Review for Religious - Issue 61.5 (September/October 2002)

Issue 61.5 of the Review for Religious, 2002.

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Review for Religious - Issue 61.5 (September/October 2002)
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spelling sluoai_rfr-388 Review for Religious - Issue 61.5 (September/October 2002) Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus Jesuits -- Periodicals; Monasticism and religious orders -- Periodicals. Beha ; Billy ; Hensell Issue 61.5 of the Review for Religious, 2002. 2002-09 2012-05 PDF RfR.61.5.2002.pdf rfr-2000 BX2400 .R4 Copyright U.S. Central and Southern Province, Society of Jesus. Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute individual articles for personal, classroom, or workshop use. Please credit Review for Religious and reference the volume, issue, and page number and cite Saint Louis University Libraries as the host of the digital collection. Saint Louis University Libraries Digitization Center text eng Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus Challenge and Response Life and Death Theory and Reality Time and Eternity SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2002 VOLUME 61 NUMBER 5 Revie~ forReligious belps p~ople respo~ anit b~ fi~itbful to God’s universal call to bbliness .... ~, Oy omaki~tff available to,~tbem tbe sp!ritual legacies that flow from tbi cbarismsof Catholic consecrated life. Review for Religious (ISSN 0034-639X) is published bimonthly at Saint Louis University by the Jesuits of the Missouri Province. Editorial Office: 3601 Lindell Boulevard ¯ St. Louis, Missouri 63108-3393 Telephone: 314-977-7363 ¯ Fax: 314-977-7362 E-Mail: review@slu.edu ¯ \Veb site: www.reviewforreligious.org Manuscripts, books for review, and correspondence with the editor: Review for Religious ¯ 3601 Lindell Boulevard ¯ St. Louis, MO 63108-3393 Correspondence about the Canonical Counsel department: Elizabeth McDonough OP Mouut St. Mary’s Seminary; Emmitsburg, MaD, land 21727 POSTMASTER Send address changes to Review for Religious ¯ P.O. Box 6070 ¯ Duluth, ~\tN 55806. Periodical postage paid at St. Louis, Missouri, and additional mailing offices. See inside back cover for information on subscription rates. ©2002 Review for Religious Permission is herewith granted to copy any material (articles, poems, reviews) contained in this issue of Review for Religious for personal or internal use, or for the personal or internal use of specific library, clients within the limits outlined in Sections 107 and/or 108 of the United States Copyright Law. All copies made under this permission must bear notice of the source, date, and copyright owner on the first page. This permission is NOT extended to copying for commercial distrihu-tiott, advertising, institutional promotion, or for the creation of new collective works or anthologies. Such permission will only be considered on written application to the Editor, Review for Religious. view for religious LIVING OUR CATHOLIC LEGACIES Editor Associate Editors Canonical Counsel Editor Editorial Staff Advisory Board David L. Fleming SJ Clare Boehmer ASC Philip C. Fischer SJ Elizabeth McDonough OP Mary Ann Fopp~ Tracy Gramm Judy Sharp James and Joan Felling Adrian Gaudin SC Sr. Raymond Marie Gerard FSP Eugene Hensell OSB Ernest Eo Larkin OCarm Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla SJ Miriam D. Ukeritis CSJ SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2002 VOLUME 61 NUMBER 5 contents 454 challenge and response Fire and Flame, Purification and Vocation Donna Markham OP spells out the healthy interpersonal life necessary for the women and men accepted into ministry. 462 Lessons from a Time of Distress Joel Rippinger OSB reflects as a male, a monastic, and an ordained religious on the sexual-abuse scandal in the church in order to discern the voice of the Spirit and the signs of the times in the events we have experienced. life and death 472 Choose Life: Reflections Ten Years after Five Deaths Regina Siegfried ASC celebrates the tenth anniversary of the murder of five Adorers of the Blood of Christ by noting 1) that Liberia is still in the grip of a life-and-death struggle, 2) that the paschal-mystery chari.sm of the ASCs is in clearer focus, and 3) that ASC mission in Liberia continues on. 481 Made Perfect through Suffering Marie Beha OSC reflects on the meaning of suffering seen in the light of the September triad of feasts--the Exaltation of the Cross, the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, and the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. Review for Religious 494 hsory Right Relationships in Consecrated Life Dennis J. Billy CSSR applies the clear and extensive teaching on the spirituality of communion, what it means to live in right relationships with others, to the community life of reli-gious congregations. 511 Contemporary Theologies of the Vows Ellen M. Leonard CSJ compares and contrasts central ideas about religious life from contemporary writers Barbara Fiand, Diarmuid O’Murchu and Sandra Schneiders. 522 Discouragement Viewed through Mark’s Gospel Eugene Hensell OSB enters us into an imaginative reading of Mark’s Gospel in order to help contemporary religious communities to move away from our preoccupation with quantity and focus on the quality of our discipleship. 535 Time as Gift Carolyn Humphreys OCDS reviews how we might make time, God’s gift to us, our gift back to God. 541 Heaven: The Day the Drilling Stopped Sister Mary Stephen Brueggeman PHJC reviews her changing ideas of heaven which bring her closer to the truth of our life forever with God. flep r n en s 452 Prisms 546 Canonical Counsel: Automatic Dismissal 552 Book Reviews September-October 2002 prisms L the United States the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack upon the New York World Trade Center towers and the Washington DC Pentagon headquarters rouses many reflections about the changes in daily life that this vivid sad event brought about. With the subsequent anthrax scare, mail service was delayed and has never fully recovered because of precautionary restrictions on packages and letters. Any major public event-- sporting, political, musical, and even religious--now includes the aspect of a heightened security. Even more evidently, the rigorous security screening that has been imposed upon all air travelers has caused a reduction in the number of passengers, no matter how hard the major airlines have tried to entice them back. Review for Religious, too, has been affected by the September 11 events. Let me share with you how I have experienced this effect. In my fourteen years as editor, I have generally had a large number of manuscripts--unsolicited--flowing across my desk. I estimate that among them I have chosen one third for publication. But last October to January, it was as if the river had run dry. The flow of manuscripts became a trickle, and there was little improvement until the recent summer months. Why such a dramatic and universal change, including even our writers from other parts of the world? Let me offer an interpretation of this phe- Revie’~ for Religious nomenon. There is a classic book about mystical prayer, by an anonymous author, titled The Cloud of Unknowing. I do not want to talk about mystical prayer, but I would like to describe our human status after September 11 as entering a cloud of unknowing. The events of that day raised up life-and-death questions, yes, but more than that. An urge to examine human relationships, religious motivations, social inequalities, and the secularizing of world cultures came to the fore. In addition to these huge issues came the church scandal of sex-abuse by priests and the mishandling of these cases by bishops. Questions abounded, but not many ways of making an ade-quate response. In this tumultuous milieu, talking of pieties and priestly service and religious-life problems seemed unimportant or even petty. Important issues had arisen, and dealing with them seemed far more necessary than writing about them. I was reminded of St. Paul’s words "we are perplexed, but not in despair." I believe that we all were caught in a kind of cloud of not knowing what to think or say. We were perplexed, but our mood was not one of despair. True, article submissions show something of a rebound in recent months. But I am under no illusions. Just as we live with the continuing effects of this day, so I believe that we will continue to find that our thoughts are being stirred in new ways, our affect is being shaped, and our choices are being challenged. We still remain perplexed. September 11 is more than a tragic event in one nation’s history. The year just past has seen dyings in many aspects of civil and church life. We have entered a new era of examina-tion of our humanity in relation to one another and to God. The September I 1 event challenges the secular domination of any one culture and demands that social inequities within coun-tries and between countrie~ be dealt with in new ways. With St. Paul, we too can say that we are always carrying about in our body the dying of Jesus, the confusion that sin is and brings. But we live--and our authors are continuing to write--so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. Our hope finds expression in this prayer: "On each of our dyings, shed your light and your love." David L. Fleming SJ September-October 2002 DONNA MARKHAM challenge and response Fire and Flame, Purification and Vocation What can be said about vocations in the midst of the " fire storm in which we find ourselves these days? How do we encourage idealistic, good-hearted, and generous young women and men to throw their lot in with us in the midst of such sinfulness and pain? Over the course of my Dominican life, when I have been particularly grief-stricken or have found myself afraid or angry or unable to think clearly about a given crisis, I have called upon my Dominican "ancestor" Catherine of Siena to intercede for me, to beg the Spirit to help me. In that spirit I summon up this prayer, written by a contemporary Dominican woman, Patricia F. Walter, to set the scene for these reflections: Fire of Exodus, Flame of Pentecost, time and again you have beckoned us into the desert and propelled us from the upper room. Melt our resistance, dispel the frost of fear. Enkindle our longing, warm our compassion, and transform us in your fiery Spirit. Donna Markham OP, executive director of Southdown, presented these reflections (here somewhat edited and abridged) as a talk at the Serra International Convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 30June 2002. Her address is Southdown; 1335 St. John’s Sideroad East; RR #2, Aurora, Ontario; Canada L4G 3G8. Review for Religious Living Flame of Love, burn deep within us. Give us the strength to endure the heat and set our hearts afire. Catherine herself lived in and preached to a church in crisis. She was somewhat of a scandal in her day. She was a woman who others felt did not know her place, a woman who went into prisons, a woman who traveled with men, a woman seeming "not too tightly wrapped" as she spoke with God in strange ways, a bold woman who dared confront the pope. Nonetheless, we see in her the fusion of wisdom and love that led her to the marginalized and suffering poor, and also to the suffering within herself. God does not call perfect people to discipleship. As Catherine faced the suffering deep within the church and the suffering deep within herself, the dark side of life and of her own personality became apparent to her, and she faced it. She was not afraid to respond to God’s call. "Vghen we are whom we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze," she wrote. It was in that conviction that she extended her love unreservedly to those she met along the way. Her compassion and mercy touched the imprisoned, the terminally ill, the intellectually misled, those condemned to die, and social pariahs of all sorts. Her loving determination to be true to whom God called her to be emboldened her. She found the courage to take on some of the most painful situations of her day. Catherine shows us that, even when everything is stripped away (our status, our security, our comfort), if we are whom God has called us to be, unreservedly extending ourselves to suffering people of every kind, we will fill our world with the fire of Pentecost. This is the Christian vocation. It is to this that we dare to call our young people, to be dedicated women and men of Jesus’ gospel-- persons who, true to their personal call, bring healing and mercy into this broken world. God does not call perfect people to discipleship. Our Contemporary Context These days we Catholics are experiencing how suffering calls us to purification and forgiveness, how it beckons us to September-October 2002 Markham * Fire and Flame, Purification and Vocation transformation. God’s Spirit nudges us in our shock and sadness to open our innermost selves ever more humbly to the Pentecostal fire of conversion. We do so in the assurance that a loving and faithful God promised to be with us in the cloud by day and, in the darkness of the night, to be with us as a pillar of fire. So it was for every stage of the Israelites’ journey (Ex 40:38), and so it is for this suffering church, brought low and humbled in desert days. We count on God to be with us now, to lead us forward and to call us to purification and transformation. The community of faith needs leaders who are as generous and dedicated as they are unafraid. We count on strong lay leadership, and we count too on those who are willing to give themselves to the service of the gospel as chaste, celibate religious and clergy. Our humbled and sinful church--led by God throughout salvation history and infused with God’s spirit-- calls forward those who will lead. We dare to do so knowing full well that this is an extraordinarily complex time, a time of shattered trust, the disillusion of broken shards. At the dawn of this postmodern era, when we face crises in our world and in our church, we more than e~er need leaders who will counter narcissistic individualism and alienated self-reliance. We need leaders who will witness to and proclaim the healing power of a compassionate and merciful God. We cannot settle for mediocrity. Among us are spirit-filled women and men. Members of our families, they are old, young, and in between. We need to believe in the church’s power to be an influence toward good; we need to pray for God to call them, and we ourselves need to call them. Rampant skepticism, pervasive questioning, and the deconstruction of authority typify this emerging postmodern era. We can neither turn back history nor simply reapply modern solutions (that worked well several decades ago) to postmodern crises. Walking along humbly and perhaps quite anonymously in these fragmented times are those who will inspire us and help us make sense of what appears chaotic and meaningless. My sense is that the only way we can survive on this planet is by countering postmodern deconstruction with gospel-focused reconstruction. The leaders of the postmodern faith community must be courageous souls willing to pose serious and soul-searching questions. Will we proclaim with our actions and our Review for Religious words the centrality of relationship with God, with the communion of saints? How will we commit to sharing faith across the community of believers, with Christians and with other persons of faith as well? Will we act as agents of healing and reconciliation in our broken world? Will we develop new ways of standing amid the tension of our differences, becoming