A Reflection by Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH Vice President
So many topics popped up when thinking about this blog post – the brutal torture and murder of missionaries in Burundi, the violence and unrest in our world, our cities, and our neighborhoods, and the need for us to be peace, to think peace, and to pray for peace. The start of another school year and prayers for the children – prayer and concern for the unaccompanied minors crossing the border, fleeing from the violence and terror of their homelands – in the words of John Lennon “all we are saying is give peace a chance.”
And then there is the start of autumn, the season of surrender and the time when all of nature gives itself over to shorter days, falling leaves and change; there is crispness in the air as well as in ripe red apples.
What else to do but to contemplate it all, to take a long loving look at what is and what may yet be if we can only open ourselves, our minds and our hearts to allow for creative possibilities and emerging options. Again in the words of John Lennon, “imagine all the people living life in peace…and the world will live as one.” Contemplation takes time just as becoming familiar with all the issues of our time takes more than sound bites.
As we Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart prepare to open our year-long celebration of 125 years of service to God and God’s people, my contemplation draws me to the wisdom of our foundress, Mary Frances Cunningham – Mother Demetrias. Let me share with you some of the words of this woman pioneer, who dared to challenge the systems of her times to address the needs of those most vulnerable. In her wisdom, she knew the heart and soul of her sisters needed to be fixed on the One who supplies our every need and who is the Source and Purpose of all action.
“Our work is to do God’s work in our own soul and this must go on until we draw our last breath.”
“It is essentially the office of Religious to be peacemakers, for by our profession as Religious we make the worship of God, the very reason of our lives.”
“It is easy enough to be gentle and patient when all goes well with us and everyone is kind and considerate to us…but to be really ‘meek and humble of heart’ is to be able to bear wrong patiently and to render good for evil, after the example of Jesus Christ.”
“The Institute [the Mission Helpers congregation] has its own proper spirit, and this is the true mark of its consecration to the Sacred Heart.”
“Our first and most important duty is love, for without love there can be no service. Love is the great incentive always. It was love that led us…and it is love that will unite us.”
“Christ’s love for us urges God to speak, and to impress upon us that in God alone is to be found grace to begin, to continue and to persevere.”
What strikes you about these quotes? Does one speak to you more than another? What is it you need God’s grace to help you to begin…to continue? What issue tugs at your heartstrings and urges you to act upon? Or, as the poet Mary Oliver wonders, “What is the name of the deep breath I would take over and over for all of us?”