The beatitude of hungering

In a few days' time this summer's events commemorating the centenary of the death of Janet Erskine Stuart will begin. The first participants have already arrived from Australia (including a dear friend here in Oxford for the weekend), soon to be followed by sisters, colleagues and alumnae from the USA, Japan, Mexico and elsewhere in Europe. As Superior General Janet had travelled around the world, visiting RSCJ communities and schools in these countries: now, a century later, their "descendants" are coming here effectively to visit Janet, her former homes and her resting place, and to attend conferences which will help them get to know her better, just as she once got to know their "ancestors".

What will they find? For each one the experience will be different. We know, though, what Janet found, because she documented her visits and her reflections. And we have just been reminded that in July 1914 she wrote to her sisters in Roehampton saying: I found the beatitude of hunger and thirst for the things of God all through the Society...

Hunger is more than a desire or craving; it is a deep, aching need, an emptiness longing to be filled. And in a world filled with inequality, hunger and thirst are rarely viewed as beatitudes: if we hunger and thirst for food and drink it isn't because they're optional extras, but because we desperately need something which is essential for our survival.

But the hunger for prayer, the thirst for God, are definitely beatitudes, because they impel us to slow down, to reflect, to choose prolonged prayer, spiritual reading; to opt for stillness and time with God instead of more activity. And the hunger for the things of God also means to hunger for authenticity, congruence and the things which enable and increase God's life in us, and our growth into becoming the people God created and longs for us to be.

And a congregation of women who feel a deep longing, yearning need for God is definitely blessed! However busy we may become, however many other possibilities present themselves, may we always, as our Superior General wrote recently, desire to renew the depth of our call to be women of God's heart...