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Feast of the Visitation - Prayer/Reflection Service

CND Associates

Introduction:  As Associates renew their Associate commitment and Sisters their vows on this Feast of the Visitation; we unite in prayer for the August General Chapter.  And we rejoice in the gift of thirty-five years of the CND Associate Relationship.  Our reflection today calls attention to how Elizabeth can deepen our understanding of Visitation.

Opening Suggested Song: Prayer of the Congrégation,  (Ave or Songs of Visitation © KP Deignan, CND)

Refrain:  O dearest Mother and Foundress, we seek not comfort or wealth
We only ask that in your name, God may be greatly loved and oh, so faithfully served.

O teach us the wisdom of littleness to be simple, humble and poor,
to be open to God at the core of our hearts, and to wait on God’s word evermore.

And teach us the way of mobility: to be swift and graceful and true,
so that in our lives we may visit again the ones who are waiting for you.

And teach us the mystery of charity: to hold our neighbor in heart,
to sing of the Spirit alive in our midst, and to carry the word of God’s love.

Opening Prayer:

Creator God, your divine energy constantly imagines and shares, pours out life, splashes, bubbles and overflows into dreams and visions, newness and birth, silence, peace and appreciation. 

As we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, grant us God, the capacity to wonder, to stand in awe as did Mary and Elizabeth at the new life within them.  Amen. –Seeds of Hope, Linda Jones, adapted

Reading 1 - Luke 1:39 – 56

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" 

Reading 2:  Reflection on Elizabeth by Fae Malania

Elisabeth wasn’t anybody in particular, herself--somebody’s wife, somebody’s mother, somebody’s cousin.  She wasn’t blessed among women, someone else was.  It wasn’t her child who was the Messiah, it was someone else’s.  She had a walk-on part.

So happy she was, so thankful, to be bearing this ridiculously late, unlooked-for child!  I think she must have laughed, like Sarah. I can almost see her, bursting into delighted laughter from time to time through the quiet, solitary days, as she hid herself and waited, and kept up with the housework.

And unto her – in such gracious haste! – came Mary, the ark of God, the tabernacle of the Most High, the Christbearer.  And – of all things! – saluted her.

Elisabeth, filled with the Holy Sprit, knew that a greater than she was there, and rejoiced.  She was the first, not counting angels, to greet the Lady and to stand, and know it, in the presence of the Lord.

Mary remained with her a while, as long as she was needed.   Elizabeth was very close to Jesus then, spending her days in a loving companionship of pots and pans and mending and scrubbing, of table and hearth and garden, of feminine chatter and holy silence, of expectancy and joy, with – but of course! – with the church.  The Christbearer.

Can we begin to see now, in her, the character the Holy Spirit means to form in us?  Obedience, fidelity; a happy and self-forgetful humility; a readiness to be thankful; a quick ear for the voice of the Holy Spirit within us; a peaceful and loving closeness to Christ, nourished by the simple, daily, household ways of God’s household, the church; and always, in all things, generosity, joy.

What barren soil I am for such fruits to grow in!  Still, as the angel said, with God nothing shall be impossible.

Fae Malania, The Quality of a Hazelnut (an Episcopalian writer (1919-2007) wrote with great insight of the search for God in our ordinary and humble daily lives.)

Reading 3 - Sr. Patricia McCarthy, CND, Excerpt from Presentation to Provincial Chapter, Blessed Sacrament Province, March 10, 2016

…. Collaboration with Associates is critical to who we are now. We are together in the middle space. Sr. Miriam Ukeritis speaks of the virtues needed for it. They are not complicated:

                  Humility – the ability to stand simply as who we are at this time

                  Curiosity – the ability to wonder, to leave preconceived ideas and go forward to the new

                  Freedom – to surrender the need to control, to dwell in mystery

We gather in Chapter as Community to name our present, share our gifts, and to shape a future in mystery[1]

Reflection (you may wish to share a phrase from a reading that strikes you or respond to one of the questions below)

  1. Can I begin to see now, in Elizabeth, the character the Holy Spirit means to form in me?  Consider the qualities listed in the second to last paragraph of Fae Malania’s reflection.
  2. Humility, curiosity, freedom:  are these virtues that I need during this time of “Middle Space” in the Congregation?
  3. How do any of these qualities and virtues influence how I seek to live Visitation in my daily life?

Leader: In “the same spirit of grace that has gathered us together…a spirit of charity, of simplicity, of littleness, of poverty, of detachment from all things and surrender to God.” (WMB, p.187), let us renew our commitments.  

Renewal of Vows by Sisters:

To reaffirm my response to the call of God, and to live my baptismal consecration, I, Sister _________________, renew the vow I made freely and for the rest of my life, to observe poverty, chastity, and obedience, according to the Constitutions of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal.

