Called by the Father and Led by the Spirit

September 2012 — Vol. 2, Issue 2

Fr. Jim Gallagher, C.S.C.

 

2012 Final Vows Class

“I believe that I have been called by the Father and lead by the Spirit to offer my life and my life’s work in the service of the Lord for the needs of the Church and the world.” Brian Ching, C.S.C., Mark DeMott, C.S.C. and Jarrod Waugh, C.S.C., used these words as a part of their profession of final vows.

Through prayer, reflection, and discernment they came to understand that the Lord was inviting them to offer their life in His service as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross. It is important to note here that this confidence in God’s call was not there when they entered into their first year of formation with Holy Cross. It is something came through their time in formation.

As with all men who enter into formation, it all started as an inkling that the Lord was calling them to take a further step in their discipleship. They were not fully sure about their vocation, but they had a sense that it might be as a religious in Holy Cross. So they took a first tentative step in talking with the vocation director and then another step in making application to our formation program and then another step as they entered into the seminary.

As they went along, their steps became a little bolder, a little more resolute, as each previous step landed on solid ground. In their time as a postulant with Holy Cross, they came to see that it was a community that they could find a home in, and so they made petition to enter the Novitiate. In their time in the Novitiate, they began to discover that they had a capacity to find fulfillment and peace in a life centered on Christ in Holy Cross. With this they found the confidence to petition to take their First Vows in Holy Cross, committing to live the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for one year at a time as they continued their formation.

In the years that followed they grew in their zeal for ministry and their capacity for engaging the mysteries of God through their ministry placements and studies. As they progressed, the many pieces continued to come together into a growing confidence that they were on the right track – that God, indeed, was calling them to serve His people as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. 

On August 25, they took the final step across the threshold of Holy Cross, committing themselves to a chaste, poor, and obedient life in communion with the other members of the Congregation. Our Constitutions speak of these vows as an act of love for the God who first loved us. Out of love God has given us life, and out of love we offer it to him in return.

Along with being an act of love for God, our vows are also an act of trust in God. In the end there is no unquestionable sign that one is called to the religious life. When a religious makes this commitment forever they do not know what the next five to 10 to 60 years might look like. What brings about the sort of confidence to make such a commitment is awareness that the Lord has brought them to that point and will see them through to the end.

A part of this awareness comes through the experience of stepping out little by little into the unknown and experiencing the support of the Spirit. Each time we make that further step and continue to feel the Lord’s support, our confidence increases. As well our confidence grows by looking to the lives of those who have placed the trust in the Lord and have gone before us. Their lives bear witness to the reality that the Lord is faithful to those who put their trust in Him.

When we stand at the threshold of one of those steps into the unknown, it is important to consider the other times that we have put our trust in the Lord and have experienced His fidelity. It is also good to look to the witness of others who have made that commitment and have been shored up by the Lord.  Taking those steps into the unknown are indeed acts of trust in the Lord. The key here is to realize that no one is more worthy of our trust.

Prayer from the Tradition

 

Final Vows Cross

For Spiritual Discernment
Saint Benedict
From the Holy Cross Directory of Devotional Prayer
 
Gracious and holy Father,
please give me intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you,
diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
a spirit to know you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
ears to hear you,
eyes to see you,
a tongue to proclaim you,
a way of life pleasing to you,
patience to wait for you,
and perseverance to look for you.
Grant me a perfect end,
your Holy Presence,
a blessed resurrection,
and life everlasting.
Amen.

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