19. FIDELITY TO VOCATION IS SIGN OF ETERNAL SALVATION
St. Bernard1 often asked himself the question: Bernarde, ad quid venisti? (Bernard, for what did you come?). Why did you become a religious? Expand the sense of this question and ask yourselves: Why were you created? We could have remained always in the mind of God, instead: Ipse dixit et facta sunt, ipse mandavit et creata sunt2 (He spoke and it was created, he commanded and there it stood). He, God, said, wanted, created and we were! Such was his will. In the prayer I adore...we repeat everytime: I thank you for having created me.3
It is a nice thing to celebrate anniversaries and among them the birth anniversary. Oh, the goodness of God! We could have not been created, but now that we are, let us thank the Lord for it.
We cannot destroy ourselves. God himself shall never destroy our soul, nor destroy man. A day shall come when our soul will separate from the body, but neither the soul will be destroyed nor the body will cease to be in its elements; at the end of the world, it will rise and be united again with the soul forever. Death is a penalty for sin, but Jesus Christ had made atonement for sin.
The act of accepting death is very meritorious. Do it now as Jesus did in the garden of Getsemane; do it accepting all the fears and terrors that your soul has to undergo, all the sufferings of that moment. Pater, non mea sed tua voluntas fiat...1 In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum2 (Father, let your will be done, not mine...Into your hands I commit my spirit).
Life is a preparation to eternity. After this very short life, we will be eternally saved or eternally damned.
A distressful problem: will I be saved? Who could be disposed to bear a painful sickness for all eternity? Yet, this is but an image of hell, a shadow of the endless torments which are there in that horrible place.
The sufferings in this life, besides being means of expiation, are also manifestations of God' mercy.
There is another eternity: Paradise! In our life, was there a moment of great joy, of great consolation, of great intimacy with God? Oh, it was a small, very weak ray of the joys of Heaven. St. Francis Xavier1 was so filled with the joys from God, that at times, he could not contain them to himself and he seemed to be suffocated and to faint. Small ray of Paradise, but it is not yet Paradise. St. Paul who was carried off there, could then say: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.2
Eternally happy or eternally unhappy? Which of the two would you like to choose? Which would you like to procure for yourselves?
You often come across cemeteries in your trips. The time when your body will go to rest in a cemetery is not far-off....but the soul? Eternally saved or eternally damned. If I will be faithful to my vocation, I am to be eternally saved. This is a sure sign of salvation.
Go through the way the Lord has marked out for you, walk on it fearlessly, without getting lost, notwithstanding the jolts. Many drawbacks may arise in the journey: damages, accidents, storms, malaise, ungrateful companions, indispositions, etc., there is also the risk of taking the wrong road. So it is in the spiritual life, which can be compared to a journey and it is in reality a journey towards eternity. God's calling has been indicated to us, we have known it. Going through this way, jolts, drawbacks, discomforts are experienced, but when there is fidelity to one's own vocation and mission, when the religious person observe the vows, when that which is prescribed is accomplished, when she is observant, she has the greatest and surest sign of salvation.
One goes to hell for sin, but the religious person must not commit sins. One can sin mortally by being superstitious, abandoning the prayer, transgressing the vows, disobeying in serious matters God's law, precepts of the Church, orders of the Superiors, desiring and taking possession of the things of others, etc.
The true religious asks the Lord the grace to turn away from and to detest every sin and to repent for it with true sorrow. Serious sin separates us from God, makes us lose his friendship, ruins the soul, renews Jesus' passion, wounds his adorable Heart, is an insult to Divine Majesty, deepest ingratitude, betrayal.
In the Mass, let us ask to be freed from every evil and let us repeatedly ask for the grace to avoid sin: A te nunquam separari permittas.1 (Never let me be parted from you).