parmers rather than adversaries in the midst of some inevitable conflict? Clearly, perhaps more than ever, we need clergy, religious, and lay leaders who will help us notice the good that we hold in common and will move us to deepened generosity, justice, compassion, and forgiveness. VCho are these people who will minister among us, this humbled people of God whom we call church? Those who can be instruments of healing and hope; those who will venture into areas of the world, or of the intellect and the soul, where others cannot or will not go; those who will walk into areas of human experience that desperately need the gospel to be proclaimed-- women and men courageous enough to let themselves feel the Spirit’s fire, become deeply converted, and thereby lead others to conversion. Aptitude for Priesthood and Religious Life This is no time to settle for less-than-healthy p~ople in our seminaries and formation houses. We do not ask for perfect people, but we ask for fundamentally healthy people. A balanced and healthy spiritual life--people at home before God, with a personal relationship to God--is the basis of a vocation. Without sometimes finding Jesus in the contemplative silence of prayer, and also in activity with and among the worshiping community, ministerial life becomes hollow rhetoric and wooden routine. Similarly, as people’s relationship with God must be strong, so must their relationships with others be mature, rich, and fulfilling. We all have memories of relational disasters that have punctuated the history of ministry in the church. Frightened, socially uncomfortable, hostile, and aloof religious and clergy have been professed or ordained, sometimes unwittingly and sometimes as a conscious way of filling slots. At this time we must not repeat such arrangements. Rather, we must count on psychologically stable men and women who can handle the Septentber-October 2002 Markham ¯ Fire and Flame, Purification and Vocation demands of working in a church and world that are in a period of upheaval. The capacity to endure the stresses of this time, remain faithful to the gospel, and proclaim the countercultural message of Jesus’ compassion and care is predicated upon mature psychological development. Relationship with God, relationship with others, and relationship with oneself constitute the basic health of ministers of the gospel. The mature human being is able to connect with others, can sometimes separate from others without becoming despondent, and can be interdependent, reliant on others. Without his intimate relationship with God, Moses could not have risked the harshness of the desert, the Israelites’ long exile, without a clear home, without even the comfort of a clear destination. All the while, however, the pillar of fire was there. And it is still with us. When we are grounded in relationship with God--even when we are’not certain of the terrain we walk upon, even when we seem lost, even when we are tempted by mirages or seduced by the securities of the past--we dare to continue on. A strong reliance on God enables healthy ministers to rely also on companions in the difficult search for a true and loving response to the signs of these times of ours. Those who cannot relate, who do not have close or sustained friendships, or who are exploitive or manipulative in their interactions with others do not belong in the priesthood or religious life. Nor do stiff, distant, rigid, detached persons who are dismissive or controlling of others. Living with a damaged ability to connect with others in healthy ways, such persons are highly vulnerable to exploitive sexual behavior. As the ability to connect with others and with God is important, so is the ability to take leave, to separate from others. In the spiritual life there are times when God seems silent or distant. Spiritually healthy persons are attuned to the God of silence, the God shrouded in the cloud. Emotionally healthy individuals can tolerate separation. They do not function out of an insatiable neediness for continued nurturance and affirmation. Clingy, demanding, possessive people do not exercise ministry well. Their pastoral style is indecisive, hesitant, and largely ineffective. Good pastoral ministry includes the capacity to be interdependent. Priests and religious must be able to find God in Review for Religious the community of believers, even as they are stretched and challenged within that community. Stand-alone "talking heads" who believe their mission is to infuse knowledge and faith into subordinates manifest the worst of postmodern narcissism. Puffed-up arrogance issues from deep insecurity and gnawing inadequacy. Because they are preoccupied with themselves, their pastoral style is likely to be experienced as secretive and mystifying. The women and men accepted into ministry today must be secure in their personal identity and confident in God’s incredibly persistent accompaniment, even in the nighttimes of their experience. They must be deeply aware that the mission of Jesus transcends their own self-focus. We might well ask ourselves what must occur in our admission and formation processes to ensure that those who will be ordained or professed are persons of this kind. As is evident from these comments, a healthy interpersonal life is the place to begin. In her classic book, The Birth of the Living God, psychoanalyst Anna Maria Rizzuto comments exquisitely on the important connection between people’s relationship with God and their ability to form relationships with others. People’s relational life--including their ability to depend on, separate from, and collaborate with others--is mirrored in their God quest and thus is the touchstone for their spiritual life as well as their ministerial life. This is evident in Moses’ life in the desert, in the lives of the disciples’ gathered and inspirited in Pentecost’s upper room, and in the life of Catherine of Siena bringing the gospel’s truth to so many. Implications for Formation When, from their personal experience of candidates, admissions board members have made positive evaluations, those judgments should be confirmed by psychological evaluations. Far from being enemies of the faith journey, the social and behavioral sciences can give candidates valuable insight and assist their continued growth, along with confirming that they have the psychic strength to handle ministry in a restive church. The Thomistic adage that "grace builds on nature" seems apt. That is, we cannot take severely damaged persons into our seminaries September-October 2002 Markham ¯ Fire and Flame, Purification and Vocation and religious communities with the expectation that somehow, if they pray enough, they will be able to take the stress of ministry today with a modicum of effectiveness. That would be unfair to both the individual and the people of God. Psychological evaluation is helpful in screening out those who have personality disorders or cognitive deficits that would interfere with trustworthy and effective ministry. After admission to a seminary or a religious congregation, discernment continues. That two-way process of determining if there is a fit between the individual’s gifts and the charism of priesthood or a particular religious institute should be diligently undertaken by the candidate and the formation directors. If either party has any doubt, the process should be terminated. Serious errors are made when either the individual or the formators decide to continue the process in spite of serious concerns. The candidate who says he or she must simply pray harder in order to be happy and at peace in the life, or the formator who says "Let’s give him one more chance" or "Let’s send her to psychotherapy," is setting the stage for unhappiness or, worse, for future ministerial dysfunction. The discernment process must take place in prayer and serious dialogue. Wonderfully dedicated persons may not be called to a life of chaste celibate ministry. Doubts on either side necessitate making the difficult decision to terminate the process. In light of the demands of these times, other things too seem imperative in fostering healthy vocations in seminaries and houses of formation. Along with necessary courses of study, serious spiritual direction by trained directors is probably more important today than it ever has been. The general quest for meaning in our culture, people’s longing for connection to the Sacred, and pervasive skepticism affect all of us and inevitably affect the spiritual life of candidates for priesthood and religious life. Assisting candidates to have a contemplative personal relationship with God and to be comfortable seeking harmony with God’s spirit active in our world is surely a crucial undertaking of the formation process. Candidates today must experience a radical call to ministry. They must have a strong altruistic desire to extend themselves to others, especially those in critical need. Central to formation, and I would say crucial today, is some form of immersion among Review for Religious the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the suffering, the angry. The world cries out for compassion and healing. People yearn for the love that can cast out the terror that lurks in corners of rage and despair. Without burning desires to put lives wholeheartedly at the service of Jesus’ mission, without willingness to feel uncomfortable or inadequate, ministry in the postmodern marketplace is likely to be sadly ineffective. Critical and Creative Fire It is my growing sense that we are not engaging in formation in ways that meet the needs of persons preparing to minister in this time. I wonder if we are not still imposing modern solutions on postmodern realities. In a world disconnected, divided, and fragmented, heightened attention to community-building seems crucially needed. With our seminaries and houses of formation still separated from the culture, I wonder if we are missing something terribly significant as we prepare people to be healing agents in that culture. Regarding formation, critical and creative thought is needed. Varied apostolic opportun-ities, cooperation across gender lines, and intelligent immersion in the crises of these times must be balanced by solid theological knowledge and spiritual experience and commitment. We search for ways to promote vocations, and we strive to have minds and hearts ever more ready for the fire of God’s Spirit. We believe that our faith life is precious, that healing can and will happen, that there is more life than death, no matter how cold or dark things may seem. Like Catherine, we too pray that our resistance may be melted, that the frost of our fear may be dispelled, and that, warming us by burning away impurities in us, God will give us a fierce fervor that can set hearts of the next generation on fir!! In a world disconnected, divided, and fragmented, heightened attention to community-building seems crucially needed. Septentber-October 2002 JOEL RIPPINGER Lessons from a Time of Distress Inf the citizens of the United States developed an entirely ew way of looking at things in the months after 11 September 2001, members of the Roman Catholic Church in North America underwent a similar transformation in the first six months of 2002. The numbing succession of stories on cler-ical sexual abuse, episcopal cover-ups, and lay outrage over the betrayal of trust by church authorities have constituted a seismic shock, whose tremors continue within the Catholic Church in the United States. The reaction of laity and religious alike has been accelerated and imensified by the extensive media cover-age of these matters. In describing American Catholic reaction to the sexual-abuse scandal, one can say that it is equal parts outrage, sad-ness, and alienation. One of the notable and positive consequences of these events is that church authorities have given greater heed to the voices of Catholic lay people. Opinions of the laity are now received with a seriousness and sympathy that until recently were hard to detect. This development is all to the good. At the same time, the ordained in the church and those in positions of authority have been chastened and humbled more than many would have thought possible, an eventuality that few think would ever have been self-initiated. All that being said, a perspective on recent events that has not received much attention is that of religious in the church. Joel Rippinger OSB writes from Marmion Abbey; Butterfield Road; Aurora, Illinois 60504. Review for Religious More particularly, I can speak from the position of a male, a monastic, and an ordained religious. Perhaps more uniquely, I can speak as an historian whose perspective sees all that has occurred as an unprecedented watershed in the church’s his-tory. From this perspective my hope is that my reflection may enable fellow religious to discern the voice of the Spirit and the signs of the times in the events we have experienced. Before attempting an objective historical judgment of this crisis in Catholicism, an inventory of personal emotions seems appropriate. The images that come to mind are of being caught in a storm at sea without a rudder or being thrown into one plot twist after another like a character in an action film. For any man who spent all of his adult years as a religious (and then also as ordained), never before these events was there a need to cope with a feeling of collective shame. If at one time vowed celibates sometimes felt that they were being distortedly per-ceived as asexual persons or just marginalized singles, now they felt that people were perceiving them as among the sexually perverse. The sense of accomplishment that for many years had accompanied their apostolic labors was now undercut by reve-lations that the very people being served had been betrayed by ministers themselves. People have long been aware, of course, that religious have in their communities a support system that diocesan priests and numerous lay ministers often do not have. I agonize over the plight of the growing number of new DPs, not displaced persons but displaced priests, men who have been removed from their assignments as a result of allegations but who lack access to the same network of healing that religious communities have and who, hounded by the press, seem to have become nonpersons like people struck from party lists in totalitarian states. For the increasing number of religious engaged in the ministry of spir-itual direction, the size of the crisis is soon evident. Lawyers and public-relations personnel for dioceses find themselves in a war zone as they face a hostile press and wounded families of vic-tims of sexual abuse. Catholic social services confront the dispir-iting discovery that their funds have been siphoned away for payments to victims of sexual abuse. Ranks of good priests find their public profile diminished and their spiritual strength sapped as they go about their ministry with the self-conscious- Septeml~er-October 2002 Rippinger ¯ Lessons from a Time of Distress ness that comes from ,facing misplaced suspicion at every turn. It is arresting to consider that among the few safe places of hos-pitality and confraternity for these persons to seek restoration in are religious houses. The Lens of History When one looks at the present crisis historically, a number of seminal issues come to the surface. The first is that nativist and anti-Catholic sentiment, so powerful in various periods of American history, has reappeared. That sentiment was clearly seen in the way that the secular press seized on the issue of sex-ual abuse. The New Yorker and National Review, the Boston Globe