Friday, August 07, 2009

Humility given flesh

There are some disadvantages to being a Protestant Evangelical hanging out and working in a Catholic and Episcopal community. I don't understand the obvious, because my experience is so vastly different. At my Catechesis of the Good Shepherd formation leader events I tend to "get it" later than sooner.

Here's an example.

Many nuns have joined the work. I've had the privilege of sharing meals and deep conversation with many in my journey. Being slow on the draw, I figured out after a few years that Sr. indicated "Sister" not senior or senator or senorita. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to single out these saints. They look and act in the same dignity and elegance as the formation leaders who have not married Jesus in a literal and intimate way. So, this week I simply did not grasp when the speakers at our formation leaders conference were going on and on with the excitement of a little girl given her first set of jacks about a particular group of Sisters being trained in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, "It would be such a privilege if the Sisters would come here to join our meeting." In my small mind, I thought, "Yes, that would be lovely to share with more holy women."

I'm embarrassed to say that I wondered if I'd be able to pick them out in the crowd to greet, because I hadn't ever been able to before. I should not have worried. At some point a quiet bustle erupted and hush during the conference. I turned my head, and I privately blushed at what my eyes were taking in. A Red Sea of participants parted to allow a group of the most humble and beautiful women I'll ever see make their way to chairs. Their heads and eyes were bowed, but their garments and faces spoke volumes. It was as if new rays of bright sunlight stepped into our room. I can only say I haven't seen any persons (besides sleeping babies) look so, well, so pure and utterly peaceful. As people spoke softly to them as they walked, the sisters deliberately and solemnly pressed their palms together and bowed to the persons talking with a quiet, "Thank you." The particular Sisters were the Missionaries of Charity from the same order as Mother Teresa, and I only figured it out from their impeccable white habits with the distinguished thin blue stripes. With every movement each made, their bodies spoke, "I respect the humanity of each living being before me." I'm not exaggerating, and I've never seen anything like it- humility given flesh. The leading Sister looked downright pained and became red from her collar up when asked to say a few words. I could plainly visualize addressing and being acknowledged in a crowd did not suit their work.

One primary theme present in CGS proposes that the things that are small and unassuming, the least of these- mangers, children, the poor, mustard seeds, stinkin' shepherds, little countries like Israel are made great and honored in God's eyes. From this one might draw the conclusion of the significance of including The Missionaries of Charity in our work. Their mission is truly unto the least, and now these join our work with children. I'm lost in amazement and wonder.

Apparently I'm not the only one. When our quite elderly Sofa Cavalletti, the writer and founder of CGS, heard that the Missionaries of Charity desired training in CGS, she immediately responded in Simeon's prayer, "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples". Luke 2:29-30. She followed in conversation with something, "Now Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will go those whom it has always been intended."

Amen to that.


Anonymous said...

reading this post brought tears to my eyes. i think sometimes the Lord sends the truly humble to confound the wise.

truevyne said...

i'm confounded...again.

Gabrielle said...

Stunningly beautiful and uplifting. It is only through humility, true humility like the Sisters of Charity practise, that we will all come together as one, as the Lord desires, and work for each other's good. Thank you, truevyne!