Incarnational Spirituality

‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.’
John 1:14

The Vocational and Incarnational aspects of COLW spirituality are inextricably linked. Mary’s free, loving and joyful response to God’s will at the Annunciation and at every moment of her life, allowed ‘the Word to become flesh and live among us.’ Her response to God’s will models for us our vocational living and its consequence of embodying Christ’s life in us. Our life is to be ‘another humanity for him (Christ), in which he can renew his whole Mystery’. In this way we help bring about the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Incarnational Spirituality

By virtue of the Incarnation, God in Christ has immersed himself in the universe. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the centre in whom all things find their meaning. He is found in all aspects of daily living. ‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.’ Mary, at the Annunciation, is our model of this spirituality, which is deeply Trinitarian. It is in our hearts where Mary and we, as individual Christians, must first receive the Word of God. Mary, in her deep contemplative prayer, long before she received the Word enfleshed in her womb, had received him in her heart, the “hidden centre” of her being. She was able to be God’s Mother because she had allowed, in utter active receptivity, that God’s Word would completely envelop every facet of her being. Mary, in her virginal faith and complete surrender to the Holy Spirit working within her from the first moment of her existence, is the prototype of what every Christian must become.

As Christians and especially as consecrated men and women we need to see more, to see differently, to look at the world from a different perspective in order to attain a larger vision, a new consciousness, a fuller life. To ‘see all things’, especially to see things in God through the eyes of faith. If we cannot feel bodily comfort, feel pain – mental, emotional and physical – to empathise with others in their moments of darkness and suffering, delight in the beauty of nature and, above all, experience love toward all humanity, then we cannot, even remotely, absorb the fullness of God.

Only with a heart freed to be passionately in love with the Father and with humanity can we enter with Christ into the Paschal mystery and become bread broken for our brothers and sisters in a world dying of hunger for God. This is why as Colwelians we have a preferential option for the spiritually poor. St Teresa of Calcutta said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty – it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” Centuries earlier, St Theresa of Avila implied that we must burn with love for God if we are to warm up our many neighbours who are dying of cold.

Extract from the Vow formula

‘In union with Mary I resolve to live the call to the fullness of life and love
as outlined in the statutes of the community.
However, I know my weakness and I ask you, O my beloved Christ, to “clothe me with yourself”,
that my life may be but a radiance of your life.
O consuming fire, Spirit of love, “come upon me”,
and create in my soul a kind of incarnation of the Word;
that I may be another humanity for him in which he can renew his whole mystery.
And you, O Father, bend lovingly over your poor little creature;
“cover her with your shadow”, seeing in her only the “beloved in whom you are well pleased”.
O my Three, my All, my Beatitude I surrender myself to you.
May my whole life become one Eucharist, a song of praise and thanksgiving to your glory’.

From the COLW Vow Formula and adapted from the Prayer to the Trinity of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity OCD.