William McNamara, OCD wrote: “To be unique is not a matter of peculiar differences but of outstanding fidelity . . . fidelity to myself and the God who calls me to become more and more gracefully myself, my very best self, not in isolation but in communion with the whole human race.” McNamara adds that we must continue until we are “so faithful that God will look on me with pleasure and say: ‘This is my beloved son.’” What a beautiful way to think of uniqueness! Enneagrams, Myers-Briggs tests, fingerprints, and just plain living can prove our unique qualities; however, to think in terms of deepening fidelity puts us in direct line with the moment of our creation and our faithfulness to that moment.
January 9 is the birthday of our foundress Sister Maria Aloysia Wolbring. The birthday of our co-foundress Sister Maria Ignatia is the following day. Their charism that began the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1850 is one of trust in God’s provident love and goodness
Consecrated religious life is in a time of transition for many reasons: decreased number of sisters and brothers, aging members, the placing of institutions in the hands of the laity. Accompanying these reasons and more importantly are the needs of the world and our response to those needs.
Historically, religious communities have filled the needs of the times primarily in schools and hospitals. Now is the time to consider new opportunities that fit our charism. New ventures will definitely call us to trust God’s providence. As all of us take a contemplative look at the future, we share our thoughts. As I wish Sister Maria Aloysia “Happy birthday” I share one of mine.
Sister Maria Aloysia, along with Sister Maria Ignatia, did the next thing that needed to be done. Orphans needing a home? Sister Maria Aloysia provided a home. A teacher needed in another town? Sister Maria Aloysia filled the position. Elderly persons not being cared for? Sister Maria Aloysia brought some elderly individuals into the convent. What is the next thing that needs to be done? While the future has not come into full focus, we Sisters are ready and eager, trusting in God’s provident love and goodness.
Popular yard signs and hash tags tell us that Black Lives Matter, Women Matter, You Matter. I’ve never seen a yard sign “God-matter.” Yet the outdoor Christmas decorations that are starting to disappear are signs of “God-matter.” The Logos, the Word of God, took on a body. God and matter united, and in that process all matter is spiritualized. God became Jesus of Nazareth, the Christogenesis that makes God the heart of all matter, the Christogenesis by which human energy is integrated with divine energy throughout the cosmos.
Soon stable scenes will disappear, the Holy Family statues wrapped and stored. Perhaps we will not reflect on the pregnant Mary until Advent 2019. Meanwhile we have twelve months to reflect on the world, a divine milieu pregnant with God (Chardin).
Magi on the Move
Among my favorite Christmas cards to give and receive are those with the Magi. The silhouettes of camels and riders crossing the desert in the twilight stirs me to join the trek. “Come on! Come let us adore!” the pictures call. This year I received a Magi card from a charitable organization, and its message was perfect: “Called to see the face of Christ in ‘the least of these,’ you responded with amazing love and generosity.” How “least” must have Mary, Joseph, and the Child seemed to these learned seers whose wealth could bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Wiser for this visit and richer in soul, the three departed by another way—warned in a dream and invited by the Child to follow the Way.