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On Enabling Vows/Disciplines



Dos Palabras

On the occasion of renewal of vows of RGS Guibang Community

“Zeal for your House consumes me as fire . . . .” Psalm 69:9

Today the Church remembers the presentation of the child Mary in the temple when God received a most precious love offering from parents Joachim and Anna. Today, you dear Sisters, Religious of the Good Shepherd, in the manner of your foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, if not of Jesus, the Good Shepherd himself, renew vows of evangelical poverty, chastity, obedience, and zeal to care for people and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. We ask God to receive you as our pleasing love-offering.

It is through you that the entire Church, the people of God, are reminded that poverty, chastity, obedience, and zeal are disciplines for all, necessary for the establishment of just and caring economic, political and cultural structures of care in Church and Society. You, and other special people like yourselves, vow these disciplines so that as vows they stand out as reminders to all to live and practice them more and more consciously in their daily personal and communal lives. There are, of course, other disciplines, but you have chosen to stress for the people these four, with a high light on zeal.

The discipline of poverty enables just redirection of the economic dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in resource development, production and distribution. The discipline of obedience enables reordering of the political dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in governance, legislation and social welfare. The discipline of chastity enables just revitalization of the cultural dynamics of society so there can be justice and care in the cultivation and transmission of wisdom and knowledge, proper invention of lifestyles, and development and nurture of symbolic life. The discipline of zeal enables enthusiastic commitment to the practice of the disciplines and the pursuance of ministries of service.

Actually people of different cultures and of all walks of life have been practicing these disciplines in different ways and according to various levels of consciousness. There be those who forget these or have forgotten these to their detriment and that of community. Consider the profligate, the selfish, the intemperate. Consider those who trample on human rights and exploit and oppress people and disrupt righteous ecological balance. The undisciplined have priorities all awry. They fall into pitfalls of idolatry – economic, political, cultural.

And consider the good people, specially the poor. They practice poverty when they budget well their time, talent and treasure if only to survive. They do more when they share from abundant wealth or from their survival kit and help redirect economics for the good of all.

They practice chastity when they strive not only to be clean of heart and to be transparent in their person and lifestyle that others see them as mirrors of human and divine dignity, and in faith, see Jesus of ministry, passion and death and resurrection in them, but also when they revitalize cultural life through gifts of humanness.

They practice obedience when they read well with eyes of faith and reason the signs of the times, discern the will of God and engage in sound political action for justice, peace and welfare.

And they practice zeal for person and community as House of God [“zeal for your House consumes me as fire”] when they, in the words of St. Mary Euphrasia, "go after the lost sheep without other rest than the cross, other consolation than work, other thirst than for justice". They are able to do this because they have, in the words of St. Benedict of Nursia , the zelus bonus to try to be the first to show respect to the other, support with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, earnestly competing in obedience with one another. They are able to do this because they do not pursue what they judge better for themselves but what they judge better for others. To their companions they show pure love; to God, loving fear.

Because the people’s practice of these disciplines is uneven in qualitative development, reminders that higher quality, worth, value can be had; that it is not enough to be good when, better can be had; not enough to be better when the best is yet to be. Disciplined religious, zealous religious, remind people of capacities for discipline they have for personal renewal and social transformation. Dear Sisters, your vows enable people to be more conscious of their ability to discipline their power to love one another, to restore all things in Christ, that in all things God may be glorified. You are a concentrated expression of what they have.

Dear Sisters, in the spirit of St. Mary Euphrasia and her own patron and soulmate St. Euphrasia of Egypt, live well your vows that through your good example people may be inspired to practice well the evangelical disciplines, and be enabled "though old stars burn out and die, to look to the new and even beyond" (St. Mary Euphrasia). Amen.

God bless you. I bless you. [November 21, 2009]


September 2013

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