Homily from Sr. Maria Faustina's Mass of Religious Profession


On Friday, December 8, our chapel was transformed into a winter wonderland of blue and white as we celebrated the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the first profession of vows of another member of St. Joseph Monastery.  Sr. Maria Faustina was a radiant bride, and we have lots of pictures of the Mass and reception on their way.  In the meantime, we'd like to share the wonderful homily preached for the occasion by our chaplain, Fr. Lou Caporiccio, CPM!

Sr. Maria Faustina of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful Heart of Mary’s First Vows

December 8, 2017 - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Readings: Gen. 3:9-15, 20; Ps. 98:1-4; Eph. 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk. 1:26-38

The Call of God to Consecrated Religious Life as a Passionist

Every vocation whether to religious life, priesthood, marriage or the single life is a call or vocation that comes from God. In Sacred Scripture we find two vocations that compliment each other. The first is common to all. This has come to be known as the universal call to holiness and it is found in the very first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, where it says that “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Commenting on this passage from Genesis, the Catechism of the Catholic teaches, “God who created man out of love also calls him to love— the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.”[1] The second vocation that we find in the Bible is one in which a special mission is given either to an individual or to a group. For example, in our Gospel reading today we hear of Mary’s call or vocation to be the Mother of God (see Lk. 1:31-33).

Every call or vocation from God has five stages or phases. First, God makes a choice. The Church applies the words of our second reading today from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians to both the universal call to holiness as well as the vocation to a special mission: God “chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). From all eternity, God choose Christie Anna Carmichael now known as Sr. Maria Faustina to be not only a consecrated religious but also a member of the Passionist Congregation. Second, God makes His choice known to the individual. In the Gospel we see how God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to convey His choice of her to be the Mother of His Only-Begotten Son. No doubt, Sr. Maria Faustina can recount how God in many ways has revealed His call to her to be a consecrated Passionist religious. Third, the person whom God calls responds. Mary’s response is “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according your word” (Lk. 1:38). After the homily, Bishop Medley will say to Sr. Maria Faustina: “My dear Sister, what do you ask of God and of His holy Church?” She will respond: “The mercy of the Lord, and the grace to serve Him faithfully in the Institute of the Religious of the Passion of Jesus Christ.” Fourth stage, God consecrates or sets apart the one whom He has chosen and He empowers him/her to live this vocation. Mary is told, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk. 1:35). When Bishop Medley examines Sr. Maria Faustina he will ask her: “Sr. Maria Faustina, by water and the Holy Spirit you have already been consecrated to God’s service. Are you resolved to unite yourself more closely to Him by the new bond of religious profession?” She answers: “I am.” By religious profession, Sr. Maria Faustina will deepen the baptismal consecration she received many years ago and like Baptism, she will be given all the graces she needs to live the life of a Passionist Nun to which she has been called.[2] Fifth and final stage of a vocation: God sends the one He calls to fulfill a concrete mission. Mary conceives the Son of God in her Immaculate womb and her life from that moment onward will be forever intertwined with Jesus’ life both on this earth and in eternity. Sr. Maria Faustina’s mission will be that of every consecrated religious, but she will live this out specifically as a Passionist Nun.

All religious have a two-fold mission in the Church, which is found in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council: First, “The profession of the evangelical counsels, then, appears as a sign which can and ought to attract all the members of the Church to an effective and prompt fulfillment of the duties of their Christian vocation[3] and second, “the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels[4] In other words, Sr. Maria Faustina, like all religious, is called to be a sign of or to manifest the universal vocation of all Christians to be Holy as God is Holy; to love as God loves, but her life as a religious should also stimulate, prompt and foster all Christians to desire to live the universal call to holiness. However, as a member of the Passionists she is to do this in a very unique and specific way. We see this in the very first vow Sr. Maria Faustina will profess when she says, “I vow to promote devotion to and grateful remembrance of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, and to express it in my style of life.” On the night of the Last Supper our Lord Himself taught us: “No one has greater love than this, that to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13). In the Passion of Jesus we see how to love as God loves in its highest, purest and most perfect manner.

Preface for Holy Virgins and Religious[5]: It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For in the Saints who consecrated themselves to Christ
for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven,
it is right to celebrate the wonders of your providence,
by which you call human nature back to its original holiness and bring it to experience on this earth the gifts you promise in the new world to come.

May the Passion of Jesus Christ be ever in our hearts!

[1]CCC 1604. Also see Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 40.

[2] See St. John Paul II, Allocution to Male Religious in Sao Paolo, Brazil, July 3, 1980, 2.2: “Religious life, the Council teaches, is not placed in the Church on the level of institutional structures (it is not a hierarchical rank nor is it added as a third element between pastors and laity), but in line with the charisms and, more exactly, in the dynamism of that holiness that is the primordial vocation of the Church. The first reason why a Christian becomes religious is not to acquire a position in the Church, a responsibility or a task, but to sanctify himself. This is your task and your responsibility, ‘the rest will be given to you in addition’ [Mt. 6:33]. This is your service to the Church: she needs this school of holiness to concretely realize her own vocation of holiness.” Also see Blessed Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelica Testificatio, June 29, 1971, 11; Lumen Gentium 12b (the words special gifts instead of charisms is used in the English translation).

[3] Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 44c. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html. Accessed December 5, 2017.

[4] Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 42c.

[5] Roman Missal, 3rd Edition.

***photo by Larena Lawson - many thanks!