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       In praise of simplicity


Lourdes is a place of miracles as well as some very nice get-togethers. Not long ago I found myself with approximately a hundred religious from the diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes for a reflection on the theme, “Our vulnerability : an opportunity for communion ?” At the end of the session, a Franciscan father, superior of his convent, shared with me a recent experience. We had just spoken in full assembly about the difficulty of letting go and how this related to the future of our Institutes. We were saying how the vow of chastity might go as far as having to accept that we are left without a trace or without spiritual “descendants”.

The Franciscan convent in question hardly ever saw any new recruits. The community was thinking of an all-out commitment to a pastoral of vocations. The superior, feeling uncomfortable, questioned his brothers, “Do we want to reproduce at all costs ?” In fact, when the promise of being fruitful is not fulfilled fast enough we may be tempted to give up like Sarah, who in order to guarantee having descendants, took indirect means through her servant Hagar (Gn. 16:1-4). Following a discernment, the community as a whole decided that they would no longer search for vocations, but instead would put all their energy into improving their relationships with one another. A few months later two young men presented themselves and asked the superior if they could join. “We are very sorry but you have arrived too late. We just made a decision that we would no longer welcome young men into our community”. The superior kept this troubling meeting to himself for a month and then two. By the end of the third month he decided to speak to his community who saw what had happened as a sign from God. The convent decided to reopen its doors. After the first two candidates, others followed. Currently the convent is flourishing and I saw several of them at the session for religious. “But,” the superior insisted, “it is all because we put the emphasis on changing our interpersonal relationships and we detached ourselves from a project that was too human. We needed to let go in order to be able to welcome God’s project”.

A story that is both so simple and amazing. We often complain about what we don’t have, our losses, our limits. Maybe the real question is, what is it that weighs us down and prevents us from lightening up for the sake of the Gospel ? « As said by the sage, don’t ask for what another has more of but seek the little you already have ». This could be the guiding thread for our Jubilee Year which opens on the 24th of April : go towards “less”, unearth the pearl that was Angelique’s treasure, the true simplicity of the gospel.


Sr. Anne Chapell - Angelica n°24 - April 2016



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