“Give her the joy of vows fulfilled”

Today marks nine years since I professed my solemn vows as a Poor Clare Nun of Perpetual Adoration.  I was trying to figure out what things I’ve shared in past posts, and two years ago I mentioned that I should try to find one of the beautiful prayers from the ceremony.  Well, rather miraculously, I did manage to find it, and I didn’t even have to make too much of a mess in the process!

DSC_0056After the profession of vows and endorsement of the profession card, before she receives the ring, the celebrant prays a solemn blessing over the newly professed nun:

Solemn Blessing of the Newly Professed Nun

Celebrant: Father in Heaven, Source of all holiness, Creator of the human race, Your love for us was so great that you gave us a share in Your Own Divine Life.  Neither the sin of Adam nor even the sins of the whole world could alter Your loving purpose.

In the dawn of history You gave us Abel as an example of holiness.  Later, from Your beloved Hebrew people, You raised up men and women graced with every virtue.

Foremost among them all stands Mary, the Ever-Virgin Daughter of Zion.  From Her Pure Womb was born Jesus Christ, Your Eternal Word, the Savior of the world.  You sent Him, Father, as our pattern of holiness.  He became poor to make us rich, a slave to set us free.  Wit love no words can tell He redeemed the world by His Paschal Mystery and won from You the Gifts of the Spirit to sanctify His Church.

The Voice of the Spirit has drawn countless numbers of Your children to follow in the Footsteps of Your Son.

Among these You raised Your servant Francis who professed evangelical holiness so that, at the command of Christ Crucified, he might in himself and his brothers repair the Church, Your Dwelling, and renew it through holiness of life.

Therefore, O Lord, look upon this our Sister whom in Your providence You have called to follow the poor, humble Francis, the lover of the Cross.  Pour into her the fullness of the sevenfold Spirit so that what she has promised today with joy and gladness through Your giving, she may with the Divine Assistance observe faithfully to the end.

May she be firmly established in true humility; may she be inflamed with love for Christ and a compassionate love for her Sisters; may she prefer nothing to the commands of obedience; may she follow highest poverty, gird herself with the virtue of patience, and not extinguish the spirit of prayer and holy devotion.  May she build up the Church by the holiness of her life, advance the salvation of the world, and stand as a sign of the blessings that are to come.

Lord, Holy Father, protect and guide this servant of Yours.  At the judgment seat of Your Son be Yourself her great reward. Give her the joy of vows fulfilled.  Made perfect in Your love, may she rejoice in the communion of Your Saints and praise you forever in their company.  We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

All respond: Amen.

Please pray for me and all religious, that we may observe our vows faithfully to the end.  It’s so true that God cannot be outdone in generosity, and neither can He be outdone in patience and mercy, which He lavishes on us daily.  None of us could do what we do without His grace and your prayers – so thank you, and know that you are always in our prayers, too.

Ora et Labora

Ora et Labora – this is the well-known motto of St. Benedict. Prayer and Work.  That’s the foundation of monastic life, not just for Benedictines but for all of us.  Our order, which is dedicated to Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, is associated with prayer. In fact, many people think praying is the only thing we do.  But religious life requires work as well.  Here are a few snapshots of how we labored today on this feast of St. Benedict.

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Before we knew it, our Friday had turned into yard day.   Over at Our Lady of the Atonement they’re in the midst of clearing away a lot of limestone to make ready for their new high school.  What used to be a driveway and a beautiful area in front of the church now looks like a war zone, as you can see behind Sr. Grace Marie.  Father said the brick pavers weren’t needed anymore, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for free stuff. While Sr. Mary Peter fired up the lawn mower,  we, armed with our trusty crowbar, went over to collect the free bricks before it got too hot, .  As for what we’re going to do with all those bricks, well, I think we should save that project for winter…


Salty beginnings

Fourteen years ago last night, I was sitting on the floor of my new bedroom in Marywood house,  sobbing.  Tomorrow I would receive the short brown veil of a postulant and begin a year of discernment and prayer as an extern sister, a year of getting to know the community I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  But for now, I was too busy crying about leaving my family to feel excited about the beginnings of life as a nun.  I just wanted to go home.

I don’t remember sleeping, but I’m sure I must have.  I don’t even remember much about the day.  There were red roses on the altar, and Sr. Raphael sang the Ave Maria at Mass.  Bishop Dermott Molloy, a living saint, (who, by the way, just received the Peruvian Congressional Medal of Honor for his tireless work among the Quechua Indians of the Andes) was visiting the network, and so he was the main celebrant that day.  After the conclusion of Mass I went up to the grate to receive my postulant veil, and afterward, when I was returning to my seat, Bishop Molloy proffered his ring, saying “Be faithful unto death.” I knelt and kissed his ring, quite in a daze, probably wondering if this was the portent of my sure martyrdom and speedy ascent to heaven.  (So far, I have experienced only the slow painful death by monotony that is religious life, but if things get dramatic I’ll let you know.)

A religious vocation is a mysterious thing.  Mysterious because one can never figure out just how one arrived at it, or how, by God’s grace, one has persevered thus far, when there are so many other souls better suited to, and better qualified for, the job.   Sr. Grace Marie always reminds us about Sr. Veronica, who died in the 1980s, long before I entered.  She had been Mother Angelica’s Abbess in Canton, but stepped down because she felt called to join Mother in Alabama.  Sr. Veronica lived to her 90s, and everyday she prayed to God for holy perseverance.

And it isn’t just the person with the vocation who is aware of this mystery.  I found out later, years later (when we moved to San Antonio) that my parish priest and deacon, who both made the trek to Alabama to see me off, were taking bets on how soon I would come back home:

“She won’t last a week.”

A week went by.

“She won’t last a month.”

A month went by.

“She won’t last six weeks”

Six weeks went by.

“She won’t last six months”

Six months went by.

I don’t know at what point they finally decided that I might actually have a vocation, but I suppose if they were basing things on my mood at the time I entered, then I can see why they expected me to show up on the parish door step any day.  We all went out for a final dinner at the Olive Garden the night before my entrance, and I cried the entire time while they tried to make jokes about my mom’s cigarettes and her passel of cats.  Nothing could assuage my tears.  It was a miserable dinner.

Luckily, my salty beginnings weren’t an indicator of how long I would last in religious life, nor of the joy and fulfillment I would find in my vocation.  I chose the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as my entrance day because I wanted to begin my new life in Christ under her motherly care and protection.  Lord knows, persevering in any vocation, whether you’re a priest, a religious, married or single, can be a struggle which at times can seem impossible.  Without Our Lady’s help and guidance I could have never persevered.  And if I want to continue following Christ, if any of us want to continue following Him, the best way to do that is by keeping safely under her mantle of protection.

Thank God for God!  For His goodness and grace and mercy.  Without it I wouldn’t be here.   I still can’t figure out why He called me to this life, but I am so glad that He did.