://www.csjboston.org/su-Jan-27-2010.pdf . The full issue of the Winter edition of Soundings is also available on our website. What is pictured above and on the masthead is the January 10 Prayer Vigil hosted by Boston Area Religious Women  in Commemoration of Human Trafficking Awareness Day. There is a brief article about the prayer vigil in this issue of Soundings Update. Articles about this vigil appeared in:
Also: Check out the things that are happening during the next few weeks.
On February 12: WALK IN MY SHOES: A HEALTH ACCESS SIMULATION TM The Experience of Low-Income Health Care Consumers.
This is an experiential workshop designed to give people a concrete idea of what many people experience when they seek medical assistance and don't have health care. The Women’s Table is eager to sponsor this workshop in order:
  • to raise awareness of everyday barriers that women & families face when they are uninsured
  • to enlist volunteers to 'walk with,' advocate, and companion women and families in need.
This is open to the public but you need to register by February 8. Details are in the link.
There is information about several other opportunities that you can learn about on our website. I'll say more about these in the days ahead but for now I'll just list them:
  • The Vows Reflected through the Lens of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church
  • Come to the Sea: A Women's Weekend
  • Volunteers in Mission
  • Monthly Taize Prayer
Finally: Don't forget to scroll down to read more about the Maxims of the Little Institute, one of our CSSJ founding documents.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maxim Monday: Trinitarian Spirituality of the Maxims

This is the third blog entry for Maxim Mondays. If you want to see the previous posts about the Maxims of the Little Institute look back at the last two Mondays. The spirituality underlying the Maxims of the Little Institute focuses on what Médaille calls the Two Trinities:
            the Uncreated
           … and Created Trinities
The Uncreated Trinity, being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Trinity
  • God the Father is seen as inclusive love
  • the Son, poured out love,
  • and the Spirit as unconditional love.
For Médaille, that is who God is: inclusive, poured out, unconditional...
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, says, "How we think of God influences how we relate to God and to one another."
These first three points present the model of God.
It answers the question: Who is God?

The Next three poinst answer the question:Who am I?
The created Trinity - Jesus, Mary, Joseph - to these three, Médaille attributes the following virtues:
Jesus personifies Zeal for the mission; a zeal that is two-pronged –
- magnanimous -- generous, courageous
- and humble -- a realization that we are all the same; all one; we are in this together.
Mary personifies fidelity to grace:
...fidelity being the centerpiece to both zeal and service.
This fidelity speaks of an awareness and openness to God's will; it has to do with the pursuit of integrity.
Joseph personifies cordial charity;
It's service to the neighbor without distinction. To say charity is "cordial" is to suggest that it stirs up love wherever it is.
During an Associate meeting I attended a few years ago, part of the prayer expressed the desire
  • to be Joseph to the homeless; 
  •  to be Mary faithful to the lonely and despairing; 
  •  to be Jesus in his zeal, to reach out to the hopeless and apathetic... 
Father Jean-Pierre Médaille was trying to make this spirituality very concrete for these women who, for the most part, did not read.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: Together in Mission

I'm spending this week with a group of wonderful women who are planning the 2011 Event for the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. There will be much to report on that in the months to come.

As many know, the Sisters of St. Joseph number over 12,000 sisters and about 5,000 associates in over 50 countries throughout the world. In the past couple of years this "Joseph Family" started a "Global Coordinating Committee" as one way of connecting all the congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph who trace their roots to LePuy, France. One way of making those connections has been "Together in Mission," a newsletter published by a subcommittee of the Global Coordinating Committee. The second issue of "Together in Mission" can be viewed at http://www.csjboston.org/News-Together-in-Mission.pdf

On another note...the devastation in Haiti continues. There is an article in the January 22 issue of the Metro West Daily news about how Regis College is reaching out to help Haiti.

Finally, for today, our latest issue of printed Soundings just came back from the printer yesterday and is being distributed. It can also be viewed on our website at http://www.csjboston.org/SOUNDINGS.htm
It's a big document so takes a little while to download...be patient!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti in our midst…

This has been a week full of contrasts. On the one hand Massachusetts has been inundated with campaign ads for the Massachusetts Senate race, on the other hand we’ve spent the week praying, grieving, and consoling one another as we witness the devastation in Haiti.

