Hand to the Plow | Sr. M. Regina van den Berg, F.S.G.M. | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The religious sister’s separation from family and friends means that … in order to “put one’s hand to the plow” (Lk 9:59-60) one may not look back … in order to attend to the “one thing necessary.”
One of the distinctive marks of the consecrated religious life, both in its apostolic and contemplative forms, is separation from the world. The Code of Canon Law states that “the witness of religious to Christ and the Church implies distancing from the world.” The signs of this separation from the world include the observance of enclosure, the wearing of the religious habit and the use of title, “sister.” The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience separate the consecrated religious sister from what the world seeks: the possession of goods and the conveniences of life, the good of marriage and family, and the good of ordering one’s own life. The consecrated religious detaches herself from these goods, in order to belong entirely to Christ, her Spouse.
The religious vocation is an eschatological one; it is ordered to eternity. The consecrated religious is not of this world, even as Christ was not of this world. In order to live for eternity, she must be detached from the things of the present and passing world. In order give all her love to her Spouse she cannot see, she needs to be detached from the world she can see.
Our contemporary society presents a challenge to the living of being separated from the world, because there are so many ways in which the world is able to enter, even into the enclosure, by means of modern communication technology. In this article, I would like to examine, first, the importance and meaning of separation from the world, especially as it pertains to the separation from family and friends. I will then examine the challenge posed to living separation from the world by some modern means of communication.