On Sunday, September 15th my daughter professed her first vows as a bride of Christ in the religious order The Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara. The Mass and Profession was profoundly moving and beautiful. With the permission of Fr. Ruben Rios, who has been the novice sisters’ chaplain and spiritual father to my daughter, I am sharing his homily.
I hope you find it as beautiful as I did.
Overcome by the mystery of the Church and as the Bride of Christ who had so many sinners entrusted to her care, St. Catherine understood from Jesus: “In this blood you washed the face of your Bride… with whom you were united by the union of divine nature in our human nature”
This union “is the fruit of the cross”; “it is founded in Blood”.
Every Christian marriage is nothing else than a living testimony of the betrothal of Christ and His Church. Furthermore, each consecrated soul seeks to reconstruct that betrothal in a radical and visible manner.
The consecrated soul becomes the Bride of Jesus. As the Bride of the Crucified Spouse, she must also live from that redemptive blood. She must be intimately united with Him and allow His grace to flow in her veins.
Every good wife wants to please her husband. We see this in the example given by so many women, wives and mothers, who were pleased to see their husbands happy. They rejoiced in their great endeavors as in the smallest details of the life (a meal, etc.).
We see this in the life of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, an exemplary and loving wife. She wrote the most tender letters to her husband saying: “I would really like to make you happy and be the one you want: good, understanding and ready for the sacrifices that life will ask of her…” (February 1955).
Should not the intention of Christ’s spouse be the same?
The consecrated religious must not forget that she is the “right companion” to her Divine Spouse. She must not be a burden for Jesus Christ, but rather a tender and most loving Spouse, attentive to all the desires of His heart. She must be a comfort to Jesus, longing to carry the load of the Cross with Him and not add to it. She must be a wise, prudent companion. Such as Abigail who captivated David with her wisdom and delicacy… And unlike Job’s wife who said to her husband: “Are you still holding to your innocence? Curse God and die!” (Job 2,9)
This is essential in the vocation to religious life; how do you accompany Jesus on the Cross? How do you value your daily crosses as a means of sharing in His?
Jesus could bitterly answer the complaints of a religious with the same words Job used to rebuke his wife: “You speak as foolish women do…We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil?” (Job 1, 10)
The spouse of Jesus must become wise.
– She must study, read, know how to give reasons of her faith… “Behold the beauty of your loving Spouse” (St. Augustine). The dazzled Bride says to the Beloved: “How beautiful you are, my lover “ (Song of Song 1, 16).
– She must not be hasty. She must think, reflect, seek insight…
-She must develop a spiritual sense of things. “The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone”, says St. Paul (I Cor 2, 15), because she who has intense charity is upright, has a healthy intelligence, grasps things. However, if she is sick, her tongue is bitter and she does not distinguish the taste of things.
This is the wisdom of the Cross!
The spouse of Jesus must love the Cross. She should not be scandalized by it. She must be like the women of Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene and the Blessed Virgen Mary who remained at the foot of the Cross—a “scandal to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles”. The more they accept the Cross, the more they help and console Jesus and the better they accompany Him: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 1,23)
St. John of Avila says:
“The gift of the nun, the rest of the bride of Jesus Christ, must be to suffer for her beloved and beloved Spouse… That is why at this good time you are not given consolation by your Spouse, because you do not want to leave the earth. Do not put your contentment here, and then your Spouse will give you his consolations… Do you remember, ladies, what I have said here again: that God did not give the soft food of manna to the people of Israel until they ran out of flour from Egypt?”
The Spouse of Jesus must attain the prudence and wisdom of the Cross.
This is often manifested in conversation, since “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. She must not be a woman of charm and beauty alone; but of great knowledge of the higher realities and eternal beauties.
The Spouse of Jesus must manifest this wisdom of the Cross with joy.
Temptations of sadness and desolation will come; but in the heart of the good religious, a peaceful and serene joy is found which the world cannot understand. She is not denying anything for God but rather gaining it all. Saint Therese of Lisieux once remarked: “since I was three years old, I don’t remember denying anything to God”.
Why are many not happy?
Because they don’t believe… They don’t trust.
