In the Apostolic Letter from November 21, 2014 to all consecrated people, Pope Francis pointed the AIMS, the EXPECTATIONS and the HORIZONS of the Year of Consecrated Life, launched on the First Advent Sunday. This month let us reflect on the aims mentioned in the papal message, seen from the vocation perspective of the spiritual daughters of St Vincent and Saint Louise (N.B. in blue – the quotes from the Letter; other texts – well known to all Daughters of Charity)
1. The first of these aims is to look to the past with gratitude.
During this Year, it would be appropriate for each charismatic family to reflect on its origins and history, in order to thank God who grants the Church a variety of gifts which embellish her and equip her for every good work.
“On the feast of Pentecost, during Holy Mass or while I was praying in church, my mind was instantly freed of its doubts and (I) was made to understand… that a time would come when I would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and that I would be in a small Community in which others would do the same. I then understood that I would be in a place where I could help my neighbor, but I could not understand how this would be possible because there was to be much coming and going.” (“Light”)
2. This Year also calls us to live the present with passion.
For the various founders and foundresses, the Gospel was the absolute rule, whereas every other rule was meant merely to be an expression of the Gospel and a means of living the Gospel to the full. For them, the ideal was Christ; they sought to be interiorly united to him and thus to be able to say with Saint Paul: “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21)
Christ is the Rule of the Daughters of Charity. They endeavor to follow Him as Scripture reveals Him to them and as their Founders perceived Him: Adorer of the Father, Servant of His Loving Plan, Evangelizer of those who are poor. (C. 8a)
The Year of Consecrated Life challenges us to examine our fidelity to the mission entrusted to us.
To follow Him and carry on His mission, the Daughters of Charity choose to live totally and radically the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience, making them available for the purpose of their Company: the service of Christ in persons who are poor. (C. 8b)
This hope is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but on the One in whom we have put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:2), the One for whom “nothing is impossible” (Lk 1:37).
The call heard by the first Sisters is ever the same. Throughout the world it continues to raise up and assemble Daughters of Charity, who strive to rediscover at the source the inspiration and intuitions of their Founders. (C., page 19)
“And that, Sisters, was the beginning of your Company. As it was not then what it is now, there is reason to believe that it is still not what it will be when God has perfected it as He wants it. (St. Vincent).
Let us stop for a moment in meditation on this last point and on St. Vincent’s words. Fr. Patrick Griffin has made a beautiful comment on this excerpt of one of our Founder Conferences:
“I discern three important affirmations in this statement. First of all, the Company was not then, nor is it now, the way in which God wants it to be. We continue to evolve with God’s grace, and we must seek and respond to that gift. For this reason, we embrace a “new missionary momentum”. Secondly, our Company is the work of God, and as God’s work we must accept its ups-and-downs as part of the mystery of God’s plan which is beyond our understanding. Our responsibility is to move boldly and trustingly to where God leads us. And finally, we find an affirmation which really raises my spirit: Vincent tells us that our work is pleasing to God, excellent in itself, and useful to our neighbor. As such, it must have a future in God’s plan of charity. I believe that. We have an important charism to share with the Church, and thus we must continue. How we will do that, what our numbers will be like, where our Sisters will be working are not known to me or you, but we trust in God’s plan” (“The Boldness of Charity for a New Missionary Momentum” – a perspective from our Charism).