July 15, 2012


Often times the term "Consecrated Religious Life" is used interchangeably with "Vowed Religious Life."  I have been praying this week with the idea of consecration and vows and thought here might be a good place to share some of those reflections.

Consecration is the giving of my whole life, my whole being, in response to the seizing love of God.  Many people have felt that seizing love of God.  As Sisters of St. Joseph we use the term, "acatamiento," to describe it.  My CSJ sister Linda, likens it to being grabbed by the shirt collar; it is a startling love that one can't not notice.  While I am sure that I knew the love of God through my parents, family, teachers, etc., my first acatamiento moment, the first time I felt the seizing love of God and had the awareness of what that love was, occurred when I was sixteen on my first Teens Encounter Christ retreat.  Maybe I was old enough at that point to offer a response, maybe it was the awareness I had on a new level, but that was the first moment of my consecration, the first moment where I knew that I would give my entire life in relation to that love.

Consecration is an on-going, yes commitment.  Responding to love in love is not a one-time deal.  Consecration is not limited to women and men who take formal religious vows as sisters, brothers, priests, etc.  Married people, single people, young people, any person can live a consecrated life.  The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience lived through the charism and in the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph is the context through which I choose to live my consecration.  The vows provide the context, the obligation, the particular life form, the container for my consecration.

As I sit to pray this week, I have used my "consecration point" as the place where I meet God/Jesus to talk and to listen.  I will say that five weeks into my "month" of vow prep. I am very certain that it is apostolic religious life and not monastic religious life to which I am called.  People who know me know that I don't sit still well, especially not for extended periods of time.  While I plan to take full advantage of this time and prayer, I will also be very excited to get home, work in my classroom, see my family, and play and pray with my community.  I return home a week from tomorrow, but until then, back to the origin.



  1. Dear Sarah,

    I have followed your journey from Candidate, Novice, Newly Professed, to your current time of preparation for Vows.

    I wanted to tell you that your journey and your sharing of the journey have been such blessings for me. I say this because I truly believe that all of us should be sharing more of our Emmaus Journeys for the support and building up of the Christian community, but also, because your journey is one that I would have liked to take myself.

    I have loved your pictures and stories, and I especially appreciated your most recent post regarding your thoughts about consecration and the vowed life.

    While all of us have our God-directed journeys, I want to encourage you on your journey. I am nearing my 62nd birthday, and I have spent my life as a single woman working primarily with migrant farm worker communities in the deserts of California, near the borders of Arizona and Mexicali. Many persons, today, express the idea that persons, like myself, ministering intentionally with marginalized communities are taking the place and/or can take the place of persons in religious life. Although the forms of religious life may develop, the need for communities of disciples is essential.

    I want to affirm that such ministry without the balance and support of a community, similarly committed is at best, extremely difficult, and at its worst, destructive for the ministry, as well as the minister. I have been a very committed minister throughout my life, but I know with certainty that such ministry should be offered with and from within a community of disciples.

    I, too, began my career as a bilingual teacher of a K, 1, 2, and 3 rd grade combo in a public school at a migrant farmer labor camp. I moved on into Special Education, Counseling, Educational Psychology, etc. etc., but consider teaching as the most delightful of all my activities.

    Many blessings on your beautiful journey, Sarah! May I ask how you went about deciding on what you would do for your Vow preparation? This question is not out of idle curiosity; I hoped that I might learn something from you.

    With Love,
    Susan Lees, csja, Psy.D. Indio, California

    1. Susan,

      Thanks so much for your thoughts and sharing. As you stated so well, we all have our God-journeys, and I'm glad we seem to share much in common.

      To answer your question, I had many thoughts as to how to best benefit from this time of preparation--from a camping retreat to the thirty-day exercises. I knew I wanted something in nature, preferably in the mountains, as God's presence is so real to me there. I love to use my body in prayer which made hiking, rafting, yoga, etc. desirable. And, I knew, whether I thought I wanted it or not, that some silence and solitude would help me listen. I actually asked some people back in St. Louis to be on a vow preparation "committee" for and with me to flesh out some details, give me suggestions of books, places, people, etc., and this is what we came up with. After that I just turned it over to God and listened the best I could. It has been quite a mixture of things and all lovely.

      Good luck in all of your continued ministry. If you are ever headed through St. Louis, please let me know.

    2. Sister Sarah,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.

      All of my retreat time and Spiritual Direction in the past, took place in Denver!!! Colorado: One of my favorite places in the world:)


  2. Sarah,
    Your thoughts on consecration and the vowed life were beautifully expressed. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you prepare for the next part of your life/faith journey. Looking forward to seeing you again. When do you take your final vows?
    Grace and peace,
    Aunt Jane