Monday, March 29, 2010

Maxim Monday: Utterly for God, in God, according to God

Be utterly given to God by a holy self-surrender, utterly for God by a love pure and completely unselfish, utterly in God by a continuing effort to be more conscious of his presence, utterly according to God by a will, a life and everything conformed to him. Maxims of the Little Institute, #24


When I considered a maxim for Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum, there were plenty to choose from. Many speak of Christ Jesus' passion and the cross. But I chose Maxim 24 because it seems to go right to the heart of the contemplative message of the Paschal Triduum.

The Paschal Triduum -- one feast of three days -- is the most important of our Catholic holy days and the center of our liturgical year. So I guess a brief reflection on Maxim 24 -- a maxim that expresses CSSJ spirituality in a nutshell -- is appropriate for this week.

"Utterly for God...utterly in God...utterly according to God." This is the self-emptying of Jesus in Philippians 2:1-11. That word "utterly" is gripping, and the way Medaille repeats it never ceases to draw me deeper and deeper into the core of God's unioning love.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inspiring Exhibit: Nuns Go Places Where Few Dare to Go

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, which is now showing at the Smithsonian. What a wonderful experience! Today a member of NCNWR sent an article about the exhibit to our member listserve. The article is titled Nuns Go Places Where Few Dare to Go and appeared in The Tablet which is the diocesan paper of Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Although I do not know Father Eugene Hemrick who wrote this article, I am most grateful for his words -- especially the last sentence:
"As I exited the exhibit, I felt a deep sense of pride in the spirit of our nuns, which affirmed my belief that nuns are not only praying communities, but also down-to-earth, devoted women who bring God to places where few dare to venture."
If you haven't had a chance to visit this exhibit, I highly recommend trying to get there. When it leaves the Smithsonian on April 24 it will travel to several other locations listed on the Women & Spirit website.

Whether you are able to visit or not, there's a great educational resource on the exhibit website. While it's aim is for use in classrooms, I found that reading it before I visited deepened my experience at the exhbit. I'm still praying that it comes to Boston sometime in the future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: Soundings Update 2/24/10

You're invited to read this week's Soundings Update at the following link: http://www.csjboston.org/su-March-24-2010.pdf

This issue has articles about:
  • Our new Associate Leadership Team
  • Our celebration of St. Joseph's Day
This issue also has details about:
  • How to participate in the Paschal Triduum at our Motherhouse on April 1-2-3.
  • An Anti-Trafficking Symposium coming up on April 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maxim Monday: Living the Passion...passionately


Esteem the world and its vanities no more than dung. (Phil. 3:8) Let the world be crucified to you and you to it; (Gal. 6:14) that is to say, "despise the world which is only illusion" (1Cor. 7:31) and reject its maxims which are full of deceit and impiety. Maxims of the Little Institute, #5

Perhaps because I was a lector at my parish for many years, I automatically start refecting on the Sunday readings a few days beforehand. During Lent, it seems that each week the readings have been reminding me of a Maxim for this blog post. When I read the second reading for the fifth Sunday of Lent, I thought of Maxim 5 but everything in me rebelled at the thought of using it -- too graphic...too messy...too negative about the world we're called to embrace.

Then I looked across my room at the Peruvian sculpture pictured above. It was a gift from a former student. But it also reminds me of our pilgrimages to Mexico. On two occasions we were there during Holy Week. On Good Friday we walked through the streets with the people of one of the colonias for the stations of the cross. Various groups were assigned to carrying the cross to the next station. Each time someone announced the name of the next group, clusters of men, women, youth, emerged from the crowd and proudly took their turn.  It was obvious that this was a real honor.

After the 14th station on the way into the church, I heard someone announce, "mujeres religiosas." I tried to pretend I didn't understand enough Spanish. For some reason I did not want to carry that cross. But I knew full-well they were calling for the women religious in the procession to carry the cross from the 14th station into the church. I attempted hiding in the midst of our students. It didn't work. The Benedictine Sisters of Guadalupana who were the leaders of our pilgrimage sought me out and there I was, one of about ten sisters from various congregations, leading a procession of hundreds of Mexican people and carrying the cross much in the same fashion as pictured in this sculpture.

