Last Sunday, I went to a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Visitation Order of Nuns. Their founding preceded that of the Sisters of St. Joseph by about 40 years, and they are in the same general place on the spiritual map of Christianity as we are, namely, in the Ignatian-Salesian area. One of our earliest documents advises the CSJs to look to the Visitation Sisters as an example if they aren't sure how to handle a particular situation.
There is a long-established Visitation Monastery in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, with an attached school. About 20 years ago, a second Viz monastery opened here, in North Minneapolis. Seven sisters live in a large old house on Fremont Avenue North, and are very engaged in a ministry of presence in that somewhat troubled neighborhood.
I got to know them through contact with novices and instructors during my novitiate, and later I wrote a paper about one of their founders, St. Jane de Chantal. In it, I looked at the ways the CSJs and Visitation sisters are alike and not alike. They still use that paper in their novitiate training, I'm pleased to say.
Anyway, there were some small booklets available at Sunday's anniversary celebration, entitled Living Jesus: A Gentle Presence in a Violent World. The booklet is a distillation of Visitation spirituality and practice. There is much in it that is very familiar, and much that is new.
One of the things I liked especially was this list of "Little Virtues:"
A willing acceptance of the tiresome tempers of our neighbor.
A cheerful bearing with our own imperfections and limitations.
The good-humored putting up with small acts of selfishness and injustice.
An agreeable manner of answering those who speak disagreeably to us.
A pleasant manner of receiving a refusal.
Gratitude and politeness when others oblige us.
A gentle voice and a calm manner.
Good practices for any manner of life, eh?