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Charism, Part I

CSSJ Spirituality

The spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph is expressed beautifully in what is called the Consensus Statement. Here is an excerpt from that document:


Featured Resources on Spirituality:

Video Series: The Maximed Life, Marcia Allen, CSJ

Synopsis: The Maxims of the Little Institute, written by Jean Pierre Médaille, SJ for the first Sisters of St. Joesph, are 100 short sayings to help the sisters grow in virtue. Sr. Marcia Allen, CSJ presents a nine-part series that helps viewers to read these Maxims in contemporary context and in the context of one's own life circumstances.

Video Presentation: The Flow of Unioning Love, Pat Bergen, CSJ

Synopsis: This two part presentation was given at the 2016 Federation Event in Orlando, FL. Flow is an energy state in which an individual or a group is caught up in, totally taken over by something greater than and beyond themselves. They become totally absorbed in what they are doing, and there seems to be an ease, a "flow", that requires little conscious thought to perform the action. Sister Pat relates the concept of flow to a divine, cosmic, ongoing unfolding movement of love that connects all creation as one.


Maxims of the Little Institute, Fr. Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, first published in 1694

The Maxims of the Little Institute were authored the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph. He wrote them for the first sisters, who handed them down within the congregation. These 100 wisdom sayings were meant to shed light on and guide the sisters in striving for holiness and virtue, and capture the core of the spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Here are some of the resources that relate to the Maxims of the Little Institute.

Maxims of the Little Institute - original translation, a modern version, and a commentary: This document really consists of three resources. The first part contains a translation of the text of the Maxims, as adapted by Marcia Allen, CSJ. The second part is a modern reinterpretation of the Maxims by students of Susan Wilcox, CSJ, written in modern colloquial language. Finally, a commentary by Mary Helen Kashuba, SSJ on these Maxims includes their origins and provides insight into how to read and pray with them. (As found on the Philadelphia SSJ site.)

Love's Design - An Invitation to Reflect on the Maxims of the Little Institute, by Marcia Allen, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph, Concordia, KS (1998): This booklet contains a reflection on each of the Maxims. To order a copy, contact Manna House of Prayer at or 785-243-4428.

Maxims of Perfection, Fr. Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, published in 1657 (Part I) and 1672 (Part II)

Part I of the Maxims of Perfection are believed to be a reformulation of the Maxims of the Little Institute. The Maxims are more fully developed and organized into chapters. They are also intended for a broader audience - all Christian souls "who aspire to the great virtue." Part II, authored later in Médaille's life, was added as an exercise for "stripping self of self, putting on Christ Jesus and imitating him in his hidden and public life in the form of prayers and conversations with the Savior himself.

Maxims of Perfection - for those who aspire to the great virtue, Jean-Pierre Médaille, McCarty Printing Corp., Erie PA 1979: This translation in booklet form was commissioned by the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and was produced by the intercongregational Research Team under the direction of M. Nepper, SJ. A PDF version of this publication can be found in The Little Congregation of the Daughters of St. Joseph - Primitive Texts in Translation, pp. 1-26, as found in the (U.S. Federation Digital Archives, hosted by Avila University - This link opens in a new window.)

Responding to the Maxims: A Spirituality Revisited, by Claire Olivier, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, Orange, CA, 1995. This booklet presents a response to the challenge of the Maxims of Perfection, using contemporary language and metaphors.

Other Resources

Portrait of a Daughter of St. Joseph, Marius Nepper, SJ: This portrait is based on the extensive research done by Fr. Nepper on the founding documents of the congregation.

Consecration to the Two Trinities, Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ: Found at the end of Part I of the Maxims of Perfection, this devotion matches the persons of the Uncreated Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Created Trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to specific virtues one hopes to attain.

Sharing the State of the Heart and the Order of the House. This spiritual practice goes back to the founding of the congregation, as has been reclaimed in more recent times as a uniquely CSSJ form of prayer. This communal prayer form often takes the form of leisurely and candid personal faith sharing by each member of the community gathered, followed by a prayerful assessment and discernment of what God may be calling the community to at that time.

State of the Heart and Order of the House: A Way of Nonviolence, by Sisters of St. Joseph who participated in Bearers of the Tradition: This booklet frames the spiritual practice as a way to engage with the world nonviolently, especially in situations of conflict. A print-ready PDF file, obtained from the Orange CSJ web site, is available here.

Jean-Pierre Médaille and the Church in 17th Century France: a four part video series on Fr. Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, co-founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Medaille Spirituality: This external site, hosted by the Upper Room Home for Prayer in Ottawa, Canada, has several resources related to CSSJ spirituality; most notably, the Médaille Online Course. The lessons may be accessed online via free registration, or can be purchased as a coil-bound volume or on CD.

From the U.S. Federation Digital Archives:

The following resources are hosted in the U.S. Federation Digital Archives by Avila Univerity.

In the following article I will share how I find the writings of Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille, S.J., the founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, link with and support the steps of recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous.