On Sunday 1st February thirteen RSCJ from eleven countries make their perpetual professions of vows at the Villa Lante in Rome. Following a long-standing Society tradition, the group has been given a name and devise (motto) which reflect their experience during the past five months of preparation, and will accompany them individually and as a group for the rest of their lives. Sometimes the connection between the name and devise is instantly recognisable; at other times the link is only immediately apparent to the group. But for this group, their name - Offer the gift received - and devise - From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1.16) - are not only connected but form a single, never-ending movement.
There's a lavishness about that line from John, an extravagance and generosity; a God who doesn't dole out graces one at a time but showers us with them, from his fullness, regardless of our worthiness. It reflects the extravagance of the sower in two of the Gospel parables, digging deep into his supply, casting out great handfuls of seed, seemingly unconcerned about whether they will land in 'good' soil or not.
The special call - and grace - given to these young sisters by their name is to be equally generous and lavish in how they offer their lives, and all they have received - not just at the moment of their profession, but forever. And as the greatest gift they will ever receive is God's generous, unconditional love, that is at the heart of what they are being invited to offer in every circumstance of their lives. And, of course, the call to offer all that has been received isn't only for these thirteen women. All of us, recipients of graces and gifts from God's fullness, are called to be equally generous in how we love and how we offer back what we have received. And in the giving we undoubtedly receive, and what we receive we do not keep for ourselves, in this same, single movement.
In union with the Society throughout the world we pray for our newly professed, as they offer themselves completely and joyfully to God, in the Society, for its mission, forever.
The following day, February 2nd, is the feast of Candlemas and the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. Please pray for us and for all religious, that we may always live lives of constant, joyful offering and gratitude. Please pray too that many more young women will hear God's call to join us, offering themselves and all they are to our life and mission of discovering and making known God's love for all.
Image by Clara Malo RSCJ