I write in response to the letter headed "Consecrated Life" (November AD2000).
Here, thank God, is yet another young woman of faith who will be there, one hopes, to put together the scattered shards of true womanhood when the feminists have done their worst.
There is only one feature of her letter which I find disturbing. This is the challenge she casts before her peers, not to shun the idea that Christ may be choosing them to found a new order of sisters. It seems to me that, in times like ours, in which the young are conspicuous for their general lack of decision and commitment, and, in particular, for their apparent hesitancy to give themselves to God through the life and rules of existing religious communities, we should not expect a flood of founding charisms.
I suggest that any young man or woman, having undergone initial formation in a religious community (today upwards of seven years!) and begun to absorb some of complex theological and practical implications of this life of total self-gift, would surely approach with extreme reluctance, even scepticism, the idea of a call to found a new order in the Church. Certainly I, as a "seasoned" religious who has been engaged, for the past twenty years in the (relatively straightforward) process of re-founding the life of a community within a traditional, time-tested and Church-approved charism, would not be looking for such a responsibility.
While not discounting the power of God's grace to work through human weakness, it is not prudent for us to dismiss our own limitations as irrelevant. In fact, the Church makes many strong, objective demands of those who claim to have the necessary unique charism for that delicate and vital matter - the founding of a new religious family. Many virtues, both natural and infused, are required - not the least of which is fortitude for the long haul, which will be uphill all the way, and accompanied, inevitably, by the Cross.
Perhaps the best demonstration of love for the Church and for the religious state, is to emulate Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and give oneself humbly to God in an existent (faithful) religious order, letting Christ call from there if and when He will.
SR MARY AUGUSTINE OP