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Tuesday, 14 June 2016 13:02

Signifying God's presence in history

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Sr Berneice Loch rsm150 2015Mysticism marks our fundamental identity as Religious, writes CRA President Sister Berneice Loch rsm.

Last month I wrote some of my reflection from Rome where I was attending the UISG (International Union Superiors General) conference. It was an inspiration to sit among so many strong women from all over the world who were drawn from such diverse Institutes of Religious Women. It was evident that UISG has close ties to USG, the parallel union for Superiors General of the Institute of Religious Men including, of course, the clerical orders. The two groups work together in a spirit of collaboration on ministerial projects as well as in their efforts to bring the gift of Religious Life to the whole Church.

I thought I would return to the UISG paper by Sr Márian Ambrosio idp as a basis for sharing some further thoughts that interested me. Just in case you have forgotten, the papers are available from the UISG website.

The overall message of the speaker is that mysticism marks our fundamental identity as Religious. She addresses this against the often troubling background of many of us belonging to groups that are rapidly growing smaller and increasingly challenged by the question of what we are called to be and do in this phase of the life of our Institute. Hers is a hopeful perspective and I have found myself reflecting since on what she had to say. I will share just a few of the points she makes.

“Therefore our crisis does not depend on the fact that we are few. This small aspect of the crisis is a chance, an opportunity – it is thrusting us to a new point of view about identity and meaning and radical discipleship (including lifestyle and prophetic dimension of the religious vows.) We have the mission of “awakening the world,” as Pope Francis tirelessly repeats!”

“When we recognise that from a point of view of productivity we are becoming useless in the western world, this same world is challenging us to recover what is specific to us: we are a sign that points to God’s operating presence in history.” This statement of course takes her back to the mysticism that she is emphasising as fundamental to our being.

It is sometimes very difficult to reflect on the challenge of what is happening among us. We ask if we should accept new members, we worry about formation of current and new members for a life that will be lived in a very different Institute and so much more. Márian offers a quote from the book of Job which I hope will provide us all with a sense of inspiration:

“….For there is hope for a tree,
When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not fail.
Though its roots grow old in the ground
And its stump dies in the dry soil,
At the scent of water it will flourish
And put forth springs like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9)

From Weaving Solidarity for Life by Sr Márian Ambrosio IDP. 

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