God granted a lovely day for seven young women to make a long step forward in their journey to him. Sister Teresa Maria, Sister M. Caterina and Sister Mary Francis consecrated themselves to him more profoundly through the vows of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty. They proclaimed with great joy and determination their desire to do this for him and for his Church. They professed their vows with glorious freedom, knowing the challenge of each, but also knowing, profoundly, the One to whom they could trust such a radical gift.
And we all got to share in it.
Just before Mass began, four postulants declared their readiness to learn. They publicly asked for our Rule and Constitutions; they appealed to the Sisters to teach them this life, to teach them to live according to the Gospel of Christ in our particular religious family. They received our religious habit (always a moving experience for everyone present) and their new religious names: Sister Maria Christi, Sister M. Xavier, Sister M. Veritas, and Sister M. Annuntiata.
It is always beautiful. Every time. Watching young women with hearts high in joy and expectation, willing to give everything to God for their whole lives. No, none of them professed final vows – they each took a step toward it – but in every case, the delight and glory and desire to give everything shone through their words, their prayers and their entire being.
Of course, it is always a tremendous celebration – families, friends, long-term friends of our community, priests (by the bucket-load), and as many Sisters as can manage to finagle their way home all share in the glory of the day. (And we give thanks for those who made it possible. One Sister told the story of her principal, who substituted for two of the Sisters, so that their local community might be in Alton for the feast.) There are a lot of tears; there is a tremendous amount of laughter. The music hit an all-time high…everything was perfect.
And God granted us weather that looked like May.
People don’t get it. Bishop Paprocki, in his homily, spoke of the incomprehension of our world and culture for this life: they really don’t get it. Why would bright, beautiful, talented young women want to do this? It’s not even efficient! But it touches reality more deeply; consecration to God in the religious state shows forth clearly what really matters in life. It shows that God is worth everything. One Sister commented that love is not efficient. It doesn’t like short cuts and minimal. Bridal love and mother love is not business-like and streamlined. It’s all about extravagance.
And these are the brides of God and the spiritual mothers of the world.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words (or so). Here is a photo record of the beauty of the day. It begins early in the morning – the superiors serve the Sisters breakfast – and continues to the afternoon festivities.