formation, novitiate, Spirituality​, Vocation, vows

The Parable of the Religious Vows

The three SSpS novices in Rome recently finished their canonical year and sent their letters asking their respective provinces and the Congregational Leadership Team to join the Congregation. They hope to profess their first vows at the beginning of next year.

Happy with their novitiate experience, they shared with the Generalate Community the following parable, which was written by Mariia Liuba, one of the novices. The author of the pictures is Drynka Kontsevych.

Jesus invites us to follow Him

The vocation to the consecrated life is a gift from God and is not determined by any merit, achievement, knowledge, etc.

God offers us this gift in the light of absolute freedom, for our happiness, and with immense love.

Jesus invites us to follow Him in Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Let’s come back to the purpose of these Vows.

In the Bible, Jesus often taught in parables that touched people’s hearts and encouraged them to reflect on important topics. Likewise, let’s imagine today that Jesus is teaching us about these vows.

The parable begins:

«That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. And the SSpS novices and sisters gathered around Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, while all of us stood on the shore. He spoke to us in many parables, saying:

“The day of the profession of the first vows is like getting a driver’s license and your car when you start driving without the spare brake of the instructor.

The vows are like a car that will “take” you to the main goal.  The car itself is not the goal, but it helps you to achieve it. The goal is to grow in the capacity to love God and people.

But getting a car is not the main point of this event. The most important thing is that this car has to move towards its goal. Therefore, it depends on each of us who makes the vows, whether this car will move toward its goal or remain a pile of scrap metal.

Jesus asked his disciples (each of us): “What is necessary for a car to move?”

The disciples answered Him: “The first thing is fuel”.

That is correct. The fuel for your vows will be the virtues that you are to develop throughout your consecrated life – temperance, justice, mercy, love of others, etc. A vow without virtues is as meaningless as a car without fuel.

Then the disciples asked Jesus: “Jesus, is this road safe?”

Jesus was silent for a while and answered: “You will encounter many obstacles on the road, but if you take care of your car, you will be able to drive despite them.

Therefore, remember, a car (it means the vows) requires annual diagnosis: retreats in silence revealing to you the deeper value of this way of life, spiritual direction, sharing the Word in a community, sharing life with sisters, etc. Therefore, do not take this diagnosis lightly, it will help you in the formation of virtues. And one more note: when you make your first vows, you receive my grace, the power that will help you to overcome all the difficulties.

Remember, on your journey, you will meet different travelers. Some of them you will take into your car to drive to a certain place. The passengers will be different. They will also include your sisters, the different communities in which you will live. The most important rule is to accept each passenger as a gift. It will not always be easy. But in such moments, remember the grace I have already given you……

And yet, on the road, there will be various road signs warning danger, forbidding entry, or informing about places and people that will be pleasing to your heart.

The road signs are given to you by the Church and the Congregation so that you do not get lost. There are the Constitutions of your Congregation, the Documents of the Church, Books of spiritual content, etc. Constantly update and deepen your knowledge in your consecration.

The world will see the vows as a limitation for you, only as a sacrifice. But in reality, your vocation is a grace, a blessing, a favor done to you.

Listen to Me carefully! You make these vows for Freedom! Freedom not from, but Freedom for –  for Love of God, in order to develop a greater love for God and people. Only in this case this way of life will be fruitful. Our faith maintains that our relationship with God is expressed and lived out in our relationship with neighbors.

If you have ears, then hear!

When Jesus had finished explaining the parable, He withdrew to a lonely place”.