Greening of Consecrated Life

What does this mean the ‘greening of consecrated life?’ Is this an invitation for us to live as contemplative and compassionate women religious? What implications does this have for women religious, the Church, and all creation?

In Asia, the phrase, "greening of consecrated life" is connected with the emerging consciousness of religious to choose life and to act for the sake of life in front of devastations brought about by global warming and other forms of abuse and manipulation of nature. There is a growing sensitivity to the ecological question and a dawning awareness that for consecrated life and spirituality to be authentic, it must also be truly ecological.

This means that religious must develop a deep conviction of the oneness of creation, which fosters in their life and spirituality the following:
(a) participation and harmony among all peoples
(b) compassion for those who suffer injustice and who bear the brunt of natural calamities resulting from greed and from mindless manipulation of nature
(c) healthy personal and interpersonal relationships that lead to communion and solidarity
(d) reverence for the earth
(e) integration of spirituality and technology on behalf of the gospel.

fogliaI definitely see the "greening of consecrated life" as an invitation for us to live as contemplative and compassionate women religious in our world today. The five points I just mentioned above are areas where we are invited to grow in our mystical and contemplative spirituality as religious.

I have cited as a concrete example in my talk to the UISG what the Conference of Religious in India and other Conferences in Asia have agreed upon — that the call for religious today is to incorporate in every aspect of religious life the theme of the "greening of consecrated life" as an expression of our ongoing search for God dwelling “inside every reality of nature.”

Therefore, consecrated persons who have set apart their life to God are called to develop an ecological spirituality, which in itself is religious spirituality. I see many implications for women religious, the Church and all creation.

Let me cite what I consider important especially in the area of formation, whether initial or ongoing:

1) Ecological concerns must partner with feminist concerns as both address not only justice, peace and integrity of creation, but also the divisiveness that seems to pervade in our postmodern era.

Feminism does provide a more holistic perspective to spirituality as it strives for the healing of all separations, and for wholeness and integration wherever needed, not least in the life of the spirit, which animates self and society. It is painfully clear that dualistic thinking continues to divide and fragment our world when the millions who are spiritually starving yearn for peace and unity.

As women from different parts of the world are calling for a new spirituality, people are being awakened to their yearning for a kind of spirituality that is not based or dependent on dualistic thinking that continues to fragment our world. In fact, many women frequently find themselves calling for a new spirituality, which is not only based on personal prayer but on a commitment to social justice that would heal existing divisions and fragmentations.

Women are calling both women and men to give expression to a spirituality that affirms the ‘Word’ in the world, embracing both transcendence and immanence. It is a spirituality that looks to the wholeness of things, which feels the relationality that binds the whole into unity. Eco-feminism offers us a new perspective of the world and serves as a prophetic challenge to unjust structures and systems.

2) We are called to constantly critique the "production oriented" expectation of religious life and recover our mystic spirit. Sad to say, in many religious communities, prayer has become stale and routine, no longer experienced as the breath of life of the Spirit. Today as ever before, we are faced with a new challenge and a consequent invitation to return to mysticism, an experience of being in close contact with the divine, and to be touched by God’s spirit. The "greening of consecrated life" is a way of helping us recover our mystic spirit.

3) Precisely because the world is fragmenting and systems as we have known them are in crisis, the demand for authenticity and coherence between what one believes and what one does is not extinguished. In fact, there is a greater consciousness that meaning must come from within ourselves and not be imposed from outside.

orso polareThis makes us realize that a more personalized education and human formation is therefore needed in order to enhance the unique and unrepeatable mystery of the person. I have mentioned earlier that in every age, there is attention to the search for the authentic self, the person one is created and called to be, but in our post-modern world we need to develop a greater appreciation for the complementarities of human development and spiritual growth. We must therefore incorporate in our religious formation a more holistic approach.


sr. Judette Gallares, RC

Question for Reflection:

Sr. Judette promotes the "greening of consecrated life." Do you receive this as an invitation to live contemplatively and compassionately in today’s world? If so, can you give a concrete example/s?



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