Reflections on My Glenmary Perpetual Oath
(Editor's Note: Brother Levis professed his Perpetual [or Final] Oath as a Glenmarian in May 2015. Several months afterwards, he reflects here on the importance of this step in his discernment process and what it has meant in his life. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati April 29 with a bachelor's degree in nursing. And he will begin the first assignment of his nursing ministry June 15 in western Georgia, while residing in Blakely, the site of Holy Family mission.)
I took time to pray and calm myself, but even in silent prayer I could still hear my heart pounding. The day that I had been waiting for was finally here. It was going to be the best day of my life. And I reflected:
"Today the prayers I have prayed so often, the little promises I have made to God, come to completion. Today I will stand in front of God, my parents and siblings (representing my entire family), the Glenmary society (my new family), my parish priest (representing my missionary journey of faith), my friends and people of faith, and even strangers who support my quest to further the kingdom of God, and declare ‘I do.'"
A lot of preparation had gone into making the ceremonies a success, but those ceremonies were just visible signs of the preparations that had taken place over the many years of my vocation journey.
Through careful and prayerful discernment, I opened my heart to God so that God could show me his will. I trusted in the formation process—which was carefully prepared by spirit-led missionaries who had traveled this journey before me—and in the people who had shown me tremendous support as I answered my vocation call.
As I think back, I ponder why this day was so important. To me, this day meant I was being sent forth, like the apostles and disciples a long time before me. I was being sent to reach the unchurched, but more than that, to be the living example of the love of God for people in small-town and rural America. This day meant that I had, in a way of saying, graduated as a missioner and was ready to be sent forth.
As I took this all-important step—professing my oaths of poverty, chastity, obedience and prayer—I felt the support and encouragement of all of those people who, in one way or another, have participated in making me the missioner I am today.
Through my day-to-day living, preaching in words and actions, participation in Mass and other parish activities, work with leaders of other faith traditions, and healing of both the physically sick and spiritually struggling, my life as a missioner has and will bring joy to me and to so many of God's children who live in these places.
The first step of courage was taken not on this day but a long time ago, when I opened myself to the will of God and said "Yes."
It was a step of courage to say I am willing to try; I am willing to let God lead me where God will and as God's will unfolds; I am willing to trust and believe.
I responded to God's calling throughout the journey, willing to let the Spirit of God lead me through discernment and formation.
I retired to bed late that night—happy, excited and a little exhausted. I closed my eyes, having ended one journey and feeling ready to begin another. I was and still am glad that I took that one courageous step that started it all.