What does this have to do with Maxim 5? Carrying that cross turned out to be a profound moment of awareness. In the midst of a people who had so little the "vanities" of a consumer-driven world were stripped away. The focus was on the Passion of Christ Jesus and of living passionately in the midst of our suffering world. Is this not how we are at one with Christ crucified today?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

We look to Joseph
as our model
of gentleness,
justice,
and humility...
Boston CSJ Constitution
Spirit and Purpose #5
As Sisters of St. Joseph and associates throughout the world celebrate St. Joseph's Day, I share this prayer to St. Joseph. It is on a prayer card produced by our Mission Advancement Office in 1999. Although it was written a few years ago, I continue to receive requests to use it. So I share it here once again.


Prayer to St. Joseph
God of Great Love,
Your son, Jesus,
was nurtured by St. Joseph.
May we look to Joseph
as our model of justice,
gentleness, and humility.
May we, with Joseph,
nurture the life of Christ
in our lives
and in the lives of others,
uniting all people
and all creation
with God and with one another.
May Joseph's life inspire us
to be a hopeful, healing presence
within our world.
Amen
© 1999 -- Joanne Gallagher, CSJ

Many will also recognize the photograph as the statue of St. Joseph by Mary Southard, CSJ, that is located on the grounds of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, CA. This is only one of many garden sculptures by Mary Southard, CSJ.  I'm including a photo that shows the full view of the statue so you can see it in context. The statue is a meditation in itself.

Also, I would like to call your attention to a lovely article by Father Richard Erikson, Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston, that is in this week's editon of The Boston Pilot. It's titled Celebrating the Sisters of St. Joseph. Thank you Father Erikson!

A very happy St. Joseph Day to all.
We look to Joseph
as our model
of justice,
gentleness,
and humility…



Boston CSJ Constitution

Spirit and Purpose #5

 

Prayer to St. Joseph
God of Great Love,
Your son, Jesus,
was nurtured by St. Joseph.
May we look to Joseph
as our model of justice,
gentleness, and humility.
May we, with Joseph,
nurture the life of Christ
in our lives
and in the lives of others,
uniting all people
and all creation
with God and with one another.
May Joseph's life inspire us
to be a hopeful, healing presence
within our world.
Amen
© 1999 -- Joanne Gallagher, CSJ




Monday, March 15, 2010

Maxim Monday: advance good works until almost finished.


Advance good works until they are almost finished; and then, whenever possible, let them be completed by someone else who will receive the honor. Maxims of the Little Institute, #85

The Sunday Gospel for this week – the fourth Sunday of Lent – is the well-known story of The Prodigal Son. When I read the reflection on this Gospel story in Living with Christ, I was immediately reminded of Maxim 85. Reflecting on this gospel story in the past, sometimes I focus on the son who went away and came back. Most of the time my reflection centers on the father who, with unconditional love, welcomes his wayward son with open arms.

Rarely have I given much thought to the unforgiving brother who gets so angry at the father’s response. But juxtaposed with Maxim 85, I see this brother in a whole new light.

Imagine if this brother and Fr. Jean-Pierre Médaille had a chance to talk! I wonder what a conversation about Maxim 85 would be like! The older brother had done all the good work he could possibly imagine. No one threw a big party for him! And now this brother who had squandered his part of the inheritance was getting all the honor! Could the older brother tolerate this maxim of Médaille? Can we?

In Love’s Design: An Invitation to Reflect on the Maxims of the Little Institute, Marcia Allen, CSJ, writes,
“We have seen how the elegance of God’s Design unfolds in Jesus’ life….He was given to the one thing necessary – a passion for creation and God. The cost to himself was never the criterion for how much or when to give."
Is this what we’re being asked in Maxim 85 – not to consider the cost to ourselves in how much or when we pour our lives out as Jesus did? It’s a tall order – one that calls us to personal and communal prayer of unioning love; prayer that draws us deeper and deeper into God at the heart of the world.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, Luke never really says whether or not the older brother responded to his father's pleading to move beyond his anger and join the party. After all his years of faithful service, did he go in and join in rejoicing for his younger brother? Ask yourself, would I be able to live the message of Maxim 85 in this situation?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Volunteers in Mission: Experience a Different World View

- ARE YOU searching for an opportunity to share your life and be of service to others?
- ARE YOU interested in an experience of community living?
- DO YOU desire to share in communal prayer?

IF THE ANSWER IS YES…The Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston invite you to experience A different view of the world.

