Monday, May 31, 2010

Maxim Monday and Trinity Sunday

Live, as much as you can, in such a way that your life, in honor of the Holy Spirit, may be a continual act of the most pure and perfect charity that you are able to practice toward God. Maxims of the Little Institute, #4
Of this maxim Marcia Allen, CSJ, writes, “in the “seizing’ love of the Holy Spirit, I am caught up in the Trinitarian dynamic of communion and I know myself at one with all that is created and the Creator…”

Yesterday was Trinity Sunday. In refelcting on the earliest documents of th Sisters of St. Joseph it becomes clear that ours is very much a Trinitarian Spirituality.  A couple of years ago I was asked to write a Trinity Sunday reflection for the CSSJ Atlantic Federation. The Trinity is all about relationship, about communion at the heart of self-giving love. It seems that the reflection from the Atlantic Federation book is worth repeating both in terms of Maxim 4 and Trinity Sunday.

SCRIPTURE for Trinity Sunday: 
      Proverbs 8: 22-31
      Romans 5: 1-5
      John 16: 12-15

At the heart of our understanding of Trinity is the belief that God is with us, for us, in us. A famous icon by the 14th century Russian icon painter, Andrei Rublev, images our Trinitarian God as a communion of persons – three Persons a dialogue of equals.

Trinity Sunday celebrates God whose love is not turned in on self but pours out self-emptying love without distinction. What’s more, the God we celebrate today is One who gives and gives again. Proverbs proclaims a God who dwells in harmony with all creation – mountains and fields, sky and sea. God “finds delight” in this communion of all in all. John’s gospel expresses the mysticism of this unfolding, ever-widening Trinitarian relationship saying, “I have much more to tell you.” Our partnership in and with the Trinity unfolds as we live our ordinary lives in profound openness to the awareness that, “Trinitarian life is also our life…we have been graciously included as partners,”1  in the God’s communioning love.

PRAYER: Loving God, you are with us, for us, in us. In every relationship may we be and act in ever-widening circles of love poured out toward every kind of neighbor without distinction.

RESPONSE: This week contemplate the Rublev Trinity icon. Enter into the mysticism of all that God has yet to tell you

MANTRA: Trinity: Self-emptying gift of Love

1 Catherine Mowry-LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity & Christian Life, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991, 228.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fontbonne Academy Commencement; an end & beginning

Last evening I attended the graduation ceremony at Fontbonne Academy, a Sponsored Ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. It's always wonderful to witness the accomplishment and hope in these young women as they begin the rest of their lives. Joan Barry, the commencement speaker was from the 50th reunion class. A number of members from her class were also present. After Head of School Mary Ellen Barnes introduced Joan with an impressive review her career and her service involvements over the years, Joan spoke of other Fontbonne Alumnae who are making a difference in our world.

I'm so proud to be part of this legacy. We call graduation "Commencement." Years ago I wondered why something that was called an end is called a beginning. That was before I discovered T.S. Eliot and he became one of my favorite poets. Eliot has a lot to say about beginnings and endings in the fourth of The Four Quartets, Little Gidding:
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
As Joan encouraged the graduates to "start your journey," I was so aware of all the endings and beginnings that have been lauched at graduations and in particular at Fontbonne Academy graduations. Doctors, human resource directors, communication directors, finance professionals, business owners, stay-at-home moms, interior designers, lawyers, performing arts professionals, musuem curators, educators from pre-school to graduate school, health care professionals, musicians, pastoral ministers, editors of local and international newspapers, and so so much more.

These are just a few Fontbonne women I've read about or been in touch with in the past few months. Think of the impat the 6000+  Fontbonne women have on our world each day. As it says in one of the earliest documents of the Sisters of St. Joseph called The Reglements, "...they will undertake...all of which women are capable."

The class of 2010 have been awarded over 14.5 million dollars in scholarships. As one of the student speakers said, "each graduate has been a part of something remarkable in her own way." Imagine the impact the newest Fontbonne Alumnae, "women of courage made strong," can have on world as they move forward "by this fountain made strong" "undertaking...all of which women are capable!"

