This week in the U.S. the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) will be convening in Scottsdale, Arizona. Let us pray for the leaders of women’s communities – and not solely for them – but for all levels of leadership in communities of women religious. May they be women of faith, alive in hope. They and all of us must live in hope with the assurance that however things turn out it makes sense in God’s plan. Our daily stance must be the words of the psalmist: Stay awake and be ready.
Several years ago, Mother Teresa appeared on the Hour of Power television program. The host, Pastor Robert Schuller, reminded her that the show was being broadcast all over America and in 22 foreign countries, including her native Yugoslavia. He asked her if there was one message she would like to convey to all those viewers. Her response was, “Yes, tell them to pray. And tell them to teach their children to pray.”
Sadly, we live in a generation where there seems to be little hope in our world. Jesus keeps reminding us to trust God. He encourages us to let go of our resentments, our doubts and our fears. He urges us to remember that there is never a storm so tumultuous that He cannot bring us to safety. There is no night so dark that His light cannot penetrate it. Nothing is going to happen to us that, with God’s grace, we can’t handle. When hurricane winds howl, and tornado winds whip around us or flood waters are rising we have to remind ourselves that prayer is our most powerful and most reliable force.
Sometimes it may seem that no one is listening. Do you recall how four-year-old impish Anna addressed God in Sydney Hopkins book: Mister God, This Is Anna? She had great conversations with her Mister God. So introduce yourself to God. God is listening. He will answer your prayers in His own time and in His own way. God said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Be on the lookout for God’s touches in your life. One day Jesus may ask us: “Who touched me? …. I know someone touched me, power went out of me.” Be sure that your touches in people’s lives are God-like. How we get along with each other says a great deal about how we love God and the kind of people we want to be.
You know of many instances when Jesus healed with a touch. And how often do you say, or hear people say, “That really touched my heart.” Our words do touch people – our compliments and affirmations but also the barbs, rudeness or hurtful teasing. Our words leave their mark – will they be angry red scar marks or soft reminders of happy times? Remember the little girl who was saying her nightly prayers. (She said,) “Dear God, if you’re there and you hear my prayer, could you please just touch me?” Just then she felt a touch and got so excited! She said, “Thank you, God, for touching me.” Then she looked up, saw her older sister and got a little suspicious. “Did you just touch me?” The sister answered, “Yes, I did.” “What did you do that for?” she asked. “God told me to” was the reply.
Our big question is: Do we know how to pray as we ought? Do we merely ask for things, or do we dare ask to be transformed? When we do so, do we promise to follow the promptings of the Spirit? We can’t ask God to guide our footsteps if we are not willing to move our feet.
I will close with a portion of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Speech:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, successful, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us, it’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress