Religious Life Still Thrives

The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) has just published the 2020 Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life. This research about the more than 3,500 women and men who entered religious life in the United States from 2003 to 2018 gives these key findings:

Endless Call: Women and men continue to respond to the call to religious life.

Appeal: They are drawn by prayer, spirituality, charism, community life, and mission.

Attributes: They are culturally diverse and embrace intercultural, inter-generational living.

Lifestyle: They are committed to living simply and in solidarity with the poor.

Outlook: They are filled with abundant hope for religious life amid changing demographics.

The report clearly shows Religious Life as alive and well.  While 13% of all perpetually professed Religious in the U.S. are younger than 60 and an identical proportion are aged 90 or older, newer members have not been deterred from joining because of these circumstances.  Fully aware of the concerns and challenges that their communities face, they are optimistic about the future.  It said, “They hope to see their communities be bold, take risks, and work collaboratively with other communities and lay partners.  They hope to gain a deeper sense of community and a clarity of mission and identity.  They want their communities to embrace diversity as they honor their roots and live their charisms.  All of their hopes have at their core a desire to continue the good works of prior generations while forging a new path for religious life.”  Isn’t that a reason for all of us to HOPE!

Wait

 

This Holy Week is unique for all the world.  It  brings us to the heart of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus.  We might recall and ponder the words of T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets:  

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.”

And so, we wait . . . and learn to have faith and to hope and to love.

 

A Time For Hope

In these days when our faith might be shaken, or we feel angry at the world, or frightened and very fragile, these words of Leonardo Boff from Passion of Christ, Passion of the World are encouragement and challenge:

Forgiveness and trust are our tools for not letting hopelessness have the last word.  They constitute the supreme deed of human grandeur.

Christ, Our Redeemer

Rio de Janeiro found a unique way to show who’s affected by the coronavirus, lighting their colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer with the flags of countries involved.  Now, it, too, is closed as a protection for people vulnerable to the virus. The good news is, CHRIST THE REDEEMER IS STILL WITH US!

 

Times of Change

Last week, I was at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, for student workshops on making discerned choices about the future. It was, as always, delightful to be there, but by then we knew that enormous changes were looming for all schools, due to the coronavirus. As our nation and world face the unique challenges of this time, here’s a meditative Prayer for a Pandemic written by Cameron Bellm, a Seattle mom of 2 young boys:

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home, remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.