Reflection of Sister Pat Macaulay at the Final Profession of Sister Divinia Pedro CSJ
It is an honour to be asked by you, my dear friend, Divinia (Debbie, as your family calls you) to be invited to give the reflection at your final profession. Here we are now in the reality of this joyous day of celebration of your commitment, which says to us that "God's heart is your home" within the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.
The readings that Divinia has chosen are rich. Let's look at each one and why she might have chosen it.
And Samuel said, "Speak Lord for your servant is listening" — Taken from 1 Samuel 3:1-10
In the call of Samuel's name in the night and believing it to be the voice of the Elder, Eli, as he was ministering to the Lord in the Sanctuary at Shiloh, it is obvious to us that Divinia identifies with Samuel. She has been answering the call with a listening and open heart and seeking the direction of mentors in the formation process. Her first movement in this call was to the Associate program and as a regular visitor in our infirmary. Samuel's and Divinia's desire is to make "The heart of God their home."
"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior" — Taken from Luke 1:39-56
The reading from Luke on Mary and Elizabeth's encounter and Mary's hymn of thanksgiving and praise was chosen by Divinia because of its reference to community relationships, the readiness to serve and obedience to grace that Mary witnesses for us. Mary and Divinia discover more deeply that "God's heart is their home." I witnessed a similar encounter to that of Mary and Elizabeth recently. It was with our bishop, Gerry Wiesner, and Divinia as he embraced her and said, "Welcome home" at our parish church, Our Lady of the Snows, in Fort St. James.
"... Jesus Christ, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave..." — Taken from Philippians 2:1-11
The Philippians 2 reading speaks to us of the self-emptying of Jesus, the Beloved of God. This text is at the heart of our vocation to living the charism of unioning love, and so was chosen as Divinia's desire to follow in the way of our beloved Jesus.
Our beautiful charism
Let us explore together some thoughts on our beautiful charism, which many of us learned anew in Concordia, Kansas, with Bette Moslander and Marcia Allen.
At the heart of our vocation as Sisters of St. Joseph is this profound mystery of God — present in all of reality. Both as Christian believers and as members of our communities of St. Joseph, we are invited into a personal encounter with God in the day-by-day reality in which we live. We are drawn into a mystery of relationship with God, whose very identity is to be in relationship. This God... is mystery, so deep, so intimate, so profound that we can only prostrate ourselves in wonder. It leaves us speechless, without words, yet compelled to articulate, to proclaim, to communicate in stuttering human language something of the truth we have come to believe. This God is self-communicating love, love poured out, love present, truly present in all of creation, and in a particularly intimate and personal way in humanity.
We could never have known anything about the tri-unity of God except that God chose to enter into human history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus, the profound mystery of poured-out love at the heart of God's inner life was revealed to us.
Jesus is God's clearest self-expression in human terms. At the heart of our spirituality is the mystery of the Kenosis — the self-emptying of God. Our founder, Jean Pierre Médaille, in Maxim Three states in part: "Empty yourself continually in honour of the incarnate word who emptied himself with so much love for you...make your commitment to live in the practice of the most sincere, true and profound humility possible to you."
We know that our spirituality is strongly Trinitarian and at the same time definitely Incarnational. What might it cost us to love as Jesus loved? Ours is a practical and pragmatic spirituality lived out in the day-by-day. It engages us in a life of service, in generous, out-going, selflessness, inclusive love that often requires of us generosity, ready forgiveness and compassion. It is an on-going process of unioning love that draws us toward God in a mysticism of relationships that encompasses the reality of our ordinary daily lives — our eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, laughing, loving. It expresses itself in virtues like kindness, candor, concern, openness, courtesy, simplicity, hospitality and self-forgetfulness.
I remember being attracted to our life through the Sisters who taught me at St. Pat's in Vancouver. They modeled for me women who were friends of one another and were down-to-earth people.
Living out our charism
We are able to live our charism through our prayer, our mystical union with the trinity of love.
"The only book on the charism people will read is the book of our lives." — Bette Moslander CSJ
A little story about Divinia on our mission in Tachie, a Carrier village (the Carrier are an indigenous people of northern interior British Columbia). One day after going to the band office, the two of us were getting into the car when an RCMP Officer drove up and asked Divinia if the band chief was in the office. When she replied, "I don't know" he said, "Aren't you on staff?" We knew then that she looked like she belonged.
In a talk given in 2007, in Toronto, Jean Vanier said that the need to belong is greater than the need to be loved. While I was surprised to hear this initially, as time has gone on I have reflected on the wisdom of these words.
We have come to know, Divinia, that you truly belong to us, and today we have the joy and blessing to witness this reality.
We are extremely happy that you have chosen with love, joy and zeal to make the heart of God your home, and to do that within our community home of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.