Since Massachusetts is the state with the third largest Haitian population, there are many who have personal stories of connections to Haiti. St. Cecilia’s, a parish where I’ve been involved over the years, has a strong connection to St. Joseph Family Homes in Haiti. You can read all about it on St. Cecilia’s website. I was there for liturgy last Sunday and Fr. John, the pastor, spoke passionately about our connection to the people of Haiti. His basic message: We are them...we are one with them…Many parishioners have visited the St. Joseph Family Homes and members of the homes have come to visit St. Cecilia’s. This tragedy is right here, right now.

Another member of the parish is the president of Cotting School, a special needs school in Boston. They have a sister school, Wings of Hope, that is also connected to the St. Joseph Family Homes. It is heart wrenching and almost surreal to read of the recent renovations to the school and realize how much has changed.

I keep wondering about Sisters of St. Joseph in Haiti. Last week we received news of some of our sisters in Haiti. Today I found this article about two sisters from Toronto and Quebec, CA. The title is: Canadian Nuns are Safe and Determined to Stay. One is a Sister of St. Ann; the other a Sister of St. Joseph from Toronto who refuses to leave Haiti saying, “There is work to be done.” That attitude is so characteristic of Sisters of St. Joseph and women religious in general.

Do you have personal stories about Haiti? Please share them.

CSSJ Maxim Monday: Structure of the Maxims

Many have commented to me directly about my “New Year’s Rolution” to reflect on the Maxims of the Little Institute of the Sisters of St. Joseph. You are still encouraged to post comments right on this blog. Some expected reflections on individual Maxims right away. In the weeks ahead, I'll reflect more on individual maxims or parts of maxims, but I thought it might be helpful to see a bit of an overview first. I guess the high school Theology teacher is still alive and well within me.

So…The structure of the maxims can be seen in this chart:

The aim of our life is set forth in the first maxim –
“Keep always in mind the aim of your vocation which is sublime; and never do anything which contradicts the commitment to a life full of modesty, gentleness, and holiness.” Some would say this maxim it says it all! Any good teacher repeats, repeats, repeats in many different ways. . . until the student "gets it." This seems to be what Father Médaille was doing with our first sisters. This little graphic was created with the help of Sr. Mary Theresa.

Structure of the Maxims of the Little Institute:
1-11 present the spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph
12-43 describe our relationship with God
44-61 describe our relationship with others
62-90 describe our relationship with self
91-100 provide a summary of the spirituality

Note that though we structure these maxims as emphasizing God, others, self, one is never seen as separate from the other.

Remember, our mission is the love and service of God AND the love and service of neighbor.

Don’t forget, I welcome comments that can be posted on the blog. In order for your comment to be posted, you need to respond below.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: Soudnings Update

The latest edition of Soundings Update is now available at http://www.csjboston.org/su-Jan-13-2010.pdf
Don't forget to scroll down and see the first two posts about the Maxims of the Little Institute. I'm trying to post something on the Maxims every Monday and calling it "Maxim Mondays."
If you click the twitter link at the right, you can view a few pictures of the Human Trafficking Prayer Vigil in commemoration of the Third Annual Human Trafficking Awareness Day. You can also view a press release about this day at our website by clicking the link above.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: Welcome to Maxim Monday

The Maxims of the Little Institute is a collection of 100 maxims, short statements typical of mid-seventeenth century France. They were composed by Fr. Jean Pierre Médaille for the early communities of St. Joseph. Before getting into specific Maxims, I thought I'd share a little about the history, spirituality, and structure of the Maxims.

A little History of the Maxims of the Little Institute:
As I explained yesterday, when I introduced the idea of "Maxim Monday," They are a different document than the Maxims of Perfection which are also written by Médaille. It’s believed that he wrote the Maxims of Perfection as a personal retreat journal and then published them for a wider audience. The Maxims of the Little Institute were written specifically for our first sisters.

Today, in book stores, you can purchase any number of collections of daily sayings. Many of us probably have our own favorites. These maxims, however define the heart, or core spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph. They reflect what the early sisters were already living; who they already were.

A little on the Spirituality of the Maxims of the Little Institute:
In her writings, Marcia Allen, CSJ/Concordia, says they hold the key to questions of identity and mission – that mission being the love and service of God in the love and service of neighbor.
You'll notice that these maxims bear the shape of relationship. They describe Love's relationship with us, with the dear neighbor, with creation.

