St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologica that “It happens sometimes that something has to be done which is not covered by the common rules of actions.” (Q51. Art.4)
Just think about the past, in many religious congregations, the archives tell the stories of how sisters responded to the needs throughout history – whether it was responding to educational needs due to the rapidly growing population during the settlement movement, caring for the medically ill or orphans during wars, or persevering in pushing for more just laws and in working for a more peaceful world.
Fr. Bryan Massingale gave an excellent presentation about “Courage for an Interim Time That Does Not Yet Know Its Name” at a conference for Catholic Religious Formators in October 2019. Little did we know how different life would look like in just a few months. In his presentation, Fr. Bryan shared this thought: “When the rules don’t work, gnome [pronounced as gnohm-eh] is the imagination and creativity in the face of the new and unprecedented. (…) It is the ability to move into the new without nostalgia or despair; trusting we have the ability and capacity to reason well even in the face of the unknown.”
This is certainly a time when we need to use our imagination and creativity in the face of the new and unprecedented. People seem to be more compassionate and caring these days. Lester Holt, journalist and news anchor, highlights a kind act at the end of the daily news. First responders, nurses, cleaners, mail carriers, workers at grocery stores and gas stations, they all go beyond their job descriptions and risk everything to respond to the needs and demands of their communities. People smile and wave to each other as they pass by one another during a walk in the neighborhood. Stuffed animals peek out the windows to entertain children with a ‘scavenger hunt.’ Children draw Easter greetings, inspiring messages, or messages of gratitude on their sidewalks. Seniors learn how to use FaceTime, or Zoom, or Skype, just to be able to ‘be’ with their loved ones who are receiving chemotherapy. Many of us picked up a new ‘skill’ of sewing masks, and then donated them where they were most needed. As companies run out of time making plastic covers for the masks that are in high demand, children stepped up to design and print 3D masks for doctors and nurses. Parishes provide Mass online and offer other ways to be present virtually for their parishioners spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
One of our retreat houses donated beds, bed frames and linens to an overflow facility for a hospital. Sisters in the medical field continue to be there for those they serve. Sisters in their 80s and 90s sit long hours to sew masks, other Sisters deliver groceries and meals on wheels to those in need, others learned how to teach online so that their students can earn their degree without a delay, others listen to those who need someone to talk to, others offer virtual retreats, and the list could go on. Preaching the Love of God is happening in so many ways.
It is, however, not what we do, but how we are open to God’s Spirit and how we communicate God’s love, hope and peace in our hurting world. Easter season is a time when we reflect on the love, hope, and peace that God offers. I would like to inspire you with a quote by Sr. Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP: “All the resurrection experiences testify to hope born amid loss and pain. Hope emerges in the power of God breaking forth in new imaginings and new energy. Beyond grief the disciples discover it is possible to love again, to trust that one is forgiving, to get on with life, to invest new energy in the people and mission that have been entrusted to them. The details of the stories of impasse for the original disciples differ, but in each case the Spirit of God brings about what appears to be impossible.”
We are all called to discover new ways how to love, to trust, to get on with life, to invest new energy in the people and mission, and allow the Spirit to guide us in the midst of all these challenges.
How is the Spirit calling you to be ambitious, compassionate, daring, and creative in the light of the needs of our times? In which ways are you called to share God’s love?
After praying with these questions, if you are interested in discerning God’s call to religious life, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.