“Love led Christ to the gift of self, even to the supreme sacrifice of the cross” (Vita Consecrata 42). Since receiving the habit a few weeks ago, the Lord has continually been bringing the self-emptying gift of Christ’s love to my mind and heart. The habit serves as a reminder that it is ‘no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Gal 2:20). It is an invitation from God to be emptied of myself so that He can present Himself as a gift to others through me. Humanity’s very existence, our being, is a pure gift which has its source from the overflowing love within the Holy Trinity. But He doesn’t stop there! He then calls us to enter into the gift of Himself for eternity. Religious life is the ‘already and not yet’ living out of that gift, so that our very being is completely taken up in love with He who is Love itself.
Being as gift was a central theme to Pope St. John Paul II’s spirituality and writings. In one of his poems, reflecting in the Sistine Chapel on the creation of man, he writes, “God bestowed upon them a gift and a task.” The same is true for every religious. The religious vocation is very much a gift while at the same time an invitation from God to take part in a mission. Having received the gift of being named after Pope St. John Paul II, I hope to carry on his mission to build a culture of life and civilization of love in gratitude for the many graces the Lord has shared with me through him. By opening himself to the Holy Spirit, St. John Paul II made a sincere gift of himself to the Lord and the Church “making the world more human.” It was love alone that led St. John Paul II to give himself in this way and I pray that it will be love alone that continues to guide my religious life, that I may live a life hidden in Christ as a self-emptying gift.
Sister John Mary, FSGM