Each morning you wake us to hear to listen like a disciple: the liturgy of hours in my life as a Xaviere sister

Each morning you wake us to hear to listen like a disciple… These words from a hymn by the Weston Priory Benedictine brothers give me a sense of the power of the liturgy of hours in song every morning over these 40 years in religious life.

To start the day by singing and praising the Lord is very life-giving and also community-building.

Our foundress Claire Monestès was very keen on Benedictine liturgy. In our formation and in community life, we spend some time in practice, chanting psalms and learning new hymns. Some of us have composed some antiphons and songs.

Praising the Lord is a way to enter the Mystery of God whom no words can describe. We still babble, stammer, stutter….  The way to be present even if we are not fully awake some days, even if our voices are not in tune… It makes us stand together in front of God and reminds us that we are here for Him and it is He who is the center of our life.

Even though I can’t read music, I can memorize and during the day some refrains come to my mind and help me for the day.

The simplicity of our chapel with icons, candles, and flowers – depending on the liturgical cycle – reminds us that creation is part of God’s revelation as well and is a way to praise the Lord.

Laus Tibi Christe!

Sr. Marie-Noelle

Making Compost: My way of Taking Care of Creation and Learning from the Earth

In community, we eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. So it feels natural to me to make our own compost.

Sr. Claire mixing the compost

I like to mix it, ensuring that there is enough moisture but not too much, and to see how it evolves.

At this time of the year, after several months without opening the compost box (thoroughly mixed before winter), the cycle is complete. It smells like the ground in a thick forest…

St. Gabriel’s Garden with some of our compost!

We donated two large pails of freshly ‘harvested’ compost to the Garden Ministry at St Gabriel’s parish, our parish.

Sr. Marie-Noelle and other volunteers spread it to the young fruit trees.

The cycle of life and simple joys!

Sr. Claire

Concluding our Centennial Festivities

On Sunday, February 13, we had a festive gathering online with our sisters in France, Ivory Coast, Chad, and Cameroon to celebrate the feast day of our Foundress (February 14) and to conclude our centennial festivities.

The video is a festive overview of the various celebrations that took place this year.

At the end of our time together, Sr. Christine, our Superior General, left us with these words:

Our jubilee year has come to an end, but the Ignatian year continues! Let us continue on the road of conversion towards the Lord with the whole Ignatian family!

The song in the video is the theme song from the Ignatian Family gathering in Marseilles in November 2021, ‘Avance au Large’ referencing Jesus’ invitation to Simon Peter to put out into the deep (Lk 5: 4).

Daring to be Saints in today’s Church? A Call to Humility and Courage

“Woman ‘preaches’ at concluding Mass for Ignatian Family gathering in Marseilles, France”. This is the title of the article from La Croix International, republished by the Global Sisters Report. And this woman happened to be Sr. Christine Danel, our Superior General! The occasion was the Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints concluding a gathering of 7000 people of the Ignatian family. Read the full article.

The fact that a woman could share her reflection on the Word of God was a good news in itself. The content of what she shared was also one! Below is her reflection in its entirety.

“Blessed are, blessed are, blessed are… this is the proclamation that we hear every year on the Feast of All Saints. All saints?

How do we have the audacity to speak of sanctity after the discovery of the extent of the crimes perpetrated within the Church? How could sexuality, power, and the sacred be distorted to such an extent? We need a lot of humility in our speeches, and a lot of courage in our actions to reform ourselves…

This quote from (Blaise) Pascal came to me recently, “He who behaves like an angel ends up behaving like a beast…” No, we are not angels, but human beings! “God created man and woman,” says the book of Genesis. And that, God saw that it was very good! We have a long way to go to unfold this otherness and complementarity in all areas in the life of the Church, including access to the words and to governance, to truly receive it as wealth, a gift from God!

As human beings we are differentiated by sex, and thus by definition incomplete, in want, we are beings of desire, a desire which turns us towards the other, and towards the Ultimate Other!

So, holiness is not to be perfect, with the illusion of being “angels!” The illusion of perfection is a bait, which can lead us to frustration, spite, or hypocrisy, to mask our shortcomings.

To be holy, is it not rather to be human, truly and fully human as the prophet Micah invites us to be. “You have been made to know what is good, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God!” (Micah 6:8)

Jesus calls them blessed – those who take on this need and their vulnerability! Blessed are you who are poor, you who weep, you who are meek, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you who seek peace…. Then you will be comforted, you will see God, you will be called sons (and daughters) of God…

If Jesus calls them blessed, those who are not consumed by their possessions and with themselves, it is undoubtedly because happiness lies in this capacity to desire, to receive from others, to rejoice in not being all powerful! Then we can really listen to others, hear the whisper of the Spirit at work in our lives, in the life that is offered!

