The Eagle Eastertide 2010


Published on

Published in: Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

The Eagle Eastertide 2010

  1. 1. The Eagle Eastertide 2010 Christian art usually represents St. John with an eagle symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. This particular eagle is a form of Bunka Embroidery using a punch needle and synthetic thread. It is often known as “painting with thread” as the finished effect is one of a painting, the thread providing the texture and the colours and workmanship providing the depth. This ‘painting’ was embroidered by Nandrani Sawh, the mother-in-law of one of our night nurses, Rehana Sawh. (Nandrani was one of our night nurses many years ago.) It was given to us by the Sawh family as a Christmas gift in 2007. Grant us, O God, to fly on eagle’s wings that we, soaring high above our daily round may see, and seeing understand the complicated landscapes of our lives. Grant us, O God, the sharp bright eyes of eagles that we, gazing from above upon our daily round may see, and seeing understand the depths and heights, the chasms and the meadows of our lives. Grant us, O God, that keen tumultuous vision you gave to John in Patmos’ cave that we, looking with inner eye upon our daily round may see, and seeing understand the shimmering seas, the gentle streams, the raging rivers of our lives. Grant us, O God, to see, and seeing understand that in the ordinary pacing out of daily roundwe scale the heights and delve the depths, race the roads and swim the seas and often, all unknowing, yet exemplify your presence in our lives. Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD 1
  2. 2. Dear Associates, Oblates and Friends, Sr. Anne has been teaching children the violin throughThe Easter Season had me the parish of St. Simon thepondering the image of the Apostle in the St. JamestownPhoenix rising from the ashes, area. The Sisterhood, anone of the carvings which appears expression of contemporaryon the front of our altar. The monasticism with our roots inPhoenix is an ancient symbol of the desert tradition, is excitedlife arising out of death which about these opportunitieswe see echoed in the death and to share our passion withresurrection of Jesus. How do others—to bring new life towe witness to the resurrection of others through our life ofJesus Christ in our lives? We do so by telling others about prayer, love and service.our understanding of how Jesus is alive to us. Phyllis Tickle, visionary and writer/speaker in the Episcopal Sr. Constance Church in the US, will be with us on May 16th for a public witnesses with her lecture. She will challenge our understanding of how to be remarkable life. She the Emerging Church in the 21st century. The lecture will turned 106 on be followed by a reception and book-signing. Tickets are February 2nd. In required for this event; call the Guest House to make your November 2009, the reservations. US Ambassador, David Jacobsen, visited the In our community, you’ll be pleased to hear that we Convent to present to received Rhonda Cross as a postulant on April 7th. We Sr. Constance a letter ask your prayers for Rhonda as she begins her new life in of congratulations from SSJD. We ask your ongoing prayers for vocations to the President Obama. She Sisterhood and for the upcoming General Synod of the is the oldest American Anglican Church of Canada to take place in Halifax, NS citizen living in Canada. in June. Five Sisters from SSJD will be attending Synod Her love for God is to represent the Sisterhood. Sr. Sue, the new Director evident in her love for of the Eastern Province of Associates, will be staying onpeople that she has expressed by a life of prayer and after General Synod to visit Associates in Nova Scotiaservice in SSJD and in the larger community. and Newfoundland. We also ask your prayers for Patricia Gerrand who asked to leave our community in December.I was fortunate to attend the Synod of the Diocese of We wish her well on her continuing journey, now as anBritish Columbia this spring where the whole Diocese is Associate.seriously trying to live the resurrection life. They haveboldly decided to dis-establish a number of parishes, to You will soon receive our Narrative Budget telling the storyamalgamate some into hub churches and to form some of our response to God’s call to love, prayer and ministries. They are witnessing to the rest of the We do so appreciate your generous response to ourchurch their faith in resurrection—that new life arises out Annual Appeal over the last two years which has enabledof what must seem like death to many. They are looking us to carry out our many new ways to encounter and reach out to people intheir diocese, trying out the mixed economy model that Hildegard of Bingen once wrote, “spiritual people, whoArchbishop Rowan Williams speaks about. Pray for our in the devotion of their hearts often gaze at God like theSisters’ work in that Diocese and for the Diocese of British angels, are marked with the eagle.” You know that theColumbia as they take these bold steps. symbol of the eagle is the symbol for St. John, our patron. I pray that you too may have John’s fiery vision of heaven,Wonderful things are happening his zeal for putting love into action, and his devotion toin the Diocese of Toronto Christ Jesus.which has embraced NaturalChurch Development and Fresh Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJDExpressions. Srs. Constance Reverend MotherJoanna and Elizabeth led a well-received series on Passionate Spirituality with the parish ofHoly Trinity Guildwood in thefall.2
  3. 3. Creating Sacred SpaceCan you envision this window in full colour in our RetreatChapel? Were you to enter this space right now it mightseem utilitarian and rather ordinary. Imagine the spacetransformed, turned into a sacred space which invites youin—a place to which you can “come away . . . and rest awhile.”This stained glass window was a gift to the Sisterhood ofSt. John the Divine by St. John’s Anglican Church in TheCarrying Place, Ontario. The stained glass was designed byYvonne Williams, the same artist who created the windowswhich grace the Chapel at St. John’s Rehab Hospital. Thiswindow shows the Risen Christ, St. John the Divine andSt. Margaret of Scotland. It was dedicated to the memoryof John Grier and Rose Margaret Grier, father and nieceof Hannah Grier Coome, our Mother Foundress. It isfitting that the window should find a home in our Conventnow that its former home has been dis-established. It ispresently in storage, waiting to be restored and refitted totransform the Retreat Chapel into a truly sacred space.Envision with us the transformation of the Retreat Chapelin the Guest House into an oasis of peace that invites youto enter and sit in silence, to meditate, to be at peace withGod. The colours in the stained glass window will brightenand add a luminosity to the room, supporting the inwardjourney through the day. A working gas fireplace, oppositethe window, will draw people there in the evenings and atnight as a place for meditation, study and reflection.We need your help to bring this vision to reality. To createthis sacred space we need to: We invite you to create with us this sacred space and • install the large stained glass window in the south bring this dream to fruition. Individuals and/or groups wall interested in funding the Retreat Chapel transformation are encouraged to contact us. • put three smaller pieces of stained glass, from the convent on Botham Road, in the door to the chapel For more information, please call Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJD (416-226-2201, ext. 302) or Sara Lawson, • put in a gas fireplace with appropriate surround Director of Development (416-226-2201, ext. 340 or • enclose the bookcases to provide storage e-mail • replace the chapel furnishings to enhance the space for worship and meditation Notice to all Associates and We are delighted to inform you that Oblates attending General Synod Sr. Elizabeth Ann has been re-elected in Halifax, June, 2010for a second term of office as the Reverend Mother of our Community. Please join the Sisters at the Please keep her in your prayers. CAROA Reception on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. 3
  4. 4. Loving Openness Toward One Another and all CreationWhen a Sister makes her Life Profession in our Community, From our Rule: Friendship is a gift of God, to be developedshe makes this promise: “I will live in the perpetual responsibly and thankfully, for the enrichment of theobservance of the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience whole community. It is through loving and respondingas expressed in the Rule of Life, and herein I pray for the to love that we grow in likeness to Christ. Our powersgrace and heavenly assistance of the Holy Spirit . . . .” We of human love find fulfilment in a living relationshipare often asked what these vows mean in today’s world. with him; an ever deepening commitment and moreThe section on the vow of chastity in the Rule of Life of generous self-giving to the spiritual family in which Godthe Sisterhood of St John the Divine begins: has placed us; and a constant reaching out to embrace humanity and all creation.The vow of chastity is grounded in the wholeness of lovewith which Jesus embraced humanity and all creation. Chastity is also a call to experience a growing sense ofFor us, chastity is expressed in the celibate state. It is a the universe itself—of loving openness to all of creationway of releasing all our energies for total commitment —that interconnectedness of spirituality and ecology,to Christ, a wholeness in love which is creative and care for the earth. It awakens a passion for justice andgenerative, demanding integrity and purity of life. right relationships across the entire spectrum of life. It is a call to life, to the wholeness that is released by livingOf the three vows that form the pillars of our vocation interdependently in our world.(poverty, chastity, obedience) celibate chastity could becalled the vow of loving openness toward one Chastity rests in and is anchored in a contemplative contextanother and all creation. It is bound up with mutual love, of prayer and solitude. It is in solitude and silence that wefriendship and support for one another. It is the hard work move into the togetherness of community. It is here thatof entering into paradox, into mystery, and of learning to we give to each other that gift of silence where we canlive together with differences. It is being willing to commit listen together and listen to one another. It is creativeoneself deeply to the pain and the joy of life fully lived. It is and generative, enabling healing and wholeness in lovinglearning how to love and to listen without possessiveness, openness to others and to all of creation. The vow of chastitywithout imposing ourselves on others. With someone who is a call to open readiness for encounter, a willingness to beis practising celibate chastity well, we may sense that we’re met—a vulnerability in which compassionately we walk thisbeing listened to in a