Posted by: fvbcdm | September 1, 2013

Feast of Saint Raymond Nonnatus (31 August 2013)

As I come to my computer to do the Catholic Daily Message today, I write the date—August 31—at the top of the screen. It is a special date for me and my classmates. On August 30, 1956, we had received the Dominican habit and begun our year-long novitiate at our priory in Winona, Minnesota. One year and a day later, on August 31, 1957, we made our first vows in religious life. Each of us went up to the altar, knelt before our religious superior, and read from the cards which we carried in our hands. On those cards was written the formula for first, or temporary vows, in which we promised obedience to God, to God’s holy Mother, to St. Dominic and his successors.  The formula, which was in Latin in those days, ended with the words, “usque ad triennium”—for three years.

 Then, on this same date—August 31—three years later exactly, we again approached our religious superior with the formula of vows in our hands. But this time, it ended with the words: “usque ad mortem”—until death. I still remember vividly the atmosphere in the chapel that morning. This was the moment we had waited for for years. This was the point of no return, the definitive giving of ourselves to Our Divine Lord in the vocation He had graced us with. One by one, we knelt, read our Latin formula, and spoke those last words: usque ad mortem—sealing our act of commitment. They rang out like shots in that totally silent chapel.

That was [fifty-three] years ago today. I was thirty years old then. Today, in the Liturgy of the Hours, we came to the beautiful little prayer called an antiphon: “When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God? ” Only God knows the answer to that question. But at the moment of our final vows, we didn’t ask “How long?” We gave ourselves to Him for as long as He would have us, as brides and grooms give themselves to one another: “til death do us part.” The ability to make commitments, especially sacred ones, is one of the noblest acts that we human beings can perform. And then we spend the rest of our lives relying upon God’s grace to keep those commitments, for, as Jesus tells us, “without Me, you can do nothing.”

Rejoice with me, my dear friends, as I celebrate this double anniversary and pray for the others who made those vows with me. Some living; some dead. And help me to thank Our Lord for this life to which He has invited us and which has been such a grace, such a gift. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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