For the Eucharistic Liturgy July, 13, 2014, celebrating the renewal of vows of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sister Monica and Sister Regina Rose, Assumption of the BVM Province of Friars Minor Father Placid Stroik reflected on Franciscan Consecrated Life. We share his ponderings here.
Becoming a Living Word
Jesus often used parables because they embodied messages that could easily be remembered. Secondly, parables are like allegories and fables, riddles and proverbs and in themselves they are comparisons. Comparisons invite us to go beyond the first image and search for meaning. Jesus was always interested to invite people to seek the truth about him through linkages with ordinary human experiences. Today seed is a symbol and comparison of our growth to our common human destiny of divine life.
Knowledge and information are vital to our daily living. As growing living human beings, knowledge and information become part of who we are as that knowledge and information lead to transformation. That happens only through experience and experience takes courage.
Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage gives us a clear example of the difference between knowledge and experience. Henry Fleming in the story gets scared of what he sees happening on the battle fields of the Civil War. He deserts and that gives him shame. He finds a way to get back into his regiment without being noticed that he had left.
Now he has a chance to experience the battle, rather than just have knowledge of the battle from the sidelines. Stephen Crane is interested in presenting the linkage between courage and experience. One commentator phrased it this way. The noblest remaining use for the human virtue of courage is the pursuit of experience where it is most intense. Henry Fleming in the story must go close and see how the battle on the field produces corpses. He does. He carries the flag right into the thick of the fight.
As Sister Monica and Sister Regina Rose are about to renew their vows in the Community of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity we pause to see afresh how vows are a courageous movement in pursuing the experience of life where life is most intense. This is where experience can generate human transformation.
Life is most intense in our experience of how we use human freedom, the created goods of this world and our capacity of human love in relationships and collaboration. The vows of obedience, poverty and chastity are courageous movements of how to live in this world being fully alive. They also are one of the ways of living the divine life here and now that is the calling of all human beings.
The consecrated life of vowed religious is a courageous experience that can produce fruit abundantly for the kingdom in our midst. The word of God in vowed religious takes root and achieves its goal for which it came. Those in vows are united with many others living different vocations, but sharing in one common human destiny: being “living words” in our world today and the promise of living divine life forever.
We invite you to discern Franciscan Consecrated Life. Click here to find many possible invitations from vocation discernment retreats to casual conversations on our way of life at a place near you.
Father Placid is beginning a Franciscans Downtown storefront in Stevens Point, WI. Watch for more news on this Gospel initiative.