Items filtered by date: February 2021
After a four-year wait, I received a call informing me that I would be operated on for arthrodesis on November 5 at the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec. What a touching sign of His presence! I had been told earlier to expect wait of 4 to 6 months - and this, despite the pandemic. I was heading into the unknown; I had no idea how this experience was going to turn out...
For several years now, a hymn from the Divine Office1 has challenged me and invited me to abandon the unfolding of the events to come into the hands of the Father. My convalescence at Maison Niverville residence allowed me to live the following experience of abandonment that I share with you.
Accepting to depend totally on others for all my needs whatever they may be: accepting my weaknesses and my limitations, abandoning myself in trust became my day-to-day response. This attitude allowed me to take a new look at my environment and the people who worked there, especially in regard to the support personnel. This openness to "the other" shed light on what I saw on a daily basis: dedicated persons fulfilling a beautiful mission in relation to the vulnerable. Whenever possible, I thanked them. All this, for me, became signs of his Presence.
How could I witness to being a responsible presence in this environment with all these people?
From the time of my I arrival I warmly greeted all personnel who entered my room because, in my heart, I knew each was exercising a real ministry. I personalized my greetings by giving each one a nickname: Ray of Sunshine, Radiant Smile, Quiet Presence, Compassion Lady/Guy, Peacemaker and Gentle Harmony, etc… Before my departure, one of them came to thank me: "You know, your way of welcoming me gave me self-confidence and stimulated me to do my job better."
This new perspective allowed me to see so much attentiveness; small gestures that brightened our days. I witnessed their patience as well as their skill in dealing with demanding, uncooperative residents and convalescents. In the residence, the diversity of ethnicities among the support personnel sends a very strong message: openness to differences, unconditional acceptance of the other… What a beautiful Gospel message! At every opportunity I pointed out this richness to the residents, the convalescents and the personnel.
I wanted to do my part in welcoming these newcomers and immigrants, especially the Latinos. I wanted them to feel heard, understood, loved and supported. Whenever I could, I answered their questions or listened to their concerns. On occasion, during break-time, one would arrive with French words written in the palm of their hand asking for the meaning or ask me how to frame a question in French. I felt I was a participant in their integration among us!
With African women among the personnel, I could easily draw a parallel: as a missionary in my younger days I cradled little African babies in my arms. At the age of 77, it was now two African women who bathed me and supported me as I walked – an example of life coming full circle which they enjoyed hearing about.
During my stay I observed the positive strengths of the functioning of the residence but there were flaws as well. These question me. As a responsible citizen, what can I do about these to assure that our seniors who reside there live in an atmosphere of calm, security and harmony? May the Spirit inspire me in discerning the signs of his Presence in my search for an appropriate response.
Céline G, Trois-Rivières
 «Un jour nouveau commence», hymne de Laudes, du deuxième lundi de l’année liturgique.
At the end of a beautiful day last September, while sitting in front of my window, I see two young women with backpacks pass by. They are probably heading for the campsite 5 minutes from my home. Feeling a sudden urge, I bounce to the door to greet them. A third person immediately joins them. While respecting distancing, we introduce each other – a chance meeting that will have an interesting outcome. Catherine, the eldest of the trio is an agricultural engineer, Marie-Sophie, a nurse of Haitian origin and the youngest, Virginie, a medical student. They got to know each other along the way; they were hiking with the same objective: to experience in the Appalachian Trails in Gaspésie! Their project for the next day was to climb the mountain behind my house where they would spend the night at a shelter.
I spontaneously invite them to have breakfast with me next morning; pancakes on the menu! Surprised, they tell me that they will leave early, around 7:00 a.m. and don't want to wake me. Laughing, I tell them I'm up at 5:55 a.m. Why 5:55 a.m., they wonder? My answer is simple: "I'll explain this to you at breakfast tomorrow morning." This ten minute encounter, called, “living in the present moment,” will have an impact on each of us. Our founder, Father Parent, often told us to be attentive and faithful to the Holy Spirit in the present moment. "The present moment," he says, "is a door to eternity which opens us to a dimension of God, like welcoming our bread for the day"!
Next morning, having prayed and had my breakfast, everything is ready to welcome my guests at 7:30. Seated in the “summer kitchen”, they start their breakfast while I make the pancakes in the “main kitchen” where they come to help themselves. They invite me to join them; they question me about my personal life. It is now the time to answer their question about why I get up early. This is an opportunity to talk about the spirituality of the 555s and my Oblate commitment. They learn that lay people can live consecrated in the midst of the world. What a revelation for them! As they are about to leave, they expressed their appreciation: “Thank you for welcoming us for breakfast and for sharing beautiful thoughts with us; I have lived a moment of grace; your sincere love of humanity inspires me to become a better person.” Then came the moment to take off our masks for a souvenir photo and to express final thanks before they head for the rue de la montagne (Mountain Street).
Throughout their journey in Gaspésie, the three hikers give me news. One, on her return to her part of the country, wrote me a long touching letter of gratitude for my spontaneous welcome. At Christmas her greeting card expressed emotion and sincerity: “Your kindness, your generosity and your human warmth continue to touch me and I have very happy memories of my time at the Anse-Pleureuse (Weeping Cove). May you to continue to witness according to your faith and beliefs. ” Another said: “I am filled with gratitude that our paths have crossed. You sparked profound reflection within me. Your prayers have carried me far and made my steps and my heart light. May you to continue to make great encounters and to illuminate the path of those you meet. ”
These are the fruits of fidelity to the present moment when I answered an interior call to “go forth to the peripheries” near my very home. Isn't it our vocation to be attentive to small gestures of love: to reach out to people hungry to hear resonate within them words of hope in their life!
How does my prayer life nourish my audacity to talk about Him
and especially live with Him on a daily basis?
As an Oblate for the past 65 years, prayer has been an important time in my life. Striving to live the second five continues to be a challenge for me.
I live in an environment where the practice of religion has become almost nonexistent. At times various religious people such as priest and religious are ridiculed. Reacting to the issues of this nature will only bring more negativism and the rejection my beliefs.
I react by keeping my comments to myself and prefer to make a statement by my silence which says, in a way, that I do not agree and, thus, I avoid feeding into it which would prolong the criticism. When I see a possible negative reaction to a subject, I start praying many Hail Mary to myself, asking the Blessed Mother to come and bring peace and a more positive understanding of life.
Often, I silently recite the prayer of St. Francis:
“Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury your pardon Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.
I have started wearing the miraculous medal (given to me when I entered the Oblates) hoping it will help me react according to that prayer and the Blessed Mother to intercede for me in whatever way the Lord wishes to bring about some conversion around me.
Over the years I feel that prayers have made a difference and I see more respect of what I stand for. I continue to struggle with the negativism in my surrounding but I am certain that the second five, living the present moment, and really leaving up to the Lord do bring about a change of hearts. I may never see it but it is up to the Lord to take my humble prayer and change hearts in His own way.
It comes down to starting with prayer to curb negativism. Daily prayer will assist me in being faithful in this apostolic effort and to remember to persevere in my trust in the Lord and in his Will. I need to abandon myself to what is asked of me by the Lord, as difficult as it may be at times.