Gratitude for the Good

I have a hard time focusing on my prayer because the topics for my final papers keep coming to my mind. I've had different ideas during the semester but some of them keep coming to my heart as a sign that those are the ones I have to attend.

These past months, I have been very moved by the oppression experienced by women and by the number of them who have been murdered. Seven women are killed each day in Mexico. The ongoing violence and discrimination are disturbing too.

How can I, as a Catholic sister, approach all this with the ongoing invitation to be where I am most needed?

Jesus’ invitation needs to be listened to and demands a response. It is an invitation to be with those who suffer, with those who are less important in this world of unjust and unequal structures. The Gospel this morning shows Jesus curing a man who no one would care of because it was a Saturday. Jesus, as always, defies the system, cures him and asks, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” (Lk, 14:5)

I keep trying to pray contemplating this scene and the reality of my papers come back to me. The temptation to fall in an overwhelming anguish because of so much pain visits me. It is very difficult to resist it and tears come to my eyes but I do not allow them to flow. The feeling is complex because I have to acknowledge that I am looking at those realities from a distance. They feel so far from me as I am a “full-time student” and I wonder how can I write about them. I am not involved in them, I am not working to alleviate them, and I am not in a periphery place. I feel confused and I sit with my pain for a moment.

Little by little, I go back to Jesus’ action touching and healing and I reaffirm that our call as women religious is to be in that place among those who suffer and need us the most. We do it. In various creative ways and with a lot of energy. There is still a lot to do. We are not always coherent because we are not always what we want to be or what we dream of being. We are on the way and maybe this is where we will always be without reaching the ideal. This ideal, however, is what keeps moving us. This consoles me somehow.

I feel within my heart “religious life can’t carry all the suffering in the world by itself” and I find peace. I am grateful for the reminder because of the absurdity and arrogance this thought would entail. Joy finally comes back as I think of so many names and faces of wonderful people, those who we call “laity” that are really working to make this a better world. They commit themselves so heartedly in very creative and efficient ways that we can see their results. There are a lot of people fighting injustice and seeking to transform the structures.

For this reason, I am happy to know that I live in a world where, at least for a lot of us, openness to collaboration is very important and growing. So many of us understand that individually (as person or as group) we cannot achieve anything. It was Jesus who cured a man on Saturday. Nonetheless, the invitation to counter the system was for everyone who would be open to it. I choose to rejoice in the certainty of the people listening to it and with the hope of continuing to build bridges and connect with those in religious life, but beyond it, too.

It is true that our current reality is very painful and causes anguish. Let’s keep channeling all this anger to counter it from where we are called. This place, for me, is my ministry as a “full time student" where I need to keep educating my mind and spirit. My prayer and my profound desire is that, when I go back to pastoral ministry, I will keep listening to the call and that I am available, with courage and the love needed to be in a marginal space where I am most needed. This is where Jesus was often seen.

It is in this place where there are many of us acting for justice whom I extend my gratitude. In this season of thanksgiving, we are invited to be grateful for all the good received and being done around us.

Sister Calzada is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio). Originally from Mexico City, she enjoys spending time with her two sisters and three nieces. She's lived in the U.S. now for a year and enjoys meeting and talking to people, reading, listening to music, and taking walks along Lake Michigan in Chicago where she studies at Catholic Theological Union.