Homily from Sr. Lucia Marie's Mass of Religious Profession

The bride in prayer before Mass begins
The bride in prayer before Mass begins

I have been busily crafting a nice loooong blog post with lots of photos of Sr. Lucia Marie's First Profession of Vows. It is almost ready...but to whet your appetite I thought I'd post the homily from that Mass of Religious Profession given by our chaplain, Fr. Lou Caporiccio, C.P.M.

Fr. Lou giving his homily.
Fr. Lou giving his homily.

Sr. Lucia Marie of the Mystical Body of Christ, CP First Profession of Vows

January 5, 2017

Readings: Is. 44:1-5; Ps. 115 (116); Col. 3:1-4; Jn. 12:24-26

Finding the Face of the Beloved

The Catholic English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote a letter to his future wife Frances Blogg in which he set forth his proposal of marriage. In the course of this letter he said many things leading up to the actual proposal. For example, when answering the question about why Frances’ mother was uneasy or concerned about his impending marriage to her daughter, he noted that it was because he would be taking her daughter from her. He stated that he felt “like the Angel of Death” for doing this to her mother and that he “felt like a thief.”[1] At the very end of the letter he proposed which I will summarize as follows: All my prior loves have been a preparation for loving you. Now my former life comes to an end because it has led me to you. Take my life for my search for love has brought me to you.[2]

This is the experience of every bride and bridegroom because every man and woman seeks to love and to be loved. As the Catechism of the Catholic teaches so beautifully: “God who created man out of love also calls him to love— the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.”[3] In other words, God creates us for no other reason than He loves us and seeks our good. At the same time, because we are created in His image, we are programmed, wired and designed for the purpose of loving as God loves. This means that our task in this life is to seek the face of the beloved so that we can love and be loved. As St. Augustine, that great 4th century bishop from North Africa, who knew the ways of the heart intimately, wrote speaking to God: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.”[4]

A married woman has found the face of God in her husband and she gives herself to God in love indirectly by giving herself to her husband. This gift of herself was made when she professed her wedding vows. A consecrated religious has also found the face of her beloved and gives herself as gift to God in love directly without an intermediary as it will be for all of us in heaven. A religious makes the gift of herself in love to God when she professes her religious vows. Sr. Lucia Marie will receive a ring as a sign of her vows.

Both sets of vows, marriage and religious, deepen and extend our baptismal vows by which we entered into a covenant relationship with God, by which we entered into union with God the Bridegroom of our soul. When we profess our vows, whether marriage vows or religious vows, we are saying: “I have found the face of my beloved whom I have been seeking and my life as it previously was comes to an end and I begin a new life with my beloved.” “Therefore” says the Book of Genesis, “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).

Just because we have found our beloved it does not mean that we stop seeking our beloved. Maybe some of you have seen the movie “Fireproof.” If you have not, it is worthy watching. It shows what marital love is not and what it should be according to God’s plan. During the movie a book is introduced entitled The Love Dare. This book literally dares us to do little acts of love for our spouse over the course of 40 days. It is meant to do two things. First, it teaches us to love as God loves but second, in the course of loving one’s spouse it teaches us to discover ever more deeply the mystery of our beloved every day. Let’s face it; you cannot love someone if you do not know him. Can we ever fully, completely or absolutely discover everything about God? We cannot because He is infinite. In a similar way, can never discover the entire riches of a human spouse precisely because he or she is created in the image of the infinite God. St. Augustine expresses this truth so beautifully when addressing God he cries out: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!”[5] This will not be an easy undertaking for you Sr. Lucia just as it not an easy task for a husband and wife. The crucifix, the crown of thorns and the sign of the Passion that you will receive will be a constant reminder that discovering the depths of your beloved spouse and loving Him will cost you.

All our loves in this world are but a preparation for the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven Whose bride is the Church, that is, Whose bride is each and every one of us. By professing your religious vows, Sr. Lucia Mare is saying in effect “I have found my Beloved and I cannot wait for heaven so I will commit myself here and now on this earth to Him.

I would like to end with the words of Pope Francis, which I will slightly alter so it addresses Sr. Lucia Marie personally. Dear Sr. Lucia Marie of the Mystical Body of Christ your religious “life . . . takes on a specific form that is prophecy and sign, one that ‘can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation’ (LG, 44c).” Sister, your contemplative religious life does “not propose a more perfect fulfillment of the Gospel. Rather, by living out the demands of Baptism,” your life constitutes “an instance of discernment and a summons to the service of the whole Church,” the Mystical Body of Christ. “Indeed,” you “are a signpost pointing to a journey and quest, a reminder to the entire People of God of the primary and ultimate meaning of the Christian life.”[6]

May the Passion of Jesus Christ, the greatest act of love this world has ever seen or will ever see, be ever in our hearts!

[1]https://www.chesterton.org/chesterton-marriage-proposal/ Accessed January 3, 2017.

[2]https://www.chesterton.org/chesterton-marriage-proposal/ Accessed January 3, 2017.

[3]CCC, 1604. http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html#419/z Accessed January 3, 2017.

[4] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book I, chapter 1.

[5] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book X, chapter 27.

[6] Pope Francis, Vultum Dei Quaerere, June 29, 2016, 4. http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_constitutions/documents/papa-francesco_costituzione-ap_20160629_vultum-dei-quaerere_en.pdf Accessed January 3, 2017.