Today’s Good News: “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:32)
Faith-sharing around today’s Gospel reading gave us another chance to go deeper to examine our own faithfulness to the word of God. I had to admit, it is difficult to love people that hate you. Together we remembered September 11, 2001 when the domino of a hateful act began a series of other hateful acts. The Good News … love your enemies and do good to them… what would it have been like if we responded to the 9/11 terrorist attack with love, forgiveness, nonviolence? Sharing faith makes us stronger, even in our imagination.
Today’s input on the Chapter floor came by way of the Province Reports. It began with England’s presentation last night (September 10) and we were overwhelmed with the generous and creative demonstration of our Institute that is one body, one heart, one mind. The reports, which were scheduled to last 20 minutes each, stretched up to 30 minutes. The listeners were
wrapped in the facts, life, work, challenges, hopes and plans of our Institute around the world.
We heard of closures of our big institutions and ministries. We shared the struggles with church and state as each in our own way searched for ways to bring solutions to problems, and faith and fire to loss and fear. We heard of the richness and gifts of each person in developing new ways to serve even in our diminishment. We learned of the richness of our youth in the developing world and how our struggles are much the same. There was dancing, weaving, story-telling, singing and proclamations of great things to come.
During the reflection period the facilitators asked us to give our feedback in the form of “tweets”.
Oh, how modern we’ve become! So we tweeted our responses to the powerful presentations each Province offered. Many were moved to tears. Many found comfort in identifying with the struggles of sister Provinces. Here is an example of one of the tweets, “Hope in the heart. Grace on the face. Light on our feet. IBVM Women, unafraid, resilient and passionate.” (Of course the “tweets” were only in the form of speaking into the microphone.)
Today we heard from the following Provinces: Ireland, USA, India, Eastern Africa, South Africa Community, Mauritius and Australia—South East Asia.
That was not all. The evening session called, “Walking with our Cloud of Witnesses” planned by Mauritius Province, was a celebration of the members of the Institute who were called to eternal life since the last General Chapter eight years ago.
Two hundred thirteen names were read in the solemn ceremony of remembrance. We stand on the shoulders of these holy women. A snapshot of the service centered around light and paper clouds fashioned with the names of the dead. We sang in perfect harmony, “The Spirit lives to set us free. Walk, walk in the light. He binds us all in unity. Walk, walk in the light. Walk in the light (3) Walk in the light of the Lord.” The reading was from the book of Wisdom 2: 23, 3, 1-6, 9. We remembered not only our holy women but we were given stars to add unspoken names of those beloved who preceded us in death. So a silent procession of mourners added a small symbol of love on the make-shift altar of remembrance. Eyes leaked with quiet mourning, love, admiration and celebration.
Pray with us. It will make us stronger in our discernment, in our conversations and in our faith. We are in this together. Walk in the light of the Lord. Needless to say, it was an emotional day. God is with us.
There is a short video of the service on the website titled “Walking with our cloud of witness”.
Also we now have a flickr account, ibvmrome, which can be accessed by clicking on https://www.flickr.com/photos/127615906@N07/. This contains all the photos we collect from the GC.