refreshingly deep way. And this is earth. It is the vow of community life, and our call isthe purpose of chastity, not to attain some impossibly to embrace it in gratitude and freedom.cerebral goal mistakenly conceived as ‘holiness’, but tomake oneself available to others. The fruit of chastity From our Rule: In chastity we bear witness that God isis hospitality. It is a call to belong to everyone and to no our whole at the same time. It calls us to support one another,to empower one another, and to learn from one another. Sr. Doreen, SSJDCommunity, the Rule reminds us, is to be built on “chaste”love, on love that does not use or exploit others, on lovethat can give without requiring equal payment in return,on love that is not based on the gratification of the self. Ithas a message, a ministry and a value much needed todayin a culture in which sex and exploitation have become aconsuming issue, a national passion, an underlying currentin every social system.The integrity and authenticity of the call to chastity restsupon a quality of engagement, of loving openness, to oneanother and to all of creation. It is a call to relatednessthat is holistic and liberating, in becoming increasingly awarm, tender and sensitive person. It is a call to opennessto seeing in each other the face of God, a gift that engagesevery human person on the journey to wholeness. Chastityembraced joyfully opens a capacity to relate warmly andlovingly with other human beings. Friendships are an important aspect of authenticity in thecomplex dynamics that living lovingly and tenderly requiresin the world of our time. Sisters Merle and Amy4
  5. 5. God Delights in You!Never in my wildest dreams, when I entered SSJD in 1977, I have found it important to remember this: “That whichdid I think that one day I would believe that God delighted dominates our imagination and our thought will determinein me and loved me!!! For years, the verse “Be you perfect our life and character. Therefore it behooves us to be carefulas your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48) had haunted what we are worshipping, for what we are worshipping weme. . . almost to the point of despair. What was I doing are becoming.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) If we focus on ain a Religious Community when I was SO imperfect? How God who frowns on us, that is who we are worshipping. Ifcould I possibly become perfect? If I am not perfect, how we focus on a God who is always looking at our faults andcan God love me? It took many years, hours of listening mistakes (I prefer to call them “learning experiences”!), weto homilies and addresses, reading hundreds of books and will never realize that actually God delights in us and lovespraying before I came across helpful “hints” to begin to us—warts and all!!!answer that question: A “picture” from Margaret Silf’s superb book LandmarksIn Genesis 1 it says: “God saw that the light was good” is helpful: if we always have our faces to the Sun, to theand “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it God who is Love, our backs will be to the shadows ofwas very good.” God delighted in all of creation—including despair and feelings of unworthiness.people—and I gradually learned that God continues todelight in us!!! A final word from St. John of the Cross: “In the evening of life we will be judged by Love.” A Love which will not carryIn the book As Bread that is Broken written by Fr. Peter a Balance book; a God who will lovingly show us our pastVan Bremen, S.J., the first chapter is entitled, “The life so that we may learn from it and go forward into God’sCourage to Accept Acceptance”. He writes: “we like a eternal Life and Love.person very much (90%) or in an ordinary way (50%) orvery little (20%). God does not measure love. God cannotbut love totally—100%. . . . God is Love.” (p.14) “WhenGod loves me, I must accept myself as well. I cannot bemore demanding than God, can I?” (p.15) No . . . but thatcommand to be perfect still danced before my eyes. . . .Then one Sunday Fr. Paul Gibson preached on the passageconcerning “perfection”, and lights turned on for me. Fr.Gibson pointed out that the Greek word “telios” whichwas translated into English as “perfect” actually means“unique, complete, compassionate, or whole”!!! Now therewas something more attainable to aim for—not easier butpossible!!!Then Fr. John Powell’s book Unconditional Love reallyput the icing on the cake for me—it is all about God’sunconditional love for us. Fr. Powell declared that conditionallove is not God’s love. There is NO “if”, “when”, “only”,“after”, “while”, “during”, “maybe”, “possibly”, “despite”,about God’s love; God loves us, period!!! How wonderfullythat message helped to erase well-meaning messages frommy parents which said to me that I was really loved when Iwas “good” and a lot less when I was bad . . . . messageswhich did not help my struggle to love myself.Jesus, when asked what was the greatest commandment,replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your Thanks be to God who loves ussoul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the so passionately–forever!!!first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Loveyour neighbour as yourself.”(paraphrase of Mt. 22: 37-39) Sr. Anitra, SSJD 5
