Some time ago, we followed a session given by Father Jean Denis St Félix, a Haitian Jesuit, on the theme:
“Religious life in Haiti, at the risk of a culture in mutation”
The session began with a time in the desert during which Father Denis invited the participants to become conscious of the beauty of silence. To accompany this time of prayer. He gave us a text of Teilhard de Chardin, an extract from “La Messe sur Le Monde”…containing passages to enter into contemplation. He suggested that we look at the men and women populating the earth, those that we meet every day and those elsewhere…to contemplate our vocation by associating it with so many men and women of good will, near us and throughout the world…That our vocation be in solidarity with men and women who care about others…this vocation that has its origin in the mystery of the Trinity…
To enter fully in the session, Father Jean Denis proposed a few reflections, example:
At the end of your life, the only question will be: “Have you loved?”
What link with the theme, “Religious life…and culture in mutation”?
It is in the nature of culture to change, to mutate, otherwise it dies. But… in what kind of mutation are we? How can religious life accompany the process that goes from “non- being to being?”
Father Jean-Denis especially invited the participants to look at the fundamental place that is the family… there is in this reality like something is broken…something destructed…who has authority? Which education?
Next, to approach the theme in a concrete manner, Father Jean-Denis gave us to read extracts of books from Haitian authors among whom, Gary Victorin his book Le sang et la mer and Lionel Trouillot in La belle amour humaine. You will find the references for these books on the internet by writing the name of the authors.
These texts describe a reality of daily struggle for survival…of a life that is hard for the majority of people…where noise invades the space…Where promiscuity is very strong…the reality of the country is not only that, but it is that also…It is important to accept to look at it in the face…not to run away from it…That is what the participants were invited to do while doing a personal reading of the texts and by sharing their reactions in teams and then in the large groups.
It is in the heart of our cultural identity that we have to rediscover that which characterizes us as sons and daughters of God, as religious. It is in the heart of our cultural identity that religious life is invited to be like “the finger of John the Baptist”…
In the face of this reality, what can we do?
It is important that have a deep understanding of the reality of life in our society, in our country, in different domains…
• From this theme, what challenges do we feel for religious life in our different mission countries?
• With our charism of Daughters of Jesus what are we invited to live in this sense?
• Are there convictions, questions that relate to our Rule of Life…the Acts of the Chapter… our personal search, our community search?
Religious life must be at the service of rightness, truth, beauty, goodness… being simple, authentic…It must be at the service of Love…Returning continually to the founding experience of Jesus.
A beautiful program to live Religious Life in our different countries…with cultures in mutation!
The work is there to be done every day.
SR. Marie-Hélène, Sr. Gertrude and Sr. Anne