Better late than never!
This past January, I celebrated my tenth (!!!) anniversary of consecrated life. It has been an interesting ten years—since my consecration day, I have spent three years living in Rome, finished two graduate degrees, written a book and several popular articles, served as a parish director of religious education and as an ecclesiastical tribunal Judge, made numerous wonderful friends, and have grown in many other ways personally and spiritually. Over all, I am grateful to God for the gift of perseverance!
Here is the anniversary reflection I wrote for the February 2019 issue of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins' newsletter, “The Lamp”:
After a life-long friendship with God, I first felt called to be a bride of Christ when I was twelve years old. I just fell completely in love, once and for all. At eighteen I began visiting religious communities, and while I met a number of admirable nuns and religious Sisters, none of the communities I visited completely resonated with the specific way I felt called in my heart. When I was nineteen, a local priest gave me a copy of the Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity, and upon reading it I knew instantly that this was my vocation. In particular, I was drawn to the central charism of a spousal relationship with Christ; to the spirituality of evangelical virginity; to this vocation’s special bond with the local diocesan Church; toward the Rite’s emphasis on praying the Liturgy of the Hours; and especially to the fact that this vocation was a call to follow in the footsteps of the Church’s early virgin-martyr saints, like St. Agnes and the other women mentioned in the Roman Canon at Mass.
Initially I was turned away from the consecration of virgins for being too young, but after two more years of visiting religious communities, I tried approaching my home Archdiocese of New York again, and at that point I was accepted as a candidate for consecration. I was solemnly consecrated to a life of virginity at Sacred Heart Church in Newburgh, NY on January 3, 2009, when I was twenty-three years old and a recent college graduate.
I can honestly say that I am even happier to be a bride of Christ now than I was on the day of my consecration. Although there have been many challenges over the past ten years, they have only made my vocation more precious to me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found I have a new sense of glad astonishment that God would be so gracious as to call me to this kind of relationship with Himself.
As I reflect on my tenth anniversary of consecrated life, one image that has been frequently coming to mind is the Lamb of God. Most obviously, consecrated virgins are called to be “the Image of the Church as Bride”; that is, the “Bride of the Lamb” mentioned in Revelation 21:9.
But more personally, the Gospel for the actual day of my tenth anniversary was John 1:29-34, where John the Baptist points to Jesus and declares: “Behold the Lamb of God.” I was reminded by the priest celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving that day that this is my mission, too—to be a witness pointing others towards Jesus, who is the Lamb.
I was reminded as well that as lambs were used for sacrificial worship in Old Testament, Jesus is the Lamb of God because he offered Himself as a sacrifice. On the day of my consecration it was very much my hope and intention to offer myself as a living sacrifice to the Lord in the same spirit that saints like Agnes offered their lives. It can be easy to forget the joy that comes with a spirit of radical self-offering, but ten years after my consecration I’ve realized how important it is to continually renew this resolve in my heart.
Finally, my consecrated life has brought me to places I never would have guessed, including three years living in Rome as a canon law student; and then later, an unexpected but clearly providential call to serve the Church in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota as a staff canonist and coordinator of the marriage tribunal. Even amidst the difficulties of leaving home and family for a new and unfamiliar place, there’s a greater peace in recalling that virgins are the ones who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Revelation 14:4) My prayer after ten years is that I will always be given the grace to follow the Lamb wherever He leads me.
|January 3, 2009|
|January 3, 2019 - after a Mass of Thanksgiving, in the very same Church!|
|On the feast of St. Agnes, a second Mass of Thanksgiving in Minnesota, |
in our Diocesan Office chapel with local diocesan priests.