I am at the Mother House studying for one of the courses I'll be teaching in the fall (Theology and Leadership). One of my friends called to have me watch Religion and Ethics on PBS at 1:30 p.m. and there was an interview with a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and some other people regarding how we (sisters) live our lives today. Of course this topic is one I hold close and afterward it was nice to get back into my reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is a Christian martyr and theologian who was hanged in Flossenburg concentration camp April 09, 1945. His life's work is about what it means to live faith in action and as I reflected on the interviews my mind kept wandering to how we do this today in Religious Life (a common theme as you might already know if you have read previous posts). In another effort to take a break I began leafing through Vision Magazine (a vocation guide for Religious Life). This was fascinating as I looked at the plethora of options people have for finding a community today. I read this magazine when I first began looking at CSA and loved the articles and looking at the variety of men and women's communities that exist.
Today, my experience of Vision was different. The life I have been called to is difficult at times and, also the most beautiful expression I have experienced of sharing God's love. I desire to share the opportunity of Religious Life with people who are called to join us. It fits me in a way that nothing else did before. I know there was a time when being a Woman Religious was regarded as something of greater importance in building up the reign of God (as was the Priesthood and the life Religious Brothers) than people called to other lifeforms. The good news...or part of it anyway...is that today we know differently. My life is special, and the reason for that is I seek to respond to God's love with authenticity and an openness to share it with others through my religious vocation (ideally this is how it is for all of us, Woman Religious or not).
I attended Mass this morning at our Mother House and looked around the room at my Sisters and rejoiced in belonging to this group of holy women. They have worked so hard to bring about God's goodness and inspire the same in me. At the end of the day (or the beginning in this case) we have the opportunity to serve together with our diverse manifestations of God's love while sharing in the Mission of our congregation. The ministry is great and I absolutely love what I do. Yet, the way I feel when among my community, Sisters and Associates, is something that is indescribable. I think what is spurning this chatter was one woman interviewed for Religion and Ethics and how she addressed what women religious need to be doing in the Church. My immediate response was frustration. I find myself reciting my vows today and believe that it is in this formula I find my love for prayer, community, ministry and the Church. God called me here and my response is to answer with my life. At times I am provoked while it appears there are increasing divisions in our Church regarding ideologies, spiritualities and theologies, what it means to be faithful, and who has the right to belong. I joined this Church in gratitude for the large umbrella that shelters divergent thinking and practice in the pursuit of loving God. Today, as a Christian I seek to find that same passion in others as we face the suffering and joy of each day knowing at times we will fall while striving toward greater goodness. I am glad the National Religious Vocation Conference is putting out Vision Magazine and although I read it from the eyes of one who belongs to Religious Life I appreciate the articles and ads that show how differently and vibrantly each community expresses itself. Hmmmm....I used the word today often in this post....just had to get it in one more time....who knows if I will have a chance to say today, tomorrow ;o).