The time is drawing near to make a commitment to becoming an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. Am I ready? Do I know what it really means to embrace the Providence mission and to abide by the principles by which they live?
What drew me to the Sisters of Providence in the first place, was their life and mission, their charism. This is not a very well known word, since it mostly applies to religious congregations of the Catholic Church. It has been said that “charism” is like “a spiritual energy that draws people to be in a relationship with a particular group because they identify with the unique spirit of that community.” The Sisters of Providence’s charism is expressed through their many works and activities. For instance, they are actively involved in educating about peace and justice issues; in ways to effect change for justice in the policies and operations of corporations in which the Congregation holds investments (corporate responsibility); in providing financial assistance towards efforts to promote social justice and the integrity of Earth (Poverty and Justice Fund); in a spirituality of justice and sustainability that sees God‘s Providence as hope and healing for all creation (Center for Eco-Justice); and generally speaking, by doing works of love, mercy and justice.
These are the general tenets of the Congregation:
- Strive toward breaking boundaries and creating hope in the world;
- Foster a way of living that recognizes the interdependence of all creation;
- Help people in need of social services and health care;
- Provide educational programs and family services to people in need;
- And the primary purpose: “to honor Divine Providence and to further God’s loving plans by devoting themselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.”
When I embarked on this journey last year, the journey of preparation towards becoming an Associate, I knew that it would be an enriching experience (and a lot of work!). Any pursuit that forces us to look inside ourselves, to review our beliefs and the state of our Faith, and to find out where it is that we need to improve, is an enriching–albeit scary–one. Personally, this has been a wonderful journey of introspection and evaluation of some of my core values and beliefs. It has also made me realize how long the road ahead is.
Sometimes we go through life in an almost catatonic state, going through the motions day by day, letting the world around us “happen” without any intervention on our part, except perhaps when it directly affects our personal space. How easy it is to take the spectator’s viewpoint! How easy it is to remain enclosed in our little shells and disregard the world around us–particularly if that world is one that is hurting and immersed in turmoil.
On the other hand, we think we can change the world by doing feats of heroic nature, by screaming as loud as possible, by antagonizing anyone who we feel is on the wrong path; by aggressively attempting to disrupt the status quo. Although this approach may work in some instances–take the protest movements currently taking place in the Middle East, for example–sometimes an even more effective (and less flamboyant) intervention might be to just LIVE by those principles we believe in, by demonstrating in every attitude, every action, every word that comes out of our mouths that which we are about. If we believe in generosity, we ought to BE GENEROUS; if we believe in Peace on Earth, we ought to BE PEACEFUL; if we believe in “liberty and justice for all,” we ought to BE JUST, to ALLOW OTHERS TO BE FREE; if we believe in tolerance, we ought to BE TOLERANT; if we believe in freedom of expression, we ought to ALLOW OTHERS TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES.
By the same token, if we cannot tolerate injustice, we ought to DENOUNCE IT; if we cannot abide oppression, we ought to OPPOSE IT; if we can’t stand demagoguery, we ought to NOT FALL FOR IT; if we feel poverty is often overlooked, we ought to BE CHARITABLE, but not so as to “look good” to others, not with the intention of “gaining points.” We should do good out of love, not for personal gratification.
Also, doing good ought to hurt a little. It’s easy to be charitable when we have a lot of disposable income to throw around (not to mention the added benefit of a tax write-off), or to condemn injustice from our cozy corners at home, or to despise intolerance while at the same time gossiping about our neighbors.
These are the kinds of things I’ve been encouraged to think about throughout this journey. I’ve thought about how my actions reflect those values, and how successful (or not) I’ve been in improving my general attitude in life. I cannot say I have succeeded in every instance; there is still much work ahead of me; which brings me to my original question: Am I ready to become a Providence Associate? I honestly WANT to be a better person. For the right reasons. But is this enough? They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I certainly hope that the road I choose will lead me in the opposite direction!
Powered by Blogilo