There are those who are afraid of sin in a disorderly manner, because their fear is not moderated by trust. They live in fearful and dangerous agitation, in scruple. Others instead, are not afraid, as if the religious would not fail. This is a harmful error because security is for nobody on earth. One does not become blameless with Baptism and even with Confession and Com-munion. Whoever is highly favored by God should walk with much delicacy, for she brings great treasures in earthen vessel.1 St. Paul, the Apostle who had worked and toiled more than any other, also experienced serious temptations. He asked to be freed from it, but Jesus answered him: My grace is enough for you.2
In reciting the Breviary, let us say an Oremus every morning, the first of the day: Lord, who made us reach the begin-ning of a new day, save us with your power, grant that we may not go astray. A poenis inferni, libera nos Domine.3 (From the punishment of hell, deliver us Lord).
The faithful religious has a sure sign of salvation, because besides the commandments, she also observes the evangelical counsels. If she observes them correctly, she will certainly be saved. Faithful is the son who does not only obey the father's commands, but also speculates and interprets his desires to accomplish them.
The majority of persons are lost because they stumble upon two rocks, upon two commandments: the sixth and seventh. The religious wants to stay away from these two dangers, thus, she makes and observes the vows of chastity and poverty. She gives up even that which could be hers and takes as gift from the community, that which is needed for life to maintain herself in the holy service of God.
She wants to keep away from sin against the sixth commandment and so, she makes the vow of chastity to be totally of the Lord, renouncing that which could even be lawful and of consolation in the family. By observing the vow of chastity, the religious becomes the dear Spouse of Jesus, forming such a unity of life between Jesus and her soul which can reach heights. The Bridegroom never leaves the faithful Bride and does not allow that she may go to ruin. Jesus does not and never abandons us, we are the ones who abandon him. He is faithful, infinitely faithful.
A person may also fail against the other commandments, to bash against other rocks. But if we want to reduce everything to practical reality, we should say that pride is the third rock with which one can crash, against which the small boat of our soul can bump into and be shattered. The faithful religious fights against pride throughout her life; she studies and contemplates the Son of God who humbled himself. Resplendent in the glory of Heaven, he emptied himself, was hidden in the womb of the Virgin Mother, was born in a poor grotto. St. Paul says of him: He humbled himself obediently accepting even death, death on a cross.1 He obeyed not only Mary and Joseph2 but also the executioners: usque ad mortem3 (even to accepting death). In an act of obedience, he consumed himself: then he bowed his head and delivered over his spirit.4
Everyday, the religious wants to die to herself and she keeps in mind each day: everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, while he who humbles himself shall be exalted.5
The more we will be exalted, the more we will be humiliated.
In the Profession, it is said: if you are to be faithful, I promise you in the Name of God that you shall receive the hundredfold and possess everlasting life.1 Put your condition and you will have life eternal. Are there Sisters in hell? Unfortunately, yes! They are those who were unfaithful to their vocation. The I wish does not mean much; what is needed is I want. Not even the Profession makes us faultless, but faithfulness to the Profession assures us of eternal salvation.
Not many years shall pass and there will no longer be anybody of us. Let us enter into our very selves and say one of those I want that assures perseverance. Have courage and keep on.
You are in the religious house, you are clothed with the religious habit, you have pronounced the vows and you renew them everyday, therefore, bring with you the signs of eternal salvation.
1 St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor of the Church.
2 Ps. 32, 9.
3 Cf. Catechism of the Christian Doctrine, (Rome, EP, 1961), p.94.
1 Lk. 22, 42: Pater...non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat.
2 Lk. 23, 46.
1 St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552).
2 1Cor. 2, 9.
1 Missale Romanum, “Canon Missae” , Domine Iesu Christe...
1 Cf. 2Cor. 4, 7.
2 2Cor. 12, 7-9.
3 Invocations in the litany
1 Cf Phil. 2, 8.
2 Cf. Lk. 2, 51.
3 Phil. 2, 8.
4 Jn. 19, 30.
5 Cf. Lk. 18, 14.
1 Cf. Mt. 19, 29.