Today's Patriot Ledger has an article with pictures and a video of the commencement -- the end which is a beginning.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maxim Monday: Faithful to the Holy Spirit's grace

Likewise, be very faithful to the grace of the Holy Spirit, listening attentively, obeying promptly and entirely, attributing to the Holy Spirit, as is indeed just, the honor resulting from the success of your good actions. Maxims of the Little Institute, 15
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. There’s so much to say about Maxim 15 and this feast it’s hard to know where to begin. Today The Literacy Connection, one the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph, had its celebration of gratitude and accomplishment. Every tutor and student who was there had her/his moment of recognition. The Spirit was clearly present in the faces as tutors and students came forward to be recognized, in the words spoken -- particularly as new speakers of English stood with microphone in hand and expressed what learning English means to them, and in the life and energy that permeated the entire gathering.

The process of companioning that goes on in The Literacy Connection requires the fidelity to the grace of the Holy Spirit and the attentive listening of which Maxim 15 speaks. And it certainly results in honor resulting from the success of the good actions of tutors and students working as one. Although most of the students and many of the tutors may never have heard of Maxim 15, they are living it. It was a perfect way to celebrate Pentecost!

As a postscript to the previous post just below this post...On Cardinal Sean's Blog there is also something about our Evening Prayer with the priests of the Boston area. The event is in the title but you will need to scroll down a bit to find the actual text and pictures about the event.

A slideshow of the event was also posted on our website today at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph Celebrate Year for Priests with Evening Prayer

The May 19, 2010 issue of Soundings Update is now available on our Website. It features Bethany Health Care Center's Celebration of National Nursing Home Week during which all the residents were welcomed aboard a virtual "cruise" around the world.

In this issue there is an update on the activities of "The Women's Table" a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Something that did not make this latest issue due to timing was the celebration of Evening Prayer that took place at our Motherhouse on May 18. Several months ago our sisters began talking about a way to celebrate the Year for Priests. By the time the day arrived, we had about 120 priests and as many of our sisters who had indicated they were coming.
The words of welcome from our president, Sister Mary, are worth repeating here. They set the tone for the evening and capture the essence of who we are and how we came to host this celebration.
It is more than with a sense of pride and gratitude that I welcome each of you, Cardinal Sean, our brother priests and all Sisters of St. Joseph to this celebration of who we are together as witnesses to God’s Presence and ministers to God’s people.

As Sisters of St. Joseph, we see relationship at the heart of mission. During this Year for Priests, we who share life in an apostolic diocesan, religious congregation are grateful for the collaboration that has existed and continues to exist between and among us.

Since our arrival in Boston over 136 years ago, thousands of our Sisters have partnered with you in parishes, schools, health ministries, social service ministries, retreat centers, archdiocesan ministries…any place there was a need.

And so, it is with grateful hearts and a desire to further the mission of Jesus that we gather this evening for prayer and conversation. In this joyful time of being together, the presence of the Spirit will be reflected in the energy and enthusiasm that we share.

Thank you for accepting our invitation to celebrate you. May we be together for the Church of Boston “the fire that renews the face of the earth.”
Let us pray:

At that point, I had the privilege of standing in the gallery to take photographs as the male and female voices soared with the singing of the opening hymn  "All Are Welcome."

Here are a few photos from before and after Evening Prayer. More will be available on our website in the near future.

View a slide show of this gathering at
View Cardinal Sean's blog at:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Maxim Monday: With Gentleness and Eargerness

Be a person of such greatness that what is not God wiII be nothing, and embrace gently and eagerly great apostolic undertakings when the Holy Spirit urges you to this; but, according to this same maxim, whatever you do or suffer, let your heart find it a trifle, as indeed it is, in comparison with the grandeur of God and the worth of his sovereign perfection. Maxims of the Little Institute, 91
I’m not sure what led me to this particular maxim this past week. During the past few days, I seem to be meeting this maxim lived out all around me.

