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A Celebration of Visitation

Elizabeth King, CND

Leader:  As we come together today to celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, we call upon Mary, our mother in Faith and our Foundress, and ask her guidance as we strive to incarnate the Word in our world.

Opening Song:  In the Footsteps of Mary (from Visitation – K. Deignan, CND and M.A. Foley, CND)

In the footsteps of Mary we love to find the inspiration of our lives, hidden with Christ in God.

The life Mary led throughout her time on earth was the life of poverty:  a way of mystery like the Pasch of Jesus.

The life Mary led throughout her time on earth was a life of incomparable love—unified, transparent, and deep.

The life Mary led throughout her time on earth was the life of an apostle, first herald of the gospel.

Reading:  Luke 1:39-56

Reflection:  From the Writings of Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak

I am deeply moved by this simple and mysterious encounter.  In the midst of an unbelieving, doubting, pragmatic, and cynical world, two women meet each other and affirm in each other the promise given to them.  The humanly impossible has happened to them.  God has come to them to begin the salvation promised through the ages.  Through these two women, God has decided to change the course of history. Who could ever understand?  Who could ever believe it?  Who could ever let it happen?  But Mary says, “Let it happen to me,” and she immediately realizes that only Elizabeth will be able to affirm her “yes”.  For three months, Mary and Elizabeth lived together and encouraged each other to truly accept the motherhood given to them.  Mary’s presence makes Elizabeth more fully aware of becoming the mother of the “prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76) and Elizabeth’s presence allows Mary to grow in the knowledge of becoming the mother of the “son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).

Neither Mary nor Elizabeth had to wait in isolation.  They could wait together and thus deepen in each other their faith in God, for whom nothing is impossible.  Thus, God’s most radical intervention into history was listened to and received in community.

The story of the Visitation teaches me the meaning of friendship and community.  How can I ever let God’s grace fully work in my life unless I live in a community of people who can affirm it, deepen it, and strengthen it?  We cannot live this new life alone.  God does not want to isolate us by his grace.  On the contrary, he wants us to form new friendships and a new community – holy places where his grace can grow to fullness and bear fruit.

Personal Reflection and Sharing

1. How do my Visitation experiences teach me the meaning of friendship and community? 

2.  Recall a Visitation of friendship and/or community in which you were aware that God’s grace was bearing fruit in you through this experience?

Renewal of Vows and Commitments

Leader:  Just as Mary and Elizabeth were called to be open to the unexpected, we are called to the same today.  As Sisters and Associates of the Congregation of Norte Dame, let us renew our personal commitments to live our lives open to whatever surprises await us.

Renewal of Vows by Sisters:

Reaffirming my response to the call of God and my will to live more fully my baptismal consecration, I, Sister__________________________, renew the vows that I made freely and forever, to observe poverty, chastity, and obedience, according to the Constitutions of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal.

Inspired by the mystery of Our Lady’s Visitation, I wish by this covenant to praise God who is ever faithful, to render him thanks by my entire life, and to bring to my brothers and sisters the knowledge and love of the Incarnate Word. 

Renewal of Commitment by Associates:

Responding to a call to live more fully my baptismal consecration, I, _____________, renew my commitment as an Associate of the Congregation de Notre Dame.  I wish to integrate in my life the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Visitation-Pentecost spirituality, and the CND Mission Orientation, in keeping with my personal vocation.

Conclusion of Commitment: One Heart Statement of the U.S. Associate Steering Committee  

Recite together: 

We, Associates and Sisters, embody the call of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

We radiate Visitation spirituality in our daily lives,

as we strive to be a more visible presence of God’s love in the world today.

As followers of Jesus, we stand in solidarity with those in need and the planet.

In a pioneering Pentecostal spirit, we are actively transforming Church and Society.

With audacity and creativity, we pray, we gather, we celebrate.

We are united in our shared charism.

Sung Response:  Magnificat (from The Servant’s Heart, K. Deignan, CND)

Text and music by Mary Anne Foley, CND

Inspired by Mary’s Canticle (Luke 1:46-55)

Our being proclaims Your greatness, O God.  Our spirit finds joy in You.

For You’ve looked on us in our littleness: 

Now we are blest.

And You in Your strength do great things for us—Holy Your name.

Your mercy lasts from age to age

for those who seek your love.

The ways of Your power, O Holy One

confuse the proud of heart.You put the mighty from their thrones,

raise up the little ones.

You fill the hungry with good things,

the rich go empty away.

For You’ve helped your servant Israel,

remembering Your love,

As You promised to Sarah and Abraham

and their children, love without end.

Intercessions  (from Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp)

Mother of God, you risked saying yes to being pregnant with the seed of the Holy One,

All: May I also overcome my fears and take the risks that spiritual growth requires of me.

Mother of God, you offered the hospitality of your womb as a dwelling place for the Holy One,

All: May I continually open the womb of my heart to all who need a welcome there.

Mother of God, you waited the long nine months of the child’s gestation,

All: May I wait patiently when spiritual growth seems to come far too slowly.

Mother of God, you did not know how the birth of your child would affect your life,

All: May I trust in God’s presence to protect and guide me when I face uncertainty.

Mother of God, you cared for and nurtured the Divine life within you,

All: May I daily do the same through faithfulness to prayer and virtuous action.

Mother of God, you experienced the pain of contractions as you birthed the Holy One,

All: May I have the courage to bear the pains of my inner growth.

Mother of God, you found kinship with your pregnant cousin, Elizabeth,

All: May I recognize the Elizabeths who sustain and encourage me.

Mother of God, you felt the child within you stirring and kicking,

All: May I deepen my awareness of God’s stirrings in the midst of my life.

Mother of God, when the divine child pushed forth from your womb he uttered his first cry,

All:  May I believe in the goodness within me that is yet to resound.

Mother of God, the newly born child in your arms engendered awe, mystery, and wonder,

All: May I, too, reverence and be awed by the way that the Divine One enters my life.

Closing Prayer

All:  Gracious God, in every age you speak; and whenever women and men are willing to listen, you entrust your mission to them.  Make each of us attentive to the many ways you speak to us and through us.  Help us to be free enough to find you in new and surprising ways.  In doing so, may we continue the mission of Marguerite and bring your love to people every.  Amen

Closing Song:  Prayer of the Congregation (from Ave album by Kathleen Deignan, CND)

O dearest Mother and Foundress, we seek not comfort or wealth.

We only ask that in your name, God may be greatly loved and oh, so faithfully served.

 

O teach us the wisdom of littleness: to be simple, humble and poor,

to be open to God at the core of our hearts, and to wait on God’s word evermore.

 

And teach us the way of mobility--to be swift and grateful and true,

so that in our lives we may visit again the ones who are waiting for you.

 

And teach us the mystery of charity to hold our neighbor in heart,

to sing of the Spirit alive in our midst, and to carry the word of God’s love.

 

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