Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consecrated Virginity; A Beautiful Witness

"Receive the ring that marks you as a bride of Christ."
This past weekend I had the privilege of being an attendant to my dear friend Enza on her Consecration day. It was a beautiful witness of faith and an experience that undoubtedly enriched the faith of those gathered. I was asked to offer a few words at her reception and felt to share them on my blog as a means of bringing further awareness and insight into this wonderful vocation.

     We have gathered to bear witness to the beauty and richness found in God’s love alone, and to celebrate this great gift to the Church. In a world that is growing increasingly secularized and over-sexualized, the Consecrated Virgin's life shines forth the truth, the joy, the fruitfulness, and the freedom to love found only through self- sacrifice and an undivided love for Christ.
    One of Enza’s strengths, among many, is her attentiveness to detail in planning. However, we can give praise to our Lord the Master Planner, for providing her with the grace to respond to His call by receiving this consecration to the Sacred Order of Virgins one week prior to the Church entering the "Year of Consecrated Life."
    In a very special way we too are blessed by witnessing such an occasion. We have prayerfully journeyed beside Enza throughout her life in various ways; as parents, as siblings, as a beloved niece, as family, as friends, as dear sisters and brothers in Christ, as fellow youth ministers, and lastly, but certainly not least, as Shepherds. 
     Though, we have been invited to share our love for Enza here tonight at this Banquet, we are called to reflect upon the Eternal Banquet of our Lord and how this vocation makes visible the incredible reality of Christ among us and His infinite love for each of us.
    Enza, “By witness alone” you already live your life in servitude to Christ and His Church through the constancy of your ‘yes’ and service to others. You move with gentle humility and are always willing to lend a hand, or attempt to grow another one if it means helping someone out! I have witnessed the stirring of Christ’s love and Our Lady’s grace within your heart as we have grown closer and I am blessed to call you my friend.
  I still recall the quiet and humble joy you had as your shared news with me about your initial days in formation; together we journeyed. I, in formation toward the Sacrament of Marriage, and you to the Consecrated life. It is through this shared journey that I came to understand how the Consecrated Virgin reflects the primacy of God and models the importance of recognizing the centrality of Christ in all things, regardless of one’s state in life. She shows to us an image of the Blessed Mother, the model of purity through Whom we are able to receive an outpouring of grace to embrace purity and the virtue of chastity.
   The Consecrated Virgin does not present us with an out of reach or rare ideal, she invites us to encounter the real presence of Christ and the depth of His fulfillment by remaining authentically open in surrender to Him.
    Your willingness to espouse Christ inspires us as the faithful to reflect further upon the providence of our Lord and also the implications of this essential relationship in our lives. St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians explains that “the virgin has time to attend to the Lord without any hindrance”(Fr. Harold Fuchs)There is an exchange of sacred undivided attention to God which manifests in the giving of love and service to others. I pray that you will carry out this service with the aid of grace that you have received today.
   May the oil in your lamp never empty, and as such my sister Enza, may you forever have an undivided and perpetual attentive love for Christ. May your witness shine forth the love of our Lord and the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven. I pray that you continuously strive to imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother after Whom this way of life is modelled. And May you find comfort in these closing words from St. Ambrose as you continue this journey. (CC)
    "Imitate her, my daughters. . . ![117] Let Mary's life be for you like the portrayal of virginity, for from her, as though from a mirror, is reflected the beauty of chastity and the ideal of virtue. See in her the pattern of your life, for in her, as though in a model, manifest teachings of goodness show what you should correct, what you should copy and what preserve. . . She is the image of virginity. For such was Mary that her life alone suffices for the instruction of all. . .[118] Therefore let holy Mary guide your way of life.”( Sacra Virginitas)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peace in Plenty & in Want. By: C.C.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)
 St.Paul's assertiveness in his contentment and ability to be at peace in all circumstances stems from the awareness of the One to whom he most belongs. It is through this essential relationship and confident surrender to God that we can all find the 'secret' that St. Paul has learned. It is an ongoing work that requires continual trust and the renewal of faith. 
   Through this letter we are not being instructed by one to whom all was glorious and joyful. We meet St. Paul as he addresses the Christians of Philippi while imprisoned.
    From this captivity we hear the voice of true freedom and true joy found through Christ alone. We read these words today through our modern gaze and our perception of contentment is called into question. It is here our ideals can be challenged, and the boundaries of our self created prisons destructed. 
   Let us entrust ourselves entirely to our loving Father and strive to attain the peace of St. Paul by lowering ourselves in humble joyful service to God. We can do all this through him who gives us strength. To be at peace and upright of heart does not stem from only knowing prosperity; true peace and true joy is birthed in us through knowing God.  (CC)