Daring to be Saints in today’s Church? A Call to Humility and Courage

“Woman ‘preaches’ at concluding Mass for Ignatian Family gathering in Marseilles, France”. This is the title of the article from La Croix International, republished by the Global Sisters Report. And this woman happened to be Sr. Christine Danel, our Superior General! The occasion was the Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints concluding a gathering of 7000 people of the Ignatian family. Read the full article.

The fact that a woman could share her reflection on the Word of God was a good news in itself. The content of what she shared was also one! Below is her reflection in its entirety.

“Blessed are, blessed are, blessed are… this is the proclamation that we hear every year on the Feast of All Saints. All saints?

How do we have the audacity to speak of sanctity after the discovery of the extent of the crimes perpetrated within the Church? How could sexuality, power, and the sacred be distorted to such an extent? We need a lot of humility in our speeches, and a lot of courage in our actions to reform ourselves…

This quote from (Blaise) Pascal came to me recently, “He who behaves like an angel ends up behaving like a beast…” No, we are not angels, but human beings! “God created man and woman,” says the book of Genesis. And that, God saw that it was very good! We have a long way to go to unfold this otherness and complementarity in all areas in the life of the Church, including access to the words and to governance, to truly receive it as wealth, a gift from God!

As human beings we are differentiated by sex, and thus by definition incomplete, in want, we are beings of desire, a desire which turns us towards the other, and towards the Ultimate Other!

So, holiness is not to be perfect, with the illusion of being “angels!” The illusion of perfection is a bait, which can lead us to frustration, spite, or hypocrisy, to mask our shortcomings.

To be holy, is it not rather to be human, truly and fully human as the prophet Micah invites us to be. “You have been made to know what is good, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God!” (Micah 6:8)

Jesus calls them blessed – those who take on this need and their vulnerability! Blessed are you who are poor, you who weep, you who are meek, you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you who seek peace…. Then you will be comforted, you will see God, you will be called sons (and daughters) of God…

If Jesus calls them blessed, those who are not consumed by their possessions and with themselves, it is undoubtedly because happiness lies in this capacity to desire, to receive from others, to rejoice in not being all powerful! Then we can really listen to others, hear the whisper of the Spirit at work in our lives, in the life that is offered!

In the reading from the book of Revelation (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14), we see the huge crowd of witnesses. Facing the throne of the Lamb, they have gone through the great trial. They have accepted the path of the servant, the pascal path that goes all the way to the Cross, that offers life and forgiveness.

In this vast crowd of saints, there are the ‘saints next door,’ those who do good without making a noise, the humble ones of the earth. These people do not shine, but by their simplicity, their gentleness, their goodness, their way of loving and living, they are sources of hope, consolation and joy for those who live with them. Ignatius (of Loyola) invites us to discover how God works and lives in creatures. Let us ask for a vision that is pure enough to discern the Spirit at work in our world and to recognize those saints who accompany us and lead us!

Finally, it is a people who are holy! We cannot live holiness alone! It is together, with each other that we are saved. Men and women, young and old, families, consecrated persons, lay, clergy… Each one of us brings his or her stone to the structure and forms with the others the Body of Christ! All together, inhabited by the Spirit who works in each individual, all interdependent, as the pandemic experience has shown us. The vision of Revelation is a beautiful image of the synodal Church that we are invited to live in and dream together, called to witness to fraternity and the joy of loving and being loved.

Happy feast of All Saints!

All Saints 2021 – meditation aids by Sr. Christine Danel, xmcj

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