Holy Child Sister Gifty Abane is a panelist on The Life, a monthly feature from Global Sisters Report (GSR) about the unique, challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world.
GSR asked this month’s panel to share their reflections on the following question, and their responses were deeply personal, poetic and moving:
What is your favorite time/place to pray? How has your prayer “evolved” in your lifetime?
Gifty Atampoka Abane is a member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus from Ghana. She is a teacher in a Catholic girls’ high school in Ghana and serves their province in leadership.
Prayer as an integral part of the Christian life is a continuous encounter that evolves and grows over time, and results in a kind of spontaneity. Structured time and space might provide the ambience and still our interior feelings, which greatly enhances the experience. The church’s typical structured prayers and situations of the Christian’s life — coupled with routine family prayer patterns — formed the faith foundation of my earlier years.
In practicing self-discipline to grow deeper in prayer, the early morning hours of the day and late evenings before bed are part of my best daily routines. The Spirit blows where she wills and helps to embody God in my life as an incarnational-oriented member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
With time, I began to realize that the Spirit of God is fluid and cannot be contained in a rigid space, restricted to the precincts of a church, or bounded by time. During my initial years of religious formation, I was helped to gradually seek for more profound and versatile ways of communing with God as a religious — beyond physical space, materials and time.
In a congregation whose main charism is the Incarnation and which embraces Ignatian spirituality, one cannot be bounded by routines but seeks and finds God in all creatures in all forms.
Desiring to be in tune with God through the action of the Spirit within and without, I prefer the serenity of my room and chapels for quality and grace-filled moments with the Lord. Finding God in all things and in all places — contemplation in action is key.
For this reason, I have learned to be docile to my inner teacher, the Holy Spirit, to put me at peace with myself, others, and God — a discipline hard to develop yet consequential in life. I feel a call to experience and encounter the word made manifest through Scriptures, persons and life events in a truly divine-led human life. The Christian life — and in particular religious life — is a life of contradiction in the eyes of the world: a life which demands unending decision-making based on values that resonate with the Gospel. It is a call for a dynamic balance of authentic living of the Gospel — to be in the world and not of the world.
Finding God in our busy and chaotic world today, and achieving spiritual transcendence, can only be possible with exceptional grace. Now we can understand what our foundress Venerable Cornelia Connelly said: “It is precisely because you are called to live busy lives that you must lead lives of prayer;” in a sense, to pray unceasingly. Grace gained from sincere prayer empowers me to transcend beyond words to a conscious expression of the Gospel values in daily Christian living.
Click here to read more responses from women religious on Global Sisters Report.
Some consider the vow of obedience the most difficult. How do you or your community balance the demands of communal discernment with your personal preferences for ministry and living situations?