Today, Candlemas, is also the official Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. And while I was reflecting on this and what to write, I was given the gift of someone else's words, written for another occasion but so very right for today. I don't usually plagiarise, but these words are sheer gift, and so I hope the author will forgive me, and regard this blogpost as my gift to her on her 40th anniversary of perpetual profession of vows...
I made my first vows in 1996, only a month or so after the death at 101 of a sister called Norah in Blyth, NE England. At my ceremony the Provincial, reflecting on my choice of readings, and the joy and energy of my response, said she was reminded of something read at Norah's funeral from her writings:
Now I come to Blyth, to what will probably be the last stage of my journey towards God, God who gave joy to my youth, and joy every day of my life.
She contrasted us two women, at two different ends of our lives and religious lives, and went on to say:
...and here is God, going on calling people to discover in God's Heart the depths of God's self and the anguish of the world, and putting into both Norah's heart and Silvana's heart this deep joy and commitment in recognition and response...
... Maybe this is at the heart of what our vocation is about, the discovery of the endless love and compassion of God in the Heart of Christ for all humanity, and our free response in joy and our openness to be transformed by that love and compassion individually and together... Maybe what today is about is a celebration of that discovery and that response. Today, especially for Silvana, but also for each of the rest of us, it's a time of renewal, a time to touch again the source of our deepest meaning and happiness, and to experience again the love which compels us to search for and meet God at the heart of our world.
There's nothing more to say really, except to repeat that this is the essence of what religious life is all about - responding to God's love through allowing our hearts to become bigger and wider... a love which compels us to search for and meet God at the heart of our world. And that today is a very good day to be reminded of that.