FOLLOWING JESUS OF NAZARETH: CHASTE, POOR, OBEDIENT
“I SAY TO THE LORD, YOU ARE MY LORD, YOU ARE MY ONLY GOOD.” (Ps 16:2)
With joy and gratitude we accept the gift of our consecration, by which we are united with Christ by a special bond of love. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we follow Jesus of Nazareth who was chaste, poor and obedient. Our consecration is a free action of God in us. It is a free gift of God who called each one of us by name, “I have called you by name: you are mine” (Is 43:1). Our consecration, bestowed upon us, is an act of God because only God Himself is able to make it possible for us to share in His life. Our consecration is the fruit of the personal encounters of each one of us with God. We give ourselves to God and allow Him to possess us. God is the one who preserved us for Himself and made us His own, a place of His presence, and an instrument of His saving action. It is He who included us in the mystery of His Incarnated Son. Consecrated persons surrender themselves entirely into the possession of the beloved, above all, God, dedicating oneself to God’s service and worship. We desire our self-offering to involve our entire being, without holding back anything. The Holy Spirit enables us to live the consecrated life, which makes Christ visible in the contemporary world, where we are the visible sign of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Our consecration is being realized in community by the profession of the evangelical counsels – chastity, poverty and obedience. “The counsels, more than a simple renunciation are a specific acceptance of the mystery of Christ, lived within the Church” (VC,16). Through the profession of the evangelical counsels, we try to reproduce in ourselves, as far as possible, the manner of Christ’s life, which He assumed when He came to this world. By the vow of chastity we adopt, as our own, the chaste love of Christ, and we proclaim to the world that Christ is the only Son, who is one with the Father who loves Him unconditionally. By imitating Christ who was poor, we proclaim that He is the Son who received all from the Father and who returns all to Him out of love. By accepting the filial obedience of Christ we confess that He is infinitely beloved and loving as the one who finds “delight” in doing the will of the Father. “The consecrated life is thus called constantly to deepen the gift of the evangelical counsels with a love which grows ever more genuine and strong in the Trinitarian dimension: love for Christ, which leads to closeness with Him; love for the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts to His inspiration; love for the Father, the first origin and supreme goal of the consecrated life.” VC,16
Our vows are the seal of mutual self-surrender and self-giving between God, who is love, and a human being, who, though frail and weak, wishes to accept this love and to be formed by it – ” MY LOVER BELONGS TO ME AND I TO HIM…” (Song 2:16). Through vows we enter a Covenant of Love with God.
Our religious community is the sphere where we live our evangelical counsels day by day. In the everyday life of Nazareth’s reality, marked by simplicity, humility, meekness, ordinariness, gentleness and the hidden life, we desire to grow to the fullness of love. In this way, we want to live out the spiritual testimony of our Mother Foundress, which was her call too. Hence, love is the characteristic feature of living out our vow of chastity, poverty and obedience.
The Love that reigned in the Holy Family of Nazareth is our model and the measure of our self-surrender to God. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are our most beautiful models of a life of chastity, poverty and obedience. The Holy Family of Nazareth is for us a model of community living in the fullness of Love. We want to grow into the likeness of Jesus of Nazareth, the most beautiful of the Sons of men (see Ps 45:3). We look to Mary, who did the will of the Father, showing fervor in obedience, courage in poverty and, in her fruitful virginity, a willingness to accept life, and to Saint Joseph, who ”immediately put his liberty at the disposition of the divine design, to make them his legitimate human calling, and his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions.” We learn from him how to entrust ourselves to God, how to live a life of virginity. ”As Jesus, Mary and Joseph dedicated themselves entirely to the Father, we too, joyfully surrender our lives to God forever.” Hence our constitutions, pointing to the charism of Nazareth, call upon Mary and Saint Joseph as the first witnesses of the profession of our vows. We need them to intercede for us to so that God will grant us the grace of fidelity and perseverance in our Congregation.