12. The Vows

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You will often be told that your religious vocation and your vows are to consecrate you more completely to all the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. They are not to separate you from your brothers and sisters and his, or to make you believe that you are someone exceptional. Under no pretext whatever must your religious life be an obstacle to your love for all.

Your vow of obedience must in no way lessen your responsibility or exempt you from taking certain initiatives. Such an attitude is of greater merit sometimes than taking refuge in passive obedience. However, your vow of obedience will liberate you from yourself and from the ties of your selfishness and the desire to do your own will, and it will make you completely free for the service of the Lord.

Your vow of chastity must not cause you to turn in on yourself in a self-centered pursuit of personal perfection. It must not lead you to become cold and distant, but will help you to be all the more open so as to love each person in the world with an even greater love. For the more you love Jesus, your beloved Brother and Lord, the more you will love your brothers and sisters.

Your vow of poverty is never to limit the love you must have for everyone and it should mean privations only for you. Freed from all personal anxieties and worries, you will be ready to help all the people whom by the Lord’s Providence you may meet.

If you want to give your life to the fullest, do as your one and only Model, Jesus in the Gospel – Jesus who on earth wanted to be just a common laborer lost among others – divine leaven in the human dough.

So then, if you want to follow this way, a way Jesus traced, you may not always be understood, and sometimes it will be difficult to keep on going.

It will be difficult because this way, more than others, is full of dangers and hardships. If it frightens or upsets you, maybe that is a sign that you are made for a more structured and regular life where you are less openly exposed to temptations or difficulties. This way can be dangerous because you will find no safeguards to protect you and to guarantee your security in all situations and circumstances. To replace such safeguards you will need sound training. Your intelligence must be enlightened, your judgment sound, and your heart and will strong. And above all, you will need boundless love.

And to keep you from going off the track, you will have as a reminder everything that this beautiful ideal of Brother Charles of Jesus can mean for you. Following him, your strongest protection will be your desire for the lowest place and all that your contemplative life will ask of you personally. Above all you will have the requirements of your vocation which is one of love.

And then, you will hold fast, your eyes fixed on your one and only Model Jesus, Jesus the perfect example of the human and of the divine!