„St. John in Montana“ News 12/2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers

After our immersion experience with Pax Christi, we began to reflect on article 14 of the Constitution: “Our vocation gives us a particular responsibility to promote understanding and justice for the Jewish community and to keep alive in the church the consciousness that in some mysterious way, Christianity is linked to Judaism from its origin to its destiny.” We considered that article in relationship to our apostolic commitment, which is shaped by the call of the 2016 Chapter document to reflect on the priorities for apostolic life in Sion, and the section on “Formation in Sion.”

With the Ecce Homo community we closed the liturgical year with the celebration of “Christ the King” and began the weeks of Advent in preparation for Christmas in our community. During this Advent we are visiting each Sion community here in Jerusalem following the tradition of “Posadas”, which is Christmas Carolling reminding us of Josef and Mary searching for an inn giving them shelter in Bethlehem. (Click here for wikipedia about „Las Posadas”). This tradition is celebrated in different ways in many parts of the world. Our repertoire includes Portuguese, Spanish, German, Bahsa (an Indonesian language), French and English Carols. Thanks to Brother Tiago, who accompanies us with the guitar and his beautiful strong voice, our Posada became a welcoming, meaningful experience in which the Christmas spirit was felt, in the different communities.

Sr. Anne Catharine took us into scholarly exercises for the feast of Christmas, Epiphany and Chanukah. We continued with the feast of Circumcision of the Baby Jesus. One of our highlights was participating in the Feast of Chanukah in a Jewish Family. The sharing of Advent and Christmas tradition from our countries with special Christmas food and customs was also a weekly celebration during this Advent season. Brother Victor renewed his commitment to the Congregation and is going back to Brazil for future study. We are so lucky to have our Brothers in Ein Karem, especially for their support in the daily projects of work and life here. One afternoon we had Fr. Donizeti, the/Superior General of the Brothers of Sion, with us; he shared with us about Alphonse Ratisbonne and how the community of Brothers sees Mary Alphonse.

During our monthly retreat, we reflected on Mathew’s gospel from chapter 1:1 to chapter 3:12, with questions: In the Christian tradition Jesus also was a refugee and victim of oppression like many people in his time and today. When the situation became dangerous, Joseph took his little family away from the danger, and to Egypt. Where do I go when life is in danger? Where, what or who, in my life, is my shelter or source of rescue? It is also good to reflect on Teshuva – a reversal, a way of returning to God by action. This could also mean being open to the good, open to the Word which John the Baptist is announcing. What message did I hear in this advent? Has Christmas become the birth of the announcement of the good news in a world so full of longing for peace/shalom/salam, for me, and for us as the Formation community?

Juliana for the St. John in Montana community