Consecration and the Eucharist

Have you ever heard the classical song written by Bach, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring?” With a violin and cello accompaniment, it basically draws your heart directly into the notes as they soar up through the rafters, stirring within you a desire that anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb! It was the Offertory song at our Mass of Religious Profession on the Feast of the Transfiguration this year, played as the gifts of bread and wine were brought to the altar to be consecrated into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Just prior, eleven Sisters had also approached the same altar and were consecrated to Almighty God, offering the gift of their lives in professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience and our fourth vow as Sisters of Life, to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

At the Wedding Feast at Cana, Jesus performed his first miracle at the behest of his Blessed Mother, prefiguring the Last Supper and Institution of the Eucharist by changing ordinary water into the finest wine. He changed water into wine…and changes wine into His Precious Blood.  The appearance, the accidents, remain the same: taste, color, texture; however, the substance has changed from one to Another. So too, with the consecrated soul! On August 6th, 2010 Jesus performed yet another miracle.  After ten sisters made first vows and one made her perpetual vows, there were minor exterior changes—blue bands, medals of the Madonna of the Streets, and for Perpetual Vows, a ring…but at the moment of her consecration, when the Sister has pronounced those words that bind and unite her to God and are received on behalf of the Church, it is at that moment that the soul undergoes a deepening of her Baptism, forming a new and special bond, entering into a “communion of love with Christ”(Vita Consecrata).

The consecrated woman, too, aims to live as bread and wine, broken and poured out, totally taken to Christ so she can say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” She gives herself to Jesus as a living host in His hands, offered in union with Him to our Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of souls. This offering, made in freedom and the peace borne of trust, carries with it a joy hitherto unknown, as it is made in love, as a response to the overwhelming love of Jesus. I speak of a romance that is divine, yes, of holy mysteries.

Jesus is the joy of man’s desiring…of your desiring and mine! This newfound love, this pull, this inexplicable delight, this reality of being known deeply by the One who created us is a gratuitous gift, unexpected and yet our truest and deepest hope fulfilled. It is in a single encounter with the Living God that everything changes. And we are filled with the new life He promised, life in abundance.

A word from our Founder John Cardinal O’Connor:

“Water is changed into wine as a symbol of what is to happen in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when Christ will take a chalice of wine and say over it, “This is My Blood,” and over a piece of bread, “This is My Body.” For you who enter into the vowed, the consecrated life, this too is but a foreshadowing of what will be yours one day when this earthy marriage will be substantially transformed, will be lifted up, will be divinized. You will find yourselves wed in the happiness of heaven to the Divine Spouse and find that indeed He has saved the best wine until last.”
~John Cardinal O’Connor , January 1, 1994