and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, odd bedfellows on other topics, joined in their insistence on full disclosure and even in their misunderstandings of Catholic teaching. The confusion of the vow of consecrated celibacy of religious and the promise of celibacy taken by diocesan priests was only one of many errors regarding the Catholic Church that appeared in the press. Fact checkers could be unconcerned that some simple down-to-earth accuracy escaped their investigative radar scanning. The print media, however, paled in comparison with the television indus-try. The traditional networks and the cable news leaders were both drawn to the story. Whether it was the American cardi-nals meeting in Rome or the American bishops meeting in Dallas, the confluence of church symbolism, sexuality, and inept or corrupt authority drew coverage that smacked of tabloid jour-nalism. (One had to strain to find any voice given to superiors of religious houses or congregations. With a few notable excep-tions, both local and national networks ignored that realm of Catholic vowed life.) In all this, one wonders what direction the film industry, already given to frequent caricatures of Catholic priests and religious, might take in future screenplays involving the church. Compared with earlier periods of anti-Catholicism in American history, however, contemporary treatment is less offensive. When one thinks of the fictionalized treatment of women’s religious life in The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk in the period prior to the Civil War, even the present-day embel-lished broadsides are slight in comparison. As much as the polit- Review for Religious ical cartoons that burst into the attention of the American pub-lic in 2002 seemed to lack all respect for the institutional church, they do not approach the Thomas Nast cartoons of the 19th century or the caricatures of Al Smith when he ran for president in 1928. An element of the current crisis that is a significant change in popular perception of the Catholic Church in the United States is an anticlerical slant. The American hierarchy, which until recent years had been heralded for its leadership regarding respect for life and in forming public policy on social-justice issues, was now the target of not only mavens of the media but also many ordinary Catholics. On the intertwined matters of sex and money and power, people scrutinized the conduct of the church’s ordained authority figures. For those called to witness to the evangeli-cal counsels of consecrated celibacy, poverty, and obedience, there was little chance to miss the irony. While the United States for years resisted the per-vasive anticlericalism of European nations such as France, Italy, and Spain, it is increasingly evident that the status of the ordained in North America has been reduced markedly. Although this reduced status has not been felt with the same forcefulness among religious men and women, the high percentage of ordained members among the former and people’s proclivity to think of both groups together sug-gest that the status of religious in Catholic eyes will be not be as high as it was up to the council. Beyond any doubt, there is a growing resentment toward the clerical culture of recent years. Whether directed towards closeted decision making by bishops or towards an air of unassailable authority among local priests, resentment is real and not restricted to feminists or to lay men and women with liberal agendas. Establishing the extent of this resentment by opinion polls would not seem as pressing a need as dealing with discernible causes of such resentment. It is hard to gauge just how powerful the media were in generating adverse public opinion against the Catholic Church Nativist and anti- Catholic sentiment, so powerful in various periods of American history, has reappeared. September-October 2002 Rippinger ¯ Lessons from a Time of Distress Scandalous behavior on the part of the clergy and religious, and also closeted policy making on the part of bishops, have been recurrent themes of American Catholic history. in the face of so much questionable behavior. Today’s media have no real historical antecedent. The media treatments of Watergate and Humanae vitae provide matter for suggestive comparison but not for accurate assessment. In the public eye, the hierarchy and its representativesappear to have suffered an erosion of credibility that is without parallel. Insofar as this will have an effect on the church’s image as a whole, it is bound to undermine the perception that ordinary Catholics and others have of members of religious congregations. Another historical perspective worth noting is that scandalous behav-ior on the part of the clergy and reli-gious, and also closeted policy making on the part of bishops, have been recur-rent themes of American Catholic his-tory, not merely developments of recent years. One strains to see such histori-cal awareness present in assessments of today’s situation. Before the screening mechanisms of today, communities of men and women religious often took in individuals whose pasts were at best questionable. When sexual promiscuity or the misuse of alcohol occurred, typically it would take place outside the cloister and.involve the clergy in their pastoral assignments. When such misconduct became known publicly, the tolerance of the faithful was amazing, especially when the perpetrators would be reassigned to other parishes or missions. Therapeutic interventions and the reporting of specifically criminal actions to civil authorities were absent as procedural options until recent decades. Even many years after these events, historians found themselves frustrated by the selective purging of pertinent correspondence or data in community and diocesan archives. The upshot was that the press did not have access to records in the manner that exists today. In addition, there was an understanding that journalists would not cross a line in regard to investigating Catholic Church institutions. The culture that produced Hollywood’s idealized images of priests and religious Review for Religious portrayed by Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Loretta Young, Gregory Peck, and Ingrid Bergrnan did not deem it appropriate to uncover the darker side of that image. New Aspects of the Present Crisis One striking irony in the unfolding of recent events in the sexual-abuse scandal is the supporting cast that came into the public eye. The pray, pay, and obey lay people of the preconciliar era had now acquired positions of power and influence within the church. So, although the persons accused of criminal or immoral behavior were almost exclusively male and ordained, the church voices being heard were largely lay and even female. Women religious serving as chancellors (coordinating the func-tioning of diocesan offices) were asked to speak for the church. Lawyers, whether representing victims or perpetrators, pro-fessed their Catholicism and often a background of Catholic education. Catholic education, in fact, has had a role in the overall picture of the current sexual-abuse crisis. The primary apostolic work of many religious communi-ties, religious education has proved to be the very venue in which much sexual abuse took place. The large-scale lawsuits instituted against orders in Canada and the United States (to say nothing of Ireland and Australia) for systematic victimization of students signaled how vulnerable these institutions had become. The moral scandal in all of this seems to have been more the sin of omission by persons in authority who failed to intervene than the sexual crimes themselves. Some critics took note of the lack not only of moral integrity among administra-tors of Catholic schools, but also of a professional stance and adequate structures to deal with such criminal behavior. In both cases, administrators of religious schools were forced to admit to a complicity in allowing perpetrators of abuses to continue in their work. This situation pointed to a real deficiency in religious for-mation as well. Just as the sexual-abuse scandals in the United States in the last half of the 20th century indicated the flawed formation provided for many priests in seminaries, so too the formation programs of religious communities do not appear to have prepared people well for celibate commitment. Celibacy September-October 2002 Rippinger * Lessons from a Time of Distress and sexuality in formation programs were usually treated only in a general and allusive way that was felt to be circumspect, seldom with a candid and detailed explanation of realistic areas of struggle. An even sadder irony is that considerable numbers of vocations to the religious life were themselves sexually abused. Fear of divulging any information about such abuse only made the climate of conflicted feelings and shame more pronounced. Maintaining that secret and carrying the hurt of their past exacted a price that religious orders are only beginning to real-ize. As important as the vow of consecrated celibacy was for the identity and witness of all religious, it did not "keep up" with the culture. The sexually saturated American culture since the 1960s sent people to religious houses with sexual experience and atri-tudes that were considerably removed from, if not at cross pur-poses with, the ascetical tools they were expected to acquire in their spiritual life. For many generations, candidates came to religious com-munities at an early age and led lives sheltered from the wider world. In recent decades, more mature (that is, older) candi-dates with more education and more independent and sophis-ticated career experience made for an entirely different set of expectations. As much as Generation Xers and the millennium generation were recognized as requiring a new manner of for-marion, especially for developing the skills required by a celibate commitment and for developing a deeper understanding of their sexual identity, formation programs that provided this were the exception rather than the rule. Sadly, too, the emerging need in the last decades of the 20th century to assist older religious who had awakened to their sexuality as a more complex reality than they had previously realized was typically overlooked or ignored by religious communities. In recent years there has been tension and conflict between the discipline of psychology and the more traditional skills of the spiritual life such as fasting, mortification, and a deepening prayer life. Too frequently the matter appeared as an either/or proposition. Either one bought into the therapeutic model and relied upon the work and recommendations of trained clini-cians to deal with misbehavior, or one thought that only an ascetically proficient religious could be trusted to give effective witness. In truth, both the discipline of psychology and the tra- R~vie~ for Religious ditional methods of acquiring gospel holiness were needed as partners, not opponents. Religious superiors, many of whom had trained therapists in their communities, began to see the need to model such a partnership. Another facet of religious life that has been accentuated by the distressing events affecting the larger church has been, for want of a better term, a sense of entitlement. Part of the judg-ment rendered on the American ~riesthood by contemporary observers is that ordained men have generally been encouraged to see themselves as special, people having a status that put them on a pedestal. The connection of this attitude with nar-cissistic behavior and a feeling of deserved entitlement is not hard to make. The same holds true for the attitudes of exclu-sivity and domination that were attached to the role of the ordained. Insofar as religious communities, consciously or unconsciously, adopt such attitudes, they play into the hands of those who want to write them off as irrelevant to the modern world. One of the commonly employed descriptions of religious life in the last forty years of renewal has been its prophetic role. The term implies a forceful, unsparing, and honest stance in the face of evil or oppression. The fact that the veil on much of the evil behavior in the Catholic Church had to be lifted by persons and institutions outside it says much about consecrated life’s complicity. For many years, communities and congrega-tions expended much energy and resources on the small minor-ity of the "troubled." It became standard operating procedure to deal with such matters in the closed circle of community. The reasons for this seemed evident. First of all, only the superiors would have all the facts to make the decision. And there was the need to respect both promised confidentiality and the good name of the institution. Somehow this learned behavior was able to compromise any impassioned effort to deal with the issues underlying these cases of moral failing and misbehavior. How much of the moti-vation behind this was because of religious obedience and humil-ity and how much of it was indifference and a desperate desire to preserve an image is hard to say. But the fact remains that few voices of prominence from the ranks of religious (one thinks of the Dominican Father Thomas Doyle, whose recommendations September-October 2002 Rippinger ¯ Lessons from a Time of Distress on sexual abuse to the American bishops in 1985 were largely filed away) were willing to play David against the Goliath of the church hierarchy. In some respects, many church authorities, when confronted with the revelation in early 2001 of sexual abuse of religious women in Africa by church figures, were other instances of not wanting to hear the prophetic voice. The history of religious life tends to teach that the minis-terial needs of each generation change, and so religious com-munities have to adapt to those needs. The church today would do well to prepare a good number of compassionate and com-petent men and women religious to minister to the victims of sexual abuse. The great capacity of religious in previous eras to form new ministries and institutions to deal with changing pas-toral needs will be tested again in this case. The professional training needed to provide such personnel should be a part of ordinary programs of formation. If seminaries throughout the United States are now committed to detailed screening and comprehensive instruction in the area of sexuality and celibate skills, religious communities should do no less. Historians can also be of assistance in future years. When one reads the available popular or scholarly histories of reli-gious congregations and communities in the United States (and they are many), one searches largely in vain for any serious or systematic discussion of sexual misbehavior, or of substance abuse and severe emotional problems. Part of the reason for this, as alluded to earlier, is that much of the record of such activity has been expunged from archives and other records. But there is no evading the truth that such scandals have had an influence on the character and development of many commu-nities and congregations. A beginning needs to be made towards having discreet, honest, and sensitive histories written on such matters so that the problem of silence and averted eyes no longer prevails. In the history of the modern church and modern conse-crated life, real transformation and spiritual progress have almost always been initiated by outside events. The Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution’s destruction of reli-gious houses had positive effects within the Catholic Church. Reformed congregations and new houses of religious emerged to confront the new