On Saturday 7th January 2017 Barbara Gartland RSCJ of the Ireland-Scotland Province made her first vows in her former parish church in Armagh. Barbara had spent most of her novitiate in this Province, and so several RSCJ travelled from England to join her, her family, friends, parishioners and sisters from Ireland and Scotland, to celebrate this event with her. This was the greeting Barbara gave at the beginning of the Mass.
To my family, my friends, my sisters in community and members of this parish where my faith has been nurtured, Greetings! Today is the day that the Lord has made and I am profoundly grateful to Him, and to you for coming to share this day with me. Let us be glad and rejoice.
Today, I take another step in my journey by making vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience in the Society of the Sacred Heart. You might well ask, what does that mean?
The vow of Poverty
reminds me that I am totally dependent upon God and his gifts. Everything I have and need comes as gift from God. As sisters, we try to live simply, committed to sharing our resources of time and gifts with each other and with our brothers and sisters - especially those most in need of our support and love. Everything we are and have is God’s gift to be shared - it’s in giving we receive.
is about listening to God in every situation of life. Listening to God in prayer, in others and in creation and trying to respond in love. In prayerful discernment we want to listen to the Holy Spirit, to become more attentive to the needs of the world in the here and now, and to give ourselves in service for others. In the world today there is so much noise, so much movement, our lives are so busy - it’s hard to take
time out to be still, in order to listen to the sound of God in silence, in others and in nature. This is what Jesus did, he took time out for prayer to the Father, he wanted to understand his Father's will and he responded in trust, giving himself in love.
In making the vow of Chastity
I want to make God more and more the centre of my life. With God’s help, we are freed to grow as lovers of God and lovers of all people. For God is all loving, all compassionate, and all merciful.
The vows I make will challenge me every day and I thank God for that because they remind me to go beyond myself. With God’s help and your prayers, I will grow in freedom, to live in God and for God, and become more open to the Spirit.
During this ceremony, I will receive a medal as a sign of my consecration to God in the Society of the Sacred Heart.
The symbol on the medal is the Open Heart of Jesus. It shows the world in the Heart of God, which is an open Heart gathering into its centre all peoples of all nations. This expresses what our Foundress Sophie Barat wanted for us, that our lives radiate the love of the Heart of God in the world today.
My experience is that this is where I will grow in love of God and others. It is a beautiful life - a life to be recommended - lived in the love of God!