"What counts most is not what religious do, but what they are as persons consecrated to the Lord."
~ Saint Pope John Paul II
Consecrated men and women throughout the ages have made a significant impact on the Church and the world - Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel laid the foundation for modern studies of genetics, Fra Angelico is still one of the most widely known painters of religious art, and the contribution of the religious Orders to the life and culture of society is immeasurable. But, as St. John Paul II articulated above, it is not for these things that religious life is valued. Religious life, the following of the poor, chaste, and obedient life of Jesus Christ, is valued because of who the religious person is - a spouse and bearer of Christ in a preeminent way. A woman consecrated to God has definitively chosen to belong to Him without reservation and to bear witness to Him in every aspect of her life. When a consecrated woman approaches an assignment, she brings not simply her own gifts and talents, but the gift of God Himself. Beginning her day in the presence of her Divine Spouse, receiving Him in the Sacrament of Love, she goes forth as Mary in the Visitation to bring Him to each soul she encounters. Each of the evangelical counsels enables the light of Christ to shine through those consecrated, witnessing to society in a manner unrepeatable by any other means. Vowed poverty makes the consecrated person a beacon highlighting the bounty of God's loving providence. Obedience uniquely configures her life to Jesus Christ and pulls forth from her God-given talents for the service of His people, gifts that she may not have noticed or chosen to exercise. As for chastity, Blessed Pius VI wrote to religious that, "no one can adequately reckon the powerful effectiveness of the sacred ministry of one whose life is radiant with the light of a chastity consecrated to God and from which he draws his strength." Indeed, this life of spousal love pledged to God alone provides the fire and impetus that drives open her heart to embrace all of His people as her own, mirroring the love that Christ has for the souls He created. We pray that we may lovingly and faithful live out the life of consecration to which He has called us, for the glory of His name and the salvation of His people.
"Of its nature, religious life is a witness that should clearly manifest the primacy of the
love of God and do so with a strength from the Holy Spirit"
~Essential Elements 32
"Man cannot live without love...
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O Mary in thy Visitation,
be with us as we travel! May we bear your Son to all whom we encounter this day.
"Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social."
~ CCC 1618
In the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, the Sister professes her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to Jesus Christ, definitively witnessing to the reality of the preeminence of that bond with Christ which is the center of every Christian life. Bonded with Christ in a unique manner, the Church considers the life of the consecrated person to mirror in a special way the mystery of redemption. As the Catechism states referring to religious life, "To follow and imitate Christ more nearly and to manifest more clearly his self-emptying is to be more deeply present to one's contemporaries, in the heart of Christ" (CCC 932). It is for this that the religious Sister sets aside the loving bonds of family life, the attractions of the world, and goods of this life - to be "all things to all men" and to be love at the heart of the Church.
"For the People of God has here no lasting city,... [and consecrated life] reveals more clearly to all believers the heavenly goods which are already present in this age, witnessing to the new and eternal life which we have acquired through the redemptive work of Christ and preluding our future resurrection and the glory of the heavenly kingdom."
~ Lumen Gentium, 44
As a fruit of our charism to communicate the beauty of our faith, our Sister Sacristan delights in setting out Father's vestments with care - and sometimes creativity. A great deal of attention is given to laying the vestments out, seemingly for an audience of one: Father. Our Chaplain appreciates the thoughtfulness, but knows as well as we that the attention is really given to the One Audience that matters: God. Under the principle that what goes on LAST is laid out FIRST, Sister Sacristan lays the chasuble on the vesting table first, with the back turned up and bottom folded over for vesting ease. On it are placed the manipule, stole and cincture, usually forming an IHS over the chasuble. Then the linen alb is gently placed on top, with the lace carefully folded back for Father's convenience. Finally, the amice. A simple rectangle of linen with long ribbons, the amice has become Sister's easel for illustrating the feast of the day: Our Lady's monogram for her feast day, symbols of the seasons or saints find themselves written in fabric for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
The Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus
V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
"The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue,
will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin,
looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate
and as a powerful helper to assist them."
~ St. Louis Marie de Montfort