Letter Superior General 3 September 2014
Suore della Provvidenza Rosminiane
Via Aurelia, 773
Roma, 3 September 2014
My dear Sisters
During these weeks many of you have had the opportunity of being on retreat, visiting family or on holiday; I hope you have enjoyed these essential times of relaxation and re-generation.
Thank you for the many messages received with assurance of your thoughts and prayer during our recent Meeting in Stresa (June-July). It was a very positive experience, thanks to the participation of each Co-ordinator and also for the warm welcome and untiring availability of the Sisters of the community of Arca Pacis in doing everything possible to accommodate the ‘extended family’.
It was a blessing to be in Stresa for 30 June and 1 July and to share in the celebrations with a big gathering of the Rosminian family; 300 people sat down to lunch! A most significant moment which I consider a privilege, was being close to the ‘Bed’ in which Bl Antonio Rosmini died – where I remembered all of you… almost detecting the voice repeating “… he is not here … He is alive..!”
During our Meeting, comprised of Sisters of different nationalities and representing each District of the Congregation,we experienced the genuine support of being together and sharing what is important concerning our Rosminian way of life: considering the positive in each area as well as the various challenges. In this way we could reach a realistic consensus about overall priorities and try to send a clear message to the Congregation because our mission is only effective if there is unity of purpose and harmony between us.
We are now beginning a new Rosminian year (although in some areas of the Congregation, the year has already begun a while ago) and ringing in my mind are the words of Rosmini to Mother Giovanna just before he died: “The Sisters of Providence will flourish in so far as they are faithful to the spirit of poverty and simplicity”.
I want to draw attention to some points in my letter, which forms part of the Chapter Document (pp 10 and 9):
– we are in a ‘new phase of Rosminian living ..
– let us welcome it, take it to ourselves with our feet firmly on the ground’
together with the objective:
– ‘to revitalize our Rosminian Charism and mission in the service of God and his people’.
Words are beautiful but more beautiful when accompanied with concrete steps!
Looking at our reality today: it seems we are on shaky, movable ground; nothing is secure if we take a human view. Parallel with this of course is what is fundamental to our belief as Rosminian sisters: unconditional love of God and therefore confidently at home with him in his Providence.
Before considering anything else, it is good rediscover the value of joyful gratitude: everything has been given to us even before we think about asking for or getting it; this creates in us a disposition of single-minded dependence on God. It allows us to rejoice in offering gratefully to God the time of contemplation and silence as well as the time of activity, being and doing, successes and frustrations along with the challenges of today. It implies a fresh way of looking, of personal conversion – because central to anything we try to do is ‘who we are’ and ‘how’ we live – and to enjoy the beauty of our vocation: an encounter with the Person of Christ, in a living relationship.
Some fundamental points:
– there is a delicate balance between community and mission: ‘who’ and ‘what’ I am in community overflows into my mission role and my place of work for the community (roles which often change). One of the vital things in any way of life or institution of people is the interaction of relationships: how much more for us who profess to live in community!
– Respect for ALL – persons, creation and things: “we actively respect the dignity of the human person”( Rat, Dir 2) and “we shall find new and fresh ways of supporting one another in our mission. (Dir 3)
Fr Founder sums up these concepts beautifully when he advises the novices: “Learn to appreciate the sublime vocation by which you are called to be of use to the world; remember what our divine master, Jesus, said to his disciples: ‘This is my commandment – that you love one another as I have loved you’” (Jn 15, 12). (EA vol 4 Let 41)
Inextricably bound up with this overall idea are the concepts of “transparency” and “stewardship” which tie in with Fr Founder’s message to Madre Giovanna about simplicity of life and poverty in the wide sense – “simplicity and openness … greater accountability and responsible stewardship” (Dir 4) -, cultivating an awareness of ‘everything belongs to the community’. When we joined the Congregation we were provided for – everything surprised us, food, lodging and even clothing and personal needs… If we have money and resources can we use them ‘ad lib’? What we have is not ours personally! In this connection too – what we are and how we interact with each other is obvious to other people particularly those with whom we work.
The General Chapter expressed a strong invitation to all, to give greater attention to continual formation: “the whole of our life is a time of on-going formation. (Rat, Dir 6) This includes personal deepening of the Word of God and Rosminian spirituality in all-round development: these are indispensable means for a prophetic Rosminian vocation lived to the full.
The coordinators will be in contact with you soon with the Map for the way ahead for each District. Let us co-operate and encourage one another to enhance our way of being Rosminian Sisters “which is always open to mystery, as we discern in order to know the Lord and to perceive reality beginning with him.” ((Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Rejoice p 26) so that we canjoyfully sing the same song withdifferent harmonies.
There are certain signposts along the way:
– during this Year of Vocation, as we journey towards the Year of Consecrated Life 2015 announced by the Church, we enter into “a shared itinerary, a space for personal, communal and institutional reflection … with the desire and the intention of making courageous evangelical decisions leading to revitalization, bearing fruits of joy.” (Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Rejoice p 10)
– And in the sentiments of the same Letter, mentioned at the beginning: there is an urgency for each one to rediscover her initial call, consciously ‘writing her own personal Map’ so that together we as community do in fact create our Rosminian way of being and living.
Jesus the true Vine …
“I am the vine, you are the branches”
If we want to identify ourselves with the spirit of Bl Antonio Rosmini, who shows us the Way of the Gospel and to be ready to move from a contemplative state to one of energetic activity – “generous good wine in well-corked jars” (cf. EC 4:422: Walking towards the Future p 45) it is necessary to go back to the source: the VINE.
The VINE is an extraordinary image on profound relationship. In this context the command ‘to love’ becomes the overwhelming fruit of an Encounter. Love springs from the rapport between Jesus and the disciple. I suggest we take this message to ourselves: ‘You did not choose me, no, I chose you’ (Jn 15:16) and “Abide in my love”, Jn.15:9). A life that does not respond to this love runs the risk of being lukewarm and cold and can become a withered branch that has cut itself off from the source of life. This message becomes alive when we watch the careful and calculated measures of the vinedresser in cutting away what is no longer advantageous to the vine and pruning what is good so that it becomes more fruitful! “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.(Jn 15:2)
Some significant events:
– the feasts of Madonna delle Grazie and Our Lady of Sorrows when we join together in prayer, calling to mind the Sisters in the Districts of Italy and UK and Ireland;
– the 60th Anniversary of Casa dell’Addolorata; we remember those Sisters who have gone ahead and have prepared the way for us today. Special thanks to all in the Casa dell’Addolorata for their loving care of elderly and sick Sisters; and to all those who have helped in this ‘Casa’ in any way over the past 60 years.
Happy Feast of Our Lady during this month!
A happy and fulfilled continuation of our journey – together – towards the future.
God bless you.
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