Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hope for the Future

A group of us recently attended a gathering at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota for Benedictine Sisters who are 55 years old and younger.  It was a fruitful gathering for all of us.

One word you hear often is "hope."  Seeing and having young people in religious communities gives hope that religious life, and in our case, the Benedictine charism, will continue.  In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was at a music convention and someone stopped me and said, "Good for you for being under 40 and a religious sister.  You give us hope." 

I'm glad we young Benedictines give others hope, but it's the older sisters who give us hope.  It's the sisters who have lived this life until death who give us hope.  It's the sisters in their 70s, 80s, and 90s who give us hope. 

Let's take a look at what these women have gone through.  Times were cetainly different back then.  To hear their stories and to think, "You persevered through that?" is simply awe inspiring.  They sacrificed a great deal and saw many changes, but stayed focused on God's call and their religious vocation. 

Some of the restrictions back then did not allow sisters to go to a parent's funeral.  Some had to choose between visiting when they were sick or going to the funeral.  They couldn't do both.  They also did not have much, if any, say in their ministry.  Some of our sisters taught Spanish, shorthand, chemistry, or any number of things by keeping one page ahead of the students.  They were told to teach what was needed regardless if they had any background in the subject.  They also had very short notice to prepare - maybe a day or two.

I'm glad my age gives people hope, but where would I or the other 55 and younger "kids" be without those who have gone before us?  That's where we get our hope.  Hope in knowing that God's call is stronger than any difficutly we face as long as we stay focused and open to truly discerning God's will.