Advent, Immaculate Conception, and the holy habit

This time of the liturgical year is one of both expectation and fulfillment.  We enter into Advent to prepare for the coming of Jesus…as He will appear in glory at the end of time, and as He has already shown forth at His First Coming in Bethlehem.

So too, the Immaculate Conception speaks to us of the promise of redemption made to Mary at “the first instant of her conception in the womb of her mother Saint Anne.”  By the power of Christ’s redeeming death, God preserved Mary before hand from all stain of sin.

Gathering for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.

Gathering for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.

Our Lady in her Immaculate Conception is thus a sign for us of expectation, and of fulfillment.  As the Lord “has done great things” for her, so do we trust and believe that He will do great things for us!

December 7: Vigil of the Immaculate Conception

Our sisters from the Houses of Formation and the local apostolic houses gathered with family members and friends on December 7th for First Vespers, dinner, and then sung Matins of the Immaculate Conception at St. Anthony’s Parish in Brookland (Washington, DC).

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This time of prayer was especially full of expectation for the novices preparing to receive their habits the following day.

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Our choir lead the hymns for the liturgy, see video on Facebook.

December 8: Immaculate Conception

Our Province–like our country–is under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception.  This year we gathered at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, DC to give thanks, honor Our Lady, and witness the investiture of seventeen novices.

During the liturgical practice before the Mass.

During the liturgical practice before the Mass.

Before the Mass, families visited the beautiful shrine and greeted their daughters.

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We were greatly honored to have his Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, DC, as our presider and homilist for the Holy Mass.  Fr. Alberto Barattero, IVE, the Provincial Superior, and many other IVE priests and visiting diocesan priests concelebrated.

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In our tradition of the rite of investiture of habit, the sisters enter the Mass already wearing the tunic and scapular of the holy habit.

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They are called forward by name to confirm their desire to receive the holy habit as an external sign of their novitiate.

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After the homily, the white novice veils are blessed with holy water and distributed to each novice with the words: “And the Word was made flesh,” to which the novice responds, “And dwelt among us.”

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Professed sisters then aid the novices in receiving the veil.

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The sacrifice of the Mass then continued on with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

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After the final blessing and close of the Mass, the seventeen novices posed for photos with Our Lady of Lujan.  Congratulations, Sisters!

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During the reception that followed sisters and their families offer traditional music in various languages and from many cultures.  Congratulations to the families!

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Songs from Sri Lanka.

Songs from Sri Lanka.

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A song in Vietnamese.

A song in Vietnamese.

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“Tia” with her nieces from Mexico…they also wanted white veils for the day!

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Congratulations Clemens family and their three daughters in religious life!

Congratulations Clemens family and their three daughters in religious life!

We give thanks to God for the gift of religious vocation to each sister individually, to her family, to our Religious Family, and to the Church as a whole.  The beauty and attraction of Christ as the “one love” is forever fresh, forever contemporary, and forever a sign of God’s power and love in today’s world.

Our Lady of Lujan in her Immaculate Conception, pray for us!

Post-scriptum (P.S.) of interest: mailing address of the Novitiate and ways to support our sisters in formation this Christmas and throughout the year.

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