Sunday, December 18, 2011

A New Novice


4th Sunday of Advent
In today’ Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the Annuntiation. Mary hears the summons of the angel Gabriel to become the mother of the Son of God and she whole-heartedly responds with her unconditional “fiat”: Let it be done to me according to your word. We cannot help think of our new little novice who last Monday entered more deeply into her own “fiat” to the Lord.
Yes, we have a new novice! After Holy Mass in the monastic Chapter Room, a place for solemn gatherings of the Sisters, Postulant Kimberly became Sister Marie Elíse of Jesus Crucified. This particular ceremony was historic in our community for it was the first to happen in our recently built monastery and the first to be performed by our new Abbess, Mother Mary Therese. Since I am novice mistress, I also had the privilege of assisting in the transformation. The day before the great event, I could be found in the Chapter Room diligently practicing my part as mistress of ceremonies beside my little table on which were laid the garments, and other needed items, all laid out in order like a surgeon’s instruments.
Prominently displayed on the table were a pair of shiny scissors for the cutting of hair, for we treasure the ancient custom of the “tonsure”, the cutting of a woman’s crowning glory to signify her consecration to God. Women are poetic by nature. Our clothes and our adornments not only cover and beautify us, but they also symbolize who we are. And so by the cutting away of the hair, that lovely product of our body, we signify the holocaust of our very selves: the joys of marriage to an earthly husband, the fulfillment of physical motherhood, even our very identity. But we are not left stripped of all these good things. We receive the enfolding veil of divine love and a new identity as bride of Christ, spiritual mother of countless souls, sister to the whole world. Like Mary, we are blessed among women, for we are favored by the Lord.

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