I hope you will enjoy this post by Supertradmum.
Those of you who read my three blogs, know that my life has been one of a prophetic movement towards God’s plan for the world. This started way back in 1973. I have too often deviated from my small role in the Church, but with a new awareness of my vocation as a consecrated woman, I can say that I am again on the edge of what will be happening pointing to the future of the Church. Why God has me in this position, I do not know, but I listen. Those who meditate and listen to God, do hear Him, interiorly.
Because I am not a saint, I have muffed too many of the connections which God wanted me to pursue. However, since I entered into my new state as a consecrated woman, taking vows of holy poverty, chastity and obedience, I have wondered at this vocation, which includes great isolation and suffering in the world. Being like a nun in the world, but without the support of a community of other consecrated women, has been a great pain for me in the past several years. Yes, God, the Bridegroom is with me, but I had to ask last week, why, God, am I in this vulnerable position.
The answer came unexpectedly in a strange encounter with another consecrated woman who I met for two days in London, who has worked with consecrated women throughout the world.
There are many of us, isolated, praying persons, totally focussed on God and His Church. We share a great love of the Church, a passion, in fact, and the bringing of intense prayer into the world, and into the Church. She told me most are ignored by their dioceses. She told me most are suffering from great isolation and misunderstanding of the call of God for the future of the Church.
This holy woman told me of the reason for the rise of consecrated single men and women, but especially women, in the world.
She reminded me that in the early Church, in the first several centuries of the Church’s life in Antioch, Ephesus, Rome, etc., that the consecrated life was common. Women who were single, before convents existed, before the Benedictine rule was given to St. Benedict by the Holy Spirit, these consecrated women lived in various places, like the Desert Fathers, in small groups of cells, or small houses, living mostly alone, but, again, like the Desert Fathers, going in and out of the world as needed. The great Abbas of the Desert became not only spiritual directors, but arbitrators of arguments among the early Christian communities, exorcists, and teachers. They would either begin in the desert and to out, or begin in the world and retire to the desert. Some went in and out as need from the communities demanded.
Likewise, the consecrated women prayed and did what the Church needed. They knew each other, and were protected by the Church.
Besides the conversations with this holy woman from the Near East, who spoke to me of the reason why God is doing this, a thread to which I shall return in a minute is also part of my reflection today, I met a priest from Nigeria who told me that consecrated women in Africa are greatly loved and encouraged by the local parishes and dioceses. This is not the case in the West. My own bishop was not interested in my consecration, only a Latin Mass priest and my spiritual director. The diocese in which I am living now does not even keep a registry of consecrated women, which dioceses are supposed to do not only for the protection of the women, but to use their gifts of ministry, such as orthodox teaching, and prayer.
This African priest told me that one of the consecrated women in his diocese died recently, an older woman, who had prayed and worked for the Church for many years. She was buried IN THE CHURCH. How beautiful, because one of the hallmarks of us consecrated women is that we share a passion for the Church, which is symbolised by the buildings.
The Western Church does not understand what God is doing. My new contact does. Some dioceses in the East do.
Remember the interview of the Pope Emeritus with Der Spiegel in 1963? Ratzinger then told the journal that the future of the Church was small isolated communities in a sea of unbelief.
A Church which has lost the centres of Faith, and which must rely on the faithful who keep it, mostly in urban areas, under siege, need the prayers of small groups of consecrated women. This paradigm is part of the history of the Church.
One thinks of Mary and John in Ephesus, after John took her away from the persecution of the Church in Jerusalem. Ephesus remains a centre of consecrated women, who have come to pray and teach people about prayer, Mary Our Mother, and the truths of the Catholic Church.
My new contact calls this the Ephesus Movement.
When she told me the name of her inspired plan, I told her that for years I was praying for “an Ephesus.” This connection is not an accident. This was my way of asking God for a quite place to pray the prayers of my Third Order, and to pray for the needs of others given to me. I want this place to pray and to write, to write now and then to you good people like you online, and to spread the Faith through my fiction.
My Ephesus place has not happened. My new contact tells me that many of the newly consecrated women, mostly ignored by the Church, suffer this isolation and even doubt as to their, and my, vocation. She encouraged me, greatly, in a time, when I have been very alone in my religious life.
The religious orders do not understand this movement, either, as many of us consecrated woman have written to or phoned convents explaining our position and wanting a little Ephesus within these huge, empty convents. The nuns and sister do not understand.
We are all disciplined, we all live simple lives. We are in the world, but not of it, like the Desert Fathers, going in and out as needed. The religious orders are stuck in the old paradigms.
So, too, are the authorise in the Western dioceses, as many women suffer from being ignored, their many gifts being stifled by indifference. Presbyteries and schools lie open, unused, as do old convents. The life of the consecrated ones could take over these buildings in a quiet, almost unnoticed manner, like those of Antioch, Philadelphia, Ephesus, Laodicea, Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis, Rome. Like hermits of the desert, we would live our lives.
Remember, the early Church began in the cities, not the country. The Fall of Rome caused the Church to disband in certain areas and go into the country, as in the time of the Recusants in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. But, the Church is basically an urban phenomenon. Still, the Church in Western urban places ignore us, except for two bishops of which I am aware. TWO.
Yet, God is calling us, one by one, and we are responding to the Holy Spirit.
The institutional Church will witness the great persecution. Churches will be shut down. Schools closed, Monasteries and convents will disappear under this new threat.
The Church will go underground in many places, and those prayer warriors, the consecrated men and women, will continue to pray, teach, do reparation, unnoticed by most governments.
This is God’s Plan.
Why I am part of this vanguard, I do not know. I just responded to grace. I still need my quiet place, and if anyone is in London and wants to help me find this Ephesus, please contact Jay on this blog. I am here for medical reasons, but need an Ephesus.
The women who are the Brides of Christ in the world need space, and recognition, if not by the diocesan authorities, then by the Church Militant, that is YOU!
Very few orders will last during the persecution, but God will continue the growth of His Church by these tiny mustard seeds, which are the consecrated women and men.
JMJ, pray for us.
God is good,