"Loving Life, Living Jesus"
In order to share the charism of the Sisters of the Visitation, Georgetown Visitation offers a weekly digital spiritual reflection for members and friends of our Visitation family near and far. "Loving Life, Living Jesus" celebrates the spirit of love so beautifully lived in the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth in the mystery of the Visitation.
This spiritual friendship was later modeled in St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal and continues in the loving community of the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary. We share this gift by offering these meditations written by members of the Visitation community. We hope they are examples of how Salesian Spirituality thrives within the people we know and love, and we pray that these reflections edify your own efforts to Live Jesus.
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“It’s a gift to be simple, it’s a gift to be free, it’s a gift to come down where I ought to be.” These are the first few lines of the Shaker Hymn “Tis a Gift.” When reflecting on the message of the hymn I sometimes sing in church, I tried to identify how I experience the virtue of simplicity. Several things came to mind.
I am touched by SGA’s invitation to reflect on the Salesian Little Virtue of simplicity. So much of what I understand of this unsung virtue has come from my being in relationship with the Sisters. They actually have monastery stationery and the back of the envelope is printed with words that speak beautifully to their life: “Salesian Simplicity - Monastic Fidelity.”
The one thing that makes this exchange so beautiful is the tabernacle that holds the Eucharist. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and so even if I do not know any of you, we are able to stand together in unity. That does not mean that we are immediately familiar with each other, but it means that we have something, at least one thing, in common, and that makes it easier to welcome each other into one another’s lives. Hospitality would be the obvious Salesian virtue to reflect upon this week, but through reflection, I found that humility was the better one.
When thinking about how I should write this reflection, I did not look up the word humility and ponder its many definitions, as some do. Instead, my first thought was “how can I make this the most entertaining, most insightful, and most memorable reflection, a reflection so good that it will blow all the others out of the water?”
I could hardly believe it. From a smiling camper participating in a wide array of activities, to a desperate woman seeking shelter with no home or food to eat, taking a seat truly connected me to a shared root 571 miles away from me.
There's something special about getting an invitation. In eighth grade, we received the large white envelope in the mail marked from Georgetown Visitation. Little did we know it would be an invitation to be a member of something that would open our hearts like nothing we had known before.
As I thought about what to say to all of you today, I reflected on the path that I have chosen in my life. I chose professions that incorporate hospitality into them – as a math/science teacher for 20+ years and now in Admissions. It is so rewarding for me to welcome students and their families, but it is even more important to establish relationships.
Four years ago, I sat right where you are now. I remember the coral dress I wore, the butterflies in my stomach, and the excitement I had as I walked into the Nolan Center, wondering what the future would bring.
Upon learning that I would be reflecting on the Salesian virtue of simplicity on Diversity Day, I recognized an enormous irony in the timing of my talk; the topics we explore today are undoubtedly, and incomprehensibly, complex.
Everyone is going to get knocked down at one time or another. How we react in those down times is how we build a foundation to persevere.
I have one word to describe today: Weird. We are ushering in Lent with Ash Wednesday, perhaps the most solemn time of the year, all while celebrating Valentine’s Day, an extravagant holiday filled with heart-shaped chocolates, decadent gifts, and excess amounts of Fun Dip and Laffy Taffies. One minute we are showering each other with pink and red M&Ms, the next, our foreheads are being marked with a somber ashen cross. Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day . . . these feast days are polar opposites, they’re like oil and vinegar, fire and ice, night and day. They absolutely, positively cannot be reconciled. Or can they? Bear with me, but, I think they are actually perfect complements of one another. Why? Four simple words. Thoughtful Concern for Others.
You’re probably wondering how I got picked for this - let me reassure you that I am not really up here as a shining example of Salesian gentleness. I am a reasonably qualified commentator on the quote from St. Jane. The part about words anyways.
At the beginning of the year I thought I had found my dream college. In my mind, this college and I were a perfect fit. I imagined myself walking through the campus, I convinced myself that this was it, that THIS was where I would spend my next four years.
The cliché about senior year being one of the most stressful times of one’s life so far cannot be more true. Between my mom asking me everyday if I’ve finished the 20 something supplementals for the twelve schools I'm applying to, to keeping my grades at an acceptable level, to sitting in my bed and stressfully watching Netflix, trying not to think about the quiz I have to study for in Dr. Pennybacker’s anatomy class tomorrow, to making sure that our final performance runs smoothly this afternoon and all our hard work and sleepless nights pay off, it’s hard to find time to think about anything else except what I’m caught up with in the moment.
Contemplating fidelity, or faithfulness, I can't help but start with faithfulness to God. Growing up, I fit all the definitions of a "cradle Catholic." As the youngest in a family of seven, we were just enough children to fill a pew and our week was hallmarked by 5:30 Mass and dinner every Sunday.
Faithfulness: “Do everything in a spirit of gentleness and fidelity, thinking of attaining your goal in God’s time not your own.”
- Jane de Chantal
Good morning! And thank you, Father Patrick and Father Planning, for having me. I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to speak with you all today here in this wonderful place. I’m a long time Visi dad. My daughter, Katie is currently a sophomore here, and my daughter, Meg graduated in 2014. I also have two boys: my son, Jack graduated from Bishop Ireton, and my son, Danny is a senior at Gonzaga.
“We must go out in hospitality. We must be willing to leave our homes and make our hearts a dwelling place.”
“Welcome, I’ve been expecting you!