WESTPORT—One of the readings at the Mass celebrating Religious life on May 7at St. Luke Church was from Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”
A 19th century painting by William Holman Hunt portraying that portion of scripture is well-known and was prominent at the celebration. Jesus is in a garden, standing at a door knocking. The door has no handle and can only be opened from within. The passage and painting remind the Christian that God gives incredible freedom to each soul and does not force a relationship with any person but waits patiently to be invited into each individual heart where intimacy can develop. This is the work of life: to advance in love and familiarity with God.
This year there were twenty-seven men and women religious jubilarians in the diocese having reached milestones ranging from eighty to twenty-five years in vowed life. When totaled, all the years spent in dedicated service represented by those priests and sisters was unbelievably over 1,500! Those years were spent in prayer, meditation, living in community and varied ministries including school administration, teaching, social work, nursing, catechetics and outreach to the marginalized. Their adventure with the Lord started with their opening the door.
The future vitality of the Church and the continuation of the diverse charisms of congregations depend on the generosity of the new generations of Catholics when considering vowed consecration as a life option. It is true, every Christian should aim to incorporate the evangelical counsels, poverty, chastity and obedience, in imitation of Jesus in their lives no matter what their calling. However, the total self-gift made by Religious is a witness so needed in a time of relativism.
What matters most is inviting Christ in.