Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Ecumenical Way

I spent the last three days with an amazing group of men and women religious from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. Rather than a time of ecumenical dialogue, we spent our time together sharing our experience of prayer, community and mission as brothers and sisters in monasteries and religious communities.  I come away with a profound experience of the deep unity of the whole Christian community - a unity prayed for by Jesus, and one we celebrate during this week of Christian Unity. I also come away with a much more profound realization of the deep diversity among us, in language, culture and theology. At the same time I was deeply impressed by three ecumenical communities: Taize, Boze and Chemin Neuf, all of whom are committed to building community together as Christians of various traditions.
English report of the visit with the pope. 
In his brief message, the pope called for conversion of heart, for prayer and for gospel living, as the heart of all ecumenical movement. I am expecting to write a longer post in the next few days, reflecting on my whole experience here. It certainly opens my eyes to the many possibilities open and different ways of living religious life. The opportunity to share these days of prayer, presentation and dialogue has opened many horizons for me for going forward.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ecumenical Meeting of Religious

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life has planned a number of initiatives to facilitate encounters between members of different expressions of consecrated and fraternal life in the various Churches. I warmly encourage such meetings as a means of increasing mutual understanding, respect and reciprocal cooperation, so that the ecumenism of the consecrated life can prove helpful for the greater journey towards the unity of all the Churches. (from Letter of Pope Francis for the Year of Consecrated Life)
This is the journey we begin on June 22, 2015 in Rome, with participants from Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Ecumenical Religious Communities. There will be three days of meetings, the first focused on Catholic religious life, the second focused on the Orthodox tradition and the third focused on Protestant and Ecumenical communities.
Each day begins with some reflections on religious life in that tradition, and testimonies from men and women religious from the tradition. Then after sharing lunch, we will gather in small groups to discuss what we have heard. We round out the day with evening prayer in the tradition that has been the focus of the day.
I am looking forward to rich sharing and experiences and I hope to be able to share some of that with you all as the days progress.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Two Great Posts

I would like to share two articles that came up this past week:

An open letter to the Great Generation

by Teresa Maya

Dear Sisters of the Great Generation of religious life,
I feel compelled to write this letter in memory of Sr. Dorothy Ettling, CCVI, one of the most amazing women of your generation. She now rests in the peace of our God, but her vision remains.... Read more....

Our Time

by Susan Rose Francois
I will admit to a smile whenever I see that one of my Horizons columns has been posted online, although the reason for my smile may not be the one you expect. I smile because of the tagline for the column on the Global Sisters Report website: “Young sisters speak.” Only in religious life would a 42-year-old woman be counted among the “young..... Read more...
Thanks Teresa and Susan for these honest and thoughtful words. I do sense a shift in the conversation about religious life. It is a good time to be a part of this amazing movement.

In the coming week, I will be attending an Ecumenical Meeting of Religious in Rome. I hope to be sharing some aspects of that experience and I will also be tweeting @amycsj.

Peace and blessings,

Friday, January 9, 2015

Necessity is the mother of ... the Spirit

Recently I was discussing various trends in society, church and religious life. In the course of the conversation, we repeatedly mentioned developments that seem to be the work of the spirit: greater environmental awareness, greater awareness of equality and human rights, broader participation in the life of the Church, etc. At each turn, we had to acknowledge that that the movements arose, not only because of some altruistic spiritual sensitivity, but also because of a real need. This got me to thinking...
I thought of the foundation of many religious communities, including my own. We were founded because of pressing social and ecclesial needs that were not being met by any other group. At the same time, there were women who desired to serve the 'dear neighbor' in need, but they felt the need of mutual support and official approbation. So was the foundation of the Sisters of St. Joseph the result of a movement of the Spirit? or was it the result of necessity?
We now see increased lay involvement in many aspects of Church life. In our own sponsored Academies, for example, lay men and women are carrying on the mission with great dedication and professionalism. Certainly this is in keeping with the Second Vatican Council's renewed understanding of Baptism and of the call of all people to continue the mission of Jesus. However, it is also the result of the lessening number of sisters available to teach and administer the schools. The same is true in so many aspects of the life and mission of the Church. Priests and sisters are not available for many roles that they previously fulfilled, and a competent, professional cadre of lay ecclesial ministers carry out many tasks in pastoral, health-care and educational roles. Is this the result of a movement of the Spirit? or was it the result of necessity?
And looking forward, I am building community in an intercongregaional house of women religious, situated in an urban ecovillage. Partly, I am here because of the increasing difficulty of finding communities of sisters in full-time active ministry within my own congregation. It is a necessity. Yet I also see it as a movement of the Spirit, bringing together various threads of our charisms and missions into a broader synthesis. Is this necessity? or is it the movement of the Spirit?
I am beginning to see a pattern here. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps, necessity is also the mother of the Spirit.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Living on the Edge

Religious Life at the Crossroad is the 21st-century analysis of the present and future of religious life. Written by Amy Hereford, C.S.J., an attorney and canonist, the book traces religious life from its past “marked by courage and creativity in the face of adversity as well as by heroism and zeal.” Hereford attempts to chart a course into the future by understanding the historical and present characteristics of religious life through the context of the time. Her self-appointed task was to use the ideas, social media conversations and visions of her “minority cohort” (younger women religious) to imagine “the future of religious life in the next fifty years.” The author takes a linear approach to her topic as she moves from the earliest forms of religious life, beginning with the desert mothers and fathers and moving through the Second Vatican Council renewal period. Using theological communities, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s New Monasticism, Brother Roger and the TaizĂ© Community and Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement, she looks for “seeds of newness” and re-imagines the vows, community life and mission in the context of the 21st century.
Read complete book review in America Magazine....