Monday, July 28, 2008

Wow!! What a weekend!

What a fabulous weekend of beginning and celebrating commitment. I could feel the walls of Nazareth and my heart swelling with all the love and support that was in that building this weekend. Many sisters were home and sisters from the other centers joined us for the celebrations of my novitiate ceremony and our jubilee celebrations for those in religious life for 50, 60 and 75 years. It was a very busy weekend with all the parties, socials, programs, ceremony and liturgy!

For my entrance into novitiate, sisters from the Cleveland, LaGrange, Wheeling, and of course Nazareth were all present. In fact there were a couple of sisters from Cleveland that came up for the ceremony and I hadn't even met them previously. That's what community does in your life though. You realize the spirit and heart that is in those around you and those with the same initials after there name and though you've never met, you share the same experience and are able to be a support and a presence without even knowing names. I thought a lot of those sisters that traveled all that way to celebrate my day, even for a short time!

During the ceremony, I think I was called up 3 times in front of all who were gathered and just looking out towards the people made my heart expand with their prayers and support. All of the innumerable hugs will definitely last me quite a while.

Some sisters requested that I make available the responses to Marie's questions that I answered during the ceremony. Below you will find those but before I do that, I just want to thank everyone that was with me whether is was with their physical or prayerful presence.

Marie: Jenn, What do you ask of the Congregation?

In this period of novitiate which the community and God have invited me to, I would ask from my sisters: prayers, support and encouragement. Relationships through both prayer and presence are the things that have helped me to see God within myself and in this community. I would hope that your words of encouragement would continue to help me say “yes” to all that God plans on my journey.

Marie: What has brought you to this decision?

I can’t say that I alone am responsible for this decision to continue my journey in religious life. There have been struggles (and I would guess there will be a few in the future) that make me realize how counter-cultural this life is. There are times that I’ve allowed God to say “yes” for me when I couldn’t say it myself. I know that each struggle, each joy, each lesson-learned, gives me more strength to allow God to keep working in my life. I know that this period of novitiate will allow me the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with God. This is the “something more” that I started to search for before coming to this community. The desire to deepen and strengthen this relationship is what brings me to say “yes” with God today.

Marie: Jenn, What has drawn you to the Congregation of St. Joseph?

In my 7-year introduction to the Sisters of St. Joseph, I have experienced being one with the God-given Spirit for authentic life that runs through this community. As my family is realizing, this lifestyle is very different than the American culture we are used to but that difference is what attracted me. I have seen the Spirit of humility and hospitality at work when sisters are in relationship with others both in and outside of the community… welcoming others and putting them at ease. There is also an honesty that CSJs live out of that allows them to be open to God and to the Spirit as they live their day to day life. I have also found that a Sister of St. Joseph’s energy comes from the time that they are able to have alone and with God. This energy allows them to live life to the fullest and with enthusiasm while being aware of God’s continuous presence. These are characteristics that I desire to have as a part of myself. I have found that I can grow in these traits with this community and also be focused on the presence of God throughout life.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why CSJ Namaste?

Well, you may be wondering about the title "CSJ Namaste".

I think the first part may be self-explanatory to many but if you're not sure... it stands for Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of which I belong to.

The other part, Namaste, is a Hindu-Sanskrit word that means things like this:

- "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me."
- "Your spirit and my spirit are One."
- "That which is of the Divine in me greets that which is of the Divine in you." (

and I think the coolest is:
- "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that plan in me, we are One."

I have heard of this greeting before and knew it was of another culture but was truly introduced to it at one of our CSJ gatherings. I love this word because of it's many meanings. You don't say "Namaste" as a quick hello while you're rushing past someone. It requires an internal slowing down and being. It isso much related to the "dear neighbor", which CSJs talk about so frequently. The idea is about us all being one and treating one another as God's creation and as an extension of some part of ourselves. This 2-year period of novitiate will bring about an internal slowing down which can (I hope) allow me to find God in everything, everyone, and every experience. My heart is drawing closer to all of these ideas and I hope that this blog/journaling will reflect/honor this process of getting closer to God in and around me... as well as keep you up-to-date with what's going on in my life. Namaste!