Dear Dad and Mom,
For some time, I have wanted to write you something to thank you for the immense offering, generous and joyful, that you have made to God of so many children. These are some simple reflections, with all my affection….
I think that while it is true that the families of consecrated persons are deserving of great blessings (in fact, St. John Bosco says that they are saved up to the fourth generation), it is no less true that they – and especially the parents of religious – share with them the same renunciations and even the same professed vows.
Above all, you are called to live in a spirit of faith from the moment God asks you to offer Him your children. God calls you as He called Abraham and says to you, “Take your only son whom you love so much, Isaac; go to the region of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering on the mountain that I will appoint for you.”
It is a faith that implies abandonment because one does not know what will happen next…..
God wants this abandonment as He wanted it from Abraham, He does not give him explanations nor does He speak to him according to human logic, and yet He asks him for what He loves most. In the same way He wants you to trust Him as much as Abraham trusted Him, he was sure that God would not let Himself be outdone in generosity, and although he did not know how, he was sure that he would not lose his son by offering him to God. He knew that he would return to him and so he said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey, while I and the boy go ahead. We will worship God and then return to join you” and “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering”.
It is true that God wants to ask more of you, He demands more love from you.
He does not call us in isolation, but as a family, with individual parents and siblings. When He calls one member of the family, He is calling everyone together with him, because everyone has to give his consent and his renunciation. God tests them as he tested Abraham, and so, as He tested him, the angel says to them after the test: “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld your only son from me”.
God asks you too to share our same vows.
You live the vow of chastity together with us, renouncing to surround yourselves with many grandchildren and the satisfaction that goes with it. You share also with us the vow of obedience because you can no longer dispose of us as before, because we ourselves no longer have our own will to dispose of. You submit to the will of our superiors, which is none other than the will of God, and thus you renounce your own will. Finally, you live with us the vow of poverty because you share with us the hardships and humiliations of those who, living in poverty, must beg and depend on others. Just as you do not enjoy the honors that come with worldly goods.
To this must be added the cross of persecution with which God blesses you in a special way. God asks you that, with the gift you have given Him of your children, you are not understood, you are taken for fools, you are criticized, you are despised…. and many times, you suffer this without us realizing it.
To all this we must add that you are not protected, as we are, in a convent. You have to continue to live in a hostile environment, bearing witness to the supernatural values that the world abhors so much.
And, in a certain way, you suffer all this without having “chosen” it. You did not profess religious vows; you were not ordained…. and yet you live many circumstances of life as true consecrated persons. I think that this is the work of the infinite mercy of God, who in his Providence disposes everything for your good and makes you live things that you did not choose; it is His grace that impels you to live a life of greater holiness in unimaginable ways. But I believe that in these circumstances it is important to put all one’s will, so that the donation is meritorious and gives glory to God.
I am reminded of what one author said… that before the things that God sends us we must put our freedom, that is, not only accept them (and suffer them) but choose them. That is, to receive them wholeheartedly through a positive act of our freedom.
In this sense, as the author said, it is very useful to meditate on the words of our Lord: “My life (…) no one takes from me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jn 10:18).
By all that you live, I believe that you also become worthy of Our Lord’s promise: “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or fields for my sake and the gospel, who will not already receive a hundredfold in houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, together with persecutions, and in the future eternal life.” (Mk 10:29-30)
You will receive a hundredfold! …that’s for sure!
There is no joy comparable to that which comes from God when one gives everything to Him. He gives everything to those who give everything to Him. And here we would have to make an endless list to enumerate your gifts…. just think of the great family that God has given us with the Congregation and with it, God has given you many more grandchildren than you could have ever imagined having.
Or just think, and even more, of the comfort and peace that those who have given a child to God experience every day of their lives. This is how Dom Columbia Marmion described it in a letter to the father of a religious sister: “I tell you, then, dear friend, that I am sure that Jesus Christ expects this sacrifice from you, which will be the sweetest consolation during your life and a source of great confidence at the hour of death. I remember that my beloved father, having given two of his daughters to the Lord for the religious life, hesitated to grant permission to the last and dearest. But in the end, unable to deny Jesus Christ anything, he granted it. And it happened that a short time later, finding himself about to appear before the Sovereign Judge, he said that his greatest consolation was to have given to Jesus Christ what he loved most in the world”.
Recently, a man told us that he did not want God to ask for many children…. He probably did not realize what he was saying, but I felt sorry for him, because I thought: how is it possible that we put limits to God? How is it possible that we love God up to a certain point and no more…?
And I thought of you and I felt proud? because you had set no limits for God, because you loved Him above all else! And for this there is no doubt that you will receive a hundredfold…. like Abraham to whom God said: “Because you have done this and have not withheld from me your son, your only son, I will bless you with every blessing and will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the cities of your enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your descendants, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:16-18).
There would be much more to say, but I would need a better inspiration. I lack words and my soul would like to express itself more, but I cannot. Therefore, take these poor thoughts as a small demonstration of the immense love and gratitude I feel for you, for having offered me the best of husbands and the one you taught me to love with all my soul.
There are sufferings and renunciations that remain in the depths of your souls… that only God knows. May God reward you abundantly and make us worthy of such good parents!
United in the Heart of Jesus.
A Religious Sister to her parents.