The National Catholic Reporter has published a five-part essay by Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders, Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. The essay, titled “Religious Life as Prophetic Life Form” explores the meaning of religious life today and comes during a controversial three-year Vatican study of U.S. women religious congregations.
Sr. Sandra explains “In this essay I am going beyond the “lifestyle” to the “prophetic nature of the life” itself. I am suggesting that the very heart of ministerial religious life is its participation in the prophetic mission of Jesus. That mission, of proclaiming the Good News of salvation to the poor, is enacted in their interpretation of the Gospel into concrete historical situations of suffering. And this will inevitably lead to tension between the status quo of Church as hierarchical power structure enforcing doctrinal uniformity and moral subordination, and the Church as the Body of Christ in this world caring by preference for those on the margins, those who do not and cannot measure up, those who can only say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” even when they cannot promise to meet the standards.”
To read NCR Editor Tom Fox’s interview with Sr. Sandra, asking her about the purpose and timing of her five-part essay, go to the NCR website where there is also a link to the essay.