Our lives are mission: a reflection on Pope Francis' call to holiness

Blog Published: January 15, 2019
By Sister Mercy Shumbamhini, CJ

Sister Mercy Shumbamhini is a member of the Congregation of Jesus in Zimbabwe. She has worked in community development and lectures at the university level on social work and theology. She is the regional director of her congregation and former president of the Conference of Major Superiors in Zimbabwe.

Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate ("Rejoice and Be Glad") challenges each one of us to desire holiness in a down-to-earth, practical way in this 21st century. He is inviting us to rejoice and be glad in the call that we have received from God and to live that call to the fullest in the particular situations of our life, through both large and small acts.

As members of the Congregatio Jesu founded by Mary Ward in 1609, mission — the service of others experiencing hunger, thirst, nakedness, violence, injustice or sickness — lies at the very heart of our spirituality. Our mission is to "find God in all things" not only in holy places, but also in ordinary life, or as Ward would have put it, "to refer all to God" through spiritual ministries, education, health, social work and any other works that meet the needs of our time.

Congregatio Jesu welcomes Francis' call to share in the path of everyday holiness that sustains our ministry. Here are some of the little things we do in line with what Francis said about holiness:

  • Francis clearly propounds that our personal call to holiness requires action. This is achieved in the context of our communities around us and the wider suffering of our sisters and brothers. Ward said to her followers, "For the love of Jesus, take care of the sick."
  • Holiness is found in everyday people and things. However, Francis strongly begs us to spend time with Jesus in silence, contemplating him so that our lives are transformed in the light of mercy and grace.
  • Francis says that holiness is important in creating happy communities so that we bring out the best of who we are in order to "create an open and evangelizing environment."
  • Francis emphasizes this charity to reach out to the homeless, hungry, abused, abandoned children and victims of trafficking on our path to holiness.
  • Francis challenges us to see our life as a mission and a way of building God's kingdom here on earth through empowering youth.

I pray that every Congregatio Jesu member will take to heart the challenge of becoming a saint, relying on God's grace to achieve what is otherwise impossible. Venerable Mary Ward encourages her followers to "do good and do it well" and to find joy in the work of God.

We're delighted to bring you this excerpt from the monthly feature "The Life" courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month, "The Life" asked the panelists:  How are you and/or your community carrying out Pope Francis' call to holiness in his new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate? Or: What impact do you think this document will have on the world or the church? Click HERE to read more blogs from The LifeGSR's monthly feature about the unique, challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world.

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