“Let us go on increasing our love for our holy vocation ever more and more, for it unites us to God with an undivided love, and at the same time calls on us to love and serve our neighbor for the love of Christ who so loved him as to have died for him.” Adelaide de Cice, July 1, 1803
I firmly believe that God has created each of us in order to share our lives and love with God and others. God has chosen a specific work for each of us and one of the greatest challenges that we face is determining what ministry will best enable us to accomplish that given our talents and abilities.
There are many means for us to accomplish this. For me, becoming a member of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary is what I determined to be the best means for realizing God’s goal for my life. The decision to enter the Society required me to spend a large amount of time in praying, reflecting and participating in conversations concerning the ongoing desire to make a total commitment to God as a vowed religious. This is a decision that requires a great deal of commitment, abandonment, and faith daily, not just on the day vows are professed. As Adele Picot, one of the original members of the Society said, we should “Say with simplicity and with abandonment, ‘I am no longer my own person, Lord, I belong completely to you; do with me what you will, I abandon myself to the care of your love…and I will be faithful.’”
A recent gospel spoke of the rich young man who approached Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life (Luke 18:18-29). This particular story speaks volumes to me of one of the greatest challenges we all face to one degree or another, that of letting go of all that stands in the way of making and keeping God the center of our lives. In the story, once the young man heard that he needed to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor, and then come follow Jesus, he became sad because he was very rich. Jesus in turn said to him, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. (Luke 18:24-25).” I cannot help but think that each of us has within us the “rich young man” to some degree or another. Like that young man, we can at times have difficulty letting go of material things and various life distractions in order to totally commit ourselves to Jesus and the call to discipleship.
One could also imply from the story that when Peter pointed out that he and the disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus, that he was also wondering what that would mean for him in the future. Although the story does not say so, this probably applied to the young man as well. Saying “Yes” to God’s invitation to become a vowed religious, means daring to risk and trusting that God will take care of the future. If a person is so focused on what the future will bring it can and will keep one from seeing God in the present moment.
Consecrated life and the profession of the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity are the making of a covenant and commitment to God to follow the commandment to “love God with all your heart, your soul, and your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” It is a conscious and free choice to place God at the center of one’s life and in turn sharing the love of God with others, as God has loved us.
I invite you to place yourself in the story of Jesus and the rich young man. How would you react if Jesus told you to sell everything and follow him? What are the possessions you would find the hardest to give up? Peter seemed to be concerned about what the future would bring—what would be some of your concerns? Linda DHM