In the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception we, the family of Sion at Ein Karem, celebrated the diamond jubilee of Sr. Bernadette Marie – one of our Notre Dame de Sion Contemplative Sisters. We had a lovely Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Carlos NDS in the Contemplative Sisters’ chapel. Sr. Bernadette Maries shared memories of her first vows of about 60 years ago and renewed them in her heart forever, following Jesus in Mary.
Mary is an example for us in religious life, her full belonging and total dedication to God (“Behold the handmaid of the Lord”), is a sublime example of perfect consecration. Chosen by the Father, who wanted to fulfill the mystery of the Incarnation, it reminds religious that the initiative always comes from God: as the Apostle John recalls: “Love consists in the following: it was not we who loved God, but He who first loved us and sent us his Son.”
Mary appears as a welcome model of the grace for religious, who are called by grace to be witnesses of this love of God in the world. It is from the experience of this acceptance that the religious becomes, in a special way, salt of the earth and light of the world.
In Mary those in religious life find a Mother by a special title, for if the maternity conferred on Mary by Jesus on Calvary is a gift made to all Christians, it has a specific value for the religious who has fully consecrated her or his life to Christ. The, “Woman, here is your son” and “Here is your mother” (John 19: 26-27) addressed to the disciple whom Jesus loved, takes on a particular depth in the life of those consecrated, because the consecrated person is called, like John, to take Mary as a mother (John 19:27), loving her and imitating her with the radicalness of her vocation, but also to experience her special maternal tenderness to others. With Mary, the consecrated person will be able to recognize the signs of the Spirit of God in the events of her or his life and of the world (Lk 2,19 – 51), and will know how to “see” these events “with the eyes of God”.
A special day, a wonderful date! A story that began so long ago, with the celebration of first religious vows. The charms of that day have not gone out – to show to all that vocation is the gift of loving, serving, giving to the other. Sr Bernadette continues to give live for others, with her sincere witness of love and faith. We thank God for Sr. Bernadette’s life in Sion, and her community for this special celebration and we continue to ask God to bless and guide the Contemplatives Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion.
Lúcia de Fátima NDS, Novice
Congregational Novitiate Ein Karem, Jerusalem