‘Courageous choices are needed at the personal and community level to rediscover and to show the beauty of following Christ in a consecrated life’.
In COLW we feel called to live religious life values in a way that respects the timeless essence of those values and at the same time remains relevant to the people of today. Stereotypical images of religious life abound everywhere. As has often been said we cannot put ‘new wine into old wineskins’. Yes, religious life is in a stage of transition and we believe that as the pendulum swings from one side to the other a certain balance will soon be achieved. There are truly many signs of hope at the beginning of this third millennium.
As members of COLW we desire to live a ‘contemplative but not enclosed’ lifestyle and, hence, we have more hours of prayer than most apostolic communities. As religious we believe that the external witness of a habit is important in today’s secularised culture. As contemplatives we have chosen to wear one that reflects the community’s Marian emphasis in its colour (blue) and with the scapular, an item traditionally worn by Carmelites. The habit was chosen to reflect the gospel values of simplicity, modesty and poverty. The idea of having a hood rather than a veil sprung from the desire to be intensely with God (‘hidden with Christ in God’ during our times of prayer and solitude) and also intensely with people (during our ministry). As the old saying goes, ‘the habit does not make the nun’ (nor, for that matter, the the sister, brother, monk or priest!) and we realised that there are times when it is more practical to wear just the dress (and not the scapular) or to wear just ‘civies” eg when gardening, camping on holiday or doing certain sporting activities. At least the hoodies feel comfortable with us!
Our logo reflects the desire to enter into a deep inner relationship with Christ at the centre of our being. This journey takes place over time and is circular rather than linear. As we become transformed interiorly by him and into him we will find our true selves and be able to reach out to others in freedom. The motto also reminds us to live our own call to fullness of life and love so as to help others do so also. As ‘he increases and we decrease’, his spirit will become the animating factor in all our lives and we will automatically become bridge builders; in our families, at work, in our communities, between churches and between people of all faiths. This is the root of all the ecumenical, interfaith and pro-life work we wish to do in future.
There is a certain freedom in recognising that one really becomes a religious, sister or brother, over a life-time, that the inner transformation of the heart is what is called for. Externals do not guarantee this but we hope that eventually, as we internalise Gospel values, what is in the heart will overflow into our relationships with others in community, with friends and with those we minister to. We believe that the witness of living Gospel values in this way will stimulate many people to want to assess and deepen their own relationship with Christ so as to live a more evangelical lifestyle themselves.