I have chosen you for love...

Sixteen years ago today, in the burning fire of a Roman heatwave, I made my perpetual vows, along with the group with whom I had prepared for this moment. There were twelve of us from eleven countries, and almost as many languages: and, as always happens at these ceremonies, this was reflected in the very diverse, multi-lingual liturgy, bringing together not only our different languages, but also the scripture, hymns and experiences which had been most significant for our time and journeying together.

The other day, as I wondered which part of this liturgy would accompany my reflections ahead of this anniversary, the first thing which came to me was the first line of the refrain to the psalm, sung in Spanish: Yo te he elegido para amar... I have chosen you for love... This echoed the call to love, heard especially during my long retreat, and reminded me, too, of my response to that original, primordial call, years before, when overwhelmed with God's unconditional, unmeasured love.

I have chosen you for love... Back in 2003, when I said my yes to God's choice and call, did I ever imagine how much our world would hunger and thirst for love? Could I have ever imagined the cruelty and anger of populist governments today, the bitterness of Brexit, food banks, austerity and the current chaotic mess of our politics? No; all I knew was that Love called me to follow, called me to love - wherever, however, whenever.

And sixteen years on, in a world grown increasingly cold and hostile, and so in need of kindness, tenderness, compassion and love, God has reminded me of that. And so, as I renew my forever yes with all my heart, I renew this yes too; confident that, just as I made my vows as part of an international group, so I will continue to live and deepen and expand them as part of a worldwide community and movement of people choosing to live for love. I have chosen you for love... says God, to me and to each one of us... May I continue to choose you, only you, for love... I pray in return.