Sara

Renewing My Promises in Lourdes

by Sara Matthews

When we are stationed in a mission house, we Madonna House staff usually renew our promises at that house, which for me, is currently MH England. But this year, when I was due to make my third renewals, I had the blessing of renewing them during a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

The words of our promises are:

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For the glory of God and because I desire with my whole heart to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel with my life, I, Sara Matthews, hereby promise with the help of Our Lady, to live in poverty, chastity, and obedience for two years according to the Madonna House spirit and mandate.

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For the glory of God: I have been in promises for five years, and for the first few years, I felt like a fraud.

I thought about the faults I had. I thought surely someone would come along and tell me that consecrated life is for good people and suggest I go elsewhere.

I still have my faults, but that is not the point. Our lives are for the glory of God and celebrating his mercy, kindness, and faithfulness to us. Like Mary, we can say, “The Almighty has done great things for me.”

Because I desire with my whole heart to respond to the call of Jesus Christ:

When I was deciding whether or not to ask to join Madonna House, I spent a long time adding up pros and cons, internally debating whether I should wait a year or two before asking or whether I should look at other communities or thinking that maybe I was called to marriage.

In order to decide, I had to ask myself: what do I really want?

Ever since I had come to know God, I had also known in the depths of my heart that I could only live for him alone.

With the help of Our Lady: I found it very moving to make promises in Lourdes. It is a place where the help of Our Lady is very evident. She has given us a place to come for healing and to follow her Son more closely.

All promises and vows, whether to consecrated life or marriage, are an act of trust in God and Our Lady. How can I know that I will be faithful to my promises? I cannot, and I know that I cannot by my own strength. I can only trust that God and Our Lady will be there to help me.

Poverty, chastity, and obedience: When I started formation, I was given a little card that explains the reason for our promises. I think it says it best:

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“The members of Madonna House travel in poverty to find security only in Christ, journey in chastity to serve and love Christ in men, live in obedience to be concerned only with the will of God.”

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Any vocation can only be lived with the support of a Christian community. Lourdes was a beautiful experience of that in the joy of the Masses and processions and in people’s love and care of each other. I am so grateful to have renewed my promises there. I will never forget it.