Gathering of Religious

A Time for Everything

By Veronica Nathan (Congregation of Mater Ecclesiae)

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity”. (Psalm 133:1)

The Church celebrated the World Day of Consecrated Life, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus, on 2 February 2018. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, presided Mass at St Peter’s Basilica, in thanksgiving and prayer for the gift of religious vocations.

Indeed, the gathering of consecrated men and women in the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad, Birmingham on 3 February 2018 witnessed to the faithfulness of God to His Church. Over 100 people attended the noon Mass (highlight of the day), celebrated by the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham and concelebrated by 14 priests.

His Grace, the Archbishop thanked all present for taking time to come together as he congratulated the 7 jubilarians present. He also highlighted the different charisms and gifts of the faithful and how coming together can further deepen relationships. The gospel needs to be experienced, as he so poignantly said.  Sr Anna O’Connor and Father Stephen Wright, Vicars for Religious of the Archdiocese of Birmingham shared about the day’s event and upcoming events.  “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion” [Ethiopian Proverb], quipped Sr Anna.

After a morning cuppa, there was an engaging yet challenging presentation by Ms Pat Gaffney from Pax Christi International on ‘The Call to Nonviolence: Renewing our commitment to peacemaking’. The presentation on non-violence was a timely call, a vocation for us all to be peacemakers.  Pax Christi is a human, faith-based response to war, inspired by the gospels it was founded in 1945 by Ms Martha Dortel-Claudot who consulted Bishop Pierre Marie Theas. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today Pax Christi International is in over 60 countries and their emphasis is on human rights and many religious are often in the frontline of violence. As Pat shared, that there are no winners in war and we need to visualise a prophetic and creative imagination to resolve conflicts.  Imagine the majority of the world agrees to a treaty to ban nuclear weapons and spend their millions, not on disarmament, but on trauma healing and other good works.

As we go about our daily lives, we are reminded of an invitation from Pope Francis, “to revitalise the tools of non-violence and active non-violence in particular”. Here in UK, a challenge of the culture of violence begins with a slogan, “Choose Life. Drop the Knife.”  

We are called to IMAGINE! Imagine…non-violence…just peace…

Imagine the words of scriptures come to life, “…The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea…” (Isaiah 11:6-10).

Let peace begin with me…in my heart, my home, my country, and extend to the whole world.