The resource person for two and a half days (October 20-22) was Bro. Philip Pinto from the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Sr. Maria Cristina introduced and welcomed him to the assembly.
He began by saying that if we are really listening to God working in our world, it is going to lead us at times to a place where we will come in direct conflict with our utmost sacred traditions. And one has to decide at that moment where one’s fidelity lies. To truth wherever it is or to truth only along certain paths. Asking for the gift of openness to follow the truth wherever it may lead to, Bro Philip invited the sisters to enter into that space deep within, where fear does not have any place and where God dwells.
He said that we are neither human doing nor human being; we are human becoming. The news is that God’s wind is blowing. It may be a breeze that cools and comforts. It may be a storm that blows you where you have never been before. If my understanding of God now is the same as it was five years ago, I am in a spiritual rut! So the question now, he said, is “What have I learned about God that I did not come across in a book, or that someone else did not tell me?”
Quoting on Madeleine L’Engle, he said, “Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, the poor, the ugly, the dying.
In the afternoon session, the assembly was asked to identify signs of death in our provinces/regions and in one’s own lifestyle? He pointed out the common signs of death: weariness in our ministries, lack of creativity in our approach to our work, dysfunction in community life, loss of spirit of prayer, insistence on rigidity and rule and a devotional and materialistic church wrapped around its own needs.
Referring to an extract from the book of Eckhart Tolle, Bro. Philip Pinto began the second day’s session by saying that there is a shift happening in humanity, a shift in consciousness happening now, because it has to happen now. And a reality must be seen not from the center but from the periphery.
His sharing focused on leadership today and its demands, non-violent leadership and its deeper meaning, the loss of sense of self – loss of identity, meaning and values in the world today.
The leaders of the Church truly are men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word, to taste fully God’s infinite goodness. He called upon the Sisters to pause for a while and look within if these describe them?
A religion built on stability and immutability is not prepared for a cosmic order based on change. God is always expanding our boundaries outward, pushing us from within to deepen our love. Some points for reflection and group sharing: How have we experienced our boundaries being pushed? If you are a member of a community, has the community experienced that expansion? “If our minds and hearts aren’t expanding, they are shriveling.” How do we stay open to the process of expansion? How will we get our hearts big enough to embrace the expansion? What specific skills you might develop to facilitate your role as a bridge-builder? How will you do that? What seeds have been planted in you that are “in process?” How can you continue to nurture them? How do you support each other when life is tough enough? Are God’s wisdom, compassion and mission in me? How do I make these visible? How are you different From NGOs (non-government organizations)?
Bro. Philip’s sharing about his personal experiences as congregational leader, along with wisdom quotes and scripture references made his input an enriching and challenging one which was well appreciated by the assembly.
Sr. Margaret Hansen moderated the session.
Sr. Maria Cristina moderated the day’s session.
The topics for the day were Transformational Leadership, Spiritual Leadership, Christian Leadership and Mysticism. Spiritual leaders realize that the greatest enemy lies within, that in order to re-vision the future they need to overcome their fears, their prejudices and their pettiness. For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. Making a reference to Henri Nouwen, Bro. Philip described Jesus’ vision of maturity as “the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go,” and the way of the Christian leader as “the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.” How do you understand this view? We want to be transformational leaders. Do we give ourselves the time and space to face the enemy within? Do we have “wisdom people” to journey with us? Do we figure into our annual schedule some structure that will enable this to happen? What structure do you feel will help you in this journey?
You’ve been walking in circles, searching. Don’t drink by the water’s edge. Throw yourself in. Become the water. Only then will your thirst end.
Towards the end of the third day’s input, he brought the most important point “The Ascent of Woman”. A remarkable change occurring in our world today is the challenge to patriarchy. He concluded the session with the statement to be the kind of leader that you would follow.
Sr. Melina Polo presented the token of appreciation.
In the afternoon, Fr. Mathew CMI gave an orientation on Sri Sri Ravi Sanker Meditation Ashram. Afterwards, the members of the assembly proceeded to visit the Meditation Center at Kanakapura, Bangalore.