We welcome to this page those of you called to give your whole life to God whether through the vocation of Holy Priesthood or various forms of Consecrated life. What a high calling we have been given, to witness to the espousal union with God to which we are all ultimately called.
It is a challenge for us to live in this world, but of the next; to live the “already, but not yet” (CCC). It is a profound calling for which few are chosen… but a calling that must be nurtured and fostered daily. In order to do this we must exercise our spiritual senses, and be among the blessed who “do not see but believe.”
Just as with an earthly vocation, our calling must be built on a solid foundation: knowing our true dignity and identity first as children of God, then brothers and sisters of Christ, then spouses of Christ (and of His Church for Priests); and from there, Mothers and Fathers of all humanity.
We are called to live the Heavenly reality, “the Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” here on earth, as a sign
of great hope to all, of our ultimate calling; and a sign that this life is very short in comparison to Heaven, and but an anti-chamber, a preparation for eternal life to come.
As with so many saints who have gone before us, we are meant to fall so deeply in love with Christ, Our Father, the Holy Spirit, that others can encounter God when they see us. Just as St. Maximillian Kolbe spoke of Mary as “like the Holy Spirit Incarnate;” through her intercession, we are called to “incarnate” God’s presence in the world. We are called to “decrease” with St. John the Baptist, “that He may increase.”
Fellow brothers and sisters called to give your whole selves to God in the consecrated life, let us unite, pray for and encourage one another in this very high calling. Satan is rampant in our day, in attempt to distract us from our missions as brides of Christ and Priests “en persona Christi.”
But we have been given a tremendous aid in our journey, which allows for great protection, grace, and stability. “Behold your Mother!” Jesus says to all of us, His beloved disciples.
May we all allow ourselves to be fully open to receive this gift, that we may not miss out on all the graces available in making the journey much quicker, easier and smoother. May we let Mary take us by the hand, clasp us to her heart, and never let us go. May she truly be our spiritual Mother in a deeply intimate and bonding way, as Vatican II encourages. (refer to Mary page).
There is great woundedness among us in the times in which we live. And, so, there is a danger, as Pope St. John Paull II tells us, of tending toward either over-spiritualizing OR giving into the flesh in a disordered way. He said there is a dualism among some Catholics, where we can lack a human/spiritual integration. We can tend toward angelism – spirit good, body bad; or animalism – if it feels good do it. And, in either extreme, we lack the integration spoken of by St. Paul of our call to be “transformed” from within.
Pope Benedict XVI continued to reiterate St. John Paul II’s TOB teaching:
“Eros, at its deepest level, is the desire within us that ‘seeks God.’”
Raniero Cantalamessa explains further:
“In the world we find eros without agape; among believers we often find agape without eros.” The former “is a body without a soul” The latter— agape without eros—“ is a soul without a body”; it’s a “cold love” in which “the component linked to affectivity and the heart is systematically denied or repressed.”
Jesus and Mary were perfectly integrated humanly and spiritually. They knew deeply Their dignity and identity as “children of God.” We on the other hand, all grew up with imperfect parents to varying degrees; and often we can find ourselves lacking in our openness and receptivity to God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us; when we find ourselves in those rooms of woundedness in our hearts.
The danger comes, for us as religious and priests, when we enter the consecrated life without first having contentment and security in who we are as “children of God”. We may have head knowledge; but if we haven’t opened our hearts to receive this knowledge, we lack a solid foundation upon which to build our espousal relationship with God (and His Church for Priests.)
And this is where things come out side-ways. We then need to find our identity and security in something other: what others think of us, how successful we can be, material pleasures, disordered relationships, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, food, WHAT WE DO, and the list goes on.
But, there is great hope for one who finds them self in this category… and many of us probably do to one degree or another; though some to a much greater degree if there has been a lack of emotional bonding and affirmation in our earlier formative years (See Dr. Bob Schuchts -JPII Healing Center, or Suzanne Baars – Deprivation Neurosis).
