As I look at the future of religious life, I want to share a touchstone moment that happened right before I took my first vows. It took time to fully understand what it meant, but the experience has reassured and comforted me in times of great change. Several years later, I was finally able to put my reflections on this experience in writing.
While my body is working hard to heal, any type of positive message will be helpful. So I turn my grateful thoughts to the places on my body where I hurt the most. My jaw, my hand, my nose. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In her keynote address at the Fourth International Oblate Congress in Rome, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister spoke about the charism of Benedictinism, the way forward for monastics and Oblates, and how both need each other. According to Sister Joan: "Life is the world’s greatest spiritual director. And each of us learns from it. Each of us — lay as well as religious — carries within us a piece of the truth — but only a piece."
We want to change, but we cannot seem to get beyond a cultural depression. Although we mark this new year as "2018" maybe we should mark it 4.5618 billion years (the approximate age of Earth) or 202,018, the approximate age of the Homo sapiens species.
Are grand structures for worship necessary? If those who built those majestic churches had paid attention to building human communities, wouldn't that have made a difference? Instead of providing a place for religious rituals, what if they had developed a community center promoting an activity-oriented practical spirituality geared to liberating the poor?
As the news cycle brings more swirling storms, we want to hunker down, close the doors, and stay safe and warm, away from all the crazy. This is a natural response, and sometimes the right course of action for a time, but it cannot be our default position.
Paris - The Bénédictines du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre are eager to engage in conversation and welcome anyone who comes to the sanctuary of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. To make this welcome easier, a sister often sits on a bench, folding bulletins. If a pilgrim does not speak French, the sisters use English and Spanish. "When visitors see me doing something, they find it easier to come and sit by me, perhaps start a conversation," Sister Anne-Christine said. The church is the site of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, unbroken since 1885.
I was fortunate to participate in "Nuns and Nones," an energetic gathering of women religious and millennials (nones being younger persons with no stated religious affiliation). Gathering on a Sunday afternoon, we learned that our agenda was to "hang out and see what happens." And so we did.
See for Yourself - At a friend’s early New Year’s Eve party, I ended up in an enlightening conversation with another party-goer near the veggie dip.
For the last few years, I've spent the days leading up to the new year in the cozy confines of a retreat center in western Massachusetts. While friends send text messages about New Year's Eve, I share silence with a group taking a prayerful pause at year's end. In silent, guided reflection there is the invitation to reflect on all that has been, to pray for all that will be, and to bless the time we have.
- Page 1