Bernadette McNamara RSCM
At this time of year, many of us dream of immersing ourselves in another reality, a trip, an escapade… a family visit. Everything speaks to us in this sense.
Our messages and reactions in social networks invite us to express and interact with a face, a sunrise or sunset, a bridge, a building, a hidden and quiet landscape, a place of healing.
Our friends post us cards showing a place of beauty, or a unique building whose architecture delights our eyes. Festivals where a multitude of arts are mixed: dance, song and orchestra enchant the crowds.
Where do you go? What do you do? Who are you looking for?
In a letter from Mother St. Felix, a young member of our first community and our third Superior General of the nascent Institute, writes to us in 1874 about her trip to Rome:
“Yesterday evening we visited the Basilica of St. Peter. It is impossible to tell you the beauty and immensity of this edifice, there is no comparison to be made, one would spend entire months there, contemplating…
It is impossible for human language to find expressions to express all that one feels, what the heart feels as one travels through the Holy City, everything speaks here, not only the debris of the ancient monuments that one sees here and there, but also the streets, the squares, the very stones, everything lifts the soul and leads it to prayer.
I believe, my good Sister, that Divine Providence has permitted this journey for my complete and irrevocable conversion. Please pray, my dear Sister, that the Good God will not allow me to make myself unworthy by abusing this precious grace.
Her direct language tells us the movement of her heart: the vision of things leads her to contemplation; the soul is elevated and turns to prayer. Yesterday in a small village church I read the last lines of Welcome to the Visitor:
“With your eyes and your heart, look at the beauty of man’s work, seek the presence of God. May this visit remain in you as a moment of peace.
Brother David, a Benedictine friar from En Calcat writes “beauty is a visitation”. In a recent podcast on “Spiritual friendships” we heard Father Gailhac speak of such a visitation when he met Father Jean de Fontfroide. What if all my encounters in these times became visitations?
You who read me to the end, what leads you to contemplation or to prayer, or even to the singing of the Magnificat?