Inspired by the spirituality of Mary in the Visitation and in her life among the Apostles, I wish by this covenant to praise God who is ever faithful, to render God thanks by my entire life, and to share with my brothers and sisters the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

Renewal of Commitment by Associates:

Responding to a call to live more fully my baptismal consecration, I, _____________, renew my commitment as an Associate of the Congregation de Notre Dame.  I wish to integrate in my life the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Visitation-Pentecost spirituality, and the CND Mission Orientation, in keeping with my personal vocation.

Conclusion of Commitment:  One Heart Statement of Associate Steering Committee:  Recite together

We, Associates and Sisters, embody the call of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

We radiate Visitation spirituality in our daily lives,

as we strive to be a more visible presence of God’s love in the world today.

As followers of Jesus, we stand in solidarity with those in need and the planet.

In a pioneering Pentecostal spirit, we are actively transforming Church and Society.

With audacity and creativity, we pray, we gather, we celebrate.

We are united in our shared charism.

Associates sign the Renewal of Commitment.

Music or Song while signing:    Suggestion:

Be Always Little (text and tune Mary Anne Foley, CND) Based on the Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys

Be always little, humble, poor.

  1. And on your walls and in your hearts love must be engraved.
  2. Treasure God’s word:  in silence wait so a child may speak.
  3. Embrace the cross of Christ, the Lord, to whom your life is given.
  4. Trust in God’s love and live in hope, though all be swept away.
  5. Et rammassez les gouttes du sang de Jesus qui se perdent.

Intercessions:  Let us bring our petitions to our loving God. Response: Gracious God, hear our prayer.

  1. For the General Chapter, 2016,  that the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys root all the delegates and proceedings in Jesus Christ, we pray with faithful hearts . . .
  2. For those making a first commitment as Associates on May 15, in Hayesville, NC: Kathy Aparo,  Pam Craig, Margaret DeLisle, Sharon Ely, Sandy Jersey, Linda Kennedy, Dolores Libby, Michele McGinnis and Shirley Moran, we pray with joyful hearts…
  3. For the Candidates for the Associate Relationship in our Province, we pray with expectant hearts...
  4. For those who celebrate 25 years of being Associates, Janet Curry and Natalie Kreigher, and Sisters celebrating their Jubilee of 50 years, Sisters Stacy Hanrahan, Sally Norcross and Anne Seeley and those Sisters celebrating 60 and 70 years of profession, we pray with grateful hearts…
  5. For the deceased CND Sisters and Associates of Blessed Sacrament Province who have traveled the Visitation journey before us, especially those who have died this past year, Sister Catherine O’Shea, and Associate Alice Widen, we pray with hopeful hearts...
  6. For all CND Associates and Sisters throughout the world and for an increase of vocations that as we live in the footsteps or Mary and Marguerite we may be signs of peace, healing, inclusion and hope, we pray with trust-filled hearts… 

(Please add any additional intentions…)

Concluding Prayer: Preparatory Prayer for the 2016 General Chapter:   All

Lord, you call us to be joyful and true missionaries, bearers of the Gospel serving your brothers and sisters in humanity. Give us, Sisters and Associates of the Congregation de Notre Dame, the grace to feel heard and loved in a true and sincere dialogue!

Open our hearts to all those who are marginalized.  Sharpen and develop our sense of caring in order that peace may shine among us and your love bring freedom to our lives.  Throughout the General Chapter, may the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys passed on to the CND put each of us on the path to our particular mission and deepen our rootedness in Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Let us offer each other a Sign of Peace. 

Leader: Sending Forth

Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, keeping in your heart the memory of God’s gifts!

Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, knowing that God visits His people now and always!

Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, living the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

Go in the peace of Christ!

All:  With Marguerite, let us praise and thank God.  According to her desire, let us imitate Mary. May this give meaning to our lives!  Like Marguerite, let us give thanks to God.

Closing Song Suggestion – Magnificat (Ave or Songs of the Visitation © KP Deignan, CND) Text and tune Mary Anne Foley, CND

Refrain: Our being proclaims Your greatness, O God, Our spirit finds joy in You.

For You’ve looked on us in our littleness:
Now we are blest.
And You in Your strength do great things for
us— Holy Your name.

Your mercy lasts from age to age
for those who seek your love.
The ways of Your power, O Holy One
confuse the proud of heart.

You put the mighty from their thrones,
raise up the little ones.
You fill the hungry with good things,
the rich go empty away.

For You’ve helped your servant Israel,
remembering Your love,
As You promised to Sarah and Abraham
and their children, love without end.

 

 

[1] Sr. Miriam Ukeritis, LCWR Occasional Papers, Winter, 2015

 

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