Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

“Today, indeed, He was born after the manner of men, of a Virgin, but was begotten of the Father before all things, resembling His mother in body, His Father in power. 

Only-begotten on earth, and Only-begotten in heaven. 

God of God, born of a Virgin, Righteousness from the Father, Power from the Mighty One, Light of Light, not unequal to His Father; nor separated in power, not confused by extension of the Word or enlargement as though mingled with the Father, but distinguished from the Father by virtue of His generation. 

He is your Brother, (Song of Songs 5:1) without Whom neither things in heaven, nor things in the sea, nor things on earth consist.” 

–St. Ambrose, in De Virginibus

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Back to Blogging

In honor of the Year of Consecrated Life, I’ll be making a more conscious effort to resurrect the blog!

A few updates on my life since I last posted…in Rome this past June, I successfully completed my license degree in canon law along with my classmates.

This photo was taken at a little graduation ceremony we had right after our comprehensive exams. 
I had been officially a canonist for about three hours at this point!

I returned to the Unites States over the summer, and have since been serving once again as Director of Religious Education for a mid-size parish in New York state. That is, I am now responsible for the catechetical formation and sacramental preparation of about 500 schoolchildren ranging in age from five to fourteen years old. I’m very happy to have the chance to “labor in the vineyard” again, though I will admit to getting nostalgic for Rome every now and then!

While I was in Rome studying, I didn’t have much time or mental energy to blog, since my coursework was very demanding. For a while, I even thought of discontinuing the blog altogether. But after being blessed to be in touch over the past few years with a surprising number of young consecrated virgins and young women discerning this vocation, I realized that there is still a great need for accessible resources to help consecrated virgins and aspiring consecrated virgins to support each other and reflect more deeply on our vocation.

On that note, a few housekeeping considerations:

First, I am going to be much stricter about enforcing my “respectful comments only” policy. Honest questions and even friendly debates are still welcome, but snide remarks or outright nastiness are not. Readers should feel free to share their thoughts without having to worry about being torn down, as “Sponsa Christi” is meant to be a friendly and encouraging corner of the internet.

Also, in the interest of sharing resources and perhaps building a sense of community more effectively, I’m going to experiment with having a facebook page for this blog. Check it out here:  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Anniversary Reflection

“IHS” is a traditional symbol for the Holy Name of Jesus
January 3, 2014 is the fifth anniversary of my solemn consecration to a life of virginity. Even after five years it’s still hard for me to find the words to write a reflection on the day. So instead, I’ll just share one small memory:

I originally chose January 3 as my consecration day, because I knew I wanted to be consecrated during the Christmas season, and that year January 3 happened to be the eve of the Epiphany. And January 3 is also my onomastico—that is, the feast of my patroness St. Genevieve, who herself was a consecrated virgin.

What I was not totally aware of at the time was that January 3 is also the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. But what might have been simply a liturgical happy accident instead led me, providentially, to see a new shade of meaning within my vocation.

The night before my consecration, a local Poor Clare monastery let me spend the night in their guestroom, so that I could spend that last night under the same roof as Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, so as to then be more recollected for my consecration day. In the morning, I joined the nuns in their chapel for their early prayers.

Since, as I then found out, the Holy Name of Jesus is an important feast for Franciscans, the nuns had a special commemoration of the day in their celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. Their Franciscan Office books had all the beautiful proper prayers, readings, and antiphons which I didn’t have in my own “standard-issue” Roman breviary. So although I had not planned it this way, I found myself meditating specifically on the significance of the Most Holy Name in the final hours leading up to my consecration.

As I sat in the chapel, singing the Office along with the nuns, it came to my mind that if I were marrying a mortal spouse that day, I would be changing my last name to my new husband’s—and therefore “losing” my own name in a certain sense. It reminded me of how, when I was a very young, it used to strike me as a bit unfair that women generally took their husbands’ surnames, and were sometimes even addressed by their husbands’ name alone (as in: “Mrs. John Smith”).  To be very honest, when I was a little girl I used to marvel at how much you would have to love somebody to allow your own name to be basically taken over by his!

But that bright winter morning, I suddenly thought: how happy I would be if my name could be hidden under Jesus’ in the same way that a wife’s is hidden under her husband’s! In Jesus, I had truly found the one whom I loved enough so as to be willing to lose my own name.

Of course,  it should go without saying that God, who deliberately created us as unique individuals, doesn’t will that we should give up our own personalities when He calls us to consecrated life. And naturally it would sound a bit silly if I took to calling myself something like “Mrs. Jesus.” Still, at that moment, I couldn’t think of a greater joy or privilege than to be known simply as Jesus’ spouse.

Sacred Scripture and the Church’s teachings paint us a stunning picture of the power and majesty of the Holy Name of Jesus: 
…God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

But I am also grateful that every year this feast also gives me a chance to savor this mystery in a personal and more intimate way, as I remember my consecration day and how I felt that joyful longing to give myself over entirely to the one who bears the Most Holy Name.