challenges of the time. Review for Religious The situation today, in the church and in North American relig!ous life, has similarities with those earlier historical moments. As much as the current crisis contains elements that are entirely new (for example, the mass media that shape much of public opinion and the "age of litigation" that surrounds the church in the United States), there nonetheless is much to learn from both the distant and the immediate past. New voices must be heeded, and a new genera-tion of leaders will be needed to change church and com-munity structures that have failed. To accomplish that daunting challenge, they must preserve the best of tradition and listen more carefully than their predecessors to the lessons of the past and the voice of the faithful around them. New approaches to ministry will be proposed, and they will enlist the ranks of religious women and men to The church today would do well to prepare a good number of compassionate and competent men and women religious to minister to the victims of sexual abuse. redirect their commitment and their resources. A new paradigm of formation in religious life must more realistically and pro-foundly prepare people to live a celibate commitment. Such a paradigm will blend the distinctive charism of tradition with the revised understanding of how religious life at the dawn of the new millennium has been changed unalterably by yet another tectonic shift in the geography of consecrated life. The proto-cols of the past (whether they be called secrecy, damage control, or protecting the institutional image at the expense of individ-uals) have been found wanting. It is incumbent upon the present and future generations of religious to effect a conversion wor-thy of their vowed commitment. September-October 2002 life and death REGINA SIEGFRIED Choose Life: Reflections Ten Years after Five Deaths Ten years ago five Adorers of ~he Blood of Christ were murdered in Liberia, where the congregation had had missionaries for twenty-two years. It seemed then that the deaths ended what the sisters had worked hard to build. God, though, told us long ago: "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live" (Dr 30:19). Now, ten years later, some of the picture does not look nearly as bleak as it did in 1992. Three things are more obvious now than they were when the five Adorers were killed on 20 and 23 October 1992. One is that Liberia is still in the grip of a life-and-death struggle; another is that the paschal-mystery charism of the ASCs is in clearer focus for many members. The third is that the ASC mission in Liberia has not ended with the deaths of the five missionaries. Commemorating the tenth anniversary and celebrating the lives of the five murdered ASCs, this article focuses not on their deaths Regina Siegfried ASC last wrote for us in our May-June 2002 issue. Her address is Department of Theological Studies; Saint Louis University; P.O. Box 56907; St. Louis, Missouri 63156. Revi~’w for Religious but on the situation in Liberia and on the valiant spirits of people there who continue their legacy. The community’s mission in Liberia began in 1970 in the coastal village of Grand Cess, in the Cape Palmas diocese. By 1984 the Adorers had eleven sisters ministering in Gardnersville (a suburb of the capital city, Monrovia), in Kle, and in Grand Cess. In 1989 civil war broke out, with Charles Taylor leading the rebel forces. Allegedly, rebel soldiers shot Joel Kolmer ASC and Barbara Ann Muttra ASC on a Tuesday, while they were on a short automobile journey away from their Gardnersville convent, and three days later other rebels came to their convent and shot Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer. My community has had ten years to assimilate those stark facts, to grieve intensely, to remember lovingly, and now to celebrate gratefully those lives generously poured out. Liberia Ten Years Later To keep these five deaths in perspective, it is necessary to realize that, since 1989, 200,000 Liberians have died; 800,000 more are refugees in neighboring countries and elsewhere. More than 1 million Liberians are internally dis-placed within the country. All of the country’s infras-tructure lies in ruins and the economy has collapsed. However, leaders of the seven warring factions in Liberia are engaged in a lucrative underground econ-omy. In June 1996, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs... Ambassador William Twaddle testified before Congress that the National Patriotic Front of Liberia alone may have made $75 million a year from the sales of Liberia’s timber, iron ore, rub-ber, gold, and diamonds.’ The murder of Liberian President Samuel Doe in 1990 brought intense civil war. The seven Adorers then in Liberia fled the country. By March 1991 Sisters Shirley Kolmer and Joel Kolmer returned and were followed in August by Sisters Barbara Ann and Agnes and by newcomer Sister Kathleen. The sisters worked with youth to help them refocus their lives after fighting at too young an age. September-October 2002 After the sisters’ deaths in 1992, fighting .continued to devastate the country. In September 1996 Ruth Sando Perry headed the Liberian New Transitional Government. During that same year armed conflict once again erupted in Monrovia, but by August the warring factions signed the Abuja II Peace Accord. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf opposed Charles Taylor, leader of one of the factions; he defeated her for the presidency in May 1997. On 14 March 2001, testifying before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Senator Russ Feingold unequivocally labeled him a war criminal: "We have all read the appalling accounts of atrocities committed in the region. I believe that some of the responsibility for these terrible abuses rests upon Charles Taylor’s shoulders. In fact, I believe that Liberian President Charles Taylor is a war criminal." Jeffrey Bartholet’s in-depth article and analysis of Taylor in the 14 May 2001 issue of Newsweek argues that Taylor is "a dictator adrift .... He maintains the faCade of democracy, while ensuring that no one threatens his power" (p. 31). In May 2002 the International Herald Tribune reported that fighting had once again broken out in Monrovia. Taylor’s government troops attempted to quell a rebel offensive. Adding to Taylor’s self-serving indifference to the plight of the people of Liberia are other grim conditions that compound the misery: child soldiers, illegal diamond trade, crumbling and destroyed country-wide infrastructures, and deforestation of a once breathtakingly beautiful and fertile land. Boys orphaned by the war joined factions that offered promises of booty, power, and the glamour of guns. Girls became the mistresses and servants of older soldiers, with rape and resulting pregnancies fo~ girls too young to be mothers. Some children were forced to kill as part of an initiation rite and to ensure their complicity and loyalty to a faction? With the theoretical peace of August 1996, many of the child soldiers were disarmed. But taking guns from children does not mean they are educated, prepared with skills, or rehabilitated for society. Often with no parents, no home, and no school to return to, these child soldiers were well on the way to becoming today’s lost young adults. In assessing the plight of the child soldiers, Stephen G. Price, of the office of justice and peace for the Society of African Missions, has written: Revie~a for geligio~,s Rehabilitation requires some kind of reconciliation in the larger Liberian society, where the atrocities of war experience can be faced in some way, and a means of living with the memory of them is achieved. It also involves responsible persons hearing young fighters tell their own stories of personal involvement. The grief, terror, and guilt will be a huge emotional burden, and a bomb waiting to explode again, if it is not expressed.3 Although the war may be technically over in Liberia, the fighting and refugees have spilled into neighboring Sierra Leone. That country’s Revolutionary United Front smuggles diamonds through Liberia, where Charles Taylor reportedly takes a cut of the pro~fit.4 The African Faith and JustiCe Network newsletter of March 2001 reports that nongovernment organizations and the United Nations have succeeded in getting the diamond industry to commit itself "to rapidly developing a Certification of Origin system that would allow global markets to exclude diamonds originating in civil-war situations. However, the industry has moved slowly to implement this commitment, prompting more active calls for UN or government action" (p. 5). The same newsletter says that fighting over diamonds has closed so many clinics and pharmacies that people are unable to get appropriate drugs or treatment for common, easily treatable illnesses. Child soldiers, illegal diamond smuggling, and ordinary Liberians without ordinary social services and a working infrastructure--all are signs of death, destruction, and general mayhem. But only on one level. Liberians continue to choose life; the forces for life outnumber the seemingly grim, death-dealing, and nearly hopeless situations they face every day. Their natural tendency toward optimism and a God-centered hope sustain them. Nongovernment organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, the Society of African Missions (SMA fathers), other missionaries, But taking guns from children does not mean they are educated, prepared with skills, or rehabilitated for society. September-October 2002 Siegf!’ied ¯ Choose Life the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Senator Feingold’s testimony, the clean diamond act, and programs such as Development, Education, and Leadership Teams in Action (DELTA) and Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) are slowly, surely, and quiedy restoring life to this country. Located in Gbarnga, Bong County, and committed to training lay leaders to "promote grassroots participation in sustainable development and good governance,’’5 DEN-L trains workers, community leaders, and unionists to analyze local and national situations and to network, advocate, and work for a Liberia where life is sustainable. DEN-L is but one example of an organization staffed by fearless committed people who envision a country where peace and reconciliation bring new life. The ASC spirit lives on in lay associates who still gather to pray, to remember, to celebrate. Lay people now staff the Catechetical Village Leadership Training Center in Kle, Bomi County, begun by Antoinette Cusimano AS in 1986. The sisters’ house in Gardnersville is a clinic. Five Liberian brothers staff Sister Shirley Kolmer School in Barnersville. Sister Kathleen McGuire School is a newly built structure in Cooperfarm, a village near Monrovia. The work of Sister Barbara Ann in healthcare is continued in Tubmanburg and Kle and many surrounding villages by a nurse trained by Barbara Ann and her staff. Another aide trained by Barbara Ann works in the clinic in Kle; the clinic had been the sisters’ home. Since it is the custom of the Liberians to name their children after some persons important to them, some Liberian girls now answer to the names of sisters who served in Liberia, including the slain sisters. Despite it all, perhaps because of it all, the spirit nurtured by the five ASCs and other ASC missionaries lives in the people who carry on their legacy without their presence. The missionaries have risen in the people. ASCs Ten Years Later The sisters have risen in the people of Liberia. How do their spirits live in the congregation of Adorers of the Blood of Christ? The answer to that question impels us to focus on the charism, our legacy from Maria de Mattias, founder of the Adorers. The Review for Religious Constitution of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ is quite clear about the charism: Our charism as Adorers of the Blood of Christ is deeply rooted in the death-resurrection mystery of Jesus. Ours is a paschal identity, signed in the blood of the Lamb. As a congregation we are to bear witness in hope and joy to the living presence in our world today of Christ’s redeeming love, which gives meaning to human suffering and can render it powerfully liberating and life-giving. (§22) Shaped by and immersed in this basic mystery of Christianity, the Adorers expect this "paschal identity" to permeate their corporate and personal lives. Baptized into the life and death of Jesus, vowed to God as sisters in a congregation whose constitution encourages its members to be "ever more credible witnesses of God’s tender love, of which the blood of Jesus is vibrant sign and unending covenant pledge" (§3), the paschal-mystery charism of the Adorers found stark reality in the lives and deaths of the sisters in Liberia. These five credible witnesses lived and died the charism. Charisms of communities are wild, fiery, free, hard to control by law and institutionalization. If this is true of eharisms in general, it is certainly true for the Precious Blood charism, which pulses with the life of the paschal mystery, urging contemplation, speech, and action, impelling us to mission.6 The Precious Blood charism is rooted in historical times that were rife with political and social unrest. Injustice for the poor of society was so common that it was not given much consideration except for the countercultural founder who was on fire with the gospel message of God’s reign. Fire and passion for the mission, the urgency to be with the marginalized of society, pushed our founder and our pioneer members to take risks that appeared foolish to the complacent. These are the same qualities that urged five Adorers to return to Liberia in the face of evidence that pointed to staying home, staying safe. Such vision demanded conversion on the part of Maria de Mattias and of the five killed in Liberia. It calls for the same in us. Joe Nassal CPpS writes in a similar vein when he says: To be a disciple of the Precious Blood today is... to stand with those of Matthew 25: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and im- September-October 2002 Siegfried ¯ Cboose Life Our sisters died because of what they believed in-- God’s love for all people, especially the poor and suffering. prisoned. This implies that, when we stand with those who are at the margin of our society, we are no longer in the center ourselves. We allow those with whom Jesus identifies to pull us out of our cozy and comfortable cocoons into the real world where pain and suffering is ever present.7 Ten years ago grief was too raw, tears and disbelief too close, for comfort. But ten years have given the Adorers time and space to contemplate the mystery of those terrible days in late 1992. Life has indeed gone on. We know the slain sisters would expect us to get on with the mission. But, for many Adorers, "getting on with the mission" meant and means soul-searching, questioning, pondering the paschal mystery in a new light. Contemplation of Jesus’ life with a focus on the paschal mystery means reflection on the reality of blood poured out for the sake of others. The fact and the symbol of Jesus’ shedding of blood calls Christians, especially congregations dedicated to the Precious Blood, to consider the totality of a life gift, the meaning of giving all even to the point of death. From a pragmatic view, both Jesus and the sisters killed in Liberia were in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet they stood up to the wielders of power and the forces of destruction. The disciples of Jesus, like the Adorers, needed to theologize about the meaning of seemingly