There is a special grace and a privilege that we have experienced over the last few months: the opportunity to meet and live, even if only for a few hours, with our Redemptoristines nuns. In all the houses we visited, we were received with love and joy, without exception. And sometimes this happened right from the first minute, even before they knew whether or not we were family. There is an inner wisdom in the art of welcoming and these nuns are living proof of it.
Always wearing a smile. Even when the language is a barrier, the smile does not fail. Always with the table set. A cup of coffee and a slice of cake to sweeten the conversation. Conversation that unfolds freely and without haste. We introduce ourselves and identify the common relatives in this family which is a lot bigger than us.
We have been to English, Slovak and Ukrainian-speaking communities. Of Greek-Catholic and Roman-Catholic rites. In large monasteries and in small houses. In all of them we saw a fraternal spirit of community. Without exception. We saw brotherhood and community rhythms. Without exception. None of them can be labelled perfect, we know that there is only one Perfect Community, but through conviviality they showed us a willingness to foster and nurture community life. As Kezmarok’s nuns in Slovakia say: “We do not want to create a community of individualistic religious, but a true evangelical community which, by shedding love and joy, testifies to the presence of the living God.”
We are witnesses of this. We, and all those who share life with these nuns, whether in the celebrations, in the different retreat houses or in the fruitful silence they offer, can vouch for this.
Their intimacy with the God of Jesus is self-evident. Joy is one of those common features. Prayer may be another one. The “see how they love each other”, here is transformed or incarnated into a “see how they pray together.” There is a desire to do it well. And gifts that are put to service, like singing or playing instruments. But above all, there is great care to make sure the rhythms of prayer are truly a gift and praise to our God.
The psalms tell us that the whole creation praises the Lord. Our nuns take part in this continuous movement of the creation and do it beautifully. As one who loves and offers the best he has to his beloved. We are apprentices in the art of prayer and we feel that the whole Redemptorist family can learn a lot of this art following their example.
Good news: we can drink from here! We can learn from those who live close to God’s mouth!
We’ll see you around,
Zé ku Teresa