Letter Superior General 31 May 2014

Letter Superior General 31 May 2014

United_Kingdom1.png My dear Sisters …



From Ascension to Pentecost


My dear Sisters

In living the events of the Liturgical year, bearing in mind the communication of the angel to Mary and the significance of: “and she conceived by the Holy Spirit”, we come to know God better and his great love for us, shown in sending his Son Jesus into our world. It is providential that World Communications Day this year coincides with Ascension Day. What a wonderful way to connect the forthcoming events – of Ascension and Pentecost!

He withdrew from our eyes that we might return to our own heart to find him.”

(Augustine: ‘Confessions’ Bk 4 Ch 12)

Before he returns to his Father, Jesus says I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth”. (Jn: 16, 12-13) and he makes this promise to them:“If you love me, keep my commands. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever.” (Jn:14, 15-16)For the first disciples, these ten days are days of waiting, not knowing how long the wait will last. Jesus communicates further, convincing them: “It is for your own good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you”. (Jn 16:7)

In his message for Communications Day, entitled ‘Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter’ (recommended reading) Pope Francis points out that the media world needs to be concerned with humanity, with a network of people, more than with a network of wires; he sees the power of “neighbourliness” in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as a parable of communication: It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters.  We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves.  We need to love and to be loved.  We need tenderness …personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator.”  He puts searching questions before us:

How can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter

What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel?  

In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another?

We find the answer: “Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better and ultimately, grow in unity.  The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listenand learn from one another.  We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect.  A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive”. Isn’t this what happened at Pentecost? Isn’t this the same power of the Holy Spirit in our lives today?

The Pentecost experience happens when the disciples are together: suddenly they are empowered by the Holy Spirit; they begin to speak about the “marvels of God” in different languages and to be understood. Likewise, the communication message of Pope Francis calls us to a time of silent listening which engenders calmness of spirit; to be patient in understanding and accepting fully those who are different from us, because “if we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions”. In the same vein St Paul urges us to: live a life worthy of the calling” we have received and to be aware of God’s Spirit in our lives: “with all humility and gentleness and with patience, support one another in love. Take every care to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the peace that binds you together. There is one body and one Spirit just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God.(Eph: 4: 2-4) .

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the fulfilling of God’s promise, “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh … I will put My Spirit within you and you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezk 36: 26-28) and has infinite implications for the mission of the church and therefore for us. This is the beginning of a new creation: the culmination of the salvation accomplished in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, in the outpouring of God’s Spirit. And it is not just for the twelve but for all people, making us all witnesses of the resurrection: “renewed by a spiritual revolution”, so that we can “put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph: 4:23-24)

In the context of the revolution taking place in communications media, Pope Francis speaks about communications “capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts” and describes this as a great and thrilling challenge; “may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God”. The same is true of people who are filled afresh with the real joy of knowing the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor: 3,16)

While we pray in gratitude at this Paschal time to be transformed with ‘a new heart of flesh’ in our understanding of the in-dwelling of God’ Spirit, we also know inevitably that there are times when we may be tempted to allow ourselves be overtaken by laziness or despondency, especially when faced with the hardships and trials of life. In these cases, do not lose heart, but invoke the Holy Spirit, so that with the gift of fortitude He can lift our hearts and communicate new vigor and enthusiasm to our lives and our following Jesus”. (General Audience May 14, 2014)

In the words of Rosmini “let us pray united together as were the Apostles with MARIA in the Cenacle, that the spirit of prayer and of divine love may live in our hearts.” (Letters: 17 May 1850)

Let us pray continually to the Holy Spirit

for the gift of understanding, to discern and penetrate the truths of faith,

the gift of wisdom, to form a true judgement about the things of God;

the gift of knowledge, to judge human affairs appropriately; and

the gift of counsel, for guidance in applying the truths learnt to every action of life.

(Rosmini Max VI cf.)

With the Sisters in Rome, I made a pilgrimage to Madonna del Divino Amore on Saturday where we were united in spirit with you, praying for each one and for the ‘needs’ of every reality of the Congregation. As the Holy Spirit filled the heart of Mary with ‘Divine Love’, we also ask the Holy Spirit to enkindle within us the fire of His love.

I ask you to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on the forthcoming Gathering of the members of the Generalitial Leadership Team in Stresa, from 26 June – 4 July, including participation on 1 July in the celebration in memory of Bl. Antonio Rosmini.

Pentecost is an appropriate solemnity to begin our partnership of prayer for the different communities, as suggested in the ‘Year of Vocations’ leaflet, to help create among us a bond of knowledge, friendship and support. The list of community-partners is attached.

Happy Feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost!




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