Welcome to our guest blogger, Sr. Maureen Sullivan, OP. The following article is an excerpt from a presentation she will be giving at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress on February 28, 2016.
THE HUMAN SEARCH FOR MEANING
We humans are incredibly unique…on so many levels. One very important element of our unique nature is our desire to understand, our need for meaning. We want things to make sense. We are the only species who are capable of asking the question: “Why?” Other species act out of instinct. They do not ask “why”, they just “do.”
As we reflect on this Year of Mercy, the natural focus is, of course, on God, the unconditional Lover, the source of boundless mercy. But in our reflections, we also turn to the recipients of that love and mercy…the restless humans who are so very aware of their wounded natures, their frequent failings, and their need for the One who created them. This need is expressed in so many ways. We find evidence of it all around us – in prayers, in literature, in art and in music. There is Francis Thompson’s moving poem The Hound of Heaven. It tells the story of one man’s struggle to do without God in his life, to ignore that inherent need we have for something More, and the devastating effect that choice has on his life. Or we examine Bernini’s magnificent sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. One cannot look at that piece of art and not be moved to the realm of the Holy. Many songs demonstrate the human need for God, for something more, for life to have meaning. One such song is Need You Now, sung by Plumb. It is a powerful acknowledgement of what this Year of Mercy is all about and I believe all of us would identify with the song.
As we read the many comments by Pope Francis on the situation of all of humanity, it is clear that Francis has an intimate relationship – not only with God, the source of mercy - but also with the reality experienced by the recipients of God’s grace and love. The lyrics of the song claims: “Everybody’s got a wound to be healed…I want to believe there’s meaning here. I’m trying to hear that still small voice, trying to hear above the noise…” And, Pope Francis’ response to these words? He says to us: “Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear the words of condemnation, but only the words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. He understands us. He waits for us. He does not tire of forgiving.” We have been invited to converse with God and the human desire for meaning prepares us for this conversation with the Sacred.
To find out more about Sr. Maureen Sullivan’s presentation at the LA Congress, visit www.RECongress.org. If you are attending this year’s congress, come by the Sadlier booth #324 to meet Sr. Maureen in person!