One Step at a Time
The whole business of stepping out in Faith is daunting. It is particularly unnerving when we are trying to discover a new path, or when we feel drawn in an unfamiliar direction. What has God planned for us? Hindsight may confirm so much of the discernment process experienced along the way, but the process can be very unsettling as we actually tread the path. This is the road that the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham is travelling in these first years of its existence.
There is no doubt that religious life, the life of vowed consecration, is changing. We might still recognise the very familiar forms of a traditional religious life in the developing countries, where vocations are numerous. But here in Europe, in North America and Australia religious life is adapting to a new context, in a world of secularism, consumerism and new prosperity. More than in any recent time, we face challenges to basic principles and values that have been underpinning the fabric and the ethos of our society. There is no need to be anxious in such unfamiliar surroundings; God has His plan. In the words of Cardinal Newman, “we may never know it in this life but we shall be told it in the next”.
Nor should we think that we are changing from something that has been permanent, that such change has never happened with such intensity before. The life of the Church has been constantly changing and developing. Its diversity and complexity can be seen from the time that St Paul began to write his letters and from the description of the life of the Church to be found in the Acts of the Apostles. That was just the beginning, the first experiments of inserting a life of faith in Jesus Christ into the reality of the times of a contemporary society. The challenge to the Church is, and always will be, preaching Christ in the “Today”.
One of the responses to the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council was the growth of so many ecclesial movements, each striving to nurture an aspect of the Gospel so as to make Christ present.
But there is new life also to be found in the more familiar world of consecration and the religious rule. Let’s be glad for all who seek the Lord, and for those who feel in some way drawn to express a vocation in a new way. Whatever their future, members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham are seeking, day by day, the presence of the Lord and his will for them – that is sufficient in itself to give thanks.