Marie Andrews, a married Catholic woman with grown children, wrote a litany in the spring for St. Louis religious communities of women, naming our individual distinctive charisms and asking the God of light to bless them. I blogged about it in June.
During the summer, Marie expanded the litany to include all of the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. You can download it here or at the Catholic Action Network website beneath the thank you to St. Louis participants who welcomed LCWR.
The litany is long. More than 200 congregations are described, drawn from their websites and publications. We prayed for them all on the hill in front of the old St. Louis Cathedral near the arch.
Marie began this labor of love to honor religious life. In doing the task, she caught exactly what the sisters are holding fast to in the face of the criticism of the bishops.
None of the communities are dedicated to defending the doctrine of the faith, teaching moral theology or championing the church's sexual mores. Rather, over and over, the call is to be on the margins of society, seeking the one that is lost, comforting those in sorrow, feeding the hungry and visiting prisoners.
Standing on the hill, I listened to these wondrous descriptions of committed lives and looked as the community of faith gathered there. I knew lots of the people there, and I was filled with love and with a sense of the holiness of the place.
Read the litany -- not all at once, but slowly, day by day, and pray for us all, sisters, bishops, people of God.