While what each one of us does from day to day may be small and insignificant, there is a wonderment in belonging to a missionary religious family where epic works of God are being carried out around the world all the time. The fact of consecrated souls honoring God and daily coming before Him in the sacrifice of the Mass is no small matter, and in fact constitutes the greatest offering any of us makes.
But since I belong to a missionary religious family, I am also united in prayer and friendship to the lives and work of all the sisters, seminarians and priests wherever they may be.
Sometimes it feels like having a friend studying abroad for a semester while you stay on campus…or like a parent who wonders about her child who is away from home and starting his first job…or like thinking about ordinary daily life in a place one lived in twenty years ago. After Christ Himself, it is my fellow missionaries and our missions which are always on my mind and in my prayers.
Two New White Veiled Novices in Siberia
Today I heard the news of the investiture of two novices in the Russian city of Omsk in Siberia. How can it be? What a marvel of God’s providence, love and mercy that I (an American sister who remembers the Cold War as a child) am united with these vocations who blossom in the stark remnant of post-Soviet prison camps. I know their Russian mistress of novices from when I taught her Latin in Italy ten years ago.
Their new white veils and their blue and grey habits are the same as the novices here with me who have come from Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland and Texas. Perhaps to the novices in Argentina where our congregation began these American novices may seem as surprising and marvelous as the Russian ones are to me!
From One Mountain to Another
While we look to the White Mountains of New Hampshire during our convivencia (“family vacation” for sisters) and contemplate Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration this August, over twenty of our priests are gathered at the Monastery of El Pueyo on a high point outside of Barbastro in Spain. They are participating in the month-long silent Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in the place of the Benedictine Martyrs of El Pueyo (+1936), now a monastery of our IVE monks. Our convent chaplain is preaching for them, so I often pray not only for them but for him as well.
Against the frame of the life of Christ, St. Ignatius leads souls through the famous meditations: “The Principle and Foundation,” the “Two Standards,” the “Three Classes of Men,” and the “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God.” We all do the month-long exercises like these close to the time of first profession, and then every ten years after that. Throughout the year and throughout the world there are groups of religious steeped in these days of internal conversion and discernment of spirits. I have done them in 2002, 2012, and next time will be, God willing, 2022. While we are setting the table or learning how to play the guitar or missing an exit off the highway, they are facing deep truths and making new resolutions for greater holiness.
Global Time-Zones of Prayer
If I wake up in the middle of the night here, I know that on the other side of the world there are sisters getting breakfast ready for the girls of our home in the Philippines, or attending Mass in Papua New Guinea. When the newspapers talk about the war in Syria, it is the real world of our priests and sisters still present in Aleppo. Pope Francis prepares us for the Year of Mercy while our sisters in Peru dress and clean disabled children in our home in Arequipa.
A St. Benedict medal arrives for me through a network of travelling sisters who have brought it back from Brazil where one of my good friends is a missionary in her own land. I, too, am a missionary in my own land but with a view on the world through the lens of my religious family in the life of the Church.
Our Mission for This Time
For, during the very short time we have here on this earth, we must find God’s will for each one of us and then do it—live fully and fruitfully the vocation of life, action, freedom and love we have been given. This is our “hour on deck,” and we must bear the cross of our generation.
For my part, I am so grateful to have been called to live a consecrated life of spousal union with Christ within a missionary family with my brothers and my sisters also living the consecrated life in all the corners of the world.
May you, dear reader, also experience this joy and unity as a Christian alive and aware of the missionary call which unites us with the whole Body of Christ around the world. And let us be saints, for there is nothing else really worth doing.
Sister Maria Theotókos Adams, SSVM
Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, last hours of the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe