Pope Francis believes that the joyful witness of men and women living consecrated lives of prayer and service will “wake up” and catch the attention of the whole world. He urges all of us, “The church must be attractive. Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, acting, and living! Show that it’s possible to live differently in this world.”
We here at Nativity of Mary recently were blessed to have one such joyful wake-up experience. As I was preparing for our school Mass a couple of weeks ago I walked into the church and noticed three young women dressed in blue religious habits kneeling and praying in the church. When they saw me they sprang to their feet and came over to greet me.
One of them said, “Hello, Father Zehren! I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Anya and I used to come to Mass at the Church of the Epiphany while you were there. Now I’m Sister Lucia!” It had been quite a few years, and I had not heard that she was discerning religious life, but I did remember her! She went on to explain that she and the other two sisters were just passing through and had decided to come and celebrate the school Mass with us. They had just finished doing some missionary work in one of the Dakotas (I forget which one) and were returning to their home community in the Diocese of Green Bay.
Sister Lucia introduced me to Mother Mary Catherine and Sister Bernadette. They are members of the Missionary Sisters of the Word and their focus is to bring the gospel to teens and young adults – especially those who have strayed from the practice of the faith.
What a welcome visit it was. They certainly were a nice wake-up to catch the attention of the school children. At first the children just stared and pointed for a while but they quickly warmed up to the sisters with smiles and friendly waves and greetings. I wish I had had the presence of mind to take some pictures (the photo of the three sisters above is from a news story I found on the internet).
The Pope was right. He knows what the world needs. He knows what will bring us joy. We just need to keep falling more deeply in love with God.
I pray that this “Year of Consecrated Life” will awaken something within all of us at Nativity of Mary – so that we can wake up Bloomington and beyond. Let our prayers and offerings be joyful and generous.