It would be naïve of anyone to instruct the EHJ Sisters to centre their spirituality on the Eucharist, since that is already the case both “de iure et de facto” as their name implies and as the reality of their life and apostolate bear credible witness. That is why I set to turn your attention to a somewhat different direction in line with the clarion call of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that my beloved EHJ Sisters should equally continue to fan into flame the gifts of their consecration, and more precisely, the apostolic zeal and charism of their founder, in tandem with the present day realities in order to keep their relevance intact at the superlative degree.
I know the Institute of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus ‘Sisters to be both active and contemplative, since it is built upon and around a Eucharistic spirituality, and the Institute has to contribute to the mission of the Church by providing “educated African Sisters who can be a great missionary power, with the aim of promoting the glory of God and the sanctification of her members”, according to the Father Founder. It is my ardent desire, therefore, to always see the Sisters fulfilling this bipartite mantra of their Institute – keeping both prayer and work in perfect equilibrium. The above mandate becomes more imperative in the face of our current situation in the Church and in the Society, to which the Sisters in question should spread their tentacles of relevance in order to attain the higher righteousness of the Kingdom (Matt 5:20) that Jesus commanded us.
ON-GOING RELEVANCE OF THE EHJ SISTERS: A PERSONAL CONCERN
Please, don’t get me wrong, the title of this sub-section does not imply in any way that the EHJ Institute is losing out in relevance; rather, it is a personal pride I take in the Religious Institute that thus warrant “a push to greater heights” for the Congregation. On this note, I present my “push” as recommendations in form of a “Seven-point Agenda”, resting on the giant shoulders of the Magisterium for credibility and acceptance.
a) Re-commitment to the Principle of “Ora et Labora”. “Work and Pray” is a slogan of St Benedict that has become normative for the whole Church. I propose a re-commitment to this principle for the fruitfulness of our apostolate and for a functional definition of our persons as active and contemplative religious. What I only need to add is that the two – work and prayer, should be kept in good balance; in fact, we should pray as the foundation of work, and work as the continuation of prayer. In this way, we heed the words of St Paul to “pray without ceasing” (1Thess. 5:17), with the additional advantage of giving the works of our apostolate a religious trade mark, not just a humanitarian logo. In his Apostolic Constitution ‘Vultum Dei Quaerere’, Pope Francis directs all religious women that “the ‘ora et labora’ of the Benedictine tradition should always be your inspiration, and help you to find the right balance between seeking the Absolute, and commitment to your daily chores, between the peace of contemplation and the effort expended in work” (Pope Francis. V.D.Q, June 29, 2016: no.32). I consider this the necessary footstool to stand on in order to better raise your head in outstanding relevance today.