The maxims are about a deep faith journey that goes beyond ourselves. They are a means to deepen our understanding of self and the mission of Jesus. In general, these maxims, sometimes clouded by their obscure 17th century language, describe one whose life is a mirror of the daily living and dying characterized by a love that is empty of self and full of God, when love of God includes love of neighbor without distinction.
Next week I'll share a little about the structure of these maxims.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: Maxims of the Little Institute

Making [and breaking] New Year's resolutions seems never to go out of style. When I realized that I'm beginning the second year of this blog, I decided it was time for a New Year's resolution for the blog. So I'm going to try to initiate "Maxim Mondays." My biggest fear is that I won't faithfully post something every single Monday. But I'm certainly going to try. You, blog readers, can help by posting comments on the blog. Many have written to me directly. But if we can get something going in terms of on-line reflection about the Maxims, it could be a source of inspiration for others.

At least at the beginning, I plan to focus on the Maxims of the Little Institute rather than the Maxims of Perfection. I'm doing this for a number of reasons:

1. The Maxims of the Little Institute [MLI] is a different document than the Maxims of Perfection [MP] which are also written by Médaille. It’s believed that he wrote the Maxims of Perfection as a personal retreat journal and then published them for a wider audience. The Maxims of the Little Institute were written specifically for our first sisters.

2. When I participated in the Bearers of the Tradition Institute [BOT] in Concordia, KS, Sisters Marcia Allen and Bette Mosslander offered a wealth of resources on the Maxims of the Little Institute. One of these resources is a book by Marcia, Love's Design: An Invitation to Reflect on the Maxims of the Little Institute. The other resources are unpublished papers prepared for BOT. Another person who has developed resources is Mary Theresa O'Reilly, CSJ, our Vocation Coordinator. Mary Theresa also particiapted in BOT. She put together a presentation for our associates a few years ago that really helped me understand more about the Maxims of the Little Institute. I've been in contact with all three of these sisters for permission to share their work in these posts.

3. Some Sisters of St. Joseph at the Upper Room House of Prayer offer an excellent online course available on the Maxims of Perfection. Just follow the links if you want an in-depth course on the Maxims of Perfection.
4. I'm sure there are others who have posted reflections about the Maxims of the Little Institute. If they are online, you're invited to share the link here.
So tune in tomorrow, Monday, for the first installment of Maxim Mondays!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Human Trafficking Awareness Prayer Vigil Hosted by Boston Area Women Religious

This a reminder to join in the prayer vigil for Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Scroll down to the December 18 post for all the details. If you're not in the Boston area perhaps you can participate in an event in your area. If you are part of another event to commemorate Human Trafficking Awareness Day, please let us know by posting a comment on this blog.

As we prepare for the prayer vigil in the Boston area, some of our sisters and associates are creating signs to hold as we pray outside the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse. The words on the signs are sort of like "sound bites" to raise awareness of human trafficking. Here's what they say:

  • Stop modern-day slavery
  • Human Trafficking = Modern-day slavery
  • Slavery violates basic human dignity
  • Human Trafficking happens in our own neighborhoods
  • 2010: 12 million slaves in our world
  • Slavery happens today
  • Human Trafficking happens in our backyard
  • Human Trafficking: Here – Now

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph Retreat Center: Upcoming Events

The Sisters of St. Joseph Retreat Center, 339 Jerusalem Road, Cohasset invites you to the following programs. Besides scheduled events, the retreat house is often available for individual or group private retreats. The beauty of the rocky New England seashore at this time of year is spectacular! Perhaps your New Year's resolution can be to participate in one of these programs.

For more information and to register, visit our website http://www.csjretreatcenter.org/, call 781-383-6024/6029, or email retreat.center@csjboston.org

Morning of Prayer 9:00 --12:15:
- January 6: Awakening the Heart, Deepening the Silence
- January 21: My Healing Presence For Others
Private or Directed Weekend Retreat:
- January 8-10, 2010
Private or Directed Retreat:
- January 24-28, 2010
- February 1-5, 2010
Weekend Workshop:
- February 5-7: Dreams and the Unconscious in Revelation and Religious Experience
Guided Retreat:
- February 8-12: Cooking in God’s Kitchen