Growing in Faith
A Holy Union Reflection for Summer 2019
Each month we’re pleased to provide a reflection on a topic which is relevant to everyday life, a quiet moment in a busy day to consider God’s plan for you. Step back and look around. Let go of the stress, turn off the noise and relax. This month’s reflection will serve as our Summer Reflection. Our next Reflection will be in September.
Daily Bread for the Summer
“Give us each day our daily bread” Luke 11:3
Each year, the season of summer ushers in a time to enter into the invisible yet tangible world of awareness, opportunity and change. Besides enjoying the sunshine, the explosive vegetation and the ocean’s salty smell, we can often experience summer as a time of inner growth, of noticing and becoming more open, of savoring the “daily bread” of our lives. As schedules slow and insights have time and space to rise (no pun intended!), this relaxed, seemingly ordinary time of summer can lead to extraordinary transformation if we are free and yearn for (w)holiness.
Probably some past summers were filled with significant external transition: changes in geographic location, ministry, family or community circumstances. Others came and went with few changes in lifestyle and passed by casually. Summers with transitions were, and continue to be, obvious opportunities for transformation. However, even if not in the midst of external changes, we can experience summer as a time to change speed and take inventory.
Summer markers, part of the season’s “daily bread,” can help us change gears and take stock. Right after summer’s beginning on June 21st comes one such marker: the Feast of John the Baptist, the patron of our Founder Jean Baptiste Debrabant. During his long life, Father Debrabant often sent a circular letter to the religious of our young congregation on the feast, encouraging them to take the Baptist as their model in preparing the way of the Lord. In turn, they sent him their affectionate greetings and prayer for his well-being. Archange Lebrun, superior general at the time of Debrabant’s death, urged the sisters to continue to celebrate the Baptist’s feast and to honor both our Founder and his patron as our models and protectors. And we still do today! We mark the day with prayer and festivity; at the time of the feast, the General Council of the Congregation sends us the names of all our newest sisters, reminding us to support their beginnings in religious life with prayer and affection; and every time we open our Constitutions, we see a reference to the Baptist: “A man … sent by God … as a witness … “ (Jn 1:6-7). The Feast of the Baptist is a summer marker for us, reminding us of the enthusiasm and courage of our Founder and first sisters, encouraging our reflection on the blessing of our heritage and the quality of our witness today.
The 4th of July, recalling our country’s beginnings and its earliest ideals is another marker, another call to transformation (as well as fun!). As summer unfolds, we often celebrate family reunions and significant anniversaries. For many of us vowed religious, July and August carry the anniversaries of our entrance into the community, our profession of religious vows, and the excitement (and anxiety) of receiving assignments to new missions and responsibilities. We celebrate our province jubilarians, both vowed religious and associates, at each summer’s Assembly. Not only do we remember and celebrate the commitment of those with whom we share life today, we embrace the power and mystery of the Communion of Saints, remembering all the holy women whose lives of generous fidelity have brought us to this moment, to these anniversaries We are caught in a mystery of intersecting, holy lives!
God never fails to provide something new and challenging in the ordinariness of summer days! In routine events, great opportunity and surprises arise: a sunrise over the ocean; a hilarious cookout with family and friends; a summer wedding; even the anniversaries of such terrible events as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki … all these offer us opportunities for reflection and transformation.
We do not do the work of transformation alone. God’s grace provides us with “our daily” bread. Whether spurred by external transition or from simply slowing down and taking stock, opportunity for transformation is present each day.
May we all have a little time this summer to change speed, take inventory, and be open to transformation. Perhaps some of these questions will invite you into this time and space: How aware and free am I to take “daily bread” opportunities for transformation? How can I become more aware of that which appears ordinary, unremarkable or happens daily and use it for growth? What transformation am I called to as I continue on my journey of (w)holiness? This summer, what markers are present that can help me pause and take inventory of the movement of God in my life and my response toward others? What surprise invitation to transformation does God have for me this summer?
Our summer reflection was originally written by a Sister of Charity and has been adapted, with her permission, to reflect Holy Union feasts and customs and other summer events.