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2024-letter

Letter from General Prioresss – Saint Catalina 2024

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Saint Catalina 2024

Dear sisters,

 

            Journeying towards Jubilee 2025 we are called to prepare ourselves to fully live and welcome it as a special gift of grace. I would like to encourage each of you to let the Holy Father’s call in this regard echo in our minds and hearts: “We must fan the flame of hope that has been given us, and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and far-sighted vision. The forthcoming Jubilee can contribute greatly to restoring a climate of hope and trust as a prelude to the renewal and rebirth that we so urgently desire.” (Letter from Pope Francis to Msgr. Rino Fisichella for the Jubilee 2025)

            Celebrating a jubilee implies renewal, rebirth, starting anew, in short, achieving a change that marks an era. This leads me to remember the example and all the effort of our sister, Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast we are going to celebrate, because she lived in a turbulent period, marked by suffering caused by the Black Death and its consequences and above all by the corruption of the clergy. She bravely, intensely and sincerely loved the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. The idea of reform, of renewal, is fundamental in her vision of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI said that when the fame of her holiness spread, she became the protagonist of an intense activity of spiritual guidance for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory XI who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.  She travelled widely to press for the internal reform of the Church and to foster peace among the States. … (General Audience, Nov. 24, 2010). Saint Catherine offered her life for the Church, “…if I die, I die of passion for the Church”; she was deeply convinced that the Church of Christ must renew itself, that is, cleanse itself and work for the eradication of the most terrible evils of each era, not in its divine structure but in its members, putting on the new man that Saint Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians (chap 4).

            This year, devoted to prayer as preparation for this great event, let us turn to this illustrious saint who, with the wisdom that flows from her holiness, committed herself to pray with all her strength for the Church. “This soul then, being purified by the fire of divine love, which she found in the knowledge of herself and of God, and her hunger for the salvation of the whole world, and for the reformation of the Holy Church, having grown with her hope of obtaining the same, rose with confidence before the Supreme Father, showing Him the leprosy of the Holy Church, and the misery of the world, saying, as if with the words of Moses, ‘My Lord, turn the eyes of Your mercy upon Your people, and upon the mystical body of the Holy Church, for You will be the more glorified if You pardon so many creatures, and give to them the light of knowledge,… For what is it to me if I have life, and Your people death, and the clouds of darkness cover Your spouse…” (Dialogue 13)

            Sisters, let us take part in this “symphony” of prayer that the Holy Father desires. Like our sister, Saint Catherine, let us commit ourselves more intensely to the task of praying; let us nurture this “inner cell” where our sister learned to live in intimacy with God, knowing herself better and always keeping in mind the needs of the society during her time. The Lord encourages Saint Catherine again and again to never stop praying: “… I want you to do this: never relax the desire of asking for my help, nor lower your voice from crying to me that I may have mercy on the world. Do not stop knocking on the door of my Truth following in His footsteps. Delight yourself in the Cross with Him, eating the food of souls for the glory and praise of my name. Lament with anxiety of heart over the death of the human generation, whom I have seen reach such misery that your tongue would be incapable of narrating. For this lamenting and crying I will show mercy to the world. This is what I ask of my servants and this will be a sign for me that they truly love me. And I will not despise their desires, as I have told you.” (Dialogue, 107)

            With the conviction that God awaits us and listens to us, let us rekindle the desire to be in His presence, to listen to Him, to worship Him, to beg for His mercy and help. Let us make every moment of our self-giving as a gesture of prayer; let us transform our difficulties, our sufferings, our limitations as an offering of prayer that benefits the Church and reaps fruits for the good of our brothers.

            Happy Feastday to all.  May Saint Catherine’s zeal for the reform of the Church and the salvation of the world inspire us.

 

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

 

 

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Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2024

Por | 2024-letter, Letter from General Prioress

Through the desert. God Leads Us to Freedom

Dear Sisters,

We begin the season of Lent following the message that the Holy Father Francis conveys to us this year, with the theme: «Through the desert God leads us to freedom.»  The Holy Father reminds us once again of our call to freedom and, like the people of Israel, to live the exodus from slavery to freedom through the desert.  This call «is not answered straightaway; it has to mature as part of a journey.  Just as Israel in the desert still clung to Egypt – often longing for the past and grumbling against the Lord and Moses – today too, God’s people can cling to an oppressive bondage that it is called to leave behind.»

This liturgical season is a providential time to make a stop along the way; but not only in solitude but also as a «people», as a congregation walking together, to examine ourselves: are we willing to cross the desert? how far have we gone? what baggage weighs heavily upon us? is there something inside us that binds us and prevents us from advancing?

I believe that in the heart of each one of us the desire to be able to see clearly the path that the Lord would like us to follow still burns.  But without realizing it, we wander aimlessly because the «attractions of Egypt» distract us.  Sometimes we yearn for the past so as not to face the complications of the present; sometimes we cling to the rigor of our rules so as not to interrupt the tranquility of our routine; or we are too entertained by the novelties that technology offers and the «effortless» well-being that social networks promote that we have remained on the surface, on what is comfortable, on what is convenient according to the current mentality of our society.  However, even though our weaknesses easily overcome us, I am convinced that we all want to draw closer and closer to God.

Sisters, the Lord sees our struggles, and with the patience of a father He awaits us and extends His hand to lead us together to the promised land. He does not get tired of us, He does not hold back in calling us to leave our slavery behind.  Let us have the courage to cross the path that he indicates to us during this time: to pass through the desert.  As the Holy Father says: «Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life. Like a bridegroom, the Lord draws us once more to himself, whispering words of love to our hearts.»

Perhaps for many, the desert is unbearable because it resembles a situation of aridity, emptiness, silence or the absence of God.  Let us remember that our Lord Jesus Christ also passed through the desert and there overcame the temptations of the devil; that was the proof of his freedom.  For us, it is an opportunity to look at ourselves with sincerity, to rediscover the Lord’s loving presence within us, the source of our strength, and to listen to His word of love, with the help of His grace and trusting in His word: «I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt out of a land of slavery» (Ex 20:2), we will be able to face temptations and free ourselves from the bonds that prevent us from moving forward.

May the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving of this time surge from a profound experience of the Word of God, because finding the Lord within us implies discovering him in the faces of our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer. «Love of God and love of neighbor are one love.» As a Congregation, let us live Christian penance with joy and fervor; let us carry out gestures capable of encouraging the spread of solidarity and fraternity with and among those who surround us.

Sisters, let us live Lent with renewed hope so that we may joyfully celebrate Easter. Let us undertake the journey united with our Lord Jesus Christ: his passage from death to life is also ours. Let us never tire of proclaiming and witnessing with our lives the joy and gladness of the Risen Christ.

                                                                       With my fraternal embrace and prayer

                                               

Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General

 

 

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