Love, the Heart of the Universe. WEEK Six
On Friday evening the 10thof August we were entertained by a wonderful display of international culture through song, dance and visual presentations.
The following week, presentations on “ Congregational Culture and Beyond” were led by Honorine Yamba, SNDdeN, Josefina Tondo and Olga Soldevilla RGS.
We heard how culture is learned, shared and practiced. Culture includes behavior, language, traditions, norms, social relations, emotions, values and beliefs. Our family socializes us into a particular culture. Through experiential exercises, participants reflected on understanding behaviors in their particular culture such as greetings, welcoming visitors, food preferences and eating styles, gestures, manner of dress, family roles and experience of authority etc. Culture is further reinforced by religion, education, mass media, politics and economics.
Culture and gender: We heard that sex is biologically determined while gender is socially constructed. People are born with a particular sexual orientation. Gender identities are the conceptions wehave of ourselves as male or female. The participants focused on gender roles in their families as well as in society. Ones sexual orientation as well as gender roles were discussed in the framework of cultural experience. In today’s world we are aware of the variety of sexual/gender expressions such as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, transexual etc.
While we bring our own particular culture to religious life we are aware that there is a “religious life” culture especially in international congregations such as ours. Thus we are challenged to go beyond our particular culture to learn from others and to accept them so as to be more effective in mission. We also learned about some African, Philippino and Peruvian indigenous cultural expressions and the richness they bring to religious life. Sr. Olga shared with us that initially she thought that her encounter with the spirituality of the Incarnation and her spirituality of the earth, mountains, water and the depths… did not go together. However later she found the connection within the possibility of a God who is in love with the cosmos and with everything that lives within it.
Our pilgrimage to Caen brought us in touch with the places so dear to St. John Eudes. We experienced where the Congregation first took root and where our Sisters of Our Lady of Charity were founded. Eucharist was celebrated in Ri where St. John Eudes was baptized.