Nora Becomes a Passionist Novice
Today is a Monday and we are back to work after a weekend of celebrating the vestition of our postulant Nora. The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven was a perfect day to have a clothing and naming. As our Blessed Mother was taken body and soul to heaven to be clothed in the resurrection-glory of her Redeemer Jesus, so Nora was clothed in the passion-glory of her Redeemer Jesus. As our Blessed Mother was named Queen of Heaven and Earth in fulfillment of her role as the New Eve, so Nora was named Sister Frances Marie of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, in fulfillment of her response to be chosen a bride of Christ.
Vestition ceremonies have been taking place for thousands of years. Perhaps we could say the first vestition recorded in the bible was Elisha's clothing in Elijah's mantle! Since the time of Christ, unmarried women, who have desired to give an undivided heart to Jesus, have been vested in a penitential garb and veil. Not only are these ceremonies ancient, they are a private affair. The monastic community is the privileged witness of this transformation.
It was not always this way though. Because of the striking visualism of the clothing and the naming, there was a time in the Church when this ceremony almost took precedence over the profession of vows! Even to the point of some communities having the custom of the postulants wearing a wedding gown at the beginning of the ceremony. As striking as this symbolism is it wasn't true to what was happening theologically.
At vestition the young woman is not yet making vows to her Bridegroom. She is just beginning the most intense part of her formation to prepare her to make that complete gift of self in vows. She is a novice ("new") and in our community, officially begins her "novitiate" which lasts for two years as she studies our five Passionist vows. To keep the vestition from overshadowing one's day of profession of vows no guests are invited and the private celebration afterwards is not quite as lengthy.
Now for some pictures! (Click on the photo to enlarge.)
More to come in the next post...Mother Catherine Marie's exhortation given during the Vestition and some more photos of the new novice.