Story and photos by Crystal Gabrielle M Sylvester
On Sunday, January 13, The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sr Renée Hall OP explored the third sub-theme of the La Divin Devotions (2018–2019) ‘Mary, Mother of Religious Vocations’.
Sr Renée began by situating her vocation within the teachings of the Church. The Church teaches that the gifts and graces of baptism allow us to live the Christian life fully. Our parents bring us to the altar and we are baptised in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The holy chrism leaves a mark on our foreheads, that we may not see, but this mark consecrates us to the Lord.
Sr Renée shared that “as a religious, I chose to live out my vocation as a consecrated person completely devoted to God and the service of His Kingdom here on earth”. The congregation was reminded that as a religious of the Dominican Order, she lives a life according to the motto “in the cross there is life”, thus every test faced and every trial, draws members of the Order closer to the Lord.
Mary, Sr Renée stressed, is a woman of favour. Salvation was granted through the life and death of Jesus but it all began with Mary’s ‘Yes!’. Thus she cannot be divorced from her Son—she shares a special bond with her Son and she takes our petitions to Him.
Her call to religious life was activated during the World Youth Day Germany Pilgrimage in 2005 as she experienced fully the universality of the Church while visiting multiple churches throughout Europe.
Sr Renée excitedly recounted these experiences to her Spiritual Director and the profound statement “you must give your life, for it is life” was made. This was the catalyst of her vocation journey.
Sr Renée was eventually led like Mary to say ‘Yes’ as she realised that “a call to religious life does not only require breadth but also depth; it is a response of gratitude for all the Lord has gifted us with.”
Mary has always been and still remains a central figure in her vocation journey. She was introduced to the intercessory power of the rosary in primary school by a teacher. Eventually, a particular devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe developed.
She shared that standing before La Divina Pastora and gazing at the candles lit by the pilgrims is an awesome reminder that when Mary takes petitions to the Lord, he listens.
Sr Renée also referenced Pope Francis’ message for the ‘World Day of Vocations 2018’, “[He] reminds us that God continues to call others to serve Him directly, if He lets us realise that He is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to His kingdom, then we should have no fear, it is a beautiful and a great grace to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of His brothers and sisters.”
Sr Renée said there were many social challenges faced by citizens, most notably the unfortunate realisation that 500 murders occurred in 2018. Family life, Church, and the education system are also in crisis. There are no quick fixes to these situations.
She described the world as a noisy place. Externally, there is bombardment by loud music and other distractions; internally, there are doubts, fears and uncertainties when significant decisions have to be made.
Mary as mother is a woman of contemplation and silence. One of the Dominican mottos is to contemplate and to share the fruits of that contemplation with others. Thus, said Sr Renée, it is important that we realise that, Our Lady can pull us back from the brink of national despair through our devotions and consistent prayers in seeking her intercession.
The next La Divin Devotions is Sunday, February 10.