Sisters Martine, MarJo, Carmen, Francoise and Mayi of our General Council send us their message on this 177th anniversary of the founding of the Religious of the Assumption:
“My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life… I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others…” (The Joy of the Gospel, #273)
Auteuil, 30 April 2016
Dear Sisters and friends:
Another new year to be grateful for. Another year to honor the life and work of the Spirit in the Congregation and the audacity of a handful of women, who 177 years ago, in an anonymous apartment in Paris undertook the adventure of creating something new in the Church.
Women with soul… Women with inner fire who were carriers of a mission and called by vocation… "If a note were to say, alone I cannot make melody, there would be no music. If the stone were to say, alone I cannot build a wall, there would be no house. If the drop were to say, alone I cannot form a river, there would be no ocean (...) If a man said, a gesture of love cannot save humanity, there would never be justice, peace, dignity or happiness on earth. " 1 Women who were able to consent to a project that was outlined in the obscurity of faith…Women who lived their present reality with passion.
A year ago we shared with you an itinerary to prepare for the Bicentenary of the birth of Marie Eugenie and Therese Emmanuel, with the theme: OUR VOCATION: A GIFT, A JOURNEY, AN ENCOUNTER. And so last year the first aspect – our vocation, a gift – guided all our activities. Following this same way, this year 2016, we invite you to consider the next aspect of the theme, in all your preparatory activities: "our vocation, a journey. God’s dream for us is dynamic just as is our potential for growth. ¡Live the present with passion!"
Our present reality in our world is the ground in which our vocation is incarnated. In the Assumption we are convinced that this is the “place of glory for God”, and it is in this unceasing dialogue with reality where we formulate challenging questions, capable of unleashing the creativity of love. Reality impassions us in every sense of the word. Reality can make us “suffer"… it can “seize” us and not leave us in peace. This year our present reality especially comes with the drama of refugees and persecuted Christians in the Middle East. With the gestures of Pope Francis visiting Lesbos with Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Hieronymus, with his pastoral words in his Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" – he invites mercy to accompany every human situation. The same goes for all the people suffering from natural tragedies (Japan, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay ...) as well as with our brothers and sisters who are sick or in crisis ...
We also welcome the ode to life, the gift freely given, as selfless love – in the serene joy and unceasing prayers of our elderly sisters, in the many Jubilarians among our sisters celebrating 25, 50, 60 years of religious consecration, in the commitment of so many lay friends, in the open doors of solidarity. Likewise, we give thanks for the 17 sisters who are in session preparing for their Final Profession here in Auteuil as well as the eight new Religious of the Assumption from three continents that the Lord will give us and who will make their First Profession this April (seven of them will make their vows today – 30 April) in Rwanda-Chad, India, South Atlantic and the USA, while from the Province of Central America-Cuba, four and from Mexico, one will begin their Novitiate in Nicaragua. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving!
The Lord calls us to build on the essentials... on what endures. And He asks us to move forward on the path of our different vocations, without ever stopping, without looking back nor slackening in any of our efforts, however small or ordinary these may seem. Perhaps we are accustomed to valuing the exceptional, the extraordinary. However, it is in the everyday gestures, in the ordinary little things lived with passion, where the mystery and where the seeds of new life grow.
We remember our humble and small but also bright and audacious beginnings, that animated us to dare to “dream with God, of building a world with Him where no one feels alone”2. May we be for our brothers and sisters in the Assumption and in each of our "small spheres" a constant impetus of the Spirit. That the lights and shadows of our present time, may find us "present" and willing to liberate and to "revive our hope and to make it the source of prophetic visions, transformative actions and creative forms of charity."3
¡¡Happy Foundation Day!!
Martine, MarJo, Carmen, Francoise and Mayi
1 Cf. Karl Rahner, Encounters with Silence
2Festival of Families and Prayer Vigil in Philadelphia (26 September 2015): cited in “Amoris Laetitia”, No. 321
3“Amoris Laetitia”, No. 57