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Nothing Elitist About It

More and more thinkers, activists and scientists alike are recognising the link between the personal and the global. The movement of evolutionary consciousness calls for deepened personal responsibility for moving beyond the places of impasse in our shared life on the planet. In a nutshell, this describes the spirituality that makes sense in our lives. This spirituality moves us to know that our inner experience and our outer experience are all of one piece.

What are the spiritual practices that accompany this understanding of spirituality? For starters:

  •  Steep yourself in silence as a way to “detox” from our usual ways of thinking. See if there is anything there below the usual voices that might be akin to communion or solidarity.
  • Find ways to make contact with people whose world view differs from your own. We heard a good example of this in the CBC show Canada Reads in which Wab Kinew and Stephen Lewis engaged in enthusiastic disagreement about the book The Orenda. Each came from a particular world view. For the listener, we could not help but be stretched beyond our usual ways of thinking.
  • Nurture confidence in your capacity to contribute to a more inclusive neighbourhood, workplace, community movements.

Evolutionary consciousness is not an elitist movement in our culture. Actually, nothing could be more grass roots. Nothing could be more inclusive. Nothing could be more practical.

Margo Ritchie, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

"...does this wonderful human brain-body explain human consciousness? Does it explain our sense of ourselves as actively engaging the world, or reflecting on ourselves, or especially reflecting on the fact that we are conscious? With human consciousness we come to a situation we have not faced in any of the other levels of the cosmic organization. We experience our own consciousness subjectively, as subjects, from the inside. All the other levels of organization we had observed from the outside, objectively, seeing them as objects of our cognition. But in the case of our consciousness, we do something more than and quite different from knowing it as an object for our cognition. We know it by being it."
God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World, by Beatrice Bruteau, pp.152-53.

Let’s Celebrate!

Lights, camera, action! On Saturday we celebrated 245 years of service to the people of God.  Sisters Josepha Zimmer (75 years), Thecla Martens (70 years), Mary Sharon Kennedy (50 years) and Diane Naud (50 years).  God certainly loves diversity!

Each of these women has graced our Community in a multitude of ways. Their gifts cover a variety of ministries from culinary arts, hospitality, nursing, teaching to missionary outreach. It seems God has covered all contingencies.

We are a mishmash of ages and talents. Who would believe that so many women could co-exist and have never heard of “murder in the nunnery”, at least not physically. Perfect we’re not, but we are all striving for the same goal.

They say that variety is the spice of life. God looked on us and said “this is good – very good. They will leave “my” mark on the world.”

On the day of Jubilee we celebrate not only the jubilarians but the CSJ Community as a whole. Our lives are forever intertwined. There is a felt bond when we have occasions like this to celebrate.

Earlier this week we felt together the sudden loss of Sister Anne Antaya. Last Sunday morning she was theEucharistic Minister for the Sisters in the Care Centre and at three o’clock Monday morning she passed from this life into eternal life. As a Community we journeyed together through the shock and into the celebration of Sister Anne’s life.

As the saying goes “We have the whole enchilada.” We are so blessed and called to bless many. With the privileges comes responsibility. Our Jubilarians and Sister Anne have shown us the way We rejoice and give thanks. Sisters Josepha Zimmer, Thecla Martens, Mary Sharon Kennedy, Diane Naud, and Anne Antaya pray for us.

“Live out your life with one desire only: to be always what God wants you to be, in nature, grace and glory for time and eternity” (Maxim 73).

Barbara Vaughan CSJ

Photo of Jubilarians from L-R: Sisters Diane Naud, Thecla Martens, Josepha Zimmer and Mary Sharon Kennedy. 
Second photo: Sister Anne Antaya 


My Body Knows How to Die

The current debate about redefining euthanasia as a ‘medical aid in dying’ has prompted me to draw from my social work experience with persons in the end-of-life stages and surface the following considerations.

If my life’s path is to take me through death’s portal by a prolonged terminal illness, I can trust my body’s biological wisdom to know how to prepare itself and how to carry through my Creator’s given design. While I am capable of making health care decisions or while I am legally capable of instructing another on my wishes (Living Will), I can make my end of life decisions. I can allow my body to embrace the dying process when being healed is no longer a possibility. Stephen Levine, poet and writer, known for his work on death and dying, captures this concept in asserting that one can choose to allow the body to heal itself into death when healing into life is no longer anticipated.

Medical advances can seek to prolong my life as if life did not have its already determined span. Loved ones might want to use all available means to keep me physically among them. However, when the time for me to die has come, I believe my body will know. It will gradually signal its inability to take in food or liquid or to even breathe. Lack of food or liquid in a terminal phase is not painful for the body. Breathing can be eased with oxygen.

