When we first started talking about the upcoming Chapter and "New Wine in New Wineskins," I must admit that I was not exactly looking forward to it. In fact, the opposite is true.
First, there are the reflection questions and gatherings to discuss them. Then, we must pull our local discussion into a coherent response (a job that usually falls to me). It all just seemed to take too much time, to be too much to do and to be too overwhelming. Additionally, I generally draw a blank when I start to reflect. However, when we gather, we usually have a great discussion that winds up revitalizing me -- and, probably, all of us. Then, the cycle starts over with the next set of reflections.
Now that the Chapter is drawing near, I think of the time that will be spent together with Sisters that I do not get the opportunity to see often and how we will catch up, share life and, of course, share and discuss Chapter topics. Some things will be easier than others to discuss, some more spiritual and others more practical. But all will call us to deepen our understanding and our commitment to our vowed life. As I continue to pray and prepare, I can honestly say I am looking forward to it.
Whenever I read the Scripture about new wine in new wineskins, I feel a bit ill at ease. Usually, my pragmatic nature wonders about practical uses for the old wineskins. I tend more toward the wedding at Cana where the wine is in sensible jugs. They are reusable and much more attractive than an old-fashioned wineskin. I realize that my reluctance to reflect on wineskins might be reluctance to let go of the "tried and true."
During our pre-Chapter discussions, I began to see some of the wisdom of our theme. We are trying to be relevant in the 21st century, so clinging to constructs based on the 19th century (or earlier) might not be what we need to do.
My life as a consecrated religious is more about wine than about skin. So, while the core processes of wine making do not change, there are changes to take into account from year to year, such as grapes, weather and soil, which make each batch of wine a new creation. Jesus tells us that this new creation must be put into new wineskins.
We use what we have learned from the past, keeping what is of value, and we let go of those things that will hold us back from living and ministering effectively in today's world. In order for us to grow and thrive, we must create and embrace new wineskins that can both hold and expand with the wine we are currently creating.
-Sister Mary Rose ministers at Vitality Catholic Healthcare Services (Camden, NJ).
The Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province will hold our Provincial Chapter from February 14-18, 2019. Please join us in praying the prayer for our Provincial Chapter.
Today -- the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita -- is the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. Click here to access the St. Josephine Bakhita prayer card from the USCCB.