In Solidarity with LCWR
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:6-10; 16-18
Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16
Today, along with Saint Clare, we are celebrating in solidarity with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Right now, under the scrutiny of Vatican-appointed Archbishop Sartain, they are holding their 2013 annual meeting. Our Roman Catholic Church might persecute and abandon their own. But, when we are doing the will of God, as the first reading says, we may be struck down but never destroyed.
In April 2012, the LCWR was chastised and put under the supervision of Archbishop Sartain. They were charged with not speaking out enough against abortion and gay marriage, and for their radical feminism. God, I think, saw things differently. The sisters were honoured not only by the overwhelming support of people in the pews, but, last November, in "recognition of its extensive efforts in helping the poor, the marginalized and people in difficult circumstances”, the LCWR was awarded the Herbert Haag Prize for 2013 by the Catholic-based Herbert Haag Foundation. The Foundation awards recognition prizes to persons and institutions in Switzerland and worldwide who expose themselves through free expression of opinion or courageous actions within Christianity.
I salute the sisters but my initial thoughts on the first reading were much closer to home. When I read the passage from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, each of you came to mind. I see the light of Christ shining in each of you. Personal sorrow, health issues, internal doubts and struggles with the church you love, yet each of you continue to follow Christ’s teachings of love and justice.
Laura’s painting expresses what I mean. When I look at the beauty of that painting, I see it as an expression of the inmost Laura shining out in gift to us─ but I also see it as an expression of who we are as a community: a sanctuary, loving, warm, welcoming, yet contemplative. That said, today’s Gospel tells us that we are to share who we are as individuals and as community beyond ourselves.
In Saint Clare’s day all women’s religious orders owned land and property. They were landed gentry, albeit, in monastic garb. Saint Clare fought for her community to live differently. Although, poverty was important for Clare, it was not the main reason that she wanted to live without owning land and property. She sought Vatican permission to live without land ownership. They refused. In response, Clare went on a hunger strike. The Holy See, afraid that she might die, finally granted what is known as, the Privilege of Poverty.
In those times, when you owned land, you were also the master of the people who lived and worked on those lands. Clare did not want her and her sisters to be mistresses of others. It was a matter of justice. They would work and grow food themselves on land they were given permission to use but not own. So although the Poor Ladies, now known as Poor Clares, were cloistered, their light of love and justice was an example that went beyond the convent walls into a world where mercantilism or capitalism-in-infancy, was quickly taking root.
Clare didn’t think she was doing anything big. She was doing what she thought was right, even though her contemporaries probably thought she was nuts. The point is, in order to let our light shine, we don’t have to do grandiose things. We just have to do the little things that we know are right and express ourselves through the gifts that God has given us. That is what it means to live the Gospel values of love; love of God, our neighbour and ourselves. That is what it means to let our light shine.
Please share your Response to the Word of God