March 1, 2011

Fr. Prior Simon and Fr. Christopher were pleased to have St. Anselm’s Abbey take its turn in hosting a meeting of Region IV of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC). Eleven other members attended, representing national and international religious communities with houses or offices in the District of Columbia, Baltimore, northern Maryland, Virginia, and Philadelphia. Our main speaker for this meeting was Xaverian Brother John D. Hamilton, CFX, on the topic of “Active Religious Life in a Secular Age”. Br. Hamilton has been working in various areas of on-going formation for more than thirty years. He is presently the General Councilor for Formation for the Xaverian Brothers and Co-Director of Resources in Spiritual Formation in Danvers, Massachusetts.

His wide-ranging talk explored the challenges to the identity of communities of consecrated life and their members in a world rapidly changed by the predominance of the scientific method as the way to truth, a secular culture casting doubt on, denying or ignoring the mystery of the transcendent, and the impact of information technology on our tolerance for aloneness and respect for the uniqueness of each person and his or her crafts and vocation. His presentation gave us much to ponder about our own ways of dealing with the inescapable ‘Martha and Mary’ tension between the functional demands of ministry work and our need for awareness of a transcendent presence. In a world caught up in doing – trying futilely to bring creation under its control – the need remains for communities to find ways to incorporate the value of being still and listening to that other, gentle Voice, calling everyone to share in God’s Sabbath rest even while the work must go on.