"Religious are to have as the supreme rule of life the following of Christ proposed in the gospel and expressed in the constitutions of their own institute."
~Code of Canon Law 662
Called to holiness by its baptism into Christ Jesus, each Christian soul endeavors to imitate the Divine Model. Chosen to mirror Christ in a most radical and visible manner as His Spouse, the religious woman draws on the graces of her baptism to respond to His call. After living the life of the community in the novitiate (where the novice learns to understand the beauty of the vocation to the consecrated life, strives to cultivate virtue, develops and strengthens a deep prayer-love relationship with Jesus Christ, and is instructed in the manner of life of the particular community), the novice who freely desires to give herself entirely to the service of Our Lord and His Church and who has been approved by the community is permitted to make her first profession of the evangelical counsels. By this act of public profession, the Sister assumes the observance of Christ's poor, chaste, and obedient life according to the norms of the community into which she now incorporated. The Sister is consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church and she learns to combine her first duty of union with God with the resultant responsibility of living to further His kingdom. Clinging to God and the things of God through a deep life of prayer, she becomes fruitful in grace, bearing His very life to the souls in her care.
"As the sister strives to be Mary's visible hands at work in the world, Mary communicates to her something of her own spirit, her strength of mind, and her courageous will."
~ MSSR Constitutions
You did not see Him, yet you love Him; and still without seeing Him you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described."
~ 1 Peter 1:8
Religious life cannot be sustained without a deep life of prayer - individual, communal, and liturgical."
~ Essential Elements, 28
The Code of Canon Law states that the first and primary duty of all consecrated persons is "the contemplation of divine things and an assiduous union with God" (CIC 663). This life of prayer is considered to be one of the essential elements of genuine religious life: "The religious who embraces concretely a life of total consecration is called to know the risen Lord by a warm, personal knowledge, and to know Him as One with whom he or she is personally in communion" (EE 28). This knowledge is not the result of halfhearted efforts, but is the fruit of fostering an attitude of attention and devotion to Christ so assiduously that this attitude becomes habitual. The consecrated woman understands that her relationship with Christ is the source of any efficacy in her apostolic endeavors. It is the context out of which she makes all important decisions and receives each event and encounter in her day. This habitual union with God is not easily attained and is easily lost. In his exhortation on the renewal of the religious life, Venerable Pope Paul VI affirms, "Faithfulness to daily prayer always remains for each religious a basic necessity. Prayer must have a primary place in your constitutions and in your lives." The religious's prayer is first that intimate communion of spouse to Beloved. The communal praying of the liturgical prayer then expands this personal relationship to include the whole Church, making the spirit of prayer universal, generous, and fruitful.
"People have to feel that through you Someone else is at work. To the extent that you live your total consecration to the Lord, you communicate something of Him and, ultimately, it is He for whom the human heart is longing."
~ Saint Pope John Paul II
"O dearly Beloved of God, most amiable Child Mary, would that today I could offer you the first years of my life and consecrate myself to your service, my blessed and sweet Lady, as you presented and consecrated yourself in the Temple for the honor and glory of God.... But time has slipped away and so many years have been spent in serving the world and my own caprice, as it were, forgetful of you and of God. Woe to the time when I did not love you! But better late than never. Behold, O Mary, I present myself to you today, offering myself entirely to your service, for the number of days, whether few or many, that are still left to me on earth. I renounce all creatures, as you did, and vow myself entirely to the love of my Creator. I consecrate to you, O my Queen, my intellect, that it may always think upon the love you deserve, my tongue, that it may praise you, my heart that it may love you. Accept, O Most Holy Virgin, the offering which this wretched sinner presents to you; accept it, I beg, by the consolation your heart felt when you gave yourself to God in the Temple. And if I am late in putting myself at your service, it is but fitting that I redeem the time lost by redoubling my devotion and my love.
"O Mother of Mercy, help my weakness by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Jesus the strength to be faithful to you until death. Grant that after having served you always in this life I may go to praise you eternally in Paradise" (St. Alphonsus).
From Divine Intimacy for the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Every authentic vocation to Consecrated Life begins with a sense of want. The soul invited by Christ yearns for something so much more than it has experienced or can experience of this world and its goods. It longs for a more intimate knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ, a knowledge that grows and blossoms into a rich and abiding love, a Love for whose sake all else is relinquished. As He becomes the soul's "pearl of great price", a deep desire and determination to enter into a close union with Him wells up in the soul. Its choices and actions begin to reflect the focusing of its desires on Him. More time is set aside for gentle conversation with Him. Charitable actions spring up more readily. An attentive attitude develops, listening to hear His voice in the mundane occurrences of daily living. Quietly but steadily, he calls His spouse to live for and in the world while teaching her to set aside the world and the things of it. Following His prompting, she seeks that place, that community, where she will be able to hear His voice most clearly and respond most freely. Each baptized Christian has the vocation "to do the will of the Father" as Christ most perfectly did, but His spouse in a special way dedicates herself to fulfilling promptly and joyfully all that her Beloved suggests. The disposition of her heart is ever His own, "I come to do Thy will, O God". Setting aside her personal desires and feelings, she lives for Him alone, praying daily for the light to know His will and the grace to do it with alacrity at each moment. It is in doing His will that she becomes fully free: free from the slavery of her own desires, inclinations, and weaknesses, free to be the woman that He created her to be - gentle, tender, patient, courageous, and loving - a woman like His own Mother.
O Mary, Mother and Model of Religious,
Intercede for us as we strive to do His will in all things!
Oh how glorious is the kingdom where all the saints rejoice with Christ! Clothed in white robes, they follow the Lamb wherever He goes!
O ye Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions,
Principalities and Powers, Virtues of Heaven, Cherubim
and Seraphim, ye Patriarchs and Prophets, holy Doctors of the Law,
Apostles, all Martyrs of Christ, holy Confessors,
Virgins of the Lord, Hermits and all Saints:
Intercede for us!