Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Religious Vows: A Covenant With God

A reflection on the first Mass reading for April 14, 2011 (Gen 17:3-9), by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.

In the first reading from the book of Genesis it says, “When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him, ‘My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations, no longer shall you be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.’” There’s so much similarity with this section of Genesis and our own vows. We do prostrate ourselves before we make vows. We need to. We need to be humble before God. It’s God calling us. We could not be sustained in this life without His grace.

The reading goes on to say, “God also said to Abraham, ‘On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.’” This part reminds me of what we hear in Chapter 73 of the Rule of St. Benedict: “Are you hastening toward your heavenly home? Then with Christ’s help, keep this little rule that we have written for beginners. After that, you can set out for the loftier summits of the teachings and virtues we mentioned above. And under God’s protection, you will reach them.” I like the encouragement we’re left with. I love that St. Benedict has that confidence, not only for those who were living with him, but for the future, for all who would live the Rule. If you are sincere, you truly pray, you prostrate yourself before God in your heart, you will receive the grace to live this “little Rule for beginners.” St. Benedict believed in the future generations. God believes in the future generations!

Each one in vows has made a covenant. We will follow this rule. What a wonderful gift. When we realize that God believes in us, it inspires us to want to do even better, because God has called us forward, not backward. We live looking at eternity: at Him. That should give us all the confidence we need to keep taking one step after another. Forward.

As we enter Holy Week we begin to prepare our hearts, mostly the ear of our heart, making sure it’s ready to be attentive. You aren’t going to hear anything old. You’re going to hear everything new. You’ve never been at the place that’s coming. You’ve never been to where God is calling you. It’s the first time; and if it’s the first time, it’s with joy that we embrace it.

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