The Sacred Future

There are three different orders of women religious in Erie: the Benedictine Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This past Thursday many of us joined together, along with others, to listen to a panel of women and men religious discuss religious life and its future.

A Benedictine sister, a Mercy sister, a Cistercian monk, and a Franciscan friar comprised the panel and answered the questions of what brought them to religious life, what religious life means to them, and where they see religious life headed in the future. All four provided wise insights, especially for me as I enter into this new way of life.

One highlight for me was hearing again the Pedro Arrupe, SJ quote that many Jesuit-educated
students know and love:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

It was obvious that the entire panel had fallen in love with God, and, furthermore, recognizes that staying in love is a lifelong journey. That journey involves answering the question (many times over) of what the vocation is to which God calls us. The joy that both God and their vocations bring them were also obvious.

I am often asked about my choice to enter religious life at a time when vocations, in that sense of the word, are on the decline, but my answer feels consistent with the panelists' answers as to where religious life is headed. Truth is -- we don't know, but we are excited. (The Cistercian monk wisely said: "We don't know where God's going to lead us, and it's probably better if we don't.") But, if we trust that we have fallen in love in the way that Arrupe describes, then we pray to trust that God will lead us exactly where we need to be.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

savoring the remaining warm weather at the lake on Sunday

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