The Vows

Our profession of the vows of poverty, consecrated chastity and obedience, unite us intimately to Christ. God who alone consecrates, continually calls for a response of love to his infinite love.

Sandra Shneiders, IHM, in her book, Selling All (2001 Paulist Press) writes, “The vocation to religious life is a total life-long commitment to Jesus Christ. It is about giving one’s whole life to God and the centrality of the love relationship with God. The primacy of our relationship with God is what informs and impacts every other relationship.”

This is essentially and theologically what our consecration and vows are about.

Poverty in and of itself is not a value. As a matter of fact most religious are working diligently at trying to close the gap between the rich and the poor, and to create a more equitable and just world. The vow of poverty is living simply so that others may simply live. In professing a vow of poverty religious promise to hold all things in common. We do not keep our salary for ourselves but give it to the community for the sake of the community and the needs of our members. We also strive to share our resources generously with others. Part of living simply is making responsible choices regarding material things and our use of them. It means responsible stewardship not only of goods and resources held in common, but also our care for the earth and one another.

Poverty lived well leads to a heart full of gratitude for all of God’s gifts, the desire to generously and freely share our talents and resources with others, and an ardent concern for the welfare of God’s people.

Consecrated Chastity
Consecrated chastity for the sake of the kingdom is a gift of grace given by God. By it we give ourselves to Jesus with an undivided heart. Drawn to an ever-deepening union with Jesus we are called to be a sign of the covenant between Christ and his Church - the people of God.

Consecrated chastity is a response to a call, an invitation, heard deep within one’s heart to make God the center of one’s life. It is not something that is imposed on us. It is something that we freely choose, desire and respond to. We commit ourselves to the primacy of our relationship with God, which in turn directs all of our relationships with others.

Consecrated chastity lived well leads to inner freedom, joy and a generous and loving heart.

The word obedience comes from the Latin words od-audire meaning “to listen carefully.” It is a choice for happiness. Obedience is a respectful listening for the purpose of discovering the will of God, who calls each of us to life, life to the full. It is not a dull or passive waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Rather, it is an active listening and searching, together with others, for what God is asking of me, or us, in a particular situation or circumstance and in response to the needs of God’s people.

Obedience is a vow of co-responsibility in fidelity to the gospel. It will likely at times involve sacrifice; and of doing things that we may not have ordinarily chosen to do, but it also always means fidelity to God who is the center of our life and our relationships.

Obedience lived well leads to integrity and peace, even in the face of difficulties and challenges.

As Sisters of the Good Shepherd, we take a fourth vow of zeal. The vow of zeal gives a special dynamism to our life of consecration for mission. It unifies the contemplative and active dimensions of our life, giving a singleness of purpose to all that we are and all that we do. Our vow of zeal, which is at the heart of our vocation, leads us to search out the wounded, those left behind by the world.

On an individual level, zeal means never giving up on a person, it means unconditional love and acceptance, a commitment to leave no stone unturned to assist each person to come to her/his full potential, no matter what the cost to me. On an advocacy level, it means creatively and faithfully working to overturn the unjust systems which impact negatively on each person's dignity and humanity and innate right to live and work in freedom.

Zeal lived well leads to commitment to do all that is in one’s power and capacity to bring others to experience and know that they are children of God, made in God’s own image.

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