Letter from General Prioress – Lent 2024

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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