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Re-Lent Repeat

Mark your calendars! Wednesday March 5th will be Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent. This is not an event but a journey. Really it could be called Re-lent! Forty Days to step back and take an honest account of ourselves with the aid of prayer, fasting, and abstinence.

We are invited not to endurance but to conversion. “I have called you by name.” We can do almost anything for six weeks but for a lifetime? Yes, that is what conversion is all about. 40 days or 40 daze? Your choice: prayer, fasting/abstinence or almsgiving.

  • Prayer you may say prayers, pray, or both. Some quiet time each day with the Lord. A blessed “time-out.”
  • Fasting, which is not meant to be a crash diet – “right thing for the wrong season.” There is always fasting from gossip, T.V., computers, iPod, etc. Here is a novel idea—the time could be used for some spiritual reading.
  • Almsgiving – not just financial but a giving of the person.

Many cannot be out and about but we know how to use a phone or send a card (yes it costs for postage but worth every penny) – check out clothes and donate good outfits to places that assist women who are applying for jobs (this too can be an ongoing event).

Lent should not be a routine. Here is a fun suggestion for oneself or a family–make a stack of cards with a suggestion for the day (this can be made ready before Ash Wednesday). Each night before the supper, draw from the stack and put the suggestion into practice the following day. This can be a family event and helps to keep us re-Lenting in heart and mind. Don’t let Lent sneak up on you because just around the corner from re-Lenting is Easter.

Halleluia Bless the Lord!

Barbara Vaughan, CSJ


Beautiful to behold but so unreal!

Mary had a little lamb. Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Mary Jane shoes. Mary Brown’s chicken. So many Mary’s!! Most important Mary?? Mary of Nazareth!

So let us pray . . .

  • Mary, mother of the first Christmas gift—JESUS.
  • Mary, model of home-makers no matter where—stable, hovel, townhouse, or mansion.
  • Mary, model for third-class travellers (she walked or rode a donkey).
  • Mary, example for new mothers (not even a rocking chair, no disposable diapers, and no formula).
  • Mary, unassuming.
  • Mary, who knew what it meant to be a refugee.
  • Mary, who with Joseph, guided Jesus through his childhood and teen years.
  • Mary, who supported her son’s career and choice of friends. (Motley crew that they were.)
  • Mary, who empathizes with other widows and widowers.

So much artwork depicts Mary in an idealistic fashion (beautiful to behold but so unreal). Where is the sweat on her brow or spots on her clothes? There were hangnails, cuts, and bruises, many a bad hair day, I’m sure.

We are forever grateful to this young girl who gifted us with her son, Jesus—the son of God. Let’s see her as she really lived, a truly human person with gifts and flaws. This makes her a practical, ideal model for all of God’s children.

Mary, be with us as we journey, especially be a presence to the parents of teenage children. Last week I heard two mothers talking: “My 14 year old daughter received a message from another 14 year old ‘Lets party and get smashed.’” Fourteen years old!

Remember when Jesus was lost in the temple at twelve?

Yes Mary, we are in great need of your prayerful support and guidance. Mary surely understands the anguish of parents trying to guide their teenage children. They can share the word “panic.”

Hail Mary! Holy Mary! Human Mary! Prayer for us!

Barbara Vaughan, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

“It is the energy of love that drives the world; it is God’s love as the heart of all reality that courses through our veins and the smallest subatomic particle of creation. To seek and find God is the heart of the mystic journey; in our own day it is a call that can never be separated from political love and the quest for a just and peaceful world. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a mystic in love with created reality, spoke often of love as the driving force in all of creation, as it moves toward the Omega Point–Christ–when God will be all in all. Every act of love moves all of us closer to that point of union; every act of selfishness and injustice is a step backward.” 
Great Mystics and Social Justice by Susan Rakoczy p.206

"Christmas, Valentine's Day, and now Family Day. There ought to be a day for us-just singles".  

Family Day weekend really lived up to its name this year. On Saturday, our family celebrated the marriage of my dear niece Kimberly to her long-time love Cole. Together with my 90 year old mother, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, it was one very happy occasion. At 1:00 a.m., I had to ask my mother whether she was finished partying yet so we could leave! A new partnership begun.

On Family Day Monday we gathered again, this time with extended family and friends to celebrate the entrance into Eternal Life of our beloved Aunt Patricia who died peacefully at home one month short of her 97th birthday. As Aunt Patricia loved family, we were grateful that her funeral could happen on Family Day. 

Two life events saturated with loving family.

On Monday evening, I stopped by the Hamilton Out of the Cold Program dinner. One of the guests said, "There's Christmas, then Valentine's Day and now Family Day. There ought to be a day for us-just singles".  She proceeded to remind me that she and many other guests of Out of the Cold do not have any family whatsoever. After such a weekend filled with family for me, it was a stark reminder first to be ever grateful for family and second, to remember that others may not have family and need others to reach out to them and to foster oportunities for friendships to feel like family.

Nancy Sullivan, CSJ
Hamilton Neighbourhood 


What inspires people to join in the common cause for a life-giving future?

What can inspire billions of people with very different worldviews to join in the common cause of a just and healthy, beautiful, and life-giving future?

Happening, right now, there is a fresh way of identifying who and what we are and why we are here in this universe as humans. This is a way that makes sense both scientifically and spiritually.

What is this new way or perspective? It is an evolutionary awareness that affects everything that exists within and around us from the personal to the cosmic.

David Sloan Wilson, evolutionary biologist and a pioneer in the evolution of religion, writes, “I look forward to the day when evolutionary theory becomes part of the basic training for all people who study and run our governments and economics”.

It is not only government and economic leaders but also all those who influence others in any capacity who are now becoming involved in this evolutionary (or integral) approach. Would you like to:

  • Deal differently with polarization?
  • Engage conflict in new ways?
  • Learn to live differently?


Becoming Agents of Evolutionary Change’

The Symposium, sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada, in partnership with King’s University College will be held July 4-6, 2014 at King’s, UWO, 266 Epworth Avenue, London ON. This event is planned to include a wide variety of participants such as teachers, school principals, chaplains, social workers, spiritual directors, Associates/Companions, community leaders etc.

The Keynote speaker, Carter Phipps, is author of the book Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea. He is also a journalist and leading voice in the emerging “evolutionary worldview” which combines the insights of Integral Philosophy, evolutionary science, developmental psychology, the social sciences, and evolutionary spirituality.

Our other presenter is Sue Wilson, csj. Sue is the Director of the Office for Systemic Justice for the Canadian Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph where she is involved in research, advocacy, education and activism on a variety of justice issues. She has a Ph.D. in moral theology with a focus on social ethics.

To view a brochure, to register and to find out about accommodation possibilities please visit the Symposium 2014 webpage at http://www.etouches.com/ehome/79110.To follow us on Facebook connect at https://www.facebook.com/summersymposium2014.

We look forward to meeting and having you participate in this exciting new venture!

Mary Vandersteen, csj & Ann Steadman, Associate




Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.