In less than a month our three “Probandinnen,” or Sisters who will make Final Vows, will pronounce “forever” to the Lord. Since June, Sister M. Antonia, Sister M. Eucharia, and Sister M. Karolyn have been in Alton preparing more intensely to take perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience on August 14th. During these three months they follow a special schedule of prayer, spiritual reading, classes, and work to help them focus on making this important step in Religious Life. Various Sisters have been aiding them by teaching classes on our Constitutions, and the Probandinnen pray a Holy Hour each day to deepen their relationship with our Divine Bridegroom. Our Provincial, Mother M. Maximilia is, in Sister M. Antonia’s words, “challenging [them] to live and love deeply.”
These months are a graced time during which the Sister is challenged to deepen her Religious commitment and consecration to Christ. Sister M. Antonia describes her preparation for Final Vows as a “saying ‘yes’ to both the known and unknown.” “Forever,” she continues, “means ‘yes’ to the present and the future (the unknown – its joys and difficulties).” Sister has been meditating on the Scripture verses, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own” (Jn. 10, 17-18). Sister M. Eucharia writes that this is her time to “make ready for the Bridegroom.” She has centered on the verse, “Love never fails” (I Cor. 13, 8) and enjoys getting to know her fellow Probandinnen on a deeper level. Sister M. Karolyn also finds joy in deep conversations with the other probandinnen and summarizes her personal preparation as “meeting Christ in the wounds and learning deeper freedom by risking love.” She has been pondering this quote from Ephesians: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2, 4-5).
The families of our Probandinnen also have a special role in the nuptial preparations. Aside from prayer and support, many parents or relatives show their support by donating or buying the ring for their Sister. Often there is a story or a special significance behind each Sister’s ring. Sister M. Antonia’s was fused from the wedding rings of her maternal grandparents, who reared her. Her grandfather has since passed away, but her grandmother has been wearing hers for over 50 years. Sister is touched deeply by this “gift symbolizing such love and fidelity.” Sister M. Eucharia received her paternal grandmother’s wedding ring, and her grandparents’ names and wedding date are engraved on the inside of the band. Sister M. Karolyn’s parents bought her ring.
Soon our probandinnen will be kneeling before the altar, placing their hands into Mother’s to make their final profession. After pronouncing her perpetual vows, each Sister will sign her name on a vow card on the altar and receive from the Bishop her wedding ring, blessed with an invocation to the Holy Spirit. Please pray for them, that they receive every grace and blessing during these last weeks of preparation.
~ Sister M. Christiana, F.S.G.M.