We have noted that Ryken understood that the mission, which the Spirit entrusted to him, could only be realized by followers who would give all of themselves to this holy endeavor while embracing and committing themselves to a permanent way of Christian living. In his understanding, this Life Form would be realized by men bound by the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Indeed, for several generations, dedicated Xaverian Brothers in Europe and America have lived this mission so well – as well as its underlying spirituality, even if they did it unconsciously – that it attracted non brothers to partake in their endeavor. Our renewed insight into consecration after Vatican II invites us to a broader understanding of how this mission is to be lived by Xaverians who are embracing diverse life forms.
While it was once simplistically viewed as nothing more than a canonical act, today consecration is understood as a person’s full acceptance and daily sacralization of the life form for which God has prepared his/her heart, soul, and body from the beginning – be it in vowed celibacy, marriage, or celibate singlehood. Consecration is more than the act of professing religious vows or exchanging marriage vows. It is our “yes” to the life form into which God, in his infinite wisdom, has summoned us. If we don’t do this, we could not fully realize the life call that He entrusted to each of us. When we become at peace with our life form and have come to accept its demands – instead of projecting ourselves as perpetually non-committed persons who are relationally unattached – we will be able to sanctify the “yes” we have given to God and those to whom we have committed ourselves.
Only someone with a pure heart can consecrate himself or herself.
Consecration cannot happen when one embraces religious life, marriage, or celibate singlehood for material security, professional gain, or self-promotion. A consecration made with such and other ulterior motives is hindered and compromised. No one can resolve to give themselves to God unless their consecration is done with love, freedom, and purity of intentions.
A reading from our Xaverian tradition
You have responded to the invitation:
Come follow me.
Day by day, you will need to renew your response.
Do not become discouraged
over the difficulties you encounter in your life of gospel service.
Knowing that difficulties would be your
share, your Founder judged:
Nothing special is achieved
without much labor, effort and zeal.
[From the Fundamental Principles]
A reading from the Middle Dutch Mystical tradition
Clarity of insight, purity of spirit, and purity of mind – these are the three properties of the contemplative soul… Whoever consecrates himself to a particular life must prepare himself in order to realize it by the grace of God. His outward life must be well-settled and well-ordered through good works. His inward life must be full of grace and charity, unfeigned in upright intention. His heart is free, open, and elevated to God. Such is the enclosure of the consecrated spirit, one in which he enters with ordinary purity. It is in such a sanctified enclosure that God finds a dwelling.
[From On the Seven Rungs, by Jan van Ruusbroec, ca. 1359: 1005-21]
Points of Reflection
- Consecration is my full acceptance and daily sacralization of the life form for which God has prepared my heart, soul and body from the beginning. As a Xaverian who is either vowed, married, or single, what challenges me from accepting fully and generously the life form to which I have been called?
- In the situation where I find myself day by day – work, school, community, ministry, etc. – how do I renew the “yes” I have given when I gave myself to God and others through consecration?