Question: What is a vocation to be a Brother in the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
Answer: It is a call from God to live, pray, work, suffer, and die for the glory of God, the exaltation of the Blessed Virgin, the conversion of America, and the restoration of Catholic Orthodoxy. “The conversion of America” means the conversion of its citizens to the one true Church, outside of which they cannot be saved. By “restoration of Catholic Orthodoxy,” we refer to our Doctrinal Crusade to combat the Liberalism, Modernism, and Indifferentism now plaguing the Church. It is our special vocation to defend extra ecclesiam nulla salus (“there is no salvation outside the Church”), a solemnly defined dogma of the Faith. “Resist him [the devil], strong in faith” (1 Pet. 5:9).
Q. How is this accomplished?
A. By living the vowed life of the evangelical counsels and the total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, as taught by St. Louis de Montfort. “The wise men… found the Child with Mary his Mother, and falling down they adored Him” (Mt. 2:1,11). (The particular means of our apostolate are treated below.)
Q. Why the religious life?
A. Because it is the highest vocation from God. By living the consecrated life of the vows, we are responding to a free and unmerited call to live in His special intimacy. The graces that come with living this state, good in themselves, are also valuable weapons in our Crusade to convert the nation and restore sound doctrine. History tells us that the conversion of nations was, in large part, the work of Religious, beginning with the Apostles themselves. “He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God” (I Cor. 7:32).
Q. What do you do all day?
A. On some days we are out doing our missionary work, which consists of distributing our Catholic publications to “the man on the street.” On most days, we are home at the monastery, where our horarium is as follows:
6:00 – Rise.
6:30 – Prime (morning prayers).
6:45 – Meditation.
7:30 – Holy Mass (Tridentine).
8:30 – Breakfast.
9:00 – Study or class (ordinary silence: converse only on necessary matters).
10:30 – Obedience (when Brothers get their list of assignments for that day), then work begins (ordinary silence).
12:00 – Lunch, with reading at table.
12:45 – Visit to chapel (particular examen and private prayers).
1:00 – Work (assigned chores, ordinary silence). Short visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
5:15 – Supper, with reading at table.
6:00 – Visit to chapel and evening chores, then community recreation (usually a “country walk”).
6:45 – Community Rosary.
7:15 – Class, study, or night chores.
9:00 – Free time (used for writing letters, additional study, praying, etc.).
9:30 – Compline (grand silence begins: no talking at all).
10:00 – Must be in cloister, prepare for retiring.
10:30 – Lights out.
Q. How do you seek to convert America?
A. By fidelity to our religious observances and by various works of zeal dedicated to that end. These include promoting the Faith through literature which we publish and distribute, not only by subscription, but also in person. Such personal contact opens up opportunities to talk about the Faith to people who would probably not otherwise hear of the necessity of being united to Jesus Christ through His Church. “How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).
Q. How do you seek to restore Catholic Orthodoxy?
A. By the same means as those listed above. Through our educational apostolates, we also work to form lay apostles (Tertiaries) who are collaborators in our work. “O that all the people might prophesy, and that the Lord would give them his spirit!” (Num. 11:29).
Q. What do you require in a candidate seeking admission?
A. He should be between the ages of 16 and 35, in good health, docile to authority, and “normal” (i.e., devoid of eccentricities and strange personal habits). He must exhibit the desire to grow in virtue, since the religious life is a “state of perfection” in which growth in virtue is a duty. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth” (Eph. 4:23-24).
Q. How can I discern my vocation?
A. Pray for divine light; frequent the Sacraments (Mass and Communion daily, if possible, and weekly confession); seek counsel from a good, prudent priest; come for a week’s visit with the Brothers to see if you are suited to our life. “Seek and ye shall find” (Mt. 7:7).
A prayer from the Raccolta for choosing a state in life
O my God, Thou who art the God of wisdom and good counsel, Thou who readest in my heart a sincere desire to please Thee alone and to direct myself in regard to my choice of a state of life, in conformity with Thy holy will in all things; by the intercession of the most holy Virgin, my Mother, and of my Patron Saints, grant me the grace to know that state of life which I ought to choose, and to embrace it when known, in order that thus I may seek Thy glory and increase it, work out my own salvation, and deserve the heavenly reward which Thou hast promised to those who do Thy holy will. Amen. (Indulgence of 300 days once a day.)
Send forth, O Lord, laborers into Thy harvest! (300 days, plenary if every day for a whole month.)
The Saints on the Religious Life
“A religious vocation is the greatest grace God can give a soul after holy Baptism.”
— Saint Mary Magdalene di Pazzi
“In this privileged state [the religious life] there is a happy and wonderful exchange; for goods of this world are given up and in their place the goods of Heaven are received. Treasures that will pass away are surrendered in exchange for treasures that last forever. Articles of no value are swapped for articles of priceless value.”
— Saint Basil
“The Religious State is like the Promised Land; it is Paradise on Earth; it is a Great Grace.”
— Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri
“God has designedly concealed the happiness of the religious state because, if it were known, all would relinquish the world and fly to religion.”
— Saint Laurence Justinian
“Is not that a holy state in which a man lives more purely, falls more rarely, rises more speedily, walks more cautiously, rests more securely, dies more confidently, is cleansed more quickly, and rewarded more abundantly?”
— Saint Bernard