Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion and struggle for social justice in the world.
Fr Theodore was saturated with the Word of God and central to this Word is justice. In our Constitutions we recognize: “The divisions, the agony of so many people, and the tragedies of our time, reveal that the messianic promises are far from being realized in this world. This challenges our faith and calls forth our response. With the whole Church and with the Jewish people we hope, pray and work for the day when all will know the Lord and justice and peace will embrace”. We are called to “hear the cry of the poor and respond anew to the call of God to do justice” (15). We know that in our world today poverty, displacement, religious intolerance, wars and environmental destruction are worsening. Pope Francis reminds us in Evangelii Gaudium that we are called to solidarity with the poor” and” not to do so is to oppose the plan of God” (187).
Pope Francis uses “solidarity” which we may call “dialogue”. This means, being close to those who are poor and oppressed, taking their hopes, joys, fears and anxieties as our own as we were called to do in the Vatican 11 document “Church in the Modern World”. Fr Theodore calls us to have hearts on fire, and this happens when we intimately interact with the poor, oppressed, the environment. Then we feel the pain and are moved to act with justice and compassion. Dialogue cannot take place in a vacuum; it is not an intellectual exercise, but a listening with the heart of Jesus.
Pope Francis sees our pastoral challenge now for the “church and all people of good will not to be silent in the face of massive human rights violations”. “We must defend the dignity of the human person and the common good. We are called to be men and women of courage and hope; men and women who know that the light always overcomes the darkness, that justice, peace and truth will win but this does not come easily. Our missionary task is a struggle with those who are victims, to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote integral development. Guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for humankind, we must hear the cry for justice and respond to it with all our might” (188)
We work in different apostolates and different areas, but this is our challenge today: To hear this call of the church, to make social justice integral to all we do, to work for a world which reflects the justice, peace and compassion of the God of the bible. To dialogue with God, the poor and oppressed, and the environment so that we develop hearts as big as the world and hearts on fire with the Word of God.
(Sr. Patricia Fox, nds)