  6. 6. Our lives of Sister Helena was born and raised in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) in the depression which brought a variety of work experiences, one of which was modelling for a photographer as “Summer girl in her whoopee hat”. Having had some stenographic studies, she joined the Army because she “didn’t approve of what Hitler was doing”. Her positions included recruiting officer in Canada and assisting Australian wireless operators in Washington. After the war she went to Winnipeg and began studies at St. John’s Theological College to equip her to teach in a mobile Sunday School in northern Alberta. Her co-worker had had some contact with the Convent but Helena’s response to any information was “ugh—who wants to live like that”. She gave no thought to wanting to be a nun. And then, while reading the Abingdon Commentary one day, “I knew that God was right there with me holding up a picture of a nun holding a little flower. I knew God was calling me right out of the blue for I wasn’t a churchy person. I knew things would be strange but I just took things as they came.” And so Helena entered SSJD in 1947. She has done many things in Community (sewing, teaching Sunday School, making altar breads, cooking, housekeeping, being sacristan, giving retreats and talks) in many houses (St. John’s-on-the-hill in Aurora,Ontario; St. Michael’s Mission and later Maison St-Jean in Montreal; both the Priory and St. Elizabeth House in Edmonton; QDS in Regina, and the Church Home, Cana Place, and the Convent all in Toronto). Even now, she is known for her regular practice of Tai Chi as she is able. Sister Joyce was born in a prairie town called Ardath. After Grade 12, university was out of reach financially. Although the Grey Nuns offered to train her as a nurse, she declined and went to technical school followed by a position at an Anglican hostel for teachers. As a “church-going girl”, she joined the staff at Emmanuel College in Saskatoon doing various jobs. From there she came to SSJD at 21, as she’d been wanting to try her vocation despite her parents’ opposition. She understood this as her decision removed a source of income from her family in the midst of the depression. She began at the Convent on Major Street, then went to Edmonton to work in the house for seniors next to the Sisters, and later to look after unmarried mothers. While there her doctor advised her to take up gardening which, to her surprise, she grew to love. After the onset of cancer and the closure of the house in 1979 due to government pressure, she returned to the Convent and asked for library training. Sr. Joyce was one who “championed changes in Community”. She worked in the hospital and was able to pressure Sister Philippa into letting her take up Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. Involvement in staff development, pastoral care and setting up the library all contributed to her being “happy there”. Life has been “more or less uneventful. I always had a great love for the Community, and seemed to hold all my jobs for a long time.” Sister Thelma-Anne was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan, raised in Regina, and went to Queen’s University on a scholarship for a B.A. in Honours English and History. She then went to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, again on scholarship, followed by graduate study at Radcliffe College. She described herself as an agnostic but was drawn to English poets such as George Herbert. She started piano lessons at age eight and writing poetry in her teens. Organ studies in Toronto began after university, as well as singing in the choir of St. Mary Magdalene under the direction of Healey Willan. After pursuing office work opportunities in Toronto, including time at Church House, she entered SSJD in 1957. Although “at that time one was not encouraged to put one’s self forward”, Sr. Thelma-Anne began writing music, eventually becoming Convent organist and choir director. Involved in a variety of depart- ments, including deputy (later called assistant) to the Reverend Mother, she also worked in the houses in Regina, Edmonton and St. Lambert. While in St. Lambert she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s which led to the writing of her book, In Age Reborn, By Grace Sustained, in which she shares her spiritual journey. Sr. Thelma-Anne states “I never considered the possibility of leaving Community as this is where I belong. I’ve made good friendships. I’m lucky to have experienced times of transition, with good models to look to.”6
  7. 7. Love and ServiceThe highlight of the past year for Sister Constance was a visit fromthe newly appointed American Ambassador, David Jacobson, in December.The Ambassador brought a framed letter from President Barack Obama tohonour her 105th birthday the previous February. It reads: “This is just abelated note to congratulate you on your 105th birthday. I hope you hada wonderful celebration with your family and friends. As you reflect upona lifetime of memories, we hope that you are filled with tremendous prideand joy. You have accomplished much over the past 105 years, and yourdedication to your faith and your community is inspiring. Congratulationson this extraordinary milestone. I wish you continued joy and blessingsin the years to come.” Sr. Constance is thought to be the oldest Americanliving in Canada. In February Sr. Constance received a letter from a personwho somehow came across her on the internet. She doesn’t know how thishappened, but she’d heard the end of an interview with Sr. Constance inwhich Sister said: “Here I am Lord, send me.” This had a profound effect on the woman who promptly offered to clean pots, pansand dishes for about 150 people at a church function. Prior to this she had felt unable to do it. So Sr. Constance continues