Strength in weakness

A few days ago I did a presentation for a group of sisters on two 19th century RSCJ. One was Mabel Digby, fifth Superior General of the Society; the other was her biographer, Anne Pollen. At the beginning, when I asked those present what words came to mind when thinking of Mabel, amongst the replies were a strong woman and a suffering woman, which summed up the paradox of a woman of great strength, tenacity and determination contained within a fragile body wracked with illness and infirmity. Anne, on the other hand, was a gifted woman from a creative, gifted family, who encountered her own inner fragility when she suffered a breakdown in her late fifties - a breakdown from which she never recovered.

One of the participants later commented that after the session she was really aware of the power of God working in people through their weakness. This in turn reminded me of a paragraph in our Constitutions, about illness and diminishment, which reminds us that in prayer we discover that the fidelity of God dwells at the very core of our weakness (para 115). This is a fidelity which is truly stronger and more constant than the sum total of all our weakness and wavering.

Reflecting on this has brought me to today's feast, Pentecost - the day when we are especially reminded that the Spirit comes to help us in our weakness... (Romans 8:26). What, after all, was Pentecost, other than the Spirit coming to dwell at the very core of the Apostles' weakness, flooding them with grace and strength? Then, filled to their depths with the Spirit, they were emboldened to go out, beyond their limitations, and proclaim the Good News that is Jesus.

And so it is for us. We too need to pray for and recognise the power and Spirit of God dwelling at the very core of our weakness, strengthening us for our mission of proclaiming God's love with our lives. Today, more than any other day, is a good opportunity to do this, to prepare ourselves for when we really need the Spirit's help in our weakness...