"It is important to remember that as the physical body is dying, the vital organs are shutting down, and nourishment is no longer required to keep them functioning. This is the wisdom of dying, and the body knows exactly what to do." (Hawaii's Hospice and Palliative Care Organization)

One might consider doing violence to life’s natural processes by asking another person to end one’s life because the anticipated pain associated with terminal illness is unbearable. Not just the physical pain but the encompassing pain that is physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. Individuals might mistakenly want to be euthanized, to have another end their lives, unaware that death will occur naturally by simply allowing the body to shut down in its own way. 

What I actually need from medical professionals and my loved ones is not to do violence to my dying process by ending my life, by euthanizing me, but to help me bear well with the manifestations of pain through appropriate pain management and attention to my physical, spiritual, emotional status. I need to know with certainty that appropriate pain management and the best palliative care will be in place for me as well as everyone else, just as they are right now for a number of people, albeit a fortunate few.[1]

If I happen to be demented at the end of my life, my hope remains the same. However, I know that some will question my quality of life. What if simply being alive until the natural end of my days is quality of life for me?

Should not the debate be about the provision of the best palliative care for everyone rather than about a law that would redefine euthanasia as medical aid?

Nicole Aubé CSJ


[1] The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association in its May 2010 Fact Sheet states that 16%-30%  of Canadians who die [depending on where they reside]have access to or receive hospice palliative and end of life care. Canada ranks ninth in an international “Quality of Death” index released July 14, 2010.






The Great March for Climate Action

Have you even heard about it? I haven’t from the mainstream media, at least not from CBC. Well, ‘The March’ began on March 1, 2014 in Santa Monica California. Some 200 activists have committed to walking through the desert southwest, then up the Colorado Rockies and across the Great Plains, moving along the south side of the Lake Erie and then, aiming to arrive in Washington D.C. just before the U.S. mid-term elections in November. View the first day of the march.

The hope is to encourage others to join in, even if only for short distances along the route. One former Green Party candidate, Anita Payne, who currently lives in Perth, Ontario is planning to do just that. http://www.southwesternontario.ca/community/former-green-party-candidate-joining-us-march-on-climate/

Another goal is to re-awaken awareness about our global climate crisis in the towns and communities along the route. To this end, the Rev. Michael Dowd, environmentalist and ‘Evolutionary Evangelist’ and his wife, science writer Connie Barlow, will be assisting. Michael writes that “Connie and I will rarely be walking with the marchers. Rather, we will be speaking in churches, colleges, and other venues along their route. Our role is to rally citizen support to press for changes that will reorient the incentives of American industries and consumers toward a sustainable, green-energy future.”

According to Gallop, Americans have waxed and waned in terms of concern about climate change. Most notably Gallop states that “Politics remain a powerful predictor of Americans' worries about global warming, with more than half of Democrats saying they worry about it a great deal, compared with 29% of independents and 16% of Republicans.” The chart below is interesting. Note that despite the more recent scientific findings concerning global warming, the American public’s concern has just risen to that expressed before 1990!

For more details can be found HERE  

Have we Canadians faired any better than our American neighbours? No. In fact the Huffington Post of December 5, 2012 stated that “Canada has the worst climate change policy of all wealthy nations, and the fourth-worst among all nations, says a survey from environmental umbrella group Climate Action Network.”

Just this past Monday, April 5th, following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change Report, http://www.ipcc.ch/ (video) http://www.ipcc.ch/ , Liberal MP Joyce Murray was heckled during Question Period by Conservative MPs when she raised the issue in the House of Commons. I heard about this while watching Peter Mansbridge interview federal Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May. (You can view the interview at http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/mansbridge/ )May’s comment was confirmed by the following Twitter post from Murray, “@joycemurray Apr 5. My #QP question Monday on the #IPCC #climate report – human security! #CPC mocks concerns.”

May also shared with Mansbridge that there is an All Party Climate Change Caucus on Parliament Hill. She believes that the views, of some MPs who come and listen to the information presented, have been changed. They meet in a safe place and behind closed doors. Please see  http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/27/federal-politicians-use-non-partisan-climate-group-to-meet-in-safe-space-behind-closed-doors/ Why on earth do our politicians need to meet in a ‘safe place’ to discuss something that has been fundamentally determined by so many scientific studies?  

Elizabeth May contends that one product of the fossil fuel lobby has been the “invention of doubt”. Mansbridge also asked her if she, at times, despairs about making change. May, very telling replied that “we don’t have any time to despair”.  Although I do not always agree with Elizabeth May, on this one I do.

The main website for the Great March for Climate Action is  http://www.ipcc.ch/

Ann Steadman, Associate


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.