This morning I had the honor and privilege of waiting in line with my two year old nephew and his mom for a very important event .... visiting Santa Claus. He was laughing and smiling the whole time we waited in line--until, of course, it was time to actually visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus for the all important photo op. Looking at the resulting photo, you might think this was a watershed moment in his life or that he carries great responsibilities on his pint sized shoulders. He looks so very serious! Seconds later of course, back in his mother's arms, he had returned to his smiling hilarious self.
I couldn't help but think my own serious thoughts as I shared this special moment with my big sister and her little guy, given the events in Connecticut earlier this week. Life is such a precious gift, one that we are called to celebrate and cherish in big moments and small. I imagine that parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles the world over will be hugging the kids in their lives extra hard this Christmas season. Our thoughts and prayers also go out in a special way to those families whose loved ones were killed in the recent tragedy.
Life is indeed a gift to cherish and celebrate. Yet it is also a gift that brings with it great responsibilities. Very soon we will celebrate God's very gift of presence through the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. As women religious, we witness to our incarnate God through our lives of community, prayer, and ministry. Our hearts are broken not only by the recent tragedy but by the daily tragedies we witness in our wounded and broken world. Families experiencing homelessness, violence in the inner city, and countless other very human situations cry out to us for loving action and compassionate care.
It seems to me that the gift of religious life is so very needed in our broken world today and into the future. I have been reflecting of late on the words spoken in the early days of my religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, by Bishop Bagshawe of Nottingham, England. At the profession ceremony of our first Sisters in 1884 he said: "To secure this divine peace for ourselves and procure its blessings for others in the midst of the sin, turmoil and restless anxiety of this modern world is the object of your institute." With everything in the news of late I've been wondering what he would make of the anxiety of our 21st Century reality and the corresponding call to religious life.
Our religious charisms, our communities, our way of life and our very vocations are precious gifts that come with tremendous responsibilities. How will we share this responsibility and provide leadership and loving service with and for God's people into the future? As a younger woman religious, I know that I will walk that journey into the emerging future not only with my own CSJP Sisters but with my Giving Voice Sisters as well. I am looking forward to the opportunity to have meaningful and creative conversations about mission and ministry in the 21st Century at our upcoming National Conference in July. I firmly believe that the peer connections we are building across congregations today are part of the blueprint for the future of religious life.
This newsletter offers opportunities to help make these connections and walk together into the future. In our Voices of Younger Religious Feature, Sara P. Marks, OSF offers her own insights about incarnation and hope for the future. We also offer opportunities to connect with other younger Sisters at our MLK Retreat, the July Conference with Carol Zinn, SSJ, and online. Lastly, we'd like to highlight the upcoming RFC Transforming Religious Life events.
In these dark days of Advent, I am grateful for the gift of light that each of you is for Giving Voice. Blessings of Peace as we await the Prince of Peace.