Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Contemplative's Duty to the World

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, from The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, (February 2, 2010), which traditionally is a day of prayer for religious and all who live the consecrated life.

Today we celebrate the consecrated life. I was thinking of the years Simeon and Anna spent attentively waiting for that which was promised to be fulfilled and I looked up a few quotes in Scripture about being attentive. One quote I found is from the Book of Job: “Be attentive, O Job, listen to Me. Be silent and I will speak.” We hear here of the attentive silence, not one that is snoring, but the one that is awake and alive and ready. Our spirits must be ever ready to receive Him.

Each day we are called to the Temple and we receive Him whom Simeon and Anna waited for. But we have a different waiting today—it’s for His second coming. And we must live in joyful hope because the world looks to us for that hope. So many people today have found that materialism is empty, it’s a consuming black hole that swallows up everything you have and leaves your soul parched. The world looks to the religious of our world who give witness to something far different, for we say “I await Him and His promises.”

I was reading the document of Vatican II on the Renewal of the Religious life about what we, as contemplative nuns, have to offer the world. It says, “The member of each [religious] community should recall above everything else that by their profession of the evangelical counsels they have given answer to a Divine call to live for God alone not only by dying to sin, but also by renouncing the world. They have handed over their entire lives to God’s service in an act of special consecration[…] Members of those communities which are totally dedicated to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through constant prayer and ready penance[…] By their example they motivate His people and by imparting a hidden apostolic fruitfulness they make His people grow. Thus they are the glory of the Church and an overflowing fountain of heavenly graces.” That hidden apostolic fruitfulness we, as nuns, have to, in faith, believe. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s so much easier to be able to see the fruits of your labors, but we have to live in faith.

God has chosen us and believes in us. He believes in us. He asks us to have faith in Him, but He was the first to have faith in us. It’s not an easy life and it doesn’t always show its beauty outwardly. Sometimes we are like Mary who Simeon told that a sword would pierce her heart. Sometimes it’s because we’ve suffered that others feel they can tell us of their sufferings and then we share in the sufferings of Christ. But not only that, we also share in the glory. We can’t forget that. We are the glory of God in the way He has made us in His image. The Father Himself loves us. And it’s the Father whom Christ wants us to know, love, and honor with everything in us. That’s what we give witness to. We let go of everything in order to hold Christ. That’s what this life calls us to—a chaste heart that holds Him. We offer Him everything we have and through that we lift the whole world to His Heart.

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