We are grateful to Sister Joanne Bednar, SCC, for this pre-Chapter reflection:
The Church, and in particular, Pope Francis, has spoken directly to consecrated men and women in many messages, especially since Vatican II in the 1960's. Since then, there have been no less than 25 documents that have addressed elements of religious life. So why today, are religious, and we as Sisters of Christian Charity, excited about the latest document called New Wine in New Wineskins?
Experts in marketing know the value of "new packaging," but consumers will tell you that "new packaging" isn't everything. The product inside had better be just as good as the original or even better! If the "new wineskins" will be the way that religious life relates to the world, what is the new wine that delivers that message?
I would like to reflect on just one topic as dealt with in the document, New Wine in New Wineskins -- that of identity. In former times, the identity of the consecrated person was that of an individual striving for perfection. Today, the identity of the woman or man religious is that of being prophetic. What does that mean? If we consider the prophets of the Old Testament and their role with the Hebrew nation in keeping the will of God ever before their eyes, we can understand that role today in terms of the religious as constantly exploring new ways to apply the Gospel in the present world -- more familiarly known as the "signs of the times."
And so it is, that the "new wine" for the "new wineskins" in the life of a religious is to discern where God needs to come with more significance into the life of all people. Are the "signs of the times" found in the lives of the trafficked, the refugee, the marginalized in my community, the homeless, the hungry? What is the prophet calling out to the People of God? This is the "new wine." How will it be packaged?
- As a General Councilor for the Sisters of Christian Charity, Sister Joanne ministers from our Generalate in Paderborn, Germany.
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.