On August 15 we made our first vows in the parish church of San Pedro in Palmela, Portugal. With the Sisters, family members and friends we celebrated a feast that we know does not belong only to us. It is a gift!

We want to share some of the words of Fr. Miguel Almeida, SJ, provincial of Portugal, who celebrated the Eucharist of the vows and expressed very well what we felt called to in our life as Handmaids.

To love is to live seriously

“Love is as strong as death. But at the same time, we know that there is nothing that generates life more than Love. Love is like a coin with two sides: when we are able to really love, there is more life around us – dead things come alive, there is more vitality – but at the same time, the one who loves dies. To love is to live seriously, and to live seriously is to die (…)

Love is a decision. (…) Making vows is your concrete expression of living love; of living life and living death. (…) These vows are not for your own sake; they are vows of surrender. They are vows of service. The vows are for the world.”

Only a heart can move another heart

“I think that there is only one reality that is able to move the human heart, to truly motivate it. That one reality is another heart. There are many incentives that can move us: money, professional careers, personal growth…but to move the human heart deeply and completely, only another heart can do that.

You are Handmaids of the Sacred Heart — not of your heart, but of the Heart of Jesus. Because the Heart of Jesus moved you to embrace this folly.”

A universal Heart

“You stated that what you are asking, as in the First Reading, is that Jesus engrave your heart upon His, and that the Heart of Jesus may be engraved upon yours. The Heart of Jesus is a Heart within which we all fit. All. And all means all. Those who are different, those who think differently than we do , those who go against us… they all fit inside it. And for me to want to have a heart the size of the Heart of Jesus is to desire that everyone will fit inside my heart also. Therefore in the Gospel, when Mary realizes that she is expecting Jesus, the first thing that she does is leave her house and go to meet the person who is in the most need. This is the impetus. When we discover Jesus Christ within us, the impetus arises in us to go forth to encounter others. To traverse mountains. Therefore, I repeat, there is nothing that will move us as much as the heart. And if this heart is the Heart of Jesus, we are well kept.”

So we begin this new stage: with the desire to live seriously, that only one Heart may move ours, and may make it a universal heart, like His. As He has given us the grace to desire it, we trust that He will give us the grace to live it.

Maria Abecasis, aci y Marina Vázquez, aci