Lettera Madre february 2016

Lettera Madre february 2016

United_Kingdom1.png My dear Sisters …

Via Aurelia 773
Called to
“Always be passionate
searchers and
witnesses of God!”.
(Benedict XVI)

My dear Sisters,
We join the Church in procession, as it moves towards the Temple for the celebration of the Feast of the
Presentation of the Lord Jesus and the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life – a Year during which Pope
Francis called all Religious to “wake up the world” and share the power of the Gospel, through the joyful
witness our lives.
What has this Year meant for US?

Since we are part of the pilgrimage of humanity, this is a time of great ‘gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the many
different expressions of Consecrated Life, which he has inspired through the ages and which are present in the
Church today in a rich variety of forms. They are like ‘a plant with many branches which sinks its roots into the
Gospel and brings forth abundant fruit in every season of the Church’s life. What an extraordinary richness!’’
Consecrated life has not only proved to be a help and support for the Church in the past, but is also a precious
and necessary gift for the present and future of the People of God, since it is an intimate part of her life, her
holiness and her mission. Communion in the Church is not uniformity, but a gift of the Spirit who is present in
the variety of charisms and states of life … for every gift of the Spirit is granted in order to bear fruit for the

Lord in the growth of fraternity and mission’. (cf. VC 1-5)
We too are part of this fruitful ‘plant’, part of this diversity, part of this changing world for which we give
thanks to God. Pope Francis reminds us that “A radical approach is required of all Christians, but religious
persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: They are men and woman who can awaken the
world … Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and be sent to the frontiers of the world,
avoiding the temptation to ‘domesticate’ them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord.” (Nov 2013)
This special year has meant focusing on the identity and mission of consecrated life, which flows from our
Baptism and finds itself “at the very heart of the Church … her mission … and inner nature of the Christian
calling”. (Pope John Paul II, First World Day for Consecrated Life 1997,) and this echoes the writings of Bl
Antonio Rosmini and specifically our Constitutions, nos 1-3. We have freely chosen and actually profess to be
‘consecrated persons’ – which in essence means being in relationship with God: sharing the goodness we have
received from Him. Consecrated life calls us to explore new ways of making the Gospel real in discerning the
movements of God, which guide our way of life each day, “and to recognize in the small and frail signs the
presence of the Lord of life and hope”. (cf Keep Watch, 7)


