Opening of the Provincial Assembly
of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny
Easter Monday, 24 March 2008,
Emmaus Centre, Torrecilla, Arima
In the Opening Prayer of this Easter Monday we find a really great prayer intention. Just a few moments ago we prayed: “Help us put into action in our lives the baptism we have received with faith.” As women religious, you know that your baptism finds its perfection in your religious consecration. The prayer intention, if you will, takes on deeper meaning in your lives by reason of your vows. And so with fervor we pray: “Help us put into action in our lives the baptism we have received with faith.”
The first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles is St. Peter’s big Pentecost witness which centers on King David’s prophecy that his descendant, namely Jesus, would not experience the corruption of the grave. The reading from Matthew’s Gospel for today partly overlaps and then sets forth the Gospel reading for this year from the Easter Vigil. We hear again that the first witnesses of the Resurrection were the women. They first discovered the Empty Tomb. They first encountered Jesus, the Risen One, Himself. They bowed down and clasped His Feet.
Regardless of what you, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, have for specific points on the agenda of your Provincial Assembly, which opens with this Holy Mass, such gatherings by their very nature have their meditative or reflective moments. Willed or not, we find ourselves looking around and taking stock of the family, of the other sisters younger and older yes, but also of your “together” as it presents itself at this moment in time. Where do we go from here? How are we doing? What more can we do? All kinds of hopes, really, fill the thoughts of those who are vowed to the apostolate.
At this particular moment and considering the situation in which our region here finds itself, there probably would be no greater gift that you sisters could give as a gift to our world either as a province or individually than to make the witness of those women, the first witnesses to the Resurrection, make that same witness actual in our day and time. I hope you will accept it from me, when I tell you that this is the optimal moment for each and every one of you, regardless of any other factors, to repeat the Easter experience of those women in the hostile environment of our day and time where once again as at the moment of Resurrection the powers that be hunch their backs and find other explanations for the Empty Tomb. Easter is your time and the Easter Proclamation is at the heart of your calling. Consecrated life and Easter Glory belong together as much or more than the vowed life and Lenten penance do.
Yours is the chance, in a very contrary and confused world, to say as those women did to all who are waiting for any news whatever and even to those with no particular expectations, “Be off and be on your way to Galilee where you will see Him!” Not the commander, not the soldier, but the witness rules the day.
The history of your Congregation’s work in this region can in part be summed up in all you have done to empower women. Yours is truly a success story. In all of that, the unreflective soul might have missed the point that the key or cornerstone to your contribution has always been your witness, your excitement over having encountered the Risen One. Back to basics, as they say, or concentrating on essentials is never a bad program – it works for getting sports teams back on their game; it works in life; it is Lent and Easter; it is baptismal renewal.
Alleluia! He is Risen as He said and will meet you in Galilee! Sisters, be on your way as witnesses! Do the Savior’s bidding as He stands before you in glory! Proclaim His victory over sin and death! Urge others to be on the way to His encounter!