to havean effect on others, many of whom she may never meet. Born in Toronto, Sister Merle left home at age 16, pursuing work during the depres-sion at Simpson’s, then with a car dealership. She joined the Army in 1942 and was postedto Washington, as it was the focal point of Allied operations with the Canadian Joint StaffMission, to do secretarial work. In 1944 she was seconded to the US War Department’sPacific Military Intelligence Research Section, which translated captured Japanese documents,as Personnel Sergeant Major for the Unit. After VJ Day, she returned to Canada and settled inMontreal. Merle always wanted to be a nurse so she applied and was accepted at the MontrealGeneral Hospital graduating in 1951. At age 45, after many years at MGH, she began to feelthere was more to life than going to work every day. While attending St. John the EvangelistChurch, she had informal contact with SSJD Sisters but no sense of call. Realizing she hadnever been baptised, she asked to be baptized and began wondering about the religious life.Knowing little or nothing of church but drawn to the ritual, she began inquiries of SSJD, wasaccepted, and entered in 1964. She “found religious life very difficult, a whole different ethosto what I’d been used to. Time and experience, a gradual loosening and levelling of demands,expectations, and customs in Community made it easier. I was a very nominal Christian whenI came here.” Most of Sr. Merle’s time was at SJRH and she states warmly “I’ve grown to lovethe Community because of the changes that have taken place . . . and the very good individualrelationships . . . . I have had a lot of illness but with God’s grace I’ve come back and my spiritual life is very deep.”Sister Madeleine Mary was born in North Vancouver, BC, the middle child and only girlof three children, whose father died when they were very young. As she entered adulthood shebecame a registered nurse and spent a few years nursing in Penticton, BC. She worked fora year in Aklavik, Diocese of the Arctic, then moved to St. Luke’s Hospital, Pangnirtung onBaffin Island for three years, returning some ten years later to spend another two years there.In 1969 she was admitted as a postulant in SSJD, bringing with her a zealous love and concernfor the Diocese of the Arctic. Sr. Madeleine Mary has served in a number of capacities withinthe Sisterhood, including the infirmary, sewing room, The Church Home for the Aged, CanaPlace and St. John’s Rehab Hospital. Her love of nature is apparent in her many delightfulwatercolour sketches of wild flowers. Sister’s spontaneous wit is most clearly remembered fromher recitations of “Little Albert” (Ramsbottom), complete with English accent. Her frequent wittyplay upon words is evident in an article she wrote during her time at St. John’s Rehab whenshe was the Chaplaincy representative on the A1 Care Team. She writes “The resiliency of thehuman body and spirit is an ongoing miracle which is daily demonstrated in patient after patient,and makes our Unit an A1 place to work.” This gentle, loving sister has spent the last numberof years being cared for in the Infirmary at the Convent. 7
  8. 8. What Footprint Do You Want To Leave On The World?Have you ever thought about the footprint you want to This morning we read 1 Corinthians 13, that beautiful,leave on the world? In an article I read recently, I was poetic passage that’s read at weddings. As I reflected on it,reminded that every action we take and every sentence we I realized that the passage has lost its meaning. We havespeak has an effect on people around us, for good or ill, romanticized Paul’s words and made them sentimental.and we may never really know which it is. We may never We need to re-claim Paul’s intent in writing them. Theknow the influence we have had on another person. What Corinthian community was in conflict and this wasis the footprint you want to leave behind? What is the destroying their ministry as a community of faith.legacy you want to leave at the end of your life? Can love overcome human failings? Paul declaresWhat is the footprint that we as a church want to leave? unequivocally, yes! Will love have victory? Paul says yes,As church we influence all those whose lives we touch— it can and yes, it will! Those who do not love as Paulsometimes for good and sometimes not. What is the describes are seen as immature. For Paul, the only wayfootprint God wants to leave? Scripture says that God’s to settle any dispute—whether in families or churches ordesired footprint is love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion communities or between nations—is to love one another.and grace. But how does God leave a footprint? Through It’s that simple. It’s the way of God. It’s the footprint ofyou, through me, through all of us together as the God. Imagine what we could do if only we loved onechurch—through the footprint we leave both individually another in the truest and God-sense of the word.and collectively. I find Eugene Peterson’s translation of this passage quiteDo we speak, live, act, and interact with each other powerful:and the world around us in a way that is congruent withthe footprint God wants to leave? Sometimes yes and “Love never gives up; love cares more for otherssometimes no. Our reputation precedes us and often it’s than for self; love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have;not good. Our history isn’t great. We only have to think doesn’t strut; doesn’t have a swelled head; doesn’tback to the Crusades. force itself on others; love isn’t always “me first”; love doesn’t fly off the handle; doesn’t keep score ofA first century Roman writer sarcastically wrote these the sins of others; doesn’t revel when others grovel;words: “How these Christians love one another.” Christians love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth; loveare still ridiculed today. We’re more often known for our puts up with anything; love trusts God always; loveprejudices, hypocrisy and in-fighting than for our love. always looks for the best; love never looks back; love keeps going to the end; love never dies.”For example, three different denominations of Christians inJerusalem look after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a That is a definition of love in the truest sense of the word.sacred and holy space. They can’t agree on one brick beingmoved. The place is said to be filthy, but they can’t agree May that be the love to which we aspire as individualson who should move the dust, never mind whose dust it and collectively, God’s love. Because if it is, then we willreally is. How will they ever agree when the government contribute to and leave God’s footprint on this world, inwants to build a new doorway into the church? And why do this time, in our time.they want to put a new doorway into the church? To makeit easier for pilgrims to visit Jesus’ tomb. “How these Christians love one another!” May that not be a sarcastic comment but a sacred and holyAs Christian community whether locally or within a truth!! Amen!denomination or ecumenically or worldwide, we are calledto love one another. On the night before Jesus died, he Homily by the Rev. Mark Kinghansaid to his disciples: Priest-Associate, SSJD “Let me give you a new commandment: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13: 34-35)The footprint that God desires comes about as we loveone another. When we have loving relationships, wesolidly plant God’s footprint. However, when we don’t actor speak in ways that show love, we tramp all over God’sfootprint. We destroy it.8
  9. 9. Hildegard of Bingen — A Woman with Extraordinary Common SenseOver the years I have led several retreats on Hildegard ofBingen because I find her to be a fascinating person. Whenadvertising a retreat, I usually describe her as a renaissancewoman. Why? because she was a healer, a herbalist, acomposer and musician, a writer, a cook, a visionary,a leader, and an outspoken critic of the Crusades. Shewas an ecologist who spoke out for the greening of theearth. She was a woman with extraordinary common senseand judgement. That’s why I particularly like her.She was able to interpret her physical infirmities as ameans through which God spoke to her. In some of thedrawings we see of Hildegard having one of her visions,there are wavy lines above her line of sight. Some medicalexperts have suggested that she was probably experiencingmigraine headaches which incapacitated her. However,as I said, she was able to embrace the pain, embrace theaffliction and see in that a holy vision of the new Jerusalem,the reign of God on earth.Hildegard had wonderful success in healing those whocame to her and to her monastery. One of the reasonsI believe she was so successful a healer was that she hadwater installed in her monastery so that the Sisters couldwash their hands in between seeing patients. That’s whatwe now call infection control in our health care facilities! Below is a recipe for cookies attributed to Hildegard of Bingen, from her 1157 treatise on medicine. It wasHildegard wrote the first historically recorded morality play researched by Jeffrey Nelson with the help of a graciousas a way of teaching both her Sisters and others about God. doctoral student who wished to remain anonymous.In the play all the parts are sung except for Satan who hasa spoken part—he is not allowed music. Hildegard and her ¾ cup butter or margarine, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1Community were placed under an interdict by the Church tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 1½ cups flour, 1 tsp groundand not allowed to sing the daily office nor to receive cinnamon, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp ground cloves.communion for over a year. I think that she probably feltthe lack of music in her life most keenly. Let butter soften and then cream it with the brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Sift the dry ingredients. Add half theShe came under interdict again because she stood up for a dry ingredients and mix. Add the other half and mixman who had come to her and died while under the Sisters’ thoroughly. Dough may be chilled to make it I believe the story went that he had returned from Heat oven to 350° F. Form walnut sized balls of dough,the Crusades. Before he died, he made his confession to place on greased and floured cookie sheet and press flat.Hildegard who, because she was a lay woman, was not Bake 12-15 minutes (‘til edges are golden brown). Cool forallowed to offer absolution. Regardless, Hildegard and her 5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and finish coolingSisters had the man buried in holy ground because he had on racks.made his confession. The Church reacted strongly againstthe Community and placed them under interdict. Hildegard says of the cookies that we are to “eat them often and they will calm every bitterness of heartHildegard also spoke out against Bernard of Clairvaux who and mind—and your hearing and senses will open. Yourwas preaching a new Crusade as commissioned by the mind will be joyous, and your senses purified, and harmfulPope. She herself was a noted preacher in the days when humours will diminish.”women were, like children, seen but not heard, especiallyin the Church. Her visions were recorded by a scribe and Enjoy the cookies and enjoy Hildegard of Bingen!illuminated to try and capture the essence of her visions.They are densely packed material and really make you Sr. Elizabeth Ann, SSJDthink. Altogether, a truly remarkable woman. 9
