Welcome back to my series of blogs titled, “Have you ever wondered?” In my last blog we explored God’s call to the Ordained Priesthood and reflected on the primary role of the ordained priest as capacitating the laity for their mission to transform culture by explaining the Word of God through preaching and by administering the Church’s sacraments â€“ those sanctifying grace-giving encounters with Jesus Christ. We concluded by raising the question of our perennial restless hearts â€“ our continuous yearning for something more. St. Augustine struggled with the same query and offers the world his wonderful insight, “You made us for yourself O God and our hearts are ever restless until they rest in You” (Confessions Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5: CSEL 33, 1-5). In other words, we are wired for God and only God can fully satisfy us.
God has called consecrated persons, and in a special way, vowed religious women and men to a life lived totally in and for God now. They do this through a radical following of Jesus who was poor, chaste and obedient for the sake of the kingdom. By authentically living this lifestyle they witness in joy that “Here we have no lasting cityâ€¦” (Heb. 13:14), but rather we are all pilgrims on a journey back to God, where God alone fills us with the joy that on this earth, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him” (1Cor. 2:9).
Religious are human beings called to witness â€“ although in an imperfect way â€“ the foretaste of the heavenly reality enjoyed by angels and saints alike. In other words religious freely put aside the very beautiful but limited earthly gifts of marriage and family while seeking to become one with God now through the vow of chastity; religious recognize earthly possessions as good but extremely limited in comparison to God the source and creator of all earthly goods, and therefore choose Him alone through the vow of poverty; fully confident that God loves them and wants what is best for them at all times, religious place their self-determination within the very heart of God’s all-knowing and loving will and embrace the vow of obedience.
Consecrated persons who sincerely live this spirit of totality witness a foretaste of the heavenly joy that God has in store for all of His children. Through their lifestyle consecrated persons remind the entire Church that this life on earth is not our true and permanent home, but rather the journey along which Jesus’ disciples pass while spreading Christ’s love, compassion and concern to all along the way drawing others to take up their own journey back to God who waits for all of us with open arms.