The real problem is that LCWR is full of mystics.
Through personal choices that marry contemplation and mission --
through decades of rich and prayerful communal discernment --
through lifelong formation in the Gospel, theology, and tradition --
women religious open themselves to God's presence. They know God both as Holy Mystery and also "closer to me than I am to myself," as St. Augustine wrote long ago.
I’m not making this up. This is what I see and what I read and what I have often experienced in friendships with sisters around the country: a commitment to prayer that touches her roots, an openness to God that can be called mystical – with an intertwined commitment to solidarity with people on the margins.
There’s a long and lively history of tension between mysticism and Church officials. It’s exacerbated by the fact that mysticism can be a wellspring of prophecy.
So it's no surprise that there's tension between LCWR and the Church hierarchy. Equally, it's no surprise that LCWR has not used the bully pulpit that the Vatican handed it in April 2012.
Catherine of Siena, great mystic and great activist, Doctor of the Church, has relevant wisdom: “We trust and believe in what we love.” (Dialogue 8) Profound trust in God teaches humility, boldness, and patience.
LCWR’s patience has befuddled many of us in the years since the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment. I think it’s rooted in profound trust in in God’s closeness and in God’s mystery.
The thing about mystics is, they are acutely attentive to God's call - God's mission for them. And when they discern it, they act without fear and in the peace of God. While they respect the many voices from all sides that try to tell them what to do, they're mostly listening for God's word, either in those voices or elsewhere.
In these years, while many have called for public action, LCWR has been boldly patient. LCWR has been bold in its hope for dialogue. I trust these women religious to be bold in whatever ways they hear God calling them to be. God bless them as they gather in Nashville for their annual Assembly.