S e n t i r e C u m E c c l e s i a

"To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What seems to me to be white, I will believe to be black if the hierarchical Church thus determines it. For we believe that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Spouse, there is the one same Spirit who governs and guides us for the salvation of our souls..." - Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius [365]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Renovation of Commitment in Religious Life

As a Jesuit Scholastic, I am encouraged according to our ConstitutioNS to makE a devotional renovation of my commitment to God in religious life; I find this tradition very enriching and most strengthening. I am once again reminded of my personal commitment to Christ our Lord and to His Holy Church.

Having spent days of prayer and reflection, pondering over the commitment I have made on the afternoon of 31 May 2005, it donned on me how meaningful my vows are as a Jesuit religious. It denotes “surrender” in the fullest meaning of the word.
I have realized that profession of vows is noting but allowing one’s self to be placed in the divine hands of God. To allow Him to use me, as an instrument in His hands in ways He desires. St. Therese of the Child Jesus puts it so simply:

“To allow myself to be placed in the hands of God, like a little ball in the hands of a toddler. The toddler does all sorts of things to the ball as he desires: he may throw it out, bounce it back and forth, dribble it, or just play with it. I am a little ball in the hands of God. I allow Him to use me in ways He so desires.”

Religious life is none other than putting my “self” entirely in the hands of God. And as a Jesuit I have made this “entrustment” three times already in the course of my formation. The first happened during the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises when I prayed the prayer “Eternal Lord of All Things”, asking Christ our Lord to admit me into a life He so desires for me. The second was during the Fourth Week of the same Exercises when having reflected upon the “Contemplation to Attain the Love of God”, I prayed Ignatius’ Sume et Suscipe: Take and receive oh Lord my liberty… my entirety. The third and the ultimate oblation I made was when I professed my perpetual first vows in the Society of Jesus, the time I declared that I will live a life of perpetual poverty, chastity, and obedience, following the footsteps of Christ my Lord and my King who lived poor, chaste, and docile to the will of the Father.

Having religious vows is not an easy and comfortable life at all. There are challenges to be overcome and invitations to be responded. Yes, it is a difficult and tedious life. But I hope in the God who continues to hope in me, stating with all my heart a portion of our vows formula: “…just as You gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.”

In the final analysis, it is not so much I who profess to live a life of total consecration to God, but God who manifests His selfless love and compassion for me, in and through the vows. It is a sign of God’s fidelity and patience in me, a poor and hardened sinner.


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