Installation Reflection By Sister Eileen Spanier, GNSH
Written on: August 7, 2023
Praying with today’s readings and thinking about my own experience of standing here before you to share some personal reflections, I was struck by 2 words that kept creeping into my thoughts: Significant Moments.
I asked myself what are some things that makes something a Significant Moment?
- It is usually something new or unexpected
- it is not necessarily something you would pursue on your own without an invitation
- typically it is something that takes getting used to
- the end result usually invites the person to make a positive change
So then,what makes this a significant moment for me?
- It is usually something new or unexpected (this is definitely something I didn’t expect to be doing; this is a first for me)
- It is not necessarily something you would pursue on your own without an invitation (I can assure you that I did not volunteer for this)
- It usually is something that takes getting used to (I am definitely uncomfortable)
- The end result usually invites a person to make a positive change (Well, I will let you know how that works out after this is all over)
So, let’s take a look at today’s Liturgical Readings. The Second Reading talks to us about a Significant Moment for Paul and the people of Ephesus.
- In the reading Paul is doing something new and unexpected…he is preaching to the Gentiles
- It was not necessarily something he chose for himself (we all remember the story of Paul being knocked off his horse) – Paul preached at Christ’s INVITATION/CALL…he became the Apostle to the Gentiles…he speaks earlier in this 3rd chapter about being a “prisoner of Christ”
- It takes some getting used to for the Ephesians to believe that Paul, a man who hunted down Christ’s followers and put them to death, was now one of the most vocal advocates for Christ’s message of love and peace
- And the positive change, the end result is that the Ephesians are “filled with the fullness of God”
A Significant Moment for Paul and the Ephesians!
In our Gospel Reading from St. John, it is easy to recognize the Significant Moment for the Apostles, especially Peter:
- Jesus kneels before the Disciples and begins to wash their feet. Definitely something new and as we see with Peter’s reaction, it is something totally unexpected.
- Peter definitely would not have chosen this for himself, in fact he vehemently protests…”You will NOT wash my feet”
- Jesus realizes that, especially for Peter, this will take some getting used to: He assures Peter that he will understand the significance of lesson at a later time
- The end result, the positive change, Jesus gave the Apostles the example of what it means to be a follower of Christ…a true leader…and that is to become the Servant of ALL.
And now let’s double back to our first reading…a reading that comes from the Constitutions of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.
For some of our family and friends who are present here today, this might be the first time you heard these words so if everyone would please bear with me as I reread just the first third of what you heard earlier.
“Trusting in Divine Providence, dedicated to the compassionate heart of Christ, committed to respond to the signs of the times, the needs of the church and of the world, we unite our diverse personal gifts to witness radically to the gospel and to extend the reign of God.”
Well, I figured out pretty early on why we were not given a copy of the Constitutions BEFORE we entered the Community…Who can aspire to do this?
Receiving our personal copy of the Constitutions was a Significant Moment for us, as Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.
- It was something new but maybe not totally unexpected…I knew “living the life” would be challenging. I am asked to put all my confidence in Divine Providence…God’s extraordinary intervention into the life of His people, to dedicate my life to be compassion like the COMPASSION of Christ’s own Heart, to commit my life to be prophetic, to respond to the signs of the times and alleviate not only the needs of the Church but of the whole world. And here is the real clincher, I vowed to be a radical witness to the Gospel and to extend the reign of God.
- A Significant Moment is not something you would necessarily pursue on your own without an invitation. We believe that our vocations are a gift, an invitation/a CALL from God. We publicly vow to live the evangelical counsels of consecrated celibacy, evangelical poverty and religious obedience.
- It takes some getting used to…that is one reason why our “engagement period” can last up to 7 or more years.
- Our acceptance of this invitation to Perpetual Religious Consecration invites us to make a positive change in our lives.
It calls us to become a “Servant of ALL”
This truly was/is a Significant Moment!
As Grey Nuns we vow to: trust, dedicate, commit, respond, radically witness, extend God’s reign…
The good thing is we are not expected to do this on our own… we choose to do this in community, with one another.
In addition, we freely choose from among our own membership, women to lead us. Women we ask to help us:
read the signs of the times,
be prophetic witness to the church and the world.
At this Eucharistic Celebration today we acknowledge, affirm and celebrate:
Sister Denise Roche
Sister Barbara Schiavoni
Sister Eileen White, and
Sister Nancy Kaczmarek
July 1, 2023 is a Significant Moment for all of us but especially for these 4 women. For Nancy this is new and maybe a bit unexpected, all four are here by call/our invitation, I am sure it does take “some getting used to”. We believe that they have the gifts to lead our Congregation, The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, to positive changes that will allow each one of us to better.
and Extend God’s Reign
for the next 3 years.