Our world as the "why"

Steps in the Villa Lante garden
The past few days have - politically at least - been extraordinary and unprecedented; a grimly mesmerising roller-coaster for a nation perched on sanity's cliff-edge. But there are others, not in the UK, for whom these days have been filled with excitement and anticipation, new friendships and beginnings, and all the promise they contain. These are the nine RSCJ from seven countries who have been gathering in Rome, ready to begin their programme of preparation for perpetual vows. Most of them are my friends on Facebook, and so I - along with other sisters around the world - have seen them delightedly announce their arrival, and posting their first photos of a house and views which hold a special place in so many of our hearts and memories. Experiencing something of their joy and hopes, even from a distance, has been a welcome diversion from domestic politics.

Inevitably, I remember my own arrival at the Villa Lante, back in February 2003; the excitement and new beginnings, exuberance and early explorations for my own group of twelve. I remember our hopes, ideals and anxieties, and the orientation from our Superior General - which I wrote about a few years ago - to spend this precious, privileged time with open, listening, giving hearts. God had brought us together, from eleven countries, several cultures and all continents, to form a close-knit community which did indeed live from the depths of our individual and communal hearts. And so as always, I pray with gratitude for my companions, and our formation team, and for this time which was so filled with grace and growth, challenge, learning and the blessing of friendship.

The brand-new probanists are not the only ones making new starts or transitions. In the northern hemisphere especially, this is the traditional time for entering and for making first vows. Like the probanists these new members of the Society are saying their YES to Love, and to our mission, in times which are truly turbulent, violently divisive and full of breakdown and instability. And it is for this moment and this context that they - and indeed, each one of us - have been called and chosen. As our Superior General said in her opening conference:

Today you and we commit ourselves to build One Body from the 41 diverse countries and cultures where we live our mission and life. Just as the turmoil of the world in France was the “why” of Sophie’s passion to do a new thing in a new way with a small group of committed women, the situation of our world in 2019 is the “why” that underlies the urgency of living Jesus’ mission of Love, to commit ourselves as a small group of women to be artisans of Hope.

Let us pray for them, and for ourselves, as we seek to live Jesus' mission of Love with urgency and hope...