The service at Bishops House, led by the Bishop of Blackburn to The Single Consecrated Life was wonderful. I felt totally blessed and soaked in the Holy Spirit. The words of the service were lovely and I took a Vow of celibacy, taken in the spirit of simplicity with a commitment to those living in poverty. I took a Simple Vow with the full intention of taking a Life Vow later. I had 16 supporters at my service and many other good wishes and prayers from other people who could not be there. We had coffee and biscuits after the service at Bishops House and then 14 of us went for lunch to an Organic Café called The Sanctuary. It was a lovely day. My Mother bought me a silver Celtic ring to mark my Vow and commitment, which matches my Tertiary Cross. I have been living the celibate life for many years, and all my prayer for a long time pointed towards making this Vow and commitment.
Now I have made my Vow and commitment it feels very special and I am endeavouring to live my life now in simplicity and joy. The Lord is also telling me in prayer not to expect things to remain the same!
Hazel writes: On the 2nd October 2012, on The Feast of The Guardian Angels I took my Life Vow in The Single Consecrated Life, in St Thomas’ Church, Garstang. My Vow was received by The Rt. Revd Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn. I took my Life Vow in the spirit of simplicity and of the Gospels and continued to consecrate my life to God, Father and Holy Spirit. As part of my consecrated life I have chosen to devote myself to those living in poverty. The Church felt ‘electric,’ and I could really feel the presence of God and the Holy Spirit. I was supported by my family and many friends; and many more friends were holding me in prayer who could not be there. The evening also raised £360 for my charity, ‘Uganda Development Services’. It was all very special indeed.
This is a very special day today, not just for Hazel but for all of us. Men and women have been committing themselves to living the single solitary life since the earliest days of the Church and at some stages in quite an exotic way. Simon Stylites lived on top of a pole for 30 years, but more enlightened forms of the life of total prayer have been lived by thousands down the centuries. But it is an important day for all of us because what Hazel is doing, she is doing out of love and for the whole Church and the world. God has called her to live this life of love in and for the Church.
Yesterday, the Church celebrated the late 19th century Saint Teresa of Lisieux, who is the patron saint of mission in the Latin Church. Teresa desperately wanted to work in French Indo-China but she came to realised that often God has a more immediate geography lesson for us. Her life and faith reminds us of the nearness of God’s love. So she accepted that it was the mystery of love that is at the heart of the Church, and so it does not matter where vocation takes us or how ordinary other things that we are called to do.
Shortly before her death 115 years ago yesterday, she wrote in what she called her “little way of heaven”, ‘I realise that love is at the heart of the Church and if love should ever fail apostles would refuse to preach the Gospel, martyrs would refuse to shed their blood and the Church of God would fail”.
Teresa was a Carmelite nun and died at the tender age of 24 but she points us to the heart of living out a Christian life: that it must be lived in love and that what really mattered was that her heart was full of love and that being a presence of love wherever we are is to be a missionary of Christ.
So, Hazel, pray that your heart may grow daily full of love and so be that presence of God’s love and a true missionary of Christ. Your vocation to prayer will often be difficult. We do not pray in order to get kicks! As one writer in prayer said, “there aren’t many kicks to be found at 6 o’clock in the morning on your knees!”
And so there will be times, Hazel, when you will be tempted to walk away from your vocation and perhaps seek other paths and you will probably feel that those paths may be different paths to God, but always remember God has called you to take this special path and you have tested your vocation over a long period of time and it is here, living this life, where God wants you to be.
There’s a lovely story about good Pope John XXIII, who came from a peasant family and who died in 1963 and for his 80th birthday a big party was thrown in the Vatican for him. Lots of cardinals, bishops, diplomats and important people were invited to the celebration. In the middle of all these notable people were some peasants from Pope John’s home village. When they came into the hall, Pope John made a beeline for this group from his home and embraced each one of them. One of them said, “You don’t belong here Fr Angelo, come and celebrate your birthday with us in the hills with wine and pasta.” Lovingly, Pope John said, “My brothers and sisters when I went to the seminary in Bergamo I said to myself, ‘you don’t belong here, Angelo, you are from a peasant family, go home.
But deep inside me a voice said, “you may not want to be here, but God wants you here.”
