Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sister Veronica Reflects on Her Investiture

After a novice's investiture ceremony, she writes a letter to some of our monasteries to share her thoughts on this big day in her life.  Here is an excerpt from Sister Veronica's letter:

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is the day of my baptism.  (Mother did not know this when she chose the date!)  During my investiture retreat, I spent some time pondering the meaning of the word “Baptism”, “to immerse” or “plunge,” in light of our Lord’s “investiture day” when He was baptized in the Jordan River.  Christ did not simply get His feet damp when it came to entering our human condition- He plunged into the very depths of it.  He wanted to walk the same road we walk, and to experience the same agonies of fallen, wounded humanity that we experience, to the extent of wearing our wounds in His own body.  The totality of this self-emptying struck me in a new way during one morning of Lectio Divina (Scripture Reading).  I was walking down our road towards Godden’s Pond, which forms the furthest end of our enclosure.  From a distance, I saw that the surface of the pond was tinged with pink.  Curious, I approached a clearing where there is a broad view of the pond from the brim of a steep, high slope.  I looked down at the pond.  It wore the dark, shadowed aspect of mystery which cloaks every early dawn.  The somber grey wall of forest blended subtly into its blurred reflection in the water.  Only an irregular area in the center of the pond-mostly, it seemed, just below where I stood-eluded the reach of the shadows to mirror the pale blue sky and blushing clouds of the growing dawn above.  For a moment, the scene was one of a world “sitting in darkness.”  Then suddenly this world stood on its head!  I saw only the pond, where the trees seemed to grow downward toward an ever deeper abyss of sky.  Down there in the bottom of Godden’s Pond was a limitless expanse of eternity!  Hebrews 12:2 flashed into my mind:  “for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, He [Jesus] endured the cross, despising its shame.”  Our dear Savior dove from heaven’s heights into the waters of human misery, and in so doing committed all for the sake of what he saw at the end of the plunge-His Father’s glory and the salvation of the world.  The totality of Christ’s self-emptying was something which our Seraphic Father understood very well.  I was blessed to be on retreat during the novena and Solemnity of our Father St. Francis, who was instrumental in guiding me to the Franciscan family, so I went to him to ask him how best to prepare for the grace to be given to me.  The answer came during our Mother Abbess’ Vigil Chapter exhortation.  Mother used the motif of St. Francis’ Stigmata to reflect on several ways in which his life was “marked” by the life of Christ.  One of these ways, she said, was the readiness with which he stripped himself of everything, even down to the clothes on his back, in order to follow Christ, just as Christ emptied Himself even to death on the cross to save humanity.  It struck me that this moment in our Seraphic Father’s life could perhaps be called his investiture- his Di-vesture, if you will.  My investiture, I knew would be a di-vesture too.  

I am a very poetic sort of person, so the cutting of the hair which takes place during the ceremony was for me much more than a mere symbolic gesture,  With the harvesting of my hair, every dimension of my life- heart, mind, body, soul- would be stripped away, and I would lay my life in all its vulnerable, defenseless poverty into the pierced hands of Christ.  Our Holy Father St. Francis’ life said to me, “yes-yes, give it all to Him, all!  Hold nothing back!”

May we, as daughters of Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Holy Mother St. Clare, gaze always upon the self-emptying love on the cross; allow ourselves to be transfixed by it; and be transformed ever more into true images of Love Himself, Who meets our wounds with His own wounds and transfigures them in His Glory.

1 comment:

Perpetua said...

Profound and beautifully-written. Thank you for this, Sister Veronica.