meaningless deaths. Marcia Kruse, a U.S. Adorer,s reflects that: "Actions and events become signs or symbols of a deeper meaning. Our sisters died because of what they believed in--God’s love for all people, especially the poor and suffering. Their lives and deaths are symbols, examples of total giving, and that total giving is what we are called to." Wherese Wetta, another Adorer from the United States, writes: "Five of our Adorers had given their very lives because of their solidarity with the Liberian people. The sisters knew that Review for Religious the Liberian people were brothers and sisters to us, redeemed by the Blood of Christ and sacred in God’s eyes." Mini Vadakumchery, an Adorer from India, communicates in the same vein: "They offered themselves as a living sacrifice and answered the cry of the poor. Today I . . . am ready to risk and challenge my life in any situation." Violence, political and social unrest, and neglect of the weakest in society are streams that run through the time of Jesus, through the 19th-century founding of our congregation, and through today’s world--the living and dying in the present-day neglected country of Liberia being a prime example. But another stream of compassion, standing with, and advocacy mingles with those deeply stained waters. Whenever people throw in their lot with the disenfranchised of society, with those who need our presence as much as we need theirs, then the saving power of Jesus finds a home, and everyone finds a home. The stream of life weakens the stream of death. This is the cycle of paschal-mystery theology--life ultimately means resurrection. The wood of the cross had its effect on bitter desert water, as Moses experienced typologically at Marah: "He cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet" (Ex 15:25). This is part of paschal-mystery theology. Jesus came that people may have life and have it to the full; this means going beyond the bitter and the sad, beyond death, to resurrection, that joy beyond joys. Matija Pavic, one of the Adorers in Croatia who lived amid ¯ the war and destruction in that country, writes in a similar vein: Since their martyrdom I can say we feel greater closeness among us, at the level of the province and of the congregation as well, as if their martyrdom itself strengthened and drew us together, waking us up to the seriousness of our life commitment at the same time. We experienced the truth of the word that we are called to witness to Christ even to shedding of our own blood. We were overwhelmed by feelings of worry, compassion, and prayer; it was as if th¢:ir suffering spilled over into us. At the same time we were sure that their blood was not shed in vain. We know that it will be a new seed for the kingdom of God here on earth.9 September-October 2002 Sieg?Cried * Cboose Life The congregation continues to choose life. Many of us are ministering in the same areas that we were ten years ago, but the awareness, the consciousness, is deeper than before the events in Liberia. As a United States province we offer more assistance to victims of violence, are more attentive to women and children and to work with refugees. Today the charism has taken on a new dimension of reconciliation. We want to be reconcilers in our torn world, living the life, death, and peace of Jesus where we are and seeking out areas where reconciliation is needed. Life is precious; we cherish each other and try not to take one another for granted. If we are to become our charism in our society, we must respond to the call that the charism voices in our hearts. The paschal mystery invites us to life through death. It is our legacy to insure that the spirit of the sisters killed in Liberia lives in us as vibrantly as it does in the people of Liberia, whose lives they touched graciously, joyously, and effectively. Notes ~ Ezekiel Pajibo, "Liberia: A Brief Overview," Africa Faith and Justice Network, March 1977. 2 Stephen G. Price, "Child Soldiers in the Liberian War," SMA Office of Justice and Peace, March 1997. 3 Price, "Child Soldiers." 4 Washington Post, 17 April 2000. s Taken from "Information about the Development Education Network Liberia." 6 Some of the ideas on paschal-mystery charism are taken from my article "The Missionary Heart," Review for Religious 54, no. 6 (November-December, 1995): 913-917. 7 Joe Nassal CPPS, Passionate Pilgrims: A Sojourn of Precious Blood Spirituality (Carthagena, Ohio: Messenger Press, 1993), p. 17. 8 Adorers worldwide were invited to submit reflections on the effect the sisters’ deaths had on them. Some of their comments are included in this article. 9 Translated by Viktorijika Tomic ASC. Review for Religious MARIE BEHA Made Perfect through Suffering ISn the days immediately after the terrorist attack of 11 eptember 2001, the liturgy celebrated--yes, "celebrated"-- a familiar cycle of feasts: on 14 September the Exaltation of the Cross, the next day the feast of the Sorrowful Mother, and two days later the commemoration of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. This triad has always touched my heart, but I never really understood the reason. Last year the cycle’s themes grew in clarity as, in the light of the September tragedy, the why of suf-fering demanded deeper answers. So many innocent people had died, so many others suffered multiple losses, and so many of us, perhaps all of us, had our lives, our attitudes, changed. As has been said over and over, "nothing will ever be the same." Amid all this, what was the liturgy asking us to celebrate? How did these past events touch the present of our suffering? What did it all mean? Exaltation of the Cross The very titling of the feast holds paradox. If familiarity were not dimming the challenge, we would all be aghast every time a cross is exalted to a place of honor in a church or home, every time it is raised up in blessing. Unfortunately, we take Maria Beha OSC, frequent contributor to our pages, lives at the Monastery of St. Clare; 1916 North Pleasantburg Drive; Greenville, South Carolina 29609. Septe’mber- October 2002 Beha * Made Perfect through Suffering this linking of cross and glory for granted. After all, it is the cross of Jesus that we are lifting up. Familiar religious senti-ment blunts the starkness of the reality. But what about our own suffering? Could that be lifted up? This was my question. As I explored the readings for this feast, they only height-ened the cross’s mystery, inviting us in the entrance antiphon to "Glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" and stressing in the preface that God has "decreed" that we should be "saved by the wood of the cross." As I pondered the paradox of these too familiar phrases, still others came to mind. "It was fitting that God . . . in bringing many children to glory should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb 2:10). And, equally mysterious, "he learned obedience through what he suffered" (Heb 5:8). Suffering redeems. That is what the phrases proclaimed, what I had always heard and said. But was it what I believed, what I had experienced? To raise the question in the first person singular was to realize just how much ambiguity remained in my act of faith. Certainly I believed that the suffering of Jesus was redemptive; that was unquestioned bedrock. But what about human suffering, other people’s as well as my own? Specifically how did the tragedy of 11 September hold potential for redemp-tion? And how about the bone-wrenching pain of my friend so seriously injured in a near-fatal auto wreck? And the grief of a single mother whose three small children died when flames swept through their trailer home? The examples easily became an almost endless litany.of human misery and grief. I began to feel myself slipping down into a vortex of tragedy that could only paralyze. I hurried back to Jesus and the exaltation of his cross. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus revealed God’s compassion for human suffering. Just the sight of the grieving widow at Naim was enough to call forth a life-giving response. Jesus took the dead man by the hand and "gave him back to his mother" (Lk 7:11-17). No one had asked Jesus to do anything. It was as though the mother’s suffering compelled him to act. And how many times throughout the Gospels Jesus responds to pain in the same way, healing lepers, the blind, the deaf, the lame. As Mark says, "wherever he put in an appearance, in vil-lages, in towns, or at crossroads, they laid the sick in the mar-ketplaces and begged him to let them touch just the tassel of Review for Religious his cloak. All who touched him got well" (Mk 6:56). Others ~possessed by demons, many of whom we would today consider emotionally ill, also called forth Jesus’ compassion. He drove out the demons, freeing those who had been in their grip. In word and deed Jesus tells us that God is on the side, not of suffering, but of new life, freedom, health, healing. In other words, suffering is not to be gloried in but rather to be worked against. In the end time of a "new heaven and a new earth [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more" (Rv 21:1, 3-4). This is where we are going, but the life and death of Jesus amply testify that suffer-ing is integral to our ever arriv-ing at that kingdom of glory. While working against suffering in the life of others, Jesus also accepted it in his own. He real-ized early on that responding to God’s call would bring suffer-ing, not only to himself but also to those whom he loved. From the beginning of his ministry, he warned his disciples of his coming passion and rebuked Peter sharply for refusing to accept this reality: "Get behind me, Satan" (Mt 16:23). Even the everyday of Jesus’ life was punctuated with the hardships of an exhausting ministry, complicated by a lack of understanding on the part of those closest to him and subject to harassment by the religious leaders. Mark’s Gospel (6:6) says he was "amazed" at their "hardness of heart." How it all must have hurt him! His own family thought him "out of his mind" (Mk 3:21) and came to take him away. His closest friends, the likes of James and John, were more concerned about their sta-res in the kingdom (Mk 10:35-40) than in what Jesus was trying to teach them. On the last night of his life, his disciples’ lack of understanding would degenerate into a cowardice that left him alone at the end. If suffering was present throughout Jesus’ life, his death and dying were terrible: an innocent man condemned to the most shameful of deaths, done in by the jealousy of religious leaders Jesus tells us that God is on the side, not of suffering, but of new life, freedom, health, healing. September-October 2002 Beba ¯ Made Perfect through Suffering For suffering to be redemptive we must not seek it out, exaggerate it, or add to it. whose legalistic observance covered over the corruption of dead men’s bones. Betrayed by one of his own, deserted by all but a handful of his alleged followers and supporters, tortured and mocked by his executioners, yet "he did not open his mouth" (Is 53:7). Even in the agony of death by crucifixion, his words were full of love for his mother, for the one disciple who remained faithful, and for the dying thief. To his Father his final plea was one of concern for others, "Forgive them, they know not what they are doing," accompanied by his own complete sub-mission, "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:34, 46). Jesus’ death summed up his lifelong attitude of accepting the suffering that came to him in accord with his prior choice. "Not my will but yours be done" (Lk 22:42) summarized who he was and what he was about. As a conse-quence of this first love, Jesus responded to the suffering in his life in such a way that it became redemptive. That is what we cele-brate on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and what we must experience in our own salvation history if we are ever to embrace the mystery of suffering. Have we ever, perhaps only in retrospect, seen something painfully difficult become redeem-ing grace? I know that for me a debilitating illness that con-fined me to total bed rest for six months when I was a cocky twenty-two-year-old was grace beyond compare. During those endless days of being unable to do anything, I had time to think long thoughts, to sift through my life values and lay aside some of the driving ambition that might very well have detoured my whole religious life. I began to learn how fragile my control of events and how life’s meaning had to go deeper. I am sure you can add your own experiences of the redemp-tive value of suffering: the family that finds unity and union in caring for a sick child, the marriage that is strengthened by cop-ing with serious financial difficulties, the struggle to get an edu-cation that makes learning a lifelong priority. The list goes on and maybe needs to--showing us over and over how our faith can grow stronger through the redemptive power of suffering. Revie~v for Religious But at some point the very examples we recall also reveal that suffering is a two-edged sword. Its redemptive potential is not automatic. We all know people whom suffering has shrunk into self-absorption, and we know whiners and complainers who specialize in self-pity. Many of us do not have to look any fur-ther than our own hearts to recognize how destructive suffering can be. It can occasion a crisis, with people choosing a path of lifelong bitterness, defeat, despair. Redemptive suffering moves in the opposite direction, open-ing us to others and to God. It shrinks our pain, putting it in perspective, not the stoic perspective that "well, things could be much worse," but faith’s perspective that suffering is not the end, that God brings healing, health, joy, resurrection. For suffering to be redemptive we must not seek it out, exaggerate it, or add to it. Ours is not to be the self-centered pain that protests with injured innocence, "Why me?" Nor should we try to find some husk of self-satisfaction by compar-ing our burden of pain with someone else’s. Each person’s suf-fering is unique, if for no other reason than that this present difficulty is piled on a unique miscellany of memories and past experiences. Trustful acceptance of suffering keeps us moving in the direction of redemption and healing. Our suffering takes on true meaning when it is caught up in the passion of Jesus. In our suffering we are being invited to "complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col 1:24). Already in baptism we are immersed in the dying and rising of Jesus. What began in his redemptive act continues as we accept the cross into our own life. Each time a choice of ours says no to sin and yes to new life in Christ, we live out the possibilities of our baptism. Each time we offer God the daily bread of our ordinary lives, we present to him a living sacrifice of praise. The Eucharistic transubstan-tiation changes not only ourselves but our world. We must focus, not on our own immediate experience of pain, but on Jesus, "fixing our eyes on the head of our faith . . . who suffered the cross" (Heb 12:1). I can recall vividly a woman who suffered ten long years from multiple sclerosis, experiencing all of its terrible dimin-ishments till at the end she was completely immobilized, unable to so much as move herself in bed. When asked, foolishly September-October 2002 Beha ¯ Made Perfea through Suffering enough, "How are you today?" her invariable response was, "Just the way God wants me to be. And how are you?" I think hers was a highly personal, well-lived translation of Jesus’ own faithful response "Not my will but yours be done." She