As today is the Feast of St. Anne I found myself reflecting on the remarks of Pope Francis from several years ago about nuns and religious sisters being called to be spiritual mothers and not 'old maids'. I began pondering about what he meant by fashioning such a statement towards consecrated women, and I have discovered that our beloved Pope did not mean to criticize consecrated women, but he wanted to inspire them to bear the fruits of tomorrow as St. Anne bore the fruit that led to our beautiful Catholic faith.
Women religious of today have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of their vocations to the young people of today, especially the young women who enter religious communities. Young women who enter religious life want to be captivated and awestruck by the love of God, and have their hearts set on fire with the spirit of the Gospels.
Millennial women have no experience from life before the Vatican II Council, and do not enter religious life to take back a community to those times since they have no idea what being a nun or religious sister even meant during those times. Young women only know what being a consecrated woman means in the twenty-first century, and it is important that women religious who did experience the turbulence of the 1960's and 1970's share their challenges and hardships with newer members. But at the same time they should not enforce their own agenda and personal interests upon newer members because young women of today who are discerning religious life or are in formation want to become a nun or religious sister to serve the church without having the baggage from ages past dumped on them. The Echo generation of women wants to work and help the poor and marginalized and take care of all of God's creation, but at the same time they want to keep their Catholic faith and the love that they have for the Church.
Young women in religious life want their religious sisters to pass down the fruits of their vocations to them so that they can then pass on those fruits to newer members in the future. If personal ambition is overshadowing the vocations of some of the women in religious life today, as Pope Francis has stated, then how can religious communities survive and thrive well into the twenty-first Century?
There is a lot of pain that still remains among nuns and religious sisters, and they can help young women who enter to understand that pain because their experiences can inspire and give young women hope for the future.
"You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of His love, courageous witnesses of His Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of His light".