Evening Prayer Congregation Day 7 August 2015                          Mt. 16:24-28

“Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, let them renounce themselves and take up their cross and follow me”

If you look closely at the script in the leaflet you will notice a typographical error. (They say that the best artists have a mark of a mistake on their work! It proves their originality!)

The text reads “if anyone wishes to be a follower of mind”.   “A follower of mind” echoes St. Pauls’ exhortation to the Philippines:  “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus (Phil. 2.5) – that mind which accepted death on a cross.  If we had the mind of Jesus we would be well on the road to transformation.  What is it that holds us back as individuals, as Church, as Institutions?

This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the poet W.B. Yeats and we hear quite a bit about his life and works.  Yeats wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

The battlefields of the early 20th century were gruesome and horrific places so those who have no experience of it may underestimate the daring courage needed to be a soldier then.   And yet this is the courage we need to face ourselves, to face, name and accept our own darkness.  The courage we need to face our shadow so that the light gets a space to shine through.  The courage we need to take up our cross.


This integration of darkness and light, the acceptance of failure, betrayals, the humility of frailty are all aspects of taking up one’s cross.  Christ dies on a cross, on a crossbeam where the vertical and horizontal met; where the intersection of good and evil met.  We are invited to do likewise – “to take up our cross”.  It may help to translate the phrase into different language today but the meaning and the challenge is the same.  We are challenged to integrate all aspects of our humanity, our personality and our divine destiny.  We are invited to enter fully the mystery of being human.


St. Matthew in his gospel highlighted to the Jews and Gentiles – the new inclusive Christian Church that God was a God of history and that Jesus was showing what it was to be human, calling the people to a new vision of humanity.


We today, need to reclaim that vision of humanity that was in the mind of Christ.  We need to claim the wonder of our being, the creative power, the imaginative ability together with our destructive capacity.  As followers of Christ and St. Dominic we need to study and reflect, to speak a word of hope and compassion and to show that it is possible to live in right relationship with God, others and the planet.


Our world today, more than ever, is torn apart due to extractive economies, the forced global movement of peoples, institutional and political corruption and the absence of moral guidance in the areas of technological and scientific advancements.  We see the poor get poorer, the abuse and exclusion of women on the increase, the inhumane treatment of migrants and differing groups of people together with the intolerance and ignorance of the need for diversity.


The Congregation can as a group of consecrated women look back on a history of courageous women who got it right many times over the centuries but equally had its lean and dark times.  Pope Francis encourages us this year “to look back with gratitude” in order to live “the present with passion”.


Our sisters have lived since Vatican II through many changes.  We have had to let go of many ministries, convents and houses.  This letting go has been painful, done graciously in most instances and with generosity on the part of individuals and groups.  This pain of letting go comes to all of us through sickness, death, betrayals, calamities, particular events and broken relationships.  This pain is inherent in the cross.  But the cross is not the final statement of the mind of Christ, it points to transformation. ecal044


The Christian Cross symbolises the endurance, the suffering, the steadfastness that leads to life that opens us to the mind of Christ – to compassion, service, joy, love and above all hope amidst the mystery and paradoxes of life.


Sister Helen Mary Harmey, OP

Congregation Prioress