Two years ago, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICSVA) published “The Economy at the Service of the Charism and the Mission”. (ESCM) This very rich document is an interpellation primarily for the congregations but also for our way of positioning sisters, laity, and ourselves in a world where economics seem so predominant.
During the session of the Provincial Treasurers (13-23 October 2019), this text was often quoted. More recently, the Covid- 19 pandemic crisis was another opportunity for us to question ourselves.
Let some passages resonate in us.
« Christian spirituality – the Pope writes – proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack ». Consecrated persons with their choice of poverty are living and credible witnesses that « moderation, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life, or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full » ESCM 8
For some of us the experience we made during the period of confinement in our different countries was a tangible rediscovery of this "return to simplicity that allows us to stop". Getting back to basics, tasting the little things, being satisfied with what we have ... It concerns exercising and conquering our true inner freedom. The experience of voluntarily missing or having "less" can help put things in perspective; can free us from addictions that have insidiously infiltrated our daily lives. Important invitations and challenges given that we allow ourselves to be caught up in the frantic pace of our search for effectiveness and efficiency ... for more life
“This focus on placing the person at the center, […] recalls the continuous challenge to overcome a functionalist mentality even within the communities
Thinking about the economic structures means being part of the humanizing process, which makes us a person in the fullest sense of the word, aware of oneself and of one’s relationship-mission in the world: « I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world » ESCM 13&14
By applauding day after day, the doctors, the nurses but also all those people who serve f our society, from the cashier of the supermarket to the crews responsible for cleaning the streets, did we not regain awareness of our interconnectedness and interdependence, the mission of each person. It is a question of being and not just doing, an invitation to convert our way of considering others and ourselves. We have a testimony to give, one that values each person for what he is, rather than his usefulness, his function... In this sense, let us be sons and daughters of Marie Eugénie: God, who created human nature and made it in his image, loves this work with his hands. It is not necessary that the creature be endowed with beauty, greatness, intelligence, all that interests fiction and captivates the attention of man in order to attract his attention. The humblest, the most obscure, the most despised life has a deep interest for him” (Chapter 28 of December 1879, The Importance of Life).
“If economic structures are an instrument, if money must serve and not govern, then it is necessary to look at the charism, at the management, the aims, the meaning, and the social and ecclesial implications of the economic choices.
” Thus, any economic decision has a consequence it is therefore necessary to look at the charism, direction, goals, meaning and social and ecclesial implications of economic choices” “Thus every economic decision has a moral consequence”. ESCM 14 and 15.
When we talk about economic decisions often we imagine great things out of our reach. Yet every act, even insignificant, in our daily life, has its economic impact: the choice of the store where we will shop, the country of origin of the item that we buy, the respect of the working hours of the person who provides the cleaning, the recycling of wastewater, the care for the maintenance of what we possess, our resistance to the culture of the waste … the list would be endless. In recent years our attention to issues of justice and respect for creation has often been at the center of discussions. We also know how often there is a distance between our desire for consistency and our concrete actions, our habits. Yet we are witnesses: little by little a conversion of mentalities can be perceived. Let us be bearers of hope for no effort however minimal it is useless. We can also continue to go deeper, to question our practices in the light of our charism, the goals and directions we seek
Are the projects that we choose to support by our time, our efforts, and finances, related to our desire for support growth, to sustain life, to educate? In the aftermath of the COVID 19 crisis, there are no lack of examples: how to keep access open in our schools to the children of the families most affected economically ; how to involve the children but also their families in the reflection on another mode of consumption, what concrete solidarity to help migrants while the labor market is narrowing down, …? Here too, we can participate in the growth of the more just and fraternal world that God desires for all humanity
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