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Weekly Pause & Ponder

Consciousness Is Consciousness of the Whole

When God gives of God’s self, one of two things happens: either flesh is inspirited or Spirit is enfleshed. This pattern is really very clear. I am somewhat amazed that more have not recognized this simple pattern: God’s will is always incarnation. And against all of our godly expectations, it appears that for God, matter really matters. God, who is Spirit, chose to materialize! We call it the Christ Mystery.

This Creator of ours is patiently determined to put matter and spirit together, almost as if the one were not complete without the other. This Lord of life seems to desire a perfect, but free, unification between body and soul. So much so, in fact, that God appears to be willing to wait for the creatures to will and choose this unity for themselves—or it does not fully happen. Our yes to incarnation really matters, just like Mary’s did. Could this be the very meaning of consciousness? Certainly full consciousness of any event demands that we see its outer and its inner, its shape and also its meaning, its body and also its soul.

Richard Rohr Adapted from Near Occasions of Grace, p. 5


Celebrating St. Joseph

March 19th marks the annual celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, our patron. It is a festive day especially dear to the hearts of Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the world. We are mindful of Joseph, that wise and caring carpenter of Nazareth who was the guardian and teacher of Jesus. During our lives, we strive to imitate the qualities of Joseph, the just man who lived a humble, ordinary family life with Jesus and Mary. 

In gratitude for our common call to live out the spirit of the gospel, we are mindful of our sisters in community who encourage and support us every day in sustaining our efforts to work in collaboration with others in transforming our broken world. 

We experience with joy our common call to live lives of self-emptying love as we seek to build relationships that make a difference in our global community. Although our sisters are scattered far and wide in ministry, we celebrate our oneness today and every day.


When Did We See You Homeless?

There are cases of women who manage on several occasions to escape rape in one country, get to a neighbouring country, only to be threatened with even more danger there because of negative political involvement between the two countries. Consequently, they are left with no place to go and with little or no hope (Canadian Council for Refugees).

“It is easy to walk away from Justice as a cause but much harder to walk away from the person who has knocked at the door” (The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home, by Mary Jo Leddy, p. 68, Orbis Books, 2011).

Why are refugees desperately knocking at our door, seeking safety and security in Canada, met with insurmountable odds? Why is it nigh to impossible to be heard?

One reason is that refugees who are already here are caught in the present immigration laws for sponsorship. The law is that if a refugee here can prove that he/she has enough money to look after a family member for 10 years, he/she may sponsor only parents and/or grandparents or orphaned single brothers or sisters 22 years of age or less and still studying. Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, is seeking to limit the requirements even more.

A second reason is the length of time it takes to sponsor a refugee: it takes six months just to have the papers sent from the local immigration office overseas. Then there is a waiting period before the visa office involved calls the refugee(s) for interviews and starts medical and security checks. Consequently, it often takes another year or more. In contrast, just to have the same sponsorship papers sent to Nairobi, Kenya, it always takes more than another year. Then the sponsor and refugees are notified to not even contact the immigration/visa office for 90 months, i.e. seven and a half years! "Protection delayed, protection denied." For more information, see the Canadian Council for Refugees Nairobi Report; the "Waiting For My Children" exhibit; and the Canadian Council for Refugees Nairobi action statement.

Put yourself in the position of a refugee who has safely arrived in Canada via Nairobi and is now trying to settle into the new country. Would you not spend most of your time worrying about the safety of your two younger siblings back home whom you cannot help, knowing that they are on the run from being raped and are spending their energies just seeking safety; when they have no one, no place to welcome them? How effectively would you be able to focus on getting settled in this country? What medical problems might plague you? For the overseas refugees left in limbo, the longer they have to wait for resettlement the more difficult it will be for them to settle and integrate into their new life here.

“The spiritual challenge of this time and place is to find the true center, the new center of our lives. It means allowing our lives to be thrown off center and embracing the disorientation that this implies” (The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home, by Mary Jo Leddy, p.54, Orbis books, 2011).

