During this 2017 Lenten Season, on Sunday, March 26th, some fifty Sisters and Associates participated in a day of recollection at Résidence Sainte-Émélie. Two talks were presented on viewpoints that ‘fan the flame’ in keeping with the spirit of the Acts of the recent General Chapter. Time was given for silent reflection as well as for sharing in small groups. A Eucharistic celebration, held at the end of the morning, truly enhanced the day.
Sister Florence Vinet created a meditative atmosphere, and a climate of relaxation, attention and visualization to start off this thought-provoking day of recollection.
Inspired by the Gospel, from the liturgy of the day, on the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41), Sister Jacqueline Boudreau facilitated the first part of the day using the theme "God is revealed only in the reality that surrounds us.”
She developed her three-point presentation so as to lead those present to:
1. Develop the art of attention
2. Allow themselves to be surprised
3. See the unseeable, an inner experience
Speaking of the art of attention, Sister Jacqueline noted that each one has a personal perception of what is real and of events. This perception may be of a "sensitive", "emotional", "intellectual" or "spiritual" nature, enabling people “to enter into the clear light."
Regarding the second point “to allow themselves to be surprised", she invited the participants to look at nature, the beauty of the world around us and to discover the various aspects of reality. She concluded her talk by stressing that "God beckons us through what is real and shows his face to us through our daily reality", hence the call to remain vigilant to see the unseeable.
The second talk, presented by Sister Constance Létourneau, focused on the presence of strangers. To put it into context, she drew attention to the reaction of our society towards immigrants, especially Muslims, who face constant prejudice; the publication of Islamophobic statements fueled by fear; and a variety of visible signs such as styles of dress.
She reminded everyone that faith is a gift from God, similar to a multifaceted crystal. With each of these facets representing a religion, it would be preferable to "let the others be who they are." Aware of the challenges imposed by this presence of strangers, she also pointed out that tolerance and benevolence require a long apprenticeship. "In the school of Jesus and in fidelity to our 2016 Chapter Acts, we are called to look on others with kindness so as to better welcome the other, the stranger."
A prayer prepared by Sister Michelle Gouin on the theme "Open our eyes, Lord Jesus" brought this day of recollection to a conclusion on a high note. At the end of the day, Sister Jacqueline Boudreau proposed that the assembly, in a warm gesture, offer a blessing to the Sisters who live at Résidence Sainte-Émélie and who are presently experiencing a time of great upheaval. The members of the Spiritual Animation Committee gave each participant a small candlelight with the wish: "May you be light, wherever you are sent."
The presentation of the texts, the choice of music, and the "benevolent" welcome by the Sisters of Résidence Sainte-Émélie provided unreserved support and solidarity for this day of recollection, which was greatly appreciated by the participants.