November seemed to sneak in silently without any fanfare. Tonight we are back on Eastern Standard Time. My Palm Pilot however switched itself over last Sunday which resulted in my almost late arrival at Mass. For Americans, November brings the celebration of Thanksgiving--a home centered holiday, and one of America's more "religious" of civic celebrations. After all, the first Thanksgiving celebrated God's bounty and goodness toward the original Pilgrims. In Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day on the first Monday of October. Our little community of Sisters celebrated with traditional turkey, cranberry sauce, and all the fixings that go with a traditional American Thanksgiving. Since the fourth Thursday of November is not a Canadian holiday, we may have turkey for our midday meal, but no holiday. However, we too will give thanks with our fellow Americans for all the abundant blessings God gives us everyday.
In this past week we enjoyed the visit of Sister Mary Martha Moss who brought us up-to-date on the workings of the 9th General Chapter of the Daughters of St. Paul. Our order is located in 52 countries, with its general headquarters in Rome. More than 70 Sisters representing all those countries met for one month in the Divine Master Retreat House in Ariccia, Italy. The Chapter meets every six years. One of the first things on its agenda is to elect or to re-elect the Superior General and her council. Sister Antonietta Bruscato who is from Brazil generously agreed to take up a second term as Superior General. She has 6 councilors who help her, a general secretary and a general "bursar." The bursar is the bookkeeper or accountant on a general level. Her councilors hail from Italy, Columbia, Spain, Japan and the Philippines. One of the councilors who is Italian has lived in Kenya, Africa, for over 20 years. This is a good representation from around the world. While it is in session, the Chapter is the highest authority in our congregation. Before the Sisters began their deliberations and meetings, they had a week of silent retreat led by Jesuit Father Rupnik. The Sisters wanted to make sure that they were spiritually ready to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The Chapter delegates all were attuned to the theme "Chosen and loved in Christ Jesus, we communicate his Word to everyone."
With colorful Power Point slides, Sister Martha showed us the reports given at the Chapter. Then she gave us the final Chapter Document which charts the course of our religious congregation for the next six years. The Document presents three major goals for the Congregation as a whole and thus for each individual community. We were given copies of three main addresses given at the Chapter. We read each one, studied it and dialogued about how that topic related to our particular situation. It was a good experience in the dynamics of "communication." Events such as General Chapters give us the opportunity to avoid being complacent and to renew our life and mission.
On another topic: If you go to www.youtube.com/fatherjeffrey, you will find a 13 minute interview Father conducted with me in September. The title is "Tender Mercies." That may help you to locate the video.
This month connects us in a spiritual way with the next life. Its two first days showcase our family and friends who have gone before us: with All Saints Day on November 1, and All Souls Day on November 2. November 11 is called Veterans' Day or Armistice Day (from World War I). We remember those who died to preserve peace for us, and those still living who went to war for us. My Uncle Bill is one of those who served in the Pacific during World War II. He has many a harrowing story to tell.
Let us pray for those brave men and women--like Uncle Bill--who have gone before us and laid their lives on the line for us. May your November be one of prayerful reflection and joy-filled activity.
Until next time, God bless you!
Sister Mary Peter