November 21, 1691 | The Heroic Vow
November 21, 2014 | The Beginning Of The Year Of Consecrated Life
A Word from Auxiliary Visitor Brother Charles Kitson, FSC
The Heroic Vow and Consecrated Life
So often when we hear the word religion we think of a corpus of time tested beliefs, or an institution that has weathered centuries of spiritual and temporal highs and lows, or maybe we even experience it as an organized approach to our relationship with God. If this were Final Jeopardy, I hope that Alex Trebek would accept any of the above–but let’s look a bit deeper at the basic Latin root of the word.
According to Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, noted author on topics of contemporary spirituality, religion has a main and final goal. It is to reconnect us (re-ligare) to the whole, to ourselves and to one another – and thus heal us. So the purpose of religion is to bind us together so that as a community we can be healed.
This sounds to me a lot like the religion that Pope Francis now calls us to live… a community of believers who carries each other’s burdens, forgives one another, tries hard not to judge, celebrates together and seeks Jesus in the faces of the most neglected. For this purpose we are re-connected. Not to be a mutual admiration society but to be bound to one another knowing that as individuals we wouldn’t be able to carry out the gospel mission on our own.
Now let’s turn back the clock 323 years to the year 1691. John Baptist de La Salle had begun the work of the schools with his rag-tag band of Brothers about ten years before and was in the throes of indecision as to whether or not to continue this seemingly foolish enterprise. Brothers were dying from exhaustion. Many had left the rigor of his fledgling community. He was ridiculed by the local Church and terribly misunderstood by his own family. It was definitely the moment to abandon ship or find a new way of shoring up this leaky arc. He needed to find a way to reconnect with the God who called him, with the Brothers who supported him and with the mission that brought healing to the neediest of children.
On November 21, 1691, along with two of his “principal Brothers,” Nicholas Vuyart and Gabriel Drolin, De La Salle took the proverbial “leap of faith.” In secret from the rest of the community, he and his closest confidants made what today we refer to as the heroic vow. They vowed to the God of the Trinity, that they would remain in a life-long association for the running of the Christian Schools no matter what … even if it meant to beg in the streets and to live on bread alone. They “bought territory,” as the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, in order that the Brothers, their students and families would have HOPE. This pragmatic act of apostolic heroism has had a ripple effect among the Brothers for more than three centuries now. Each of us vows before the same Holy Trinity to live in Association with the Brothers of the Christian Schools for life. We do this so that the Lasallian Mission may continue to educate the minds and touch the hearts of countless children, youth, adults and families who live on the periphery and are in need of “healing.”
Watch This Heroic Vow Video
As we begin this Year of Consecrated Life in the Church, it is good to reconnect with our own roots of consecration as Brothers, and for all of us Lasallians, to remember what a difference one’s willingness to make an extravagant gesture with his or her life can mean. Jesus knew it. De La Salle found his way to it. All of the saints, recognized or not, understood the price that had to be paid in order for their dreams to come true.
Consecration means becoming holy with … with the Brothers of the Christian Schools, with the entire Lasallian Family, with the Church and with the all embracing Kingdom of God. Why did Jesus make the ultimate sacrifice? Why did De La Salle make the Heroic Vow? Why do we remain in Association? The answer is really quite simple. We re-ligare – reconnect – so that others may be healed. We join in consecrated community life so that our students may be saved.
In this year of celebration of Consecrated Life let us reconnect to the whole, to one another and to ourselves so that Jesus may live in and heal the hearts of us all … FOREVER!
Intercessions for the Season of Advent
For our Church, as we begin a new liturgical year and the Year of Consecrated Life, may we be united in our zeal to consecrate ourselves fully to Christ and to the vocation to which God calls us.
First Sunday of Advent- November 30, 2014
For all youth and young adults in the Catholic Church, that they might be awake and alert to the calls of Jesus to follow him in service as men and women religious.
Second Sunday of Advent- December 7, 2014
For members of our Church, that like John the Baptist, we might serve as messengers of the Lord, witnessing to the Good News of Jesus by our lives of consecration and holiness.
Third Sunday of Advent- December 14, 2014
That young people of the Catholic faith might rejoice and respond generously to the Lord’s call for a consecrated life of service.
Fourth Sunday of Advent- December 21, 2014
For consecrated women, who, like Mary, responded with a courageous “yes” to God’s invitation to bring Christ into the world through the witness of their lives.
Intercessions for the Season of Christmas
For young Catholics, that by their lives and willingness to serve, they might witness to the presence of the Word Incarnate in our world today.
Nativity of the Lord – Christmas
For the children in our parish, that they might foster a deep love of Christ and share with others the joy of His coming.
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – December 28, 2014
For all Catholic families, that they might raise their children to be strong in their faith and encourage them to consider vocations of service in consecrated religious life.
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God – January 1, 2015
That women and men in consecrated life might, like Mary, reflect on the goodness of God and bring the good news of God’s love to those in need.
The Epiphany of the Lord – January 4, 2015
That we, like the Star of Bethlehem, might draw others Jesus Christ and invite them to offer him the gift of themselves through vocations to religious life.
Baptism of the Lord – January 11, 2015
For all young Catholics, that they might hear God declare them to be the beloved children of God and that they might live out their baptism by following the path that God calls them to.
Intercession for Ordinary Time
For our Church, during this year of Consecrated Life, may we be united in our zeal to consecrate ourselves fully to Christ and to the vocation to which God calls us.
Additional Links and Information
Witness that Recalls the Witness of Your Founders
Additional documents can be found on the CMSM special website for the Year of Consecrated Life (www.yearforconsecratedlife.com). You may also go to the CMSM website (www.cmsm.org). Click on the link on the homepage and it will take you to a special page where resources for the year of Consecrated Life may be found.
Observances Common to the Church in the USA
Days with Religious negotiated and established in cooperation with the USCCB:
- February 8, 2015: Religious Open House. Events will include tours, open houses, receptions, family activities, and presentations on the history of religious communities at convents, abbeys, monasteries, and religious houses.
- Summer 2015: Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their ministries or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.
- September 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, rosary, or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes, and churches.
Observances to Be Held in Rome
- Opening – Saturday, November 29, 2014, with a Prayer Vigil at the Vatican. Sunday, November 30, 2014, Opening Eucharistic Liturgy.
- An Ecumenical Meeting of Consecrated Men and Women, January 22 – 24, 2015.
- A Workshop for Formators and Vocation Directors, April 8 – 11, 2015.
- A Workshop for Youth and Young Consecrated Persons, September 23 – 26, 2015.
- An international symposium on “Following the Gospel, A Permanent Form of Life in the Church” will be held in Rome from January 27 through January 31, 2016.
- Closing – Saturday, February 1, 2016, with a Prayer Vigil at the Vatican. Sunday, February 2, 2016, Eucharistic Liturgy of the World Day of Consecrated Life.