As tradition goes, the CSJA Baden group holds a recollection which is also part of the orientation of any new prospective members of the association every September. This past Sunday we joined together to welcome our lone candidate for this year, Molly, of West Virginia.
We started the day with our introduction of ourselves to the group followed by Mass at the Chapel and then lunch. We then started with Sr. Paula's talk for the day, "Charism is Alive and Well". Before the talk we said two prayers, The CSJ Associate Prayer, shown below on the left and another prayer, Care of the Charism on the right below which Sr. Paula is inviting all prayer groups to use before and after their meeting to in one in spirit with the rest of the CSJ congregation.
Our charism is oneness
We are already one.
Sr. Paula told us what the late Julie Harkins of the Boston CSJ used to say about the associates that they do not come to get the charism, they already have it.
Charism is being yourself. Sr. Paula gave the invitation to explore to recall when we first noticed it. She also invited us to lean into that deep place within us. To get in touch with it. It is natural grace. It is already there in that space. In as much as possible, unconsciously or consciously (for more vibrancy) we tap into it and use it.
It is a journey to be the best of who we are. However, it is not where we are. The circumstances are the just container of who we are and meant to be.
You are the carrier of this charism. Wherever anyone of us is there we are.
Giving into charism empowers God to fill. Part of this journey is to show up.
Sr. Paula also used the metaphor of the wind and the trees. We do not see the wind but we know it is there based on the way it makes the tree leaves rustle and sway. So is charism.
Appreciate the tremendous gift your life has been. It is not what you are doing but the manner you are doing it.
Always visit this place where this charism resides. She then told us about a novice mistress who always enjoined her novices to "Make God look good today" as they started their day.
We are rooted in God and loved by God.
We then had testimonies from three members of the Thursday Baden Prayer Group who hosted the day of recollection and orientation. Patty, Cindie and Carla mentioned what the charism had meant in their lives. I just want to share something during this part. Excuse me for being food oriented but Cindie cited what Carla is famous for in their church, her awesome gravy. Once a year or is it several times she prepares meals for the church with this unforgettable sauce.
Two associates, Carla and Judy, who attended the Federation Meeting of the Sisters of St. Joseph this past July also shared their experience at the meeting. It was an edifying experience for both of them who went to the meeting with another associate, Monica and forty or so CSJ Baden sisters. They learned from the other attendees through groups that they belonged to. (700 attended). They learned peace and justice. Judy particularly spoke about the existence of human slavery right here in the United States. It was also mentioned that they attended the memorial for the Pulse Night Club victims where the televised coverage showed our own Monica in once scene. Carla shared with us the theme song of the meeting, By Breath, by Sara Thomsen. Click below for the YouTube version of this beautiful and meaningful song about oneness.
We were given 30 minutes break to ponder two questions as shown in the handout I reproduced way back at the beginning of this post and blew up for you below. Please contemplate what your answers are whenever you are able.
In the sharing session, beautiful experiences were shared. I would like to share one particular one from Joan about the story of how miracles do happen. This is related to the Winking Christ.
Joan told us about the painter he had hired to paint her house. Mark I believe was his name came full of excitement on his first day of the painting job exclaiming Miracles do happen. He told Joan about a young man he met many years ago who he hired despite his struggles and believed in him. This young man turned around and became one of this best employee for many years. This employee however fell ill and one day Mark visited him and shared one of his Winking Christ paintings. (Mark also loved to paint art and one he loves to do is that of Christ. He made Christ eyes wink when his wife suggested correcting one of them. Ever since then he had made several of his Winking Christ paintings). This particular gift changed his dying employee and his wife. He learned they both converted to Catholicism before he passed away. Miracles do happen.
We ended our meeting with a meditation led by Chris based on our being one which is part of our charism, UNION. We did feel each other's heart as we held hands with each other.
And that is how the meeting ended. We thank Sr. Paula, Judy, the Orientation Chair, Linda, who prepared the flier and the generous hearted Thursday Baden Prayer group for their hospitality. The food was glorious and so was the company of 20 or so associates and a couple of sisters who joined us.