Saturday I had a meeting with the CSSJ Atlantic Federation Core committee. This group prepares weekend workshops and week-long retreats for sisters in the seven Congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph. All are fully engaged in their day-to-day ministries, but none seemed to mind traveling up to four hours for this meeting.

Sunday afternoon I accompanied a friend who regularly prepares and serves a meal at Pine Street Inn Women’s Unit. Several times a year, she coordinates a food group with members of her local parish. She has been doing this for over 25 years. The whole venture usually goes like clockwork but today, for some reason we arrived late and the staff was already serving an alternative meal.

What’s this got to do with Maxim 91? For two days my friend, her family, and a host of neighbors have been preparing different parts of the meal. I’d say she coordinates this “gently and eagerly” and there’s no doubt it’s a “great apostolic undertaking." They told us we were late. I shudder to think how I would respond after all the work that goes into preparing these meals. Even though she let the staff know that she'd been coming at this time for 26 years, she did it with a gracious manner -- with what the French call douceur.

As Marcia Allen, CSJ, writes in Love’s Design,
“This Maxim reminds us of the zeal with which we enter into our vocation and its aim. …We give all, no matter the difficulty. The French encourages us to embrace projects “sweetly and ardently”; that is, our love is one of douceur, undertaken with the fire of love – ours and God’s, most of it hidden in mystery.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anti-Trafficking News from LCWR Boston Unit

Two weeks ago the Anti-Trafficking Coalition of the Boston Unit of LCWR offered its third symposium on Human Trafficking. This symposium has been explained in previous blog posts. If you write in "Trafficking" in the search box in the upper left corner of this blog site, all the previous posts on the topic will come up.

Last Friday, The Allston-Brighton Tab, our local area paper, published an article on the symposium titled: Sisters of St. Joseph symposium focuses on helping victims of human trafficking . The Sisters of St. Joseph were not the only sponsor of this symposium. The Anti-Trafficking Coalition  of The Boston Unit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious includes sixteen Congregations representing over a thousand women religious in the greater Boston area. These are the people who sponsored the event.

The reporter who came to do this article also has her own blog and has linked to the symposium. Her blog is called: Meena Does the News. She's the same reporter who came to our Anti-Trafficking Prayer Vigil back in January. The picture at the right is Meena [far right] interviewing, a panelist and Sister Carole who facilitated the panel. We're grateful to Meena for her support in raising awareness of human trafficking.

You can learn more about anti-trafficking efforts in the Boston area and beyond at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maxim Monday: Be attentive to the Holy Spirit

Likewise, be very faithful to the grace of the Holy Spirit, listening attentively, obeying promptly and entirely, attributing to the Holy Spirit, as is indeed just, the honor resulting from the success of your good actions. Maxims of the Little Institute, 15

As I explained in a recent blog post, 800 leaders of religious communities of women from all over the world are meeting this week in Rome. The focus of the presentations is the close unity between the mystical and prophetic dimension of consecrated life. Maxim 15 speaks to this same reality. In her revised second edition of Love’s Design, Marcia Allen, CSJ, writes this about Maxim 15:
This maxim calls me to discernment – that attentive listening to the world around and within me. The Holy Spirit draws and allures me and my response is one of entire self-giving.
Is this not another way of considering the interplay between the mystical and prophetic dimension of religious life?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph meet in Argentina

It is totally against my self-designed blogging "rules" to post twice in one day. But a friend just sent me a link to another CSJ blog that talks about the recent meeting of 101 Sisters of St. Joseph who minister in Latin America and the Carribian. I've been looking for online information about this meeting. Here is the link:

UISG Plenary Assembly: Mysticism and Prophesy

“I know the fountain well which flows and runs…though it is night.”
It is on this theme that 800 representatives of Women Religious are gathered in Rome from May 7 – 11, 2010.
The quotes in this post are culled from a variety of internet articles on the meeting of the UISG that is going on in Rome over these next several days. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the UISG website, it’s worth the cyber-trip. You can download the talks from each day.

