21 October 2013

Two movies about Sisters

The Robert Gardner Film

We have heard a lot about LCWR Sisters in the past year or more which suggest they have left the essence (or "essential elements") of religious life behind. Some suggest they don't pray, others that they bring nothing to their ministries that a good social worker couldn't bring, and so forth. The movie provided above gives a good sense of who these Sisters REALLY are, what they do and WHY! It is the story of women whose lives are given to Christ and who have journeyed beyond the first idealistic and relatively naive flushes of Religious life into the deserts and through the storms and crises which any seriously committed life of love of God involves; more, they are those who have come through this journey thus far with a faith and hope clearly tempered and illuminated by the certainty of Christ's abiding and merciful presence.

These are TYPICAL contemporary Women Religious, and especially they are typical of the members of LCWR congregations. I find them typically extraordinary and an undoubted gift to the Church and our world. In each case I think you will find a contemplative core energizing an amazing woman of God and an amazing ministry in Christ. In these women we see mature prayer lives, mature witness to the incarnate Lord, and the wisdom of experience. They have renewed their lives in accordance with Vatican II and in some ways represent a newer expression of religious life than many are used to.

  The Imagine Sisters Film

A second film, also out just recently is composed of a similar format and Sisters mainly (or perhaps all) of the CMSWR congregations. I offer it here because it contrasts with but also helps complete the picture of contemporary ministerial or apostolic religious life today. It is apparently a kind of recruitment film for young women and so, that may account for a sort of focus on youthful idealism as well as the camaraderie that is more typical of college sports teams and sororities than of the more tried friendships of religious community.

I admit that I am not impartial here. These Sisters tend to speak a "language" I have not spoken since initial formation --- and one I am personally no longer entirely comfortable with; that is especially true with the language of specialness which sometimes seems elitist, and the objective superiority of religious life which, I and others would argue, cannot be maintained in the face of Vatican II's universal call to holiness. (Here chosenness is not merely a matter of answering one's call as it is in the Gospel; instead it accompanies  a sense of privilege and bespeaks preference on God's part.) Evenso, while I think that these young Sisters need the wisdom and experience of the Sisters of the LCWR congregations to help them grow in their vocations it is also true that the LCWR congregations can be challenged by them and by the fresh idealism with which they approach the adventure of religious life. In other words, in these two films we have two expressions of religious life today; both are valid and they complement and challenge one another.

I hope you enjoy them. (P.S., be sure and click on the fullscreen buttons to the right of HD. The resolution is excellent that way.)