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Richard Rohr in The Divine Dance asks this question, “Can you be present to this little bit of NOW?” I pondered this question for some time and found myself reflecting on the struggle to stay in the NOW simply because so many thoughts began to swirl in my head. This NOW with its struggles, confusion, questions, wonderings – this NOW with its accompanying certainties, peace and hope compels me to go deep within to listen and let the silence speak.

Living in the NOW is living a transformative, reflective life since we never know how the life of God’s Spirit will intervene and interrupt life. Probably the most powerful experience of this transformative energy happened when my friend, my sister died very suddenly at twenty-one, a time of her life which was so fruitful, enjoyable and carefree. Yet when illness struck her my NOW became a living nightmare as it was for my parents and siblings. Here is a young university student, brimming with life, enjoying her studies, her friends and family when a sudden illness snapped her out of her NOW to a place of mystery, confusion and darkness for her family. And, what about her! What was she knowing? Within three days, her NOW was so entirely different that one can only wrestle with inner turmoil and unanswered questions. Such mystery. When my mother in sheer desperation begged her to live, Nancy rose up, lifted the cover of the oxygen tent and in a very clear voice said, “Mom, I’m going to die, and I’m going to heaven.” I witnessed that NOW! And I will never forget Nancy’s conviction and our sorrow. Such finality. A new reality. An incomprehensible NOW.

So many have had similar frightening and confusing experiences because each day we live in longing expectation, engaging conversations, and activities that are holistic and nourishing. For most, that is the usual pace of life and when the Divine force changes our NOW dramatically, the trauma itself is life changing. We are never the same person. Our NOW is the call to step into the unknown in fear and trepidation or perhaps with excitement. There is no choice. Walk it, we must, and learn to adapt to becoming a new person in the new NOW. It is a journey of discovery and faith.

How would you describe a time of feeling empty? Ultimately living through your NOW – TODAY – is a solo journey in which faith can sustain you until the day you experience light in the darkness and realize you are alive again, in a new NOW which is full of promise. Let faith, friends and family sustain you.

Pat Hogan CSJ



Earth Day 2018

Spring arrived here today, April 20th, no doubt about it! As I walked in the woods early this morning everything felt more alive! The biting winds were stilled at last, and warmth seemed to emerge from the trees, the trail, the buds on bushes just loosening, and trout lilies were finally poking up on the trail. The robins’ gold-throated singing above me was more vigorous than ever. The sun has been shining all day, and people are shining too!

And Sunday was Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day was for me a relief and a call to hope. What a relief to know that people across the world celebrated our sacred planet. She has brought forth such a magnificent abundance of life forms including ourselves, and continues to nourish us body and soul. Instead of hearing new of the dismantling of Earth’s sacred places and ecological safeguards, we will, at least for a while, were called to be awake, aware and grateful together for Earth, so beautiful and precious to God and to us. How lovely that Spring has come to make this Earth Day even more alive after such long, dark winter so many of us have had!

Thich Nhat Hanh’s little book LOVE LETTERS TO EARTH caught my eye this week. One of the section titles, “Breathing With the Planet”, spoke to me. Following the breath is such a central concept in meditation. Here’s a breathing meditation you could do with Earth, together as One. Become still, close your eyes, and breathe with Earth: BREATHE IN—the oxygen that the trees and green beings are breathing out to give us life, (and maybe fragrance and freshness. . .) BREATH OUT—my CO2, and my gratitude and love for the trees to breathe in.

Breathe in—breathe out, slowly, mindfully…for a while. An exchange of life. Try it…especially if you can be out of doors. Then remember, this exchange of life is taking place all the time between our Earth and us, whether we realize it or not.

Finally, here’s a beautiful song/prayer you can spend some time with on YouTube. Let yourself feel it: “Song for the Earth” (featuring Jim Scott + Paul Winter Consort) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGBtko4oUX0

Have a beautiful Earth Day, Every Day!

