Items filtered by date: December 2018
A golden key during illness
You are no doubt familiar with TV ads of people bowled over upon learning they have cancer. I once thought these reactions were exaggerated. I don’t think that any more.
In this video I witness in all humility to how the grace of the present moment became a source of life and hope for me when I myself was diagnosed with cancer.
To view the video (available in French only) go to image
Louise Fleury, Volunteer of God
I thank Jacques Théberge, I.V.Dei for inviting me to give a reading of my life by humbly witness to the Joy which, over the years, has taken root in within me.
As a young adult I joyfully become a member of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate. As such, I am a consecrated layperson called to live and witness to the love of Christ in the midst of the world.
From the place they are called to be everyone has a mission to accomplish. We Oblates share in the mission entrusted to members of secular institutes, that is, to be a transforming presence in the world by making "a personal contribution to the fulfilment of the divine plan in the history of mankind" (Gadium et spes, no. 34), by being active in the temporal realities, animating and ordering them according to the spirit of the gospel. Accordingly, it is by our way of being and acting in our trade, profession – in all our engagements – that we live our consecration by vow and participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Missionaries wherever Christ has the right to be present, an Oblate can remain in her environment or go to any place or country. Personally, I felt called to be a missionary beyond the borders of Canada. What joy when I was offered the opportunity to go to Bolivia! For 25 years I lived on Oruro, a city situated at an altitude of 3 700 meters followed by around 10 years in the valley of Cochabamba. The Oblate Fathers, colleagues of our founder, Father Louis-Marie Parent O.M.I., welcomed us in their parishes where we worked according to our talents, professions and creativity in response to the needs of the milieu.
Being a teacher by profession, in Bolivia I worked in adult literacy, in social popular education and in establishing and facilitating Base Communities and more. The various activities, especially success stories, brought me the joy of satisfaction and personal fulfilment. But a specific event brought me to a deeper level.
One night in Oruro our Christian community, which was to visit a sick person, was faced with pouring rain and resulting muddy paths throughout the area. What to do? Go and risk getting the flu? I decided to go to the meeting point and, behold, little by little, others came to join me. Arm in arm in the dark and the pouring rain we went, singing on our way! Where did this joy come from? Surely not from the surrounding conditions. I understood then that joy is a state of the heart. It arises from love: I love these people and feel they love me. I felt with peaceful conviction that I was where I was meant to be at this time in my life – as you too have undoubtedly felt in your vocation and mission.
I was sometimes asked: You seem happy; how can you be happy in these poor surroundings and in such difficult socio-political conditions? After reflecting on that question I realized that I found strength and consolation through working with the people to create better living conditions and, in doing so, gave life to God’s project of love, that of respect for the dignity of every person and for justice and equal rights.
The Word of God and the teachings of the Church, as always, motivate and direct our engagements towards building a more just and human world.
Upon returning to Canada my service in the Institute led me to getting to know the Oblates and people in a number of countries. Next, I went to live and work in a batey in the Dominican Republic for a series of six-month periods. I presently live in an apartment in Montreal and continue my mission by being of service and helping others in accomplishing their mission. In so doing the Lord allows me the joy of putting my past experiences to good use.
In my life’s journey I rejoice in a spirituality based on love, service and serenity. It is the spirituality that Father Parent bequeathed to our Institute. It consists in 5 attitudes that all people can apply to their life.
• Welcoming the presence of God. Aware of His active and loving presence everywhere and in all things, I can keep calm and feel less stressed. I have the conviction that He is always at work within me, in every person, in the story of humanity and at the heart of events. (Marc 4, 26)
• Abstaining from destructive criticism interior and exterior;
• Abstaining from useless complaint interior and exterior; formed by these two attitudes I seek to find the beauty and the goodness in others and to view events with greater lucidity. Accordingly I can enjoy enriching interpersonal relationships and intervene more appropriately in problematic situations. Too, with Jesus as model, I can assume difficulties and suffering as my participation in the pascal mystery.
• Being of service in a spirit of gratuity. How liberating it is to respond to the real needs of others, to be at their service, expecting nothing in return. It is the joy of serving with love like Jesus, like Mary.
• Being a peacemaker. The peace that is born of love is a combination of unity, charity, forgiveness and reconciliation. I ask the Holy Spirit to transform me to live these values that bring about peace. By experiencing myself a tranquil spirit I become attentive to building peace wherever I happen to be. True Joyis called to be shared.
In the midst of our life and in light of all that is happening in the world, we witness that in difficult times joy can arise from solidarity between people. To live in communion with others brings small rays of hope and courage that increase the happiness sought out by everyone regardless of race and culture. In my case, a celibate consecrated layperson, I have the joy of having different networks where I can share the core of my life: members of the Institute, my Oblate team, my family members, my parish community, friends and good neighbors. For them all I am grateful to God.
