Last month, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, two novices in the ASIANZ noviciate made their first vows. In her welcome and call to worship Bethanie Sulleza RSCJ spoke about the journey, into the depths of God and into their own depths, undertaken by Norlissa and Theresa:
In their two years of novitiate formation, they have listened deeply to the voice of God through their life experiences, choosing them and calling them to this path of life. They have entered their heart and begun to see their giftedness, as well as their woundedness. They have learned that, through joys and struggles, triumphs and failures, their lives are to be centred in Jesus’ loving and pierced Heart. They are now women of the Pierced Heart – women who can be in solidarity with the wounds of humanity because they know and experience the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love.
I read those words a few days after the ceremony, by which time we had also received the sad news of the death of Patricia Garciade Quevedo RSCJ, a Mexican who had been Superior General from 1994–2000. And in these two events, I was reminded of some words written by Paty in 1997, on which I have in the past written reflections – words which are about believing in love:
To believe in love means to respond to the call to remain in his love ... And because we believe in love, our ability to fix our gaze, to contemplate, places us in the open heart, the birthplace of our spirituality.
Only those who have believed in love can direct their gaze toward the pierced Heart of Jesus. To enter this open heart means to be able to contemplate, to encounter real love, the meaning of life, mercy, compassion, the tenderness and hope so necessary to live committed to our mission today.
What does it mean to believe in love? I believe it means to root one's life in a power stronger than hate, to live with hope and the firm conviction that goodness can and will overcome violence and hatred. It means to believe in the power and the promise of what happened on Calvary: a seemingly powerless, futile death which resulted in glorious new life, and a hate-filled piercing which unleashed a torrent of love. It means to want to live in love, to grow in love, and to want nothing more than to share this love, even – and especially – whenever love seems fragile and a forlorn hope.
And it means to believe in redemption; that nothing is wasted, and nobody is beyond the healing, redemptive power of Love.
And the two brand-new RSCJ? However they would express their motivations, dreams and desires, fundamentally they have taken this step because they too believe in love. They believe in love enough to want to pledge their life to a God who is only Love, in a Society whose very name – 'of the Sacred Heart' – is love, and whose mission is a sharing and making known of that love.
Only those who have believed in love can direct their gaze toward the pierced Heart of Jesus ... Yes indeed, because without this belief in love, the pierced Heart of Jesus, which we experience in the pierced heart of our wounded world, would be truly unendurable. But we can gaze at that pierced Heart, enter into it, love it, direct our heart and energies towards it, because we know there is more to it than ugliness and pain – because we believe in love.
May we all grow as women and men of the Pierced Heart: people who can be in solidarity with the wounds of humanity because we know and experience – and strongly believe in – the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love.
Silvana Dallanegra RSCJ