By Prioress Sister Sandra Brunenn, OSB
If you are aware of world news today you may have heard that the people of Mexico are celebrating today. They are inaugurating a new president for their country and there is much hope that Pena Nieto will be able to help move the country away from the crime and violence which the drug cartels are causing in that country. Although I have known of the violence there, it has not been a focus in my thought and prayer….
That changed Thursday when I, along with the other Benedictine prioresses, received an e-mail message from Sister Anne Shephard, the prioress of the Sisters in Atchison, Kansas. Sister has just returned from leading a retreat with the sisters in Torreon Mexico, a daughter-house of the Atchison community. In the e-mail she shared her experience:
I told many of you that I was headed to Monasterio Pan de Vida, Torreon, Mexico. I also asked you to keep the sisters in prayer because of the dangerous and serious situation they live in every day. Well, I am home from the trip, and I cannot let a day go by without giving you a description of the four days.
On Saturday we met with the seven sisters. I gave a brief introduction and shared with them how I believe that what they are experiencing is the paschal mystery. I think that the people of Torreon are being scourged on the road to Calvary. We three from the Mount that went there were the Veronicas, called to give comfort, to wipe tears, to listen, to console. After a brief introduction, we asked the sisters to tell us what they were experiencing. The flood gates opened.
Sister Anne shared the horrific experiences of the sisters.
For me, this note has been a call that I connect with Advent. The call is to wake up! To wake up to the intense struggles being experienced by so many in our world today—including our Benedictine Sisters relatively near to us—and to consciously hold these people in my heart when we gather for the Liturgy of the Hours. As we live this season of hope, let us consciously hold in our hearts the sisters in Torrean, the people they serve, the poor still displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the terrorized in Afghanistan and Iraq, the children in Israel and Palestine, as well as the hungry and homeless in our Quad-Cities. In that way our prayer becomes more fully and completely the prayer of the whole Church yearning for the fulfillment of God’s promise of peace and justice.
Advent challenges me, too, to wake up to the presence of Christ HERE among us! The Gospel reminds us “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy…from the anxieties of daily life….” Each of us might ask how our hearts get drowsy and lazy and perhaps preoccupied…by concerns about health, or getting things done, or simply measuring up to our own expectations. In the process our open loving hearts become more self-focused. And we know this can lead us to impatience, selfish judgments, callous, hurtful words or actions toward each other. What if during these Advent days we all renew our attentiveness to seeing one another ALWAYS with the heart of Christ….and regularly examine how our thoughts, words, and actions reflect this.
So let us all during the days to come seek to be vigilant and wake up in our common prayer and in our daily living so that—as Paul says in tomorrow’s second reading—“We may increase and abound in love for one another and for all…and that our hearts be strengthened and blameless in holiness.”