We have a lovely prayer for vocations to the Society, written by one of our American sisters. It is as much a prayer for all of us, that we might be faithful to God's longing for us as it is a prayer for great-hearted, generous women in love with God to join us.
This prayer has been translated into various languages by RSCJ around the world. Inevitably, as with any exercise in translation, there is a creative tension between fidelity to the original and writing something which flows and speaks clearly in the new language. Some small changes may need to be made; a new sentence structure here, a different turn of phrase there, but generally, unless the translation is deliberately loose, the words and ideas remain the same, even if they've been re-arranged.
The other day one of our sisters, who had only ever met the prayer in her own language, translated it back into English - without referring to the English original. What she produced was an interesting mix of convergence and divergence. The same prayer was there, with mostly the same words and ideas, but in a few places it was clear that the original translator had translated so loosely that various changes and adaptations had crept in.
Reading it, with the original in mind, I was especially struck by Give us companions who, despite the ambiguities of this age, will lean on the love of their sisters as they root their lives in you...
which had now become Give us companions who, despite the ambiguity of this century, will lean over the world with love, to root it in You.
And it struck me that, in a week in which there have been terrorist attacks and violent, needless deaths in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq; in which here there has been a rise in overt racism and growing divisions; in a time in which the lust for power seems to condone the most appalling behaviour... in such a time we do indeed need women who will lean over the world with love, to root it in God.
Later this week our General Chapter will begin, a gathering of delegates from around the world, who will pray, reflect and work with the material sent in by all our provinces, naming the reality, needs and calls facing them - facing all of us - at this time. May their gaze and perspective be that of the Open Heart, of Christ who, from his Cross leans over the world with love, desiring to gather all into himself, to root all in God.