Not proofread yet-- will do that tonight...
I saw it as very providential that our obedience classes started on the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. I planned prayer that morning, last Wednesday and just found so much life and such a strong message. Ann and Bernie didn't plan for thisbut God did and the message came strongly within my heart. Through the two days with Pat of LA-Carondelet and with out ICN class yesterday, I felt the cnonection and draw of Mary's fidelity to God's heart and will in her life. Pat shared with us her insight about Luke 1's example of the Annunciation. Mary says, "How can this be? I've had no relations with a man." Pat's insight was that Mary realizes if she's not in relationship that there's no way that she can bring about life. I thought of this in the bigger context of how so many times when I withdraw or am just selfish about my time with others OR God, it's impossible to get new perspective and be changed and transformed. I think this hit me as the basis for this vow, we can live the other vows alone, be chaste without relationship and live a life of poverty alone (as so many do) but obedience requires a relationship with not only God but with those we surround ourselves with.
Pat talked a bit about the State of the Heart as one of the ways that we, as CSJs, have a built-in way of practicing obedience to one another. We get the chance to share the movement of God in our lives and although it's not a conversation or a dialogue about prayer, it helps us own up and be honest as to our response to that movement. It also hit me that with my community, our Renewed Local Communities are a second built-in way to practice obedience. I have a new appreciation for them now when Pat said something about needed to believe that my sisters are prayerful people that could talk about discernment together. It's not about coming to my RLC or leadership to say I've decided but about asking questions, looking at options, asking for what you need. I know that I didn't decide to enter this community alnoe or just with God and so really, why should I make any other decision without floating the stirrings and ideas to those around me? In this way, Pat mentioned that obedience is a vow of mutual collaboration. Through this vow, we are called to attentively listen to our lives and share that with others. But obedience isn't just about being in relation with God and people but also to "lovingly tend all creation given to us". That idea struck me deeply: to be in relationship with everything God created. With all of this said, it reinforces the desire in me to share my life with people and creation that help me love life more and live it better.
We also talked a bit about the difference or "grand canyon" between the experience of older members and younger members. It's obvious that the externals of the formation process looked a lot different than they do today. My mind wondered about the internal process though. I know we've both experienced missing home and missing important events in the lives of family members to a different extent. I can say at least that I have the advantage with technology because I've been able to meet and visit with my 2 month old nephew through Skype which is like an Internet video conversation. But nonetheless, I've missed many things in my family and have had to put a hold on any peer relationships that were outside of community. It's hard to believe what formation would have looked like without all of the talk of charism, history and spirituality. I'm surprised that all of this would be new to so many CSJs since many (if not all) of our speakers went through formation pre-Vatican II.
I always wondered why all the sisters weren’t given that same opportunity of learning as it's obvious our speakers did. I guess that's a new responsibility for me, to share the knowledge that I've gained these past months with people that are interested. I think this blog is a way to start that but maybe when I get home it can be more of a conversation that I hope some (or many) are interested in having.
In this same area, I also thought about how older generations grew up many times with rich customs and holiday traditions that were very cultural and religious. Then they entered the Sisters of St. Joseph and weren’t really educated about the history of the order. That really seems flipped for my generation. We really grew up in the melting pot culture and sometimes don’t know where our family traditions came from, if we have any at all. On the other hand, we’ve entered the Sisters of St. Joseph and are filling that part of our lives that didn’t have an understanding about history or tradition and this life is what helps give our experience, our life, our relationship with God, much more meaning and energy. I never really saw that correlation between generation but I think it could help me and others gain perspective when speaking in intergenerational circles. Either way, I think we're invited by God to honor the experience of the other, no matter what generation they belong to and no matter how different it may be from our own.
I remember at my novitiate ceremony speaking of being attracted to the authenticity with which the sisters lived their lives. At the time I didn't think about it but not I can label that as the outward experience that I had of others living out their vow of obedience. The attentive listening to the Spirit and God's movement in life can be an outward sign to others. It's what makes then ask questions and wonder what is different about us.
So I guess I've come full circle with this class: Mary's fidelity. For guidance, we can look toward the created trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph because they were the best examples of how to live out our lives deeply connected to the source of our lives. Jesus shows us how life can be fully lived with all of our humanness: hands, feet, heart and mind and how those parts of us when connected to God can lead us to find God in one another. Mary, through her fidelty can teach us how to honor and reverence each moment and to always trust the energy that comes from solitude that will lead us outward. And finally, Joseph, shows us how to surrender to the experience, to listen for God's voice and fearlessly respond to that inner voice that calls us because that attentiveness will decide all of life. I could share so much more but I think God's still moving it around in me, maybe you can see that.
I'm leaving for Disneyland in 5 minutes. WOOHOO!!!