This morning I read and prayed with the two talks from the opening day. I’ve selected a few quotes from these talks, from the UISG site, and from a press statement that I found online. I must admit, at first I thought the title of the first presentation was a bit daunting. But once I started to read it, I couldn't put it down. The whole interplay between mysticism and prophecy resonated deeply with our CSSJ spirit and spirituality.

From the UISG website
“I know the fountain well which flows and runs…though it is night. ” It is on this theme that representatives of Women Religious are gathered in Rome from May 7 – 11, 2010.
The Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) constituted by all those who lead the different women Religious Congregations spread throughout the world had its formal Opening on Friday May 7.
From a news release on the international website of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The theme, Challenged to Weave a New Spirituality which Generates Hope and Life For All, evolved from a consultation with all the Superiors General who are members of the Union. The topics to be discussed show the five threads that need to be woven into a new fabric, a spirituality for our time: Women, the Laity, the Religions of the World, the Displaced, and the Earth and its Sacredness.
From the Opening Address UISG Plenary Gathering 2010 by Sr. Maureen Cusick, NDS, President UISG
…we are being called again to seriously renew our commitment to the mystical aspect of our lives in order to renew also the prophetic dimension of our lives. We cannot speak a prophetic Word if we are not mystics in our relationship with God!
And here are a couple of quotes from the presentation given Friday, May 7, 2010 by Ciro Garcia, OCD
Title: Mysticism and Prophecy, a style of life and new areopagus
Once I discovered that "areogapus" just means "fields of witnessing" the title didn't seem quite so daunting. The full text of this presentation is really worth reading. Here are a few quotes to get you started.
All our Founders and Foundresses were mystics and prophets. We are called to recreate their mystical-prophetic charism in the Church. Without mystics and prophets consecrated life does not have a future.

There is no authentic mysticism if it does not flow from an ethical and prophetic commitment, nor is it possible to think of a prophesy which is not nourished by a deep union with the divine.
It is not so much a matter of being a mystic “OR” of being a prophet but of being both a mystic “AND” a prophet.
Well...I'm off to download Saturday's presentations. They are already available on line .
It's pretty exciting to be able to follow such an important meeting as it unfolds. On a final note: If these links happen to default to another language just enter into your browser and it should bring you to the UISG home page where you can select from six languages.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Soundings Update: Human Trafficking, CSJ Associates, and more

The May 5, 2010 issue of Soundings Update is available on our website at . In this issue you can read about
In this issue:

• Cathedral High School Students visit The Literacy Connection
• Human Trafficking -- Right Here, Right Now: April 24, 2010 Symposium
• With Love Enveloping Them -- Associates Commitment Celebration

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maxim Monday: Everyday Actions & Associate Commitment

Accomplish with great diligence and perfection everyday actions and unexpected ones, and never become careless in this respect. Maxims of the Little Institute # 90.
This past weekend we welcomed five new associates and celebrated the renewal of commitment of our Boston CSJ associates. As the brochure that advertises the associate program states:
"We are women and men who desire to share our faith journeys with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston in a mission of unity and reconciliation. We come from ordinary walks of life, and while affirming our own vocations, acknowledge a call to realizing the prayer of Christ “that all may be one with God and with one another.Wherever we are, we strive to serve in a spirit of simplicity and joy."
Maxim 90 seems to speak the life of our associates who, although they do not profess vows, make a commitment to the Sisters of St. Joseph that they renew each year on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Sister Marilyn, who welcomed us at the beginning of the liturgy, spoke of the celebration saying:
We come together on this feast of St. Joseph to witness the mutuality of presence, of companioning that allows us to build a relational community where we strive to keep the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph alive and evolving in the neighborhood, in the global community, in the everyday....
I am constantly amazed and humbled by the many ways in which our associates live our spirituality and mission in their day-to-day lives. As Sister Marilyn also stated in her welcome:
"It will be the connection between vowed members and associates that will hold the passion...that sustains and enflames the mission.”