“When I became a priest”, said Angelo, “I said you don’t belong here, this is no place for you in this presbytery, but deep inside me that voice said again, ‘you may not want to be here, but God wants you here’. And so I stayed”. “When I became a bishop and then the Papal representative in Bulgaria , I said, ‘Angelo, you are from a peasant family, this is no place for you’, but once again deep inside me that voice said, ‘you may not want to be here, but God wants you here.’ And again, when I became Cardinal Patriarch of Venice I said, ‘Angelo, this is no place for you and again that inner voice said, ‘you may not want to be here, but God wants you here.’ And when we processed
into the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope, I said, ‘My brothers won’t elect me, and when I actually became Pope I said right here in this very hall, ‘Angelo, this is no place for you, you come from a peasant family, you don’t belong here, go back to the hills..…. but once more that voice deep inside me said, ‘you may not want to be here, but God wants you here.’ “And so my friends”, good Pope John went on, “yes! I would rather be with you today in the village celebrating my birthday but God wants me to be here and I have to stay.”
I dare to hope that you, Hazel, will remember that story, and always be confident that God has called you to live this particular life of love to be a channel of His love to His Church and His world. And today, Hazel, we thank God you have taken on this work for Him and all of us. May God give you his grace to fulfil your vocation and may you become more and more a true missionary of Jesus.
I have been a Tertiary Sister of The Tertiary Order of The Holy Paraclete for nearly 6 years. I feel the Single Consecrated Life compliments this beautifully. The Tertiary Order is self-governing and each Tertiary has a „Rule of Life‟ based on the Sisters Rule of The Order of The Holy Paraclete (Mother House, St Hilda’s Priory, Whitby, Yorkshire). Each Tertiary has a unique Rule and no two Rules are the same. The Rule is not restrictive and for me it is something I can pivot from. The Tertiary Order was founded by Dr Charlotte Houlton, CBE in the late 1940‟s. The Tertiary Order is worldwide and open to men and women, lay and ordained, single and married from all walks of life, from any Christian Trinitarian tradition and has recently celebrated its 60th anniversary on 29th June 2008. Tertiaries are supported spiritually by the Order of The Holy Paraclete and in turn Tertiaries support the Order in various ways.
The Order of The Holy Paraclete, an Anglican Religious Order began in 1915 and was led by Prioress Margaret Cope. The Sisters at Profession commit themselves to a Rule of Life and prayer, inspired by St Benedict, under Vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience and in dedication to the Holy Spirit. The Order was originally a teaching order but the school eventually closed.
Today the Order is concerned with retreat giving (has a Pastoral Centre – St Oswald’s Pastoral Centre), Parish work and has Sisters in Africa (Bulembu, Southern Africa, Ghana and Swaziland) where they have an eye clinic and work with AIDS orphans etc. and also have several Branch Houses in England; to mention but a few things they are involved with.
Both The Tertiary Order and The Order of The Holy Paraclete are "Rooted and grounded in love" Ephesians 3:17.
In The Tertiary Order of The Holy Paraclete each Tertiary has a Rule of Life. No two Rules are the same. Each Tertiary devises a Rule of Life based on the Sisters of The Order Of The Holy Paraclete’s Rule. The Tertiaries, as Postulants, are given guidelines to formulate their Rule and each Tertiary forms their Rule according to their individual lives and circumstances.
As a Postulant Tertiary, to begin my Rule of Life I spent some time praying over it and listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For me, since first formulating my Rule of Life as a Postulant, I feel I have grown spiritually with it and over the past nine years my Rule of Life has developed further and I feel I have grown into it.
For me the Rule is not restrictive but is something that I can pivot from as I live my Tertiary Life. The Rule is something that each Tertiary of The Order of The Holy Paraclete has and, therefore, I feel helps to unite us as a Tertiary Order.
However, the Rule does not make us perfect, as each of us is human and because each Rule is devised individually and according to our circumstances it should not be a burden.
For me, I feel the Rule has helped me to grow and live my Christian Life more deeply and today I would not like to be without it. The Rule guides me each day as I live in simplicity and celibacy and obedience to God, with worship and prayer, with family life and fellowship, carrying out hospitality and fidelity. Under each of these headings, prayer has led me to
a number of guidelines which act as a tool to help me live my Christian life and free me up from the pressure of living in the world‘ as opposed to living in community as the Sisters of OHP do.
Being a Tertiary and living a Rule of Life has made me think of how I can live my Christian Life out to the full in fellowship with my Tertiary Sisters and Brothers; and has given me a freedom to love, worship and praise God, live a full Christian life and to help me serve God in ways which I would have otherwise been without and not have met.
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