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Wednesday, 11 March 2015 08:26

What makes the difference

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Sr Genevieve Ryan rsj 150Like pianists playing Bach who bring their own unique touch to the same piece of music, vowed religious simply play their commitment with a different touch. Their call is to make the religious dimension of their life uniquely important and central ­ - that no other life commitment is possible for them, writes Sister Genevieve Ryan rsj.

Pope Francis has called us to celebrate this year of Consecrated Life and to go to the heart of God’s call to each of us. He asks us to recall “the joy of the moment when Jesus looked at me”. (Rejoice p. 18)

According to John Shea, “these moments trigger an awareness of a More, a Presence, an Encompassing, a Whole within which we come and go.This awareness does not wait for a polite introduction. It bursts unbidden upon our ordinary routine, demands total attention, and insists we dialogue. At these times we may scream or laugh or dance or cry or sing or fall silent. But whatever our response, it is raw prayer, the returning human impulse to the touch of God.” Response to such a defining moment often leads a person to follow Jesus in discipleship –to consecration of life.

Recent conversations with fellow Josephites and other friends have indicated an unease with the identification of Consecrated Life with religious and priests. The journey of consecration began at Baptism for all the Baptised. Religious vows do not add to or replace our Baptismal commitment; but they do specify it.

Religious life has an identity that makes it distinct from the vocation of others who wish to live the gospel call. It is an uncommon vocation but no more or less important than any other vocation to live as a committed disciple. I like Judith Merkl’s image “When we hear a new pianist play Bach, what makes them different from all those who have played Bach before? Each has a different touch!

In the Christian life vowed religious simply play their commitment and consecration with a different touch. Their call is to make the religious dimension of their life uniquely important and central ­ so much so, that no other life commitment is possible for them. It is one valuable vocation in the church, and one that Pope Francis is inviting us to think more about throughout this year.

References:
‘Rejoice’ –Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
‘Finding the Treasure’ – Sandra Schneiders: Paulist press
A different Touch – Judith Merkl –the Liturgical Press
Vita Consecrata – John Paul 11
John Shea, An Experience named Spirit – Thomas More Press, 1983

This article was first published on 1 March 2015 at the website of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart.