Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 1: Our Lady of Grace

On this oldest of Augustinian Marian feasts, I would like to acknowledge God's Grace in our Community. "Hail O highly favored one," said the angel Gabriel to Mary. Yes, Mary was most favored or full of Grace, but with Grace, or favor, also comes responsibility.

Mary was favored to be the sign or announcement that God was about to fulfill the Covenant for all time. She was graced from her conception to be the Sacred Vessel of the Incarnation of the Word. And she was graced to receive all the benefits, as the new Eve, of the New Creation and Life in the Risen Christ.

She was also responsible to that favor by submitting in trust to be God's servant. She was also responsible to be the rock of hope for the disciples at the cross and in the Upper Room. Finally, she is responsible for being the model of love in discipleship for the Church until the end of time, standing always to remind us that she is but the first of us all, our sister, to enter into the fullness of God's covenant rewards.

With the grace we have received as Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we have the responsibility to live the spirit of the Rule and our vows in following our Gospel call. Recentlty, our postulant, Valorie, asked if we could explain the "heart" of an Augustinian and if we felt it in our living the life. I would like to share the thoughts of one of our novice sisters, Friar Lyngine Dominique-Marie.

Lyngine said:

First, my own caveat, which is that I don't think that the characteristics that make an Augustinian are necessarily one's that someone starts out with, but are characteristics that in some cases, one grows into and continues to grow into. So, it's not so much a matter of looking at a list and seeing if one matches, as it is living out being an Augustinian and seeing if it fits or not---the joys and challenges of the novitiate :). The second caveat is that one reads and understands some of this much differently after/during some time living it out than from the beginning. When I first applied to the AIHM, I did some reading from the web on what Augustinian spirituality is and I know that I read those same passages now with a very different understanding. Third caveat is that my answer is incomplete so there are more characteristics for sure.

Yes, definitely the search for Truth and things intellectual are a characteristic. With the addition that (as you'll hear Joseph say many times ), that the "head" is balanced by the "heart". So an example is reading Scripture---it's both intellectual (like Bible Study) but also prayer and mediation---each informs the other---knowledge informs and deepens faith/prayer, and faith/prayer transforms and deepens one's understanding of Scripture.

Another characteristic is being drawn to express and live out one's faith in community. JB's [Friar John Bartholomew] post on Espousal being more than just a personal relationship with God and how we are called to extend that to our neighbors really states this very well. Other Orders (Carthusians for example) emphasize finding God in personal/individual meditation and study. Those drawn to Augustinian spirituality need and create community. There's not one way to do this---some people are more outgoing, others share their gifts in quieter ways and by doing, etc.

Well, that's a start and not even close to complete. There's also interiority, a theme of integrity (living what you believe/outer expression matches inner belief), emphasis on search/love of God being primary, etc----you'll get the whole slew in novitiate ---and much better expressed in the Rule and in the other books that actually have Augustine's words, which all helps in one's understanding. More importantly, I think, is that you'll begin to live out being an Augustinian in novitiate---the characteristics being something to grow into in one's life and with one's individual expression---and that really puts a different spin on them.