Sr. Christy's first profession of vows
This was M. Rosemary's chapter talk on the occasion of Sr.Christy's first profession of Cistercian vows.
My Times Are In Your Hands
There is a time for everything. In the fire of the Paschal Vigil we consecrate all times and seasons to God’s glory. For you, Christy, there have been many planting and many uprooting- a time to leave home and family, a time to study, a time to help others, a time to wander the world, to live on a boat, to commit to missionary life in a refugee camp, to be a Sister with the poor, and now the time has come for fulfillment, to be rooted. You have even planted a garden and the tree is bearing fruit!
In today’s feast we celebrate all those who have believed in the God revealed to them and accepted His plan for their lives in every state of life and every age and culture. They were intent on being aware, ready, waiting for His coming, His approach, His nearness at every moment. Today we pray with all the Saints especially for you, Christy, that you may continue to deepen your personal relationship with Jesus becoming even more eager to receive the gift of God in every word, person, and event. Recognize and respond to His presence as the ripe tomato falls from the vine into your hand, in the spontaneous greeting of a friendly canine, in the music of the flute and the polished surface of stone. He has made you a lover of art and beauty, alive to all His manifestations. All of your life is caught up in the vows you make today. You are now responding in a radical way to the persistent invitation that has echoed in your heart for so many years. Through Hosea our God foretold: "You will wait for Me many days and I will wait for you." Now finally He has announced: "I will espouse you to Me forever" beyond time in the silence of God’s eternity. The remainder of your vowed life will be your loving reply. When God revealed himself to Moses He told Him: "I am He who goes with you. I am who I am…I am the God who loves you. This is the same God who said:" My child, give Me all your heart."
The best simile we can find for religious consecration is baptism, when you were rooted and planted in Christ, the Vine. Religious consecration is a further setting apart, a dedication of your whole life to living deeply in Christ, committing yourself to growing in Christ by a special vow of conversatio morum. Jesus tells us: "I consecrate Myself for them that they also may be consecrated in truth." If the seed falls into the ground, it is meant to bear abundant fruit for you and for the whole Mystical Body. Your entire being becomes worship and prayer through monastic consecration.
Christy, you have chosen the fourth degree of humility to be read at this ceremony. We can almost see our father St. Benedict calling you aside to prepare you for what lies ahead. He is saying: "Expect to meet difficulties and even injustice! And when they come endure, hold fast in patience and suffer with a quiet mind. Wait with courage for Jesus, your Lord!" What is to be
experienced in this quiet space within is the reality that you are enduring for Jesus’ sake. He is asking you to share his sufferings through Him, for Him and with Him. Five times Benedict, quoting psalm 43, emphasizes: "You..You.. You..You.. O Lord, have tried us and You have placed a superior over me!" Instead of escaping, Benedict counsels you to do more than required: turn the other cheek, give your cloak as well as your tunic, go the second mile, bear one another’s weaknesses and bless those who even curse you. But then after a death that may last all day or seemingly forever you are to go on with joy, certain of being saved, tranquil in hope, convinced that His Love will conquer. This is a daunting program, Christy! Only a fool or someone insanely in love would willingly succumb to such an offer.
In choosing freely to take on this commitment you ratify the promises of your baptism in a manner the Church formally accepts as a special way of following Christ in His gift of Himself to the Father. Jesus gave us words that we can make our own: "No one takes My life from Me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down and the power to take it up. "He was referring to his passion and death and by our vows we are empowered by grace to imitate Him through death to self and resurrection to a new transformed existence. By embracing the Cistercian way of life according to the Rule of St. Benedict Jesus empowers us by His Spirit to root ourselves in the Father’s will through a stable life of obedience, self-surrender, and universal charity.
So today, Christy, we invite you to enter our community as a vowed religious. This is the way we try to express with our whole being our gratitude to Christ. This is our way to glorify the Lord. "Glorify the Lord with us, together let us praise His name." This will be your goal - unconditional surrender of life for the sake of Christ "who loved you and gave Himself up for you." Our prayer for you is: "May Christ dwell in your heart through faith and may charity be the root and foundation of your life. Then you will be able to live fully the vows of obedience , conversatio and stability, experiencing with all the holy ones, who have preceded us on this path, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, so that you may attain to the fullness of God Himself. To Him whose power now at work in you can do immeasurably more than you ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus."