Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Saturday, 28 August 2010 21:35
FRANK MOLONEY SDB ON CHALLENGE AND HOPES
FUTURE FRONTIERS FOR RELIGIOUS LIFE.
"We are now facing "new frontiers" or death. This does not necessarily mean that we have to "go elsewhere," although that may be an important part of our future. It means, fundamentally, that we need to look at "what" we are doing, "where" we are doing it, and above all “why" we are doing it.
"But new frontiers there must be, and I am sure we are all of one mind in affirming that they must be determined by an interpretation of our experience of Religious Life that is rooted in a great passion for God and a passion for humanity.
"The search for the future of the Religious life must begin by looking back to its foundation, the person of Jesus Christ. The fundamental challenge to Religious life is the restoration of Christ to the Religious life and the Religious life to Christ. That is why we speak so much of "returning to the Gospel, and of being "radically evangelical".
"More than ever today, the light that should shine from Religious life in Australia should not come from structures and institutions. It must shine forth from our identity, credibility and visibility, our experience as consecrated persons, living in quality communities, reaching out to "new frontiers."
"This will not be possible if we groan under the massive amount of negative data provided by the survey. It will only be possible on condition that we have a strong sense of the mystical about us, the result of our experience of God, the following of Jesus Christ, and our availability to be led wherever the Spirit is leading us. God is and must be the very first concern of the Religious life.
"It is time for us to spell out again what a Religious is: that something unique that gives Religious their role and place within the mystery of the Church. The Holy Spirit is leading the Religious Life towards a more essential form (by this, I mean to a deeper awareness of the essence of the Religious life).
"Despite the long history of Religious in this country, especially the Religious women and the Brothers' Congregations, Religious life must appear less as an organiser of works geared to education, health care and human development. We must work to become a living sign of the experience of the tender presence of God in the service of women and men in need. Our evangelisation must be directed more explicitly to them, and more openly in the name of the Gospel. It must be nourished in communities of intense fraternity, in a simple and sincere lifestyle.
"We are living through a period of transition from adherence to traditional religion to a non-tradition bound religiosity sometimes referred to as "popular religion". Our contemporaries no longer believe in God, Christ and the Church because they have been instructed in these great truths, and thus live the rest of their lives following them. That was a head-process that no doubt was the journey we all took, until we were caught up in the life-giving experience that is the consecrated life.
"Nowadays, the journey works in the opposite direction: experiences are sought on all sides. People, and especially our young people, move on through life on the basis of a search for a number of different, and sometimes contrasting, experiences. This can be a rough ride... But it is only on the basis of a multiplicity of experiences that people nowadays arrive at life-determining decisions that come from the head. The point I want to make is that there are industries that generate and live off the world of the young, and nowadays the not-so-young, by appealing directly to experience, so consistently superficial, illusory and drug or alcohol driven.
"Maybe the task of Religious life is to rethink itself so that it can generate an alternative industry, i.e., an alternative experience that does not start in the head and eventually go to the heart, as we did, but that begins with the heart, and only through an experience of what it means to love God and to live, love and serve as Jesus did, arrives at the head.
"This is a daunting task. It would be easier to wring our hands in disgust over the loss of the past and tremble with fear for the future, and many of us are doing just that. But the tradition we belong to “in its richest manifestations” tells us to "be of good cheer, I have conquered the world" (John 16:33)."
From an address to the annual conference of Catholic Religious Australia, the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, Hobart, July 1st 2010. Fr Frank Moloney is a world renowned scripture scholar. He is the Australian provincial of the Salesians.