On Friday of the past week, our Sister Angelique received a special “valentine”. This was the day of what we call the “Glad Tidings Chapter”. In the midst of the assembled Community, Mother Abbess announced the glad tidings that Sister Angelique would make her First Holy Profession as a Poor Clare Nun on May 24th, the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Francis.
Chapters are always formal affairs in a monastery. Faults are confessed, penances imposed, exhortations given, serious matters discussed, votes are taken. But “Glad Tidings” chapters are especially solemn. Young Sisters struggling through their initial adjustments to monastic life, anxiously await the news that they are being permitted to go on to the next step on their journey toward full integration and final commitment. At last the day comes, and she kneels in the middle of the chapter room among her Sisters to engage in a moving dialogue with Mother Abbess, although formally prescribed, is none the less meaningful. I always marvel at how our traditional formulas really say just what needs to be said at such a time. The Sister is acutely aware of her unworthiness to be called to such a vocation, and so she is given to say:
Reverend Mother Abbess and holy community, I humbly beg your pardon for all the faults I have committed during the time of my probation. I humbly beg you to be merciful to me and for the love of God, of the blessed passion and death of our Savior, of the ever blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, of our seraphic Father St. Francis, of our holy Mothers Clare and Colette, to permit me to remain in our holy community, and grant me the grace to make my holy Profession. I am firmly resolved to correct my faults with the help of your holy prayers.
After Mother Abbess has declared that she will indeed be given the grace to make her holy Profession and revealed the day of its doing, the novice, overflowing with awe and gratitude, then is able to say:
Reverend Mother Abbess and holy community, I humbly thank you for the great love and mercy you have shown me in receiving me for holy Profession in our community. I am confident that, because of your holy prayers, God will receive the sacrifice which I desire with all my heart to make to Him of all I am and have, for the love of him and for his greater honor and glory; for I desire only to live and die in our holy Order and in the most faithful observance of our holy Rule.
Her companions in the novitiate, happy that one of their own has “made it”, kneel behind her and say:
Reverend Mother Abbess and holy community, we humbly thank you for having granted our dear sister the grace to make holy profession.
It was a joy to see newly arrived
Phoenix kneeling there behind Sister
Angelique along with our two postulants Mary and Sarah, and fellow novice
Sister Maria Christi. Application papers
are coming in for aspirant-to-be Cecilia, and Refina is here making a
discernment retreat in our guest quarters.
We look forward to good things to come!