When priests and religious no longer weep, something is wrong. We need to weep for our infidelity, to weep for the all the pain in our world, to weep for all those people who are cast aside, to weep for the elderly who are abandoned, for children who are killed, for the things we don’t understand.

We need to weep when people ask us: ‘why?’. None of us has all the answers to all those questions ‘why?’. […] And I don’t have an answer.

This is what Pope Francis told the religious during his Africa trip. They were words addressed to the religious orders throughout the world. And in fact he does suggest a provisional answer: ‘I just look to Jesus on the cross.’

God weeps also, and many religious sisters are striving to dry his tears in silent prayer before their crucified Lord, or in praying and singing together in their chapel – assuming they have one. Where not, then perhaps we should say, ‘not yet’.

In Albania, where the consequences of communism are still visible today, we are helping the Carmelite sisters to build the choir enclosure within their convent chapel. As for the discalced Carmelite sisters in Florida, Uruguay, the wind and rain have reduced their old convent roof to tatters.

We are supporting them so that they will not have to pray in the rain. In Ludza, in Latvia, the little convent of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Jesus, with its couple of rooms and small chapel, has now become too small for the six sisters and novices living there. Especially given that there are more young women knocking on the door and waiting.

And on top of this there are requests from outside for ‘time out’ in the convent and for various ongoing formation courses. Renovating the existing house is no longer an option. We have promised to help them build a new convent that will meet their still modest requirements.

And again, the six contemplative ‘Handmaids of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara’ in Burshtyn, Ukraine would not be able to make ends meet without your help. One third of their day is devoted to communal prayer, on top of which there are specific prayer times within the enclosure when they play, study and read the Bible.

They too have more young women knocking at the door, wanting to follow God’s call. And as we all know, being called by God means ‘allowing  ourselves to be chosen by God, in order to serve, not to be served’ (Pope Francis). It is this work of service that helps to dry tears.

This article can be found in Mirror 0216.