July 28, 2014

The Church: the Bride of Christ

              Sister M. Gemma is preparing to make her First Profession of Vows on August 14th.  Here is an article she shared with her home diocese:

              “The Consecrated Life is Baptism out loud,” (Reverend Dennis Gill). My name is Sister M. Gemma Kissel, and I grew up as a member of St. Pius X Parish in Edgewood, KY. I entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in September 2011. This year I have been preparing for my first profession of vows. I believe that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to share a piece of my journey with you, who are also members of the diocese where my love story with our Lord began.

                It began with an encounter. Praying before our Lord in the Tabernacle, like many times before, I met Him personally. For the first time I became aware of God’s love for me; that He desired me as an individual. The God and Creator of the universe waits for us in the Tabernacle. He wants to shower us with His Love. Yet how often we fail to meet Him there, absent in body or in mind. Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist changes us to the degree that we are open. He longs to fulfill our every desire. All that remains is for us to come to Him; to let Him love us. The more love our Lord poured into my heart, the more I wanted His Love. I found myself attending daily mass and adoration. I began going to confession once a month. There is no better way to encounter the Lord than in the sacraments He instituted. I have come to love confession. While it is still hard to look at and admit my failings, God has shown me that it is Him we meet in the confessional. In receiving this sacrament we open ourselves up to the treasure of God’s abundant mercy. Sin divides us from God and confession knocks down all walls. The Lord had still more in store for me. Gently He began to reveal His desire for me to be completely His, as His Bride. I grew up picturing my future husband, and how he would propose to me. The Lord, who I knew as my Creator and Redeemer, now sought me as His Bride. We all want to be known, valued, and loved. That is exactly what our Lord offers us. For me and others called to the Consecrated Life we claim Him as our exclusive Spouse in our vow of Chastity. We bind ourselves in love to do His will through the vow of Obedience. We choose Him as our only possession in the vow of Poverty. We do all in imitation of Christ who chose to be poor, chaste, and obedient in His life here on earth.

                Over the past three years, as I have been learning what it means to be a Bride of Christ, I have come to a better understanding of what is entrusted to us at our baptism. To authentically live out our baptismal consecration is radical! Pope Saint John Paul II spoke of the universal call to holiness. Each baptized person is called to complete conformity with Christ; to become a saint. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that ‘the entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist,’ (CCC 1617). Thus, ‘Christian perfection has but one limit, that of having none,’ (CCC 2028). It is thus that the Christian vocation as such admits to a certain totality. The grace of baptism itself imparts an objective holiness by which the Christian is bound to strive subjectively for the perfection of charity,” (The Foundations of Religious Life p170). Religious profession, while not a necessary result of baptism, is a deepening of our baptismal consecration. As the baptized, what is our Mission? It is to allow the Lord to fill us as He longs to do; that we may bring the world to God and God to the world in all the “ordinary” moments of our days. I ask for your prayers as I continue to seek my Divine Spouse. You are in my prayers that you may, “become holy. Each of us has a capacity to become holy, and the way to holiness is prayer,” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

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