Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

John 3:13-17

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Sharon McMillan

Published: September 14, 2014


On the birthday of St. Julie Billiart this summer, approximately 100 Sisters of Notre Dame gathered outside the Chapter Room on the campus of Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C. Our common Journey of Fidelity brought us to this moment. Sr. Teresita Weind, with other members of the Congregational Leadership Team, delegates from every Unit, and support staff stood together at the threshold, as they were called to take new steps on the Journey of Fidelity and to create together the General Chapter Body. This Chapter would lead forward all Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, impelled by the Holy Spirit, into a common mission for the future.

Carrying the tall, thin Chapter Journey Stick (created from a eucalyptus tree at the House of Prayer in Carmel, California), Sr. Teresita invited the Sisters to proclaim that they were "willing and ready" to serve the Congregation. Sisters entered into the sacred space, joined hands one by one, and filled the room with their energy and profound commitment. Then as one, the Chapter Body called Sr. Teresita into the space and the circle was complete.

But before any other words were spoken, before any Chapter business was begun, Sr. Teresita Weind called forth the Cross of Christ. She reminded the Sisters, as St. Julie had done before her, that everything marked by the Cross would go well. This Journey of Fidelity that we were beginning together was to be marked by the Cross, first of all. One of the delegates lifted up the Cross, carried it through the circle of Sisters, and set it in place where it would remain throughout the Chapter. To complete the sacred space, delegates then carried in a statue of St. Julie as well as a beautiful relic, and the Chapter candle. This new Journey had begun.

Throughout all the days of the Chapter, in discernment, in silent reflection, accompanying the faith-sharing groups, in the celebration of the Eucharist, in times of deep rejoicing, in spirited discussion, in exuberant gratitude, the Cross stood in our midst. The Notre Dame Cross, worn by each Sister, reflected the power and blessing of this symbol at the heart of our faith life.

One of the options for the Gospel Acclamation of this great Feast is the familiar text: "We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world." May this Holy Cross which we carry, surround with its infinite power and blessing the entire Notre Dame Family, with our Associates, Mission Volunteers, co-workers, students, alumni and alumnae.

 

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