The Spirituality of Friendship
Instead of the expected rain, a bright sunny day greeted 70 CSJ Associates as they gathered for the commitment retreat on April 13, 2008 in the auditorium at St. Joseph’s Convent, Morrow Park. Everyone looked forward eagerly to the day whose theme, The Spirituality of Friendship, would be presented by Sister Virginia Varley CSJ, gifted facilitator, leader, artist, and spiritual director (pictured at right).
Sister Virginia began the retreat by having us reflect on the friends we have in our lives. After listing their names, we classified each one as an acquaintance, a casual friend, or a deep friend. From this, we noted the characteristics of a deep friendship. We were then given the opportunity to share this reflection in small groups of three.
The next reflection was on our friendship with Jesus. Sister Virginia asked us, “Is Jesus always God for you? Or is he a friend too? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” Again, we shared this reflection in small groups.
Later on, Sister Virginia reminded us of the CSJ charism of “communion, oneness with all, expressed as unifying, reconciling and all-inclusive love.” She further explained how the spirituality of friendship relates to the way we live out our charism as CSJ Associates, because we are called to be people of God in relationship.
Of all the characteristics of a deep relationship, kindness is the structure that supports the spirituality of friendship. Through kindness, we are able to trust and to open ourselves; we feel understood without being judged, which then takes us into deep relationship. The Blessed Trinity, through kindness, sent Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to be our good friend, the Good Shepherd who leads us to communion with the Father, the Holy Spirit and with one another.
Towards the end of the afternoon, Sister Virginia requested each associate community to gather as a group and share their reflection and review of the day. A member from each community then came forward to share with all the others.
After this retreat, we associates felt not only very blessed but also enlightened by learning that friendship, something so common and ordinary that we take it for granted, can be so profound when we reflect on it in the light of its spirituality.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Sister Virginia for this grace-filled day. We will definitely treasure our friendship with Jesus, with one another and with our dear neighbour. At the same time, we will strive to make ourselves better friends to others.
For more on the appointment of a new Associate Leadership Team, see CSJ Associates’ Leadership Make History
Written by Mary Huan
Photo by Sister Elaine Guidinger