In the reading from the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14), we see the huge crowd of witnesses. Facing the throne of the Lamb, they have gone through the great trial. They have accepted the path of the servant, the pascal path that goes all the way to the Cross, that offers life and forgiveness.

In this vast crowd of saints, there are the ‘saints next door,’ those who do good without making a noise, the humble ones of the earth. These people do not shine, but by their simplicity, their gentleness, their goodness, their way of loving and living, they are sources of hope, consolation and joy for those who live with them. Ignatius (of Loyola) invites us to discover how God works and lives in creatures. Let us ask for a vision that is pure enough to discern the Spirit at work in our world and to recognize those saints who accompany us and lead us!

Finally, it is a people who are holy! We cannot live holiness alone! It is together, with each other that we are saved. Men and women, young and old, families, consecrated persons, lay, clergy… Each one of us brings his or her stone to the structure and forms with the others the Body of Christ! All together, inhabited by the Spirit who works in each individual, all interdependent, as the pandemic experience has shown us. The vision of Revelation is a beautiful image of the synodal Church that we are invited to live in and dream together, called to witness to fraternity and the joy of loving and being loved.

Happy feast of All Saints!

All Saints 2021 – meditation aids by Sr. Christine Danel, xmcj

Celebrating the gift of Ignatian spirituality throughout Canada

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On September 25 took place the first online meeting of the “Ignatian family” in Canada! In several parts of the world, this term designates the religious communities and movements whose inspiration and charism are grounded in the spirituality of Saint Ignatius Loyola, who founded the order of the Jesuits in the 16th century. This celebration was part of the series of events organised by the Jesuits in Canada to mark the 500th anniversary of Saint Ignatius’ conversion in 1521. Sister Laurence co-organised and facilitated the event.

The Ignatian family in Canada gathers about 20 religious orders and lay movements whose members are spread throughout the country. Some communities have been present in Canada for over a century: the Jesuits, the Loretto Sisters, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Institut Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil de Montréal, les Soeurs de la Charité de Quebec, Religieuses de Jesus Marie… while some were founded or have arrived in the last decades: Christian Life Communities, Communaute Vie Chrétienne, Institut du Christ Seigneur, Eucharistic Youth Movement, our own community of Xaviere sisters…

The general theme was “Seeing all things new in Christ”. The morning session was a workshop/colloquy organised in two parts. A first series of speakers presented how Saint Ignatius, Saint Francis Xavier and the first Jesuits in Canada had to open up to new ways of living out the mission based on the new contexts they were faced with. A second series of presenters spoke about new mission paths emerging in the areas of primary and post-secondary education, spiritual accompaniment, and relationships between indigenous and settler communities in Canada. The afternoon took the form of an online celebration during which short presentations of the participating movements and communities were shown.   It was a beautiful day of encounter, reflection, sharing, prayer, rejoicing and thanksgiving for the gift of the Ignatian spirituality which remains to this day so life-giving and relevant to discern God’s loving presence and action in all things!

Sonal’s First Profession and off to Toronto!

We had the joy to celebrate Sonal’s first vows in our ‘family home’ La Pourraque, in the south of France on August 15th. She pronounced her first vows with Grâce with whom she spent the last two years as a novice.

The vows ceremony took place during the Mass celebrated by Archbishop François Fonlupt, from the diocese of Avignon. There were about 60 Xaviere sisters present – many from our communities in Africa and of course, our community was present too!

During the vow ceremony, each candidate shares some aspects of her faith journey. Here is a translated extract from Sonal’s testimony:

“God is good, all the time!” His faithfulness is not limited. By this lived experience I desire to concretely be available to Him by the vows of chastity, of poverty, and of obedience. I desire to be ready and available to rejoice with Christ, to suffer with him, to work with him in his Kingdom forever. La Xavière gives me the means to be available to my Lord and for this I am grateful.It is to love that we are created,” says Claire Monestès. By the grace of God, here I am ready to cast off, ready to be sent to love like him.

At the end of the Mass, Sr. Christine Danel, our Superior General, sent Sonal to Toronto and Grâce to Abidjan in Ivory Coast.

“Reaching to the Sources of Joy”, our centennial gathering in Lourdes (France)

Candlelight Procession in the Sanctuary of Lourdes (France)

From July 31st on the feast of St Ignatius Loyola to August 2nd, 2021, the Xaviere Sisters gathered in Lourdes (France) for a pilgrimage with families, associates and friends – a humble but happy gathering of 400.

The theme for our pilgrimage was “Reaching to the Sources of Joy”. Each day explored an aspect of this reach:

  • Day 1: Turned towards Joy, Overcoming Difficulties
  • Day 2: Engaged in Dialogue, Sharing the Joy
  • Day 3: Sent to Live and Announce the Joy of the Gospel

Watch the video for highlights!

Happy Birthday to the Xaviere Sisters! A “Covid-friendly” birthday cake!