Sr. Christina M. Neumann
A week ago this morning, I sat with several hundred other women
religious for what I found to be the most enriching presentation of our weekend gathering in St. Louis (See previous post).
Perhaps, you would call me biased because the speaker, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens, is from my home archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and I knew of him personally through two of my siblings.
I would like to share a few of the points he made in his plenary session, entitled “The Evangelical Counsels and the Salvation of the World.” Like others on the weekend, he spoke of the prophetic witness of the Consecrated Life. He reflected that a mission of Consecrated Life is to remind the world of the call to holiness, comparing it to a church with a high steeple. When people see consecrated religious, they should be reminded of God, as people of a town would be when seeing a church steeple.
Bishop Cozzens also reflected that the Consecrated Life is a life totally given (to the Lord through the evangelical councils). These counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience) come from God and lead us to God. They were the form of Christ’s life, and according to the Bishop’s reflections, He showed them most clearly on the Cross.
Fittingly for a Saturday, a day in which we especially honor Our Lady, Bishop Cozzens also brought in Mary’s relationship to the Consecrated Life. He shared how Mary also lived this form of life, with total surrender and giving over her whole life to God. Our gift of self through the evangelical counsels is a gift without reservation. It is to be a “yes” like Mary’s at the Annunciation.
Our own Constitutions, as Dillingen Franciscans, call us to “keep the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary…ever before our eyes.” We turn to her as an example and intercessor in daily saying ‘yes’ to our Lord and following Him in poverty, chastity, and obedience.