Lettera Madre Ascension-Pentecost 2016

Lettera Madre Ascension-Pentecost 2016

United_Kingdom1.png My dear Sisters …

My dear Sisters,
The 50th World Day of Social Communications Day 2016 on the theme “Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter”, coincides with the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord on 8 May which falls on the Sunday before Pentecost.
The Ascension forms a ‘bridge’ of communication between Jesus’ earthly life and the coming of the Holy Spirit. “I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:16-17) and “It is for your own good that I am going because unless I go the Paraclete will not come to you … when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth.” (Jn 16:7-13)
In his message for World Day of Communications, Pope Francis calls on all to reflect on the deep interaction between “communication and mercy”. The Theme underlines the power of good communication capable of opening up a possibility for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation; in this way allowing human encounters to develop and flourish. Communication, he says is “a gift of God which involves a great responsibility” and he refers to the “power of communication as ‘closeness’ … In a broken, fragmented and polarized world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family”.

In this context, we as Rosminian Sisters have already set ourselves challenges to examine our identity at personal, family, community … (please see Walking Towards the Future, p 9)
In the world of today, there is great emphasis on bettering oneself; people in general are always looking to improve their lives. Adverts abound regarding diet, the need for physical exercise and countless products claiming to produce eternal youth. Many people try to change or better their appearance or image; on the other hand, people go to conferences and talks, seek counsellors and psychologists, spend time in retreat: all because they want to change, to become better.
What about ourselves? If I could change something about myself, what would I change?
In this Paschal time, as we journey towards Pentecost, we look at what happened on the first Pentecost: God changed the lives of these people. Although the apostles believed in Jesus as their Saviour, they continued however to be confused about his kingship; they did not fully understand his mission and as a result, they were fearful and confused. Before his Ascension, Jesus promised them: “But you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come to you, and then you will be my witnesses, (Acts 1,8)

It is when the apostles and the women, including Mary the Mother of Jesus, are united in prayer ‘in the upper room’ that this promise is fulfilled and a great change takes place: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages, as the Spirit gave them power.” (Acts 2,4) Peter, whom we saw earlier, had failed Jesus but because of Jesus’ gaze of love and forgiveness then, is now more determined and on fire with the Holy Spirit as he proclaims with faith: “God raised this man Jesus to life, and of that we are all witnesses… He has received from the Father the Holy Spirit who was promised and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit. (Acts 2, 32-33) Peter’s words so “pierced the hearts” of the crowds who heard him, that he continued with renewed confidence and with words full of mercy, telling them to repent and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. “Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children, and for all those far away all those whom the Lord our God is calling to himself.” (cf Acts, 2, 37-40) These changes happened while the apostles were together in prayer – the birth of the Church. They were empowered by newfound communication – in speaking different languages, “a gift of God which involves a great responsibility.”

The message for Communication Day reiterates this transformation: “The Church’s words and actions are all meant to convey mercy, to touch people’s hearts and to sustain them on their journey to that fullness of life which Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to bring to all.”
Like the apostles in the early Church, we too can be transformed – since we are continually called to conversion and greater communication. We can be empowered anew by the Holy Spirit, so that this Jubilee Year “lived in mercy, may open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; and that it may eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination.” (Misericordiae Vultus, 23)
Pope Francis reminds us that, in essence, communication is a deeply human achievement. It is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but becomes real within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship. This ‘message’ for Communications Day is rich in common sense and we would do well to ponder on the whole text as we look forward to Pentecost. In the meantime, let us take up the following challenging invitations, which can only be lived by the grace of the Holy Spirit:

 What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all.
 As sons and daughters of God, we are called to communicate with everyone, without exception. Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society.
 How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstanding, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony.
 Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples.
 Re-discover the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships and to restore peace and harmony to families and communities.
 In every case, mercy is able to create a new kind of speech and dialogue.
 May our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous.
 To see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome.
 Communicating means sharing, and sharing demands listening and acceptance.
 The truth is ultimately Christ himself, whose gentle mercy is the yardstick for measuring the way we proclaim the truth and condemn injustice. Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love (cf. Eph 4:15). Only words spoken with love and accompanied by meekness and mercy can touch our sinful hearts.

May this time of Ascension to Pentecost be a blessing for each one of us, for our communities and for the Congregation, as we rejoice in the love of God poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit. We too can “remove our sandals when standing on the “holy ground” of our encounter with the one who speaks to me (cf. Ex 3:5). Knowing how to listen is an immense grace, it is a gift which we need to ask for and then make every effort practice.” (Pope Francis, message 2016)
God willing, I hope to take part in The XX Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General; held in Rome from 9-13 May. More than 900 women Religious, of apostolic life, coming from all the continents, will be meeting around the theme “Weaving Global Solidarity for Life.” The challenges facing the participants revolve around some of the “signs of the times” like our Common Earth-Home, Existential and Social Peripheries and apostolic response as consecrated women. This 20th Assembly coincides with the closing of the UISG Jubilee 1965-2015.

The Congregation has made a donation to help the people of Ecuador after the recent earthquake.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to come into the hearts of all those who have no respect for God or humanity and to comfort those who live in misery and fear.
United in prayer as we await the power of the Holy Spirit.

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