Sunday, 26 April 2015
But what if I were to try and describe that "indescribably varied" hundredfold? What would I say? I think in the end I would summarise it under six different headings; different, but interlinked, and flowing into and out of each other. One heading is the undisputed number one, a couple more jostle for second place, while the rest crowd close behind. So, the hundredfold headings are...
GOD: I entered religious life because I was captivated by God, and believed that - for me - religious life would be the only place, the only way, where I would find "more" of God - and so it has been. I entered not only because I had fallen in love with God, but, crucially, because I knew myself to be loved by God, infinitely and unconditionally. The journey of the past 21 years has been a journey into that Love, which is a never-ending journey into God. And true to God's lavish fidelity, I have found something of the "more" that I have been seeking - and the glory and the beauty of it is, there's still a lot more waiting to be found!
PRAYER: Being an RSCJ has facilitated that search by giving me the support and means to grow in prayer and contemplation. Our formation, our community life, our mission and our meetings, are all founded on deep prayer, which our Constitutions describe as a compelling love written in our hearts by the Spirit. And while prayer has never been easy, let alone ecstatic, the fact that I can have so much of it, plus accompaniment, retreats and a solid spiritual formation, is truly a cause of deep joy.
HEART: Being called to the Heart of Jesus, journeying into its depths and into the heart of the world; seeking to live united to that Heart in order to make known its love - this has been a tremendous as well as wholly unexpected grace. I entered the Society knowing very little about its spirituality of the Heart, and so every aspect of plumbing those depths, discovering and making known its love, has been sheer, surprising, uncontained gift.
COMMUNITY: The call to be the love of the Heart of God is a tall order, and a privilege - and one that I share with several thousand women around the world. Even if we don't actually work together we all share a call and a mission, and community is the place where that mission - and each one - is nurtured and strengthened. Through our vowed commitment we are united in love as sisters: certainly, over the years community - whether local, provincial or international - has been the place where I am loved, supported, challenged, formed, known at a deep level... and as with any close-knit family, strong love and challenge often go hand in hand, leading to...
GROWTH: Or rather, a process of growth and transformation, rooted in prayer, but encompassing all of life and relationships. It is an unfolding, a becoming; a developing of gifts and identity, an invitation to recognise and work with limitations. It is an invitation to become the woman God created me to be, in order to be and give more of myself to God, the Society and to others, in service. There have been intense times, such as novitiate and preparation for perpetual vows, but much has also happened in the everyday: in prayer and reflection, relationships, ministry; in contexts both new and familiar, in writing, cooking and creativity.
MISSION: And the reason for all this is not to stay within myself but to be liberated to go out, beyond myself, beyond my limitations, fears, needs and personal concerns. To go out in ministry, to whatever God calls me to, but also in my relationships and interactions. To go out and beyond myself, in growing inner freedom, and in the process, mysteriously, to find something of that "more" and that God I have always been seeking...
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, popularly known as Vocations Sunday. It is the day when Catholics are urged to pray for vocations to religious life and the priesthood. And certainly today, in this Year of Consecrated Life, I am praying for more young women to hear and respond to God's call to the Society, that they too may have the grace and the joy of being overwhelmed by God's generous hundredfold.