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The evangelical counsels are a path to freedom. A personal decision, a promise to dedicate oneself to God, to follow Christ by conforming oneself to Him as much as possible.
Sister Katrin Goris presented the vow of chastity as a dance that calls for discipline of the body, a self-imposed rigour, a path of happiness and liberation. God calls for a deep happiness and a joy that is a gift that overwhelms us. Our life is bliss. We are called to be creative, transparent in our living of the vows. Sister Katrin let us see the importance of chastity by pointing out that it is first rule in our way of life, hence the need for love in all life.
We were invited to go back to our roots because our personal history links us to our way of living this love. Chastity is a very vast field, it is not just continence, but is deployed to become a mission for the kingdom.
Through the vow of chastity, we experience giving ourselves as Christ gives himself to us every day in the Eucharist, out of love.
Poverty is a fundamental pillar of our lives. We are called to enter into the abasement of Christ, who lowered himself to live a poor human life, in solidarity with the most deprived; and excluded. Jesus made himself the servant of all. Christ's poverty is an affirmation of his freedom, and our life of poverty is an invitation to enter into this freedom with regard to the world. The vow of poverty is a gift received and welcomed, and we live it in community, out of love. This detachment gives us the ability to receive and share with people in need. Coming to terms with nature, our communal home, maintaining and protecting it, is a way of living our vow of poverty.
Obedience makes us available to what can be asked of us as a service or as a task. It is a matter of having an open heart, stretching forth. It requires attentive listening to oneself and to others, in order to better discern God's calling in our lives. We must learn to lose control of ourselves and to be disturbed because of the Lord, in order to do His will. The one who obeys is not mistaken; she accomplishes God's work in charity and love.
Sr Octavie Tokasa (Central Africa) and Béatrice Tapsoba (West Africa)
The prologue to our way of life, presented by Sr. Sandra, introduced us to the theme of consecration that we experienced throughout the week in its different aspects: the Covenant and the evangelical counsels.
She reminded us that, by way of a definition, the prologue is like a presentation letter for the religious members of the Assumption because in it, we find the spirituality, theology and vision of life in the Assumption. It is also considered as a source on which everyone can draw to satiate their thirst using the different issues. Our first sisters journeyed far to leave us the heritage that is our way of life, the Assumptionist spirit.
With Mother Marie Eugénie we contemplated the mystery of the Trinity, God in his almighty power is incarnated in our humanity to give it peace and salvation. Our charity and our spirituality call us to love the Church, to love our times and our Assumption culture. To make our life a Eucharist for our brothers and sisters to whom the Lord sends us out to evangelize, as witnesses of his love.
In this same spirit of dynamism Carmen Escribano allowed us to go to the source of the Holy Scriptures to rediscover God's eternal Alliance of love for his people, beginning with the patriarchs, the prophets and ending with the new covenant. There is always a sign that accompanies this alliance: for the alliance between God and Noah, the sign was a Rainbow; to Abraham, God promised earth and multitude; to his people of Israel, the tablets or the Ten Commandments.
With the prophet Hosea, the message "I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness forever" is an eternal covenant in justice and rights, in mercy and tenderness. It is a gift of God to his people, a free gift of his love. With the prophet Jeremiah, it was a covenant engraved in their hearts, an interior commitment to God; there was no need for external signs, the sign was within.
John the Baptist was at the frontier between the Old and the New Testament. Jesus, the New Covenant between God and man, offers himself every day in the Eucharist to seal the eternal covenant between his Father and men; he offers himself to nourish us. We are called to give ourselves, to welcome the work of Christ in us.
The Sermon on the Mount is the code of the New Covenant; Jesus brings us back to simplicity so that we may witness his love to all nations.
Sr Octavie Tokasa (Cental Africa) and Béatrice Tapsoba (West Africa)
This input about the history of Our congregation was given by Sr. Veronique, the Archivist of the Congregation. I was so much impressed by what I learnt during these three days.
Looking at the humble beginnings of our congregation I understand the parable of the mastered seed in the Gospel. The process of development from the small beginnings of a dream to an institute.