Over the years, in the midst of my certitudes, doubts, successes, failures, laughter and tears, my encounter with the Lord enables me to base my joy on His love in all circumstances. Though the Word of God, the teachings of the Church and the Constitutions of my Institute I learn how to better exercise my freedom and better manage my feelings and reactions by making the best possible decisions. A beautiful gift of Life is to feel joy for no obvious reason. Joy is never acquired once and for all; each present moment is an opportunity to receive it, savor it and spread it.
Retired from the job market, Pauline was looking for a way to satisfy her love of the written word. This led to the discovery of a creative writing workshop. After five ten-week sessions, she began writing a novel, a long-term project.
In November, Pauline launched her book entitled, Arlette: Three Quarters of a Century of Educational Itinerancy. She carried out this project for her family but also for the Oblates, for the organization Comsep (Le Centre d’organisation mauricien de services et d’éducation populaire) and the Filles d'Is-abelle, groups she has been involved in for many years. Her book was launched at the residence where she lives. Several friends and participants of her writing workshop attended the event.
On the back cover of the book, the inspiring summary reads as follows:
Family education colours the lives of Arlette and her siblings. Her mother and fa-
ther’s deep faith, transmitted not only to their family, but also to their neighbours,
inspires their children to live a life of service to others. Their influence leaves an
important impression on Arlette. Gifts inherited from her parents unfold throughout
her life and draw the landscape of her educational itinerancy. At the dawn of her
eighties, Pauline undertakes to recount the many meanderings of her journey.
Pauline hopes the reading of her book will provoke moments of wonder and laughter just as she experienced them. (The book is french only)
Pauline passed away December 27 2018
By Marie Martineau
In the past six years a number of refugee families have settled in my neighborhood – young families from Syria and from various Arabic-speaking African countries. I help them to integrate through events of everyday life. That is my way of exercising my full responsibility as a committed Christian and citizen of my country.
Every fall I set up feeders to feed the birds during winter. Concerned that the e newly arrived children could damage them I invited them to take part in my project. Having helped to set up the feeders the children felt responsible for protecting them. At the same time I taught them the names of the birds that came to the feeder. To motivate them further each child had a sheet on my fridge with their name on it. Each time they saw a new bird they would come in and add the name to their list. I would make sure they had correctly identified the bird. They would look at the other children’s list to see whose list was the longest. Throughout winter it was Isaka who had identified the most, ten in all.
It is through these simple acts rising from everyday life that I help them to integrate and improve their mastery of French. Last year the children helped me to decorate my apartment for Christmas. We put lights around the patio door, made stars and set up the nativity crib. It was an opportunity to speak about Christians.
Making puzzles together is an opportunity to teach colors and learn other new words. Another popular activity is playing store. I put a price on various objects. The salesperson and the buyer both learn to count Canadian money.
I have taught them an easy card game. Each player gets five unshelled peanuts. At each round the loser has to give the winner two peanuts. Ibrahim had to give the winner his last two peanuts and was angry. He slammed them down and said, “Tabarnak” [a distortion of the word “tabernacle”]. He didn’t learn that from me but it served as a teachable moment.
The Syrian twins, Rajal and Roumane arrived in Canada three years ago. Rajal, the little boy, had a hip problem. According to Syrian doctors he needed to be operated as soon as possible to avoid permanent disability. His father told me that Immigration Canada fast-tracked the family’s arrival to assure a timely operation. Today Rajal is normal and can run like any other child. A year ago the mother gave birth to a girl. When the mother returned home the excited twins rushed to get me to meet their little sister. The mother was sitting on the bed with her beautiful baby beside her. The twins showed me their room and jumped on their beds with joy.
This fall, Rajal and Roumane now six, came to the door to sell chocolate to raise money for their school. Each bar was worth $2. I bought five. They asked me for $5, a mistake that any Quebcois first-grader could also have made. I was generous with them expecting to give the chocolate bars out to Halloween visitors and that is what happened. At the end of October I gave the chocolate bars back to my dressed in-costumes visitors.
That is a glimpse of my activities with the young refugees in my neighborhood. They are next door and I simply have to reach out to help them to integrate in Trois-Rivières. I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25; 35).
Welcome to Canada, Babaa, Bilal, Adnan, Isaka, Ibrahim, Maurice, Atteib, Rajal, Roumane, Ousman, Fany, Ahmd, Bassam, Reponse, Qassab and those who have yet to come.
Trois-Rivières, December 18, 2018