Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Beauty Of Life

The world is beautiful but we need help to see its beauty, says a religious sister writing in the Bible & Life magazine. Our attention is distracted, she says, by the not-so-beautiful. To see the beauty surrounding us, we need to make a concerted effort to pay less attention to our daily habitual routines and more attention to the life that made those routines possible.

From the time she made her first vows, she has been asked why she became a sister.  Because the world is so beautiful is her answer. And for over 35 years being a sister, she answers in the same way.

One day before she became a sister, feeling bored with life, she went into a bookstore and picked up a book with the title "Why Pain?" Opening it, she read  "I am happy now because someone suffered pain. There are many people who endured pain and difficulties for me." The lines surprised her, bringing to mind her parents, the many meals they prepared for her, and the sacrifices they made for her as she was growing up.

As she reflected on the sacrifice of her parents, the help of her siblings, the concern of her friends, and all those, known and unknown, who had given help and shown concern, she realized that it had all been given unconditionally. It was not dependent on any particular quality she possessed but was given freely; for this she felt only gratitude. It was because of their love, she said, that she began to see God's unlimited love: "This is my body to be given for you"  (Luke 22:19).

Experiencing this enormous love of our Lord, the world, she believes, was filled with beauty. That thought brought a change into her life; she wanted to repay the pain of many who had nurtured her life by her own sacrifices and life. While growing up she never gave the religious life a thought, she said, but the moment she  became aware of God's love she ran to him. And now because of this great love, she is in a convent, living the consecrated life. However, she feels as if she still fails to measure up to living such a life; there is much to endure, she says, as she makes her way through the valleys and the crooked, rough ways of life.  But despite it all, she is able to give thanks and turn her eyes to the Lord and give praise.                        

Such a life is not only for those who have formally chosen the religious life, she maintains, but for everyone: "Thus it is evident to everyone that all the faithful of Christ, of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (Constitution on the Church #40). "In a word, you must be made perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect " (Matt 5:48). "Treat others the way you would have them treat you; this sums up the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12 ).                                                         

Because of the dedication of many who have been called to living the fullness of Christian life, we hope to see, she says, its fruition in many more people living with thankful hearts. She prays that she also will be living each day with thanks in her heart, and that this will continue into the future.

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