United States Conference of Secular institutes

2021 Spring USCIS Mountaineer

Secular Institutes

Dear Friends,
It is Lent. Does that make your heart fall or does it make your heart sing? I like to think of this season as one to
grow in love for Jesus and to follow in his footsteps. True, his footsteps lead us to the desert which conjures up
visions of barrenness, merciless heat, and chilling cold at night. But for Jesus it also meant leaving distractions behind and being able to focus totally on loving his Father and discerning his Father’s will for his life. He often stole
away from his followers and the crowd to find alone time, to steep himself in prayer in the presence of the one he
loved most.
However, Lent is also a time for greater community involvement. When we go to Mass there are many more
comrades at our side – at a distance, of course. We gather for common Stations of the Cross, for communal penance
services, perhaps for a Bible study. Our parishes offer more spiritual enrichment as undoubtedly, do our institutes
themselves.
In this Year of St. Joseph, I thought how much he is an inspiration for us in consecrated life. He was constantly
in the presence of his God in the most literal sense, and accompanied by Mary, the Mother of God. He was always
in this sacred community of family life, relishing the sharing of his faith with his wife and child. Like him we aim at
total consecration to the Lord and we joined an institute to have the communal
support to keep urging us to live up to our ideals.
Like Joseph we live in a world that constantly tries
to pull us away from God. Just imagine what it was
like in Egypt, a place of open paganism even if there
were a few Jewish families around for support. Undoubtedly, he had to walk past idols and temples, and
yet in his heart he was focused on his Holy Family.
Isn’t our situation similar?
Joseph was a man of silence. He never speaks in
the Scriptures, but he certainly fulfilled the will of God
at the drop of a hat. Go to Bethlehem? Of course.
Leave in the middle of the night to travel to Egypt?
Without question. Establish his business in Nazareth?
Lead me on. Wherever the mission led him, he was willing to go, because he
heard the voice of God calling.
Are we able to respond so quickly and without question when the Lord
changes our plans? Perhaps Joseph can show us how. Lent is an opportunity to
practice the quick FIAT of Mary and Joseph. We search for God’s voice when
something throws a wrench into our well-planned day. We see his hand when
circumstances lead us on a different path. All because we belong totally to our
God, we trust his wisdom, knowing what is best for us. We have surrendered
ourselves like Joseph and the blessings are unimaginable.
With prayers for all of you, Marcia Vinje

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