Contemplatives and The World
So embrace the whole world with the arms of your love and in that act at once consider and congratulate the good, contemplate and mourn over the wicked. In that act look upon the afflicted and oppressed and feel compassion for them.” – St. Aelred
Wall space in our tiny novitiate classroom is VERY limited. Between a bookshelf and a marker board, there is only one wall with any significant space for hanging wall art. So, as I thought about what to hang there, I carefully considered what might be a source of inspiration, devotion and formation. Something Franciscan was my first consideration. Or something Marian? Or something Christocentric?
What I finally decided on surprised everyone (even myself): I chose to hang a VERY LARGE WORLD MAP. Why a world map? Unlike Sr. Marie Andre, I’ve never really been intrigued by globes and maps and the like. And, actually, I’m terrible with geography. However I chose to hang this map as a reminder to myself and the Sisters that we’ve got a big job to do. The world is big…and we’ve been called to embrace the world with the arms of prayer and sacrifice, with great love.
Oftentimes, when Sr. Marie Andre informs us about what is going on in the world for which we ought to pray, invariably we head to the Novitiate to see “where” it is on the map. It helps to put a name, a face, or a place to our prayer.
It is easy to get bogged down in petty concerns and frustrations, but when I look at that map and think of the souls that people those continents, I wake up to a reality that is far beyond the confines of my own ego. Nobility jolts through my veins. It’s the kind of nobility that longs to protect, nurture, and lead to God all the souls entrusted to my care, cost what it may. I’m sure it’s the same sort of nobility that rushes through the heart of a mother when she holds her newborn child.
St. Teresa of Avila had a super-size dose of this sort of nobility. Looking upon the handful of nuns that made up her community, she exclaimed:
“What shall I do with them? Ah, I shall employ them to destroy heresy, to bring forth doctors of the Church, to make reparation for sins, to convert souls. They will be solid walls, armed ramparts. They will be living fountains of light and faith.”
As contemplatives, we are to adore our good God and intercede for His children. Though we make an exodus from the world, we do so all the while carrying the needs of the world and all people within our hearts.
Nuns must understand well that their whole vocation is fully and totally apostolic: restricted in no way by limitations of place, or circumstance, or of time; it extends everywhere and at all times that touches, in any manner whatever, the honour of their Spouse and the salvation of souls.” – Pope Pius XII
May Pope St. John Paul II’s prayer come to fruition:
May the Mother of the Lord grant that from your monasteries a ray of that light which enveloped the world when the Word was made flesh and came to live among us should shine forth again!”