God's mercy and faithfulness

God's mercy and faithfulness shine forth in a world wounded by sin...

Last week as I prayed for Paris, for France and for our battered, suffering world these words whispered quietly but insistently within me, making themselves heard above the howling wind and lashing rain outside. They are the first words in our Constitutions, the starting point of everything that is at the very heart of our lives as RSCJ. This simple statement, filled with faith, opens our Constitutions, and, in a sense, opens us: to faith and hope, and a foundational belief in God's life and activity in even the darkest, most wounding times and places. It is a bedrock, an essential reminder of the enduring power of that Light which not only shines in the darkness but which the darkness can never overcome.

It is undoubtedly a bedrock we have inherited from Sophie Barat and that tiny group of young women who were the first RSCJ. Two hundred and fifteen years ago today, on 21st November 1800, they staked their lives on that inextinguishable Light, filled with tenderness and steadfast love, and wholeheartedly vowed their lives to God in this fledgling community committed to educating hearts as well as minds.

However turbulent and unstable the world might feel right now, however dangerous, it's quite likely that the Paris of 1800 felt even more so. France was still emerging from the fear-filled legacy of the Reign of Terror, and the bloody Revolution from which it sprang. So much of life was precarious, so many old certainties swept away. And yet it was in that turbulent, dangerous, unstable world that the Society was born: born because of those turbulent times, as a response to them; born because their world, wounded by sin, bloodshed and division, was so much in need of love and healing. Born because this small group of women, trusting in the fidelity of God, believed that this so-needed healing and love could be found in the depths of the Heart of Jesus.

As we celebrate our 215th birthday with gratitude and renewed commitment we can also hold Paris, our Society's birthplace, in our hearts and prayer, along with so many other places where the world is wounded and fragile. We know that Sophie, Philippine and our earliest sisters are with us in this. And I am sure that their message for us all is that in these turbulent times, in the 21st century as much as in 1800, the world has so much need of the Society, and our mission and charism of contemplatively recognising and making known God's love in the Heart of Jesus, especially where love is most absent and therefore most needed.