Sunday, September 4, 2016

Following Jesus

Sister Charitas renews her vows for the 50th time!
In today’s Gospel, our Lord seems to be about throwing cold water on the enthusiasm of the crowd following Him.  He turns around and says that if anyone does not hate every member of his loved family and even his very self, he cannot be the disciple of the Christ!  That must have stopped at least some of the people dead in their tracks!  We too must pause and reflect on what this saying means for us.
As with many of Jesus’ words, this one too contains a paradox which is not be immediately apparent.  The lived experience of cloistered Poor Clares may be of help to understanding how “hatred” can be reconciled with love.  When each of us left our homes to follow the Lord’s call into the strict enclosure, it seemed to many of our loved ones that we indeed loved them no longer.  Does not voluntary separation and abandonment imply aversion, neglect and even hatred?  Yes, except when it is done for the love of God!  When one chooses, or better, when one is chosen, to abandon all other loves for the sake of Divine Love, then it is that the paradox is manifested.  God is Love, and all our love relationships have their origin and end in Him.  Putting God in the first place, which is His proper place, and everyone else second, makes us more loving, not less.  Our natural, human loves are freed from the possessiveness, controlling manipulation, dependency and suffocating need that so often poisons and ruins our relationships.  God Himself, is the fulfillment of our every need, so now in His abundance we overflow with generous, self-giving love.  We and our family members can testify that far from separating us, the cloister actually unites us in a deeper and more fruitful bond.
As we begin September, we look forward to celebrating the willingness of our Sisters to embrace the Cross and so become transforming instruments of God’s mercy to the world.  Sister Veronica Mary will pronounce her First Vows on the 17th and Sister Mary Joyce will renew hers for the twenty-fifth time on the 29th.  We have posted on YouTube a video remembrance of Sister Charitas’ golden jubilee celebration that took place earlier this year.  This video is also a celebration of her life with some very endearing family photos of her early past! Please view and enjoy! Sister Charitas Golden Jubilee