On Monday, May 13, Brother Joseph Mary professed his perpetual vows. The following “letter” concerns this wonderful event in our community’s life. The previous day saw nine innocents make their First Holy Communion in our chapel. Please also see the IHM Chapel updates: Interior Progress, Sanctuary Gates, and Almost Ready for Occupancy Permit.
My Dear Jesus,
What a beautiful thing is the religious profession of a Slave of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! At the Offertory of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Brother comes forth to prostrate himself before your altar, then, being commanded to rise by his Prior, he is publicly interrogated, in the words of the traditional formula, on his intentions and his commitment to live the noble sacrifices of the life of religion.
At the offertory, when the immaculate Host and the Chalice of salvation have been offered to your Eternal Father, the actio sacra is interrupted and an offertory is made of another oblation — the living sacrifice of a man who wishes to be united to you, O Saving Victim, and consecrated by vows to the Most High.
After that, he pronounces his vows in the hands of his spiritual father, the Prior, who tells him, “And I, on the part of God, if you keep these vows, promise you life everlasting, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Unworthy though I am to receive such a profession in the name of the Holy Trinity, and to pronounce those awful words promising him salvation if he lives his vows, the words are nonetheless efficacious. No, they do not have the same efficacy as the forms of the seven sacraments; rather, they have the efficacy of sacramentals: by the prayers of the Church, and the devotion of those participating in this ceremony, grace is effected.
Thank you for your generosity in granting us this!
When the sacred action of the Mass resumes, the newly vowed brother is incensed just after the oblata, another sign of his offering.
At the end of the rite, the entire congregation joins in the petitions for the newly vowed Slave of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so as to procure the Father’s manifold graces for his growth in virtue, perseverance, and rootedness in the life of holy religion:
V. May he be wise and humble. R. Amen.
V. Outstanding for obedience. R. Amen.
V. Calm in rebukes. R. Amen.
V. Most tender in compassion. R. Amen.
V. Strong in temptations. R. Amen.
V. Patient in injuries. R. Amen.
V. Firm in peace. R. Amen.
V. Constant in prayer. R. Amen.
V. Let him not be unmindful that he must be judged by Thee for his deeds. R. Amen.
Thus it was that on May 13, Brother Joseph Mary pronounced his perpetual vows in my hands before your holy Altar. Thank you for your generosity in calling, enlightening, and strengthening him. May he ever remain true to those words he said in our hearing, and may I have the grace of a father to support him in his vocation.
Your generosity, my Jesus, has not diminished since the days when so many more responded to the call to enter the religious life. Your voice has not grown faint; the power of the Holy Cross has not been exhausted; your nail-pierced hands have not run out of gifts. The fault must be our own that so few respond to the call to live the evangelical counsels in what Saint Thomas calls a “state of perfection.” We must not be listening and receiving the gifts you so generously wish to lavish on us.
We religious must pray more and do more penance. Fathers of families must more and more foster a Christian culture in the home that is less conformed to the standards of this world, and more conducive to their children’s hearing the voice of God. Individuals must put off selfishness and the all-pervasive narcissism of the age and, instead, embrace a life of supernaturally inspired generosity to God and neighbor. Prayer is the key — real prayer, authentic prayer from the heart inspired by a lively Catholic Faith.
And now, Lord, permit me to turn to your most holy Mother, the Mediatrix of all graces and the Co-Redemptrix.
Dear Lady, keep and guide all your Slaves and help us to cherish our vocation as a gift from the Trinity through your maternal hands. It is you, dear Mother, to whom we vow ourselves as slaves, dedicated to the restoration of Catholic tradition and the conversion of this nation to Christ’s Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. Souls are perishing all around us, souls redeemed by the Precious Blood of your Jesus. We wish to be His intimates, believing, hoping, and loving where others do not — praying and working all the while for them to come to Faith, Hope, and Charity. The religious life would be cold and impersonal but for the fact that in our houses there is a Mother who acts — as all good mothers do — as the heart of the family. Keep us in the love of God, O Mary, and make the fire of zeal for our vocation ever flame the brighter. We give you our hearts that you may lift them up from the dross and filth of this world. Let a vibrant interior life and a vigorous dedication to the apostolate be the wings that help us ascend to the Blessed Trinity, whose three Persons you know so intimately as Daughter, Mother, Spouse.
Good St. Joseph, be a father to us who wish to imitate your own humble embrace of the counsels. It is the Church who calls you “lover of poverty,” “most chaste,” and “most obedient.” Besides a love of these virtues, we ask you to obtain for us by your prayers a tender love of Jesus, our God-in-the-Flesh who called you “Father,” and of the Holy Mother of God, your supernal spouse.
And now, my Jesus, I close by asking the grace of perseverance for Brother Joseph Mary and for all your Slaves, a blessing on our mission, and an increase of those who respond to your call to live this life.
Your Worthless Slave,
Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.