...is a program for women, college age and older, who desire an experience of ministry, community living, and prayer for one week this summer.

You will work at a local Catholic agency that welcomes poor and homeless guests. You will be part of a community that assists in providing services and support to those in need.

You will live in community with other volunteers and with Sisters of St. Joseph, pray together and build relationships with those whom you serve.

There will also be opportunities for social and cultural experiences in and around the Boston area.

If this invitation interests you, download a brochure at http://www.csjboston.org/vim-brochure-2010.pdf or contact us BEFORE APRIL 5, 2010

About the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston:
We are a community of women religious whose mission is to realize the prayer of Christ that all may be one.
We are ordinary women from all walks of life. Our special focus, our mission, is to work within our Church and society for unity and reconciliation.
Will you join us for a week
to live and pray
in the spirit
of this Gospel call?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph: The Literacy Connection

The latest issue of Soundings Update is now available

This issue has an article about a day of prayer, reflection, and sharing with Sister Simone Campbell, SSJ, that was offered by our Initial Formation Team last weekend.

In this issue you are invited not only to read the article on page 2 about Pat Andrews, CSJ, and The Literacy Connection but also to view the video prepared for the Pulitzer Center's Project: Report 2010. What this is about is explained in the article titled, "A smile is a smile...in any language." You are invited to participate in the "Community Award" part of this project by viewing the video and voting for the video. You can also leave comments, read posted comments, and rate the posted comments. Just follow this link to "A smile is a smile...in any language." and enjoy a short video about a day in the life of Sister Pat Andrews, the Director of The Literacy Connection.

In addition please note the times of our Paschal Triduum Liturgies and the upcoming Symposium on Human Trafficking offered by the Anti-Trafficking Coalition of the Boston Unit of LCWR. If you are in the area, you are most welcome at the Triduum Liturgies and the Anti-Trafficking Symposium. Visit our website for a downloadable brochure and registration information.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Maxim Monday: Zeal: Humility and Generous Courage

In the manifestation of zeal characteristic of your very humble vocation, imitate the fervor of the most zealous and embrace in desire the salvation and perfection of a whole world in a spirit replete with a true humility and a generous courage. This will bring you to wish to do everything, to suffer everything, and to undertake everything for the advancement of the glory of God and the salvation of the dear neighbor. Maxims of the Little Institute #7

A friend of mine often says there are no coincidences in life…rather there are "God-incidences." I’ve been praying with this maxim during the past week and one of those God-incidences happened when I saw the first reading for this Sunday’s liturgy. It’s the story of Moses and the burning bush. Both Maxim 7 and this Sunday’s reading from Exodus seem to be about being consumed with zeal – a zeal that humbles us, brings us to our knees, and opens us to be more available to God’s will as we become deeply aware that the ground of our lives is holy ground.

Perhaps this is why I love the “flame” design in the front of our Motherhouse chapel. A few years ago, after our annual prayer in solidarity with the international Stand Up, Speak Out event this image of a borderless world that had been used as part of a slide presentation during the prayer stayed superimposed on the flame. One of our sisters pointed it out and I took this picture. As I reflect on Maxim 7, this image speaks volumes about embracing the whole world with zeal that is both humble and enflamed with generous courage.

I realize that these reflections barely scratch the surface of what could be said about Maxim 7. For more, see Love's Design by Marcia Allen, CSJ/Concordia.

What are your reflections on this Maxim?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maxim Monday: The Pursuit of Holiness

Maxim 44:
Never do anything which contradicts the pursuit of holiness.

The process of selecting a Maxim for these weekly reflections is, itself, becoming a process of prayer. Partly because of the liturgical season of the year and partly because of whatever seems to be going on during the week, I just can’t be pinned down to reflecting on these Maxims in order of appearance. What seems to be happening is that the next Maxim seems to be choosing me rather than me choosing it.

As we continue to live this season of Lent, Maxim 44 cuts right to the core of what Lent is about. The words are so direct. Here Médaille is calling us to be single-minded and focused on the aim [there’s Maxim 1 again] of our vocation. The image it conjures up is of a straight path.

Life is rarely that uncomplicated but this brief little Maxim is quite powerful in that it challenges us not to get side-tracked by anything that pulls us away from God’s desire for us…God’s desire for the universe. In the midst of the ordinary  yet ever-complicated events of our daily lives, this is easier said than done.