Living Consecrated Life as a Sign of the Paschal Mystery
FINALLY - The long-awaited post is here! I hope there are a few of you who are still interested in seeing photos from Sr. Mary Andrea's Perpetual Profession on October 19, 2013. (smile) All photos, except the last two, are courtesy Mel Howard. God bless you Mel!
I see that the photo in my last blog post of the prostration under the pall during the Litany of the Saints has piqued quite a bit of interest!
In our Rite of Religious Profession during the singing of the Litany of the Saints, the sister falls prostrate before the altar, and is covered with a funeral pall, the symbol of dying to herself that she may rise a new person in Christ. In this ancient ritual, there is rich Paschal symbolism of death and resurrection. When the pall is removed, the religious “rises up” to pronounce her religious vows, an intense participation in the covenant of baptism.
The whole thing speaks of Resurrection bridal joy, the totality of the gift of self to Christ and His Church. This truly radiated from Sr. Mary Andrea. The joy of being totally a consecrated woman, a sign of the Church, the bride of Christ. In the mind of the Church, religious are meant to be prophetic signs pointing to the heavenly reality of the marriage of the Lamb, as far as a human being can live it.
The Monks of Norcia (Italy) also use this symbol of mystical death in their solemn profession rite. See their latest newsletter where two monks are lying under the black palls, which they call "mystical burial."
Two sisters of the Dominicans of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN attended the profession Mass, and as they went through the receiving line, they told some of the Nuns that at perpetual profession, their Sisters cover their faces and heads with their scapular as they fall prostrate for the litany of saints, and that it has the same meaning as our ritual.
I hope this explanation and the photos to follow inspire you to give the complete gift of self in your particular vocation. This is a true living of the Theology of the Body which Blessed (soon-to-be Saint!) John Paul II so eloquently taught.
The following are some reflections from the bride...
What a great weekend Oct. 19 was, as I gave myself totally to my Spouse, Jesus Crucified, in the presence of so many loved ones! Thank you for remembering me in your prayers, especially during my 30-day retreat. This was definitely a graced time for me as I spent time remembering the major graces in my life up to this point.
If you will permit me, I would like to take this time to share with you some of the more memorable moments for me from the Profession ceremony this weekend, some of which I heard from others during the visiting in the parlor afterwards.
As I lay under the black pall listening to the congregation responding with “pray for us” and trying to calm my pounding heart, I clearly heard one of the little girls – one of my nieces, I think – say “pray for us”. That was so neat to hear that even the little children know that I need all those prayers. This helped to calm me.
Then, about half-way through the Litany of the Saints, as I continued to lay under the pall, the area over my head got dark, as if someone had come to stand right at my head to pray. At the time, the thought that came to me was that it was either one of the clergy here or else an angel was there. I later learned that at that point the sun coming in the windows had come out from the clouds, so it was probably a shadow being cast from the flowers and ambo. Still, I like to think it was an angel making its presence known to me.
After this, I went to kneel before the altar while the Bishop prayed over me the ancient prayer, the consecration of virgins. I believe this prayer is from the early centuries of the Church, but I’m not exactly sure of the year. Visiting in the parlor, I learned that during this prayer one of my young nieces asked her Dad, “Is he (the Bishop) turning her into Jesus?” She understood quite well what was going on, for transformation into Christ is the goal of all of our lives, no matter what our God-given vocation is in life.
Collect (the Opening Prayer)
Lord, holy Father, confirm the resolve of Your servant, Sr. Mary Andrea.Grant that the grace of baptism, which she wishes to strengthen withnew bonds, may work its full effect in her, so that she may offer You herpraise and spread Christ’s kingdom with apostolic zeal. Through ourLord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
The schola leads the chanting of the Litany of the Saints
Sr. Mary Andrea professes her vows in perpetuity and the Superior replies:
By the authority entrusted to me, I accept your vows in thename of the Church for the Institute of the Religious of thePassion of Jesus Christ. I commend you earnestly to God thatyou may fulfill your dedication which is linked with this Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Sr. Mary Andrea goes to the altar for the signing of theprofession formula, which is left on the altar for the remainder ofthe Mass.
Sister kneels before the altar as the Bishop prays the Solemn Prayer of Religious Consecration.
Receive, dear Sister, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and Hiscrown of thorns, the signs of His self-giving love. May they everbe the pledge of your desire to follow Him in humility, love and obedience.
Sr. Mary Andrea now exchanges the Sign of Peace with theCelebrants, her immediate family, and her Passionist sisters.
Three of our diocesan seminarians served the Mass. Transitional Deacon Will Thompson (above left) was Master of Ceremonies, assisted by Nick Higdon (above right) and Basilio Az Cuc (below)
The Great Amen
Sr. Mary Andrea with cousin Fr. Jason Gries and Fr. Jeff Read, brother of Sr. John Mary
Sr. Mary Andrea has a large immediate and extended family. So many of her relatives were present; it was wonderful having them with us on this glorious day. Sister has fantastic parents and 9 wonderful siblings.