Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 10:00AM
First Religious Profession of Vows of Sor Maria Shiela Desembrana, DSH
Mount Samat Formation Centre
This is not a moment to cry. It is an event of God’s blessing, and outpouring of His graces to Sister Maria Shiela, to her Congregation and to Bataan. We should be happy, and thankful to God for this important, special occasion of God’s love for Sister Maria Shiela and her family. With this First Religious Profession of Vows please remember these three words and they all begin with the letter S. The first is to SMILE always. Do everything with a smile. Speak with a smile. Smiles inspire people. Smiles invigorate tired spirits. Your smiles will make people feel comfortable. Smiles can win people and warm their hearts. They manifest your affection. Smiles clear away doubts, cast away impatience and correct rudeness. But we must remember that our smiles are not the result of gloating over an affirmation or a promotion. Our smiles are not products of boasting over recognition or honors. Our smiles depend on the fulfillment of a given task. They show our fidelity to the assigned responsibility. Our smiles are not hollow or childish giggles. We can smile sweetly when we manifest our trust and when we fulfill a given work.
We cry during religious professions or ordinations. There are tears when we are transferred to another assignment or when we leave our dear ones. We shed tears when work becomes unbearable or the cross gets heavier. Yet, through all these, it is still possible to smile. Our smiles signify our fiat (“let it be”). Our smiles show our availability to go on to the vineyard of the Lord. With smiles, we can truly ‘serve the Lord with gladness of the heart.’
When there is a smile, it means we are contented with ourselves. We are fulfilled with our work. And we are at peace with others. When we do things with smiles, it makes our work easier and interesting. When we work with smiles, there will be smooth and pleasant rapport with our co-workers. When we smile, it means we enjoy our work and those whom we work with. We are happy with them. We love our work. We love Him much whom we serve.
The second point is STAY SIMPLE. We may have many good things. We may have the best assignment. We may find ourselves in a most promising position. Our friends may be helpful and cooperative. We may hear lots of praises. We may have lots of followers. We may receive lots of presents but these must not get into our heads. We must stay simple. Remain humble. Recognize that everything is a gift from God. Give him back the credit and the glory.
To be simple is to free ourselves from excesses in life. To be simple is to get rid of anything that clutters up our life and thus blocks us from giving more of ourselves to God. Simplicity means we trust Him for our needs. Simplicity means we are taking God as our sole security. God will give us what is necessary in life. The Holy Father tells us that, “Another challenge today is that of a materialism which craves possessions, heedless of the needs and sufferings of the weakest, and lacking any concern for the balance of natural resources. The reply of the Consecrated life is found in the profession of evangelical poverty”. (Vita Consecrata, 89)
Living a simple life, we can identify ourselves more with the least of our brothers thus enabling us to share more effectively. Staying simple, we can focus ourselves more on God and on our work. We can direct our efforts in line with God’s works. We can attune our actions to God’s will. Being simple is not to be preoccupied with success, not to be worried about results and not to be concerned with credits. Being simple is not to be after unnecessary possessions and pleasures. To live in simplicity is to heed the call of Jesus when he said, “Do not carry any gold, silver or copper in your purses. Do not carry a traveler’s bag, or an extra shirt, or sandals, or walking stick”. (Matthew 10, 9-10)
Simplicity is to rely on God more than on any material possession. A simple life makes us attach ourselves to God instead of to a place, a person or a position. It is to let go of that which we don’t really need and give them generously to others. Simplicity of life is to return everything to Him, admitting that, “We are no more than servants: we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17, 10)
The third point is to STRENGTHEN your community. Living in a community, we are tasked “for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4, 12). Thus, we are called to strengthen our religious sisters and priests. Thus we must serve them. We have to be the source of goodness, of hope and exemplary deeds to them. We must not seek our personal interest but act for the good of the community and for the glory of God. We must give up our personal ambition. We must be more charitable in words and in deeds.
In a community of religious sisters or priests, we have different aspirations and possess different talents. We have different opinions and may have bitter arguments. We may find our companions ambitious or authoritative. One may be boastful or a burden for us. Another could be treating us as a competitor or may always be contradicting us. Still another could be too domineering or too emotional. We must not avoid them. We must not withdraw from the community. Instead, we must show concern.
We must cooperate. We must strengthen our community. How? By treating them with compassion. By not being too critical. By being Christ to them. He tells us, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to anyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6, 27-30)
To strengthen one’s community, we should be patient with our co-religious. Change may take a long time. Disagreements may not dissolve quickly. Yet we can persevere. We can be more understanding. We can be more patient. We must continue praying for them, wishing them the best, always offering our peace. Let love reign in our hearts. To strengthen one’s community, we should work as a team. There should always be cooperation and proper coordination without concern for personal success or personal honor. Love of Jesus must be our prime motivation to give our best. The good of the community must be our goal in doing things. To strengthen one’s community, we should be willing to serve its members. And it is to serve them with love. The Holy Father affirms that, “Love led Christ to the gift of self, even to the supreme sacrifice of the cross. So too, among his disciples, there can be no true unity without that unconditional mutual love which demands a readiness to serve others generously, a willingness to welcome them as they are, without ‘judging’ them (cf. Matthew 7, 1-2), and an ability to forgive up to ‘seventy times seven.’ (Matthew 18, 22)”. (Vita Consecrata, 42)
My dear brothers and sisters, my dear Sor Maria Shiela: always smile, stay simple and be the strength of your community.
+Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD
Bishop of Balanga