by Sister Therese Maria Touma, MSCL
“To do your will, O my God is my delight and your law is in my heart.” (Ps 30:8-9)
As I am preparing for my Perpetual Profession of Vows as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light, I was grateful to receive a letter from a monk and friend of our community. In these encouraging words I was given the opportunity to further reflect on the gift of my religious profession. I read these words with joy and gratitude and saw them as a sign of God’s benevolent providence and love. In particular, I was sent three insightful words to ponder that are signified by the letters of the word vow:
As a religious I am reminded that I need vision not just to see the world from my eyes but “the ability to seek and look upon things that others don’t see, things that God reveals to us, and to see differently.” In order to see as God sees with his merciful eyes, I need to gaze upon Jesus, the lover of all people. In continuously contemplating and seeking Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrew 12:2), I will find all the virtues and graces I need to love like Jesus and live religious life in union with God.
If I am not open to listen and to be obedient, to receive the word of God and live it, to sacrifice my own will, I cannot truly imitate the obedient Christ, who humbled himself and personified obedience to the Father unto his death (Phil 2:8). As our friend wrote “Obedience resides not chiefly in the ears of our body but in the “ears” of our minds and hearts.” The key for true openness lies in opening the ears of my mind and heart to hear God’s voice, and to grow in interior freedom in order to completely offer myself, my entire will, as a “holocaust” of love to God. Our Maronite Servants’ Typicon #17 affirms: “Religious obedience is the fruit of love, and of an interior freedom borne of our divine relationship in following Jesus.”
In surrendering myself with confidence in his mercy, I am called to offer my whole self, body and soul, and all else to God. A beautiful excerpt that stood out to me from the letter on the significance of perpetual profession: “Thus you entered the state of perfection, when you made the offering and sacrifice of your whole self: the good of your body, by chastity; the goods outside your body, by poverty; and the good of your soul, by obedience. Your perpetual profession seals that offering for good. And by this, you will undo the damage of sin in a remarkable way.”
I am humbled by God’s invitation and in awe of this call to offer myself completely to God in religious profession as a Maronite Servant. In my spousal union with Christ, and through living out my vows in service to the Church, I am continuing the work of salvation in bringing souls to Jesus. This gift of consecrated life is a needed witness in our wounded world!