If we find ourselves stuck in our spiritual lives, not moving forward, this is a sign that Jesus is knocking at a room in our heart that He wants to come into. But, we are having a hard time hearing Him and inviting Him in if we escape into any of our disordered or worldly ways.
So often we hear in the spiritual life that a primary virtue is humility; that it is the root virtue that allows for all the others to flourish. Humility is truth. We must be open and honest with ourselves and with God about our struggles, longings, aches and desires in life… be they rightly ordered or disordered. Jesus cannot come into those rooms and areas in our hearts and lives where we are in need of His redeeming graces, light and truth, unless we invite Him in. We must be real and vulnerable with Him about who we are. He already knows, but we need to know that He knows, and commune with Him about it. And, how powerful the Sacramental life becomes when our hearts are disposed to receive Him fully into those rooms in which we find ourselves most needy, struggling or ashamed.
“Oh that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort… that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts… When you see this your hearts will rejoice, and your bodies flourish like the grass!”
Are we who are consecrated to God, and called to profound communion with Him, allowing ourselves to be still enough to receive His nourishing love and grace?
We are being called to “suck fully” of the nourishing milk of the Holy Spirit that flows forth from Mother Church and the spiritual breasts of our Holy Mother. May we have the grace to go beyond sexualizing this image, to enter into the profound mystical graces available as we transcend the natural to the supernatural senses.
How can we nourish others if we are not first nourished ourselves?
May we all heed St. Peter’s call:
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord,” (1Pet 2:2).
Let us nurse at the BREAST OF GOD, as we enter deeply into the the Sacramental life of the Church; where our Eucharistic Lord is the nipple with which we bond deeply, and the Holy Spirit is the milk which fills and nourishes us. And, Mary is the perfect Mother who reflects to us the maternal aspect of God’s infinite love.
His Wounded Bride!
Those of us us who have given our lives fully to Him in the consecrated life, are called to continually foster an ever-deeper communion of life with our Beloved; — an intimacy that reaches ever-deeper into the core of who we are: in particular our deepest longings and desires; — an intimacy that invites Him into every part of us: our physical, sexual, emotional, mental make-up, as well as every stage of our lives from the moment of conception.
In order for us to be true witnesses to all of the espousal union with God to which we are all ultimately called, we must continually dispose ourselves more and more to this profound communion. We must allow the reality of the mystery of His Incarnation to penetrate deeply into our humanity, in order that we might become one. We must allow our Incarnate Lover to embrace every part of us.
Pope St. John Paul II says in his teachings on Theology of the Body, “Continence…has acquired the significance of an act of nuptial love, that is a nuptial love of the Redeemer…On the basis of the SAME DISPOSITION of the personal subject, and on the basis of the SAME NUPTIAL MEANING OF THE BODY, there can be formed the love that commits man to marriage for the whole duration of his life, BUT THERE CAN BE FORMED ALSO THE LOVE THAT COMMITS MAN TO A LIFE OF CONTINENCE FOR THE KINGDOM.”
He goes on to say, “[Continence for the Kingdom] comes about on the Basis of FULL CONSCIOUSNESS OF THAT NUPTIAL MEANING that masculinity and femininity contain in themselves. If this choice would come about by way of some ARTIFICIAL PRESCINDING from this real wealth of every human subject (meaning, repressing our sexuality), IT WOULD NOT APPROPRIATELY AND ADEQUATELY CORRESPOND TO CHRIST’S WORDS…” (Apr 26, ’82).
Not light words spoken by our Holy Father. They clearly express that we are called to live, as celibates, in the full reality of who we are meant to be as sexual beings, male and female. Of course we are called to sublimate the sexual energies used in the marital vocation, allowing our sexual desires to transcend from the natural to the supernatural level, in order to be empowered to grow in a deep and profound union with Christ our Bridegroom; and for priests en persona Christi with their bride the Church, beginning with Mary, Spotless Bride.
If the deep passion of our heart is dormant then John Paul II’s statement can never be lived out. It is only through the calling forth of our own entombed ” Lazarus,” a circumcision of our own hearts, that we can truly begin to connect with our Divine Lover heart-to-heart; that we can allow the most sensitive parts of us to be touched, loved and embraced by Him (Something that Mary did most perfectly).