did not choose suffering, but when it came she accepted it and so dis-covered grace and peace despite the pain. Compassion’s Power Suffering comes not only in our own flesh but also in the pain that others must bear and we with them. In some ways this suffering-with-another is more difficult than simply bearing our own pain, since pain deepens when all we can do is stand by helplessly. We can neither prevent another’s journey toward death nor live the journey for them. We cannot force anyone to choose health and healing. Demanding that someone get coun-seling is not therapeutic; hiding the cigarettes only adds decep-tion to the mix; neither leads to conversion. Yet just "being with" another seems too little. How often I have heard parents express their wish that they could wrestle with cancer themselves rather than stand by helplessly while their child endures the awful rounds of surgery, chemo, and radiation. And how much pain is added to the suffering of a dying husband or wife, leaving behind a. spouse whose loneliness they know will never be healed. People suffer the added burden of helplessness when their friends lose their job, their health, or their home. "I don’t know what to say, what to do!" we exclaim, with truth. But, hopefully, we do not use such inability to solve another’s problem as a pretext for noninvolvement. Perhaps this is one of the uncon-scious reasons we seal our hearts against caring too much; instinc-tively we know it will cost us. True love is willing to risk the personal suffering that accompanies compassion. If love exposes us to greater suffering, it is also true that suffering with another can open our hearts for greater love. Children who have lost their parents in a tragic accident pull at our heartstrings. Accompanying someone facing a terminal ill-ness can give us an impetus to sort through and rearrange our own values. The terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001 stirred an unprecedented outpouring of generosity, people giving because they just had to. Strangers worked together as part- Review for Religious ners. People who lived next door became neighbors. People dis-covered strength they did not know they had when others’ needs called it forth. Helping someone even in ordinary circumstances can cre-ate a close bond. Just taking a few moments to greet a new-comer can open the door to a lasting relationship. Taking the first step toward reconciliation may result in a friendship cemented now in the experi-ence of mutual forgiveness. It almost seems that some expe-rience of shared suffering, of difficulty overcome, is neces-sary if relationships are to mature into true intimacy. Exposing our vulnerability, allowing another to be with us in our pain, not only presup-poses trust but enlivens it as well. We come to know each Pain and suffering offer not only opportunity for growth, but also possibility of destruction or division. other in deeper, more personal ways. Our love has been tried and is more secure because it has passed the test. Love "suffers with," and "suffering with" can deepen love-- but not always. Once again, pain and suffering offer not only opportunity for growth, but also possibility of destruction or division. The sickness of a child may lead to parental quarrels and divorce. Friendships falter and fail in the face of difficult times and circumstances. How many siblings find themselves locked into bitter quarrels after the death of a parent? And, on a larger scale, a national tragedy can initiate a cycle of blame and mutual suspicion, of escalating violence and threats of revenge. Suffering is always a two-edged sword. It reveals hearts. That is what we celebrate on the feast of our Sorrowful Mother. Mary’s love for her Son exposed her to tremendous suffering, and that suffering deepened and revealed her love. "A sword will pierce your own soul" (Lk 2:35) was a promise consequent on her accepting her unique vocation. A call from God, any call from God, implies going beyond one’s present comfort level. So Mary’s "Be it with me according to your word" (Lk 1:38) meant that her life would never be the same. She was being asked to transcend her power to understand, control, even September-October 2002 Beba * Made Perfect through Suffering explain. Inevitably others would be uncomprehending, some-times judgmental, even condemning. There was nothing she could say or do to make it easier for those who loved her, or for those who did not. Her only option in the face of this suf-fering was to trust that the God who called was faithful. That faith would be tried when her own Son remained behind in the temple without a word of explanation to her or Joseph. "Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been searching for you with great anxiety." Their mother-son relationship was secure enough to survive his counterques-tion, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?" (Lk 2:48-49)~ Out of this suffering must have come some deeper level of trust and understanding. Still later their tested relationship would grow into Cana’s fuller confidence, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5), and all through Calvary’s final hours. There their love faced its ultimate test of mutual surrender. Mary gave her Son back to the Father; Jesus gave his mother to another "son." Mary’s "Be it done according to your word" .was consummated in Jesus’ "Into your hands I commend my spirit." But that cry of ultimate shared suffering was not the end. Out of it came new and eternal life, pain transformed into last-ing joy. We have no recorded appearance of the risen Jesus to his mother. Maybe it occurred but was too private, too personal, to be recorded. Maybe Jesus and Mary knew each other so well that there was no need for such confirmation. What we do know with faith’s assurance is that now they are united beyond suf-fering in love’s joy. Compassion breaks hearts open, leaving them vulnerable to more pain but also to more love. It did so for Mary; it can do the same for us if we are willing to risk a love that suffers because of caring for another. Such love is very different from the passivity of self-centered suffering that we bring on our-selves and which has almost no value. Worrying over all the "maybes" of our fears for self or others is common enough, but it accomplishes nothing. While acknowledging that we .are wor-riers, we also need to move proactively toward more produc-tive thinking. Similarly the murmuring and muttering that runs its compulsive tape through our minds needs closure, not the self-defeating stance that allows the pain to go on because "that Review for Religious is just the way things are." Ill health, our own or other peo-ple’s, is not allowed to serve as a semilegitimate excuse for imposing unnecessarily on the goodwill of others or withdraw-ing from the concerns of the wider community. Similarly, true compassion does not permit people to become victims of the tragedies that have befallen them. Contrast self-indulgent forms of suffering with true compas-sion, where an individual goes beyond ego’s narrow, rigid bound-aries to reach out to others in their pain. Such self-sacrifice is life-size, opening us to love’s demands, risking involvement beyond our capacity to control the cost; it is redemptive. Such was the passion of Jesus; such was Mary’s compassionate love. Christocentric Suffering Fruitful suffering is incarnational. It both accepts and works against the here-and-now pain that comes into our own lives and the lives of others with whom we risk love’s involvement. This kind of suffering makes a real difference in us, in our very selves. It did so in particularly dramatic ways in the life of Francis of Assisi, and this is what we celebrate on 17 September when we remember his reception of the stigmata, having his body marked with the wounds of Jesus. What happened to Francis is what must happen in some way in our own lives. Sharing in the pas-sion of Jesus is meant to mark us, to make us different. The process begins when we look long and lovingly at Jesus and see how unlike him we are. This is the sinful self that needs conversion, and such radical repentance is bound to be costly. Changing old patterns of behavior which we recognize as self-defeating, but which still offer the comfort of familiarity, exposes us to the awkwardness of the new and untried. Letting go of habits, even habits that have been helpful in the past but no longer contribute to our growth, seems as risky as a child’s first steps without support. All of these changes, not only from bad to good but also from good to better, initiate a cycle of falling, failing, struggling, starting, over. It is the cross of repentance that encourages true growth. The pain of conversion, both initial and ongoing, is made more bearable as long as we feel we are in control. Determining what we are going to change, the timing, when and how much, September-October 2002 Beha ¯ Made Perfect through Suffering There comes a time when all our activity is fixed on only one point, that of obedience and surrender. means that the very self is never much threatened. And yet it is this self, which has a mind of its own, a will of its own, that must die. Growth into Christ implies obedience. Suffering that is redemptive, then, is both active and passive. These two elements are related not as contradictories, as though some pain were active and some passive, but rather as the con-cave and convex of the same reality. Living as a Christian requires asceticism. We must make a choice, take a stand, do something. Even when pain comes into our life unbidden, we are actively responsible for the attitude we take toward it. And yet suffering is not to be chosen for its own sake; it must, as we have seen, be worked against. Still there comes a time when all our activity is fixed on only one point, that of obedience and surrender. In the end we are asked to give back to God all that God has first given us: our activities, our gifts, our relationships, our very lives. But this is not where we begin. First we give thanks to the "one who has given us everything needed for life" (i P 1:3) by using whatever we have received in the service of others. And we continue to do that as long as we can, accepting the suffering that is implicit in generous service: fatigue, the disci-pline of constancy, the boredom of daily routine. We continue to give despite the discouragement of failure, of plans that go wrong, and perhaps of the ingratitude of those whom we are trying to serve. In simply doing what is ours to do, we come to know the purification of active suffering. We learn that saying yes to others includes a no to ourselves. Francis knew this only too well. His decision to follow Christ more closely cost him dearly. He lost his relationship with his family (especially his father) and with friends, gave up his dream of glory through knighthood. Kissing the leper at the beginning of his conversion meant going beyond the comfort-able generosity of tossing someone a coin. His call to preach the gospel included all the hardship of an itinerant lifestyle. Embracing Lady Poverty meant going without the security of Review for Religious possessions. Even the great number of followers who were attracted by his example brought its own suffering, complicat-ing with the onerous responsibility of administration the simple life he desired. In addition to these sufferings, Francis also deliberately practiced a demanding asceticism. In fact, he afflicted his body so severely that he ruined his health, a mistake he came to rec-ognize and regret. At the end of his life he owed Brother Body an apology and said so. But Francis’s initial mistake does not mean that freely chosen asceticism is of no value. On the con-trary, the small suffering implied in such self-imposed disci-pline incarnates our desire for God and makes room in our hearts for deeper union. This was Francis’s experience and that of so many of the saints. It can also be ours, if we embrace the active asceticism of emptying ourselves of some perfectly good and legitimate things in order to make room for God. Fasting is the classic example of such discipline. Food is necessary for our survival and is one of our everyday pleasures as well. Our enjoyment of food is healthy. Unfortunately, many and even most of us overeat or undereat, and that is unhealthy. We indulge ourselves, passing up the vegetables and taking a second desert. We abuse food and ourselves in the process. I sometimes suspect that a piece of fruit as the symbol of the first temptation is especially apt, since eating remains a problematic area for many people. And so fasting retains its importance as a spiritual discipline. Setting some limits on what, when, and how much we eat can give some realism to our need to die to that demanding self of ours which expects ready gratification. A reasonable fast not only does not endanger our health, it p~obably promotes itq while also letting us share in some small way in the hunger of the multitudes in our world who lack enough food to live on. What we save by cutting back on snack food, or on expensive kinds of meat, can be given away? as an immediate fruit of our fasting. On a more profound level, some experience of hunger can stir in our hearts a greater hunger for God. This is what Francis knew when he incorporated fasting into his way of life. Because his fasting was both a consequence and an expression of love, it finally came to be strict without being rigid. His severe fasts during six forty-day Lents left him //0’1 Septentber-October 2002 Beba ¯ Made Perfect tbrougb Suffering with an empty stomach but a heart full of love for creation, for his brothers and sisters, and above all for God. At the end Francis became free enough to enjoy good food, the sweetmeats his friend LadyJacoba brought him, and to exhort his brothers to rub the very walls with meat on Christmas. His fasting along with occasional feasting came to incorporate the worship of enjoyment, gratitude, and praise. Yet as time went on Francis’s suffering was less and less a matter of his own decision and choosing. It became more pas-sive, something done to him where his only activity was the choice of response. Illness, aggravated by the imprudent asceti-cism of his early days and by the crude medical practices of the time, wearied both his body and his spirit. His stomach gave him almost constant pain. His eyes failed, and this man who had so rejoiced in the beauty of creation became almost blind. Even more of a heartbreak, some friars who had at first embraced his gospel way of life came to find it too much for them. They rejected Francis, demanding that he turn over the governance of the order to another. He lived out his final years in submission and obedience. Suffering abounded in his last years, and to this was added the pain of the stigmata. The wounds in his body were real; they bled profusely enough to require bandaging. The nail marks in his feet made every step difficult, and in the end he had to consent to ride on a donkey. His hands became more and more useless, and he hid them in the ample sleeves of his tunic. How did Francis respond to all of this suffering? When his eyes were cauterized, he prayed Brother Fire to be gentle with him. When his body was too worn to go any further, he returned to San Damiano, the place of his beginnings. There Clare and her sisters tried to care for him, and there in the midst of des-olation of body and spirit he composed his glorious Canticle of the Creatures: "Praise, my Lord, for Sister Moon and Brother Sun... for Sister Water and Brother Fire... for fair and every kind of weather." Yes, praise