This weekend has been full of excitement as the sisters returned home from the mission sites for the annual community meeting. It has been awesome to see over three hundred sisters in one room and to listen to everyone pray the Office in unison. I loved that. The Divine Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours, is the prayer of the church, so Catholics everywhere pray it, and when we pray it, we are united with them. Hearing all those sisters praying it gave me a greater experience of the whole church, and made me think that this is what heaven will be like, only it will be billions of people giving glory to God in perfect charity.
Speaking of Charity, today we all received a copy of Benedict XVI's encyclical, Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate). In this encyclical, he "explores the relationship between love and our commitment to social justice. We were also encouraged to reflect on an older encyclical of his called God is Love (Deus Caritas Est). Here's that description: "In today's high-tech, fast paced world, love is often portrayed as being separate from Church teaching. Pope Benedict XVI hopes to overturn that perception and describe the essential place of love in the life of the church." I haven't read it yet, so I have a little catching up to do. It looks like an amazing document though, and Pope Benedict has the gift of being able to discuss profound ideas in a clear way. I truly appreciate that!
The encyclical we were given is an additional material to help with our 2010-2011 study of social justice, including the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching. I am very excited that we are taking the year to explore together an area of the Church that I was personally involved in during my college years. We had a day of positive and fascinating workshops, including one where we learned that race does not exist, that it was something that humans created in order to feel more advanced than others. In fact, out of a black person in the US and two white people in Ireland, the person in the US can share more of the same genetic makeup with one of the people in Ireland, than the people in Ireland have with each other. John Carr, from the USCCB, also gave a excellent, positive, and humorous keynote address on how we can incorporate Catholic Social Teaching into our daily lives. I just love how connected I feel with the whole Roman Catholic Church here.
After the day of learning and reflection, I was pleasantly surprised that our "evening entertainment" was dancing! I. Love. Dancing. Of course it was awesome! We also were given a fantastic performance by two of our sisters from Africa of some traditional dances.
This morning, a lot of us sisters put on a sacred reader's theatre for the rest of the community on the dialogue between St. Francis and Lady Poverty. It was a lot of fun, and I learned more about the vow of poverty. It was also cool to continue acting, because I was "bitten by the acting bug" in college. Everyone did so well, too.
Many things have also occurred. We finished the sewing class. The temporary professed made their skirts and novices made aprons. I did struggle with the machine a bit, but on the last day of class I did very well on the machine. It was purring like a kitten, instead of getting jammed... I am looking forward to improving upon my new skill and doing other projects! Here are our aprons:
The icons we "wrote" are on display in St. Rita's Chapel for the Sisters to pray with. Pictures to come!!!