St. Francis placed proper emphasis on the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in his life. As our Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi (click here for an important invitation to be united with Pope Francis and the whole world in Eucharistic Adoration), Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity chose this day to also celebrate Sister Regina Rose’s First Profession of Vows. It is a splendid day of supreme goodness!
In this posting, we will share significant Eucharistic and other moments of Sister Regina Rose’s First Profession celebration, but also some of her own thoughts on the vow of chastity, one of three vows she professes to live today. Feel free to come back for updated photos later in the day.
Chastity is for Everyone
“Chastity involves not just being unmarried but by being fascinated by another – Christ– to the point that marriage is no longer possible. It does not mean that one has lost something, but rather that they have found Someone” (Fr. Peter Van Breeman).
Chastity today seems to be a foreign and misunderstood concept. At best, it is a mysterious quality often thought to be unattainable but for a select few. Sometimes we think chastity is a wonderful idea for someone else but reject it for ourselves. However, chastity is for every person-married, single, or consecrated. For me, though- a soon-to-be professed religious- chastity is the foundation of my life as a consecrated woman. It is the cornerstone on which all other elements of my religious life are built. Adopting chastity as a way of life is, for me, a preserving (or protecting) of myself for the God whom I have chosen.
Seek God Above All Things
Because we are human, we are forever longing to be satisfied and fulfilled and we often search for those things in an imperfect world. We are daily bombarded by the media and entertainment worlds telling us what we need to achieve, who we need to be, where we need to go, and so on. Chastity is a gift of grace that calls me in a specific way to confront those parts of myself that are selfish and those parts that long to seek my own gratification and, instead, make myself entirely available to God.
More than just a denial of self, though, chastity is a continuous seeking of God above other things. “The essence of consecrated chastity is to be the Lord’s own, to be dedicated to God alone with an undivided heart” (Paul Hinnebusch, OP). By overcoming my own self-centeredness, chastity allows me to focus on serving God with my whole heart. Chastity does not mean that I reject love and friendship and live in isolation. Quite the opposite, in fact. Through the faithful living of chastity in consecrated life, I am called to be more open to loving others, called to be quick in recognizing and respecting the Christ in each of them. Also, I am more able to focus on creating deep, meaningful friendships founded in Christ.
Daily and Life-Long Journey
Important to note is that chastity does not happen overnight. It is a daily and life-long journey in growth, discovery and understanding. Chastity constantly presents new challenges in my life as well as new trials. The daily living of such a thing requires prayer and courage. To choose this way of life is countercultural and sometimes difficult but it is, above all, a call to love, to experience deeply the love of family, neighbor, friends, ourselves, and God. And only through the grace of God, can chastity make me free to do so. As I grow in chastity, I shed attachment to the things, people, and situations that hinder my ability to love freely and fully. In the freedom of chastity, I can come closer and closer to the person I am meant to be in relation to God and others.
Because chastity cannot be done without prayer, self-knowledge, daily conversion, and commitment, chastity also becomes a call towards discipleship. It is a response to the call of Christ and His fidelity to us. Chastity calls me to be open and receptive to all the ways God calls me to take part in His plan of salvation. This is at the heart of discipleship and also at the heart of the consecrated life. While all are called to live chastity in their own lives, chastity as a consecrated woman calls me to a deep, specific, and unreserved sharing in the life and love of God. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).