“A House of Prayer; a Temple of Intercession”

“A House of Prayer; a Temple of Intercession” December 9, 2011

Would to God that . . . all men could know how very easy it would be for them to arrive at a high degree of sanctity. They would only have to fulfill the simple duties of Christianity and of their state of life; to embrace with submission the crosses belonging to that state, and to submit with faith and love to the designs of Providence in all those things that have to be done or suffered. . . This is the spirituality of all ages and of every state.”

–Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence

This morning I had the great pleasure of attending Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, where I was also privileged to witness the first profession of Sister Mary Magdalene, O.P..

One expects a first profession to be beautiful and joy-filled, but I was surprised at how moving it was; to watch this radiant young woman pronounce traditional Dominican vows and then have her prioress and novice mistress lovingly dress her in the black veil of a professed nun gave me goosebumps. Ancient tradition, the renunciation of the world to be only for Christ — a holy continuum, through the ages.

I found myself expressing great gratitude to God that, through the Holy Spirit, young people are still finding their way into monasteries to take on the work — and it is heavy work; nuns are not hothouse flowers — of praying for the rest of us, supporting the world by rejecting its material allures in order to embrace this life of prayer, fasting, discipline, self-effacement and sacrifice.

Sister’s novice mistress, Sister Mary Catharine of Jesus, O.P. once wrote a piece for Patheos explaining the meaning of the Dominican habit:

Two years after her clothing, a novice will profess vows, and a black veil will be placed on her head signifying that she has become “recognized as a house of prayer . . . and a temple of intercession for all people.”

That’s a tall order. Humanly it is not possible. It is only because God wants it so that the newly professed nun can carry the world in her heart.

We human beings need symbols to remind us that we are not made for this world but, as St. Elizabeth Seton used to say, we are “children of eternity.”

Speaking of which, in keeping with the recently announced tri-diocesan merger of seminaries, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Rockville Centre has celebrated its last ordination, today, as it brought 7 young men to diaconal ordination, in preparation for ordination to the priesthood, next year.

One new deacon is our friend Michael Duffy — I’m sorry, Deacon Michael Duffy — who recently wrote about his Seminary experience here at Patheos in “A Seedbed for Lifelong Growth”

God bless Sister Mary Magdalene and all of her community, and God Bless Michael and his fellow-new deacons, and all those discerning vocations to the priesthood, the religious life, marriage or the single life.

May the Immaculate Conception, who is beloved mother to surprising millions pray for more and more young people to hear the small, still voice.

All Images are Mine – ES

The Dominican Habit: A Daily Gift and Reminder.

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