Mary Ward Week 2024: Day 1

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Who is this woman? Lead us on, Mary Ward!

“Who is this woman?” This woman, from a young age, in a hostile environment, goes about discovering the secret of her heart. She cannot hold it within. She crosses mountains and seas, breaking borders, because she heard, as did Moses, God speaking in the bush: “I have heard the groaning of my people…” I have felt the sad situation of England… As years go by, she keeps searching for new paths for women in the Church; she opens her eyes and with a clear vision and full of tenderness, she listens again to the cry of the world …

What about us? As we intend to travel with Mary Ward through this world, to which God called us, in Morocco, where for the last 25 years the IBVM has been present in this place which has a Muslim majority… Victoria and María currently share a mission and experience – in advance – the grace of BEING ONE.

Another religion, another culture where women do not count: poverty, resignation, unemployment, illiteracy, abuse, and male domination are part of their daily lives. There is a hunger for culture, but above all for dignity. Our commitment to the Kingdom is about responding to the situation God sees as being in need of redemption: Happy women of different ages come to our literacy and promotion classes for their training, promotion, and access to a job.

Women’s poverty entails the poverty of their homes, family brokenness… children suffering the consequences, and health problems. Vulnerable families… hunger for bread, health, and accompaniment in their different needs. There is also an attempt to alleviate these problems. All this is very important, but above all welcoming is a paramount issue.

And what about communication? Without knowing their language, communication is possible with the fruit of the language that comes from the personal encounter with Jesus; He makes us live in the language of the heart. A compassionate look, a hug, a caress. Listening beyond words, and being side by side with the suffering ones, are highly important and most necessary in a dehumanized unjust world. Beyond suffering and poverty, and in the face of helplessness and injustice, our call is about sowing peace and joy while trying to give a little help.

From the religious aspect, there are differences, although there are common aspects as well. They believe in a unique, clement, and merciful God. The name of God in the mouth of a Muslim person is something habitual. (“If God wants” is the translation of our word “hopefully” in Spanish “Ojalá” or in Arabic “Inshallah”). There are no problems with living each one’s faith together; on the contrary, this helps and stimulates us to live the gospel with joy. Their sense of God’s presence in their lives is amazing. Mutual respect and appreciation are essential.

The song “Lead us on, Mary Ward”, like Mary Ward’s life, carries a progressive and challenging dynamic. Her determination and energy stand out in the midst of the invitation to walk together with hope and optimism for God is near. Like her, with the strength of the Spirit and the love of the Lord, we are encouraged to keep going.

Wherever we are we need to discover and reinforce God’s plan to “make redemption”. “Lead us on, Mary Ward!” Let us live and learn that the Spirit is alive in us and in the world of Morocco, in the small Church that lives here, and in the people to whom we are sent.

How do you relate your current ministry to the faith and enthusiasm of Mary Ward?
To what extent is my usual language the “language of the heart”?

For Reflection

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Esther Finis