What else are they seeking? Christ has washed away our sins, He has restored our dignity. Do not pay attention to the reproaches of your past, the reproaches of your mediocrity. Now you are espoused of the Eternal King who beautifies the souls He desires to be united completely to His own!
Do you not trust in the power of His blood?
Do you not think he really loves you? That He has loved you first?
We have this promise: “the joy that the husband finds with his wife, your God will find it with you” (Isaiah)
Saint Therese expresses herself to Her Spouse in these words:
“Oh, my Jesus, I love you!… I want to love you to the point of madness… My madness consists in pretending that your love accepts me as a victim… I want to be a saint, but I know my weakness, so I ask you, my God, to be my own holiness. For as long as you want, I will remain with my eyes fixed on you, I want your divine gaze to fascinate me, I want to become a prey of your love. I hope that one day you will throw yourself on me and taking me to the focus of your love, you will submerge me in this burning abyss to make me eternally your happy victim…. O Jesus, may I be this happy victim, consume your little host in the fire of your divine love… O Jesus, I beseech you to incline your divine eyes on all the little souls and to choose yourself in this world a legion of little victims worthy of your Love”.
And I repeat… why do we not trust in the power of His blood? Why do we not think he really loves us? That He has loved us first?
- Because we do not think much about heaven.
This thought is what gives meaning to your surrender, and it is the place: for the eternal wedding… Your chastity is for the kingdom of Heaven. Since in Heaven men will be like angels and will not marry, you—by your total consecration—are already living now the life of the angels of Heaven. “With the hope of Heaven,” St. Mary of Egypt would say.
- Because we have not finished surrendering ourselves to Him entirely.
“Only the love of God—it must be repeated—calls in a decisive way to religious chastity. This love moreover makes so uncompromising a demand for fraternal charity that the religious will live more profoundly with his contemporaries in the heart of Christ. On this condition, the gift of self, made to God and to others, will be the source of deep peace.” (Evang Testif. 13).
Therefore, what gives meaning to these vows is LOVE….
“Souls who had given themselves to the search for holiness and who are now plunged into fear and discouragement, fall “victims of unbelievable sufferings and often with little or no merit, because they are possessed of erroneous ideas that have been formed from virtue” (id.). The result is that the soul withdraws itself, it becomes discouraged, turns inward and revolves around itself…
This is how Saint Catherine loved Jesus…
“One day at the beginning of Lent of 1366, Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her accompanied by his Most Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, and accepted her total consecration of her life in honor of the Redeemer and placed a nuptial ring on one finger of her hand, promising that her friendship would be eternal and totally faithful. From that day until her death, Catherine will always feel on a finger a ring, which no one sees, but which she feels perfectly. Jesus Christ has asked her to dedicate herself to caring for the poor. To try to convert sinners and to give good advice to those who need it. She was just turning twenty, and from that day on she dedicated herself to look for the sick to attend, the poor to help, sinners to convert and people to give advice. Jesus made her an admirable promise: “Take care of me and my interests that I will take care of you and yours. That was admirably fulfilled.
The Bride is drawn. The first thing she must do is to attract souls, as announced in the psalm of the marriage of the Messiah: “now the queen enters, beautiful, dressed in pearls and brocade; they take her before the king, with a retinue of virgins…”. (Ps 44:14-15).
The Bride is led. She is attracted by the Divine Bridegroom. “Draw me after you! Let us run! The king has brought me to his bridal chamber” (Song 1:4). St. Augustine highlights: “Love and you will be attracted”.
The Bride always has to ask to be drawn. This is the secret of her perseverance: “I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; …”. (Hos 11:4). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him” (Jn 6:44). “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. (Jn 12:32).
Fillión remarks: “In this amazing union it is necessary for God to take the first steps”. We must trust in Him who first loved us and beckons us to belong entirely to Him.
(Sr. Veronica Paul at her profession, 2004)
Mary Our Mother assist Sister Jardin Clos in a particular way so that she may seek true holiness of life and become the wise and faithful spouse of Christ. We also ask this Most Wise and Prudent Virgin for the grace that we may all be faithful to our consecration until the end and be welcomed by the Beloved in the Heavenly Kingdom for all eternity.
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,