Living Joy was a pilgrimage retreat hosted by Faith Connections and the Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada in London, Ontario on August 8 - 10, 2014, featuring reflections by Sr. Susan Glaab, Sr. Mechtilde O'Mara, Sr. Mary Rowell, Sr. Kathleen O'Keefe, and Sr. Joan Atkinson.
Sr. Susan Glaab
As we open the retreat, we will begin to unpack how Living Joy finds expression in our daily living. Sister Susan Glaab will help us explore this. Susan is a Sister of St. Joseph, and through her own reflection and living the charism (God-given grace) as a Sister of St. Joseph, she will then invite us to open our eyes and our hearts to see how God is alive in our world, in each other, and in our own hearts. God’s faithful love is always with us.
Living Joy is not just an emotion we experience, it is discovered as we open ourselves to all the experiences we have as we journey through life. When we see and grow in insight, we discover that God dwells within us and among us.
What struck you from the talk? What might help you engage “Living Joy”?
When do you find yourself happy and filled with joy? What contributes to that experience?
During this time when we are together, what are your expectations?
When you leave this weekend, what do you hope to take with you to enrich your life?
Living Joy in the History of the Sisters of St. Joseph
Sr. Mechtilde O’Mara
The Sisters of St Joseph were founded in France in the mid-17th century, an age of societal, economic, and religious turmoil. Their objective was to make God’s love real and evident to the people among whom they lived. With simplicity of life and attention to current, pressing needs, they reflected on the unity and diversity within the relationships of the Blessed Trinity and cultivated profound gratitude for the revelation of God’s love in the mystery of the Incarnation and in the Eucharist.
Their diverse ministries respond to the needs of the time seeking always to do what is more loving and more likely to bring about the union of ourselves with and among our neighbours and all with the love of God.
Three short stories: the founding of St Michael’s Hospital; the building of a neighbourhood; the washing of a poor man’s feet. These exemplify some enduring values of the Congregation: prompt to act in a practical manner to meet a specific need; patiently persevering despite difficulties; personal, gracious, loving service.
Living and life giving gentleness and joy combined with alert attention to the call of Christ makes us missionary disciples ready to serve the dear neighbour, even in ways that are the most humble and most likely to be overlooked.
We know ourselves as weak but apt instruments for building the relationships that will lead to the reconciliation of ourselves and others with God and with one another. The initiative is God’s, we can rest assured in his love and live in joy.
What resonated with you in this talk? How might God be speaking to you through the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph?
How does friendship support your faith life?
How might paying attention to “current and pressing needs” draw you into joy?
The initiative is God’s, we can rest assured in his love and live in joy.” Can you think of a time in your life that you surrendered yourself to God’s initiative? What happened?
Living the Joy of Vocations
Sr. Mary Rowell
Each of us is called in life to a particular expression of Living Joy that is to a sense of God’s call to vocation to be lived out fully in the world. The American writer and pastor, Frederick Buechner has said that vocation is “the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hungers.”
This definition speaks to human wholeness inseparable from a sense of true “holiness and service.” A maxim of the Sisters of St. Joseph written in the 17th century remains alive and relevant in this respect today, “Be and become all that you can in nature, grace and glory for time and for eternity.” (Maxim 73: Sisters of St. Joseph)
We are all called by God and sometimes in the calling God is indeed a God of surprises! What surprises does God have in store for each of us as we try to live out our lives fully in joy and in the service of others?
Through stories of personal vocation we can be drawn into a process of discernment; timely discernment of God’s will, discernment of love and discernment of what will ultimately bring joy to each of us. As humans fully alive, as Christians in Church and world today we are all called to live lives of discernment receiving God’s love and responding with love in our special vocation in life.
Where and how are you able to listen to God’s voice in your life?
What do you do to create silence in your day?
What are the deep desires of your heart and how do they “meet” the hungers of the world?
When has God surprised you in your life? How do you best need to be loved and how might you best love in response?
Joy in Everyday Living
Sr. Kathleen O'Keefe
“Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Philippians 4:4)
Authentic, deep, abiding joy can be yours when you live in Christ. Having been lovingly created by God, you are God’s precious child and a blessing to others. You are made for love. God’s Spirit lives within you. The fruits of this tremendous gift include joy. When you entrust yourself to our Gracious God, you can have unshakable confidence that God will be faithful in providing for all of your needs.
Our Living God calls you to the fullness of life. With heart-felt gratitude, you can open yourself to God and God’s desires for your life; thereby, bringing glory to God. Tenderly, God speaks to your heart, “For surely I know the plans I have for you … plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, you will find me; if you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…” (Jeremiah 29: 11-14a)
The only way to have real, lasting joy is to nurture your relationship with God and live a Spirit-filled life. Every moment and every encounter holds the potential to be a holy one, a chance to experience God and grow closer to God.
Some of the times God brings us joy include when we are appreciating the beauty of creation; in our interactions with other people who are in need; and, in the midst of difficulties, when we turn to God in prayer. Choose to live in God’s joy!
As your joy radiates for all to see, you will be bringing the light of Christ to others.
How do you manifest joy in your daily life?
What can you do to develop a more joyful attitude? What transformation does God need to work in your life in order for joy to flow through you outwards to others?
In your busy, stressful life, how can you experience joy each and every day no matter what your circumstances are?
Joseph — A Silent Teacher
Sr. Joan Atkinson
In Scripture, there are very few references to Joseph and in each of those places we do have any recorded words that he spoke. So, who is this silent and mysterious man who played such a vital role in the unfolding of our Christian story of salvation? In this reflection, I will look at Joseph in the following ways hoping that as we explore this we will connections that will deepen our understanding of the mystery of God in our journey of life.
Joseph was a man who was deeply engaged in the adventure of life. He was ready for the for the journey God seemed to presenting before him. Joseph paid attention to his dreams and followed his heart into Love, and into the Mystery of God.
Joseph was a man deeply grounded in love — in his close relationship with God, with his own soul, and with his family. Because of this he was always ready to take the next step into the unknown, but filled with hope.
Joseph can be a teacher for us on our great journey as we move forward with our lives.
Scripture references in which we meet Joseph: Luke 2: 1-7; Matthew 1: 18–25; Matthew 2: 13-23
How does Joseph speak to me at this time in my journey?
During this time when we are together, what are your expectations?
Joseph’s life was one deeply rooted in a biblical faith and understanding of God. How might I use Scripture to help me open myself to God’s action in my life?
Faith Connections, a ministry of Fontbonne Ministries, was established in 2005 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto as a way to connect with and minister to young adults in the 18-to-39 age range. Visit Faith Connections online at www.faithconnections.ca.