Consecrated persons will be missionaries above all by continually deepening their awareness of having been called and chosen by God, to whom they must therefore direct and offer everything that they are and have, freeing themselves from the obstacles which could hinder the totality of their response. In this way they will become true signs of Christ in the world. (Bl. John Paul the Great, Vita Consecrata, 1996)
We invite you all to rejoice with us and give thanks to God for the wonderful grace of the Investiture of Habits which occurred on December 7th. During the vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, our Province celebrated our patronal feast day and witnessed the moving ceremony wherein 14 novices received their new religious names and were officially invested with the habit and veil of our Institute. In the same ceremony, 9 novices from the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), the male branch of our religious family, also officially received their cassocks.
The reception of habits is such a joyous occasion because the habit is a visible sign of a soul’s complete dedication to God. Our habit has deep symbolic meaning . The striking blue and grey represent the two natures of Christ, His divinity and His humanity. These serve as a powerful daily reminder for each sister that she is meant to be “another incarnation of Christ” in the world (Constitutions, SSVM).
We especially understand the place of our holy habit in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation for Consecrated Life by Blessed John Paul the Great. The role of the habit as “an eloquent, albeit silent, witness of the Gospel” is especially significant for today’s world. “The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs” (Vita Consecrata, paragraph 25). He continues, “In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ. Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place” (Vita Consecrata, 25). Please follow this link to the Vatican website to read the complete document of Vita Consecrata.
It is also the tradition in our institute that novices receive new religious name. As an expression of our Marian devotion, we take names that are avocations of Our Lady. In this way, our daily life and interactions with each other can be a constant litany of the Virgin’s praises. The novices have been given the following avocations: Mary Star of Evangelization, Mary Dove of Simplicity, Marie Protectrice de la Foi (French: “Mary Protector of the Faith”), Mary Apostle of Joy, Mary of the Holy Family, Mary Mother of the Crucified, Maria Thalassa (Greek: “Mary of the Seas”), Marie Trône du Roi (French: “Mary Throne of the King”), Maria de Tepeyac, Mary Virgin of Tender Mercy, Mary Refuge of Sinners, Muire Chroí Íosa (Gaelic: “Mary Heart of Jesus”), Maria Ina ng Kahirapan ( Tagalog: “Mary Mother of the Poor”), Maria Đức Mẹ Mân Côi (Vietnamese: “Mary Holy Mother of the Rosary”).
The Mass took place in the beautiful Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The main celebrant was His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick. His Eminence was joined at the altar by many concelebrating priests from both the IVE and dioceses throughout the country. As always, Cardinal McCarrick gave a very moving homily. He explained how Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her purity from sin, allowed her to be, from the first moment of her conception, an instrument of God’s grace and presence in the world. Mary’s role as the bearer of God’s presence for the world would reach its fullness in the Annunciation, when Mary consented to carry Jesus, the Salvation of Mankind, in her very body. His Eminence encouraged us all, saying that we too can be like Mary, instruments of God’s presence in the world, if we imitate her virtues, especially her purity and charity. He also reminded us that every time we receive the Eucharist in Mass we, at least for a time, actually carry Christ, the God-Man within us. Therefore, we can ask Mary to teach us how to receive Christ with more love in each Holy Communion.
We ask for your prayers, especially for the perseverance of our novices. We entrust them and all the members of our Religious Family throughout the whole world into the hands of Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, confident that she will help us to be holy religious, signs of the purity and charity of God for the world.