On a recent trip for a friend’s first vow ceremony, we sat around the night before in a mixed group of sisters and friends talking about the vows. I teased now-vowed Presentation Sr. Mary Therese “MT” Krueger with the question, “What’s your favorite vow?” and it soon became obvious that some around the table were unclear what these mysterious vows were all about.
What did it actually mean to vow poverty, chastity and obedience? What happened if you “broke” a vow? Who were you vowing to? Thus a lively conversation ensued in an effort to impart a deeper understanding of religious life to MT’s college friends, who had no idea what they were in for.
Some sisters attempted comparisons with the commitment of marriage; others argued that it was really quite different. Another sister mentioned that the way the vows were lived out was shaped in part by each community’s charism. “So wait, what’s a charism?” And on we went, down into the rabbit hole of Religious Life 101.
In the end, the diversion allowed MT to avoid disclosing her favorite vow, but the resulting discussion seemed to foster deeper awareness in the group about religious life and its meaning today. It also got me thinking about my own commitment and what a difference the vows have made in my life since I professed them for the first time this summer, surrounded by my sisters, family and friends…