Renewal of Religious Vows

Today, April 29, 2014 on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, two our Sisters renewed their vows. Sr. Maria Vianney and Sr. M Rosaria vowed to Almighty God to live their life in chastity, poverty and obedience. It was a joyful day indeed to see their radiant, smiling faces in answering the divine call and giving all to follow Christ more closely.

Father Peter Heidenrich gave a wonderful homily as follows:

Sermon given at Rosary Hill, Justice, Illinois on the occasion of Vow Renewal professed by Sister M. Rosaria and Sister Maria Vianney.  4/29/14

Just this past Sunday’s gospel, which coincided with Divine Mercy Sunday and the Canonization of our two new Saints, we once again came face to face with doubting Thomas.  It’s a perfect starting point for our Vow Renewal today.

There is a lovely legend connected with the gospel of doubting Thomas.  It goes like this:

After the Resurrection of Christ, the apostles all drew names of the then known world & its countries to which they would journey to bring the story of Christ and His gospel.

When Thomas drew his pick, it was India.  Thomas said: “For me, it’s too far.  For me, their language is too hard.  For me, I’m too old.”

That night, Thomas had a dream.  In the dream, Christ spoke to him and said, “You speak the truth: too far, too hard, & yes – you are too old.  But if I live in you, so many things are possible.”  Thomas told the disciples the net day that he would travel to India.  To this day, people from India attest that the founder of Christianity in their country of India was, indeed, Thomas.

Sister Maria Vianney & Sister Mary Rosaria, there is a lesson in that story that is at once both simple but also profound: instead of starting each day, each meeting, even each conversations with “ME…& what I have to do” start it with WE.  You and Jesus Christ!

Sisters, the Church & the Dominican Order are stronger this day because of the sacred vows you will soon pronounce.

What is true, though, is that the future is hidden from your eyes.

Realistically, all the elements that are part of everyday life will be part of the weeks and months ahead of you.

Your ideals are high & noble. You can go forth from this Holy Mass with the advice of Pope Benedict who said “if you want to have a great heart & if you seek to be a great disciple, you must constantly learn at the school of Jesus Christ.”  If that is first and greatest aim, your year will be grace and blessed.  If you embrace his wisdom, you can say, as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “all I can bring to others is knowledge of Jesus Christ.”

It seems that at any major spiritual event, we must remind ourselves of the Cross.  That is so very fitting on today’s Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, who so wholeheartedly embraced the Passion of our Lord.

No doubt, we all go forward aware of hardships awaiting us, difficult people near us and crosses that will have to be carried again.

We can think of crosses & hardships as ordeals which erase the smooth sense of order.

But when God erases, He is preparing to write again for us.

St. Catherine of Sienna’s DIALOGUES wisely advises us of what is not meant to be a stumbling block: be ready to love without being loved in return.

For the rest of your lives, you will be able to say that your vow renewal coincided with the Canonization of our Saintly heroes who transcend time & history.  Now their very names are inscribed among the Citizens of Heaven.

Ask yourselves: what sacred work are they asking of me?  What unfinished business if St. John Paul II entrusting to you?

Remind yourselves: they, like St. Thomas, did what they did because Christ lived in them during their early journey.

There are so many voices with us today: St. Thomas, St. John XXIII, St. Catherine of Siena and St. John Paul II.

All these voices remind us that the mark of a saint and a journey towards holiness is that we must always do more.

Here are good words from 20th century German Jesuit Fr. Karl Rahner who said at the end of his lifetime: “I haven’t prayed enough.  I haven’t self-sacrificed enough.  I haven’t thought enough.  I haven’t loved enough.”

The conclusion of one spiritual giant’s life can be the bridge of your new life.

As St. John XXIII said: For Christ ever forward, without ever turning back.

Now, alas! We must do more!


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