Adhering to our communion is like living an anticipation of Paradise: the experience of life at home in a witness by Sr. Patrizia of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo.
In the Broomfield House there are currently four of us: Sr. Eleonora, Sr. Teresa, María, and myself. We work alongside the priests of the Fraternity in some of their responsibilities connected to the parish and to CL, such as visiting the sick, working with young people, serving the parochial school, teaching catechism and singing in the choir. Both at home and while on mission, we live a very close common life. Efficiency has always been very dear to me since I studied economics. I discovered rather early, however, that living a life of communion slows everything down: if, for example, I have an idea, I have to wait to confront it [with others] before proposing it to our group of teenagers. If a family invites us over for dinner, I ask my sisters about our availability during our weekly planning and, sometimes, the dinner appointment gets scheduled for the month after. At the beginning, this way of doing things felt restrictive; later, I understood that, acting on my own, I run the risk of bringing people to myself instead of to an Other. And this is not what I want.
Among our sisters at home, we live a total sense of unreserved transparency and sincerity. We bring the encounters and the conversations with those people we visited to our meals and weekly House Meetings, and we let our sisters’ words enter into our way of judging and acting.
In secularized countries, quite often close relationships are viewed as a limitation to personal freedom. I am constantly discovering more and more that my sense of belonging is the source of my true freedom. The more I belong, the more I am free. And, if St. Thomas was right in saying that the beatific vision will be a communal event, in living a sincere communion with my sisters I am doing nothing other than living an anticipation of Paradise. I have to say that often I experience the following: when I see that the other person has the same desire for sanctity as I do, when I discuss with one of my sisters and express to her what I’m holding inside, I understand that thanks to her I am able to arrive to a certain depth. I would not have even intuited the existence of this depth by myself. Obviously, much humility is necessary to let oneself be challenged and to change one’s point of view. Often I need to get on my knees to ask God for this humility. Is it difficult to eradicate the pride that is behind thinking, “I am right.” Common life is God’s chisel. Without it, no work of art would emerge, but, rather, we would remain a piece of marble without a face. Thanks to common life, my true face is emerging–one of a sister, a daughter, and a mother.
Beyond our communion lived among the sisters, we have the grace of sharing our mission with our priests. I have in mind George, one of our friends who died the day after his baptism; or those people who we prepared to receive the sacraments; or those who we have introduced to our priests, offering our home as a place of listening and welcoming. We sisters welcome and listen, while the priests indicate a path and administer the sacraments. No role is more important than the other.
In a society in which identity is a confused concept, our communion helps us understand better what it means to be a woman and a mother. One day, a lady stopped me to tell me it’s wrong that nuns cannot celebrate the mass. Then she asked me, “Wouldn’t you have wanted to become a priest?” I responded, “Listen, I didn’t even want to become a nun!”
We had a good laugh, and then I explained that it is God who gives us our vocation. It is He who gives me the place where I can flourish. In the face of certain observations, I understand that the figure of Mary is not clear. Was it somehow less for her to be a mother? Was it somehow useless to stay under the cross? We want to rediscover our role as consecrated women by looking at Mary. We want to serve the Church with our priests, being clear about the beauty of the difference between the tasks that God gives us for our salvation and for the salvation of those souls entrusted to us.