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Sister Denise reflection: 2011 Rite of Commitment

General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson delivers the reflection during the 2011 Rite of Commitment and Renewal.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, 15 Providence Candidate-Associates made their first commitments in a ceremony and Eucharistic Liturgy in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson provided the following reflection during the Rite of Commitment and Renewal.

Note: Click here to see photos from the day.

When I was praying today’s Scriptures to prepare this reflection, I found myself thinking about ideas from what’s often called “the new cosmology.” It was thinking about God’s Spirit that put me on this track – the Spirit who gives to each of us as “the Spirit wills.”

We know cosmology per se is the study of the universe as a whole – its form, nature, and its origin. As persons of faith, of course, we’re very interested in the Origin of all that is; and we’re attentive to what the cosmos reveals to us of God.

A little book I find especially helpful in thinking about our cosmos and about God’s activity in it is titled “The Universe Is A Green Dragon” by Brian Swimme.

In its pages, Swimme describes the “original flaring forth” from nothingness of fire and gases and fundamental elements that – over billions of years – evolved into galaxies and their planets, into water and air and plants and creatures – into us.

What got me thinking about the book is what Swimme identifies as the “basic dynamic of the universe.” That dynamic he names “an activity of attraction.” Since the original flaring forth this “activity of attraction” has been working on both macro and micro scales. Galaxy is drawn to galaxy just as certainly as atom is drawn to atom.

Swimme’s idea of “an activity of attraction” truly captures my imagination in regard to today’s Scriptures and to today’s celebration of our mutual relationship.

For instance, he makes this statement I think candidate-associates, associates and SPs can resonate with: “We understand the consequences of this attracting activity but not the attracting activity itself. … This ‘attracting activity’ is just there.”

In other words, we have a deep inner knowing that – in spite of the wide variety of gifts, service, and ministries among us as Sisters of Providence and as associates – we experience a pull to one another that is both inexplicable and undeniable.

We find ourselves attracted to one another – as different as each of us is from the other – by a recognition of the action of Providence, the action of God’s Spirit.

We don’t create or manufacture the attraction to one another. We don’t connect only because of shared values or even only because of friendship and affection. No; our connection with one another, our attraction to one another, this pull of an “attracting activity” Swimme names “a fundamental mystery.”

We name it Providence. We experience one another as Providence – as a manifestation of God’s compassionate care for all creation. Providence draws us together; Providence is the attracting activity calling us to work for “the common good.” And we choose not to resist but stay in the flow of the Spirit’s way of gifting us.

Providence is the charism we share; and today we celebrate the charism by publicly proclaiming our unity and making public commitments to the various ways we will live the charism of Providence in our daily lives.

Providence’s “activity of attraction” calls us to activity, to sustained and Gospel-driven engagement with all creation. Providence calls us to “ works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.”

Swimme describes the responsibility of human persons in this way. “We have a humanity that [has awakened] to its planetary dimension, to its planetary responsibility, and thus begins to provide … Earth with a heart and mind.”

What a gift to be the “heart and mind” of Earth. What a gift to love creation so much that we “preach good news to the poor … proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and … set at liberty the oppressed.”

What gift to be so imbued with the compassionate, generous, creative Providence of God that we can – in a world marked by violence and turmoil – speak the gracious words of a God whose only desire for us is peace, whose only plan for us is fullness of life in communion with all that is.

Today is a day of joy and thanksgiving for all associates, candidate-associates, your families and friends – as it is a day of joy and thanksgiving for all Sisters of Providence. Today, indeed, we celebrate and unite with “all who share the charism of Providence.”

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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