for every kind of weather and every gift of nature and grace, for the good times and the days of pain. Praise. And gratitude, because it is all gift. This is what the stigmata celebrates: not just the fact that Francis’s body was marked by the cross, but that his whole life was. He embraced suffering, accepted what came to him, while Review for Religious working against it in his ministry of healing and serving oth-ers. His heart was filled with compassion for all God’s creation, his own friars, the lepers, all in need. And at the end his lifelong desire to be like Christ left him marked with the wounds of the passion. What happened in his life must happen in ours, if not in such dramatic ways, at least with equal reality. Suffering will mark us as Christ’s own. We will be signed with the sign of the cross. This is what I think we celebrate in the triad of feasts that mark mid September: the Exaltation of the Cross, the Sorrows of Mary, and the Stigmata of St. Francis. Each feast hints at suffering’s true meaning. First of all, it is redemptive, intended to lead us into greater freedom and love. If this is to happen, we need to accept the suffering that inevitably comes into our lives, but also to move with all our strength in the direction of health and healing. And we need to do this regarding not only our own pain but the pain of others too. Compassion, standing with others in their pain, will open us to more suffering. But there is where we will want to be if we love enough. Still, it will be costly. Life will bring us suffering that we somehow choose, but also some that we do not choose but must learn to accept. This suffering will mark us with the wounds of the passion. What our little cycle of September feasts celebrates, then, is this: that in our lives suffering is redemptive both as gift and as given. This is what it was for Francis, for Mary, for Jesus. It is what the suffering that comes into all our lives is meant to be for us. Starshine Starshine is sometimes all the light we need to get our bearings... a heavenly.reminder of light beyond measure, that will not yield to the nightclouds haunting the horizon of our heart. Diana SeagoOSB September-October 2002 DENNIS j. BILLY Right Relationships in Consecrated Life theory and reality Right relationships reminds me of Anne Quirk’s children’s novel, Dancing with Great-Aunt Cornelia, a story about a dysfunctional New York family and a thirteen-year-old girl’s discovery that her eccentric, incredibly tall, and extremely rich great-aunt is really her grandmother. Near the end of the story, the family finally comes to terms with its denial, insensitivity, anger, and odd way of relating. The reconciliation takes place at a dance party hosted by Great-Aunt Cornelia in her enormous Manhattan town house just off Fifth Avenue. Although tensions run high at first, eventually the entire family let down their guard and end up dancing with one another--and quite enjoying it. As Connie, the young narrator, puts it: "I’m sure I danced with my father, with Bendey, with my mother, and with Eleanor, too. For a while I guess we were all dancing together, in a sort of tango with seven people and a large dog. Maybe it was actually more of a tangle than a tango.’’~ Dennis J. Billy CSSR, a frequent contributor to our pages, may till 25 January 2003 be reached at Mount St. Alphonsus Retreat Center; P.O. Box 219; Esopus, New York 12429. 1~eview for l~etigio~ Festivity and Dance To my mind, living in right relationship with others is much akin to taking part in a festive dance. What matters is not whether we know how to dance, but whether we are willing to participate and, if need be, even play the part of the fool. Many of us, unfortunately, have failed to recognize this important fact of life. Quirk’s funny and eccentric story with its festive (and quite unexpected) ending reminds us of our human penchant for being continuously "out of step" with each other and refusing to take part in the celebration of.life. It pokes fun at our pet peeves and silly vanities that get in the way of our capacity to love. It puts a mirror before us and encourages us to take a good look at ourselves and at those around us. We may see that our attempts at getting along with one another are often "more of a tangle than a tango." But we may notice, as well, our deep desire to get it right, to be "in sync" with the people in our lives, despite the differences, the awkward diffidences, that keep us apart. Our desire to participate in this great dance of life comes from deep in the human heart, evincing the divine love within us. The Christian God is the God of the living. The life of the Trinity affirms the sacred character of festivity and dance. Celebration, for this God, flows from love and is closely allied to it. In his book The Third Peacock, Robert Farrar Capon breaks through our traditional stereotypes of God and involves the Father, Son, and Spirit in a heavenly bash of ongoing creation: And God the Father looked at the whole wild party and he said, "Wonderful! Just what I had in mind! 7by! 7by! 7by!" And all God the Son and God the Holy Ghost could think of was to say the same thing. "Tbv! %v! Toy.t" So they shouted together "Tbv meod!" and they laughed and laughed for ages and ages, saying things like how great it was for beings to be, and bow clever of the Father to think of the idea, and how kind of the Son to go to all that trouble putting it together, and how considerate of the Spirit to spend so much time directing and choreographing. And forever and ever they told old jokes, and the Father and the Son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and they all threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.2 September-October 2002 Billy ¯ Right Relationships in Consecrated Life Our yearning for reveling, celebration, and dance, the desire to be at one with ourselves and to live in communion with those around us derives from something within us that is, at the same time, far beyond us. According to our Catholic belief, it is rooted in the ground of all reality, in the intimate life of love of a God who simultaneously is both one and many. The Christian God exists in and for communio: for unity in diversity and vice versa. Our desire for communion and right relationship stems from our being created in the image and likeness of this mysterious, personal, yet transcendent ground of love. Even though we are fallen, dysfunctional, bent out of shape (however one wishes to term it), the imprint of divinity grows within and manifests itself in our deepest longings. We yearn for communion with one another ultimately because of God’s yearning for communion with us. We are miserably out of step with one another, yet haunted by the deeply rooted hope that things can and will get better, not through our own doing, but because of the God who made us, loves us, and holds us in being. A Spirituality of Communion Recent church documents highlight how important it is for believers to nurture a "spirituality of communion" in their lives. In Novo millennio ineunte (2001), his apostolic letter on the new millennium, John Paul II puts it this way: A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as "those who are a part of me." This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for Review for Religious me." A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other’s burdens" (Ga 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust, and jealousy. (§43) It would be difficult to come up with a more comprehensive vision of living in right relationship with others. The pope invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity within our hearts and to discern its presence in those around us. He asks us to be aware of the presence of others, to minister to their needs, and to reach out to them in a spirit of friendship. Doing so means making room for others in our lives and allowing them to make room for us. It means living in communion with them on every level of our human makeup: the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual. The pope’s words describe a vision of "right relationship" that few would fault or disavow. Most of us have no problem accepting his vision of communion or right relationship. Our trouble is putting it into practice. I am reminded of Walter Principe’s distinction about the different levels of spirituality: the experiential, the doctrinal, and the analytical? We accept the teaching on the "spirituality of communion" and can easily accept it as a vision that we should look to and strive to implement in our lives. We can even study, analyze, and criticize it for the purpose of making it a more coherent body of teaching. On the experiential level, however, many of us have difficulty taking the steps to make this teaching on communion and right relationships an integral part of our lives. We experience a gap between what we envision and who we really are. That gap may be small or large. The size of it determines how much dysfunction we experience in our personal, family, and community lives. The pope invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity within our hearts and to discern its presence in those around us. 497 .... September-O,’tober 2002 Billy ¯ Right Relationships in Consecrated Life To my mind, the key question is not whether the gap between vision and experience exists, but whether we recognize it and are taking steps to make it smaller and smaller. We need to recognize the gap, accept it as something that will never fully go away (at least in this life), and take appropriate steps to narrow it. This task is not a one-time challenge, but must be taken up again with each new day. The Vision of Vita Consecrata My suspicion is that religious have a particularly difficult time coming to terms with the discrepancy between the vision of the life to which they have been called and their actual experience of it. I say this because the church places so much hope in consecrated persons’ being "true experts" at achieving communion that the gap between vision and lived reality is bound to be quite large. This vision is presented quite clearly in Vita consecrata (1996), John Paul II’s postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the consecrated life. As the following excerpt demonstrates, consecrated persons must live up to enormous expectations: A great task also belongs to the consecrated life in the light of the teaching about the church as communion, so strongly proposed by the Second Vatican Council. Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and to pradtice the spirituality of communion as "witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.". The sense of ecclesial communion, developing into a spirituality of communion, promotes a way of thinking, speaking, and acting which enables the church to grow in depth and extension. The life of communion, in fact, "becomes a sign for all the world and a compelling force that leads people to faith in Christ .... In this way communion leads to mission, and itself becomes mission"; indeed, "communion begets communion: in essence it is a communion that is missionary." (~46) A little later the document makes it clear that an important aspect of this "spiri~ality of communion" is "an allegiance of Review for Relig4ous mind and heart to the magisterium of the bishops, an allegiance which must be lived honestly and clearly testified to before the people of God by all consecrated persons, especially those involved in theological research, teaching, publishing, catechesis, and the use of the means of social communication." To be sure, "because consecrated persons have a special place in the church, their attitude in this regard is of immense importance for the whole people of God." The document points to the testimonies of founders and foundresses, who demonstrated "a constant and lively sense of the church." To further its claim, it cites the loyal devotion, to the church of such great saints as Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and the Little Flower. Such examples of full ecclesial communion need to be constantly recalled if consecrated persons "are to resist the particularly strong centrifugal and disruptive forces at work today" (§46). Speaking, thinking, and acting with the magisterium are thus considered in the light of a vital role given to consecrated persons in the church universal in accord with the venerable tradition of great saints and founders and foundresses and with a view to the church’s missionary nature. These ever expanding contexts give an added richness to the concept of the spirituality of communion and should not be overlooked. Only by taking them into account can consecrated persons understand their important role in the post-Vatican II era and "be nourished from the wellspring of a sound and deep spirituality" (§93). Another key text on the spirituality of communion comes later in the same document when institutes of the consecrated life are given the specific task of spreading this spirituality of communion: The church entrusts to communities of consecrated life the particular task of spreading the spirituality of communion, first of all in their internal life and then in the ecclesial community, and even beyond its boundaries, by opening or continuing a dialogue in charity, especially where today’s world is torn apart by ethnic hatred or senseless violence. Placed as they are within the wbrld’s different societies (societies frequently marked by conflicting passions and interests, seeking unity but uncertain about the ways Septentber-October 2002 Billy * Right Relationships in Consecrated Life to attain it), communities of consecrated life--where persons of different ages, languages, and cultures meet as brothers and sisters--are signs that dialogue is always possible and that communion can bring differences into harmony. (§51) This paragraph affirms the pope’s hope "that all will grow in the understanding and spirituality of communion" (§50). It also supports his earlier statement about the obligation of fraternity as a form of witness to the Trinity: "By constantly promoting fraternal love also in the form of the common life, the consecrated life has shown that sharing in the Trinitarian communion can change human relationships and create a new type of solidarity" (§41), one which does everything "in communion and d!alogne" (§74) and which favors "that ’dialogue of life’ which embodies a basic model of mission and of the proclamation of Christ’s gospel" (§102). Notice the threefold range of this special task entrusted to consecrated persons. They are to spread the spirituality of communion first within themselves, second within the ecclesial communion, and third beyond its boundaries. Motivated by their deep personal love for Christ (see §84), they reach out in dialogue that "is the new name of charity, especially charity within the church" (§74). --YO0 Implications for Consecrated Life I would like to take a. deeper look at just what this "particular task of spreading the spirituality of communion" (§51) might mean for members of institutes of consecrated life. The threefold framework of internal life, ecclesial communion, and beyond will be particularly helpful in this regard. Internal Life. In the first place, institutes of consecrated life are called to put their own houses in order and live in harmony: "In an age characterized by the globalization of problems and the return .of the idols of nationalism, international institutes especially are called to uphold and to bear witness to the sense of communion between peoples, races, and cultures" (§51). They do so first