Constitution 114: Sharing in Christ’s Cross The Gift of Counsel
- Mother Mary Michael taught the sisters to seek holiness calmly, patiently and perseveringly. By fidelity to the inspirations of grace they would reach the maturity of the spiritual life, even though they had to experience darkness and obstacles along the way. They needed to keep to the path marked out for them by religious obedience. Fidelity to God’s will is a source of blessing not only for the individual sister but also for the whole community. (MMM 2 p. 99)
- Mother Mary Michael said: “Sisters who have to struggle with faults of character can become holy, provided they make no truce with their faults and earnestly try to get rid of them. To acknowledge one’s faults, to accept a correction silently, that is the best kind of atonement and make sup for everything.” (MMM2p. 161)
- We see this process of ongoing conversion at work in the life of Bl. Maria Virgo. At times in her life she was overcome by such great sadness that she felt deserted by God. During the long years of waiting in Steyl, she often fell prey to fear and anxiety, afraid that she might not reach her goal, and she admitted that she often lost courage and her trust grew dim. The struggle against her natural tendency to melancholy stayed with her throughout her life. But she also learned how to trust in God’s mercy and surrender her fears, her anxieties and all her feelings to the healing power of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace she followed Jesus who walked his path to the end in fidelity to himself and to the Father in the deepest emptying of his life. (BMVpp.26-27)
- In advising the Sisters about facing the difficulties encountered in ongoing conversion, Mother Mary Michael said:
”Let us not become discouraged, for where crosses abound, blessings also abound. Difficulties always accompany good undertakings, but God intends these difficulties to be messengers of grace and blessing. Let us only view them in the right spirit, for in the end they always turn out to be God’s gifts.” (MMM 2 p. 139)
- Mother Mary Michael said: “Our penitential practices are nocturnal adoration and the duties of our state of life. We must perform these well and in a joyful spirit of sacrifice. God does not ask more of us. Sisters who are faithful in these matters can be certain that they are leading a penitential life.” (MMM 2 p. 141).
- The unfolding of the mystery of ongoing conversion in each of us is the work of the Holy Spirit. Mother Mary Michael taught that the “Holy Spirit works in us slowly, steadily, quietly and peacefully.” We are asked to trust in the life-long work of the Holy Spirit within us that is bringing us to holiness and surrender in love to the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit that transcends our understanding. (MMM 2 p. 157)
- Mother Mary Michael exhorted the Sisters by the power of God’s grace at work within them, to strive to forgive themselves and others as God had forgiven them. She said: “God never reverts to our repented sins but treats us/’as\just if we had never failed.” (MMM 2 p. 110)
- Bl. Maria Virgo advised the Sisters: “Never take anything amiss, because whenever we think someone has wronged us, we almost always find that there was a misunderstanding and nothing was further from the other’s mind than to hurt us.” (BMV p. 154)
- Mother Mary Michael placed great value on silence, both exterior and interior. She was convinced that if it were faithfully observed then most of the faults against charity would be avoided. (MMM 2 p. 145)
- The goal of ongoing conversion is to glow with zeal for the glory of God, to use Mother Mary Michael’s phrase. Blessed Maria Virgo wrote: “God wishes from me perfect receptivity of heart, total surrender to the action of grace. Take care not to deny God anything. No matter how small a sacrifice may be, our conversion might depend upon it. “She sought to live out her own ongoing conversion as she explains: “Every day I will offer myself to the heavenly Father as a perfect holocaust in union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit so that he may dispose of me according to his pleasure. The most holy will of God shall be my will forever and always.” (BMV p. 66)
- Mother Mary Michael knew that patience was the horizon within which we had to approach the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s purifying work within us. With St. Teresa of Avila, she believed that patience attains all things. (MMM2p.108)
- Blessed Maria Virgo has a similar perspective. She writes: “Now and again we can find things quite difficult and it seems to us as though we are getting nowhere, or almost nowhere. Persevere in patience; God knows our weaknesses; but he also sees our good will.” (BMV p. 153)
- Bl. Arnold wanted the “pentecostal” color of your habit to remind you of your obligation to honor the Holy Spirit and to draw down his divine fire of love upon the cold world. But I think it is also meant to be a sign of hope to you in the midst of your own ongoing conversion process. It bids you to trust in and surrender to the enfolding love of the Holy Spirit that clothes you anew each day with God’s great mercy and bids you to walk in newness of life in your journey with Jesus Christ to the Father. (MMM 2 p. 33)
- For both Mother Mary Michael and Bl. Maria Virgo the gift of counsel, which gives us the ability to hear and share with others the Gospel of mercy, enabled them to advance in holiness through earnest striving, by the constantly renewed and trustful turning towards our merciful God and by surrendering to his holy will for them, for their families and friends, for the Congregation, for the Church and for the world.