“When did you decide to become a religious sister or brother?” This question is often posed to consecrated men and women. We ask because we are curious; we want to know how they knew God was calling them to give up everything and follow Him for the rest of their lives. We want to know because we are often asking the same question: “What does God want for me? How do I know? Will I be happy?” These are some of the questions in our hearts.
In this age of busyness with many things competing for our attention and affection, it is challenging to live in the present moment. It’s even more difficult to sit still at Mass or pray before the Eucharist in church where we are invited to share our hearts with the Lord.
A priest friend of mine likes to respond to the question: “When did you decide to become a priest?” with this response: “This morning.” Each day he gives the Lord his “yes.” Married couples could say the same. “When did you decide to get married?” If they are living in the present moment, they too can reply: “This morning.”
When I made my final vows as an Apostolic Oblate in 2019, my spiritual director offered this counsel: “If I try to swear that it will be forever, to project my ‘yes’ into the future, or name the circumstances that will not defeat it, I am making the kind of additions that are not my responsibility, not in my control, not from God. I can only be most responsible for the present moment. [Our] ‘yes’ celebrates the present moment with a choice to love with all of [our] heart – right now, right here, in these circum-stances. Anything else is from the evil one. All we have is our word, renewed daily, with a heart that is not static, but alive in a relationship. We celebrate that the relationship with Jesus as the priority of our lives, the ‘one thing necessary’.”
God’s call to encounter Him in the Eucharist is concrete, personal, and He is not deterred by any obstacles we may place in the way. Men and women in religious communities and consecrated members in secular institutes draw their life and strength each day from the Eucharist. By uniting themselves to the Lord’s offering in the Mass, they renew their total consecration as Jesus says the words of a bridegroom for his spouse, “This is my body given for you…” At every Mass, Jesus proposes this question, “As I have done for you…Do you want to live for me? We say “yes” because He is saying “yes” to us, daily calling us to “remain in Him” through Holy Communion.
Consecrated men and women who have heard this invitation to “come away with him” are called to be “experts in communion”. Both St. John Paul II and Pope Francis have emphasized this particular mission in their messages to consecrated people in the Church. Religious communities model the Christian communities of the early Church who sought to be of one mind and heart as they imitated Christ’s life byadopting His evangelical lifestyle of poverty, chastity, and obedience. By being attentive in prayer to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, consecrated men and women can live in the present and lovingly respond to the needs of the poor, the sick, and those suffering and in need. Mother Teresa led the Missionaries of Charity in their service to the poor and dying by inviting her sisters to spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist. They then went out and lived a “Eucharistic life” among the poor by sharing themselves with freedom and joy.
Our consecrated members from the various religious communities and secular institutes in the Diocese of Orange are also striving to live a Eucharistic Life by daily bringing Christ’s presence into the many realities they are called to serve.
As a consecrated religious Brother, I attend daily mass and pray the liturgy of the hours in the Eucharistic chapel with my community of Brothers. This provides me with thegrace to live my vocation and to witness Christ’s self-giving love to my students through the ministry of teaching. The infinite love of Christ made present in the Eucharist is the source and summit of my religious vocation.
Br. Joseph Anoop, FSP, Brothers of St. Patrick
The Eucharist is definitely the source and summit of my Religious Life. Participating in Mass and receiving the Lord Jesus, my Spouse and Savior, is the highpoint of every day for me and for my Sacred Heart Sisters. Holy Communion is the moment when Jesus gives Himself completely to me. I receive Him and return this infinite love and presence back to Him with all my love and all my being. I truly believe that each participation in the Holy Eucharist transforms us more deeply into the image of the One we love.
Sr. Susan Blaschke, SDSH, Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart
The Eucharist feeds me spiritually, mentally, and physically. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to receive Jesus each day. He strengthens and encourages me to do His will so that I might be that salt and
leaven for others to grow in holiness.
Cathy McDonnell, AO, Apostolic Oblate
“The demand of the Eucharist is the entire gift of self. My Body for Yours…. Only then will my religious vocation be fulfilled and whole. adoration and worship of the Eucharist cannot remain mere admiration… or an awe ness of His majesty…. But it demands and makes imperative the entire gift of self… to be used at his whim just as he allows himself to be used…Without so, the religious vocation dies.” (paragraph 69 of Bishop Lambert’s writing, (Founder of the Lovers of the Holy Cross)
Sr. Marypeace, LHC, Lovers of the Holy Cross
My love for the Eucharist was fostered by my teachers, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, who themselves exhibited great love for Christ in the Eucharist and who introduced me to St. Tarcisius, a boy, who, according to legend, died in the 3rd century protecting the Blessed Sacrament which he was carrying to Christian prisoners awaiting death. I was inspired by his faith and love of Christ that enabled him to give up his life; I began to think about how to give my life to and for Christ. I attended Mass almost daily throughout my high school years; this nurtured my relationship with Christ and confirmed my sense that I was being called to be a Sister of St. Joseph of Orange. My love for Christ and my sense of Christ’s love for me has deepened over the years. After receiving Communion I pray that I will be Christ for others because of my union with him through the Eucharist.
Sr. Katherine “Kit” Gray, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
As a member of the Jesus Caritas Secular Institute living my consecrated life in the midst of the world, I do not have a fixed, regular schedule every day. Since I want to place Jesus first in my life especially at the beginning of each new day, I must determine when I will spend time in prayer before the Eucharist. It’s
the most important hour of my day. Jesus is there; He loved me first and invited me to follow Him. I want to respond with all my life and all the love in my heart. I come to Jesus in the Eucharist to love, to adore, to listen, and to tell Him about my day. I examine if I recognized and responded to God’s call everywhere
and through others whom I encountered. In the silence, I am aware of God’s Presence and His love for me. This time before the Eucharist is like married life. To be faithful to their love, the husband and wife must make time to be together, to know each other. They can talk, or be silent, side by side, looking at each other in love. Those moments give them happiness, energy, and peace to overcome many difficulties. Coming to Jesus in the Eucharist is coming to be loved. Praying to Jesus in the Eucharist gives with Jesus in the Eucharist also gives me peace and strength to faithfully live my consecrated life in the midst of the world every day as He calls me to.
Leanna Le, FJC, Jesus Caritas Fraternity
Ever since I was a little girl, I remember very positive sentiments from adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As I grew, my holy hours strengthened and clarified my decision to enter the convent with the Norbertine Sisters. Living in a community under the patronage of St. Norbert, my devotion to the Eucharist
has increased. I aspire to be one with Whom I adore daily: who is meek, and humble of heart.
Sr. Gemma Hugoboom, S. Praem, Norbertine Sisters
Every church altar reminds me of my own consecration to Jesus; and every Eucharistic celebration or Holy Mass is the loving sacrifice of Jesus to God for the salvation of the world and humankind, yet it takes place at the altar of my consecrated life. Jesus’ consecration and my consecration are to be one. In other words, I am called to be another Jesus to the world and to others. It is my total consecration to Jesus Christ when I allow Him to live and act in me—to be an instrument of His love to all of my brothers and sisters in this fallen world.
Sr. Angelina Vo, MCHS, Missionary Holy Spirit