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Associate Christine McMichael reminds us all, in the midst of our hectic Advent lives, to keep our eyes open to see the light as a child does in simple joys.
Second Week of Advent, 2016
I barely got the Advent wreath out in time!
Volunteering to write an Advent reflection is easy. Writing an Advent reflection is a process.
In the past I’ve included Curious George in my Advent reflection, that’s the ‘real’ clue around here that we are beginning to wait for something special. One may think that watching A Very Monkey Christmas on the Friday after Thanksgiving would have prompted digging out at least one of two Advent wreaths! Nope.
We did start singing, Are you ready? Are you ready for Christmastime to come…
This Advent, Joy Ryan-Bloore offers another set of reflections that fits like a glove with the transformation that seems underway in our wider world at the moment. Many in the world are anxious and seeking simplistic answers that will return stability and certainty to their lives. Joy offers us a decidedly different style of retreat through this series of meditations: "To resist the crass, cultural emphasis on frenzied purchasing, partying and noise and instead foster a time of quiet and contemplation. To step out on a path towards peace and the birth of a new level of human consciousness – which is what the birth of Jesus the Christ called us to 2,000 years ago." ... Brian Coyne, editor See http://www.catholica.com.au /gc4/jrb/032_jrb_291116.php
Advent Resource: Philip Chircop, sj draws from diverse sources in diverse formats to reflect on Advent. www.philipchircop.com
Nina Glinski, CND & Kathy Kelly, Ottawa
The Congrégation de Notre-Dame General Chapter began last summer with a retreat with Father Simon-Pierre Arnold setting the tone and helping us arrive at a New Moment – a New Day! In his third session, Father Simon-Pierre invited us to look at the mystery of mission before ‘church’ – to understand what Jesus intended mission to be and what the call is for us today.
Jesus' message is that God’s love and compassion be lived out in the ordinariness of our daily lives. We are called to constantly find new ways to break open the Gospel daily and mirror for each other and for God’s world this Love that is the Reality that defines who we are and directs our lives.
An Associate suggested that the theme for Advent this year should be “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” In our Congrégation de Notre-Dame orientation, that sentence follows “Live interculturality” and certainly pertains also to “Go to the peripheries.”
Another suggestion from an associate was to reach out and form “Circles of Hospitality” in true Visitation spirit. Individually or as a group, we might want to invite people we know who are immigrants or of different ethnicities, religions, political persuasions than ours to share coffee and a conversation or join groups who are doing this, e.g. Interfaith services, immigrant rights, etc.
The hope of Advent is that the Incarnation is both present and coming. This hope calls us to “Face our fears and vulnerabilities.” We believe the variety of readings in this prayer service for Advent invite us to face our fears and uncertainties with hope. If you are doing in a group, you may wish to choose only certain readings.
Peace and Hope,
Regina Smith and Joan Mahoney, CND, Co-Coordinators of the Associate Relationship, Blessed Sacrament Province
Enjoy a video commentary about works of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures of Advent. Use these videos to take a new look at this season of preparation through the lens of sacred art. There are also further reflections which can be used as a means of praying with your imagination. Take a look at: www.ignatianspirituality.com/advent
Sisters of Maria Province (Japan) held their biannual Taize gathering at the convent in November. This event is organized by a small parish group, "Izumi/Budonokai", an oecumenical group that has continued for at least 30 years. Sister Maureen Lamarche has been a member since the beginning. They meet once a month, Saturday evening and read one chapter from whichever book of the Bible they have chosen to read. So it takes a year or more to cover one book.
A Catholic teacher at the Congregation of Notre Dame elementary school is the leader of the group.
Usually articles in the Catholic Press during Advent start with quotes from the prophets Isaiah who promised a light will shine in the darkness or Amos who foretold that Bethlehem would be the birth city of the Messiah.
This short reflection begins on the seaside in Ireland, a strand as it is called there. James Joyce, one of Ireland’s best and most challenging authors, eloquently writes of the innate longing in every human heart for the absolute, the unknowable, the eternal, the ultimate.
Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa announced the 15 residents who will be inducted into the Order of Ottawa this year.
“The Order of Ottawa honours remarkable residents for their service in both professional and civic-oriented endeavours,” said Mayor Watson. “It is a privilege to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of these influential people who enrich our city and have made a difference in the lives of others in our community.”
Our congratulations to Sister Louise Dunn, CND, who “co-founded Serenity Renewal for Families, a charitable organization opened in 1983 providing a wide range of educational and counselling services. She has accompanied countless individuals on their recovery journey and has helped thousands of individuals and families to live in a spirit of health, hope and self-awareness.”
This year’s Order of Ottawa ceremony took place at City Hall on November 17.
The closing of the Year of Mercy and the 175th Anniversary of the arrival of the Congregation of Notre Dame sisters in Kingston did not go unnoticed by the associates and sisters in Kingston. Through a process of prayer, reflection and contemplative dialogue, Mary Cockburn helped us to stir up and renew our resolve to keep the fruits of the Holy Year alive within us. Following this, we were entertained and inspired by a small group of Sisters who mimed the story of SS Edward and SS Alexander, who came from Montreal to Kingston, as Rosemary Shannon read from a script she had prepared. In a humourous way this tremendous story of courage and resolve was recalled. Cake and beverages followed, and by the way, the two Sisters and the stagecoach in which they rode, stood bravely atop the beautifully decorated cake.
