The National Catholic Review

In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (43:19), we read “See I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert, I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers.”

Like many others over the past weeks and months, I have been perplexed by the Vatican assessment of the LCWR  issued on April 18th  and have found myself often prayerfully pondering the question, “What is going on here?” As others have suggested in various venues, I, too, have kept coming back to the realization that there seems to be something deeper going on here, something bigger than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s call for reform of the LCWR, something that the Spirit of God is doing that cannot yet be fully perceived, as the words of Isaiah the Prophet suggest. It is something in process, something ‘of God’s Spirit’ in process!

Probably like many others, I have been noting the manner of response of the leadership of the LCWR to the CDF’s criticisms over these several months, a manner of response that I have   admired greatly. It has been prayerful, deeply reflective, non-violent, and contemplative. The sisters have engaged in a silent listening to the Spirit of God, in conversing with one another at tables, attempting together, in community, to gather the ‘collective wisdom’ of  God’s spirit moving within and among the group, so that they might, in the end, make a response that would be “for the good of the church, for the good of the LCWR, for the good of religious life throughout the world, and ultimately for the good of the human family,” as LCWR President Sister Pat Farrell put it

Indeed, the LCWR has modeled for all of us—families, parish communities, the broader church community, business communities, global communities—a path, a way of coming together to bridge different perspectives, to search together for the common good, to discern the ‘new thing’ God wants to do among us. They have offered us a grace-filled model of attentive listening to the Holy Spirit, of engaging with one another, even across differences, as we struggle to make decisions, shape policies, decide on what the ‘next best step’ is for each of us in our personal and communal lives.

My prayerful hope is that the assembly’s call to the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from “a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue,” will be met, as it seems that it might be from Archbishop Sartain’s initial response: "Along with the members of the LCWR, I remain committed to working to address the issues raised by the Doctrinal Assessment in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful dialogue.”

What is the ‘something new’ that God might be doing here? It has yet to be revealed! But let us continue to pray and to live in “creative hope” that the renewing, transforming Spirit of God is at work “in the desert, making a way, in the wastelands, a river.”

Peggy McDonald, I.H.M.

Comments

Kevin Murphy | 8/20/2012 - 2:54am
Mr. Killoren:

Access the above links ''as LCWR President Sister Pat Farrell put it'' and ''call to the LCWR officers.''   You will see the prominent references to ''New-Ager'' Barbara Marx Hubbard and Tom Fox and Jamie Manson, both from the National Catholic Reporter.
S DAVIS | 8/16/2012 - 10:24am
S. Peggy's blog suggests the only way we can respond to the movement of the Spirit among us-with prayer, contemplative listening, and openness of heart and mind in all conversations.  The LCWR has indeed modeled a way for our hurting church to do and to be what Jesus asks at this time.  May the Spirit continue to breathe on us, giving hope to our church and to our people!  Thank you, S. Peggy, for your ispired words.
Rosemary Davis
Anonymous | 8/17/2012 - 12:29pm
Sister Peggy, you have pointed out very clearly that it is only in prayer that we discover God's response to our prayer concerns. After reading Father Bernier's book, Living the Eucharist, I was reminded that any lack of unity in the church is not of God and it is our responsibiliity to break down whatever alienates people from one another as in this case with the Vatican and the LCWR. This can only happen through prayer, pondering, listening and waiting for the Spirit to continue to lead, direct and inspire all of us. I recognize this process is needed and important to continue to move a pilgrim church which is always in need of being evangelized in every age.
John David | 8/15/2012 - 7:48pm
This is such a beautiful perspective, and no one has talked about this aspect that I know of. There is so much anguish about the issues themselves, but Sr Peggy directs us to a central truth of our faith - whatever we do, seek first the peace and guidance of the Holy Spirit ... not as a license to do anything we want, but to try to discern God's will in all humility and prayerfulness.  That's the way of Christ.  What more can we ask?  Surely it's the only path toward reconciliation, understanding, love.   
Stephen Morrison | 8/17/2012 - 2:24pm
Thank you Sister Peg !
Kevin Murphy | 8/15/2012 - 3:56am
So the Holy Spirit is inspiring the LCWR to defy the authority and authoritative teachings of the Church founded by Jesus and follow instead the path inspired by Barbara Marx Hubbard the National Catholic Reporter?

So sad.
Katherine Roddy | 8/17/2012 - 9:18pm
The sisters have demonstrated for us how to respond to criticism with throughfulness, dignity, and respect for the one(s) making the criticism.  They respond with graciousness and love, but do not forsake their ideals and beliefs.  I can't think of a better way for any of us to respond to the criticisms or conflicts we encounter in our lives.  Some people say the nuns aren't practicing obedience, but I would ask this question: to whom should we be obedient? To our superiors on earth, or to God? Ultimately, we must follow our consciences. The women of the LCWR listening for the voice of God, or angels, or Mary-the voice that will tell them what God's will is.  The highest obedience is not obedience to a human, but to God.
Bryan Sheridan | 8/14/2012 - 5:30pm
 The next part of the quote seems significant enough not to be ommitted

''We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church teaching or the important role of the LCWR.''
ROBERT KILLOREN | 8/18/2012 - 12:09am
Mr Murphy, what article did you read? There is an amazing lack of faith in the Holy Spirit.