Whether we like it or not, our country is in full election mode preparing for the presidential election next fall. This time for some is a time of great excitement and anticipation, and for others it is a cause of great frustration and annoyance. I guess it comes with the territory as they say, but upon reflection I would like to propose a lesson that we can learn from this process every four years.
Every couple of years the country has a national conversation about priorities and the direction things are headed. The buzz word that is always used is CHANGE. Different candidates and philosophies, political parties, and movements all share there perspective and plans for particular change dealing with particular sets of issues. Change is good, but as Christians we must see things differently. You see, Jesus called for change too. His first words in the gospel of Mark chapter 1, verse 15 was to repent! There is no need to discern what He wanted, it is quite clear! For those calling for change today seem to be saying that the “other” guys need to change or those who disagree need to come over to their side. These battles that display the mentality that someone else is always to blame are why the election process gets discouraging at times. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the candidates got in front of a camera or a large crowd and said, “I am the one that needs to change!”
The need for Christians to repent of our ways is so necessary and central to every Christian call, but even more so for a religious and those discerning religious life. In his document on religious life, Blessed John Paul II states, “The vocation of consecrated persons to seek first the Kingdom of God is first and foremost a call to complete conversion, in self-renunciation, in order to live fully for the Lord, so that God may be all in all ( #35). Our vocation is to be transformed!
There is no question that there is much to consider in discerning a call to religious life. Contemplative or active, community life or solitude, teaching or serving the poor, and so much more! But when we take a step back, to “reprioritize” if you will, to become holy is the end. Our openness and understanding of this simple reality, that first and foremost the Lord calls us so Himself, to be transformed into a new creation, to live a new life and in a new way is the beginning and end of consecrated life.
Change is needed. Sure, change in the government or the philosophies of the day, but most importantly change in our hearts. This is the key to discernment and the beauty of religious life! No need for slogans and commercials or complicated plans! Just an openness and fidelity to following the Lord as He first desires to bring conversion to our hearts that ultimately transforms the world in which we live. Not to get cheesy or to take someone else’s line, but at the end of the day this is truly change we can believe in and only this kind of change can last.
God bless you,
Br. Angelus Immaculata, CFR