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Incarnation Awakening in Our Universe

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Each year, as close as possible to the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Ursulines of Jesus and The Charism Friends come together to spend time in silent pondering and sharing to deepen within us the wonder of the Incarnation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017, Sisters from our Missionary Reality and our “Charism Friends” gathered at Providence Renewal Centre for our annual retreat. [Our Dwelling Place community and the Infirmary where Srs. Connie and Elsie reside, are situated in the same facility as the retreat centre.] Each year, as close as possible to the Solemnity of the Incarnation, we come together to spend time in silent pondering and sharing to deepen within us the wonder of the Incarnation.

In recent years we have been blessed with having as facilitators Fr. Roger Keeler, an “honourary” Ursuline of Jesus, our brother priest, Fr. Vincent Esprit, FMI, and Fr. Paul Kavanagh parish priest of St. John the Evangelist (home parish for our Villa Maria community).

This year, Sr. Jeannette Filthaut, SP, plunged us into the wonder of the Incarnation experienced in all of creation. The retreat was divided into three moments: Prior to supper, Jeannette introduced us to the retreat by guiding us through “The Cosmic Walk”. For many of us this was the most profound moment of the retreat. As one participant said, “It opened a space into which each and everyone was invited. I was filled with a sense of awe, mystery, wonder before the unfolding, creative power of God.” Following supper, the other two moments were lived. We were invited to “let the Word of God in all its richness find a home in us” and thirdly to open all our senses to the wonder of creation. Jeannette is a wonderful photographer so we were able to discover God’s gift for creation as seen through her artistic and contemplative eye.

We wanted to deepen what had been lived during our gathering of the Family of the Incarnation in August, 2016. The foundation of our gathering was the document, “Laudato Si”, so it seemed so appropriate to build our retreat in such a way as to help us deepen our love for and respect of our “Common Home”.

Jeannette honoured this in a three-part movement. We :

  • experienced the “Cosmic Walk”- adapted by Sr.Miriam Therese McGillis and inspired by Fr. Tomas Berry and Brian Swimme. The walk begins 13.7 billion years ago when the “universe was dreamed into being” until today, April, 2017 when we recognize that all humans can know the common story of their universe;
  • “listened with the ears of our heart” to passages from Sacred Scripture, for example, Roms. 8:19-25, James 1:21-22, Is. 35 and 1 Jn. 1:1-4.
  • As is fitting for The Family of the Incarnation, the entire retreat was rooted and grounded in the Prologue of John 1ff; drank in with delight music, videos and a power point presentation that immersed us in the wonder of God’s love revealed in the totality of creation.

During our time of personal prayer we were invited to ponder the question:
Where can we go to hear this Word? Three of the many places to encounter the Divine Word being spoken are:

  • The truths of our faith, truths that are to be found in our Scriptures, teachings of the Church
  • The example of people around us.
  • The Universe itself. Consider the unimaginable number of different entities, each of which reveals something of the Divine.

The fruit of our personal prayer was brought to the small groups and then broken open again in a large group setting. In the group in which I participated everyone had a different passage so the experience was very rich, each one’s heart having been moved by the “Spirit of the Incarnate Word” in a unique manner. As one participant said so beautifully, “I have prayed this passage many times before but never have I heard in my heart the invitation God spoke to me tonight. Yes, God’s Word is ever new!”

Our beautiful, contemplative evening finished with praying “A Prayer For Our Earth”. I invite you to pray it as an expression of our commitment within the Family of the Incarnation to embrace the dream of Pope Francis to lovingly and untiringly “Care for Our Common Home”
She had wonderful musical resources, power points and videos that called us to an entirely new depth of experience.
We were invited to ponder the Flame Meditation and to pray together “The Prayer of Mother Earth”, penned by Pope Francis.

All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives so that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor of the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey toward your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

Pope Francis, 2016