A Personal Reflection on the Vows

I believe that what distinguishes me as a vowed member in the St. Joseph Family is the fact that I pronounce public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and share a common life in the congregation with other vowed members.

I try to see the vows as integral to what it means to be a human person, opportunities to get a hold on life in all of its aspects.

Poverty means I have everything and yet paradoxically I have nothing. It means accepting all of creation into my life without owning anything. Poverty calls me to unselfishness, to sharing, and to using only that which I need. It lets me know that our natural resources have limits. When I recycle, I am faithful to my vow of poverty. When I consider my needs versus my wants, I am being faithful to poverty. Poverty calls me to simplicity, which I define as a single focused vision. Of all the vows, poverty helps me to keep my priorities straight and ultimately creates in me a reverence for all of creation.

It’s the vow of chastity that I believe is at the very heart of what it means to be a vowed religious. It touches the core of my life. If lived fully, chastity speaks to the centrality of God and God’s love in all of one’s life. Rather than loving someone exclusively, I am called to love inclusively. It means listening to someone I may not naturally want to listen to. It means not giving up on people. It means letting others touch me and change me. It means loving others because God is at work in all of us, loving us and helping us to discover our goodness together.

Obedience means to be a good listener, especially a listener in the Spirit. This vow challenges me to look at who I am with my particular set of gifts and limitations; the vow of obedience also  has me looking at priorities both the province and the congregation set before me and then matching all of that with the needs of God’s people. Obedience also leads me to take the opportunity to learn so that I can serve better. If one has the gift of organization and leadership as an educator, for example, obedience would have her get certified and stay updated so that she could be a good principal. Obedience nudge me always to be alert to the touch of God and to how God would have me act as a Sister of St. Joseph.

These vows are really not separated. They make up a lifestyle that cannot be compartmentalized. They overlap and fit together and join me to others in the congregation who share the charism with me.

~Sister Rita Huebner

I participated in a gathering of Sisters. It was a great celebration and an opportunity to connect with other Sisters from around the country and some from outside the US as well. I particularly appreciated the “meetings between the meetings” when some of the younger sisters, in various configurations, gathered to share a common experience and to dream a common future.

Coming back to St. Louis, I gathered with my own community for an opportunity to gather for prayer, conversation, and celebration. Still buoyed up by the earlier experience, this was another opportunity to share community, spirituality, and justice. The vocation team, of which I am a part, gave a presentation about our work. We talked about the current context of vocations in the US. We explained the model we are using to organize the work. I talked about how that model worked in practice in one of the events that we offered for vocations. Then we explained our new vocations website.

I also attended the national assembly of the LCWR, a gathering of sisters from various congregations from around the US. This is another opportunity to meet, share and celebrate.

All these gatherings have their specific focus, yet they are all related to the larger movement of religious life and Gospel living. Last night, I was on a web conference with other younger Sisters of St. Joseph, then some international sisters gathered to share foods from our own culture, to share prayer and conversation. It was creative and a glimpse into the local culture, a glimpse of how the world community could unite in our efforts for a more sustainable world.

So many gifts, so many experiences, so many gatherings, and networks. “All things work together for the good of those God loves,” for the good of each of us.

Blessings!

Amy

Eucharistic Letter

The original Eucharistic Letter was written by Fr. Medaille, SJ in 1660 in Le Puy, France to the first Sisters of St. Joseph. This is a contemporary presentation of The Eucharistic Letter inviting viewers to revisit it and begin living the Little Design way of life.

Coming to Know Who God Made Me to Be

In the book In Our Own Words, Desire Findlay reminds us that taking on community values is only part of formation. The other part is becoming one’s self within the community. Knowing how to be ourselves as a sister, as a Franciscan, as a member of this community or province. We let go of parts of ourselves and discover other parts. It is not okay to become someone else. God created us to be who we are. Our journey into community, and in formation, is to discern whether being a part of this community is who God created us to be, does it allow us to flourish, to set down roots, to grow and blossom and bear fruit. And how does being in community facilitate our growth into our truest selves, our truest image of the God of Love? This is the journey of formation, a life-long journey of giving and receiving.

Sisters

If you haven’t seen it, take some time to share the lives of five sisters – none of them are Sisters of St. Joseph, but they are all amazing women, living the gospel simply, radically, quietly. Today we see more and more that as Franciscans and Mercies and Dominicans and St. Joseph, we are all sisters, part of a larger sisterhood of Jesus Christ. It’s about an hour. Enjoy! #csjlife

Advent Discernment

Related imageWe are well in to our Advent journey, and it a great space for discernment. I would like to suggest four themes that guide me on my discernment journey.
Darkness – In our discernment, we may be in a whirl of confusion and feel like we’re in darkness. In Advent we sit with those raw feelings and emotions because discernment begins with observation.
Annunciation – God brings a light into the world through the Annunication. Mary’s yes comes in a place of freedom, hope, and not clinging. May we find this in our lives.
Preparation – People had to discern John the Baptist’s message. Was he the messiah? Discernment includes many signs, consolation and desolation, and movements from the spirits that prepare the way to a choice.
Nativity – God’s incarnation makes sacred our very decisions and even the process of discernment. Every discernment becomes an incarnation, a little Christmas through which God enters the world.
Blessings on your Advent journey and on your discernment.
Peace,
Sr. Amy