and foremost by living out their common charism in communion with each other, even though they represent various age groups, nationalities, cultural backgrounds, and theological perspectives. The attempt of such communities to dialogue Review for Religious among themselves and to bring unity out of the diversity of their experience is an effective sign of that community of heart and mind to which all are called. This communion in the institute’s internal life should exist on all levels of its communal makeup-- local, provincial, and general--and should foster cooperation between these levels, in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity. A natural outgrowth of this internal application of the spirituality of communion is cooperation among the different institutes themselves (see §52). Bound by the common call to the evangelical counsels, these institutes, both old and new, should regard one another with profound respect and strive to work together in their efforts to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. Relationships among such institutes should not be marred by jealousy, indifference, or suspicion. The document recalls St. Bernard’s words about the various religious orders: I admire them all. I belong to one of them by observance, but to all of them by charity. We all need one another: the spiritual good which I do not own and possess, I receive from others .... In this exile the church is still on pilgrimage and is, in a certain sense, plural: she is a single plurality and a plural unity. All our diversities, which make manifest the richness of God’s gifts, will continue to exist in the one house of the Father, which has many rooms. Now there is a division of graces; then there will be distinctions of glory. Unity, both here and there, consists in one and the same charity. (§52) In this spirit the document encourages coordinating bodies such as the conferences of major superiors and the conferences of secular institutes to work in harmony with each other as well as with the episcopal conference of each country. They are also encouraged "to maintain frequent and regular contacts with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as a sign of their communion with the Holy See" (§53). The point of all this is that the spirituality of communion, once it is lived within the life of an institute of consecrated life itself, should naturally overflow into similar relations beyond its boundaries. Ecclesial Communion. For this reason, the pope also encourages mutual relationships of respect and collaboration Septentber-October 2002 Billy ¯ Rigbt Relationships in Consecrated Life between institutes of consecrated life and every level of ecclesial communion: with other states of life within the church (the laity, the clergy) and also with brothers and sisters of the various Christian confessions. All of this should be done out of respect for the common dignity shared by all the faithful (§31), but in such a way that "the identity of the institute in its internal life is not harmed" (§56). In this context, cooperation with the laity receives special mention. The document notes that "many institutes have come to the conclusion that their charism can be shared with the laity" (§54). This sharing takes many forms, from sharing their spirituality to various kinds of pastoral collaboration. As a result, "the participation of the laity often brings unexpected and rich insights into certain aspects of the charism, leading to a more spiritual interpretation of it and helping to draw from it directions for new activities in the apostolate" (§55). Emphasizing the equal dignity of both men and women before God (§57), the document specifically deals with the role of consecrated women. It describes them as "signs of God’s tender love towards the human race" (§57) and points out that "women’s new self-awareness also helps men to reconsider their way of looking at things, the way they understand themselves, where they place themselves in history and how they interpret it, and the way they organize social, political, economic, religious, and ecclesial life" (§57). Ecumenical dialogue is yet another level of ecclesial communion to which institutes of consecrated life must give due attention. Lectio divina, common prayer, dialogue in friendship, cordial hospitality, and common undertakings of service and witness are among thq many forms of ecumenical dialogue. The work of Christianity is not just the work of these institutes that were specifically founded for this purpose or because of a later calling (§57). The pope makes it quite clear that "no institute of consecrated life should feel itself dispensed from working for this cause" (§101). Special emphasis is given to the monastic tradition in the Eastern Catholic Churches for the help they can give in promoting unity with the Orthodox churches and given also to monasteries of contemplative life, to whom the pope entrusts "the spiritual ecumenism of prayer, conversion of heart, and charity" (§101). Review for Religious Beyond. The spirituality of communion moves consecrated persons beyond the bounds of the Christian communion of faith into dialogue with other faiths and cultures: "Because ’interreligious dialogue is a part of the church’s evangelizing mission,’ institutes of consecrated life cannot exempt themselves from involvement also in this field, each in accordance with its own charism and following the directives of ecclesiastical authority" (§102). They do this primarily through "the testimony of a life of poverty, humility, and chastity, imbued with fraternal love for all" i§I02). Dedicated to that "dialogue of life" which finds its mission in the proclamation of the Good News, they "promote appropriate forms of dialogue, marked by cordial friendship and mutual sincerity, with monastic communities of other religions" (§102). Other areas for cooperation include concern for human life and efforts to promote the dignity of women (§102). All such efforts, moreover, require proper formation, study, and research, together with deep faith and personal and spiritual maturity (§102). Finally, the "spirituality of communion" asks institutes of consecrated life to place themselves at the service of all humanity. Their service to the world involves "a life of self-giving love" (§75). Indeed, "the fact that consecrated persons fix their gaze on the Lord’s countenance does not diminish their commitment on behalf Of humanity; on. the contrary, it strengthens this commitment, enabling it to have an impact on history, in order to free history from all that disfigures it" (§75). This means, first and foremost, offering "the witness of a life given totally to God and to their brothers and sisters, in imitation of the Savior, who out of love for humanity made himself a servant" (§76). It also means living .a life of genuine inculturation, one that "requires attitudes similar to those of the Lord when he became man and walked among us in love and meekness" (§79). In their attempt to serve as "a gospel leaven The "spirituality of communion" asks institutes of consecrated life to place themselves at the service of all humanity. September-October 2002 Billy ¯ Right Relationships in Consecrated Life within a culture, purifying and perfecting it" (§80), they follow the church in its preferential option for those "in situations of greater weakness" (§82). This includes "the poor, in varied states of affliction.., those on the margins of society, the elderly, the sick, the young, any and all who are considered and treated as ’the least’" (§82). Some of the concrete ways in which they meet the needs of the poor include the care of the sick, their presence in the world of education, their presence in the field of social communications, and the evangelization of culture (see §§83 and 96-99). Their life of evangelical poverty, moreover, "is a value in itself," which, "accompanied by a preferential love for the poor," is expressed "especially by sharing the conditions of life of the most neglected" (§90). To be sure, "there are many communities which live and work among the poor and the marginalized; they embrace their conditions of life and share in their sufferings, problems, and perils" (§90). To summarize: The spirituality of communion is kindled by God in the institute of consecrated life and is meant to have a ripple effect on the entire life of the church. Arising within the institute, where members of various ages, cultures, and educational backgrounds live together in a spirit of fraternal love, it reaches out to other institutes, to other states of life within the church, to other Christian denominations, to other religions, and to all of humanity. It does so in a spirit of dialogue and service to give witness to the personal presence of Christ in the world and to the power of the Trinity to transform human relationships. Its mission is to build relationships of solidarity wherever human beings congregate and to be a sign of the intimate life with God to which all are called. The Gap between Vision and Experience The above presen.tation shows that the Catholic Church has a clear and extensive teaching on the spirituality of communion, what it means to live in right relationship with others. While this teaching has concrete implications for communities of consecrated life, the problem we are facing, as I suggested earlier, has to do with narrowing the gap between the teaching we profess and our actual lived experience. We need to take a good, hard look at these urgent practical concerns. Review for Religious One way of doing so is to adapt the psychological language of action, voluntary disposition (or habims), and attitude to the experience and needs of consecrated life today. According to this understanding of human behavior, an action involves a single deliberate object and intention, while a voluntary disposition (as opposed to an unwanted involuntary habit) refers to an active pattern of behavior acquired through the continuous repetition of actions. An attitude, in turn, is an active disposition voluntarily acquired through the repetition of options, those value choices that define a person’s life project. An action, in other words, is singular and concrete; a voluntary disposition, a deep-rooted deliberate pattern of behavior; an attitude, a deeply ingrained option for a particular set of values.4 Ideally, there exists a strong continuity be-tween a person’s actions, voluntary dispositions, and attitudes. In real life, however, this continuity can manifest varying degrees of strength and is often even disrupted. The same could be said of the actions, voluntary dispositions, and attitudes of a family, group, or religious community. When applied to communities of consecrated life in the light of the church’s teaching on the spirituality of communion and the gap between vision and lived experience, it is of paramount importance that we find a way of helping to shape people’s attitudes. To do so, we must recognize that there is a circular relationship between actions, voluntary dispositions, and the formation of attitudes. That is to say, attitudes give rise to various actions and voluntary dispositions and are at the same time shaped by them. To overlook these important relationships is to risk forming consecrated persons whose actions run contrary to, or at best are inconsistent with, the values they truly hold and which define their life’s project. This circular relationship between actions, voluntary dispositions, and attitudes means that religious communities Ideally, there exists a strong continuity between a person’s actions, voluntary dispositions, and attitudes. September- October 2002 Billy ¯ Right Relationships in Consecrated Life must develop complex strategies for narrowing the gap between vision and lived experience. Such a strategy must involve an ongoing interplay between teachings, structures, practices, and critical reflection that enables individuals and the community to test and verify the vision that defines them so that it can be authentically nuanced (and perhaps redefined) to express what they truly are called to. From there, the community needs to develop structures and practices that will reinforce in daily life the values expressed by this defining vision. For the desired attitudes to truly take hold, these structures and practices need.to be firm yet flexible, taking into account the three principles of church teaching about right relationships: the dignity of the human person, the common good, and the virtue of solidarity. In today’s world, communities of consecrated life cannot be effective instruments of the spirituality of communion if they do not make great efforts to inculcate these principles in the lives of their members. To do otherwise would increase the gap between vision and lived experience rather than narrowing it. Narrowing the Gap In his popular bestseller Maybe (Maybe Not), Robert Fulghum offers some important insights into what he calls the public, private, and secret lives of everyday life: Public lives are lived out on the job and in the marketplace, where certain rules, conventions, laws, and social customs keep most of us in line. Private lives are lived out in the presence of family, friends, and neighbors who must be considered and respected, even though the rules and proscriptions are looser than what’s allowed in public. But in our secret lives, inside our own heads, almost anything goes.s Although Fulghum is writing about American society in general, his insight has, to my mind, special significance for our topic. If, in their attempts to narrow the gap between vision and lived reality, communities of consecrated life do not give due consideration to the attitudes behind the various dispositions and actions that they ask of their members, a dangerous rupture can take place between the public face they present to the outside Review for Religious world, the private life lived within the community, and a secret life known only to a few, hidden from other members, and institutionally suppressed and even denied. When this occurs, the dysfunction within a community can reach great intensity and cause great misery for both the members and those they claim to serve. A religious institution, I am suggesting, has not only a public and a private life, but also a secret life. For members to live in fight relationship with others, all three of these lives need to be acknowledged, understood, and dealt with in mature and responsible ways. Otherwise the gap between vision and lived experience will increase rather than diminish, and the community will be based on an illusion, living in a house of mirrors, where appearances deceive. A community of consecrated life, in other words, needs to get in touch with its shadow side, the darker part of the community’s life, which influences decisions even though the community may be only peripherally aware of them. Only by acknowledging this dark side, taming it, and then befriending it will a community ever come to understand itself and be able to channel its vast resources in creative and constructive ways. I do not intend to go into specifics about what all of this means for the evangelical counsels or life in community. The church’s teaching on these constituent elements of the consecrated life is clear and has been adequately developed elsewhere. What I will say, however, is that, when examining the spirituality of their particular institutes, communities need to look at the various gaps that exist City of Saint Louis (Mo.), http://www.geonames.org/4407084 http://cdm17321.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/rfr/id/388