February 2nd is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is also the day in which the Church celebrates in a particular way the gift of consecrated life in the Church. It is a day to reflect on the fact and gift of the consecrated life, as it is given in the particular circumstances of this day and time.
Of course, it also serves as a reminder of our gift and responsibility for those of us consecrated as brides of Christ.
I think of the big days - the days of promises and gifts.
The day we entered. I had no clue what religious life meant. There were romantic images of long silent corridors; prayers chanted in the dawn; martyrdom and exciting mortification. "Let me give you everything!"
At the end of the year, we received the habit and veil. We received a name that would mark our days of life in His service. It was a day of great happiness. A beginning. A new life.
The joyful days of consecration.
There was the day when the Sisters in my group knelt in our provincialate chapel and definitively gave our lives to God through the vows of consecrated chastity, poverty and obedience in the concrete reality of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.
It was a lovely day - August 15th usually is - the sun shone, our families were there, rejoicing with us, even those who did not fully understand why we would do such a thing.
And we could not contain the joy of giving our lives to Him.
There was a day, only four year later, when seventeen of us lay prostrate on the carpet and with a deeper understanding and more mature gift handed our lives to God yet again. This time, we spoke the amazing word: forever. To give our lives to Christ with that kind of finality, how can I express the depth of the goodness of God?
And twenty-five years after the day we all arrived, tentative and questioning at the convent door, we gathered again in the Provincial convent to celebrate twenty-five years of God's fidelity to His promises.
Those were the glory days of consecration.
There were dark days; there are in every life. Days when some were very sick. Days when some suffered serious sorrow. Days when "the ring became heavy," as one saintly Sister expresses it. The days when giving all really is all. There is no way to know at the beginning where the road of consecration will lead.
The sorrowful days of consecration.
All of them, each one, expresses the reality of a life handed over wholly to Him. and every one of them - joyous, sorrowful, glorious days - and the magical ordinary days of life - the day when you teach a child to read, or help a suffering soul to receive grace, or heal a broken body, or simply provide for the needs of another Sister or a priest or a bishop... all of the days, consecrated.
With a firm resolve to consecrate myself to God and to follow Christ unconditionally, I vow to the Triune God in the presence of this assembled community, into your hands, Mother, forever, a life of consecrated chastity, in poverty and obedience, according to the Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis and according to the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George.
With confidence in God, and trusting in the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of our holy father Francis, I place myself at the disposal of this religious congregation, to glorify God and to make his merciful love visible.
--submitted by Sister M. Luka, Kansas City in Kansas