With all my heart

Seventeen years ago today, in the midst of a Roman heatwave, I made my perpetual vows to God, in the Society, alongside companions from around the world with whom I'd prepared for this definitive commitment. As always on this anniversary, I am filled with gratitude, and not a little awe, as I reflect on God's fidelity and steadfast love over the years, and the fullness of life and transforming grace I continue to receive.

In 2003 the feast of the Sacred Heart - which this year we celebrated last Friday - fell towards the end of the month, to the delight of my companions and I, as we'd all be back in our home provinces by then. Five days after professing our vows, and still brimming over with gratitude, fervour and joy, we would get the chance to renew them! This is something RSCJ throughout the world do in union with each other on this feast: not because our vows expire in June, but because we want to renew our commitment - to God, to the Society, to living our charism and mission, and to the world and the people to which we have been sent. And the day when we celebrate together the infinite Love which calls and sends us, and to which we have pledged our very selves, is an opportune moment for renewing and deepening our response.

The anniversary of that pledging is, of course, another good opportunity! And this anniversary in particular, in an unstable world ravaged by a global pandemic and all its consequences, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable, calls me compellingly to this. How, in the midst of all this, can I live with greater depth my response to God's love?

In the solemn blessing from our profession Mass seventeen years ago, the congregation prayed May their lives reveal the face of Christ your Son, so that all who see them may come to know that he is always present... We pray that in the freedom of their hearts they may free from care the hearts of others; in helping the afflicted, may they bring comfort to Christ suffering in his people; may they look upon the world and see it ruled by your loving wisdom... An invocation made in the relative innocence of 2003... But prayer, like God, is timeless, and I am still called to live this blessing today: still called to reveal the face and the love of Christ, to comfort him in the afflicted and free hearts from care - now, in this pandemic, and this wounded, suffering world, in which I can struggle to see God's loving wisdom.

Desiring all this and more, I renew my vows, with faith and trust in the God who will always keep covenant with me. In the Society's formula we say, I renew with all my heart... and indeed I do. I renew with all my heart, and with all my mind and body, with all my gifts and my limitations, with all my desires and dreams. And I pray - and ask you to pray with me - for the grace and strength, and the intensity of that first fervour, to be able to live these vows; to live all I am called to be, especially now, more and more with all my heart and being; with everything I am and can be.