ec·u·me·nism, nounOn Wednesday I travelled to Madison for a "mini-vacation" with my great friends/sisters Mary Ann and Jeanne.
- A movement promoting unity among Christian churches or denominations.
- A movement promoting worldwide unity among religions through greater
cooperation and improved understanding
Jeanne is long-time friends of the Benedictine Sisters of Madison and they graciously let us stay at one of the houses just off the Monastery campus. Now...when I told people where I was going for my "mini-vaca" there was some snickering to think of me vacationing at a monastery! Humpf! I loved it there....so there!
As usual, I had a lovely time with Mary Ann and Jeanne. We relaxed, walked around the beautiful grounds, played some cards, chatted a bit, took a field trip. It was very relaxing and nice to be with them.
Now...I will give you a little background on them (and include the link...visit their site!) and delve into my reflection. I don't often post these powerful musings and "Spirit Moments" that I have, but I think this one is worth sharing! I hope it makes sense...
The Benedictine Women of Madison are an ecumenical community of women who follow in the tradition of St. Benedict. Benedictine sisters are monastic which is different than Franciscans who are generally Evangelical/Apostolic congregations.
Jeanne arranged for me to meet three of Sisters who are in this community: Sisters Mary David, Lynne, and Joanne. The six of us sat and had a discussion about their journey to become an ecumenical congregation. This community invites single, Christian women (from any denomination) who feel a call to monastic life to consider joining them. Sister Lynne is an ordained Presbyterian minister!
Hearing their story and getting a sense of the passion and discernment they went through in this journey of becoming an ecumenical community was fascinating. Much of what we discussed resonated with me. I was particularly moved by their courage and creating something they believed in unceasingly. The fire and the drive of these women was impressionable. Truly prophetic women who are living out the Gospel in a way that is authentic to them.
Ecumenism is something I have energy around too. If we are all called by God to live the Gospel values...is there a question about the need and practicality of ecumenism? Didn't Jesus himself preach, teach, and model ecumenism? Not to mention, the status quo shattering that Jesus participated in on a regular basis. Didn't Jesus ask his disciples to be prophetic...to bring the Good News to all?
These women and their story does not go with out challenges and pain. I am very moved by their journey. I am disappointed in those who can not open their eyes to the messages of the Gospel; those who find it hard to practice a model of inclusivity. I get frustrated that as people of faith we don't always model what Jesus modeled for us. I'm angered at the abuse of power.
I also have hope. Hope and encouragement from these women who made a commitment to something they believe in and are called to. I have hope for the future of religious life as a whole which will need to be collaborative. I know from our own School Sister of St. Francis history...we went through some very rough times. Yet...our Sisters have been so passionate about what we believed in...we have been quite prophetic--in some ways setting precedence for many changes in religious life! I know we continue to be prophetic in many ways.
I think the value of ecumenism is embedded in to the Gospel teachings. That night (after a game of cards and an intense and wonderful conversation about power), my head was spinning. Abuse of power really pushes my buttons (and that's saying it quite tempered for me!) Among some other reflections I had related to hearing the story of the Benedictine Sisters and our power conversation...the Gospel of John "Love one another, as I have loved you" popped into my head (and if you know me at all..you'll know that this is a feat in itself that Scripture would pop into my head!).
"That's it!" I thought...that's my Gospel for my Profession liturgy. I had been mulling over what to use for a Gospel for some time now! And this was perfect!
It's all so simple: Love one another, as I have loved you...
That is what should be a the heart of our call...our prophetic witness...our global community. Love one another.
Thanks for the experience, Sisters Mary David, Lynne, and Joanne...I learned much and continue to be energized with you! Peace and all good!