We take a stand to touch the hearts and lives of people/1

We take a stand to touch the hearts and lives of people/1

By Sister Teresa Linda
February-March 2021

With the month of February, we begin a new cycle of more spiritual reflections that will complement those that we will be sharing “in depth” on our way to the 31st General Chapter of the Congregation, scheduled for December at the Motherhouse in Angers. We have learned[1] that what emerged from the international preparatory meetings (ICA[2]) held between August and October 2020 is the primacy of spirituality: “a clear recognition of the need for an inner and outer transformation […] which must begin in one’s own heart, before there is a real change in the external structures and culture of the Congregation[3]. In those international meetings we also shared a wish for a global culture of the Congregation which would allow us to “make friends with the other”[4]. In other words, in the path of preparation for the General Chapter 2021, we determined that we are ready to face a change that has the nature of conversion: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” [5], from the book of the prophet Ezekiel 36:26. A potential time of Grace is starting for us, a time for actions of reconciliation and responsibility, capable of touching the hearts and lives of the people we meet; capable of “primerear”[6] together with the style of Jesus the Good Shepherd

It truly seems that we are ready to engage in a form of “contamination of the good” around us, in order to give concrete expression to the aspiration for a more just and dignified world for all; a time that encourages to “make and offer good experiences, following Jesus of Nazareth, who went about doing good and healing all”[7].

The results of the ICA meetings suggest a spiritual process at the personal and congregational level, “a collective work of radical transformation”[8], which urges us to converge, in synergy with the structural transformations that are profoundly affecting the whole world during the pandemic: we are part of the same journey, because everything is connected[9]. Let us continue to take a stand according to “the acute awareness that St John Eudes had of God’s compassionate love and the creative daring of St Mary Euphrasia[10], in synergy with the indications that we receive from the vision of the Good Shepherd International Justice and Peace Office. The Position Papers describe the people and situations that today directly ask our charism to answer the demands for restorative justice through a creative and far-sighted charity.

Our spiritual and value heritage allows us to put into practice the call to fraternity and social friendship that Pope Francis addressed to us in his recent encyclical Fratelli tutti[11]: “By his actions, the Good Samaritan showed that the existence of each and every individual is deeply tied to that of others. Life is not simply time that passes; life is a time for interactions.[12] 

In these times of tangled crisis, dark, confused and contradictory times, as previously commented, truth was revealed more quickly, exposing what earlier was easier to hide or imply, even if the more attentive observers had already pointed it out a long time ago[13]:The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules[14]. 

Then, in front of the cry of the Earth and the poor, we urgently need to respond by integrating contemplation and action, through the practice of “medit-action”. Meditating means to ponder in order to heal ourselves and others, to stop and make space for the soul and for Grace.

[…] we had to stop.
We knew that. We all felt that
our work was
too furious. Being inside things.
All out of our minds.
Shaking every hour—making it fruitful

In the midst of this global pandemic, to reach the hearts and lives of those that we meet, we will seek words of hope to support actions and bear witness to values. Word and words that help to see the many flames present in the darkness that surrounds us; that indicate which prophetic dreams and visions Pope Francis is sowing in the world by inviting us to get together, to play a role too, in order to take care of our common house and to weave an ever more inclusive and universal fraternity, a fraternity of “hearts” which reflects the Heart of the Father-Son-Holy Spirit”.

We will let the magisterium of Pope Francis guide us, together with the reflections of the Congregation which have long involved us in exchanges on evolutionary spirituality and ecological theology [16] from which a new image of the man emerges: “from being the center of the world to cosmic integration, that is, from the arrogance of domination over the world to cosmic humility.”[17]

We will do so by valuing the spiritual position of the little remnant as it is gradually pointed out through the discernment promoted by our Strategic Plan, 2017-2022: “Now, in the third millennium, even more than at the time of the founders, it is urgent to recover the spiritual key of a life open to the relationship with God and with man and trust the prophecy of the ‘little remnant’ […which] is alternative because it does not use success as a measurement criteria: good and just only help to grow in humanity, not in power or wealth; it is not triumphant, because it often knows sacrifice and defeat and, if sometimes—on the long term—it is successful, it does not take on the logic of domination that tramples on the dignity of others. The ‘remnant’ is not a situation for losers; on the contrary, its perspective is the only one capable of generating future”.[18]

(to be continued)

[1] See the resources «Lancio del Capitolo» Fase II.  In cammino verso il Capitolo, Video uno – gennaio 2021.
[2] Acronym for Intercontinental Assemblies of the Congregation
[3] See footnote 1
[4] See footnote 1
[5] See the opening of the Italy-Malta Strategic Plan Document 2017-2022.
[6] A Spanish term very dear to Pope Francis that we could translate with proactivate, anticipate.
[7] See the Italy-Malta Unit Strategic Plan 2017-2022. Document for the implementation phase in May 2018, p. 5.
[8] See footnote 1
[9] See Taking a Stand Summer 2020 We take a stand for A special year of Laudato Si’ because everything is connected.
[10] See front page of the Position Papers Document, 8 June 2018.
[11] See Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti. On fraternity and social friendship, 2020.
[12] See footnote 12.
[13] See Taking a Stand Summer 2020 We take a stand for A special year of Laudato Si’ because everything is connected.
[14] Pope Francis at the Moment of Prayer in times of Pandemic, 27 March 2020.
[15]  See Mariangela Gualtieri, marzo 2020 a poem written on the occasion of the outbreak of the pandemic. Translated from Italian by Federica Vanin.
[16] See Document of 20/12/2020: Overview Into The Deep Timeline – Resource 3 In Profondità – Processo integrativo di Trasformazione.
[17] See Jürgen Moltmann, from the Lectio Magistralis “Il futuro ecologico della teologia cristiana” [The ecological future of Christian theology] at the congress Piacenza Teologia 2012.
[18] See Italy-Malta Strategic Plan, Document on the implementation phase in May 2018, p. 12.
Michelangelo, detail from the Creation of Adam, 1511