Many of us have probably seen a slideshow that has been sent through the internet, called: "The day God spilled the paint". (Watch the attached powerpoint if you wish.) The countryside is an explosion of life: plants are a marvellous combination of bright colours; animals moving around show the imagination of a unique creator; the sea is a mystery hiding extraordinary treasures; the seasons, a development of inconceivable changes; water, a transparent show of music and sounds… And in the background, we see a rainbow, of intrepid and mixed colours, a rainbow of sky, earth and sea… "What a wonderful world", as Louis Armstrong would sing it.
In Genesis we read that God said: … "I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth... so that the waters shall never again become a flood". (Gen 9: 13-
Notice the colours that dominate the slideshow and capture our attention. If we take the colour red, we know that in different cultures, this is the colour of life and passion, of burning fire and eternal love, the colour of roses, the colour of poinsettia, of poppies… the colour of desire, healthy strength, bravery and courage and is always alive and moving.
Think about an image or colour that speaks to you of God’s love. What details are you noticing?
All the Scriptures are a clear expression of God’s love. In the allegorical poem of the Song of Songs, we can discover, beyond the literal sense, the love that exists between God and God’s people. The introduction echoes the love desire, the passionate tenderness, and the burning love that pervades this song. God wants to fill the emptiness which darkness has brought into the hearts of God’s people. (Song of Songs 1:2-
The word of God, heard in the Covenant, becomes visible in Christ: « For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (Jn 3: 16). We know how this love becomes action in Jesus’ life and attitude, as he welcomes, encourages, forgives, heals, restores life, nurtures, frees, accompanies and gives peace. "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Rom 5: 8).
St. John Eudes was consumed with zeal that God’s love would be experienced as a reality in the lives of all and encouraged his followers to be equally zealous. "You should consider it a great favour and blessing to employ all your time, your health, your life and all the money in the world, if they were in your possession, to help in the salvation of a single person for whom Jesus Christ shed all His Precious Blood, spent all His time, His strength and His life… and do all of this for love of Jesus so that God may be glorified."
St. Mary Euphrasia did not merely learn these words from her holy founder’s writings, she really experienced them very deeply. The more God’s love flowed in her heart, the more ZEAL consumed her, the more she gave herself to help the greatest possible number of persons and contribute to the greater glory of God.
St. Mary Euphrasia tried to communicate to us something of what she experienced. "The glory of God and the salvation of persons that is my life… I must admit that I feel a burning and devouring zeal for souls." "One could say that our fourth vow constitutes the essence of our vocation…Set to work! Have pure, prudent, universal and persevering zeal. " Indeed, Zeal pushes us to extend, with passionate love, those colours of love that God had poured and continues to pour on all created things."
How is your internal flame burning? What are its characteristics and colours?
In describing the characteristics of our world, Pope John Paul outlined the positive and negative aspects that form part of our reality. "We are part of humanity thirsting for wholeness in a world of consumerism and poverty; of love in the midst of chaos and disordered loving; of transcendence in the context of political and existential disenchantment … which gives rise to racial, religious and gender prejudice.
On the one hand, we perceive a strong thirst for the sacred, a longing for spirituality, for meaning and a profound need for love and intimacy. And on the other hand, we experience an excessive confidence in ourselves, in power, in technologies and wealth. All these move us away from the Ultimate Reality, the unique spring that can quench the thirst of our human emptiness. As a consequence "empty voids" appear in our lives.
We all know places that lack colour, or lack the life infused by a variety of colours. Some only know the red colour of blood: violence, displaced persons, victims of trafficking, people forced to emigrate, oppression caused by extreme poverty, hunger, and persecution. Major damage is done to creation: forests, rivers, seas, and the atmosphere, resulting in suffering for the most vulnerable human beings and the accelerating extinction of species that are part of our biological diversity.
All of this offers us an opportunity to find new ways of expressing God’s love, to live our passion for the God of the Covenant, serving the most vulnerable and caring for creation and its creatures.
The declaration of the 2009 Congregational Chapter of Good Shepherd Sisters encourages us and commits us to…" foster a deepening of our spirituality… respond to the anguish of the world, calling us to the margins where God is waiting for us, by taking courageous steps to use our international resources effectively, to network and to restructure on all levels, creating new pathways for mission and responding to the urgency to nurture new life."
In the General Chapter of Our Lady of Charity Sisters, July 2007 we hear a similar commitment to embark on " A passionate journey which fills us with joy and gratitude and a desire to work with one heart in responding to the cries of women and abandoned children, the sick, displaced persons, victims of war and of trafficking…so as to bring some kindness to them and advocate for the rights of the "defenceless"…
Being faithful to our personal vocation, how can we respond in a new way to the needs of those around us?
How can I nurture the flame within, this passionate colour of love?
Difficulties, fears and risks should not stifle our availability to act in the same way as Christ did, with passionate love and missionary spirit, with a contemplative gaze and sensitivity to the poor and people that are excluded, with a capacity to analyse and to be creative, because our hearts burn within us. "And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will." (Rom 8:27).
You might like to contemplate the colours in the Stained Glass Window of the Good Shepherd Chapel at Angers which was designed to image something of the love of the Great Heart of God. (See attached explanation.)
Finish your prayer thanking the Lord for so many detailed signs of his love: give those signs names and colours. What are the fruits of this exchange for you?
If you wish, you can go into Supplementary Tools to deepen your reflection with photos, videos etc.