Dear Sisters and Family of Our Lady, December, 2011
Peace and Christmas blessing!
At this time, the Liturgical year compenetrates our own community history in a beautiful way. The light of Advent bids us contemplate that which precedes one of the greatest events in human history in order to understand something of God's ways in preparing us to receive the gift of Himself.
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.". Lk. 2:1. Some translations use the word "taxed" in place of enrolled. Both are significant for us.
St. Gregory says that "the registering of the whole world when our Lord was about to be born was mystical; for He appeared in the flesh Who should write down the names of His own elect in eternity. " And St. Ambrose said: "There is described a secular registration, implied a spiritual one, to be laid before the King not of earth but of Heaven; a registering of faith: a census of souls. For the old census of the Synagogue was abolished, a new census of the Church was preparing...This was then the first public enrollment of souls to the Lord... But in order that men might know that the taxing was just, there came up to it Joseph and Mary, the just man and the virgin. He who kept the word and she who obeyed it."
As a community we have felt this calling to a census, a calling to accountability, even to the registering of our properties. We have sometimes felt this to be inopportune, even a trial. We have been “taxed”, uprooted, required to leave our discerned ways of doing things at a time when we seemed close to being born into the heart of the Church, in order to travel to a place that is strange and uncomfortable for us. We have felt unwelcome at times, looked upon with mistrust. We are required to be “here” so that we can be "counted," yet we experience at the same time that there is no real room in the Inn.
When we look, with great stillness in our hearts, we see that this time for us is deeply mystical. Our present experience profoundly participates in the experiences of the Holy Family. We see the anxiety of St. Joseph in our General Priest Servant as he works to secure the place where Our Lady's Society is to be born fully into the Church. We see we are in this place because it is God's providential will working through authority given and blessed by Him.
We reflect on the Holy Family and remember that God did not overlook the fact that Mary was on the verge of giving birth. The events surrounding this Birth were arranged to the last detail and meant to be the context in which the mystery of our salvation would enter into our lives in Person. These are beautiful, mystical realities, to be pondered more than fully understood. We are caught up in these same mysteries. The mystical life is really simply one of recognizing God's ways at work and allowing ourselves to be swept up into them without resistance. We give thanks for these marvels revealed to us in the quiet reflections of Advent in which we recognize that compliance with the census is important as a mark of our obedience and trust. But it is not the main drama and should not demand undue attention from us.
As a family united, let us be one with Mary and Joseph in expectant hope, mindful that all of God's ways are full of mystery and accepting that the deepest difficulties most often hide and give birth to the greatest blessings. May our faith in God's omnipotent care never fail us as we await the sweet arrival of our longed-for Love Who comes to us in all the wrappings of our own littleness!
With heartfelt Love we extend Christmas blessings of Peace and Joy to and from all of Our Lady's Sisters!
Sr. Anne Marie, SOLT
General Sister Servant