We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee because by thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world!
The Church’s Celebration of the Cross
Our Province joyfully celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th. In this feast the Church invites us to celebrate Jesus Christ’s definitive triumph over sin and death through His sacrifice on the Cross, and calls us all in a special way to unite our own sufferings and difficulties to our Savior’s Passion. It is the Cross, stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, that has won us victory, and it is Christ Crucified that we, as missionaries, now seek to bring to the whole world so that He may reign in the hearts of all men.
We Honor the Cross of Matará
This feast is of particular importance to our Institute and is therefore celebrated with great solemnity by our sisters throughout the entire world. Our title, the “Servants” (Servidoras), is a reference to Our Lady, the Servant of the Lord, and to those faithful women who out of great love served Jesus throughout His whole life and stood faithfully at the foot of His Cross. We are congregated under the title of the Cross of Matará which depicts Our Lord alongside the instruments of His Passion as well as Our Lady. It is thus that we are the Servants of “the Lord and the Virigin of Matará” in the way of our historical connection to this great symbol of the evangelization of the New World.
Nearly all the sisters of our Province living on the East Coast gathered this year in Avondale, Pennsylvania at the newly dedicated Church of St. Rocco. It was a joy to have all the newest members our houses of formation spend time together with the apostolic sisters from Harlem, Brooklyn, Bridgeport, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
We began our celebration on Tuesday, September 13th with sung Vespers for the vigil of the feast. After dinner, we returned to the church to sing Matins, the Office of Readings, with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the full Latin Te Deum, the beautiful and sacred Gregorian chant prayer, accompanied by the traditional ringing of bells.
The Sacrifice of the Mass, Once More at the Foot of the Cross
After Lauds on Wednesday morning, we had a brunch together at one of the convents in Avondale, and then set to work preparing for the Mass and the reception that would follow in the evening. In the afternoon before Mass, we had our daily hour of Adoration ending with sung Vespers and Benediction. One of the sisters sang a beautiful litany in Spanish to theHoly Cross.We then prepared for Holy Mass together with many friends, family, and benefactors from a variety of places along with parishioners of St. Rocco. The Mass was celebrated by Father Gustavo Nieto, IVE, the Provincial Superior of the male branch of our Religious Family, the Institute of the Incarnate Word. We were very honored also to have as concelebrants Msgr. Frank Depman,the pastor of St. Rocco and great friend of the Servidoras, along with several other IVE priests and priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Father Nieto gave a beautiful homily based on the writings of St Louis Marie Grignon de Monfort. He spoke of how Jesus loved and sought the Cross throughout His entire life—from the Incarnation to Calvary. Even after the Resurrection, the Cross remained the instrument of salvation and the scepter of His power. Father Nieto also quoted St. Louis de Monfort’s famous words, “Wisdom is the Cross and the Cross is wisdom,” from Love of Eternal Wisdom (complete text, PDF file 276 KB).
Renewal of Religious Consecration as Spouses of the Crucified
During the Mass, sixteen temporarily professed sisters renewed their vows and we were blessed to receive a new postulant as well as a new member to our Secular Third Order. According to a tradition in our community, the perpetually professed sisters also renewed their existing commitment to live chaste, poor, and obedient forever. Like a renewal of marriage vows, the sisters pledged once more the promises they had already made to God, thus thanking Him for the grace of perseverance and calling to mind the total gift of self implied by the religious profession. We give thanks to God for all of His abundant graces to our Institute, here in this Province and throughout the world, and most especially for the great gift of our vocations to be Spouses of Christ, and of Christ Crucified.