This is my penultimate scripture verse in the ten verse challenge, and today I'm sharing a verse which will be with me and part of me forever. And any professed RSCJ who has noticed this post's title will understand exactly what I mean.
Probation, the Society's programme of preparation for final vows, brings together a diverse, international group of RSCJ, who somehow - despite their different languages and cultures - form a close-knit community with deep bonds which last, even across decades and continents, and rare reunions. Each group is different, of course, both in its members, and in the context in which they come together. External events - maybe in probanists' home countries - blend with internal dynamics, joys and sorrows, giving each group its own unique character and identity. At the end of this process the Superior General - who, along with her Council, has spent time getting to know the probanists individually and as a group - gives each probation a name and a devise (a motto - usually derived from scripture, prayer or Society texts), which somehow gathers all this up, and serves as both identity and call for the rest of their lives.
My own group experienced illness, fragility and heartache, and each others' tenderness, care and compassion. We were dismayed by the invasion of Iraq, and shared the anxiety of those whose countries were experiencing less publicised conflicts. We prayed, laughed, struggled, scrapped, wept and dreamt together, opening our hearts to each other and to the world, with all its pain and its beauty.
And our name and devise, when they came, somehow gathered up and reflected all this and more, for each one and for all of us as a group. They reflect our experience, but also proclaim a fundamental aspect of the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus. And for me, what began in the novitiate as a call to the Pierced Heart of Jesus and to vulnerability, received its confirmation and simultaneous depth and expansion in our - in my - name The Open and Welcoming Heart of Jesus, and in our devise, which comes from scripture: Through his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53.5)
Through his wounds we are healed... Contained in those six short words are all the mystery of self-giving, redemptive love, and all our hope of healing and restoration. And in there, in that mystery and promise, is an invitation to allow the woundedness of Jesus to become our healing and our wholeness, transforming and healing our own inner wounds so that they, like his, may become glorious signs of God's powerful love and life within us. That has been my experience thus far, and my prayer and hope are that it may continue to be so.