They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Revelation 14:4b
While business went on as usual at our nation’s Capitol Building on Wednesday, November 1, thirteen blocks down on East Capitol Street something extraordinary was happening.
Holy Comforter-St Cyprian Church was full of people in the middle of a workday! Flagrantly wasting time for something holy! Affirming against the odds that God continues to do miracles: on the altar, in the confessional, through His saints, and even among young people born since the mid-1990’s! (consecrated women religious members of the iGen, Cf. Jean Twenge)!
For, this day was also the Solemnity of All Saints 2017. Our Religious Family gathered with friends and family to honor God’s saints and to witness His mercy towards fourteen young women aspiring to great holiness as religious sisters.
Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, graciously hosted us in this beautiful and historic church whose convent we have been living in since 2001. The church walls are covered in frescoes depicting saints from throughout the history of the Church, each scene labeled with its place and century. A most fitting setting!
We were honored to have His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, DC, as the main celebrant and homilist, joined by a large group of IVE priests and visiting diocesan priests.
Within the context of the Mass, we witnessed fourteen of our sisters pronounce their first vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and Marian consecration.
First, the sisters are called one by one by the Mistress of Novices who has accompanied them during their Novitiate, the period of prayer and discernment leading to first profession.
Following this initial presentation, the Mass continues with the homily. Cardinal McCarrick preached on the power and constancy of God’s love for us, despite ourselves and our own awareness of weakness. It is only by letting God love us and transform us that we can come to be saints and fulfill the mystery of the vocation to live a life of total consecration to God.
Next, the sisters stand and profess vows for one year. The profession of vows is formally received by our Provincial Superior, Mother Mary of the Immaculate Conception Ambrogio, SSVM, and witnessed to by two of the members of the Provincial Council.
Then, they receive from the Provincial Superior the blue veil, the insignia of professed sisters, and the crown of flowers worn at first profession, perpetual profession and at the burial of a sister (since she now goes to the Bridegroom and receives “the crown kept in store for you in Heaven”).
While the choir sings, each newly professed sister is aided in the changing of her veil by an older professed sister of her choosing.
The sisters then formally receive their own copies of the Constitutions and Directory of Spirituality of the Institute of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara which they have been studying during the Novitiate.
A large group of junior sisters then renewed their temporary vows for one year, and, in some cases, for three years leading up to the decisive perpetual profession at the end of six years of vows.
The Mass then continues as usual with the offertory gifts, though these sisters themselves also form part of the “offering” as we all do with our prayers and intentions (“or they offer it for themselves and for those who are dear to them in hope…”). The sacrifice of the Mass brings us to the foot of Calvary once more, and in the fullness of the Paschal mystery the Cross and its Victory meet.
The Mass concluded with the missionary mandate to go out to the world with the love and strength afforded by the Eucharist, the Word of God, and the ecclesial communion.
A great gift and mystery of mercy! Christ never abandons His Church but continues to call forth men and women of every age and every place to bear witness to Him with their very lives. The religious vows constitute a deepening of the baptismal promises, and thus are founded in the common life of all baptized Christians…but intensified by a call to imitate Christ’s own way of life here on earth: to follow the Poor One, the Chaste One, and the Obedient One even to death on the cross, and to take His mother as our own.
Following the Mass we continued as the family of the Church to a festive reception at Our Lady of Perpetual Help overlooking the city.
Sisters offered music as an expression of joy and communion.
And the Argentinian parents of one of our sisters from Florida sang some folk music with guitar and charango.
Finally, we give thanks to God for His love, His initiative in the religious vocation, His faithfulness, and His grace by which alone we can learn to say with Mary fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum (“let it be done unto me according to Your word”).
Please pray for our young sisters as they continue their formation to be holy spouses of Christ and missionaries for the Third Millennium. We thank you for your prayers and support for religious life. Our Lady of Lujan, pray for us! All Saints, pray for us!
Post scriptum: On the same day Sr. Marie Notre Dame de Rouen Leger from Berlin, New Hampshire (North Country) who did all her formation here in the US professed her perpetual vows at her mission territory in the south of France. Congratulations Sr. Rouen!!! (more photos from Facebook of Paroisse du Luc et du Cannet)