And, it is only then, in the joy of such communion of hearts, that others can be drawn in as well, to the “wedding Feast of the Lamb.”
SO IF ONE’S HEART is in need of awakening, what first must take place is an honesty with God about it; an honesty about who we are before Him, with no mincing of the truth.
What is the greatest longing and desire within us?… Are we even in touch with it, or are we medicating ourseves with a lukewarm/compromised Christian life?…
“I have come to set the earth on fire and oh how I wish it were already blazing!” Jesus laments.
He wants to ignite our hearts ever-more deeply, until the flames of His love so permeate us that there is no distinction between us… we are one (as Jesus and Mary’s Hearts were/are one).
But this can only happen if our hearts are brought to Him, surrendered to Him; and we are fully open and honest about everything, including our disordered longings and inclinations. It is in fact especially in being open about the things we least like about ourselves and of which we are most ashamed, that His fire can be invited in. It is in being real and honest about these deeper core areas within us that we can experience the truth of the words of our Lord, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.”
by lilla marie lottinger
All women are called to motherhood, whether on the physical or spiritual realm. We were created to be nurturers. Those who have consecrated their lives to God as his bride, are called in a very real way to be spiritual mothers; and if this doesn’t take place, something inside dies, never flourishing as it was intended.
Following is a personal sharing from one who has given her life to Christ as His bride:
by Lilla Marie
To be a spiritual mother is so profound… it encompasses my whole being at times when I sense my spiritual children are longing for the milk of comfort.
It is one of the deepest experiences for me that could seem a scandal to many I’m sure…
But I can at times experience an intense longing to nourish the one in need of the nourishing, bonding love of God, especially with and through our Holy Mother… She who is the ultimate nurturer of all of humanity, in drawing us to the love of God.
Many would not understand this sharing in its purity because we live in such an over-sexualized, lust-ridden society, but were one to transcend all of the fleshly interpretations of such a sharing, they would see that we as the people of God are called to something so profound and all transcending, that draws us deeply into the the womb, the all nourishing and embracing love of God…
And, this, a love so intimate and profound that it touches the deepest fibers of who we are as His children, loved by Him in a way that words could never accurately express.
I can especially experience this longing to nourish humanity when I become one with Mary at the Birth of Jesus as she nurses Christ, and spiritually draws all of humanity into this stance of “suck[ing] fully of the milk of comfort.”
“Be as eager for the spirit as new born children for milk,” St. Peter tells us… But do we really allow ourselves to go there with God? To invite His love to penetrate the deepest core of our aches and longings… or do we allow other things of this world to take the place.
I can especially experience the desire to nourish my spiritual children in the mystery of the decent of the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit of God, the “milk of His comfort”, is flowing in a profound way to His people.
I can especially experience a longing for humanity to be nourished (or “sated” as JPII says it) by the Eucharistic love of Jesus especially expressed at the last Supper, and prefigured at the Wedding Feast of Cana; when He gives Himself totally to us, inviting us to literally take Him into us as He penetrates the deepest core of our being if we allow Him to.
I especially experience a longing for humanity to by “sated” at Calvary where the Sacred Heart of Jesus is pierced by a sword and blood and water flow out to bring nourishing life and love to all of humanity… That we might drink ravenously from His side, receiving the graces of the living waters of Baptism and the New Wine of His espousal, Eucharistic love deeply into us, as would a nursing child for its mother’s milk.
+May it be so oh Lord! May You be consoled in the Garden of Gethsemane as your Divine Love is deeply received and loved in return.+
+Lord, I long to be a nourishing spiritual mother to all of humanity! May I decrease, that the nourishing love of your Spirit may flow through me to all of your children. May I keep nothing for myself but be a “living sacrifice” of love and total self-gift to all of your children.+
+Mother, take over! Possess me and draw me deeply into your disposition of nourishing love for all of humanity, after first being a ravenous child in your arms, in search of the “milk of comfort” myself.+