Day 4 – Christmas Novena

Introduction

Today, we hear God’s call to grow in Communion within the whole Congregation – to see and feel the presence of God become human in our members in all the continents.

We treasure our name, Missionary Sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit, entrusted with the mission of widening the circle of our relationships. Our congregation today is comprised of 45 provinces/Regions and Generalate community, blessed with nearly 3000 members of 50 nationalities with a missionary presence in 50 countries.  It is a privilege indeed, to be part of a great family of missionary disciples.

God breaks out in diversity…. challenges our culture toward a revolution of consciousness, towards a “participatory consciousness,” … “When I love with participatory consciousness, I see that what the other is, is some of my life-energy living there, and what I am is some of the other’s life-energy living in me. I can no longer divide the world into “we’s” and “they’s.” I have an awareness of one large life circulating through all. “The greatest story is that all of life is one.” (Beatrice Bruteau).

May this time of praying together bring about a participatory consciousness within us.

Opening prayer

God, we worship your many-faceted FACE.

You are everywhere, so that our human eyes can see you.

In Jesus, your Word made flesh, you have become accessible and visible,

in the nearest and in the farthest.

That is the way of your Incarnation.

We thank you for our Congregation’s many faces;

We thank you for every member who gives a face to you,

We thank you for the diverse expressions of your presence.

May we hear your call to grow in ‘participatory consciousness.

This we pray in the name of your own Son and our brother Jesus. Amen

Quote from Blessed Josepha: “God has gathered us together that we may be of one heart and mind.”

Story

Ubuntu –This is a word in South Africa – I am because we are!

“One day, a western anthropologist went to Africa to study the social behavior of an indigenous tribe. He proposed a game to the children and they willingly agreed to be part of it. He put a basket filled with fruits underneath a tree and told the children that whoever would reach the basket first would win the whole basket and could eat the fruits all by him or herself.

He lined them all up and raised his hand to give the start signal. Ready. Set. Go!

The children took each other’s hands and started running together. They all reached the basket at the same time. Then they sat down in a big circle and enjoyed the fruits together, laughing and smiling all the time.

The anthropologist could not believe what he saw and he asked them why they had waited for each other as one could have taken the whole basket all for him or herself.

The children shook their heads and replied, “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

Ubuntu signifies that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us,”

Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 12: 12-14, 27

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many…. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

We are a body today, not something that represents Christ, but something that IS Him. The Word became flesh and continues to dwell among us. If we are the body of Christ, then God’s presence in the world depends very much upon us. We have to become as Teresa of Avila so simply put it, God’s physical hands, feet, mouthpiece and heart in the world.

Jesus loves to approach his brothers and sisters through us, through our open hands that caress and console them, through our words pronounced to anoint the world with the Gospel and not ourselves. (Pope Francis)

Pause for reflection

Intercessions:  God, you are the common ground on which we live, move and have our being. May we as a whole Congregation be in the process of becoming the body of Christ your Son. May we be enabled to see things from a wider perspective, move from our individual concerns to the Congregational ones.

Note: A candle is lit for each continent after the short pause and placed on the respective color on the Center piece.

  1. We are invited to spend a moment of gratitude for and communion with our Sisters in Africa – 178 sisters in 11 countries

Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, may we be promoters of Africa’s hopes and aspirations. May the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ (I am because we are) inspire our life in communities and widen the communion among peoples by the witness of their own lives.  Recognizing our own vulnerabilities, may we be wounded healers in our societies affected by violence, ethnic conflicts, exclusion and marginalization.

Response: God, may we be your transforming presence through our compassion

  1. A moment of gratitude for and communion with our Sisters in the PANAM Provinces/Regions: 603 sisters in 12 countries

Jesus, into the emptiness of human hearts you came offering fullness of Life. Into the ache of human life, you came as the Compassionate One.  Today, may we be the greeting of hospitality for the lonely, bearers of hope for the discouraged, healing for the wounded and offering a home for the homeless.

Response: God, may we be your transforming presence through our compassion

  1. A moment of gratitude for and communion with our Sisters in the continent of ASIA: 1418 members in 9 countries,

God sent a present into the world, the gift of a loving presence named Jesus. What Jesus gave most was his personal presence, gifts that were treasurers of the heart: Belief in self, inner healing, peace of mind, compassion, forgiveness, dignity and justice –         Lord Jesus, may we trust in the power of these gifts that you have blessed us with.   Like the Founding Generation, may we respond ‘audaciously and creatively to the cries of the victimized, abandoned and exploited ones in our society.’

Response: God, may we be your transforming presence through our compassion

  1. A moment of gratitude for and communion with our Sisters in Europe: 733 members in 16 countries

God of new life, shoot of Jesse, we raise our yearning hearts to you.  Aware of our strengths and in the midst of our challenges, may we experience the sprouting of new life in our efforts towards solidarity and collaboration.

Response: God, may we be your transforming presence through our compassion

  1. A moment of gratitude for and communion with our Sisters in Oceania: 78 members in 2 countries

God of hope, come! Be the morning star in our midst, the Light that can never goes out, the Beacon of Hope guiding our way to you. Come into our midst and make of our lives a home, where your everlasting goodness resonates with assuring love and vigorous hope.

Response: God, may we be your transforming presence through our compassion

Our Father

Concluding prayer

May we learn from Mary and Elizabeth in the Gospel story of the visitation, the way of healthy/holy human encounter: entering, greeting, hearing, feeling, blessing and responding. May we grow in greater awareness of the presence of our large SSpS family in this world. May we nurture in our hearts warm and positive thoughts and energies for our sisters in the different parts of the world. May we help bring to birth Christ in each other in the form of peace and goodness, compassion and hospitality.  May our call and response to live for the common cause keep us united, moving away more and more from an attitude of ‘us’ and ‘them’ to a more inclusive one. May we find each other in you Triune God and keep alive our shared bond of being human, being SSpS. Amen.