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Monday, 03 May 2021 07:00

Given to the Lord Forever

 

2021.30.Berna SJ Vows 1

 

The celebration of my Perpetual Vows was every bit as beautiful as I imagined it would be.  Since joining the MGL Sisters in 2012 I’ve often wondered what this occasion, which in many respects is like a wedding day, would be like.  I got excited as a I designed invitations, chose a ring, planned the Mass and thought about things like music, decorations and having a cake to cut – it really felt like a wedding!  I was overwhelmed by love as family and friends travelled from all over to attend and pitched together to make it such a special occasion.  It felt very surreal to walk down the aisle as Mass began, carrying my candle and hearing the voices of everyone singing and realising what a massive moment in my life was taking place.

The ’bridal’ imagery of consecration has always been really special to me.  At my first Summer School of Evangelisation in 2011 I received a prophetic word from someone praying over me about a diamond.  This person had no idea that a few months earlier on retreat at Jamberoo Abbey I had felt so much excitement in response to the prospect that Jesus was calling me to consecrate myself to Him as a religious sister.  Since then, this image of the diamond, a kind of engagement ring, has stayed with me as I discerned and lived as an MGL Sister through amazing highs and many challenges and struggles.

I also remember being so struck the first time I heard the line from Hosea 2:19 describing the love of God for his people as like the love between husband and wife and thinking, “wow, I can’t believe God can love like that!”  This scripture was read at my vows and inscribed inside my vows ring, worn on my left hand as a sign of my consecration to Jesus.

In the speeches at my vows dinner, my Dad commented that the love between him and my Mum has grown since their wedding day to the point where he is certain that they are better people because of the love of their marriage.  The beautiful thing that consecrated life models is that the life-changing love of Jesus is on offer for each one of us – that Jesus can draw as near to us as an intimate spouse can – and that his love changes and betters us as we allow Him to become one with us.

Berna Toohey