  10. 10. Reflection on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:36b-48)Life has many joys, but also many sorrows. By the time we crashed into earth just off the Yucatán peninsula. Theare adults, most of us have had some experience of broken impact was a thousand times greater than all our nuclearrelationships, sickness and death. In difficult times, it’s weapons combined. The crater formed was over onenatural to feel bewildered, confused by what’s happening, hundred miles wide. It was a global question whether life has meaning or purpose. The sky became a cauldron of sulphuric acid. The resultingIn today’s Gospel reading, we’re with the disciples back magnitude twelve earthquake was almost a million timesin the upper room, this time with Luke. The disciples more in magnitude than the earthquake in Szechuanare confused, fearful. Jesus wasn’t dependable. He’s not province. The impact ignited a global firestorm, incineratingwho they thought he was. They’d put all their eggs in one perhaps a quarter of the living biomass, releasing so muchbasket. The basket has fallen, the eggs lie broken. The carbon dioxide that the average global temperature laterdisciples are worse off than before they met Jesus. As rose by twenty degrees Fahrenheit and remained thatthey hit bottom, who comes to give them hope, faith, new way for one million years. Three out of four species wentlife? Jesus! The significance of Jesus eating with them extinct. All the dinosaurs perished. Not one of the earth’sin this story is not so much to prove the physicality of better days. But it was this catastrophe that allowed thosethe risen Christ as to celebrate that table fellowship has mammals who survived in burrows to flourish and diversify,been renewed. In the Easter story we gain the insight that culminating in all the amazing mammals of today, includingnothing is wasted by God, even human sin and ignorance ourselves.are turned to good. The Gospel, the Good News, is that,by the grace of God, our rejection of Jesus has become the “So: no catastrophe, no whales or dolphins, no dogs ormeans of our salvation. cats, no giraffes or elephants, no lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), and, of course, no me, no you.”God turns everything to good and brings peace. Wesee the heart of God revealed in Easter. We see the heart “So the next time a comet crashes into your psyche, orof God revealed in our planet and the universe, the book your life feels like sulphuric acid is raining on your head .of life, written in the stars and planets. . . or you’re greeted by a 300-foot tsunami . . . remember that you are part of an amazing creative universe that turnsMichael Dowd in his book Thank God for Evolution chaos and catastrophes into new growth and opportunitiesdescribes the cosmic catastrophe of a supernova explosion. as regularly as day follows night. This is very good news.”A star is a huge ball of hydrogen gas which, compressed (Michael Dowd, 47)by gravity, fuses into helium releasing enormous amountsof heat and light. In large stars, eight times as large as The universe seems resolutely determined to take bad newsour sun, when the hydrogen fuel is all used up and even and turn it into new creativity. On the other side of Goodthe helium has fused into carbon, a chain reaction begins. Friday is Easter Sunday. The universe can be trusted.Carbon is fused into neon into oxygen into silicon intocalcium into magnesium, eventually up to iron. Iron Fine—for planets, stars and life, but what about you andfusion doesn’t produce energy; it requires it. The star’s me?iron core implodes under excruciating heat and pressureand the heavier elements of cobalt, nickel, copper, tin, Is the goodness of the universe at work in us? Of and uranium are formed when the star rebounds Human beings are not separate from the earth or an explosion so spectacular and breathtaking that its We grew out from it. We are one with this universe, thebrightness briefly outshines its entire galaxy. creative reality in which we live and move and have our being. The same wisdom and intelligence that hasThe explosion seeds the galaxy with a rich assortment of brought the universe along for fourteen billion years iselemental stardust, essential for planets and life. Except still at work, at work in you.for hydrogen, every atom of your body and everythingaround you was forged out of the stardust of a supernova This Easter experience of the intelligence of the universeexplosion. Without the death of a star the basic stuff of working through you—of life arising from death—onceplanets and life would not exist. you’ve had it, you have to share it. You can’t stop yourself. You can’t hide such deep emotions of joy, thankfulness andAnother example—dinosaurs ruled the continents for love. For we are blessed, we are witnesses of these things.more than 150 million years. Mammals were small scruffycreatures, who stayed in burrows, and mostly came out just Homily by the Rev. Stephen Kirkegaardat night to best avoid dinosaurs. Priest-Associate of SSJDSixty-five million years ago, an asteroid ten miles across,travelling at a speed of fifty thousand miles per hour,10