The beginnings of our congregation demanded a lot from our first mothers, it entailed mountains and valleys. The congregation was born out of sacrifice, joyful detachment, prayer and discernment, love and zeal for Gods kingdom and for the church. St. Marie Eugenie cooperated with God’s grace that kept on accompanying her and with Mère Thérèse Emmanuel. The congregation began as a community, this indicates that there is no province without a community and no congregation without provinces. This means that if you have good communities, you have a good congregation.
The strong character and determination of the daughters of St. Marie Eugenie will be seen during and after the times of expulsion from France in the early 20th century. The sisters were zealous to ensure the continuity of the congregation. Thanks to the lay God sent to collaborate with our sisters, the congregation continued to exist. May God’s perpetual light shine upon them. They are part of our history.
Learning from the challenges of establishing our congregation, I understand deeply that challenges are made to strengthen and not to break us down. We only have to go through them safely with God otherwise we get crushed if we rely on our own strength. Each one has her turn to contribute for the growth of our congregation. Each one has to participate fully, with patience and discernment, for the common Good and the extension of Gods kingdom. Saint Marie-Eugénie says : “we are all foundation stones”.
The power of re reading
Re reading is one of the important tools for growth because it helps us see Gods contribution in our sacred history. Re reading bears fruit with prayer and sincerity.
Mother Marie Eugenie was open to the Divine providence. She totally relied on God for everything and that was source of her hope. She spent her whole carrying out Gods project, with Therese Emmanuel who formed many generations in the novitiate. She actively participated in the transmission of the charism of the congregation.
The unity of the community members, by their bond safeguarded the unity and the existence of our congregation during the very fragile moments of its growth.
Its touching to understand how Mother Marie Eugenie was firm to defend the goal of our institution. She was ardent hence unshakable. We thank God for our congregation and all the process of our growth. I was challenged when Sr Veronica remarked ” it’s the turn of the Vatican II generation and those that follow to carry out and transmit our charism. May God guide us and enlighten our ways to be true daughters of Mother Marie Eugenie.
Saint Marie Eugenie, pray for us.
Sr Elizabeth KILUNGU (East Africa)
The announcement of the confinement has upset in a particular way the session of the young sisters which was to take place from mid-March to mid-June 2020. It was initially suspended and then cancelled in its original form. The sisters who were due to come had to cancel their flight at the last moment. Some had to turn back and others could not even leave their communities...
Ce bouleversement nous a fait prendre peu à peu un autre chemin. Le Conseil Général a voulu créer une session adaptée avec les sœurs présentes en France. Nous avons commencé à vivre une première étape en étant chacune dans nos lieux de confinement. Des rencontres par Skype et du travail personnel ont rythmé cette première étape.
Nevertheless, Beatrice (Burkina-Faso), Octavie (Congo), Elizabeth (Kenya) were able to set foot on French territory a few hours or days before the lockdown. Ingrid (Guatemala) and Andreia (Brazil) had already been in France for a few months and Théonisa (France) in her community in Bondy.
This disturbance made us take a different path little by little. The General Council wanted to create an adapted session with the sisters present in France. We began to live a first stage by being each one in our places of confinement. Meetings by Skype and personal work punctuated this first stage.
The announcement of the progressive deconfinement in France has opened up a possibility. We arrived at the Mother House in Auteuil on May 13 and we began a session, for some of us "in person" and for others virtual (Zoom). Yes, little by little a horizon opened up. We are connected to Marie-Rose, Celine and Christine (sisters from Rwanda) and Marie-José (from West Africa) and Beatrice and Ingrid (in Bordeaux). The latter should join us on Sunday, May 17!
God's ways are not what we had thought, however, we ask the Lord's grace to prepare our hearts for the prospect of a life entirely given but also entirely received from Him, united to the reality of our world, united to all those who seek a new way of living under the guidance of Laudato Si.
We live this experience in communion with our sisters who were unable to join us. Together, we immerse ourselves in a "RETURN TO SOURCE...AT THE SERVICE OF LIFE" (General Chapter 2018), the theme of our session, to discover God's gift and to respond to his Love with "as much fullness as possible"!
Auteuil, May 16th 2020