If we are willing to insert ourselves into the life of a refugee, may our lives be thrown off centre, and may we embrace the disorientation that is theirs and become a voice for the voiceless and a host for the homeless. “May we find it harder to walk away from the person who has knocked at the door..." and thus work for justice for that person and all refugees.  



God and the Evolutionary World

Recently I had the opportunity to experience the Stratford, Ontario production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Teyve’s questionings “One time you pull out a prop and where does it stop?" reminds me of the huge change that is happening in our understanding of the universe, ourselves in that universe, and God. As these understandings change, we are challenged to align ourselves to look at life through a new lens. In embracing this evolving universe as revealed by science, it stands to reason that our theology of God is undergoing vast changes. We are no longer dealing with a static entity removed from our life experiences, but rather with a creative loving force that chose to manifest himself in the person of Jesus. Gone then is our preconceived notion of a God in the sky who orders all things rightly to be replaced by a God who is present in all of creation as all creation is present in God. (Panentheism is not pantheism)

Our oneness in God takes on unimaginable proportions when we put it into this perspective of God's insatiable desire to connect with us.

Joan Chittister in her interview with Michael Dowd "God and the Evolutionary World"  (transcript of audio in "Evolutionary Catholics" series) states that good theology is not so much now of giving pat answers but of asking questions.

If it is the nature of nature to change, then who is God now? What does my image of God have to do with how I live my life? What if I am no longer relating to a harsh judgmental God but one who continues to evolve in relationship to all of creation? What if my kind of God is now the one who wants fullness of life for me, for creation and not one who seeks to control the universe and rule in fear?

"The traditional notion of Creation was that everything on Earth had been created separately, uniquely, individually discretely.  Evolution says Creation emerges; it didn't come all finished." (Joan Chittister's interview).

This begs the question "Is creation still emerging?"

In an evolutionary theology, free will is key and we have a responsibility to be co-creators with God. In summary, Joan Chittister states." What I come out with at the end of evolutionary theology is growth versus perfectionism—a sense of ongoing creation instead of faith, participation in God's life, and God supports. God doesn't decide. God supports and stands by as we grow.....evolution is both the promise and possibility. It promises that we will keep on growing right up to the measure of the fullness of the spirit of God.  And my possibility is that I can participate. I can become a better self. I can participate in making a better world, and together we can all grow into God."

And so the answer to Teyve's question, "where does it stop when you pull out a prop," is, from an evolutionary lens, "The props are replaced by new and life-giving questions into which we are invited to live."



Introducing an Online Retreat Opportunity

As we prepare to enter into the great Easter season of fifty days, we invite you to make this time especially rich by taking time each day to stop, even for a few moments, to bring God’s new life into the ordinary moments of your day. We are calling this an Online Retreat. 

We invite you to reflect on the Sunday readings during the Easter season, and to hopefully find in them a source to link your faith and your daily living. Each Wednesday following Easter, there will be a reflection and a few questions for your prayer. You can participate by yourself, or gather with a few others during the week to help each other notice how God is at work in your lives. Author Barbara Kingsolver offers us a clue on how to do this, when she says that “God is in the details, the completely unnecessary miracles sometimes tossed to us as stars to guide us.” We can often help each other see those stars.

So much of our interaction with the world is shaped by our own perspective, or point of view, as we interpret experience. Much of what we read calls us to reflect on the large historical events that are unfolding around us. Some of that can lead us to despair and at other times, by some people’s determination and strength, call us to hope. This very practice may tempt us to dismiss the modest efforts each of us make to respond to life unfolding around us daily. But if we take time to notice, we can begin to find hope, as we see how God is revealed in the very small details and familiar people and events of each day. After all, if the disciples who walked with the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize him immediately, then we can be encouraged to stay open to surprise awaiting us when we stop to “break bread” with each other. May this Easter season open for us the gift of noticing the small and humble ways God is with us. This will truly be a cause for hope and celebration. Please consider joining us during this Easter season.



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