Presentation Spirituality

An excerpt from Fire On the Earth, a book about Presentation spirituality,
written by Sister Raphael Consedine, an Australian Presentation Sister.

Acceptance of the Baptismal commitment involves “renouncing Satan, all his
works and all his pomps” – that is, repudiation of sin and the  devil in our own
personal lives and in the world. In a world growing daily in understanding of
the inter dependence of all creation, there is no room for a spirituality which
focuses only on personal sin and personal salvation. The Baptismal call to
continuing conversion, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14) involves
every Christian in a movement outwards, a movement towards compassionate
acceptance of every man and woman as brother, sister: “everyone must
consider each neighbor without exception as another self.”

This acceptance of social responsibility involves the prophetic duty of
denouncing what is evil in our times. And, it is not enough to point out what is
amiss, though this must be done with compassionate strength, with Christian
idealism linked to the realism derived from knowledge and research. it is not
enough to urge that there can be more just, more human, more compassionate
ways of action for the human family. These ways must be shown forth,

This prophetic responsibility is the duty of all Christians, but challenges in a
particularly strong way those who profess religious life. Against the presentday
exploitation of persons, religious life must incarnate the value of persons.
Against the many forms of alienation and fragmentation in society, religious
life must portray the rich possibilities of human community; against
materialism and consumerism, the joyful mutual sharing of goods and talents;
against the drive for power over others, the way of collaboration across
traditional boundaries of whatever kind. The vowed life of chastity, poverty and
obedience demands all this if it is to be truly compassionate sharing in the
human story.

To nurture these values of compassion in our personal lives, in our community
living and in our work of service calls for an asceticism, a self-discipline which
is far reaching. To act and react habitually throughout life out of true
compassion implies a readiness to refuse to be self-absorbed, even though
personal troubles may be great. Compassion calls for openness to the suffering
of others, even when we can do little or nothing to alleviate it, but can indeed
only suffer with. Compassionate living demands rejection of the sometimes
alluring role of Lady Bountiful, refusal to become the person who has all the
answers. Instead of these counterfeits, compassionate living demands patience
for calling forth the strength and life-giving hope with which the Spirit gifts
each person, however needy. Confronted with the suffering of the poor of our
times, we need skills and knowledge to be able to “apply the remedies to their
sores,” so a spirituality of compassion demands the effort and discipline to
equip ourselves in this way. What Paul VI has called the asceticism of dialogue
is needed as we learn how to confront or how to collaborate with others in
order to attack at their roots the causes of suffering in our society. All this
demands the asceticism of a balanced use of time, energy and resources in
order to  consistently make  a compassionate response.

The call to compassionate living, then, is no soft option. Yet because it is a
call, it is also gift. For us it is a gift inseparable from our Presentation
vocation. This gift is never received once and for all, but leads always deeper
into the mystery of the divine compassion made visible for us in the human
heart of Jesus. In contemplation of that mystery we are empowered to act
with like compassion to repair the effects of sin and evil in our own lives and
the lives of others, especially the poorest and weakest.

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