Continual formation leading to spiritual maturity
The Education Dimension of Theresians International is a part of every meeting. Each meeting has a program portion which may include:
- A speaker
- A shared reflection
- A documentary film
- A topic which is presented to highlight a concern, an issue, or a new insight
- An evening of fun, laughter, and lighthearted activities.
The original intent of this aspect of every meeting was to respect and develop the understandings of women on issues of social concern, of service opportunities, and of adaptation to change. Since change is inevitable, exploring the impact and meaning of events and issues assists us to be open to new ways of observing and doing things.
The world around us bursts upon us every day with new ideas – an expanding universe is one. The photos sent back to us by the Hubble telescope reveal such beauty in the solar systems that surround us, drawing us to wonder and awe. The scientific effort to land a spacecraft on a moving comet and the advances in medical and brain research are other amazing accomplishments. Who could have imagined such things are possible?
Bishop Robert Morneau, Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, Wisconsin, offers this reminder: Change is difficult at many levels: intellectual, emotional, and moral. We become set in our ways and defy preachers and teachers, saints and prophets who try to convert us into new ways of thinking or feeling or acting. We, too, can go on our merry way, missing out on truth and goodness and beauty. Cardinal Newman captured well the importance of change in his famous maxim: ‘In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.’
St. Paul said much the same thing centuries before. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. (I Corinthians 13:11-12)
Mature faith is based on Gospel values and living the beatitudes as they apply to our everyday life. Embracing mature faith is a daily challenge, one that leads us to review and examine how we are applying what we understand now. It is also a challenge to continue to learn how these concepts are being presented by Pope Francis and what, if any, changes are being asked of us.
Theology is responding to scientific advances, with new vocabulary shedding new understandings on the Gospel values we cherish. We have the opportunity to grow in faith and hope, trusting that the purpose of creation continues and invites our participation in bringing about good for all of creation. New scientific findings on the expansiveness of the universe are a call for a deeper understanding of all God’s creation.
Within all of this, we find that God’s timing may include the not yet, as well as in due time and even when the order of events is optimum. For God’s work, as Archbishop Oscar Romero believed, needs our cooperation and is carried out according to Divine Order and Divine Timing, teaching us patience, faith, and trust.
Education enriches the other four Theresian Dimensions. The process of becoming human by living faithfully is always open-ended. In Community, we have a shared sisterhood; in Spirituality, we experience continued growth in knowing the Lord; in Vocation and in Ministry, we develop the rich experience of active fidelity as well as passive fidelity; and through Education, we become useful instruments for the work of God’s kingdom. May we celebrate this Education Dimension together with open minds, hearts, and spirits so that we are truly Women in Support of Women …Reaching Out with Gospel Values.
- How are you exploring new expressions of prayer, of celebration, and of the interaction of science and religion?
- In what ways does your community explore new expressions of prayer, of celebration, and of the interaction of science and religion?
- How does science expand your faith and hope in God’s goodness that is manifested in continuing creation and revelation?
- What is the history of change in your life? Do you agree with Cardinal Newman’s contention that to live is to change?
- Pope Francis is asking us to review our attitudes regarding compassion and non-judgment. How can we examine these virtues as they apply to our attention to the world news of the day?
- By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority? (Matthew 21:23b) Jesus was challenged in his teaching, but he was true to his message. By what authority do you act on your faith? Are we prepared to meet the challenges of our day with our commitment to being Theresians together?
Boyle, S.J., Gregory. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
Dispenza, Dr. Joe. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One. New York: Hay House, Inc., 2012.
Fiand, Sister Barbara. On Becoming Who We Are: Passionate Musings in the Winter of Life. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2013.
Morneau, Bishop Robert F. Waiting in Joyful Hope: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas 2014-15. Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2014, pp. 42-43.
Reagan, Michael (ed.) with Introduction by Sharon Begley. The Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of the Universe. Philadelphia and London: Templeton Foundation Press, Lionheart Books LTD, 1999.