True Friendship Leads to Service
This year, the CSJ Associates' annual retreat was held on the last weekend of October at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls. Although this was later than usual, the weather was good and the drive provided an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful fall colours.
The theme of our retreat, How Does the Spirituality of Friendship Become a Life of Service? was a continuation of our commitment retreat earlier this year, The Spirituality of Friendship presented by Sister Virginia Varley, CSJ. Our speaker this time was Sister Grace Sauvé. Knowing that these two Sisters have been good friends ever since entering the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph 60 years ago, I can't help but feel that God handpicked them to guide the CSJ Associates on these two retreats on friendship in 2008, the year of their diamond jubilee as Sisters of St. Joseph.
During this retreat, Sister Grace led us in a brief review of our earlier retreat recalling that we are all called to be mystics. We listened to the story in John 21 in which Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to his disciples. Out fishing, they had caught nothing, but when Jesus told them to cast their nets once again, they caught a huge number of fish. Then Jesus showed his love for his friends by starting a fire onshore and preparing breakfast for them.
Jesus changed our status when he said, "I no longer call you servants, but friends." In his genuine friendship, Jesus revealed to us everything that the Father had revealed to him, making us co-heirs with him. In washing the disciples' feet at the Last Supper, Jesus showed that true friendship leads to service, and that we should serve our brothers and Sisters in that same way. Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" He asks each one of us the same questions: Do we love Jesus? Do we feed his lambs? Do we tend his sheep?
We then turned to the Maxims of the Little Institute by Jean Pierre Médaille SJ for further examples of how to love God and the dear neighbour in the spirit of true friendship. We formed small groups, as had the early Associates, for "sharing of the heart."
The communal reconciliation service and the hour we spent with the Blessed Sacrament helped us to look into our "inner closets" to see what we need to discard in order to make room for renewal.
Looking back, I can't think of a better way to have spent the weekend. Thanks be to God!
By Mary Huan