Reflections From the New Novice
On February 2, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the day dedicated to honoring Consecrated Life in the Church, I received the Passionist habit and a new name. In a simple and moving ceremony, I put aside my secular dress and embraced a new existence as a betrothed bride of Christ, choosing to belong exclusively to the Crucified Lover of our souls. May He who has drawn me here to St. Joseph Monastery be forever praised!
Clothed in the Passionist Habit
It is, indeed, a great privilege to be clothed in the Passionist habit, and this privilege brings with it great responsibility. This garment is actually a sacramental, blessed by the Church through the hands of a priest so that it may be an outward sign of an interior reality: the clothing of my heart with the Passion of Jesus. I have been given a call to be a witness to the world that Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation!
St. Paul of the Cross, our founder, explains that
the Daughters of the Passion, not only by their habit but much more so in their heart, in their mind, and in their labors, should continually mourn out of love for the Crucified Lord, and anoint His most holy wounds by the continual exercise of every virtue.
Having been clothed in the Passionist habit, I must with my whole life show forth His magnificent love which was willing to be crucified for you and for me.
Given a New Name...
Our Lord inspired Mother Catherine Marie, CP, to give as my name Sr. Cecilia Maria of the Body of Christ, a name which holds deep significance for me. I am Cecilia after the early Roman virgin-martyr and after one of the foundresses of our monastery, and I rejoice at the opportunity to learn from St. Cecilia how to sing hymns to the Lord in the oratory of my heart. Our Passionist motto is, “May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be ever in our hearts!”; my refrain will forever be, “May the canticle of the Passion be ever in my heart!”
I am Maria after our Blessed Mother, another holy maiden who lifted up her heart in continuous and joyful song to the Lord. Whether in ecstasy as she carried Him in her womb, or in adoration and offering as she stood at the foot of the Cross, or through all the ages as she raises us up as her spiritual children, the Virgin Mary has always sung a double refrain: “My soul magnifies the Lord,” and “May it be done to me according to your word.” May she grant me a share in her spirit as I embark on this adventure of religious life.
My title, “of the Body of Christ,” refers to the three great loves of my prayer life: the Eucharistic Body, the Mystical Body, and the Crucified Body of Christ. Indeed, all three are one – the “whole Christ” who pours Himself out in order to feed us and to draw us into Himself, so that we are offered upon the Cross with Him in an eternal and perfect sacrifice. May my life, poured out in this Passionist cloister as an offering to Him, become ever more united with His, “offered once for all” for the salvation of the world.
Please pray for me, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that I may persevere in my prayers for you.