  11. 11. Teddy Bears for Amnesty InternationalAmnesty International is a worldwide movement of people We have received many letters of thanks. Included amongdedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights, these letters we read:as included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsand other international human rights standards. It takes “Millions of people depend on Amnesty’s voice being •action to stop grave abuses of the rights to physical and heard—in war-torn countries, in jail cells and detention mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, centres, in the world’s darkest corners.”and freedom from discrimination. It seeks to expose humanrights abuses accurately and quickly and promotes public “Now more than ever, Amnesty must speak out •awareness and understanding of the full range of human those who are denied the promise of freedom forrights. Working with a global community of organizations and equality. Your support inspires us to continue our it ensures broad support and respect for all human rights. lifesaving work.”Amnesty International is governed by its members, isindependent of all governments, political persuasions and “Your support means so much to the millions of •religious creeds. It is funded by its members and donors, people worldwide who look to Amnesty International with no funds sought or accepted from governments. hope and protection. It means that we are able for continue to investigate and expose human rights to Through our Associate, Joan Francis, violations, to campaign on behalf of the victims of we became interested in the work oppression and to raise public awareness about human of Amnesty International in the rights concerns, both at home and abroad.” spring of 1989 and decided to join her in making and selling “Together we are making a difference. Once again, • Teddy Bears as a means of thank you for helping us continue this vital work.” support. At that time Joan sent Urgent Action letters and telegrams on behalf of the many individuals suffering from persecutionand other human rights violations throughout the world.The sale of the bears provided the necessary funds requiredto send the telegrams. She called this project “Teddies forTellies”. Today, of course, e-mail is used but this is how itbegan. Now, over twenty years later, we send the entireproceeds of our sales to their headquarters in Ottawa.Over the years many of our Sisters, Associates and friendshave contributed to the making of the bears which aresold at the Convent through our book room. The knittingof “bear skins” is mainly done today by our Associate,Vivien Handforth, in Kingston, along with Margaret Hallin Toronto and Sister Heather Francis, OHP in Whitby,England. They send the knitted bear skins to the Conventto be stuffed, finished and named, then put into the bookroom to await adoption. Our current list of “bear stuffers”are Srs. Beryl, Jean, Helena, Thelma-Anne and Wilma. Inaddition the Rev. Canon Susan Sheen produces handsomebears made from her original Girl Guide pattern, usuallycomplete with overalls, hats and embroidered buttons.Recently we have welcomed a number of smaller bearsfrom the Craft Group at the Church of St. Timothy, We thank all who have had a part in this modest shareAgincourt, which are proving popular with their variety of in the work of this excellent organization. Thank you tocolours and facial expressions. These three sources keep those who purchase our bears; this gives us the impetusour industry moving right along. To date we have made to continue. We ask all of you to join us in praying for theapproximately 1,400 bears which has enabled us to send work of Amnesty International.slightly more than $11,000 to Amnesty International. Sr. Wilma, SSJD 11
  12. 12. Enclosed with The Eagle is a copy of our most recent brochure for those considering A VOCATION to the Sisters of St. John the Divine. We encourage you to put it on the bulletin board of your parish church or pass it on to someone you think might be interested in a vocation to our Sisterhood. We have also enclosed with this Eagle a copy of “Food for the Soul”, our brochure with all the retreat information for 2010-2011. If you would like an extra copy for your parish church, please e-mail or phone 416-226-2201, ext. 301. Taizé Services at the Convent Join the Sisters at St. John’s Convent on the third Friday of each month at 5:00 p.m. This meditative form of prayer includes repetitive chants, candlelight, and anointing for healing. May 21; June 18; July 16; August 20; September 17 ALTAR LINENSAltar linens may be purchased from Sr. Jocelyn, SSJD,at St. John’s Convent. All linens are hand-sewn and Top: Sr. Constance on her 106th birthday saying:made from Irish Linen. Items which may be purchased “See you same time next year!”;include Fair Linens, Credence Cloths, Purificators, Middle: Sr. Sue (2nd from left) in her role as mentorLavabo Towels, Baptismal Towels, Fair Veils, Palls on of EFM (Education for Ministry)Plexi Glass, Corporals and Sick Communion Sets. For Bottom: Jazz Vespers with George Koller on bass, details, please contact Sr. Jocelyn: Tara Davidson on saxaphone and the Rev. Tim Elliott on the keyboard. Phone: 250-920-7787; Fax: 250-920-7709 The Houses of the Sisterhood St. John’s Convent, St. John’s House, B.C., 233 Cummer Avenue, Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 3937 St. Peters Road, Victoria, BC V8P 2J9 416-226-2201; Fax: 416-226-2131 250-920-7787; Fax: 250-920-7709 e-mail: e-mail: bchouse@ssjd.ca12