Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk…Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant… Is. 55:1-3
The Latin entrance chant that
gives for us this Sunday is a paraphrase of the First Reading for Holy
Mass: Holy Church
(translation) You who are thirsty, come to the waters, says the Lord: and you who have no worth, come, drink with joy.
Those of us who are privileged to sing Gregorian Chant are privy to a rich source of ancient exegesis. The scripture ponderings of medieval monks and nuns bore fruit in revealing melodies that are a musical blessing for us modern singers. In this particular chant piece, at the words, “you who have no worth”, the melody suddenly soars like a geyser of jubilation. What a surprise! Shouldn't we be sad about the fact that we have no worth? Is this not the secret fear of all of us, to be counted worthless? The prayerful composer of the chant says no! Being worthless is not a hindrance, to divine love, but rather a precondition! We hear an echo of Jesus’ words: blessed are the poor, blessed are those who hunger and thirst…But wait; we have great worth, not of ourselves, but as we are created by God in His own image and likeness. How are we to have no worth? By pouring it out in love! Christ has gone before us to show us the way. He “emptied Himself.” But he did not remain empty, for “God highly exalted Him.” This is ever the dynamic movement of love. In heaven it will be pure joy to see and to participate in the eternal outpouring of the Divine Persons, One to the Other and to us. But here on earth where sin and selfishness interfere, our self-emptying is always painful. So it was with Christ as “He became obedient, even unto death, death on a Cross”. Yet the very pain experienced, both for Him and for us, becomes the source of redemption and salvation.
We are still in the afterglow of our Sister Marie Elise’ Solemn Profession, and so we cannot help but think of her at every turn of the sacred liturgy. Today’s reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is also read at the Easter Vigil, when the catechumens are thirsting for the springs of salvation. Religious consecration is an intensification of the Baptismal covenant and that is why it is not a separate sacrament. So what is true of all baptized Christians is even more true for Sister Elise and all of us here at Bethlehem Monastery. By our vow of poverty we have no money and are emptied of all worth so that we have free access to the divine water, wine and milk offered in abundance by the Church in her liturgy. We come heedfully and listen to God’s Will as it is revealed to us in the living of our vow of obedience, and we experience the renewal of our covenant love in holy chastity. We do this now and forever and always in our blessed enclosure.
"I, Sister Marie Elise of Jesus Crucified, vow to God, before the witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Father St. Francis, Our Mother St. Clare, and all the saints, and I promise you, Mother, to observe during the whole time of my life, the form of life which the Blessed Francis gave to our Blessed Mother Clare and Pope Innocent IV confirmed, living in obedience, without anything of my own, and in chastity; and I vow to observe enclosure."
"Receive this crown, Sister Marie Elise, which your Spouse, the Son of God, offers you. May you deserve to be made a partaker of his Passion on earth and of his glory in heaven."
Bridal Cake for Sister Elise