Mary Southard, CSJ

Reflection and Artwork (titled Spring’s Promise) by Sr. Mary Southard, CSJ (used with permission). Mary Southard Art www.marysouthardart.org


Weekly Pause & Ponder

After people learn about dignity, a remarkable thing happens. Everyone recognizes that we all have a deep, human desire to be treated as something of value. I believe that is our highest common denominator.

Donna Hicks PhD.  www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dignity  



When Green Becomes Blue  

Through our Federation, the Sisters of St. Joseph have become the 29th Blue Community in the world, joining with many others whose goals are: to have water and sanitation recognized as human rights, to phase out and then ban the sale of bottled water at municipal events and public facilities, and to promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and waste water services.

These communities are provided with the tools to fight the privatization of water and promote the human right to water. This project builds on nearly two decades of Water Watch work, in coalition with many other groups to promote and protect public water. Blue Communities in Canada, there are now 13 of them, is an initiative of the Council of Canadians and CUPE.

When Paris joined the Blue Communities Project on World Water day, 2016, Maude Barlow congratulated them saying “the global water crisis is getting more serious by the day and it is being made worse by the corporate theft and abuse of water.” And we all know of the problems our Aboriginal communities are experiencing with water that is not safe for drinking. Over 100 communities are under water advisory and need to boil water for drinking. And mercury contaminated water is major news and is a shame for Canada.

Indeed, water scarcity is a global concern! In my recent awareness visit to India at the invitation of SOPAR, I came to a deep appreciation of water which we in Canada take so much for granted. In India, water is not lacking so much as it’s not potable and the contaminants lead to serious illnesses. Small village communities have built filtration plants to purify the water. Doctors were asked if this was really necessary. Their conclusion was that a village that had 5 doctors now only needed one. (see www.sopar-balavikasa.org)

During her time in South Sudan on an awareness trip with Canadian Aid for South Sudan, Sister Joan Atkinson found similar realities. There they also have to deal with water-borne diseases causing illness and death. Taught by a Canadian scientist, they fill specific types of plastic bottles with water and let the ultra-violet rays of the sun purify the water. Families using this system are free of water-borne illnesses and are much healthier. I saw this same process being used while I was in Bolivia.

In a recent article I read by Sister Sue Wilson, she writes “Water is indeed for our use and to sustain life but from an integral ecological perspective it is more than an “object for human use.”


Sister Sue quotes Denise Nadeau who writes “my journey to unlearn this objectification of water and experience water as a living relative continues to be a long one.” As Sisters of St. Joseph, we are called into deep relationship with all creation, and I think of St. Francis of Assisi who addressed water as “Sister Water.”

Mary Mettler, CSJ
On behalf of the Federation Ecology Committee

The Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada is made up of three Congregations: The Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada, The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Saint Marie and The Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.



Jesus, the Refugee  

There once was a stranger in a foreign land. His mother and father had run away with him to protect him from the threat of death at the hands of a tyrant ruler.

As a babe in arms, he did not know the danger that faced him or the challenges his parents encountered. But as a man, he had heard the stories of his youth and the difficulties his family had endured: an arduous journey, a foreign culture, a different language, a longing for family and home, a father having to find work to feed his family and a mother making a home out of what they could carry on a donkey’s back. Hopefully, they had someone in Egypt who welcomed them.

Jesus had a soft spot for the stranger because he was one, even in his own country. As he preached throughout the countryside, in village after village, city after city, he was welcomed by the rich and the poor, the prostitute and the tax collector, as well as the ordinary person. Only in his hometown was he not welcomed.

One day, Jesus was talking to his disciples and said, “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” His disciples, confused, asked, “When were you a stranger and we welcomed you?” Jesus replied, “When you did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

Since the spirit of the Divine dwells in each and every one of us, let us, through the eyes of love, recognize the face of Christ in others. Now, more than ever, let us welcome the stranger who has reached our shores, the refugee, Christ in our midst.

Associate Fernanda Estoesta, Eagles’ Wings, Chatham



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