The Gift of a Consecrated Life

The Sister of Our Lady Immaculate (newly professed Sister Mary McGrath is front right)

We need some good news stories, and I was witness to one yesterday, as Sister Margaret Mary MacGrath of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate made her final profession of vows in a beautiful and sublime Mass, celebrated by Bishop Douglas Crosby, with glorious music provided by the Sisters’ own Schola.

Sister MacGrath is an alumna of Seat of Wisdom College, taking her foundational year in liberal arts, and is now upgrading her nursing qualifications, which will stand her in good stead in one of the primary Sisters’ apostolates, caring for the elderly.

There is something very joyful in a young woman offering her life to God as a chaste bride of Christ, through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, freeing them, as the Bishop said in his homily, from any undue attachment to exterior goods, to sexual pleasure, and to their own pride.

This event yesterday was one of the momentous in Canada of late (with religious vocations declining to a rare rarity in our fair land), but one unremarked by the world; not much different from that original consecrated vocation of the Our Lady, giving her fiat on that fateful day, unnoticed by all, but which would change the entire course of the world.

I will have more to write on the great good of the charism of celibacy, which the Church calls a ‘gift from God’, the foregoing of (the also great good of) marriage to ‘work for the Lord’. Many are discounting this gift, citing the ‘unnaturalness’ of foregoing marriage as one factor in the sexual abuse by priests. One conservative site actually called for ‘muscular, bearded priests with wife and family’, as though these qualities were somehow more conducive to the virtue of chastity. Jean de Brebeuf was muscular and bearded, but there was no way he could have accomplished all the great good he did with ‘wife and children’ in tow, hauling them through the rigours of life in early Huronia. Nor, for that matter, could modern priests accomplish the same good in the ‘wilds’ of our modern culture, with families to care for as well. One must choose to which primary good one will devote one’s life.

Here is the rub: To make oneself a eunuch for the kingdom, as Christ exhorts, allows one to do more good. We should recall that most of what we know as ‘civilization’, even up to the modern era, our schools, universities, hospitals, churches, monasteries, even many the original farms, tilling of the land across Europe, were built and staffed by legions of joyful, happy, hard working celibates, the nuns, sisters and monks who toiled solely for God and His glory.

We should not allow the abuse of sexuality and a few bad apples to cloud us of this fact, and the perennial teaching of the greater good, joy and glory of a life fully given to God.