Christ's spousal call of love has led each Sister to this community and has bound us together by our common consecration of the vows and common mission of sharing the beauty, goodness, and truth of our rich faith. This common foundation blossoms into a healthy and active community life. The Church values this stable form of communal living so highly as to consider it the second of the elements essential to religious life.
United in Christ, one in prayer, and dedicated to ongoing formation, a stable community naturally forms each Sister, allowing her to more fully resemble Christ, her Spouse. In community, each individual is presented the opportunity to cultivate all the human virtues - respect, kindness, sincerity, self-control, tactfulness, a sense of humor and spirit of generosity - and to develop the ability to see life through Mary's eyes of faith. By the mutual assistance of true friendship super-naturalized by divine charity, each member of the community is daily built up and aided toward a more complete union with Christ in this life and accompanied on the journey toward eternity.
O Mary, Mother of God,
form us into the image of your Divine Son!
"God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night" (Genesis 1:4-5).
O Mary Immaculate, obtain for us the grace to continually praise God through our prayers and actions!
Christ calls certain souls to belong entirely to Himself as consecrated religious men and women. As a woman responds to the call of God, her attention turns to consecration to him through profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows. Essential Elements states:
Consecration is the basis of religious life. By insisting on this, the Church places the first emphasis on the initiative of God and on the transforming relation to him which religious life involves. Consecration is a divine action. God calls a person whom he sets apart for a particular dedication to himself. At the same time, he offers the grace to respond so that consecration is expressed on the human side by a profound and free self-surrender. The resulting relationship is pure gift. It is a covenant of mutual love and fidelity, of communion and mission, established for God's glory, the joy of the person consecrated and the salvation of the world (EE 5).
The Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a Congregation that has been in existence for almost 500 years and is responsible for everything concerning the government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges of these societies issued a document in 1983 that clearly listed and examined the essential elements of authentic consecrated life. This document, titled Essential Elements in the Church's Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate, states that:
The Church regards certain elements as essential to religious life: the call of God and consecration to him through profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows; a stable form of community life: for institutes dedicated to apostolic works, a sharing in Christ's mission by a corporate apostolate faithful to a specific founding gift and sound tradition; personal and community prayer; asceticism; public witness; a specific relation to the Church; a life-long formation; and a form of government calling for religious authority based on faith. Historical and cultural changes bring about evolution in the lived reality, but the forms and direction that the evolution takes are determined by the essential elements without which religious life loses its identity (EE 4).
Father Dubay ends his reflection by considering the necessary ability to live the consecrated life. "The final sign is capability. When God gives the celibate gift, he also gives the physical, mental, and moral health necessary to actualize it in a specific lifestyle. Necessary health need not mean absolute perfection, but it does mean a basic sufficiency. Each institute determines the minimal capabilities required for its life and work." Each of these four signs is a necessary component of that call of God of which the soul's response is the profession of public vows.
Teach me, O Mary, to know and love Jesus as you knew and loved Him!