Significantly, the beginning this ‘Year’ overlapped with the Rosminian Year of Vocation which we chosewe listen to the words of Fr Founder again, “Learn how to appreciate your vocation, which calls you to help the world. Remember what Jesus said to his disciples: ‘This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you”. (EC 8:16) Knowing also that “the true joy of those who are called consists in believing and experiencing that he, the Lord, is faithful, and that with him we can walk, be disciples and witnesses of God’s love, open our hearts to great ideals, to great things”. (Pope Francis, World Day of Vocations, 15 Jan 2014) With these sentiments, we come to the end of this special ‘Year’ focusing on the ‘Year of Mercy’.
Within this past ‘Year’, the Church has put before us many indicators, which are important for us especially as consecrated persons, therefore we take to heart, these ‘movements of God that guide our way’. To mention a few:
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” and the Encyclical Laudato Si. Pope Francis underlined the need to reaffirm our “personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” (1 Sept 2015) He prayed that we would learn to contemplate God in the beauty of the universe, give thanks and protect all life.
The Fifth National Ecclesial Convention of the Italian Church, (Florence) ‘In Jesus Christ the new Humanism’. The aim of the Congress is to lead everyone to act in the way Pope Francis suggests: we need to “read the signs of the times” in the world in which we live and speak the language of Jesus’s law
of love. The Church can preach its faith concretely only if it is next to people’s real lives. (9-13 Nov 2015)
Opening of The Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica (8 Dec. 2015) With the Jubilee of Mercy, we turn our attention to our merciful God who invites all to return to Him. An encounter with God inspires us in our turn to be merciful to others. God always comes to seek us when we go astray, just as a shepherd goes to look for his lost sheep; he welcomes us at the door, just as the father welcomes the prodigal son.
The Jubilee for the Family, in St. Peter’s Square: “In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them”. (27 Dec 2015)
Recently, World Day of Migrants and Refugees (17thJan 2016). Migrant and Refugee people are also a challenge for us: we try to respond as people of the “Gospel of Mercy”, especially by prayer and in whatever way we can. “Concern for fostering good relationships with others and the ability to overcome prejudice and fear are essential ingredients … for the promotion of the human person, the culture of encounter, and the unity of peoples, where the Gospel of mercy inspires and encourages ways of renewing and transforming the whole of humanity.” (Pope Francis, 17 Jan 2016)
These very different events, along with many others during the Year, touch our lives.
If we have been and are ‘awake’ during this ‘Year’ we will have taken to ourselves the suggestions made in the Letter sent for Advent 2014 and the opening of Year for Consecrated Life. I make no apology for calling these to mind here.
We are CALLED to
attentive listening – radical openness to God – collaboration and community discernment for new stages of prophesy in the service of the Church – continual conversion of heart – challenged by the Word of God in a new way – personal and community reflection – ‘listening’ passages for Lectio Divina – which have the power to ‘transform our lives’ – discover the Will of God at every present moment.
In this connection, it worthwhile to look again at the Chapter document ‘Walking Towards the future’, p. 44.
Has this Year changed anything in MY life?
Look deep in your heart, look into your own depths and ask yourself, do you have a heart that desires something great or a heart that is indifferent?
Has your heart remained in a ceaseless search or have you let it be stifled by things, so that it is deadened? God waits for you, searching for you, how do you respond? Have you noticed the state of your soul? or are you asleep? Do you believe that God waits for you, or do you think this is merely “words”? (Rejoice, 73)

As we come to the closing of the celebration of this Year of Consecrated Life – I know many of you throughout the Districts have taken part, in various different ways, in the celebration during this special Year both in community and at diocesan level. Many Sisters are united in spirit with all consecrated persons, coming from different parts of the world, who are gathered in the Vatican, in the days leading up to the Presentation of the Lord, on the theme “Consecrated life in communion. The common foundation in the variety of forms”. The aim of the meeting is to get to know the great mosaic of consecrated life better, to live communion re-discovering the single call uniting the variety of forms. Starting out together on the path of the great Jubilee of Mercy that once more gives all consecrated persons the specific mandate of their vocation: to be guided by the Father’s mercy, witnesses and builders of an authentically lived fraternity. (Vatican City 20 Jan 2016)
Enriched by this Year, we are empowered to go forward, encouraged by the third Letter ‘Contemplate’, addressed to us in these days: “We learn Christ’s ways, first, by listening. We are invited to take on a contemplative way in which the Word shines in our lives as men and women: in our thoughts, in prayerful silence, in our fraternities, in our encounters and deaconries, in the places where we live and in which announce the grace of mercy, in our choices, in our decisions, and in the formative paths.” (Contemplate, 35)

Our prayer is one of ‘gratitude for the past’ yes, and at the same time asking God for the passion to continue ‘to serve others in the present, and for all of us to embrace the future with a renewed sense of hope’. In this way, we sincerely want to support one another in the daily living of our consecration. Transformed in love and in listening to the invitation of Jesus, staying with him, we “continue our pilgrim journey … in the spirit of renewed joyful living”, (WTF p 44) where each of us “is called to contemplate and bear witness to the face of God”. (Contemplate, 59)
At the closing of this Year, as we enter the Temple, we discover there, the presence of different people – all focusing on Jesus. Mary and Joseph, obey the Law in taking the Child Jesus, along with their offering, to present him to God. Here they encounter Simeon and Anna – two elderly people in prayerful contemplation and open to the Holy Spirit, who immediately recognize the Lord Jesus in their daily circumstances. Can we do the same?
Happy Feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus to each one.



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