I will betroth you to me forever

Homily of Fr Thomas Felder FSO
at the Perpetual Holy Covenant of Sr. Catherine FSO

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ!
Following Christ means: putting all your eggs in one basket! But what urges a person to do this? In the eyes of the world, what you, Sister Catherine, are doing today is crazy. What is crazy to the world is, from our point of view, according to Christ. We do not look at the world, but at the One who created the world and sustains it in its existence. We look not to the world, but to Him who loved us and gave his life for us on the cross. We look in faith to the one who has thereby given us life itself, eternal life.
Therefore, the innermost motor of our total surrender to the Lord can only be love. We respond to the one who first loved us. Today we feel once more: Love goes all the way! You let yourself be touched by the love of Jesus many years ago, you decided for Jesus in The Work and you bound yourself to your Bridegroom in the Holy Covenant. Today you do this forever, for eternity.
By doing so, today you are not only giving something to your Lord and Bridegroom, but you are renewing your total surrender to the Heart of Jesus, as you already expressed when you made your Holy Covenant in the three evangelical counsels. Today, this dedication, this gift, is sealed as you give yourself for ETERNITY to the Heart of Jesus in his Work and you are consecrated to Him for eternity - in The Work - for the Church.
I invite you to consider briefly three aspects of this dedication, listening to Mother Julia:

1. The word: yes

Today you say again yes to the Lord. This short little word is of crucial importance. Mother Julia says, "The Yes word I gave to the Lord at that time (1934) was a Holy Covenant with the divine-human Heart of Jesus, which continually offers itself for His Body, the Church!"
Today, people find it difficult to say a clear and committed yes. They tend not to commit themselves. This is another reason why they usually do not become happy. Happiness can come to those who say a clear, decisive and unconditional yes and live accordingly.
This yes-word is not only personal. No, as a community we have a common mission for the Church; for that Church which is in such need today. Our life is about a clear and decisive yes to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. In this we follow Mother Julia who said: “God is good; let us be devoted to him in the needs of our time, without any reservation, without measure or limit”.

2. Devotion

Love, by its very nature, is giving, it is devotion - says Mother Julia. The word "yes" means devotion. I devote myself completely to another, to Christ. I give myself to him so that he can dispose of me in virginity, poverty and obedience. In the Holy Covenant we give ourselves as a gift - we cannot give more. Mother Julia testifies: “Consecrated persons, called to a spousal-loving offering of themselves, strive to live in the following of Christ in such a way that their whole being becomes an offering in the spirit of penance and reparation. By sanctifying themselves daily for others, continuing the public life of Christ and his work of redemption, they want to share in bringing many people to the Easter joy of the Risen Lord Jesus.”
We are called to be an offering - in the spirit of reparation and reconciliation. Through what does this happen? Mother Julia mentions two things. 1. that we sanctify ourselves for others. Not only for ourselves. You are called to live spiritual motherhood daily. The 2nd thing Mother Julia says is to continue the public life of Christ and His redemptive work. That is, you are called to unite yourself deeply with Christ every day as a participation in the redemption of the world. This happens primarily through your devotion in the small and large things of everyday life. Through your devotion, people should experience, should catch a glimpse of, the Easter joy of Jesus Christ. Mother Julia says already in 1949 that: "Jesus finds joy and is glorified when we strive to conform to His desires, to do what pleases Him, and to serve Him in devotion and selflessness."

3. Eternal love and devotion

You give yourself to the heart of Jesus forever. Jesus tells you today with the words from the Book of the Prophet Hosea: "I will betroth you to me forever" (Hos 2,19). Eternity is not only long, it has no end. God is eternal. His love is an eternal, faithful love. He has sunk a spark of His love into your heart. This love longs to be lived forever.
This love and God's grace urge you to give yourself to the Lord and Bridegroom in an eternal covenant.
Thank you for saying this yes today in his "Work". Christ, the Lord of all history, bless you every day and let you bear fruit richly as a spiritual mother. You belong entirely to Him - forever. Amen.