Congratulations to Sister Alice Long (shown here with her teacher, Anne- Marie Rolfe) on becoming a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher! Sheri Green and Melissa Wilson of Fredericton, NB were also in the program; they work here at Windsor Court and are happy to share their enthusiasm with me.
The Daniel O’Hanley Memorial Lecture – November 20 – sponsored by LAMP (The Latin American Mission Program, Charlottetown)
Daniel O’Hanley was a missionary in Nicaraqua from 1984-1991, working in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people in a time of great upheaval. He was killed on July 3,1991, in Managua as a result of a botched robbery. Each year his life is commemorated by a lecture whose topics and presenters reflect current times and conditions both in the south and in the north. This year we were privileged to hear Stephen J. Augustine, Hereditary Chief Mi’kmaq Grand Council and Dean Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning at Cape Breton University. This remarkable, gifted, gentle man, starting in the present, took us on a journey back into the history of his people to their origins in the Maritimes. His insights, regarding their deep faith in the “ONE ENTITY” who is good and is the source of all life and their sense of belonging to Mother Earth were very powerful. Theirs, he said, is an Earth Religion. He quoted one of the missionaries who came in the early days to “bring the faith” as saying: “These people are living the catechism.” We felt at home when he made connections to Lennox Island, to Eskasoni, to places in NB, like Big Cove, and in particular when he made the connections with the Acadian people. It was a stimulating, thought -provoking lecture.
Sally Armstrong, human rights activist, journalist, author, presented to a packed house at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB this week. Her dynamic true stories – from her work in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Kenya, Congo and elsewhere show how women can change the face of poverty and effect change. Sally says the use of the internet has brought women together from all over the world, and when women communicate and share stories, things happen. I have heard her tell these stories before but the passion and strength she gives them is always worth a revisit. Ascent of Women (2013) and Uprising: A New Age is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter (2014) tell Sally’s direct experience of the courage, tenacity and wit of women around the world who are shaking established ways – cultural and religious – of holding women back from education and progress.
Spirituality and Practice offers E-Courses
Bernie O’Neill, CND
The reflections that have been presented each week from those of us who participated in the General Chapter have been as varied as each of us. What seemed to be a common thread, however, and what struck me during the chapter was something that the sisters of Maria Province (Japan) expressed in their creative presentation. They described a Japanese word, YUI, and in so doing, brought a deep richness to our understanding of relationships.
From this date to December 10, Human Rights Day, the UN is promoting 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. The aim is to help people become more aware, inspire us to speak and work to bring about change See http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women.
If anyone is interested in an enriching three-week renewal program, we were fortunate to have found one in September. It takes place in Ocean Grove, New Jersey at Emmaus House and is called WOW (Women of Wisdom). We were 23 sisters coming from Canada, US and some of the foreign missions. Each day was a day of enrichment and delightful surprises. If anyone is interested, this program is held in September and April each year.
Visualize the statue of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys where she’s standing with one arm reaching behind her and another reaching forward. That image reflects the gathering of Congregation of Notre Dame sisters and associates which took place in Kamloops on November 10, 2016. The morning session was facilitated by Sr. Catherine Walker who took us back to the General Chapter of summer 2016 and engaged us in a process of hearing and responding to Congregation of Notre Dame Chapter orientations 2016 – 2021. After a wonderful potluck lunch (feast!), Sr. Shelley Grant moved us forward in a process to begin our preparation for Visitation Province Chapter, July 2017. The 15 of us who were present representing the Thompson Nicola and Okanagan areas were thoroughly engrossed in this first of several such gatherings to take place throughout the Province. We came away enriched by the experience, looking forward to carrying out our mission statement as it evolves for Visitation Province in the coming year, and embracing the challenge of being who Christ calls us to be as Congregation, ever hopeful, ever joyful in our wounded yet beautiful world.
From November 7 to 11, 2016, a team from the Communication Services of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame visited the sisters who live in the Maritime Provinces. During this all too short visit, we recorded a certain number of video interviews (in English and in French) that you will soon find on our social media. Meanwhile, we would like to share with you some of our travel impressions and fond memories of the visits that filled our days. When one visits the sisters, one enjoys generous hospitality, lively conversations and the opportunity to grow a little through contact with these devoted teachers. To all of you who offered us such a warm welcome, Thank You!
Advent 2016 Entrance Antiphon Psalm 24: 1-3
To you, I lift up my soul, O my God. In you, I have trusted; let me not be put to shame. Nor let my enemies exult over me; and let none who hope in you be put to shame.
Today my Advent journey begins - a spiritual journey with our precious Trinity in search of the Star in the East. I ponder the words “my enemies” with little awareness of where my journey will take me, but somehow, I know I need to begin.
General Chapter 2016 was marked with deep communion of minds and hearts. This spirit of unity was brought about through the implementation of the following elements: