Thursday, July 12, 2012

On the Altar

I'm both sad and happy to be writing be writing this last blog: sad because it is the last one, and happy because I have a sense of coming home as I reach this point in my life. I shall, however, be making a monthly contribution to our regular website blogs, so you can keep in touch there, if you'd like ( Also on the website, there will be a video clip of highlights of the profession Eucharist.

Well, July 11 was undoubtedly full of grace! During the past week, I'd been conscious of a nervous anticipation about making profession, but it was more about preparing for the ceremony and wanting it to be meaningful for  me and all those who attend, rather than about my choice. I was sure I was called by God when I entered in 2007. At first profession, in 2009, I was making a lifelong commitment in my heart, so my perpetual profession in 2012 is simply a confirmation of what I had already promised. Seeing perpetual profession in this light has enabled me to be fully present to each moment and to enjoy this very sacred time in my life.

So, what was the day like? I felt carried by the prayers of all those I knew to be praying for me and thinking about me wherever in the world they were. In the chapel, I felt entirely surrounded by good wishes, support and care. People, music, liturgy all conspired to lift my spirit toward the light. They didn't distract me at all; instead, they helped me to focus on God, and my experience was characterized by a sense of what I can best describe as sacred intimacy. At the same time, I was conscious that I was making profession in the name of the Church, which is something greater than individuals or single issues. In my profession, I consciously gave myself within, in the words of the Creed, "the one, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church" which Christ founded.

The highlights of the service were when I made the promises of stability, fidelity to the  monastic way of life (conversatio) and obedience, signed the profession document, sang the Suscipe ("Receive me, O God, as you have promised and I shall live/Do not disappoint me in my hope"), prostrated before the community to ask for their prayers, and was blessed and received by them. For me, however, the most profound experience was seeing the prioress lay my signed profession document on the altar where it remained throughout the sacrifice of the Mass, symbolizing how, in committing myself to monastic life, I had given myself over completely and unreservedly to God. Beyond that, I felt myself united with the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, which we celebrate in the Eucharist. I didn't have a moment of understanding the mysteries of the universe (the waters remain murky), but I did feel myself to be at one with divine unknowing.

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